HC Deb 16 March 1910 vol 15 cc352-3

asked whether the Secretary for Scotland's attention had been called to the discussion at the annual committee of the Convention of Royal Burghs upon the alleged unsatisfactory working of the Scottish system of Private Bill legislation in the substitution of Provisional Orders for Private Bills in dealing with local interests; and whether, in view of the gravity and importance of the subject, he would consider the propriety of forthwith appointing a departmental committee with full powers to inquire into the alleged defects, and to suggest a remedy?


The Secretary for Scotland is aware of the discussion referred to, in which exception was taken to the proceedings of the Scottish Office in supervising the Scottish system of Private Bill Legislation, and agrees in the hon. Member's view of the importance of the subject. With reference to his suggestion of an inquiry, I would remind him that since the Scottish Act was passed in 1899 there has already been one Parliamentary Inquiry into its working by the Select Committee on the Private Legislation Procedure (Wales) Bill of 1904, which found that it had been on the whole successful, and attributed its success in great measure to the action of the Scottish Office. It seems clear, therefore, that there is no sufficient case for further inquiry.


Even if there is no case for inquiry, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman does not think there is really a case for reform of the law, and does he propose at any time in the near future to undertake some reform?


No, I think not.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Edinburgh Corporation and the Gas Commissioners complained that alterations were made on points which had been decided on evidence laid before the Commissioners and passed by them?


Yes; I understand that complaints were made, but I do not think they were well founded.