§ Amendment reported (according to Order): Then Standing Order No. XXXV. considered (according to Order), and dispensed with; Bill read 3ª, with the Amendment.
§ On Motion, "That the Bill do pass?"
§ LORD FITZGERALD
, in rising to move the insertion of the new clause which was rejected at the previous Sitting by a majority of 1—the figures being, Contents 19, Not-Contents 20—said, it provided that the supply of water by the Dublin Corporation to the outlying townships should be increased from 20 to 25 gallons per head per day. When the arrangement was made, 16 years ago, the valuation of Bray was £17,600; now it was £26,000—an increase of nearly 60 per cent; so that the Corporation was receiving considerably more from. Bray now than it did when the agreement was made. The population had only increased in that period 30 per cent; so that the advantage was clearly on the side of the Corporation, and not on that of the township. The case was similar in regard to the other townships. It was asked why the townships, if they wanted to obtain the increase now asked for, did not seek to bring in a Bill to effect their purpose; but they had no funds to meet the expenses of a Private Bill. There was nothing to fall back upon but 1430 the rates; and it was obvious that they could not contend with a wealthy Corporation like that of Dublin, whose power and wealth were increasing day by day. With the Corporation it was different. It was now promoting a Bill, the cost of which would be paid out of the Borough Fund; and, as this was a sanitary question, advantage was taken of the opportunity on the part of the townships to, if possible, induce the Corporation to confer a great sanitary advantage upon them. He (Lord Fitzgerald) had carefully looked into the Provisional Orders, and seeing the advantages conferred on the Corporation, he considered the townships were justified in asking that the Corporation should be compelled to do that act of justice that many of its own members were willing to concede. The question before their Lordships really was, whether they would not abide by the recommendation of their own Select Committee? He was now authorized to state that it was the unanimous wish of the Peers who had composed that Committee, that the clause he was now about to move should be agreed to, increasing the supply of water to the townships by 25 per cent.
Amendment moved, in page 1, after Clause 2, to insert the following Clause:—
For the purposes of the eighth section of the Dublin Corporation Waterworks and Fire Brigade Provisional Order, 1874, and of the Orders hereby confirmed, the statutable or contract allowance of water to the townships mentioned in that section shall be deemed to be twenty-five gallons per head per day, as provided by the Acts in that section mentioned relating to those townships respectively, and the said Orders and Acts shall be read and have effect accordingly."—(The Lord FitzGerald.)
§ Question proposed, "That the said Clause be there inserted."
§ LORD ARDILAUN
said, that if there was one rule which was impressed upon their Lordships as one which should not be broken, it was the necessity of supporting the Reports of their own Committees. As regarded the subject under notice, he put it to their Lordships, whether they were not sticking to the letter rather than to the spirit of the Report of the Select Committee? The Bill was now in the form, in which it left the Committee no doubt; but the noble Lord the Chairman of the Committee, 1431 and the noble Puke (the Duke of Marlborough), and other noble Lords, Members of the Committee, had stated to the House, that the opinion they had appeared to have expressed on the Report was not the opinion they had desired to give. The noble and learned Lord (the Lord Chancellor) had told them yesterday that it was too late, or something to that effect, to alter the Bill; but if that were the case, he (Lord Ardilaun) would ask what was the object of having these different stages of a Bill? Why should they have the first reading, the second reading, the Committee stage, Report, and third reading? Was it not that they might have so many opportunities of correcting faults and errors that might have occurred in the conduct of the Bill during those earlier stages? Unquestionably. When, therefore, they found that the Members of the Select Committee were now practically unanimous in declaring that they appeared to have made a mistake in their Report, and when it was remembered that the Committee was sitting until 7 o'clock at night, and that great obstacles in the way of the passage of the clause had been raised by the parties to the Bill, he did not think that the objection that it was now too late to alter the Bill should hold good. There had been insuperable difficulties in the way of the drafting of the clause before the Committee; though, if the Chairman himself had seen his way to draft it, the whole thing would have been at an end. He would call their Lordships' attention to the fact that the Acts on which the present water supply was based were passed 16 years ago, during which long time the Corporation had taken no steps to have these Acts altered. One of the clauses had been found unworkable in the interests of the Corporation, so the Corporation had come to Parliament to get it altered. Whilst they effected their purpose, it was but right that the townships should seek to obtain an alteration in the existing law, which was found to be disadvantageous to them. He earnestly supported the Amendment.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD
said, he was surprised that the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Fitzgerald) should have brought that matter again before the House, after the decision which had been given yesterday. 1432 It was said that the water supplied to the townships was sought to be cut down by the Corporation; but that was not the fact, and if the townships had been receiving more than 20 gallons per head per day, it was in excess of that to which they were entitled. The townships had the right under their own Local Acts, passed 10 years ago, to 20 gallons of water per head per day. They were to have that amount assessed on the number of the population, and all that the Corporation had done had been to desire to assess the population properly. There had been no means in Ireland of finding out what the population was; and all they asked for, in the present Bill, was that they should have those means, and that there should be a legal definition of the term "population" for the purposes of assessment. It was admitted that during the 16 years referred to, the townships had received a large number of gallons per head per day more than they were entitled to. The Corporation, however, on that account made no proposal to cut down the quantity of water supplied. It would remain as it was. The only proposal was that the townships should be limited to what they themselves arranged for 16 years ago, and that any water beyond that should be paid for at the rate of 2½d. per 1,000 gallons. Finding an opportunity of getting from the Corporation what they were really not entitled to—namely to have an additional supply of water without paying the 2½d. per 1,000 gallons chargeable for it—it was evident to him now that was what the opponents of the Bill meant. He would call their Lordships' attention to the fact that the proposal had only been brought before the Committee of the House of Lords at the last moment, and that it had never been submitted to the House of Commons Committee at all. He trusted their Lordships would not reverse the decision they arrived at yesterday, and throw out the Bill at the last moment. The House could only act upon what it saw, and that was, in this case, that the Bill was reported without Amendment; and though now it was said the Committee were unanimous in favour of the Amendment, yet they had practised an extraordinary method of showing their unanimity—namely, by neglecting to put in this clause. It was 1433 only as an afterthought that it was proposed. It would be most unfair to the Corporation of Dublin to accept it. It would have the effect of taking hold of the property of the Corporation, which was really the property of the people of Dublin. If they accepted the Amendment and broke down the existing law, as to the quantity of water to be supplied to the townships, they would also break down all those various Local Acts which had been reported to have been in existence for 16 years, for it proposed to allow an extra five gallons of water per head without increasing the charge. He would again say that he hoped their Lordships would not reverse the decision at which they arrived yesterday.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
said, that their Lordships had had the case most ably and clearly put before them, and after what had fallen yesterday from the noble and learned Lord (Lord Fitzgerald) and that day from the noble Lord (Lord Ardilaun), he was exceedingly surprised at the attitude taken by the noble Marquess who represented the Government in the matter (the Marquess of Waterford). They were accustomed to see so many changes in the attitude of Parties in Parliament that one was prepared almost for anything; but he certainly was not prepared to see the noble Marquess give such an extraordinary support as this to the privileges of the Corporation of Dublin. Such a circumstance seemed to him (the Duke of Marlborough) to be most remarkable. The injustice under which the minor townships were labouring had been clearly shown, and it was surely too much to say that that injustice should not be removed except at the expense of a special Act of Parliament. He put it to the Government that the unanimous decision of the Peers who had formed the Select Committee should be taken as a guide in this matter. As that was the only occasion of which the townships could avail themselves in order to obviate the injustice he had referred to, he should give his vote for the Amendment. If the House decided that the townships must, in order to obtain what they sought for, go through the expensive process of trying to get an Act of Parliament themselves, then it would be impossible for them to obtain a measure of justice. The only point the Committee had before them 1434 was whether they would take on themselves the responsiblity of inserting the Amendment; but they were absolutely unanimous as to the justice of the proposal.
§ On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 21; Not-Contents 19: Majority 2.
§ Resolved in the affirmative; clause inserted accordingly.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill passed, and sent, to the Commons.