HC Deb 13 August 1907 vol 180 cc1164-8

Order for Consideration, as amended, read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended, be now considered."

MR. ARTHUR HENDERSON (Durham, Barnard Castle) moved that the Bill be recommitted to a Select Committee. He said one clause in the Bill had created a great amount of feeling in the City of York, and he was convinced that it was in the interest of all parties that the course he proposed should be adopted. A difference had arisen as to the lease between the city council and the racecourse company. The inhabitants of the city declared that they were left in ignorance as to these arrangements until a very late stage of the proceedings. They had at a meeting passed a resolution against endorsing them. He might be asked if there was any precedent for the course which he now invited the House to take. In 1901, in the case of a Bill where circumstances arose very similar to those which had arisen here, the measure was recommitted to a Select Committee, and the whole matter was settled in about three days. If the ratepayers of York were to be saved the £3,000 or £4,000 spent in bringing this Bill to its present stage, he thought the Motion should be accepted. The Committee could be set up on Thursday or Monday next, and towards the end of the week the Bill could be reported again to the House. Meantime he felt satisfied that some arrangement would be made which would be satisfactory to all parties concerned.

MR. HILLS () Durham

seconded the Motion.

Amendment, proposed— To leave out from the word 'be,' to the end of the Question, and add the words 're-committed to a Select Committee'"—(Mr. Arthur Henderson)—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

MR. MORTON () Sutherland

said that a number of Members had been asked by the citizens of York to get the obnoxious clause regarding the Race Committee and the schedule taken out of the Bill, and he was bound to say that they had a very strong case. Both the clause and the schedule were put in in "another place." He had no objection to that, but what he did object to was that the people of York were not asked whether they liked that course or not. If the Bill could be recommitted in the way proposed, he believed the parties would be able to come to an agreement.


said there were extremely complicated and delicate matters involved in the proposals contained in the Bill. From time to time disputes had arisen between the corporation of York and the Micklegate freemen as to their respective rights in the Micklegate Strays, on a part of which the racecourse was situated. In fact litigation had been commenced by the corporation against the freemen in order to get their respective rights determined. But law was an expensive matter, and the parties wisely decided to abandon the litigation and introduce a Bill in Parliament. The Bill was introduced accordingly in another place. It provided that the Micklegate freemen, in exchange for their common rights, should receive from the corporation of York a payment in perpetuity of £1,000 a year, and that the corporation should have power to enter into an agreement with the Race Committee respecting the racecourse. When the Bill was in Committee in another place, and heard as an opposed Bill, it was settled that the Race Committee should receive a lease for ninety-nine years at a rent of £1,000 per annum. The lease was thereupon scheduled to the Bill. The Charity Commissioners put forward a claim before the same Committee that the £1,000 a year agreed to be paid by the corporation to the trustee should be treated as a charitable trust. This claim was disallowed. In the meantime a large body of the citizens of York took exception to the fact that a lease to the Race Committee containing the terms above referred to had been scheduled to the Bill. Their contention was that they had no idea that an agreement for a lease of ninety-nine years was contemplated. When the Bill came to this House and was sent to an unopposed Committee upstairs the Charity Commissioners again pleaded that the £1,000 a year was a charitable trust. He understood that the Committee by a majority did not agree to the view of the Charity Commissioners. Then a proposal arose that as this Bill was so complicated, and so ill-fitted for proper discussion in the full House the better way to take was to re-commit it to a Select Committee. He put this view before the parties interested, but he was bound to say that the corporation of York, the Race Committee, and the Micklegate freemen were not in accord in the matter. His endeavour as Member for the City of York had been to take neither one side nor the other, but only to give advice when asked to do so.


said that he represented a body of freeholders in the City of York, and also the Micklegate freemen, of whom he was one. The question was whether or not the Charity Commissioners should formulate a scheme dealing with the money which was to be paid by the corporation. He thought if the Bill were referred to a Select Committee it would be contrary to the wishes of all the Micklegate freemen. And if the Charity Commissioners persisted in the Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Elland he was afraid that the Bill would not become law this session.


said he had spent the greater part of two laborious afternoons in endeavouring to bring about a settlement in this matter in order to save the time of the House. He thought the suggestion to recommit the Bill to a Select Committee was a very good one. There were two points. The first was the Amendments suggested by the Charity Commissioners, and as to those he thought than an arrangement could be easily made by an Amendment, which would have been suggested had that been the only question of difficulty. The principal question in dispute now, however, was as to the lease for ninety-nine years which had been scheduled in the Bill. It was admitted, he believed by the Race Committee itself, that that was rather a long period, and that it might be considerably reduced. He believed that a similar lease was granted in 1753 to Lord Rockingham and Lord Carlisle, and the period had been adopted on that precedent without due consideration. It was generally admitted that ninety-nine years was too long, but there was a large body of citizens whose opinion had only made itself felt since this Committee who desired to have no lease at all. That matter could be quickly decided by a Select Committee, and when the Select Committee reported he hoped there would be no difficulty raised to their decision being accepted by the House.


said the Race Committee did not wish to see this Bill recommitted at this stage, but in view of the statement made it was obviously impossible for him to divide the House. The Race Committee maintained that they had acted very fairly in this matter. They came to an agreement with the freemen of the city to pay £1,000 a year to hold the races on the Strays, and when the corporation bought out the rights of the freemen the Race Committee came to a similar agreement with them and had since accepted considerable modifications. It was only fair therefore that the Race Committee should be allowed to say that they had done nothing to justify the recommittal of the Bill. He hoped if the recommittal was insisted upon the result would be satisfactory to all parties. This race meeting was almost the only one in England run for the public' benefit, and not a single penny of private profit was derived from it, the whole of the profit being used to forward the meeting. It was run in the interest of sport, of which in York they were very fond, and was the only race meeting to which the people could come without payment. Under these circumstances the Race Committee thought their representations deserved the sympathy of the whole House.

Question put, and negatived.

Proposed words there inserted.

Bill, as amended, re-committed to a Select Committee.