§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment proposed [23rd July], on Consideration of the Bill, as amended.
§ Which Amendment was—
§ "In page 2, to leave out lines 24 and 25."— (Dr. Cooper.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ *MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)
moved an Amendment to Clause fl, to reduce the limit of houses not charged with inhabited house duty, and receiving a rebate on water, from £800 to £200. He stated that his object was to extend the benefit of the rebate offered in the Bill to a large class of shopkeepers and business men who, in his opinion, needed it more than those to whom it was at present granted. He reminded the House that formerly some of the water companies did grant on houses assessed under £200 a rebate of 30 per cent. This Bill did nothing for the £200 householder. The benefit was confined to the £300 householder, and gave him only 20 and in certain circumstances 30 per cent. The right hon. Gentleman stated on a former occasion that, under this Bill people 1942 were going to get water cheaper. The Bill would certainly not confer that benefit on shopkeepers and business men who used very little water, and whose premises were closed at night. It lowered the rebate, and raised the rental limit to which the rebate applied. It was proved in evidence that each clerk in an office used on an average five gallons of water a day. For 300 days this took 1,500 gallons which, at 8:1. per 1,000 gallons, cost the Water Board Is. An office or shop assessed at £200, and having ten employees, therefore used 10s. worth of water a year, and under this Bill paid £10 for it. He would have liked to see the abolition of the limit to which the rebate applied, so that all householders not paving inhabited house duty would have got the benefit. He could not see how in common justice this material benefit was to be restricted to the class who were better off than those who were not to get it. The proposal seemed to contradict all the professions of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. This rebate was very general in the provinces, and there was no limit. It covered all the people who did not pay inhabited house duty and whose business places were locked up at night. There was all the more reason why the rebate should be granted in London, where rents and rates were high, where assessments were regularly raised, and where competition was keen. He begged to move.
§ MR. RAWLINSON (Cambridge University)
in seconding the Amendment, said the section to which it referred was one which gave a rebate of 20 to 30 per cent. on the water rate to the owners of premises used only for business purposes. In the case of offices or other business premises very little water was used, and, therefore, it was exceedingly unfair that in respect of such premises the full water rate should be charged. He did not understand why an exemption should be given in the case of business offices rented at more than £300, thereby exempting from benefit the very class who ought to have it. That was an exemption which was recognised even by this Bill, but he submitted that the Bill was illogical in stopping at £300. If exemption 1943 was to be given to anybody, it should be those who occupied premises at less than £300. The charge for water rates under the Bill would bear hardly upon the small tradesman and professional man who ought to come with in the rebate rather than those who were now included.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 5, line 8, to leave out the word 'three,' and insert the word 'two'"—(Mr. Burdett-Coutts)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'three' stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. BARNARD (Kidderminster)
said it appeared to him that the idea of this Bill was not at all well understood. The position was that the Board had £3,000,000 to carry on the whole water business of London. It was quite immaterial to the Water Board how that money was collected. The Board had also to pay large interest on £50,000,000 as well as the expenses of the business. This particular clause arose in this way. It had been the custom of the New River Company to give a rebate within the City of London, while it was contended that uniformity of rating should be applied to the whole of the Water Board area. Accordingly, they included a class of property which was rated at £300. For his part he would give the water for nothing, but financially it was impossible for the Board to give more than they were giving. The recommendation in the Bill had been adopted after full debate before the Lords and Commons Committees.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said that he did not think that the hon. Member for Kidderminster had met the argument of the hon. Member for Westminster, that it was not fair to fix the limit at £300. AH that the hon. Gentleman said was that the Water Board could not afford to make a lower limit, because they had a certain amount of money to raise irrespective of whether the payment was fair or not. The hon. Gentleman had said he would be glad to give the water for nothing, but he did not want that; they only wanted to pay what was fair, and if there was a deficit the Board could make a rate in aid which 1944 would be spread over the whole of the Metropolis. The only reason why the Board did not like a rate in aid was that they were afraid the ratepayers would say that their administration had been extravagant.
§ *MR. MORTON (Sutherland)
said that to his mind it was something more than amusing to find the hon. baronet the Member for the City of London, who had assisted in forcing on London this iniquitous Act, condemning the unfair terms of the Water Board's proposal and trying to get the rates reduced. Undoubtedly unfair charges were made for water to those engaged in business, and it was proposed by this Bill to continue and increase them. The whole difficulty had arisen from the late Government passing an Act to buy up the water companies at an unfair price. There ought to be some endeavour as soon as possible to make a fair charge all round for the water. Of course, the Fire Brigade paid nothing for the water they used. The difficulty was that if they reduced the price so as to compel the Water Board to go on the rates, they would be making the poor people pay for the water which the rich people used. [Opposition cries of "Sit down!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite did not like to be reminded of the evil doings of the late Government.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (MR. JOHN BURNS, Battersea)
trusted that he would be able by what he was going to say to assist the hon. Gentleman in forming an opinion. If the Amendment were passed the poorer consumers would have to pay more than they did now, and if the deficiency could not be met in that way, a rate in aid would have to be incurred. If the Amendment were passed it would go right in the teeth of what the Committee had considered, and what the Water Board, after serious consideration of this matter, had determined to be fair and equitable to everybody.
§ MR. COURTHOPE (Sussex, Rye)
thought the right hon. Gentleman had mistaken the reading of the clause. The effect of the Amendment was exactly contrary to that stated by the 1945 President of the Local Government Board. Its effect would be to give the poorer as well as the richer the benefit of the rebate.
§ MR. WATERLOW (Islington, N.)
said it appeared to him that the President of the Local Government Board was entirely on the wrong tack. The object of the Amendment was to benefit the poorer against the richer. The rebate was a rebate to people who occupied houses of a rental of £300, and the Amendment was that it should be a rebate to people who lived in £200 houses; therefore it was a rebate in favour of the poorer people. But the main argument against this particular Amendment was that if it wore carried there might have to be a rate in aid. That argument was a fallacious argument, because the estimates for the financial year 1906–7 showed that the Water Board had made a profit of £49,493, which was a goodly sure in it self. Moreover, there was an
§ annual growth in the revenue of the Water Board of 2 per cent., which gave them an ample margin to play with. He therefore supported the Amendment.
§ *MR. LUKE WHITE (Yorkshire, E. R., Buckrose),
as a Member of the Commutes, said that when they found this limit of £300 confined to London, they desired to continue it, but this being a Bill to secure uniformity, they were compelled in order to secure the continuation of that rebate which was confined to London, to extend it over the whole area. The Committee came to the conclusion that it was desirable to continue it in the City of London, and this was the only way in which it could be done. He trusted that the House in its conclusion would support the Committee in this matter.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 184; Noes, 24. (Division List No 381).1947
|Alden, Percy||Elibank, Master of||Johnson, John (Gates head) '|
|Allen.A. Acland (Christchurch)||Emmott, Alfred||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Asquith,Rt.Hn.Herbert Henry||Esslemont, George Birnie||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Everett, R. Lacey||Jones,William(Carnarvonshire)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Fenwick, Charles||Jowett, F. W.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Ferens, T. R.||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Beale, W. P.||Findlay, Alexander||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Beauchamp, E.||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Lamont, Norman|
|Beaumont, Hon. Hubert||Fuller, John Michael F.||Lea,HughCecil(St.Pancras, E.)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Fullerton, Hugh||Lever, A.Levy(Essex,Harwich)|
|Branch, James||Gill, A. H.||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Brigs;, John||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Bruner,J.F.L. (Lanes..Leigh)||Glover, Thomas||Lough, Thomas|
|Bull, Sir William James||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Lupton, Arnold|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Gordon, J.||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes|
|Byles, William Pollard||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Gulland, John W.||Maclean, Donald|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Halpin, J.||Macpherson, J. T.|
|Clough, William||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Mac Veagh, Jeremiah (Down.S.)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Wore'r)||MacVeigh,Charles (Donegal.E.)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||M'Crae, George|
|Collins,Sir W. J.(S.Pancras,W.)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Cooper, G. J.||Haworth, Arthur A.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Corbett,C. H. (SussexE.Grinst'd||Hazleton, Richard||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Hedges, A. Paget||Maddison, Frederick|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Crooks, William||Henry, Charles S.||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Higham, John Sharp||Marks,G.Croydon(Launceston)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Hodge, John||Marnham, F. J.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Holden, E. Hopkinson||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Horniman, Emslie John||Minklem, Nathaniel|
|Dickinson, W.H.(St.Pa.neras,N.||Hudson, Walter||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Duncan,C.(Barrow-in-Furness)||Illingworth, Percy H.||Moonsy, J. J.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Dunne MajorE. Martin (Walsall||Jenkins, J.||Morley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Verney. F.W|
|Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent).|
|Nicholls, George||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs)||Waring; Walter|
|Nolan, Joseph||Robertson,Sir G.Scott(Bradf'rd||Warner. Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Norton, ('apt. Cecil William||Robinson. S.||Watt, Henry A.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wedgwood. Josiah C.|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Rowlands, J.||White, George (Norfolk)|
|O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|O'Grady. J.||Scott,A.H.(Ashton-under-Lyne||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Shackleton, David James||Whiteley, George (York. W.R.)>|
|Partington, Oswald||Sherwell, Arthur James||Whitley. John Henry (Halifax)|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Williams. Llewelyn(Carmarth').|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Silcock, Thomas Ball||Wilson, Hon. ('. H. W. (Hull,W.)|
|Pearson, Sir W. D. (Colchester)||Simon, John Allsebrook||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Wilson. John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Wilson, J. H. (Middles brough)|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Smith,Abel H.(Hertford, East)||Wilson. P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)-|
|Pollard, Dr.||Snowden. P.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Price,C.E. (Edinburgh.Central)||Stanger. H. Y.||Winfrey. R.|
|Priestley,W.E.B. (Bradford, E.||Straehey, Sir Edward||Wood, T. M Kinnon|
|Rainy, A. Rolland||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radeliffe)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Richards, T.F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Tennant,SirEdward(Salisbury)||Barnard and Sir John|
|Rickett, J. Compton||Thorne. William||Bethell.|
|Ridsdale, E. A.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Courthope, G. Loyd||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.>'|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fell, Arthur||Talbot, Lord K. (Chichester)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Forster, Henry William||Water low. l). S.|
|Beach, Hn. Michael HughHicks||Harrison-Broadley. H. B.||Wyndham. Rt. Hon. George|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hunt, Rowland||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Keswick, William||Burdett-Coutts and Mr. Rawlinson.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Nield, Herbert|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Rees, J. D.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
§ SIR F. BANBURY
moved, in Clause 9, to leave out "twenty per centum, or more than." The New River Company when it, was in existence, in the case of offices in the City did not take the full charges allowed to them by their Act of Parliament. In the case of offices, rented at £700, £800 or £1,000 a year, where the water was only used by the clerks for washing their hands, etc., the company did not feel justified in making the full charge, and they made a reduction of 30 per cent. Then came the Water Board, and they also made a reduction of 30 per cent., but now they came to the House with a proposal for the alteration of these charges so that the remission should only be 20 per cent. What it amounted to was that they asked to make a charge of 5 per cent. on the rate able value where the New River Company had only charged about 3 per cent. This was an enormous increase, and he thought matters should remain as they were before. He begged to move.
§ MR. COURTHOPE
seconded the-Amendment, and said that by means of this proposal the cost of water in City offices would be increased from 3 to 5 per cent. on the rateable value, which meant that the amount payable was assessed upon £300 instead of £200. This proposal would inflict a large amount of hardship in the City of London. Many hon. Members seemed to think that the burden would fall upon the shoulders of the plutocrats who were well able to afford it, but tint was not the case. It was said that that class would pay most of the water rate, but over 60 per cent. of the house property in the City of London was either owned or occupied by limited companies, and the burden would fall not only on the plutocrats but on the small investor. He thought it only fair to warn the Water Board that they would defeat their own purposes by taking measures of this kind, because he had been informed that in consequence of these proposals private 1949 companies were thinking of sinking wells for themselves. He thought that the Amendment would go a long way to relieve the injustice which undoubtedly would be done if the Rill was passed in its present form.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 5, line 12, to leave out the words ' twenty per centum, or more than.' "— (Sir F. Banbury.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ *MR. LUKE WHITE
said the reason why the Committee had placed this clause in the Bill, giving a minimum rebate of 20 per cent. and a maximum of 30 per cent., was on the ground that it was absolutely necessary, in order to secure an income to the Water Board, that the 30 per cent. should not be allowed throughout the whole area. The Committee had come to the conclusion that in order to secure uniformity they should allow not less than 20 per cent., or more than 30 per cent., on this class of property, and they had to apply that to even-class of property which came within the description in the whole area. Therefore, he asked the House to support the Committee. It was not a clause put in the Bill by the Water Board; it was a clause unanimously agreed upon by the Joint Committee after hearing the whole of the evidence; and, bearing in mind the instructions of the Committee and of the Water Board, that this Bill was to secure uniformity throughout the limits supplied, the Joint Committee
§ were bound to take the course which they did when they found that in the City the water rate was 3 per cent. in some parts and in other parts it was 3 per cent. in some parts and in other parts it was 7½ per cent They had increased the rate in some portion of the water area in order to secure uniformity of charge. In other portions of the area the people would, of course, receive great benefit. They could not get uniformity in such conditions as obtained without some districts paying more and other districts paying less.
§ MR. BARNARD
said that this Amendment struck at the root of the Bill, and he desired to associate himself with what the Member for the Buckrose division had said.
§ *MR. MORTON,
in reply to the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London, denied that he had said that the water companies had extorted money; he had made no such statement. What he had said was that they had made unjust and unfair charges, and that they had been purchased on that basis. But now he would like to tell the hon. Baronet that the companies had extorted money illegally for years in the City of London and elsewhere.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Member ought to have answered the hon. Baronet before, when he had the opportunity.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 173; Noes, 20. (Division List No. 382.)1951
|Alden, Percy||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Dunne, Major E.Martin(Walsall)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Cheetham, John Frederick||Elibank, Master of|
|Raring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Clough, William||Emmott, Alfred|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Esslemont. George Birnie|
|Beale, W P.||Collins,SirWm.J.(S.Pancras,W.||Everett, H. Lacey|
|Beauchamp, E.||Cooper, G.J.||Fenwick, Charles|
|Beaumont. Hon. Hubert||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Ferens, T. R.|
|Benn,W.(Tw'rHamlet.s,S.Geo.)||Cotton, Sir H.J.S.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Crooks, William||Findlay, Alexander|
|Branch, James||Curran, Peter Francis||Fuller, John Michael F.|
|Brigg, John||Dalziel, James Henry||Fullerton, Hugh|
|Brunner, J.F.U (Lanes., Leigh)||Davies, Ellis William (Eilion)||Gill, A. H.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Gladstom*,Rt.Hn.Herbert John.|
|Burns, Kt. Hon.John||Dickinson, W.H.(St.Panoras.N.||Glover, Thomas|
|Byles, William Pollard||Duncan,C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Gordon, J.||M'Crae, George||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Rowlands, J.|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Gulland, John W.||M'Micking, Major G.||Scott, A.H.(Ashton under Lyne|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Maddison, Frederick||Shackleton, David James|
|Halpin, J.||Markham, Arthur Basil||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Hardy. George A. (Suffolk)||Marks,G.Croydon (Launceston)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Wore'r)||Marnham, F. J.||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Masterman, C. F. G.||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Money, L. G.Chiozza||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Hazleton. Richard||Mooney, J. J.||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford.East)|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morley,Rt. Hon.John||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Henry, Charles S.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Taylor, Theodore C (Radcliffe)|
|Hodge, John||Nicholls, George||Tennant,Sir Edward(Salisbury)|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Nolan, Joseph||Thorne, William|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||O'Connor. John (Kildare,N.)||Ure, Alexander|
|Jardine, Sir J.||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Jenkins, J.||O'Grady, J.||Waring, Walter|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Partington, Oswald||Water low, D. S.|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Jowett,F. W.||Pearson, Sir W. D. (Colchester||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Kearley, Hudson K.||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Pickersgill. Edward Hare||Whiteley. George (York, W.R.)|
|Lamont, Norman||Pollard, Dr.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Lever,A.Levy (Essex,Harwich)||Price, O.E. (Edinburgh.Central||Williams,Llewelyn(Carmarth'n|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Priestley, W. E. B.(Bradford,E.)||Wilson,Hon.C.H.W.(Hull, W.)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Rainy, A. Rolland||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Lough, Thomas||Rees, J.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Lupton, Arnold||Richards, T.F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Rickett, J. Compton||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Ridsdale, E. A.||Winfrey, R.|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Roberts,Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon.|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Macpherson, J. T.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S)||Robertson,Sir G. Scott(Bradford||Barnard and Sir John Bethell.|
|MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.||Robinson, S.|
|Acland-Hood,RtHn.SirAlex.F.||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Rawlinson,JohnFrederickPeel|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Forster, Henry William||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hunt, Rowland||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir|
|Cecil, Lord'R. (Marylebone,E.)||Keswick, William||Frederick Banbury and Mr.|
|Corbett.CH(Sussex,E.Grinst' d)||Nield, Herbert||Courthope.|
Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause," put, and agreed to.
§ Dr. COOPER (Southwark, Bermondsey)
said that he brought forward this Amendment, purely as a matter of principle, add he would state his views very shortly, as he recognised the apathy of the House concerning the question. The Amendment sought to do for the consumer who took water by meter exactly what the Bill had done for those who received a domestic supply. It sought to give every man who took water by meter a fixed price of 8d. per 1,000 gallons, which was the sum of 1952 money that it cost the Water Board to obtain and supply water. There was neither any profit nor any loss occasioned to the ratepayer by selling water at that price. The scale inserted in the Bill sold water to certain people—borough councils, Royal parks, Government Departments, railway companies, and all the large traders—at a sum considerably below cost price. Practically speaking, the ratepayers of London were asked to subsidise the larger traders to the extent of £20,000 a year, the borough councils to 1953 the extent of £11,000 a year, the Royal parks to the extent of some thousands of pounds a year, and it also subsidised all the Government Departments which insisted upon having water at that cheap rate. It was perfectly true that the trading companies had a scale which gave preferential charges to various people, but they were trading companies, and as such they had a right to make what charge they liked. The Water Board, however, was a public authority giving practically a municipal supply, and the case therefore was entirely different from that of the trading companies. He maintained that a municipal authority had no right to make any differential charge between one consumer and another. Therefore, when he found the Government of the day backing up the Water Board in giving these subsidies at the expense of the general body of London ratepayers he felt he could not do otherwise than enter his protest against their action. Roughly speaking, it might be said that two-thirds of the water given to London was used for domestic purposes and one-third only for trade purposes. It had always been said that the trader had been charged excessively in order to reduce the rates for the domestic supply, but the statistics of the Water Board proved that statement to be an absolute fallacy. They proved, as a matter of fact, that the consumer who used water for purely domestic purposes paid 8d. per 1,000 gallons, whereas the trader only paid 7 14d. The effect was that practically all through the traders of London had received a heavysubsidy out of the pockets of the people who used the water for domestic purposes alone, and he could not but believe that the Government was ill-advised in forcing the proposed scale upon London. The small trader would be sacrificed to the big trader; he would have the scale of charges for the water he used considerably increased. In the past the highest charge he had had to pay had been 9d., but according to this Bill he would have to pay from 8½d. to Is. per 1,000 gallons. It was a grossly unjust and unfair scale to be proposed in any Bill submitted to Parliament in the interests of the people. A municipal supply ought on no account to allow differential charges between various 1954 people in its own area, and it was because it did so in the present case that he felt it his duty to move this Amendment.
§ *Mr. MORTON
seconded the Amendment. He thought that they ought to have an answer to the speech made by the mover. There was no doubt at all that the proper way of charging for water was by meter. It was unfair that a higher charge should be made for the domestic supply in order to make up for the loss that was apparently going to occur somewhere else. If any defence was possible of the proposal that a preference should be shown, and that one person should get water cheaper than another, perhaps the representative of the Government, who was in charge of the Bill now, would tell the House what it was. This was a great question, affecting four, five, or six millions of people, and although they were forced by the Government to discuss it at that late hour that was not a reason why matters should not be properly gone into. and considered. He trusted that the Government would give the House some explanation as to why there should be a difference of charge between the domestic supply and the trade supply.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 8, to leave out lines 8, 9, 10 and 11, and to insert the words 'The charge for any supply furnished by the Board under the last preceding subsection of this section shall, notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, be the fixed rate of eight pence per thousand gallons.' "—(Dr. Cooper.)
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to,
§ Mr. WATERLOW
said he had an Amendment on the Paper as follows—In page 8, line 11, to leave out from the word ' say,' to end of line 27, and to insert the words ' When the quarterly consumption of water does not exceed fifty thousand gallons, nine pence; when exceeding fifty thousand and not exceeding one hundred, thousand gallons, eight pence; when exceeding one hundred thousand and not exceeding two hundred thousand gallons, seven pence; when exceeding two hundred thousand gallons, six pence.'He understood, however, that an assurance had been given by the hon. Member in charge of the Bill that an Amendment 1955 by the hon. Member for Limehouse would he accepted, and he would not therefore proceed further with his own Amendment.
§ Mr. BARNARD
said it would perhaps he, convenient to say on behalf of the Water Board that, acting on the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, who had taken a great deal of interest in the matter, the Board had decided not to offer any opposition to the Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Lime house.
§ Mr. W. PEARCE
said lie was happy to say, as the representative of the Water Board had just told the House, that through the good offices of the. President of the Local Government Board these Amendments were to be accepted. They effected modification, though only a partial one, of a new scale of charges which would cast a very heavy burden on the manufacturers of London. He could not say that he felt fully satisfied with the result, but, having failed to persuade the Water Board to accept the traders' case, it was thought to be the wisest course by the traders to agree to the compromise that was offered. There were many natural disadvantages which j London could not escape from, and for many reasons it was very difficult to carry on extensive industrial operations in the metropolis. The cost of fuel was higher in London than in almost any other part of the country. There were also the high rates and many other disadvantages. The traders of London, j therefore, viewed even the partial increase ' which the modified scale would impose on them with great distrust. They j thought that the Water Board would have shown much more worldly wisdom if they had avoided throwing any portion of the extra charge on the traders of London, who already had sufficient disadvantages to contend with.
In page 8. line 13, to leave out the word twenty-five,' and to insert the word 'fifty.'
In page 8, line 13, to leave out the words 'one shilling,' and to insert the words ' eleven pence.'
In page 8, to leave out lines 14 and 15.
In page to 8, leave out lines 25, 26 and 27, and to insert: 'When exceeding one million gallons and not exceeding three million gallons, eight pence; when exceeding three million gallons and not exceeding five million gallons, seven pence; when exceeding five million gallons, six pence and one-eighth of a penny.'
In page 8, line 29, to leave out the words 'twenty-five shillings.' and to insert the words 'twenty-two shillings and eleven pence.'"— (Mr. W. Pearce.)
§ Amendments agreed to.
§ *Mr. NIELD
said there was no doubt at all that a settlement had been arrived at between the traders and the Water Board. The traders had agreed to the compromise, being the best terms they could get under the present circumstances; but the great body of ratepayers were dissatisfied with the arrangement. The President of the Local Government Board, speaking on the Motion to recommit the Bill, admitted that these charges were the maximum charges, and said he hoped that in the future the Water Board would be able to see their way to reduce them. The Amendment he desired to move was not before the Committee, and it could not be said to be already prejudged. The Amendment recognised that if the authorise! charges were high, an I pressed unduly upon the payers of the rate, there should be a revision at the expiration of five years if upon a, prima facie case being made out by any county or local authority within the area of supply the Local Government Board should think fit to authorise an inquiry. He was careful in proposing it in the terms he did. It was on behalf of urban areas largely occupied by the working classes. In his own division of Middlesex, though it was supposed to be one of the better-class -divisions, so far as the type of house was concerned, he might say for the information of Members below the gangway, there were thousands of houses which would be affected by the Bill: he was informed there were no less than 1,700 whose assessments were £30 and under. That was speaking from the point of view of the domestic supply in one part of Middlesex. There were other divisions poorer where the operation of the Act would have a still harder effect. All that he desired to do was to say that, at the 1957 expiration of five years, the Local Government Board might, upon representations made to them by a country or local authority affected by the Bill, if they were of opinion that the authority had made out a case to their satisfaction, direct an inquiry to be held, at which the Water Board would be represented, and should show cause why they should not reduce their rate. The Amendment might have the effect of correcting what was now thought to be a great injustice. The Water Board now claimed to stand a loss of income of £21,000 a year by equalisation of rate. That decrease of £21,000 was arrived at in this way. London would suffer to the extent of £17,000, and Middle sex to the extent of nearly £5,000. Essex and Surrey, by reason of their present heavy charges, would benefit to the extent of £43,000. The Water Board said it was necessary to have the. difference made up, and they proposed to equalise the rates in this way. They had taken no account of the ever-increasing areas which were taking water supply. They were paying not the least attention to the wonderful increase in suburban districts in the counties which bordered on the County of London. At the expiration of five years there was every reason to believe that, if the rate of building went on in anything like the same proportion, tremendous areas would be added to the Board's sphere, and become rateable on increased incomes. Factories were rapidly moving into the suburbs also, and they would add to the revenue by the additional water which they would take. Such considerations had apparently not been taken into account, and it was therefore only reasonable to suggest that; at the expiration of five years from now! the necessity for a revision might, in view of the additional income which would arise in the ordinary course of business, be considered. The Board declared that they did not want to make profits, and admittedly they had every reason to expect an enormous increase in the number of consumers both by measure and for domestic purposes. If therefore from all parts of the House they accepted i the Bill as being required by the present needs of the Water Board, he could not for the life of him see why, after the admission of the President of the Local 1958 Government Board that these were maximum charges, there should not be a provision enabling any one of the county councils at the end of five years, if they thought they could make a good case, to come to the Local Government Board, and ask for an inquiry with a view to having their charges revised, and the burden which he thought might prove onerous, and which at that time they might show had proved onerous, relieved. It might after five years be shown that by reason of the additional areas of supply the Board were not only able to pay their way by reason of their additional income, but to make a reduction on the high charges. He begged to move the Amendment standing in his name.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 9, line 32, at the end, to insert the words: '(5) Provided always that, if at any time after the expiration of five years from the passing of this Act the council of any administrative county which, or any part of which, is within the limits of supply, or the local authority of any borough or district which, or any part of which, is within the limits of supply shall make a representation to the Local Government Board that the prices authorised by this Act to be charged for a supply of water for domestic purposes or by measure ought to be altered the Local Government Board, after such inquiry as they may think fit, may make an order varying the prices which the Board may charge for a supply of water for domestic purposes or by measure, or substituting other prices in lieu thereof, and the prices so varied or substituted shall have effect on and after such day as may be mentioned in the order as if they had been stated in this Act, and the prices for the time being in force may be altered in like manner at any time after the expiration of any or every period of five years after they were last altered.' "—(Mr. Nield.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ *Mr. JOHN BURNS
said that practically the hon. Member in his Amendment proposed that at the expiration of five years the Local Government Board might be appealed to to hold an inquiry as to the reasonableness of the Water Board charges. It was an exceptional form of suggestion. There was no precedent for it. The Local Government Board did not want it. If it were adopted he thought it would be accepted as a precedent for other water concerns and other municipal undertakings which would look to the Board to be 1959 appointed as the tribunal to judge between them and their constituents. He did not think the Amendment was necessary. The hon. Gentleman forgot that the Water Board was a public authority, that it was not to its interest to impose unreasonable charges upon that section of consumers which was least able to bear it. He also forgot that if there was anyone who would be influenced and perhaps warned by that debate it was the Water Board itself, and he might rely upon it that that Board had already taken the necessary lesson from the suggestions that had been made and the criticisms that had been offered. The hon. Member might rely upon this also that if the revenue of the Board was larger than it apprehended, the Board would from the increased revenue do what every municipal authority did under similar circumstances. They would relieve the condition of the worst first and they would do their best to make their supply as popular and as attractive as was consistent with their making a small margin of profit. Towards the carrying of that out the hon. Member might rely upon it the Local Government Board, without instruction from that House and without that Amendment, would exercise what reasonable pressure it could upon the Water Board. The Local Government Board did not need any cast iron Amendment for such a purpose, and as President of the Board which was to be used, and which ought not to be used as the Amendment proposed, he asked the House to reject the Amendment.
§ *Mr. MORTON
said he was extremely sorry the President objected to the Amendment. He said there was no precedent for it; but if he (Mr. Morton) remembered rightly, in most of the electric light undertakings there was a right of appeal to the Board of Trade to get the price charged altered. That applied, he thought, to undertakings by municipal authorities as well as companies, and he could not understand why the President did not accept that precedent. There might be many reasons why at the end of five years an inquiry should be wanted. The Water Board, which as he had understood the right hon. Gentleman never had much faith in, 1960 might be wasting their income. They might be extravagant with salaries and in many other ways and an inquiry, which generally they understood the right hon. Gentleman did not object to, would expose matters. No undertaking—not even the Local Government Board—was always right. He hoped the right hon. Gentle-man would reconsider his decision and do for the water companies what the Government and Parliament had done with regard to the electric light undertakings.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Mr. BOWLES
moved in page 9, line 37, to leave out the words 'Board so determine they may,' and to insert the words, 'builder shall in writing so require the-Board shall.' "He moved with some diffidence because he thoroughly recognised and agreed that a Bill of that kind was not quite in the position of an ordinary public Bill, and they ought to show great respect for the decisions of the Committee which had considered the matter and to any conclusions at which they might have arrived. Having heard all the evidence the Committee were in a better position than they could be, but he had some reason to believe, and hon. Gentlemen who were-on the Committee and who spoke for it would contradict him if he was wrong, that really this clause as it now stood did not represent what was the- intention of the Committee upon this important point. The point was simple. For a, long time builders in London had been, treated upon lines which they considered rather hard, and they represented this before the Committee. The Committee, he understood, took the view quite clearly that something at any rate-ought to be done to meet the grievance-of which the builders complained. The clause was introduced, as he was informed, in order to put the builder in the same position as, in no other position than, any other trader in London in regard to water. He submitted that the first part of it would amply carry out all that had ever been suggested. In other words, as far as that was concerned, the builder-was put in the same position as the occupier, and was entitled to have his-water by meter. That was perfectly 1961 satisfactory, but the clause went on to make that provision meaningless and ridiculous, for it went on to provide that though the builder was to be permitted to have his water by meter, if the Board otherwise determined they could insist on supplying him at a rate not exceeding 7s. per 100,000 gallons. In other words they might put him back in the position which he had held heretofore, of which he had complained, and which complaint the Committee desired to do away with. The House would see there was a serious case for that Amendment, and he hoped it would be considered. The intention merely was to put the builder into the position occupied by every other trader. Under that Bill every other trader throughout London was entitled to pay by measure for such water as he used, according to the amount he did use. To apply to the builder the first part of the clause, and to withdraw that first part from him by the second part was so palpably and openly contradictory that it must have been due to some mistake on the part of the Committee which the House should be asked to set right. It was a perfectly reasonable position that he had taken up. It was fair that the builder should pay for what he had, but it was unfair that he should be forced to pay for more than he had, and at a different rate from other traders in the City. He hoped that both the House and the hon. Members who served on the Committee would on consideration not object to the Amendment.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 9, line 37, to leave out the words 'Board so determine they may,' and insert the words 'builder shall in writing so require the Board shall'— (Mr. Bowles) — instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part, of the Bill."
§ *MR. LUKE WHITE
said the Joint Committee took a considerable amount of evidence from the Master Builders Association, and also heard counsel on the question of the supply of water, and found that up to the present time 1962 builders had no right whatever to ask the Water Board for a supply of water. Builders, therefore, had been obliged to pay whatever demands had been made by the Water Board to a very large extent. The Committee was agreed that the Builders Association had a ground for complaint, and that they ought to be put in a position in which if they required a supply of water they should be put in the same position as any other traders and be entitled to demand that supply. Up to the present time the charge for water supply for building purposes had been a percentage of the amount of the contract, and after hearing the evidence and the counsel for the Water Board and counsel for the Builders Association, the Committee came to the conclusion that the Water Board should be entitled to charge a percentage, or, with the alternative, should charge according to the scale for supply by measure. He thought that that was a fair compromise. The builders were in a much better position now, for they were in a position to demand water and to know exactly what they were going to pay for it. In entering into a contract if they paid for the supply of water on the percentage in that clause they would know the exact amount they would be made to pay for the water they obtained, and they would know also that they might arrange with the Water Board to take their supply by measure in the same way that any other trader could. No mistake had been made, neither had there been any difference of opinion on the Joint Committee with regard to the point that had been raised. They were of opinion that that was a reasonable clause which the builders ought to accept.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Dr. COOPER
moved an Amendment which sought to make it compulsory on the Water Board to rate the owner of all weekly and monthly property instead of the tenant. The Amendment affected the greater portion of property in London. Almost everybody in weekly and monthly property paid the water rate with the rent, but he had known a good many instances where the tenant had paid his water rate through his rent 1963 for a long period, yet the owner had not paid the water company. The consequence had been that the water of the house had been cut off, or a distraint had been levied on the tenant, though as a matter of fact he had practically paid his water rate through his rent during the whole of the period. He had no desire to leave it to the discretion of the Water Board to allow that condition of things to be continued. He wished to make it compulsory that the Water Board should rate the owner of weekly or monthly property and not the tenant.
§ Amendment not seconded.
§ MR. WATERLOW
moved, on Clause 29, "to leave out the words' Royal parks or gardens,' and to insert the words 'parks, gardens or open spaces of all kinds and descriptions belonging to public authorities.'" He thought parks, gar dens or open spaces belonging to public authorities should all be placed on the same terms. It seemed to him that that was only fair and reasonable, and he hoped the promoters of the Hill and the House would accept the Amendment, for there seemed no just reason why Royal parks should have an advantage over other open spaces and parks.
§ Mr. BARNARD
said he wished to explain in one word how the position arose. The Water Board were not in any way voluntary movers in that direction but were prompted by the Treasury. They received a letter from the Treasury which caused them to put the provision in the Bill. As far as the Water Board was concerned they left it entirely to the discretion of the House to do what they thought to be the best in the matter.
§ *Mr. JOHN BURNS
said that whatever the Water Board might be inclined to do in the matter there was one Government Department, the Treasury, which had a right to be heard. The Treasury would take strong exception to any proposal which would affect the operation of the section so far as the Royal parks were concerned and he thought their views ought to be considered.
§ *Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS
thought it would have been showing more consideration towards the House if the President of the Local Government Board had told them why the Treasury took exception to the proposal. He hid listened to the right hon. Gentleman and to the hon. Member who represented the Water Board as they opposed Amendment after Amendment on the ground that they wished to establish uniformity of charges in the Bill, but, as he had himself shown on other occasions, the Bill reeked with inequality. It charged a man in the country £3, and a man in London £5, for the same quantity of water to the same class of house: it gave a rebate to the man who paid £300, but not to the man who paid £200; and it made concessions to the Royal parks, and it made them to other parks. He cordially supported the Amendment.
§ Dr. COOPER
said the Royal parks were maintained out of the taxes of the country, and he could see no reason why the Government should claim that those parks should be exempt from paying the proper charge for water. He believed that the Water Board had strongly resisted that clause, and that they had only given way under compulsion. The Treasury had asked and demanded that the water for the Royal parks should be delivered at fid. per 1,000 gallons, or at a rate which was 2d. cheaper than that paid by other consumers. He believed The hon. Member for Kidderminster had a letter in his pocket, which he could lead to the House, in which the Treasury had informed the Water Board that unless they consented to that iniquitous charge they would withhold, or cause to be withheld, the Royal assent. He challenged the hon. Member for Kidderminster to reed the letter so that the House might see the kind of pressure put on the Water Board, not only by the Treasury, but by the Local Government Board and by the President of the Board of Trade.
§ Mr. WOOD (Glasgow. St. Rollox)
said the Amendment which had been proposed would not in the slightest degree interfere with the position taken up by the Treasury. If the Water Board could 1965 afford to supply the Royal parks with water at 6d. per 1,000 gallons it could afford to supply the County Conned parks and other parks belonging to public authorities at the same price. That was a matter, which ho understood the Water Board was prepared to leave to the House. It was not an unreasonable proposal they were making, for large manufacturers were to be supplied at 6⅛d., and if that was so, why should not the parks belonging to the municipalities of London be supplied at 6d? This was one of the difficulties caused by the divorce of the Water Board from the municipal authority. The case they were discussing would not have arise i but for that divorce. If they did not obtain the security which that Amendment would give them they would be left entirely at the mercy of the Water Board, who could charge them exactly what they pleased.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Dr. Macnamara, Camber-well, N.)
said he did not think there was any need at that late hour to go into the question of the constitution of the Water Board. The question they had to settle was whether the word "Royal" should stand hi Clause 29. A letter had been received from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to the effect that water should be supplied to the Royal parks at 6d. per 1,000 gallons. As far as he was concerned, it seemed to him that if the House of Commons liked to extend the arrangement to all other parks and public gardens in the metropolis, the Treasury would still be secure. If the Royalparks had their supply at 6d. per 1,000 gallons, ho thought it was in the public interest that all parks and gardens should have it at the same rate.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
said that various references had been made to a letter from the Treasury to the hon. Member who was in charge of the Bill. Those who wished to amend the Bill had been met in the case of every other Amendment by a statement from the hon. Member in charge to the effect that the 1966 Water Board could not make any Amendment in the charges fixed under the Bill j because the finances of the Board would not allow of its being done. The House had been told that the cost of the water to the Water Board and its distribution amounted, to at least 8d. per1,000 gallons, and yet they had here j a clause which suggested that there I should be preferential treatment for the Royal parks which would result in providing them with a supply of water under cost price. The public were to pay for that preferential treatment. They were told by the hon. Member in charge of the Bill that the clause was not put in with his sanction or at his instigation, but in consequence of a letter from the Treasury to the Water Board containing statements the nature; of which had not been divulged to the House. No one had said anything in favour of the Amendment, except the hon. Members who moved and seconded it and the hon. Member who had just spoken. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board said that as long as the Treasury were secured he had no objection to that preferential treatment being extended to the, other London parks and gardens as well. They were, however, supposed to be dealing in this matter as a business assembly, and he wished to ask whether the House really thought they were justified in voting away public money at that hour of the night in the way they were asked to do under this clause. He ventured to say without fear of contradiction that if any private company had. brought such a clause before the House at that time of the night they would not have received the support of the House for one instant. He hoped the House would not agree to the proposal that a large supply of water should be given below cost price when the promoters of the Bill at the same time found it absolutely impossible to make any other concession, however desirable it might be.
§ Mr. BARNARD
asked permission to offer a word of personal explanation. He did not mean his remark to apply to anything except the Royal parks, and it would not apply beyond those parks.
§ Question "That the word proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put. and negatived.
§ *Mr. JOHN BURNS
moved, "In page 15, line 9, at end, to add the words provided that notwithstanding anything contained in this section, the water supply shall not be cut off from any market gardener's premises without giving seven days' previous notice.'"
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ DR. COOPER
moved to leave out Clause 33. This clause, he said, gave increased power to the Water Board to recover its rent over and above any power which was given to the private companies. The water companies had the power of cutting off the water and of levying a distraint, and the Water Board was now seeking additional power to enable them to take a ratepayer into court and imprison him if a distraint was not satisfied. He was sorry to see the Water Board trying to get a clause passed continuing to deal with civil debt by imprisonment, and as he was strongly opposed to such a proceeding he had moved the omission of the clause.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
in page 15, line 10, to leave out Clause 33." — (Dr. Cooper.)
§ *Mr. NIELD
said he should like it to be put on record that he was prepared, if he had been called upon, to move his Amendment to the Amendment submitted by the President of the Local Government Board as follows: "After the word 'premises' to insert the words or from premises used as a laundry and receiving a supply for other than domestic purposes.'" He regretted that owing to the misunderstanding the Amendment had been pass over.
§ Bill to be read the third time.