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XXVII.

chairman

Chapter chairman reports the circumstance to the house, when the

members still remaining will be enabled to proceed, or
such orders will be made as the house may deem necessary.1
If the chairman be absent, the member next in rotation on When
the list of members, who is then present, is to act as chair- absent.
man : but in the case of a railway and canal committee, s. 0. 120.
only until the general committee shall appoint another
chairman, if they think fit.?

All petitions in favour of or against or otherwise relating Petitions to private bills or bills to confirm provisional orders or cer

e in favour

obof, against, tificates—excepting petitions for additional provision 3—are or relating

to private now presented to the house, not in the usual way of pre- bills;

how presenting other petitions, but by depositing them in the sented. Private Bill Office, where they may be deposited by a 8. 0. 203. member, party, or agent. Any petitioner may withdraw Petitions his petition, or his opposition, on a requisition to that with

V drawn. effect being deposited in the Private Bill Office, signed by s. 0. 206. himself or by the agent who deposited the petition.

Petitions in favour of private bills are not referred to the Petitions in committee, as the petitioners are not parties to the bill. On one side are the promoters, and on the other petitioners against it: but petitioners in favour of the bill can claim | no hearing before the committee, except as witnesses. It has been intimated that counsel may allude to the presentation of such petitions in argument, but may not examine witnesses in respect of their contents or signatures.5 Petitions against a private bill originating in the House Petitions

against of Commons must be deposited “on or before the 12th bills to be

1:1 deposited February;" and petitions against a provisional order bill 6 (originating in the Commons) must be deposited “not later prescribed than seven clear days after notice has been given of the to stand

referred to 1 145 C. J. 402; 152 ib. 143; and Thames Conservancy Bill, 1894 (149 the comcf. 67 Parl. Deb. 4 s. 27.

C. J. 121); on the Thames Tunnel, 2 112 C. J. 193; 133 C. J. 113; &c., Bill (Group 2, June 12 and 13), S. 0. 128, and cf. the proceedings on the 1860; and on the South Yorkshire, North Eastern Railway Bills (com. &c., Railway Bill (Group 8, June mittee on Group 7), 24th and 27th 27 and July 1), 1890. June, 1892 (147 C. J. 398; 5 Parl. 5 Minutes of committee on Group Deb. 4 s. 1920).

2 of Railway Bills, 1861 (17th 3 Supra, p. 725.

April). * Cf. the proceedings on the

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day on which the bill will be examined.” In the case of Chapter

XXVII. bills (including provisional order bills) which are brought from the House of Lords : of bills which the promoters have been permitted to deposit after the prescribed time ; 1 and of bills promoted by the London County Council and introduced under standing order 194, a petition against the bill may be deposited at any time not later than ten clear days after the first reading. Every petition against a private bill (or a provisional order bill) which has been deposited within the time thus prescribed or has been otherwise deposited, in accordance with the standing orders, and in which the petitioners pray to be heard by them. selves, their counsel, or agents, stands referred to the committee on the bill, under standing order No. 210, without any distinct reference from the house. And, subject to the rules and orders of the house, such petitioners are to be heard upon their petition accordingly, if they think fit, and counsel heard in favour of the bill against such petition. Part of a petition having been omitted by mistake, and afterwards added, it was ruled that such part was not

referred to the committee. Rules as No petitioners against a private bill (or provisional order to hearing 1:1

bill) will be heard before the committee unless their t petition has been prepared and signed in strict conformity 8. 0. 128. with the rules and orders of the house, and has been de

posited within the time limited—except where the petitioners
complain of any matter which may have arisen in com-
mittee, or of any proposed additional provision, or of the
amendments as proposed in the filled-up bill.
I Supra, p. 722.

4 As to petitions against bills ? Supra, p. 675.

" substituted” fori orders under the 3 When the 12th of February Private Legislation Procedure, Scot. fulls on a Sunday, the petitions re- land Act, 1889, see infra, Chapter quired to be deposited on or before XXXI. that day have to be deposited on or 583 H. D. 3 s. 487. before Saturday, the 11th February. See infra, p. 807. Petitions In the other cases the deposit may against alterations are not infrebe made on the Monday, if the last quently presented by parties who day in the period prescribed for de- object to alterations, proposed to be positing a petition falls on a Sun- made in the bill in committee, day. Cf. 2 Clifford & Stephens, which might affect them. Where, Locus Standi Reports, p. 4.

however, these alterations are

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Chapter If a petition be presented after the time limited, the only Petitions

- mode by which the petitioners can obtain a hearing is by after time.

depositing a petition, praying that the standing orders be
dispensed with in their case, and that they may be heard
by the committee. The petition will stand referred to the
standing orders committee; and if the petitioners be able
to show any special circumstances which entitle them to
indulgence, and, particularly, that they have not been
guilty of laches, the standing orders will be dispensed with."

Where petitioners have died after the deposit of their Death of
petitions, their sons, or their agents or executors, have per
petitioned to be heard, and, on the report of the standing
orders committee, have been permitted to appear and be
heard upon the petitions of the deceased petitioners, or to
deposit a new petition after the time limited.
No petition will be considered which does not distinctly Grounds of

objection specify the grounds on which the petitioners object to any to be of the provisions of the bill. The petitioners can only

S 0. 127. be heard on the grounds so stated. If not specified with sufficient accuracy, the committee may direct a more specific statement to be given, in writing, but limited to the grounds of objection which had been inaccurately specified; but this power has been seldom exercised.4

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proposed only by petitioners against
the bill, the promoters are held to
be fully competent to defend their
bill without the intervention of the
petitioners against alterations; and
in such cases it is not usual for the
committee also to hear the peti.
tioners against alterations unless
the committee or the promoters
should be disposed to accept the
alterations so proposed.

· Standing orders committee re-
port, That standing order 128 ought
to be dispensed with, 159 C. J. 48,
&c.; ought not to be dispensed
with, 159 ib., 235 &c. In 1905 the
standing orders committee having
reported, in the case of a peti.
tioner against the Great Northern
(Ireland), &c., Railways Bill, that
standing order 128 ought not to be

dispensed with, the house ordered
that the committee's resolution be
referred back to them, to consider
whether under the circumstances
of the case the standing order
should not be dispensed with; but
the committee again resolved that
it should not, 160 C. J. 61. 117. 128.

? Petition of F. Hopkins against
the Lincolnshire Estuary Bill, 1851,
106 C. J. 226, 233.

3 Petition of the Duke of Portland against the Ardrossan and Glasgow Railway Bill, 1854 (109 C. J. 206, and Suppl. to Votes, 1854, P. 606). Petition of O. Morrison against the Metropolitan Inner Circle Railway Bill, 1878 (133 C. J. 112, and Private Business, 1878, p. 188), &c.

• Cf., upon this point, the recom

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Commons.

Locus

Such being the general rules relating to petitions, it is Chapter standi of

XXVII. ers now necessary to describe the mode of adjudicating upon against formal objections, on the part of promoters, to petitions private bills in against a private bill, and upon the petitioner's rights to be

heard before the committee appointed to deal with the bill.
Prior to 1864, all such questions were heard and determined
in both houses—as they still are in the Lords—by the
committee on each bill. Considerable objection was raised to
this practice on the ground of its inconvenience and expense,
counsel and witnesses having often been kept in atten-
dance on behalf of petitioners who were adjudged, at the
eleventh hour, to have no claim to be heard. With a view
to obviate these objections, and at the same time to intro-
duce greater uniformity and certainty into the decisions upon
these important points, the adjudication of questions of
locus standi was entrusted by the Commons in 1865 to the
“Referees of the House upon Private Bills,” who had
been constituted by a standing order passed in the pre-
ceding year.'

mendation of the Select Committee on Private Business (H. C. No. 378) of Session 1902 (p. ix. of Report).

1 As originally constituted, the Referees consisted of the chairman of ways and means, and other members, the Speaker's counsel, and several official referees who were not members of the House. Until 1868 the referees sat as three courts, one of which dealt only with locus standi questions. The two remaining courts dealt with the engineering estimates, and other particulars, of bills referred to the referees, under standing orders, for this purpose; and the referees were also empowered in some cases to deal with the whole subject-matter of a bill. (Cf. the S. O.'s passed in 1864 & 1865 and numbered 93-96 in 1865, which were repealed 17th March, 1868; and the Instruction to the Committee of Selection, 1st March, 1867). But the consideration by the referees, in these two courts, of these engineering and other mat

ters was discontinued in 1868; and since that year there has only been one Court of Referees-that, namely, for the determination of locus standi questions. From 1868 to 1903, however, the official referees already mentioned were regularly associated with committees on private bills, to which they were appointed by the Committee of Selection or the General Committee on Railway, &c., Bills, under standing order : they assisted the committees in their consideration of the bills; and until 1876 they also possessed the power of voting. In 1903 this appointment of official referee was finally discontinued. (Cf. Appendix 8 to Report of Select Committee (H. C. No. 378) of 1902 on Private Business; Clifford's Hist. of Private Bill Legislation, II. 804–813; and Report from Select Committee (H. C. Paper No. 108) of 1876 on the Referees on Private Bills, 131 C. J. 101. 120.)

Chapter XXVII.

eir con

stitution

As at present constituted under this standing order (No. Referees 87), in its amended form, the Referees consist of the chair- vate bills : man of ways and means, and the deputy chairman, with not less than seven other members of the house, who are and duties ;

A (S. 0. 87, appointed by Mr. Speaker for such periods as he thinks fit. & They have the assistance of the counsel to Mr. Speaker; and their duty, as defined by standing order No. 89, is to decide

“Upon all petitions against private bills, or against provisional orders, or provisional certificates, as to the rights of the petitioners to be heard upon such petitions—without prejudice, however, to the power of the select committee to which the bill is referred to decide upon any question as to such rights arising incidentally in the course of their proceedings."

Under standing order No. 88–

vre.

“The practice and procedure of the referees, their times of sitting, And rules order of business, and the forms and notices required in their proceed- o proings, shall be prescribed by Rules, to be framed by the chairman of .. ways and means, subject to alteration by him as occasion may require, 151.) but only one counsel shall appear before such referees in support of a private bill, or in support of any petition in opposition thereto, unless specially authorized by the referees.”

By one of the Rules made by the chairman of ways and means? under this standing order, the promoters of a bill who intend to object to the right of petitioners to be heard against it, are to give notice of such intention, and of the grounds of their objection, to the clerk to the referees and to the agents for the petitioners, not later than the eighth day after the day on which the petition was actually deposited in the Private Bill Office;? but the referees may permit such notices to be given, under special

1 The present Rules were laid on the table, 28th February, 1906 (Paper No. 66 of Session 1906).: .

2 The time allowed for serving such notices of objection is exclusive of the day on which the petition was deposited (Smethurst on Locus Standi (2nd edit.), 6, and App. 97;

2 Clifford & Stephens, Locus Standi Reports, 2). It has been ruled that the service of such notices by post is not sufficient: but under certain circumstances it has been allowed (Smethurst, 7, and App. 98; 3 Clifford & Rickards, L. S. Reports, 376).

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