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ferring

powers upon a government

ment.

to be a public bill, as it merely sought powers for public Chapter bodies who already had a statutory interest in the property.' _

i XXV. Bill con- In 1900, on the second reading of a private bill promoted large

by the Metropolitan Water Companies, the Speaker called
the attention of the house to the large and important

powers which were proposed to be conferred by it upon a depart. public department (the Local Government Board), and

which, according to the practice of the house, ought to be
secured by a public rather than by a private bill; and the

bill was accordingly withdrawn.
Bill con- In 1861, the Red Sea and India Telegraph Bill, which
taining a
govern- amended a private Act, was introduced and proceeded with

ee, as a public bill, as it concerned the conditions of a govern

ment guarantee.3
Bill con. In 1877, notices were given of a private bill for settling a
cerning

scheme of arrangement for the Turkish loans of 1854, 1855,
and 1871: but its subject was obviously not one to be dealt
with by a private bill, and it was not proceeded with.

When a private bill is thus withdrawn, a public bill for
bills intro
duced rice the same purpose has in many cases been introduced in
bills with its place, and passed; but a bill, begun as a private bill,

cannot be taken up and proceeded with as a public bill.4

ment guarantee.

Turkish loans.

Public

private

drawn.

1 128 C. J. 114. 115. 140.

In 1905 a public bill for the establishment of a central Canal Trust was introduced, containing a provi. sion which did not apply to canals generally, but which compulsorily transferred to the trust the under takings of certain canal companies, only, who were specified in a schedule. The notices, that would have been necessary in such a case with regard to a private bill, not having been given, the bill was ordered to be withdrawn (160 C. J. 201. 210. 214216). Another bill was then simi. larly introduced which had the same general object; but it contained a different provision respecting the specified undertakings (requiring that the Canal Trust should take steps to acquire them by agreement or through a Provisional Order), and

to this bill the standing orders re-
lating to private bills were held not
to apply (160 C. J. 289. 327). In
1873 exception was taken to the
Union of Benefices (a public) Bill
on the ground that, as it deprived
certain parishes of powers which they
possessed under the Union of Bene-
fices Act, 1860 (23 & 24 Vict.c. 142),
it ought to have been brought in as
a private bill or to be treated as a
hybrid bill; but it was held to be
strictly a public bill (114 H. D. 3 s.
282. 508).

? Metropolitan Water Companies
Bill, 1900, 155 C. J. 30. 124,
3 116 C. J. 36, etc.; Mr, Speaker
Denison's Diary, p. 78.

In 1865, the promoters of the
Middlesex Industrial School Bill,
dissatisfied with some amendments
made in committee, determined to

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Chapter It has been questioned whether public Acts may Repeal of

2 . public Acts – properly be repealed or amended by a private bill; and the by private

inconvenience of their repeal or amendment by an Act which, bill
being passed as a private bill and being of a local character,
is not printed among the public general Acts, has some-
times been urged as a reason for refusing to sanction this
course. No rule, however, has been established which
precludes the promoters of a private bill from seeking the
repeal or amendment of public Acts. A private bill is
itself an exception, of some degree, from the general law,
or seeks for some powers which the general law does not
afford ; 2 and the fact that it provides for a repeal or an

abandon it; whereupon Mr. Pope Hennessy gave notice that he should proceed with it as a public bill : but it was held that such a proceeding would be irregular, and it was not persisted in (Mr. Speaker Denison's Diary, p. 182).

1 In 1832 a public General Act (7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 31) was amended, so far as the city of Bristol was concerned, by means of a private bill (2 & 3 Will. IV. (local and personal) c. lxxxviii.). This case was quoted by Mr. Speaker, on the 18th July, 1864, when an objection was taken to the Metropolitan District Railways Bill on the ground that it amended the Thames Embankment (a public or hybrid) Act (176 H. D. 3 s. 1619). Cf. also the questions raised, in the Lords, on the Brokers Bonds and Rent Bills, 1864 (176 ib. 408-411), the London (City) Tithes Act, 1864, which repealed a public Act of Henry VIII. (176 ib. 480), the Dover Harbour (Corporation) Bill, 1887 (311 ib. 656668), and the Woolwich Borough Council Bill, 1905 (146 Parl. Deb. 4 s. 1075-1087); and, in the Commons, on the London Valuation and Assessment Bill, 1895, the Belfast Corporation Bill, 1896, and the National Telephone Company Bill, 1899, infra, p. 684, n. 3.

2 The provisions of some public general Acts are regularly amended,

in some degree, with regard to par-
ticular localities, by means of private
bills. In the case of sanitary enact-
ments, for example, new circum.
stances may necessitate modifica-
tions or relaxations, in individual
instances, of the stringent provisions
of the general law; and it is now
quite regular practice for Parlia-
ment to modify or alter provisions
of the Public Health Acts with re-
gard to particular localities. Simi-
larly, nearly every tramway (private)
bill amends the provisions of the
(public) Tramways Act of 1870, in
consequence of the new requirements
of electrical traction; and the pro-
visions of the Electric Lighting Act,
1882, as to the accounts of local
authorities, are frequently amended
by private bills. Amendments by
private bills of the Municipal Corpo.
rations Act, 1882, are less frequent;
but in the Plymouth Corporation Act
of 1904, the provisions of the public
general Act were in effect repealed,
so far as this corporation was con.
cerned, and new and more stringent
provisions were substituted with
respect to the audit of the corpora-
tion accounts (4 Edw. VII. (local
and personal) c. xcviii., s. 6; and cf.
158 C. J. 178).

In 1894, a bill to consolidate and amend the enactments relating to Streets and Buildings in Lon. don, and a bill consolidating and

amendment of public Acts is far from always being a fatal Chapter

XXV. objection to its being introduced as a private bill. But the scope of the public Acts which a private bill proposes to repeal or to amend, and the nature and degree of the proposed repeal or amendment, have to be considered ; 2 and provisions of this kind in private bills demand peculiar vigilance, lest public laws be lightly set aside for the benefit of particular persons or places. On the 14th February, 1895, in the case of the London Valuation and Assessment Bill (introduced for the purpose of forming a common basis of imperial and local taxation), objection was taken to proceeding with the bill as a private bill, on the ground that it entirely changed the law of assessment and rating, and repealed numerous Public Acts of Parliament. Mr. Speaker stated that the Acts proposed in this instance to be repealed were of vast magnitude and covered a vast area : that the Bill affected not only local rating but imperial taxation, involved interests which were much more than local, and proposed to create a new Court of Record in the matter of assessment; and that, in view of its scope, it ought to be introduced as a public, and not as a private, bill.3

amending the statutory powers of the Thames Conservancy, were both passed as private bills, although in each case various public Acts were repealed (57 & 58 Vict. (local and personal) c. ccxiii, and clxxxvii.).

1 Mr. Speaker Peel (30 Parl. Deb. 4 s. 708–709).

? Ib.; and Mr. Speaker Gully (38 Parl. Deb. 4 s. 335).

3 150 C. J. 32. 38; 30 Parl, Deb. 4 s. 706-710. This ruling was cited in support of similar objections taken on two subsequent occasions -but in each case unsuccessfullyto private bills. On 6th March, 1896, on the second reading of the Belfast Corporation Bill (to extend the city of Belfast and for other purposes), it was objected that, as the bill dealt with very large inte. rests, embraced a very large area,

and also repealed important sections in certain public Acts, it ought not to have been introduced as a private bill. But Mr. Speaker stated that, although the bill referred, as many private bills do, to some public matter, and sought to enact that public statutes should not apply or should be partially repealed, these provisions were not so numerous or so important as to necessitate its introduction as a public bill (30 Parl. Deb. 4 s. 335). On 6th March, 1899, objection was taken to proceeding with a private bill to enlarge the powers of the National Telephone Company under the provisions of the Telegraph Act of 1892, on the ground that the area affected was the whole of the United Kingdom, that the bill established a new jurisdiction, and

lic or

Chapter

When a public Act is repealed or amended by one passed The classiXXV.

m e fication of - as a private bill, the fact is noted in the annual volume of bills the public general Acts;1 but these volumes do not include pa

private those Acts themselves which have been passed as private during

their bills. Nor do they now contain public Acts which are passage

through purely local in character. With regard to Acts passed Parlig prior to 1798, it is difficult to determine whether they ment not were, in fact, public or private, the only Acts included in with their

classificathe latter category being estate, divorce, naturalization, tion when and other Acts of a personal character, while Acts for the p

de printed as making of roads, bridges, &c., and for other local improve- Acts. ments, were printed with the public Acts. In 1798 the distinction between “Public General Acts” and “Local and Personal Acts” was first introduced into the Statute book; and from that year until 1868 the classification of the printed Acts into one or other of these two divisions was determined by whether they had originated as public or as private bills. But since 1868, public bills of a local character have, when passed, been printed among the local Acts of each year. In treating of petitions, the origin of private bills has Origin of

private been already glanced at (see p. 523): but it may be referred bills. to again, in illustration of the distinctive character of such bills, and of the proceedings of Parliament in passing them. The separation of legislative and judicial functions is a refinement in the principles of political government and jurisprudence, which can only be the result of an advanced civilization. In the early constitution of Parliament these functions were confounded; and special laws for the benefit that the powers asked for should be the action of the House on other granted, if at all, to the Postmaster. occasions, that the bill should proGeneral. But Mr. Speaker pointed ceed as a private bill (Telegraph out that the Bill was of far narrower Act 1892 Amendment Bill, 1899; application than the London Valua- 67 Parl. Deb. 4 s. 1335-38). tion and Assessment Bill of 1895, In the “Table showing the and that it proposed under certain Effect of the Year's Legislation." conditions and in certain places to Cf. the volumes of 1894 (pp. 657. exempt a company, carried on for 666) and 1904 (pp. 139. 140). purposes of profit, from the opera- ? As to the Classification of Local tion of a particular subsection of a and Personal and Private Acts, see public Act; and he held that it would infra, Chap. XXXII. be in order, and in accordance with

of private parties, and judicial decrees for the redress of Chapter

XXV. private wrongs, being founded alike upon petitions, were. not distinguished in principle or in form. When petitions sought obviously for remedies which the common law afforded, the parties were referred to the ordinary tribunals: but in other cases, Parliament exercised a remedial jurisdiction. Other remedies of a more judicial character, and founded upon more settled principles, were at length supplied by the courts of equity; and from the reign of Henry IV., the petitions addressed to Parliament prayed, more distinctly, for peculiar powers beside the general law of the land, and for the special benefit of the petitioners. Whenever these were granted, the orders of Parliament, in whatever form they may have been expressed, were in the nature of private Acts; and after the mode of legislating by bill and statute had grown up in the reign of Henry VI. (see p. 459), these special enactments were embodied in the

form of distinct statutes.? Peculiarity Passing now to existing practice, the proceedings of Parof proceed-, ings on

liament, in passing private bills, are still marked by much
private
bills.

peculiarity. A bill for the particular benefit of certain
persons may be injurious to others; and to discriminate
between the conflicting interests of different parties involves
the exercise of judicial inquiry and determination. This
circumstance causes important distinctions in the mode of
passing public and private bills, and in the principles by

which Parliament is guided.
The func- In passing public bills, Parliament acts strictly in its
tions of
Parliament legislative capacity: it originates the measures which
in passing

& appear for the public good, it conducts inquiries, when

necessary, for its own information, and enacts laws ac-
are purely
legislative. cording to its own wisdom and judgment. The forms

in which its deliberations are conducted are established
for public convenience; and all its proceedings are
independent of individual parties, who may petition,
indeed, and are sometimes heard by counsel, but who
have no direct participation in the conduct of the

1 See Statutes of the Realm, by Record Commission, 9 Henry VI.

public bills

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