§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
My Lords, I am surprised to find that the Railway Companies have petitioned against this Bill. The matter has been well thrashed out by the House of Commons, and I have not been able to find out that the Railway Companies then expressed any dissatisfaction with the object of the measure now before the Committee. It is a Bill promoted by the London County Council at the instance of the Vestries and District Bodies. This Bill proposes to do away with some obvious defects in the law, in regard to the paving of roads and ways. The first two clauses merely define the purposes of the Act. By Clause 3 any Vestry or District Board may, from time to time, repair or pave roadways within their parishes or districts, although such roadways may not at the time of the work being done have become reparable by them. According to the Camberwell Vestry case, if a Vestry or District Board repairs a road, however slightly, they are held to have taken it over, and cannot afterwards recover the expense of paving the street. This is an unsatisfactory state of the law. It is sometimes necessary for District Boards or Vestries to pave streets partially, inasmuch as the inhabitants may squabble among themselves about it, and the road is left in an inefficient state of repair, but under this provision the Local Board may do the work and recover the expense of paving the street, when it shall become a new street under the Metropolis Management Act. By Clause 4 a penalty is provided for the commission of illegal acts in regard to sewers or drains made contrary to approved plans. By Clause 5 penalties are imposed for certain other illegal acts in regard to making connections in sewers. Clause 6 is for the purpose of enabling Vestries or District Boards to take portions of houses and property, as they may require, for purposes of improvement, if in the case of houses or buildings such portions can, in the opinion of the jury, be severed without material detriment to the rest of the property. Under the present law 30 Vestries and District Boards may be required or compelled to take thousands of pounds' worth of property for the purpose of carrying out an improvement, with the result that in many cases improvements are not effected which otherwise would be carried out. By Clause 7 the subsoil under a street or roadway and so on is not to be removed without the consent of the Vestry or District Board, and without complying with such conditions in regard to securing foundations and so on, as the Vestry or Local Board may impose. At present damage often arises from the method of filling up sites with rubbish. In that way-have been caused subsidences of pipes, with resulting explosions. I may mention that this clause was carefully considered in the House of Commons when the clauses were gone through one by one. I need not trouble your Lordships with the remaining details of the measure, and I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Bill read 2a (according to order), and referred to a Select Committee.