§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, "That the House do now resolve itself into Committee."—(The Earl Spencer.)
THE EARL OF LIMERICK,
in rising to move, as an Amendment, "That the Order of Monday last for committing the Bill to a Committee of the Whole House be discharged," said, that, in adopting that course, he was actuated by no other than feelings of high respect for the noble Earl opposite (Earl Spencer), who had made the Motion which was carried on Monday, and that he had no knowledge of any of the parties interested in this particular project, either of those who were promoting or those who were opposed to it. He took the course he had taken solely because of the interest which now for 20 years he had taken in the Private Bill legislation of the House. The House, he 884 thought, was rather taken by surprise by what took place on Monday. He was sure that the majority of their Lordships could not have been aware what a very large question affecting the whole procedure of the House was raised by the Motion of the noble Earl. When the Notice appeared on the Paper he (the Earl of Limerick) thought, and he also was of opinion that many of their Lordships looked upon it as being simply a Motion to commit the Bill to a Committee of the Whole House, because the noble Earl was dissatisfied with the reception of the Bill before the Select Committee of their Lordships' House. Their Lordships had no idea of the raising of the larger question whatever. The noble Earl's argument was that the reference to a Select Committee had been made under a misconception of the Act of 1860, which regulated the procedure on this Bill, and that the Bill was really a Public Bill. But an examination of the various Acts passed between 1860 and the present time, establishing the procedure on Bills confirming Orders of the Lord Lieutenant in Council, showed that the noble Earl was mistaken, and that the procedure of the House, as related to Irish Tramway Bills, had not been founded on an entire misconception, as contended. The noble and learned Lord (Lord Fitzgerald) did not challenge the fact that, if the Bill had, upon the face of it, been a measure to confirm a Provisional Order, it would have necessarily come under the Standing Orders of their Lordships' House, and brought before a Select Committee without any opposition being made. The ground taken was that the Act was not an Act confirming a Provisional Order at all, but was one of an entirely different character, though he could not quite gather from the noble Lords who had spoken what the exact nature of the Act was supposed to be. He thought the matter was one of very great importance; and if this was an Act confirming a Provisional Order, it should follow the Rule of the House applicable to such measures. It was contended that the Bill had been introduced as a Public Act; but that would not exempt it from the ordinary Rule affecting those Public Acts which were of a local, limited application affecting private rights, which had always been referred to Private Bill Committees when they were opposed. 885 The noble Earl attributed some importance to the wording of the Act of 1860. It was—The Lord Lieutenant, in Council, shall, as conveniently as may be, cause steps to he taken for the confirmation of such Order in Council by Act of Parliament, and until such confirmation the Order shall have no effect whatever.At that time, even when it was not opposed, a Provisional Order was to have no effect until it was confirmed by Act of Parliament. In 1861 the Act was changed; but, surely, if the rights of private persons to appear before a Private Bill Committee were intended to be taken away by either of those Acts, that would have been done in specific words, and not by a general statement that the Act was to be taken as a Public Act. He could not find anything since 1861 to show that these Orders were treated in an exceptional way. The Act of 1881 went further, and provided that no Act to confirm the Lord Lieutenant's Order should be required, unless the parties not only appealed, but also appeared to prosecute the appeal. When the Bill of 1883 was introduced, there was nothing to show that these Bills were not to take the usual course of Bills confirming Provisional Orders. Mr. Trevelyan, in introducing that Act, said that the Order of the Lord Lieutenant in Council in such cases as the present being only provisional, and requiring to be confirmed by Parliament, it would be open to anyone to oppose it. But opposition would be impossible unless the Bill were referred to a Select Committee as a matter of right. It would come to this—that if any person had sufficient influence he could get a Bill referred to a Select Committee; but that the general public who had private rights which were injured by such Bill, but who were not influential in Parliament, could not get them so referred. He could not believe that that was the intention of Parliament. Under the Act of 1883 very large rating powers were given, and also the power to take land compulsorily and to a considerable extent; but he did not know that Parliament had ever delegated to any other body the right to take land compulsorily. Those were the general grounds upon which he based his Motion. The question was whether they should continue the procedure they had followed for 25 886 years, or whether they should adopt the decision of Monday. If the Bill were not a Bill for confirming a Provisional Order, but was to be treated in every respect as a Public Bill, he (the Earl of Limerick) submitted that it ought not to have been introduced into that House at all, for it was one of those Bills which by the custom of Parliament could only have been introduced in the House of Commons according to Standing Order 226 of that House. Besides these reasons of a general character, he would urge that their Lordships should be very careful before they went into Committee on the Bill. Rightly or wrongly, this Bill went before a Select Committee of their Lordships' House, and that Committee decided that it was not advisable that it should become law. He submitted that the decision of the Committee ought to be received with great consideration. He wished he were better able to meet the arguments of noble Lords opposite. He had not raised this question out of any disrespect to the noble and learned Lords who took part in the discussion on Monday; but those Noblemen knew the exact question that was to be raised when they came down, and the rest of the House did not, and he thought a subject so important should not be decided hastily and without due investigation. In conclusion, he trusted the House would exonerate him from blame for occupying so much time in proposing the Resolution that stood in his name.
THE EARL OF LONGFORD,
in seconding the Amendment, said, this could not be both a Private and a Public Bill. If it was a Private Bill, it had been killed in Committee. If it was a Public Bill, it could not now commence at the Committee stage—in fact, it had never been introduced in that character. Some consideration ought to be paid to those who had been, by the Order of the House, at the trouble and expense of coming over to oppose the Bill, and who had proved their case before a Select Committee. It was not desirable to proceed with the Bill.
To leave out all the words after ("That") and insert ("the Order of Monday last for committing the Bill to a Committee of the Whole House be discharged.")—(The Earl of Limerick.)
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
said, he was not going to repeat the speech he had made the other evening; bat the proceedings were quite regular, and he hoped their Lordships would proceed with the Bill. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Limerick) gave due Notice of his intention to bring the subject forward the other evening; but no new argument had been adduced on the present occasion. He (the Earl of Selborne), therefore, trusted that their Lordships would adhere to the decision at which they arrived the other night. He maintained that the Bill was a public one, and that it had gone through all the usual stages.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (The Earl of REDESDALE)
said, that he did not think the matter was thoroughly understood.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
Whether it was right or wrong, the Bill was read a second time, and referred to a Select Committee under the Standing Orders of their Lordships' House. It was called a Provisional Order, and every Bill which was called a Provisional Order there was no doubt might be dealt with in the way that this Bill had been. He held in his hand a letter from his noble Friend (the Earl of Belmore), the Chairman of the Select Committee, who was absent in Ireland, in which he said the Committee unanimously felt that the Bill ought not to proceed. He (the Earl of Redesdale) thought the decision of that Committee was a far more important guide to their Lordships' House than either the advice of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland or the Privy Council of Ireland. He believed that matters were inquired into before those Committees, and that their investigations were conducted in a way to bring out all the points of the case that were important in regard to legislation.
THE EARL OF ROSSE
said, that, as one of the Members of the Select Committee who considered the Bill, he desired to say a few words as to the general feeling of the Committee, and as to why it was their general feeling that the Bill should not proceed. So far as he knew, their action proceeded entirely on the ground that there seemed extremely little likelihood that the line would ever pay. The guarantee amounted to 1s. in 888 the pound, which would be levied on the district; and the Committee were of opinion that they should not allow an Act to go on, which would so heavily tax the occupiers and landowners of the district. The prospects of traffic appeared much over-rated, as the residences were situated principally near Ballincollig, which was already served by the Cork and Macroom line. It did not seem likely that lime would be sent partly by rail so short a distance; and as, under the scheme, no provision was made for its direct transfer from the ships to the trucks, it did not seem probable that the traffic in coal would be large.
§ On Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Motion?"
§ Resolved in the affirmative.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ EARL SPENCER,
in moving an Amendment to alter the title of the Bill by striking out the words "Provisional Order," in order to put in the words "Order in Council (Ireland) Bill," said, he did so on the ground that the measure was intended to affirm not a Provisional Order, but an Order in Council.
§ Amendment moved, "That the title of the Bill be changed to' Order in Council (Ireland) Bill."—(The Earl Spencer.)
THE EARL OF LIMERICK
said, he questioned whether the former stages of the Bill, if a Public Bill, were not irregular.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
said, the Amendment was only to insure that the Bill should be called by the name by which it was called in the Act of Parliament under which it was presented; and that no such mistake as had occurred in this instance should occur again, by the use of a form of title which failed to make a distinction between an Order in Council under the Act of 1860, and a common Provisional Order under Acts of a very different kind.
THE EARL OF LONGFORD
said, it would appear that the Bill had been introduced and read a second time, as a Public Bill, under false pretences. It was read a second time as a Private Bill, and rejected by a Select Committee. 889 The House, by main force, might be determined to pass it; but the noble Earl (the Earl of Limerick) was entirely in the right that the measure ought not to proceed on its present lines.
§ Amendment agreed to; words changed accordingly.
§ Title, as amended, agreed to.
§ On the Motion of The Earl SPENCER, consequential Amendment made in page 1, by leaving out the word "Provisional," and after the word "Order" inserting the words "in Council."
§ Clauses agreed to.
§ The Report of the Amendments to be received To-morrow.
§ House resumed.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
said, that ho must say that the Amendments proved most clearly that the House was right. The Bill had been read a second time, and confirmed by the House as a Provisional Order. Under the Orders of the House it was referred to a Select Committee, who had reported against it, and he thought their Lordships had committed an act of great irregularity.