§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Stanniore.)
§ On Question, Bill read 3a.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH rose to move, after Clause 39, to insert the following new clause—
§ The Corporation shall apply for and use their best efforts to obtain an order for authority to make and maintain a reservoir for the purpose of providing compensation water for and in respect of the water authorised to be abstracted under the provisions of this Order provided always that until such reservoir is completed and capable of discharging compensation water the Corporation shall not be entitled to exercise any of the powers of the section of this Order of which the marginal note is "Power to take additional water from River Dee."
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is at this stage of the proceedings upon this Bill that it falls to me, in accordance with the notice which I have given, to move the insertion of a clause which has been printed and before your Lordships for some days. I greatly regret the necessity of raising any question which even seems to appertain to the merits of a Private Bill upon the Third Reading, but we are shut up to that course by the necessities of the procedure on this class of Bills. There is no other opportunity on which any Amendment can be made or any discussion take place in the House which is not the House of origination of the Bill but upon the stage of the Third Reading. The excuse which I have for presenting to-day the case which I hope I shall make out to your Lordships' satisfaction is on account of what I regard as the importance of the principle which seems to me to be involved, and I suggest that if this Bill passes under all the circumstances in which it comes before your Lordships without any provision for compensation water, your Lordships will have made a precedent which will be founded on in future cases, and you will have made an innovation on a practice which has ruled, I think, practically in every case of this kind for something like a quarter of a century—namely 513 that there shall not be abstraction of water from any stream unless due provision is made for compensation water.
§ This is not merely a fishery question. The Dee, of course, is a famous river for salmon fishery, and it may be the object of some of those who are on the side opposed to that which I am representing to-day to attempt to get an ad captandum argument, saying "How can you compare the importance of water for the large population of a city like Aberdeen and the selfish interests of a few people who are interested in the fishing" It involves a much larger question than that; and this, Parliament has recognised in times past. There are questions of amenity, in some parts of the country of water for mills, and all the various rights which riparian owners possess. I would be the first to agree that a great city like that of Aberdeen must not only have water, but an adequate supply. I go further and say that I believe that, situated as it is at the mouth of the Dee, it is not only natural but right that it should draw its supply from the watershed of that river, but it should be upon fair and proper terms, upon terms which are reasonable and fair having regard to all the other interests involved. I am not going to argue on the merits of this part of the case, but I think I am right in saying, from such perusal of the evidence as I have had an opportunity of getting, that it is practically admitted on both sides that a reservoir sufficient to provide proper compensation for the water which is now proposed to be abstracted could be provided for something like £35,000 or £40,000.
§ The proposal in this Bill is to take 3,000,000 gallons a day from the Dee—that is, in addition to 8,000,000 gallons which are taken under previous powers—and the Order giving power to take this water went before a body of Commissioners in Scotland under the Private Bill Procedure Act. It was opposed by various interests—by the district board of the river and by an association of salmon fishery owners; and the objection, I believe practically the only objection, taken to the Bill was that no compensation water was provided and that this was contrary to the practically universal Parliamentary system. The Inquiry was held in October of last year, before the noble Lord opposite, Lord Southwark with whom sat Lord Moray and two members of the other House of Parliament. I am not going to discuss the 514 merits of any particular proposal involved either in this Bill or in the case of the opponents.
§ The promoters of the Bill put forward two objections, as I understand, to giving compensation water—first, that it was impossible for the proprietors to prove damage; and, secondly, that there was a distinction between what they described as upland or impounding schemes and lowland or abstracting schemes for supplying water. I am not able to understand any reason of difference between those two classes of schemes, because both classes have been before Commissioners at various times during the last quarter of a century in Scotland, and I think I am right in saving that in no single case has the scheme been passed without a provision for compensation water. On the other hand, the opponents maintained that, although the proposed abstraction would cause injury to the fishing interests, the necessity for providing compensation water did not rest upon evidence of damage or probable damage, but was a matter founded upon Parliamentary precedent; and they quoted precedents which to my mind are perfectly satisfactory—one at the town of Wishaw, upon the lower waters of the Clyde, where the fishing interests are negligible but other interests are great; and again in the case of Arbroath, where a clause very similar to the one which is proposed by me to-day was, as I understand, inserted in the Order. I know it will be said that what is proposed to be taken—the 3,000,000 gallons a day—is an infinitesimal proportion of the flow of the water, but in those cases which I have quoted—Wishaw and Arbroath—upon their respective streams the proportion of water which was taken was much less in reference to the flow of the stream than in the case of the Dee; yet the promoters of those Bills had to provide a proper amount of compensation water. As regards the second contention of the promoters, the opponents argue that their attempted distinction is fallacious, as I venture to suggest to your Lordships it is.
But the striking thing which I want specially to call your Lordships' attention to is this, that during the course of the Inquiry last October before the noble Lord opposite and his colleagues the promoters admitted having received from various water engineers of more or less eminence at various times reports upon alternative
water schemes for the supply of Aberdeen, and it was common understand it, that in practically every such scheme where water was proposed to he abstracted from the River Dee or any of its tributaries or from other rivers provision was always made for compensation water. I am confident that the noble Lord who presided over the Inquiry (Lord Southwark) will say, "This is an infinitesimal amount of water to take, and it really does not very much matter. They are taking 8,000,000 gallons now without compensation, and this is a very small extension of the same power." We have heard that class of defence in other cases. In this case it is a singularly futile one, because if you look at the history of what the Aberdeen Corporation have done in the past you will find that in 1910 they promoted an Order, which was heard as a to take water from the River Avon, which is not in the same watershed as the Dee. It is, as a matter of fact, in a watershed of the Spey. At that time they proposed to take 10,000,000 gallons, with power to extend to 20,000,000 gallons. They went out of the watershed of the Dee and agreed to compensation. In the course of that Inquiry their own counsel, Mr. Balfour Browne, well known as an experienced counsel to many of your Lordships, in arguing his case before that Committee said—
In my opinion any Committee of Parliament would refuse to let another drop of water he taken from the river without giving compensation. Therefore I should advise the Corporation to that effect. The Corporation would he right, in going to Parliament for works at Cairnton, to allow for compensation water.
And he added—
In any scheme for taking further water from the River Dee at that place compensation water would have to be given.
That same opinion was supported by all the engineers for the Corporation—by Sir Alexander Binnie, Mr. Hawksley, Mr. E. B. Taylor, and Mr. Benjamin Hall Blyth, all employed by the Corporation to give evidence.
I will not quote more than one, but I will venture, on account of the importance of the matter involved, to give the words of Mr. Hall Blyth—
At present we know that there is no compensation given for the 8,000,000 gallons taken out of the River Dee. In my view, and if I were acting for the proprietors, if it was proposed to ask for an increased supply I should advise the people to ask Parliament to give compensation not only for the increased supply but for the whole
supply coming out of the River Dee. The question of compensation is year by year getting more important. Not only from the point of view of the proprietor—whether he is a salmon fishery owner, or a mill owner, or merely taking all interest in the beauty of his estate—but I think from a national point of view compensation ought to he given in the fullest possible quantity every time water is abstracted from any stream.
I should not go so far as Mr. Hall Blyth. I should not think it fair to ask the Corporation to give compensation water in respect of water which they have enjoyed for half a century. That, I think, would be unfair. But I do think it is unreasonable at this time of day for the Corporation to ask Parliament to give them power to take more water from the Dee without giving compensation in return.
§ No doubt the noble Lord opposite will say "Oh, but this 3,000,000 gallons a day is only such and such a fraction of an inch of the supply at ordinary times, and is not worth considering." But what I want to point out to the House in answer to that is this, that according to the Corporation's own admission six years ago they wanted 10,000,000 gallons. They knew that they could not get that without compensation. They lost that Bill for reasons with which I am not concerned. I do not know what they were, but it is quite clear that they want a great deal more water than the 3,000,000 gallons. They are not rash enough to come and ask for more now, because they know that they would be condemned in compensation; but they are endeavouring in a small way to establish a principle in order that hereafter they may plead it as a precedent and come for a great addition to the water. That is the apprehension of those for whom I am venturing to speak.
I will not detain your Lordships many minutes more, but I always look on these occasions at the statement which is put in against the view which I hold, and I find that I always learn more from my opponents' statement than I do from the statement which is put in on the side for which I happen to be arguing. I hold in my hand the Statement of the Aberdeen Corporation in support of the Bill which has been circulated to your Lordships and in paragraph 5 I find it is said—
The Dee at Cairnton is a large river, the intake being many miles from the source of the stream, and the quantity of water to be taken by the Corporation under the powers of the Order would be inappreciable.
§ I say in the first place, in answer to that, 517 that any abstraction of water is material; but your Lordships will see how material it is when you know from the figures and from the Corporation's own action that they want 10,000,000 gallons, and in a very short time they will have to come and ask for it. Again, in paragraph 10 of this Statement on behalf of the Aberdeen Corporation mention is made of the visit to the intake works on the Dee which the noble Lord opposite and colleagues undertook while they were sitting at Aberdeen. I have no doubt they had a very pleasant outing in beautiful scenery, but I am informed that, so far as practical purposes were concerned, their visit was quite useless, because the river was in about half-flood at the time and they could form from that visit absolutely no judgment of what the effect of taking water out of the Dee at the summer level would be.
§ I frankly admit that there is one strong point against the side which I am arguing, and that is the time at which this opposition is brought before your Lordships. I am familiar with the terms of the Scottish Private Bill Procedure Act. It provides, amongst other things, that if there is to be a Petition against a Bill it must be in the House in which the Confirming Bill originates. That, in this case, was the other House of Parliament. By unfortunate circumstances for which the opponents are not responsible they have been prevented from bringing their opposition to a point, in the other House of Parliament. Notice was given. A distinguished member of that House, well qualified to take up the case, had it in hand and was going to speak for it. He was prevented at the last moment owing to circumstances beyond his control from being present, and he handed over the case to a friend. That friend was not familiar with the procedure and misunderstood the course he had to take, and by an accident, for which I certainly cannot hold him responsible but for which those whom lie was representing were not responsible, they were foreclosed from taking the action in the other House of Parliament which would, without doubt, have procured the re-hearing for which I am asking. In those circumstances I venture to say that, having regard to the importance of the principle involved, it is reasonable that this House should give an opportunity of a second hearing, which is really all that I am asking in the clause which I have ventured to put before your Lordships.518
In paragraph 17 of the Aberdeen Corporation's Statement it is said—
The effect of the proposed clause is to bind the Corporation to apply for statutory authority in some future session to construct a large compensation reservoir, which must necessarily be very costly.
I say boldly that this is not accurate. It is not a large compensation reservoir which is wanted. Their own engineers agreed that one to supply the water necessary could be constructed at a cost of about £35,000 or £40,000. Then towards the end of the Corporation's Statement there is the usual sort of peroration—
The Corporation are advised that a clause such as that now proposed is Unprecedented.
I venture to say that this does not apply to Scotland. I believe I am right in saying that in no single instance in Scotland during the last quarter of a century has water been allowed to be taken from a river, wherever it is situated, in whatever circumstances it is proposed to be taken, without a compensation reservoir and without compensation water being insisted upon. It is for those reasons―on account of the importance of the principle involved; on account of, as I think, the absolute injustice which will be perpetrated upon those who own certain interests in the River Dee—that I venture very respectfully but very earnestly to urge your Lordships to pass this clause.
After Clause 39 insert the following clause:—
§ "As to compensation water.
§ The Corporation shall apply for and use their best efforts to obtain an order for authority to make and maintain a reservoir for the purpose of providing compensation water for and in respect of the water authorised to be abstracted under the provisions of this order provided always that until such reservoir is completed and capable of discharging compensation water the Corporation shall not be entitled to exercise any of the powers of the section of this order of which the marginal note is Power to take additional water from River Dee.' "—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)
§ LORD SOUTHWARK
My Lords, I am sure we have all heard with considerable pleasure the interesting speech which the noble Lord has just delivered, but I am bound to say that for myself I should have preferred to have heard him refer more to the evidence that was taken before the Commission over which I had the honour to preside than the evidence taken and the views expressed by counsel in previous cases. The noble Lord referred 519 to something which Mr. Balfour Browne had said in a previous case. We are all very much interested in listening to counsel, but we do not always take their advice. I notice that on that particular occasion Mr. Balfour Browne stated what he would do on another occasion if it should ever arise, and having said that he added, "I do not know whether they would take my advice." I am sure they would not have taken his advice.
The clause which Lord Balfour of Burleigh has moved to-day would practically mean the throwing out of this Bill or putting the Corporation of Aberdeen to the expense of coming to Parliament and entering again upon perhaps, and most likely, another long and expensive Parliamentary water contest, for which in the unanimous opinion of the Commission over which I presided in Aberdeen for six days there is no real or substantial justification. I must state that my brother Commissioners, the Earl of Moray, Sir John M. McCallum, M.P., and Mr. A. C. Morton, M.P., were all men of considerable experience in water matters, and we were unanimous in our decision that compensation water ought not to be given. The feeling of the Commissioners was earnestly in this direction, that if any real, fair, or common sense case could be made out for giving compensation water it ought to be given, but this, in our opinion, after the closest inquiry, was not established. The noble Lord who has moved this clause has not produced any evidence to say "Here is a strong point. See what was said by this witness and that witness in favour of giving compensation water, and the necessity for it."
What are your Lordships now asked to do? You are asked either to re-try the case without hearing or reading the evidence, or you are asked practically to state that no water shall be taken in future from the Dee or any other river, whether substantial harm is done or not, without giving full compensation in water. This was not the law in 1862, nor in 1885, nor is it the law now; otherwise I suppose we should not have been entrusted as a Commission with the Inquiry as to whether in this case compensation should or should not be given. Originally the petitioners' case was that the scheme was unnecessary and that the city did not require more water. We had taken very little evidence 520 on that point before the petitioners admitted that the scheme was necessary, and then it practically resolved itself into whether compensation water should or should not be given. Nobody disputed that in other cases—in the majority of cases, if you like—compensation has been given, and rightly given because real and substantial damage was done. In this case we, the Commissioners, say that no real and substantial damage will be done, and that the Corporation and people of Aberdeen ought not to be put to wasteful expenditure.
In 1862 the Act was opposed by proprietors of salmon fisheries, but 6,000,000 gallons a day were given without compensation. In 1885 a further 2,000,000 gallons a day were given without any opposition from salmon fishery proprietors, showing clearly that they were under no grievance in the loss of the previous 6,000,000 gallons. And now in 1915, at the Inquiry over which I had the honour to preside, another 3,000,000 gallons were asked for, and we granted the request without compensation because we found, like our predecessors who bad investigated this Aberdeen water question, that there was no real grievance. The total decrease in depth of water in the River Dee through the 8,000,000 gallons being extracted is only a quarter of an inch at the intake, and, as your Lordships know, after a short distance that quarter of an inch disappears and it is absolutely impossible to find any shortage. Indeed, there is no shortage of water, because I am given to understand that water comes in in other directions and makes up for the loss. The additional 3,000,000 gallons which we propose to give in this Bill will make a further difference of three-sixteenths of an inch. It would cost the Corporation of Aberdeen at least £37,000 to make the reservoirs in respect of this possible loss of three-sixteenths of an inch of water where no damage has been proved as likely to arise, and in tie opinion of the Commissioners this would be a wicked and unnecessary expense to which to put the Corporation. The noble Lord referred to the fact that there are plenty of sites where these reservoirs could be placed. I admit that. But the Commissioners thought that there was no occasion to make use of any of those sites, because they did not think it right that the Corporation of Aberdeen should be put to this expense.
521 We have delayed the execution of this work in consequence of war time and not wishing to put the Corporation of Aberdeen to immediate expense. But if the proposed clause were now inserted in the Bill the Corporation would be put to the expense of coming to Parliament again, of going through all the details with the Scottish Office, of preparing plans and estimates, of advertising, and would then run the risk of any Bill that might be promoted being rejected and this water fight of Aberdeen might be continued for years at great expense. The noble Lord referred to our interesting visit to the intake. It Was an enjoyable afternoon, but I do not think any of us wont there as experts. Certain points have been raised regarding procedure. I believe the noble Earl the Lord Chairman is going to speak, and I am sure he will not allow any irregularity to pass unnoticed. Therefore I will not deal with that matter. I will only say, in conclusion, that I think we should be doing great injustice to the Corporation and to the population of Aberdeen if we delayed their having an opportunity of taking this additional water from the River Dee.
§ THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
My Lords, I have no personal interest in this matter, but I am bound to say that I sympathise very much with the action taken by Lord Balfour of Burleigh, on this ground and on this ground only—that I think it is a very dangerous precedent to allow water to be taken unless provision is made for some compensation. Any one who has had experience of the degree to which the counties round London, such as Hertfordshire and other counties, have suffered from the abstraction of water will appreciate what I mean. I fully realise that it is of paramount and indisputable importance that a great city like Aberdeen should have all the water it requires, and that no sentimental or unreasonable obstacle should be placed in the way of her getting that water at a reasonable cost. But we are told—and I think it follows from the figures which have been given us in the course of this discussion—that compensation water can be provided at such a price that it would not be any very serious charge on the ratepayers of Aberdeen.
There is one other point I wish to make. The noble Lord who has just spoken referred to the fact that Aberdeen had been given 522 power to abstract water on former occasions without any compensation water being provided for, and he quoted that as forming a precedent why they should not afford any compensation now. It seems to me that this rather adds insult to injury. I view with a great deal of suspicion the fact that unless compensation as a principle is given for the abstraction of water it will be taken that having passed this measure in this form a precedent has been set up in regard to future cases. That seems to me to be the real governing principle, and it is on that principle and on that principle alone that, if the noble Lord divides, I shall think it my duty to vote with him in favour of the insertion of this clause. I do not understand that the noble Lord opposite is accurate when he says that the effect of inserting this clause will be to reopen the whole question. On the other hand, the clause will have a very limited effect indeed.
THE MARQUESS OF HUNTLY
My Lords, as I have lived all my life on the Dee I should like to say a word in this discussion. We look upon this as a matter of whether or not this reservoir is worth while. There is an association, which I founded in 1871, of proprietors on the Dee, and it has done most successful work in taking the nets off the river. When the question of opposing, this Bill came before us we were not harmonious as to whether we as an association should oppose it. But a large number of the proprietors—I was not one of them—agreed to put forward as a syndicate their opposition to the Bill before the Commissioners in Aberdeen. They fought this question and heard the evidence that was given, and they were satisfied from the evidence that the reservoir which was proposed and the giving of compensation was not worth the cost that it would involve. Lord Balfour and Lord Portsmouth said in an airy manner that this proposed reservoir would cost only about £30,000. I know that the estimate of what the reservoir would cost, apart from the purchase of the land, is four or five times more than the sum quoted by the noble Lords, for no reservoir would he of any use unless it contained 200,000,000 gallons of water. Your Lordships should realise that the ordinary flow of the River Dee is 500,000,000 gallons a day, and the lowest quantity that ever flows in the summer has been taken at 120,000,000 gallons. These 3,000,000 gallons which it is proposed to abstract will only lower the river, as Lord 523 Southwark said, by three-sixteenths of an inch. As one devoted to salmon fishing and an ardent supporter of salmon fishing on the River Dee, I cannot in my heart call upon the town of Aberdeen to go to the enormous expense of building a useless reservoir simply for raising the River Dee three-sixteenths of an inch in order to hope that salmon would get up. The fact is, the taking of this extra 3,000,000 gallons will have no effect whatever on the river, and I therefore oppose the insertion of this clause.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE)
My Lords, I am sure the noble Lord opposite (Lord Balfour) will believe that I am perfectly sincere when I say that there is nothing. I dislike more than differing from him upon any point as regards Private Bill procedure, and, even further than that, differing from him on any point as regards salmon fishing. I do not think I could argue seriously upon which of the two points I would most desire to be in agreement with him. But I am sure there is no disagreement between the noble Lord and myself as regards what I would call the general policy with reference to compensation water. That policy has been before Parliament for years, and it is perfectly understood on all sides. I would remind your Lordships, though it is a very small point, that compensation water is not entirely a fishing question. It is also a milling question. I am not certain, if we came to analyse the question, whether the mill-owners twenty or thirty years back when this question was first discussed were not a more powerful element in arguing with Parliament than the owners of riparian and therefore fishing rights. That is a matter of history. But it must be borne in mind that compensation water is supposed to compensate mill-owners as well as fishery-owners; and there are no mills, I find from the evidence, on the Dee.
The noble Lord referred to the distinction that has been made by the promoters between impounding schemes and abstraction schemes, and I am bound to say that I think the distinction is a fair one to make. You are obviously injuring and endangering a river more when you put a barrage or a dam right across it somewhere up near its source and take water, than when you approach the river nearer the sea and abstract a certain portion of the water there. Therefore I am not afraid of what the noble Lord called the innovation if you 524 allow this Bill to go through in its present form. As a matter of fact, I find from what attention I have been able to give to the evidence—and I think I have read most of it, and I have discussed it all—that twenty-seven cases were claimed to exist in which water is abstracted without compensation water being given. I am bound to say that none of those twenty-seven cases is in Scotland. I do not therefore wish to press the precedent point too hard, because nobody knows better than the noble Lord opposite that in the course of those traditions which I am happy to think I have inherited from him it is an absolutely unbroken law in the private discussions that take place as regards the Committee stages of your Lordships' Bills that no Scottish precedent is ever allowed to be quoted for an English Bill. I therefore do not wish to press the precedent point too far when I am quoting English precedents in the case of a Scottish Bill. But be that as it may, these twenty-seven cases were quoted and eleven of them were actually named in the course of the several hundred pages of discussion at the Inquiry at Aberdeen, the report of which I hold in my hand. I have no hesitation, on the general precedent point, in saving that I do not think your Lordships will be doing a very dangerous thing in allowing this Bill to go through in the form in Which it comes before this House. The Wishaw and Arbroath precedents in Scotland have been referred to, but I do not think they can possibly be claimed to be on all fours with this Dee case. I am informed that in those two eases a very large proportion, if not almost the whole, of the summer flow of the river was taken, whereas in the ease of the Dee there is taken the Very small amount which has been specified to your Lordships.
One other point and then I leave the question of merits alone, because they have been discussed fully by the noble Lords who have spoken. The noble Lord opposite is a little nervous—and I am sure he is right to be nervous on the facts that, evidently have been placed before him—that this is merely a small bite, that the Corporation desire to get this precedent in their favour, whereupon they will shortly come to Parliament and ask Parliament on this precedent to give them a great deal more of the water of the Dee than they are now asking for. The evidence taken at the Inquiry at Aberdeen does not contain 525 an index, and I have not been able to refer to the matter, but I have something on time points remaining my mind as existing in the speeches of counsel for the Bill. I am sure your Lordshipsill will allow me to quote what was said by Mr. Macmillan, K.C., the counsel who led for the Bill, who quite clearly wiped out any fear that we need hold on that point. He said—Having in view the figures which I have given you, we think power to take 3,000,000 gallons is a reasonable submission to make, because with the 11,000,000 gallons of water—Your Lordships recognise the 11,000,000 gallons as the 8,000,000 they already take plus the 3,000,000 they are now asking for—with that abundance of water we shall be able to look forward to a period of thirty or forty years, during which that supply would adequately supply the interests of the city. We do not want to state figure in the least in excess of what is reasonable, but that figure is an appropriate margin for as to work upon.If that statement of the learned counsel is true, and no doubt it is true otherwise it would net have been made, I think the noble Lord need not be nervous on this point.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Earl, but what is the security that lie offers us that the Corporation of Aberdeen will not throw over Mr. Macmillan as they have already thrown over Mr. Balfour Browne?
THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
The security is that this statement of their learned counsel will be quoted to Parliament. Beyond this, I do not want to go into the merits. But I wish to point out that there are nearly 400 pages of proceedings at the Inquiry at Aberdeen. This Bill was heard by the Commission, and the Standing Order which has been referred to has been absolutely carried out. The Standing Order instructs all Committees—and it applies to Commissions—to consider whether or not, compensation should be given. "Shall inquire into the expediency of making provision" are the words of the Standing Order.
I am bound to remind your Lordships that if the parties are not satisfied with the one Inquiry they get under this Scottish Bill procedure they have the remedy in their own hands—namely, they have the power to ask the first House in which the Order is introduced to give them a Joint 526 Committee to hear their case. I have no doubt the statement of facts put before us by the noble Lord opposite is perfectly true, and the opponents have been unfortunate. They evidently desired to move in the House of Commons that their case should be re-heard; but they did not do so, evidently through the innocence of Parliamentary procedure in the mind of the hon. Member to whom they confided their interests. But that does not do away with the difficulty we are in. Is it possible for your Lordships now to review all the six days of the proceedings of the Commission because the Tribunal properly appointed by Parliament cannot do so? I do not deny that there are eases when it is very desirable that proceedings in Committee should be reviewed on Third Reading. I myself have been a member of a Committee which has given a decision upstairs that has been thrown over on Third Reading, and no doubt many of your Lordships have had a similar experience. Your Lordships will remember the controversy that centred round the case of electrolytic action, where the Committee gave the Petitioner, a little more than it was the practice of Parliament to give, and I remember several cases where after the Committee had done that, the House threw them over and restored the Bills to their original shape. But the House, recognising that they cannot hear the evidence, do not reverse the decisions of Committees unless it is very obvious that stone strongly laid down principle of Parliamentary practice has been overthrown or departed from; and I cannot advise your Lordships that that has happened in this case. I am quite unable, therefore, to advise your Lordships that this case was not well heard by the Commission, which arrived at a unanimous decision. As I have said, I am sorry to disagree with the noble Lord opposite, but I certainly would support the decision which has been come to in Aberdeen and would advise your Lordships to support the Commission too. I, like many of your Lordships, have enjoyed the hospitality of this river and had many enjoyable hours upon it in the course of proceedings which, although not in connection with Parliament, were certainly not un-Parliamentary; and if that hospitality is offered to me again I am not nervous that anything your Lordships may do this afternoon will endanger the prospect to which I look forward.
§ LORD STANMORE
My Lords, the House may like to know the attitude of His Majesty's Government on this matter. The Government will support the Order as it stands, as they consider that there is no case for a reversal of the decision arrived at by the Inquiry.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ LORD STANMORE
There are seven Amendments in my name which are all purely drafting Amendments, and if the House will permit me to do so I will move them en bloc.
§ Amendments moved—
§ Clause 1, page 4, line 23, leave out ("1915") and insert ("1916").
§ Clause 1, page 4, line 25, leave out ("1915") and insert ("1916").
§ Clause 2, page 5, leave out lines 5 and 6.
§ Clause 19, page 22, line 27, after ("hereinafter") insert ("in this section").
§ Clause 20, page 30, line 19, after ("hereinafter") insert ("in this section").
§ Clause 22, page 42, line 4, after ("Corporation") insert ("by this Order authorised")
§ Clause 22, page 42, line 6, leave out ("by this Order authorised").—(Lord Stanonore.)
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
§ Bill passed and returned to the Commons.