§ Commons Amendments and reasons for disagreeing to several of the Lords Amendments considered (according to Order).
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
My Lords, I beg to move that this House do not insist upon the first Amendment of the Commons, striking out the extension of the city limits so as to include the townships of Rathmines and Rathgar, Pembroke, Drumcondra, Clonliffe and Glasnevin and Clontarf. I am afraid it will be considered that I have a somewhat uphill task to induce your Lordships' House, at this time of the session, and as at present composed, to go back on a decision of a Committee of this House; but I enter on the task with a light heart, having com- 1210 plete confidence in the strength of the case I have to put before your Lordships, and being certain that I shall gain my case, even though it be that somewhat tasteless fruit—a moral victory. It is true that I am asking you to overthrow a decision of a Committee of your Lordships' House, presided over by a Peer of such great knowledge and influence as the Duke of Northumberland. I know that both Houses of Parliament are exceedingly loth to set aside decisions of Committees, and rightly so, but, at the same time, an occasion does occur sometimes when the decisions arrived at by Committees are set aside by the later decisions of this or the other House of Parliament. I will call your Lordships' attention to a case which occurred this session—the case of a Committee presided over by my noble friend Lord Ribblesdale. That Committee inserted in the London Water Companies Bill a Sinking Fund Clause, which had in its favour the whole weight of recent Parliamentary precedent, but which, nevertheless, in the exercise of your judgment, your Lordships decided to throw out. There was a great difference between the position in the case of that Committee and the present position, for in throwing over the decision of Lord Ribblesdale's Committee your Lordships had the support of the action of the House of Commons, who, both in Committee and in the full House, declined to insert a Sinking Fund Clause in that Bill. Moreover, you also had the support of the deliberate judgment of the Executive Government of the day, who expressed the opinion that the Sinking Fund Clause should not be inserted in that Bill. The conditions of the present case are different. You are now flying in the face of the repeated decisions of the House of Commons. When this Bill went before that House, in the first instance, there was no opposition raised to it, not even on the Second Reading, at which stage any opposition, if it existed, would have been raised. The Bill went to a Committee of that House, where it was carefully examined, and it passed through the ordeal of an examination which extended over seventeen days. When it went back to the House of Commons the exceptional course was taken of opposing it on the Third Reading, and, in a large House of 424 Members, there was a majority of 160 in favour of the Bill, the numbers being 291 1211 for, and 129 against. The Bill then came to this House, and was not opposed on the Second Reading. It went to a Committee, and the most important part of the Bill was excised in that Committee. The Bill went back in that form to the House of Commons, and the House of Commons, by an enormous majority, affirmed its original decision, and decided that the proposals of the Bill, as presented to your Lordships in the first instance, were desirable and expedient. In the second Division, which took place on Tuesday last, there was, in a House of 216, a majority of 108, the figures in the Division Lobbies being 160 for, and 52 against. As I have already said, your action had the support in the case of Lord Ribblesdale's Committee of the Government of the day. On this occasion, the Government of the day remained neutral. It seems to me that their neutrality, as displayed in the House of Commons, was a very favourable and a very friendly one, for when I examine the Division List in the other House, I find that there voted in the majority 15 members of the Government, including two Cabinet Ministers, whilst in the minority there voted one Irish Anti-Nationalist Member, and four of the Whips. That is the extent to which the Government was represented against this Bill in the House of Commons on Tuesday last. So much for the recent Parliamentary history of the Bill. Let me now come to the proposals of the Bill itself. In the year 1840 the boundaries of the City of Dublin were settled. Since that day there has been no extension of those boundaries; but, curiously enough, by the settlement of 1840 two of these townships which it is now desired to include within the city boundaries were cut out of it. I refer to the townships of Pembroke and Clontarf. So matters went on till the year 1879, when a Boundary Commission was appointed, which went closely and carefully into the whole circumstances of the boundaries of the City of Dublin, and the possibility of adding to the extent of the city's domains. That Commission reported, and this Bill follows exactly the lines of the Report of that Commission; it is upon that Report that its provisions are founded. The City of Dublin is a very densely-populated district. It has but a small area—3,800 acres—and its population is as high as 64 per acre. This congestion of the City of 1212 Dublin has served to encourage the migration from within the city boundaries of the richer and more well-to-do inhabitants, who have gone into the suburbs. Around the City of Dublin have grown up a series of townships in which the professional and better-to-do inhabitants of Dublin dwell, but they are essentially wrapped up in the interests of the City of Dublin. The inhabitants of those townships make their money from operations within the boundary of the city, and what this Bill desires is to bring the townships within the general government of the city, and to make the city and the townships one municipality, enjoying the benefit of one form of municipal government. That is very desirable, if on sanitary grounds alone. I cannot refrain from quoting a summary of some of the evidence which was given on that point before the Committee in the other House by men of the highest authority—such as Sir Francis McCabe and Mr. T. W. Russell. Sir Francis McCabe was from 1878 to 1888 the Inspector of the Dublin District under the Local Government Board of Ireland. From 1888 to 1898 he was the Medical Commissioner of the Local Government Board of Ireland. The summary of his evidence may be given thus: He said the sanitary staff of Dublin is one of the most efficient in the United Kingdom, that the maintenance of separate sanitary staffs for the five separate townships was both extravagant and inefficient, that three out of the five townships had not even adopted the Notification of Infectious Diseases Act; and, lastly, he said he had no hesitation in affirming that it was impossible for the sanitary condition, and, therefore, for the health of Greater Dublin, to be made what it ought to be unless the whole district was merged into one, and placed under the supervision of the medical officer of health for Dublin, so as to secure one uniform system of sanitary supervision for the whole district. These words, coming from such an authority, ought to have great weight with your Lordships. Mr. T. W. Russell, a member of the present Government and a gentleman whose political opinions do not agree with my own, has given very important evidence on this point. Mr. Russell is now Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, and has especially to take charge of matters of health and of local government. His 1213 reasons for an extension of the boundary were, first, that the interests of the city and townships are common interests; secondly, that the present condition under which the rich go out of the city and leave the poor to bear the burdens is essentially unjust to the city; thirdly, that the rate of mortality in the city is excessive; fourthly, that the disposal of the sewage is a scandal; and, fifthly, that the maintenance of several sanitary staffs leads to inefficient and extravagant expenditure. In contiguous districts, which practically form separate towns, it is desirable that you should have your work done in as simple and as efficient a manner as possible, and that you should give the various officers enough work to occupy their time, so that they may really earn the money they cost the ratepayers. That does not apply merely to sanitary matters. There are many subjects which can only be effectually dealt with in the case of towns and cities adjoining one another by a single service. Take such questions as the water supply, the fire brigade, and many other local duties that have to be performed by municipalities for the benefit of the community. It is desirable to cover as much ground as possible by these services. Then there is a further point, and it is this—that, owing to these richer townships growing up round the City of Dublin, the Corporation of the City have found very great difficulty in getting land in these townships to relieve the congested districts. The land in the townships has been taken by speculative builders, who have laid themselves out to build for the richer and middle-classes, and one of whose objects is to exclude houses for the poorer classes. This is the state of affairs in Dublin, and it was to remedy this state of affairs that the Corporation moved in the direction of this Bill. It is always rather difficult to meet arguments before they are made, but I take it that there are three principal arguments which will be used against this Bill. The first is that the proposals under this Bill are against precedent; the second is, that they inflict financial harm and grievance on the townships; and the third is, that they inflict unfair political disabilities on the townships also. I will, endeavour, my Lords, very briefly to deal with these points. As to the matter of precedent, I cannot at all admit that the proposal under this Bill is against pre- 1214 cedent or against custom. You find, throughout England and Scotland, that the great cities have extended their boundaries. It is said, on behalf of the opponents of this Bill, "That may be true enough, but when they have extended their boundaries they have done so with the consent of the districts to be included, and not against their wish." That is not my experience, and it is not my reading of the proceedings which have taken place in this and the other House with reference to schemes for the extension of municipalities. I think you will find it almost an invariable fact that the new areas which were to be merged in the older and bigger ones have always protested. They always prefer to be kings in their own little kingdoms, rather than to find themselves swamped in larger and bigger areas. It has been the same thing with regard to Parliamentary areas. I think I can give the noble Duke a case in a district which he knows, and which I know very well. Prior to 1885 the town of Berwick-on-Tweed had two members, and it was a borough of exceptional interest and exceptional position. It was decided that the borough should lose its two members, and be merged into the north division of Northumberland. The voters of Berwick-on-Tweed protested, but it was for the benefit of the district and for the country at large that such an amalgamation should take place, and it was carried out. It is exactly the same thing with regard to the merging of contiguous areas. I think, if your Lordships will study the history of the proceedings in connection with the extension of municipalities either in England or in Scotland you will find that in almost every case the municipality has got its way, and has swallowed up the smaller townships which have been close to it, and dependent upon it. Take, for instance, the case of Glasgow. There you have had successive extensions. One district of Glasgow was for a long time successful in standing out against the Corporation, but it had to give way in the end, and the Glasgow Corporation now covers by far the greater part of the inhabited districts which surround it, to the benefit both of those districts and itself. An argument has been adduced against this Bill from the case of London. Well, I think London may be quoted essentially in favour of this Bill. The 1215 boundaries of the City of London have not been extended, but I maintain that to the fact that the city boundaries have not from time to time been extended so as to include the whole of the metropolis is due to a great many of our difficulties in regard to London government. That became the opinion of Parliament itself: for what did it do? In 1855 it determined to establish the Metropolitan Board of Works, which was to perform certain duties on behalf of London as a whole; and later on the London County Council was formed. It has been recognised that it is necessary that certain duties which are performed for these great crowded areas must be performed by one central authority for the whole area, and that principle has been given effect to again and again. There is the case of the London Government Bill of the present session. In that Bill you included in one area the City of Westminster and a number of great local governing areas. The Strand, St. James's, St. George's, and St. Martin's were included, and every one of these separate local areas protested strongly against their inclusion. They protested that they had a history of their own, that they were carrying on their work of local government in an excellent manner, but Parliament decided that it was desirable they should be included within the new borough of Westminster. This, I think, affords an admirable precedent for the inclusion of these townships in the area of the City of Dublin. Then I come to the question of finance. It is said that it will be hard on these townships to compel them to bear their share of the responsibility of the debt which now lies on the Corporation of the City of Dublin. It seems to me, on the other hand, that the proposals in this matter are extremely fair. The valuation of the City of Dublin at this moment is£720,000. The debt is about£1,600,000. The Corporation of the City of Dublin have an income from other sources than the rates amounting to£80,000. Their population is between 245,000 and 250,000. Take now the case of the townships. Their valuation is£313,000, their debt£450,000, and their population 85,000. If you take the proportion between the population of the townships and the proportion between the debt of the townships, and that of the population and the debt of the City of Dublin, you 1216 will find that they work out almost exactly the same. There are£450,000 of debt in the one case to £1,600,000 of debt in the other, and 85,000 population in the one case to 250,000 population in the other, and I think the townships will have somewhat the best of it, because by being merged they will get the benefit of the property in the hands of the Corporation, which, as I have already said, amounts to something like£80,000 a year. Therefore I cannot admit that in the matter of the taking over of debt there is any hardship to the townships. On the other hand, they will get the best of the bargain. At this moment the total rate in the City of Dublin is 9s. 4d. in the£,but the municipal rate, which alone can be properly compared with the rate in the townships, is 6s. 4d. in the£. I find that in the townships the rate runs from 3s. 6d. to 4s. 10d. in the£, an average of something like 4s. in the£; but it is a well-known fact, and it is provided for in this Bill, that at this moment the valuation of the City of Dublin is exceedingly low. The Commissioner, Mr. Barton, said that if a revaluation occurred—as it will occur under this Bill—the increase will be 25 per cent., whereas the increase in the valuation of the townships will not amount to more than 10 per cent. Taking the increase in the city as only equal to 20 per cent., and that in the townships to 10 per cent., the average rate would be 5s. 2d. in the city and about 4s. 1d. in the townships, or 1s. 1d. in the £ above that of the townships. I think that it is only fair that there should be a certain increase in the rate to be borne by the townships, because at the present moment they are getting the advantage of several municipal institutions without paying for them. They are getting the advantage of the fire brigade service, they are getting the advantage of technical schools, and they are also getting the advantage of the hospitals, owing to their proximity to the City of Dublin, without paying for them, or, at any rate, without paying their proper share. But so anxious were the promoters of this Bill that there should be no hardship imposed in this matter of rates on the townships that it has been provided in the Bill that there shall be no increase in the rate levied in the townships for ten years from the passing of this Bill. That surely is a sufficient safeguard, and one which should, in conjunction with 1217 what I have already said, relieve your Lordships from any apprehension that in the matter of rating you are going to inflict any injury on the inhabitants of the townships. I come now to the political aspect of the question. That was very frankly stated in the House of Commons by Mr. Carson and Colonel Saunderson. They said:We do not like the Corporation of the City of Dublin because it is Nationalist, while we in the townships are Unionists. We do not like the idea of our affairs being dealt with by this Nationalist body.It certainly does seem to me that this is a funny argument to raise in the case of Irish affairs. We all know that the political feeling in Ireland, with the exception of one corner in the north-west, is overwhelmingly Nationalist. This is instanced in the House of Commons by the enormous number of Nationalist Members who are returned, and who will continue to be returned to represent Irish constituencies in that House. You have to deal with the fact that a very large proportion of the inhabitants hold Nationalist views, and I always understood that it was the view of the Party opposite that their only safe course was to disregard that fact, and give the Irish people exactly the same privileges as are given to the inhabitants of England and Scotland, without regard to their political opinions. As I understand, the fear is that the Unionist views of the townships will be swamped in the new corporation as proposed under the Bill. It is proposed in the Bill to add twenty-eight members to the Corporation, to make the number eighty-eight instead of sixty, and under that arrangement Pembroke will have eight members, Rathmines eight members, and Clontarf four members. The promoters of this Bill are most anxious to meet the views of their Unionist neighbours as fully and frankly as possible, and I am prepared to say, on behalf of the promoters, that they are willing to agree to any reasonable increase in the number of representatives that should be sent to the Dublin Corporation from the townships. I propose, and I have the authority of the promoters in so doing, to say that they are willing to increase the number of representatives in the case of Pembroke and Rathmines from eight in each case to twelve, and in the case of 1218 Clontarf from four to eight; that is to say, to add twelve more to the representatives of the townships. That will bring the total number of the representatives of the townships up to thirty-two, out of a total on the Corporation of 100. If the townships in the newly-added portions of the municipality are to have one-third of the whole number of the representatives on the Council, surely they may feel pretty confident that they will be able to maintain their own views, and secure that justice should be done to the districts they represent. I should have thought it would have proved an attraction to the Unionists of the townships to think that by so entering into the local government of their metropolis they would be able to have a great influence in leavening the Corporation and bringing it into harmony with their views. I can assure your Lordships that there is no intention on behalf of the promoters of this Bill to tyrannise politically over the districts proposed to be brought within the purview of the Corporation, and I hope your Lordships' Amendment will not be insisted upon. I think I have stated the principal points in support of this Bill. They are capable of considerable extension, and in the interests of good municipal government and of fair and equal treatment to the inhabitants of Ireland I appeal to your Lordships to agree to the Commons Amendment.
§ Moved, "That this House do not insist upon the first Amendment, to which the Commons have disagreed."—(The Lord Tweedmouth.)
THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND
My Lords, I am afraid it falls to my lot, as I had the honour of being Chairman of the Select Committee which considered this Bill, to reply to the noble Lord opposite. At the outset I feel compelled to say that it is rather an unfortunate circumstance that the duty of moving that the Commons Amendment should be agreed to should have been imposed upon an ex-Cabinet Minister sitting upon the Front Opposition Bench, for it has been the object of the Committee, and of almost everyone who appeared before them, to keep 1219 political considerations out of the question. I should have thought that someone less connected with Party questions could have been found to undertake the duty. Noble Lords must have been struck with the pleasure which the noble Lord derived, at the conclusion of his speech, from dwelling on the political side of the question. He offers increased representation to these townships in order that they may not be politically swamped. If your Lordships will condescend to take my advice, you will not increase the representation of these townships. The proposal to increase the representation of the townships has been considered by the Committee, not upon political grounds, for we were not dealing with a political question, but in the light simply of the population and rateable value of the townships, and we came to the conclusion, on the basis mentioned, that the townships have been generously dealt with, and that an increase in their representation would be unjustifiable. There is another objection to the noble Lord assuming this duty. He has no knowledge of the subject with which he deals, and he has been, if I may be allowed to say so, uncommonly badly coached. He told your Lordships that it was the usual thing to divide in the House of Commons on the Second Reading of a Private Bill. I venture to say that that is a very unusual course, and one which is seldom resorted to. When the noble Lord came to deal with this Bill he made a most amazing statement. He told us that the Bill was drawn upon the lines of the Report of the Boundary Commission of 1879. I can only give him a direct contradiction. I will not weary your Lordships by going into this point, but the Bill differs considerably from the proposals of the Commission. The noble Lord said the interests of these townships were inseparably mixed up with the Council of the City of Dublin; but we came to the conclusion that this was not proved. I am prepared to challenge any noble Lord to show that the interests of these townships are inseparably connected with the City of Dublin. The noble Lord said they benefited by the hospitals. That is true, but they contribute rather more liberally to their support than does the City of Dublin. With regard to the fire brigade service, the City of Dublin can charge what it likes for that service. I 1220 cannot ask your Lordships to follow me through the evidence taken before the House of Commons Committee, which lasted seventeen days, and through the evidence which was taken before your Lordships' Committee, which lasted fourteen days. I would rather put the question generally before you, and there is one point which I should specially urge before I go any further. It is the question of precedent. The noble Lord tried to quote some precedents for the inclusion in the city of authorities on the outskirts. I think, without conceit, I may say that I know something about this question, because we had two of the most eminent Parliamentary counsel who practise before your Lordships' Committees dealing with these precedents for the greater part of a whole day, and I think that on either side they brought up every possible precedent they could. I admit that they did not bring up some of the precedents which the noble Lord has quoted. But the noble Lord is apparently unaware that the proposals of this Bill do not touch the political representation or the Parliamentary representation at all. He actually quoted Berwick-on-Tweed having lost its two Members, as if that had anything whatever to do with this question, or was in any way a precedent of a local authority absorbing another local authority for purely local purposes. The noble Lord also quoted the City of London. I trust, my Lords, that the noble Lord, who is one of the Party who believe in the unification of London, intends to absorb the surrounding authorities of the City of London and make the Lord Mayor the head, not only of the Corporation of the City, but also of the vestries which are shortly to become borough councils. I have never heard that that was the idea they had in view in the unification of London. If London is a parallel case, it proves exactly the reverse of what the noble Lord contended. You have left the City exactly within its own boundaries, and you have erected around it authorities which will be much more on an equality with the City than the present bodies. That action is the reverse to what is proposed in this Bill. I should like to take your Lordships through what I think will be a little more correct history of this Bill. The Bill has been spoken of as if it had come to your Lordships' House in the condition in which it was originally introduced, but that is a 1221 great mistake. As it was drawn by the Corporation of Dublin it included a large part of the County of Dublin, but the House of Commons Committee could not stand that, and they cut out a considerable portion of the County of Dublin before the Bill reached your Lordships' House. They made other alterations, but they did keep within the Bill these five townships, four of which your Lordships' Committee have struck out. But how was that done? It was done by the casting Vote of the chairman, and your Lordships are, no doubt, aware that there is a great difference between the treatment of a Private Bill in the House of Lords and the treatment which is accorded to it in the House of Commons. The Private Bill Committee in the House of Commons consists of four individuals, and the Chairman has a casting vote. In the House of Lords it consists of five members, and the Chairman has no casting vote. Therefore the net support which up to that time the House of Commons had given to this Bill was that of two of its members. Very foolishly, as I think, a Division was challenged on the Third Reading in the House of Commons, who very properly, in my opinion, refused to throw out the Bill on the Third Reading. I have myself in former days repeatedly voted in favour of the Third Reading of a Private Bill when it has been challenged in the House of Commons, simply on the ground that the House of Commons must support its own Committees, and as a general rule Members will be found to vote against the rejection of a Private Bill on the Third Reading. It was all the more reasonable in this case because the House of Commons was the House in which the Bill was introduced, and those who voted knew perfectly well that the Bill was coming before your Lordships, and would be reconsidered. I think it would have been a monstrous thing that a Bill of this importance, promoted by the Corporation of the metropolis of Ireland, should, after it had passed through Committee, be rejected on the Third Reading in the House of Commons before the opportunity of considering it had been given to your Lordships. Therefore, in so far as the sanction of the House of Commons was given to this Bill, the Bill came to your Lordships' House with the approval of only two members of a Committee. It is not for me to defend the con- 1222 duct of the Committee over which I had the honour to preside. I can only say that I believe it exercised great impartiality and great patience, and I am not aware that any evidence was suppressed, that any undue haste was exercised, or that any material details were left unconsidered, and after sitting for fourteen days we came to the conclusion of which your Lordships are aware. This is not a personal matter. If your Lordships doubt the judgment or capacity of the Committee, if you take exception to anything in the manner in which the inquiry was conducted, if you think evidence which should have been heard was not permitted, or that undue haste was exercised in coming to a decision, then reverse our decision; and if your Lordships feel sufficiently in possession of all the facts, and if you feel that the decision of the Committee was wrong, by all means reverse it. But, my Lords, I submit, in the first place, that if you do so consider, a better time would have been on the Third Reading, before the Bill left your Lordships' House. I think the noble Lord who was so well informed of all the arguments might have raised these objections on the Second Reading; but the question now is, are you going to reverse your verdict at the bidding of two Members of the House of Commons, supported by a Division taken on the 1st of August at the fag end of a long session? I believe such a course is almost, if not quite, without precedent, and I would ask your Lordships to consider whether, in not insisting upon your Amendment, you would not strike a very serious blow at the independence of this House in dealing with Private Bill legislation, and fetter the action of Committees. I hardly know how to proceed, because I feel that your Lordships are entitled to know something of the pros and cons of the case, especially after what has been said by the noble Lord opposite, but at the same time I am quite incapable of boiling down the evidence into any reasonable space. I would ask your Lordships to remember that scarcely any precedent has been brought forward, or can be brought forward for dealing with townships in the way proposed in this Bill. Because these places are called townships it must not be supposed that they are two penny-half-penny places; these townships are urban authorities. Rathmines has the sixth 1223 largest population of any urban authority in Ireland, and it is the sixth or seventh largest township in the whole of Ireland. The rateable value of Rathmines is the fourth highest, and that of Pembroke the fifth highest, of any urban authority in Ireland. They are practically corporations, with all the powers of corporations, and with everything that tends to make corporations, with the exception that they have not mayors and aldermen. The inhabitants of these townships are practically unanimous against inclusion. It has not been pretended that they would get any benefit from being included, except the fact that they would have the honour and glory of being part of the Corporation of Dublin—an honour and a glory which they do not appreciate. Many attempts were made to show that these townships had failed in their duties. We had a lot of evidence showing that the roads of Rathmines were worse than the roads of Dublin, and so on; but as to mismanagement none was shown, except in one particular—we were not convinced that the drainage of some of these townships was perfect. The City of Dublin has poured the sewage of 240,000 people down the Liffey for fifty years past, and it was quite impossible for the Committee to judge for how much of the pollution of the Bay of Dublin the townships, and for how much the city was responsible. I entirely repudiate the idea that the townships will benefit in any way by their inclusion. However bad the position of the City of Dublin may be, and Mr. Russell himself said it was in a slough out of which it could not get without the inclusion of the townships, I could show that that slough is not as bad as it at first sight seems. The Corporation had two causes of complaint. One was that they had exhausted their borrowing powers, and that they wished for more. Well, they have got that now. We have, by a clause in another Bill, increased their borrowing power by £600,000, and they also have the power of getting a revaluation of the city. It is valued 25 or 30 per cent. below what it ought to be, and the richer parts are most under-valued, some parts being considered to be as much as 40 per cent. below their valuation. The reason assigned for not revaluing before was that the income-tax was paid on valuation, and that by not revaluing they defrauded the Imperial Exchequer of a great amount of income-tax which they 1224 would otherwise have had to pay. The other complaint was that they were hemmed in and wanted more room. They have now got more room, for 2,700 acres are added to the City of Dublin; and, as soon as this Bill passes, the city will have the largest area of any town in Ireland. I am sorry to have detained the House so long, but I did not think it would have been respectful to your Lordships not to have given some of the reasons which led us to come to the conclusion at which we arrived. I would urge your Lordships to insist upon your Amendment, chiefly upon the ground that no reason has been shown for upsetting the decision of the Committee which spent so much time in the consideration of this subject. If you do upset that decision, I cannot see how similar decisions are to be upheld in future.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, I feel considerable diffidence in rising to address the House on this occasion, for it seems, according to what the noble Duke has said, that if one happens to sit on the Front Opposition Bench one is precluded from having an opinion. I know nothing whatever about the political question which seems to be involved; I approach this question as one which involves purely municipal matters. There is a difference between the two Houses about Amendments, and the only matter that is to be decided is whether we shall now agree with the House of Commons. That is a very different position to that of simply reversing the decision of one of our Committees. I have no doubt whatever that the Committee of this House performed its duty admirably, and that the Committee of the other House also performed its duty extremely well. We are told that the Bill was carried in the Committee of the other House by the casting vote of the Chairman. I have been told, and the noble Duke will correct me if I am wrong, that the Amendments were only carried in your Lordships' Committee by three to two. Am I right?
THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND
I think, my Lords, that it is generally understood that it is not a very good thing to say whether a Committee was unanimous or not, but I do not mind, when challenged, saying that there was only one point—whether the townships should be included or not—upon which there was a difference of opinion. One noble Lord thought it would be well to include all the townships, and for the moment he found himself in a minority, but on every other question connected with the Bill we were unanimous.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
I should not have referred to that point but for what the noble Duke said about the numbers by which the Bill was carried in the Committee of the House of Commons. I thought it was only right that we should know precisely what was the case with regard to our own Committee. To my mind this matter should be looked at somewhat broadly. As to the appeal to precedent, I am lost in astonishment to hear that there are no precedents for the extension of large towns to districts adjoining them. I would have thought there were numerous precedents.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
Against their will precisely. I have no doubt the ingenious counsel who appeared before the Committee showed that it was a most outrageous proceeding to annex these districts to the City of Dublin, and that such a proceeding was unprecedented. Is it not a fact that every effort that is made to increase cities and towns meets with strong opposition? It is always a matter of the greatest difficulty to persuade the districts in the neighbourhood of a large town to consent to come in, but on grounds of public policy it is frequently done, and I firmly believe it is always most desirable, even against the will of those districts. I am rather surprised, 1226 seeing that the Committee entertained, in common with the noble Duke, such views against annexation, that they brought themselves to agree that even one district should be annexed. Why is Kilmainham sacrificed? Some ill-natured people say it is because it has a poor population, but I do not know whether that is true or not. At any rate, the Committee succeeded in persuading themselves that one district should be sacrificed. I have not the slightest doubt whatever that these districts will eventually become part of Dublin. It only means that if this motion is rejected there will be more controversy, larger expense, and more trouble to all parties concerned. The advantages of uniting the whole district are considerable, especially in regard to sanitary matters. I agree with the noble Duke as to the state of the Liffey, than which I cannot conceive anything more objectionable; but I cannot imagine how you can have a satisfactory system of drainage for Dublin and the adjoining districts unless it is conducted by the central authority. I think the argument of my noble friend (Lord Tweedmouth) with regard to the City of London was a fair one. What he said was that the difficulties in London had arisen through the City of London in olden times not being enlarged. The measures which have been taken no doubt have not been now completely to unify London, but they have all been in the direction of giving London a central authority for those special purposes for which everyone is agreed that a central authority is necessary. I think it is to be deprecated, looking at the remarkably strong opinion which undoubtedly exists in the other House in regard to this Bill, that we should not be content to allow the Bill to pass and bring this long-standing controversy to an end I do not suppose that it is possible to induce your Lordships to alter the decision of your Committee, but as in my opinion this House is about to take an unwise decision, I shall, if my noble friend goes to a Division, vote with him.
THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND
I should like to point out that there is hardly any precedent for taking over a local authority against its will, except in cases where that local authority is such that it constitutes a danger.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (The Earl of MORLEY)
My Lords, I do not at all desire to enter into the merits of this important question, but I do not think it would be right for me to give a silent vote. The questions involved in the extension of large towns are exceedingly difficult and complicated. There are, no doubt, ample precedents for the extension of towns, and for the absorption of the surrounding districts against their will. But this is never done except after very careful investigation into all the circumstances of the case. This question is unusually complicated, and it is still further complicated by the position in which your Lordships find yourselves in respect to the other House of Parliament. It is not my duty, nor, indeed, have I the knowledge sufficiently to enable me, to go into the intricacies of the case which has been stated clearly to your Lordships. Those statements are the statements admittedly of advocates on both sides. The House has had no opportunity of hearing the evidence weighed and sifted, which it has taken two
§ The said Amendment insisted on accordingly: The remaining Amendments insisted on; and the Commons Amendments and consequential Amendments disagreed to: A Committee appointed to prepare reasons for the Lords insisting on their Amendments, and for disagreeing to the1228
§ Committees seventeen and fourteen days respectively to discuss and investigate. No one would for a moment dispute the perfect right the House has to revise the decisions of its own Committees. In some cases it may be right to do so, especially in cases where sufficient evidence may not have been taken, and where the Committee may be held to have neglected to hear the evidence that has been brought before it, or where other matters may have occurred which constituted a failure of justice. But in this case the Committee is admitted to have heard the case before it with the greatest patience, and the noble Duke is admitted to have presided over its deliberations with great ability and patience. Under the circumstances, I think it would not be right for the House to reverse the decision given by the Committee after a great deal of investigation and patience, and I feel myself bound to vote in favour of upholding the decision of the Committee.
§ On Question, their Lordships divided:—Contents, 7; Not-Contents, 55.1227
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Coleridge, L [Teller.]||Tweedmouth, L. [Teller.]|
|Greville, L.||Welby, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Rothschild, L.|
|Halsbury, E. (L. Chancellor.)||Morley, E.||Iveagh, L.|
|Devonshire, D. (L. President.)||Selborne, E.||Ker, L. (M. Lothian.)|
|Cross, V. (L. Privy Seal.)||Waldegrave, E.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Winchilseaand Nottingham E.||Lawrence, L.|
|Marlborough, D.||Macnaghten, L.|
|Northumberland, D. [Teller.]||Hood, V.||Middleton, L.|
|Templemore, V. [Teller]||O'Neill, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Wolseley, V.||Plunket, L.|
|Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward.)||Manchester, L. Bp.||Raglan, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Ardilaun, L.||Rosmead, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Bagot, L.||Rowton, L.|
|De Montalt, E.||Balfour, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Denbigh, E.||Belper, L.||Stalbridge, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Churchill, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Clonbrock, L.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)|
|Dudley, E.||Cloncurry. L.||Templemore, L.|
|Ellesmere, E.||Colchester, L.||Ventry, L.|
|Ferrers, E.||Harlech, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Malmesbury, E.||Harris, L||Windsor, L.|
§ Commons Amendments and consequential Amendments: The Committee to meet forthwith: Report from the Committee of the reasons prepared by them read, and agreed to; and a message sent to the Commons to return the said Bill, with the reasons.