HC Deb 18 December 1908 vol 198 cc2251-68

Lords' Amendments considered.

Lords' Amendment— 'In page 2, line 2, to leave out the word 'ten' and insert the word 'twelve.'

Read a second time.

THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF TRADE (Sir H. KEARLEY, Devonport) moved to disagree with the Lords' Amendment. He said the main argument used in another place for giving Kent and Essex representation on the Port Authority rested on the fact that the river flowed between those two counties for a considerable distance within the jurisdiction of the authority, and that within that area there were great industrial centres of population dependent for their prosperity upon the proper working of the Port, and it was claimed that those interests without adequate representation were not properly protected. They were perfectly familiar—he might add painfully familiar—with all those arguments which had been put forward by those representing Kent and Essex as to the necessity for special representation for those two riparian counties. With regard to the counties of Middlesex and Surrey the same arguments had been used, and it was quite evident that if they gave sectional representation to one of those counties they could not deny it to the whole of them. Undoubtedly the strongest claim was that put forward by the county borough of West Ham. It was one of the governing principles of the Bill to establish a body which should not be unduly large, and in consequence should be a workable and businesslike body, and, in order to ensure that, they gave to the commercial representatives (that was, the representatives of those who used the river and paid the dues) the majority of the representation. Attempts had been made without cessation to force upon them sectional representation. If they were prepared to review the situation—which, of course, they were not—it could be easily shown that Kent and Essex had not priority of claim, but rather Middlesex and Surrey, and that the strongest case of all was that of West-Ham. If they admitted one they could not deny the rest, and that would destroy the balance entirely between the commercial representatives and the appointed members. Not only did the Joint Committee resist those demands, but they increased the representative element, and stated their opinion that the proportion of appointed members was-unduly large, as compared with the proportion of representative members. In 1903, when the late Government introduced a Port of London Bill, no recognition was given to these riparian counties. When the Bill went before the Joint Committee over which Lord Cross presided a large array of evidence was produced but it failed to convince that Committee and they refused to give recognition to the claims of those riparian counties In the Bill of 1903 the governing body consisted of forty members, and if representation was denied to those counties under the circumstances, what justification was there for recognising those claims for sectional representation now? It was asked why should they not be represented? His reply to that question was that the majority of this new body would consist of payers of dues, and the representation would be uniform. The argument that because representation was not given to geographical areas they would not be represented was not maintainable. Those who paid dues would have representation through the members kept on the general register of payers of dues, and, therefore, it was not accurate to say that this largo district would be excluded from representation on the Port Authority. Everybody know how successful the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board had been and that it was a model for other authorities, yet Liverpool was not geographically represented on it. There was nothing to justify the Port of London dealing with the matter in a different way. It could not be urged that geographical representation of Kent and Essex had not been fully considered. The debate in that House occupied several hours, and the House came to the decision that this representation could not be given. On the Report stage in the House of Lords further Amendments were brought forward with the view of giving Middlesex and Surrey geographical representation. The decision of the Lords, however, was that representation to these two counties could not be accorded, and the Lords must place Kent and Essex on the same footing as they had placed Middlesex and Surrey.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—(Sir Hudson Kearley.)

MR. ROWLANDS (Kent, Dartford)

said he had listened with much attention to the speech delivered by the Secretary to the Board of Trade, and he deeply regretted that the Government had decided not to accept the Lords Amendment. The hon. Gentleman said he had heard over and over again the case in favour of giving representation to Kent and Essex. The House had heard also over and over again the official reply just given, and it failed entirely to meet the case put before the House by the representatives of the riparian counties. They had been told that the payers of dues were in a majority on the Board, but no one contested that principle. If the Government wanted a small body, they should have created a small body, but in drafting this Bill they had mixed up the two principles of geographical and commercial representation. Seeing they had already introduced sectional geographical representation to the extent of ten members, it was outside the bounds of logic for the Government to turn round and to say now they would not have sectional geographical representation. It was said that a larger body than was now proposed was provided for by the Bill of 1903, and that even then sectional representation was not given to the riparian counties. But surely there was a fundamental difference between that measure and the one they were now discussing with regard to the representation given to London. Was it not an absolute fact that under the Bill of 1903 London undertook directly the responsibility of providing any moneys necessary to meet the requirements of, the new authority? In this Bill London took no more responsibility financially than Kent and Essex, and, therefore, those counties had as much right to have representation on the Port Authority as the London County Council. That was the crux of the question as to why representation was refused to those riparian counties in 1903 by the Committee upstairs. Up to the present time none of the arguments they had put forward in favour of representation of those counties had been met. He did not think any one could say that Trinity House, the Board of Trade, or the London County Council represented directly the commercial interests of the river. The Parliamentary Secretary had told them that a much stronger case could be made out for the other counties affected than for the Counties of Kent and Essex They had heard all that before, but he contended that position had not been justified. All he was asking was that the interests of those counties should be properly dealt with. He regretted that the Government had not seen their way to accept this Amendment, and he intended to vote against the Government on the question.

* MR. RUSSELL REA (Gloucester)

said he was speaking, he thought, for the whole of the Joint Committee in desiring the House not to accept the Lords Amendment. It would be perfectly impossible with any degree of logic or consistency to admit representation of Kent and Essex and to refuse it to Middlesex and Surrey. The Committee felt that sectional representation would weaken the Port Authority. Their opinion was that sectional representation was already too strong upon the Board, and they reduced its relative power by increasing the number of elective members. It was not a democratic principle that the representatives of one body of ratepayers should sit upon a different body altogether and spend the money of that other body. The Joint Committee carefully considered the case presented for Kent and Essex. The representatives of those two counties presented their case in its strongest form, and the Committee came to the conclusion that these interests of various kinds, which it was sought to serve, constituted the very strongest reasons for excluding Kent and Essex, because the only object of desiring representation was to promote those sectional interests. If any county were to be represented he would sooner have Kilkenny than Kent, because Kilkenny could have no local interests to serve on a body which ought to be purely commercial. The Royal Commission recommended that the London County Council should have representation. The late Government provided for representation in their Bill and the present Government had put it in this Bill. The Committee came to the conclusion that if there was such a consensus of opinion that some kind of municipal representation should be given on the board, it was better to confine it within as narrow limits as possible. Therefore, they refused to add any other body than the London County Council. They went so far as slightly to reduce the representation proposed to be given to that body. When they looked to other places they found that the most success-full bodies of this kind were those which had entirely excluded all extraneous geographical interests from representation. Even the City of Liverpool had not one representative on the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, and that was, as he thought everybody would admit, the most successful Port Authority in these islands. For these reasons he expressed the hope—and he believed he was expressing the opinion of the Joint Committee—that the House would not accept this Amendment.

* MR. WHITEHEAD (Essex, S.E.)

said he had listened with considerable surprise to the hon. Member for Gloucester, when he said he spoke on behalf of the Joint Committee, for this reason. When representations were made to the House on behalf of that Committee he thought they were bound to consider the constitution of the Committee. What were the facts? So far as this House was concerned there were five Members on the Committee. It was a Committee to adjudicate on the claims of the various interests seeking representation upon this Authority, Those interests were partly geographical, partly commercial, and partly shipowning. On that Committee there were two shipowners, and also one representative of London. Under these circumstances it was not surprising that on the register of electors based upon the democratic principle to which the hon. Member had referred, there was such a franchise that the large shipowners would have an overwhelming preponderance on the new Authority. It was also not surpising to find that, although the Committee were not in favour of geographical representation, London emerged from the ordeal with six representatives on a body of twenty-eight. He thought these facts entitled the House to consider very carefully even at that late stage the constitution of the Authority. The hon. Member had said that it would be only logical to give Middlesex and Surrey representation on the Port Authority if Essex and Kent were to be accorded members. What he would say in regard to that was that neither he nor any representative of Essex or Kent had any objection to that principle at all. They had never contested the right of Middlesex and Surrey to representation, but that was not now the question. There was no means before the House now by which that could be obtained. But when they came to apply that principle they were bound to look at the interests which would be affected by it. When they considered that Surrey had a river frontage of not more than eight miles so far as the Port Authority was concerned, whereas Essex had a frontage of forty-three miles, he thought that difference constituted a substantial consideration when they came to decide whether the principle should be applied or not. Even if Essex and Kent were each accorded a representative, that would not necessarily be a reason why counties with smaller interests should also have representatives. He was indeed surprised to hear the hon. Member for Gloucester undertake to explain to the House what were the claims of Essex to representation. What were the facts? The Committee on whose behalf the hon. Member claimed to speak absolutely declined to hear either counsel or witnesses for the county of Essex. The Committee never heard a single word on behalf of the county of Essex, and therefore the hon. Member was not warranted in claiming to explain the views of that county to the House. Another reason which the hon. Member gave for refusing representation to Essex was that it would on Intend to promote sectional interests. The people of Essex had very great interests indeed along the shores of the Thames. Not only had they this large frontage, but in the hinterland there were important industrial interests which were growing year by year. These facts entitled the county to consideration in the formation of the Port Authority. The right to use the River Thames was not vested in big shipowners, or in the inhabitants of London. The men who carried on business in Kent and Essex had a primary right in its waters. It was for that reason that the two counties now claimed to be heard, and he could not help thinking that those interests ought to have been heard by the Joint Committee. He believed if they had been heard, the House very likely on the Report stage would have granted the representation for which he now pleaded. Those who were familiar with the facts knew that the industrial conditions of the Mersey and the Thames were entirely different. The shores of the river within the Port of London formed a great manufacturing centre, and as time went on the interests of those carrying on business as manufacturers in Kent and Essex would undoubtedly increase, whereas on the Mersey the dock system was concentrated within a few miles on each side of the river. The circumstances on the Mersey in no way corresponded to those existing on the Thames. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade had said that the Port Authority ought not to be unduly large. It was now proposed that the body should consist of twenty-eight members. With a body of that size, if the work was to be done in a businesslike way, there must necessarily be a large devolution of business to committees, and, therefore, unless they had a body sufficiently large to supply members for these committees, a heavy burden would be cast on the individual members of the authority, and in that way injury rather than benefit would be done to the administration of the Port, He believed that by adding two members to represent Kent and Essex they would add to the efficiency of the authority in quality as well as quantity, for the men who would be sent from these counties would necessarily know the conditions along the Thames much better than gentlemen representing London, or even the large shipowners. It would be of immense advantage to the Port Authority to have such men who were familiar with the facts of the riverside.

MR. PRETYMAN (Essex, Chelmsford)

said it was with great diffidence he interposed, as he was not a member of the House when the subject-matter had been under discussion. There was one point which he desired to lay before the House, and that was that this new authority would have to deal with enormous interests, not only in the present, but in the years to come. Anybody who had studied the history of shipping and trade during the last century must see that the tendency was to get lower down the rivers into deeper waters; and, therefore, the interests that were growing interests were the lower interests of the river. That being so, he thought the position of Kent and Essex was differentiated from that of Surrey and Middlesex where the interests were already developed. Those interests which were developed had already representation on the body which governed the river. Had the new Port Authority been a body like the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board—a body but slightly representative of the riverside interests—there would have been very little to say, but when six representatives were given to London on geographical considerations he thought that the enormous present interests of Kent and Essex, and their still greater future interests, might fairly have been considered. He felt that the House would be acting wisely if they carefully considered the Amendments inserted by the Lords, giving the representation asked for.


Let me first of all congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his return to this House, and on his first intervention in debate. I have very carefully thought over the position created by the action of the House of Lords on this Amendment, and I regret to say that with every desire—every disposition to deal in a reasonable and accommodating spirit with the other House of Parliament, I must ask the House to disagree with the Amendment which they have inserted in the Bill. It is quite true that a very strong case can be made out for the representation of Kent and Essex and that that case differs in some respects, though not in all respects, from the strong case that can be made out for Surrey and Middlesex, and from the even stronger case that might be nude out for West Ham, the great working-class district in which these docks are. Under such circumstances the hardship, if any there be, of not including Surrey and Middlesex and West Ham will be increased and not diminished if Essex and Kent are included. The House should stand fair and square to the principle that this is a body in which a territorial and geographical representation is not to have its place, and the only representation shall be of the persons who are directly interested, as payers of dues in the welfare of the Port, or else those general public interests which are represented by the London County Council, by the City of London, by the Board of Trade, by the Trinity House—by those other bodies. Once you depart from the principle that the payers of dues and the general interests from a public point of view should be recognised, and come down to local and geographical interests being represented, if you let in any[...]must let in all.


Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why the interest of the London County Council is more of a general interest than that of the Essex County Council?


I should think that that was a question which was scarcely necessary. The London County Council is a great municipal authority, its fortunes are involved in the success of the whole of London and the Port of London, and to say that their view is not a general and central view is to my mind a statement to which this House will not be at all inclined to give any agreement.

MR. JOHN WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)

On both sides of the river.


You may put it as representing 4,000,000 of people, whereas the Essex point of view, although a very valuable one, is purely an Essex point of view, and has nothing to do with the general and large interests which we are trying to have represented on this body. And let me say that these bodies are protected by elaborate provisions in the Bill with which I will not burden the House—they are protected, and have all their rights unimpaired at law, and consequently I do not believe there is any great hardship, but if there is any it will not be diminished but increased by this picking and choosing. There is another reason that can be shown for not picking out counties for special favour and excluding others. If you were to include them all, what would be the result? We are putting up this great commercial authority to deal with the interests of the Port of London as a whole, to enable that great Port to compete successfully with ports like Hamburg and Antwerp; we are placing on them enormous duties and responsibilities, and we ought to make sure that they have a fair chance of being able to discharge those duties, and it does seem to me that to put upon a Port Authority of this character, four, or five, or six, members from outside—because that is what it has to come to—who are thinking of the interest of their own locality and not of the interests of the Port of London as a whole—to intrude this extraneous, unsympathetic element would be to hamper the action of the Port Authority, and perhaps lead to some kind of financial catastrophe. Under these circumstances, while I have every reason to acknowledge the spirit of reasonable discussion which prevailed in both Houses of Parliament during the debates on this important Bill, I must respectfully ask the House of Commons to disagree with the Lords in the Amendment they have proposed.

MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)

said the interests of Kent and Essex were very much greater than had been represented by the hon. Member for Devonport, because a great part of the Port of London and the dock;.; were in Essex at the present moment. London was, rightly or wrongly, given a representation, but Essex, where the new and growing part of the Port was, would have no representation. The growth of the Port would be down the river, and new docks and anything which was done for improving dock accommodation would be in Essex or in Kent—he believed almost entirely in Essex—outside the administrative area of the London County Council. In future, however, these two counties were not to be represented, and he thought it would be an injury to the work of the Port Authority that they were not represented. Nobody had asked that they should have power on the Port Authority to start doing any mischief there, but they were asking for one representative to voice their views on any question, and he thought it would be an immense advantage in greasing the wheels of the machinery, that there should be a representative of Essex with which every new scheme would have to deal. This was really the case, and there would be a great amount of negotiation to be conducted, and no possible injury to the work of the Port Authority could result, because one or two men would not be able to do much harm, but they might render Service by preventing bodies likely to compete with each other coming into conflict. He regretted the position which the Board of Trade had taken up, and he should be compelled to vote against it, although he was very loth to do anything to interfere with this improvement in the way of the management of the Port of London.

MR. ADKINS (Lancashire, Middleton)

wished to express his regret that he was unable to support the Government on this point. He thought from the statements which had been made, it was perfectly clear that the interests of Essex and Kent were so very specially and so organically related to the subject matter of this Bill that the distinction made by the President of the Board of Trade between the general interests of the London County Council and the sectional interests was really not an adequate description of the case. This matter had been considered by the County Councils Association, whose chairman, Lord Belper, supported this Amendment in another place, and from the point of view that the county councils should have a real representation of the interests they stood for, they were in favour of the Lords' Amendments. A very similar case arose last year with regard to a measure dealing with the Humber and the lower reaches of the Trent, and then after a most friendly discussion his right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade gave representation to the counties of Lincoln and Nottingham. That representation had had the effect of greasing the wheels and working the machinery, and because of that precedent and of the very large interests of the county of Essex, he should without hesitation vote for the Amendment.

* MR. W. THORNE (West Ham, S.)

said he would not detain the House long, because it was obvious that hon. Members had already made up their minds as to how they should vote. If the Government had accepted the Amendments proposed by Members on both sides of the House, giving separate representation to the different local authorities, it would have prevented the Lords making the Amendments which had been sent down for their consideration. He felt in rather an awkward position at the present time, in consequence of being impelled to vote for the Amendment which had been sent down from another place, because on principle he absolutely denied the right of that other House to interfere with the business done in the House of Commons. But, nevertheless, the Lords were there, and he felt himself undoubtedly bound to vote for the Amendment, giving one representative to Kent and Essex. Of course, he should have liked to have seen the Government accept one representative for West Ham, which was more affected than any of the other local authorities in consequence of their having the whole of the Victoria Docks situated in the borough, also a part of the Albert Docks, I and whose rating qualification was a very heavy one, but notwithstanding the fact that West Ham would not be directly represented he had made up his mind to vote against the Government. As a Socialist he would be told that he was a "whole hogger," but in this case he was prepared to accept half a loaf, but they were prepared to accept it in regard to this matter, because, I although West Ham would not have the same representation as Essex, the West Ham Council could communicate with the representative of Essex. He should vote for the Amendment.

* SIR A. SPICER (Hackney, Central)

said I that as a member of the Commit tee he I did not like to give a silent vote on this I subject, but as an old Essex man he confessed he should have been very glad

to have seen some representation given to that county. But, after all, the House must bear in mind that as a Committee they had a very difficult task to perform, the principle having been adopted that the Port was to be managed by London and that London was to bear the cost. After all, the cost would fall upon the traders of London, and, as had been said in that debate, they were not responsible for the representation of sectional interests, but they had increased the commercial representation. He believed they had struck a fair balance between the various interests, and the counties of Essex and Kent were almost sure to have representation on the Port Authority in, he ventured to think, a much more satisfactory way than they would have by being represented merely as sectional interests. [Cries of "No."] Some hon. Members said "No," but, after all, they were speaking without knowledge. They could not tell that they would not have representation on the first Port Authority, and he was quite sure that the Board of Trade would do their best to make that body, upon whom so much depended, as representative as possible. Under these circumstances, although he had a great deal of sympathy with his old county of Essex, he believed that the Government had taken the right line, and therefore he should vote in their favour.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 139; Noes, 32. (Division List No. 461.)

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight Essex, R. W.
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Channing, Sir Francis Allston Evans, Sir Samuel T.
Ainsworth, John Stirling Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Everett, R. Lacey
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Clough, William Fenwick, Charles
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Cobbold, Felix Thornley Ferens, T. R.
Bellairs, Carlyon Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Fuller, John Michael F.
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W. Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John
Boland, John Compton-Rickett, Sir J. Glendinning, R. G.
Bowerman, C. W. Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd Glover, Thomas
Brace, William Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford
Brigg, John Cory, Sir Clifford John Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh) Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)
Bryce, J. Annan Cox, Harold Guinness, W. E. (Bury S. Edm.)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Crooks, William Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Crosfield, A. H. Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.
Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles Dickinson, W. H. (S. Pancras, N.) Hall, Frederick
Byles, William Pollard Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness Harcourt, Rt. Hn. L. (Rossendale
Cameron, Robert Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Erskine, David C. Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)
Hart-Davies, T. M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B.)
Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E. M'Laren, Rt. Hn. Sir C. B. (Leices. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John
Haslam, James (Derbyshire) M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.) Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Haworth, Arthur A. Mallett, Charles E. Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East).
Hazel, Dr. A. E. Markham, Arthur Basil Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton).
Hemmerde, Edward George Marnham, F. J. Spicer, Sir Albert
Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe) Montague, Hon. E. S. Stanger, H. Y.
Higham, John Sharp Montagu, Hon. E. S. Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)
Hodge, John Mooney, J. J. Strachey, Sir Edward
Hooper, A. G. Myer, Horatio Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Hudson, Walter Nicholls, George Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Hyde, Clarendon Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Idris, T. H. W. Norton, Capt. Cecil William Verney, F. W.
Illingworth, Percy H. O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Wadsworth, J.
Jacoby, Sir James Alfred O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
Jardine, Sir J. O'Malley, William Walsh, Stephen
Johnson, John (Gateshead) Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Walton, Joseph
Johnson, W. (Nuneaton) Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Joyce, Michael Rea, Russell (Gloucester) Waring, Walter
Kearley, Sir Hudson E. Rees, J. D. Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Kekewich, Sir George Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Lamont, Norman Roberts, G. H. (Norwich) Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Lewis, John Herbert Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford) Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Lupton, Arnold Samuel, Rt. Hn. H. L. (Cleveland)
Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.
Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Bg'hs) Seely, Colonel Joseph Pease and Master
M'Crae, Sir George Shackleton, David James of Elibank.
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F. Gretton, John Pretyman, Ernest George
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tvdvil) Renwick, George
Balcarres, Lord Hill, Sir Clement Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffsh.)
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Baring, Godfery (Isle of Wight) Hunt, Rowland Thorne, William (West Ham)
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Hutton, Alfred Eddison Valentia, Viscount
Carlile, E. Hildred Jowett, F. W. Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.) Kerry, Earl of Whitbread, Howard
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)
Forster, Henry William Lonsdale, John Brownlee TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.
Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West) Magnus, Sir Philip Rowlands and Mr. Whitehead.
Goulding, Edward Alfred Mason James F. (Windsor)

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment— In page 2, after line 13, to insert, by the Kent County Council, 1. By the Essex County Council, 1."—

Disagreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to the Amendment in page 6, line 29, agreed to.

Lords Amendment— In page 6, line 29, after the word 'requisite' to insert as a new subsection '(c) nothing in this Act shall authorise the appropriation or the utilisation for the purposes of this Act of any common or commonable land or any recreation ground, village green, or other open space dedicated to the use of the public, or any disused burial ground, fuel, or other allotments, or any land held on trusts which prohibit building thereon.

Read a second time.


said though the Government accepted the principle of this Amendment he was bound to move formally to disagree with it. There had been some misunderstanding in another place with regard to the Amendment they really did accept. As it appeared on the Paper it was in the form in which it was moved by the noble Lord and the Government intimated in Committee that on Report they would be prepared to bring up an Amendment in another form which the noble Lord said he would accept. He moved to disagree with the Lords' Amendment and would afterwards move it in the modified form.

Amendment proposed— In page 6, line 29, after the word 'requisite' to insert the words '(c) Nothing in this section shall without the consent of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries authorise the acquisition of any common or commonable land or any recreation ground, village green or other open space dedicated to the use of the public, or any disused burial ground.'"—(Sir H. Kearley.)

SIR J. JARDINE (Roxburghshire)

, as a Member of the Commons' Preservation Society, expressed satisfaction at the acceptance of the Amendment in the amended form. It merely followed beneficent legislation as regarded the preservation of commons in the neighbourhood of the Metropolis for the last sixty years, and it would make a precedent of the same sort which would be of great value in the future.

Amendment agreed to.

Lords Amendment— In page 6, lines 30 to 37, to leave out subsection (2)"—

Agreed to.

Lords Amendment— In page 6, line 39; after the word 'person, to insert the words not in the employment of any Government Department.

Read a second time.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)

said he understood the Government proposed to move to agree with the Lords' Amendment, and he did not desire to oppose that. The clause had been very considerably modified, and if he might say so very much for the better, since it left the House. In its present form it would be a useful precedent to extend to other bodies of a similar character. The only thing he desired to press upon the Government was this. They provided for an inquiry before an impartial and now an independent person, and that was all to the good, but if the Government would look forward, as he hoped they would, to a general application of some such principle as this, he thought it would be a desirable thing to have a permanent tribunal of the nature of the Light Railways Commission, to which all such applications should be referred. A permanent tribunal had great advantages from the point of view of having a regular course of procedure, and from the point of view of independence of any Government interest. He trusted the Government would consider some such suggestion with a view possibly of introducing a general Bill next session dealing with the whole subject.


said the noble Lord would not expect him at that moment to make any definite pledge as regarded legislation, but they were very glad to recognise that in all parts of the House there was a growing feeling that some sort of permanent tribunal should be brought into existence in order to save promoters and others from the expenditure of time and money which was now most wasteful to all the interests involved. He asked the noble Lord to accept his statement—a sympathetic one—but he could not commit himself to any definite undertaking in regard to the future.

Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to.

Committee appointed to draw up reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to certain of the Amendments made by the Lords to the Bill.

Committee nominated of, Mr. Burns, Lord Robert Cecil, Mr. Churchill, Sir Hudson Kearley, and Mr. Frederick Edwin Smith.

Three to be the quorum.

To withdraw immediately.—(Sir Hudson Kearley.)