HL Deb 18 May 1896 vol 40 cc1524-31

(1.) The Members of the Water Board shall be appointed at such times, and in such manner, and shall hold office for such time as may be fixed by the Council or other authority appointing them: Provided that—

  1. (a.) One-third, as nearly as may be, of the Members appointed by the London County Council shall retire in every year.
  2. (b.) The Members appointed by any other council shall not continue in office for more than three months after the next triennial election of councillors of that council, or in the case of a county borough or of the City of London, or of any other authority for more than three years.
  3. (c.) A retiring Member may be re-appointed.
  4. (d.) The County Councillors elected for the City of London shall not vote in the appointment of Members by the London County Council.

(2.) A Member of the Water Board need not be a Member of the Council or other authority by whom he is appointed.

(3.) A person interested otherwise than as ratepayer or consumer of water in any metropolitan water company shall not be qualified to be a Member of the Water Board.

(4.) The Water Board shall, with respect to their proceedings and quorum, the appointment and powers of a Chairman, the appointment, powers and proceedings of committees, the provision of an office, and the appointment of officers for the execution of the duties of the Board, be in the same position as if they were a County Council.

(5.) The accounts of the Water Board and their officers shall, for the purpose of the enactments relating to the audit of accounts of County Councils, be deemed to be accounts of a County Council and their officers.

*VISCOUNT KNUTSFORD moved an Amendment to provide that members should hold office for such time "not exceeding three years," as might be fixed by the council or other authority. Without this Amendment some members might remain on the Board for a considerable number of years, for, as the clause stood, there was no provision for retirement by rotation. Some such provision should be made, and he would refer the noble Lord to the provision made for retirement of Aldermen by (51 & 52 Viet., c. 41, s. 104). He ventured to suggest that as regards all County Councils their representatives on the Water Board should be elected for three years and they all retire together, being, however, eligible for re-election.


said, no member of a county council could remain a member more than three years without being re-elected; but the effect of the Amendment would be to say that an outside expert, who had been chosen as such, having served for three years should serve no longer even if re-elected.


said, his object was simply to secure that no one should be appointed for longer than three years; and it was subsequently provided that a retiring member may be re-appointed.


said, the Bill provided that one-third, as nearly as may be, of the members of the London County Council should retire every year, and at the end of the third year all would have retired. In other cases, too, the term of service was practically limited to three years. It was suggested that no one should be in office more than three years. His noble Friend asked why, if some one were elected from outside these bodies—an expert—should he be unable to serve more than three years. If the expert was a good man, why should he not serve more than three years?


said, he could not serve more than three years under the Bill, so he would have the same treatment both under the Amendment and the Bill. Arrangements might be made by which he might continue to serve even after the three years.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


in moving the next Amendment said, the Bill proposed that the London County Council should appoint 16 representatives on the Water Trust. Whether the majority of the Council was Progressive or Moderate, he did not think it ought to be able to appoint the whole of the 16 members. It was tolerably certain what the majority of the Council would do. As far as he could judge from proceedings of the London County Council, no mercy was shewn to the minority. To secure that the minority should have some share in the election of these representatives on the Water Board, he moved at the end of sub-section (a) after the word "year" to insert— and on the occasion of the voting (if any) for the appointment of the first sixteen members to be appointed by that council, no member of such council shall vote for more than ten of the members then to be appointed, and on the occasion of the voting (if any) for any subsequent appointment of members to be appointed by that council, no member of such council shall vote for more than four members then to be appointed


said, this Amendment, which involved an important change in the structure of the Bill, was only in his hands on the previous day, though the Bill was read a First time on 16th March and a Second time on 30th April. Minority representation had often been suggested in various bodies from Parliament downwards, but he did not think it had ever met with any considerable favour at the hands of Parliament. The London County Council might elect all the Members of the Board of the same politics as the majority, but at present the Chairman and Vice Chairman were members of the majority in the Council, but the Deputy Chairman was a member of the minority. All the more contentious committees consisted of 15 members, eight of whom represented the majority and seven the minority. Therefore, the noble Lord would probably find his fears were not justified. Of course a change might take place and the party now in a minority in the Council might find itself in a majority, and he could understand his noble Friend wishing to take precautions against the Water Trust being packed by the Unionist Party on the Council. But he asked for time to consider the matter further, and begged his noble Friend to withdraw the Amendment for the present.


said that he had been, anxious on the Second Reading of the Bill to point out some details in which he thought Amendments might be made, but he had been unable to do so. At the request of his noble Friend he would withdraw this Amendment for the present. Much consideration had been given outside to the question of minority representation, and perhaps it was as well that the London County Council should consider the matter too. He would only observe that this case differed from those referred to by the noble Lord, as this was an election for an outside Board, not for committees of the Council itself.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

*LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD moved the insertion of two new clauses after Clause 7. He said, these new clauses were prepared in pursuance of a promise made on the Second Reading, and he wished to briefly explain their object. To understand the clauses it was necessary to read the objects and motives of the Bill. It was not an attempt to give one great body a centralising power. The object of calling this Water Trust into existence was that it was the best mode in the view of the Government of effecting an end. There was opposition to the London County Council Transfer Bill, because it was sought to give the Council alone the power of dealing with its own water and that of the outside areas, and it was thought this would create such an enormous municipality for water purposes that the interests of the consumer would not be properly attended to. The Government were anxious now to act on that view, not merely to the extent of opposing the London County Council proposal, but to carry into effect what they believed would be the proper treatment of the water supply. The view of the Government was that the Trust representing different communities would be able to come to agreements among themselves, and also it was hoped with the Water Companies. As soon, as this was done it would be absolutely necessary legislation should be obtained to give sanction to those arrangements, and give rating powers to the newly-created bodies, which, hitherto, had not had any power over water. So it would be the duty of the Water Trust to be a kind of clearing-house which would start the supply of water with the hope, at least, that the different responsible governing bodies of the different communities would have the power of managing their own water supply on behalf of their own communities. With that object, and having heard what the different representatives of these communities wished—and they had expressed their views in moderate, practical language—he had done his best to see what the intention of the Legislature was at the present time, and he had drawn a preamble to the clause stating this, which preamble he would move at a subsequent stage of the Bill. The first of the proposed new clauses was as follows:— The Council of any metropolitan county may promote a Bill in Parliament for the purpose of providing or controlling (whether by virtue of any agreement with the Water Board or otherwise) a water supply for their county or any part thereof, and any such Bill may provide for the withdrawal of the representatives of such Council from the Water Board, and for making any consequential alteration in the metropolitan water area and in the provisions of this Act. He had explained the object of the first part of the clause. The second part was necessary, for this reason: This was a public Bill creating a statutory body, and although it might be legal for private Bill legislation to repeal this so far as to alter the constitution of a public body, yet it was inconvenient, and perhaps unconstitutional, that a body created by a public Act should be done away with or altered in its power by private legislation. Therefore, it had been decided that such power should be given, so that a county, having obtained power to manage its own water, could withdraw from the Board through the agency of private Bill legislation. He hoped this would show the intention of Parliament in placing the Measure on the Statute Book. The hope of the Government was that each responsible community would be able to take charge of its water supplies. The second new clause was framed with the object of giving further facilities to any of the outside ones to leave the Trust. The Water Trust might promote a Bill to acquire the undertaking of the Metropolitan Water Companies or procure a further supply of water to any part of the Metropolitan area. In such case the Council of any Metropolitan county might say, "We object to this. We do not want to be saddled with this great taxation, for we have a water supply from our own wells or river. We wish to withdraw from the Water Trust and get rid of that obligation." But they would not be allowed to withdraw unless it was satisfactorily shown that those they represented were supplied with sufficient water. The justice and equity of withdrawing would be determined before permission to withdraw was given, but county authorities would have the opportunity of being relieved of burdens from which they received no benefit. He proposed to insert these two new clauses with a view to aid each community to obtain its own independent and autonomous life, so that it should not be joined with other communities with which it had no interests in common. There was another clause based on the principle that those who received the benefit should bear the expense. He begged to move the first of the now clauses as given above.

Amendment agreed to.

*LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD moved the second of the new clauses to which he had referred, as follows:—

  1. (1.) In the event of the Water Board promoting any Bill in Parliament for the purpose of acquiring or controlling the undertaking of any metropolitan water company, or of procuring a fresh supply of water to any part of the metropolitan water area, the council of any metropolitan county may apply to Parliament for the insertion in such Bill of provisions enabling that council to withdraw their representatives from the Water Board, and to acquire such portion of any undertaking proposed to be acquired under the Bill as is situate in their county, and may reasonably be considered to be exclusively required for the part of the county which was previously supplied by the undertaking, and for making any consequential alterations of this Act.
  2. (2.) A parish in a metropolitan county, but outside the metropolitan water area, shall, until otherwise provided by Parliament, be exempt from contributing to the expenses incurred by the council of such county in promoting, or opposing, or applying for the insertion of provisions in any Bill above-mentioned which does not affect such parish.

*EARL STANHOPE moved after the word "Act' at the end of sub-section (1) of the proposed new clause, to insert:— Provided that, with regard to the county of Kent, the County Council of that county shall have a right of pre-emption of such portion of the undertakings of the metropolitan water companies supplying water within the county of Kent, including the sources of supply. He explained that he wished to give power to the district of West Kent to retain the water supply which it at present enjoyed. The Amendment moved by the noble Lord in charge of the Bill went a long way in the direction which he desired, but the inhabitants of West Kent, part of which was 20 miles from the Metropolis, still thought that it would be hard and inequitable if the streams and wells which supplied that district should be exhausted for the benefit of London. They wished, therefore, to have a right of preemption in case it should be proposed to exercise the powers conferred by the Bill in their district.


said, that whilst the Government appreciated fully the special qualities of the county of Kent, they could not consent to treat it with exceptional favour.

Proposed Amendment to the Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord James of Hereford's proposed new Clause agreed to.

*VISCOUNT KNUTSFORD moved to insert after Clause 7, the following clause:— The London Water Act 1892 is hereby repealed. He explained that under the Act of 1892 power was given to the London County Council to incur the expense of promoting Bills relating to the water supply of the administrative county of London, and of undertaking inquiries incidental thereto. Now that the Government had decided that the London County Council was not the proper body to manage the business connected with the water supply in the metropolitan area, and that that business should be managed by a special Water Board, it was evident that the County Council ought no longer to retain the right of expenditure conferred upon it by the Act of 1892. If the Council were to retain the right of promoting Water Bills, their action might not always meet with the concurrence of the Water Board. For example, the County Council might promote a Bill for supply from Wales, while the Water Board might think that no outside supply was necessary, or that it had better be made from Cumberland. Needless expense would be incurred, which the unfortunate ratepayers would have to make good. He maintained, therefore, that the Act of 1892, which vested these spending powers in the London County Council, ought to be repealed, and that the powers ought to be vested in the new Water Board only.


said that if this Bill passed, the London County Council would practically be unable to exercise the rights conferred by the Act of 1892. The question raised by the noble Viscount was a purely technical one. It was best, he thought, to leave the existing statement respecting these powers as it stood upon the Statute-book, and merely to transfer the powers from the Council to the new body. There was also a formal difficulty in the way of the acceptance of the noble Viscount's Amendment. The Act of 1892 was a private and not a public Act, and he was informed that when it was intended to repeal a private Act, notice ought to be given, under the Rules of the House, to the bodies exercising powers under the Act. In the present case no such notice had been given, and unless they were prepared to disregard the Rules of the House, they could not take the course proposed by his hon. Friend.


said, that in the circumstances he would withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8,—