HC Deb 18 November 1912 vol 44 cc41-60

(1) A trackless trolley system along any load or street may, with the consent of the road authority of the district in which such road or street is situate, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld, be authorised by Order under the principal Act in the same manner and subject to the same conditions as a light railway, and that Act and any Act amending the same shall accordingly be construed as if the expression "light railway" included a trackless trolley system:

Provided that any such Order shall contain provisions requiring the company, body, or person up an whom the powers thereof are conferred to pay the cost of any alterations or improvements in the road or street made for the purposes of, or rendered necessary by, the trackless trolley system, and to make a contribution towards the cost of maintaining the road or street, regard being had in determining the amount of 'such contribution to (amongst other things) the additional expense incurred by the authority by whom the road or street is maintained.

(2) The expression "trackless trolley system" means a system of running on roads or streets without any defined track or line of rails mechanically propelled vehicles moved by electrical power transmitted thereto from some external source, and includes all apparatus necessary for working the system.

(3) Mechanically propelled vehicles used for the purpose of any trackless trolley system authorised in pursuance of this Section shall not be deemed to be light locomotives within the meaning of the Locomotives on Highways Act, 1896, or the by-laws and regulations made there under, nor shall they be deemed to be motor-cars within the meaning of any provisions of the Motor Car Act, 1903 (except Sub-section (1) of Section one of that Act and the provisions necessary for enforcing that Sub-section), and subject to that exception neither that Act nor the regulations made under that Act, nor the enactments mentioned in the Schedule to the Locomotives on Highways Act, 1896, nor the Locomotives Act, 1898, shall apply to any such mechanically propelled vehicles except in so far as they are incorporated or applied by the Order authorising the system:

Provided that—

  1. (a) the dimensions and material of tyres of all such vehicles shall be regulated by the Order; and
  2. (b) nothing in this provision shall affect any Duties of Excise (including the duties charged by Section eight of the Locomotives on Highways Act, 1896) for the time being payable in respect of any such vehicles.

(4) Section forty-eight of the Tramways Act, 1870 (which applies to tramways certain enactments relating to hackney carriages), shall apply in the case of any mechanically propelled vehicles used for the purpose of any trackless trolley system authorised in pursuance of this Section in the same mariner as it applies in the case of carriages used on a tramway.

(5) This Section shall not apply to the County of London.


I beg to move to leave out the Clause.

I desire to explain the first Amendment in regard to the Report stage of the Bill now before the House. In Committee an Amendment was carried which was resisted by the Government. The avowed object of that Amendment was to provide that in the case of the trackless trolley scheme being established, it would be possible to make the promoters liable to pay for any damage done to the road by the scheme. That Amendment was carried in Committee, and we then attempted by way of carrying out the declared will of the Committee to frame a more guarded Amendment, which would provide for the charging of such damage when it actually look place, but should not make it possible, as the original Amendment did, to mulct the promoters of the trackless trolley scheme in expenses when no damage had been caused. Even this new Amendment proposed to replace the Amendment carried in Committee was regarded by those connected with the trackless trolley schemes as being in itself an evil so great that they would rather have no provision made on behalf of trackless trolleys in the Bill, and they desired that we should restore the Bill to its original form. That would have been a direct negative to the finding of the Committee, and we were not prepared to take such a course. The tramways chiefly concerned in trackless trolleys informed us that so far as they were concerned they would rather be under the existing procedure, under which any trackless trolley scheme simply comes to the House of Commons, and they preferred the system which has hitherto been followed. As this Clause had been framed originally for facilitating trackless trolley schemes, it appeared to the Government that it was not desirable or reasonable to persist with the amended Clause when all those who were supposed to be benefited declared that it would confer no benefit upon them. In the original discussion his question had been made a ground for dispute, and we took the view that, as the amended Clause was not desired by those concerned, the course of least friction and responsibility for the Government was to drop the Clause altogether, and leave all trackless trolley questions as they stand at present. There is this to be said for this course. The tramway companies urged upon us the desirability of the question of responsibility for road maintenance being dealt with in a general comprehensive and systematic manner, rather than in a piecemeal fashion, which was all that could be done under such a measure as this one. For these reasons I move the omission of this Clause.


I am glad that the lion. Gentleman has moved this Amendment, because there is a strong feeling amongst municipal tramway owners with regard to this Clause. I have had myself most serious and strong representations made to me against this Clause. As I understand the matter the trackless trolley system promoters nearly always succeeded in preventing this obligation being placed upon them, and they very naturally resent this attempt which is being made to put it upon then in this Bill. I am very glad indeed the hon. Gentleman is taking this course.


I want to ask the sole representative of the Government present, what further Orders are going to be taken after this Bill, if any, and in order to put myself in order I will move that the further consideration of this Bill be adjourned.


The hon. Member had better wait until the Amendment before the House has been disposed of.


I should like to know whether I have correctly interpreted the statement of the hon. Gentleman. The effect of the Motion to leave Clause 2 out of the Bill would, I understand, be to leave, the law in exactly the same position as it is now. There is a feeling shared by a large number of Members on both sides of the House that the promoters of these trackless trolleys ought not to be allowed to use the roads free at all times, but that they should in some way contribute towards the maintenance of the roads. There can be no doubt whatever that these heavy vehicles must tend to cause more frequent repairs to the road than would be necessary if they were not running. If the hon. Gentleman can assure me the law will remain in exactly the same position as it is, I do not know that I have any great opposition to offer.

Mr. FRED HALL (Dulwich)

I am sure the hon. Gentleman in going into the question of the track less trolley system will appreciate the difficulties the promoters have in competition with other means of communication, such, for instance, as the heavy motor omnibus. I may say the London County Council have in mind the question of installing a system of trackless trolleys, and we want to be careful they are not placed in a worse position than other users of the road, such as the owners of motor omnibuses and traffic of that description. After all, a trackless trolley tram is practically a motor omnibus, but instead of being propelled by steam or petrol, it is simply propelled by two overhead wires. Surely the fact of having a direct negative and positive wire overhead, should not place them in the same position as trams running on metals. They can move from one side of the road to the other with the same ease as the ordinarily propelled vehicle, and it would be absolutely unfair, because they have two wires overhead, to say they are to be liable to rates. If the hon. Gentleman says he is going to consider this the same as the question of the motor omnibuses, then. I say, on behalf of the London County Council, they will be perfectly satisfied; but I do submit no decision should be come to until the matter has been thoroughly sifted, and that the trackless trolley system should not be handicapped in comparison with other means of communication.

Sir J. D. REES

Surely the trackless trolley system has no wire overhead. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, yes, it has."]. Then I do not understand, and it may be others are in the same position. I think the matter should be cleared up as to what is really meant by the trackless trolley system.


The trackless trolley system is one which has wires overhead but no rails below, and, as the effect of the Amendment would be to leave the trackless trolley system out of the Bill altogether, I do not think we need go into it.

Sir J. D. REES

I am very glad to hear it. If we got back to the old system under which vehicles paid towards the maintenance of the road in proportion to the damage they did it would be a good thing.


I am very sorry to hear my hon. Friend has dropped this Clause. Trackless trolleys are very necessary for extending the present tramways further into the country. You are throwing back a large development, and one which must come, in the trackless trolley system for the conveyance of people from the suburbs of most towns to which the tramway cannot be extended owing to the initial expense of laying the rails. You might very well, by means of this system, get a small solution of the smallholders' difficulty of getting their goods to market, whilst providing means of conveyance for the smallholders themselves to the market. It is a very great pity you are throwing people back upon the awful expense of coming to this House and fighting a Bill. The initial expense would effectually bar them from extending this very beneficial thing. I hope some promise will be given that this subject will not be neglected. It is absolutely impossible for anybody to come to this House and get a Bill passed for a country tramway with the various oppositions to be fought in the Committee upstairs. The initial expense would cripple and paralyse the industry altogether, and, if this experiment is to be made, you will have to meet it in some way.

4.0 P.M.


I cannot understand the attitude of the hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill. As far as I understand it, he proposes that the whole question of trackless trolleys shall be struck out of the Bill. We spent a good many days in Committee upstairs in discussing this question, and now we are told that all our deliberations are to be negatived, and the Bill is to be treated as if it did not deal with trackless trolleys at all. It would seem as if it is of not much use sitting in Committee upstairs if we are to find that, when decisions are come to which are not acceptable to the Minister in charge of the Bill, he is to be in a position to come down to this House and get that negatived.


I am a little bit at sea as to how this matter stands. The observations of the hon. Member in charge of this Bill were very indistinctly heard. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeenshire that it is a pity that persons desirous of promoting the trackless trolley system should be compelled to come to this House and go to the expense of getting a measure through. Everyone knows the enormous expense of getting a Bill passed upstairs, and the charges for counsel and so on. But I have really risen to ask what the position is now. What will be the result of the deletion of Clause 2? How will the trackless trolleys be affected in regard to the upkeep of the roads? Everyone is aware that when tramway systems are permitted to run along the roads they have to pay for the upkeep, and everyone is also aware that motor 'buses are not called upon to pay anything towards those expenses. I desire to know what the Board of Trade propose with regard to the question of upkeep of roads used by trackless trolleys.


I think the House should be given further information on this subject. I can quite understand that, on the part of the road authorities, there may be considerable anxiety in regard to this matter. They desire that these proposals should be carefully gone into before any scheme of this kind is approved. My own feeling is that for the purposes of daily life it is absolutely essential in this country that there should be every convenience of communication, and I think it would be most unfortunate to throw out any proposal which would add to the public convenience in that respect, especially after it had been carefully considered by a Committee upstairs. I sincerely hope that before it is decided to exclude this proposal from the Bill we shall be given further information on the subject. I would like to point out that from the point of view of the competition of railways, anything which tends to increase industrial development must largely add to the profit of the railway system.


I cannot understand the attitude taken up by the hon. Gentleman who represents the Board of Trade today. We very carefully considered this Clause upstairs, yet the hon. Gentleman comes here to-day and asks us to drop it, simply owing to the fact that he disagreed with the Amendment put in upstairs—Amendments against which he voted and which, in fact, were defeated owing to the fact that supporters of the Government, as usual failed to attend. When we were discussing a similar provision in connection with the Keighley Corporation Bill, the hon. Gentleman intimated that the Light Railways Bill would be put back into its original form. Now trackless trolleys have only been tried for a few years in this country. I quite agree that when they were new, and before they had been tried, it was quite right that each proposal should go before a Special Committee upstairs, and the promoters should be called upon to get a private Bill through Parlia- ment. But now that they have been tried and found to be a success, I submit it is unreasonable to ask the companies promoting them to go to the very large expense of promoting a private Bill. I was on a Committee this year which had to consider a proposal of this sort to establish trackless trolleys. I believe we sat ten days to consider the proposal, and I do hope now that something will be done to do away with the necessity of promoting private Bills simply in order to get a trackless trolley system established. I hope that the House will not agree to the proposal of the hon. Gentleman, and that it will divide against the Amendment.


This matter was very carefully debated upstairs, and there was a prolonged discussion upon this very Clause. I did not hear the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, but I believe that the real reason for the withdrawal of the Clause is that it was so very drastically amended upstairs by the insertion of words at the end of Sub-section (1) to the effect that companies which promoted the trackless trolley system in any district should bear the cost of any alteration or widening of streets, and also of maintaining the road or street through which the trackless system was running. Now that point was fought very strenuously upstairs, and it was decided that it was only right that where a company promoted a trackless trolley system, if there was very much addition to the cost of maintaining the roads, the company should bear some proportion of it. We understood there were a very large number of companies which were anxious to promote the trackless trolley system. We had no idea of objecting to their doing so, but those who represented the municipalities and road authorities thought they had a right to claim that while tramway companies and tramway authorities were under compulsion to maintain the roads along which the trams ran, it was only right that the trackless trolley company should also contribute towards the cost of the maintenance of those roads. I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade whether it is on account of the introduction of this principle into this Clause that it is proposed to delete it. Is it the fact that the promoters of trackless trolleys have in consequence decided not to proceed with their applications in the present year? We understood there were a very large number who were anxious to bring forward schemes of this nature, and, that being so, I fail to see any justification for the withdrawal of the Clause.


I am a hearty supporter of all improved forms of locomotion. There is, no doubt, a strong feeling in many parts of the country with regard to allocating the cost of the roads among those who carry on heavy traffic. I think it would be very much better to accept the suggestion of the Local Government Board that this Clause should be omitted in order that this, very grave question may come up sooner or later of allocating the cost of maintaining the road between the promoters of modern forms of locomotion. If the trackless trolleys, for which I hold no brief, are called upon to pay something for the use of the roads surely the motor omnibuses, the traction engines and the motor cars, as well as the heavy wagons drawn by horses, should be equally called upon to pay, and then we shall be setting up again the old turnpike system, although in another form. Under our existing system the cost of road management has to be provided by the ratepayers at large. I am not arguing whether that is right or wrong. What I do suggest is that it is wrong to alter the existing system by a single Clause applying to a single form of traction in an Act of Parliament which does not apply to the whole traffic of this country. This whole question is bound to come up for consideration in the very near future. It may be necessary to have a Royal Commission or a Select Committee to carefully consider it, and I therefore hope the House will agree with the Government in deleting this Clause in order that the decision of Parliament on this point may not be hampered in the future.


May I appeal as strongly as I can to the Government not to excise this Clause for these reasons: The Clause was considered at very great length and in considerable detail in Committee upstairs, and, as a result of that discussion, is was decided to put into the Clause provisions protecting the rights of local authorities and others interested in the maintenance of roads. As I understand it, the Government in the end accepted that protection, and the Clause as it now comes before the House contains that protection. That is not all, because, when the Bill was put down for further consideration by this House, the Noble Lord the Member for Cardiff (Lord N. Crichton- Stuart) and I put down Amendments for the protection of bridges belonging to local authorities, companies, and other bodies, giving the same protection to bridges as had been given in Committee upstairs to roads. I understand that the Government were prepared to deal out equal justice to bridges as they did to roads, and that they were consequently prepared to accept the Amendments of my Noble Friend and myself with regard to bridges. If the Clause had gone through in that amended form, with protection for both bridges and roads, it would have constituted, so far as it went, a code for all Provisional Orders and Private Bills that might be applied for by companies interested in promoting trolley traction. If the Clause is left out, the result will be that every road authority throughout the country, and every bridge authority and every private company or body interested in the maintenance of roads and bridges, will have to oppose the Private Bill or the Provisional Order when it comes up for consideration, and will have to seek to get inserted appropriate Clauses for the protection of their roads and bridges. I conceive that that would not only be inconvenient, but a very costly result for the public at large, for after all the public are the persons who in the long run are interested in the maintenance of roads and bridges. I would urge upon the Government that it is far better in the interests of trackless trolley undertakings themselves and in the interests of those concerned in the maintenance of roads and bridges to leave this Clause in the Bill, because it would be a kind of basis or substratum upon which any further Private Bills or Provisional Orders might be founded. I trust that the Government, now that the matter has been debated, will insist upon the Clause, and so prevent in the future very great difficulty and" expense.


I have no knowledge of the controversy which took place upon this Bill in Committee, but I entirely agree with the action of the Board of Trade in excising this Clause. Without doubt, the system of trackless trolleys is likely to be very largely adopted in the near future. It has many merits, one of which is that it is a very cheap form of conveying passengers from point to point. It would be a very serious blow for this form of enterprise if the Government, or the House, were to allow a new system of rating to be adopted for this class of locomotion and to exclude other and competing systems from it. We know very well that motor 'buses running over the roads do just as much harm as a trackless trolley system. What will do a great deal more harm still is the light locomotive that travels up and down our country roads. I think it would be a very great mistake if this House were suddenly to adopt a policy which would put a charge on one system of locomotion and not place the same burden upon other and competing systems. In these circumstances I think the Board of Trade are well advised in the course they have adopted. I thought the statement of the case made by the hon. Member for Brentford Mr. Joynson-Hicks) was very strong, and I think the House ought to respond to it.


I feel sure that if the local authorities had been fully aware of the intention of the Government to move the omission of this Clause they would have had a say on the matter through their representatives in this House. This is a matter which very closely concerns all the local road authorities throughout the United Kingdom. It is contemplated by this Bill to give very wide powers to promoters of undertakings which desire to run these trackless trolleys over very large areas, rural as well as urban, throughout the country. This proviso, which I understand is inserted in the Bill in Committee, would protect the local authorities against having an unfair burden of expense thrown upon those whom they represent in local matters. If, as I understand, the hon. Gentleman is moving the omission of this Clause in consequence of the proviso for the security and protection of local ratepayers, which was inserted in Committee as a part of this Clause, then I think it is putting a most unfair prospective burden upon those who have to fight in another way Bills for promoting this kind of traffic in a piecemeal fashion hereafter. We all know what the procedure of a Private Bill Committee is. We all know the very great expense that it involves to those who have to employ counsel in order to protect their interests. Without the protection which is afforded by this proviso, not merely the large authorities, the county councils, but the small urban authorities in country districts will have to go through the expensive machinery of fighting sundry private Bills which are promoted with this object hereafter. For these reasons I ask the House, in the interests of the local authorities and in the true interests of those who now have to bear a quite undue proportion of the expense of maintaining the roads, not to allow this Clause with this very necessary proviso to be cut out of the Bill.


I should like to say a few words upon this matter because the city I represent in this House was the first city to run trackless trolleys on its roads, and I know something of the damage it does to the roads, and what expense is necessary to keep up the roads. I can assure the House that the trackless trolleys, as we understand them to-day are not wearing the roads in anything like the degree which is the case with the large wagons used in commerce in Yorkshire at the present moment. If you begin to tax these trackless trolleys at the outset for the upkeep of the roads, you are doing something to them which you are not doing to the people who use the roads the most. The hon. Member for York (Mr. Butcher) thought that money ought to be subscribed by the authorities towards this system, but you have at the present time the North-Eastern Railway Company using petrol and steam omnibuses to carry their passengers about the East Riding. They are paying nothing. Why should you make these trackless trolleys pay at the present time? I agree with the hon. Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) that this matter ought to be gone into as a whole. If you are going to tax a certain vehicle which travels on the road, you ought to tax every vehicle. This is a question for the Road Board. If you do not deal with the question as a whole, and if you allow this Clause to go through, the result will undoubtedly be that in a very short time you will have to establish once again all the old toll bars. If you take the two roads between Leeds and Bradford, and between Leeds and Keighley, the heavy traffic going along those roads, mainly carrying machinery, does far more damage than the trackless trolleys we have at the present time. I should like to ask the House to support the Government and to allow the matter to be threshed out from a national and road point of view.


I hope the House will agree with the proposal made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. On the contrary to what we have heard, I believe the proposal made will meet the views of the promoters of trackless trolleys. I have in my hand a letter from the tramway department of the Manchester Corporation, which I represent here, which suggests that they would be very pleased indeed to have Clause 2 deleted on the ground that the whole question of maintenance of roads is one of much greater importance than can be settled by means of this Bill. The question of the maintenance of roads is one which must be discussed in a large measure, and not in detail, as is done in this Bill. I heartily support the appeal made by the hon. Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) to the House that they should support the Government on this occasion, and should delete the Clause.


As I gather that a number of Members were either not present when I made my explanation of my Motion, or unable to hear what I said, perhaps it will be reasonable, in the circumstances, that I should repeat in substance the explanation I then made. The hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. Wheler) represented that this Clause was being dropped because the man in charge of the Bill is displeased with an Amendment made against his wishes in Committee. The hon. Member for Stowmarket (Mr. Goldsmith) made the accusation, as I understood him—although the proposition was hardly intelligible—that I told the House I would restore the Clause to its original form. I do not see how I could have told the House that, seeing that the matter has never been before the House until the Report stage.


I said that the hon. Gentleman made that statement when a similar proposal was discussed in the case of the Keighley Corporation Bill, which was before the House. He referred to the matter fully, and I have his statement here.


I could not possibly have said that I proposed to restore the Bill to its original form, for as soon as the Bill had passed through Committee we prepared a further Amendment, the object of which was to give effect loyally to the Amendment that had been carried in Committee, only safeguarding it by some exact phrasing, which the draftsman held to be necessary in the circumstances. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Jonathan Samuel), if he looks at the Order Papers of this House, will see that for many days I had on the Paper an Amendment to the Clause as it had been altered, the whole effect of which was simply to do what the Committee had asked, only putting in certain safeguarding words. It gave effect to the wish of the Committee, which was that trackless trolley schemes should be amenable to payment in any case in which they caused expense by their scheme. So far from throwing over the Committee or exhibiting any displeasure with what they had done, I by that Amendment made a loyal attempt to give effect to its wishes. The reason why the Clause has been dropped is that the very persons and interests' to be safeguarded by my Amendment came forward and stated that, although the Amendment I had on the Paper did guard them against some of the worst dangers they apprehended from the Clause, they considered that even thus amended it was one that would rather injure than protect their undertakings. I think the Municipal Tramways Association expressly requested that if we saw fit we should rather drop the whole question of trackless trolleys and leave the trackless trolley system as it is at present, leave the promoters to have to come before Parliament for powers and at the same time, incidentally, leave the matter of road maintenance to be dealt with in a more systematic manner than was possible in a mere Amendment to a Bill like this.


I presume that would apply to bridges as well as loads? They were going to be treated by the Government on the same footing.


Yes; but, of course, I am not to be understood, in the present state of public business, to promise any measure on the subject. The whole question of these responsibilities requires systematic dealing with. For that reason, and because the persons on whose behalf we proposed to put trackless trolleys into the Light Railways Bill unanimously desired that we should simply drop the subject from our Bill, we saw that there was really no other reasonable course open to us. But the hon. Member is not in the least justified in suggesting that there was any animosity on my part to the finding of the Committee, since I endeavoured to give effect to the finding of the Committee.


My point was more this. The Committee discussed the Clause at great length, and went into every cir- cumstance connected with it, and we think it is rather hard that our time should be wasted.


That is another matter. My own labour has been thrown away also, and it is extremely regrettable that labour of that kind should ever be thrown away. I think the hon. Member will recognise that it is no fault of mine that that has taken place, and in the circumstances, with such an appeal made to us by all the persons concerned and with such a general recognition on both sides of the House that the passing of the Clause against the wishes of the trackless trolley people would have been highly undesirable, the hon. Member will admit that the hardship he indicates is not one which can be laid at my door. It was over this Clause that most of the controversy took place, and, of course, that is only another reason for thinking that, as that was the most controversial part of the Bill and as the Bill, after all, is first and last a Light Railways Bill, and because it is designed to promote the cause of light railways, the desirable course under all these circumstances is to drop the matter of friction and controversy and so secure, as we hope to do, the essential and avowed purpose of the Bill, which is to facilitate light railways in general.


As I was not on the Committee upstairs I can entertain no personal grievance against the hon. Gentleman in his proposal in regard to this Clause. The hon. Member (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) suggested that the Government was proposing shortly to hold an inquiry, and he suggested that that inquiry should either be by Select Committee or by Royal Commission, and the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill nodded his head.


I cannot be understood as having assented to the suggestion.


I certainly thought the hon. Gentleman did, and if I could have understood that this question was going to be considered from a wider aspect very shortly, I should have been prepared fully to support him. As it seems to me, there art two points of view and two interests. The point of view and the interest of the local authorities and the ratepayers was ably put, amongst others, by the hon. Member (Mr. C. Bathurst). Then, of course, there is the view which has, in my opinion, a great deal of weight, that we should do nothing to discourage the promotion and the devolopment of new forms of traction. These two views seem to me in this particular instance to be rather pulling one against the other, and if I could have had an assurance that the whole question of the user of the roads and protection for roads and bridges would have been shortly considered by the Government, I quite think I should have seen my way to support the hon. Gentleman. But under these circumstances I am quite clear that my duty is by my vote to see, as far as possible, that protection shall be secured for the local authorities and for the ratepayers. It will be much more satisfactory that the whole question should be dealt with at once, but as that cannot be promised and as the hon. Gentleman cannot even promise to inquire into it at once, I see no other course open to me than to vote against the hon. Gentleman's proposal.


Will the hon. Gentleman answer my question? Will it be necessary for those interested in roads and bridges to be represented before Committees on private Bills promoted by persons interested in trackless trolleys?


If they saw fit; they would be exactly in the position in which they are at present.


I should like to make an appeal to the Minister in charge of the Bill to give us some real assurance that the Government do not desire that state of things to be permanent. I concur in what the hon. Member (Mr. C. Bathurst) has said. It is extremely undesirable that permanently, year after year, a small rateable value should be put to the great expense of coming here and discussing what, after all, is a matter of principle, and not a matter of detail. I quite agree that in the present congestion of business a measure cannot be promised at the moment, but we might have an assurance that the Government will keep the matter in mind so that an inquiry of some kind, not necessarily by Commission or Committee, will be set on foot, so that at an early period the matter may be gone into, and it may not be necessary year after year and Session after Session for the matter to be debated, with great expense to local authorities and to those interested.


I cannot promise an inquiry. The hon. Member must put down a question.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 134 Noes, 315.