HC Deb 12 February 1861 vol 161 cc356-8

moved for leave to bring in a Bill to establish County Financial Boards for the assessing of County Rates and for the administration of County Expenditure in England and Wales. He did not apprehend that there would be any opposition to the measure, and he proposed that it should be read a second time on an early day, in order that it might be referred to a Select Committee.


said, that this was a subject which was not at all new to the House, having been introduced several years ago by a right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. M. Gibson). To the plan which was then proposed he thought it his duty to offer a very strong opposition. He begged to assure the hon. Baronet that he was as willing as the hon. Baronet could himself be to join in any fair and just extension of the representative principle which could reasonably be desired by ratepayers with respect to county rates and expenditure; but he asked the House to consider whether, in legislating hastily on this question, they would not run the risk of losing the substance while grasping at the shadow, and render the system under which the county rates were managed really less popular than at present? This was not the proper moment to enter into the question, but it was a matter which gravely affected the interests of the counties, and ought to be well considered. He hoped, therefore, that not only the right hon. Baronet, but the Home Secretary, would give the matter their earnest attention, and that ample time would be afforded the House before the Bill came on for second reading.


said, the House was aware that this subject had been discussed for many successive years; and, on one, occasion the entire subject was referred to a Select Committee, where it underwent considerable investigation. He was not aware—and the office he held gave him an opportunity of hearing of any dissatisfaction —that any increased demand had arisen of late years for the application of the representative system, either wholly or in part, to the administration of the county funds. There were certain counties in which the present system did not give entire satisfaction; but, in general, very little if any complaint existed. The magistrates were always interested in the land of their respective counties, and appeared to be always disposed to provide for the economical administration of the county funds. He was not averse to the introduction of the Bill, or that it should receive the consideration of the House; but with regard to referring it to a Select Committee he begged to say one word. If the Bill were referred to a Select Committee it must be mainly for the consideration of clauses, and without the power of calling witnesses. Now, after the full examination which the subject had already received, he did not see the advantage of discussing the clauses upstairs. If, however, the hon. Gentleman desired to examine witnesses his better course would be not to bring in a measure, but to move for a Select Committee of Inquiry.

Motion agreed to.

Bill "to establish County Financial Boards for the assessing of County Rates, and for the administration of County Expenditure in England and Wales," ordered to be brought in by Sir JOHN TRELAWNY, Sir JOHN SHELLY and Mr. BARROW.

Bill presented, and read 1°.