HC Deb 26 July 1888 vol 329 cc567-600

Bill, as amended, considered.


, in moving to insert, after Clause 22, the following Clause:—

  1. "(1) The sums paid in pursuance of this Act to the local taxation account, in respect of the proceeds of the probate duties (in this Act referred to as the 'probate duty grant') shall, until Parliament otherwise determine, be distributed among the several counties in England in proportion to the share which the Local Government Board certify to have been received by each county during the financial year ending the 31st day of March next before the passing of this Act out of the grants heretofore made out of the Exchequer in aid of local rates, which will cease to be granted after the passing of this Act, and the share to be so certified shall be estimated in such manner as the Local Government Board direct.
  2. (2) The proportion to be paid to each county shall from time to time be paid under the direction of the Local Government Board to the county council out of the local taxation account. The Board may, if they think proper, vary their certificate, but unless it is so varied, their certificate shall be conclusive,"
said, that the Government had undertaken to reconsider the whole question of the mode of distributing the Probate Grant. The contention had been that the distribution on the basis of indoor pauperism would act unfairly with reference to particular counties, and especially with reference to Wales. It was also said that it might be the means of Guardians using pressure to get people into the workhouse, so that the County and the Union might get a larger proportion of the grant. The Government felt the force of some of the objections urged against their proposal, and now intended to adopt a method by which the question of pauperism, indoor or outdoor, would be left out of the question, and should not be at all the measure of the amount to be received either by the County or by the Union, with the exception of the Metropolis. They had carefully considered all the various modes by which the money should be distributed, and had come to the conclusion that, on the whole, the best method was that the money should be distributed to the counties in the same proportion as the grants in aid from the Exchequer which were at present given, but which were to be discontinued. The advantage of that method was that it did not touch the question of indoor pauperism, and that it was to some extent a measure of the needs of the localities, because the amount hitherto so contributed out of the Imperial Exchequer had been a certain proportion of the money spent for various purposes by the localities. Entailing as the Bill did upon the County Councils the obligation of paying to the localities within their areas similar contributions, it was provided that the County Councils should have certain money distributed to them in proportion to the payments which they would have to make. The amount of grants in aid discontinued was about £2,600,000. The amount of the Probate Duty which would be allocated to the Local Authorities was about £1,800,000. The result, therefore, would be that wherever the county had been in the habit of receiving from the Imperial Exchequer £2,600, it would, under the proposal of the Government, now receive £1,800, while it would have to pay to its areas the £2,600. On the whole, the result would, he believed, be found to be satisfactory, with the exception of the Metropolis. It so happened that under no system whatever which could be adopted, other than the system which they originally proposed, would the Metropolis gain so much. Therefore, as the Government had been driven from their proposals as to indoor pauperism, it was inevitable that the Metropolis must suffer; while under the system now proposed it would suffer less than if the grant were based upon population or rateable value. Putting aside the Metropolis for the moment, it could not be gainsaid that a good many of the anomalies which must exist under any system were lessened by the proposal that the Government now made. With reference to the distribution as between counties and local areas, he proposed to get away from indoor pauperism and to adopt a system by which certain establishment charges would be paid by the County Fund, just as those in the Metropolis were now paid out of the Metro- politan Common Poor Fund. Singularly enough, the amount so paid happened to be almost equal to the original amount they contemplated of 4d. for an indoor pauper. Under the new proposal, no question would arise as to there being any inducement to Boards of Guardians unduly to press applicants for relief into the workhouse. In conclusion, he would express the hope that the present proposals of the Government would be generally acceptable to the House.

Clause (Distribution of probate duty grant,)—(Mr. Ritchie,)—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."

MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)

said, he wished to move at once that this clause should be postponed.


, interposing, said, the hon. Member could not make such a Motion, as they were not in Committee now.


said, that in that case he wished to state his entire disapproval of the clause. He wished, first, distinctly to state that in the unfavourable comments which he felt compelled to make upon the present proposal of the Government, he desired to exclude emphatically the President of the Local Government Board. The right hon. Gentleman had shown repeatedly that he had the courage of his convictions, and he was sure that if the right hon. Gentleman had been properly backed up they would have had a very different Bill, and a very different finance from that finance which, he ventured to think, the more it was considered the less it would redound to the credit of the Government. What had been and what was the proposal of the Government? They were evidently conscious that in proposing the transfer of these very large sums from Imperial to local taxation they must be careful so to guard it, lest, as in former cases, while increasing the burden of the Imperial taxpayer, they gave no permanent relief to the local ratepayer, owing to the greater laxity of expenditure which it encouraged; and they sought, and he thought most wisely sought, to guard against the greatest danger of lax expenditure in outdoor relief. It was useless to tell the House, as the right hon. Gentleman the Chan- cellor of the Exchequer did, that this plan was proposed without any view of promoting good administration, but solely as a means of distributing fairly the grants in aid of the local taxation. He knew, as was stated in a recent pamphlet of Sir Charles Dilke's, that every Government which had proposed to reform Local Government proposed to adopt this plan as a means of promoting sound administration, and the President of the Local Government Board, having the courage of his convictions, boldly defended it on that ground. It was difficult to reconcile, as he (Mr. Rathbone) should like to reconcile, confidence at once in the financial ability and in the perfect frankness and candour of the deliverances on this question of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As a mere mode of distributing the grant, the plan first proposed was full of perfectly indefensible anomalies. Its only valid defence was as in favour of good administration. By the course now proposed, the Government had left their supporters absolutely without the means of defence. Had they persisted in even a modification of their plan on the ground of sound finance, as they might easily have done, they would have found many people in this country who would have admired their courage and done justice to their endeavours to protect at once the character and material prosperity of their countrymen. Now, they would be as much exposed as before to have political capital made out of their proposal, with the additional and just accusation that they had let "I dare not 'wait upon' I would," like the poor cat in the adage. They might easily have rectified much more effectually the inequalities of their original proposal by dividing one-half the proposed grant by population. But just contrast the two proposals. Their original proposal was to give the subsidy somewhat in proportion to careful expenditure; their present proposal was to give it in proportion to amount of expenditure; those who had spent most, and therefore claimed most under the grants, were in future to receive most. This Bill gave an enormous sum to the Local Bodies, distributed as a premium, as it were, on previous local expenditure and an encouragement to rash and careless expenditure in the future. Call that a great measure! No doubt, the Bill was a skeleton which might be clothed afterwards in flesh and blood and made a great measure by a firm and courageous Government. But what could they expect from a Government who showed themselves weak and improvident in their financial proposals, and who, on the one hand, gave these large grants without applying any precautions, and, on the other hand, gave to the ratepayers no additional powers or opportunities of watching or controlling the expenditure which was laid upon them?—for certainly their proposals as to Local Councils neither consolidated, simplified, nor made it possible for the ratepayers to interest themselves intelligently in the actions of those who were governing and taxing them. The Bill, as proposed, was not, financially or otherwise, a Bill for the reform of Local Government. It was a vast political playbill drawn to pass and not to work, presuming on the ignorance and credulity of the British ratepayers; an attempt to buy the constituencies by large grants and dish the Radicals, as Mr. Disraeli tried to dish the Whigs, by outbidding them in democratic proposals. He ventured to think it would prove an equal failure. They were now only dealing with finance; but, practically, finance was at the bottom of Local Government, and to a certain extent a test of its importance, and when he alleged that this Bill was not a Local Government Bill, but only a fringe of one, he had only to point out to the House that it was the Local Authorities, or, as called in the Bill, District Authorities—exclusive of the Metropolis—that had the expenditure and administration of 13–15ths of the sum raised by rates in this country. It was evident, therefore, that the County Council would control but a small fraction of the expenditure, and exercise a small part of the administrative duties connected with Local Government; and that, therefore, when they formed the County Councils and had given them their funds and their duties, they would have only dealt with a very small fraction of Local Government, and have left all that on which our health, our education, the maintenance of our poor, and the care of our population, would so greatly depend. Therefore, that was the main part of Local Government; but it was just the part which this powerful Government, with so much to give and such a majority at their back, had not dared to touch, but abandoned at once, the moment they found the smallest risk of incurring any unpopularity, however small. A Chancellor of the Exchequer prepared to give £3,000,000 in relief of the ratepayers, and, in accordance with the principles he had himself taught them, to relieve them of one-half of the rates, in justice to the poor and in protection of property, might have brought forward a Bill carrying out in the boldest manner his own idea of sound legislation, and no one knew better than he did what was a sound local reform—and might have defended and carried it through the House with the support of honest men on every side of it. But if, when the Local Councils Bill came before the House next year, they found an equal want of courage and adherence to principle, the reputation the right hon. Gentleman once had had for courage and firm adherence to sound principles in finance and administration would have been utterly wrecked. He (Mr. Rathbone) had made those remarks with great pain and under great disappointment. He should only be too glad if, when the real Local Government Bill appeared next Session—if it did so appear—it would be found the right hon. Gentleman had taken courage to carry out those sound principles of rating and administration which, 20 years ago, they learnt from his teaching, but which they could not so easily discard, as it had been a bitter disappointment to find that he was prepared to do.

MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

said, he rose for the purpose of moving the rejection of the clause, and he should go to a Division unless the right hon. Gentleman made some concession in the direction he proposed. He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman had thrown over the question of outdoor relief as a basis for the distribution of the grant. The point of view from which he regarded the grant was that of the Metropolis. The basis on which the right hon. Gentleman first proposed to give the grant was not of great advantage to the Metropolis; but, in consideration of other advantages, they were willing to waive their objections. The present scheme was, however, so unfavourable to the Metropolis that he desired to lay before the House the relative positions of London and the country on this matter. How would the County of London be affected by the proposed financial change as compared with the rest of England and Wales? The country, exclusive of the Metropolis, was going to receive from various allowances the sum of £2,559,000 per annum, in addition to £1,372,000 per annum, which was its share of the Probate Duty, making a total of £3,931,000. On the one hand, it used to receive in aid of the local rates a sum which was a little short of £2,000,000 a year. Consequently, the country would now receive an additional sum of £1,931,000 in aid of the local rates, which was equivalent to a rate of 4d. in the pound. On the other hand, the Metropolis, which used to receive £624,000, would now receive £855,000—that is, an additional sum of £231,000—which was equivalent to a rate of 1¾d. This would inflict a great injustice upon the Metropolis, which had to suffer from an influx of pauperism from the whole Kingdom. He should divide the House upon this clause unless the Government would accept his proposition that before the different shares of the Probate Duty were allocated throughout the country the sum of £250,000 a-year should be first appropriated in aid of the local rates of the County of London, or some other equivalent proposition. He made this calculation altogether irrespective of the Van and Wheel Tax; but that tax could not, in any event, rectify the matter. He was astonished that the right hon. Gentleman, who was aware of the needs of London, should have brought forward a proposal so disadvantageous to the Metropolis, and particularly that such a proposal should have emanated from the other side of the House, where London was represented by five-sixths of its Members.

MR. ELTON (Somerset, Wellington)

said, no doubt, the first proposal of the Government was honest and straightforward, but subsequent discussion had disclosed the fact that it was a proposal of a most inconvenient nature, and likely to be attended with injustice to the aged and deserving poor. When that was pointed out to the Government they bad to consider whether they ought, with somewhat pedantic accuracy, to hold to their opinions, or whether they should depart from them. It was with great pain that some hon. Members heard the original proposal put forward. No amount of friendship for the Bill would have enabled them to get over that defect; but the Government had shown great courage in altering their opinion on the point.

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

said, whilst he admitted that the proposal of the Government met certain of the objections made to the Bill as originally introduced, yet he thought it was not altogether satisfactory, and that it would introduce further inconsistencies and inequalities which ought to be called attention to, and which he hoped the Government would meet. He was glad to think that the test of indoor pauperism had been abandoned; it was an unwise principle to introduce in distributing the grants. The financial effect of the present proposal would tell somewhat hard in appearance on London. The original proposal was, in his opinion, most favourable to London. [Mr. JAMES STUART: No, no!] The right hon. Gentleman said that it was the only way which could be devised by which London would get as much as it was entitled to. It was the only basis and principle which would have given London so much in proportion to other districts. The present proposal would reduce the amount to be given to London by £108,000 a-year, and if that sum were distributed amongst the poorer counties of England it would be satisfactory to that side of the House. It was considered that Wales and the Western counties of England were unfairly dealt with in the original proposal. But the effect of the present proposal was not to benefit so much the poorer districts as to give more to some of the wealthier districts. The present proposal would increase the grant to Middlesex from £22,000 a-year to £48,000. That seemed to him to be an unjustifiable increase. In the case of the West Riding of Yorkshire, leaving out the county boroughs, the increase would be £25,000 a-year, or 50 per cent in excess of the original proposal. In Wales, on the other hand, the increase was a very small one. Wales, under the original proposal, would get £50,000 a-year. If the distribution were made according to rateable property it would get £74,000; and if according to popu- lation, about £94,000 a-year. The present proposal would give it an addition of £14,000 a-year, or a total of £64,000. He did not think that this was a satisfactory solution of the difficulty. Then it was found that considerable inequalities were introduced as between one place and another. Birmingham, under the present proposal, would lose £8,000 a-year as compared with the original proposal; Lancashire would lose £12,000 a-year, and Warwickshire £7,000 a-year. These inequalities seemed to show that the present basis of the proposal could not be entirely maintained. He therefore urged the Government to reconsider the question, and whether it would not be better to adopt the principle of rateable value or population? He believed the principle of population would be the better and sounder basis to adopt; but he admitted the difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman would labour under as regarded London, and therefore he suggested whether it would not be better to adopt rateable value as the basis instead of the present proposal?


said, the House would observe that while the Government were charged from one quarter with unduly favouring the Metropolis, they were told from another that they had not favoured London sufficiently. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down was that London would get too much by the present proposal.


I did not say that. I said that, on the whole, the proper basis would be population; but that that would bear somewhat hardly upon London.


said, that if they took the population basis London would receive hardly any benefit from the re-adjustment of local taxation. This would be treating the Metropolis with injustice. The fact was, his right hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), who had suggested that London was getting too much, urged a re-arrangement by which London would get nothing at all. Then the hon. Member for the Hoxton Division of Shoreditch (Mr. James Stuart) thought that the Government were treating London shabbily. Now, London under the present re-arrangement would, no doubt, get a less rate per pound than the remaining portion of the country. This arose from the fact that London in the past received a very much larger share in the way of contributions than any other part of the country. The consequence was that, these contributions being withdrawn, any system would be comparatively unfavourable to London. He ventured to put it to the House that, whatever basis they took, it would always be possible for hon. Members from different parts of the country to point out that their constituencies would suffer by its adoption. He thought it must be frankly admitted that the present change which the Government proposed had met, to a great extent, the objections which were brought against the previous proposal. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had pointed out that Wales, for instance, would gain under the new proposal. He also said that Middlesex would gain 120 per cent. But why? Because under the previous proposal Middlesex gained absolutely nothing, and the county was worse off than before. While other parts of the country would have gained, Middlesex would have lost ½d. in the pound compared with her position before. They now dealt with Middlesex in a fairer way; but still the rate per pound gained by that county would not be anything like that gained by other parts of the country. Did Middlesex get more than it was fairly entitled to in comparison with the rest of the country by the re-arrangement? It did not. Then, again, Staffordshire and Warwickshire under the previous proposal would each have gained 5d., and now each got 4½d. They lost under this particular proposal as compared with the other, but they were still above the average. In this matter individual cases must not be looked at, for it was impossible to frame any scheme which would be satisfactory to all. The Government had done their utmost to meet the House of Commons. They had retreated from the proposals which they previously put before the House, and he hoped that the House would not go into every individual instance in which some hardship might be shown. The Government had endeavoured to strike a fair line between the various classes of objectors. This point was extremely important—namely, that by the present proposal the poorer Unions of London would gain very much more than the richer Unions. London under these arrangements would not lose, but it would gain less. As he had said, no system could be entirely satisfactory, and it was highly possible that it might be necessary to revise this matter in the future. He hoped that the House would not continue too long to discuss the differences in individual cases which the Government acknowledged, but which could not be remedied by the adoption of any system.

MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)

said, he sympathized entirely with the difficulties under which the Government, and especially his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board, laboured in this matter; and he could not associate himself with the blame which his hon. Friend the Member for the Hoxton Division of Shoreditch (Mr. James Stuart) had endeavoured to attach to them. He thought that the Government had made an honest effort to meet the wishes which were expressed in a previous debate and to make a fair distribution. But he might say that the moment some of them began to get the delicious morsel which the previous arrangement gave them between their teeth, the Government snatched it away from them. He would endeavour to follow the lesson given by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to argue the question from an entirely impartial and disinterested standpoint. He would not refer, therefore, to the case of Birmingham, except to say that it was peculiarly martyred by the new arrangements. Under the scheme originally proposed Birmingham would have received £34,000, but the Government had now cut them down to the miserable stipend of £26,000. Under the original proposal of the Government London was to receive £536,000 and now only £458,000, so that London naturally complained; and now the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) proposed that London should receive, on the basis of population, £360,000, or, on that of rateable value, £260,000, so that London would not be grateful for the advocacy of his right hon. Friend. The original proposal, which would have given the largest sum, would have been the best, because it would give to London and large towns according to their needs, while the new proposal would give according to their extravagance. The need was greatest in large centres of population crowded with the influx of people generally in poor circumstances. He objected altogether to the new arrangement. As a rule it would give the largest grant to the richest counties that would be best able to dispense with subsidies. The proposal was based on the assumption that the present proportion was a fair one; but that had not been discussed at all, because they were satisfied that the Government at first made a proposal that was fair all round. If the proposal now made were fair to-day, it would not continue to be so, and the question arose how was the necessary revision to be made from time to time? He wished the virtue of the House had been sufficient to justify hon. Members in pressing the Government to adhere to their original proposal. The arguments which had been used would have justified the continuance of the old Poor Law and of a system which was rapidly ruining many country districts and some boroughs before the new Poor Law was passed. The Government had made their second proposal not because it was the best, but because pressure had been put upon them. It would obviate the evident injustice of the new proposal if account were to be taken, not merely of indoor pauperism, but of outdoor pauperism as well.


said, he would not object to this solution, but, as one who was strongly opposed to the grant being made on the basis of indoor pauperism, felt bound to support the Government in their alternative proposal. He believed if this money had been given in regard to indoor pauperism alone the arrangement would have been extremely unpopular in the country. If it were possible to have made the distribution on the joint basis of outdoor and indoor relief he should be satisfied, but he supposed the Government had some reason for not adopting that proposal. We did not desire to return to the state of things in olden days. He did not believe that in the rural districts outdoor pauperism had been largely abused. He did not say there were not districts in which it had been, but he was not acquainted with them; and, in those he was ac- quainted with, outdoor relief had not been given to able-bodied people nor in aid of wages, hut it had been given to widows and to men who were bed ridden and incapable of work, and it was right it should continue to be given to them. He would be no party to returning to the original proposal of the Government; he would rather take their new proposal. It was true that it gave to those who had, because if they had been extravagant they would get more; but the general effect of the distribution was to give to the counties more than they had before.

MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)

said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Central Division of Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) was not to be accepted as an exponent of the views of the Members for the Metropolis. London Members had great reason to complain of the invertebrate conduct of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board; he had thanked them for their assistance in passing the London Clauses, and this was their reward. By this scheme nearly every other county would lose, and the Metropolitan ratepayers would have to pay the piper. The burdens of London ratepayers were exceptionally heavy, as the returns of local taxation for the relief of the poor showed, and they ought not to be called upon to make sacrifices for Wales or other parts of the country. It would be a test of the moral fibre of the Conservative Members for the Metropolis whether they dare oppose the Government on this point.

MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

said, he regretted that the question was being debated as one between London and the country. There was a good deal of confusion about London gaining or losing; but there was no gaining or losing. It had received exceptionally large grants; the License Duties it would receive would not be equivalent to them; and there would be a deficit in this respect, whereas in other places there would be an excess. The Government had departed from the principle which they at first laid down—namely, that of measuring by pauperism the amount of relief to be given to localities. In his opinion that proposal would meet with general acceptance. The Opposition side of the House had never objected to that proposal; their objections were entirely based on the fact that only the cost of indoor relief was taken into account. The best course for the Government to adopt would be to accept the suggestion of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, and distribute the grant from the Probate Duty according the cost of both indoor and outdoor relief in the different counties.

MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)

said, it seemed to him the great advantage of the present proposal was that it put pauperism altogether out of their thoughts. He was one of those who entirely sympathized with the views of the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). He had himself in some measure endeavoured to carry out the principle of strict administration of the Poor Law, which, he thought, was absolutely essential to the good of the people. Therefore, when the original proposal of the Government first came before that House, he ventured to say that it would have the effect of hampering the movements of those Poor Law reformers who had sought to administer the Poor Law strictly and faithfully. He was glad to see that the Government had brought in the scheme now before the House, which, although it might contain many anomalies, enabled these reformers to go on their way administering Poor Law relief on a sound and sensible basis.


said, that when a number of Members from a particular district of the country found that the method of distribution proposed was going to do an injustice to their district, they were bound to meet together and consult, and submit their case to the House, and that was what the Welsh Members had ventured to do. They found that under the first proposal of the Government, which the Welsh Members resisted most strenuously, with, he was grateful to say, the assistance of several influential Members of the House, Wales and Monmouthshire would get £63,000 a-year. According to this second proposal they would get the increased sum of £79,000, but when they came to consider the proportion they would get under another method of distribution, they found that the sum would be considerably more. Indoor pauperism had been discussed and rejected; but supposing they rejected both indoor and outdoor pauperism, and apportioned the grant on the amount of money spent throughout the country in counties on the relief of the poor, what would they find then? He believed, if the Government adopted that plan, they would do away with many of the injustices which would be inflicted by the system now under consideration. He had only had time to work out the figures in respect of Wales and Monmouthshire, and he found that the sum they would receive under the method of distribution he proposed would be increased from £79,000 to £107,000. He would have liked to have urged that method on the Committee, but he had not had time to work out the figures for England. Since then an hon. Member had worked out the figures with regard to the whole of the Kingdom, and from what he had seen of those figures he was persuaded that with reference to every county in England, and even London itself, this method would be a more just and equitable one than that proposed by the Government, or than any other method he had seen suggested. He thought the Government would do well, before they hastily adopted the plan they were now proposing, to consider whether it would not be better to ask the sanction of the House to submit the whole question of the distribution of the money to the Commissioners who would be appointed for the various functions under the Act. If they were not to have something better than the scheme submitted by the Government this evening, he would much prefer that the Commissioners should consider the whole matter, and report upon it to the House, and that a scheme should then be decided upon.


said, the Government always anticipated that, having £1,800,000 to dispose of, there would be a considerable amount of wrangling—he did not use the word in an offensive sense—as to how the plunder was to be distributed. They believed that their original proposed was the soundest all round that could be made. But however sound the principle might be, it would undoubtedly have done injustice in some parts of the country which had adopted a different mode of indoor relief. The Government saw that the working of that principle, however sound, would lead to some injustice, and they endeavoured to find another system, and he believed the system they now proposed would work more fairly. Hon. Gentlemen bad said that it was a premium upon extravagance. The Government did not regard it as being so. With reference to all the expenditure, the Government had a certain amount of control. Taking the question of the officers of the Union, the Local Government Board had a certain amount of control with reference to the appointment of officers and their salaries. Moreover, one great argument in favour of this proposal was that the County Councils would have to pay these grants in aid again to the various districts. It might be that at some time the whole system would have to be reconsidered; but if the Government had embraced a scheme of local taxation reform in this Bill, the difficulties of passing it would have been enormously increased. As to the extravagance argument, the suggestion to distribute the grant on indoor and outdoor pauperism was indeed a premium on extravagance, and would be giving effect to a principle which every Poor Law reformer had set his face against. There was nothing be could conceive that would be more likely to prove an engine of extravagance than this recognition of outdoor pauperism in the distribution of the grant. He would give the House one instance. In Wales the cost of maintenance per head of population for indoor relief was 8d., precisely the same as the Northern District of England. But the cost of outdoor relief in Wales was 3s. 5d. per head, while in the Northern District of England it was 1s. 8d. According to the population, the expenditure was clearly greater in outdoor relief in one district than in another. He did not say that that was conclusive; but it showed that the administration was bad either in the Northern District of England or in Wales. It was said that London would suffer under the proposed system. That was caused by the large amount of grants in aid, which would cease. It might well be that a very considerable proportion was caused by the Imperial nature of the duties of the police of London. He thought it was a very fair subject for consideration as to whether, before going carefully into the expenditure and the cost of the London police, some conclusion might not be arrived at in the course of a year by which the grievance might be remedied. He would point out that the poorer parts of London would gain. Having gone away from the principle of indoor pauperism, the House could not expect any other which was likely to be more satisfactory than the one now proposed.

MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)

said, he felt bound to oppose the clause.

MR. BAUMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)

said, he regretted that he could not support the Government on this occasion, but must vote for the Amendment.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 251; Noes 87: Majority 164.—(Div. List, No. 234.)

Amendment proposed to the Clause, in line 4, after "England," insert "and Wales."—(Mr. T. E. Ellis.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said, he was willing to accept the Amendment.


said, he must protest against the acceptance of the Amendment, as favouring a fancied demarcation which would be turned to use by Home Rule politicians. If it were the case that the word "England" in an Act of Parliament covered Wales, he did not see why it should be treated as separate.

MR. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)

said, it was quite true that an Act of Parliament for England included Wales without special mention. It was that which was galling to them. It was, he maintained, better to make some sacrifice to sentiment in this matter.


said, he accepted the Amendment, because the title of the Bill mentioned Wales.

Question put, and agreed to.

MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)

said, he begged to move an Amendment the object of which was to vary the new clause already carried, so that the distribution of the probate grant should be made to the counties in proportion to population. The best test and measure of the needs of any part of the country was the amount of population. According to the present alloca- tion proposed by the Government of the whole grant made to the counties from the Imperial Exchequer, Wales and Monmouth would only receive about £230,000. If the grant was distributed according to population, Wales and Monmouth, whose population was about one-sixteenth of that of England and Wales, would receive about £296,000. She would thus lose about £66,000 annually of the Probate Duty grant alone. Wales and Monmouth would, according to the present proposal of the Government, receive £79,400, whereas according to the test of population she would receive £108,500. These figures, he thought, were sufficient to justify his interposition. He wished the Government would accept his Amendment or that of the hon. Member for Glamorgan, and thus do a simple act of justice to the Principality.

Amendment proposed to the Clause, in line 5, to leave out from the words, "to the," to the end of the paragraph, in order to insert the word "population."—(Mr. T. E. Ellis.)

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


said, the Government could not agree to the Amendment. Under it Wales would gain to the extent of 3d. in the pound, and London would gain one halfpenny, and the gain of Wales as compared with the rest of the country would be 5d. as against 3½d. in the pound.

MR. STUART RENDEL (Montgomeryshire)

said, he should support the Amendment.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 155; Noes 89: Majority 66.—(Div. List, No. 235.)

Amendment proposed to the Clause, In line 11, after the word "direct," to insert "In the case of the six counties of South Wales and the Isle of Wight there shall be added to the amount actually received out of such grants as aforesaid such additional sum as the Local Government Board certify to be the amount which each of the said counties and the Isle of Wight would have received if the roads maintained by the county roads boards had been main roads."—(Mr. Arthur Williams.)


said, he was rather unwilling to accept an Amendment not on the Paper, but he gathered from the language of the Amendment that what it did was this. Tolls were now being abolished in the Isle of Wight and in South Wales, and if these had been abolished before, a certain grant would have been made from the Exchequer in aid of those roads. The tolls were now to be abolished, and the hon. Member proposed that, in considering the amount of the grant to the South Wales counties, consideration should be had to what would have been the grant under ordinary circumstances for the maintenance of these roads. On the whole, he would advise the House to accept the Amendment.


said, the right hon. Gentleman had correctly described the object of the Amendment.


said, that it would be necessary to insert the words "or Highway Commissioners," after "County Board," in the Amendment.

Amendment made to the said proposed Amendment, by inserting after the words "roads boards," the words "or the highway commissioners."—(Mr. Attorney General.)

Words, as amended, inserted in the Clause.

Amendment proposed to the Clause, after the last Amendment, to insert the words— Provided, that before such distribution shall be made in the proportion as aforesaid, there shall be a sum of two hundred and fifty thousand pounds paid over from the proceeds of the probate duties to the county of London, and such sum shall be dealt with by the county of London as part of the probate duty grant."—(Mr. James Stuart.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said, he trusted that the hon. Gentleman would not think it necessary to press his Amendment to a Division. He entreated the hon. Member, as a Metropolitan Member, not to raise in such an acute form the financial relations of the Metropolis and the rest of the country. It had often been urged that the Imperial expenditure on London should be reconsidered, and his right hon. Friend had undertaken that, so far as the police were concerned, and generally, the matter would be reviewed. There was no desire on the part of the Government to be unjust to London; but it was felt that it was a dangerous question to raise a feeling in all other parts of the country that the Metropolis would wish to secure too large a share.


, in supporting the Amendment, said, the extra cost of the Metropolitan Police justified the request of the hon. Member for the Hoxton Division of Shoreditch.

Question put, and negatived.

Clause, as amended, added.

Clause (Grant by county council towards costs of officers of union,)—(Mr. Ritchie,)—brought up, and read the first and second time, and added.

Clause (Grant by London council to poor law unions,)—(Mr. Ritchie,)—brought up, and read the first and second time; amended, and added.

MR. HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.) moved a clause giving power to County Councils to promote and oppose Bills in Parliament, being, he explained, a similar power to that which every municipal borough and Local Board has under the Borough Funds Act.

Clause (County council to have power to promote and oppose Bills in Parliament,)—(Mr. Hobhouse,)—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."


said, he regretted that the Government felt themselves unable to accept the proposed clause. Surely they ought to allow some time for these County Councils to get formed, in the first instance, before they placed such powers at their disposal. Those powers, he believed, must in due course follow to such powerful and influential Bodies as the County Councils would be; but it was not necessary to give them at the very start. The Government, however, would meet the hon. and learned Member to a certain extent by accepting a clause in the name of the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. Llewellyn), giving the Council power to oppose but not to promote Bills, if the hon. and learned Member would withdraw his Amendment.


expressed his willingness to withdraw.

MR. J. ELLIS (Leicestershire, Bosworth)

said, he was sorry that the Government did not see their way to give this power at once. They would never get good County Councils unless the House granted them the power proposed to be given by the clause.


said, he regretted that the Government were not prepared to accept the clause. It was absolutely necessary that the now county Bodies should have the power to promote Bills. The time would come when an amending Bill would be introduced in order that this power which was now refused by the Government should be given, and he saw no reason why it should not be granted at once.

VISCOUNT WOLMER (Hants, Petersfield)

said, he wished to point out that several subjects had been left over to be dealt with next year, and he was extremely disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman did not see his way to deal with the question now.


said, he was glad to know that the Government were prepared to give the County Councils the necessary power to oppose Bills. The effect of the clause was that the County Councils could only promote a Bill once in three years. The greatest possible precautions were taken against the County Councils going into any form of extravagance in the way of promoting Bills in Parliament. This was a carefully guarded clause, and admirably drafted. The more they limited the duties of the County Councils, the more they prevented good men from offering themselves. He thought they were shutting out County Councils unnecessarily from a useful and desirable power. The clause was a very ingenious way of meeting the difficulties which were made when this matter was discussed in Committee. He should support the clause of his hon. and learned Friend, and he hoped the Government might yet see their way to accept it.


said, that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had explained the reason why the Government did not think it wise to accept the new clause. The whole question of the power to propose Bills was one which must come up before long for consideration, and he thought it undesirable to accept the clause now before the House. The restrictions imposed by the clause were of such a very severe character that they rendered it comparatively useless.

MR. WOODALL (Hanley)

said, that recognizing the fact that the Government were deeply pledged to deal with the whole question of the powers of Local Authorities, he would recommend that the clause should not be pressed to a Division.

MR. FIRTH (Dundee)

said, he thought it was open to argument whether, as matters stood, County Councils would not possess the powers the clause proposed to give them.


said, that as the Government had made a valuable concession, that the County Councils should have power to oppose them, he would indorse the suggestion that the clause should be withdrawn.

Motion, and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. WOODALL (Hanley)

rose to move a new clause to save from the operation of the Bill rights and privileges enjoyed under charters, local Acts of Parliament, and orders confirmed by Act of Parliament.

Clause (Saving for Charters, Local Acts, &c.,)—(Mr. Woodall,)—brought up, and read the first and second time, and added.


, in moving the insertion of a new clause, providing that certain districts named in the schedule, for the purposes of this Act, form a separate county by the name of the county of the Cinque Ports, said, he had received an intimation that it was the intention of the Government to oppose this clause. He had placed it on the Paper at the request of 10 Corporations and three Local Boards. It had the approval of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and of the Justices of the County of Kent, who had petitioned in its favour. He was at a loss to understand on what grounds Her Majesty's Government could oppose this proposal when looked at in the light of the proposals already agreed to. The Cinque Ports had from time immemorial been recognized by the Sove- reign and by Parliament as counties, and they had Charters, liberties, and privileges given them because they were counties. It seemed unwise and unjust, therefore, to deprive them of a privilege which they had so long enjoyed. These poets were situated not far apart, and they had everything possible in common among themselves, and absolutely nothing in common with the agricultural and rural population around them. The ancient traditions and history of the Cinque Ports ought to command the sympathy of the House, and he, as a humble Representative of one of them, asked that they should be allowed to enjoy the privileges which they had possessed for centuries, when it could be done without violating the principles of the Bill.

Clause (Application of Act to Cinque Ports,)—(Major Dickson,)—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."


said, that as a Representative of one of those ancient ports which had the privilege of self government or Home Rule in consideration of duties imposed upon them in defending the Channel and the coast, he begged to support the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Dover (Major Dickson). That hon. and gallant Gentleman represented in this matter the unanimous opinion of a number of towns with a population of 100,000, and a united assessment of £700,000. These towns wanted to be allowed confederation, not only in their own interest, but in the interest of the country. They had a sea boundary connecting them together in a way in which no other towns in this country were connected, and they were not only unanimously but most earnestly in favour of the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member. The House would be surprised at the unexpected resistance of the Local Government Board, and of the right hon. Gentleman who had refused to agree to any compromise. A deputation, headed by the Lord Warden (Earl Granville), had gone to the Local Government Board, but up to that moment he believed there had been no distinct answer in writing from the right hon. Gentleman to the representations made to him. Canterbury, with a population of 20,000 or 22,000, had been erected into a separate county, because it was said to be surrounded by ancient traditions, and to have been a county of a town; but here were places with a total population of 100,000 and with ancient traditions, and exemption from county jurisdiction also.


said, he desired to support the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member for Dover. They were not asking the House to carve out any new district. The district was formed already, and had its own customs, rights, and organization, dating from time immemorial. He might mention that a committee of the magistrates of Kent had unanimously petitioned in favour of the proposal now made.


said, he could not ask the House to accept the clause. The Cinque Ports were scattered over a wide area, and included municipal boroughs, local government districts, and parts of parishes separated from one another by many miles of country. To accede to the proposal, in those circumstances, would be to effect a disintegration instead of a consolidation of local government. It had been said that Canterbury had been set up as a county, and that was pointed to as a precedent. But the Government had not set up Canterbury as a county of a city; they had only preserved it as such. From time immemorial Canterbury had been a county of a city. Eight or nine other counties of cities with smaller popultaions had not been allowed to retain their position. The Cinque Ports had undoubtedly enjoyed a separate individuality for many centuries, and this they would, to a great extent, retain. The powers of the Lord Warden and of the Justices of the Ports would not be interfered with, and other ancient rights would be preserved. The argument that the Cinque Ports should be welded together for rating purposes and purposes of local government was not worth much, for they had never as yet been connected together for those objects.

MR. BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)

said, the places included in the scheme together formed a continuous coast line from Seaford in Sussex to Birchington in the county of Kent. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Go- vernment Board, in answer to representations made to him at different times in regard to many of the localities, had expressed himself as disinclined to rudely disturb any sentimental tradition. He thought it would be acknowledged that the sentimental claims of these places were very strong indeed, especially when consideration was had to the privileges that they enjoyed. He did not think that the sentimental claims, however, were by any means the strongest that could be used. He very much questioned whether the hon. Member for Hythe would be suspected of having merely sentimental views before him. He thought the hon. Gentleman might be taken as one who held profoundly practicable and commercial views on the question, and it was in that light that he (Mr. Brookfield) ventured to approach the subject himself. The representations that had been made to him on the subject were mainly from the Cinque Ports, and were all in favour of the change. No representations had reached him from the inland rural districts in the contrary sense, and he thought the strongest reason that could be adduced, and one which he hoped had been urged in the course of the discussion, was the fact that they had the nucleus of a new locality ready to hand. That measure was one which brought into existence new local areas, new men, and new systems, all of them untried; but in the Cinque Ports they had ready to hand this ancient Corporation or collection of places, with, to a certain extent, a government already in working order. The reason for which these changes were chiefly demanded were prosaic and financial ones. It might be urged that the inland rural communities might object to the Cinque Ports deriving the advantages of the newly assessed places, but as far as his own district was concerned that was not the case, as the two ancient towns of Rye and Winchilsea were not very prosperous places, and were more likely to be a burden upon the newly-constituted County Councils from a ratepayer's point of view than to be of any financial benefit to them. He thought there was an argument—perhaps a somewhat fanciful one—which would have been mentioned. It was this, that in the case of war the Cinque Ports would undoubtedly occupy exactly the same position with regard to the aggressors as they did many hundred years ago. The result would be that in the case of hostilities being threatened they would probably have the privilege of making a very large local expenditure in addition to the Imperial aid which might be offered to them, an ancient privilege which he did not think the inland rural communities would desire to share. He was afraid that the President of the Local Government Board had been rather discouraging in the reply he had given, but they had never seen him on important occasions of this kind change his mind, and if there should be lingering in his mind at that moment any doubt as to making the concession after all, he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board would give the benefit of the doubt to those in whose favour it had been asked.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 50; Noes 181: Majority 131.—(Div. List, No. 236.)

Clause,— (Council to have power to oppose Bills in Parliament.) The county council of an administrative county shall have the same powers of opposing Bills in Parliament, and of prosecuting or defending any legal proceedings necessary for the promotion or protection of the interests of the inhabitants of the county, as are conferred on the council of a municipal borough by the Act of the thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth years of Victoria, chapter ninety-one; and subject as hereinafter provided the provisions of that Act shall extend to a county council as if such council were included in the expression 'governing body,' and the administrative county were the district in the said Act mentioned. Provided that—

  1. (a.) No consent of owners and ratepayers shall be required for any proceedings under this section;
  2. (b.) This section shall not empower a county council to promote any Bill in Parliament, or to incur or charge any expense in relation thereto.")—(Mr. Llewellyn,)
brought up, and read the first and second time.

Amendment proposed to the Clause, in line 1, after the words "an administrative county," to insert the words "other than London."—(Mr. Baumann.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause added.

Amendments made.

MR. SYDNEY GEDGE (Stockport) moved an Amendment, the object of which, he said, was to deal with the office of Alderman or selected Councillor. He said, that the avowed object of giving to the elected Councillors the selection of others, was the introduction into the Council of men of position and authority who would not undergo a popular contest. But this object was defeated by the course adopted in the Bill of giving to the selected men higher dignity and longer tenure of office. Of course, if 30 men had to select 10 Aldermen, whose term of office was to be twice as long as their own, they would not go outside for them, but would select some of their own body. Experience had shown that Aldermen were almost always selected from inside the Common Council. Thus, the good men were not brought in from outside. A man was selected whose seat was safe for another man of the same political colour, and that constituency was doubly represented, and it was put to the expense of a second election. He, therefore, proposed that the selected Councillors should have no distinguishing title and no precedence, and that their tenure of office should be the same as that of the Common Councillor. But in order to secure continuity of policy, he proposed that all alike should serve for four years, but that one-half should go out of office in every alternate year.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 27, to leave out sub-section (c.), and insert—

  1. "(c.)—(1.) The term of office of a councillor shall be four years;
    1. (2.) On the ordinary day of election of councillors in every alternate year one-half of the whole number of councillors for the county or for the electoral division, as the case may be, shall go out of office, and their places shall be filled by election;
    2. (3.) In the first year in which any councillors shall go out of office, the half to go out shall be determined by ballot, and afterwards the half to go out shall be the councillors who have been longest in office without re-election;
  2. (d.) In this Act the councillors elected by the council are called co-opted councillors, and the other councillors are called county councillors;
  3. (e.)—(1.) On the ordinary day of election of co-opted councillors in every alternate year, one-half of the co-opted councillors shall go out of office, and their places shall be filled by election by the council; 594
    1. (2.) In the first year in which any co-opted councillors shall to go out of office, the half to go out shall be determined by ballot, and afterwards the half to go out shall be those who have been longest in office without re-election;
    2. (3.) A co-opted councillor shall not vot in the election of a co-opted councillor."—(Mr. Sydney Gage.)

Question, "That the word 'The' stand part of the Bill."


, in opposing the Amendment, said, that the Government, having determined to admit the Alder-manic element, felt bound to adhere to their original proposal—namely, that the County Councillors should be elected for a term of three years, and should then retire together. There were many objections to the proposal per se of his hon. Friend, the principal of which was that it would necessitate the grouping of districts. He could not, therefore, advise the House to accept the Amendment.


hoped that, as the House had decided to admit the Aldermanic principle, the Government would adhere to their original proposal.

Question put, and agreed to.

Other Amendments made.


, in moving the insertion of a sub-section, providing that at the triennial election of Aldermen, if any six County Councillors joined in voting for one duly-qualified person, he should thereupon be declared elected a County Alderman; but each County Councillor should only vote for one County Alderman; and the vacancies remaining (if any) should be filled up in the ordinary way by such of the County Councillors as had not already voted, said the principle of the Amendment was simply that a bare majority of the Council should not elect all the Aldermen.

Amendment proposed, In page 1, line 30, after the word "alderman," to insert the words—"At the triennial election of aldermen, if any six county councillors join in voting for one duly qualified person, he shall thereupon be declared elected a county alderman, but each county councillor shall only vote for one county alderman; and the vacancies remaining (if any) shall be filled up in the ordinary way by such of the county councillors as have not already voted as aforesaid."—(Mr. Hob house.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)

said, he hoped the House would not consider he was riding a hobby in supporting the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Hobhouse). It was, in his opinion, a proposal of great moderation. It was also an excellent proposal, and one which he thought would recommend itself to the House. By the adoption of this plan they would get rid of party spirit in the election of Aldermen. One result of the application would be to break up the Councils into smaller parties, and so avoid the sharp antagonism which arose from two conflicting factions. The machinery was somewhat novel, but, in reality, very simple. Suppose there were a Council of 48, elected by the whole constituency, who had to choose eight Aldermen. The 48 would be divided into groups of six, and each six would elect an Alderman. The sixes in this way could easily combine to select the eight best men for Aldermen. There would be no difficulty, in case two sixes selected the same man, in annulling one of the elections and allowing one of the sixes to choose a fresh man. The proposal was a very modest one, dealing as it did with the question of Aldermen alone. It was practicable and simple, and would effectually protect the interests of minorities of all parties. They had had in Committee a great deal of discussion as to the value of Aldermen in Councils. Many hon. Members objected to the introduction of Aldermen into the County Councils at all; but he believed that the proposed Amendment, if adopted, would take away the particular evil which he had attached to Aldermen in some boroughs, and would secure that, for the future, the Aldermen who would be elected to serve on the County Councils would be exempt from the taint of finding their places owing to party intrigue. He recommended strongly to the attention of the House the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Somerset, with whose view in regard to this matter he strongly sympathized. They must do something to prevent the evil creeping into the County Boards which had crept into some of the Borough Councils. The great and encouraging cause of the evil in the boroughs had been the extreme power which had been given under the system of election to the dominant party to maintain its majority, not only during the current year, but for a series of years to come. He wanted to secure the benefit of the presence of Aldermen in the County Councils, and to get rid of the mischief which existed in the ease of some towns; and if the House adopted the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Somerset, they would, he thought, secure the benefit and get rid of the mischief. They would secure the virtue of continuity which they would all agree should in some way or another be secured, and they would be able to retain for service in the County Councils men who, through age or growing infirmities, were unwilling to face the difficulties of a contested election, but whose fellow-members would most gladly see amongst them as persons who had deservedly won their positions and who had served the public well for many years. He trusted the House would allow the Amendment to be introduced, as he was sure its presence would be beneficial, and would not in any way interfere with any one of the provisions of the Bill.

MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)

said, he thought the scheme was infinitely too small to have any influence on Party feeling. The Council itself would be popularly elected, and he was sure the Government would not be prepared to assent to so enormous an innovation upon the present system of election. It might be that an experiment of this kind might be tried at some time or other, but this splitting up of a Council into groups would probably he productive of mischievous and even dangerous results.


said, he had a great deal of sympathy with the object of the hon. Member (Mr. Courtney) in his wish that there should be as little Party spirit as possible in the new Councils, and he was also anxious that the danger should be avoided of a small majority permanently dominating a Council. The Government had already taken a step to prevent the occurrence of that evil, by prohibiting retiring Aldermen from voting in the election of their succesors. There were, however, strong practical objections to the proposals apart from any question of principle. In the first place, in order to make the scheme at all workable, it would be necessary that the different groups should come to some agreement as to the men to be elected. In that way the spirit of the caucus would be introduced. If there were no such agreement, the most constant attendants, who out of a Council of 60 would probably be about 40, would be able to manage the elections for their own purposes. It seemed to him that there were other methods more simple and less open to objection. He was satisfied that under the system now proposed, circumstances might arise in which a minority and a majority of Councillors would have to elect an equal number of Aldermen. He could not accept the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend.


said, he had a strong impression that the more the selection of the Aldermen was discussed, the more it would tend to the elimination of this feature from the towns, rather than to its perpetuation in counties. To illustrate how ridiculously the system worked, he would mention what had occurred in Bristol in 1825. When the Municipal Corporations Act was passed, the election of Aldermen in Bristol depended absolutely upon one vote. That one vote elected 13 Aldermen, and gave a certain preponderance to one political Party. That existed for half a century, and created the greatest dissatisfaction in the town. He did not hesitate to say that hundreds of thousands of pounds were wasted in consequence of the election of Aldermen in that manner. They were brought in distinctly on Party lines, and they had no connection with or experience in municipal affairs. In some way a change, he was sure, would have to be made in connection with the appoinment of Aldermen, or the principle of the Bill would be upset altogether.

MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

said, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board and other hon. Members who objected to this proposal seemed to think that the elections of County Councillors were to be a sort of Utopia, in which the ordinary motives that swayed men's minds would disappear. For his own part he did not believe it, and he thought it well that on this subject they should clear their mind of cant. He was of opinion that the county contests for the County Councils would be fought upon some distinct local or general political issue. Whether it was the Temperance Question, the question of expenditure, or the question of administration, men would arrange themselves more or less into parties. He was not a proportional-representation man. He believed that, whatever the result of the first election, there would be placed in the hands of the majority a power of perpetuating and enlarging that majority, it might be, as in the case of Bristol, for 50 years. He admitted that the Government had made a great concession in agreeing that Aldermen should not vote for Aldermen. The true principle was that in proportion to the majority which the body of electors had sent to the Council should be the number of Aldermen. The theory of the Bill was that for every three Councillors there should be one Alderman. In Staffordshire, for example, there would be 66 Councillors and 22 Aldermen. Only half the Aldermen would be elected at the triennial election, and the true principle was that at each triennial election six Councillors should have the power of electing one Alderman. It was for the House to determine whether the proposal now before it was the best method of dealing with this question. He objected to give a narrow Party majority the power to convert their majority of one or two into a substantial majority which might give them the supremacy in the County Council for years to come. He should vote for the Amendment.


said, he trusted that no attempt would be made to eliminate Party feeling in these elections, because otherwise it would be impossible to got the agricultural labourer to take an interest in them.

MR. KENRICK (Birmingham, N.)

confessed that he was a little surprised at the alarm which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton had expressed with regard to majorities, because he had always understood it to be one of the canons of the Liberal Party that trust should be placed in the majority.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 113 Noes 232: Majority 119.—(Div. List, No. 237.)

MR. HALLEY STEWART (Lincolnshire, Spalding)

said, he begged to move an Amendment providing that the number of County Aldermen should not exceed one-sixth of the whole number of County Councillors, its object being to modify what he called the mischief of the Aldermanic element, and to put the County Councils throughout the country in the same position in this respect as the County Council of London. His proposal would make the provisions of the Bill symmetrical.

Amendment proposed, In page 1, line 30, after the word "alderman," insert—"Provided that the number of county aldermen shall not exceed one-sixth of the whole number of county councillors."—(Mr. Halley Stewart.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said, the Government were unable to accept the Amendment. It had been generally recognized that London occupied a peculiar position. The case of London was a concession, and he thought it hard that, having made that concession, the Government should now be told that the Bill was not symmetrical in this matter, and that they should be pushed at this advanced stage with a question which had been already threshed out. They could not depart from the provisions in this regard of the Municipal Corporations Act.

MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

said, he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give way in this matter, inasmuch as he had done so in regard to London.

MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

said, he should support the Amendment.

MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)

said, he hoped the House would not accept the Amendment, which would have the effect of reducing the number of members in the Council, a very undesirable thing.


said, they altogether objected to the principle of Aldermen, and as this Amendment proposed to reduce their number, and, if carried, would minimize the evil, he would support it.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 126; Noes 197: Majority 71.—(Div. List, No. 238.)

Other Amendments made.

Further Proceedings adjourned till To-morrow.