HC Deb 21 May 1880 vol 252 cc228-9

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Whether it is true that his predecessor, having on the 9th March last requested the Town Council of Southport to furnish a list of names representing "an equality of political opinions" from which he might select gentlemen to be placed upon a Commission of the Peace for that borough, received the names of eight Liberals and eight Conservatives, and on April 14th sent the Commission, bearing the names of eleven Conservatives and four Liberals; only one of the Conservatives named by the Council being selected, and the four Liberals being the Mayor and three gentlemen who were already in the Commission of the Peace for the county of Lancaster?


The statement made by my hon. Friend, as far as I have been able to ascertain, is, I believe, perfectly correct. I make no comment upon it whatsoever, except that I think I am justified in stating that the appointments have created great surprise and great disappointment in the borough of Southport.


Early in March I was made aware by the Home Office that it was intended to make Southport a borough under the Municipal Corporations Act. The usual letter was sent to the Town Council of Southport requesting them to send a list of those persons whom they desired to be made magistrates, from which the Chancellor of the Duchy might select certain names. The names were sent in about a fortnight later, but only such a number as would suffice for the population of the town; and the politics of the 14 persons whose names were sent in were not stated. I made it my business to get information from other sources, and from gentlemen possessing ample local knowledge, and in whom I have the utmost confidence; and the result was that on the 14th of April I signed a Commission appointing 14 gentlemen, five of whom were among the number sent in by the Town Council. The practice observed in the Southport case is according to all precedent. Since I learned that this Question was to be asked by the hon. Member for Salford, I made it my business to institute fresh inquiries, and I am satisfied that my appointments were most excellent, and I am confident that every name will bear the closest inspection.