§ MR. WOOTTON ISAACSON (Tower Hamlets)
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the fact that notwithstanding the provisions of "The Local Government Act, 1888," requiring the Local Government Board to hold a local inquiry whenever any representation is made to them that it is desirable to alter the boundary of any borough, several provincial Corporations have, during the present Session, introduced into Parliament Bills for the extension of their boundaries without any previous local inquiry, thereby not only imposing considerable expense on the ratepayers by a more costly mode of proceeding in the first instance than by a local inquiry, but also inflicting serious expense on landowners and others opposed to the inclusion of their property within the borough boundary, and tending, by the serious expense of appearing before a Parliamentary Committee, to deprive small landowners of the opportunity of being heard in opposition to the proposed extension; and whether, since considerable extensions of boundaries sought for by provincial Corporations have been refused by Parliamentary Committees on the ground that the land in question was of a rural character and not fit or ripe to be included within the limits of the proposed extension, facts which could have been tested on the spot at a very light expense by a local inquiry, and that landowners who succeed in opposing the inclusion of their lands within the proposed ex- 775 tension Lave great difficulty in recovering the costs to which they have been put, he would consider if any and what further steps could be taken to give effect to the provisions of "The Local Government Act, 1888;" and to prevent the needless expenditure of time and money incurred by imposing upon a Parliamentary Committee the consideration of a question capable of being dealt with more satisfactorily and economically by a local inquiry.
§ MR. RITCHIE
It is the fact that in the case of certain municipal boroughs during the present Session Local Bills have been introduced for the extension of the borough boundaries without any previous local inquiry under the Local Government Act. These several Bills have been referred to the Select Committee on Police and Sanitary Regulations Bills. The views of that Committee on the general question of the extension of boroughs by Local Bills are stated in the Report on the Grimsby Extension and Improvement Bill, presented to the House on March 29th last. In that Report the Committee stated, amongst other grounds for their conclusion, that the extension of the borough should be granted; that the petition for the Bill was lodged in Parliament before the County Council came into existence; that although the Act creating the County Councils had passed it did not come into active operation until after the time that the promoters took steps to obtain the Local Act; and that if they had been guided solely by the words of Section 54 of the Local Government Act, and had not come to Parliament, they, in all probability, would have had a delay of 12 months before anything could have been done. The Committee were also impressed with the undoubted fact that the promoters had already incurred a large proportion of the total expense of obtaining the Bill, and that the whole of that expenditure would have been thrown away if the Committee had declined to entertain the Preamble. As regards the second paragraph of the question, in all cases where an application is made to the Local Government Board in pursuance of the Local Government Act for a provisional order for an extension of a borough boundary, the Board will direct the necessary local inquiry, 776 unless they are clearly of opinon, upon the facts submitted to them, that the application should not be proceeded with. In any case hereafter in which it is proposed to obtain an extension of the boundary of a borough by a Local Bill instead of by application for a Provisional Order under the Local Government Act, it will be for Parliament to determine what course they will adopt with reference to the measure.