§ 2.37 p.m.
§ LORD CORNWALLIS
My Lords, I have been asked by the Kent County Council to move the Second Reading of this Bill in your Lordships' House. As I understand that there is likely to be a short debate on it, I feel that I must go through a little of the history of the Bill and of what it purports to do. It seeks to secure a substantial reorganisation of the water supply areas in that part of Kent which is outside the Metropolitan Water Board's area. It affects one million of the residents in Kent, and it proposes amalgamations which will reduce the number of water undertakings from thirty-five to fourteen. As your Lordships know, the Bill has been passed in another place. The hearing before the Select Committee of that House occupied no less than twenty-three days, the longest period for a private Bill in the last twenty years.
I was a member of the Kent County Council for many years, and was for four years Vice-Chairman and Chairman of that body. I am no longer a member and have no interest to declare in this matter; but I am still somewhat mixed up in the life of the county, and therefore I know the feeling of concern amongst many responsible people about the future general water supply situation. It cannot be said in this case that the County Council has acted in any spirit of haste; on the contrary, I think it could more properly be said that it ought to have acted sooner. But, as always in matters that affect a variety of conflicting interests, it is proper to deal with the question without undue haste, and that is exactly what the County Council has done.
This Bill is the outcome of prolonged and exhaustive examination of what is the estimated present and future supply of water in Kent. I think that, without 660 exception, all those who have investigated this particular matter in an objective and constructive manner and on a countywide basis have reached the same conclusion—namely, that unless there is reorganisation of the water supplies in the county there may well be an acute shortage in several districts in the future. That conclusion—and it is a serious conclusion—was reached after a most detailed consideration of the facts contained in such Reports as the Hydro-Geological Survey of Kent which was made in 1948; it was supported by a report to the County Council by independent consulting engineers, and, quite importantly, by the views and proposals of the Advisory Committee on Water Supplies for Kent. The views of that Advisory Committee are of considerable significance, because it is a voluntary body set up in 1935, and when it made these proposals the Committee was representative of all but three of the thirty-five water authorities, company and local authorities, serving the area covered by the Bill—that is, as I have said before, in the county outside the Metropolitan Water Board's area.
This Bill is to a considerable extent based on the proposals which the Advisory Committee made to the County Council. The County Council has consulted all the water interests concerned at every stage during the five years which have elapsed since it took the first step towards preparing a Bill. There have been numerous conferences, and the water authorities were invited to consult among themselves and to submit alternative proposals. No alternative proposals were made until after the County Council finally decided to promote the Bill. Most of the opponents of the Bill have over and over again asserted to the County Council that nothing was required to be done by way of reorganisation. Yet when in 1953 the County Council took the final decision to go forward with the Bill, several of the authorities were imbued with the need to do two things: one was to put their houses in order, or at least show willingness to make good deficiencies which, up to that point, they had professed did not exist; and the other was to band together to defeat the County Council.
I would quote just one case. In one of the areas covered by the Bill there are 661 four water undertakers serving a population of 250,000. In that area are large Government installations and several industrial undertakings of considerable national importance. These four water undertakers asserted that no reorganisation by way of amalgamation was necessary; that other means were available, and that a proper supply could be maintained by those other means. In October, 1953, the largest of those four undertakings suddenly decided that something should be done. All that had happened in the meantime was that the County Council had, in the previous July, passed a statutory resolution to deposit the Bill in November.
Briefly, the County Council's objective is, first of all, to safeguard the future of the limited water supplies for the people of Kent in face of what is, and is likely to be, an increasing demand, not only on the part of an increasing population but also of industry, including the agricultural industry. I would point out that in Kent the agricultural use of water is not confined to the usual farm uses; and the industry makes great demands on the water supplies for the intensive spraying of fruit trees, hop washing and other highly specialised products in the county. The second object is to make sure that the limited sources that are available are developed to the best public advantage, and to secure for a considerable period a cheap and abundant supply of water equitably distributed to all consumers.
To achieve those objects, it will be necessary, first, to secure an administrative reorganisation so that those water undertakers will have the financial strength and technical resources to undertake the developments that are necessary and be able to employ the necessary highly-skilled technical engineering staff. The point I wish to make quite cleat to your Lordships is that the County Council does not seek to obtain any powers whatever for itself. It is content that the powers to obtain, develop and distribute water shall be in the hands of the water undertakers provided for in the Bill, and that such bodies shall be answerable direct to the Minister.
It is, I feel, to the point to refer to ministerial statements on the subject of this Kent Water Bill and also on the reorganisation of water supplies gener- 662 ally, because they show that the Council is trying to follow a policy that is not just its own. This is what has been said in one case.The Minister, having considered the proposals made in the Bill, finds himself in substantial agreement with them. As will be seen from comments made later in this Report, he dissents from some particular provisions. As a whole, however, the Bill, by proposing to reduce the total number of undertakings and by strengthening the resources of most of those which will remain, can be expected in the long run to lead to greater overall efficiency in the organisation of water supplies in the part of the county affected and to the provision of improved supplies to consumers.That was the Minister's report to Parliament on the Bill. Also, in a statement to the British Waterworks Association, made by the Parliamentary Secretary on behalf of the Minister, he used these words:The Minister wishes to say an especial word of encouragement and thanks to those who have worked and are working for the formation of joint water boards. He would like to see a speeding up in the pace of co- ordination in the water industry. He believes that, before can pride ourselves on having a fully efficient water industry, there must be a substantial re-grouping so as to form undertakings which are large enough to secure the highly-skilled advice and supervision which are now necessary to ensure ample and reliable supplies of water.That was a statement of policy made to the conference of the British Waterworks Association at Bournemouth on June 30 last year, twelve months after the Kent County Council had decided to promote its Bill.
Replying to a Motion with respect to national water supplies on the adjournment of Parliament on December 22, 1954, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government said that the introduction of the Kent Water Bill was the most ambitious move in the category of reorganisations yet attempted, adding that it was well known that the Kent Water Bill did not reach its present stage without a tremendous amount of preparatory work and negotiations. After all that tremendous amount of preparatory work, negotiations and consultations, the Kent County Council asks no more than that its Bill should be sent to a Select Committee of this House where it can produce evidence by witnesses in support of its proposals, and where those who have petitioned against the Bill—and there are 663 seventeen Petitioners, but not all of them opposed to the principle of the Bill—can also produce evidence, it is hoped by witnesses, who up to the present have been noticeable by their absence, and where the whole matter can be gone into in detail and quite impartially. The Kent County Council hopes that the two opposing Bills which have been promoted since the Kent Bill was heard in another place will also be sent to the same Select Committee. It will welcome the prospect of hearing witnesses who were not put forward before. Without encroaching on another Motion which is to come before the House, the County Council hopes that all three Bills will be given a Second Reading and sent to the Select Committee without giving any instructions or orders to that Committee as to how it shall carry out its important task.
If I may be personal for one minute, may I say that I should not have consented to move the Second Reading of this Bill in your Lordships' House if I had not consulted many of those who have the interests of the whole county at heart, and those leaders in the county who have given years of voluntary service impartially and free from Party politics. They have convinced me that this Bill is a wise measure, not just for five years but for twenty, thirty or more years, and will be of benefit to the county and to those whose lives and work are carried on within its boundaries. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Cornwallis.)
§ 2.51 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, it will be in the recollection of your Lordships that some weeks ago there was some mention in your Lordships' House of the Kent Water Bill. It will also be within your recollection that the question we discussed on those two occasions was whether there should be a Joint Select Committee of both Houses or two separate Committees. I feel that the very powerful, though not entirely convincing, speech of the noble Lord who has moved the Second Reading is alone an ample justification for the course which your Lordships took on those two occasions of insisting on the Bill going before a Committee of this House, because it is a most controversial Bill. If I had to make any criticism of the speech of the noble Lord 664 who moved the Second Reading, it would be that it was made on an assumption that all the wisdom lay with the Kent County Council and that all the foolishness lay with those who still oppose by Petition. As there are no fewer than seventeen Petitioners, I cannot believe that your Lordships will accept that all those petitioners are unwise in their actions or unable to be convinced as to what is, or what is not, right for the county of Kent.
My regret is that there has to be opposition by Petition to provisions in this Bill which are what I would term Second Reading provisions: the elimination of local water undertakings by means of amalgamation. The noble Lord who moved the Second Reading was careful to use the word "amalgamation" and to omit the supplementary adjective "compulsory" which really goes to the heart of the resistance to this Bill. I regret, and I believe noble Lords on all sides of the House will share with me the regret, the passing of a local service well performed by local authorities. On all sides of the House we want to support so far as we can the authority and the functions of local government. I feel that this Bill, which is going to be sent to a Committee and examined carefully by members of your Lordships' House, takes away unnecessarily from local undertakings the functions and duties which they have performed so admirably.
The noble Lord who moved the Second Reading told us that he was an ex-Chairman of the County Council and that he is no longer on the County Council. I too can claim some sort of "ex" position as my justification in addressing your Lordships for a few moments; I am an ex-M.P. for a particular part of East Kent, in those days the Isle of Thanet Division, including the borough of Sandwich. It is those authorities who have appealed to me to put before your Lordships this afternoon the peculiar position of Thanet and Sandwich, with their fluctuating populations in summer and winter. The local authorities have to satisfy the holiday requirements in summer, while in winter there is a big drop in population, particularly in Sandwich. For 600 years the little, historic, ancient borough of Sandwich has supplied satisfactorily to its inhabitants water at an economic cost, and with every 665 satisfaction as regards health and the quality of the water supplied.
The question which occurs to me is whether the ministerial responsibility under Section 1 of the Water Act, 1945, which placed upon the Minister the duty to promote a national policy, could not have been achieved in nearly every case, including the case of Sandwich and the Thanet towns, by voluntary amalgamations assisted by a co-ordinating body to advise the Minister. The noble Lord, Lord Teynham, is going to speak on the mid-Kent question, of which he has far greater knowledge than I have, but I understand that 94 per cent. of mid-Kent is company administered. Surely upon that foundation one could build voluntarily in mid-Kent, as one could build voluntarily particularly in the Royal Borough of Sandwich, rather than have regional boards with compulsory amalgamations.
If I am told that the Members of Parliament for Kent did not object when the Second Reading was taken in another place, I would paint out that it is not for me to question their actions. But let me remind your Lordships of a description given to this Bill by the present Member of Parliament for Thanet, when he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 535 (No. 17). Col. 2840]:…an unnecessary Bill, causing unnecessary friction, has been put forward to create an unnecessary board in order to add unnecessary expense to the ratepayers.That in itself—I am not saying whether it is entirely justified or not—is an answer as to whether or not the Kent Members of Parliament are unanimous in their support of this measure. If I am told that the Bill is considered necessary by the Minister, I feel that the procedure followed by the Government Department concerned scarcely fulfills the undertaking given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health when he said that full regard must be paid to local feelings and to the long traditions of many of the water undertakings. There are seventeen petitions against this Bill.
I conclude by saying that I—and I believe that many other noble Lords feel the same—view with sadness the calling into question of 600 years of tradition. I do not oppose the Second Reading, because my comfort is that this is one of the issues which will be impartially and fully considered by your Lordships' Com- 666 mittee when they come to examine the Bill. It is for that reason that, though I dislike the Bill's provisions, I would not in any way oppose the Second Reading; but I am glad that the course decided upon some months ago is going to be followed.
§ 2.59 p.m.
§ LORD KILLEARN
My Lords, I rise to support the noble Lord who moved the Second Reading of this Bill. I should imagine that it could hardly be presented to your Lordships under more weighty sponsorship. Not only is the noble Lord, Lord Cornwallis, the Lord Lieutenant of the County at present, but, as he has told us in his speech, he has been Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Kent County Council. I understand that he has yet another qualification (if that is the right word), in that he has also been Captain of the Kent County Cricket Club—a combination of offices which cannot be common, if it is not indeed unique. In any case, I think my point is a good one, namely, that the Bill comes before your Lordships' House with the weightiest sponsorship. The second point I wish to bring out which has indeed already been made by the noble Lord himself, is that nobody can accuse the County Council of bringing the Bill forward without adequate preparation. I understand it goes back to 1935, when the County Council set up an Advisory Committee which went into the matter very thoroughly and made recommendations, backed by the highest technical experts. I am advised that the provisions of this present Bill are based largely on the recommendations of that Advisory Committee and of those experts. As the noble Lord, Lord Cornwallis, has already told your Lordships, this Bill also has the blessing of the late Minister of Housing, Mr. Macmillan.
I do not want to be long, but there are one or two facts and figures which may have some interest. In regard to statistics, the population in the area affected by the Bill is just over one million. The area is at present served by thirteen companies and twenty-two local authorities. The companies serve about 65 per cent. of the people—which the Ministry state is possibly three times as great as the proportion for the remainder of England and Wales—and the local authorities serve about 35 per cent. Under the Bill there will be six companies, serving about half the 667 population; five joint boards, composed of elected representatives appointed by sixteen local authorities; and five local authorities who, between them, will serve the remainder of the population. That is the substantial reduction in the number of water undertakings from thirty-five to fourteen.
The area covered by the Bill is 1,425 square miles, and as I have already said, the population is just over one million. Many places are thickly populated; others are sparsely populated. There is a large variety of industries—paper-makers, two naval dockyards, a large oil refinery, breweries and agriculture. There are well-known and popular seaside resorts. The county is bounded on three sides by the sea and must, therefore, look entirely to its own resources for water. Experts have reported that the number of new sources of water in the area are limited and not evenly distributed. They also report that, if properly and fully developed, the supply will be adequate for the next twenty or thirty years. In 1935, the daily consumption of water was 27 gallons per head; in 1947, 12 years later, it was 40 gallons per head—a rise of 50 per cent. The present average daily consumption of water is about 42 million gallons. The reliable yield of existing sources has now developed to 52 million gallons per day. If those sources were fully developed the yield would be 62 million gallons a day. The estimated future demand is 71 million gallons a day. Surely this shows the need for reorganisation now, the better to be able to organise the sources of supply for the future. Even the Government's successful housing programme adds to the obligations of the water undertakers by increasing demand for water. That is a factor which we should not forget—that an increasing building programme naturally leads to further demands for water.
I have intervened in this matter only because I happen to reside in Kent and therefore have an indirect interest. I hope that the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Cornwallis, will have convinced your Lordships of the desirability of giving the Bill a Second Reading. In regard to the last passage of his speech, in which he added a rider, if I may so describe it, that he hoped that, if the Bill does secure a Second Reading, all these matters will be considered by one Select Committee, 668 I hope that that Select Committee will not be, if I may say so without offence, hampered by any "instruction," one way or the other. I have some small experience of serving on Select Committees of your Lordships' House—I have served on one or two—and it has always seemed to me that there is no need for such Committees to be given any instruction to deal with a Bill in the fullest and most careful manner which they naturally do. I have no doubt that that is what they will do in regard to this matter. I have much pleasure in supporting the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Cornwallis.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a.
§ 3.5 p.m.
§ LORD TEYNHAM rose to move that it be an instruction to the Committee to whom the Bill may be referred not to pass Part VII and Clause 68 (b) in Part VIII of the Bill without special attention. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving the Motion that appears in my name, I would draw your Lordships' attention to the proposal in this Bill to create in the Medway area a water board, rather than company administration. I think that I should also take this opportunity of declaring that I am personally interested in the Medway area, as I own property there. I would point out that if these clauses were left out of the Bill it would in no way prevent its passage, nor would it affect the object of the promoters, which is to effect amalgamation of a number of small water units into larger water undertakings. I have listened carefully to the noble Lord, Lord Cornwallis, and I cannot help feeling that he has not yet produced any valid reason for the institution of a water board, rather than a company administration, in the Medway area. It is this point with which I wish to deal, and to which I wish to draw your Lordships' attention. Certainly I have no objection at all to the Bill as a whole.
If your Lordships will examine the evidence given before the Select Committee in another place, I think it will be found to be perfectly clear that the promoters of the Bill did not object to Part VII of the Bill being struck out, provided that an undertaking was given that a company amalgamation would be promoted in the Medway area. At page 37 of the Minutes of Evidence in another
place, learned counsel for the promoters of the Bill used these words:
If all the Petitioners agree that there should be amalgamation and are content that it should be under a company administration, without doubt as a result of an undertaking to your Committee, the County Council (I repeat, the Kent County Council) would have no objection on that understanding to this part of the Bill being struck out by your Committee. We do not want to take part ourselves in the administration of the resulting amalgamated area.
§ We have there a perfectly clear undertaking given by the promoters of the Bill. The undertaking given by the Petitioners against the Bill has already been fully complied with in the promotion of a Bill to amalgamate various water units around the principal company, the Chatham and District Water Company. I cannot help feeling that the proposal to form a water board will very likely lead to increased charges for consumers, whereas the Chatham Bill, which is also before your Lordships' House, proposes not only to take over existing staffs but to maintain the existing charges for water for a definite period of five years.
I think it is only right that I should draw your Lordships' attention to certain other matters in this Bill. There is the report on the Bill by the late Minister of Housing and Local Government, which has already been referred to this afternoon. This report suggests that the usual procedure for amalgamation of water companies has, in fact, been departed from. In paragraph 10 of the report these words are used:
The method adopted by the promoters, except in the Medway area, seems to have been to build the proposed new units round the principal undertaking in each area.
What is the principal undertaking in the Medway area? It is the Chatham and District Water Company, which alone supplies 60 per cent. of the total population of the Medway area and is 94 per cent. company administered. Yet this Bill proposes to set up an entirely new form of administration by means of a Water Board.
§ I understand that the history of this Kent Water Bill which is now before your Lordships is in some ways rather peculiar. In the first place, I believe, it was originally drafted in 1951, but did not then obtain the necessary majority in the Kent County Council to enable it to be 670 promoted in Parliament. It is interesting to note that the original draft, before it came to Parliament, maintained the existing company administration in the Medway area. In 1953, however, the redraft of the Bill which was eventually promoted in Parliament, and which is now before your Lordships, substituted a Water Board administration for company administration. The reason for the proposed change of administration in the Medway area has never been explained, but I know that between the original drafting of the Bill in 1951 and the introduction of the present Bill, the Kent County Council, unknown to the water companies in the Medway area, consulted all the local authorities and obtained their support for taking over the water companies. As soon as the Kent County Council Bill was published, the Chatham company, the largest undertaking in the Medway area, immediately, and I submit quite rightly, took the initiative in bringing about agreements to amalgamate the water companies and to obtain the support of the local authorities. All then changed their views and supported the continued existence of the companies as amalgamated into one company.
Only recently the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government spoke to the Waterworks Association, and he made a point which has been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, and which I will repeat. The Minister said:
You can be sure that in carrying out this work we shall pay full regard to local feeling and to the long tradition of the water undertakings.
I feel sure that the Select Committee to whom this Bill may be referred will take careful note of these matters, and will bear in mind particularly the feelings of local people and the long traditions of local water undertakings. My Lords, I beg to move the Motion which appears in my name.
§ Moved, That it be an instruction to the Committee to whom the Bill may be referred not to pass Part VII and Clause 68 (b) in Part VIII of the Bill without special attention.—(Lord Teynham.)
§ 3.14 p.m.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (THE EARL OF DROGHEDA)
My Lords, you may wish me to say a few words as to the practice of your Lordships' House in dealing with instructions to Select 671 Committees appointed to consider Private Bills. There are many precedents for Motions such as that moved by my noble friend, but they have all been in relation to unopposed clauses in Bills. There is, however, every indication that the particular clauses covered by my noble friend's Motion, and indeed all the other clauses of this Kent Water Bill, will be contested in this House as they were in another place. So far as I can ascertain, your Lordships have never given an instruction to a Select Committee in regard to an opposed clause of a Bill. The reason must be that your Lordships' House might find great difficulty in giving instructions to a Committee to do that which they will inevitably have to do, because their attention will be called by counsel engaged before the Committee to every matter covered by these clauses; therefore it seems that an instruction could only give the impression that these particular clauses were either more important than the other clauses of the Bill or more objectionable. It may be that they are; I do not know; but it appears very difficult for the House to come to a decision on that question by a discussion here, when all the matters will be discussed before the Select Committee. I hope, therefore, that my noble friend will not press his Motion.
§ 3.16 p.m.
§ EARL JOWITT
My Lords, I entirely agree with the observations of the noble Earl the Chairman of Committees. In my sojourning in and out of Parliament, I at one time developed—and in this respect I am rather unique in your Lordships' House—a considerable practice before Committees of this House. This House has a right to be proud of the work which its Committees have done, and a right to be very proud of the respect which is felt for them. I have never yet sat as a member of a Committee, but I can say that our Committees manage, notwithstanding political differences, to hear a case fairly and judicially. I have heard all the observations that have been made to-day on both sides, and this Motion seems to be rather like whispering in the ear of a judge before he hears a case. We have agreed that we are to send the Bill to a Select Committee. Why on earth should we discuss it ourselves? Surely the right procedure is to send it to the Select Committee, let them hear and decide upon 672 it, as they always do in our House, and then let the matter come back to us. If the Bill passes Committee, it comes back to us again; and then, on Third Reading, in the full knowledge of everything which will be in the Report of the Committee, we can take exactly what line we may think proper.
I do not know what line I shall take—I am neither for nor against this Bill—but I most devoutly hope (and I feel I am speaking for many noble Lords in saying this) that we shall not, on these occasions, resort to the practice of making ex parte statements, with necessarily and inevitably imperfect knowledge, in order that we may in some way or other influence the Committee in the conclusion to which they are to come. I consider the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, most deplorable. In one sense it is almost insulting to the Committee, in that it instructs the Committee to whom the Bill may be referred not to pass Part VII and Clause 68 (b) of Part VIII without special attention. Of course they will not pass it without special attention. There were twenty-three days spent in Committee in another place and there was an array of the most distinguished counsel at the Parliamentary Bar. The Committee are bound to give it special attention. The only effect, and I suppose intention, of such a Motion is to suggest that Parliament is giving a hint to the Committee as to what it should do. I hope this House, with its very imperfect knowledge of the matter and knowing really nothing one way or another about it, will give no hint to the Committee as to what should be done.
I am glad to have my recollection confirmed by the noble Earl the Chairman of Committees. Resolutions of this sort have been passed in relation to unopposed Bills, because if one has an unopposed Bill there is a danger of some big national interest being passed over sub silentio without consideration. On such occasions the House gives an instruction to the Committee. I have known an instruction given to a Committee in regard to an opposed Bill where the subject matter was some great national interest and where the two parties, although they were fighting on some small party points, might have disregarded that interest altogether. Where one is dealing with some historic case it is also right that the national point should 673 be brought before the Committee, since it might not be brought before the Committee by either of the contestants. But I maintain that this sort of Motion in a contested Bill is the worst procedure one can imagine. I hope that your Lordships will never adopt it; I certainly hope that you will not adopt it in this case. I do not argue for this Bill; I do not argue against the Bill; I know nothing about the Bill. Let us send it to a Committee whom we have appointed and in whom we have trust; let them elucidate and bring out the facts, and then, if the Bill passes the Committee, at a later stage let us take what course we like. But let us not have this sort of suggestion made in the hope of influencing the Committee before they have got down to dealing with the Bill.
§ 3.20 p.m.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
My Lords, as we have just been told by the noble and learned Earl and other speakers, this Bill is going to a Select Committee. Certainly the last thing I want to do is to prejudice what will happen when it reaches that Committee. But I feel that, as the Leader of your Lordships' House, I must in a very few sentences—and they will be only two or three—give a little guidance from these Benches. In justice to the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, who has had rather severe treatment from the noble and learned Earl who has just spoken, I think we ought to recognise—at least I understand this to be the position—that it never was the noble Lord's intention either to destroy this Bill or indeed to prejudice further discussions upon it by the Committee. His object was to secure that a particular aspect which he believed to be important—and which is to be incorporated, as I understand, in some later measure which is to come before the Committee—should be in the minds of the Select Committee in discussing this Bill. I really do not think that that was an improper thing for the noble Lord to do. It seems to me we are all members of this House and it is legitimate for any of us to put before the House a view which he believes to be soundly based. I should have thought that the noble Lord was entirely within his rights in tabling this Motion.
674 On the other hand, I entirely agree with the noble and learned Earl in thinking that it would be extremely unfortunate if he pressed it to a Division, because, however far it might be from his intention, we who were asked to express some view upon it might give the impression—and it would be an unfortunate one—that this House, without adequate knowledge (and we cannot have adequate knowledge of these intricate questions), was trying to influence a Bill which is going to a Select Committee. I entirely agree with the noble Earl the Lord Chairman of Committees that that would be most undesirable, for, as the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, said, the whole essence of the work of a Select Committee is that it should be fair and judicial; and it is remarkable how that tradition has been maintained throughout the years.
Actually, I think the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, has achieved his object—the object which I understood he had in view—and I have no doubt that the Committee will take account of all that has been said here, just as they will take account of all other aspects which will come before them in the consideration of the Bill. Now he has achieved that, I feel certain that the noble Lord will be ready to withdraw his Motion. I am sure, with the noble and learned Earl, that that would be a counsel of wisdom and in accordance with all the traditions of this House. I do not take quite such a black view of what the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, has done as the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, appears to take. I think Lord Teynham has done what he intended should be done. No one in the world, I am sure, and he less than anyone, would wish in any way to influence or to give instructions to anyone in a matter such as this.
§ EARL JOWITT
May I be allowed to say that I do not suggest that Lord Teynham did anything improper or anything except what he thought he should have done. I suggest that he did something which is unwise and which would set a precedent which should not be followed.
In spite of what the noble and learned Earl has just said, he did in fact say that there were precedents for such a Motion as this on an opposed Private Bill dealing with a very important matter. There has been a precedent for this form of Motion. I 675 consider that my point is a very important one too but in view of what has been said by the Lord Chairman of Committees and by my noble Leader, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn. Bill committed: the Committee to be proposed by the Committee of Selection.