HC Deb 23 July 1907 vol 178 cc1475-524

Order for consideration, as amended, read.

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


in moving that the Bill be recommitted to a Private Bill Committee, said he did so for the following reasons. The Bill proposed a very large increase in the charges upon consumers of water in London. It was going to impose a charge of something like £100,000 a year additional on the City of London alone. Not only was it going to charge that large amount no the City, but it was going to impose a charge to an enormous amount on the manufacturers and traders of London as a whole. On the Second Reading he had opposed the Bill on a similar ground, but his Amendment was defeated, but he believed that a considerable number of hon. Members opposite would, if they had known what they knew now, have voted with him instead of against him. The Bill, being of a very contentious character, was unfortunately sent to a joint Committee, which was only one tribunal. If it had been sent to an ordinary Private Bill Committee, and if the evidence had not been brought forward in such a manner as to impress the Committee, or if there was new evidence, when the measure went before the Lords' Committee its opponents would have had an opportunity of advancing their arguments a second time. It had always been held that when a Private Bill went to a Private Bill Committee upstairs it should go through the two Committees, that of the Lords as well as that of the Commons. In this particular case the double Committee had been done away with, and the result had been most unsatisfactory. A large number of water consumers thought that the question had not received proper consideration, and therefore the best course to take would be to recommit the Bill in order that its opponents might be placed in the position they would have been in if the Bill had gone through the ordinary course. If after this had been done their arguments were considered to have no weight, then he would have nothing more to say. The object of the Bill was to raise charges for domestic supply from 3 per cent. to 5 per cent. There were only two areas which would benefit under the Bill. In the City of London the charges for water would be increased by £100,000 a year. He knew one case in which they were paying £700 a year for water, but under this Bill they would have to pay £1,500 a year. There was also to be some alteration in the method of assessing outside consumers. Some twenty years ago they had what was known as Dobb's decision, under which the rateable value was substituted for the annual value, and some of the outside areas were not brought in under that decision, because there was not obligation upon them to make a quinquennial assessment. For the sake of securing uniformity the Water Board had decided to reverse the decision in the Dodd case, and under this Bill they were charging the outside areas on their rateable value, with the result that the Board would lose about £50,000 a year, which would have to fall upon the purchasers of water within the Metropolitan area. That was a wrong principle to go upon, because it was far mow expensive to supply water to an outside area on account of the pipes being longer. Therefore the Water Board were proposing to give to the water consumers in those outside areas who ought to pay more for their water a very great advantage as against the people of London proper. The Water Board raised the rates for water for manufacturing purposes some time ago, above the charges which had been previously made by the old companies, but he understood that the manufacturers had made themselves extremely unpleasant, and they were going to have their case met by the charges being brought down to those made by the water companies. The result of this would be that the small manufacturers would not benefit, and the vast majority of the people who consumed water for domestic purposes would have to pay for the benefits given to the manufacturers. In this as in other matters those who had made the most noise would receive the benefit, and the humbler and quieter people would be pushed on one side. It was in the interests of those people that he desired that the Bill should be recommitted, and that course would give an opportunity of reviewing an extremely important matter for the whole of the citizens of London. It was well known that the amount received in rates had increased since the companies' undertakings were acquired by the Water Board, and the amount required to pay interest on water stock was not so much as it used to be. On the face of it he did not see why there should be any loss at all. If there was a deficit under the Bill, the Water Board were empowered to levy a rate over the whole of London, and that would be the fairest way to deal with it, because in that way everybody in London would bear their just proportion. He begged to move.

SIR WILLIAM BULL (Hammersmith).

in seconding the Motion, said he desired to hear on behalf of the promoters of the Bill what compromise they proposed to offer in order to meet the objections stated by the opponents. He frankly said that he did not know where they stood in regard to the small consumer and the large consumer, or in regard to the area outside of London.

Amendment proposed— To leave out the words 'now considered,' and add the words ' recommitted to a Private Bill Committee ' "—(Sir Frederick Banbury)— instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words 'now. considered' stand part of the Question."

*Mr. WATERLOW (Islington, N.)

said he had given notice of an Amendment of his own, but as the question of the recommital of the Bill had been raised he would support the proposal of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. He did that, not necessarily because he wished to kill the Bill, but because the Motion gave an opportunity for raising the whole question. One reason why he and others wished to have the Bill recommitted was that they desired to readjust the burden on the water consumers throughout the whole area served by the Metropolitan Water Board, so that it might not gall in particular places where it might be greater than in others. He admitted that the Bill as a whole contained a great many provisions which would considerably improve the present system. Those who had been engaged in public work of one kind and another in London were of opinion that, with very slight alteration, the Bill might be very considerably improved in the way of equalising the burden as between the various areas. The joint Committee had practically admitted the inequality of the rates as between the outside and the inside areas. That inequality arose from the rating being in some places on annual value and in others on rateable value. The Committee considered that that was a matter for future legislation, and that they would not trouble about it in this Bill. The first point he wished to make was that if they were to trust to future legislation for the redress of this inequality they might possibly have to wait for a very considerable time. Perhaps the President of the Local Government Board would give some assurance as to that, but though the right hon. Gentleman might have the best will in the world to take up at once the question of revaluation, he might find it extremely difficult to get the time in view of the great mass of work which this House had to do. On these grounds he and his friends would rather maintain the status quo. He asked the House to recollect that it was the status quo they desired to maintain. Everybody recognised the great labours which the Committee had given in connection with the Bill. The area over which the Bill extended embraced a population probably exceeding 6,000,000, and that fact consequently raised the measure to one of first class importance. As between the different parts of the entire area there should be fair and equal treatment. The difficulty in regard to annual value and rateable value created a new inequality which did not exist at the present time. After long controversy the old water companies were bought up by the present Metropolitan Water Board. Each of the eight companies which formerly supplied London with water had its own basis of charging, and Parliament in transferring the concerns to the new board imposed on them an obligation by Clause 15 of the Act of 1902 to bring in a Bill to equalise the charges. The measure now before the House was that Equalisation Bill. He did not complain of the Bill having been introduced; but he wished to point out that it created a fresh inequality which did not exist before as between the area under the London County Council and the area which lay outside the jurisdiction of that council. It arose simply from the difference in the law of rating in the two areas. Within the London County Council area, under the Water Rating Definition Act of 1885, water was assessed on the rateable value. In the extra London area, under the Water Clauses Act of 1847, the annual value was the basis for the charge. The present Bill proposed to abolish the annual value as the basis of assessment. On the face of it that might seem a fair proceed- ing, but it was not, because in the London County Council area there was a quinquennial valuation, while in the outside area there was no such valuation. Therefore in the outside area there was no revaluation, and, as a result, there was not a common denominator. The inside area had a periodical revaluation, but in the outside area there was no periodical revaluation. If they adopted the rateable value in the outside area, it might go for years without revision, and the effect would be that whilst those in the inside area would be always screwed up to the highest pitch, those in the outside area would not be screwed up at all. There would thus be an increasing burden on the London inside area. He was to some extent speaking for the majority of the London Members, but he had also in support of his view a communication from the Islington Borough Council, and a large number of representations from the London County Council, who desired that the present arrangements should stand and that the Bill should be amended in respect to this matter. The Islington Borough Council said— I am directed by my Council to ask the Members representing Islington to use their utmost endeavours to get the Bill amended so as to more fully protect the interests of the water consumers in the county of London and particularly in the borough of Islington. The London County Council had gone into the matter very closely and had opposed the Bill in Committee, and now asked that the Bill should be amended. It was not only the old London County Council who had acted in this way. The present and new London County Council had also adopted the same attitude. On 24th January, 1907, the County Council passed a resolution that petitions should be sealed and presented against the Bill, and in a report they said that the measure proposed that the basis of the charge for domestic supply was in the future to be the rateable value of any house as it appeared in the Valuation List. That was at present the basis in the county of London, but in the extra London district it was the annual value. The annual value, the report said, was a higher rate than the rateable value, owing to there being no periodical revaluation in those districts as there was in London; and having regard to the inequality that must arise in consequence of the proposed alteration in the basis of charge, they considered they should lodge a petition against that Bill. On 14th February a further report was presented in which they said that they found upon examination that the Bill in no way provided for a uniform scale of charges, but merely for a fixed maximum charge, leaving it open to the board to make any charges within these maximum charges. They also said that the charge for royal parks was to be a fixed charge of 6d. per 1,000 gallons, and they thought the supply to all public parks and gardens and open spaces should be treated alike. The new council said they could not but regard the proposal to substitute rateable value for annual value as the basis of the water rate in the extra-London districts as most unsatisfactory from the point of view of London. They further said that the existing powers of the Water Board with regard to fixing the charge outside London were fully sufficient to enable it to settle a basis which would be uniform with a basis prescribed by law inside the county, and the Amendment put forward by the council was only intended to continue those powers to the board. That raised a very important point. If they maintained the existing system the Water Board could regulate the basis of charge and could, if they so thought fit, adopt, almost without any trouble whatever, the rateable value as their general basis of charge. The effect of the proposal in the Bill was given in the Water Board's evidence and in a memorandum issued by the Central London Chamber of Commerce. It would be to increase the charge on London by £10,618 a year. The excess of annual values over rateable values, according to the report of the London County Council of 20th June, 1907, amounted to a total assessment of £536,292. With the adoption of rateable value as the basis, the board would lose the right to charge on this amount of assessment, which would be equivalent to a loss in water rates, with a 5 per cent. rate, of £26,805 per annum. It was clear, however, that if the assessment of all houses—many of which, as already stated, were charged on less than the rateable value—were fully rectified, this figure of £26,815 would be very greatly increased. That was practically the case they wished to make, and he thought, inasmuch as they had apparently got nearly a month before Parliament was likely to rise, there was ample time for the matter to be reconsidered by the Committee. As he had said, he did not wish to kill the Bill, but only to give ample time for the consideration of it, and therefore he supported the Motion.


said that if the Motion to recommit this Bill was carried it would be a very serious matter. The House would in that case have decided against the proposals of the London Water Board, and if the Motion was carried it would kill the Bill. If that happened it would cost next year much for legal expenses in the shape of money that personally he should like to see used by the Water Board in reducing the rates to consumers, large and small. If the Bill were recommitted for the sake of uniformity that could never be secured, for a number of people would still have some complaint against the Water Board, even if this Motion was carried, and the same arguments would be used by those who were left out of the preferential scale, and by those whose prices might have been increased in order to secure uniformity. Might he ask the House to look at this matter from the point of view of the Water Board, and also of the consumer. Parliament appointed the Water Board to look after the water supply of 514 square miles inside and outside of London, and £40,000,000 of property, from which an income of £2,750,000 was derived every year. That Water Board had been in power but a short time and had been unable to make anything but a small profit or a small deficit, and he thought it was unreasonable of Parliament to expect anything else in so short a time. And Parliament did another thing besides devolving this enormous responsibility upon this body. It said that after a certain number of years the Water Board, whether it liked it or not, should come to Parliament with a Bill establishing uniformity of charge throughout the limits of supply, and therefore the Water Board Produced this Bill, which had gone before a Joint Committee of both Houses and been examined by them. The Water Board had no choice in regard to the Bill, which, like the parent Bill, went to a Joint Committee, as Parliament in its wisdom had ordered. He thought it was wise that the same tribunal which passed the original Bill should deal with the question of uniformity of prices. The Bill had therefore gone upstairs to a Joint Committee and had been examined by them for thirteen days. The Committee were unanimous after that examination, he believed, in passing the Bill which was now before the House. But it had not been said, and he rose to say it, that since the Bill left the Committee substantial concessions had been made to those interests who thought they had not been so favourably dealt with as they were entitled to be. These interests were the trading and manufacturing interests of London. These gentlemen said, and it was to their appeal he listened, that if the Water Board persisted in maintaining the charges as they passed through Committee, some of the large manufacturers in certain parts of London, by reason of the additional charge placed upon them, would probably have to consider the very serious step of moving their works outside the area of supply. When he was con- fronted with that he did what every Minister of the Crown had a right to do he took the opportunity of seeing whether the differences between the opponents of the Water Board and that body could not be adjusted. Given in round figures, it appeared that if a reduction of £21,000 per annum was made these interests would withdraw their opposition and would not move their Amendments, as he was glad to see they had not done. The Water Board went further, and gave to those interests £24,000. Beyond that they had given a concession to market gardeners, which he thought ought to have been given. It might be said that it was the large manufacturers who alone received this concession, but he was afraid it was the law of life not only in regard to Water Bills but in regard to other Bills that the big fish eat the little fish and the little fish eat mud; but that was not the case here, because one had to consider that if the burden fell upon the larger manufacturers there would be more disturbance in consequence of the shifting of trade than in the case of smaller industries. It might also be said that the other interests which approached the Water Board had not been similarly dealt with, but his answer to that was that the charges in the Bill were maximum charges and if with the improvement of trade more prosperous conditions came to the Water Board in the future there was no reason why the Water Board should not give consideration to the smaller traders, and he would be glad to bring to bear such influence as he had upon the Board in that direction. Nobody had taken any exception to the general scheme of the Bill, and considering the enormous size of the area administered and the value of the property dealt with and the difficulties of the procedure, he wondered on the whole that the board had done so well as they had. The Bill amalgamated services which were formerly disunited, and it equalised the values at which prices could be properly ascertained. It made the service inside and outside the area uniform, and it made the values inside and outside the area the same. What was more, in 87 per cent. of the houses in and outside the London area it had reduced the charge by the sum of £82,000, while it had increased the charge on 13 per cent. of the houses rated at £200 a year and over by £108,000. It had reduced the cost of water to manufacturers and traders and introduced meter rents. It had introduced a rateable value outside the county which he believed to be the only fair and equitable basis of assessment. He believed that the Water Board would meet any reasonable demands upon them, and he appealed to the House not to put the Water Board, and through them the inhabitants of London, to the expense of another Water Bill, when, after all, rough justice had been done with a fair intention and in an even-handed manner to all the interests affected by this great service. He had done his best to be a medium and an arbitrator between the conflicting interests, and he asked the House to pass the Bill on condition that the two Amendments which he had mentioned were accepted by the Water Board. He was sure that that body would receive any suggestion from the Local Government Board for further equalisation in a proper spirit, and he could only say that while he was responsible as the Minister whose duty it was, he would continue to look into this matter. He urged the House to accept the Bill and not to put the Water Board to the trouble of bringing another Bill into the House in two or three years which would be met by the same arguments which had been used against this Bill. He asked the House to believe that the tribunal which had dealt with the matter had dealt with it in the interests of all concerned.


said he only intervened because it was his duty to pass through the House of Commons the preliminary measure which was the origin of the Bill before the House. It was unnecessary for him to go into the history of the measure, because the President of the Local Government Board had done that, but he desired to support the right hon. Gentleman in the course he had taken. Going back, as he was able to do, to the preliminary stage preceding the passing of the Act which set up the Water Board, he remembered, as everybody else who took an active part in the discussion must remember, that the question of the water charges in the Metropolis formed one of the most prominent points of controversy which then raged. When Parliament threw this duty on the. Water Board it knew perfectly well that it was throwing upon them a duty of a most difficult kind, and that it would be. a matter of extraordinary difficulty to find a common basis which would be generally accepted. The difficulty in London not only connected with the water question, but in connection with other questions, had been due to the fact that London was different in its position from any other big city or town in the United Kingdom. Whereas Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, or any big city they liked to name, could be dealt with as single areas, London, until the passing of this Act, was divided into eight separate districts for the purpose of water supply. The bases of charge were different, and, what was more important, not only were the statutory bases of charge different, but the obligations thrown on the different companies arising out of the constitution and character of the separate areas varied in a most remarkable way, and, therefore, each water company really supplied a district which was quite different in the character and requirements of the people living in it from the other areas. All these duties were now concentrated upon the Metropolitan water Board, and, although he could quite understand the dissatisfaction which had been voiced by his hon. friend the Member for the City of London and others, he did not believe that it was possible to find any solution of the question which would not produce considerable irritation and dissatisfaction on the part of some people. They had got, in fact, to make some people pay more than others in order to get equalisation of charges and do justice all round. They knew perfectly well that those who were released from some portion of the burden, or that those on whom no additional burden was imposed, would not show gratitude, whereas those who had to pay in excess of what they had been previously charged would naturally complain and ask that the matter should be reconsidered. He was confident that reconsideration would not improve the proposals of the Bill. They might tear the whole thing up, yet it would only entail much heavier and increased charges on London, and he respectfully asked the House to agree to accept the Bill. He desired to congratulate the President of the Local Government Board on the part he had taken in the matter, because the right hon. Gentleman had no responsibility for the passing of the Act which led to the introduction of this Bill. The President of the Local Government Board was at one time inclined to oppose he measure, but he had now acted as amicus cur œ in the matter with absolute fairness to all the people concerned; he had done his best not for one party or the other in the dispute, but to aid in the solution of this great London difficulty. He believed he advice which the right hon. Gentleman had given was well founded; and he thought that it would be in the interests of London that the next stage of this difficult question should be settled now, and, if any further steps were called for, he was convinced that to whomsoever it might fall to deal with the question it would be dealt with in the interests of London.

*MR. STRAUS (Tower Hamlets, Mile End)

said he should not vote for the recommittal of the Bill, because there were very valuable things in it which it would be a great pity for London to lose. But there were also some very great dangers in the Bill which certainly ought to be taken out, and he earnestly hoped that some of the Amendments on the Paper would be accepted, and that thereby the measure would be strengthened and made of some real value to London. If these Amendments were not carried, however, he would sooner that the Bill was killed to-night, because he believed that it would simply go on making the anomaly more absurd in the future than it had been in the past. It could not be right for London Members, at any rate Members representing the inside London area, to vote for anything which made the inside area suffer and the outside area benefit. The Bill as it stood now was not quite the immaculate and remarkably well considered measure that might be imagined outside from what had been said, because the estimates were based on the valuations made before the last quinquennial valuation, and consequently the valuations and the figures which they had were not correct or up to date; and if they considered the last quinquennial valuation they would find, he was quite confident, that a great deal of the loss which had been estimated would not occur. In undertaking not to vote for the recommittal of this Bill, London Members, either Liberal or Tory, in no way pledged themselves to vote for it, unless some of the Amendments which were on the Paper, and which they considered of the utmost importance, were accepted in order to ensure that the rates would be levied on a proper and fair basis.

*Mr. BARNARD (Kidderminster)

said he would like on behalf of the Water Board to thank both the President of the Local Government Board and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin for the manner in which they had approached this question. The Water Board were pledged to bring in this Bill; they had no interests of any sort to serve, there was no intention of favouritism, and they had tried as far as they were able to hold the balance between all the different interests which were involved. The President of the Local Government Board had mentioned that he had had an interview with the representatives of the Water Board after the Bill had left the Committee, and that he had pointed out to them that in his opinion some amendment in connection with the trade scale was desirable; and after they had seen the right hon. Gentleman, they had a second and a third interview with him, in which they made it emphatically clear that as far as advising the Water Board was concerned they could only go to the extent of not opposing the amendment of the scale; they could not volunteer to accept it, because they did not think it a desirable alteration which the right hon. Gentleman, in his wisdom, suggested was suitable. Their reason for not volunteering to accept it was a financial one. The Water Board had to collect nearly £3,000,000 a year with which to do its work, and the responsibility for doing that, without risking a rate-in-aid, was very heavy and onerous. The Board were of opinion that it was most undesirable in any way whatever to risk a rate-in-aid, and the whole framework of their scheme was based on that conclusion. The President of the Local Government Board had also pointed out that the market gardeners should get some warning before being cut off. The Board said they were willing to extend the time to seven days in order that the market gardeners might have the opportunity of making other arrangements. He expressed his sincere thanks to the President of the Local Government Board for the manner in which he had brought the parties together. The hon. Member for Islington had suggested that the new rating basis proposed by the Bill would involve a hardship. He ventured to think that that was very largely imaginary, since the resulting loss of income was represented by an annual sum of £10,600, and when this was subdivided it was found that, roughly speaking, £8,000 represented an actual overcharge within the West Ham Union. Since the discussions in the Committee the Board had gone closely into the figures, and the found that they could not maintain the present valuation. The water assessments for the West Ham Union were above what they ought to be, and it appeared to him that the time had come for revising them. But on the other questions they could not go any further in the way of concession than the President of the Local Government Board had pointed out.

*Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)

said that when he saw two right hon. Gentlemen on opposite Front Benches patting each other on the back and the hon. Gentleman responsible for the Bill patting both those right hon. Gentlemen on the back, he observed a position eminently threatening to the general interests of Members and particularly so to the interests of the consumers of water. If he had no other reason for opposing the Bill, he should find one in the fact that a measure, affecting the health and welfare of 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 inhabitants of London, had been brought forward at that hour of the night. He had listened, not with much surprise, to his right hon. friend, who had evinced a paternal solicitude in the doings of the Water Board which he created, but he confessed he had a little more surprise when he heard the right hon. Gentleman opposite say they must look at the matter from the point of view of the Water Board. He looked at it from the point of view of the consumer who lived in London, who was highly rented and highly rated, and whose assessments were constantly raised by quinquennial revision, and who by the Bill was being mulcted in favour of the man who lived outside London and who paid a low rent, and a low rate, and had no revision. Moreover, the latter's rent was largely represented by the cost of his railway fares to and from London, on which he was not rated for water. His right hon. friend and the right hon. Gentleman opposite and the hon. Member below the gangway had supported the Bill on the ground of its uniformity of charge, but there was absolutely no uniformity in the charge established by the Bill. The average cost of water per head was 5s. 7d.; the charge for that water outside was 4s. 1d. and 6s. 3d. inside. By this Bill the outside charge was reduced to 3s. 7d. and the inside raised to 6s. 9d. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether that was a uniform charge. [An Hon. Member: "How many gallons do they use inside and outside?"] He should like to refer to another distinction which many people might not have in their minds In London a man paid £100 for a house which the man who lived outside got for £60. Both used the same amount of water, but the man in London had to pay £5 for his water, while the man in the country only had to pay £3. Was that uniformity? Another point which struck him as extraordinary was that while the big business man and the well-to-do tradesman had been favoured the poorer man was penalised, and the man who was rated above £300 a year for an office or shop he locked up at night got a rebate of 20 per cent. on his water rate while the man who occupied a smaller shop which was not above £300 got no rebate. He asked what justice there was in the struggling professional man or shopkeeper who paid £50, or £100, or £200 rent not getting a rebate while his neighbour who paid£300 or £400 received that benefit. At that late hour he could not go into other matters; but for these two reasons, because the Bill set up absolutely no uniformity of charge and because it was hard on the small man, he would vote for its re-committal.

*MR. LUKE WHITE (Yorkshire, E.R., Buckrose)

did not wish to stand between the House and a division, except for a few moments. As one of the Members of the Committee he said the Bill did secure uniformity of charge throughout the whole area. The House had laid it down that the Board should bring in. a Bill similar to this this session. He thought it should be pointed Out that the Committee which originally considered the question laid down two great principles. The first was that there should be uniformity as to the basis on which the charge was to be made, and the second was that there should be uniformity as to the amount of the charge, namely, 5 per cent. on the rateable value as a maximum charge. He asked the House to support the Committee and to pass the Bill in the form in which it was now before them. A great deal had been said about the injustice which would be done to London, both inside and outside the Metropolitan area, if the Bill became law. He wished to point out that there were at the present time about 1,000,000 buildings in the area which received a water supply, and, if the Bill was passed, the effect would be that less than one-

fourth would have to pay an increased rate. A little over one-fourth would be undisturbed, and nearly one-half—that was to say 500,000,of houses—would benefit by having a lower rate. On every ground that could be urged. it would be a great misfortune if the Bill were not passed during the present session, and he hoped that the House would defeat the Motion at present before it.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes. 163; Noes, 53. (Division List No. 306.)

Abraham, William (Rhondda) Haworth, Arthur A. O'Connor, T. P, (Liverpool)
Acland-Hood.RtHn.SirAlexF Hayden, John Patrick O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)
Anson, Sir William Reynell Hazelton, Richard OShea, James John
Balcarres, Lord Helme, Norval Watson Parker, James (Halifax)
Baring,Godfrey(Isle of Wight) Higham, John Sharp Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Barker, John Hills J. W. Pease, Herbert Pike(Darl'gton)
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Hobart, Sir Robert Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)
Beaumont.Hon. Hubert Hogan, Michael Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Beck, A. Cecil Holt., Richard Durning Pirie, Duncan V.
Bertram, Julius Hudson, Walter Power, Patrick Joseph
Branch, James Jenkins, J. Price, C. E. (Edinburgh.Cent'l)
Brodie, H. C. Jones, Leif (Appleby) Priestley, W. E. B(Bradford,E)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.) Radford, G. H.
Burnyeat, W. J. D. Jowett, F. W. Randles, Sir John Scurrah
Causton, Rt Hn. RichardKnight Joyce, Michael Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro)
Cave, George Kelley, George D. Rendall, Athelstan
Cavendish, Rt.Hn.VictorC.W. Kennedy, Vincent Paul Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'pton)
Chamberlain, RtHnJ. A.(Wore. Kenyon Slaney, RtHn.Col.W. Richardson, A.
Chance, Frederick William Kilbride, Denis Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Cheetham, John Frederick Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Clancy, John Joseph Law, Andrew Bonar(Dulwich) Robertson, SirG.Scott(Bradf'd)
Clongh, William Layland-Barratt. Francis Robinson, S.
Corbett, A.Cameron (Glasgow) Lever, A.Levy (Ess'x.Harw'h) Ronaldshay, Earl of
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Lewis, John Herbert Rowlands. J.
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Long, Rt.Hn.Walter(Dublin,S) Russell, T. W.
Craig, Herbert J. (Teigam'th) Longh, Thomas Rutherford, V.H. (Brentford)
Craik, Sir Henry Lundon, W. Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)
Crooks, William Lupton, Arnold Scott, A. H. (Ashton un'r Lyne)
Crosfield, A. H. Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Seaverns, J, H.
Cullinan, J. Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Seely, Major J.B.
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Shackleton, David James
Devlin, Joseph MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Sherwell, Arthur James
Doughty, Sir George Macpherson. J. T. Silcock, Thomas Ball
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers MacVeagh, Chas. (Donegal,E) Simon, John Allsebrook
Duffy, William, J. M'Killop, W. Smith. Abel H. (Hereford, E.)
Duncan,C.(Barrow-in-Furness) M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester) Spicer, Sir Albert
Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Manfield, Harry (Northants) Straus. B. S. (Mile End)
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry) Sutherland, J. E.
Elibank, Master of Masterman, C. F. G. Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Emmott, Alfred Meagher, Michael Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Everett, R. Lacey Mond, A. Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Ferens, T. R. Money, L. G. Chiozza Thompson, J.W. H.(Somers't)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Mooney, J. J. Thorne, William
Forster, Henry William Murnaghan, George Thornton, Percy M.
Fuller, John Michael F. Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw) Tomkinson, James
Fullerton, Hugh Nicholls, George Toulmin, George
Gill, A. H Nolan, Joseph Valentia, Viscount
Glover, Thomas Norton, Capt. Cecil William Verney, F. W.
Goddard, Daniel Ford O'Brien, Kendal(Tipper'y, Mid. Walsh, Stephen
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Watt, Henry A.
Halpin, J. O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Whitbread, Howard Williams, J. (Glamorgan) TELLERS FOR THE.—Sir John Bethell and Mr. Barnard.
White, Luke (York, E. R.) Wills, Arthur Walters
White, Patrick (Meath, N'rth) Wilson, J. W. (Wcestersh N.)
Whiteley, George (York.W.R) Wilson, W. T. (Westhought'n)
Whitley, John Henry (H'lit'x) Younger, George
Allen, A.Acland(Christchurch) Dalrymple, Viscount Percy, Earl
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Rutherford, W.W. (Liverpool)
Arkwright, John Stanhope Dickinson,W. H.(St.Panc's,N. Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Ashley, W. W. Gretton, John Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone,W.)
Banner, John S. Harmood- Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Smith, F.E.(Liverpool, Walton)
Bowerman, C.W. Hay, Hon. Claude George Smith, Hon. W.F.D. (Strand)
Bowles, G. Stewart Hedges, A. Paget Soares, Ernest J.
Boyle, Sir Edward Hervey, F. W. F. BuryS. Edm'ds Starkey, John R.
Bull, Sir William James Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsb'ry) Thomson, W.Mitchell-(Lanark
Burdett-Coutts, W. Horniman, Emslie John Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Carlile, E. Hildred Hunt, Rowland Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Keswick William Wiles, Thomas
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) King, Sir Henry Seymour(Hull Wilson, P.W. (S. Paneras, S.)
Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey- Lane Fox, G.R. Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E. Lea, Hugh Cecil (St.Pancras,E. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C.B.Stuart
Coates, E. Feetham(Lewish'm Magnus, Sir Philip
Cooper, G. J. Meysey-Thompson, E. C. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Corbett, C H(Sussex,E.Grinst'd Morpeth, Viscount Sir Frederick Banbury and
Courthope, G. Loyd Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Mr. Waterlow.

Main Question put, and agreed to

Bill, as amended, considered.

MR. FLETCHER (Hampstead)

moved the following new clause: "Notwithstanding anything in this Act contained, the water rates shall continue to be payable according to the annual value of the house or building, or part of a house or building, supplied with water by the board, and such annual value shall (except within the unions and parishes to which the Valuation (Metropolis) Act, 1869, extends) be determined in accordance with the provisions of Section 68 of the Waterworks Clauses Act, 1847, and shall in no case be less than the rateable value according to the poor rate valuations." He said that under the Bill it was desired to bring about a uniformity in the water charge, but the Bill did not secure uniformity in the mode of assessment. The reason of this was that while the administrative county of London was revalued every five years and its rateable value was thus kept up to date, there was no statutory revaluation outside the administrative area. The result was that the water consumer outside London was not paying a fair charge, and the unfortunate ratepayers of London had to pay the difference. The Water Board, they were informed, had a very small margin between its expenditure and the sum which was brought in by its charges. Therefore, if any part of the water area did not pay its due proportion, obviously the balance had to be paid by the unfortunate in-dwellers in the county of London, and an injustice was thus perpetuated. If the President of the Local Government Board could assure them that some effort would be made to extend the Bill of 1865 to the whole water area, then, of course, the grievance to which he had alluded would disappear, but if that was not done he should feel bound to press his Amendment.

*MR. W. F. D. SMITH,

in seconding, said that he had heard nothing, not even from the two right hon. Gentlemen on the respective Front; Benches, to convince him that the basis of charges was conceived equally as between the two areas. The President of the Local Government Board had said that the Bill equalised the value. The value was equal in name, and in name only, because, as a matter of fact, neither the law nor the practice of carrying out the law within and without London was the same. The result was that even at the present time there were almost absurd anomalies in in the rateable valuation outside London. He believed the right hon. Gentleman was going to introduce a Valuation Bill next session. If that were so this was putting the cart before the horse. It would be far more satisfactory if they had the Valuation Bill, and saw what it was to be. Then they might have a principle fair alike to everybody. There was another point to which he would like to refer. It might be said that there was no good putting this extra charge upon outside London, because, after all, London within the border would still have to pay 5 per cent. on its rateable value. He thought there was a reason for putting this extra charge upon outer London, and it was this. As the Member for Westminster had said, a house assessed for £300 a year and not assessed for inhabited house duty would under this Bill get a reduction of 20 per cent. The Water Board were empowered to raise that reduction to 30 per cent., and if they got an extra revenue from the outside areas it might be possible for them, within a short period, to give 30 per cent. instead of 20 per cent. There might be this further advantage, that the poorer ratepayers to whom his hon. friend referred would also receive some advantage under the Bill, and they required it even more than the others.

New clause— Notwithstanding anything in this Act contained the water rates shall continue to be payable according to the annual value of the house or building, or part of a house or building, supplied with water by the Board, and such annual value shall (except within the unions and parishes to which The Valuation (Metropolis) Act, 1869, extends) be determined in accordance with the provisions of section sixty-eight of The Waterworks Clauses Act, 184", and shall in no case be less than the rateable value according to the poor rate valuations."—(Mr. Fletcher.) Brought up, and read a first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."

*Mr. WHITBREAD (Huntingdonshire, Huntingdon)

said that as one of the Members of the Joint Committee which reconsidered the Bill, he hoped the Amendment would not be pressed to a division, or that, if it were, the House would reject it. The grievance that had been put forward, and that the Amendment sought to redress, undoubtedly existed to a certain extent. Where they had various areas which up to now had been assessed by different bodies, and probably on rather various principles, and then passed an Act, or brought forward a Bill which threw them all together for rateable purposes, it was inevitable there must be a certain inequality in the burden imposed on the ratepayers in the district as a whole. That was one of the inevitable results of placing together for rating purposes districts which had hitherto been rated separately and differently. But that was a grievance which might be properly dealt with when the Valuation Bill was brought in at a future session, and not one that could be safely remedied by that Bill, for these reasons. It was sought to rectify the difficulty which arose from the fact that inner London was by virtue of its quinquennial assessment valued up to the hilt, whereas the outer districts were probably not valued in the same way, and the ratepayers in the outer districts, under the Bill as it stood, would escape a certain amount of their fair burden. There were two objections to remedying this by the Amendment. The first was that if they carried that Amendment they would run a very serious risk of inflicting injustice in one portion the area, while they remedied it in another. The total annual revenue which was in question in the case had been placed at various figures. As a matter of fact, he did not believe it was as high as one of the totals which had been mentioned, but whether it was high or not, it was a fact that the greater portion of that income, roughly three-quarters of it, was drawn from a part of Essex in the Poor Law union of West Ham, where it was admitted as a fact that the rateable value was as high as the rateable value in inner London. If they were by the Amendment to impose annual value on the whole of the outside districts they would, as a matter of fact, inflict an unjust and harsh burden on three-quarters of the persons whose burdens they sought to equalise. The other objection to the Amendment was that the whole genesis and principle of the Bill was that they were to impose uniform rates of charges upon the whole area administered by the Water Board. It might be expedient, and it might be just, to levy a rate upon rateable value in one part of the area, and on annual value in another. It might turn out to inflict no hardship, but there was one thing that was quite certain, and that was that it was not a uniform rate of charge. For these reasons he hoped the House would reject the Amendment.

LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)

said he rose to appeal to the House whether it was possible to discuss that night a measure of enormous importance involving to some extent the health and welfare of the people of London. Owing to the procedure which the Government had thought it right to adopt in reference to an entirely different measure not affecting England at all, they were asked to discuss this Bill after eleven o'clock. It had now reached almost one in the morning, and they were just beginning the eight pages of Amendments which stood on the Paper in reference to the Bill. He suggested to the House that the time had now arrived when further consideration of the measure might be adjourned. He did not believe that that would have any unfortunate effect either on the measure or in regard to those who desired its amendment. He thought a little consideration outside that chamber might well result in some kind of arrangement; at any rate he was quite confident that at that hour it was impossible to ask the House to consider fairly and with the proper patience and impartiality the details of that very important and complicated measure affecting London. He did not desire to use that opportunity to prolong the debate, and therefore he concluded by moving that the debate be adjourned.

MR. F. E. SMITH (Liverpool, Walton)

seconded. He thought there was some advantage in those who were not London Members addressing that appeal to the House, on a subject which might seem at first sight to be exclusively one that concerned Members for London, but it must be obvious that on a measure of this kind, in which there were so many sections desiring to lay their views

before the House, that could not be usefully done at such a late period of the evening. Even the Government would admit that there were questions in it on which different opinions might be held, and it would be extremely undesirable that at one o'clock the House should set itself seriously to consider the many pages of Amendments. He hoped the House would take that view. There was no desire in that part of the House that there should be obstruction or unnecessary delay so far as the Bill was concerned, but a widespread desire that so important a measure should receive adequate consideration.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this debate be now adjourned." —(Lord R. Cecil.)


The noble Lord and the hon. Member who has just sat down will not, I hope, press their appeal for the adjournment of this particular measure. The substance of the Bill has been decided on the Motion to recommit, and the House is fully informed as to the only remaining point of difference between the two sides in the controversy. If we were to adjourn the debate from to-night to some subsequent date, I think there is not the least doubt that with other measures pressing for equal consideration we should find ourselves considering this Bill at an even later hour on some subsequent morning. As the House has the full facts before it I trust we may settle the matter and come to a decision upon the Amendment as soon as possible. I cannot accept the view of the noble Lord, and I would point out to him, if he is anxious to get forward matters vitally affecting the interests of London, that the matter is substantially agreed upon, and I trust we may be able to get the Bill through to-night

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 60; Noes, 125. (Division List No. 307.)

Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn.Sir A.F. Ashley, W.W. Bowles, G. Stewart.
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch Banbury, Sir Frederick George Boyle, Sir Edward
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Banner, John S. Harmood- Bull, Sir William James
Arkwright, John Stanhope Bowerman, C. W. Burdett-Coutts, W.
Carlile, E. Hildred Hills, J. W. Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Cavendish, Rt. Hn. VictorC.W. Horniman, Emslie John Starkey, John R.
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hunt, Rowland Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey- (Keswick, William Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Coates, E.Feetham(Lewisham) Lane-Fox, G. R. Thomson, W.Mitchell-(Lanark
Cooper, G. J. Lea, Hugh Cecil (St.Pancras,E Valentia, Viscount
Corbett, C.H(Sussex, EGr'nst'd Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Courthope, G. Loyd Morpeth, Viscount Waterlow, D. S.
Dalrymple, Viscount Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Wiles, Thomas
Dickinson, W. H. (St.Pancr'sN. Pease, Herb'rt.Pike(Darlingt'n Wilson, P. W. (St.Pancras, S.)
Flavin, Michel Joseph Percy, Earl Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton
Fletcher, J. S. Pickersgill, Edward Hare Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Forster, Henry William Pirie, Duncan V.
Gretton, John Radford, G. H. Tellers for the Ayes—Lord Robert Cecil and Mr. F. E. Smith.
Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Ronaldshay, Earl of
Hay, Hon. Claude George Ratherford, W.W. (Liverpool)
Hervey, F. W. F. (B'ryS.Edm's) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone,W.)
Hill, Sir Clement(Shrewsbury) Seaverns, J. H.
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Higham, John Sharp Parker, James (Halifax)
Baring, Godfrey(Isle of Wight) Hobart, Sir Robert Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Barker, John Hogan, Michael Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Holt, Richard Durning Priestley, W.E.B.(Bradford,E)
Barnard, E. B. Hudson, Walter Randles, Sir John Scurrah
Beck, A. Cecil Jenkins, J. Rea, Walter Russell(Scarboro')
Bertram, Julius Jones, Leif (Appleby) Rendall, Athelstan
Bethell, SirJ.H.(Ess"x, Romf'rd Jones, William(Carn'rv'nshire) Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'ton)
Branch, James Jowett, F. W. Richardson, A.
Brodie, H. C. Joyce, Michael Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Kelley, George D. Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Burnyeat, W. J. D. Kennedy, Vincent Paul Robertson, SirG. Scott(Bradf'd)
Causton, Rt.Hn.Rich'rd Knight Kilbride, Denis Robinson, S.
Cave, George Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Rowlands, J.
Clancy, John Joseph Lever, A.Levy (Essex, H'rwich Russell, T. W.
Clough, William Lewis, John Herbert Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Long, Rt. Hn. W'lt'r (D'blin S.) Seely, Major J. B.
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Lough, Thomas Shackleton, David James
Crooks, William Lundon, W. Sherwell, Arthur James
Crosfield, A. H. Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Silcock, Thomas Ball
Cullinan, J. Macdonald, J. R, (Leicester) Simon, John Allsebrook
Davis, Ellis William (Eifion) Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, E.)
Devlin, Joseph Macpherson, J. T. Soares, Ernest J.
Duffy, William J. MacVeagh, Jeremiah(DownS.) Spicer, Sir Albert
Duncan, C.(Barrow-in-Furness MacVeigh, Charles(Donegal E) Sutherland, J. E.
Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) M'Killop. W. Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester) Taylor, Theodore C.(Radcliffe)
Elibank, Master of Manfield, Harry (Northants) Thompson, J. W. H. (S'm'rset,E.
Emmott, Alfred Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry) Thorne, William
Everett, R. Lacey Masterman, C. F. G. Walsh, Stephen
Ferens, T. R. Meagher, Michael Watt, Henry A.
Fuller, John Michael F. Mond, A. Whitbread, Howard
Fullerton, Hugh Mooney, J. J. White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Gill, A. H. Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Glover, Thomas Nicholls, George Whiteley, John Henry (Halifax.
Goddard, Daniel Ford Nolan, Joseph Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius Norton, Capt. Cecil William Wills, Arthur Walters
Halpin, J. O'Brien, Kendal(Tipper'yMid) Wilson, J. W. (Wor'stersh,N.)
Haworth, Arthur A. O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Younger, George
Hayden, John Patrick O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Hazleton, Richard O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.
Hedges, A. Paget O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)
Helme, Norval Watson O'Shee, James John

Original Question again proposed.


said he was sorry to have to speak on the subject at such a late hour, but he was sure hon. Members would understand that it was not the fault of the London Mem- bers that the House was detained there, because they had expected that the Bill would come on for discussion in the ordinary way at a quarter past eight. Circumstances over which they had no control had brought them into the present position, and the only thing. to do was for Members to speak as briefly as they could. The hon. Member who spoke on behalf of the Committee had just said that one of the chief reasons why he resisted the Amendment and supported the Bill was that the Committee had gone on the basis of attaining a uniformity of charge all over the area. It was precisely because it was not and could not be a uniform charge so long as the basis of assessment was not uniform that the Members for London were anxious that, at any rate for the present, the existing system should hold good. The House would understand that the present system was discussed in the House of Commons in the year 1885, and a Bill was then brought in for the purpose of forcing the Water Company to raise their rate upon the rateable value. That Bill was proposed to extend to the whole area of the Water Company, but, the then President of the Local Government Board, the Member for the Forest of Dean, consented to the insertion of Amendments limiting the operations of the Bill to the Metropolis. The arguments used then were precisely the same as the arguments which were used now. The circumstances had not changed in any way since that time. In fact, if anything, the position was worse than it was then, because, owing to the system of quinquennial valuations, the valuation in London had gone up by leaps and bounds, while outside the administrative county the valuation had not gone up. He had had certain figures got out by the officials of the London County Council which showed the difference in the valuation. He was informed of a house rated at.£24 in Hornsey which would, at the same rental, be rated at £34 if it were in London. In the case of a house in another district the rent was £90 and the rateable value was £46; but if that house were in London the rateable value would be £75. That state of things held good in a large number of places. There were several reasons for it, one of them being that outside London a different system of arriving at the rateable value of premises was adopted. In London they made a deduction of one-sixth in order to arrive at the rateable value, whereas outside London the. deduction in many cases was one-fifth. Then, again, there was no system of quinquennial valuation outside London, and in the absence of this the valuation was stereotyped from year to year. Mention had been made of the case of West Ham. It was quite true that in that district the East London Company screwed up the assessment to such an extent that they got it above the rateable value, and to that extent West Ham was harshly dealt with. But in the evidence given before the Committee upstairs, however, he found that the comptroller of the Water Board made the following important statement. He said— In the East London area the Board will be bound, whether annual values are adopted in this Bill or otherwise, to make the allowance foreshadowed in the table of something like £8,000 a year. Clearly, wherever the rateable value. was properly assessed, as in West Ham, it would be the duty of the board to revise its annual value until it was the same as the rateable value. Therefore places like West Ham would not pay more than they would on the basis of rateable value, since they could now secure equitable treatment of the question by the Water Board. The difficulty was that other places outside London were really under-assessed, and would under this Bill continue to be so. He thought that they should be compelled to pay on a basis which was fair in comparison with the payments in London, and the only way in which that could be secured was to continue the system of annual values. The annual value would be the rateable value where it was fair, and something more than the rateable value where the latter was unfair. He had looked through the evidence carefully, and he ventured to think that the figures as laid before the Committee, though perfectly accurate as far as they went, were not thoroughly investigated in all their aspects. He would ask the House to consider one or two of the figures for a moment. Even if the charge? were to be levied on the present system of annual values, so beneficial was the Bill to the poorer outside districts that they would pay £39,000 less than they had paid hitherto. That was the amount they gained by a system of equalisation. But when they came to have the additional advantage which was to be bestowed upon them by the proposal that rateable value should be taken instead of annual value, it added nearly £27,000 to the advantage gained by the outside districts, making a total advantage of £66,000 a year, while all the time inner London was going to pay more He had got out similar fiures to those given by the hon. Member for Westminster, and he found that the amount charged for domestic purposes only worked out at 6s. 2¾d. per head in London, whereas under the Bill it would work out at 6s. 3¾d. In outer London the amount worked out at present at 4s. 8½d., but under the Bill it would work out at 4s. l½. which, as the House would see, meant a considerable reduction. He thought those figures justified the attitude taken up by the Members for London constituencies on both sides of the House. Both Conservative Members and Liberal Members earnestly asked the House to pass the Amendment. They attached great importance to the Amendment, which could not possibly wreck the Bill, because the effect of it was to make the system more uniform throughout the whole area, as they would be basing the system as far as they could on a uniform assessment and also using the same charge of 5 per cent. If the President of the Local Government Board could only see his way to consent to some Amendment which would continue that system until he brought in his proposed Valuation Bill, he thought it would satisfy the London Members. Until that came to pass he ventured to think it was a reasonable request which the London Members made that the existing system should go on for the present. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman might see his way to assent to the proposal made by the hon. Member for Hampstead, that outside London the basis should be the annual value.


said that one or two figures which had been quoted required explanation. The matter was of some importance because there had been an attempt to make out that the difference between annual and rateable value would inflict very serious injury on inner London. He wanted the House to understand that "uniformity" dealt with particular [classes of property and had nothing whatever to do with locality. The mere chance circumstance of where the property might be situated was, after all, accidental. He would like to make the real position clear. The last speaker had said that he did not know very much about West Ham. He (Mr. Barnard) held in his hand a table which he quoted to the House. It showed that the whole amount at issue was represented by something like £10,600. Of this amount £7,800 was inside the West Ham Union. The last speaker admitted the contention he (Mr. Barnard) tried to place before the House when he said, speaking on the Motion for recommittal, that the West Ham charges were probably wrong. If that was the case, what was the issue before the House? A question of £2,800 a year. Was it not too trivial that they should be asked to go contrary to the principle of uniformity because it was suggested that London might lose £2,800 a year out of an income of nearly £3,000,000. One word more. There were precedents for the Board's action. Reference had been made to a matter in which Tottenham many years ago made a bargain with the Board of Works. Payment was to be on rateable value. The bargain was capable of revision. The London County Council, which stepped into the shoes of the Board of Works, might have claimed revision if they objected to rateable value being taken as the basis in the case of Tottenham, but they did nothing of the sort. He would quote a further case. The County Council had themselves made a bargain with Willesden, and in connection with it the basis was rateable value. There was another case that might be taken—the Metropolitan Police. Outside the areas where the Water Board were collecting on annual value at present they had Metropolitan police, and the Home Office collected on rateable values. Why should not the same doctrine be adopted by the Water Board? Lastly, there was an arbitration recently between the London County Council and West Ham upon a very big question involving a large money payment. The arbitrator Sir Hugh Owen— a very distinguished gentleman in the Local Government world, in his decision gave the verdict that the contribution from West Ham was to be on rateable value. He (Mr. Barnard) therefore put it to the House that as rateable value was accepted in the instances he had mentioned it was equally applicable to the matter they were discussing at that moment.


said he had already spoken, but he wanted the House to understand one point. Supposing the Amendment were accepted, there was nothing to prevent rateable value being adopted by the Water Board for West Ham or any other district. Moreover, the Board could always reduce its water rate, and if they were convinced that annual value made it too high they could bring it down to rateable value. On the other hand, they who knew that rateable value in London in many districts was too low would be satisfied if the Board could revise the system.


said that the Bill did not ensure uniformity. If the rateable value outside London was calculated in the same manner as it was calculated in London there would be nothing to say. It was because the Bill was not uniform that the London Members on both sides were determined to offer their most strenuous opposition. He regretted very much having to speak at 1.25 a.m., but it was not his fault but the fault of the Government, who were now endeavouring to force through a most important question in a House of 180 Members. It was an unheard-of thing in the history of the House of Commons to take a Private Bill dealing with such a question at such an hour. He would point out that the figures which had been given by the hon. Member for Kidderminster were misleading. It was difficult to be absolutely accurate in figures, but he made out that the amount in the case of the outside areas was £49,000 and not £56,000. It was certainly not a matter of £2,000. The hon. Gentleman was endeavouring to mislead the House. [Cries of ''Order" and "Withdraw."]


I rise to a point of order. I was quoting from a table handed in to the Joint Committee, which is now open to the inspection of the Members of the House.


On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is an hon. Gentleman entitled to charge another hon. Gentleman with endeavouring to mislead the House?


If the hon. Member suggested it was done for any sinister purpose it would not be in order; but I do not think that was the case. The hon. Member merely intended to say that the figures were misleading.


said he had no wish to charge the hon. Gentleman with any sinister attempt. The figures were misleading for this reason, that the hon. Gentleman had omitted to say that the outside area would benefit by £39,000, owing to the rate having been altered. In addition to that they would benefit by the alteration in the rateable value by, he thought, £10,000 odd, probably by £17,000. It was a great fallacy to make the allusion which had been made by the Member for South Dublin to other towns where he said there was uniformity. He totally forgot that London was not a single town. It was an agglomeration of a large number of different towns under different conditions. In the outside areas, not only did they gain benefit by rateable value being taken on a different basis, but it was perfectly known that the rent paid for land was much less than in London, whereas the amount consumed in water was as much or more. The man outside London paying £40 or so for his house and assessed at a very low valuation was using as much water as the man in the interior who might be paying £300. Was it fair to take the interior of London, which already paid large sums of money for its water, and sacrifice it to the outer areas, when the outer areas were obtaining their water at a very much less charge than the consumer in the interior? The matter was put in a nutshell when it was said that 3s. 7d. per 1,000 gallons was what was paid outside the area, and 6s. 9d. per 1,000 gallons inside. That was not fair. If there was to be uniformity, consumers should be put on something like an equal basis. The hon. Member's idea of uniformity was to allow those people who were paying too little to pay still less, and those people who were paying too much to pay a greater amount The whole question turned on the fact that London was, as he said, an agglomeration of different towns, and that they could not in fairness, if they endeavoured, as they ought, to introduce some system in the different ratings, start with the idea, absolutely illusory, that each house was to be treated in the same way. It was making confusion worse confounded to take rateable value and assess it in one quarter in a different manner from in another. He had said all he had to say and he hoped hon. Members who were not hon. Members for London would understand that the question was vital for London. It was not often that London Members, absolutely regardless of Party, were found fighting together, and he thought that circumstance ought to have some weight with hon. Members who did not sit for London. What London Members were trying to do was to see that there should be some regard for justice in these charges, and that those people who were already favoured should not be still more favoured for no reason whatever.


said it had been argued by the hon. Member for Kidderminster as a justification of the charge that the police rate was raised on rateable value. But that was one of the injustices under which London suffered, and why one injustice should be the excuse for another passed his comprehension. The fact that there would some day be a Bill for the reform of valuation in England was no reason why in the meantime London should suffer an injustice. The late Government prepared a Bill which was a very good Bill in some respects, but years had passed, and that Bill had never been carried by the House. They hoped that the President of the Local Government Board would bring in a Bill at an early date, but that was no reason why an injustice should be inflicted on London for a year or two. They did not object to equalisation, but the fact was that the new basis, while it brought about a nominal equality, brought about a real inequality. The amount involved had been said to be £10,000. That figure of £10,000 was arrived at by a fallacious calculation, and the nearest figure they could arrive at was £26,000.All that they were arguing was that London should not be subjected to an injustice amounting to £26,000 a year for no reason whatever. Who were the people who were in favour of that Amendment? London Members, both Conservative and Liberal, both Moderates and Progressives on the London County Council, a great majority of London Members on the Metropolitan Water Board, and the Finance Committee of the Water Board, headed by his friend Lord Welby, were against this proposal, and it was only carried with difficulty by the Water Board. He thought the Water Board was constructed on most unfortunate principles, and that this was a very good fulfilment of the prophecies some of them had ventured to make at the time of its construction that its peculiar constitution would inevitably lead to serious difficulties. Not a single argument had been advanced that evening why London should submit to that injustice, and he hoped that Members outside London would not assist to impose that injustice upon London.


said the question was one which lay very largely between inner London and outer London. The hon. Member for Islington had stated that the Amendment, if carried, would have the effect that in West Ham Union the Water Board could fix the rateable value as the basis for the water rate, while in another district it could fix the annual value, and that if they passed the Amendment they were leaving it to the Water Board to say what the basis of the rate was to be. When the case came before the Joint Committee they heard the arguments and witnesses on both sides and were so convinced that it was to the interests of London as a whole that rateable value should be taken both inside and outside London that the members of the Committee were absolutely unanimous that that was the proper course to take. They could not secure uniformity by adopting such a. principle as that recommended by the hon. Member for Islington. They must take the rateable value both inside and outside London, and then the Water Board could go before the Assessment Committee and get the increase made. In the present circumstances he appealed to the House to support the Committee in the decision which it had come to, a decision which he would say again was only arrived at after hearing the arguments and witnesses for and against the proposal, and a decision which the Committee came to unanimously, that rateable value should be adopted both inside and outside the area.


I, like the rest of the House, am regretful that we should have this discussion at this time in the morning. I am not responsible for it, and it cannot be helped. I believe that we ought, if possible, to get this Bill through to-night.




I express my view and I leave it there. I hope we may be able to do so, and I appeal to the House not to support the Amendment. I do this because there are many precedents why we should adopt the rateable value as a basis for water charges inside and outside the area of the County Council of London. The police rate, which extends over something like 600 square miles, is based on rateable value. The water charges in the County Council area are also based on rateable value. What is equally important, the Local Government Board for many years have always insisted on rateable value being taken as the basis for this and similar purposes. The Committee which had the whole of the facts before them in this particular Bill was under the impression that rateable value, as distinct from annual value, was the best form for assessment, particularly for obtaining a valuation on which a uniform rate should be charged. I believe that, particularly in the light of the growing area and population of the water supply both inside and outside London, any inequality there may be will soon be redressed. The responsibility for annual value outside London is not a liability or responsibility of the Water Board, but it is due to past Governments, but the responsibility for rateable value inside London is the responsibility of succeeding Governments. This Bill, which aims at equality of the incidence of both price and assessment, does approximate as near as it is possible for it to be done to a rough standard by means of which the inner and outer areas can be properly treated. If there is a discrepancy, that can only be remedied by the Government doing what I trust this Government will be able to do, and that is in a Valuation Bill to make uniformity of assessment if it is possible, not only inside and outside London, but throughout the country. What is more, if it is possible to apply it to outside areas as well as to London, we should have that excellent system of a quinquennial valuation by means of which we can get uniformity of assessment, rateable value, and prices for standard services such as water and many other things where uniformity of rateable value and assessment is needed. I can only say that if this Amendment were carried, the Water Board would regard it as being destructive.




The Water Board are as competent judges of how to conduct their business as the hon. Member who interjects.


Do you associate yourself with the Water Board?


I associate myself with the Water Board because we ought not to allow our personal views as to whether the Water Board and its constitution is or is not right to stand in the way of a genuine and serious attempt to get rough justice done by the establishment of rateable value both inside and outside the county of London. If we can do that consistently with not imposing any burden on London we ought to do it. The Water Board area is 514 square miles, and of this 400 square miles, with £7,500,000 rateable value, is outside London. The difference between annual value and rateable value in all that area is only £212,000, of which £156,000 is in Essex alone. If you exclude Essex the. difference between the annual value and the rateable value all over the Water Board area is only £56,000. Translate that into revenue, and the difference is £10,000. For so small a difference we have no right to destroy this Bill. I can only say, this that the Essex County Council has adopted rateable value in the West Ham, East Ham, and Ilford Unions as a basis upon which to draw a number of their rates, and as a basis on which to establish a number of their county council charges. I would appeal to the hon. Member for Hampstead, who, like myself, has worked for many years in the service of London, not to allow this Amendment to stand in the way of the Water Board carrying out the duties and responsibilities which are committed to them, and which they will be unable to discharge with justice, equity, and fair play to London, both inside and outside the County Council area, if the Amendment is persisted in. I must appeal to the House of Commons to resist this Amendment, and also to come to a decision as soon as possible. I am as much convinced as are Members of the Committee who have spoken on the subject, that if the Amendment is carried, and rateable value is prevented from being the basis on which water prices should be charged, then it will mean the postponement indefinitely of the beginning of a settlement of this question. If rateable value is accepted as the basis, anything I can do as President of the Local Government Board to tone down inequalities, and to bring about as soon as possible by administrative action that thorough uniformity which this Bill is a step towards, I shall be only too pleased to do. If I could go further and say that in the Valuation Bill which I hope to introduce next year on behalf of His Majesty's Government provision could be made by means of which absolute equality both of assessment and charge could be secured in the entire area, I should be only too pleased to bend my energies in that direction. Having given that promise, I can only conclude by saying that I hope the House of Commons will support the Bill, and I appeal to them to do so.


said that he did not desire to keep the attention of the House at that hour of the night for a minute longer than was necessary, but he was forced to speak under the circumstances then existing by the action of the Government. He felt that this was such an important matter for London that if those who were not Members for London and who were showing signs of impatience liked to go home he saw no reason why they should not do so, seeing that the London Members were determined to prevent the Bill passing unless they got fair play for the ratepayers. A great deal had been said that night, particularly by the President of the Local Government Board, about prejudice in this matter. It might be that some of them were prejudiced against the Water Board, but the peculiar thing about the situation was that the Members for inner London wore absolutely unanimous on the question excepting the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea. How could there be any question of prejudice when Liberal and Conservative Members were enthusiastically combining together in support of the Amendment? It was a fact that when the President of the Local Government Board was a member of the London County Council he saw the inequality and absurdity of rateable value in the outside area being taken to be the same as the rateable value inside London, as he knew that outside they had no compulsory quinquennial valuation. He believed he was voicing the feeling of every Member who sat for inner London when he said that they wanted to know why they should not deal in exactly the same way with this question of water charges as they did in the London County Council with the contribution of the outside area towards main drainage. He submitted that the prejudice was all on the other side. He did not desire to kill the Bill, but if they were to be taunted with prejudice he could only say that he was sorry such a remark should be made, and that it would cause him to wish that the Bill was dead. From start to finish the Bill had never received the consideration that it ought to have had. He did not wish to say a word that was disrespectful about the members of the Committee, but it was a fact that there was not one Member on the Committee who understood the difficult question of the rating of London. Why were not some London Members put on the Committee? He represented a constituency in London which was very much interested in the Bill, and he was speaking on its behalf when he said that it was his duty to see when questions of prejudice were raised that they were put in the proper way. They had heard something that night about rough justice. He did not know much about rough justice, but he assured the House that if the Amendment was not passed it would be very rough on London. The right hon. Gentleman had again mentioned the question of the police. That was an injustice and an inequality which should not exist, but it ought not to be used as an argument in the present instance, except in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hampstead. The injustice at which the Amendment was aimed was one of which every Member who knew anything about the inequality of rating in London was well aware. He was pleased to hear that the President of the Local Government Board was desirous of doing something to get rid of the present anomalies, but if that desire had been really sincere he thought the right hon. Gentle man would have accepted the Amendment. He believed if any prejudice had been introduced it had not been by London Members, who, whether Liberals or Conservatives, were unanimous on this Amendment. He hoped the House would give the London Members credit for knowing what they wanted and that they would agree to the Amendment which was essentially fair and just.

MR. LEA (St. Pancras, E.)

said he objected to the Bill for the very simple reason that the right hon. Member for Battersea, in order to get the measure through, had appealed to Members sitting for county constituencies, when he knew very well that his old colleagues on the London County Council were dead against him on the question. When hon. Members saw the President of the Local Government Board and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin vieing with each other as to who could give the most flattery, then he thought they would view what those Gentlemen said about the Bill with the greatest suspicion. He did not profess, for one instant, to be au fait with all the questions raised by the Bill, but he thought no one could have listened to the debate without coming to the conclusion quite impartially that the bulk of the evidence had proved that the inner area of London was suffering owing to the advantage given to the outer area. What he would venture to say was that he thought it was very inconsistent with the general policy of a democratic and Liberal Government to introduce a Bill affecting 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 of people and to try to rush it through by wearing out the endurance of the London Members at two o'clock in the morning. The President of the Local Government Board would not dare to go to a London constituency and take up the attitude on the Bill which he had done that night, provided that before he had a chance of addressing his audience the matter was impartially explained to them.


thought it was very much to be regretted, considering what a large matter this was, and how many millions of the people of the Metropolis it affected, that they should be driven to discuss it at that hour of the morning. He was bound to say that he did not think it was acting fairly either towards the people of London or towards their representatives in the House of Commons, who, they were told, were practically unanimously in favour of an alteration in the Bill. He did not like staying there at that hour of the morning, especially considering that he had been at the House since eleven o'clock on the previous day, and he thought nobody could say that they were not, at any rate, attempting by the time they devoted to their work to do their duty. He was not a London Member. His constituency was some 700 or 800 miles from London, but, blowing the importance of London to the United Kingdom, he had decided to stop and assist the poor Londoners to get justice done to them. With regard to this particular Amendment he was quite in favour of rateable value being the basis for these calculations, but in the outside areas, of which they had heard and which were affected by the proposal, there was no fair rateable value. If the Government wanted to be honest to the people of London they should take care that a proper rateable value was taken in the districts outside before these changes were made. It was no good to tell the House they were going to do it by-and-by. In the meantime they were going to rob the people of London of £56,000 per annum. He remembered when they made the settlement of 1885 and adopted rateable value as a basis for the water charges in London. They had just previous to that got the Dobb's judgment which fixed annual value, fair value or something of that sort. They were not satisfied because they held that having got a quinquennial and proper valuation in the Metropolitan area the rateable value was the fair value. It was acknowledged then that all over England and Wales there was no proper valuation, and until they got a proper and fair valuation the matter should rest. Lot the change be made when the valuation was effected. The Government of the day had nothing to do with that rateable value business. The Bill was introduced by a private Member on the Tory side of the House. A Tory Government was then in power. The Bill was not passed till 1885, during which the Tory Government were in power a few months. They got the Local Government Board then peopled by Tories, to assist them in the matter, and having got the Bill through the House after twelve o'clock at night, they sent it up to the House of Lords. He remembered being one of the Committee that had charge of the matter outside the House, and he remembered going to see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Cit who was then at the Local Governmen Board, to ask him to assist them. They eventually got the Bill, which was not a Government Bill—not even a Liberal Bill—fixing for London a rateable value, which was then a quinquennial valuation, as the basis for water charges. If there was a quinquennial or proper valuation for outside London he would agree that rateable value was right, but let them not give up what they had. They had got by the Water Bill of 1903, or whatever time it was passed, an annual value fixed for these outside districts, as the valuation upon which they should contribute towards the charges of the metropolitan Water Board. It would be admitted by everybody who understood anything about it that it was not at all necessary for them to blame personally the Water Board or its members, because they were in this difficulty — that they were compelled by Parliament to go and buy up these unjust charges upon the people, and therefore they now had to find the money. But they were not bound to remove or release these outside people from the charges placed on them by Parliament which apparently said their contribution was to be on annual and not rateable value. He thought, therefore, before Parliament made that change and gave the rest of the country a proper valuation they should continue to charge on the annual value, and do justice to London, which he, coming all the way from Cape Wrath, told them had been treated very ill in this matter.

*SIR JOHN BETHELL (Essex, Rom-ford)

said the question was very important for London, but it was also a very important question for London over the border. The consumers in London over the border were prepared I to pay their full price for a supply of water, but if they were to pay on annual value they asked that those inside should pay on annual value. They were prepared to pay on the same basis us consumers in the metropolis. The matter was developing into an inner or outer London question. They were both partners in the undertaking and they both wanted the inner and outer ring alike to pay a fair price for the supply of water. Personally he was grateful to the President of the Local Government Board for the way in which he had taken the case in hand. He assumed the House would not allow the people over the London border to pay a higher rate than those in the inner ring. He pointed out that at present a man who paid a weekly rent of 15s in London paid for his supply of water £1 a year. Outside London a house let at 15s. a week paid £1 5s a year. Under this Bill the people in the outer ring would pay about 5 per cent. more than the people within London, who were really not giving them anything, when over the border they had been paying much higher prices. The Bill would simply give them the justice to which they were entitled. The East London Water Company had exacted the last shilling from them. They were now under a Water Board, and they had their representative on the Board and they expected to pay the same, price as the people in the metropolis.


moved a new clause providing for the application of A part pf the surplus revenue of the

Question put.

The House divided: — Ayes, 64; Noes, 101. (Division List No. 308.)

Allen, A. Acland(Christchurch) Gretton, John Scott, SirS. (Marylebsone, W.)
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Seaverns, J. H.
Arkwright, John Stanhope Hay, Hon. Claude George Smith, F. E. (Liverp'I, Walton)
Ashley, W. W. Hedge, A. Puget Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Hervey, F.W.F.(BurySEdm'ds) Soares, Ernest J.
Banner, John S. Harmood- Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury) Spicer, Sir Albert
Bowerman, C. W. Hills, J. W. Starkey, John R.
Bowles, G. Stewart Horniman, Emslie John Straus, B.S. (Mile End)
Boyle, Sir Edward Hunt, Rowland Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Bull, Sir William James Lea, Hugh Cecil(St. Pancras,E.) Thompson, W Mitchell(Lanark
Burdett-Coutts, W. Lever, A.Levy(Essex, Harwich) Thornton, Percy M.
Carlile, E. Hildred Macdonald, J.R. (Leicester) Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Waterlow, D. S.
Cavendish, Rt.Hn,Victor,C. W. Morpeth, Viscount Wiles, Thomas
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.
Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey- O'Donnell, C. W. (Walworth) Wilson, W.T. (Westhoughton)
Cecil, Lord R.(Marylebone,E.) Pearce, William (Limehouse) Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Coates, E.Feetham(Lewisham) Pease, Herbert Pike(Darl'gton) Younger, George
Cooper, G. J. Percy, Earl
Corbett, CH(Sussex, E Grinst'.) Pickersgill, Edward Hare TELLER FOR THE AYES—Mr.Fletcher and Mr. Dickinson.
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Radford, G. H.
Courthorpe, G. Lloyd Rendall, Athelstan
Dalrymple, Viscount Rutherford, W.W. (Liverpool)
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Holt, Richard Darning Rea, Walter Russell(Searboro')
Acland-Hood, RtHnSirAlex.F Hudson, Walter Richards, T. F.(Wolverh'mt'n)
Baring, Godfrey(Isle of Wight) Jenkins, J. Richardson, A.
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Jones, Leif (Appleby) Roberts, Charles A. (Lincoln)
Beck, A. Cecil Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.) Roberts G. H. (Norwich)
Bertram, Julius Jowett, F. W. Robertson, SirG.Scott(Bradf'd)
Brodie, H. C. Joyce, Michael Robinson, S.
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Kelley, George D. Ronaldshay, Earl of
Burnyeat, W. J. D. Kennedy, Vincent Paul Rowlands, J.
Causton, RtHnRichard Knight Kilbride, Denis Russell, T. W.
Cave, George Lardner, James Carrige Ru-he Rutherford, V.H. (Brentford)
Clough, William Lewis, John Herbert Seely, Major J. B.
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Lundon, W. Shackleton, David James
Cullinan, J. Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Sherwell, Arthur James
Duffy, William J. Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Silcock, Thomas Ball
Duncan, C(Barrow-in-Furness) Macpherson, J. T. Simon, John Allsebrook
Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down,S. Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, E.)
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) MacVeigh, Charles(Donegal, E. Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Elibank, Master of M'Laren, SirC. B. (Leicester) Taylor, Theodore C.(Radcliffe)
Everett, R. Lacey Manfield, Harry (Northants) Thompson, J.W.H.(Som'rs'tE)
Ferens, T. R. Meagher, Michael Thorne, William
Flavin, Michael Joseph Mond, A. Valentia, Viscount
Forster, Henry William Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw) Walsh. Stephen
Fuller, John Michael F. Nicholls, George Whitbread, Howard
Gill, A. H. Nolan, Joseph White, Luke (York, E.R.)
Glover, Thomas Norton, Capt. Cecil William While, Patrick (Meath, North)
Goddard, Daniel Ford O'Brien, Kendal (Tipper'y, Mid Whiteley, George(York,W.R.)
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Whitley, Jn. Henry (Halifax)
Halpin, J. O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Williams, J. ((Glamorgan)
Haworth, Arthur A. O'Shee, James John Wills, Arthur Walters
Hazleton, Richard Parker, James (Halifax) Wilson, J. W. (Wor'stersh, N.)
Helme, Norval Watson Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)
Higham, John Sharp Pirie, Duncan V. TELLER FOR THE NOES—Sir John Bethell and Mr. Bar nard.
Hobart, Sir Robert Price, C.E.(Edinburgh, Cent'rl)
Hogan, Michael Randles, Sir John Scurrah

Board to reduction of charges for water supplied by measure. He said he had stated very much earlier in the debate that he did not quite understand the compromise suggested by the President of the Local Government Board. He would like to make his position clear and would make a general statement to the President of the Local Government Board.


The hon. Member must confine his observations to the subject-matter of the clause.


said he begged to move the clause which was for the application of part of surplus revenue to the reduction of charges for water supplied by measure. He wished to point out to the House the position with reference to the difference between the rateable value and other values. For instance, one of the difficulties which the small consumer had to face in supply by measure was that in the case of a large mercantile office, or a bank, in London, at present there was a very small consumption of water, say not more than 6,000 gallons per quarter, and for that at present he paid £6 or £7. At the end of the year that came to about £30 for 30,000 gallons of water or £1 per 1,000 gallons. Under the new scheme whereby the rateable value was taken that office would be charged five or six times as much if there happened to be a housekeeper on the premises and in habited house duty had to be paid. The proprietor of that office or business premises—


The hon. Member has said nothing which is in the least relevant to this clause.


said he was trying to come to it. He would move the clause as it was and reserve his remarks till they were relevant.


The hon. Member does not move the clause.


said he did move it, but would not detain the House, as he wanted to get ready for his next speech.

A new clause— (1) If the receipts on revenue account exceed the expenditure on that account of the Board in any year, one-fourth of the excess shall, notwithstanding anything contained in the Act of 1902, be carried to a separate account in the books of the Board and ear-marked as applicable to the reduction of the charges for the time being made by the Board for supply of water by measure in pursuance of the section of this Act whereof the marginal note is 'Supply by measure'; (2) all moneys carried to a separate account and ear-marked in pursuance of subsection (1) of this section shall be accumulated from time to time until they amount, to not less than two pounds ten shillings per centum upon the amount for one year of the charges to reduction of which they are applicable and shall then be applied and distributed by way of a special discount or rebate upon such charges at a rate of not less than two pounds ten shillings per centum per annum.

Brought up and read a first time.

Motion made and Question, "That the clause be read the second time," put and negatived.

*MR. COOPER (Southwark Bermondsey)

moved an Amendment to transfer the cost of laying and maintaining communication pipes from the consumers to the Water Board. He said his Amendment would affect a. large number of owners and occupiers of houses. The Water Board brought the water down the street in the main, but the owner of a house had to put in the communicating pipe and put in the cock in the street by which the Board cut off the water if its rate was not paid, and also a specially prescribed tap to prevent waste. Under the water companies the cock and tap could only be purchased at an extravagant cost from a limited company the shareholders of which were the leading officials of the water company. Gas and electricity were brought to one side of the meter. He had never seen why the Water Company should make the occupier put in the communication pipes while the gas company should do it for him. On those grounds he moved the Amendment.


seconded. He said the laughter with which the hon. Member's observations had been received showed the need for the adjournment of the discussion. The Amendment was put forward by an hon. Member who knew the conditions of London life as well as any Member of the House. He had put forward the Amendment in a perfectly serious speech, and it was received in a way which was not becoming to the House of Commons.

Amendment proposed to the Bill. In page 2, to leave out lines 24, and 25."— (Mr. Cooper.)

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


The noble Lord entirely misinterpreted the hilarity which greeted the remarks of the hon. Member, and which was due to the hon. Member's display of subtle humour, and not to any ironical fooling on the part of the House. The Amendment would be contrary to the general practice which prevails with water companies. The Amendment really means that the Water Board shall pay for and maintain the communicating pipes that are now paid for and maintained by private owners. The universal practice is for this to be done at the expense of the consumer. If these charges were suddenly put on the Water Board who have had the greatest difficulty in securing a small margin of £9,000, following a deficit in the previous year of £10,000, it would cause the Water Board to pay for special and privileged users at the expense of the rate-pavers. It is not the intention of the House that the Water Board should be so handicapped. These charges are now borne by private owners, and until the Water Hoard has a substantial surplus out of which they might be exported to make a contribution for other purposes, it would be placing an intolerable burden on their shoulders if these charges were transferred to them.


said he begged to move the adjournment of the debate. He wished to say a word or two in regard to it. He wished with great respect to make his position clear.


The hon. Member must bear in mind the Standing Order which says that all his remarks must be relevant to the motion for the adjournment.


said it was now extremely late, it was half-past two and the Bill had been debated since eleven o'clock. The President of the Local Government Board and himself came to a certain arrangement which he had hoped would be carried out. The Bill was an extremely valuable one, and he had no wish to see it lost, but he wished to get from the right hon. Gentleman an assurance in regard to it. It seemed to him that it would save the time of the House if he could make his position clear. He proposed that certain Amendments which he had put down should all be withdrawn and that he should retire from his opposition on behalf of those for whom he was acting. He was very desirous, however, of protecting the small consumers and he was anxious to hear a few words from the President of the Local Government Board on that question. He thought that certain suggestions might come from the right hon. Gentleman which would enable hon. Members to go home, and to enable the President of the Local Government Board to state his views he moved the adjournment of the debate. He believed that if the contending parties were afforded an opportunity of having one more conference the Bill would pass through the House in a very short time.


seconded the Motion.


said the hon. Member for Hampstead had referred to an attempt which he made to bring the contending parties in this matter together with a view to an amicable settlement. He thought the hon. Member would admit that in round figures they had been able to satisfy the traders and manufacturers on the particular point upon which the hon. Member had spoken to him. They had been able to secure from the Water Board £3,000 more than would have met the total bulked claims of the friends of the hon. Member for Hammersmith, but the sum of £24,000 had been so allocated and distributed as not to bring within the purview of its benevolence those smaller consumers for whose interests the hon. Member for Hammersmith had shown much care. That was not due to any fault on his (MR. Burns's) part, but it was due to the fact that both large and small traders expressed their willingness to accept the £24,000. It was said that the small consumers had not received the concessions to which they were entitled. He was quite willing, if the hon. Member for Hammersmith would accept his public assurance, and would allow him to press in his own way—and he would do it as soon as possible—to press the strong claims of the smaller consumers on the Water Board, to convey both the spirit and the letter of the hon. Member's request to the Water Board with a strong expression of the hope that they would be able to meet him. If, having received that public assurance, the hon. Member would do him the honour of withdrawing his Amendment, he, for his part, would do his very best to recommend the claims of the smaller consumer to the generous consideration of the Water Board. The hon. Member had said that he would not press the Amendment if he got a satisfactory answer, and he hoped that what he had said on the point would meet his wishes.

MR. H. W. FORSTER (Kent, Sevenoaks)

hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would accept the very reasonable Motion which his hon. friend had made. He spoke as one who had consistently supported the right hon. Gentleman in the proceedings connected with the Bill, and he could not help thinking that if the right hon. Gentleman would agree to the Motion for the adjournment of the debate the further discussion of the Bill might go through in a far shorter time on some subsequent occasion than must necessarily be consumed if the debate were continued that night. Personally he would be exceedingly sorry if the Bill were lost, and he thought it would stand a really better chance of passing if the Government accepted the Motion. In that case the debate could be resumed at a more reasonable hour at some not far distant date.


said that in all probability from now until the end of the session private business would invariably have to be taken after eleven o'clock at night. The House would understand. therefore, that he had some little hesitation in agreeing to the Motion. But if it was intended that the further proceedings on the Bill should take only a very little time he did not see why his right hon. friend should not agree to accept the Motion. He must, however, repeat his expression of the hope that if an arrangement was come to the adjourned debate would occupy very little time.


said that he should be only too pleased to fall in with any reasonable request, made from any section of the House, that would tend to facilitate the passing of the Bill. If the adjournment of the debate at that juncture would enable that result to be brought about he willingly consented to it. He trusted, however, that if he on his part did his best to bring about a settlement that would satisfy the smaller consumer, hon. Members would do their best to keep to the bargain and would allow the Bill to go through.


No bargain.


said that in the circumstances he had named the Government agreed to the adjournment of the debate.

Question put, and agreed to.

Debate to be resumed this day, at a quarter past Eight of the clock.

Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now adjourn"—(Mr. Whiteley)—put, and agreed to.

Adjourned at twenty-one minutes before Three o'clock