HC Deb 05 August 1913 vol 56 cc1372-7

Derby Corporation Bill (by Order),

Dover Harbour Bill (by Order),

Heathfield and District Water Bill,

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Lords Amendments be now considered."


Unless the Chairman of Ways and Means can give me some information as to whether the Bill contains provision for the proper protection of the men engaged on the construction of these works, I must object. I objected to this Bill the other day, and was told by someone that I should be informed as to whether adequate protection had been provided, but I have heard nothing whatever about it. In those circumstances I must object.


The hon. Member cannot object when it is put down by Order.

The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS (Mr. Whitley)

Perhaps I had better inform the hon. Member that this is only a question of the Amendments of the other House. The point to which he refers is one which it would not be possible to raise on that question. I cannot inform him, on the spur of the moment, whether the Clause to which he refers is in the Bill or not. The Committees are obliged by our Standing Orders to look into the question, and I have no doubt that it was done in this case.


One or two Bills have come down from the House of Lords which have been before Committees of this House, important Bills involving great constructional works, in which no provision has been made for housing accommodation of the men until I blocked the Bill, and this in spite of the Standing Orders. Even yesterday a Clause was inserted by promoters on my suggestion where the Committee did not think it necessary to do so, in the case of works involving nearly a million of money.


I do not wish to take up time to-night on a matter of which I have no notice. I cannot give the hon. Member any reply now, and, therefore, I move "That the Debate be now adjourned."

Debate to be resumed To-morrow.

Southport Corporation Bill (by Order),

North British Railway Bill [Lords] (by Order),

King's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified; read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Rochford Rural District Council Bill [Lords] (by Order),

Verbal Amendment proposed by the Promoters, and agreed to; Bill read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Ebbw Vale Water Bill [Lords] (by Order),

London and South-Western Railway Bill [Lords] (by Order),

King's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified; Bill read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Leith Harbour and Docks Bill [Lords) (by Order),

Ipswich Dock Bill [Lords] (by Order),

Leicester Corporation Bill [Lords] (by Order),

Reading Corporation Bill [Lords] (by Order),

Ascot Authority Bill [Lords] (by Order),

London Electric Railway Bill [Lords] (by Order),

Watney, Combe, Reid, and Company Bill [Lords],

Bills Ordered for Third Reading; Standing Orders 223 and 243 suspended; Bills read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Southend-on-Sea Corporation Bill [Lords],

New Clause added, and Amendments proposed by the Promoters agreed to; Standing Orders 223 and 243 suspended; Bill read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Alexandra Park and Palace Bill [Lords] (by Order),

Limerick Harbours Commissioners Bill [Lords] (by Order),

Bills read a second time.

Ordered, That Standing Orders 211 and 236 be suspended, and the Committee on unopposed Bills have leave to sit and proceed to-morrow.

Gas and Water Orders Confirmation (No. 1) Bill [Lords] (by Order),

Pier and Harbour Provisional Orders (No. 3) Bill [Lords] (by Order),

Read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Electric Lighting Provisional Order (No. 6) Bill [Lords] (by Order).

The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS (Mr. Whitley)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now considered.

I make this Motion in order to say a word or two in regard to the position in which the Bill stands. This Bill, as it came down from the other House, contained two Provisional Orders, one of which was opposed and the other unopposed. The time of the Session was very late, and it seemed to me, that the Bill could only get through its further stages provided that the Opposition was removed. Therefore, I invited all those whom I knew to be interested in the Bill to meet me in my room for a conference in order to see whether the Opposition could be removed. I found that I was unsuccessful in that effort, and that the Bill would be opposed on the Second Reading in the House, and there was already a petition against one of the Orders which necessitated its going before an Opposed Bill Committee upstairs. The earliest evening that was possible to take the opposed Second Reading was this evening, and the Opposed Bill Committee could not sit before Wednesday of next week. The right hon. Gentleman, the Chairman of the Committee of Selection informed me that it was out of the question to think of setting up an Opposed Bill Committee at that period of the Session. It seemed to me a choice between the loss of the Bill with the two Orders, and saving one of those Orders, and when the facts were put before the Board of Trade who attended the conference, they came to the conclusion that it was better to save one Order than to lose both. That is the simple explanation. It is a merely a matter of the calendar and days of the week, which accounts for the proceedings hitherto. Since that time I have been doing the best I can to bring the parties to terms, and what I propose to do now, with the co-operation of the Board of Trade, whose assent I have received to the proposal, is to suggest that the consideration to-night should be adjourned, and I will put down on the Paper the necessary Motion empowering the Unopposed Bill Committee to divide this Bill into two, separating the two Orders, and then, later, I will ask the House to sanction the carrying over of the opposed Order in order that the expenditure already incurred upon it by its promoters will not be lost. In any case, if opposed, the Bill could not have had any possible chance of getting through in the present Session. Therefore, in order to arrive at the position which I suggest, I would advise the hon. and learned Member to move the Adjournment of the Debate, and I will, at the earliest possible moment, put down my Motion.


I beg to move, "That the Debate be adjourned."

I wish to express my indebtedness, both to you, Sir, and to the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means, for the course taken in this matter. I must say that at one time I was filled, perhaps, with undue suspicion as to the course taken, and if I have done any injustice to the Chairman of Committees, whether mentally or otherwise, I wish to express my regret for it. I think it is to the honour of this House that under its procedure as a High Court of Justice, as it is when we are dealing with private Bills, it should not be possible to suppose it to be in any way tainted or affected by private considerations. The reason why I felt so strongly about this matter is this: This Bill has been promoted by a very well-known gentleman in Ireland (Mr. William Murphy), at the instance of the Kingstown Commissioners. He undertook to lay out upon it the sum of £40,000 out of his own pocket, and he did so after the Kingstown Commissioners had exhausted every effort, including, unfortunately, having to allow their own Order to lapse for the last ten years, to provide that township of 18,000 inhabitants with a supply of electricity. I think any man in a country like ours who comes forward to spend a large sum of money in that way deserves some encouragement. In addition to that, in opposing the gas company in the House of Lords, he spent a sum of £2,000; and it did seem to me a very strong order that this Bill, when it reached this House, after passing the Lords unanimously, should suddenly be throttled by a procedure which at the time I was unacquainted with. The position of the Lords was extremely interesting from one point of view, because by an accident there was struck upon the panel in their Lordships' House, the owner of the largest portion of the property in Kingstown, Lord Longford, who was absolutely indifferent as between the gas company and the electric lighting proposal, and he with Lord Chairman and others—


I am afraid if the hon. and learned Member enters into the merits of the question it may add to my difficulties. I have done my best to meet the hon. Member.


I will say no more, for perhaps the least said the soonest mended. As I took this unusual course, which I very much regret, of blocking a large number of private Bills, perhaps some twenty in number, a thing I have never done before in all my thirty-two years' experience here, and have put the promoters to very great trouble and expense, which I do very greatly regret, I did think that some explanation from me was necessary; but if the right hon. Gentleman, the Chairman, is now willing that the matter should be allowed to pass without further explanation or vindication of any kind, I entirely accept his proposal. At the same time, I do trust that next Session, when this matter comes before the Committee, it will be considered on its merits, and not with reference to any other proposal which the advantage this delay gives to its opponent may effect. I say no more than that, and I move the Adjournment of the Debate.

Question put, and agreed to; Bill deferred till to-morrow.

Electric Lighting Provisional Order (No. 7) Bill [Lords] (by Order).

As amended, considered.

Ordered, that Clause 26a be left out, and that the following new Clause be inserted:

(Restriction on Linking Up with London Stations and Areas).

The powers contained in the London Electric Supply Act, 1908, as regards making any connection between the area of supply specified in or any generating station authorised to be erected under this Order, and any area of supply of or any generating station of any authorised undertakers or specified companies referred to in the said Act of 1908 shall only be exercised subject to the approval of the Board of Trade, and the undertakers when submitting any proposals for any such connection shall furnish particulars of such proposals to the London County Council, who shall be entitled to make representations to and be heard by the said Board thereon.—[The Deputy-Chairman.]

Bill to be read the third time.