§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee).
§ [Mr. JEFFREYS (Hampshire, N.) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1—1334
§ (2.40.) MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
asked the Deputy-Chairman whether he would be in order in moving to report Progress, so as to give the Government an opportunity of stating their intentions as to the progress of the measure.
said he should have to rule that such a Motion would be out of order under Standing Order 23, which gave to the Speaker or Chairman the right to decline to accept a Motion if he considered it an abuse of the Rules of the House.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said he would like to state his reasons for desiring to make the Motion. The Bill was duly resumed at the end of a very long, exhausting and tedious session. and they were almost at the beginning of a very long, very difficult and very complicated Bill. It was a Bill exceeding in length, and in some respects not far inferior in importance, to the Education Bill on which they had been engaged for so many months. It contained fifty-two Clauses, and five or six Schedules, many of them involving questions of large importance. The Bill dealt also with property to the value of many millions sterling, and that touched very closely the interests of many millions of people.
*THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
Yes, it is as follows:—That, if Mr. Speaker, or the Chairman of a Committee of the whole House, shall be of opinion that a Motion for the Adjournment of a Debute, or of the House, during any Debate, or that the Chairman do report Progress, or leave the Chair, is an abuse of the Rules of the House, he may forth with put the Question thereupon from the Chair, or he may decline to propose the Question thereupon to the House.
§ Mr. EDMUND ROBERTSON
I submit that this Motion is not an abuse of the Rules of the House. Nothing is further from my intention than to be guilty of any abuse of the Rules of the House. I really do want the House to have an 1335 opportunity of considering whether under the extraordinary circumstances of this Bill we shall go on with it. We went to know what are the intentions of the Government in regard to the future of the Bill, and how long it is proposed to sit. I think you should hear my reasons before you decide to refuse the Motion.
*THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
The Committee has already taken the Bill into consideration. It is a very unusual step to report Progress at this stage, and I must decline to accept such a Motion. I must rule it out of order. In regard to the first Amendment on the Paper, its right place is on the Schedule, and I therefore rule that out of order.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
failed to understand why the Amendment could not be taken. It referred to the Municipal Corporations Act, and surely the question of whether the appointment should be annual or triennial could be raised on the Clause itself instead of on the Schedule. He might point out that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had himself already taken out the bulk of one Schedule and put it into the Clause, and surely it was competent for other hon. Members to follow his example.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. WALIER LONG,) Bristol, S.
What I have done has been in accordance with an arrangement made for the convenience of the House generally, in order that an opportunity might be given to debate the general question. There was a clear understanding that if, in the interests of the draftsman-ship of the Bill it was found more convenient to replace the words in the Schedule, I should be at liberty to do so. With regard to the Municipal Corporations Act, may I point out that the conditions governing elections are contained in the Schedule of the Act.
§ Mr. SYDNEY BUXTON
admitted that what had been done had been for the general convenience of the House, but his point was that it was equally in order for any hon. Member to make a similar proposal.
*THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
It could only be done by general agreement of the House and with the consent of the Chairman. As to the next Amdements, those of the hon. Members for Hoxton and Dundee are also in the wrong place. The former comes under sub-Section 5 of the Clause, and the latter belongs to the 4th Schedule. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Popular is out of place, because the Committee has already decided that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman should be appointed by the Board. The first Amendment of the hon. Member for Cleveland is also a question for the 4th Schedule.
§ MR. CORRIE GRANT (Warwickshire, Rugby)
In the absence of the hon. Member for North Camberwell, I beg to move the Amendment standing in his name.
In page 1, line 22, to leave out 'appointed' and insert 'elected.' "—(Mr. Corrie Grant.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ *MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said he wished to propose a further Amendment to secure that the election should be made by the Councils, and he hoped the President of the Local Government Board would favourably consider that point. The object was to secure that membership of the Water Board should be restricted to the country constituent authorities. The list contained in the Amendment of the right hon-Gentleman embraced a great number of authorities in the suburbs of London, but a great many others were excluded, had there had been no explanation given why some were included and others were not. There were five counties interested in the Bill outside London, and each of these had its own County Council, and he thought it would be wise to leave it to those bodies to select the members of the Board.
In page 1, line 22, after the word 'appointed,' to insert the words 'from among their own members.'"—(Mr Lough).
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said it was very difficult to argue the Amendment at this 1337 stage of the Bill, and the moving of it was not an altogether fair acceptance of the arrangement he entered into for the convenience of the Committee and of hon. Members on both sides, to bring out of the Schedule the words that now stood in his name, so that they might at once approach the consideration of the important question of the method of appointing the new Board. The hon. Member had not advanced any arguments on behalf of his Amendment, because he was reserving them for the debate on the Amendment of the hon. Member for North-West Wilts. But if the Amendment were adopted it would dispose of the whole question at once, by destroying the scheme of the Bill. He should follow the example of the hon. Member and reserve his arguments also for the real Amendment on which, by common consent, it had been agreed to discuss this very important point.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
then said he would move the Amendment standing in his name without comment, except to say that it had undergone one slight change since it first appeared on the Paper, in as much as the district of Foot's Cray, which was a rural district when the Bill was introduced, had since been made an urban district. As it had been agreed that the question should be discussed on the Amendment of which the hon. Member for North-West Wilts had given notice, he would defer stating the reasons of the Government for the proposal.
In page 1, line 22, to leave out the words from the word 'appointed,' to end of sub-section, and insert the words 'as follows:— 'Ten by the London County Council; two by the Common Council of the City; two by the Council of each of the Metropolitan Boroughs of Islington, Kensington, Lambeth, St. Pancras, Stepney, and Westminster; one by the Council of each of the other Metropolitan
Boroughs; one by the County Council of Essex; two by the Council of the Borough of West Ham; one by the Council of the Urban District of East Ham; one by the Council of the Urban District of Leyton; one by the Council of the Urban District of Walthamstow; one by the Councils of the Urban Districts of Buckhurst Hill, Chingford, Loughton, Waltham Holy Cross, Wanstead, and Woodford; one by the County Council of Kent; one by the Councils of the Urban Districts of Beckenham, Bromley, Chislehurst, and Penge; one by the Councils of the Urban Districts of Bexley, Dartford, Erith, and Foot's Cray; one by the County Council of Middlesex; one by the Council of the Urban District of Tottenham; one by the Council of the Urban District of Willesden; one by the Council of the Borough of Ealing and the Councils of the Urban Districts of Acton and Chiswick; one by the Councils of the Urban Districts of Brentford, Hampton, Hampton Wick, Hanwell, Heston and Isleworth, Sunbury, Teddington, and Twickenham; one by the Councils of the Urban Districts of Edmonton, Enfield, and Southgate; one by the Councils of the Urban Districts of Hornsey and Wood Green; one by the County Council of Surrey; one by the Council of the Borough of Kingston and the Councils of the Urban Districts of East and West Molesey, Esher and the Dittons, Ham and Surbiton; one by the Councils of the Urban Districts of Barnes, the Maldens and Coombe, and Wimbledon; one by the County Council of Hertfordshire; three by the Conservators of the River Thames; one by the Lee Conservancy Board.' "—(Mr. Walter Long.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
expressed surprise at the action on the right hon. Gentleman in not giving the reasons of the Government for their proposal.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said it was distinctly a part of the understanding to which the hon. Gentleman was a party, that he should put his Amendment down to afford an opportunity of discussing the Amendment of the hon. Member for North-West Wilts.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said he could not agree with that. The agreement they came to was this. It was quite obvious that it was desirable to have at once a general discussion on what was after all the main part of the Bill, instead of deferring it until the schedule was reached. He did not see why under the circumstances the debate should be confined to the Amendment of the hon. Member for North-West Wilts. Surely they were 1339 entitled to discuss the general proposals of the right hon. Gentleman before they dealt with particular Amendments which would very much restrict the field of debate. Why dad not the right hon. Gentleman explained the reasons for their proposal?
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said he had read the speeches, but could find no argument in favour of the right hon. Gentleman's proposition. Seeing that six months had elapsed since the matter was last discussed, it would have been only courteous to the Committee to recapitulate some of the arguments in favour of this extraordinary proposal. He rose chiefly, however, to protest against any attempt on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to confine the Committee to a particular alternative proposal to the general scheme. Surely that scheme could stand or fall on its merits, if it had any, but to confine the discussion to a particular proposal was not treating the Committee fairly.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
thought some reply should be made to his hon. friend. London Members had a right to arrange their own affairs, and he interposed simply as amicus curice. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to an understanding, butan understanding between individual groups on Members did not bind the Committee.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said that with his long experience the right hon. Gentleman would doubtless agree that an understanding arrived at across the floor of the House by the Minister responsible for and the opponents of a Bill was binding. He could have declined to give the Committee the opportunity they now had of discussing the proposal—he could have adhered to the Bill as drafted, but in order to meet the convenience of hon. Gentleman opposite, and the Committee generally, he undertook to bring these words out of the schedule and put them into Clause 1, on the understanding that the debate should arise on his hon. friend's Amendment.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
agreed that the transference of the proposal from the schedule to Clause 1 was a 1340 great improvement for the purposes of regular and reasonable debate. But the question then arose whether, the scheme having been thus brought forward in order that it might be fully discussed, the Committee were not entitled to debate that scheme at large with all possible alternatives to it. Were they to wait until a particular Amendment had been moved, and then be confined to the alternative between the Government proposal and that of the Amendment? Outsiders like himself were entitled to hear the general question stated and discussed. There were a host of alternatives to the Government plan, such as that a Government department should manage the whole business, and therefore it was most important that the Committee should be given a reasonable opportunity of discussing the general question. He suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should re-state to the House, as no one was more capable of doing, the reasons for his scheme, and allow the Committee to argue the point to their satisfaction.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said that if the right hon. Gentleman had been present when the question was before discussed he would have understood the reason which led him to adopt the course he had taken. According to Hansard, he used the following words:The Committee must clearly understand that if I adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, there should not be a debate on this question over and over again.It was a matter of perfect indifference to him whether he stated the general reasons in favour of the Government scheme now or on the Amendment, when the first direct attack was made. He would have to state those reasons either now or later; he was prepared to defend his scheme at the proper time; and it was solely in the interest of the Committee that he thought it would have been better to make his speech on the Amendment rather than have to say, in reply to the mover of the Amendment—"I have already made my speech, and have nothing left to say. Having endeavoured to justify my scheme, I have only to ask the Committee to reject the Amendment." To adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition would be to delay the progress of the Bill, and that 1341 he was not prepared to do. He had nothing to add to his remarks on the Second Reading. As he then stated, the scheme of representation adopted by the Government included the London County Council, the Metropolitan Boroughs, the adjoining County Councils, and the Urban District Councils. The Rural District Councils were not included, but were given power to receive and a right to obtain water. They were given no representation and no obligation with regard to rating was laid upon them. The Government had selected the Metropolitan Boroughs because they were the sanitary authorities of London; the Urban District Councils, because they were the sanitary authorities of districts surrounding London; the London county council, because it was the central body of London, and had long taken an interest in the question; and the Councils of the adjoining counties, because there were rural district which had a right to some representation which they did not get through the Urban District councils, and because in some of the surrounding districts were to be found the sources which supplied London. There ought to be on the governing body a general representation of all the interests concerned. The whole case had been put with admirable clearness by his hon. friend the Member for Exeter, who, as a member of the Joint Committee, in addressing the House, stated that—The principle of the scheme is the representation on the governing body of all the interests concerned.This was the only proposal for dealing with the London water question which had ever found general acceptance among the people concerned. When five or six months ago he referred to the Metropolitan Boroughs as being favour able to the scheme, he was speaking of what he knew only by general report, but he knew it more authoritatively now. The Municipalities valued the representation given them because they took an active interest, not only in London as a whole, but in their individual boroughs, and because they found in the scheme a recognition of their rights as representing the citizens of metropolitan boroughs, and London generally.
1342 As to the objection that the body was too large, he had stated it would be impossible to carry out the principle he had laid down if the number were reduced. He had tried in vain every method for reducing the size in the belief that it might be better if the body were somewhat smaller— although he fully thought there would be plenty of work for all the members to do. He started on the principle that London, though not necessarily the London County Council, should have a majority on the new body, and London found its representation in the London County Council and the Metropolitan Borough Councils. The moment that principle was departed from either the superiority of London on the body would be destroyed, or the proportion between London and the outside areas interfered with. Under the scheme of the Government, London had a majority on the governing body, while at the same time what he believed was a fair and strict proportion of representation was given to the surrounding districts. The scheme embodied in the Bill was, in his opinion, not only the best, but the only practicable scheme which could be carried into law, because any attempt to force through a scheme against the will of a great majority of the people of London and the surrounding areas would fail. These were the grounds on which the scheme had been put into the Bill. He had given these reasons on the Second Reading of the measure, and had proposed to state them on his hon. friend's Amendment, but in deference to the wish of the Leader of the Opposition he now repeated them. That being so, he hoped he would not be aging accused of want of courtesy if, when dealing with various amendments, he declared that he had already stated the grounds on which the proposal of the Bill was made and the reasons why he thought it should be supported.
§ *(3.15.)MR. LOUGH
said that with the greatest deference to the right hon. Gentleman he must bear with them at this stage. The President of the Local Government Board had repeated the reasons he put forward upon the Second Reading for proposing this extraordinary body, but he thought 1343 they were most inadequate. The Committee ought not to be treated in this way, because hon. Members could not remember what was said upon the Second Reading. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider his attitude and give some stronger reasons for this proposal or else leave it to the Committee to decide whether such an extraordinary body as was now proposed ought to be accepted or not. The principle adopted in this proposal was that certain bodies outside and inside London should be represented, and having adopted the principle the right hon. Gentleman said it could not be carried out except by such an Amendment as he had moved. The body suggested was both impracticable and unworkable, and he should have liked to have heard some further reasons for its number and special construction. It consisted of seventy-three members, fifteen to be appointed by the various county Council, ten by the London County Council, and five by the others. One of the boroughs was to have two members, certain urban districts five, and the Borough Councils of London thirty-six. Then certain urban districts which worked jointly appointed nine, and the Thames and Lea conservancies four members, making a total of seventy-one. That was the body as contained in the Bill when it left the Committee. They had since added a Chairman and Vice-Chairman to be appointed by the right hon. Gentleman himself, and so they arrived at seventy-three.
The first thing he suggested was that this body was far too numerous to do its work properly. The right hon. Gentleman treated this question as if it had never been thought of before, and as if Parliament and Royal Commissions had never dealt with it. It had been examined carefully by Royal Commissions and Committees, and it had been discussed frequently during the last ten or twelve years. His complaint was that for twelve years certain principles had been accepted by every Committee and Commission, and by the House of Commons, and now the right hon. Gentleman suddenly brought forward a new proposal which had no authority behind it, and which was entirely different to anything 1344 they had had before, and the Government were trying to thrust it down the throat of the House of Commons. In 1891 they had the Report of the Commission presided over by Lord Ridley, and it recommended a Committee or thirty or thirty-five members. Commissions and Committees had sat since on this question and they all agreed that the body should be about half the size of the one now proposed. Where did the right hon. Gentleman get hold of this plan for placing the number at seventy-three? Those who opposed this proposal got their principle from the results of careful examinations and recommendations made by Committees and Royal Commissions and the House of Commons itself. When this proposal to make the number seventy-three went to the Joint Committee which had considered this Bill, they treated it with contempt and scorn. By a majority of six to three the Committee sent this Bill back, and told the right hon. Gentleman to bring up a working body of about thirty or thirty-five members.
What did the right hon. Gentleman do? He caused a communication to be made to the Committee to the effect that the Government had received the decision with profound regret. Surely that was an extraordinary course to take. Why did the Government refuse to adopt the decision of the Committee? The principle of the Bill would not be involved by reducing the size of the body. The object of the Bill was to buy out the water companies and entrust the water supply to a suitable body to manage. Many representatives of the water companies sat opposite, and they could not be interested in the number of this body, although they were interested in getting a fair price fixed for the undertakings before they were taken over. The right hon. Gentleman said there was great difficulty about altering the constitution of the Water Board now, because it had been accepted by those bodies who were interested in it. The Kent authorities had askedssss that they might be struck out of the Bill, and already many outside counties had made a similar request. The same demand had been made on behalf of Middlesex, 1345 Essex, and Hertfordshire. The constitution of the Water Board had not been accepted at all unanimously.
He thought it was an extraordinary statement to say that this proposal had been received with universal favour. The only favourable evidence before the Committee was that given by two gentlemen from the Local Government Board, but they had not much weight against some of the authorities who gave evidence against this scheme. Witnesses came before the Committee from all the great cities, including Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, and Edinburgh, and they all expressed the opinion that it was extremely undesirable to have such a large body if they wanted the work well done. Nearly all the evidence went to show that they ought not to have a body of the size now proposed. It would not be difficult to give a smaller representation. Instead of thirty-six members for the metropolitan boroughs there might be eight or ten, and this result could be arrived at by grouping them. If the Committee thought that this body was unwieldy and represented divergent interests, then the Committee should not hesitate to press upon the Government the desirability of modifying the number even now. There was another feature, which was even worse. The proposed board would consist not only of a great number of people, but of the representatives of a great number of bodies. It would represent the County Councils and Borough Councils inside and outside of London. It was perfectly clear that those bodies would have no common interest. Any experience which the House have had of such bodies was against the setting up on another. The indirect representation given to London was merely the resurrection of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and nobody would say that board worked well when it existed. It seemed to him an extraordinary thing that the Government should propose to practically set up again a body which had been so discredited as that board was. The fact that an Amendment had already been passed placing the new Board practically under the control of the Local Government Board, and giving the power to appoint the first Chairman to the Local 1346 Government Board showed the respect with which the right hon. Gentleman felt disposed to treat the body himself. The Chairman and the Vice-Chairman were to be sent in from outside. The result would be that there would be two officials at the head of the body, and the other members would not have a proper sense of responsibility for the great duties they would have to perform on behalf of the citizens of London. They would be mere tools in the hands of these two gentlemen. That was an extraordinary proposal. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman had treated the House with much respect in the way he had brought forward this proposal. He hoped the House would take the opportunity which the Amendment would give of considering the matter, and if it did so he felt sure it would arrive at the conclusion that the proposed body was not one that ought to be appointed.
§ MR. COHEN (Islington. E.)
said the hon. Member who had just spoken had not told them anything which they had not heard before. He thought the Committee would be addressing themselves to a more business-like solution of the problem now before them if they proceeded as speedily as possible to the consideration of the Amendment of which the hon. Member for North-West Wilts had given notice.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said that one of the things which he did not like about the proposal of the Government was that the number of the Board would be so great that the influence of the individual representative would be infinitesimal unless he was something very much superior to the ordinary representative sent up from the district. As a rule he would not be able to make his influence felt or his voice heard in such a large assembly. If this body was to be so large the ordinary individual would be practically out-classed as well as out-numbered, and it would be better to give the districts protection in other ways than by a mere nominal representative on a body of this size. He saw from the Amendment that some places were left out. Personally he thought it was a pity that all places should not be represented so far as 1347 possible, but it was better to leave them out altogether than to give them a false representation. He considered that the appointment of a very small number to represent those vast districts would be a false representation entirely. He would mention three cases in regard to which he had the figures. The Unban Districts of East Ham, Leyton, and Walthamstow, had each a population of about 100,000, and they were each to have one representative. That might be quite right for the present, but these districts were doubling every ten years, and, therefore, they would be grossly underrepresented in the course of a few years. He felt quite confident that the protection these districts would receive by so small a representation on so large a board would not be sufficient. Representations had been made to the right hon. Gentleman through Committees of this House and through bodies outside that so large a body as one consisting of seventy-three members would not be a good working body. His hon. friend had said that the water companies did not care what the number was. He was quite sure that they would prefer a large body because they would be better able to drive a hard bargain. With a small body consisting of men took a keen interest in the business of the Board, the public interest would be better looked after than by a Board of seventy-three. Whatever was done, do not let them have a resurrection of the Metropolitan Board of Works. All sorts of local boards had been tried in all parts of the country, but never had there been such an egregious failure as the Metropolitan Board of Works. [Cries of "No."] Those who remembered the work they did, and the cost of it would bear him out. [Cries of "No."] He gathered that there were some admirers left of the Metropolitan Board of Works. He did not think that those Gentlemen who had such admiration for the shade of that body that had passed would wish to raise it again to manage their own affairs. Perhaps they would like it to manage the water supply of London and neighbourhood, and perhaps the water directors would like them to deal with. He hoped they would have a body more practical and business-like, more in touch with the people who were 1348 to be supplied, and less interested in large money-making concerns than that body was.
§ SIR GEORGE BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said he represented two interests. He was a water company director and a London Member of Parliament. He should like to say one or two words as to the formation of the new body. He entirely repudiated the suggestion of the hon. Member for the Lichfield Division, that the directors of the water companies wished to drive any bargain at all. They wished to have what was fair and reasonable. He personally thought that London might regret what was now proposed by the Bill. The cost might be very large, and it was extremely likely that in years to come it might be realised that it would have been better to compel the companies to do the work under the penalties which could have been imposed upon them in the event of their refusal or failure. But London had made up its mind to but up the water companies, and as a London Member he desired that the body appointed to carry out the work should be an efficient one in the interest of the ratepayers and the water consumers. He must candidly say that to his mind the idea of creating a body of seventy-three members brought together from all parts, and existing for three years, to carry on a business involving something like fifty millions sterling, was not his idea of the way in which the work could be done successfully. He wished to say this to protect himself hereafter if the scheme did not answer, and London had to pay dearly for the present scheme. His own view, like that of Lord Llandaff's 'Committee, was that there should be a very much smaller body than the Government now proposed. Speaking with the knowledge of a director who had had to do with the finance of one of the largest of the water companies, he considered that the financial part of this great work rendered it desirable that a smaller body of efficient men should be appointed. He should prefer very much a smaller body similar to a paid Board to look after this great work. This would be one of the largest businesses in the country, and his opinion was that the work could not be well done by such a body as was proposed. 1349 If the Chairman of this new body was efficient he must become the autocratic ruler of the concern. But if he were not the whole thing must fall into the hands of the paid officials. This scheme represented an enormous development of municipal trading, and he looked upon it with misgiving. As a London Member he should be glad to see some modification of the proposal, but as he had the misfortune to be tarred with the brush of being a director he had no right to take part in the vote. His only object was to protect London from what he considered would be a great evil. If the Chairman were efficient he would become an autocrat of this great concern, and that he thought might be the best, but if he was not a good man, the whole of the thing would fall into the hands of the permanent officials. He looked upon this development of municipal trading with great suspicion, and he objected very strongly to any scheme that might open itself to municipal corruption. He regretted he could not support the scheme of the present Bill as regarded the formation of the Water Board.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *(3.50.)SIR J. DICKSON-POYNDER (Wiltshire, Chippenham)
said he wished to move the comission of the word "Ten" in the first line of the Amendment in order to insert the word "Fourteen." He submitted this Amendment with that amount of reluctance which must always inspire a Member sitting on that side of the House in moving an Amendment to a Government Bill. But that reluctance was tempered by the conviction that his proposal was in the interests of the water administration of London, and was far preperable to that of the Government. His status in moving this Amendment might, he said, be considered a some what slender one. In the first place he was not a London Member, and in the second place he sat as a representative on the London County Council, and the Borough Council of his constituency had passed a resolution in favour of the proposal of the Government. He was, however, perfectly willing to face these disabilities because 1350 of the intrinsic merits of the position, and the really overwhelming case that there was against this proposal of the Government.
He ventured to contend that the principles underlying the Government proposals were unconstitutional. Every Committee and every Commission that had previously exhaustively investigated this question had practically condemned the Government proposal and had advocated the identical principle of his Amendment. In 1891 Lord Ridley's Committee recommended a scheme on the lines of his Amendment; Mr. Plunkett's Committee had in 1895 done the same; while in 1899 Lord Llandaff's Commission had advocated the principle of his Amendment, and in doing so he condemned the principle of a large Board. To come to a more recent date, the Joint Committee of both Houses, which sat this year, arrived at the same conclusion. That opinion of the Joint Committee was all the more important because it had been come to subsequent to the re-arrangement of London government by the establishment of the municipal boroughs. Moreover, this Joint Committee was composed for the most part of Conservatives, and after listening to all the evidence put before them they came to a perfectly clear decision, and by an overwhelming vote condemned the proposal of the Government. He would not go into the subsequent tergiversations of that Committee when they substituted another scheme. He knew he was unable to allude to the unprecedented and extraordinary methods by which those tergiversations were influenced and by which the first decision of the Joint Committee was overturned. The ruling of the Deputy Chairman would not permit of his revealing the whole story of that transaction. If a decision could be taken by this Committee on the Government proposal and his—which embodied the principle of the decision which the Joint Committee had come to in its saner and uninterfered with moments—he had not the slightest doubt that the proposal of the Government, which the Joint committee had never really sanctioned, would be rejected.
Now, to come to the main objections to this Board, which was to consist of seventy-three members, drawn from the London County Council, from the City Corporation of London, from the 1351 London Municipal Corporations, and from certain outside bodies. His first objection to such a Board was that it was constructed on a basis of duplicate representation—which he ventured to say was unprecedented. The system of duplicate representation was introduced in order to include the Borough Councils; and having included them, it became necessary to include the Urban Authority also. The county Council had always been recognised as the water authority for London; and he contended that from the general point of view it was also the sanitary authority for London. The local bodies had not had any dealing in the water question, where as the County Council had had dealings with it for many years. Under a statute passed by the House of Commons it had certain powers; and had investigated the whole question. Therefore, the County Council should be considered the water authority for London, not the subsidiary borough authorities. In 1899, before Lord Llandaff's Commission, the urban authorities outside London were invited to give evidence; but they replied that they knew, or cared, little about the subject; and that they were quite content that county authorities should give evidence. Had there been any general demand on the part of the Borough Councils for representation on the proposed Board? If there had been a loud demand running back for years, he could understand the difficulty in which the Government would be placed; though he himself would consider that to include representatives of the Borough Councils with representatives of the London County Council would be subversive of the existing municipal system. Before the Joint Committee only fifteen Borough Councils petitioned; and, of these, thirteen petitioned after the 1st January in the present year, when, although the Bill was not introduced, the proposed constitution of the Board was an open secret. Then the idea was brought before them for the first time, that they should have representation on the Board. He would ask why, if these bodies were to be included, should representatives of the County Council be included? That appeared to him to be wrong on every principle of local government, and would be certain to result in a conflict of interests. It seemed to him that County Council representation would be 1352 far better than Borough Council representation; and, in saying that, he did not intend to pass any reflection on the Borough Councils, or the urban authorities. They were very important bodies, and had extremely important duties to discharge, but those duties were confined to their own areas, and were of a purely local character.
He saw in the proposed Board a danger to the whole local government of London; and also a danger of confusing duties which related to London as a whole, and duties which related to its several localities. They could not be too careful, in the early days of administrative Boards, to discriminate carefully between local questions, and questions which concerned London as a whole. If that principle were ignored in a complicated city such as London, there would be small hope that municipal life would be conducted on lines compatible with public welfare. To emphasize that point he would make one quotation from an authority which he did not think could be impugned by hon. Members on that side. Lord Salisbury, in a speech he delivered in 1894, said—I am told that there are certain subjects which it is necessary that a central body should conduct and control. I quite admit that there are such subjects. They are principally connected with the main drainage of the Metropolis, with the management of the river which flows through this city, and, if you will, with the water supply. In fact, with those matters which depend upon the natural law that water will run down and will not run up. All these things, which depend upon those natural laws, are necessarily brought under a central management, but if that management were duplicated or were multiplied it would cause confusion.It was contended by the advocates of the Board that the supply of water was a local question. He contended most strongly that it was not a local question in London; it was essentially a universal question. If it had been local it would have been one of the very matters which would have been given to each individual Borough Council and urban authority. He would ask the Committee to consider the analogy of the main drainage scheme of London at present. It was very little heard of because it swas carried out most satisfactorily by one small central committee. Indeed, so satisfactory was the work of that committee that outside authorities had asked to be allowed to 1353 come under its administration. He himself could not see very much difference or distinction between extracting foul water from a house and putting pure water into it. What had been done by a small committee in the one direction could be done by a small committee in the other direction. He did not wish the Committee to imagine that he advocated, or had ever advocated, that the County Council should be the sole administrative authority for water in London. He had always opposed that proposal; and when the Committee investigated the only possible alternative—the severance—it was found to be impossible and impracticable.
Once the central principle of local government in London was grasped, the problem, complex as it seemed, became simple. That principle was contained under three heads. The first related to matters concerning London as a county which should be under the central authority of London. The second referred to matters relating solely to a locality without overlapping in any way, which were dealt with by the Borough Councils. Then the rapid development of London Beyond its artificial boundaries necessitated a third system of local government, viz., a Board; and in that matter he contended most strongly that the Board must be drawn, not from the subsidiary authorities, but from the county authorities. The Water Board was a very fair example or the last mentioned form of government. In order to carry out its work in a far-sighted manner it would be necessary, from time to time, to transact work in a particular locality for the benefit of other localities. That was always extremely unpopular in the locality concerned. It might be a case of drains, storage, or reservoirs; and if representatives of that locality were on the Board, their primary idea would be the interests of their own area, with the result that they would be very often in conflict with the general interests of water London. He did not speak of the old Board of Works in the derogatory manner that the hon. Gentleman opposite did; but one of its weak points was that there were representatives of outlying districts on it who protected those districts against attack, although the attack was in the general interest; 1354 and there would be a great danger, if these small cabals were to be set up again. He did not reflect on the local bodies; but he advocated a Board which would look at London as a whole. It might be argued that the outside counties would send representatives from districts without the water area; but the bulk of the population would be within the confines of water London, and it would be perfectly easy for those outside areas to send in their representatives drawn from that particular part whose interest would be considered as within the water area of London.
With regard to the portentous size of the Water Board—seventy-three members—the House did not want to institute a Water Board which was a large debating body; what was wanted was a small administrative body. He would suggest that this Board should consist of thirty-three members. The fact that provincial corporations had a large number on their Boards was no analogy. Those corporations had various functions to perform which necessitated committees and sub-committees being created. In this case there was only one function to perform, which could be well done by a smaller body. Every authority on this matter strongly disapproved of a large body. The main argument in favour of seventy-three members was that there must be a large body in order to establish the many committees that would have to be established to control the water business in all these areas. The evidence given before the Commission was that some seven or eight committees would be required, but in the opinion of the experts examined two or three would be ample. It was said it would be necessary to create appeal committees in various districts, and again the evidence of the experts controverted that evidence and said such a thing would be most undesirable. The detail work would have to rest with a paid official. He quite agreed that it was not desirable that all the work should be in the hands of a paid official, but a great deal of it must be. With regard to local members being placed on this Board in order that the grievances of their localities might be ventilated, he did not think such a thing was desirable. Under such conditions a 1355 grievance had little chance of being remedied. By far the most effective way would be for the locality aggrieved to send a deputation to the central body. That was the practice of the London County Council, and the complaints of deputations were always listened to and dealt with on their merits. It had been pointed out that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of this Water Board would be paid officials and do most of the work, but he did not envy the man who would have to preside over these conflicting interests. He should be a good administrator, and with a large body like this it would be found that he would be nothing more than a Chairman to keep order. The Board was unwieldy, and from its size was not likely to be a good administrative Board, and no case had been made out for such a large Board when the Committee considered that the only work it would have to do would be to administer the water of the Metropolis.
He had tried to consider this matter from a broad point of view, and the conviction to which he had been forced was that such a Board as this would not conduce to the good administration of the water of London. He made an earnest appeal to the Government to reconsider this matter. They had now arrived at the last month of the year after a most fatiguing session; the House was exhausted; many Members had gone and the debates were becoming more desultory every day. Was it right, under these circumstances, that a great question like this, affecting the health of millions of people, should be dealt with in this manner. The postponement of this Clause would not disturb the other portions of the Bill, which could all be got through; but the constitution of the Board affected the whole municipal power of the country, and was going to affect the finance and health of this vast and increasing city, and therefore he asked the Government to reconsider this proposal. It was a proposal which hardly any business man outside the House approved of, and therefore he appealed to the Government to adjourn this proposal to next session.
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'ten' stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ (4.20.)MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
said the Committee had listened to the excellent and well-informed speech of the hon. Member for North Wilts in support of the Amendment, and he could not help contrasting that speech with the one which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman upon the clause. The President of the Local Government Board was unable to make a good speech, because he had no case. The right hon. Gentleman had made a speech this afternoon in which there was little argument, but what there was had quickly been disposed of by the hon. Baronet. He supported the appeal the hon. Baronet had made to the Government not to press this Clause at the moment, in the interest of the Government for the smooth working of the Bill, and in the interest of economy in the working of it. He hoped they would not force through the House what he believed to be the most extravagant policy that had ever been forced on London. The President of the Local Government Board had stated that he had given the London county Council representation on the governing body because it had taken an interest in the question, and to the other district because they were affected, but he had not mentioned the extent to which the County Council was concerned. In the course of the next ten years the County Council, out of the County Council rate, would probably have to provide a sum of money ranging from £30,000,000 to £50,000,000, and the body which would have to provide the money, upon whose financial credit and administrative responsibility the money would have to be found to buy out the companies in the first place, and to supply shortages which would inevitably ensue if such a large body as was proposed managed the water supply—that body was entitled, if not to a clear majority, at any rate to more than one-seventh of the representation. Then, what about the other bodies? The Borough Councils would have thirty-six members out of sevety-three.
*THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
reminded the hon. Member that a specific Amendment had been moved, and the discussion must be restricted to the substitution of "14" for "10."
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
pointed out that the object of the proposal being brought from the Schedule to the first Clause was that a general discussion might be taken. If the Committee had understood that they were to be limited to the question between "10" and "14," they would have taken the general discussion before the Amendment had been moved. He trusted the Deputy Chairman would allow the general discussion to be taken, as that was the distinct understanding.
§ MR. CORRIE GRANT
said the hon. Baronet in moving the Amendment, so far from confining his argument to the substitution of "14" for "10," dealt with the whole of the proposal.
*THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
said that at that time there was no specific Amendment before the Committee, and therefore the hon. Baronet was entitled to discuss the whole subject. The discussion would now have to be restricted to the particular Amendment, but when the Question that the original Amendment of the President of the Local Government Board stand part of the Clause was put, a general discussion could be taken.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
asked whether it was not on the clear understanding that they might discuss the whole Question that the hon. Baronet was allowed to move his Amendment.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
suggested that the debate should be allowed to proceed as though the whole of the hon. Baronet's Amendment were before the Committee, it being understood that the debate should not be repeated at a subsequent stage.
*THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
said that that could be done with the consent of the Committee and himself. If, however, the discussion was now taken, it must be clearly understood that no discussion would be allowed at the end of the Amendment.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS (continuing his speech)
contended that the Borough Councils were not entitled to the disproportionate representation proposed, inasmuch as they had no financial responsibility, were not particularly vested with metropolitan knowledge such as would be required, and were not elected or supposed to ask for representation on a body which ought to look at the water question from a universal point of view, without local prejudice or interest. He objected to the disproportionate representation because it would make the Board unusually and unnecessarliy large. All authorities on the subject agreed with that. If it was possible for a body of fifteen to manage the main drainage system of London, which, from some points of view, was more important as regarded the health of the people, more difficult to manage, and more dangerous to administer, it was taxing the patience of the House of Commons too much to ask that a mob of seventy-three men, gathered from thirty localities, should deal with the water supply. The proposal was contrary to the recommendations of all the Commissions and Committees that had inquired into the subject, and if the right hon. Gentleman attempted to get up an agitation in its favour he doubted whether even the fifteen or sixteen Borough Councils which had given a most perfunctory assent to the scheme would now be found in its favour. In such a matter, with the enormous sums of money at stake, and the necessity for economy, and for securing a personnel of the highest character on the financial side, with a view to obtaining credit, he was not diposed to attach undue weight to the view of the newly elected Borough Councils, who had not this subject before them at the time either of their creation or election. The hon. Members for Chelsea and West Marylebone, and other supporters of the Government, who had some knowledge of the question, had declared themselves in favour of a smaller body, on the ground that the authority now proposed was too large, might be inefficient, would overlap, and was not the proper kind of body for the purpose. The President of the Local Government Board ought to recognise facts. Not a single Conservative Member had yet stood up to defend the constitution of 1359 this Board. The hon. Member for Exeter had indeed tried to help the Governmental lame dogs over the stile, but his remarks were in the nature more of apologetics than of a wellinformed defence. It had been truly said that some counties which were enamoured temporarily of the Government measure were now realising that with such a large board there was a probability of theier localitits not being well served, and, in the matter of compensation, being unfairly treated. The Kent Water Company had already expressed a desire to get away from this large body, and some of the Middlesex authorities were anxious to follow the example of Kent and cut themselves off from this Board altogether. It did seem to him that a Board condemned by Lord Cross's Committee, Lord James's Committee, and Lord Llandaff's Committee, failed from the point of view of economy and efficiency. Why did the President of the Local Government Board want the Borough Councils to be represented at all? He believed that it was due to his unreasoning dislike for the London County Council. What was the reason for his dislike? The London Country Council would have to find the money, and the right hon. Gentleman should be inclined to conciliate, in the interests of the Water directors, the body which would have to pay the piper. This dislike appeared to have been begotten by a belief that if the right hon. Gentleman disliked the London Country Council sufficiently he could use the thirty-six Borough Councillors against the London County Council for political reasons, but if that was the Government view he wished to point out the consuquences of holding that view.
No reasons had been given why the London County Council should be discredited and displaced in this way. The right hon. Gentleman asked that the London County Council should be over-whelmed and outvoted on this Water Board by those who might look at the question with more justice to the Water shareholders than the London County Council would. If that was the reason it was unreasonable, unstatesmanlike and unfair. Let the Committee look at the matter from a Borough Council's point of view. What did the Government do? 1360 They abolished vestries and put the Councils in their place. And why? Because some of them indulged in malpractices bordering on corruption. When the vestries were replaced by the Borough Councils thier numbers were reduced, and the very reason which induced the Government to make this reduction was the reason why thay should reduce the number of this Water Board. The Borough Councils were made smaller in numbers and larger in area, and if the new Borough Councils would do their work as they ought to do they could not afford that proportion of their small number which would be necessary for them to be represented on the Water Board to the extent proposed by this Bill.
It had been said that in the future some members of the Borough Councils would have to be provided for education. He thought that instead of education and water it would be better to give them poor law matters to look after. It appeared that the County Council was to be supplanted by bodies which had already got enough to do. With regard to this new body the Bill said that it could purchase by agreement. This meant that a body of seventy-three persons coming together for the first time would have to agree to purchase the water companies either by agreement or arbitration. If purchase by agreement was settled upon then this new body was the wrong one to deal with it. This boby would probably decide to purchase by agreement, and they might be driven in their own interest to press harder upon the water shareholders than an arbitration tribunal, or harder even than a body like the London County Council would. There was a danger of this new body treating the companies unfairly. Of course there was also the other alternative that they might treat the companies too generously, which would be detrimental to the interests of the ratepayers of London. They would have experts on both sides. One side would try to get the best bargain they could for the ratepayers, and the other side would do the best they could for the water shareholders, and between those two interests he could see both sides appealing to those thirty-six Borough Councillors who would have no knowledge of this particular subject, and 1361 who, with a little political bias, would come down either on the side of the directors or the County Council who might want to have too much of thier own way. That course would be neither business-like nor just to the ratepayers or the water companies.
Now that the terms were roughly determined and both side were satisfied with the arbitration tribunal, now that it was admitted that the County Council was the best authority, it did seem to him to be unreasonable and unfair beyond conception that these thirty-six Borough Councillors should be brought in without any knowledge and experience to determine the price of something which might range from £30,000,000 to £50,000,000. The problem of London government was every year becoming more serious, more difficult and complex. The way in which various vested interests had been allowed in the past to ride rough-shod over the common interest of this vast city had become intolerable, and if this was to be rectified they would have to have central bodies with larger control and wider powers than existing central bodies possesed in order to keep local bodies and companies down to certain lines and conditions by which a minimum of public inconvenience would be caused in carrying out their work. For executive reasons alone it was simply madness to say that the body responsible for the main drainage of London should not have a more or less dominating voice in the executive work of carrying out the water supply of London. By centralising the water and drainage management they would confer, in the matter of comfort and convenience, untold advantages upon London. A centralised body, small in numbers, trusted by the people, as central bodies invariably were now when directly elected, ought not to wait for the complaints of local people. It ought to anticipate local complaint by removing the cause long before it ran to the extent of a public grievance. These subcommittees would be used for preferential treatment by localities, they would be manipulated by officials, and perhaps by workmen. He could see, in connection with contracts, a fine vista of jobbery if this system of local committees was 1362 instituted. He objected to the proposed Board for, roughly, the reasons given by Viscount Hampden, a director of the Lambeth Water Works Company. Speaking at the half-yearly meeting of the company on 25th November, he said—Both as a consumer and a ratepayer London he hoped that, even at the last moment the Government would avoid establishing such a cumbrous, unwieldy, and inexperienced Board as that proposed in the Bill. It had been said that the great advantage to be derived from transferring the undertakings to a public board would be unity of management, but it would be quite impossible ever to obtain unity of management with a board such as that proposed by the Government. They proposed to give representation to every single borough in the metropolitan area. Speaking quite generally, north and west London were supplied at a less charge than east and south London, and it would therefore follow that the representatives, say, of Westminster, instead of being in favour of unity of management, would do their best to oppose in every possible way they could any proposal to alter the incidence of charge or any effort to secure the equalising of rates.That ought to be conclusive to the President of the Local Government Board Viscount Hampden's statement was in it self argument enough against the establishment of this Board of 1873.
He would state another argument. Everyone in the House knew that the Thames could not very much longer be depended upon as a source of water supply for London. Middlesex would seek power to go out of this scheme before two years had gone by. Surrey, Hertfordshire, Essex, and part of Kent, would object to remain compulsorily under this Water Board, because they would be under the impression that they could be better served in some other way. The effect of that would be that an extravagantly disproportionate cost in certain districts would ensue, and the water rate might go up. If it went up it might cause people to resist what he believed to be absolutely inevitable, namely, the abandonmnet of the river Thames as a source of supply in favour of some big project which would require business men, and great engineers with prescience and capacity. They would have to go to Wales or else where for the new supply. What would the Councillors who were on the proposed Water Board do? They would look at this project from a narrow, petty, 1363 parochial, and microscopic point of view, because Vestrymen and Borough Councillors who never spend more than £200,000 or £250,000 in a particular locality would not have the moral courage to take up, in a bold way, the work necessary to give London, a proper water supply. Failing the adoption of the scheme of the London County Council, which he believed was the best, and which experience would prove to be the only way of dealing with the question, the proposal of the hon. Baronet the Member for North-West Wilts was the next best thing, and he would support the Amendment with all the power he could command, because he was extremely anxious that the water supply should be managed by men above local prejudice, and not susceptible to the influences arising out of vested interest. He hoped the President of the Local Government Board would go on with less contentious Clauses and give the question of the constitution of the board consideration between now and March next.
§ (5.7) SIR EDGAR VINCENT (Exeter)
said that hon. Members who urged the postponement of that portion of the Bill which dealt with the constitution of the new boby must either have forgotten, or taken singularly little account of, a petition signed by a large majority of London Members urging the Government to finish the Bill before the end of the present session. He submitted that that petition represented the preponderating opinion of the water consumers of London. Having given great attention to the subject, he was altogether unable to comprehend the alarm which was apparently felt at the constitution of a body of seventy-three members, and, still more, to understand the enthusiasm with which the constitution of a board of thirty-three members apparently inspired them. The difference between these two bodies was a little matter of detail, but he submitted there was no essential difference in the matter of administration between them. If hon. Gentlemen chose to substitute for the quasi-representative body proposed by the Government a small committee of ten, twelve, or fifteen paid members, he could understand that arguments of considerable force might be used in support of that proposal, but whatever arguments were given, it was perfectly certain they would not come from hon. Gentlemen 1364 opposite. If one looked beneath the surface it would be seen that the argument did not really turn on the municipal difference between a body of seventy-three or thirty-three members. Whether by coincidence or otherwise, it was a fact that! the Water Board proposed by his hon. friend the Member for North-West Wiltshire, and supported by hon. Gentlemen opposite, did give a practical majority and preponderance to the London County Council, whereas in the measure brought forward by the President of the Local Government Board the London County Council was merged in the larger representation. He admired much of the work done by the London County Council, but on the Water Question it appeared to him that the Committee were met by this difficulty, that every outside authority which had expressed a view on the question had petitioned, and urged the petition with the greatest possible force, not to be compelled to form part of a body for the management of the water supply on which the London County Council would have a predominant position. He believed the opposition to any proposal of the Government to give the London County Council a preponderating influence, would have been absolutely insuperable from all the counties round. It had been argued that the proposed Board was unwieldy, but surely the fact that a representative body drew its members from a considerable area, and that opposing views were represented, was a distinct advantage rather than a defect.
The further argument had been advanced that the whole subject of water supply was rather the function of a committee than of an independent Board. He thought that that view arose from a complete misapprehension of the problem they were dealing with. The views of water authorities in various provincial cities had been cited with approval and emphasis, but he submitted that the problem before the Committee now was one differing totally in extent and nature from any water supply scheme at present in force throughout the country. Water London contained a population of six and a quarter millions. It was composed of districts differing mostly in thier requirements and their habits, while the sources of the water supply were widely separated from each 1365 other. He could not find the smallest analogy between the circumstances either of Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, or the other large provincial towns, and the problems which now confronted them in London. An interesting paper had been put in by the London Country Council, in which the figures concerning thirty-nine large towns in the provinces were given. But there was no analogy whatever between the water supply of London, with its six millions of inhabitants, and the water supply of towns whose population did not exceed 200,000. It had been argued on the basis of these figures that the committees were totally unnecessary, but if the details of the statement were read it would be found that of the thirty-nine large towns all but eleven worked through sub-committees; and that the number of sub-committees increased in direct ratio with the increase of area and of population. That appeared to him to destroy altogether the argument that the proposed Water Board, consisting of seventy-three Members, would be inefficient. It was perfectly obvious that the work of the Water Board would be conducted almost entirely through sub-committees. It had been repeatedly brought forward that a better proposal to the one now before the Committee would be Lord Llandaff's—viz., a Board composed of thirty members; but he thought that in taking that view the members of the London County Council were some what illogical; because, when the Llandaff commission reported in favour of a small Board, a deputation waited on the Government and Mr. Mackinnon Wood stated that he had not been able to find a single man to approve of that Report. A small Board, that Gentleman said, was not representative enough, but too administrative. They were, however, now told that the proposed Board of seventy-three members was too representative and not administrative enough. The real fact of the matter was that the opposition to the Bill came from those who would be satisfied with no solution but that which left the London County Council in command of the field.
Then it was said that the ratepayers were not sufficiently represented on 1366 the proposed Board. He confessed that the reasons adduced for that criticism did not appear to him to be well founded. He maintained that the real wishes of the ratepayers and water consumers of London would be better represented in a Board of seventy-three than in one of thirty-three. And it went without saying that the representaion would be more complete ina Board of such numbers than on an administrative Board of twelve or thirteen. He could understand the argument against the new body as being inexperienced, and as not being able to get the best of the discussion when settling terms with the Water Companies; but it was forgotten that the Bill itself had laid down in precise terms the method of transfer and the conditions. He drew attention to Clause 23, which established the Board of Arbitration—
*THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
Order, Order! The hon. Member must not discuss any future Clause. I think I have already allowed the hon. Member too much latitude in regard to the financial part of the Bill.
§ *SIR EDGAR VINCENT
said he would pass from the financial Clause. His only object was to show that the danger apprehended in regard to the constitution of the Board from the fact that it was composed of seventy-three members was largely dicounted by the fact that the financial business of the transfer would rarely come before them. Attention had been almost entirely confined to one point, viz., the number and the constitution of the necessary authority. Outside that, there appeared to be a general consensus of opinion that the proposal before the Committee was acceptable. His own view was that it was not only acceptable, but that it was in the highest degree ingenious; and he believed most sincerely that if it were accepted by the Committee it would provide a good working solution of the question which had been too long before the community. He therefore urged the Committee most strongly not to be diverted from the examination of the real point of the Bill. If the argument of those who had—if he might use the term without offence—an axe to grind, 1367 were put aside, those who desired that the body to be created the sole authority for water, outside the London County Council—there was no alternative suggested to that submitted in the Bill.
§ *MR. MELLOR (Yorkshire, W. R., Sowerby)
said he was not going himself to urge on the President of the Local Government Board to withdraw this Bill, although he was not enamoured of it. He hoped that a good Bill would be passed, because, as the hon. Gentleman who spoke last had said, this question had been a long time before the House, and it was desirable that it should be settled. He was, however, bound to say that he thought that it was very late in the session to discuss so important a Bill. When they considered the very large amount of money that was going to be invested in this matter, all the difficulties of the question, and the extreme importance of it to the ratepayers, he was sorry that it had come up to be dealt with now, when they would not be able to give it the attention which it deserved. He joined in the suggestion that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board should accept this Amendment now. and then those difficulties in regard to the rest of the Bill would be very small, and that he would get it passed without much difficulty. If it should turn out that this Amendment would not cause the Bill to work properly, the right hon. Gentlenman had the remedy in his own hands. He could bring in a Bill to alter it next session, and with the Government majority at his command the amended Bill could be passed easily. This was not a political matter in any sense. It was a pure matter of providing London with an adequate supply of the best water. It was absurd to look at it from a political point of view. He was a member of Lord Llandaff's Commission, and it was as a member of that Commisssion, and not as a ratepayer of London, that he was now speaking. Why should the Government force upon them this Board of seventy-three, when all the authorities were against it? Lord Llandaff's Commission, which sat for two years, proposed a body of thirty-three; and he was sure that if the question had been put in that Commission 1368 whether there should be a Board of seventy-three or to leave the water companies alone, the water companies would have been left in possession. There was much more to be said in favour of the water companies than had been heard in this House.
This was purely a question of administration. Could it be seriously suggested that any one who read the evidence taken before Lord Llandaff's Commission, or the evidence before the Select Committee, that seventy-three was the best number for administration? The Select Committee decided by two to one in favour of Lord Llandaff's Report, and the conclusion they arrived at was arrived at after considerable consideration and thorough examination of the evidence. What was the use of a Royal Commission if Parliament was not going to attend to its recommendations, especially when the Commission made a unanimous Report? All the eight men on the Commission started with different views, and finally, by the force of the evidence they heard, they Joined in a unanimous Report. The real reason why the number of thirty- three for the Board had been fixed upon was this: they had to inquire as to whether it was prudent, for financial reasons, that the water companies should be bought out by some body, and if they were to be bought out, by what body. They came to the conclusion that it would not be advantageous to the ratepayers that the water companies should be bought out by any body unless the greatest possible care were taken for future administration, and that that should not be to the disadvantage of the ratepayers of London. His objection to seventy-three members was that the people who returned the Borough Councils were also represented on the County Councils, and practically got their representation twice over. The County Council was the proper authority to be represented on the water board. The right hon. Gentleman had told the Committee that he had arrived at the number seventy-three after a great deal of consideration and thought. The Commission came to the conclusion that it was not to the advantage of the ratepayers that the water companies should be bought out unless the greatest possible 1369 economy and care were afterwards exercised in administration. They recommended a board of thirty-three members who should, as far as was possible, be experts—people well acquainted with water administration, who would administer the water in the most economical way and prevent waste. Of course, the Commission supposed that the experts would, to a great extent, be taken from among the old directors of the water companies, who had practical experience of the business. He hoped the Government would, even at this the eleventh hour, listen to their suggestions. If they did, no one could blame them, and it never could be reasonably suggested that either the Government, or the Bill, had been damaged by such a course. The Opposition simply wanted to get for the ratepayers of London the best possible administration, in order that no reproach might rest upon Parliament when the Bill began to work. Thirty-three members was quite enough. The Government's scheme would result in the borough and county representatives differing from each other, and the system of Progressives and Moderates would be reproduced. It was most desirable to avoid anything in the nature of debating; what was wanted was administration. He spoke not as a Member of the Opposition but as a member of the Royal Commission, which was a very strong one, and came to a unanimous conclusion after reading the evidence. That surley was a good argument in favour of adopting their recommendations, and he hoped under those circumstances the Committee, at all events, would not agree to the proposal of the Government.
§ (5.38.) MR. WALTER LONG
said he had little to add to his previous remarks. The right hon. Gentleman complained in almost pathetic terms that the Government had not adopted the precise recommendations of the Royal Commission. He was surprised, however, that the right hon. Gentleman should have raised the question on the Amendment of his hon. friend, which, whatever the views of the Government might be, was not based on those recommendations. The reason why they departed from the recommendations of the Commission was very simple; it was because they had to 1370 deal with this question as practical men who had to face a practical difficulty. As a matter of fact, the advice given by Royal Commissions was very seldom taken; their recommendations, unfortunately, were very often put on one side. The right hon. Gentleman said this was not a political question, and he was quite sure the statement was made in perfect good faith, but it was rather remakable that nearly all those who had denounced his proposals were Gentleman who sat on the opposite side of the House, or those who held similar opinions to hon. Gentlemen opposite. His hon. friend who moved this Amendment did not represent any London constituency; it was true he was a member of the London County Council— a Moderate—and he appeared now as the advocate of the Progressive policy. That was rather a curious mixture, which did not suggest to him that he should have much regard to the suggestions of the hon. Member.
The right hon. Gentleman opposite assured them that if they accepted the Amendment all their difficulties would disappear. But did the right hon. Gentleman really believe that hon. Members on that side, who in a vast majority represented London, and who had supported the Bill with the approval of their constituents, would surrender the policy with which they had associated themselves in order to adopt that of hon. Gentlemen opposite, or of his hon. frined's A more remarkable receipt given to a Government for the easy carrying on of its business was surely never heard. While the Government might get rid of some difficulties by adopting the suggestion of the Party opposite, they would be only raising fresh difficulties which would make the passage of the Bill more difficult. It was impossible to approach this question in the same way as it could be approached if the country were new and there were no existing bodies. It was impossible not to recognise that there were a lot of metropolitan and urban authorities who, up to now, had failed to come to an agreement on this matter, and who had to be considered. Why all these attacks on the Borough Councils? Why should it be imagined that the County Council was endowed with every virtue and the Borough Councils with every vice? Why was it supposed that 1371 the County Council could do anything they set their hands to, and that the Borough Councils could do nothing? There was no justification whatever, in fact, for these attacks. He contended that it was impossible to ignore the position of the London water area. That area extended much beyond the Limits of the London County Council, both in extent and population, and it would be found that much of the money spent for the various purposes of water supply would be spent outside the area of the London County Council. It was rapidly growing, and rates would increase proportionately. Apart from actual numbers, not only was it wise to select the governing body from these constituent authorities, but if they were to create a body to deal with the great sanitary questions involved, it was natural and just to go to the sanitary authorities of the area concerned. He hoped hon. Members would not suggest that these metropolitan boroughs should only be represented through the County Council, because he was not prepared to adopt the suggestion that the Government should shut out from any place on this body the metropolitan boroughs which had shown themselves so thoroughly capable of looking after the affairs of those boroughs, and who, he believed, were going to add largely to the interest and energy which must be bestowed on municipal work in London if the Metropolis was to vie with the work done in the other great towns.
He did not believe that any other plan than that adopted by the Government was practical or workable. He saw no reason to alter the view at which he had arrived after carefully investigating this question, namely that if they were to obtain the support and agreement of all the people they must secure that there should be on the Board representatives of all the districts concerned. In that way only would they be able to secure a Board which would have the confidence of Water London. If, as was alleged, a Board consisting of seventy-three members would be a mere debating assembly, what became of the great corporations and County Councils? At present London was supplied with water by eight companies controlled by eight different directors. It would be necessary to divide London into districts and work 1372 through committees—for all the detailed work would have to be done in that way—and he did not believe it would be found in practice that there was one man more in this new body than would be wanted for the adequate discharge of their duties. It was amusing to note that the decision of the Committee upstairs as to numbers, upon which so much stress had been laid, was not particularly unanimous, because when the Committee were discussing the desirability of reducing the number to thirty-five, upon going into details of this particular question they raised the number to sixty-nine. The Committee found that unless this representation was given it would be impossible to secure the common agreement essential to the smooth working of such a body. These were the reasons which led the Government originally to put the proposals in the Bill, and they were the reasons which would make the Government adhere to the proposals, and thus render it impossible for the Amendment of the hon. Baronet to be accepted.
§ (6.0.) MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)
said that the word "practical" ran through the right hon. Gentleman's speech, but he had listened in vain for some distinct indication of how, in the right hon. genthleman's mind, the "practical" nature of a proposal was to be tested. Above everything he should have thought practical considerations required that this Board should comprise a body able to proceed at once efficienlty to the business of conducting the arbitration. The first business of the Board would be to enter upon the arbitrations so that the awards might, if possible, be given before the "appointed day'. That was why, in the view of many Member who were anxious that there should be a temporary body which could conduct this business, the refusal of the right hon. Gentleman to entertain a compromise made the constitution of the Water Board a much more serious matter.
§ MR. HALDANE
asked the Committee to consider the position in which this body would find itself. If it had to deal only with the matters spoken of by the right hon. Gentleman it would be different. But the arbitrators would probably say, "The sooner we set to work the better," and these seventy-three gentleman, drawn from all quarters of the London water area, not elected by any homogeneous method, but appointed by bodies holding the most divergent views, would have to prepare for and conduct arbitrations against the most skilled experts who for years had been steeped in the business of conducting these references. The Board would have no officials, as the officials of the companies would not come under their control until a later stage in the proceedings, nor would they have the skilled assistance of the London County Council. He really could not see how, with this body of seventy-three gentlemen, it was possible to have this business conducted with that degree of efficiency which the people had a right to expect. That was why some hon. Members considered that it would not have been a surrender of half the Bill, but a useful and easy compromise, to have dealt with the constitution of the Water Board in a separate measure, in the meantime passing a provision to enable some body—the County Council would have done very well—which had all the machinery for conducting these references at hand, to undertake what after all was the most serious business. Financial questions also would arise before the unfortunate body had anything like an efficient staff at its command. He had looked in vain for evidences of the enthusiasm of London Unionist Members for this measure. Where were the hon. Members for West Marylebone and the Epping Division of Essex, both of whom were keen on the Water Question? They were absent, and the right hon. Gentleman was backed only by a few depressed-looking supporters of Government.
§ MR. HALDANE (continuing)
said the right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the difficulty of working out the scheme of any of the Commissions on the subject, and the necessity, again of proceeding on practical lines. It was, therefore, somewhat peculiar that the scheme ultimately adopted should have differed in such an extraordinary degree from anything that had ever been suggested. Seventy-three was a great contrast to thirty. The consideration that should have been uppermost was that of securing a practical and efficient body rather than that of adequately representing this or that authority. He had no prejudice against the Metropolitan Borough Councils, and would like to see them adequately represented, but it should be "adequate representation" in relation to the question with which the Bill dealt. Certainly without entirely swamping the London County Council, which was practical body, and had conducted its business with great vigour and efficiency, the Government could have given the Borough Councils adequate representation by grouping or otherwise. A feebler argument from the practical point of view in support of any measure had seldom been heard.
It was-said that the Board would require all these members because it was likely to have to separate itself into local Committees. He would have liked that idea to be worked out, because, from a perusal of the Bill, he was unable to see how that part would come in. Questions of policy would concern the water area as a whole. If questions of appeal and valuation such as were dealt with by borough assessment committees were to come before the Board, one could understand the desirability of local committees, but this body would have nothing to do with questions of ratable value and so forth. He presumed that the water supply was to be dealth with on a comprehensive and scientific scale. If so, these things would be reduced to rules to a far greater extent than was at present the case, and even if there were a certain number of appeals they would not be 1375 sufficiently numerous to require the enormous number of committees the right hon. Gentleman seemed to indicate. The real work that this body would have to do was, in the first place, to purchase the undertakings upon proper terms; next, to look after the finance—a matter requiring all the expert advice that could be obtained; and then there would be the question of carrying on the undertakings with the existing staff, as far as possible, on certain general principles which it would be for this body to work out. He felt quite sure that if by putting on this enormously heterogeneous representation they meant that the interests of the localities were to be made permanent, they would get themselves into great trouble. They wanted a policy which would apply to the whole area, and it was much better to deal with these matters upon general principles. He was sure they would have questions enough to deal with without bringing in local problems. If one looked at this matter from a practical point of view the only really practical way to get a thoroughly efficient administration of the system of water supply would be to secure a body altogether free from sectional interests, and be sufficiently moderate in numbers to work out its policy without the confusion which would result from entrusting this work to what was practically a new Parliament for London. It was to be regretted very much in the interests of London that this Board had been framed as it had been. He believed in the advice of the experts and he thought that upon this occasion the Government were going against the great body of expert opinion upon this matter, for the Royal Commission and the Committees which have considered this question were against any such proposal as this, and he could only look upon the future of this new body with grave apprehension. He did not really think that the proposals made by the right hon. Gentleman had got half-a-dozen really convinced supporters besides himself.
§ SIR J. BLUNDELL MAPLE (Camberwell, Dulwich)
said he rose to give his support most thoroughly to the present Board being constituted at the number of seventy-three. He did so because the outside 1376 area was a very important one, and because it was the one from which they got all their water supply. When they came to look at the Bill and counted the number of representatives on the Water Board from these outside areas they would see that of the total of seventy-three there were twenty-five men to be co-opted from those outside areas and they were men who had managed the water supply of those areas, in the past in a most thorough and efficient way. He had been on the London County Council for some years, and had seen the members of the Council there, who worked very hard, but he doubted whether on the London County Council there were men with the same capacity as those who would be chosen from those outside areas. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Haddington, who had just sat down, complained of what the President of the Local Government Board said in regard to the work to be done by this Board. They knew that the Board would have to buy up all the water companies, which would mean an outlay of between forty million and fifty million pounds.
On this Board of seventy-three there would be all sorts of committees required. This Water Board would have to take charge of an area which had up to the present been looked after by the Boards of eight water companies, embracing some eighty different representatives. Therefore the Board they were asking for of seventy-three members was no large number to deal with this important business. There would be the finance committee, committees to deal with the water supply and also with the waste of water. A great many arguments had been adduced as to what they had to do with regard to the water supply, but he thought they would have a much better supply brought to them by the local authorities in outside areas, who ought to look after their own water coureses and see that there was no wasting of water. They would require committees to take charge in those outside areas, and it seemed to him that this number of seventy-three was little enough when they came to consider the large area to be dealt with. Last year he look up the subject of the future dealing with this water question, and he then thought 1377 it was advisable to have a smaller Board. In the meantime, after carefully considering the question, he quite agreed with the President of the Local Government Board that they must have a larger Board. It had been said that when they came to deal with the question of purchase with a Board of seventy-three, that those gentlemen who were on that Board would not be able to deal satisfactorily with the arbitration question. But surely they would be able to do this, for they were not going to decide the question.; They were going to decide the question. They were going to appoint arbitrators, and they would hare the demand of the water companies, and members of the Water Board were sure to be men who wished the companies to have proper value for their property, and they would be able to instruct learned gentlemen like the hon. and learned Member opposite to argue their case, and see that only the proper value was given for the interests of the water companies.
The hon. Member for Battersea, if he might say so, appeared to wander all over the place in dealing with the question of the constitution of the Water Board and what it would be. He thought the main question they had to deal with was what was to be the authority and how was it to be constructed. His opinion was that this Water Board, as proposed by the President of the Local Government Board, would be an effective body, would not be too large, and would be able to do the work most efficiently. The whole question of passing this Bill into law was a very small one, and practically resolved itself down to the constitution of this Water Board. He had yet to learn that any of these different localities had disputed this question. No speaker in the debates on this Bill had said that these different localities chosen by the Bill ought not to have their representatives It was necessary that all these localities should be represented, and when they came to think that twenty-five of the Members of the Water Board represented outside areas, surely the water consumers of London ought to have somebody from the different Metropolitan Boroughs to represent London County Council. It was the London interests as well as the London County Council. It was absolutely necessary that they should 1378 have a larger number of representatives on the Water Board than the outside areas had. As there were twenty-five representatives of the outside areas, it was necessary that the rest of London should have some forty-eight representatives to make up the seventy-three As to the question of the proportion of representation to be given to the different bodies, he thought the London County Council had got too much work to do now. The right and proper thing was that the London County Councils should have about ten representatives, as was promised by this Bill, because they had to deal with the drainage question London was a most extraordinary city and the question of the future water supply and the great waste of water which was continually going on ought to be considered. The streets of London were mostly paved, and the roofs caught the rain, and consequently the water was taken immediately down the drains to the sea. It was estimated that in London alone about 120,000,000 gallons of water every day were taken right out of London and poured into the sea, and that was one of the reasons why London and the London water area was becoming so shorty of water. There was less and less water every year in London, because the whole of that which fell within the London area found its way immediately to the sea. He hoped, therefore, that the Government would stick to thier number of seventy-three members for the Water Board, and he thought the distribution of the representation, as now proposed, would be satisfactory to the House and also to ratepayers of London.
§ *(6.28.)MR. THEODORE TAYLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)
said the question of the constitution of the Water Board for London, althought it was one which did not concern so much the rest of the country, yet did concern the question of local government generally. They all desired that the principle of devolution should be carried be carried out, and therefore they had an interests in the constitution of the future Water Board of London. The hon. Baronct the Member for North-West Wiltshire had no axe to grind or any personal interest to serve 1379 in going against his Party upon this occasion. He (the hon. Member) also disclaimed any party motive in desiring see the London Water Supply made efficient. There were many objections to the London County Council being created the sole authority, because there were so many other districts included in the London water area which were not in the London County Council district, and therefore, it was only right that they should be represented. He could not understand the expressions used by the hon. Baronet the Member for Dulwich, who appeared to think that if the Borough Councils had no special representation, there was a danger of them being swamped by the representatives of outside areas. He wondered what hon. Members would think if small what hon. Members would think if small portions of their own constituencies wanted separate representatives in Parliament because they were afraid of being swamped by the whole division. Members who represented the London County Council would represent the whole of their constituents. He thought there was something in what had been said as to it its not being desirable that some corners of London should be specially represented. He could not help being amused at the statement of one gentleman, who said that certain places ought to have representation because in their areas orginated some of the water supply. He thought that the further from London the water used in the Metropolis originated the better it would be for the people. One of the draw-backs of the Government proposal which the Amendment was designed to correct was the very great inequality of the constituencies which were to be created under this Clause. Camberwell, with a population of 258,000; and Stoke Newington, with 51,000, were each to have one member on the new Board. He was informed that in each of those districts there was room for extension. Why in the scheme proposed was there such an inequality of representation? In proportion to the size of a representative body was the amount of work done. The larger the body, the less the work. He did not know a better illustration of that than this House itself. The more talk, the less work. [MINISTERIAL cheers.] He was glad to find that 1380 sentiment received the approbation of hon. Gentlemen on the other side. He did not know until the President of the Local Government Board told them that the Borough Councils would have to levy the rates. He was under the impression that the County Council would have to do it. Certainly, if any borrowing had to be done, they would get the benefit of the credit of the whole of London from the County Council, rather than the borough point of view. It seemed to him that the hon. Member for Exeter was rather mala propos when he said he could not find the smallest analogy, between the population of Water London, of six and three-quarter millions, and that of any difference had 849,000. Well, the only difference was that of population and area, and there was no difference in principle between 849,000 and 6,000,000.[Cries of "Agreed."] Then, why did they not apply the provincial principle to this area?
Hon. Members who were opposed to the Government proposal supported the Amendment because they objected, in the first place, to such a large body, and, in the second place, to the duplication of representation. The president of the Local Government Board said the hon. Baronet the Member for North-West Wilts represented the policy of the Progressive Party of the London County Council. If he was rightly informed. this was the policy of the London County Council as a whole, and not merely of the Progressive Party. It was a very unfortunate circumstance, at all events, that when this duckling, which was hatched by a former Government corresponding to the present, was going into the water, its original parents should be afraid of it. He was only sorry that the Government could not trust the London County Council to the extent of giving it fourteen out of thirty-three representatives The President of the Local Government Board spoke as if it were somehow a matter of principle that not only should be in a small minority, surely the interests of the London County Council and those of the other Councils included in the Board of Management did not clash to 1381 the extent that there would be cliques and intrigues. These were more likely to arie among the representatives of very much smaller areas, who could hardly be expected to take as broad and liberal views as the representatives of the London County Council. He has endeavoured to import no Party spirit into this discussion. It but of the country at large, that great care should be taken in the formation of those bodies, who were in future, he hoped, to relieve Parliament of many of its most irksome duties, and it was in that spirit that he desired to support the Amendment.
§ MR. D. J. MORGAN (Essex, Walthamstow)
Said he would like to make a remark or two on behalf of the outside areas. In the area with which he had to do there was a population of over 100,000, and the ratable value was over £2,000,000. The people of that district were very interested in this Bill, and they were decidedly in favour of it. The Committee had heard a great deal about the increase of population. He remembered when fifty years ago in the district which he represented there only 5,000 people. Not only had there been the enormous increase of population during that period, but there was still a large amount of ground which was yearly being covered with houses, so that the ratable value in the district would increase to a very large extent. Looking to the immense area over which the new Board would have to do its work, he thought the Committee would see that when the members were split up into small committees there would be no more than necessary. Where there was a very large area to administer it was very difficult to get attendances if there was only a small body. The result was that the attendances became smaller and smaller, and then the work was done practically by permanent officials He hoped the Committee would support the proposal of the Government.
§ DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)
said he was astonished to hear the hon. Baronet the Member for Dulwich support the proposal of the Government. On the Second Reading of the Bill the hon. Baronet made it a matter of complaint that the Board was too large, the number then proposed being sixty-nine He did not understand the suggestion of the President of the Local 1382 Government Board that the Unionist Members were pledged on this subject at the last General Election. Even the right hon. Gentleman himself was not pledged to the precise numbers of the Board. At the last County Council election, when this issue was before the people of London , an overwhelming majority in favour of purchase and control by the County Coucil was returned. The present Bill was not in existence then. Had they been pledged since? He was a fairly careful student of London affairs and he did not recollect the ocassion when they were pledged The President of the Local Government Board on the Second Reading of the Bill said they were not pledged to the number. He told the House that he would leave the number an open question.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
said he not the words, but certainly the right hon. Gentleman said he was not pledged to the actual number. On 3rd March the right hon. Gentleman said that he would consider in the freest possible managers the number of the governing body.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said he had carefully guarded himself against a general reduction, but stated that he would be glad to consider proposals distributing the numbers amongst the Metropolitan boroughs.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
said that he had not taken the right hon. Gentleman's speech in that sense. He did not know of any London Unionist Member who was pledged through his constituency to anything like this number of seventy-three. At the last election of the County Council, the issue submitted to the people was, by the Progressives, purchase and control, financial and otherwise, under the County Council, and by the Moderates purchase. The result was a large majority in favour of the Progressive programme. Personally, he had been and was entirely opposed both to the number and constitution of the Board proposed by the Government. He was opposed to it because there was nothing in any recommendation of any Committee or Royal Commission to support it, and all the best expert testimony 1383 called before the Joint Select committee strongly repudiated the idea of making the Board so large as was proposed by the Government. Mr. Deakin of Liverpool thought that thirty was a sufficient number; Sir B. Leach said that in Manchester the Water Committee consisted of eighteen members, and he thought that sixty-nine was too large. The Deputy Lieutenant for the city of Edinburgh approved of twenty-five, and the Town Clerk of Glasgow twenty-eight. The latter said that sixty-nine was too unwieldly a body, and too unworkable, and that it would militate against the general efficiency of the Board. The other expert witness approved of a body consisting of between eight and twenty-six. The right hon. Gentleman said that when the Joint Select Committee recommended thirty-five, he thought there was little to complain of, but that when he came to consider the matter, form a practical point of view, he felt bound to make it seventy-three. Now if thirty-five was utterly impracticable what became of the recommendation of the Royal Commission and of the Committees, which were all in favour of a body of from fifteen to thirty? On 6th May, in the Joint Select Committee, Mr. J. G. Fitzgerald said that the decision of the Joint Committee had been considered by the Government with profound regret, and then he went on to say that London could have a fair representations on the Board by giving representations to the Metropolitan Boroughs; while Mr. Bremer, of Westminster, said that the decision of the Committee had been received with the utmost regret, and he hoped that they would have an opportunity of being heard. The Joint Committee were, he contended, compelled to come back to the representation of the Metropolitan Boroughs because the Government practically had had it thrust upon them. He was deliberately against the representation of the municipal boroughs which were represented by the London County Council. He did not say a word against the personnel of the Municipal Boroughs or the fitness of the men. This was purely a question of financial propriety. They were told that the boroughs were to raise the money to take over the Water Comapnie's concerns. Nothing of the sort. The County of London would indent the money as the fiduciaries of the 1384 rates of the County of London. He maintained that from the point of view of pure financial propriety there was no justification for the representation of the Municipal Boroughs on the Water Board, when most of the money came from the London County Council. The inclusion of the Metropolitan Boroughs was a difficulty which the right hon. Gentlemen had created for himself, and he would have to arrange a scheme of representation with something like equality, because it was unfair to give equal representation to unequal area and populations. The whole thing was unjust and absurd in the utmost degree.
§ MR. GEORGE WHITELEY (Yorkshire, Pudsey)
said he was not a London Member, and had no personal interest to serve in advocating any point of view. He had no axe to grind, and it seemed to him that Members who did not represent London interests were more likely to regard this question in a judicial frame of mind. It was because he had been for many years a member of a Municipal Corporation and had sat on a Water Committee for a long period that he wished to make a few observations. In his humble judgment the scheme of the Government was unfair, unjust, and impolitic. It was founded on bad principles. It appeared to him to formulate those old feelings of distrust of the London County Council, which they had ventured to hope were dwindling. He would look for a moment at the history of the Bill. It was introduced by the Government in the early months of the year, and the Second Reading was passed after a discussion of two days; but he did not think that the London Members were then very vehement in their support of the Bill. Hon. Members would not deny that there was most vehement opposition to the proposals of the Government in the two days debate of March this year. In this Bill the Government had evolved from their inner consciences a multiplicity of Water Boards, and that was because the Government were, practical, men, as against the experts who sat on the Royal Commission to consider this question. They had flown in the face of the recommendations of the Royal Commission, which had sat for two years to consider the question and 1385 which had arrived at a unanimous conclusion. But that was not the only body which had deliberated upon this matter and formulated an opinion. A joint Committee, which the Government itself had set up, which might have been described from its composition as a most biassed and partial Committee, had come to a conclusion almost identical with that of the Royal Commission. They recommended that the Water Board should be on the lines sketched out by the Royal Commission. When the Committee had come to that conclusion, the Government had endeavoured to go behind their judgment. The Committee then considered that matter afresh. No further material facts were brought to their notice except that the Borough Councils desired representation, and even on that the borough councils were not unanimous, for no less than twelve of the metropolitan boroughs condemned the suggestion that they should be associated with the Water Board. Notwithstanding these facts, the Government was attempting to rush this Bill through the House. The Bill was a big one of fifty-seven Clauses, and that was not the course to adopt. The Government in this matter claimed to be influenced by the London Members, but the County Councils were a far better reflex of the opinion of London on this matter. They were elected by the rateprayers, who, in many cases, were not directly represented by Members in this House. The London County Council was strongly opposed to this Bill. Why should the Committee go behind the County Councils to obtain representatives elected on the same franchise as the County Councils? He was strongly of opinion that this borough representation was a mistake, the various representatives would be apt to push their own interests rather than deal with the matter on broad lines. He agreed with the hon. Member for North Camberwell, that if once borough representation was allowed it could not stop there. Everybody in the area covered by the Water Board must also be given representation. Other great cities in this country had outside areas as large in proportion as London's outside areas, but they did not co-opt members from them. They simply took the 1386 water and paid for it. So far as subcommittees were concerned, a Board of thiry-five members could split itself up into as many sub-committees as were required to administer the water of London. If the Government insisted on a Board of seventy-three members he could only say that in his opinion, although there would be volumes of talk, very little business would be done He supported the Amendment.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N. W.)
Said he should like to put the view of the London resident, as he was so unhappy as not to share the views of his otherwise distinguished representative. He held that the President of the Local Government Board was not entiled to point to the opinion of his supporters, who were representatives of London, as at all reflecting what the opinion of London was on this Bill. The London County Council ever since its creation had been constantly Progressive, but the Parliamentary representation of London had been quite the country. There was no parity of reasoning in the right hon. Gentleman's argument in comparing this Water Board with provincial municipal authorities. On those provincial bodies there was a large variety of functions necessitating a multiplicity of Committees. This Board had only function. Upon the same principle as Parliament placed the control of main drainage and sewage upon the County Council and devolved upon it those matters which appertained to the whole Metropolis in contradistinction to particular units, so they ought to impose upon the Council the duty of looking after the water supply. The Government would be well advised to pay attention to the desire of Londoners as expressed through their municipal authority, the County Council, in this matter.
§ Question put, "That the question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 156; Noes, 46. (Division List No. 607.)1387
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Galloway, William Johnson||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Allhusen, AugustusH'nryEden||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H.(City of Lond.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Gordon, Hn, J. E. (Elgin & Nairn||Purvis, Robert|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Gordon, MajEvans-(T'rH'mlets||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Austin, Sir John||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Groves, James Grimble||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerland W. (Leeds||Guthrie, Walter Murray||Renwick, George|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney.|
|Bignold, Arthur||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Bigwood, James||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Bond, Edward||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Hendrson, Sir Alexander||Russell, T. W.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Higginbottom, S. W.||Sackvile, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.)||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Bull, William James||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Sasson, Sir Edward Albert|
|Butcher, John George||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Kimber, Henry||Seeley, Maj. J. E. B. (IsleofWight|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Cerbyshire||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lawrence, Wm F. (Liverpool)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn J. A.(Wore||Lawson, John Grant||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Champan, Edward||Lee, ArthurH(Hants, Fareham||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwhich)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Stanley, EdwardJas. (Somerset|
|Cohen, Bebjamin Louis||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Long, RtHn. Walter(Bristol, S.)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lonsdale John Brownlee||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Loyd, Archie Kirman||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Macdona, John Cumming||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Crossley, Sir savile||Maclver, David (Liverpool)||Valentia, viscount|
|Cust, Henry John C.||Maconochie, A. W.||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Davenport, William Bromley-||M 'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Welby, Lt-Col A. C. E. (Taunton|
|Dewar, Sir T. R. (Tower Hamlets||Majendie, James A. H.||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Maple, Sir John Blundell||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Dimsdale, Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph C.||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Wilson, A. Stanley(York, E. R.)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Morgan David J(Walthamstow||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Morrell, George Herbert||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham(Bute||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Myers, William Henry||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Fisher, William Hayes||O' Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Flower, Ernest||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Forster, Henry William||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Allan, Sir William(Gateshead)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Glouc., Stroud||Griffith, Ellis J.||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Thomas, David Alfred(Merthyr)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Jones, David Brynmor(Swansea||Toulmin, George|
|Bowles, T. Gibson(King'sLynn)||Lough, Thomas||Walton, John Lawson(Leeds, S.|
|Brigg, John||macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Wason, Eugene(Clackmannan)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||M 'Kenna, Reginald||Weir, James Galloway|
|Burns, John||Mellor, Rt. Hon. John William||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Burt, Thomas||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wilson, Chas. Henry(Hull, W.)|
|Caldwell, James||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Rigg, Richard|
|Cremer, William Randal||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Crombie, John William||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES— Mr. Warner and Mr. Rea.|
|Dunn, Sir William||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
§ (7.33.) Question put accordingly, "That the word 'Ten' stand part of the proposed Amendment."1390
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 153 Noes, 48. (Division List No. 608.)1391
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Forster, Henry William||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Allhusen, Augustus H'nry Eden||Galloway, William Johnson||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H.(City of Lond.||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Gordon, Hon. J. E(Elgin & Nairn||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Austin, Sir John||Gordon, Maj Evans-(T'rH'ml'ts||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Purvis, Robert|
|Balfour, Rt Hn. Gerald W(Leeds||Groves, James Grimble||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Guthrie, Walter Murray||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Beresford, Lord Chas. William||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G(Midd'x||Renwick, George|
|Bignold, Arthur||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Ridley, Hon. M. W(Stalybridge)|
|Bigwood, James||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Robertson, Herbert(Hackney)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Brookfield, Colonel. Montagu||Henderson, Sir Alexander||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.)||Higginbottom, S. W.||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Bull, William James||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Butcher, John George||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W(Derbyshire||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Sassoon, Sir Edward albert|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kimber, Henry||Seely, Maj. J. E. B (Isle of Wight|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn JA(Worc.||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Chapman, Edward||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Lawson, John Grant||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Legge, Col. Hon. Henage||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Tufnell, Lieut. -Col. Edward|
|Cust, Henry John C.||Macdona, John Cumming||Valentia, Viscont|
|Davenport, William Bromley-||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Walrond, Rt. Hn, Sir William H.|
|Dewar, Sir T. R. (Tower Hamlets||Maconochie, A. W.||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E(Taunton|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||M'Arthur Charles (Liverpool)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.||Majendie, James A. H.||Willough by de Eresby, Lord|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Maple, Sir John Blundell||Wilson, A. Stanly (York, E. R.)|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Duming-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Morgan, David J (Walth'mstow||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Morrell, Geroge Herbert||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J (Manc'r)||Morton, Arthur H. Aymer||Wylie, Alexander|
|Fielden Edward Brocklehurst||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Murray, Rt Hn. A Graham(Bute)||Wyndham- Quin, Major W. H.|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Myers, William Henry|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Nicholson, William Graham||TELLERS FOR THE AYES— Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Nicol. Donald Ninian|
|Flower, Ernest||O' Neil, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead)||Craig, Robert Hunter||Mellor, Rt. Hon. John William|
|Allen. Charles P(Gloue., Stround||Cremer, William Randal||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Crombie, John William||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Dunn, Sir William||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Fenwick, Charles||Pirie. Duncan V.|
|Bond, Edward||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Rea, Russell|
|Bowles, T. Gibson(King's Lynn)||Griffith, Ellis J.||Rigg, Richard|
|Brigg, John||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Burns, John||Hayter, Rt. Hon. sir Arthur D.||Russell, T. W.|
|Burt, Thomas||Jones, David Brynmor (Sw' usea||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Lough, Thomas||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Caldwell, James||M'Kenna, Reginald||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.|
|Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe||Weir, James Galloway|
|Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr||White, Luke (York, E. R.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir John Dickson-Poynder and Dr. Macnamara.|
|Toulmin, George||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.|
|Walton, John Lawson(Leeds, S.||Wilson, Chas. Henry(Hull, W.)|
|Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
§ It being after half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again this evening.