HC Deb 22 February 1940 vol 357 cc1699-714

11.9 p.m.

Mr. Herbert Morrison

On a point of Order. There are, I understand, on the Order Paper three Amendments to this Clause, and there is the possibility of a manuscript Amendment by the Minister. Would it be convenient to you, Sir Dennis, and to the Committee, if we could have a short general discussion on these Amendments, when the Minister might perhaps advise the Committee as to the best thing to do? I think it would economise the time of the Committee if we could discuss these Amendments rather generally before they are moved, if it is acceptable to you, Sir Dennis.

The Chairman

I am not proposing to call the first two Amendments, but I think it is pretty obvious that hon. Members will be able to raise points on the third Amendment, which I now call.

11.11 p.m.

Sir Harold Webbe

I beg to move, in page 1, line 15, at the end, to insert: (2) While the said valuation lists remain in force, any increase or reduction in value attributable directly or indirectly to the present emergency if and in so far as it—

  1. (a) is peculiar to a particular hereditament; or
  2. (b) affects a particular hereditament and also other hereditaments of a comparable character in the rating area in question, but does not affect all classes, or substantially all classes, of hereditaments in that area
shall, in relation to that hereditament, be deemed to be an alteration in the matters stated in the valuation list within the meaning of paragraph (1) of Section forty-six of the said Act (which relates to supplemental lists) and to be such an increase or reduction in value as is referred to in Section forty-seven of the said Act (which relates to provisional lists). This Sub-section shall apply in relation to any such increase or reduction as aforesaid whether it occurred before or after the passing of this Act, and any such increase or reduction
  1. (i) shall be taken into account for the purposes of the said Section forty-seven notwithstanding that it occurred otherwise than in the course of the year; and
  2. (ii) shall, if a provisional list or a requisition for a provisional list has been made in the preceding twelve months be taken into account for the purposes of any revision under the said Section forty-six, notwithstanding that the increase or reduction occurred otherwise than during those twelve months."
I shall not detain the Committee for very long, but I feel I should explain, very briefly, the object we seek to achieve by the Amendment and the manner in which we propose that that object should be attained. Under the 1869 Act the rating system of London was based on a quinquennial valuation, and Sections 46 and 47 of the Act provided for the fluctuations in value which necessarily occurred during the quinquennial period, and laid down the manner in which these changes in value should be reflected in the assessment for rates. On the details of the procedure to be followed, once reassessment has been made, these two Sections are precise almost to the point of embarrassment, but on the major and far more important grounds on which an appeal for reassessment might be made the Sections are extremely vague. Section 47 merely provides that an appeal for reassessment can be made if for any cause there has been any change in the value of the hereditament. That vague word "cause" has, for over 70 years past, provided a steady, substantial and satisfactory income for the legal profession, but it is, I think, fair to say that, based on certain legal decisions, something like a working interpretation has been arrived at, which, with variations of degree, and slight variations of scope, has proved workable. But there has been substantial variation in the interpretation placed by the different legal authorities upon this term "cause," and it may be that there is a certain amount of legal doubt because the decisions on which this interpretation has been based are decisions taken many years ago, and certainly, in conditions completely different from those which obtain at the present moment. As I say, the arrangement has, on the whole, worked, but the impact of war and war conditions on this great group of towns we call London, with its unique and complex system of local government, has created problems of changing values, of a magnitude and urgency completely different from any thing which has ever occurred in normal times, and times of peace—

Mr. E. Smith

The same applies to other parts of the country.

Sir H. Webbe

Therefore it has become more urgent than it has ever been, and more important than ever, that we should clarify the position and that we should secure as far as possible a liberal interpretation of the term "cause," and that we should secure that any relief by way of reduction of assessment which may be granted where it is really deserved should be quickly of value to the ratepayer.

During the Debate on the Second Reading instance after instance was given of very grave hardships that are being suffered by individual ratepayers, and there is no doubt in my mind as to the urgency of dealing with this problem and finding such solution as we may. Therefore the principal object which my hon. Friends and I have in setting down this Amendment—I know we are pursuing exactly the same objects as those who have put their names to other Amendments—is to secure a remedy for this inequality and to endeavour, as far as we can, to obtain justice as between one ratepayer and another. The first part makes clear that any circumstance of the war which has peculiarly affected a hereditament, or a class of hereditaments, and has affected it in a manner and to an extent different from that in which it may have affected other hereditaments inside the rating area, shall be admitted as a ground for appeal for a revision of assessment. I have been told that the Amendment provides little or no more than is the actual practice to-day of certain rating authorities. I believe it lays down a more liberal interpretation of Section 47 of the Act of 1886 than is in fact the general practice and, at the worst, it gives statutory authority for the practice of the best and most liberal rating authorities in the matter. It will, I believe, reassure the many ratepayers of London who are suffering at present by giving them the knowledge that they have the right to have their case heard, and I am convinced that the hearing of those cases will in a large number of cases bring actual relief.

The second part of the Amendment is concerned to ensure that, if and when relief is given by a revision of assessment, the effect of that revision shall not be delayed. The Amendment does not alter fundamentally the method of the preparation of provisional and supplemental lists on which revisions are based under Sections 46 and 47 of the Act. It widens the application of these Sections and to an extent modifies their effect. Its effect is that if and when an appellant obtains a revision of his rating assessment the effect of that revision will be secured at once and will not be subject to the mere chance of the day on which the appeal was first made. I suggest that the Amendment will materially improve the machinery of rating assessment. It does not attack the fundamental problem which faces rating authorities in London of making ends meet, but it makes a contribution to improving the machinery under which we work.

Let me say a word on the scope of the Amendment by comparing it with the other two Amendments on the Paper. The Amendment which was suggested by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) goes a great deal wider than mine. In particular the inclusion of the words "in the same locality" seems to me to open the door far too wide and involve a risk, if not the probability, of a haphazard revaluation at a time when it is administratively difficult and at a time when it would be extremely unfortunate to have to carry out such a task. The other Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Etherton) is nearer to mine, but my Amendment is slightly more restricted in scope as I have provided that circumstances arising directly or indirectly from the emergency shall only be taken into account if and in so far as they do not affect, or substantially affect, all classes of hereditaments in that area. The Amendment of the hon. Member does not contain that limitation and I submit that the failure to limit in that way would potentially open the door to a far wider revaluation than we can honestly expect, having regard to the purposes of the Bill. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to accept the Amendment.

I think I should say this. In my view this Amendment is of great importance to London. It involves a substantial modification of present rating procedure and I know that my friends, like myself, feel that the responsibility for an Amendment of this kind might very properly be accepted by the Government. Therefore, if my right hon. Friend is able to assure me that he is prepared to introduce an Amendment which substantially covers the ground I have tried to cover in the one I have moved, if he would accept this Amendment in principle and undertake to move an Amendment which contains these provisions and is substantially in the form in which this one is, I should be prepared to withdraw my Amendment, and support such an Amendment moved by the Minister.

11.26 p.m.

Mr. Ralph Etherton

This Amendment has no merits. It merely has the effect of making people believe they are getting something when, in fact, they are not getting anything. The Amendment takes 11 lines to say that the law shall remain the same. "Special cause" is in no way affected by the Amendment, and "special cause" was a matter to which attention was drawn by a large number of hon. Members on the Second Reading of the Bill. The first 11 lines of the Amendment merely summarise the present law relating to rating in London, and hon. Members can check that by referring to the standard work on rating—Ryde on Rating, at page 791. In any part of England except London, if property falls in value during the quinquennial period, you can get an interim revision, but that cannot be done in London. In London, you have to wait until the end of the five-year period.

Under the Bill and under the Amendment, in London the rights of all occupiers are taken away, and taken away up till two years after the end of the present emergency, except, of course, for "special cause," which has been narrowly defined by the courts. In London, if your property depreciates owing to general causes, you are to have no redress until two years after the present emergency. The Amendment purports to help, but in fact it does nothing. The last nine lines of the Amendment allow people to delay proceedings, thus causing an eventual congestion of cases for revision. These last lines benefit only the collecting authority. The collecting authority will be able to go back if values subsequently rise, and the collecting authorities, particularly the rich London boroughs, are to seek shelter behind artificial assessments—assessments made in 1935; and those artificial assessments are to be made operative and are to continue until two years after the end of the present emergency. The bad London law in regard to this question of special cause is to remain in full operation and be extended until two years after the war. The Amendment is unintentionally a snare and a delusion, and I hope the Committee will reject it.

11.30 p.m.

Sir Herbert Williams

I approach this subject with some diffidence. There are three Amendments on the Order Paper, the last of which you, Sir Dennis, have selected. The first is in my name, the second is in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Etherton) and the third is in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for the Abbey Division of Westminster (Sir H. Webbe). I attached my name also to the second Amendment because, on a superficial examination, it seemed that it might be a solution of the problem, but various people represented to me that there might be defects in it and I then drafted the Amendment which appears in my name alone and tabled it in order that the Committee might have a selection. Finally, my hon. Friend the Member for the Abbey Division drafted a much longer Amendment which is now under discussion. I do not understand it. In fact I do not understand any of the three Amendments, because we are now in the realm of rating and valuation law, in which draftsmanship is very difficult. Any hon. Member who has read the Amendments must realise the difficulties in which we are involved. Actually, I think I prefer my own Amendment, if certain words are left out of it. I am quite honest in these matters and I do not mind saying that we are face to face with a very serious difficulty in drafts-man ship. I would like my Amendment to read something like this: Provided that, where the value of any hereditament is increased or reduced owing to any circumstances arising out of the present emergency, that circumstances shall, during so much of the said period as is subsequent to the fifth day of April, nineteen hundred and forty, be deemed to be a cause within the meaning of Section forty-seven of the said Act and Section forty-six of that Act shall be construed accordingly. What is the position in London? London, for reasons, good or bad, has in the past had a system whereby a valuation was made every five years, and unless, broadly speaking, there were structural alterations, that valuation stood. In the country, on the other hand, there was an opportunity of changing the valuation if circumstances, whatever they may be, affect the value of the hereditament. The system in London, I believe, worked very well, but suddenly London finds itself faced with an entirely new set of circumstances. I would like to see the provincial law, during this period—but only during this period—applied to London. I do not think we ought to alter the law permanently with regard to London, until London has had an opportunity of considering whether it wants to change the quinquennial basis or not. But during this period, as a temporary measure, I think every citizen of London who feels that his hereditament is seriously overvalued, like the lodging housekeepers in Paddington, or the shopkeepers in Westminster—where I happen to live—or the proprietors of blocks of offices in the City, should be able to have some reality of relationship established between what they can let their premises at and the basis on which they pay rates. I find it difficult to understand the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for the Abbey Division—for whom I have the greatest respect. It contains a great number of words, but what I want to know is this. If the gentleman from whom I buy my groceries in the Buckingham Palace Road finds his trade so diminished owing to evacuation that he feels he cannot go on with his business unless his landlord agrees to a reduction and the landlord agrees to that reduction, is he then entitled to say, "The value of these premises is less than it was and I want a revaluation for the purpose of rates"?

I want to be perfectly clear that every citizen, whether shopkeepers, hotel proprietors, or tenant for office purposes in that position, can without any conceivable doubt whatsoever claim the relief which I think he is entitled to have. Outside London he can have that—I speak for England and Wales, because I do not profess to understand the Scottish position which is even more complicated. I want to give every citizen of London the same measure of freedom as is possessed by any other citizen in England and Wales. I do not want to prejudice the problem when the war is over. London should have its own system or should adapt the provincial system during the lifetime of this Bill as the case may be. I am not satisfied as yet that the Amendment before the Committee gives us that effectively, but if the Minister can show satisfactorily that it will give us that, I shall be pleased to vote for it. If he indicates that it is limited in the way suggested by the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Etherton) I think that we shall have to press for an Amendment which is rather more satisfactory at a later stage.

11.38 p.m.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

The Second Reading of this Bill showed, I think, a greater unanimity in this House than the passage of any Bill in my short experience, but there is no doubt that the House was not satisfied that if the Bill passed as it stood it would in any way meet the situation and that some further legislation was absolutely essential to be brought in at the earliest possible moment in order to meet a very severe and disastrous situation which beset so many people in various boroughs in London. I speak particularly of my own constituency, which has been more hardly hit than any other.

I am in a considerable quandary about this Amendment. I desire what my hon. Friend opposite desires and what the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) also desires, that anybody who has a case of loss through depreciation in the value of their property directly or indirectly brought about by the war should be able to state their case and have it considered as a matter for reassessment. That in common justice ought to be carried out. We are told that it cannot be done for administrative purposes and that complete revaluation cannot take place. The hon. Member for the Abbey Division (Sir H. Webbe) who moved the Amendment has assured me that all the cases which I have put to him, including cases of hotels, apartment houses, boarding houses and the small traders and others who have been directly or indirectly affected by the war can be dealt with under this Amendment and a reassessment can be undertaken. If that is so, I am prepared to support the Amendment. On the other hand, if the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Etherton) is right, that this is not the case and that nothing is being done by the Amendment, it is impossible for me to support it, because it will not achieve my object.

It is extremely difficult for one who is not an expert lawyer on the rating law to decide. I hope the Minister will be able to give us some assurance on this matter. The Government stated on Second Reading that they fully realised the serious position in which so many people had been placed in London and that they were seeking a solution of the problem. Time is all important and these people cannot wait for a solution. They must have some immediate relief and the hope that the strenuous efforts and great sacrifices which many of them have made, will not have been made in vain; otherwise they will lose not only their businesses and the large sums they have sunk in them, but in so many cases all their life's savings. I welcome the Amendment if it will carry out the purpose for which I am speaking, but I oppose it if it does not. We have had differences of opinion about it. The trouble is that the intention of the Committee is clear, but very often when a Bill becomes law the lawyers get to work and put an entirely different interpretation on it. The result is that the people for whose benefit the law was passed are often worse off than before. I hope we shall have some assurance from the Minister on this point, and that if he brings in legislation to carry out the principle which has been submitted by the hon. Member for the Abbey Division he will lay it down that all these cases which we have in mind, which arise as a result of the war, will in law be allowed to be re-assessed. It is useless for practices to go on in various boroughs in London which are not the law, for any re-assessment which is made without the authority of the law can be repudiated by the precepting authority. It is not only necessary that re-assessments should take place but that they should have the authority of the law behind them.

11.43 p.m.

Sir George Broadbridge

Speaking for the City of London I support the Amendment and agree with everything the Mover said. The matter is of extreme urgency to the City, and it is essential that something should be done to find a means of helping the rating authority out of the intolerable position in which they find themselves. This Amendment provides the means to their advantage. It is not necessary for me to go into the details affecting the City because most of the rating authorities are suffering in the way mentioned by the hon. Member for the Abbey Division (Sir H. Webbe). Therefore, I content myself with saying that I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment, and so meet the urgent need of our rating authority and authorities generally.

11.44 p.m.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Elliot)

Like many other Members I am not a lawyer and therefore I find myself dealing with highly technical matters which are admittedly difficult for the layman to understand. Yet the layman has to understand them and do his best to grapple with them, and I hope the Committee will bear with me in my attempt to elucidate them. As I understand it, the quinquennial valuation which was to take place forthwith, and arrangements for which were under way, is impossible. It is administratively impossible, and if it were possible it would clearly be disadvantageous to the public weal that it should take place at this moment. Therefore, we have a postponement Bill before us.

It was on a postponement Bill that hon. Members in many parts of the House took the opportunity of saying that the situation in London was becoming very grave and indeed, in some cases, that it was intolerable, and that speedy remedy should besought. It was clear that a postponement Bill could cover only a limited field, and there were suggestions. There was that, for instance, by my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Etherton), that an Amendment should be moved here and now which would completely carry out the objects which he had in view, the assimilation of the law of London with the law of the Provinces. There was the suggestion brought forward by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) that a general remedy should be found for the difficulties in which many worthy people in London are placed just now. It is clear that, in this Bill at this time, that cannot be done.

The other question is, that being so, can improvement in the position be made now in this Bill? I think it is suggested that two things might be done. Restatement and clarification of the law might take place. That was one of the objects which my hon. Friend the Member for the Abbey division (Sir H. Webbe) had in mind. Secondly, it was suggested that the drop in values which took place last September should not, so to speak, be Statute-barred in any amending lists which might be prepared, and from which otherwise they would be Statute-barred. The Amendment does two of those things. I do not think it would be true to say, as my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford said, that it does nothing at all. I gathered that he did not agree with adding the Amendment to the Bill, on the ground that it did not do anything. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Paddington said that he was against adding the Amendment to the Bill, because it did not do everything.

I think it should be possible this evening, with the general consent of the Committee, to make an improvement in the existing position by means of what all will agree is a clarification of the law, and a further improvement in order that the drop in values which took place last September might not be Statute-barred in future amending lists. Again I, and the whole Committee, are in a difficulty. It was suggested by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) that it would be better to hold over the Amendment to-night and to have an Amendment made on the Report stage; but that, as he knows, is a thing that we cannot do. Therefore, it is now or never. Again, the suggestion was made that some alteration might be made in another place, but again that is impossible; we could not do that.

We have here a long Amendment, admittedly technical. I very much hope that we shall give general assent to the adding of this Amendment to the Bill. I fully agree that we are here under difficult conditions. As I say, we are not lawyers, but we have here the highest legal advice in this House. Still, I am a layman and the right hon. Gentleman opposite is also a layman in these matters. We are here discussing questions which may have great further repercussions, which we cannot foresee. As I am advised I think that with certain Amendments which I should wish to move we could in fact secure a sensible improvement in the position by adding this Amendment to this Bill this evening. There are two Amendments which I would wish to move, but I feel a great responsibility here not merely as the Minister of Health but as heir to the Presidents of the Local Government Board. If it is suggested in any part of the Committee that the local authorities have not been fully consulted and if the suggestion is made that local authorities should have further time to consider those changes, I should not wish to force the Committee suddenly into a decision which the Committee as a whole is not yet ready to accept. That seems to me to be a fair offer. I do not say that it will be possible—for I do not think it would be possible—to go further in this Bill than the Amendment which has been so persuasively argued by my hon. Friend the Member for the Abbey Division (Sir H. Webbe), but I do think it would be the greatest pity to allow to slip by an opportunity for what I consider is a sensible improvement in the present state of affairs, namely, the clarification of the existing law and a certain enlargement of the provision so as to go back at least to the commencement of the emergency.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

On the point of emergency, does the Minister mean September, 1938, as that is when it started? That is very important.

Mr. Elliot

Do not let us get into argument across the Floor of the Committee, because it is difficult enough to present this argument. The emergency I have in mind is the onset of the war in September last. I am thinking of August, September, and October. I hope that we shall be able to agree even to-night to certain manuscript Amendments which I should like to move. I wish to carry the whole Committee with me on this occasion, but I am most anxious not to seem to take advantage of the fact that the hour is late or that there has been lack of time for the Committee to consider it, since it was only 24 hours ago that this long Amendment found itself upon the Order Paper. I should hope very much to keep faith with every section of the Committee, if necessary by reporting Progress now. We are in Committee, and therefore it is possible for me to speak again, but I put forward that suggestion with the hope that it meets with general approval.

11.54 p.m.

Mr. H. Morrison

I desire to express my gratification at the right hon. Gentleman's willingness, if necessary, to report Progress on the Bill, because on balance I think that would be the wisest thing to happen. We have a situation of some difficulty. There was the Second Reading Debate on the Bill, and the Government came in for criticism from some of their own supporters. There were evidently discussions between the Government and their supporters on the matters in dispute, but at the same time the Government themselves opened up negotiations with representatives of the London County Council and the Metropolitan Borough Standing Joint Committee. Two meetings have taken place, and we reached substantial agreement to-day. It has generally been customary that wherever possible these matters should be the subject of friendly negotiation and agreement, if possible, between responsible Ministers and responsible leaders of local authorities, subject always to the House of Commons. We seem to have got into some three-cornered negotiations here, as a result of which, at the end of the day, while the local authorities of London are willing to do business with the Minister, I do not think it is consistent with the dignity of these great local authorities that we should be involved in a private deal between the Minister and his supporters on the back benches. In the circumstances, if this matter could be postponed, I think it could be regularised. I am not prepared to say that there will be any great difference in the result, but if we are to do business with the Minister we are entitled to expect that, not only the substance, but the form, of the agreement which we reached shall be carried out.

11.57 P.m.

Sir H. Williams

Let us be quite clear. There are three parties to this issue: the Government, the rate-collecting authorities of London, and the citizens. In this matter, the local authorities do not necessarily represent the citizens. I do not want the right hon. Gentleman opposite to think that the only people to be considered are the London County Council and the Metropolitan borough councils. I am more concerned with the interests of the citizens than with the dignity of the local authorities.

The Chairman

So as to put the discussion in order, I must point out that the Debate must now turn entirely on the question of whether I am to report Progress. That has been discussed, but not, I think, actually moved. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will move to report Progress.

Mr. H. Morrison

I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

11.58 p.m.

Mr. MacLaren

I feel that there is a point that must be considered here. Before we conclude, may I appeal to the Attorney-General to do something, by way of intervention, to stop the courts from acting as they are now acting, and as they must act as things are at present; and to stop actions which are resulting in distraint in order to secure the payment of rates? Cannot he do something to shelter these people, until the House of Commons comes to some decision?

11.59 p.m.

Mr. Ede

I want to speak to the Motion to report Progress, because this Bill does not concern London only. The major part of the value of England and Wales is outside London. While the situation of London is peculiar, this Bill also applies to the provinces. Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake during the time when the Bill is under further consideration to produce, for the guidance of local authorities outside London, the report of the Departmental Committee on possible cases of hardship under the existing law, which arose out of the original postponement of valuations outside London? This Bill, so far as the authorities outside London are concerned, is merely a Bill to continue an existing postponement. There would have been a quinquennial valuation now, outside London, but for a previous postponement Act. The situation outside London is undoubtedly very serious. The Central Valuation Committee has advised the rating authorities and the county valuation committees that the proper way of assessing the gross value of certain properties is very different from the assessment which has taken place up to the moment. If they are right there is, and has been, a continuing breach of the law of valuation for a considerable time. I believe the right hon. Gentleman has received this report, but he has up to the present declined to publish the recommendations. I say frankly that I have not the slightest information of what they are, but if the valuation is to be still further postponed, the country should have the advantage of knowing the effect of that report.

During the further consideration of this matter, I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman might consider whether it would be advisable to delete the provinces entirely from the Bill. It is a great pity that the law of rating with regard to London and with regard to the remainder of the country has always been considered in separate Measures, but that in this Measure they should be brought together, although in fact the situation with regard to the two is so different. I hope he will give consideration to the point that I urged upon him during the Second Reading that he should consider whether it is not opportune to promote some legislation, if that is what the Departmental Committee recommend, that will remove the doubts with regard to the position outside London. I suggest that if Sub-section (2) of Clause 1 of the Bill were made a separate Bill altogether, it would probably be more convenient for reference, and it would certainly make it easier to deal with any further amendment of the law that might be called for as a result of the rating situation outside London.

12.4 a.m.

Sir H. Webbe

I should not have intervened again at so late an hour were it not for the entirely unnecessary imputations made by the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) in regard to me. I was not surprised at that kind of remark from that particular right hon. Gentleman, whom I know only too well in other directions. I submit that I was perfectly in order in placing on the Paper the Amendment which I have moved. I was equally in order, in the concluding sentences of my speech, in putting to the Committee my view that the subject matter of the Amendment was of such importance that it might properly have been the subject of an Amendment moved with the responsibilty of the Government.

I offered, as I believed, and as I still believe, quite properly, to withdraw my Amendment, if my right hon. Friend would give me an assurance that he would move an Amendment which was substantially to the same effect as my Amendment. If an action of that kind, which I have seen paralleled in my short experience of the House, is to be interpreted by the right hon. Gentleman opposite as forming part of some kind of improper or clandestine arrangement, then I fear that private Members will find it very difficult to know where they are. I do complain, and I do think I am justified in doing so, that the right hon. Gentleman should make what was an entirely improper and unwarranted attack on me because I had taken a course which, I believe, was justified in the interests of the citizens of London. Therefore, I felt obliged to intervene and enter a protest against conduct of that kind, which is most difficult for a private Member to understand.

Mr. Davidson

I want to say that, if other Members take part in this discussion, I hope they will not use the opportunity for bringing out some bitterness they may have felt at past defeats.

The Chairman

I am not quite sure that I was right in allowing the hon. Member who has just sat down to go as far as he did, but I did not know what his object was or what he was going to say. I must now put the Question.

Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again," put, and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

It being after Half-past Eleven of the Clock upon Thursday evening, Mr. Deputy-Speaker adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned at Nine Minutes after Twelve o'clock till Monday next, pursuant to the Resolution of the House this day.