HC Deb 20 February 1894 vol 21 cc899-918

Lords Amendments further considered. Amendment in page 29, line 9, to leave out from the word "officers" to the end of the subsection (4) of Clause 30, in order to insert the words,— (5) An Order under this section may also be made on the application of any representative body within a borough or district. (6.) An Order under this section, so far as it regards any charity, shall not have any effect until it has received the approval of the Charity Commissioners, —the next Amendment, read a second time.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. H. H. FOWLER, Wolverhampton, E. ) moved that the words be restored and amended, by leaving out, in line 9, the word "subsection," and inserting the word "section." He said, he had proposed to omit Subsection (6) of the Lords Amendment for the purpose of inserting— The Local Government Board shall consult the Charity Commissioners before issuing any Order under this section in respect of any charity.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Sub-section (6) stand part of the Clause."

*SIR J. WESTON) (Bristol, E.

said that, as one of the trustees of the Bristol charities, he desired on the part of his colleagues to express their desire that the Amendment should not be carried. The charity trustees of Bristol were appointed under the Act of 1835, and from that time to the present they had administered their trust to the satisfaction of all the people of Bristol. Under these circumstances, they had expected that the provisions of the Bill would not be made to apply to the charities under their administration; but as they failed in securing an Amendment to this effect, they sought, through the influence of Lord Balfour in the House of Lords, to introduce into Clause 30, Sub-section 6, by which an Order under this Section, so far as it regards any charity, shall not have any effect until it has received the approval of the Charity Commissioners. The Amendment was passed in the House of Lords, and he certainly understood that the President of the Local Government Board had agreed with Lord Balfour that the sub-section now proposed to be included should be included in the Bill. He had received a telegram from his colleagues that day hoping that every opposition would be given to the Amendment to exclude Sub-section 6. From the experience he had had of the charities of Bristol, he believed the citizens would much prefer that the administration of the charities should remain intact in the hands of the present trustees. He appealed to the President of the Local Government Board either to exempt the charities of Bristol from the operation of the Bill or to withdraw his opposition to Sub-section 6, and allow the clause to stand as it comes down from the Lords.


said, the hon. Member was quite right in what he had said with regard to the clause in the other House. A clause was accepted as proposed by Lord Balfour, but it was felt that they could not legislate for Bristol without legislating for other county boroughs. He agreed when he was consulted that the Charity Commissioners should have a voice in the deliberations of the Local Government Board. He believed, as a matter of fact, that no Government Department ever made an Order in which another Government Department was concerned without consulting that Department. The noble Lord who had charge of the clause in another place wished to have that principle embodied in this Bill, and he saw no objection to its being made perfectly clear in the Bill that the Charity Commissioners should have a voice in the matter. But when the Amendment came down from the other House it made the Charity Commissioners a court of appeal from the Local Government Board, and that was a position in which a responsible Department like the Local Government Board should not be placed. Therefore, all the alteration he had made in reference to the Lords Amendment was that the Local Government Board should consult with the Charity Commissioners.

*MR. W. LONG (Liverpool, West Derby)

said, that the right hon. Gentleman had, he thought, hardly recalled quite accurately the manner in which this Amendment found its way into the Bill in another place. As the hon. Member told them, it was first brought forward by Lord Balfour; but unless he was wrong, the Amendment was not one put in the Bill by Lord Balfour, but by the Earl of Kimberley.


said, that with Lord Balfour's Amendment as originally drawn the Government would have given an unqualified opposition. That was pointed out to Lord Balfour, and he did not press it.


said, he understood that; but, nevertheless, the Amendment was inserted by the Government in another place, and not at the instance of Lord Balfour. At a subsequent stage they brought up this Amendment, which was now in the Bill, and which was put in at the instance of the Minister leading the House of Lords. In these circumstances it appeared remarkable that this matter, having been settled by agreement between the two sides of the House of Lords, when it came down here a change should take place. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had hardly done justice to the Charity Commissioners when he spoke of them as an irresponsible Department. They were responsible for the control of those charities which came within their purview; and in addition they were represented in this House by an unpaid Charity Commissioner, and everything they did which was considered wrong could be challenged, and their action could be debated and discussed in this House just as anything could be debated in connection with the Local Government Board. Further, the Estimates on which the Charity Commission depended for their supplies could be considered in this House exactly in the same way as the Estimates in any other Public Department; and in the circumstances he could hardly see how the Charity Commission could be described fairly as an irresponsible Department. So far as putting themselves over the Local Government Board went, he submitted that that was not intended. So far as they were over the Local Government Board it was only in relation to the control and administration of charities. He regretted very much that this matter had been changed at the last moment. They had heard about the City of Bristol, but in Chester also there were similar charities, and both cities had expressed their approval of the Amendment finally adopted by the House of Lords. At the last moment it was, to say the least, unfortunate, and he thought hardly fair that that Amendment, having been once generally agreed to, should be withdrawn. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman could not let the Amendment of the Lords stand, and he hoped he would not insist upon the insertion of a new Amendment which he ventured to submit was not sufficient to meet the case.

*SIR C. W. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

said, he would like the right hon. Gentleman to tell the House exactly what was proposed. The reason why he asked was, that the point which had been raised was entirely concerned with the cities, whereas this clause affected, and the sub-section would affect, all urban districts. There were a great number of rural "urban" districts which would receive no Parish Council, and it would be desirable to know whether they would be in an inferior position.

Question, "That Sub-section (6) stand part of the Lords Amendment," put, and negatived.

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Several Amendments agreed to; several disagreed to.

Amendment, Line 8, after ("county") insert ("but a rural sanitary district overlapping a county boundary shall not have the portion in each county separated from the rest of the district if reasons are given which satisfy the County Councils concerned, or, on their disagreement, the Local Government Board, that such severance would be specially prejudicial to the interests of the district"), the next Amendment, read a second time.


moved to disagree with the Amendment. He said, that the onus at present rested with the County Council for giving directions in this matter, and if the Amendment were adopted the onus would be the other way, and the districts would have to remain as they were. Ho saw no necessity for importing the Local Government Board into the matter. It was a question of local arrangement. He thought the County Councils were quite capable of settling this question themselves, and under these circumstances he preferred to adhere to the wording of the Bill as it originally stood.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment.'"—(Mr. H. II. Fowler.)


said, he supposed it was useless to say anything against the view taken by the right hon. Gentleman. He admitted that the wording of the proviso is altogether unsatisfactory, and if it were retained it should be improved and simplified. But as regarded the substance of the Amendment of the Lords, be was bound to say that he thought a good deal was to be said for it. County Councils were too much inclined, in altering boundaries, to transfer parishes from one county to another for reasons far too slight, and, in his opinion, the mere ipse dixit of the County Council in. this matter ought not to prevail against strong local feeling.


said, that under the clause only district, and not county, boundaries could be altered.


said, the clause, would, at any rate, enable a Middlesex parish to be put into a Surrey district.

MR. BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)

said, he was unable to understand the reference in the clause as it originally stood to the County Council in the singular, for the questions that might arise would very likely concern two or three different counties. He thought the importation of the Local Government Board into the matter would be very desirable and useful.

MR. H. HOBHOUSE) (Somerset, E.

said, he hoped the House would not agree to the Amendment, because ample provision was made in the clause as it stood with regard to this matter. As a general rule, they must all feel that it would be very objectionable for rural districts to be in more than one county. The county was an administrative whole, and they did not wish these districts to overlap, except in very exceptional circumstances. With regard to the alteration of the boundaries, he thought there were ample precautions against their being altered unless there was a general concensus of public opinion.

Question put, and agreed to.

Several Amendments agreed to; and one disagreed to.

*MR.H. H. FOWLER moved to agree with the following sub-section inserted by the Lords in Clause 42:— (7) Where the name of a person is entered both in the ownership list and in the occupation list of voters in the same parish, and the Revising Barrister places against that name a mark or note signifying that the name should be printed in Division 3 of the lists, an asterisk or other mark shall be there printed against the name, and such person shall not be entitled to vote as a parochial elector in respect of that entry.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said sub-section."—(Mr. H. H Fowler.)


said, the proposal was, no doubt, a necessary one; but its terms were so exceedingly technical that they could not be understood by the officers who had to deal with the subject of registration. The difficulty was, indeed, so great that it could only be removed by the issue by the Local Government Board of a full and clear circular explaining exactly what was to be done. He expressly guarded himself, however, against making any complaint against the draftsman, the difficulty being insuperable owing to the system which had been adopted.

*SIR M. HICKS-BEACH) (Bristol, W.

thought they were justified in asking the President of the Local Government Board what the words of the sub-section meant. He would certainly like to know whether anybody would be disfranchised under the proposal, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would take the advice of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, and issue an explanatory Circular.


said, the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean stated that he did not understand the language of the clause; and in reply to the right hon. Gentleman he had only to remark that there was none so blind as he who would not see. To say, as the right hon. Gentleman had said, that it was absolutely unintelligible and had no meaning whatever, was to stamp a severe censure on the draftsman of the Bill.


(interposing) said, he expressly stated that he laid not the slightest blame on the draftsman of the Bill, and he distinctly went on to say that the difficulty was insuperable; that it lay in the nature of the franchise, and in the mode of starring names, and that the draftsman could not by any possibility overcome it.


would simply say that this clause had been drawn by the gentleman who drew the Registration Bill of the Government of which his light hon. Friend was a Member: who drew up the Registration Order issued by Mr. Ritchie after the passing of the County Council Act, and who was more familiar with the Law of Registration than all the agents in the country. He had drawn this clause, and here were his words with reference to the clause— Where an owner has had his name placed on the ownership list of any parish and is also an occupier in that parish, the Overseers necessarily every year place his name in the list of occupation voters in the parish. At the revision his name used to be struck out of the occupation list by the Revising Barrister as being doubly entered. But when the Act. of 1888 passed it was necessary to give him the right to vote as a county elector in respect of his occupation, and the Revising Barrister was directed to 'star' his name in the occupation list instead of erasing it. Clause 42 of the Bill provides that instead of being 'starred' his name shall be transferred to Division 3, which contains the names of persons who have votes as county electors only. The result will be that when he comes to vote at a parochial election he will be entered twice, once as owner and once as occupier. In order to avoid his voting in respect of both entries, the Amendment proposes that the Revising Barrister should star his name where it appears in Division 3 as a county elector. That was a perfectly intelligent explanation of the meaning of the clause.


thought they might take it from what the right hon. Gentleman had read that there would be no disfranchisement in any way. [Mr. II. II. FOWLER: No.] The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean could defend himself, but he (Mr. Long) could safely say he was not ashamed to own he was unable to understand the clause. He had consulted wiser heads than his own—men of considerable experience and ability — and they were in precisely the same position as the right hon. Baronet confessed himself in. It was not the fault of the draftsman or of anybody else, but owing to the fact that the Government had attempted the almost, impossible task of amalgamating different Registers, so as to create one distinct Register intelligible to anyone. He had no doubt the draftsman was a most accomplished gentleman for this particular question, but he was not the person who would have to carry out this Bill, and make it effective by providing a Register on which the Parish Councils of the future would have to be elected, and if there were any vagueness as to the exact meaning of these words it should be cleared up. He hoped, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman would issue such instructions as would make the meaning of the section perfectly clear.

Question put, and agreed to.

Several Amendments agreed to; several disagreed to.

One Amendment agreed to, and a Consequential Amendment made to the Bill.

Amendment, In page 45, line 21, after the word "accounts," to insert the words "showing all outstanding liabilities", the next Amendment, read a second time.


moved to disagree with this Amendment. He said, the mode of keeping the accounts was not to show the outstanding liabilities. To do so would completely alter the whole system of auditing, and require a large addition to the present staff. The Local Government Board advised him that the arrangement proposed by the Lords was an arrangement, which could not be carried out with satisfaction to them or with convenience.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. H. H. Fowler.)


was sorry to hear what the right hon. Gentleman had said. The Bill laid down certain limits, beyond which it was not legal for authorities to borrow, and he did not see how the public or the Local Government Board were to check the expenditure of the Local Authorities without some knowledge of what the outstanding liabilities were. It was quite true that the present system did not make any provision for this, but could not the present system be altered? Why should there not be some opportunity for making this statement, which would be a very small statement, and would be interesting not merely to the public but to every elector of the parish and district, who surely ought to know what the liabilities of their parish and district were. He very much regretted the right hon. Gentleman could not agree with this Amendment.


said, the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had made the very serious revelation that the Local Government Board had instituted a system of auditing accounts which took no notice of outstanding liabilities. In all accounts the outstanding liabilities were the very essence of the accounts. What were the use of cash accounts and receipts of expenditure unless they completed and supplemented them by an account of the outstanding liabilities. The whole essence of the accounts lay in the correctness or incorrectness of the outstanding liabilities. If correct, the account was correct; if incorrect the account was worthless. He was astounded to learn that the Local Government Board should have instituted a system of auditing which took no account whatever of the outstanding liabilities. That was an extremely loose system which required redress, and especially in cases of this kind, where outstanding liabilities were limited by the Act.


said, he had heard the right hon. Gentleman himself say there was a difficulty in estimating the whole local indebtedness of the county. It was a great pity they could not have an exact statement of the liabilities both of the past and the future. If they were to have an audit at all, certainly the outstanding liabilities ought to be included in it. There was an especial reason for this, because the new liabilities which would be incurred by the Parish Council were strictly limited, and the auditor ought to have power to disallow any improper items.


He could not disallow an outstanding liability.


No, but he could see that the accounts were correct.


said, the main function of the Local Government Board had been to ascertain whether the expenditure incurred by Local Bodies was within their powers or not. But here a new function was to be put upon them. These new Local Bodies had a limit put upon their expenditure; surely it was the duty of the Local Government Board to see they did not go beyond that, and how could they do so if they did not inquire into the liabilities.


asked how this check they had put into the Bill could be a real one if, in dealing with the accounts of the year, no notice was to be taken of a debt upon an existing loan. The expenditure would undoubtedly be limited to a particular rate, which was to include interest on loans and all other expenditure incurred by the Local Authority, but unless the audit of accounts was to disclose what were the existing liabilities—in other words, how much out of that rate was already anticipated by payments incurred in the shape of interest on the loans—he did not see how the auditor of the Local Government Board or anybody else could see that the check put in the Bill was exercised.

*SIR J. GOLDSMID) (St. Pancras, S.

observed that the Local Authority might get into debt beyond its legal limit, and might then carry the account over to another year in order to prevent control being exercised by the Local Government Board auditor. There should be some statement of the liabilities which had been incurred and had not been met; otherwise the powers which were limited under this Act might be exceeded, without anybody having the right or duty to control. Some provision was undoubtedly necessary to guard against this.


said, that what the auditor had got to do was to see what had been expended out of the local rate, and see that they did not expend it on a single thing not authorised by law. They could raise no more than a 6d. rate, but the auditor had no means of putting them into the box and ascertaining what their outstanding liabilities might be. The limit put upon the Parish Authorities was that they could not levy more 1 than 6d. in the year, and the Overseers! would not pay anything beyond that amount. The Overseers had got that! matter in their own hands; they could but pay the 6d. rate, and having done so, it was the auditor's duty to see that it was not spent improperly. [Sir M. HICKS-BEACH: There are loans.] They could not raise a loan without the consent of the parish meeting, the County Council and the Local Government Board, and these consenting bodies could not sanction their borrowing nore than one-half of the assessable value of the parish for that year. The auditor had to audit the receipts and payments. At the beginning of the clause they were amending, it stated— The accounts and receipts of the payments of the Parish and District Council shall be made up yearly and audited. He could not audit anything else.


said, surely the right hon. Gentleman would not throw cold water upon the view that no audit could be thoroughly satisfactory without showing the outstanding liabilities. The outstanding liabilities would be a very important part of the finance of the Parish Councils, and all the ratepayers were entitled to have an audit to see whether the liabilities were correct. The auditor could easily audit them. In the case of Friendly Societies, and every company and body where a regular audit took place, the outstanding liabilities were the most important consideration. The right hon. Gentleman threw no difficulty in the way except the difficulty of the existing system and the Departmental difficulty. Surely, if no steps had been taken in that direction, it was desirable that there should now be a reform not only in this but in all Government Offices, It was no argument to say such a practice had not yet entered into the system; it ought to do. Many frauds might be committed if the outstanding liabilities were not disclosed, and it was most desirable that they should have a business-like system of keeping accounts.


said, that what the right hon. Gentleman proposed was that there should be a complete change in the whole system of keeping accounts. He said that these liabilities ought to be included. There had been no practical difficulty, as the right hon. Gentleman knew, since he was at the Local Government Board, over 20 years ago; the audit had been carried on under a system which had worked satisfactorily for a quarter of a century, and the right hon. Gentleman now wanted to introduce, offhand and by a stroke of the pen, an entire change. The statement of the loans always appeared, and that was a check. To carry out the Amendment would be to introduce an entirely new and expensive system of auditing these accounts different to what they had already got in all Rural and Urban Sanitary Authorities in the Kingdom. He preferred to adhere to the present system.

MR. COHEN) (Islington, E.

contended that from the very fact that there was a limit of 6d. in the £1 in the expenditure of these Parish Councils, the necessity for ascertaining the amount of their outstanding liabilities became the more pressing.

MR. H. HOBHOUSE) (Somerset, E.

considered that the auditors in auditing the accounts of these small bodies ought to be able to examine into the outstanding liabilities. He hoped the Local Government Board would draw up some new system of audit with respect to parish accounts which would give a sufficient power of dealing with what might possibly be in the future some danger to the stability of parish finance.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 144; Noes 67.—(Division List, No. 447.)

*MR. H. H. FOWLER moved that the following Lords Amendment be agreed to:— The Local Government Board may, with respect to any audit to which this section applies, make rules modifying the enactments as to publication of notice of the audit and of the abstract of accounts and the Report of the auditor.

Amendment agreed to.

The following Lords Amendments were agreed to:— Line 31 and line 35, after ("may") insert ("at all reasonable times"). Page 47, line 20, leave out ("wards") and insert ("districts whether called by that name or not"). Line 22, leave out ("wards") and insert ("districts"). Line 34, after ("no") insert ("parish meeting or"). Page 48, transpose Clause 56 to place marked on page 29. Line 15, after the second ("of") insert ("a resolution under"). Line 20, after ("council") insert ("and to the Local Government Beard"). Page 49, line 10, leave out ("members") and insert ("constitution"). Line 16, after ("business") insert ("or matters arising in, or affecting the interests of its own district"). Line 17, after ("commission") insert ("affected by this Act").

Amendment, In lines 25 and 26, leave out from ("management") to the end of the clause and insert ("control or endowments"), the next Amendment, read a second time.


said, he would move to disagree with the Lords Amendment. The clause was to the effect that nothing in the Act shall affect the trusteeship, management, control, or endowments of any elementary school for education in the principles of any particular Church or denomination. He objected to the insertion of the words "or endowments." The question had been fully discussed on a similar Amendment.

Amendment, to disagree with the Amendment of the Lords to insert the words "or endowments," agreed to.

Amendment, to leave out the words, For education in the principles of any particular Church or denomination," agreed to.

The following Lords Amendments were agreed to:— Page 50, line 24, after ("agreement") insert ("and as far as any agreement does not extend"). Page 51, line 6, leave out ("or under").

Amendment, In page 51, line 9, to leave out line 9, and insert the words ("County Council desirable be made by the County Council, or, in the case of an area situate in more than one county, by a joint committee of County Councils"), the next Amendment, read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. H. H. Fowler.)


said, the clause which was here amended read in this way— Where an alteration of any area is made by or under this Act, an Order for any of the matters mentioned in Section 59 of the Local Government Act, 1888, may, if it appears to the Local Government Board desirable, be made by that Board. The Lords Amendment was to leave out the words Local Government Board desirable, be made by that Board, in order to insert the words proposed. At the end of the 59th section of the Act of 1888 there were two sub-sections which related to powers exercised by the Local Government Board in matters of very considerable importance, one of which was the alteration of the boundary of a county. That was surely a matter which could not be left to the County Authority.


said, he agreed that any alteration in areas should be subject, to the Local Government Board, but this clause said, "Where an alteration of any area is made," &c. When the thing was done it was necessary under Section 59 of the Act of 1888 to bring the scheme or Order into effect, and that could be better done by the County Council than by the Local Government Board. The Amendment of the Lords, to which the Government assented, had been proposed by the County Councils' Association.

SIR M. HICKS-BEACH moved to insert in the Lords Amendment, after the second "County Council," the words "but subject to the provisions of that section."

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Lords Amendment agreed to— Line 14, after ("parish") insert ("or in a Distriet Council.")

Amendment, Line 27, leave out ("decision") and insert ("determination. Provided that an appeal to the High Court of Justice from any decision of the Charity Commissioners under this section may be presented only under the same conditions as are prescribed in the case of appeals to the High Court from orders made by the Charity Commissioners under the Charitable Trusts Acts. 1853 to 1891"), the next Amendment, read a second time.

*MR. H. H. FOWLER moved to amend the Amendment by leaving out "decision," and inserting "determination."

Amendment to the Lords Amendment agreed to.

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

The following Lords Amendments were agreed to:— Line 31, after ("Council") insert ("or joint committee.") Page 52, line 25, after ("Scilly") insert ("and after such public notice as appears to the Local Government Board sufficient for giving information to all persons interested.")

Amendment, Page 53, line 26, leave out from ("buildings") to the end of the paragraph, and insert ("not held in trust for the residence or relief of poor or sick persons therein, or productive of income distributable for the benefit of such persons which, or the ownership, trusteeship, management, or control of which, is by its legal constitution vested in ministers or officers for the time being of any particular church or denomination, either alone or jointly with other persons The expression 'affairs of the church' shall include the distribution of offertories or other collections made in any church"), the next Amendment, read a second time.


said, he would ask the House to disagree with the first paragraph of this Amendment. The subject had been fully discussed in Committee in the. House of Commons. The Amendment would effect an extension of ecclesiastical charities. These buildings could only be dealt with where they were used for secular purposes; if they were used for religious purposes the Parish Councils would have no control over them.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—{Mr. H. H. Fowler.)


said, they had discussed this question until they were tired of it—and he was as tired of it as anybody else. But the Opposition thought they had a right to persist in asking that those parish rooms which, though not used for specific religious purposes, were used for secular purposes, in connection with the Church should be protected. They had been built by the Church for its secular work; they were used as part of the secular organisation of the Church, and as such they ought to be protected just as much as if they were used for purely religious purposes. With regard to contributions towards the building funds of these parish rooms, the Earl of Kimberley in the House of Lords said— Cases might exist in which there might be a very small contribution by a person outside the denomination which really would not alter the character of the building. The noble Earl by those words had admitted that the test imposed by the Bill as it went up to the House of Lords was an impossible one—namely, that all the money should have been subscribed by the one denomination. The noble Earl saw that another test was necessary. Well, what better one could they have than "Who are the trustees?" If they found a parish room vested exclusively in ministers or officers of a particular Church or denomination or their nominees it was conclusive proof that that building was intended to belong to that Church or denomination. Since 1850 fully 90 per cent. of these parish rooms had been vested in the officers of particular denominations. If the Government did not see their way to accept the Amendment he must ask the House once more to divide on the question.


said, the only proper method of dealing with this question was the method in which the Upper House had dealt with it. Distinctions were made between what were called religious charities and non-religious charities. In old days all charities were religious, and even in modern times charities were in most cases religious, although he did not say that they were necessarily ecclesiastical. When such charities were found to be vested in ecclesiastical officers it did not require a strong effort of the imagination to believe that the donors intended them to be ecclesiastical charities. But it was not necessary to prove that they were all ecclesiastical charities. If it could be shown that even a part of them were intended to be ecclesiastical charities, Parliament had no right to act contrary to the wishes of the donors. Those who left the funds left them with their eyes open, and conferred them in trust upon certain ecclesiastical officers. The only way in which justice could be done was by leaving matters as they were. It was not as if the Churchwardens were elected differently from the way in which they used to be elected. They were still elected by all the ratepayers, and the minister of the Church of England was also exactly the same as he always was. The clergy quite recognised, and had always recognised, that these parish rooms were intended for the whole parish. If an absolute proof were needed that hon. Gentlemen did not really believe that they were carrying out the wishes of the donors, all that was necessary was to ask the donors who were still alive what their views were. He ventured to say that if this were done there would be found hardly a single donor who was willing to transfer the trust he had constituted from the ecclesiastical officers to the representatives of the Parish Council. It was one of the functions of ministers of religion to look after the temporal welfare of those who lived in the parish; they were prepared to carry out that function, and, in all fairness and justice, Parliament ought to leave the trusts as they had been left.

*SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)

remarked that there were many buildings erected in one sense for the general use of the parish, but nevertheless with a view to the interest of the promulgation of the doctrines of the Church of England, and it was a great hardship that the trusts thus constituted should be in any way interfered with by this Bill. He trusted that before the Bill became law the clause would be placed in such a shape as to protect the interests which were now assailed.

MR. H. HOBHOUSE) (Somerset, E.

was of opinion that some alteration of the words proposed to be re-inserted in the Bill would afford a satisfactory settlement of the question. The words he referred to provided that buildings which, in the opinion of the Charity Commissioners, had been erected or provided within 40 years from the passing of the Act "entirely" by the members of a I particular denomination should remain under the management of that denomination. He objected to the word "entirely" in that provision. There were many buildings the cost of which had been borne almost entirely by members of a particular denomination, but to which members of other denominations, out of the generosity of their hearts, might have subscribed. For instance, he, who was a member of the Church of England, had now and then been called upon to subscribe towards buildings erected by the Wesleyans or by other denominations. The fact that he had done so ought not to remove those particular buildings from the exception made in the clause. He thought that, in all fairness, the Government might assent to the insertion of the words "or mainly" after "entirely," so as to produce a reasonable settlement.

Question put, and agreed to.

Amendment, In page 55, line 34, after the word "qualification," to insert the words "as if the term of office for which they were elected expired on that day, and except for the purpose of filling casual vacancies, no farther elections shall he held, the next Amendment, read a second time.

Amendment proposed to the Lords Amendment, After the words "casual vacancies," to insert the words "or electing additional Guardians."—(Mr. H. H. Fowler.)

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Amendment, In line 37. to leave out sub-section ("9") and insert —(9.) The Overseers of any parish divided by this Act shall, until the first appointment of Overseers next after the appointed day, continue in office as if they were Overseers of each part of the said parish, which by reason of such division becomes a separate parish, the next Amendment, read a second time.


I move to restore the whole of Sub-section (9), which is consequential upon the inclusion of London.

Amendment proposed to the Lords Amendment to restore Sub-section (9).— {Mr. H. II. Fowler.)

Question put, and agreed to.

Amendment, In page 59, line 6, after the word "Act" to insert the words "Provided that where an Order of a County Council postpones the operation of the section with respect to highways as respects their county or any part thereof the day on which such postponement ccases shall, as respects such county or part, be the appointed day, the next Amendment, read a second time.

Amendment proposed to the Lords Amendment, After the words "appointed day," to add the words "and the Order of postponement shall make such provision as may be necessary for holding the elections of Highway Boards during the interval before the appointed day."—(Mr. H. H. Fowler.)

Question, "That those words be there added," put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Amendment, In line 15, to leave out the words "and every" and insert the words "but at such dates after the appointed day as the Local Government Board may fix, and every authority, committee, or"), the next Amendment, read a second time.

Amendment proposed to the Lords Amendment, To insert the words "as soon as practicable after the appointed day," in place of "at such dates."—(Mr. H. H. Fowler.)

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Amendment, to omit the words "as the Local Government Board may fix," agreed to. Committee appointed, to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to certain of the Amendments made by the Lords to the Bill:—Mr. H. H. Fowler, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir W. Foster, The Solicitor General, Mr. Secretary Asquith, Mr. A. Morley, Sir J. T. Hibbert, Mr. Marjoribanks, and Mr. Causton:—To withdraw immediately. Ordered, That Three be the quorum.—(Mr, H. H. Fowler.)