HL Deb 11 February 1960 vol 220 cc1209-24

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill I think I should say, first of all, that, while I have no interest in the company concerned in this Bill, I am a director of another subsidiary company in the same group. In the normal way the Second Reading of a Private Bill of this kind would be a purely formal matter, and the Bill would then be referred upstairs to a Private Bill Committee; but as the Lord Chairman of Committees said yesterday, in this case there are special circumstances and one or two noble Lords desire to speak on the Second Reading. In view of this, I am sure your Lordships will forgive me if I briefly explain the objects of the Bill and why I think that it should unquestionably receive a Second Residing to-day.

This Bill has a quite simple object; that is to say, the replacement of trolley buses by public service vehicles—and"public service vehicles" as your Lordships know is the technical term for omnibuses. The area in question, between Rotherham and Doncaster, is an almost entirely urban area in five boroughs—namely, the urban districts of Mexborough, Swinton, Rawmarsh, Conisbrough and Bolton upon Dearne. Your Lordships will be aware that it has been the policy throughout the country, as well as in London, to replace trams and trolley buses by public service vehicles, which are more economical, more flexible and give a better service to the public. Similar changeovers have been dealt with by various Bills in recent years, such as the Llanelly and District Traction Act, 1952, the Hastings Tramways Act, 1957, the South Lancashire Transport Act, 1958 and, just about a year ago, the South Wales Transport Act, which gave authority to close the Mumbles railway and replace it with buses.

I believe that there is no unusual point of principle in this Bill, and it only does what has been the practice in many places during the last few years. There are, however, two Petitions against the Bill. I do not for a moment wish to speak at length about these, because it is right and proper that they should be dealt with in much greater detail, and with full evidence, before their Lordships under the well-known Private Bill Committee procedure. Perhaps, however, I may say briefly what these Petitions are. There is one by the British Transport Commission which relates to the responsibility for reconstruction and maintenance of certain bridges. The Transport Commission wish to be satisfied that when redundant apparatus, such as trolley poles and overhead lines, are removed there will be no damage to the bridges or other structures belonging to them. This point, I am sure, can easily be dealt with in Committee.

The other Petition is by the Rawmarsh Urban District Council. Your Lordships will recollect that a few moments ago I mentioned that there were five urban district councils concerned with this Bill, but only one of them has raised any objection. It is true that if and when this Bill passes into law certain rights of the, councils will be extinguished—that is to say, certain rights of purchase. These rights of purchase have come up at various times and none of the five councils has wished to exercise them. Further, there are other rights which the council have to ensure that the vehicles on the various routes should be adequate for the public. While the councils will no longer have the direct right, if this Bill is passed into law, they will have it indirectly through the Traffic Commissioners. This method is in operation throughout the country for public service vehicles, and there is no reason to believe that the Rawmarsh Urban District Council would not be able to ensure adequate services. The other thing of which they wish to be sure is that the streets and highways are properly restored after the company remove the poles and overhead wires; and that, also, I think can easily be done. I do not propose to say anything further about the Petitions, because they will, I hope, be dealt with in Committee.

Before I sit down I should like to say something about the general principles. I am sorry that it falls to me to have to go into these. Until yesterday I did not realise that the task I had undertaken would be anything more than a formal one. However, I think it is right for me to read to your Lordships one paragraph from Halsbury's Laws of England and one from Erskine May which to my mind have a direct and definite bearing on today. Paragraph 784 of Halsbury's Laws of England says this: Effect of second reading of private bill. In neither House is it possible to state (as may be said of a public bill) that the principle of a private bill is unconditionally affirmed by the House on second reading. The House agrees to the second reading of the bill on the understanding that the reasons for passing it into law are explained to the satisfaction of the committee which is appointed to inquire into its merits. The other quotation I wish to make is from Erskine May: It is unusual for the second reading of a private bill to be debated in the Lords. Where a debate does take place, however, the House has in recent years invariably upheld the principle that the decision of the committee on the bill should not be prejudiced by discussion on second reading, unless the House has come to the opinion that, whatever the local circumstances may be, the powers conferred by the bill should not be allowed to the promoter. There is, further, some reason to suppose that the House has regarded as a legitimate subject for debate on second reading the introduction of a totally new principle in private legislation. As I have already shown, quite clearly, there is no new principle involved in this Bill. In fact, it is a principle which has been upheld by a number of Committees and a number of Acts, which I have already mentioned.

I believe that there are no grounds whatsoever—and I hope your Lordships will agree with me in this respect—for refusing this Bill a Second Reading. In conclusion, I would remind your Lordships that there will be another opportunity on Third Reading if any noble Lord wishes to debate the matter further, after the Bill has returned from the Private Bill Committee. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Gifford.)

4.32 p.m.


My Lords, at the outset I should like to say how glad I am to see the noble Lord, Lord Mills, in his place to-day, because it is approximately two and a half years ago that I led a delegation before him with a view to encouraging the retention and development of electric traction for passenger road transport. I must say that he listened, obligingly, and with much patience, to some lengthy arguments which were put before him. I am also glad that the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, should be in his seat to-day, because he was the recipient of some of the suggestions put forward on that day.

During the course of the Third Reading debate on the South Wales Transport Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Douglas of Barloch, made what I thought were some rather pertinent remarks, in that the Bill raised an important question of principle—namely, whether a series of Private Bills might not go through Parliament which, in the course of time, would completely alter the nature of public transport. I believe those words to be equally true to-day and, apart from the question of principle, I think this Bill raises a matter of policy. This is the last undertaking for which Parliamentary approval need be sought for the discontinuance of trolley bus services. All the other undertakings which operate trolley buses are municipal undertakings, and if they wish to discontinue their trolley bus services Parliamentary approval is not required. Therefore this is the last opportunity that your Lordships or Parliament will have of voicing an opinion, one way or the other, on the merits or demerits of electric traction for road transport.

That leads me to two important aspects: first, that of electricity, which is dependent in the first instance on coal: and, secondly, that British industry is still exporting trolley bus installations overseas. I think that is a very important point indeed. I know a number of firms who have contracts which are being discussed at the moment, and they may be injuriously affected if we continue to withdraw trolley bus services. With regard to the point about electricity, as is well known to your Lordships it is the major support of the coal industry. Electric traction under the Modernisation Plan is one of the main features which will redeem the future of British railways as a paying concern. The Central Electricity Generating Board is spending large amounts on providing atomic power stations, and these will have to be economically loaded round the clock. Here, of course, electric traction can play an important part, for there is no more economic electric load than the traction load, as I have said. Passenger electric road vehicles are operated, on an average, between 16 and 20 hours per day, while railways using electric traction operate round the clock.

There is another aspect, and that is the aspect appertaining to electricity and coal. This undertaking is operating in the West Riding of Yorkshire, which is a mining district; and the power stations which are mainly supplying this undertaking are, I believe, the generating stations of Doncaster, Mexborough, Neepsend, Sheffield and Rotherham. All these stations are coal-fired. I know that by the flick of a switch, or the snapping of a switch, one can obtain current from the, other end of the country. But I am advised that those stations which are coal-fired are those which are mainly supplying this undertaking.

I should like now to return to the question of overseas buyers, because I think that is a very important matter indeed. I know that the industry is worried by the continual, or fairly constant, withdrawal of trolley bus services, not only from the point of view of the supply of trolley bus services overseas, but also on the question of the supply of overhead equipment, and so forth. In view of the decision of the London Transport Executive with regard to trolley buses, I would point out that Moscow Transport now operates the largest trolley bus undertaking in the world. Overseas buyers might be tempted to see how they operate their services and what their equipment looks like and, therefore, place orders there. From that point of view, I feel that it is most regrettable that our trolley buses should be disappearing from the streets of this country. Last year, in Paris, at a Congress of the International Union of Public Transport, the general manager of the Moscow transport undertaking spoke very highly indeed of electric public road transport, in view of the high performance provided by electric drive. I do not doubt that his words were heeded by many of the representatives who were there from countries all over the world, especially in view of the fact that the Conference was delayed owing to the Russian application being put in late. SO already the speech of the General Manager had created a certain extra interest, because the Conference was delayed and one is not so used to hearing Russian at these Conferences.

To turn now to the Bill. In the Preamble the same arguments are put forward as in the past. I should like briefly to refer to page 2, and there at line 20 it says: And whereas the requirements for passenger road transport within the districts within which the Company are at present operating services of trolley vehicles would be met more efficiently and economically by public service vehicles co-ordinated with the other services of public service vehicles operated by the Company". It is rather interesting when they say"co-ordinated with the other services of public service vehicles operated by the Company", when one thinks that this undertaking has 30 trolley buses and only 14 motor buses.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment? I have here a little map of the area which shows how impossible it is to co-ordinate services using two different types of vehicle. That is one of the reasons why there are fewer omnibuses than trolley buses, because they are more flexible and more efficient over the same route.


My Lords, those are arguments which have been put forward in the past for motor buses—flexibility and so forth—by those who are in favour of diesel operation. But trolley buses can be flexibly used and they also are more economical. I say that, in view of the remark of the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, in the course of his speech.

Here I should just like to quote very briefly some words that were said by two leading transport managers in this country: one is the transport manager of Reading Corporation Transport and the other is the transport manager of Bradford Transport. Mr. Evans, at Reading, says: Trolley buses can be operated to give a greater margin of profit than motor buses and the Corporation Transport Committee have been more than justified in their policy to operate trolley buses on routes where the density of loading requires a fairly frequent service. In addition to which, in a county borough of the semi-residential nature of Reading, due regard was given to all advantages of the trolley bus, such as lack of fumes, smooth and silent running, and other points in their favour, which cannot be assessed for a profit and loss account"— although he does go on to show how the trolley buses made a profit and the buses made a loss. Mr. Humpidge, from Bradford, said in the course of a speech which was made at Portsmouth to a meeting of the Institute of Traffic Administration: Anybody with brains can make a trolley bus run cheaper than a motor bus. Those two gentlemen operate trolley buses and motor buses.

With regard to Clause 3 (2) of the Bill, this subsection refers to the safeguard provided by the Traffic Commissioners. Here I should like to stress that I do not wish in any way to criticise the Traffic Commissioners; I wish only to draw attention to the fact that a similar clause was inserted in the South Wales Transport Bill, on the instigation, I believe, of the Select Committee. What I am trying to stress is that that Bill became an Act at the end of July, and at the beginning of September the Traffic Commissioners were perfectly satisfied that alternative transport would be provided which would meet the needs of the public. With those few remarks I will conclude.

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, I have no interest to declare in this matter. We have just listened to my noble friend, Lord Merrivale, and I believe he has a deep sentimental interest in this subject; in fact, I believe he is the chairman of some organisation which exists for the preservation of certain types of older forms of transport, and we cannot grudge him his final innings. We rather regret it is to be his final innings. It is news to me that this is the last Private Bill that can be presented in this matter.

It seems to me that the only point that can be put at issue on a Second Reading in your Lordships' House is whether the replacement of trolley buses by motor vehicles is, or is not, against the public interest. If such a replacement should involve any parties in the loss of any rights which they now have, then undoubtedly the position can best be argued by counsel in front of the Private Bill Committee upstairs, and for that reason I will not take up any points, such as those concerning the Traffic Commissioners, which the noble Lord has raised, but confine myself entirely to the public issue.

In this matter it seems to me that there has been a degree of evolution. In Victorian and Edwardian days in this country dwellings and places of work, factories, tended to be concentrated in comparatively small areas of dense population. Mechanical transport was on fixed lines between and around those centres, on rails, and was run by steam or electricity. In later years we have spread out; both population and work have spread. I believe it to be a good thing. It has been a geographical and a biological necessity. There are far more of us, and the centres were too congested already. The advent of transport not tied to lines has been both cause and effect of this change. It has helped the dispersion, and at the same time it is a result of dispersion. I admit that the transport vehicle not confined to lines—in other words, the passenger bus—is not a perfect vehicle. I agree that in smells it compares unfavourably with the other two types I have mentioned, and in noise it certainly compares unfavourably with the trolley bus. But it has this supreme advantage: that it is not tied to fixed lines; and that vital attribute allows transport to follow the people where they dwell and where they wish to work.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord. Buses do have fixed routes and they do not just drift off in the country like the"Titfield Thunderbolt" or something like that. Also there is a second point: that trolley buses, if they do become de-wired, can operate under their own electric power for about half-an-hour. Therefore they can easily go back on to their wires.


Yes. Of course, I admit that bus lines are usually scheduled to run along certain routes. But if, by any chance, people start living in a different place, the bus can follow them; it does not have to carry with it an immense capital structure for carrying its power. Flexibility is, I believe, the prime necessity in local transport to-day. It is only the road buses which can give this flexibility and enable through services to be run from the new housing areas to the shopping centres, the factories and so on. In this flexibility the internal combustion engine bus holds the field for the time being, and for some years ahead, for urban transport. I believe further development will take place and that the internal combustion engine will in turn give way to the electric vehicle again, but this time either powered by electricity stored in it by new methods, or by electricity generated in it by quite revolutionary methods. But those things are many years ahead still. Then, we shall get the best of both worlds, because we shall get the silence of the electric vehicle together with the operating flexibility of the internal combustion engine.

In this undertaking there has been progress. There was conversion from electric tramways to trolley buses in about 1927. I think everybody would agree that that was progress. Now this is further progress, and it is that progress which my noble friend wishes to interrupt with what I believe to be rather specious arguments. One of his principal arguments was that the overseas trade in trolley bus parts and equipment may be prejudiced. I would remind him that we are enormous exporters of passenger buses, and I do not believe that we can convince the world that progress is wrong from the fact that we may delay it in this country. I do not believe that there is any reason whatsoever to deny this Bill a Second Reading on the Floor of this House, and I am certain that if any rights have been aggrieved which should be set right, it can be done in the Committee upstairs.

4.54 p.m.


My Lords, I certainly would not wish to deny this Bill a Second Reading; I think that is only right. When I ventured to intervene in the discussion we had some time ago upon the South Wales Transport Bill, I referred to the fact that by Bills of this kind there would be effected a change from one method of transport to another. But I was not aware that so soon afterwards we should have a Bill which, I understand, is for the abandonment of the last existing company trolley bus service. That being the case, I am afraid that there is nothing to be done to save trolley bus services so far as company traction is concerned. What the local authorities will do about it I do not know, but I will take this opportunity of reiterating the point that it does not appear to me now that, in consideration of matters of this kind, there is much opportunity, except perhaps by a debate such as this upon Second Reading, to protect the public interest generally.

I admit that there is ample opportunity under our procedure to protect local interest, and, as I understand it, one local authority has petitioned against this Bill. What it has to say will, no doubt, be carefully considered by the Select Committee to whom the Bill is referred. But all that goes before these Select Committees is a conflict of local interests, whatever they may be. No doubt in this case the Promoters are convinced that they will make more profit by having buses operated by diesel or petrol engines, as the case may be—probably diesel engines—than if they continued to operate a trolley bus system in which the motive power was electricity. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, has pointed out, all this has involved a change from the utilisation of electricity for traction purposes to the use of oil which has to be imported. Circumstances can arise in which the importation of oil may present great difficulties—in time of war, for example, or if some trouble should arise in the Middle East, which is by no means impossible, which would cause the Suez Canal once more to be blocked. These are real considerations of public importance, although no doubt they are technically beyond the scope of a Select Committee in considering one isolated Bill like this.

There is also the point, which no doubt can be taken before the Select Committee, that if this public transport system is powered by diesel engines there will be thrown into the atmosphere quite considerable quantities, not merely of foul-smelling gases, as the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, has stated, but of gases which are positively poisonous and probably cancer-producing. I know that we are quite accustomed to all this today. Motor vehicles of all kinds are being put upon the streets in increasing numbers day after day, so much so that we become quite indifferent to it. Nevertheless, it is a real problem; and in my opinion our people are being steadily but gradually poisoned where they are confined in large centres of population, and where there is a considerable flow of vehicles along the streets which they have to use. That is a consideration to which somebody ought to give real attention. It is by no means a laughing matter.

As I said just now, the importation of oil for power is something which can be interrupted. Of course, there is a school of philosophy which says that if there is another war, we shall all be wiped out and that it does not matter whether we get any oil or anything else into this country. That is a conceivable point of view, but I think that that is too pessimistic a point of view and that we should not throw to the winds all considerations of what might happen in such circumstances. I know that it can also be said that the British Transport Commission are introducing diesel traction on to the railways. But, happily, so far as fumes are concerned, that does not affect the general public to the same extent as having them on the roads. Broadly speaking, the railways are running through places where there are very few people adjacent to the actual railway lines to breathe in the fumes which diesel engines emit. It has also been shown that there are many cases in which electric traction is economic and advantageous in the public interest—and so it appears from the programme put out by the British Transport Commission. That may not be so in this particular local case—I do not know—but there is something more important in all this than whether this particular company makes more or less money, and I hope that somebody will think about it.

5.1 p.m.


My Lords, this Bill, though apparently of little importance or significance, seems to me one which deserves very careful consideration before any hasty judgment is made. My noble friend Lord Gifford, speaking of public service vehicles, defined them as"omnibuses". I must point out to him that a trolley bus is just as much an omnibus as is a motor bus."Omnibus" does not define what power drives the vehicle. My noble friend went further and said that motor buses were more economical. There, I am afraid, I cannot agree with him, and later on I will show your Lordships some figures which, I think, will prove that very much the reverse is the case.

As we have been reminded, we have quite recently seen another electric transport concern—the Mumbles Railway—dissolved. I believe that the chief argument for that dissolution was the cost of maintenance, reconditioning and upkeep. There may or may not have been some justification in that case: I have not gone into the figures sufficiently thoroughly to know. But certainly that cannot apply in the case of this present Bill. I will not waste your Lordships' time by going into the various details of the rights held by the company and the various urban district councils through which the line passes. I want to emphasise only one aspect.

Why is it that this company, and others, seem to be so anxious to do away with electric traction? After all, we have been talking for some years about electrification on the railways as a great step forward.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord to give him the answer? It is because the company want to run vehicles in situations other than where they have an overhead line.


My Lords, I agree. I understand that; and I accept the fact that they are tied to their overhead line. I will come to that in a moment. I will mention just one or two of the advantages which trolley buses have over motor buses. First of all, the cost of maintenance is very much lower, because, of course, the mechanism of a trolley bus is simple to a degree in comparison with that of a motor bus. Apart from the main bearing of the motor, the only two friction points are the brushes, which can be replaced in a matter of minutes; and, of course, the trolley bus does not require the constant and periodical service which a motor bus requires. The internal combusion engine is a mass of complications which needs constant looking to if it is to be kept in proper order.

Secondly, as my noble friend Lord Merrivale has pointed out, the source of power is coal and not oil; and when we have a source which is there, on the spot practically, it seems foolish to depend on a fuel which has to be imported. When one considers the very uncertain conditions which prevail at the moment in the Middle East, from where most of our oil comes, it makes any policy which would rely 100 per cent. on our oil assets look rather foolish. Not hag ago we had a debate on the coal situation, and it was pointed out that production was far exceeding consumption. Surely, here is an opportunity to use some of our coal for which we cannot find any use. Thirdly, a trolley bus has a very much greater power of acceleration than a motor bus, and in a bus service, involving constant stopping and starting, that, of course, is a very great asset. That is why electric traction has proved so successful on the suburban lines in London, where trains have constantly to stop and start. Fourthly, a trolley bus has about double the life of a motor bus and that, again, makes for fewer replacements and much greater economy. Lastly—two minor points—the trolley bus is silent; and what a boom that is in this world of noise! Also, as the noble Lord, Lord Douglas of Barloch, has pointed out, it does not emit diesel fumes.

With all these points in view, can anyone honestly say that it would be an advantage to part with thirty trolley buses and replace them with motor buses? The average cost of a motor bus is somewhere in the region of £4,500 (I obtained that figure this morning from a well known firm who produce a large percentage of the motor buses in this country) so that, if there are to be thirty of them, that would make the cost somewhere about £135,000. Realising that, it seems rather foolish to adopt the view that the motor bus is going to be more economical. I am too much of a newcomer to your Lordships' House to know whether or not it is in order to refuse this Bill a Second Reading. I do not think the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, were very sound, in that this Bill certainly does involve a change of policy, and therefore I do not think it would be out of order to refuse it a Second Reading altogether. But certainly I hope that the Select Committee will consider this proposal very seriously.

5.9 p.m.


My Lords, it is not for me to take sides in this dispute or to act as an advocate either for the Second Reading of the Bill or to the contrary. I am here to-day only, if I can, to help the House to decide the question at issue; and I hope and believe I can do that very shortly. The case for the Promoters of this Bill can, in my judgment, be expressed no better than by my reading a quotation from the Preamble which has already been read. Perhaps your Lordships will bear with me if I read it again, because it seems to me to sum up in as few words as possible the reasons why the Promoters require the Bill. It says on line 20 of page 2: … the requirements for passenger road transport within the districts within which the Company are at present operating services of trolley vehicles would be met more efficiently and economically by services of public service vehicles co-ordinated with the other services of public service vehicles operated by the Company. My Lords, that, very shortly, is the case, and we have heard the speeches of those noble Lords who do not accept that that Preamble ought to be approved.

I should like to draw the attention of the House, because I think it is very important, to another part of the Bill which has also been mentioned and that is subsection (2) of Clause 3. That subsection provides that this service which now exists shall not be discontinued until the Traffic Commissioners have been satisfied by the Promoters that, to put it shortly, an equally good service has been provided by the Promoters for the public. So that, as the noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, was good enough to acknowledge, the Bill contains that safeguard which the House may think is an important one; and the noble Lord, Lord Douglas of Barloch, will no doubt be interested in that because he mentioned the interests of the local inhabitants.

My Lords, there are, as has been mentioned also, two Petitions set down to this Bill, as I stated yesterday; but the fact seems to me to be important that neither of these Petitions goes to the root of the Bill. They deal, I think it would be fair to say, generally, with details. Particularly is that so in the Petition of the British Transport Commission. I can assure the House that the points raised in the Petition of the British Transport Commission are details which are essentially ones for a Select Committee.

With regard to the Petition of one of the five local authorities which are undoubtedly affected by this Bill, that of the Rawmarsh Urban District Council, perhaps your Lordships will forgive me if I read one paragraph from that Petition. I read part of paragraph 16, and this again sums up in fewer words than I could the main point in the case for the Petitioners—I do not say the only point by any means, but the main point. It says: Your Petitioners would … be deprived of their statutory rights, in common with other local authorities, to purchase the trolley vehicle undertaking and the omnibus undertaking.… No compensation will under the Bill he payable to your Petitioners in respect of the abolition and extinguishment of their statutory purchase rights. I would only note there that the other four undertakings have not seen fit to petition against the Bill, and as I understand it they are affected in the same way as this one urban district council. And, of course, the question of compensation is one, I would suggest to the House, for a Select Committee to hear and decide.

On the main subject of the debate this afternoon, I would say only this. It seems to me, if I may say so without the slightest disrespect to anybody, to be really a doctrinaire question, the question of whether electric traction should be superseded by motor traction. And I say this. The noble Lord, Lord Som̃ers, I think it was, questioned whether it was in order for the House to refuse a Second Reading to the Bill. It undoubtedly would be in order for that to be done. But at the same time I might point out that it is extremely rare for this to be done. I believe—though I have not checked it lately—that it has been done four times in this century; that is, a Second Reading to a Private Bill has been refused.

My Lords, I suggest that the real test is this. If your Lordships are prepared to say that, whatever the local circumstances are, a Second Reading ought to be refused, then the House would be entitled to act accordingly; that is, I repeat, whatever the local circumstances are. But if the House is not prepared to say that, then I would respectfully suggest that undoubtedly it would be right and proper to give a Second Reading to this Bill. I do not think there are any other matters upon which I can assist the House, but if there are, and if they are raised, I will do my best, needless to say, to deal with them.

5.15 p.m.


My Lords, in view of the very lucid statement of the position by the Lord Chairman of Committees I do not think that there is anything very much that I wish to add. I would say only this: that his predecessor, a very wise man, the late Lord Mersey, happened to be the Chairman of the first Select Committee on which I sat. He gave me a piece of advice and said,"What you have to decide, Gifford, is what is going to be best for the people in the area covered by this Bill." In my view, what the Bill sets out to do would be to the great advantage of the people in the area concerned. Therefore, my Lords, without saying any more, I hope that your Lordships will agree that this Bill should now be read a second time.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and referred to the Examiners.

House adjourned at seventeen minutes past five o'clock.