§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Norwood.)
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that before the Speaker left the Chair he should like to ask for an explanation on one point contained in it. Some years ago there was an Act passed for Ireland to allow Corporations, by the vote of a majority of each, to confer the freedom of their towns upon distinguished persons. The present measure was, he understood, to affect the whole of the United Kingdom, and was to make the number necessary to give assent to the bestowal of the freedom of a city or town two-thirds instead of a bare majority. He had not been aware that this Bill was to override the law of Ireland. In Committee he should move an Amendment to dispose of the artificial majority provision, and to require the assent of only a bare majority to the bestowal of a freedom. He considered a bare majority sufficient, seeing that it was by a bare majority that all money was spent by Corporations, and that Mayors, Sheriffs, and other officers were elected. In Committee he should move this Amendment to the 1st clause, and he hoped the hon. Gentleman promoting the Bill would see no objection to it.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1 (Power to admit persons of distinction as honorary freemen of boroughs).
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he wished to move in line 7 of the clause to leave out "not less than two-thirds of their number," in order to insert "a majority of their members." He failed to see why, for this special purpose, two-thirds should be required, while for all other purposes a bare majority sufficed. He hoped the hon. Member in charge of the Bill (Mr. Norwood) would not put hon. Members to further trouble in resisting this proposal.
In page 1, lines 7 and 8, to leave out the words "not less than two-thirds of their number," in order to insert the words "a majority of their number."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. NORWOOD
said, this was a Bill which had come down from the House of Lords, where it had been carefully considered; and he thought there was considerable force in the argument that two-thirds majority should be required in order to prevent honorary distinctions from being hastily and improperly conferred. The fact of there being a necessity for a majority of two-thirds, he thought, added importance to the honour conferred. He did not think the limitation was an improper one.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, that as this was a matter affecting the whole of the United Kingdom, and as it was, therefore, desirable that hon. Members belonging to all sections in the House should have an opportunity of considering the point under discussion, he begged to move that the Chairman do report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Molloy.)
§ MR. SEXTON
asked the hon. Member (Mr. Norwood) whether it would not further his object to accede to the Amendment? Under the Act of 1876 power was given to certain boroughs to confer those honorary distinctions by a majority. The present Prime Minister and the late American Minister had both been presented with the freedom of cities under that Act.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he felt favourably disposed towards the proposal of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton).
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Remaining Clauses agreed to.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Wednesday.