HC Deb 04 July 1876 vol 230 cc951-81

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. W. H. Smith.)


I will take this opportunity of making the Financial Statement with respect to local income and indebtedness which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised that I would make on the second reading of the Bill. Before I do so I will state that the object of this Bill is to authorize the Treasury to place funds at the command of the Public Works Loans Commissioners to enable them to meet the demands made upon them by the local authorities during the current financial year. The Act of last Session was to provide that the local authorities should give notice before the 31st of December, 1875, of the sums they would probably require from January 1, 1876, to March 31, 1877; and a Parliamentary Paper has been circulated within the last few days stating that the total sum with respect to which notice was given amounted to a very large figure, more than double that which the present Bill seeks to place at the disposal of the Commissioners. Nevertheless, hon. Gentlemen will observe that the Estimate has been framed by the Treasury after six months' experience of the total period to which the applications related. The Treasury know how much was required or how little between January 1 and March 31 in the last financial year, and we have now passed through the first quarter of the current financial year, and have therefore the best reason for knowing that £4,000,000, which the Bill proposes to place at the disposal of the Commissioners, will be amply sufficient to meet the requirements of the case. On this first occasion, when the local authorities were asked to send in their estimates, perfect accuracy could hardly be expected. What I propose now to do is to make a short statement, showing the indebtedness of the local authorities and their current expenditure. As regards local indebtedness, I do not propose going further back than the year 1872–3. Previous to that time certain local authorities were required to make various financial Returns, which were made partly to the Home Office and partly to the Poor Law Board, and there was no obligation whatever to return the amount of outstanding loans. When Sir George Lewis was at the Home Office in 1860 he brought in a Bill, in which provision was made for returns of the expenditure of local authorities, but not as to outstanding liabilities, and although, in point of fact, some information had been received under that head, there was no means or opportunity of classifying or analyzing the accounts properly. In 1872 various incidents occurred which render that year important as the commencement of a new system. The duty of collecting these Returns was transferred to the Local Government Board exclusively, and an identification of functions and duties took place between the Urban Sanitary Authorities and Muni- cipal Town Councils which led to the clearing up of difficulties. In 1873 my hon. Friend who is now Secretary to the Local Government Board (Mr. Salt) procured a Return which shed a good deal of light on the indebtedness of the local authorities; and my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) also procured some valuable and comprehensive Returns. These, together with the information collected by the Department, furnished the foundation of the statement made in 1873, that the local indebtedness of the country at that time amounted to £72,000,000. About 12 months later the Return was made at £84,000,000; and according to the Returns obtained during the last few weeks the total amount of indebtedness at the present time might be set down at £92,191,281. But these figures require considerable correction before it can be assumed that the difference between them represents the addition to local indebtedness between the three years referred to. In 1873 the outstanding loans which were returned amounted to £72,000,000; but subsequent information has shown that large sums of money were not included, which we now know ought to have been included. For instance, from Liverpool there was owing £2,200,000, which was not included in the Returns, from Manchester, £2,300,000, from Blackburn, £300,000, and from Oldham, £500,000, and from other places sums making a total aggregate of £8,000,000 which had been omitted, so that the total aggregate for 1872–3 should have been £80,000,000, instead of £72,000,000. In 1873–4 the Return of outstanding loans was given as £84,000,000, and for reasons similar to those which I have just adverted to, there should be added to that figure the sum of £1,500,000, so that the correct total of last year would be £85,500,000. From that total we have the sum of £5,500,000 to be accounted for as the net increased amount of indebtedness for that year, within which about £3,000,000 of loan would have been paid off. The information and Returns we have from other sources show that there was received during that year, of borrowed money, £8,173,000. The chief item of which this amount is made up is a sum received by Town Councils and Urban Sanitary Authorities, £3,500,000; the Metropolitan Board of Works, £1,500,000; Harbour Authori- ties, £1,500,000—making a total of £6,500,000. The difference probably consists of sums borrowed under existing powers, which had not been fully availed of. Up to the present time the amount of indebtedness may be taken at £92,500,000. Deducting from that the corrected Return of last year—namely, £85,500,000, we have an apparent difference of £7,000,000, but to that should be added £4,000,000, which may be estimated as the amount of loans paid off during 1874–5, and this would show a difference of £11,000,000 as compared with the indebtedness of last year. The amount raised on loan in 1874–5 was about £11,500,000, which was for the most part thus distributed—Town Councils and Urban Sanitary Authorities, £5,000,000; School Boards, £1,500,000; Metropolitan Board of Works, £2,500,000; and Harbours, £1,500,000—making a total of £10,500,000. Thus the increase on the net indebtedness, after deducting the repayments, between 1872–3 and 1873–4 was £5,500,000, and the similar sum between 1873–4 and 1874–5 was £7,000,000. Of this sum, the Metropolitan Board of Works, Harbour Authorities, and School Boards raised £5,500,000. If we look at totals of loans under various heads, we find that Poor Law Authorities stand for £3,500,000, County Authorities for £3,144,000, Municipal Authorities for £5,900,000, Metropolis Local Management for £1,888,000, Metropolitan Board of Works for £11,174,000, Urban Sanitary Authorities for £33,274,000. The result is that this £92,000,000 is composed of £63,000,000 charged upon rates, and £28,000,000 charged upon tolls and dues. This sum, which I may put at £92,000,000, which is due from local authorities in England and Wales, strikes one as enormous, but it is worth while to analyze it to see of what it consists. About one-half of the whole is owing—by the Metropolitan Board of Works, £12,000,000; and the Urban Sanitary Authorities, £33,500,000; making together £45,500,000. This represents substantial value—works which either of themselves are valuable property or which add to the value of property—namely, sewers, street improvements, gas, and water. Some persons may say that this is not local taxation in the strict sense of the word, but is rather the voluntary adoption on the part of urban communities of an economical method of public financing with the view of securing for private individuals the comforts, conveniences, and necessities of life. It may be said that these are in the nature of payment of rents rather than of rates—they are, in fact, of the nature of additional rent paid by the occupier for what he would otherwise have to provide for his own comfort and convenience. On analyzing the £92,000,000 from another point of view, it will be found that about £30,000,000 is charged on tolls and dues, and about £60,000,000 upon a revenue derived from rates of about £20,000,000 per annum. If we deduct the £45,000,000 due by the Metropolitan Board of Works and the Urban Sanitary Authorities, there remains only £15,000,000 for all others—namely, County Authorities, Borough Authorities, Poor Law Authorities, Highways, and School Boards. Again, if we add to the sum of £45,000,000 due by the Metropolitan Board of Works and the Urban Authorities, the sum of £21,000,000 charged on harbours and docks, there will be a total of £65,000,000, or two-thirds of the whole. The most important of the items is the £33,500,000 due by the Sanitary Authorities; and four great towns owe nearly half of this enormous sum—Liverpool, £4,200,000; Manchester, £4,500,000; Bradford, £2,500,000; Leeds, £3,200,000; making altogether £14,400,000. The total charge of money borrowed on the rates is £60,000,000. The total value of rate able property at the present time may be estimated at £120,000,000, and, therefore, assuming an equally spreading charge over the whole country, the sum borrowed would amount to about half of the yearly rate able value. The question is whether the charge is increasing in proportion to the increase of the rate able value. I can hardly give a satisfactory answer to that question; but, taking 1867–8, when my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty obtained a Return on the subject, the total rate able value stood at that time at £100,688,000; in 1869–70, at £104,405,000; in 1871–2, at £109,000,000;in 1873–4, at£115,606,000; and a Return not yet presented would show that it was estimated for 1874–5 at £120,000,000. If a locality be indebted to the extent of only one-half of its rate able value, that might be considered a moderate figure; under the Sanitary Acts it was so considered, and unless a larger sum was required there was no occasion to apply to Parliament. The total indebtedness, as compared with the total rate able value, is not, therefore, comparatively speaking, unmanageable. I am only able to form a rough estimate as to what the condition of things may be a year hence; but from the £92,000,000 £4,500,000 should be deducted for capital paid off, and that would leave £85,500,000 of local indebtedness. On the other side, the Local Government Board have sanctioned the borrowing of £1,500,000; Local Acts, £6,500,000, not all wanted within the year; School Boards, £1,500,000—total, £9,500,000, or £10,000,000. Therefore, the amount of local indebtedness 12 months hence will be about £95,000,000. The House will not fail to be struck by the large amount borrowed under private Acts of Parliament—namely, £6,500,000, and it may be interesting to know the relative proportion between the sums thus raised and the sums raised by the authority of the Local Government Board. In 1872 there were powers given for borrowing under local Acts to the amount of £2,831,000, and by the Local Government Board the power for borrowing to the amount of £602,000. In 1873 the sums respectively were £1,389,500 and £980,000; in 1874, £1,094,000 and £1,457,000; and in 1875, £6,505,000 and £1,975,000. The combined average for the four years would be found to be £4,208,000. Practically speaking the great bulk of the money is not borrowed from the Public Works Loan Commissioners, but privately from bankers and capitalists, by the great corporations of the Kingdom. It has been under the Sanitary and Education Acts that the Public Works Loan Commissioners have advanced at a cheap rate the greater part of the money to which the present Bill refers. So much for the indebtedness of the local authorities. Now as to the expenditure. In 1874 the sum of £24,500,000 was raised by local taxation, and in 1875 the sum was £26,500,000, showing an increase of £2,000,000. The principal items of the increase in the past year were again the Metropolitan Board, £250,000; sanitary rates, £2,212,000; and school board rates, £250,000. Among the principal items of decrease are the Poor Law charges and the police rates. Therefore, it maybe said that the urban sanitary rates, the school board rates, and the Metropolitan Board rates show the principal items of increase, while on the other side a decrease is shown under the heads of police rates and Poor Law charges. There is a continuous and satisfactory reduction on the expenditure upon poor rates. The reduction has been going on for the last three years, and shows a decrease of upwards of £500,000 from what it was in 1871–2. In 1871–2 the reduced amount, as compared with the preceding year, was stated at £315,324; in 1873–4 a corresponding comparison showed a decrease of £73,212, and in 1874–5 the reduced expenditure on the poor rates, as compared with the preceding year, amounted to £176,476, showing a decrease in three years of more than £500,000. We expect that next year there will be some increase in the rates levied by urban sanitary authorities, and probably also in the metropolis. Whilst I am afraid that there may be an increase in these rates, the burden will be decreased by the increase in the value of the property from which the revenue is raised. There will also be probably a diminution in the poor rate, and generally speaking the system of subvention that has been in operation for two years will also affect the poor rate and the police rate Returns to probably the amount of £300,000 more than is shown in the present Returns. It may be observed that although the subvention is given in the name of poor rate and police and county rate, the greater proportion of such subvention goes in the mitigation of the charges upon the dwellers in towns, rather than of those which press upon the dwellers in the country. Of this subvention, in round numbers, £650,000 goes to the dwellers in towns, and £450,000 to those who dwell in the country. The general conclusion also is that the amount paid in the shape of non-remunerative rates shows a tendency to decrease, whilst the amount of payment to remunerative rates shows undoubtedly a tendency to increase. I see no reason why there should be any increase of rates except those levied for the purpose of sanitary improvements, education, and roads. It would be absurd to institute too close a comparison between the indebtedness of local rates and the public burdens of the country; but still I think that we may fairly put the two together by way of illustration. The public Debt is £750,000,000 in round numbers, which is in the ratio of 10 to 1 to the annual revenue of the country, which is about £75,000,000, whilst the local debts charged upon the rates are £60,000,000, or in the ratio of 3 to 1 only to the amount of the rates. With few exceptions also the whole of the local debt is being rapidly paid off within periods ranging over 30, 40, or 60 years; the reduction being made by way of annual payments or sinking funds, as the case may be; and a great improvement has taken place of late years in this respect. In the course of carrying on investigations in my Department with a view to sanctioning loans for public works, we occasionally find that money has been borrowed for the payment of debts which have been previously incurred; but this is a diminishing practice, and there is a growing disposition to pay much more attention to the strict principles of finance. Then, again, Parliament has made many changes that tend to produce greater accuracy and right conduct in reference to local finance. In every Private Bill there is a clause inserted requiring an annual Return of the amount invested in the sinking fund for the repayment of the loan; and if there is any failure in acting up to this obligation the Local Government Board may get a mandamus in order to compel the local body to make payments off the debt. In the Act of last year there is an admirable provision which enables security to be taken for the execution of the works for which public money has been advanced, and the central authorities may satisfy themselves that the money will be properly repaid. If I should be asked whether everything has been done that could be done in the way of improving the system of borrowing and lending public money, I may say that I think that some additional precautions should be taken by Parliament to secure uniformity between the practice of the two Houses of Parliament as to the provisions which are inserted in Private Bills. I am not sure that the principles which are acted upon in the Local Government Office might not with advantage be communicated to the Private Bill Committees of both Houses of Parliament. And there is no security that those who direct the action of Committees of both Houses will take the same views of the subject. Indeed, within the last two or three years there have been cases where the money proposed to be borrowed has been spread over such a long series of years as certainly would not be sanctioned by any Government Department. As a general rule, the re-payment of a loan should be coterminous with the estimated duration of the works for which the money is required; but I do not say that that should be a rule without an exception, for there are some works or objects which are almost permanent. My right hon. Friend has been good enough to refer to the statement that I should have to submit as one that would be of an interesting character; but I can hardly claim for it that epithet, though I have endeavoured to make it as clear as I could. I think that I may fairly say that this is a subject that requires and deserves the attention of the House, and ought from time to time to be brought under their notice. On the other hand, I see no reason for alarm or for anxiety in the extent to which borrowing powers have been exercised, though some localities may have gone beyond what they should have done; yet, looking at the question generally, we cannot but believe that a vast increase in comfort and happiness has been brought about by this great expenditure. As to the total of the figures, I do not think that we have any great reason to complain. I omitted to state that I have endeavoured to make a calculation as to the average amount of rates which are now levied over the whole country. My right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty some time ago made certain calculations as to rates, and he stated that in 1867 the average rate over the whole Kingdom was 3s.d. We in our calculations make the average rate over England and Wales, including the Metropolises, 3s.d.; that for the Metropolis, 4s.d.; and for England and Wales, exclusive of the Metropolis, 3s.d. My right hon. Friend estimated that for the whole of the rural districts in the Kingdom the average rate was 2s.d. in the pound; and I believe that if we could now arrive at the exact estimate we should find that the average rate of the rural districts is from 2s. 6d. to 2s. 9d. in the pound; therefore, the pressure of the rates upon the rural districts has not increased, but is rather inclined to retrograde. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) is about to move an Amendment as to the relative incidence of the rates upon owners and occupiers. No man is better qualified to discuss such a matter than the hon. Gentleman; but I hope that the House will not be delayed from going into Committee until that knotty question has been settled. I have no doubt that the greater part of the current rates in the urban sanitary districts are in the nature of rent for increased value, and if these rates could be placed directly upon the landlord he would recoup himself by demanding an increased rent from the occupier. In the country the case is different, for there the rates fall ultimately as a charge upon the landlord. I am not aware that the occupiers of this Kingdom have desired to see a change in the mode in which the rates are levied; and there are many reasons why it would be inconvenient to the owners as well as to the occupiers to have the system altered, though the mode of levying is a totally different question from that of the actual incidence of taxation. I shall listen with interest to anything that may be said upon the subject; but I think that any discussion upon questions such as these may well stand over until after this Bill has passed.


in rising to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice, said, that nothing was further from his attention than to offer any unnecessary obstacle to the passing of the Bill; but, as the introduction of it had been chosen by the Government as a convenient occasion for making a most important and valuable statement, he thought it would not be considered inappropriate if he availed himself of the progress of the Bill to point out what he conceived to be the peculiar injustice associated with the present mode of borrowing money and the hardship it inflicted upon occupiers of houses and other rate able property as distinct from the owners. They had been told that the total indebtedness amounted to £92,000,000, and that the amount had increase £7,000,000 within the year. He should like to know what proportion of these loans was to be paid off at 20, 30, and 50 years; and beyond this they had not heard what was the rate of interest which was payable upon the loans. Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that the Government were considering whether they could advance money to local authorities at 3½per cent. It was evident that pressure was being put upon them to do this, and he was anxious to learn whether they were likely to yield to it. The evidence given before the Public Works Loan Commissioners last Session by Mr. Welby and others connected with the Treasury conclusively showed that lending money at 3½ per cent was not in the long run a paying investment for the Government, and, therefore, the making of these advances was one way of relieving local burdens. The local taxation of this country, which a year since was only £24,000,000, was now £26,500,000, so that, while the Government was constantly giving public money in aid of local burdens, yet, in spite of these subventions from Imperial funds, the amount levied from the ratepayers was increasing at the rate of more than £2,000,000 a-year. In reference to the Resolution which he had placed upon the Paper, he might say that he did not intend to enter into any complicated economical discussion as to the incidence of rates, but would make his remarks as practical as possible. The President of the Local Government Board spoke of it as an advantage connected with our present system of borrowing that the principal and interest of loans were paid off now in a shorter term of years than before; but the shorter the term the greater was the injustice inflicted upon occupiers in respect of the repayment of heavy loans incurred for such purposes as the building of county lunatic asylums and the carrying out of main drainage works. If the money were borrowed for 21 years and involved a rate of 1s. in the pound, for example, a farmer whose rent was £1,000 a-year would pay £50 a-year in extra rates, a clergyman with a living worth £800 would pay £40 a-year, and the occupier of the mansion of the proprietor, rated not upon its cost but upon its letting value, and let, or capable of being let, at £250, would pay £12 10s. a-year, so that the owner of the estate, with an income perhaps of £10,000 a-year, if he were non-resident, would not contribute a farthing to the cost of a great improvement, which improved the health of the district and improved the value of the property. The farmer would contribute four times as much, and the clergyman three times as much, as the proprietor if he resided on the estate. This injustice deserved the special attention of those who professed to be the friends of the farmers and of the clergy. In inducing the farmers to clam our to save a halfpenny in the pound on the local rates—which went only into the landlords'pockets—was to cause them to run entirely on the wrong scent; but if the farmers and the clergy wished to remedy this great injustice in connection with local taxation, they would obtain for England what was already done for Scotland and Ireland, where all new local charges were borne equally by the landlord and the occupier. In the rural districts ratepayers were in a more unfortunate position than they were in towns which had local representation, for county rates were imposed by authorities who were not responsible to the ratepayers, and those authorities could borrow money for public works which would improve their own property, and the principal and interest might be repaid by leaseholders and tenants without the proprietors contributing a shilling. The right hon. Gentleman said it was right that the occupiers should contribute towards the cost of improvements, but it was not right that they should pay both capital and interest as they did at present. Even in the metropolis, if £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 were borrowed for 21 years for an embankment or main drainage works, an occupier who had taken a lease for 21 years just before the new rate was imposed would have to pay it during the continuance of his lease, and at its expiration he would have paid for an improvement of the property which would make it worth a higher rent, and which would be paid by some one else if he declined to pay it. Much had been said of compulsory tenant right; but this was what he called compulsory tenant wrong. This injustice would be remedied to a certain extent if new charges were borne partly by the owner, for re-valuation and increase of rent could occur only at the expiration of leases. It was contended by the claimants for Imperial subventions that what was saved in rates was saved to the tenants at will, and if that were true the converse or reverse must be true, that new charges came out of their pockets. The injustice could be remedied, and the 38th clause of the Bill recognized the principle for which he was contending, for it said that if any new charge were imposed by carrying it out one-half might be deducted by any occupier from the rent he had to pay. The unpopularity of the school rate in England, which was swollen by the repayment of money borrowed for the building of schools, was partly owing to the fact that the rate fell exclusively upon occupiers, but the school rate occasioned less unpopularity in Scotland, where it was often heavier than in England, because in Scotland one-half was paid by owners, who also paid one-half of the poor rate and all the county rate. In Ireland there was a similar recognition of the principle for which he contended. There half the poor rate, which included the sanitary rate, was paid by the owners and occupiers, and the same with regard to the rate for the payment of the national school teachers in Ireland. If the reform which he advocated was carried out it would be a recognition of an important principle based on justice, and when this question was understood a great demand would be made which the Government would not be able to resist, both from the country and the town occupier that this justice should be conceded to them. For every reduction of local rates obtained at the expense of the Imperial Exchequer the public had to pay the price of seeing centralization interfering more and more in local affairs. In future new charges must be borne partly by the owner and partly by the occupiers, which would carry with it no disadvantage, but transfer the charge from one individual to another. The owners of property had the power to effect this, and, in doing so, they did nothing more than carry out the principle of self-sacrifice on behalf of those they represented, and who claimed to be peculiarly their friends. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.


in seconding the Amendment, said: I can assure the right hon. Member opposite, in common with the hon. Member for Hackney, that I should be sorry to delay the carry- ing of this Bill further than is necessary to discuss the various points which have been clearly laid before the House. I wish, however, that the President of the Local Government Board had not drawn quite such a couleur de rose picture of the state of our local government and the prospects of our local funds. But before going into the questions raised by his speech I wish to say that I support the view that the rates should be divided between owners and occupiers, because I believe that none are so deeply interested in the management of our local affairs as the landowners of this country. I think it desirable also to remove everything that should create any sore feeling between landlord and tenant. There is a feeling of soreness in the mind of the tenant, in periods of distress, which would not exist if his burdens were shared not merely as a matter of charity, but as a right. I am very glad that the hon. Member for Hackney has called the attention of the House to this subject, for I believe that the hardship and injustice which the present system inflicts upon the occupiers at times of distress are very serious; but, serious as this is, it is as nothing in comparison with its injurious effect in impairing the efficiency and economy of local administration. I was speaking only the other day to the Chairman of the Board of Guardians of a large Union in the South of England—a very wealthy landowner, a clergyman, and a Conservative. He has taken a most active part for many years in the management of his Union, and he spoke as strongly as the most Radical reformer could do of the pressing necessity of the reform of our local government. He said that he found it impossible to persuade a single landowner to join him in his efforts; they did not seem to feel that the rise or fall of the rates concerned them, because those rates did not directly fall upon them. In these, as in other matters, once put things upon an unfair and unjust footing, and you never know how far the inconvenience and evils resulting there from will extend; and the unfairness of the incidence of our local taxation is not confined to the want of fair apportionment to occupiers and owners. There is equal unfairness in the incidence of our present system of taxation as between occupier and occupier. This unfairness meets us at every turn, whe- ther we try to obtain suitable areas for local government, efficient local authorities, or in any way to deduce something like order out of the present admitted confusion of our local organization. This is the most serious evil of all, for, important as is the relative incidence of local taxation, it is even more important that the proceeds of that taxation should not be wasted, but should be so spent as to give value received for its expenditure, and that our local taxation should not be in excess of what is necessary. The confusion and weakness of our local administration, the inefficient and excessive expenditure, the rapidly and dangerously increasing liabilities of our local authorities, are intolerable. There is an increase of over £10,500,000 in the indebtedness of our local authorities last year; and if something is not done for improving the conditions of local government, the burden will become so intolerable that the country will demand more stringent and radical treatment, and require that it should be confided to other hands. I hope, however, that this Government will show that it conceives that the truly Conservative mode of dealing with this question is to do so in time, before a drastic cure has been demanded by popular clam our. Not only the last and present Prime Ministers, but almost every statesman of eminence, has asserted in the strongest manner the importance of strengthening, simplifying, and giving renewed vitality to our system of local government; yet no Government has taken even the preliminary steps necessary to make an orderly and well-considered reform possible. Both sides have, to use the common cant phrase, which is only too expressive, introduced measures touching what they call the fringe of the question; but it is evident to any one who has interested himself in the subject that no Government has yet framed anything like a comprehensive plan, or, I repeat, taken even the preliminary measures necessary to enable it to frame even a comprehensive plan, of which the measures it proposed were calculated to be a consistent part. I venture to think that if the late Government, had they when they came into office told off one of their ablest Ministers, giving him the best professional assistance and the aid of a Royal Commission, to obtain trustworthy information, and to enable him to mature his plans, they would have been able, when they had passed their Irish Church and Land Bills and their Elementary Education Bill, to undertake with effect the reform of the local government of this country; and I am not alone in thinking that had they taken this course they would have been in power at this moment, with the general assent of the country. It appears to me that the present Government are committing exactly the same blunder committed by their Predecessors. Perhaps I may say one word as to the great assistance which might be rendered to the Government by a Royal Commission consisting of four or five Members of each House of Parliament, and three or four able men, not Members of either House, but bringing official and legal experience and knowledge to the task. Such a Commission would materially aid the Minister in maturing his plans; especially would it help in the practical details necessary to combine the greatest efficiency with the least disturbance; and, moreover, the Members of such a Commission would in the course of their inquiry become so thoroughly acquainted with the different bearings of the subject that they would afford most efficient aid to the Minister in carrying his measure through the House. No reform since the new Poor Law is more important to the character and future welfare of the country; but, like that beneficent enactment, it must be no Party measure, but carried by the concurrence of the statesmen of both sides. Such a Commission as is suggested, by combining leading Members of both sides, would facilitate this desired co-operation. The hap-hazard legislation of the last 40 years has been wrong and pernicious in two ways. Whenever anything was required in the direction of social or sanitary reform, a fresh rate was imposed, without regard to the justice or injustice of its incidence, and a new Board was created; and, if the injustice was too strong to be borne, the sop of a loan was thrown in to mitigate the feeling of injustice there from resulting, creating, as injustice always does, complications and difficulties, often producing evils far more serious than mere pecuniary inequality. The multiplication of local authorities and elections diminished public interest and vigilance, and weakened the dignity and attraction of local authorities. Just when more good men were rendered necessary, fewer good men were willing and available for the duties of local administration. Every year while reform is delayed, the number of local authorities and their official expenses and liabilities are rapidly increasing, and create a rapidly increasing expenditure and difficulty in the way of reform. I appeal to those who are best acquainted with this subject; I appeal to the Ministers themselves who have had charge of matters of this kind, whether there is not wanting that exact and comprehensive knowledge of the facts of local organization, as it now exists, which is an essential preliminary, not merely for devising a remedy, but for knowing what the disease itself is. We are in the dark about the incidence of taxation itself. We do not know, and the Government cannot tell us, into whose pockets the relief will go which is promised even by the Bills of this Session. The right hon. Gentleman has made a most interesting, and, on the whole, valuable statement on the subject; but it is not possible for him to tell us, for instance, how much of the subvention of half the cost of the police will go to the town ratepayers, and how much to the farmer. The Returns relating to local taxation and expenditure now published do not furnish the necessary materials, either for comparing the ordinary expenses of local administration in urban and rural districts, or for determining either in urban or in rural districts the relation between the expenditure for particular purposes, and the incidence of the burden of that expenditure, or for ascertaining the ordinary urban expenditures for the different heads of the so-called sanitary purposes. For example, there appear to be no means of discovering how much of the £6,000,000 spent on the relief of the poor outside the metropolis is borne by urban and how much by rural ratepayers, unless in the few cases where the boundaries of a town are conterminous with those of a union; how much of the millions spent on county police represents the police employed in urban districts other than boroughs; how much of the £6,000,000 of urban expenditure for "sanitary purposes" belongs to new works, and how much to ordinary expenditure; or how much of ordinary expenditure for "other purposes" belongs to the several heads of lighting, water and sewerage. And since the totals do not distinguish between places where gas and water are supplied by private companies, and places where gasworks and waterworks are provided by the local authority, they would, in any case, fail to give any real account of the cost of these important items. Further, there are £3,000,000 of receipts, and £2,500,000 of expenditure, with respect to which no indication whatever is given of the sources of the receipts, or of the objects of the expenditure. It is, therefore, impossible either to discover the present incidence of taxation, or to calculate with any precision how far it would be disturbed or altered by the operation of any new scheme which may be proposed. Nor is it probable that any Return which could be obtained, under the present condition of areas and authorities, would furnish the desired information. The right hon. Gentleman has told us the grand total of local indebtedness. The rapid growth of that total may startle and alarm this House; but it will probably not give a moment's uneasiness to a single ratepayer. Why? Because, in the existing condition of things, the ratepayer does not, and cannot, know how much of the burden affects his own town or parish. If the ratepayer's district were the same for all purposes, and were governed by one body, he would know the total debt of his district. He would jealously watch its growth. He would know the reason why for every increase; but, as things are now, the truth is concealed from him. For some purposes he is governed by the County Justices, who have a debt for asylums and prisons; for other purposes he is governed by Guardians, who have a debt for workhouses, and perhaps for drains; for other purposes he is governed by a school board, who have a debt for schools. So with highways, and perhaps with cemeteries, and so on. The ratepayer could not find out the grand total of the indebtedness of his district, if he tried. In fact, he does not live in one district, but in many districts. He could not bring pressure to bear upon his various governing bodies, if he tried. How can he influence all at once the Justices, the Guardians, the School Board, the Highway Board, the Burial Board? This evil of growing indebtedness can only be dealt with locally; but it will not, and it cannot, be dealt with locally until its existence and its tendencies have been brought home to the ratepayer, and they cannot be brought home to the ratepayer until you make simpler areas and simpler governing bodies. More than this, the debt will never be brought under control until owners as well as occupiers are made to feel the burden while it is being created, and are both empowered and induced by interest to take an active part in economical administration. And really such reforms as the measure before the House, and the Act which it proposes to amend, and even the relief offered by the Government to local taxpayers, are, in the absence of reform of the administration, of very doubtful benefit. Your facilities for borrowing and your contributions to local taxpayers are very apt to be swallowed up by the expenditure of local authorities too numerous to be vigilantly watched or efficiently organized. The very creation of these loans on unsatisfactory areas is a most serious obstacle to then rectification. Just let me give a few instances of the anomalous, unjust way in which our local taxation is at present levied. Take the case of highways, and the House must not consider that I am wandering from the question even of loans, for I know a case in which the excessive charge for highways on a district has led to borrowing money for work that really ought to have been paid out of current taxation. Take a district lying between one district containing coal mines and a manufacturing town. A road runs through it, which passes through this district which is not relieved by the rates levied on the mines or the town. The tax upon that intermediate district is enormous, and the benefits which it derives are very small indeed. In some instances as much as 5s. in the pound will be levied for the support of that road, of which the inhabitants make very little use, and from which they derive only an indirect benefit. I am aware that the Government have made a very creditable attempt to remedy that grievance in the Highway Bill; but if that Bill ever comes on it will be perfectly easy to show that, for want of well-arranged areas and County Boards, it is a very imperfect measure, and could only half meet the injustice which it seeks to remedy. Take another case under the present law. If a district remains under the rural sanitary authority the incidence of taxation is very different from what it would be if it were to form itself into a local government district; and it really amounts to a mere accident under which of these authorities your taxes happen to be levied. Clearly, one or other of these systems of levying taxes must be unjust. I will give you another instance. I had a letter from the principal landowner in a parish containing two large villages. The rate able value of the parish is £34,000. The rural sanitary authority propose to adopt a drainage scheme for one of these villages and its neighbourhood, which would involve a rate of 1s. in the pound on the whole rate able value of the entire parish. My friend owns property at the other end of the parish, with the other village built upon it. He is divided from the district which it is proposed to drain by two miles, a river, two valleys, and consequently two water sheds, and could not by any possibility derive benefit, present or future, from the proposal. Yet his property will be subject to 1s. in the pound, or £120 a-year additional rates, for improvements from which neither he nor his tenants can derive any benefit whatever. Without the facilities for borrowing from the Public Loans Commissioners, works of this kind would not be attempted. In giving them the means of executing such works at the charge of future generations, we are bound to take some security that the proceeds of the loans are put under the charge of authorities more efficient than our present ones, and that the taxation to repay them should be more equitably levied than it now is. Such anomalies are constantly occurring, and will increase rapidly with the spread of the call for sanitary improvement. They began with the towns; they are now extending to the suburban and country districts; and I assert, and should at the right time be prepared to show, that such injustice is absolutely unnecessary, and that in applying a remedy to it we should remove some of the greatest difficulties in the way of obtaining suitable areas and suitable authorities for local government. This is not an occasion to go into detail in these matters, but I would again urge that the Government should appoint a Royal Commission to assist them in their investigations. A great deal of thought has been bestowed upon this subject during the last five or six years, and such a Commission would find at its disposal an immense amount of practical and useful suggestions. Having devoted for many years very close attention to the subject, I do not hesitate to say that there is not a difficulty attaching to the improvements required which cannot be met by simply using the results of our own experience. Every difficulty which affects the country generally has in one form or another been met by experiments in local Acts or otherwise, the results of which we have only to see, and in no case shall we be obliged to resort to any untried theories or experiments. This being the case, I conceived that this Government, possessing as it does among its supporters an unusual number of men trained in the work of local government, are utterly inexcusable if they delay any longer systematically to consider and undertake the reform of our local administration and taxation. In all my experience of and investigations into the subject, I have seen no reason to despair of local self-government in England. On the contrary, I feel strongly that it is the very vital source of the manhood and vigour of our individual and national life; and I think it will be a disgrace to our statesmen, and a discredit to the practical common sense of Englishmen, if we allow it to remain any longer in its present state of confusion, inefficiency, and waste.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, an unduly large proportion of the charge involved in the payment of the interest and capital of the loans which are raised by local authorities falls upon the occupiers, as distinguished from the owners, of land, houses, and other rate able property,"—(Mr. Fawcett,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, it was impossible to deny there was a great deal of truth in the remark of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) as to the incidence of the rates gradually accumulating on the occupiers throughout the country. He feared, however, that the only remedy for the state of things which the hon. Member had described was to be found in the good feeling of the owners of property. If they were not willing to come to the relief of those who held property under them, he did not see how the Legislature could interfere in the matter. The present Bill promoted and instigated still further the local expenditure of the country, and permitted the Government to raise money for the purpose of making loans for that object. Before they stimulated local expenditure, and prepared to raise money which would have to be repaid, they ought carefully to adjust the means by which that money was to be collected. That, however, had not been done. They had not taken the preliminary step of ascertaining their measure of value for the purpose of rating property for local taxation. This, he thought, was creditable neither to the House nor to the country. He had a very serious grievance to complain of in reference to the progress of a Bill which he introduced early in the present Session for the purpose of relieving, not only his own constituents, but the inhabitants of the metropolis generally, from a burden imposed on them in the matter of Imperial taxation. Under the imposition of the house tax the whole country was liable to be taxed upon the annual value of houses; but by the Metropolis Valuation Act that annual value was converted into gross rental, and this change made a difference of 20 per cent to his constituents and imposed a tax in addition to the house duty wrongfully upon £5,000,000, the sum by which the gross value of the house property of the metropolis exceeded the net or rate able value. This was the result of the persistent encroachment of fiscal rapacity. With regard to the Bill itself, he thought the large funds which the Government held in hand in the shape of savings-bank deposits might very properly be employed in making these loans. He thought it would be a very advantageous arrangement, and he was not aware that there was any constitutional impediment to it. He did not wish to prevent the Bill going into Committee, but he hoped some consideration would be given to the points to which he had drawn attention.


said, he did not wish to retard the public business, and there- fore he should be very brief in his remarks. At the same time, it must be remembered that this was a somewhat important and quite a new occasion when they had placed before them in a very interesting manner the general state of local finance in the country by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. The Government, therefore, might fairly expect them to ask any questions with regard to the progress of local taxation which were suggested by their Local Taxation Budget. With regard to the Resolution moved by the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), he would say the subject was a most important one, which thoroughly deserved the attention of the House. He had done great service in ventilating it; but, at the same time, he (Mr. Goschen) trusted that he would not divide the House upon the present occasion, because no action could be taken upon it at present. He would remind the House that a Committee had examined into the matter in 1870, and that the majority reported in favour of a certain proportion of rates being placed on the owners as well as on the occupiers. This was not, therefore, a new idea of the hon. Member for Hackney; it had the sanction of a Parliamentary Committee; and though there was some difference of opinion on that Committee, and though certain resolutions were carried by a majority of one, there was among the minority a considerable adhesion of opinion that a certain proportion of rates should be placed on the owner as well as on the occupier. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he spoke would not, even at that period of the Session, encourage the idea that it was absolutely impossible to deal with the question. The question well deserved the consideration of the Government. It was difficult to know how to get at the owner, but there was the precedent of the Income Tax. It was against the law for an owner to contract himself out of it, and the occupier was at liberty to deduct the tax from the owner. It was said that this was a question which did not excite much attention in the country districts. The reason why the farmers did not feel much interest in a division of the rates between landlord and tenant was, that they were afraid that its consequence would be a disturbance and re-arrangement of rents throughout the country. In a large part of the country the farms were not rack-rented, and the farmers feared that if the rates were divided between landlords and tenants there would be a general re-adjustment of the rents. It was said that in the end the rates were really paid by the owner. That was, no doubt, true as a general principle; but where there had been a large increase of the rates the increase chiefly fell on the occupier, who, as a rule, was not in a position to propose a change in the terms of his agreement with his landlord. And now, adverting to the interesting statement of the President of the Local Government Board, which showed in a graphic manner the progress of expenditure and of rating in different parts both of town and country, and the increase or decrease which had taken place, he would venture to call attention to the remarkable fact stated by the right hon. Gentleman, that the unremunerative rates had at length begun to decrease, while remunerative rates were increasing. He recommended that fact to the attention of the Local Taxation Committee, which sat in London, and boasted that they had prevented the passing of 16 Bills which would add to the burdens of the ratepayers. He thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer last night intended to give a reply to a question which he put to him when he said that the relief now given was "the crowning point." He ventured again to appeal to him, so that there might be no misunderstanding, and to ask if he was able frankly to state to the House that the programme of relief sketched and drawn for him by the hon. Baronet the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes) had been at length carried out. There were circumstances in the future over which he had no control, and it would be wrong to press him unduly on this point; but he should be glad to know whether they might understand by this expression, "the crowning point," that they had now arrived at the time when those who had insisted with great pertinacity on relief being given from local burdens were fairly satisfied that the Government had redeemed their promise to the ratepayers, and that from this time forward they would stand on clear ground in that respect. He understood that they repudiated the idea that the last boon was, in fact, to be considered as a small instalment for the agricultural interest. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be explicit on this point. The President of the Local Government Board gave the rates at 2s. 9d. in the pound in agricultural portions of the country, and he now put them at 2s. 6d., which he considered was not unduly high. The President of the Local Government Board was speaking as the authoritative organ of the Government when he expressed that view, and he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would concur in the view he had stated.


referring to the difficulty which had arisen as to the construction of the Act of 1875, expressed a hope that the opportunity would be taken of inserting a clause in this Bill which would extend the discretion of the Public Works Loan Commissioners—if such was the intention of the Legislature—to restrict the term for which loans were granted. The term of 50 years was considered too long, and 30 years, which was the usual period for which loans were granted in Scotland, would be preferable. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would consider this point.


would first of all pay a tribute of thanks to the hon. Gentleman and the other Commissioners for the assistance they gave in undertaking this work. Representations had been made to the Treasury by the Public Works Loan Commissioners within the last few days on this very point; but, after taking the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown, he saw there was some difficulty, and it might be advisable to take the opportunity afforded by this Bill of carrying out the object to which he had referred. What he proposed to do was to commit the Bill pro formâ;, to meet the points which his hon. Friend had suggested. He would say generally that, in introducing the Bill, what the Government desired was, as far as possible, to divest the Treasury of the inconvenient control and power of granting relaxations which it possessed under the old system. The Government thought that there were questions as to the manner in which the Public Works Loan Commissioners had exercised their duty which ought to be discussed in Parliament, for they believed it would be most desirable that Parliament should be cognizant of the manner in which the Commissioners exercised the discretion given to them in apportioning the loans under special Acts, the administration of which was entrusted to them. This was the principal point of detail in connection with the Bill, which would be open to consideration when it got into Committee. Her Majesty's Government had reason to feel gratified generally at the manner in which the House had appreciated their endeavours, and at the reception which the clear and succinct statement of his right hon. Friend had been received. He hoped, however, that the House would not yield to the temptations to discuss all the questions of local finance and taxation, running as they did into the question of local administration. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had raised a question very pertinent to the subject of the Bill, but which, if discussed fully, would lead into a very wide field. He would abstain from following the hon. Member and those who succeeded him into the question of the incidence of rates upon the owner and occupier; but he would say in answer to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goschen), when he asked him to abstain from committing the Government as to any division of rates between owner and occupier, that he was not only making a very moderate request, but one which had been answered by anticipation, because on more than one occasion the present Government had passed measures in which the principle of allowing the tenant to deduct a portion of the rates from the rent was recognized, as in the case of the rating of woods and mines. In the Highways Bill, now on the Table, the same principle had been carried out, and they would be always ready to act on that principle whenever it was applicable. Now, some distinction should be made between sums raised by way of loan for the public service and for what might be called public improvements, which might be distinguished as remunerative and unremunerative. The righthon. Gentleman had called attention to the fact that it appeared from the statement of his right hon. Friend that the burdens of the country in respect of unremunerative expenditure had, in fact, retrograded, and he took occasion to express a hope that we had come to an end of the systems of subventions and assistance to local taxation. But the House should bear in mind that if the rates were falling it was due in a great measure to the fact that we had given subventions. The policy to which Her Majesty's Government were pledged had borne very substantial fruit. The right hon. Gentleman would not expect him to make pledges or to embarrass the Government with respect to a future policy. In any adjustment of taxation they must consider local finance as an important point of the question. But he was ready to accept the view which the right hon. Gentleman asked him to accept—namely, that what had been done since Her Majesty's Government acceded to office had been in the nature of a redemption of the pledge which they recognized when they came into office. They had been told last night that they had developed these things by degrees; but they announced from the beginning certain points, though they developed them only by degrees. He wished it to be clearly understood that in this matter they were entering into no pledges for the future. He considered it the duty of the Government in the question of local taxation to pay due attention to the subject of local administration. Whatever they had done with regard to subventions would be most incomplete, and in some respects perhaps productive of mischief, if Her Majesty's Government considered that the whole task before them. They did not pledge themselves to bring forward any great measure of local administration; but they would be anxious, wherever they could do it, to introduce improvements, such as they had indicated on many occasions, for the improvement of local administration, and, therefore, for the relief of burdens, not so much by giving relief from the Imperial Exchequer as by rendering the burdens more lightly to be borne. As he had said already, some loans were applied for the purpose of promoting the public service, some for improvements; and with regard to these there were different considerations to be borne in mind. They must not throw upon the owners of property, for the benefit of the country at large, burdens they would have no share in regulating. Suppose they threw upon a county the burden of building lunatic asylums, they would not do that for the benefit of the owners of the county; nor, in general, had owners a voice in determining that such expenditure should be incurred. Then there were a great many other improvements which were forced upon the owners of property. His right hon. Friend had pointed out that a great proportion of the debt was cast on owners by special Acts of Parliament not promoted by them, but rather by the occupiers. What they ought to look at was that if they adjusted the burdens unjustly they threw a great impediment in the way of getting the work properly done. It did not always follow that the owner was a rich man; they had often to deal with poor owners, and that had been found one great difficulty in effecting improvements of great importance. In a pamphlet published some years ago by Mr. Edwin Chadwick, that gentleman stated that in many cases the cost of the improvements amounted to more than the whole rental of the property. Where money was raised by borrowing there was a natural solution. The money raised was charged on the occupier and was to be repaid by him in a certain time, which had reference to the probable duration of the improvement. If the occupier's tenure were equal to the duration of the improvement he enjoyed the benefit of it and paid back the loan, but if his tenure were less the charge remained on the land, and the incoming occupier would have to pay it, and of course arranged his rent accordingly, so that the matter was self-acting if the time for repayment were properly arranged. There was great danger in making the repayment fall within too short a time, for then it would fall too heavily on the occupier, while on the other hand if the time were made too short burdens might be thrown on the proprietor without his consent, and from which he would never derive any benefit. Of course, the balance of the Savings Bank Fund would be made available for the loans; but he could not say to what extent the Commissioners would be prepared to supply a certain proportion of the money. The question of the Valuation Bill and of the House Tax lay outside the immediate field of this measure. They had a Bill before the House on that subject, and he hoped it would be proceeded with if the House assisted the Government to economize time, but they were in a difficult position with regard to getting through everything that appeared upon the Order Book. They proposed to reprint the Public Works Loan Bill with Amendments, and he hoped the House would now allow them to proceed, so that they might get the money necessary for the advances.


complimented the President of the Local Government Board on the admirable manner in which he had brought the subject before the House. The statistics stated by his right hon. Friend would dispel many illusions. One of these was that the burden of local taxation amounted to £26,500,000 a-year, whereas it was only £22,000,000. Another illusion dispelled was the exaggerated notion of the effect of the Government measures for the relief of local taxation. The charge, as far as the rural districts were concerned, had been reduced from 2s. 9d. in the pound to something between 2s. 6d. and 2s. 9d., or about 1½d. in the pound, whilst in the towns the rates had increased by 2d. or 3d. in the pound, and on the other side there had been an addition of 1d. to the Income Tax. Although he took exception to some of the remarks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and hoped they would not in future years be taken as a rule to guide them, he thought the right hon. Gentleman had rendered good service in qualifying the rather summary refusal with which the President of the Local Government Board met the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney. That Motion touched a question of great interest, and, instead of going into it, the President of the Local Government Board snuffed it out with the remark that in towns it was impossible to get at the owner. He held it was perfectly possible to get at the owner and distribute the charge between the persons interested in house property. It was a problem which was by no means difficult to solve, and it must be solved if they wished to settle the question. They had also to thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for another statement he had made, because for some time they had been drifting they knew not where in regard to the relief of local taxation from Imperial funds. In his Budget speech in 1874 there was no allusion to prisons, and when an addition was made to the points then enumerated they were justified in suspecting that further claims would be made. The right hon. Gentleman had now said, however, that the pledges of the Government in this matter had been redeemed, so that they knew that if further proposals should be made in the same direction in future they would be entirely new, and not in fulfilment of the promises made two years ago. He was of opinion that the pledges of the Government had been more than sufficiently redeemed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had now put the matter on an intelligible footing, and if for no other reason they ought to be very well satisfied with the course of the present debate. He trusted the example which the President of the Local Government Board had set on this occasion in the construction of his new Budget speech would be followed in future years.


said, he only wished to make one remark with regard to that which had fallen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to a boon which the people of Scotland thought they had a right to, in order to put them on an equality with other people. He understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that probably the public loans to Scotland would be at 4 per cent, and not 3½ per cent. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider this question. In Scotland the price of money was lower than anywhere else. The Scotch were a prudent people, and could get money cheaper than it was to be obtained by most. There were very few cases where the local bodies could not borrow at 4 per cent on their own credit, and it would be a great disappointment to them if the Government loans they thought themselves entitled to were not given at 3½ per cent. He thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer was influenced by something that was said by the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), with whom he had sat on the Public Works Loan Commission. He (Sir George Campbell) took a different view with regard to the evidence given before the Commission with regard to loans at 3½ per cent to that of the hon. Member. The hon. Member had said that these loans were a loss to the public Exchequer; but he (Sir George Campbell) took a different view of the result of the evidence. It was true it was brought out in evidence that, taking into account what had occurred with regard to some old Irish loans, which no one expected would be repaid, and some others, there had been a loss to the Exchequer; but, on the other hand, he thought it was distinctly brought out that modern loans, such as they would give to the prudent people of Scotland, was not likely to prove a loss if given at 3½ per cent, for this reason, that the Government was able to borrow at 3¼ per cent, and when they lent the money so borrowed at 3½ per cent there was a certain margin to cover any possible loss. Therefore, he contended, the kind of loan he referred to was not likely to result in a loss to the Exchequer, and they should be given to the people of Scotland at the rate they expected. He was aware that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hackney, and some others, did not desire that loans should be given from the public Exchequer for local purposes; but, on the other hand, he believed that the control which was obtained over the expenditure was beneficial. He hoped the people of Scotland would not be disappointed in their fair anticipation in respect of this matter.


thought the same rate of interest ought to be charged for all loans raised for public purposes.

Amendment, by leave withdrawn.


said, as Parliament was to be made responsible for the loans he hoped the Bill would specify the purposes for which the loans were to be granted and the rate of interest which they were to bear.


replied that it was impossible to specify these matters in the Bill. The Public Works Loan Commissioners would exercise their discretion in making advances; but instead of the Treasury having power to make reductions in the rate of interest, as at present, that power would by the Bill be transferred to Parliament.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee, and reported; to be printed, as amended [Bill 228]; re-committed for Thursday.