§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (Lord JAMES of HEREFORD) moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"
§ * LORD TWEEDMOUTH,
in moving to leave out "now" and to add at the end of the Motion "this day six 158 months," said it seemed to him an astounding thing that this great and powerful Ministry should, in their heyday of first youth and energy, in dealing with a subject of the utmost importance to the metropolis of this great Empire, have produced a Bill which was so meagre, so colourless, so wanting in originality, and so distasteful to the representatives of the water consumers of the area within which it was to prevail. When the Bill was before the House for its First Reading he described it as a Bill to take the control of the London water out of the hands of the London County Council. His noble Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy dissented from that description. But the more he studied the Bill the more he thought that that description was perfectly justifiable and an unassailable one. The Bill proposed to set up a new water authority in the Metropolis, giving them powers, every one of which was now in the possession of the London County Council, though this new authority would not be in such a good position to exercise such powers, because it would not be a representative body; its members would not owe their position to election by the ratepayers; it would have no rating power, but would have to impose its will, in the matter of expense, on the other authorities within the area. He should like to know why the Government had gone against what he conceived to be the precedent of Parliamentary authority by setting aside the existing municipal authority of London and setting up a new one in its place. He had tried to find out a sufficient reason for this course. Of course he set aside as ridiculous the idea that the Government were actuated by any personal animosity or jealousy of the London County Council, or that they believed that that body, if they had those powers intrusted to them, would misuse them, because he could not but remember that the London County Council was the child of the last Tory Government; and, moreover, that it contained a strong leaven of Members of the House of Lords, while he was informed that many more Peers were anxious to obtain Seats in the Council Chamber. [Laughter.] As he had pointed out before, the whole trend of Parliamentary inquiry and decision was in favour of giving those powers to 159 the London County Council. Throughout the country all the precedents were in favour of that course. He could only find two cases of important towns in the United Kingdom where Water Trusts had been set up, and in both cases the Water Trusts were different from the Trust proposed by the Bill. There was a Water Trust in Belfast, but that Water Trust was elected by the ratepayers. Its constitution, however, had not proved satisfactory, because, as the records of Parliament showed, the Water Trust opposed Bills promoted by the Corporation, and the Corporation opposed Bills promoted by the Water Trust. Edinburgh was the only other case. There the Water Trust was composed of 17 members nominated by the Corporation, four members nominated by the burgh of Leith, and one member nominated by the burgh of Portobello. But there was now a Bill before Parliament for the extension of the boundaries of Edinburgh, which would then include Leith and Portobello, and which, therefore, meant a sentence of death on this Water Trust. But, on the other hand, the corporations of big towns like Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leicester, Cardiff, and many others, had bought up the water companies within their municipal areas. Many of them were also supplying water to populations outside their areas as great as the populations which they supplied within their areas, and some of them, like Glasgow, Manchester, and Birmingham, had gone far a field for their water supplies. The Bill also went against the opinions of some of the most important Members of the present Administration. Sir Matthew White Ridley, the Home Secretary, as Chairman of a most important Select Committee in 1891, laid it down that—It is most desirable that the problem should be carefully and deliberately examined by the newly-constituted municipal authority, the London County Council, in the interests of the water consumers of the metropolis,' and that the Council should 'promote Bills in Parliament for the purpose of constituting themselves the responsible water authority for London.'"Mr. Ritchie, President of the Board of Trade, said in the House of Commons in 1891:—The London County Council had had imposed upon it all at once a very difficult task, and no doubt it had made some mistakes, but 160 nevertheless he had perfect confidence that the London County Council, if intrusted with the water supply of the metropolis, would perform its task ably and well, and without a particle of anything approaching jobbery. Having established such a body, it was the proper body to be intrusted with the administration of the water supply"Last, but who would say least, there was the dictum of Mr. Chamberlain. Speaking in the House of Commons on February 22nd, 1895, that Gentleman said:—In all our discussions, both of this London question and also of the question of a similar supply in the provinces, there has been an almost universal consensus of opinion that, wherever possible, it is desirable that the local authority should become the owner on fair and reasonable terms. That I believe to be the recommendation of various committees—not speaking of London alone, but of sanitary and other committees—that, in the public interest, every assistance ought to be given by this House to local authorities to become the owners of their own water supplies. In regard to London, I think the case is very strong indeed."He was therefore driven back upon the one reason for the introduction of the Bill suggested by the Chancellor of the Duchy, which was that it was absolutely necessary to constitute a water authority for the protection of areas outside the area over which the London County Council had jurisdiction. On the Second Reading of the Bill he ventured to ask the noble Lord which of those local authorities had expressed that view; but the noble Lord gave him no answer. The answer had now come. On Monday last a conference of delegates representing those bodies met and unanimously passed the following resolution:—That it had respectfully intimated to Her Majesty's Government that in the opinion of this conference, the interests of the County of London and of each and all the surrounding county authorities within what is called in the Bill the metropolitan water area, are so diverse as to make the constitution of a water board as proposed impracticable without injustice to the several areas included therein.It seemed to him that that resolution knocked the bottom out of the argument by which this Bill was supported. [Opposition cheers.] Indeed, when he heard of that resolution having been passed, he believed the noble Lord would not venture to proceed further with the Bill. The area of which the proposed water trust was to have jurisdition was a fresh 161 addition to the several areas with which the metropolis was at present endowed. The County Council area extended over 121 square miles, the area known as "Greater London," which included the metropolitan and City police districts extended over 701 miles; and now it was proposed to constitute a water area of 620 square miles, which was a purely arbitrary one, of all the districts and parishes supplied with water by the existing eight great Water Companies. The noble Lord, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, rested a considerable portion of his argument on the conclusions with regard to the extension of the population in the area outside the London County Council area. But he should 1ike to point out that any argument founded upon conclusions of the Royal Commission in that respect was, to a certain extent, vitiated by the fact that the area to which the Royal Commission referred was much larger than the area proposed to be constituted by the Bill. Its area extended to 845 square miles, because it was made up of the whole of Greater London, the Metropolitan and City police areas, plus those portions supplied by the existing Water Companies which lie outside that area. Therefore the area dealt with by the Royal Commission was some 225 square miles greater than that to which the present Bill applied. Many other areas besides that of the County Council of London were affected. There were 56 separate areas, in each of which there existed a local authority of one kind or another, which, under existing legislation, possessed the power of dealing with the water supply of its district, and in some cases was a body actually supplying its population. This was a serious matter, which must lead to considerable confusion and difficulty. He now came to the constitution of the new board. The London County Council was to be represented by 16 members, the City of London by two, various of the county councils by ten, and the, Conservancies of the Thames and the Lea by one each. The assertion that, such an authority should consist of the representatives of water consumers was met by the answer that it was not proposed to give any representation to the Water Companies. As the Conservancies were interested in the protection of the rivers by preventing 162 the abstraction of too much water from them, it did not seem right that their representatives should belong to a body whose main duty was to guard the interest of the consumers. Excluding the two representatives of the Conservancies the number of members was 28; and the proportions given to the City and the County of London seemed to be altogether inadequate, having regard to either ratable value or population, for both the districts supplied and those authorised to be supplied. In one case, on the basis of population, London ought to have 21½ members to 6½ from the outside; and in the other case, on the basis of ratable value it ought to have 23 Members to five for the outside areas, in respect of districts authorised to be supplied; and in respect of those actually supplied the proportion would be 24 to four for the outside areas. If consideration was to be given to future increase, it must be remembered there were large areas within the metropolis unbuilt upon. It was said that the London County Council would be predominant upon the Trust; but, if its 16 members represented different sections within the County Council, it might be that the Trust would take action, with 82 per cent. of the means provided by the County Council, which the County Council itself would have to oppose. Then he came to the question as to from whence this body was to obtain money. There, again, a very undue strain was put upon the London County Council. At this moment, of the whole of the sums paid to the water companies in the metropolitan area, 82 per cent. was paid by the people living in the County Council area, the remaining 18 per cent. being paid by the people living outside that area. Surely that was not a fair thing—that on the London County Council should be thrown so large a proportion of the expenses of this body, taking in view how inadequate the proportion of its representation upon it would be. Then the Trust was to have no power to purchase without coming to Parliament, although, if there was one thing all were agreed upon it was that the water supply of London ought not to remain in the hands of the companies. Mr. Chamberlain had said he would assent to purchase under the clauses of 163 the Lands Purchase Act, which added 10 per cent. for compulsory purchase, but the water companies had no right to more than the value of their undertakings. When you were taking land compulsorily from a private individual, no doubt he might have some claim to a sentimental solatium; but, when the question was that of supplying water to a great community, the companies who had that supply in their hands had no claim at all to such a solatium. The new body was to have power to inquire and enter into negotiation; but past inquiries had been exhaustive, and the result of all had been that it was desirable that these undertakings should be purchased and should be managed by a municipal authority. The proposals of the Bill were against all principle and precedent; they were not expedient in the interests of water consumers; there was no probability they would satisfactorily solve a difficult problem; and he asked their Lordships to assist him by their votes in doing what they could to prevent this Bill becoming law. [Cheers.]
* THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (The EARL OF ONSLOW)
could not wonder that the noble Lord should have invited their Lordships not to give a Second Reading to this Bill. He, no doubt, was greatly disappointed that a matter of this importance should be dealt with by the present Government rather than the body of which he was a distinguished Member, and which had been attempting ever since it came into existence to solve this difficult problem. Both he and the noble Lord had the honour of belonging to a municipal corporation which, perhaps, was the greatest and wielded authority over the largest area of any municipal authority in the world; and the noble Lord was the representative of the Party which had been in a majority and had directed the policy of the London County Council ever since it came into existence. But in the last 13 months a material change had come over the composition of that body, and, although the noble Lord was still the representative of the opinion of the majority, the majority of those who had been sent by the electorate to represent them on the County Council held views 164 diametrically opposed to those of the noble Lord, and the proposals which were contained in this Bill were very much those which the Moderate Party on the County Council had constantly urged that authority to adopt. ["Hear, hear!"] The noble Lord continued to direct the destinies of the London County Council because the Party to which he belonged, availing themselves of a clause in the Act of 1888, had appointed a number of Aldermen on that body, for the reason that, like the noble Lord, they had discharged distinguished services to their Party, so that the County Council at present was controlled by the dead hand of the former Council. So long ago as 1869 a Commission, presided over by the Duke of Richmond, reported that the future control of the water supply should be intrusted to a responsible public body, and that was followed by the Report of Sir William Harcourt's Committee, who reported that, in the absence of any single municipal body to which these functions could be committed, a water authority of a representative character should be constituted, and a Bill having that object introduced at an early date. At the time that Committee reported there was in existence a municipal body, the Metropolitan Board of Works, which, though not popularly elected, was a representative body exercising jurisdiction over precisely the same area as that of the County Council. If the Committee had thought that that body could properly control the whole area they could not have said there was an "absence of any single municipal body." Later on in the Report of the same Committee, it was stated that the Water Authority "should include elements derived from the Corporation of London and the Metropolitan Board of Works, with a due representation of the districts at present supplied by the metropolitan Water Companies which lie beyond the jurisdiction of the Corporation and the Metropolitan Board of Works." If he had wanted to have a definition of the authority which was set up in the Bill of the Government he would not ask for any better words than those supplied him by Sir William Harcourt. ["Hear, hear!"] He should have imagined that 165 the County Council, after the several reports of these committees and commissions, would have been content to go upon somewhat similar lines to those there recommended in constituting such authority. But they did nothing of the kind. They found another clause in the report of (Sir William Harcourt's Committee which was more to their taste, which implied, under circumstances there stated, that Parliament might consent to expropriate the Water Companies without compensation, and it was upon that basis that the County Council proceeded. They had brought forward several measures, one and all of which had been rejected by Parliament. What was the policy of the Bill now before their Lordships? The noble Lord seemed to think that its only object was to enable the Water Board, when constituted, to promote Bills in Parliament. That was only one of the many powers conferred upon the new authority. In the first place there was conferred upon it all the powers which were at present exercisable by the London County Council, which were formerly exercisable by the Metropolitan Board of Works, or which were exercisable by any of the local authorities in London; and, more than that there was given to it a very important power, which now rested, unfortunately, in very feeble hands, and that was the power of a certain number of householders to make a representation to the Local Government Board as to the quality or quantity of water which was supplied to them. What was everybody's business was nobody's business, and it was proposed by the Bill that that power should be given to the representative authority of the metropolis, which would also be empowered to assist even one individual ratepayer or consumer in obtaining a determination of any question which might be raised that was likely to be of general interest to all the consumers and ratepayers within the area of the board. He should like to explain the causes that had led up to the attitude which the local authorities had assumed. When the County Council originally proposed to deal with this subject they did not, as might reasonably have been expected, invite the local authorities to come to an agreement before introducing 166 legislation. They thought those authorities would be quite content to receive at the hands of the County Council water for their inhabitants at such a price as the County Council might choose to sell it, but when they got into the committee-room they found not one single local authority which would consent to any such course. When the first Bill went into Committee they were met by the opposition of one of the outside authorities—the Surrey County Council—and the first impulse of the friends of the noble Lord and the London County Council was not to consider the interests of the ratepayers of London, but to do something to secure that their Bill should pass, and buy off the opposition against it. So they made an arrangement with the county of Surrey that that county should have the use, not only of all the means of distribution of water, but also all the sources of supply which were required for their inhabitants within the district. As a member of the Surrey County Council, he congratulated the county on the excellent terms made for itself and the bad terms made for the London ratepayers. He characterised that as a distinctly profligate proposal. A concession of the kind made to one local authority must be extended to all others, and the result would be that, after the people of London had paid an enormous sum to buy out the Water Companies, they would find themselves prohibited from increasing their sources of supply, and deprived of the source on which they at present relied, and thus be compelled, in addition to the purchase of the Water Companies, to go to a distant part of the country to bring in water to replace that of which they had been deprived of by the action of the County Council. He did not wonder, after these proposals had been offered to the outside authorities, that they would not be content without making an effort to obtain some concession of the kind before this Bill passed into law. But this was entirely a new attitude on the part of the local authorities round London, because, until these profligate proposals were laid before them by the London County Council, they never contemplated anything of the kind. In 1891, when a Bill to constitute a Trust, somewhat similar to that now 167 proposed, was under consideration in another place, the learned Counsel for the county of Surrey asked that Surrey should have three representatives on the Trust. In the Bill it was proposed that it should have one. The demands of learned Counsel before Parliamentary Committees were not unlike those of Asiatic traders, who asked three times as much as they would be content to accept. The chairman of the Walthamstow Board said, at the conference, that there was a strong feeling in Essex that there should be direct representation on the Water Trust. So, until the proposals of the London County Council were made, it was agreed that the only way in which the subject could be dealt with was in the manner proposed by the Bill. Circumstances which might arise in one or other of the counties might no. necessarily arise in all. Some local authorities might be quite capable of providing themselves with water without interfering materially with the water supply of London. But these questions had never been considered by Parliament or the London County Council, and he submitted that the clause in the Bill which provided that the Water Board might, if it thought fit, promote a Bill in Parliament for varying the area of the Water Board—that was to say, that before long one or more of these authorities might be established as a separate authority—was one which might reasonably be accepted by the local authorities concerned. In his opinion, it was impossible for any authority other than Parliament, after an exhaustive Inquiry into the special circumstances of the case, to say whether it was fair and equitable to the rest of the partners to the Trust that one of them should be allowed to leave it. He believed the counties round might fairly place confidence in the justice of Parliament, and, if it were possible to meet their wishes, that they should leave the Trust and control their own supply, Parliament would not be unwilling to consent to it. As matters now stood, the only power which the local authorities round London had was that of opposing any Bill which might be promoted in Parliament detrimental to their interests. But under this Bill the local authorities would be represented on the Board—nothing could 168 be done without their consent, purchase could not be accomplished, a new supply could not be brought in, or the expenditure of money undertaken without their voices being given a full and complete hearing. It was not necessary to follow the late Chancellor of the Duchy through the details of his speech, for the reason that, when the present Chancellor introduced this Bill a month ago, he said the desire of the Government was not to force the Bill on any unwilling authority, but to act as arbitrator between all the parties interested. Being a strong and powerful Government, they felt they were in a position to bring the matter to a settlement, and they would not lend a deaf ear to any representations or appeals which might be made to them. Without fear of contradiction, he himself would say that, whether they decided to pass or reject this Bill, the action of the Government had brought the matter nearer to a settlement that day than it had ever been since the days when the noble Duke's Commission sat, and certainly nearer than it had been after the seven years the London County Council had been tinkering with the subject. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ LORD ALDENHAM
said, he intended to support the Bill as an honest attempt to do justice between all the parties concerned. The City of London, which he had the honour to represent in another place, had taken a great interest in this matter, and had done its best for many years to prepare the way for some such settlement as that proposed by the Bill. The Bill they introduced in 1891 was very much the same as this, except that this Bill had been improved and augmented where necessary. The City of London drank less water and paid more for it than any city in the world. It paid for it according to ratable value, but the amount of water consumed was small. The City of London had not the representation on the proposed water board that its ratable value and the amount of its contribution entitled it to. The Act of 1892 was brought in after consultation between the County Council and the Common Council of the City, and it was agreed that the City should have one-fifth of the representation. It might not seem very important 169 whether they had one-eighth or one-sixteenth. When much of the expense of developing an extensive undertaking was paid for by the rates of the City of London, it ought to be sufficiently represented to prevent too rapid a descent into the depths of expenditure which sometimes occurred to those who had to manage new undertakings. The proposed board would number 30, and the City of London thought, if it had four members to represent it, that would not be unreasonable.
* LORD MONKSWELL
said that, if the noble Lord who had just sat down had a seat on the London County Council, he would have known that the Bill jointly promoted by the London County Council and the City authorities was an entirely different Bill from that of the noble Lord opposite, for the very basis and foundation of the Bill brought in was that within the area of the London County Council the City and County Council should be supreme. That was exactly what they had always contended for, and precisely what the Government would not give them. The London County Council had in this matter not shown themselves at all indisposed to agree with the City of London. They had done the best they could to meet their wishes. They proposed to give them a very large share of representation on the water authority for the County of London, and he did rather object to the strictures the noble Lord made on the expenditure of the London County Council. He thought the noble Lord might look at home, for he did not think that the City of London was a model of economical expenditure. He had been asked to say a few words on the Bill from the point of view of the local authorities of the county of Kent. Whatever intrinsic merit this Bill might have, it was subject to the one great objection that nobody wanted it. As his noble Friend Lord Tweedmouth had pointed out, the local authorities, at a meeting on Monday last, passed a resolution which was absolutely condemnatory of this Trust. He observed in the report of The Times newspaper, that among those who took part in the Debate, was the noble Earl, the Leader of the Moderate Party in the London County Council, and Under Secretary of 170 State for India in Her Majesty's Government. As the resolution was passed unanimously, it must have been adopted with the consent, or, at all events, with the connivance of the noble Earl, and it appeared, therefore, that not even a member of Her Majesty's Government had one single word to say in that conclave of local authorities in favour of the proposition of Her Majesty's Government.
* THE EARL OF ONSLOW
If the noble Lord will refer to the report, I think he will find that the members who were present on behalf of the London County Council took no part in the proceedings and did not vote at all.
* LORD MONKSWELL
said that at all events the noble Earl did not feel himself at liberty to vote against the resolution. The noble Earl tried to get out of the resolution by saying that the local authorities could contract themselves out of the Bill if they chose, and consequently no great harm would be done by their entering into this Water Trust. That was, he thought, a very mild recommendation, to say the least of it, of the Bill brought forward by the Government. If the second resolution that was passed—he supposed to save the feelings of Her Majesty's Government—by the Councillors who were present, suggesting that, after all, this Trust would do no great harm if, directly it proceeded to do anything important, everybody might contract themselves out of it, was strenuously objected to on behalf of Middlesex, and, apparently, was only passed after the peculiar ruling of the Chairman of the Surrey County Council, that it was impossible to meet a Government Bill simply with a non possumus. Kent was one of those counties that apparently did not express any decided opinion one way or the other with regard to the contracting out resolution being a sufficient safeguard to the local authorities, but that morning he had received from the Parliamentary solicitors of the Kent local authorities a letter, from which it would appear that Kent was in no way satisfied with the Government Bill. The letter, so far as it was material, was as follows:—So far as the Kent authorities are concerned, one strong point is that we have an ample supply of water at our feet, and desire, therefore, to remain independent. Our motto 171 is—'Kent water for Kent,' and we would fight strenuously against being drawn into a trust or combination the result of which would, sooner or later, 'be Kent water for everybody except Kent.' Kent and London are both agreed, and there would be no difficulty in severing the Kent Company from the other Metropolitan undertakings, and I hope you will be able to press this home.The practicability of severing the Kent Company from the other Water Companies had been very carefully gone into on more than one occasion. In 1891, before Sir Matthew White Ridley's Committee, it was shown by engineers of great eminence that there was no practical difficulty in severing the Kent water supply, and in giving Kent absolute autonomy, and in 1895 the matter was gone into in still greater detail, and it was conclusively shown by an engineer of the greatest eminence that the conclusions arrived at by the other engineers in 1891 were well founded. With regard to the remarks as to the confiscatory nature of the suggestion of the London County Council for taking over the Water Companies, he would observe that the County Council of Kent was now promoting a Bill to buy up the Kent Water Company on the precise terms, generally known as the Plunket Clause, proposed by the London County Council. He had shown that this was a Bill which nobody wanted, but no doubt it was open to Her Majesty's Government to say that though the Trust did not appear to be wanted, the local authorities were quite wrong, and that if once it were constituted it would do good. Three functions had been mentioned by various speakers as properly appertaining to this body. It might investigate the sources of water supply; it might arrange for the control of Water Companies, though it had no power to do so; and it might arrange to buy up Water Companies, though it had no power to carry that purchase through. With regard to the investigation of the sources of water supply, it appeared to him that the noble Lord who opened the Debate showed conclusively that it was being done, and done to the satisfaction of everybody, by the London County Council. With regard to the second point, which the President of the Local Government Board suggested might be the chief function of this water body, what the local authorities wanted and 172 demanded was autonomy. They did not want a big central control over all the Water Companies. In each district they wanted to control their own water supply. As to the third point, the attitude that had been taken up by the Government, by insisting on Lands Clauses terms being applied to the London Water Companies, made it absolutely impossible that there should be any purchases of the Water Companies during the term of office of the Government while they remained in the same mind. He saw four noble Earls opposite, members of the London County Council, and he asked them whether they believed there were six members of that Council who agreed with the Government policy of buying up the water companies under the Lands Clauses Act? Those four noble Earls were absolutely silent. He thought they might take it that the London County Council was almost unanimous in saying that it would never do for the ratepayers to buy up these companies under such conditions. On the 11th of December last, a report was brought up by the then Moderate Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of the London County Council, in which it was stated that it would be very wrong, in the interests of the ratepayers, to buy up the Water Companies even under better terms than those conceded by the Lands Clauses Act, and that report quoted with approval certain conclusions arrived at by Lord Farrer and others as to the monstrous injustice to the ratepayers that would result if the Lands Clauses Act was put into operation. They were told there was a great and important precedent for buying up these Water Companies under the Lands Clauses Act. They were told that Birmingham had done so. He used to think that the apotheosis of Birmingham had gone rather far. He used to think it went rather far when they were told by the Conservative Party that because London was ten times as large as Birmingham, therefore it should be separated into ten municipalities of the size of Birmingham. But his views on this point had lately undergone a great change. He was quite prepared himself now to join in this apotheosis of Birmingham on account of the statesmanlike stand the town had taken up with regard to the Education Bill of the Government. 173 [Ministerial laughter.] He did not suggest that what was good enough for Birmingham might not be good enough for London, but he did suggest that the precedent of Birmingham in this matter did not apply to London. It was conceivable, though very unlikely, that there might be cases in which, if they went to arbitration under the Lands Clauses Act the arbitration would be unduly favourable to the buyer. But everybody who had looked into the matter had come to the conclusion that if the London Water Companies were bought up under the Lands Clauses Act a great deal more than their value would have to be given to them. The London Water Companies were in a peculiar position. They had to fulfil certain statutory obligations, and in order to fulfil those obligations they must, within the near future, incur very large expenditure. The London County Council suggested that the arbitrator should consider those future obligations as well as the present position and power of the companies. Her Majesty's Government had taken up a different position to that which was assumed by the Committee of the House of Commons that considered the question of the purchase of the Water Companies last year—they had taken up the position that they would not listen to any suggestion outside the Lands Clauses Act. Under those circumstances he thought it was a waste of time to go on with the Bill, because it was perfectly evident that, rightly or wrongly, the ratepayers would not have the Water Companies at the price asked for them. That was clear from the Moderate, as well as the Progressive point of view. He therefore asked their Lordships to reject the Bill, which was not wanted by anyone, and that if passed would do nothing but foster strife and dissension. [Cheers.]
§ * LORD ASHCOMBE
said the noble Lord who had just addressed their Lordships forgot that he was a member of the Surrey County Council as well as of the London County Council. Though he was not one who helped to make the agreement referred to between the Surrey County Council and the London County Council, yet he emphatically denied that it was a profligate agreement. He believed it was a fair agreement, and the Surrey Council regretted that it was lust. The area supplied by the London 174 Water Companies was small as compared with the area of the county, but it was important in population, and the whole of the water authorities in that area were unanimous on two points—they wished to have control of their own sources of supply, and to have statutory power to withdraw from the Trust if they wished to do so. The noble Lord referred to a certain meeting of authorities in London a few days ago. But that meeting was an informal one, and had no legal position, though no doubt it embraced considerable representation, and showed the opinion of a certain number of the counties on the matter. The noble Lord said the whole of those authorities were opposed to the Bill of the Government, but he omitted to notice two qualifying words in the first resolution, the words, ''as proposed,'' and it was only in consequence of the insertion of those words that the resolution was passed unanimously at the meeting. [''Hear, hear!"] The second resolution was a very different one, and it asked for what the county of Surrey proposed.
§ * LORD ASHCOMBE
said the second resolution was not carried. [Opposition cries of ''hear, hear!"] The position which the County Council of Surrey took up was quite clear—they wanted statutory power to withdraw from the Trust if they wished to do so in case circumstances arose, for instance, which might be disadvantageous to the county, and they felt that one vote on the Trust would not give sufficient power to enable them to withdraw. At present he could not support the Bill. He should not vote, however, in the hope that in Committee opportunity would be given for making some arrangement which would be satisfactory to the county of Surrey.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
said, it was apparent from the speeches made that certain noble Lords opposite preferred that the London County Council should be the authority to deal with this question. But a large proportion of the Council objected to that view, and he 175 believed that if the votes of the Aldermen were eliminated, it would be found that there was a majority of the elected members of the London County Council who objected to have the duties in question imposed upon them. Surely there were strong grounds why the Council should not be placed in this position—one of an exceedingly difficult character, and one which would place them in a very difficult position with regard to the raising and security of the capital which would become necessary. [''Hear, hear!"] He would ask their Lordships, and especially the noble Lords who were members of the London County Council, to consider in what an unpleasant and difficult position that body might be placed if the duties in question, were imposed upon them. For instance, in the event of a time of scarcity such as they had last year, what would be the duty of the London County Council? Would they supply the inhabitants of the administrative County of London first, and distribute the residue to those in the outside areas, or would they fulfil their contract with the people in the outside areas, and supply them first, and give the residue to the inhabitants of London? The noble Lord opposite would have no constituents to meet in a case of that kind. In case of any great scarcity of water he should be sorry to meet his constituents, who would infallibly be very dirty—[laughter]—for the lack of means to wash themselves, and would be suffering from all the irritation and annoyance felt by the head of a household suddenly deprived of one of the first necessaries of life. For these and many other reasons the London County Council was not a fit body to have this enormous duty imposed upon it. The noble Lord had told the House that there were only two instances in Great Britain where Water Trusts had been instituted. But there was not a single instance in Great Britain which could in any sense be compared in magnitude to the case of the Metropolis. [Cheers.] The case of London was unique, and must be dealt with accordingly. A Statutory Board, such as was contemplated in the Bill, would be a body admirably capable of dealing with the many and complex questions which would come before it—questions of the quality and quantity of 176 the water, and as to the sources of additional supply which would be required in the future. At present the quality of the water was, no doubt, excellent, but it was derived from a polluted source, and if the care which was exercised to make it pure were relaxed at any time, the first intimation of the fact would probably be a great epidemic in London. A strong and powerful Board, representing all interests, and especially created for dealing with these questions would have a power infinitely superior to any which could be possessed by the London County Council; and, no doubt, being created by Parliament, it would receive from Parliament legislative force for all its just and legitimate provisions. He earnestly hoped that the Bill would be read a Second time, and would become law as soon as possible; and he appealed to noble Lords opposite, and through them to those elsewhere by whom their opinions were shared, not to delay the passage of this Measure. Delay might be dangerous; and the sooner the great question of the future water supply was thoroughly investigated and decided, and, if necessary, a suitable area was reserved by purchase or right of preemption, the better it would be for the interests of London.
§ LORD WELBY
said that the question of the supply of water to London was so important that he should be most unwilling to offer any opposition to the Measure if he could persuade himself that its provisions were satisfactory. But after carefully listening to the speech of the noble Lord who introduced the Bill, and after considering the provisions of the Bill itself, he could not so persuade himself. The Bill was satisfactory neither in its provisions nor in its omissions. His first objection was that it reduced the County Councils, from whom the new water body would be chosen to the position of mere paymasters. As he read Clause 5, it subjected the County Councils to the necessity of paying whatever expenses the water body might choose to incur. That was unsound finance. The body which incurred the expenditure ought also to be responsible for the ways and means by which the expenditure was to be defrayed. Otherwise it was subject to the great temptation of obtaining popularity by free expenditure, leaving it to 177 the unfortunate authority which levied the rates to bear the unpopularity of the increased burdens. It might be said that the Bill in its present form was provisional. The well-intentioned promises of Governments were not always fulfilled, and very often supplementary provisions were forgotten, or no time could be found for them. Therefore, the Measure must be criticised as it stood. And even if a supplementary Bill were introduced to give rating powers to the Water Trust that would only be the substitution of one evil for another. The creation of a new and independent authority was an evil in itself, unless it could not possibly be avoided. Nobody who was a member of the London County Council could have failed last year to realise most vividly what a water famine meant. The condition of East London had proved to everyone the dangers which were ahead, and which were increasing every day. The first and indispensable condition which the County Council, the Government, and Parliament all ought to have in mind was the immediate acquisition of a new source of water supply, to remove in a great measure the threatened dangers. The County Council had been pressing its engineers, and had arrived at results which would remove the natural apprehensions now existing. But if the new body were created, a long and indefinite delay must be looked for. Every consideration ought to be subordinated to the solution of this urgent question; and what were the prospects of a solution if the Bill passed? Already it was known that there would be great difficulties in the construction of the new body, even when Parliament had sanctioned its creation. Further, the Moderate Party in the County Council, which in general agreed with Her Majesty's Government, had urged delay. The Motion which the noble Earl had proposed in the County Council would postpone further consideration of the subject until the new body was created and in a position to set to work. He thought that such postponement would be most dangerous. The true policy was to urge on as rapidly as possible the acquisition of new and sufficient sources of water supply for London; and further, to intrust the control of the supply hereafter to a body 178 which would be so constituted as to represent all the interests concerned, and at the same time be subject to the reasonable check of the body which would have to impose the rates.
§ LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
From the course which this Debate has taken, I need not make much demand on your Lordships' attention. It is well that we should clearly understand what issue is involved in the question of the Second Reading of this Bill. There may be some Members of this House who think that there should be no legislative steps taken, and that the Water Companies should continue still as trading companies to supply water to this great Metropolitan community. And I gather that there are some of those bodies, which we have termed "outside areas," who do wish still to remain subject to the trading supply derived from the Water Companies. That was not the view of Her Majesty's Government in considering this subject and in introducing this Bill. Nor is that, the view of my noble Friend opposite. I am sure that he and those whom he represents would be the last to say that they wish the trading supply now afforded by the eight companies to continue in the same position as at present. I will not trouble your Lordships with arguing that point. We understood that there was a great consensus of opinion in favour of some legislative alteration of the present condition of things. We gathered that from many sources—from Reports made by Royal Commissions and by Committees of Parliament, and, as far as we knew, from public opinion. We gathered, too, that the example set by the great municipal communities in this country of taking possession of the water supply would be one that it would be well to follow, as far as possible, in the Metropolis. And when we look to the fact that members of the same community are now receiving their necessary supply of water from eight different companies; that these companies charge different prices; that there is as great a difference as 30 or 40 per cent, between the terms on which water is supplied by the different companies; and that the difference between the height of pressure of the different supplies is as great, it must seem evident 179 that some legislation is necessary to provide a central body by which water shall be supplied to the same community under similar conditions, and the contest between those different interests shall be brought to a close. What is the issue raised, in what I must describe as his very able and moderate speech, by my noble Friend, Lord Tweedmouth, who speaks for a portion of the London County Council and for the noble Lords opposite? Let us strip his proposition of all matters of detail and look at the principle of it. It is that the London County Council shall take possession of the present water supply of London, and that they shall be made absolute masters of it. Is that a proposition that can be for one moment maintained? Remember, it means that the London County Council shall exercise all powers over the water supply of 1,200,000 people who are not represented on that body.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
I beg my noble Friend's pardon. But he will remember that on the former occasion I distinctly stated that I thought a Statutory Committee of the London County Council, which would include representatives of the outside areas, and be responsible to the London County Council, was the proper body to deal with the matter.
§ LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
I was about to mention that fact. My noble Friend would give a Statutory Committee, but it would be a Committee of the London County Council. What does that mean? It means that the Statutory Committee could report or make recommendations to the London County Council, but could effect nothing themselves. The answer ''yes'' or "no" to their proposals would be given by the London County Council. In other words, the determination of every matter would lie with a body which would in no wise be representative of 1,250,000 of the people affected. I ask my noble Friend whether he can for one moment maintain that a proposition that a body shall have control over the interests of 1,250,000 of people who are to be without representation on that body, is a proposition in harmony with the principles of the Liberal Party? That, however, is not the view of the Government. They think that if there is to be a public body which is to control the 180 water supply of London and the surrounding areas, the water consumers and ratepayers interested shall have a voice in the matter—[Ministerial cheers]—and I am happy to think that we have had of late distinct proof that those on behalf of whom my noble Friend has in one sense a perfect right to speak share the views of the Government. The Transfer Bill, which was lately introduced in the House of Commons, proposed to give to the London County Council what my noble Friend has asked for it to-night—full control over the water supply of the areas outside London. Of the 63 Members for London, there were only seven, including the Tellers, who, when the Bill was submitted to the House of Commons, voted that the London County Council should have this arbitrary power. All the others may be taken as having voted for the alternative proposal of the Government, which is embodied in this Bill; and therefore I say that this Bill, which proposes to give some representation on the central board to the outside areas affected by the central board, is one that appeals to the sense of justice of the representatives of London. [''Hear, hear!"] My noble Friend also says: ''Look at the example of other great municipal towns." He says it has been established by example that all municipalities should take possession of its own water. I admit it; and if London was only claiming to take possession of her own water, this Bill would not have been introduced. The objection is not that London proposes to I take possession of its own water, but that it proposes to take water which belongs to outside areas. [Ministerial cheers.] I admit there are outside areas in connection with some of our great municipal communities in the provinces; but they are small in comparison with the governing central bodies. Can my noble Friend find me an instance of 1,250,000 water consumers governed by a body on which they are not represented? [Ministerial cheers.] If there is a central body of several hundreds of thousands of persons, and an outside area of a few thousands, you may well say that the outside area cannot form a governing body for itself, and that, as a matter of convenience, power over the outside area should be given to the central authority. But it is not a case of 181 that kind that we have to deal with. Here we have 1,250,000 people living in well-defined areas and willing to take upon themselves the burden of the government of their own water supplies; and we say it is well that some provision should be made for the representation on the central board of those outside areas, that their existence should not be ignored, and that their interests should not be placed entirely in the hands of the London County Council, a body on which they have no representation. It has been said by my noble Friend that those outside areas do not want the Bill. But why? Because they do not want to be in touch in any way with the London County Council. They object to any alliance with the London County Council, and they ask either that matters should be allowed to remain as they are—which I presume the House cannot agree to—[''hear, hear!'']—or to give them separate autonomous existence. For my part, if I could give these well-defined outside areas separate autonomous existence, I would do so. But it cannot be done. That is a matter of insuperable difficulty. If it can be shown that these outside areas can take their own water supply and have apportioned to them the water they ought to have, not only to-day but for their further wants, I will undertake to introduce a clause into this Bill giving them greater facilities than they possess, as the Bill is drawn, to make application to be discharged from the Water Trust. But at present it is impossible that we can let them go. Remember that these eight Water Companies are not each supplying a separate and distinct area. If they were we should have no difficulty in the matter. We could say to each area: ''Go and manage your own water supply." But we have to deal not only with different areas, but with different Water Companies. We cannot, by a clause of this Bill, dissect the water supply and apportion its share to each of the different bodies. There must be full consideration given to the rights of the different companies, and above all there must be full consideration given to the interests of the water consumers, not only as regards the supply they want to-day, but the supply they may require in the future. It is impossible to deal with those matters in a public Bill. I 182 say at once that if we thought we could we should have done so; but after the fullest consideration with those who are best able to advise us—and all Governments have, as is known, their advisers in these matters—we came to the conclusion that this is a matter for legislation in a private Bill after full inquiry into the different interests involved. Therefore, what the House has to-night to decide, is this one single issue—Shall the water supply be given over to the control of the County Council, or to the body composed of representatives of the London County Council and of the affected areas outside? Several matters of detail were referred to in the course of the Debate. Complaint has been made of the representation on the Water Trust of the Conservators of the Thames and the Conservators of the Lea. On the other hand, it is thought that the Conservators of the Thames, representing, as they do, great public interests, should be able to say how much water should be taken from the Thames. That is not a question for discussion on the. Motion for the Second Reading. On the question of the London County Council taking sole charge, I do not enter into the question of arbitration at all; it does not arise to-night, and I have heard little of it. I do not appreciate the statement that there has been a positive assertion on behalf of the Government as to what the basis of arbitration should be.
Our Transfer Bills in the House of Commons were absolutely negatived unless we would agree that the Lands Clauses should be put in; that was made an absolute sine quâ non by Mr. Chaplin and Mr. Chamberlain.
§ LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
What Arbitration Clauses should go in must be a question to be discussed afterwards. It is desired by all that the Water Companies should receive full and fair value for their property. I do not suggest that there is going to be an attempt at confiscation. There is nothing unmeritorious in the holding of this property; the most ardent municipalist will not say that in the provision and possession of a water supply there is anything disgraceful or that ought to be penalised. Let us find out what is the fair value, whatever may be the means 183 of arriving at it. I understand the Opposition are willing it should be arrived at; and that is the view of the Government. When we ask for a decision on the main issue I hope it will not be supposed that an attack is being made on the London County Council, or upon the majority of its members. Whatever may be the constitution of that majority, there is no one who will not feel that expression ought to be given to the fullest appreciation of the great labour brought to bear on public questions by the London County Council. But what is felt by people in the outside areas and by many of the residents in London, is that the London County Council has now more work to do than its members ought to be called upon, to discharge. The evidence given on the Transfer Bills of last year goes to show that there is no municipality which performs one-tenth of the work; and those who are interested in this question as consumers naturally ask—"Can the duties now performed by the eight boards of directors be as well performed by the London County Council?'' Recollect how the members are selected, in some instances I fear from political motives, and certainly not on account of their fitness to direct a great water supply. Their official existence may be terminated in three years, and they may be succeeded by new men having none of the experience that has been gained by their predecessors. To this body, untrained for this purpose, you are asked to hand over these multifarious duties now discharged by these eight boards of directors. I am not making any suggestion of general incompetence; but the House ought to pause before adding to the great burden of the duties now discharged by them. I am encouraged in urging this point by the acquiescence of the noble Earl opposite, than whom no one has had a more varied experience of public duty, and no one knows better the burden of the work of the London County Council. In making his annual address to the London County Council in May 1890, he said:—Then, there is another question of policy to mention, that of the division of labour between ourselves and districts. If the Council is going to undertake London wholesale and retail, I do not doubt that it can obtain for itself a very considerable increment both of powers and responsibilities, more especially of powers and 184 responsibilities which involve expenditure. I do not believe that is the duty of the Council; I do not believe that these are functions which our Council is adequately able to discharge. My recommendation on this head will be summed up in these words—Don't break the back of the Council; the back of the Council has quite enough to bear already. Numbers of our friends are coming with full hands to add daily to that burden, and I hope the Council will first test its strength of endurance under its present load before undertaking any of those smaller and more complicated duties which some of us seem so eager to insist upon.''["Hear, hear!"] If the noble Earl felt it his duty to urge that the back of the Council should not be broken by the assumption of smaller duties, how much more should he guard against its being broken by having placed upon it the duty of managing the affairs of eight water companies, and that without any experience of the business. I am hopeful that your Lordships will read the Bill a Second time. [Opposition laughter.] When it comes into Committee I hope the invitation I gave to noble Lords on the First Beading will be accepted, and that we shall set to work to see whether the Bill can be brought into a shape to meet their wishes consistently with carrying out our view, which is, standing apart from all contention, to endeavour to bring about an arrangement which shall be satisfactory to all parties. [Cheers.]
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
I quite agree with the expression of humble and sincere faith with which the noble Lord closed his speech—that it is not improbable your Lordships may give a Second Reading to this Bill. In view of the voting power behind the noble Lord and the Unionist Party, I believe that no arguments we may use would have the slightest effect on those impregnable ranks. [Laughter and cheers.] But that does not diminish our objections to the Bill. I was a little struck by the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy. A stranger coming into the House might have imagined not that the noble Lord was in charge of this Bill, but that he was objecting, "wholesale and retail," to quote one of my own expressions, to the Bill introduced by my noble Friend his predecessor in office. The noble and learned Lord has been arguing, not in defence of his own Bill, but against, as he imagined, the provisions of the Bill introduced by my noble Friend. He 185 said that the London County Council proposed, in defiance of all precedent, to take over an area very much larger than their own, and to rule it without representation from the outside. That is unintentional but a complete misrepresentation of the attitude of the London County Council. What the County Council proposed was this—that, like all other large towns, it should have the control of its own water supply: but with regard to the outside areas it was proposed to give them autonomy, if they demanded it, or, if they preferred it, full representation on the Statutory Committee they suggested. The noble Lord turned away from that suggestion with a dramatic gesture of disgust; but at the same time I think it was not an unfair proposition. As a matter of fact, the county of Surrey, of which we have had such ample and such contradictory representation to-night, was in perfect agreement with the London County Council in this matter. A good deal has been said about there being too much to do in the London County Council already. A quotation has been read from a speech of mine; and I should like to remind the noble Lord of the circumstances under which those remarks were uttered. My fear was that, while the County Council was still engaged in the work of organising itself, some of its too ardent members would endeavour to put upon it duties which, in my opinion, are rightly devolved upon the Vestries. It was to that, and to that alone that my argument was directed, as the noble Lord will see from the context. As I have always been a believer in the unity of London, the noble Lord cannot for a moment suppose that I should have objected to the London County Council undertaking for united London that control of water supply which is not deemed too much for any municipality in the country. There are other duties looming before the London County Council which they are not seeking for themselves, but which are to be imposed upon them by the Government—["hear, hear!"]—they are, if I understand the somewhat murky Bill which is before the other House, to control the education of London. It is possible those duties may break their 186 back—[''hear, hear!'']—but I have no apprehension of any such result from its control of the water question. What are to be the duties of the new board under which it is supposed the London County Council will break down? But the noble Lord introduced them in glowing terms in his speech in bringing in the Bill. He said, ''The powers we are going to intrust them with are great,'' and proceeded to say they were "to meet and deliberate." I could find nothing else in their powers. The noble Earl opposite has added to the powers of meeting and deliberation the power to support any village, Hampden who might take action against the Water Companies. But the really important duties which they might possess, and which are possessed by the Local Government Board at this moment, the Government have carefully abstained from handing over to them. I say, then, that your board, in reality has nothing to do, and if you are keeping the London County Council from the exercise of these functions for fear of overloading them in the discharge of their duties, you are deterred by a mere phantasm. But the next question that arises is: Who wants this board, and who wants your Bill? We had a meeting of the united counties yesterday. I think everybody except the London County Council itself and the City were adequately represented at that conference. The noble Lord, my neighbour in Surrey, who gave such a contradictory view of the county to that of the noble Lord who lives nearer Guildford, said it was not a legal body. No one said it was a legal body. But it was a body brought ad hoc for that very purpose from the very places you are proposing to control and affect, and I cannot conceive a more powerful or more representative body. You have heard more than once the resolution they came to. We can only judge from the facts. We are not in the confidence of the Government, and can only judge from the facts, which are that the counties unanimously repudiated the Bill, and declined to have anything to do with the Bill. The Chairman said, in tones of despondency, that they could not meet the Bill 187 of the Government with a non possumus; he should not be surprised if they met any Bills of the late Government with a non possumus; they consented to a compromise, and as a second resolution it was decided that any county would join the authority on condition that it had equal power to withdraw. That is something like the old Liberum veto of the old kingdom of Poland. I do not think it would have produced much harmony or power in the body. But it is a symptom of the feeling with which the outside areas, which the noble Lord says are afraid of being oppressed by the County Council, regard the Bill of the Government. No one wants your Bill. The County Council do not want it; outside councils do not want it; the City of London has not moved—because I did not understand that Lord Alden-ham, whom we were glad to hear for the first time, spoke on behalf of the City. I doubt whether he spoke on behalf of Hertfordshire. Does Hertfordshire want it? One would have thought that one of the three principal champions in opposition to the Bill would have been found in the present Cabinet. The Prime Minister must know that in Hertfordshire there was the strongest objection to being brought under the Bill.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
I am sure Hertfordshire does not wish to be brought under the London County Council.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
That is not the point. The noble Lord rather argued against the machinery of the Bill introduced by my noble Friend. Hertfordshire and Ware have a water authority of their own, and are perfectly satisfied with their own water supply, and do not wish to be brought into this unholy alliance. That fact, one would have thought, would have made the Prime Minister a champion against the Bill. The borough of Croydon was bitterly hostile to the Bill. I suppose the noble Marquess will say Croydon does not wish to be brought under the London 188 County Council. Last of all, there is a principal Secretary of State who, in a Report made not more than four or five years ago, condemned by anticipation the very proposal which he will be compelled to champion in the House of Commons. So I say, nobody wants your Bill. You do not want it yourselves. [Laughter.] If you wanted it yourselves you would give the powers you yourselves enjoy to the Local Government Board, powers of an extensive kind of testing the quality of London water, and which also enabled the Local Government Board to check and regulate the tariff and quality of the water supplied by those companies. Where does the interest of the consumer come in this Bill? You have everybody against you. But I am forgetting there is some one in your favour—the noble Viscount the former Secretary for the Colonies.
§ VISCOUNT KNUTSFORD
I said that as we were to be bought out I would prefer this Bill to the London County Council.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
I cannot procure for the Government the suffrage even of the noble Viscount. He takes a negative attitude. I do not believe a more wanton Bill than this was ever introduced. I do not believe there ever was a Bill which, in spite of the great majority of the Government, has less chance of passing into law than this Bill. The noble Lord who introduced it made an appeal to the effect that in the House of Commons the majority of the London Members were in its favour. I am aware that the majority of the London Members are in favour of anything proposed by the present Government. But the noble Lord forgot the fact that the Government of which he is a Member offered, on condition that the Lands Clauses Act were put in, to support this Bill themselves. So it cannot be said with regard to the popular suffrage in the House of Commons, that the noble Lord derives any great power from that.
§ LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
That was not quite the offer made. The noble Earl refers to the offer of Mr. Chamberlain.
§ LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
I thought the noble Earl was referring to something in the House. It was coupled with the condition that, if the Bill passed, and the Government Bill should pass too, the powers given under the Transfer Bill should be transferred to the Water Trust created by this Bill. That was the offer made by Mr. Chamberlain.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
What took place was that Mr. Chaplin informed the gentlemen with whom I generally act on the Council that he would not go into any negotiations whatever unless as a condition precedent the Lands Clauses Act were accepted as the basis of purchase.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
I am somewhat embarrassed by being made a party to a triangular duel. [Laughter.] My statement is not affected by what has just been said, because, subject to that condition, the Government were prepared to support the London County Council Bill. I should have been glad if, instead of devoting so much attention to the machinery of the Bill, my noble Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy had devoted more attention to his own. I want to know whether, with the enormous proportion of population and rating power which the London County Council possesses, they are only to have a majority of one on the Commission. That is a point to which he devoted insufficient attention. It is a principle not absent from the legislation of the present Government that payment and representation are to some extent to be divorced. I think the principle of representation and taxation has been most unaccountably neglected by the Government on this occasion. I think the people of London, whether their re- 190 presentatives vote with the Government or not in support of the Bill, have reason to complain that their interests are to be so completely passed over in the adjustment of that power. I do not know if that is one of the points which the Chancellor of the Duchy is willing to make an open one in Committee, but at any rate it is one that deserves his earnest attention, because without it his Bill is in some sense a reproach to that great area of London, and to that Council on which he has passed not unmerited eulogy. I do not know that there is much more to be said about this Bill, because, as a matter of fact, there is little in it, and the objections have been so fully stated by all the bodies affected that there is little for any objector to say. But there is one principle which I have already observed in the legislation of Conservative Governments—of constituting an apparently representative authority, and then, when it is constituted, running away from it and being afraid to give it any power. This is not a directly representative body. We do not admire its construction. But it is held up as a representative body, and, as in the case of the London County Council, the Government runs from it when they have constructed it. Why will the Government not trust their own County Council? Why, if willing to take 16 members from a hard-worked body and put them on a Statutory Committee, will they not open their mouth a little wider and give the power to the Statutory Committee recommended by the Council? Why is it they fail to give their water authority—which, if it affects the matter at all, will delay the settlement of the question—any powers? These are questions people are asking outside. I am well aware that they will not receive an extensive echo or cordial reception in this House, but they are questions the Government will have to face, if really anxious—as they say they are—to settle this question on a permanent and satisfactory basis. [Cheers.] 191 On the Question whether "now" shall stand part of the Motion, the House divided:—
CONTENTS … … 96 NOT-CONTENTS … … 27
|Halsbury, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Chelmsford, L.|
|Cross, V. (L. Privy Seal.)||Churchill, L.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Congleton, L.|
|Grafton, D.||De Mauley, L.|
|Leeds, D.||De Ramsey, L.|
|Portland, D.||Digby, L.|
|Richmond, D.||Egerton, L.|
|Rutland, D.||Esther, L.|
|Westminster, D.||Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)|
|Abercorn, E. (D. Abercorn.)||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)|
|Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.) [Teller.]|
|Bristol, M.||Hampton, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Harlech, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Harris, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery. (L. Steward.)||Hillingdon, L.|
|Hopetoun, L. (E. Hopetoun.)|
|Lathom, E. (L. Chamberlain.)||James, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and MountEarl.)|
|Carnwath, E.||Ker, L. (M. Lothian.)|
|Clarendon, E.||Lawrence, L.|
|Coventry, E.||Leconfield, L.|
|Denbigh, E.||Loch, L.|
|Dudley, E.||Monteagle of Brandon, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Morris, L.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Newton, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||North, L.|
|Morley, E.||Norton, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Saint Germans, E.||Rathmore, L.|
|Selborne, E.||Rookwood, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Rothschild, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Saltoun, L.|
|Saye and Sele, L.|
|Waldegrave, E. (Teller.)||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Halifax, V.||Sinclair, L.|
|Hood, V.||Stanmore, L.|
|Llandaff, V.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Sidmouth, V.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Addington, L.||Sudeley, L. (E. Arran.)|
|Aldenham, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Balfour, L.||Wantage, L.|
|Belper, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||Zouch of Haryngworth, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Herschell, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Hobhouse, L.|
|Chesterfield, E. [Teller.]||Kensington, L. [Teller.]|
|Crewe, E.||Leigh, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Monkswell, L.|
|Russell, E.||Overtoun, L.|
|Strafford, E.||Reay, L.|
|Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)|
|Russell of Killowen, L.|
|Acton, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)||Thring, L.|
|Burghclere, L.||Wandsworth, L.|
|Coleridge, L.||Welby, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative. Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.