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Chapter chairman reports the circumstance to the house, when the
*XTI1, 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, 8. 0.120.
only until the general committee shall appoint another
chairman, if they think fit.2

All petitions in favour of or against or otherwise relating Petitions to private bills or bills to confirm provisional orders or cer- of/agahwt tificates—excepting petitions for additional provision3—are or retins

to private

now presented to the house, not in the usual way of pre-Mils; senting other petitions, but by depositing them in the senTed."" Private Bill Office, where they may be deposited by a 8. o. 205. member, party, or agent. Any petitioner may withdraw Petitions his petition, or his opposition, on a requisition to thatj^^. effect being deposited in the Private Bill Office, signed by s. 0. 206. himself or by the agent who deposited the petition.4

Petitions in favour of private bills are not referred to the Petitions in committee, as the petitioners are not parties to the bill.favourOn 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 of Commons must be deposited "on or before the 12th bfu» to be February; " and petitions against a provisional order bill ^^et (originating in the Commons) must be deposited " not later {7",,"^ 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 th.e com

cf. 67 Pari. Deb. 4 s. 27. C. J. 121); on the Thames Tunnel, mlttee

1 112 C. J. 193; 183 C. J. 113; &c., Bill (Group 2, June 12 and 13), & 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 Pari. * Minutes of committee on Group

Deb. 4 s. 1920). 2 of Railway Bills, 1861 (17th

* Supra, p. 725. April).

'Cf. the proceedings on the

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 194,2 a petition against
the bill may be deposited at any time not later than ten
clear days after the first reading.3 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 com-
mittee on the bill, under standing order No. 210, without
any distinct reference from the house.4 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 peti-
tion. Part of a petition having been omitted by mistake,
and afterwards added, it was ruled that such part was not
referred to the committee.5
Rules as No petitioners against a private bill (or provisional order
petmoners hill) will be heard before the committee unless their
buis""' petition has been prepared and signed in strict conformity
S. 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."

1 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-
falls 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 5 83 H. D. 8 s. 487.
before Saturday, the 11th February. 0 See infra, p. 807. Petitions
In the other cases the deposit may against alterations are not infre-
be 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

XXVII.

Chapter If a petition be presented after the time limited, the only Petitions . mode by which the petitioners can obtain a hearing is by aftw'thne. 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.1

Where petitioners have died after the deposit of their Death of petitions, their sons, or their agents or executors, have Petltl0ner8petitioned 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,2 or to deposit a new petition after the time limited.3 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 g^*^
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

proposed only by petitioners against dispensed with, the house ordered

the bill, the promoters are hold to that the committee's resolution be

bo fully competent to defend their referred back to them, to consider

bill without the intervention of the whether under tho circumstances

petitioners against alterations; and of the case the standing order

in such cases it is not usual for the should not be dispensed with; but

committee also to hear the peti- the committee again resolved that

tioners against alterations unless it should not, 160 G. J. 61. 117.128.
the committee or the promoters 8 Petition of F. Hopkins against

should be disposed to accept the the Lincolnshire Estuary Bill, 1851,

alterations so proposed. 106 C. J. 226, 233.

1 Standing orders committee re- 1 Petition of the Duke of Portport, That standing order 128 ought land against the Ardrossan and to be dispensed with, 159 C. J. 48, Glasgow Bailway Bill, 1851 (109 &o.; ought not to be dispensed C. J. 206, and Suppl. to Votes, 1854, with, 159 ib., 235 &c. In 1905 the p. 606). Petition of C. Morrison standing orders committee having against the Metropolitan Inner reported, in the case of a peti- Circle Railway Bill, 1878 (133 C. J. tioner against the Great Northern 112, and Private Business, 1878, (Ireland), &c, Railways Bill, that p. 188), Ac.

standing order 128 ought not to be * Cf., upon this point, the recom

Such being the general rules relating to petitions, it is petitioner* now necessary to describe the mode of adjudicating upon

Locus standi of

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against private bills in Commons.

formal objections, on the part of promoters, to petitions
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
"Eeferees of the House upon Private Bills," who had
been constituted by a standing order passed in the pre-
ceding year.1

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 threo
courts, one of which dealt only with
locus standi questions. The two
remaining courts dealt with the
engineeiing 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 1908, however, the official
roferees already mentioned were
regularly associated with com-
mittees on private bills, to which
they were appointed by the Com-
mittee of Selection or the General
Committee on Railway, &c, Bills,
under standing order: they assisted
the committees in their consider-
ation of the bills; and until 1876
they also possessed the power of
voting. In 1903 this appointment
of official referee was finally dis-
continued. (Cf. Appendix 8 to
Report of Select Committee (H. C.
No. 378) of 1902 on Private Busi-
ness; Clifford's Hist, of Private
Bill Legislation, II. 804-813; and
Report from Select Committee (H.
C. Paper No. 108) of 1876 on tho
Referees on Private Bills, 131 C. J.
101. 120.)

As at present constituted under this standing order (No. Referees 87), in its amended form, theEeferees consist of the chair- vitebin's: man of ways and means, and the deputy chairman, with g^t^°* not less than seven other members of the house, who are and dnties appointed by Mr. Speaker for such periods as he thinks fit. 87 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—

"The practice and procedure of the referees, their times of sitting, An<l rules order of business, and the forms and notices required in their proceed- "^{J,TM" ings, shall be prescribed by Rules, to be framed by the chairman of ^ Q 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 Kules made by the chairman of ways and means1 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;2 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).!

* 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,
876).

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