§ For the purposes of Scale 3 (Minimum duty payable for Publicans and Beerhouse Licenses) in the First Schedule to the Finance (1909-10) Act, 1910, the boundaries of the existing borough of Cambridge the urban district of Chesterton and the rural district of Chesterton shall not be deemed to have been altered by the Cambridge (Extension) Order confirmed by this Act until the expiration of fifteen years from the commencement of that Order.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I beg to move, to leave out Clause 3.
I am taking an action which I am perfectly willing to confess is of a somewhat unusual character, and one which has been forced upon me by what I think is a departure from the usual practice in the consideration of Provisional Order Bills. This Clause was inserted in the Bill not, as is usually done in Provisional Order Bills, at the instance of the Corporation of Cambridge or of any other public body in the locality, but at the instance of a body of private traders, namely, the Licensed Victuallers' Association of Cambridgeshire. As far as I have been able to trace the proceedings in Committee—certainly at two or three stages in those proceedings —the legal representative of the Corporation of Cambridge confessed that they were very indifferent to this Clause, that they had never considered it in council, and that it was a matter of no concern 1592 to them as a public body. On page 2 of the proceedings of July 6, the representative of the borough of Cambridge said:—With regard to the Corporation, of course we are very anxious that nothing should be put into this order which would in any way endanger its passing. Apart from that, we have no interests in this matter."this matter" being the Clause which is now in the Bill. Again on page 4 he says:With regard to this matter, it is a matter in which the Corporation have no direct concern, and we do not desire to take up one side or the other in regard to it.Again, on page 7 of the proceedings of July 7, a question was put by one of the Members of the Committee as to whether the Corporation of Cambridge had ever considered the matter, and the witness in the box replied that although the committee of the corporation had considered it the matter had never been before the council itself. The witness, who was either a past or the actual mayor, and professed to speak on behalf of the corporation, had to admit that the matter had never been before the corporation at all. Therefore I think we may take it that, whatever may be the views of individual members of the corporation, that body itself, which represents the opinion of the town in matters of this sort, had never been consulted, and had expressed no opinion on the subject. The Clause was recommended to the Committee by the Licensed Victuallers' Association at Cambridgeshire, and, as far as I can understand, it was recommended upon one ground, and one ground only, namely, that it would make a difference in the charge—I think it was said of 5s. in the £—on the licence holders of certain districts to be included in the new borough of Cambridge. That arises from the fact that under the third scale of the Third Schedule of the Finance Act the minimum duty is fixed at a much lower rate in places where there is a small rural population than is payable in cases where the population is much greater; and the population of Cambridge under the amalgamation jumps up from 30,000 or 40,000 in the actual borough to 56,000, which brings it over the 50,000 limit, and thus places it upon a higher scale. I think that that may be assumed to be common ground between the two sides of opinion in this matter.
The net result of a proposal of this kind is that you will evade the provisions of a general Act of Parliament, passed by a large majority in this House, after considerable deliberation. A semi-private Act of Parliament will be enabled to override the general law. That, I think, is going behind the considered and delibe- 1593 rate action of this House in a way which this House ought not to tolerate. There are, I think, two precedents which were in the mind of the Committee when they considered this matter. The first was the precedent of Stoke-on-Trent, and the second was that of Dewsbury. I submit that there is all the difference in the world between those cases and the case of Cambridge as it stands to-day. In the case of Stoke-on-Trent there were six towns in the Potteries who had come to the conclusion that, inasmuch as they were continuous lines of habitation, it would be good for them to be federated for the purposes of local government. The Finance Act of 1909–10 was not in existence or, indeed, in contemplation when the federation of those six towns took place. The order for the federation was actually made before the Finance Act passed the Third Reading in this House; therefore, the conditions imposed by that Act in respect of public-houses, and the penalties, if you like to use that word, or the duties imposed upon licence holders if they came from an area less populated into one more densely populated, were not and could not have been in the minds of those who were responsible for the federation. The consequence was that Parliament in the schedule to which I have referred specially exempted those six Pottery towns from the operation of the Act for a period of twenty years. The case of Dewsbury was on almost similar lines to that of Stoke-on-Trent. The federation of Dewsbury and the adjacent district was complete before the Finance Act was in operation.
The order for the federation of Dewsbury was passed, I think, on the same day or within a day or two, of that of Stoke-upon-Trent. That is again before the Finance Bill came into operation. Therefore the conditions which were in the minds of those who federated Stoke were also in the minds of those who federated Dewsbury. But the case was not presented to the House of Commons at the same time. The consequence was that the House of Commons dealt out different treatment to the case of Dewsbury compared to that of Stoke-on-Trent. The Stoke-on-Trent Bill went through this House without any division of opinion. In the case of Dewsbury there was strong opposition on the opposite benches, as right hon. and hon. Gentlemen will remember, to the inclusion of Dewsbury in the Revenue Act. They said: "You are not entitled after a Finance Act is passed 1594 to bring up a special case for consideration in this House; however good may be the arguments in support of your case, you ought not to bring up a single individual case to cover Dewsbury, but some general words should be put in your Act." The Postmaster-General, who was in charge of that particular Clause in the Revenue Act agreed. He said he would endeavour to find some general words to cover all such cases, and the Clause was withdrawn for that purpose.
We have been unable—I tell the House frankly—to discover any general words which would cover all these kinds of cases. So the matter has dropped so far as the Government is concerned. Now come the licensed victuallers of Cambridge and say: "If you cannot find general words to cover general cases, we will find particular words to put into these quasi-private Bills which will enable you to get over the difficulty in any cases where there may be an extension of area." I submit to the Committee—and I cannot help thinking that the House will agree—that you ought not to get round a public Act of such an important and far-reaching character by means of any words in any quasi-private Bill. If you adopt specific words it is quite clear that three things must follow. First of all, there would be what I have suggested to the Committee—and I think I am entitled to use the words—an "evasion" of the general Act by means of private Bills. In every place in which it was proposed to extend the area of some locality or other, the Association of Licensed Victuallers will produce words, or get someone to move a Clause, will perhaps even not go so far as to consult, the local authorities1 in the matter; but will get their friends to place the matter before the Private Bill Committee to which these Bills are referred, to put forward a case, and the Committee will be persuaded to make an exemption. The example set by Cambridge will be put forward by every locality which desires to extend its boundaries.
There is another consideration. If revenue for public purposes fails to be raised from the Cambridge licensed victuallers it follows that the revenues which are needed for the country's expenditure will have to be borne by somebody who are not the licensed victuallers of Cambridge. In other words, private traders will have shifted from their own shoulders on to somebody else—on to the general taxation of the country—their contribution towards it for the period of fifteen years. They 1595 will have declined to bear the burdens which this House has decided they ought to bear, and have placed it upon somebody else who may perhaps be in a worse position than themselves to contribute towards the revenue. It may be said, possibly it will be, in the course of Debate, that there are precedents for exempting districts from the general operation of the law, and that, therefore, we can do it properly in this case. So far as I am aware there is no case in which the operation of the general law has been stopped in any particular district unless some unforeseen hardship arose which was not contemplated by the general law when it was introduced into the House of Commons. I venture to submit to the House that this is not an unforeseen charge; that the case was deliberately considered when the House considered the case of Stoke, from which it differs. Stoke affords no precedent for the action which the Committee have taken in this particular case. The House showed quite clearly by the consideration of the Stoke-on-Trent case that it knew that the districts were federated, that the areas were extended so as to create a larger population for the purposes of Scale 3. It recognised that heavier charges would be laid upon the licensed victuallers of that district, and it decided to exempt a particular district because of what it considered were hitherto unconsidered circumstances. It decided to exempt a considerable district from the Clause it rejected in the case of Dewsbury. It cannot, therefore, be said, I think, by the members of the Committee that there is a precedent for exemption in this case following on precedents which have been created in similar and previous cases. I submit, therefore, to the House that this Clause ought to be deleted from this Bill, both because it places a charge upon—I am not going into the financial point or the technicalities of it—because it must place a charge upon other taxpayers, which, it is contemplated, should be paid by this particular class of taxpayer and this particular kind of case; also because it is, in my judgment, and, I hope, in the judgment of the whole House, a most improper proceeding to get round the general law; to evade the operation of the, general law by a Cause put into a private Bill.
§ Mr. JAMES MASON
At the outset I may express some surprise that the Government has thought fit to deal with this matter by moving to omit a Clause rather 1596 than by recommitting the Bill. It shows that they assume that without this Clause the Committee would have passed the Bill. That assumption is hardly warranted. I admit, of course, that, technically speaking, the Committee has made a precedent in doing what it has done, but I think I shall show that that precedent is fully justified, and that it was necessary in order to meet the injustice which has been fully admitted by the Government themselves, and that there is no other adequate machinery by which that injustice can be met. This Committee, of which I have the honour to be Chairman, was composed of Members from both sides of the House. The hon. Gentleman who sits behind the Front Bench, and whose absence this evening I also very much regret, has authorised me to say that, but for his unavoidable absence he would have spoken in support of the view I take. The Committee was wholly unanimous. The Members were the hon. Gentlemen the Member for Barnstaple (Sir Godfrey Baring), for North Meath (Mr. P. White), and North-East Devon (Mr. Walrond). The right hon. Gentleman has made some point of the fact that this proposal was not moved by the Corporation of Cambridge, but was moved by an independent body, the Licensed Victuallers' Protection Association. I venture to think the Committee stage of private Bills exists very largely for the purpose of hearing grievances of any parties who think themselves aggrieved by general proposals. Therefore I do not think that fact applies very seriously to the question at all. The general accusation is that the action of the Committee has exempted from the general law a special class, and that that action introduced a dangerous principle. The principle of exempting from the general law a particular class is a principle which is accepted fully by the Government, not only in the two instances mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, but also a third instance. As he says, that principle of exemption was acknowledged in the case of Stoke, and, although not to the same extent, also in the case of Dewsbury, and there was a hope of finding general words which might meet all these cases alike. The Government themselves have acknowledged this principle in these cases in their Finance Bill of this year, Section 5, which puts it in the power of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise to exempt a number of cases of a similar kind. It is in their power 1597 to exempt premises in districts which are essentially rural though included in urban areas. In fact, they do on a large scale what we propose to do in this Bill; but the principle of exemption is exactly the same, and it is obvious that the Government has admitted that justice will require differential treatment, and so far as the principle involved grows, though they say now it is dangerous, there is no doubt that they have fully accepted it.
The principle on which we differ most is the tribunal to which these cases should be submitted. The question is whether these cases should come before a Committee of the House which is in a position to fully hear the evidence, and go thoroughly into the question before giving a verdict. Or whether these cases should come, as in the case of Stoke, before this House itself, which is not in a position to hear evidence; or, thirdly, whether these cases should come before an official of a Government Department who is in many cases an interested party. I have admitted there is no exact precedent for what we have done, but, of course, this case at Stoke and Dewsbury are analogous.
§ Mr. MASON
To a very considerable extent, and the only difference is that the injustice in the present case is infinitely greater. It is true the exemption in the case of Stoke was granted before the Finance Bill passed through its stages in this House, and in the case of Dewsbury it is also a fact that the extension was decided upon before the Finance Act had finally become law, but on the merits of the case there is no comparison whatever between the two cases. What were the facts? In the case of Stoke you had the amalgamation of six large towns into one, making in all a population of over 250,000. Seven of these towns were already over 50,000 inhabitants, and therefore the increases of the minimum Licence Duties were very small compared with the case we have here. In most cases it was a question of increasing the minimum duty from £30' to £35. The total increase of the duties which would have been paid in the case of Stoke, had exemption not been granted, would have been £3,950 per year. But in the case of Cambridge the figure would not be £3,950, but £7,500. In Dewsbury the total increase was a very small one, something like £250, but nevertheless the Government said Dewsbury should be treated in a similar way, be- 1598 cause it bore precise analogy to the case of Stoke. In the case of Cambridge you have the inclusion in the new borough of some districts which are really rural. In one of these districts the population is only a few hundred, and the effect of that is that the minimum duty upon some of these houses rises from £5 to as much as £30 at a jump, and the total increase which would follow if you exclude this Clause of the Bill, in the minimum duties which would fall upon the payers of these duties, will be £1,480, or an average rise of 40 per cent., equal to 5s. 1d. in the £, and this falls upon a class of people who, of course, are in no way responsible for the extension. They have no power to prevent that extension and no one suggests that the mere fact that the borough boundary has changed its geographical position means that they will gain anything in the matter of trade.
And it is not only the rural districts that are affected, as the right hon. Gentleman seems to think, but the town of Cambridge is affected by it. The town of Cambridge is the ordinary course of events would not reach 50,000 population for some years. Its present population is something like 40,000 odd, and therefore I think there is no denying that, on the question of merits or of injustice done to a particular class of the people, the case of Cambridge is infinitely worse than that of Stoke, which the Government did meet; or that of Dewsbury, which they were desirous of meeting. Now as regards the admission of the injustice by the Government and the desirability of meeting that injustice by words which would apply to all cases alike, I might mention that the House was entirely in accord in the case of Dewsbury that it was desirable if possible to meet the case by general words applicable to all cases, but it was found impossible by the Government to draft a Clause which will do that. I must ask the House to allow me to quote from the speech of the Postmaster-General because it fully admits both the injustice and the desirability of dealing with it. Speaking on the 29th of March this year the Postmaster-General said:—The representations which were made by the publicans of Dewsbury, who, by the way, are not supporters of the Minister for Education, but are his most bitter opponents, were representations which could hare been made by publicans in any other locality similarly situated. That is the sole reason why this particular instance was proposed to be included in the Clause. But I take it it is the general desire of the Committee that an effort should be made to see whether or not general words 1599 should be used in this connection. While I give no pledge upon the subject, the Government are willing to withdraw this Clause and to see whether or not this principle of differentiation is the right line of discrimination in these cases. If it is. then we will see in what form words to give effect to that principle should be embodied in the Bill."— [OFFICIAL REPORT. 29TH March, 1911, col. 1194.]On 30th March the same right hon. Gentleman said:—The hon. and learned Gentleman quoted a few words out of a speech of mine, and his case was that the town of Cambridge and the town of Birmingham when their bounds were extended ought to be treated in the same way as Dewsbury. I replied that after all it was with the publicans of Dewsbury that these representations originated, and that it was from them they emanated. They first raised the matter and said that what the publicans of Dewsbury had done could be done by the publicans of Cambridge or Birmingham or any other town in precisely the same way."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th March, 1911, col. 1604–5.]Therefore it was the right hon. Gentleman who advised the publicans at Cambridge what they could do, and in what other way could they do it except by bringing their grievance before a Committee of this House? On the 30th March the right hon. Gentleman said:—So much objection was taken to it the other day that the clause was withdrawn, and I undertook while giving no pledge to consider whether it would be possible to adopt any form of words that would deal with such a case. We have considered carefully with the authorities of the Customs and Excise, and we have come to the conclusion that it is not possible in those cases which vary so much to draft any form of words which would do justice to all the cases which may arise in future. And further, we should have to consider whether such words if they were adopted ought not to be retrospective validity. A large number of difficulties would therefore arise which the Government confess after full consideration they have not been able adequately to meet, and consequently they cannot present to the House a new form of general words that will deal with all the cases."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, Both March, 1911, col. 1607–8.In those speeches we have a complete admission of the injustice and of the desirability of meeting such cases with some general form of words to cover all similar cases. The Government failed to meet us in this way. What other course is there open than to meet the case in some other way? What other way is there of meeting the injustice? I am sure the House does not desire, having admitted an injustice, to continue it. What other way is there but to meet each case on its merits as it arises. I fail to see how it can be met in any other adequate way except by allowing the petitioners to bring their cases before the Committee. I cannot help thinking that the words of the Postmaster-General were an absolute invitation to the Committee of this House to deal with each matter as it arose. As I have already said, the Committee, after hearing the evidence, was unanimous, and 1600 it it quite obvious that these cases, if they are to be dealt with on their merits, cannot be dealt with by this House owing to the lack of adequate time and because we are not in a position to hear the evidence brought for and against. I may mention that an attempt to partially meet this sort of thing has been put into the Finance Bill this year by the Government, and I will read the proposed Clause. Clause 5 of the Finance Bill of this year provides as follows:—
"Where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise that any premises situated in an urban area are situated in a part of the area which has only a small local population, and is essentially rural in character, and that the more populous parts of the district are so remote as not to affect the amount of business carried on upon the premises, the premises shall, for the purpose of scale 3 in the First Schedule of the Finance (1909–10) Act, be deemed to be situated in an area which is not an urban area."
This is an attempt to deal in a small way with this matter, but it does not deal with it in an adequate form. It is an attempt to exempt and leave it in the power of some other authority to make an exemption to the general law. You put it into the hands of the Commissioners of Excise-instead of in the hands of a Committee of this House. Hon. Members may ask why was the Committee, when deciding this question, not satisfied to leave it to the operation of Clause 5. To begin with, the Finance Bill is not an Act yet, and that is not our fault. I do not think we are justified, sitting on a Committee of that kind, in assuming that the Bill will become law as it stands or that that Clause will remain unmodified. That particular Clause might be withdrawn, and we had to decide not by taking into account a law that, might be passed, but the law as it stood at that moment. I say that Clause 5 is not wide enough to cover these cases, because it deals with districts essentially rural, but the reason given for it is that the business in those rural districts is not effected by the proximity of the larger towns.
I submit that this tribunal of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise is not so good as a Committee of this House, because it is a biassed tribunal. A Commissioner of Customs and Excise has as his first business the collection of revenue, and he cannot help considering that question above all others in dealing with these 1601 cases. Therefore, the injustice we complain of in these cases would not be properly dealt with by such a tribunal.
The Committee which sits on these Private Bills has to take a much wider view. We have to take into consideration other facts besides the question of loss or gain to the revenue. We have to consider whether, if an injustice is allowed to continue, it militates against extensions which may be justified in the future. Corporations would be very much influenced by the fact that they were going to inflict an injustice upon a certain proportion of their inhabitants. That has to be taken into consideration. Furthermore, the imposition of higher taxes has a very serious effect on the rateable value of the premises, and the result is that you are taking away money from local taxation and putting it into the pockets of the Exchequer. That is a matter which ought to be taken into account. The Government accepts the principle of exemption. The whole difference between us is not a difference of principle at all, but a difference as to the tribunal that should decide the particular cases, whether it should be an official from the Government Department or whether it should be a Committee of this House sitting upstairs. These Committees on Private Bills exist to a very large extent for the purpose of allowing parties who think they are interested in the passage of private Bills to bring their grievances before this House, and I think the House of Commons has to decide whether in this matter the grievances of these people are in future to be brought before this Committee or whether they are to be placed entirely at the goodwill of an official of the Customs and Inland Revenue Department.
I think the House of Commons has also to decide this evening whether, having admitted—and no one would deny it—that a gross injustice is done in these eases, it is not under an obligation to meet it by some means or other. If they decide that this sort of question is to be determined by an official of a Government Department, then I say that to a very great extent the advantage of the Committee Stage of Private Bills is reduced to a minimum, if not destroyed altogether. If, on the other hand, it is admitted that these grievances are to come before Committees of this House and to be dealt with by them, then I say there never was a case in which a Committee was more justified in introducing a Clause into a Bill than the case which we are now discussing. The 1602 House of Commons confers, I know, great honour on its Members when it asks them to sit upon these Committees, and it places upon them at the same time a considerable amount of responsibility. It puts these Committees in a judicial position, and the House will agree with me it is all important these Committees should be protected from any outside influence. I am sure the House of Commons will agree nothing is more improper than that petitioners to Bills should write private letters to the Chairmen of Committees endeavouring to influence their decisions. Yet such letters are sometimes written. I admit they are usually written in entire ignorance. If it is improper these letters should be written by petitioners, is it not a gross outrage such letters should be written by Government Departments? The Local Government Board at a Committee over which I presided, read a statement from the Treasury putting forward the Government reasons why the verdict should be given in the way they desired. They were very much the same reasons as the right hon. Gentleman has given. I admit that is a perfectly correct and proper proceeding, but it is sufficient. They were not satisfied with that. A letter was written from the Treasury to the Clerk of the Committee, mentioning me by name and suggesting he should endeavour to influence my decision. I have tried to get that letter, but I find it has been destroyed on the ground that it never ought to have been written. This is the first case I have had to deal with in the capacity of chairman, but I feel bound to protest against this grossly improper attempt to colour the views of the chairman of a Private Bill Committee. I say such conduct is entirely incompatible with the efficiency of a Committee or the dignity of this House.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I know nothing of such a letter. I have never seen it. I never knew what its contents were, and it certainly was never authorised by me. I never even heard of it.
§ Mr. J. MASON
Of course, I accept the right hon. Gentleman's statement. The letter came from an official of the Treasury and was signed by him.. I regret very much I have been unable to obtain the letter. I find, as I have already mentioned, it was destroyed, and I cannot, therefore, read the exact words.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. J. MASON
One, Mr. Headlam. Passing from that matter, I say, in conclusion, that justice absolutely requires differentiation of the law in this case. That differentiation is admitted by the Government to be necessary both by what they have done in the case of Stoke and what they contemplate in the case of the Finance Bill, Clause 5. We are all agreed it should, if it could, be dealt with by general words which would cover all cases, but, if not, then I submit the best machinery with which to deal with this case is an impartial Committee of this House with an appeal to this House itself, and not a Government official from whom there is no appeal.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
The hon. Member for Windsor has based the whole of his argument upon the theory that an injustice is committed by the general law of the land and that it was incumbent upon the Committee to remedy that injustice.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
Whatever the Postmaster-General may have admitted, I, as a Member of this House, entirely repudiate the suggestion that the House has admitted any injustice is done in this case by the operation of the Act of 1909. The hon. Member accuses the House of being biassed. I do not accuse the Committee of being biassed, but I do say the speech the hon. Member has made and the theory he has set up that it was incumbent upon the Committee to remedy an injustice under the general law of the land does explain the extraordinary Clause which they allowed to find its way into the Bill.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I think the hon. Member said, if we did not allow an impartial Committee upstairs to decide this, it would be decided by a tribunal here.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I do not press that at all. Whether there is an injustice or not, I do not admit a Private Bill is the place to remedy an injustice committed by a general Act. That, at any rate, is the position of the Government, and I think it is the position of every Member of this House. Indeed, I see the greatest danger 1604 to our Private Bill procedure if members of Private Bill Committees are going to presume, because they consider an injustice is done in some general Act of which they disapprove, it is part of their duty on that Private Bill Committee to put right such an injustice. I think that really would destroy our Private Bill procedure altogether. A Committee sitting upstairs must accept the injustices of the general law. What they have got to do is to see that the Bill, conforming with the general law, does not inflict injustices which ought not to be inflicted by a Private Bill. The argument used by the hon. Member is very dangerous, so far as our Private Bill procedure is concerned. He has rested his case, I suppose, largely on the eases of Stoke and Dewsbury. But these are very different cases indeed, and they have been differently dealt with by this House. There is no analogy between the case of Stoke and the one now under consideration. The Stoke arrangements for amalgamation have been arrived at before the Finance Act, 1909-10, had been passed, and when the parties concerned entered into that arrangement they had not foreseen what would be the effect of the Finance Act. Had they done so, they might not have wished to amalgamate. Under the circumstances it was thought right to exempt them from those particular provisions. I agree that it was right; I made no objection. In the case of Dews-bury also the negotiations were going on before the Finance Act passed through this House, and I rather think it was more an oversight than anything else that it was not exempted at the same time as Stoke. It was, as a matter of fact, hon. Gentlemen opposite who declined to have Dewsbury treated on the same basis as Stoke, and the hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) took action in that direction.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I am in the recollection of the House when I say it was a letter written by the Minister for Education which caused the great sensation about Dewsbury, and if it had not been for the publication of that letter I do not think hon. Gentlemen opposite would have taken up the attitude they did. They raised an 1605 objection which might have been raised from this side of the House if it had been left to us, and they must take the consequences. Even conceiving that Dewsbury should be exempted, there is nothing to justify Cambridge being treated in the same way. The whole case of Dewsbury as I understand it was that the negotiations had been practically settled by the time the Finance Act was introduced. But with regard to Cambridge the negotiations respecting amalgamation were carried on after the passing of that Act. In my opinion you would be inflicting an injustice on the ratepayers of Cambridge by retaining Clause 3 as part of this Bill. The Borough of Cambridge and the other boroughs concerned did not raise the point which has been raised by the licensed victuallers of the district. On the contrary, they entered into and carried through the amalgamation negotiations in the full knowledge that the Finance Act of 1909 was going to operate, and that, consequently, this higher scale of Licence Duties would have to be paid. By keeping this Clause in a heavier burden will be inflicted on the other ratepayers.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
Because you would be exempting the trade from some of the burdens which ought to fall upon it.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I submit you would create an injustice in this case which was not created in the cases of Stoke and Dewsbury. I will substitute the word "taxpayers" for the word "ratepayers." It comes to the same thing. My point is that these amalgamation negotiations were entered into with the full knowledge that the Licence Duties would be levied on the higher scale, and if you now change that arrangement you will be changing the basis on which the negotiations were carried through. I submit further that it is a most undesirable precedent for the House now to create—to continue these exemptions from the operation of the Finance Act of 1909. It is obvious if you exempt Cambridge, in which case the whole negotiations were carried through with 1606 full knowledge of the provisions of the Act, you must also exempt every other case that comes forward.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I certainly did not understand that to be the intention of the right hon. Gentleman, and I can only say that, although I am a loyal supporter of the Government, I should offer the strongest possible opposition to any such suggestion. I think it very undesirable to create any such precedent. Any future extensions of the boroughs must be carried through with the full knowledge that the provisions of the Finance Act will be enforced. There must be no more of these exemptions. I do not complain that it was granted in the case of Stoke. I should not have complained in the case of Dewsbury had it been done at the same time as Stoke, as the circumstances were practically the same. But now, when boroughs extend and surrounding localities are taken in with full knowledge of the provisions of the Finance Act, there is no reason whatever why they should be exempted from the operation of the general law. I congratulate my right hon. Friend on having moved the omission of this Clause.
§ Mr. PAGET
The hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottingham (Mr. Leif Jones) evidently had not prepared his case very carefully, for he seemed to be quite unaware of what became of these duties. Undoubtedly in this case the injustice is suffered by the licensed victuallers of Cambridge. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, in the earlier portion of his speech, deprecated the general idea of private Acts overriding the general law. I can hardly see where justice is to come from if you cannot get justice by means of these private Acts. As far as I have been able to see these private Acts are practically prepared for in Committee rooms upstairs. In this particular case we have been extraordinarily fortunate in having as chairman the hon. Member (Mr. James Mason). He certainly makes a very clear case for justice for a trade which T consider is very hardly used under the Clause which affects them in the Finance Act. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of Stoke-on-Trent, but I do not know whether he made it very clear that the people of Stoke-on-Trent hardly realised what was in the Finance Act when they 1607 were partly responsible for bringing about the amalgamation of the different areas which compose Stoke-on-Trent, which now has a population of 260,000 or so. He also referred to the town of Dewsbury, and it is in my recollection that the reason why the case for Dewsbury was hurriedly withdrawn was that it was known that there were other places—Cambridge is one of them—which felt that they were justified in coming in under the Act. The excuse, I believe, which was made in that connection was that the Postmaster-General has not been able to devise a Clause which would meet the case. I am sure it must be the general desire of the House, if it is humanly possible, to devise a Clause which will mete out justice to any interest which is concerned. I suggest that a Clause can be drawn which will cover the interests involved, whether they be in Cambridge or in any other part of the country. This is a suggested Clause which could be introduced into another Finance Act:—
"Where through the extension of the boundaries of any borough and the consequent increase of its population the licensed houses in such borough are, for the purpose of ascertaining the minimum licence duty payable, brought into the higher class under Scale 3 of Schedule 1 of the Finance Act of 1910, and it is shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise that the business of the licensed premises situated in such boroughs is not likely to be increased by the extension of the boundaries, the Commissioners of Customs and Excise shall have power to assess the licensed premises in the borough, for a period not exceeding twenty years from the passing of this Bill, under the same scale as they were assessed previous to the extension of the borough boundaries."
I merely put that forward as a Clause, which has been suggested, which would cover the point of this injustice, but I think it is my business here to say a word for an interest which is hardly treated under the Clause. As far as the borough of Cambridge is concerned it has been accepted upstairs that the increase in the duties which affect Cambridge is a matter of the difference between £3,050 and £4,259, which amounts to a rate of 5s. 1d. in the pound. The rateable value of the property affected is £4,749. As I understand it, in the Finance Act the duty im- 1608 posed is one-half of the rateable value. It is perfectly obvious that the effect, so far as Cambridge is concerned, is that it is nullified because it amounts to very nearly the full rateable value—the difference between £4,259 and £4,749. Hon. Members know what the principles of that Bill were. The idea was that the duty should be higher in proportion to the increased business consequent upon the increased population, but so far as Cambridge was concerned it will not be affected in that way. It was proved in evidence upstairs that there would be no room for building within the present borough, and it would be a long time before there could be any very considerable increase in the other districts. It is quite possible that there might be a little more drinking in the suburbs by virtue of the Bill passing, if it is fortunate enough to pass, but otherwise, except for the first night or so, it could not permanently affect the drinking habits of that part. If I may make a very plain suggestion I would say to the House if you put a pony into a stable with horses you are not necessarily thereby going either to increase the speed of the pony or to enable it to carry a greater burden. The argument is perfectly good as regards Cambridge. The people concerned will not get any greater benefit if this Bill is passed, whereas the licensed trade will have to pay a considerable increase of cost. It is also well known, to the House that the licensed trade has already had to pay something like 40 per cent. in extra duties under recent legislation. As far as the corporation is concerned, they are perfectly sympathetic, and, indeed, it is rather surprising that they do not go further. It is perfectly obvious that the rateable value of these houses will be decreased by the extent of the increased duties, and consequently the revenue of the town will be affected, and the other ratepayers will have to pay so much more.
I do not think any Members of the House will dispute with me the general proposition that it is for the benefit of boroughs generally, and that it conduces to economic government that boroughs should be enlarged. That is certainly the case with Cambridge, and it has received the support practically of a very large majority of the people. The Secretary to the Treasury quoted Dewsbury. As I understand it, the question of Dewsbury came up, but the Government has not been able to devise a form of words which would cover the case. Clause 5, as it is 1609 at present, deals only with rural areas incorporated, and does not affect Cambridge in any way. I believe in the general proposition very strongly. I feel that most Members of the House will regard this as a case of very great hardship by reason of this Clause. If the only objection to be raised is on the ground of precedent, I think it is most unfortunate. I believe generally in the principle of adhering to precedent, but, at the same time, I think we can carry that too far and make the law simply ridiculous. It is the business of statesmen and of the Government to be able to draw up Clauses to cover cases where great hardship would be involved. On these grounds I am very glad to support my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor in appealing for ordinary justice to be meted out to a trade which has already had considerably increased expenditure put upon it by reason of the Finance Act.
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. James Mason) called attention in the concluding portion of his speech to a most important point. I refer to the action of a Treasury official in writing to him to influence his judgment when this Bill was under consideration before the Private Bill Committee.
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
The principle, of course, is the same—writing without knowledge of the Gentlemen in this House responsible to the Treasury. I venture to suggest that that is a matter which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hobhouse) who represents the Treasury ought to pay particular attention to in order to see that a recurrence becomes impossible, and that we ought to have Treasury management by Treasury representatives on the Front Bench. While I say that to emphasise the importance of this point of Parliamentary control over official departments', I want to give my strong support to the action of the Government in moving to delete Clause 3. The hon. Member for Windsor spoke of the Private Bill Committee acting in a judicial capacity. That is precisely the attitude which a Private Bill Committee ought to take up, but in this case it would appear to me that we have had an attempt made to convert a judicial attitude into the making of law by judgment which some who sit on these benches have had experience of to their cost. That is a principle which ought not to obtain in private Bill legislation. I speak as a new Member with limited ex- 1610 perience of Private Bill legislation, but I do remember the guidance given by the Chairman of our Private Bill Committee when we had an important Bill to consider. A new principle was suggested in that Committee, and our Chairman's guidance was that it was not for a Private Bill Committee to give judgment and a lead to this House by introducing the important precedent which would have been set by our judgment if we had accepted the new principle. We therefore struck out the Clause which would have set the precedent, and we took the correct attitude in that matter—an attitude which I venture to suggest was not taken by the Private Bill Committee which considered the Cambridge measure.
I have another objection to the carrying of this Bill at this juncture. We have in the Bill the principle of exemption on the recommendation of a Private Bill Committee. This House has had small opportunity of considering what is involved in Clause 3. The Bill, through procedure, which I understand has been the regular procedure, was not circulated to Members, and I doubt whether half of the Members of this House are aware that there is an attempt at exemption from legislation which has been determined by the House as a whole. I understand that there is a desire to amend this procedure, so that Provisional Orders of this character which involve large changes shall not be considered and passed as Provisional Orders until the proposed changes have been for some time before the House so that opportunity shall be given for the consideration of the changes and of suggesting amendments. Another point which makes its appeal to me is that the local authority appears to have been indifferent in this matter. Local authorities are not indifferent when it comes to the question of appealing to the Treasury for additional aid. Here was an opportunity for the local authority to assist the Treasury and to secure additional income whereby the Treasury could have been replenished and enabled to give assistance to local authorities, many of which are overloaded. The local authority cannot afford to be indifferent in this matter. This is an important precedent, and we may have appeals to Private Bill Committees and local authorities may be overridden in connection with extensions where they are directly concerned. They may expect to have an income through rates from local areas added, and they may find that other interests may be able 1611 to divert the rates which ought to go into the coffers of the local exchequer. No local authority can afford to be indifferent in a matter of this kind, and to allow it to go by, thinking it may never have any connection with their own affairs. It may well be extremely important to them, for when they extend their borders they may be looking for new sources of revenue where, as in the case of Cambridge, districts may contract themselves out of local liability.
Another point raised is the hardship to the licensed victuallers, and the case has been quoted of the increased Licence Duties they have to pay. May I remind the House that the gentlemen who are now going to pay a little more, as I hope they will by the deletion of this Clause, have been for a number of years enjoying rural conditions in the neighbourhood of a town. They have been on the outskirts of Cambridge, and they have been within reach of the residents of Cambridge. Their business has been considerably benefited as the result of the nearness of that town. Therefore, they have enjoyed business at less than the town rates, and now they have to pay. It is presumed by hon. Members opposite that they ought to have another term of fifteen years under rural conditions. I say that, as they have enjoyed rural conditions for a number of years, they ought to be prepared now to under- take the added duties which will fall upon them if this Clause is deleted. The hon. Member opposite referred, by way of illustration, to a pony living with horses. It is not so much a case of a pony living with horses as a horse living with other horses and wanting to pay pony rates. I hope for a number of reasons that the Government will proceed to a division on this proposal, and I myself, and I think the majority of the Members who sit with me on these benches, will go into the Division Lobby to support them.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I disclaim no responsibility at all. I said I never heard of such a letter. I knew nothing of it, but I disclaim no responsibility for any official who may be temporarily under my Department. '
§ Mr. CAVE
If I could have thrown on the right hon. Gentleman the responsibility of the letter I should like very much to do so, and to express my opinion upon it. But having regard to the fact that he disclaims knowledge he really disarms me, because I am quite unwilling to make any kind of attack upon an official whom we all know by name, and who is so very able. I think that my hon. Friend has done service in calling attention to the matter, but as far as that is concerned, I propose to say nothing more. But there is another very strange feature about this particular Motion. One Government Department, the Local Government Board, promoted the Bill before the Committee. Objections were made, a Clause was inserted in the Bill, and they got the Bill through on the condition of having the Clause in it. If they thought fit the Government might have dropped the Bill and said, "we will not have the Bill with this Clause," but they proceed with the Bill, and now in this House the Government move to omit from the Bill the very Clause upon the condition of whose insertion they got the Bill through the Committee. I think they have no right to depart from the condition imposed by the Committee. They have no right to take the benefit of the passage of the Bill and repudiate the condition upon which it was obtained. In the Committee no distinction was drawn between the two Government Departments. In the Report, at page 103, a representative of the Local Government Board was asked "On what grounds do you oppose the Clause being inserted?" He said, "I ought perhaps to say that the Local Government Board as a Local Government Board have no views on the subject. It is only as a Government Department." So as a Government Department they oppose the Clause by the insertion of which in Committee the Bill was enabled to pass, and they propose to strike it out.
I think that is a very bad system which the House ought not to favour. The Committee heard the evidence, and it was really all one way. They had no option but to insert the Clause, acting upon the evidence. The next question— No. 104—put to the same official was, "On what grounds do you oppose the insertion of this Clause? Is it on legal grounds, or on grounds of common justice? Can you give me an answer?" His answer was, "I am afraid I cannot." So really no reason was given by the responsible Government Department for opposing the 1613 Clause. I think that the Committee acted perfectly fairly, perfectly impartially, and quite in the ordinary course in inserting the Clause. A proposal is made to widen the boundaries of a borough. It is made, of course, on public grounds. The effect of the enlargement is to increase the Licence Duty, not only in the added area, but in the borough itself, because by putting up the population of the borough, as a whole, you, of course, increase the minimum duties on the houses in. the borough itself. Those houses gain no custom by the change. They gain absolutely nothing by it, but the mere change of the conventional local government boundary. Then it is put to the Committee that by the mere alteration made for local government purposes these people would have their duties increased with no increase of custom, and in order to ease the transition between the old state of things and the new this Clause is inserted that the increase of duties shall not operate for a period of fifteen years. We are all familiar with what is done in so many of these extension cases where differential rating is imposed. In providing for differential rating, when by a private Bill you modify the effect of public statutes, you are doing the very thing which is here objected to, yet nobody thinks of describing that as an improper or unfair operation.
There are hundreds of cases where in order to facilitate the union of areas or the enlargement of one area by taking in part of another differential rating is imposed, say, for fifteen years. It is recognised that the operation of the scheme, unless some special Clause is inserted, is to raise the rates in the added -area under the general law, which it is obviously unfair to do. For that reason a special Clause is put in. This principle is exactly the same. It is seen that the operation of the extension is, at all events, prejudicial to certain individuals and therefore they are given a little time, fifteen years, in which to grow into the new system. And not only is it a very fair proposal, but one which few Committees acting without bias would refuse. I think it would be a great pity if, after the Committee have gone into the matter and considered it and by a unanimous vote given by Members on both sides of the House approved of the Clause, it is now struck out on the Motion of a Government Department. When you strike out these Clauses and will not give special consideration to special cases you produce this very un- 1614 desirable effect. You raise up new opposition to these extension orders. I have always been in favour myself, where a case is shown of a surrounding area getting the benefit of the improvements and facilities, and sometimes the amusements, of an urban area, that they should be brought into the urban area. I think it is for the public good in very many cases that that should be done, but if by this kind of thing you produce this effect that the operation is prejudicial to individuals, I think you raise up new opponents of these proposals. I commend that consideration to the House. The hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. Leif Jones) did not do justice to us in this quarter of the House. It is not true to say that we opposed the giving of this temporary exemption to the licensed victuallers in Dewsbury.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
What I do say is that but for the action of the right hon. Gentleman and those who acted with him the Dewsbury Clause would not have been withdrawn.
§ Mr. CAVE
The hon. Member is right in a way. It was proposed in a public Bill to insert a special exemption for Dewsbury, which happened to be represented by a Member of the present Government. We thought it our duty to call attention to the fact that exactly similar cases could be made out for other places, such as the borough of Cambridge, which I myself mentioned in the Debate, the city of Birmingham, Wakefield, and, I think, other places. We said, I do not think improperly, that if you provide that for Dewsbury you should provide it for other places also. The justice of that observation was recognised, because the Government at once withdrew their Clause, saying they would consider whether they could not frame a general Clause to apply to all cases. On that basis, and on that only, we agreed to the Dewsbury Clause. A few days afterwards the Postmaster-General came to the House and said that the Government had not been able to frame a general Clause, and so no general Clause was framed. I venture to think there is no difficulty at all in framing a general Clause, but what I want to point out is that in the course of that Debate the Government said they could not frame such a Clause as would cover all cases, and we should make special provision to meet them. That is exactly what we have done. And now the Government will not accept our special Clause, and say they will propose a general Clause.
§ Mr. CAVE
It is said that Clause 5 of the Finance Bill will meet those oases. I submit that it will not in any degree meet the grievance. The terms proposed are that where it is shown that a part of an urban area "has only a small local population and is essentially rural in character and that the more populous parts of the districts are so remote as not to affect the amount of business carried on," then there may be a special exemption. But does that meet the grievance? The grievance, or part of the grievance, is that a house within the borough of Cambridge would have to pay a higher rate and get nothing for it. You could not possibly bring that case within the new Clause proposed. The Government do not provide for the case at all. I think the proposal of the new Clause is inadequate, and I think it is a pity to interfere with the decision of the Committee, unless a very strong case is made out. I have always made it a practice to support a Committee whenever I could. Apart from that, the real grievance is that the Committee have supplied a fair and reasonable remedy, and I urge upon the House and the Government to give further consideration to the matter, and not to press the Motion.
§ Mr. CHARLES ROBERTS
I think it is a somewhat singular doctrine that there is never to be an attempt made to try and reverse the decision of a Committee in the House. That surely is pushing the rights and privileges of Private Bill Committees rather far. The Committee consists of four or five Members of the House, chosen no doubt with great care, and no doubt well qualified for the task they have in hand. But their decisions are not invariably right, and we surely are accustomed, over and over again, to see the Government in Private Bill Committees and in Grand Committees upstairs, reversing the decisions. Four or five Members of the House have gone through the case and have heard the evidence, but surely it is not claimed that the decision of a Committee is to be the final test of any matter of real importance.
§ Mr. C. ROBERTS
The Government promoted the Bill, but not with this Clause. Why should the promoters of the Bill take it with this Clause in it? It seems to me an impossible contention. I saw an allusion to this matter in the papers, and I took some pains to find this Clause. One of my great objections to Private Bill Committees altering the general law by means of these Provisional Orders, is that it is exceedingly difficult for anybody who has to follow them to find the Clause after the Committee have parted with it. I have hunted from pillar to post all over the House—the Vote Office, the Private Bill Office, and the Library, and, finally, I found out that the Clause is not reprinted. If we are to have Private Bill Committees that are to carry through important decisions, claiming that those decisions, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, must not be reversed by the House, it does seem to me to be pushing the claims of those Committees to a very considerable extent. Here is a case in which, according to the contention of the other side, there is a real case of hardship and injustice, imposed, according to their contention, by the Radicals. Let us take another instance of a tax imposed by a "tyrannical House." Let us imagine the case of a landlord who says we are crushing him by the iniquitous proceedings of this House. If in twenty years he were to put in a plea for exemption from the Increment Duty I do not suppose that any Private Bill Committee would listen to him for an instant. Still, if you claim the right to dispense with the general law in one case, why should you not do it in another?
I would put this point, that the real test is the desire for incorporation. If their desire for incorporation is there, then I do not think that the locality can expect to escape from the general incidence which attaches to being incorporated, at all events so far as the general law is concerned. We know, as the hon. Member for Kingston put it, that you do get differential ratings. I admit that you have to concede on those points when there are claims to be met and that it is a mode of bargaining, but I do not think that you ought to push that further. Take this very case. The Committee which has decided on this very point has conceded to the licensed trade in this place some of the advantages of being incorporated. The Committee has treated them when it comes to a question of the extension of their privileges as though they were an urban area, and it is only when it comes to a question of 1617 burden that it is to be treated as a rural area. It is to be a rural area for the purpose of taxation, and it is to be an urban area for the purpose of drinking hours. It never occurred to the Private Bill Committee that in this essentially rural district in this remote part of the country, which is entirely distinct from any urban area, that they are going to get an additional hour of drinking privilege. Everybody knows that in the rural areas the closing hour is ten p.m., but by means of this incorporation you are increasing the drinking hour by one additional hour to eleven. If you are going to make those areas rural in one respect you ought to make them rural altogether. I know well enough that in some of the Birmingham districts there was strong objection taken to that. The hon. Member for Cambridge said that there is going to be no increase in the drinking habits, but there is.
§ Mr. C. ROBERTS
Yes, in the rural district which is going to be incorporated in Cambridge borough. To that extent you are going to put them in a better position to pay those increased taxes, and at the same time you are going to let them off the taxation which ought to be the equivalent of their urban privileges. As a matter of fact the duties in the rural areas at present are ludicrously low. The minimum is £5 still; the high minimum duties do not apply to rural areas. I have been through New England villages and there the minimum Licence Duty in the smallest area is £200 or a thousand dollars for a full licence, and it is paid in some cases. Our scale is ludicrously low. They have the advantages of being fairly close to urban areas; they have all the advantages of the lower scale and now when they come to be incorporated with the town I think they ought to pay the taxation which is laid down for the urban area. They were imposed as a check upon the number of licences. I think there are plenty of licences in Cambridge, and I think that the existence of a minimum which is not a very high minimum is a thing which is desirable and which should apply to all those licensed houses which are affected by the incorporation.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for having opposed this Clause which the hon. Member for Cam- bridge treated as leading up to his general Clause which he had in his hand. He was setting a prece- 1618 dent. It is no doubt the first step, and if we sanctioned it to-night we should have to sanction it in all other cases. Even the Government Clause, though it is much more moderate in the Finance Bill, has, I think, something to be said against it. At all events, if you are going to differentiate the taxation under the new Bill, may I put it to the Government that yon ought wherever you let off taxation on the ground that an area is purely rural, to maintain the rural hours of drinking. That I hope the Government will be willing to do when the time comes. So far as the Dewsbury case is concerned, I believe that it and the Stoke case are simply and solely a question of date. In those cases the date of the Provisional Order was before the Budget, and when the extension of boundaries was decided upon in both those cases they entered into their bargain without the knowledge of what was coming. Directly the line was drawn and that you get full knowledge of what the general law is, then I must finally say again I think it is highly improper for a Private Bill Committee to attempt in this, I will not say surreptitious, but at all events by a method which is indescribable, to set what may be a precedent and to attempt to alter the general law.
§ Mr. ALFRED LYTTELTON
The hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House, and addressed it as he always does on these questions, with ability and knowledge, has, if I may respectfully say so, really missed the point of hon. Members on this side of the House in regard to this matter. I should myself, and I think all my friends would probably concede, that if you have a public statute which imposes laws, however onerous, or taxation, however iniquitous, upon any section of the community, that, as a general rule, it would not be competent for this House in. its Private Bill Committee to reverse that legislation. I think that is true, speaking very generally, and I think it is more true with regard to legislation of a taxing character than it is of any other class of legislation. But let the Government think for a moment what really they are doing here. What has happened here? I look at the figures, and I find that the imposition by the Finance Act of additional taxation. upon Cambridge—that is, upon this area, is about £2,200 per annum upon the licensed houses. This Provisional Order Bill—private legislation promoted by the Local Government Board—imposes additionally upon, the licensed trade of this 1619 area a further most onerous tax of £1,400. So you have had, in the course of a few years, an onerous taxation imposed by general statute, and then you have superimposed upon that by private statute a further taxation upon the same trade in the same area. We do not for a moment, in support of the Committee of this House, seek to set aside the general rule that you must not by private legislation reverse public legislation. What we seek to do here is to prevent by private legislation additional and onerous taxation being placed upon the subject. If hon. Members examine the matter they will find this absolutely correct. We are, therefore, absolutely free in this matter from any consideration of any principles of public and private legislation. We are free to consider this case upon its merits. I think there must be only one conclusion. We have the unanimous desire of the Committee of the House, and it will be admitted by everybody in this House that we ought to support the Committee unless strong grounds are shown on principle why we should differ from, them. No ground has been shown on a question of merit. The matter has been argued on a question of principle. I can see it would be fair that if the rural area was exempted from further taxation they should revert to the original state of rural licensed houses. Let me pass from the question of principle to the question of merit on which there has been no argument in this House. Let me take the Government's own opinion. In the case of Stoke and Dews-bury they admitted the principle, but they came away from their position because it was pointed out to them that probably their intentions might be misrepresented if they absolved the case of Dewsbury, which was represented by a Cabinet Minister, and left cases which were less happily circumstanced. The House ought to remember that at the same time as that Clause was abandoned by the Government the Postmaster-General pointed out in the most expressive terms that a general Clause was the proper way to deal with it. Then, on reconsideration, no doubt, after conferences with the Treasury, who never liked general Clauses that may operate against taxation—the Postmaster-General came down to the House and said he found a general Clause was impossible. What that means is that the Treasury do not like it.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I must protest against the statement of the hon. Gentle- 1620 man. The Postmaster-General was not influenced as now stated.
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
I do not see the point of that interruption at all. He admits there was consultation with the officials, and I say again it is not impossible to draft a general Clause. No matter what excuses were given by the Postmaster-General he receded from the advice he had given to the House. He said the general Clause he had advocated could not be drawn, and stated the proper way to remedy the grievance of such people was by a special Clause in special private legislation. Now you have the direct invitation by the Government to these licensed victuallers at Cambridge. It does not stop there. At the Local Government Board inquiry the inspector advised then the proper course was to come and represent their grievance and get a Clause inserted in the general Order. You have an invitation in this House, and you have an intimation given by an official at the local inquiry that that was the proper course. You have further this provision by Clause 5 of the Finance Bill of this year which is an admission by the Government that these cases are exceptional and to be dealt with by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, and not by the Private Bill Committee of this House.
I ask the House to consider what the impression has been upon the licensed victuallers in Cambridge when they saw Clause 5 of the Finance Act. They saw in that Clause an admission that they have a case and a grievance and a hardship which ought to be redressed. But the special machinery set up by the Government has not come into being. The licensed victuallers bring forward their case before the Private Bill Committee. The Local Government Board does not say a word upon the merits of the case. The Committee are unanimous, the Committee insert the Clause, and then the Local Government Board comes down to this House and do what is entirely without precedent. They come down here, amend the Bill, which imposes this most unjust taxation, and seek to repudiate the Clause on which they obtained that legislation. That is what I would say to the President of the Local Government Board, if in another sphere, was not cricket. Let me say just one last word upon this question—it is a very important one. Although I do not seek for a moment to say a word against the official, as to whom I entirely echo the words of my Friend, that he is known 1621 as a most capable and zealous official, what I do say is—and I speak with considerable experience—that it has been for years the endeavour of the Treasury and other public Departments to get their views before Private Bill Committees, which are judicial Committees, not in the proper way by witnesses subject to cross-examination, but by private memoranda, which the opponents of their views have not the opportunity of meeting. I do not blame as an individual the Gentleman who did this. He was probably acting under orders, or at any rate in the spirit of the Department, when he wrote the letter. But it has been for many years the endeavour of the Treasury to treat themselves, in the matter of Private Bill Committees, as a part of the tribunal, and to state their views without being subject to cross-examination or criticism by the other side. I hold that that is an improper procedure. Only this afternoon we had exposed by my right hon. Friend the danger that may arise from the close inter-action of Government Departments. If Clause 5 of the Finance Bill is carried, and if you have the Treasury and other Departments writing to the Commissioners of Customs and Excise behind the backs of the parties affected by the measures concerned, you will have a state of things which will be repugnant to this House and to all fair-minded people. I hope the Government will repudiate this practice and cause it to cease. I desire to emphasise the extremely important point put by my hon. Friend, that if these grievances of the licensed trade, which are not defended by anybody who brings an unbiassed mind to the subject, are left unredressed, the natural, inevitable and, I think, deplorable result will be that the amalgamations of great cities and surrounding districts, which are very often greatly desired by the districts and by the Local Government Board, will be met with an opposition not in the best interests of the districts concerned.
§ The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Burns)
Some hon. Members on both sides of the House have complained of their inability to ascertain the real merits involved in this discussion, because, owing to the comparative privacy of Provisional Order Bill legislation, they have not seen this matter as they would have done had it formed the subject of an ordinary Bill. That makes it necessary for me to say briefly what the Bill is. It is an ordinary Provisional Order Bill, promoted by 1622 municipalities, endorsed by the Local Government Board, and taken upstairs to a Private Bill Committee, to enable the town of Cambridge to include within its new area two or three outside areas which bring the population of the enlarged area to over 50,000. It is the fact of the population of the new borough reaching 50,000 that is responsible for some of the discussion to-night. The Committee before whom the Provisional Order Bill came decided that the new areas should be added to the borough, and they did so, presumably because the areas were urban in character and not rural as has been implied. If they had been rural in the sense suggested by some speakers they would not have been added to the new borough. So far as the public-houses are concerned, it is important that the House should know the facts. There are 154 public-houses in Cambridge before the extension. The extension of the area will add nineteen in Chesterton and four in the rural districts.
By a Clause which the Local Government Board did not initiate, which the municipality did not pioneer, but which was inserted in the Bill on the initiative of the Committee itself at the instance of the licensed trade of the area, it is proposed to exempt the whole of these houses for the next fifteen years from the new Licence Duties that must attach to a borough with over 50,000 inhabitants. If those nineteen public-houses, plus 154, are to escape their proper and statutory liability—[HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no."] —well, that is my way of putting it— if that is not so, what is the object of the Clause exempting them for fifteen years from the new licensing scale? What does it amount to? The present duty is £3,382. If they paid the increased duty it would be £4,869, or £l,487 increase, which for fifteen years they want to be exempt from. I can understand Cambridge municipality not opposing this, because their line was the line of least resistance. It did not affect them, but it did the Treasury. The Treasury says that it has no right, by virtue of that extension, to be deprived of £1,487, money which the Treasury is being increasingly asked for by local authorities and by Members to secure for them for educational, social, and progressive purposes. I think that if Cambridge itself without extension, had increased its population beyond 50,000 these licensed houses would have to have paid this increased amount. I endorse the Treasury reason 1623 very strongly indeed. I endorse the views expressed by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down that if we do by Statute impose a tax upon a community it should not obtain a release from it by a private Bill. I say "ditto" to that dictum of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's (Mr. Lyttelton). It is the case for the Treasury which the Local Government Board approves.
§ Mr. BURNS
I will deal with that point; but the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kingston made some play about a letter. He lightly touched upon it, but another hon. Member earlier in the Debate rather portentously referred to it. There is nothing in that letter. It was a very proper letter, written by an official of the Treasury to the Clerk to the Committee, the Chairman of which he, I think, subsequently saw. The effect of this letter was embodied in the memorandum that on behalf of the Treasury the Local Government Board officer submitted to the Committee itself. Here are the contents both of the letter and the memorandum. Mr. Wood, one of my officers, stated:—The present Amendment endeavours to secure exemption from the general law for a particular locality, that is, would introduce a very dangerous principle into Provisional Order procedure. The Local Government Board would not have inserted such a provision when making a Provisional Order, and they must protest most strongly against its insertion in the present Bill. There is no special circumstance in the present case which would justify any exemption such as was made in the case of Stoke.My officer would be neglecting his duty had he not communicated that by means of a memorandum to the Committee. And what is embodied in that memorandum is only an amplification of what a Treasury official asked a reliable officer of the Local Government Board to communicate.
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
Does the right hon. Gentleman say it was a proper course for any official of his Department to communicate privately with the Clerk to the Committee, with a view of influencing the chairman?
§ Mr. BURNS
He did not do so. [An HON. MEMBER: "Have you the letter;"] I have not got the letter. The hon. Member for Kingston suggested that this was part of a bargain with the municipality of Cambridge, that it was part of an understanding or bargain for getting the Bill 1624 through. That is not so. We had nothing to do with it; we protested against it and the Treasury confirmed our action. Even were these things not so, the suggestion of the hon. Member is that the House of Commons should be deprived of the power of reviewing what a Committee on its own initiative, without consulting the parties concerned, put into a Bill. Then the hon. Member for Kingston, with that ingenuity which we all admire, but which is sometimes misplaced, and never so much so as on the present occasion, said that Provisional Order Bills sometimes contain suggestions with regard to differential rating. Let us examine that for a moment. Differential rating affects areas, and not trades; it affects large sections of the community, and not individuals. It deals with collective interests of whole districts, and not with private interests or vested interests or a trade, whether it be liquor or any other trade that has to pay taxes or obtain licences owing to the dangerous nature of the particular calling.
I come now to the point raised by the hon. Member for Windsor. The hon. Member really made a strong case out in many particulars for the Treasury. He admitted that the Committee had created a precedent, and a precedent, if he will allow me to say so, which ought not to be adopted by the House of Commons on the initiative of a small Private Bill Committee which was instituted and created not for this particular purpose. Everybody will admit Stoke was not a precedent, which the hon. Member for Windsor implied. Dewsbury was attempted to be created a precedent, and hon. Gentlemen opposite on that occasion did their best and succeeded in preventing such a Clause from being embodied in the Dewsbury Bill, and if we wanted strong argument in support of that not being done, we have only got to turn up the Debate on that occasion. The hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Gretton), who is not unacquainted with spirituous and alcoholic trades, said on that occasion, "You have no right to cite a special case and give it general application." The hon. Member for Kingston was on that occasion a Daniel come to judgment. He said, "My argument is that the Government ought to have provided not for one isolated case, but for all cases coming within the same principle and having the same grievance. They should come within a general Clause." [Hon. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I should have thought hon. Members would cheer that, but they could get 1625 their Clause, not in a Private Bill, but in Clause 5 of the Finance Bill. The hon. Member for Kingston could be relied upon to display his ingenuity in pressing for general terms seeing that on the Dews-bury Bill he specially emphasised that this should not be a matter for isolated and exceptional treatment. I could go on and quote other Members who took precisely the same view—in fact, the hon. Member for Windsor said he would prefer a general method ' of dealing with these cases. That, however, is no argument for this exceptional treatment of a Private Bill. I submit that Parliament ought not to remit it to a Provisional Order Committee to undo or rectify what only ought to be done by a public Bill of national finance, and which ought not to be altered in this almost surreptitious way. That would be bad in principle and invidious in practice, and it would introduce into our Private Bill legislation a lot of extraneous party and political matters which are always evoked when licensing questions are discussed either by publicans or temperance advocates. It would be impossible for Private Bill legislation to go on if Private and Provisional Order Bill Committees were made the cockpits for licensed trade discussions from whatever point of view they were considered.
I do not agree with the hon. Member for Windsor at all, and I would rather the Commissioners should determine whether certain licensed houses should come in or not, or should have diminished rating or taxation, than I would have those questions determined upstairs by a Private Bill Committee, thus depriving the Chancellor of the Exchequer of his public responsibility of dealing with taxation on the floor of this House. I am convinced that if the local authorities were consulted on these matters, if they were submitted to the Chairmen of our Private Bill Committees upstairs, if they were asked their frank opinion as to what would be the effect if this Amendment were adopted and made general in every Provisional Order Bill brought before the House of Commons and before their Committee, they would say that what would happen would be that our Committees upstairs would lose that respect and authority which they now have in the opinion of the House, because they are elected to deal with local and municipal matters, and not with questions of taxation at all. If this precedent was created to-night and this Amendment was carried, we should not be 1626 able to get through our private Bill Committee work half as well as we do now, and even when we got that work through all the questions would be discussed again at considerable length when the Bills came down here.
We should have licensed trade debates for and against on every local Act and upon every Provisional Order Bill, and as my Department get forty to sixty such measures through every year, teetotaler though I am, I have no desire to listen to the sixty temperance and anti-temperance debates on Clauses in local Acts and Provisional Order Bills. Fortunately this is not possible because Parliament has hitherto taken the view that taxation should be dealt with on the responsibility of the Government on the floor of the House of Commons, and should not be dealt with by a tribunal upstairs which is not qualified either by its procedure, its methods, or its personnel to deal adequately with matters which ought to be discussed in public by the Members of the House of Commons with everybody knowing the facts. It is because this system is not possible in private Bills upstairs, and because I consider this is a very bad attempt to rectify a grievance arising under a public Act through the agency of a private Bill that we support the Treasury, and I appeal to hon. Members, in the interests of Private Bill legislation and public taxation, not to accept this Amendment, and to delete this proposal from the Bill.
§ Mr. PATRICK WHITE
I rise, as one of the Members of the Committee, to support the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. James Mason) in the position he has taken up to-night. Our position on that Committee was to decide the issue put before us without bias and without any feeling except a desire to do justice and fairness on the case presented to us. We went carefully into all the facts of the case, and decided it would be unfair to put this increased liability on the licensed trade. We unanimously came to the conclusion it would be only fair to exempt them. We did not seek by a single act of ours to alter the general law. The law remains the same, no matter what we put in the Bill, but when the Bill was before us and we were asked whether it was right or wrong that the Provisional Order should pass we said that in our judgment, and in our conscientious opinion, if the Provisional Order should become law certain, exemptions should be made that would be 1627 fair and just in the matter. That was our position, and that was the position taken up by the promoters of the Bill, the municipality of Cambridge. An alderman of the city, who appeared before the Committee, was asked what the council thought about the increased licensing duties on the licensed traders, and he said the council were prepared to offer no opposition to the Clause. He was asked if the licensed victuallers ever complained to the council when they were considering the extension, and he said that at the initial proceedings in the matter the licensed trade presented a petition to the council, and the mayor, with the full consent of the Committee, promised the assent of the council. The promoters therefore were in sympathy with the licensed traders, and the licensed traders were invited, in the words of the Postmaster-General, to come to our Committee and have justice done. They were also invited by the Local Government inspector who held the inquiry to come before Parliament, as the only tribunal which could do them justice. The Dewsbury case showed a disposition on the part of the Government, if they could, to get a general law dealing with this subject. They said they were unable to find words which would deal with it generally. Apart from that, they were in sympathy with it. Were we not justified, in a specific case which came before us, acting on the assurance of a responsible Member of the Government, to deal with the case on its merits? The President of the Local Government Board admitted that the effect of this increased licensed duty would be to reduce the rateable value of licensed premises, and thus increase the burden on the ratepayers as a whole. The Gentleman representing the Treasury said it was not a Treasury matter at all. It was only the Local Government Board that was affected. Between the two Departments we did not know which was predominant in the matter. I think the action of the Secretary of the Treasury will strike a blow at the confidence which the public have hitherto felt in Committees of this House. We considered the case on its merits, having heard the evidence, and yet this House is asked to reverse our decision without hearing the evidence. I believe hon. Members who are supporting the omission of this Clause, if they had heard the evidence, would have decided in the way we did.
1628 The Secretary to the Treasury had suggested it is most improper to evade the general law in this way. We are not seeking to evade the law; we are only trying to protect certain members of the community from the consequences of our own act, and I am sure this House would not willingly pass any Act which imposed an unfair burden on any section of the community. How does the Finance Act affect the licensed trade of Cambridge? It imposes a gross sum of £900 on the trade; and in consequence of the borough extension that additional burden will be increased by £1,400. What change has taken place in the condition of Cambridge to justify such an increase of burden within a short period of two years? In my opinion we should have been lacking in our duty if we had come to any other decision than that at which we unanimously arrived. I am sorry the President of the Local Government Board has so far departed from the democratic principles he formerly professed by preferring a paid Commission to a Committee of this House—a Committee fair and unbiassed, acting without fear or favour. I say we did not overstep our duty. We were advised by the Speaker's counsel that we were well within our rights in inserting this Clause, and we should have been wanting in our duty if we had not agreed to this exemption. I believe this House will create a great blunder if it sets aside a judicial finding by party votes.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I would appeal to the House to support the decision, of the Committee, not only upon the merits of the case, but upon broader grounds. The President of the Local Government Board said these matters ought to be decided by people who know all the facts. I should like to ask him what is the object of referring a matter of this kind to a Special Committee upstairs, except in order that they may investigate the facts and come to a decision upon them. Does anyone for a moment suggest that he is in an equal position to decide this question as a member of the Committee. [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes."] The hon. Member has not seen the witnesses nor heard them cross-examined, though he may have read the memorandum which some official has sent to the Chairman most improperly. Such a tribunal as we are is much inferior to a Special Committee which has taken great care to investigate the details. I should like to ask the President of the Local Government Board if it is not the fact in 1629 all these cases where a borough comes to Parliament for an extension of its boundaries that over and over again a particular trade is represented at the enquiry? Witnesses are called before the enquiry to give their reasons why it would be inequitable to extend the boundaries and increase the taxation upon that particular trade and all the matters are gone into, the pros and cons. Over and over again we have heard of railway companies objecting to an extension of boundaries
§ unless they get special terms, and their objections are heard and very often acceded to. It is simply because the exemption is sought to be granted to the licensed victualling trade that we have had so much opposition.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 131; Noes, 217.1631
|Division No. 295.]||AYES.||[10.50 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Nield, Herbert|
|Amery, L. C M. S.||Fleming, Valentine||Nolan, Joseph|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Foster, Philip Staveley||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Baird, J. L.||Gibbs, George Abraham||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Goldsmith, Frank||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Greene, Walter Raymond||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gretton, John||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Barlow, Montagu (Salford, South)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Haddock, George Bahr||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Hills, John Waller||Stanier, Beville|
|Boyton, James||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Stanley, Hon. G. P. (Preston)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Campion, W. R.||Hume-Williams, Wm. Ellis||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hunt, Rowland||Swift, Rigby|
|Cassel, Felix||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath)||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Cator, John||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Cave, George||Kerry, Earl of||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Touche, George Alexander|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worcr.)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Larmor, Sir J.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Clyde, James Avon||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Crean, Eugene||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Mackinder, Halford J.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Doughty, Sir George||Mooney, John J.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Younger, Sir George|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Mount, William Arthur|
|Fell, Arthur||Neville, Reginald J. N.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.— Mr. Walrond and Mr. Patrick White.|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Chapple, Dr. William Allen|
|Adamson, William||Boland, John Plus||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Booth, Frederick Handel||Clough, William|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Bowerman, C. W.||Clynes, John R.|
|Alden, Percy||Brace, William||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)|
|Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire)||Brady, Patrick Joseph||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Brigg, Sir John||Condon, Thomas Joseph|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Brocklehurst, William B.||Cotton, William Francis|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Craig, Herbert James (Tynemouth)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Crooks, William|
|Barran, sir J. N. (Hawick)||Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Crumley, Patrick|
|Barry, Redmond John (Tyrone, N.)||Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Cullinan, John|
|Barton, William||Byles, Sir William Pollard||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)|
|Bentham, G. J.||Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)|
|Bethell, sir J. H.||Chancellor, Henry George||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||John, Edward Thomas||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|De Forest, Baron||Johnson, W.||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Delany, William||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Radford, George Heynes|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Rainy, Adam Rolland|
|Donelan, Anthony Charles||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)||Reddy, Michael|
|Doris, William||Jowett, Frederick William||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Duffy, William J.||Keating, M.||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Richards, Thomas|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Richardson, Albion Peckham)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Lansbury, George||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Law, Hugh A (Donegal, West)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Elverston, sir Harold||Lawson, Sir w. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Levy, Sir Maurice||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Lewis, John Herbert||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Falconer, James||Logan, John William||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lyell, Charles Henry||Rowlands, James|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||McGhee, Richard||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Maclean, Donald||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Macpherson, James Ian||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||M'Laren, H. D. (Leicester)||Seely, Colonel Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Manfield, Harry||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Gibson, Sir James Puckering||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Gill, A. H.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Meagher, Michael||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N.W.)|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Sutton, john E.|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||Menzies, Sir Walter||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Morgan, George Hay||Tennant, Harold John|
|Hancock, J. G.||Muldoon, John||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Munro, Robert||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Neilson, Francis||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Nuttall, Harry||Watt, Henry A.|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Hayward, Evan||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Helme, Norval Watson||O'Doherty, Philip||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Grady, James||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Henry, Sir Charles||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagn, S.)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Shee, James John||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Hinds, John||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Hodge, John||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pirie, Duncan Vernon||Toxall, Sir James Henry|
|Hudson, Walter||Pointer, Joseph|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus|
Resolution agreed to.
§ Sir JAMES YOXALL
I beg to move that the Southport Order contained in the Bill be considered upon this day three months.
I desire to call the attention of the House to the other portions of this Bill. The Bill contains two Provisional Orders, one dealing with Cambridge which has already been discussed by the House, and the other dealing with Southport. The terms of the Bill were only accessible to Members today in their final form and—
And it being Eleven of the clock, further consideration of the Bill, as amended, stood adjourned.
Bill, as amended, to be further considered upon Thursday.