§ Bill read 3a, with the Amendments.
§ On Motion "That the Bill do pass?"
§ THE PAYMASTER GENERAL (Earl BEAUCHAMP)
said, he rose to move the omission of Clause 22, as amended in Committee, relating to the assessment of railways. He took this course, not as a Member of the Government, but as Lord Lieutenant of the county of Worcester; but he believed the Home Office and the Local Government Board approved his opposition to the clause. It really did not receive the consideration of the Committee of the House. The Bill was one for the extension of the boundaries of the borough of Worcester. The Great Western Railway opposed the Bill before the Commons' Committee, but on clauses only. The Company gave notice that they would offer the same opposition in this House; but they opposed the Preamble, and the promoters being unprepared, offered this clause. The facts were that since 1832 the boundaries of the population of Worcester had been greatly increased. In consequence of this, it had been agreed to add to the civic area about 2,000 acres, and a population thereon of about 8,000. Within this area there was some property belonging to the Railway Company, and this property would, according to the general law, be rated in the city; but by this clause it would be still rated as if it were in the county. There was no justification whatever for such an exemption. There was no reason why the Great Western Railway Company should be exempt from the operation of the ordinary laws, and should be placed in a more favourable position in Worcester than any railway in any other borough in the Kingdom. All the promoters asked was that mat- 1596 ters should be left to the operation of the general law. The interests at stake were so large that he must ask their Lordships to overlook the error of judgment committed by the promoters, and, in justice to the ratepayers of Worcester, to omit the 22nd clause.
§ Moved, to leave out Clause 22 (of the Bill as amended in Committee) "Assessment of Railways, &c."—(The Earl Beau-champ.)
THE EARL OF LIMERICK
said, that, having been Chairman of the Committee to which the Bill had been referred, he desired to make a few observations. He was sorry that ho could not agree to the Motion which had been made by his noble Friend. This Session there had been more attacks on the decisions of Select Committees than he ever remembered to have been made in any previous year; and those attacks must have a depressing effect upon noble Lords who endeavoured to do their duty as Members of Committees. The object of the Bill was to include within the boundaries of the City of Worcester about 2,000 acres, with a population of about 8,000. There would thus be about four persons to an acre, and, considering that much of the land was agricultural, the Committee was quite right in determining on a differential rating. When the promoters had called witnesses and concluded their case, the counsel for the opponents rose and asked whether he had any case to meet. The Committee intimated that they saw no reason at that stage of the case to stop the Bill. Shortly afterwards the counsel on both sides came to an arrangement which was embodied in this clause. Everything that had been done in the matter had been done with the assent of the promoters, and, the clause having been accepted by them, all further opposition to the measure had been withdrawn. He did not think that the promoters of the Bill had any cause of complaint, and, while wishing to avoid the use of strong language, he could not help saying that their action in assenting to the introduction of the clause before the Committee, and then taking the first opportunity to get rid of it, was hardly straightforward. If their Lordships decided to reject the clause on the ground that it was against public policy, he hoped that they would recommit the 1597 Bill, in order that those who opposed it might have an opportunity of being heard.
THE EARL OF ABERBEEN
said, he agreed with the suggestion of the noble Earl who had just sat down that if the clause were rejected the Bill should be re-committed. In his opinion, there was no ground for supposing that the Great Western Railway Company attempted to take the promoters at any disadvantage.
THE SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Earl BROWN-LOW)
said, he believed there was no exact precedent for the principle laid down in the clause; and, therefore, he should support the Amendment.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (The Earl of REDESDALE)
said, he thought the Committee had not acted with judgment in accepting the proposal for an arrangement. However, the only question before the House was whether they would support the decision of the Committee or would reject the clause, because to re-commit the Bill would be to throw it over for the present Session. For his own part, he was opposed to the rejection of the clause.
§ On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 18; Not-Contents 35: Majority 17.
§ Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.