§ In cases of schools manufactories dyers printers bleachers brewers innkeepers livery stable keepers alehouse keepers and other persons requiring a supply of water for other purposes than his or their own families consumption or persons requiring a supply of water for baths ponds or closets or for washing carriages or motor cars or for cows and horses or for the purposes of any trade or business whatsoever such supply may be furnished by the Corporation either by meter or otherwise in accordance with the scale of charges made by the Corporation under Section 39 of the Act of 1897 and for the time being in force. Provided always that in the case of stables or premises in which horses carriages or motor cars are kept and which are attached to and occupied with and rated along with any private dwelling-house the water rate shall be assessed upon the annual rack rent or value of the private dwelling-house including such stables or premises and no additional charge shall be made under the provisions of Section 39 of the Act of 1897 for water supplied to such stables or premises unless a hose pipe or other similar apparatus be used in which case the Corporation may make such additional charge there for as may be prescribed by the scale of charges there for.
§ Mr. BIRD
I beg to move to leave out the words "or for washing carriages or motor cars" ["requiring a supply of water for baths, ponds, or closets, or for washing carriages or motor cars"].
278 This Amendment is intended to remove a very serious new departure which the Corporation of Bradford is taking by means of this particular Clause. The corporation are endeavouring to depart from the practice which has prevailed throughout the country for a large number of years—that the washing of carriages shall be deemed to be a domestic purpose. Therefore, if this Clause be passed as set down in the Bill, the effect will be to impose on owners of carriages a charge that has not previously existed. The Bradford Corporation has to-day issued a notice, which has been circulated among Members of the House generally, in which they state the case which they have for the Clause as it now appears in the Bill. Among other things which the Corporation recite, they say:—We have the usual obligations and powers common to most, if not all. bodies supplying water under Parliamentary powers.They say:—We have the obligation to supply water for domestic purposes upon the basis of a rate on the annual value of the premises supplied, and have the power to supply water for purposes other than domestic upon the basis of a charge for water supplied.The Corporation admit that they have an obligation to supply water for domestic purposes, and it has been ruled in the Superior Courts that the washing of carriages is a domestic purpose. Some time ago the Corporation of Bradford thought that by means of some by-laws which they had passed they would have the right to impose a new charge upon carriage owners in Bradford for water supplied for carriage-washing purposes, and they issued demand notes to the owners of motor-cars demanding Is. per horse-power per year as an extra charge for the supply of water for washing motor cars, which may justly be deemed carriages. The Bradford Automobile Club, in regard to this new imposition, took counsel's opinion on the subject, and the Corporation were then informed that the owners of motor ears objected to pay. The Corporation were asked to state a case so that the matter might be tried in the courts and the question settled. The Corporation decided that it was not wise to fight the question, and they withdrew the demand. They now seek by means of this Clause to obtain the powers which they endeavoured to do by means of by-laws which they could not sustain. The principle is a very- serious one to be admitted by this House, that the Corporation shall be allowed to depart from the usual practice which exists throughout the country 279 and impose a charge for washing cars, although it has been ruled by the court that it is a purely domestic use. In the Clause which they seek to insert in the Bill they go on to say, provided a hosepipe is not used for washing the carriage, then no extra charge will be made. The washing of a carriage or a motor car with buckets of water belongs to the prehistoric period, and nobody outside a lunatic asylum in the present day would desire to use such an archaic method. From the corporation's own point of view it would involve infinitely more waste of water than the use of a hose-pipe. The result would be that the chauffeur would turn on the water, and when the bucket was full he would slip it from underneath the tap, throw the water leisurely over the car, and leave the tap running all the time. That method would be infinitely more wasteful of the water than use of a hose-pipe, which would enable the cleaner to direct the flow of water on to the exact part of the carriage it was intended to clean. In the interests of the Corporation of Bradford itself I contend that the method they allow of washing carriages without extra charge would be a very wasteful one, and would result in a far larger loss to the rates than if the hosepipe were used in the ordinary manner. I represent a large body of carriage and motor car owners, who feel that, in regard to the new charge sought to be imposed, ii is necessary, if the interests of motor car owners are to be protected, that a serious protest should be made against this Clause. If once the Bradford Corporation are allowed to get this Clause into this Bill, it will be immediately imitated and followed by all the local authorities who supply water. For these reasons I beg to move.
§ Mr. H. S. FOSTER
I beg to second the Amendment. I have been at some pains to look into this matter, and I think it is quite clear that if these powers were sought by a private trading company they would be rejected, and the Government would be the first to move their rejection. This Bill comes before us at the hands of a Corporation, and they are seeking to establish a new principle, which hitherto Parliament has refused to sanction. They are seeking the power to treat that which is really a domestic purpose as not being a domestic purpose, and the Bill, if it were passed in its present form, does not attempt to lay down any schedule under which they are to levy their charges. As 280 my hon. Friend stated, the Bradford Corporation did seek illegally, two years ago, to levy a charge, and it was in consequence of resistance offered to them in Bradford, as a result of counsel's opinion being taken, that they eventually desisted from endeavouring to enforce that charge. The charge that they are now seeking to make is in the case of any owner of a carriage or motor car, that the use of water for the purpose of cleaning the vehicle shall not be a domestic purpose. I have here the particulars of the case which came before the present Lord Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Darling, and Mr. Justice Lawrance, and known as the Harrogate Corporation v. McKay. In that case the Harrogate Corporation sought to charge a medical man with a special rate for water used in the cleaning of his carriage, upon the ground that that was being used for professional purposes, and therefore not domestic purposes. The Lord Chief Justice, in his judgment, quoted the case which had been previously laid down—a case against the Chesterfield Water Company—in which it was clearly held that washing a carriage with water was the use of water for domestic purposes. The Lord Chief Justice went on to say:—Everyone knew of the decision in the case to which I have referred, and it is merely to consider how tin-limit was imposed by the Water Clauses Act of 1863. Section 2 of the Water Clauses Act, 1863 is as follows: 'The supply of water for domestic purposes shall not include the supply of water for cattle or for horses or for washing carriages where such horses or carriages are kept for sale or hire or by a common carrier or for the supply of any trade.' It seems, if it had been intended to alter the effect of the previous decision now suggested, it would have been done by the insertion of such words 'or where a carriage is used for the purpose of a professional man.' The suggestion that this is a supply of water for trade and business is not arguable. i am clearly of opinion that the justices came to the right conclusion.The other judges emphasised that judgment and held clearly that which we know is the law now, that the use of water for the cleansing of a carriage or of a car is a domestic purpose. Clause 42 of this Bill seeks to alter that state of the law, and to clothe this corporation with power to treat as a business purpose that which hitherto has been treated as a domestic purpose. The injustice of it is that the tenant may be paying a rate based upon his annual value, and that annual value may include the stable yard or garage, and under 'this Clause the corporation would be entitled to mulct the tenant with a rate based upon the annual value and also with the additional rate for purely domestic purposes in addition to the rates already sanctioned by Act of Parliament.
281 It is not merely the question of the owner of a motor car. I can quite conceive that many Members of the House may say that if a man can afford to keep a motor car it does not matter what extra taxation you charge him. There are some Members who take that view. If you give sanction by means of an Act of this kind to the creation of a new charge which Parliament has hitherto steadfastly refused to sanction, not only do you open the door to every other body, whether it be a corporation, public body, or private company owning a water works, to make this charge, but other charges of a similar character and for other purposes may, by the precedent created now, be allowed to creep in. I am sorry to add to the burdens of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board after the heavy work he has already had to do, and to that which we may yet have to do, and I know he has been in the House for many hours to answer this point. The point is a serious one. The Amendment of my hon. Friend will merely mean that that which is the law at present will continue to be the law, and there will be the obligation on the water company or the corporation to treat the use of water by the owner of a carriage or a car as water used for domestic purposes, if the stable or garage be part of the premises belonging to and occupied by the owner and in respect of which he is assessed for water rate.
§ Mr. CHARLES NICHOLSON
I am sorry that it should have been thought necessary to bring up this question at this stage. I think that it is essentially a point which ought to have been raised by those interested in the question in Bradford before the Bill was deposited. So far as I have been able to ascertain, it was not referred to, and no objection was raised at the ratepayers' meeting held in pursuance of the Borough Funds Act. Apparently, after the Bill was deposited, those who are now opposing it applied to the Court of Referees for a locus standi, but after hearing the arguments this was refused. The question of that refusal does not arise now, but the effect of that decision was to prevent the opponents of the Bill on this point from appearing before the Local Legislation Committee and arguing their case, which is now brought up in the House.
§ Mr. H. S. FOSTER
I am told that the locus standi of the Bradford Automobile Club was objected to by the Bradford Corporation, and that when the question of a 282 locus standi was being argued before the Court of Referees it was definitely stated by Mr. Balfour Browne, on behalf of the Bradford Corporation, that the Clause was not intended to effect a charge for water used by motorists in connection with their motor cars. Thereupon the Automobile Club's locus standi was disallowed.
§ Mr. C. NICHOLSON
The Clause, as drawn, does not impose a second charge on the owners of motor cars. As I understand it two points are raised—first, whether the Corporation are entitled to charge for water supplied for the washing of motor cars at all, and also whether they are to be entitled to charge for water supplied for the washing of private motor cars which are not kept in a garage attached to and occupied with the house of the owner so as to come under the domestic use rate; and, secondly, whether the Corporation are entitled to charge for the use of a hose-pipe whether the car is kept in a garage attached to the house or not. The cause of the trouble arises from the difficulty which has been experienced in defining the expression "domestic use" as applied to water. The hon. Member for Lowestoft has spoken of the Waterworks Clauses Act, 1863. I would refer him to the Waterworks Clauses Act, 1847, in Section 35 of which it is laid down that "the undertakers shall provide and keep in the pipes to be laid down by them a supply of pure and wholesome water sufficient for the domestic use of all the inhabitants of the town or district within the limits of the special Act who as hereafter provided shall be entitled to demand a supply and shall be willing to pay water rate for the same." Unfortunately no definition of the words "domestic use" was given in the Act. But the Corporation of Bradford have obtained power in their Acts of 1854 and 1897 to supply water for purposes outside domestic use at a rate to be agreed upon by the parties themselves. I will not trouble the House by quoting the clauses, but they include such things as the washing of carriages kept for hire, the water supplied for cows, and various items of that kind. Naturally these earlier Acts did not refer to motor cars, as they were 283 not then invented, but both. Acts expressly exclude from the domestic list carriages kept for hire. In those days owners of private carriages always, or practically always, kept them within the curtilage which was rated for the supply of water for domestic uses, and as the stable in which they were kept added to the rateable value the owner paid for the water used in washing. The custom has now apparently grown up for many owners of private motor cars to keep them in buildings apart from the houses they occupy and which are not dwelling houses. The evidence given by the borough engineer was to this effect:—The only power we have got by Statute is a power to levy rates on dwelling-houses, which houses take water—that is to say, we have no power to rate any other houses except dwelling-houses.It is therefore obvious that a man who puts up his motor car in a lock-up garage which is not a dwelling house escapes altogether from payment for water used for cleaning his car, or, if the house is used as a stable, with rooms over it, it is not rated for other purposes on a scale commensurate with the amount of water used; therefore it is necessary that some other arrangement should be made, such as a supply by meter or otherwise, according to a scale to be laid down by the Corporation; and this is all the Corporation are asked for. That scale will not apply to cases where the car is kept on premises which are attached to and occupied with a private dwelling house, for under the Clause in the Bill they will come under the domestic use charge.
§ Mr. C. NICHOLSON
With regard to the question of the hose-pipe, on the one hand it is contended that the use of a hosepipe is economical, and that the use of a bucket involves a great waste of water; while, on the other hand, it is argued that the bucket is the more economical and the hose-pipe the more wasteful. I leave that to the judgment of the House. So far as my experience goes, it is practically unanimously agreed that the use of a hosepipe for cleaning cars is decidedly wasteful. But the Corporation of Bradford maintain that the use of a hose-pipe produces a great waste of water, and they wish to make a charge where it is used. The Committee which considered the Bill came to the conclusion that the Corporation were right and that this charge should be allowed. 284 Besides this, there are many oases in which a charge is made for the use of a hose-pipe. Such a charge is levied when a hose-pipe is used for garden purposes, for the washing of windows, for the scouring of passages, and so forth. We were also informed in the Committee that permission to make this charge has been given to a large number of towns, including Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, and many others; and there seems to be no reason why the Corporation of Bradford should not be allowed to make a charge in this instance. The whole question was most carefully considered by the Committee. The Clause as it originally stood was largely altered before it reached its present form, and the Committee were certainly under the impression that they had made considerable concessions to owners of motor cars m the Clause as it now stands. The Committee were quite aware of the difficulties and complexities of the various water charges, but they unanimously decided that the Clause as it now stands was a fair settlement of the question, and I hope the House will confirm their decision.
§ Bill accordingly read the third time, and passed.