§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now considered."
§ SIR. GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he wished to enter a protest against the Electric Lighting Company to which this Bill applied being allowed to hawk the Provisional Orders they had obtained under them for sale. If they failed to carry out the powers entrusted to them, those powers ought to cease to have any effect.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, there was a considerable number of these Provisional Order Bills on the Table at the present moment, and the bulk of them was simply appalling. Consequently, very little was to be gained by sending them round to Members, because it was utterly impossible for Members to inform themselves as to the nature of their contents. He believed they ought to be accompanied by some sort of summary or abstract, by which Members could make themselves acquainted with their provisions. At present, with the greatest desire to do their duty towards their constituents and the country at large, it was impossible for any Member to acquaint himself with the nature of the legislation now going on in this 425 direction. He thought there ought to be some method by which the Board of Trade, which devoted itself to the carrying out of this extensive scheme of legislation, should be able to afford to Members of the House the power of understanding it. At present, the Bills were enshrouded in such a vast amount of verbiage that it was out of the power of any Member to do his duty to his constituents.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR,
said, there was one point in regard to which he had protested both to the Secretary and the Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trade—namely, the practice of lumping a number of these Provisional Orders in one Bill. Some time ago, he had occasion to apply for a Provisional Order relating to the construction of a harbour in his own county, and he found it necessary to obtain a Bill which contained a number of Orders dealing with different localities. In the Local Government Office and the Home Office, it was the practice to issue each Provisional Order separately. This prevented confusion, and was greatly for the convenience of the public. He trusted that, in future, a similar course would be adopted by the Board of Trade. It would have the effect of materially reducing the cost of these bulky volumes, and the public would be able to get for 2d. what they were now required to pay 5s. or 10s. for. He trusted that some attention would be paid to this appeal, and that, in future, a large number of Provisional Orders would not be lumped together in one huge volume. He believed that the present practice had been strongly objected to by the President of the Board of Trade when he was out of Office; but, unfortunately, hon. Members, when they found themselves in power, soon forgot all they had been in the habit of doing when they were out of Office.
§ COLONEL MAKINS
wished to indorse the remarks which had been made by the hon. and gallant Member opposite. At present, a number of Provisional Orders were made up into one Bill, and each Bill contained eight or nine different Orders. There was one page at the beginning of the Bill which applied to the whole of the Orders; but any person only interested in one of the Orders was required at present to pay 3s. 6d. for the entire Bill, the first page of which 426 only was common to the whole number. He had been in communication with the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade upon the subject; and he understood from the right hon. Gentleman that the question was one for the consideration of the House, being altogether a question of printing. The right hon. Gentleman added that he would make inquiries into the matter. He was not aware whether the right hon. Gentleman had had an opportunity of looking into it; but he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that it was not a small question to many of his (Colonel Makins's) constituents. Numerous persons who were interested in these Orders had asked him why they should be compelled to buy a bulky volume containing a large number of Provisional Orders, when there was only one of them in which they took the slightest interest. It might be considered a very little matter by the Board of Trade; but it was not so regarded by the public.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
said, he was sorry he was not in the House when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) made his remarks. The right hon. Gentleman had been good enough to speak to him some time ago, and he had then stated that he would inquire into the matter, and let the right hon. Gentleman know the result. In accordance with that promise he had made an inquiry into the subject, and he had received a Minute explaining the reason why these Orders were included together in one Bill, and the difficulty there would be in separating them as was suggested. The Minute suggested a way by which separate Bills might be obtained at a small cost. He should be glad to give the right hon. Gentleman any information on the point that he might desire to possess, and he believed that he would find everything satisfactory.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill considered.