HL Deb 18 May 1896 vol 40 cc1521-3

(1.) The expenses of and incidental to the exercise by the Water Board of their powers and duties under this Act shall he defrayed by the councils of the metropolitan counties in proportion to the total annual value of the parishes in each county situate within the metropolitan water area, and supplied wholly or partly with water by any of the metropolitan water companies, but any parish which is not so situate or so supplied shall be exempt from contribution towards those expenses.

(2.) For the purposes of this section, "annual value" shall mean the value as determined for the purpose of the county rate, or in the case of a county borough, for the purposes of the borough rate.


said, that as the Bill now stood there was a certain amount of injustice inflicted upon several districts in Hertfordshire, of whose county council he was chairman. In that county there were many parishes in which two or three or sometimes 10 of the houses were supplied with water by the metropolitan companies, but in which the great bulk of the inhabitants derived their water from local companies, or from other sources. According to the Bill the inhabitants of all those parishes would be rated in order to pay the expenses of the new Water Trust. In Stanstead, for instance, with 140 inhabitants, only two houses were supplied with water by the London water companies. Again, in Broxbourne, with 780 inhabitants, only 20 houses were supplied by the London water companies. In the town of Cheshunt, only 34 houses, representing about 200 people out of 9,600, were supplied with water by the London companies, and yet if the Bill were passed, the whole town would be rated for the expenses of the Board. Again, in Great Amwell, with 2,000 inhabitants, only 23 houses were supplied by the London water companies. The Bill therefore, as it stood, would be a manifest injustice to the general body of the ratepayers of those towns and villages in Hertfordshire, and he was sure the noble and learned Lord would apply a remedy if he could. What he would suggest was, that the inhabitants should not have to pay rates to the Board unless one-half of the houses were supplied with water by one of the eight metropolitan companies. If one-half should be thought too high a proportion, he was willing to say one-third or any number or proportion that might be thought fair. It had been suggested that it was not easy to arrive at the exact quantity of water used in a parish; but he had no objection that, if a parish wished to be exempt, the onus of proof of the quantity used should be thrown upon it. Perhaps no arrangement was possible that would be entirely free from small injustice; but even if a few persons who ought to pay escaped, that would be a less evil than the injustice that would be perpetrated by the Bill as it stood. He hoped the noble and learned Lord would see his way to meet the cases which he could do without in any way interfering with the principle of the Bill. His Lordship moved to leave out all the words after "or partly with water" and to insert instead thereof:— Provided that no parish shall be liable to contribute towards such expenses unless at least one-half of the houses in such parish are supplied by some or one of the metropolitan water companies.


said, the noble Lord had called attention to what he admitted was a practical grievance. He might explain to their Lordships that, as soon as the Trust was formed, Bills would probably be promoted, the cost of which would be small compared with the rateable value of the Metropolis, and involving a charge of something less than a farthing in the pound. Still, even a small charge might be objected to on principle if it was not strictly just. He quite accepted the view that, if this could be avoided, it ought to be avoided. In many cases water companies had power to supply a whole parish, even although they supplied only a part of it, and in these cases the whole parish was interested. Then there was no means of rating half a parish. The question was one of great difficulty, but he would do his best to try and find a remedy.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn; Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 6,—