Private Bill Standing Orders

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 9 Mawrth 1945.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South 12:00, 9 Mawrth 1945

I should like to say a word about this matter, as I happened to serve on the Select Committee. I should mention incidentally that no person now living was engaged in the making of the draft of 1874. Our Committee had a very good chairman, and our task was a relatively light one, because of the admirable work done by the informal committee. But I would like to say one cautionary word about what we have just heard. The hon. Member for South Bristol (Mr. A. Walkden) said that these things go through quietly. Some of us take steps sometimes to see that they do not go through too quietly. When the Glasgow Corporation came here for a savings bank, we threw the Bill out. The hon. Member wants to make these things easier, but I do not know whether he would like it very much if the Gloucester County Council wished to appropriate Bristol, instead of the traffic being in the reverse direction. This Session the Metropolitan Water Board is promoting a Bill, for a very good purpose—to provide three new reservoirs. When I want to water my garden now they say that I may not do so. Thus, apparently, three new reservoirs would be a good idea. Yet there are on the Order Paper no fewer than 30 petitions against that Bill. If Ministers had the right to say, "This is a good Bill, and it is all finished," that would be most undesirable.

The hon. Member suggested that it was right that we should preserve our powers to examine these petitions, but that Bristol alone should be exempt. They are to have a free run, but everybody else is to come under the harrow. It is vital that this House should preserve its tradition as an independent, impartial tribunal, and the Committees upstairs on which our colleagues serve are regarded as the most impartial tribunals anybody could have. I have heard tribute after tribute paid to them by people, connected both with municipalities and with public utility companies, and these people say that they always get a square deal upstairs. The hon. Member was suggesting that that judicial process should come to an end, and that the matter should be settled in a hole-and-corner way by some Minister. I hope that he will not hold those views for very long, because if he does, I can only tell him that Bristol must be moving in the direction of Fascism.