« ForrigeFortsett »
hon. Friend wished, in cases where addi- | Petition and by the Bill. There was altional capital was to be raised, that, as ready a Standing Order, No. 128, which a matter of course, the Local Government he was convinced had that object in view. Boards should be admitted. His (Mr. It was in these termsPemberton's) Amendment did not deal
“No Petition against a Private Bill, or Bill with that in any way. He thought that to confirm any Provisional Order or Provisional a great deal might be said against that Certificate, shall be taken into consideration by
the Committee on such Bill which shall not dis. proposition. It might give rise to a great deal of increased expense and of tinctly specify the ground on which the Peti
tioner objects to any of the provisions thereof; unnecessary litigation ; and in reference and the Petitioner shall be only heard on such to the statement of his hon. Friend that grounds so stated; and if it shall appear to the the Local Government Boards were
said Committee that such grounds are not speci. checked by the operation of the Borough fied with sufficient accuracy, the Committee Funds Act, he might point out to his may direct that there be given in that Committee
a more specific statement in writing, but limited hon. Friend that that was not so in to such grounds of objection so inaccurately practice, because, although the Local specified." Government Board could not charge the He thought that on reading that through rates without the previous consent of the for the first time the impression on the inhabitants, yet they constantly in prac- House would most certainly be that it tice did it, and took their chance of get- was intended that in no case of any ting it confirmed afterwards. On these Private Bill should the Petitioners be enoccasions opposition was raised in many titled to be heard, except on grounds of instances unnecessarily, and he thought objection to the Bill stated in their Peti. with very great disadvantage and dis- tion. But in practice it had been held couragement to people who had invested that these words did not go far enough; their money in undertakings which had that although, as far as any objection already been sanctioned by the House. taken to a provision of the Bill there His hon. Friend had referred to the must be a distinct ground of such objecpractice of the House of Lords and of tion stated in the Petition, yet it did the Board of Trade ; but in neither of not in terms say that in a case where those cases could he draw a single argu- something was raised in the Petition ment in favour of his Resolution. The which was not raised by the Bill, the practice was entirely different, and could Petitioner should not be heard on any not be compared in any way to that of such statement. He thought nobody the House of Commons. In the House could read that Standing Order without of Lords the same Committee decided being convinced that that was the intenon the merits of a Bill, and also the ques- tion of the framers of the Order and of tion whether the Petitioners should have the House in passing it. All that his a right to be heard or not. It was there. Amendment aid was in the way of fore as a matter of course that they were general application ; but, of course, as permitted to be heard in every case, the proposed new Standing Order apbecause the Committee which decided tho plied only to Gas and Water Bills, it question of merits also settled the ques. would at present apply only to Gas and tion of locus standi. With regard to Water Bills, although he thought it was the practice of the Board of Trade, the one which should be of general applicarule is this—Whenever a measure is ition, and which, he believed, only carried proposed, an officer of the Board was out the existing Order No. 128. In this sent down to the country, and he ad- case, he thought it would not in any mitted everybody to state their objec- way interfere with his hon. Friend's tions as a matter of course. He did not proposal. It would in no way prevent think that his hon. Friend proposed that à Petitioner from stating any objection everybody, as a matter of course, should | to a Bill, and it would not prevent them be allowed to petition against a Bill in i from being heard as to their objection. that House. All ho (Mr. Pemberton) It would only prevent, in the first case, proposed to do was to carry out what a Petitioner raising something for the he believed to be already the Standing first time of objection which was in no Order, anl certainly the intention of the way contemplated by the Bill, and which House. The object of his Amendment was really not one of the issues between was simply to restrict the Petitioners to the parties. He thought he might give those points which were raised by the an illustration of a practice which he VOL. CCLXI. [THIRD SERIES.]
thought very objectionable, and which liament for fresh capital, because since he thought the Amendment would re- the adoption of the auction clauses and medy. During the present Session the the sliding scale initiated by Mr. Forster's South Eastern Railway Company - a Committee some years ago, it was absoCompany with which he had no con- lutely of no advantage whatever to & nection whatever - brought in a Bill Company to increase their capital. simply to enable them to purchase an If this Standing Order passed in the existing railway of a few miles in length, words proposed by his hon. Friend, a made by a private Company. In the direct encouragement would be given to way of objections, there were allegations the local authorities to interpose with raised by the Petitioners against the roving Petitions in every case where a Bill that the fares charged by the Rail Company asked for new capital, and way Company, not on the particular they would be induced to go behind the line they were about to purchase, but Bill and raise questions that long ago on an entirely different part of their sys- had been settled on general principles tem, were too high, and they asked the by Committees of that House. The Committee appointed simply to inquire adoption of the Standing Order would into a question whether one Railway also have another effect that would be very Company might sell to another Railway unfair to a Company and very undesirCompany their existing undertaking, to abie, for it would enable a Corporation go into the whole question of rates and who had an intention of acquiring the tolls charged by the purchasing Com- business of a Company first to attack pany in an entirely different district. them in Parliament when they applied for There was a Committee now sitting on power to raise new capital, and then, the general question of railway rates having reduced the value of the underwhich might be a fitting tribunal to taking by attacking it in Parliament, enter into such matters; but he did not they might be able to purchase it think that on a Bill which in no way more cheaply. The Company was raised issues of that sort, the Petitioners bound to supply gas or water, and was should be allowed to spring a mine upon bound to come to Parliament, as their a Railway Company and propose to undo district extended, for further powers; that which the Legislature only a few and it was certainly not in accordance years before had carefully inquired into with his ideas of fairness that in enand sanctioned. With these few obser- deavouring to fulfil a responsibility vations he would move the Amendment forced upon them by Parliament they of which he had given Notice.
should be subjected to the cost and inCOLONEL MAKINS seconded the jury which the adoption of this new Amendment. He thought that a new Standing Order would throw upon them. Standing Order was hardly necessary at As he knew there were other Members all; and it appeared to him that, to of the House who wished to speak upon some extent, it cast reflections upon the the subject, he would content himself Court of Referees and their action in the with having stated the views of the past. But even if the House considered Companies and with having seconded that a new Standing Order was to some the Amendment. entent necessary, he was quite sure it was only fair that it should be qualified
Amendment proposed, in the manner proposed by the Amend- In line 4, after the word “ against,” to insert ment. His hon. Friend below (Mr. E. the words“ any matter contained in or proStanhope) had stated with regard to Gas posed to be enacted by.”—(Mr. Pemberton.) and Water Companies that they had a Question proposed, “That those words monopoly; but he forgot to state that be there inserted." that monopoly was a restricted one, and that it was accompanied by compulsory MR. MAPPIN expressed a hope that provisions requiring them to carry out the House would agree to the Motion of the business they undertook, and to the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln (Mr. supply the public with the article water E. Stanhope). He could assure the or gas they were empowered to produce House that under the present Standing or distribute. Therefore, under these cir- Orders considerable difficulties wero cumstances
, there was no inducement on placed in the way of Municipal Corthe part of a Company to come to Par- porations and other local authorities in
opposing Bills of this nature. In a town would be to adopt it with the Amendwith which he was connected-Sheffield ment moved by the hon. Member for
- these difficulties had been felt only East Kent. this very year. A Bill had been intro. MR. CHAMBERLAIN: The question duced into Parliament to increase the which has been raised by the hon. Memcapital of the Water Company there; ber for Mid Lincoln is one which, on but the Corporation had been unable to the one hand, is largely interesting to have their objections to the Bill ex- the directors and shareholders of Gas plained to a Committee, although very and Water Companies, but which, on considerable differences existed between the other hand, interests most directly the inhabitants and the Water Company, the various local authorities throughout and a very large sum of money had the country who think they are prebeen expended in obtaining a legal de- judiced by the present practice, which cision in reference to those difficulties, prevents them from appearing to oppose and the Water Company were requested these Companies when they come to ask to have the matter definitely settled by Parliament for power to raise additional a clause being introduced into their Bill capital. As representing the Board of before the present Session of Parlia- Trade, I have given the most careful ment, but which they declined to com- consideration to the matter, and I have ply with, and the Corporation had no come to the conclusion that the proposal locus standi, the Bill being promoted of the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln is only for the raising of additional one that the House would do well to capital.
adopt. In saying that I beg to observe MR. STAVELEY HILL hoped he that I do not conceive that I am in the might be allowed to say a word in favour slightest degree casting any imputation of the Amendment of his hon. Friend upon the action of the Referees. This the Member for East Kent (Mr. Pember- action, however, appears to have boton). The original proposition for a come much more stringent in the last new Standing Order might very well, few years than it formerly was. he thought, be negatived. It was pro-ceived a letter this morning from Mr. posed that there should be an alteration William Livesey, the Secretary of the of the existing Standing Orders, and Gas and Water Companies' Association, that the local authorities should have and in that letter he sayspower to oppose all applications by Gas
“I have been engaged in Parliamentary and Water Companies for obtaining matters more than 30 years, and as Secretary additional capital. The question then to this Association more than 12 years; and, so aroso as to the extent to which this far as my knowledge extends, the rule has power of petitioning should be limited, always been that when a Company applies for and he fully endorsed all that had been power to raise additional capital the local
authority is entitled to inquire into all its said by his hon. Friend the Member for powers. East Kent. The new Order proposed by the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln It is only recently that the Standing Orwas not drawn, in his opinion, with ders Committeo have refused this prisufficient care. It would allow the local vilego universally to the local authorities. authorities on presenting a Petition to Mr. Livesey goes on to say, go into a great variety of extraneous “Although this latter part has not always questions. He was quite sure ho should been adhered to, I believe that, notwithstanding have the assent of the Chairman of the recent decisions on the question of locus
standi, this is the general understanding of the Ways and Means when he said that it | Provincial Companies at the present time, and would be much better to keep the that there is no desire on their part to alter it. parties, when they went before a Com. If, however, the decisions are uphold, the Committee, to the absolute issue that wa panies will, of course, take every opportunity raised by the Bill. Let them como in
of turning them to account." and have full opportunity of being I agree with the hon. Member for Mid heard on the matters proposed by the Lincoln that there are no grounds whıy Bill; but do not allow them to enter this House should not agree to the widely into questions which had nothing practice already adopted by the House whatever to do with the Bill. The of Lords and by the Board of Trade in least the House could do, if they adopted the case of applications for Provisional the proposed Standing Ordor at all, Orders. The hon. Member for East Kent (Mr. Pemberton) says the two mit to the House that if this litigation cases are not analogous. . To that I is expensive, that is a reason for alterassent; but, at the same time, I must be ing the process of litigation and for en. allowed to say that the result of the deavouring, to substitute another and practice in the House of Lords is that less expensive mode, but is no reason the local authorities have there this for shutting the door against those who power of opposing which is denied to desire to be heard against the proposals them under the interpretation of the of a Private Bill. Under these circun. Standing Orders of the House of Com- stances, I hope the House will reject the mons. I regret that I cannot see my Amendment of the hon. Member for East way to the acceptance of the Amend- Kent and accept the proposal of the hon. ment which has been proposed by the Member for Mid Lincoln. hon. Member for East Kent. That MR. LYON PLAYFAIR (who was Amendment would have the effect of very indistinctly heard): I am sorry to limiting the proposal of the hon. Mem- disagree with my right hon. Friend the ber for Mid Lincoln, and would make President of the Board of Trade with it practically of no effect at all. Mr. regard to the Amendment which has Livesey, in his letter, points this out been submitted by the hon. Member for very clearly. He says
East Kent, and I shall certainly feel it "If a Company exhausts its capital or uses my duty on this occasion to vote for that all its land it is obliged to come to Parliament Amendment. I entirely agree with the for further powers; but it is hardly possible to proposition that the local authorities conceive a case in which a Company would be should have a locus standi to be heard obliged to come to Parliament for an alteration of the price they are charging or the illumi. against every Bill which affects the nating power of the gas they are supplying; interests of the locality they represent. and under the proposed Amendment, so long as The only difference between the Motion these points were carefully excluded from the and the Amendment is that the latter Bill, the public would not be entitled to inquire limits this right to the subject-matter of into them."
the Bill, and does not open up past MR. PEMBERTON begged the right issues settled formerly by often prohon. Gentleman's pardon. The effect of tracted and expensive contests. Recent his Amendment would be to allow the legislation in regard to Private Bills has local authorities to be heard on every kept in view the necessity of diminishthing relating to the proposed additional ing, as far as possible, the expense of capital.
promoting Private Bills, whether it MR. CHAMBERLAIN : Precisely ; be incurred by a Municipality or by but they would not be entitled, on the a private Company. I think that the proposal of a Company to double its effect of the proposal of the hon. Memcapital, to raise any question as to the ber for Mid Lincoln would be to bring quality of the water or gas supplied or every Private Bill affecting a Municipality the price charged. That is, I think, a before a Committee upstairs, and would most important matter. At the present enable the local authorities to rake up time the great majority of the Gas Com- every question that may have been depanies are not under the sliding scale cided by previous legislation, and might system. The first thing to be done in con- consequently increase enormously the nection with the sliding scale system is to cost of promoting a Private Bill. Let fix the initial price, and in that question me give an instance in order to show the local authorities have the greatest how seriously the adoption of the propossible interest as representing the com- posal now submitted to the House may munities. And yet, under the Standing affect the public interests in a particular Orders, with this Amendment of the hon. locality. Suppose that a Company deMember for East Kent, the local autho- sires to obtain facilities for the supply rities would not be entitled to appear. of water or gas to the suburbs of a town, The only objection of any force which and for that purpose asks for power to has been taken to the proposal of the raise additional capital. If the local auhon. Member for Mid Lincoln is that it thorities have the right of opposing them would have the effect of seriously in- in regard to the powers they already creasing the cost of Private Bill legisla- possess, the Company will naturally be tion. I do not deny that there is some afraid of coming to Parliament on force in that objection; but I would sub-account of the excessive expense they
might incur. They will therefore refrain Bill Committees by lessening time and from petitioning for a Bill and asking expense; but while he recognized the for additional capital, and the suburbs principle of the Standing Order proposed in question would be deprived of the by his hon. Friend the Member for Mid benefit they would derive from the ex- Lincoln he should certainly vote for the tension of the supply of gas or water. Amendment. The mere extension of works, for which SIR JOHN MOWBRAY admitted the Parliamentary authority is required, long experience which his hon. and might be made the ground for a renewed learned Friend the Member for Camcontest all along the line. I think, bridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell)possessed; but therefore, that it would be inexpe- he begged to say at once that, as far as dient to give the local authorities, on a his judgment went, he should support question of raising additional capital, a the original Motion of his hon. Friend locus standi in matters relating to the the Member for Mid Lincoln, for the quality of the water or the supply of considerations which had been so well water, or to the quality of the gas or the put by the right hon. Gentleman the supply of gas, when these questions have President of the Board of Trade. The once been decided. I do not think it Motion of the hon. Member for Mid would be right, in such a case, to allow Lincoln was not intended as a reflection the local authorities to rake up every upon the Court of Referees, but to assiquestion that has been previously de- milate the practice of that House with cided, for this would inflict great expense that of the House of Lords and of the not only upon the private Company pro- Board of Trade. He hoped his hon. moting the Bill, but upon the Munici- Friend the Member for East Kent (Mr. pality itself, and it must be borne in Pemberton) would not put the House to mind that this double expense ulti- the trouble of a division. mately falls on the consumer.
MR. WHITLEY entertained a strong nothing, however, but advantage in ask- feeling in favour of the Motion which ing for a locus standi on the subject-mat. had been made by the hon. Member for ter of the Bill. For these reasons, I am Mid Lincoln (Mr. E. Stanhope), and was prepared to support the Amendment quite satisfied that the Municipalities, moved by the hon. Member for East Kent. as a body, would be much indebted to
MR. RODWELL was anxious to say the right hon. Gentleman the President a few words upon the question before of the Board of Trade for giving his the division took place. He had had a support to the Resolution. He was sure considerable amount of practical ex- he was expressing the feeling of everyperience, and he certainly agreed to one who had anything to do with munithe principle of the proposition made cipal government when he said that they by the hon. Member for Mid Lincoln. always felt a great difficulty in opposing He also agreed with his right hon. Friend any provisions submitted in a Private opposite Mr. Lyon Playfair) as to the Bill by Gas and Water Companies. danger of allowing the municipal authori- Representing, as they did, the localities, ties to be heard in opposition upon points and bearing in mind the interests that that had no connection with the subject. were at stake when measures of this matter of the Bill. The state of things kind were promoted, they felt that they in regard to Water Companies and the should always be allowed the opportumunicipal authorities was very different nity of going before Parliament whenfrom what it was a few years ago. The ever such Bills were submitted. relations with these Companies now with
Question put. the public were of such a description that it was necessary that Gas and Water The House divided :-Ayes 65; Noes Companies should be opposed when they 311: Majority 255.—(Div. List, No. 200.) went to Parliament for the purpose of Main Question put, and agreed to. increasing their capital, because that
Ordered, That the municipal or other local increase of capital involved a great many authority of any town or district alleging in considerations, which might be fairly their Petition that such town or district may be raised before a Committee. He should injuriously affected by the provisions of any be the last person to say a word in dis- Bill relating to the lighting or water supply
thereof, or the raising of capital for any such paragement of the Referees, who had
purpose, shall be entitled to be heard against rendered such great service to Private such Bill.