HC Deb 13 August 1894 vol 28 cc779-85

Bill, as amended, considered.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. SHAW-LEFEVRE, Bradford, Central) moved the following new clause:— (Provision for intermediate Census.)

  1. "(1) A Census shall be taken for the purpose of ascertaining the number of persons present within each parish in the Administrative County of London on the night of Sunday, the 29th day of March, 1896, and the provisions of The Census (England and Wales) Act, 1890, including the penal provisions, shall, subject to such modifications as may be prescribed for the purposes of this Act, apply in the case of the Census so taken as if it were taken in pursuance of that Act; except that the expenses certified by the Registrar General to have been incurred in respect of the Census shall lie paid by the London County Council out of the Equalisation Fund, and the amount to be apportioned among the sanitary districts for determining the grant due shall be proportionately reduced.
  2. 780
  3. (2) The authority making the poor rate in each such parish shall, in every year, make to the Local Government Board a Return of the total number of houses entered in the rate book of their parish. The Return shall be made at such time and in such form, and the numbers shall be ascertained, and the Return shall be verified, in such manner as may be prescribed. The Local Government Board shall forward such Returns to the Registrar General, and thereupon he shall estimate the population of the parish on the 6th day of April in that year, and the population so estimated shall for the purposes of this Act be the population of the parish during the 12 months beginning on that day."
  4. (3) Provided that the first Return under this section, and a like Return with reference to the year 1891, shall be made within six weeks after the passing of this Act, and the population estimated upon the basis of such Returns shall for the purposes of this Act be the population of the parish for the year beginning on the 6th day of April, 1894.
  5. (4) If any authority making the poor rate fail to make a Return under this section within one month after the time at which such Return is required, each of the persons constituting the authority who is in fault shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £50, and not exceeding £10 for every day during which the failure continues after the first conviction for such failure."
The right hon. Gentleman said it would be seen that under the new clause the Census would take place on the 29th of March. The cost was estimated at £6,400. The Local Government Board proposed that an estimate of the population should be taken in the years intervening between the Quinquennial Census for the purposes of the Bill, and the Local Authorities were to advise the Registrar General as to the number of houses in the various districts. Under those circumstances, he would be able to make a fairly accurate estimate of the population year by year. The Board believed that a Census every five years would he sufficient to meet the purposes of the Bill.

MR. GOSCHEN () St. George's, Hanover Square

said, the clause certainly carried out the general undertaking given by the right hon. Gentleman, and he had no observation to make upon it, except one; and that was to ask the right hon. Gentleman why he had chosen Sunday as the day upon which to take the Census? Sunday was a day which, in London, did not give so fair a view of the resident inhabitants as any other day. There were certain townships which would certainly be weakened in population by taking Sunday for the Census clay. He understood that the particular day was the Sunday before Easter, and he roust say he did not think that would be a convenient day. A Sunday ought not to be taken at all except for some special consideration.


said, he should like to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman had assured himself that six weeks was a sufficient period to give the Local Authorities for the preparation of the first Returns? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would say whether he had made any inquiry.


said, he had no desire for a voluminous Census at the quinquential interval, and he was sure that a Census of the kind suggested would be of great assistance. They knew that the General Census had proved very wide of the estimate. The Registrar General had, no doubt, made the best calculation he could from the materials at his command; but he hoped that in the future there would be considerable assistance, in London at all events, arising from this Quinquennial Census.

SIR P. TEMPLE () Surrey, Kingston

said, that in some parishes of London, and especially in Hampstead, where the population was steadily increasing, to take the Census on Sunday, particularly at the time of Easter, would place them at a great disadvantage, for a large number of people would be out of town. He would like to ask the President of the Local Government Board what was meant by the allusion in the second line of Sub-section 3?


said, he had chosen Sunday because it was in accordance with the universal practice to take them upon that day. The Registrar General had informed him that there were certain conveniences in taking the Census on a Sunday. He had selected the Sunday before Easter, instead of the Sunday after Easter, as a small concession to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square. That would be fair, at all events, to some parishes, and especially St. George's, Hanover Square. With regard to the question raised by the hon. Member for Islington, the Local Government Board had carefully considered whether six weeks would be sufficient. All that the Local Authorities would have to do was to fill in the number of houses rated, which was not a very large work, and ought very well to be concluded in six weeks.

Motion agreed to.

Clause read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be added to the Bill."


said, he could not pretend to be satisfied with the small concession that the President of the Board of Trade had made. It would be more proper to take this Quinquennial Census on some other day than Sunday. As he had said, on that day a large proportion of the population would be out of London. However, the right hon. Gentleman was master of the position, and he (Mr. Goschen) did not propose to move any Amendment, because he was afraid that in the present condition of the House it would be impossible to obtain a majority. In the interests of his constituents he repeated he did not think Sunday a well-chosen day for the Census.

Motion agreed to.

Clause added to the Bill.


proposed an Amendment omitting from line 6 the words "form a fund" in relation to the Equalisation Fund, in order to insert "open an account," contending that the latter was the more proper description of what was really done.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 6, to leave out the words "form a fund," and insert the words "open an account."—(Mr. Goschen.)

Question proposed, "That the words 'form a fund' stand part of the Bill."


said, he had carefully considered this matter, and although the description "open an account" might properly describe the operation in the earlier sections, it did not describe the transactions later OD, and "fund" was the proper expression. The Government had a precedent for the term they had chosen in the Act of 1870, for which the right hon. Gentleman opposite was responsible, where the expression used was "the Common Poor Law Fund."

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Motion of Mr. SHAW-LEFEVRE, the following Amendments were agreed to:—

Clause 1, page 2, line 18, leave out "tender," and insert "render."

Line 28, leave out "If any Sanitary Authority is found by," and insert "Where."

Line 29, leave out "to have made default within the meaning of," and insert "under."

Line 30, after "1891," insert— are satisfied that a Sanitary Authority have been guilty of such default as in that section mentioned, and have made an order limiting a time for the performance of the duty of the authority.

Line 32, leave out "grant," and insert "payment."

Line 38, after "year," insert— and the amount to be apportioned among the sanitary districts for determining the grant due shall be proportionately increased.

Clause 2, page 3, line 3, leave out "an equalisation charge," and insert "a receipt under this Act."

Clause 3, page 3, line 12, after "being," insert— including the Census taken in pursuance of this Act, or in any year in which a Census is not taken according to the population estimated by the Registrar General under this Act.

After line 12, insert— The expression 'prescribed' means prescribed by the Local Government Board.


asked to be allowed to move the Third Reading of the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Mr. Shaw-Lefevre.)


said, he did not wish to delay the Third Reading of the Bill. He wished to thank the right hon. Gentleman for having incorporated into the Bill an Amendment which he set down in almost his own words. So far as his opinion went, he thought the Bill would be advantageous to the Metropolis, less on account of its equalising results, which he did not think would be considerable, than on account of the requirement that the authorities should render a statutory account of the mode in which they had spent on the various services the grant out of the Equalisation Fund. The account required to be ren- dered would probably do as much to equalise rates in the true sense of the term as any other provision of the Bill, because it would bring to light the differences in the expenditure by the various parishes on these services which he pointed out in Committee. The right hon. Gentleman would not give them the control they asked for; but the very fact of the rendering of an account being made compulsory would, he was convinced, operate as a check on some extravagantly disposed Local Authorities. Out of the 40 authorities enumerated in the Parliamentary Return, no less than 21 did not give a separate return of the amount spent on lighting. In these cases lighting was included in the general rate, and, as they all knew, lighting was just one of those services in which extravagance or luxury was possible without saying it was indulged in. He thought it would be a great advantage to have this expenditure included in a Parliamentary Return, and he was quite sure it would be extremely instructive to know how much of the Equalisation Fund was spent on the various services, so that Parliament might know to what extent this Bill had accomplished the end they all desired—namely, that of an aid to sanitary expenditure, especially in the poorer districts. In his view the success of the Bill would not be tested so much by its equalising results, which would not be large, as by the effect it produced on the efficient administration of the sanitation of London, which he hoped might be both lasting and important.


said, that whatever the opinion might be, with regard to the usefulness of the measure, of those hon. Members who sat on his side of the House, they certainly felt that they had done their best to limit the evil results that they saw would arise under the provisions of the Bill as it first came before the House. While he could not regard the Bill in the same rosy light as the hon. Member for Islington did, he believed it to be a genuine and honest effort on the part of the Government to introduce some reform in local finance and other matters directly connected with it.


felt that many wise Amendments had been brought forward by those who in the first instance opposed the Bill, and he begged to thank hon. Members for the assistance they had given him, which had enabled him to effect many important alterations in the Bill.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.