HC Deb 24 June 1891 vol 354 cc1313-4

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."

*(12.40.) MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)

I wish to call the attention of the House to certain circumstances connected with this Bill, and I propose to conclude by moving the adjournment of the Debate until Monday. It is a Bill to confirm a Provisional Order of the Local Government Board of Ireland under the Public Health (Ireland) Act of 1878. It proposes to create a united District Board for the burial district of Dundalk, and to constitute a Board of elective and ex officio members. Some of the elective members are to be elected by the Urban Sanitary Authority, and the rest by the Rural Sanitary Authority. It might be a question whether this is a fulfilment of the intention of Parliament, which is that the elective members shall be elected by the ratepayers, seeing that the Bill makes provision for their election by the Board of Guardians and the Town Commissioners. It might be urged that they should be elected by original electors and not by a body who are themselves elected. Upon that point, however, not only the practice in Ireland but that of the Local Government Board in England has been continuous for so long a time that Parliament might hesitate to interfere with it. If that were the only question I should scarcely have thought it necessary to call the attention of Parliament to it. But in respect of the ex officio members, the practice in England generally has been that they should be persons who occupy the position of Chairmen of separate Boards, and in Ireland the ex officio members have been the persons rated at the highest amount in the district in which they are called upon to serve. In each case it has been in respect of certain personal qualifications or of the holding of particular offices that persons have been designated to serve as ex officio members of the Joint Board. But this Bill provides that the ex officio members are really to be chosen, like the elective members, and by the same authority, that is, by the Town Commissioners and Boards of Guardians. The only difference between an elective member and an ex officio member is that whereas the Town Commissioners and Board of Guardians may choose any person outside their own body who enjoys a proper qualification in regard to rating as an elective member, they must choose an ex officio member from among themselves. I cannot believe that that is a fulfilment of the intention of Parliament. I admit that this is not the first instance in which this has been done. It has certainly been done in two other cases, if not more, but now that attention has been directed to the matter perhaps an alteration may be made in the practice on the part of the Local Government Board of Ireland, seas to secure greater conformity with the intentions of Parliament. Whether it will be necessary to alter the provisions of the present Bill it is not for me to say, but to afford time for any action which the House may take, I beg to move that the Debate be now adjourned. I have no doubt, now that public attention has been called to the matter, that the Local Government Board of Ireland will re-consider their action, and that in the future constitution of such Boards they will pay attention to the intentions of Parliament when the Act was originally passed.

Debate adjourned till Monday next.