HC Deb 26 February 1894 vol 21 cc1050-103

Lords Amendments, to the Commons Amendments to the Lords Amendments, and Consequential Amendments to the Bill, and Lords Reasons, considered.

Lords Amendment— In page 1, line 10, proposed in lieu of the Amendment to which the Commons have disagreed—namely, after the word "upwards," to insert the words "Provided that in every parish having a population of more than 200, but less than 500, the parish meeting may pass a resolution that there shall be no Parish Council in that parish, and such resolution until rescinded shall have effect, the first Amendment, read a second time.


The first Amendment which comes back to this House is also the first Amendment which was sent up to the House of Lords last week. The House will recollect that originally the Government proposed to limit the population above which Parish Councils should be compulsory to 200. The House of Lords altered the 200 into 500, and the point was again considered by the House of Commons, which by a very large majority determined to adhere to the limit of 200. The House of Lords did not insist upon their Amendment, but proposed another course. They now propose that parishes having a population of more than 200 and less than 500 may pass a resolution saying they will not have a Parish Council. In other words, the alternative before us a few days ago was that parish meetings might pass resolutions to obtain Parish Councils, and if they did not. pass these resolutions they were not to have them. The effect of this Amendment is that, having got Parish Councils, they may pass resolutions to get rid of them. I have no doubt that very acute minds may discern some difference between the two proposals, but, to my mind, the difference is very minute and inappreciable. The introduction of a novel principle of legislation—after the House has enacted that Parish Councils should be conferred upon populations of 200, then to limit the number by providing that populations between 200 and 500 may rid themselves of the enactment by passing a resolution— is one which I hope the House will not agree to. A very powerful speech was delivered on this point by a noble and learned Lord who has not hitherto been distinguished for his favourable appreciation of the Bill. I regret that the speech was not reported more fully in the newspapers. I allude to Lord Selborne, who pointed out with very great force the disadvantages of government by parish meetings and by committees of parish meetings as compared with the simpler, more effective, and, as I venture to think, more economical mode of governing by Parish Councils. I must ask the House to-adhere to the limit of 200, and to disagree with the Lords Amendment.

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

MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)

I regret the speech which the right, hon. Gentleman has delivered, and I regret the decision to which the speech was germane. It appears to me the right hon. Gentleman might have done us the honour of attempting to prove the main propositions connected with the merits of the case he has laid before us. He has told us that, in his opinion, the government by Parish Councils was—I forget exactly the adjectives which he quoted from Lord Selborne — more effective, more simple, and more economical. But whether it is more effective and more simple—[Mr. H. H. FOWLER: Yes, more effective and simple.] Yes, and more economical. What we have always alleged is that it is not, and cannot be, more economical; and although he has referred in a somewhat airy manner to this subject, I do not recollect one single Debate in which he or any one of his colleagues have addressed themselves to the task of demonstrating that government by Parish Councils will confer on the population an economical administration. He relies to-day on his mere ipse dixit in that matter; and I do not believe there is a single gentleman, whether in favour of the Lords Amendment or against it, who is prepared to get up and say that he has grounds to believe that the complex machinery of this Bill is likely to lead to economy. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that his mind is not subtle enough to distinguish between the Amendment originally sent down and its revised form. There is the whole difference, which lies between the burden of proof being put on one party or the other party. I do not wish Tolabour a point which we have dealt with more than once in this House; but I question whether agricultural Members on the other side of the House can be found to get up and say that they believe in their hearts that in the ease of small and scattered parishes under 500 this particular method of administration by a Parish Council will be one which will lead to general economy of administration. The Government have never fully realised what is the chief danger which gentlemen on this side of the House fear from this Bill. I have never pretended that I thought it would lead to anything like tyranny, or oppression, or spoliation; but I do believe that at this moment the heaviest burden under which the agricultural community is labouring is the burden of the rates, and I believe that this Bill must unquestionably increase that burden. I cannot understand on what ground the Government refuses to come to some arrangement on this matter. Certainly the House of Lords, in dealing with this Bill, have not shown themselves unduly anxious to force their opinion on this House, or to do anything which would give a legitimate excuse to any man to say that they contributed in the smallest degree to spoil this measure. It appears to me that they have done the very minimum that ought to be thrown upon a Second Chamber, whatever its constitution, in dealing with a measure of this importance; and I am altogether at a loss to understand why the Government, who do not pretend even now that this is an interference with liberty—who have dropped the argument which figured so largely in our previous Debates, that the tyranny of some class or classes in a parish would be able to coerce the general inhabitants of the district into depriving themselves of the blessings they pined for—having dropped those arguments, and having seen their futility—in fact, having dropped the whole of the original case— I am unable to understand how it is that the Government find it impossible to meet the views we have so earnestly pressed upon them. Hon. Gentlemen opposite look—and I think they are quite right in looking—to the interest of the rural labouring population as an important factor in determining the course they ought to pursue; but surely common sense will dictate to men who profess to be regulated by common sense, that when you are starting a new experiment of this kind it is well to conciliate as far as possible all sections of opinion among those who have to administer the Act. They must know that in many cases the country farmers, if not in the least opposed to the granting of these powers, are, nevertheless, deeply and justly alarmed at the probable increase of their already overwhelming burdens; and I should have supposed that hon. Gentlemen would have been glad of any plan by which those fears might be allayed, provided that plan be of a kind which cannot in anyway touch the principle of the Bill. These are reasons which I venture to address to the Statesmanship on the other side of the House. I ask them not to do anything to destroy their Bill or to interfere with the privileges or autonomous powers they propose to confer on the rural population. I ask them to conciliate a large class which will have to do with the administration of this measure; to give a much-needed elasticity to the machinery they are setting in motion: and to show in this substantial measure the sympathy which they have with the burdens which already weigh so heavily upon our rural districts.


There is one circumstance to which the right hon. Gentleman has not called attention which I think is worthy of reflection by the House, and that is the attitude taken up on this question by the majority of the House of Commons and the extent of the majority in the House of Lords. As my right hon. Friend in charge of the Bill has stated, the previous Amendment, which was practically the same thing as that now before us, was rejected in this House by a large majority—I think I may say by double the normal majority of the Government.-That is the situation upon a subject to which the right hon. Gentleman attaches so much importance. He appeals to the Statesmanship on this side of the House yet that appeal was not responded to by a great number of gentlemen not among the ordinary supporters of the Government in the House of Lords, for Lord Salisbury, the commander of an enormous majority in the House of Lords, appealed to the Statesmanship of the House of Lords upon this very question, and Lord Salisbury upon this question had against him so large a number of gentlemen—I should say noblemen; I beg pardon— who habitually support Lord Salisbury in that House and oppose the Government that Lord Salisbury, the commander of so many legions, secured a majority of 13 only, about one-tenth part of his normal majority. Therefore, upon this question, which the right hon. Gentleman has put forward as a high question of statesmanship, the situation is this—(hat in the House of Commons the Government are supported by double their normal majority, and in the House of Lords Lord Salisbury is abandoned by nine-tenths of his normal majority. That is the situation upon this question which the right hon. Gentleman says so deeply concerns the farmers of England. Among those gentlemen who are not supporters of the Government, on this question of statesmanship we had the almost unexampled advantage of three Lukes supporting us against this statesmanlike Amendment of Lord Salisbury's—the Dukes of Devonshire, Grafton, and Westminster. We had even a supply of Marquesses, and the Earls who did not support the Amendment were so numerous that they secured to us the extraordinary advantage in a Division of 76 against 89. And, without mentioning more names, I may say this—that the number of noblemen, Members of the House of Lords, belonging to what is called the Liberal Unionist Party went almost in a body against Lord Salisbury upon this Amendment, and among its opponents there are also the names of many noblemen habitually recognised as most faithful Members of the Conservative Party. Does the right hon. Gentleman really think that this House of Commons, which, by an overwhelming majority, has declared in favour of the Bill as it; went up to the House of Lords, can accept an Amendment which has been so weakly supported in the House of Lords by the supporters of Lord Salisbury? Without attempting to argue with the followers of the right hon. Gentleman — [Opposition cheers.] Well, I will put it in this way: If the right hon. Gentleman cannot convince the Dukes of Devonshire and Westminster on this subject, he is not likely to convince us. If he cannot convince his own Party, and that powerful section upon which his Party relies in this House and out of it, it is not the least likely he can convince us. If all the bogus fears and alarms of which he has spoken have had no effect upon these noblemen, the right hon. Gentleman surely cannot imagine that we, who have expressed our views on this subject over and over again, are likely to alter them. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not attempt to continue the contest in this matter, seeing that Lord Salisbury has had such a doubtful success upon it in another place.

MR. WHARTON (York, W.R.Ripon)

said, he deeply regretted the Government were not disposed to listen to so moderate and' rational an Amendment. It had at least three important points to recommend it—-namely, that it was in favour of liberty, of local option, of which gentlemen opposite professed to be the champions, and also of economy. The Chancellor of the Exchequer might think that economy was a bogey, but the bogey in the country was rates and not economy. There was a fear in the country that this Bill would increase the rates—a fear which he believed was well grounded— and it was a matter of great regret that the Government could not see their way to accept such a rational Amendment as this. Where was the coercion Government now? The Government were favouring coercion by their attitude. The Government was going to force down the throats of the people that which they did not want. The Amendment was in favour of economy, and the people of the country would be anxious to see such an Amendment adopted.

MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)

We have reached a stage in The consideration of the Bill when such appeals as have been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the ground of expediency and Parliamentary tactics are entitled to some weight. I regret, however, the decision at which the Government has arrived. I have hitherto thought that some such Amendment as that now before the House might be adopted, believing that it would conduce to the smooth working of the Bill. But the Government do not intend to argue the question on its merits. That that is the case has been shown throughout the controversies in the other House. What is the reason that has been given for rejecting the Lords Amendment? It is that the Amendment would prevent parishes with a population between 200 and 500 from having the same rights as parishes having 300 inhabitants. No, Sir, I venture to say that these reasons are in the first place absolutely incorrect, and in the second place they are illogical. They are illogical, because it is perfectly clear that they must apply just as much to parishes under 200 as to parishes between 200 and 500, and they are inaccurate because it is untrue to say that the Amendment of the Lords, modified as it has been with a conciliatory intention, will deprive any parish of any right. It will only come into operation in cases in which a, majority of the parish, representing the general feeling of the parish, are opposed to the particular right which the Government desire to impose upon them. I have always held—and this has been the reason for my action hitherto—that in these very small parishes government by parish meeting will be a much more convenient form of administration than government by Parish Council. But, as I have said, we have reached a position when argument is out of place, and when we have only to consider tactically the question whether it is worth while to run any risk in connection with a matter which, after all, is not of primary importance. In my own view, the popularity of the Bill would have been increased if the Government had seen their way to accept this Amendment; but as the Government refuse it, I do not think it worth while to carry the controversy further, and am not prepared to record another vote in favour of the proposal.

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

I would advance one argument more in defence of the course we feel compelled to take. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us just now that the Government could not accept the Amendment, not because they had any good reasons to advance against the course recommended by us or in favour of the course recommended by the Government, but because of the old principle upon which they have so long relied —that is to say, because, after counting heads, the balance of voting power appears to be on their side rather than on ours. No doubt there has been a division of opinion on this subject even among those who usually act together, but I venture to say there is a very strong reason why Members who represent agricultural villagers in this House should support this Amendment. We have been told over and over again that the principle underlying this Hill is to be found in the words "trust the people." I venture to say that if you honestly and really trust in the people you will show it more by giving them an opportunity of deciding for themselves whether they will have Parish Councils or not than you will by forcing the Councils on them whether they like them or not. The Earl of Selborne, who is a high authority on this subject, has said that a Parish Council is a better form of government than a parish meeting, and that may be the ease. But why deny to the inhabitants of our smaller country villages the right of exercising their own discretion—a right recognised in other legislation—and of deciding for themselves which is the better form of government? The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, who is not now in his place, gave expression in the course of debate in this House to what I believe to be the real opinion held in agricultural districts and by the best Poor Law and local government reformers—namely, that it is the duty of the Government, and very desirable, to bring into existence a reformed system of local government for our villages, and that having done that you should not force on them powers they do not seek nor require and which they may not be able to exercise. You should give them a certain option as to the course they desire to take. Whatever the House may do in its general decision on the Bill, whether it may adopt the margin or whether it may decline to adopt it, I can safely say the course we on this side have followed in supporting this Amendment, by our speeches and by our votes, is one which recommends itself to the majority of those in whose interests you profess to be acting in passing this Bill. It commends itself to the vast majority of those who will be called on hereafter to exercise the powers you are creating; and I would repeat, what I have said here before, that it would tend more to the ultimate successful working of the Bill if you loft it to the parishes themselves to say who- ther or no they would have Parish Councils than if you compelled them to have those Councils. For that reason I support the Lords Amendment.


said, he only wished to say one word before this matter was concluded, to express his regret that the Government had not seen their way to assent to this very fair and reasonable Amendment, and also that the Opposition could not calculate in the coming Division upon the support of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham and those who usually acted with him. He (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) could not help again calling attention to the unfortunate advocacy of the Government case by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman had laid great stress on the circumstance that this Amendment was only carried in the other House by a majority of 13. The right hon. Gentleman was entitled to whatever weight that argument might-have. Undoubtedly it had some weight. He might remind the right hon. Gentleman that an important Amendment to another Bill was carried by the Government by a still smaller majority—namely, two. The Government, according to the present view of the right hon. Gentleman, ought not to have insisted upon that Amendment. At any rate, if at any time it were possible to move the rejection of that Amendment, they would be able to claim the right hon. Gentleman's support. All the Opposition asked by this Amendment was that small country parishes should not have this Bill thrust upon them against their will. There were many people outside the House, at any rate, who viewed this legislation as likely to be very disastrous, financially and otherwise. In his opinion, it would prove to be one of the most mischievous Bills ever passed. It would foster ill-will, discontent, and extravagance. Believing this, and also believing that if liberty of choice were left to these parishes they would not have any of this legislation, he felt bound to litter this last protest against the measure. In opposing the Amendment the Government were showing their distrust of the people, and their utter want of belief in their own Bill. If they did trust the people, surely they would leave them liberty of choice in this matter.

MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)

said, that when this question first arose, and before it led to this difference between the two branches of the Legislature, he had ventured to support the principle of this Amendment, and to observe that the Government themselves had begun by laying down a limit of 300 population. He had thought that the question could be best decided by reference to the condition of the several parishes rather than by laying down a hard-and-fast rule, which, in the case of certain parishes, would be extremely inconvenient. They had had the strong argument of the right hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stans-feld) in favour of the higher limit of 500, not merely on the ground that it would be more economical, but also on the ground that it would be more democratic. However, he (Mr. Courtney) recognised the force of the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that when there was a difference of opinion between the two branches of the Legislature, or when the opinion of one branch was strong and consistent whilst that of the other was weak and wavering, the former ought to prevail over the latter. ["Hear, hear !"] He was glad to receive that applause, because he remembered a recent occasion when the Government could only muster a majority of two, as against a very strong and consistent majority elsewhere, which included several Gladstonian Peers. On that occasion, however, the strong and resolute opinion of one branch of the Legislature was not allowed to prevail over the weak and wavering view of the other. He did not wish to dwell upon that, which was merely an argument as to the general conduct between the two Houses. He wished to appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to some other Amendments to the present Bill on which contests might arise between the two Houses. He trusted that the Government would act in accordance with the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the case of some of the Amendments that were yet to be considered. Recognising, as he had said, the force of the right hon. Gentleman's contention, he should not vote for the Lords Amendment now before them, although on former occasions he had supported the principle upon which it was based.

COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)

said, that before this Motion was passed, though he had always spoken and voted in favour of the Amendment of the Lords, he was disposed to agree with the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin. The Amendment was comparatively of a secondary importance, and not vital to the interests of the Opposition. He should refrain from voting in favour of the Amendment, and he hoped the Front Opposition Bench would be disposed not to take a Division.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 212; Noes 161.—(Division List, No. 448.)

Lords Amendment— The Lords do not insist on their Amendment in page 3, line 39, but propose to amend the words restored by the Commons by inserting in page 3, line 40, after "meetings" the words 'convened by the chairman of the parish meeting or by the Parish Council, or otherwise as the Local Government Board may by rule prescribe.


This is a clause regulating the user of the schoolroom. The House of Lords have practically assented to the view of the House of Commons on the question, but they have introduced one Amendment. Under Sub-section (c) of Clause 4, the Bill gave power to use, free of charge, the schoolroom for holding meetings to discuss any question relating to allotments, under the Allotments Acts, 1887 and 1890, or under this Act. The Lords have interpolated after "meetings" the words— Convened by the chairman of the parish meeting or by the Parish Council, or otherwise as the Local Government Board may by Rule prescribe, which, of course, is a very wide power. But the difficulty in the case is this—? that under the Allotments Act of 1890 the meeting has to be called under a notice signed by not less than six ratepayers. The acceptance of the Lords Amendment would deprive any six ratepayers of that power and devolve the responsibility of calling the meeting on the chairman of the parish meeting or the Parish Council or the Local Government Board. If the Amendment were adopted it would be the duty of the Local Government Board to prescribe as early as possible that the conditions of the Act of 1890 should be complied with. It seems to Her Majesty's Government, therefore, that it would be better not to assent to the Amendment and to let the powers under the Act of 1890 remain in their present state. I move to disagree with the Lords Amendment.

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


Here, again, I think the right hon. Gentleman has not shown a desire to come to an accommodation with the House of Lords at this stage of the Bill. He admits that under the Amendment as it has been sent down from the Lords there will be no real hardship inflicted on any class of the community who might desire to use these schoolrooms. As the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, the words— Or otherwise as the Local Government Board may by Rule prescribe, give ample scope for drawing up Rules to afford facility for the user of the schools to anyone who might desire it. Then what harm could this Amendment do?


It would do away with the existing power which enables six ratepayers to call a meeting.


I had forgotten that it was confined to the question of allotments. It is not for me to object to the provisions of an Act for which I, as a Member of the Government that passed it, am in a sense responsible. But it does seem to me that the Lords Amendment has something to be said for it, because although the Allotments Act requires these signatures under this proposal, it would be competent for the Local Government Board to make Regulations of an easier and more lax description. I think there is something to be said for a proposal which will give elasticity in this matter.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment— The Lords do not insist on their Amendment in page 4, line 19, but propose to amend the words restored by the Commons by inserting in page 4, line 21, after "reimbursed" the words "to the parish meeting or the Parish Council.

Lords Amendment agreed to.

Lords Amendment— The Lords do not insist on their Amendment in page 5, line 23, but propose to make the following consequential Amendment in lieu thereof:—Page 5, line 23, leave out "ecclesiastical.


said, ho moved to agree to the Lords Amendment. A conflict of opinion had taken place in the House of Commons as to whether the duties of Churchwardens, as trustees of non-ecclesiastical charities, would he transferred to the Parish Councils, and he had promised that words should be inserted in the House of Lords making it clear that it was the intention of the Government not to transfer those powers. This was done by leaving out the word "ecclesiastical."

Lords Amendment agreed to.

Lords Amendments—? The Lords insist on their Amendments in page !), lines 13 and 14, for the following reason:—Because the County Council is the authority to which these applications can be most appropriately addressed.


This is the first Amendment which deals with Clause 9, and I think it would be convenient to state the views of the Government on the section as a whole, and I hope right hon. Gentlemen opposite will not charge me with any unwillingness to consider in a friendly spirit what has been done elsewhere. The House may recollect what has been the history of this controversy on Clause 9, hut perhaps it would be well for me to recall it. Under the existing law, where there is an application for allotments by a certain number of ratepayers, that application is made, in the first instance, to the District Council; and if the District Council, after inquiry, are satisfied that there is need for allotments, and they cannot be obtained on reasonable terms by voluntary agreement, they are empowered to go to the County Council to ask them to put in force compulsory powers of purchase. If the County Council is satisfied—and I would point out in passing that the veto of the County Council is final, there being no appeal against it—that compulsory powers ought to be put in force they can-make a Provisional Order, and after certain inquiries and other technicalities, which I need not trouble the House with, have been complied with, that Provisional Order is sent up to the Local Government Board. It is then the duty of the Local Government Board to bring in an Act of Parliament in order to confirm the Provisional Order which, if opposed—and it is subject to the same course of opposition in the House—is dealt with like any ordinary Private Act. That is the present position—that was the position before the Government brought in this Bill. We were satisfied from the first, and have never altered our opinion, that the introduction of a Private Act of Parliament in order to obtain these allotments was an unnecessary, expensive, and dilatory proceeding. 'We therefore proposed in the first instance to wipe out, so to speak, the County Council altogether, and enable the District Council to proceed direct to the Local Government Board. The House will recollect the long discussion that took place on that original proposition. It was sent up to the House of Lords. They originally objected to the elimination of the interference of Parliament, and the scheme which was known as Lord Morley's scheme came down to this House. No doubt in that considerable improvements were made in Parliamentary procedure; but it was the opinion of the Government and of a large majority in this House that the interference of Parliament would be dilatory, expensive, and unnecessary. Under these circumstances, our clause went back to the House of Lords in its original state. The Duke of Devonshire then submitted to their Lordships a scheme the practical effect of which is, that when an application for compulsory powers of purchase is made to the County Council, the County Council shall have power to make an Order, which will not need Parliamentary confirmation, but that County Council Order will be subject only to the jurisdiction of the Local Government Board. An appeal will lie to the Local Government Hoard, and if that appeal is not sustained the Order must pass. There is a great deal to be said in Favour of that proposal, not only on the individual grounds of this case, but on the general policy of dealing with these Provisional Orders by a Local Authority in the absence of the Central Authority. The difficulty as to the County Council is that if you remove from Parliamentary jurisdiction what Parliament has hitherto always exercised with reference to these compulsory powers, the new tribunal substituted should be responsible to Parliament. The County Council are not responsible to Parliament, but the Local Government Board is; therefore, if yon ensure that the Local Government Board shall have the controlling veto, you can at any time interfere if dissatisfied with the mode in which the Local Government Board has exercised its powers. The Duke of Devonshire proposes that the County Council Order should be subject to appeal to the Local Government Board. He also provides that the inquiry should be public and local, and that all reasonable precautions shall be taken. If there is no appeal the Local Government Board will not interfere, but when the Order is passed it will have statutory force without requiring the confirmation of Parliament. I do not hesitate to say that this proposal in the main meets the requirements of the Government. The principle on which our original clause was framed, the principle for which we have contended all through, is that of no Parliamentary inquiry and no Parliamentary costs, but the substitution of some tribunal which shall be satisfactory equally to those who apply for allotments and to those from whose lands the allotments are to be taken, and an intimation to that effect was thrown out to the House of Lords, both by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir W. Harcourt), who was then leading the House, and by myself, and I am bound to say that I think they have very fairly responded to that intimation. J must, however, inform the House that there are a number of Amendments to this clause which the Government feel it to be their duty to propose. Nine-tenths of them are purely drafting Amendments which are necessary in order to bring this clause into harmony with the Bill. I am exceedingly sorry that I have not been able to put those Amendments on the Paper so that the House might have an opportunity of considering them, but I will explain them to the House. The first Amendment I propose to move to the Lords Amendments is simply a verbal one as to the causing of a public inquiry to be held in the parish and as to notice being given to the owner, lessee, and so forth. Sub-section 5 of the Lords Amendment contains a point which is novel. I said just now that under the existing provision if a County Council vetoed the application for allotments the thing would be at an end. There is no power to ask whether the County Council has acted rightly or not. Under the scheme the Government proposed, the removal of the County Council enabled the Local Government Board to hear both sides on that question. What I now propose is that if we substitute the County Council for the Local Government Board, and give the Local Government, Board only the right of interfering on appeal, the appeal must be granted to both sides; those who ask for allotments must be entitled to appeal as well as those who object to the acquisition of the land compulsorily. I shall therefore propose to insert— If the County Council refuse to make any such Order the Parish Council or District Council, as the case may be, may petition the Local Government Board, and that Hoard, after a local inquiry, may, if they think proper, make the Order, and that Order shall apply as if the Order had been made by the County Council. There will be a series of verbal Amendments to the next two pages of the Lords Amendments, but the next point at which we propose a serious change in the Lords Amendments is on Sub-section 10. This sub-section we propose to omit. The rest of the clause proceeds on the assumption that the Local Government Hoard will make Regulations for carrying it out. The Lords have interpolated here a reference to an Act passed in 1890 with respect to the issue of Stock by Local Authorities. Under that Act the Local Government Board are entitled to make certain Regulations, and those Regulations are to be laid on the Table of both Houses. If either House disagrees with them they are to be at an end. The Lords propose that this section shall apply to the proceedings under this clause, so that you will again have the power of intervention on the part of Parliament coming in not in an expensive, but I think in an unsatisfactory way. Either House will have the power to interfere with these Regulations and to annul them. There is no objection, I think, to laying the Regulations before either House, and we have every desire for publicity in this matter. But I think that this is not the best mode of procedure, and I do not think it is one which the House will be disposed to agree to. Of course, if the House should see fit to agree to the Lords clause as I propose to amend it it will then go back to the other House, and they will see the complete scheme which the House of Commons is prepared to accept. This House is at a disadvantage in having to deal with these long Amendments without having the Government Amendments before it; but that is not our fault, and it is well that the two Houses should be able to see at as early a date as possible whether they can agree upon the procedure to be adopted. The procedure proposed by the Duke of Devonshire's Amendments carries out suggestions that come from both sides of this House in favour of making the County Council the determining authority and safeguarding the interests of both sides by appeals to the Local Government Board. Such a procedure would not over-weight the Local Government Board with a large amount of administrative detail, but at the same time it would extend the Provisional Order system and reduce the enormous expense of Parliamentary inquiries, whilst by retaining the appellate jurisdiction of the Local Government Board it will secure that the interests of all parties will be properly safeguarded. The first Amendment is to leave out "District" and insert "County," and to that I shall propose to agree. I then propose to move the Amendments as they come in due course on the various sections of the clause. I can only say, in? conclusion, that I have endeavoured to state the case as clearly and as frankly as I can.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House doth agree to the Lords Amendment to omit 'District' for the purpose of inserting 'County.'"—(Mr. H. H. Fowler.)

MR. H. HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)

said, the Lords Amendment was entirely in the nature of a compromise, and, as such, no doubt was open to objection on both sides, but he sincerely hoped that it would be accepted by both sides as a compromise which was intended to settle one of the most vexed questions in the Bill. The Duke of Devonshire had given into the Government to the extent of surrendering the principle which many Members had considered a most valuable one—that of having a right of public inquiry before Parliamentary Committees. On the other hand, further safeguards against injustice had been introduced, and he thought that, both from that point of view and from the administrative point of view, the proposal if adopted would be a great improvement upon the proposal originally made by the Government. If the County Council was the first authority to make compulsory Orders it would in many cases be also the final authority. Its decisions would be much less likely to be appealed against than would be those of the District Councils, and there would be far less work thrown on the Local Government Board—a Department which he thought was now beginning to tremble at the enormous amount of labour which would devolve upon it under this Bill—whilst matters which, after all, were of purety local interest would be satisfactorily settled in the localities themselves. Surely that in itself was a most valuable improvement upon the provisions of the Bill. Through the courtesy of the President of the Local Government Board he had had the advantage of going through the Amendments which the Government intended to propose, and he could assure the House that nine out of ten were of a purely technical character and were perfectly reasonable. As to the somewhat controversial proposals respecting an appeal from the County Council to the Local Government Board, they seemed to him to be perfectly reasonable. If one party had a right to appeal the other party ought to have that right, whilst in this way Parliamentary control would be indirectly retained through the Local Government Board over the proceedings of the County Council. There was a small point with regard to Parliamentary control over the Regulations to be made by the Local Government Board. Such Regulations would in some respects be of importance to the owners and occupiers of land, and he should have thought it was preferable that they should be laid on the Tables of both Houses. Such a procedure would not have involved any delay, because no operations could take place under the clause until the Parish Councils came into operation next November. This, however, was, after all, only a matter of detail, and he sincerely hoped that, upon the principle of the Amendment there would be a general consensus of opinion, inasmuch as it would avoid all unnecessary cost and delay in taking land while it would prevent any injustice being done to the owners of land.


The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill has shown a conciliatory spirit in meeting the suggestions made by the Lords in their Amendment. Of course, I still adhere to the opinion I expressed so strongly when this Bill was last before us, that the application of the Provisional Order system was the best and cheapest method of dealing with this subject. I admit, however, that a compromise had to be made, and probably the other House was not ill-advised in making the suggestion which in its main outline the right hon. Gentleman has now accepted. There are only two points on which I wish to say a word in reference to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman on the general course proposed to be taken by the Government. The first relates to the introduction of the District Council. I do not quite gather from the right hon. Gentleman what the District Council has to do with the alteration proposed. It was probably my stupidity, but we have not had much time to consider these things, and I do not quite understand what function the District Council was to perform. The right hon. Gentleman in the Amendment he intends to propose says— If the County Council refuse to make any such Order the County Council or District Council, as the case may be," &c.


The application is to go to the County Council.


I understand the Government accept the view of the Lords that the tribunal in the first instance is to be the County Council.




Quite so. There is no disagreement now between the two sides of the House. Then I do not follow what function the District Council is to perform.


The District Council is at present the authority for petitioning the County Council under the Act of 1887, and therefore it is necessary to bring it in here unless you begin at the beginning and reform the whole of the procedure.


But may I point out that if this Amendment is to revise the Acts of 1887 and 1890,as well as this Act, we must be careful what we are about? I certainly hoped that the District Council was altogether excluded from the operation as far as this Bill was concerned. I do not think the District Council is likely to be a good wheel in the machinery. I see great objections to the District Council, whether it be constituted as it is now—namely, principally by farmers, or whether it be constituted as it may be in the near future by those who have been anxious to oust farmers from the management of the Poor Law—in either case I see great objection to allowing it to interfere in this matter. The only point of substance on which I have anything to say relates to the Government Amendment, by which they propose to deprive the Houses of Parliament of the opportunity of considering the Orders made by the Local Government Board. I have, of course, ceased to fight for the Provisional Order; but I do think that if you are to carry out the principle of the right hon. Gentleman himself, and to bring home to the Local Government Board its responsibility to Parliament, it would be convenient and useful without being a laborious process to say that the Orders of the Local Government Board should lie on the Table. I am glad the Government have accepted a large portion of the revised plan which the other House have sent down to us.

MR. WARNER (Somerset, N.)

pointed out that in the case of urban districts there would be no Parish Council, and if the District Council were struck out of the proposed Amendment the power of appeal would be taken from them. Then there was another case—that of the rural parish—-which under this Bill was cut off from another district, and stood alone by itself as a District Council, and the Parish Council there became the District Council. This parish would not be mentioned, and it would be as well to leave the words in for the sake of these two cases.

MR. C. HOBHOUSE (Wilts, Devizes)

should be sorry if the Government substituted County Council for the District Council, for by such a substitution they would be excluding the labourers. In the Report of the Commission which inquired into the condition of the agricultural labourer it was shown that in 32 counties the labourers held their houses on the service tenure. From the County Council electorate were excluded all persons who hold their houses on the service franchise, so that, consequently, in a great number of counties the agricultural labourers would be excluded from exercising the franchise for the County Council. In the county to which the President of the Local Government Board belonged no less than two-fifths of the labourers would be so excluded. It seemed to him an extraordinary thing to refer the question of the acquisition of land to a tribunal from which at least one of the parties interested was excluded from representation. He was sorry, therefore, that the Government had consented to accept a proposal which seemed to him to be a very mischievous one.


said, in reference to the observations of the Leader of the Opposition with regard to these Regulations, the great objection of the Government was that in the present form of the Amendment either House of Parliament, not both, could disapprove of the Regulations, and if they did could suspend the whole of the proceedings. Therefore, if the Regulations were laid before the House of Lords and the House of Lords disapproved of them, the whole affair would be hung up and nothing would be done. Was it worth while to go through the whole procedure of a Joint Address by both Houses of Parliament? The Government thought on matters of this kind that it was not worth while creating so solemn an obligation as that, and they thought it would be quite sufficient if these Regulations were the subject of debate in Parliament, and especially in this House, where was the Minister who was responsible for the Regulations and who would have to justify and account for them. The Government could not agree to the Amendment as sent down, thus leaving it to one House of Parliament to suspend the whole operation of the allotments clause by simply disapproving of the Regulations. With reference to the right hon. Gentleman's question as to how the District Council came into this matter, he had to point out that in urban districts there would be no Parish Council, and, therefore, the application must be in these urban districts by the District Council, because there was no Parish Council to apply to the County Council. It was obvious that the words "District Council" should be inserted, because no Parish Councils existed in these districts. That, he hoped, explained the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman.


said, if it was perfectly clear that this appeal could only be made by the District Council where the District Council had made the representation in the first instance there would be no objection; but it did appear to be a little doubtful whether this power of appeal might not lay with the District Council even where the first application had been made not by the District, but by the Parish, Council. That, would be eminently unjust and undesirable. If it was intended it should cover the cases where the District Council acted as the authority applying for the Order, then, of course, the answer to the Leader of the Opposition's question was complete and the objection would fall to the ground. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told them that the Government did not think that so solemn an obligation as to submit these Regulation to the approval of both Houses ought to be necessary. It was probable, and it was to be hoped, that these Regulations would provoke little or no comment or objection; but, at the same time, it did seem only fair and just that there should be a reasonable procedure provided by which they could be discussed in either House, and by which disapproval, if necessary, could be expressed from them. If this proposal were rejected, the only method by which any Member who desired to criticise these Regulations could do so would be by either moving to reduce the salary of the President of the Local Government Board—which came on, according to modern Parliamentary practice, some time in September—or by formally moving the adjournment of the House to discuss a matter of urgent public importance. These were obviously courses highly inconvenient, yet in order to discuss them it might be necessary to move a Resolution throwing out these Regulations, so that the action of {he Head of the Department who sanctioned them might he criticised by Parliament. For these reasons they attached considerable importance to this part of the Amendment suggested by their Lordships, and they hoped the Government would yet see their way to include it in their Amendment. The argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that ho declined to give the House of Lords the power they possessed at present in regard to other Regulations, and that they could not be trusted to discuss Regulations of this character. The Opposition did not share that want of confidence demonstrated in the other House by the right hon. Gentleman, and certainly they were not likely to be parties to a proposal to exclude them from the reasonable power and privileges which they suggested should be extended alike to both Houses. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer said the veto of the oilier House would lead to a postponement of the whole proceedings he was anticipating a result that it was extremely improbable would ever happen. All that was asked for the protection of minorities was that there should be a reasonable opportunity afforded for the discussion of these Regulations and for their rejection if necessary. The Opposition did not suggest that the power should be conferred only on one House; and if it should be necessary that postponement should be the result of this power being extended to both Houses, they would rather run the risk of that postponement than that improper Regulations should be drawn up for the discussion of which no proper opportunity would be afforded. The President of the Local Government Board, on the first Amendment, had expressed the views of the Government with regard to the altered condition of the allotments clause. He (Mr. Long) only wished to add one word to what had been said by the Leader of the Opposition. The Members of the Opposition had all along expressed as sincerely as the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill the desire that the procedure under which land was to be acquired should be simplified and cheapened, and in adhering to the Provisional Order system they did not want to adhere 1o an expensive or prolonged system. What they felt, however, was that the Government by their proposal were throwing on a Government Department an amount of responsibility and power which it would be difficult and invidious to cast upon them. He rejoiced that this middle course had been suggested under which the County Council should first act; that then there should be an appeal to the Local Government Board, and he entirely agreed that the appeal should be an open one.

MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

did not wish to prolong the Debate, but concurring, as he did, with the argument of the Member for East Wilts he was bound to express his regret that the Government had felt themselves obliged to accept the County Council as the authority on this matter. His main reason for this was that the feesimple of the land purchased for allotments would not pass to the Parish Council, but would remain in the hands of the intermediate authority, as it was far more desirable it should be in the hands of the District rather than the County Council. As the Government, however, had taken this line, he should not challenge their action. The President of the Local Government Board had very wisely introduced an appeal open to both sides, and he trusted it would be provided that that should be a public local inquiry. [Mr. H. H. FOWLER: That is provided.] He was glad of that, because the most essential point they had to insist upon in this question was that there should be every publicity in connection with these inquiries. He still retained the strong opinion that in this purchase clause it would have been better to have adhered to the District Council rather than substitute the County Council.

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

, as one favourable to this Amend- ment, would like to express the great regret with which he heard the declarations from the Front Bench opposite in favour of a power to either House to destroy or suspend the Regulations of the Local Government Board. It had never occurred to them that there would be such suspensory power in regard to these Regulations given to either House, and it was a great pity that by insisting on this power they should risk and jeopardise the very fair compromise come to. He and some of his friends thought this Amendment was an improvement to the Bill, and it would be a pity that at this moment they should quarrel on this point. He thought when hon. Gentlemen opposite considered the oppressive effect of the provision that either House might suspend the whole action by disallowing the Regulations of the Local Government Board they would hardly take issue upon that particular point. He hoped, therefore, this power would not be insisted upon and the compromise jeopardised by such insistence.


said, that arising out of the question of the District Council, he would like to know whether the position of a county borough would be in any way affected by it? Would the power given under the Arbitration Clause go from the District to the County Council? because, if so, that would cause a great deal of friction.


The observation made by the Member for East Northampton is due to misapprehension on his part, but I should like some explanation on this point. The Member for Northampton said that the laud which was purchased for allotments would be held by the authorities whichever it was —that is to say, by the District Council as originally proposed by the Government, but by the County Council under this proposal—and the hon. Member objected to the County Council as being the worse authority of the two to hold land. I have understood that the laud would be held by the Parish Council, and I believe that is the intention of the Government, but I find that in Sub-section (c) they say that— Where the land is acquired otherwise than for allotments it shall be assured to the Parish Council. You then go on to say that where it is purchased by the County Council it may- be assured to the Parish Council, so that there is a discrepancy, and unless an alteration is made the Member for Northampton may be correct, and the Parish Council may not be the authority which will ultimately hold the land. That is not the intention of the Government, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether be would be prepared to make the holding of laud by the Parish Council imperative, and to use the word "shall" both in regard to the land taken for allotments and other purposes? As regards the two points we have been discussing, for myself I confess I have failed to understand exactly why the Government object to having precisely the same procedure with regard to these Regulations; which has already been adopted in regard to all similar Regulations. There has hitherto been no distinction shown, and if it be wrong in the present case it must be wrong in the other cases in which such procedure has been sanctioned by both Parties in this House; and until some cause is shown for the distinction, I think J am bound to support the reasonable proposal of the Lords. Another question arises upon the subject of drafting, which was raised by the Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool. As Sub-section 5 is now drawn it appears to me to be perfectly possible that the District Council, even if it were not the originator of the application, would have the right of appeal to the Local Government Board. Clearly, the Government did not intend that that should be the case, and in order to make it perfectly clear and prevent possible litigation it would be desirable to add after the words "District Council" the words— which has originated the application, as the case may be. It would then be perfectly clear; the intention of the Government would be fulfilled, and either the Parish Council or the District Council, in cases in which the District Council must originate the application, would have the right of appeal, and not otherwise.

Question, That the House do agree with so much of the Lords Amendment as proposes to omit District and substitute County Councils, put, and agreed to.


moved to amend the Lords Amendment by proposing that the local inquiry with regard to the taking of land for allotments should be made in the parish, notice being given to all persons interested, who should be permitted to attend the inquiry to support or oppose the taking of land.

Amendment agreed to.

General drafting agreed to.

Amendments, (9) "In this and the following section the expression prescribed' means prescribed by the Regulations of the Local Government Board, and such Regulations shall include forms of notices to be given by the Parish and County Councils to the owners, lessees, and occupiers of any land proposed to be taken, and other notices, orders, and documents for the purposes of proceedings under this section.

Question, "That the Sub-section stand part of the Amendment," put, and negatived. (10) "Sub-sections 3 and 4 of Section 52 of he Public Health Acts Amendments Act, 1890, shall be applicable to such Regulations as if the same were Regulations made under the powers of that section.

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

Question, "That the Lords Amendment, as amended, be agreed to," put, and agreed to. The Lords do not insist on their Amendment in page 10, line 26, but propose the following Amendment in lieu thereof:—Page 10, line 26, leave out from the word ("the") to ("Council") in line 28, and insert ("County Council, and the County Council may make an Order authorising the Order"). Line 31, leave out from ("shall") to the end of line 37, and insert ("as respects confirmation and otherwise be subject to the like provisions as if it were an Order of the County Council under the last preceding section of this Act"). The Lords do not insist on that part of their Amendment in page 11, line 8, but propose, in lieu thereof, the following Amendment:— Page 11, line 10, after ("hiring") insert "The arbitrator in fixing rent or other compensation, shall take into consideration any damage likely to be incurred during the term of hiring by the owner in consequence of his being prevented from applying the land to a more profitable use, or by the occupier by reason of his being hindered in his business as a farmer in respect to other lands by the land proposed to be taken.


We have now come to Clause 10, which is the clause relating to the hiring of allotments. We have been dealing hitherto with the question of the purchase of allotments. The question of hiring, in the opinion of the Government, stands on a very different footing from the question of purchase, and we are not able to assent to the proposals of the Lords that the hiring clause shall be placed on the same footing with respect to procedure as the purchase clause. In our opinion, there is not the same reason, with reference to hiring, as there is with respect to purchase, for going through the long and expensive process of going to the County Council. We attach immense importance to making the hiring clause a very rapid and economical procedure, and we therefore cannot agree to the proposal they have made in reference to hiring—namely, that the appeal shall go at, once from the Parish Council to the Local Government Hoard, who will deal with the question immediately. Then we come to the second Amendment, which proposes that the owner or the occupier of land should be indemnified for any pecuniary damage done to his business by the taking of a valuable field, quite apart from the compensation for the taking of the field. We are not going to oppose the spirit of the Amendment, though we are going to propose words to carry out the object intended in a more satisfactory manner. We therefore propose to amend the second Amendment by leaving out all the words after "consideration," and inserting these words— Of all the circumstances connected with the land, and the use to which it might otherwise be put by the owner, during the term of hiring, and any depreciation of the value to the tenant of the residue of his holding caused by the withdrawal from the holding of the land, hired by the Parish Council. Then, as regards the last Amendment, it is now merely a technical question. The Lords say— The Lords insist on their Amendment in page 11, line 41, for the following reason:— because the Amendment is consequential on the Amendments previously insisted on. That does not appear to be the case. If the words the Lords insist on were inserted, they would make nonsense. Our position is, we are not prepared to apply the purchase method of procedure to the question of hiring; and with regard to the question of compensation, we think the Lords' words are too loose, and any- one who has had any experience of arbitration knows how dangerous it is to have loose words, and we therefore substitute more appropriate words.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords Amendment in page 9, line 26."—(Sir W. Harcourt)


The right hon. Gentleman has surveyed in his speech not merely the Amendment which yon, Mr. Speaker, have put from the Chair, but two other Amendments of importance, though of a more technical character. I will not say anything about the last Amendment to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, as it is purely technical. With regard to the second one, I will only say that undoubtedly the Government have rightly appreciated the point we have had in view with regard to the kind of injury for which compensation should be paid; and if in the opinion of those more expert in drafting than I can pretend to be the objects we have had in view in pressing this point are practically carried out by the now words proposed by the Government, I need hardly say that we shall raise no objection to it. But matters wear a different complexion when we come to discuss the point on which there is a substantial difference between the two sides of the House, and that is, as to the tribunal which is to decide the important question of the hiring of land. The right hon. Gentleman has told us there is a wide distinction between hiring and purchase, and that whereas it was fair and just to have a somewhat elaborate tribunal to settle the important question of compulsory purchase, that a rougher and more imperfect machinery may be sufficient when you are only dealing with hiring. I must say my view of the question is exactly the opposite. It seems to mo the procedure we ought most carefully to guard is not the question connected with purchase, but that connected with hiring, and for the reason that it is a more novel procedure, and a procedure more likely to be abused. The right hon. Gentleman says their object is to make the procedure more economical and rapid. Those are the two ideas a reformer always has dangling before his eyes at the beginning of a legal reform, and the difficulty so to obtain the maximum of economy and rapidity is that it is impossible to devise what shall be the instrument which shall do justice between the parties. Now, is justice between the parties more likely to be done in the case of compulsory hiring than in the ease of compulsory purchase? I think not, for two reasons: I think that the Parish Councils are more likely to embark rashly on some scheme of allotments when the ground taken for allotments is hired than when the land is purchased; it is a proceeding upon which they enter with a light heart, and therefore I say that if there is injustice to be done at all, injustice is more likely to be done by the Parish Council in the case of compulsory hiring than in the case of compulsory purchase. When you turn from the authority that may inflict the injustice to the persons on whom the injustice may be inflicted, does the House consider that either landlords or farmers are likely to suffer less in the case of hiring than in the case of purchase? I think just the reverse. Hon. Gentlemen seem to think that a landlord does not suffer on account of his land being taken because it is only taken for 14 years. But if you take it compulsorily for 14 years you may take it by successive periods of 14 years for ever; there is absolutely no limit. I am going on the hypothesis that the parish only wish to make an experiment for 14 years, but they make take the land under the Bill of the Government not for 14 years only, but for 99 years, and not for 99 years only, but for 999 years, so that we have the Government in this extraordinary position, that while they admit—


Will the right hon. Gentleman excuse me for a moment; on this point there ought to be no misunderstanding. The right hon. Gentleman asks us to take a limit, and we have always been ready to take a limit. We offered to take the limit fixed by the Allotments Act, but the House of Lords did not adopt the suggestion. I desire to say we are perfectly willing to take a limit of 35 years.


I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation. Whether it would or would not be desirable to have a limit of 14, 28, or 35 years, I will not deal with now, but will proceed to argue the question of compulsory hiring on the 35 years' limit accepted by the Government. If you deliberately set up this admittedly imperfect machinery for the more perfect machinery in regard to compulsory purchase, you may have the land taken for 35 years, and greater injustice may be done by hiring than could be done to the land if the land is purchased. When you come to hiring, every man who knows anything about land knows that until the end of the lease it is impossible to say whether the land was taken on fair terms or not. There is every species of deterioration which cannot be estimated beforehand; every species of small injury may be done to the man who nominal1y remains the landlord, though for all time the land may be taken from him against his will by those who are his tenants by compulsion, by a process absolutely unknown to our law. There is only one more point I would urge on the Government. When dealing with a well-known principle familiar to our law, with which the Courts have had to deal, certain rules and principles get laid down by which substantial justice is done between the parties; but when you start an entirely new idea it is inevitable that great injustice might be done to one or other of the parties, and therefore it is that you are bound to fence round the new procedure and establish a tribunal which shall be a tribunal above suspicion. I would remind the Government that this subject of compulsory hiring is one that has excited very widespread feeling of uneasiness among all occupiers and owners in the country, who think that these provisions may be used and abused for purposes that are not for public purposes, but for private purposes. With this suspicion in view do you think it prudent to alarm these classes, or is it not proper to give them every reassurance which a careful selection of your tribunal can give? It appears to mo nothing-would be lost by adopting the principle you have accepted for compulsory purchase. Having once admitted in the ease of purchase that justice can only be done by the machinery you have just set up in Clause 9, do not stultify yourselves by telling us in another clause, where injustice is more probable, that some rougher, ruder, and more imperfect tribunal is enough to meet all the circumstances of the case. I do feel very strongly on this subject, and I am certain I speak the voices of the class whom you ought to consult if you want your Bill to work. And I am quite unable to discover in what respect the interests of the labourers and others desiring allotments would be injured by adopting the procedure you consider necessary in the case of compulsory purchase. I do beg the Government to re-consider the decision— which I hope they have arrived at reluctantly—and meet us in this demand, which I am certain is for the interests of the Bill itself as a workable measure, and which I do not believe would delay by any appreciable space the rapidity with which the machinery you have invented may be set in motion to provide such allotments as may be necessary for the rural poor. If the Government do not adopt the suggestion I shall find it my duty to vote against this Amendment; therefore, I trust that the Government, even now, may reconsider their position.

MR. STOREY (Sunderland)

said, he thought he was the only Liberal who, 10 or 12 days ago, voted for the Lords Amendment, and he therefore desired to ask leave to make a few observations on the present state of affairs. He understood that the Government had consented to make the County Council the responsible authority in the case of the purchase of land. He was extremely glad to hear it, and he understood the Government had declined to make the County Council the responsible authority in the case of the hiring of laud. For himself, he did not understand the distinction, and he wished to place some practical considerations before the Government which perhaps might have some weight with them in inducing them to change their minds. He should state, however, that the reasons that urged him to speak now were not those which urged the right hon. Gentleman opposite; at least, they were not those put forward by the right hon. Gentleman. For his part, he did not care much about conciliating either the squire or the farmer in this matter; but he wanted as many allotments as possible and as quickly as possible, and it was from that standpoint that he ventured to make an appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said he wished to make the procedure under Clause 10 as rapid and economical as possible. It was admitted on all hands that the number of cases where allotments would be obtained by purchase would be nothing like so great as those where allotments would be obtained by hiring. Then it followed there would be throughout the country, as they hoped and believed, an enormous number of applications for allotments by the Parish Councils under Clause 10. What was to happen to these? There were thousands of parishes in the 52 counties, and the whole of the applications from all these were to fall on one Department, the Local Government Board. Could anyone contend that this Department could attend to the applications with the same rapidity as would be the ease if the various County Councils throughout England and Wales were loft, to deal with the applications from their own county? That was the first point he put to the President of the Local Government Board; but he ventured to put another to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Radicals of the House. What was this new-fangled notion that had sprung into existence amongst them which made them distrust the County Councils? He always found it best in this House, even if it was unpleasant, to speak frankly, and therefore he would say what he thought, and that was, that if the County Councils were as preponderatingly Radical as they were unfortunately preponderatingly Tory, some of them would not have had the same objection to their dealing with the matter. He did not say that was the case—he merely suggested it; but if it were true, he did not understand Liberals to maintain any such opinion. He had voted throughout this Bill consistently from end to end, not always with the Government, but from end to end for putting the local powers in these matters into the hands of the Local Authorities. In local affairs he believed they should either trust them all in all or not at all. Take the County Council of any county; they considered they would manage the allotments that were purchased satisfactorily, but that they ought not to be trusted with powers for compulsory hiring of land. The most Tory County Council in England, the Council the most full of squires, and farmers, and parsons, if they were left face to face with the Parish Council in the matter of allotments, he believed they would do their duty, and, if not, the Parish Council would soon teach them their duty, or they would dismiss those County Councillors who did not vote for what the parish needed. Therefore, in all these matters he felt they ought to leave them to the Local Authorities. What was the use of a County Council if it could not manage the allotments in its own county? He did not like at this stage to vote against the Government. [Cries of "Oh, oh !"] Well, he did not; it was the most disagreeable thing to him to vote for the House of Lords at any time; but looking at the matter from an impartial point of view, he was convinced it was the proper course to take, because it would expedite the acquisition of allotments and would exalt the Local Authority, which was the County Council. There was another matter he wished to refer to. He understood that hon. Members opposite wished to deal with the Rules under which the acquisition of land for allotments was to take place by having them laid on the Table of the House, leaving it to either the House of Lords—

An hon. MEMBER

That has been disposed of.


said, that he was not aware it was settled with regard to this clause, and he certainly hoped there would be no claim allowed of interference by either House of Parliament. He did not object to the Rules being laid on the Table for the sake of information, but he hoped the Local Government Board would be left to make its own Rules and to see that they were carried out. Having said so much, he would ask the Government whether, on consideration, they would not alter their mind on this matter, as he was certain it would make their Bill more workable? He hoped the Government would do in the case of hiring what they had consented to do in the case of purchase. If the Government could not agree, he should feel it his duty to give effect to the view he had shown that he entertained a fortnight ago, and go into the Lobby with the hon. Gentleman.

MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

said, he wished, and he believed he was speaking for many hon. Members on that side of the House, to express the profound satisfaction with which the County Members, and especially those representing agricultural constituencies, had heard the announcement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. One part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech gave, he was sure, to many hon. Members on that side great satisfaction, and that was the extraordinary large concession that the Ministry was making to the farming class, who, erroneously he thought, imagined they would be injured under this Bill. He would like to point out the effect of the valuable concession his right hon. Friend now proposed—[Cries of" Speak to the Amendment !"] He would only say, then, that it was an exceedingly valuable concession, and even went further than the 41st section of the Agricultural Holdings Act, under which the farmer was left to obtain his compensation. He did not in the least agree with his hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) in thinking that the Amendment would either provide more allotments or that the Local Government Board would he too much overworked if this question of hiring Was dealt with by them, because they knew how many capable men the Board had who could act as arbitrators in the matter, and the question would present no difficulties to them. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition objected to this proposal on the ground that the Parish Council could apply for Unlimited hiring of land, but that was inherent in the very principle of the Bill.

[At this stage the cries of "Divide !"and" Agreed !"became so constant and loud that the rest of the hon. Member's speech failed to reach the Reporters' Gallery.]

*MR. STRACHEY (Somerset, S.)

said, he desired to look at this question not quite in the light of his hon. Friend who had just spoken, but to ask the House to look at it as a practical question of convenience. To him it seemed that the Government, having assented in the ease of purchase to put the County Council between the Parish Council and the Local Government Board, there was no reason why they should not adopt the same principle in regard to the compulsory hiring, and with his hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) he would urge it was better to do so both on account of rapidity and convenience. He knew from personal experience that inquiries conducted by County Councils were much quicker than those conducted by the Local Government Board. He could not agree with his hon. Friend the Member for East Northamptonshire, and he was not inclined to think that any Liberal County Member, who was also an elected County Councillor, would stand up and say that in his experience the working of the Allotments Act by the County Councils had been anything but fair and honest. He could most certainly speak for his own County Council, the great majority of which belonged to the Party opposite and who were opposed to the Party to which ho belonged in this House, and he found no difficulty in getting them to take reasonable and progressive views on the question of allotments. The reason of that was not far to seek. The great majority of the County Councils were elected representatives, who would have to reckon with their constituents for their action in this matter. It was quite true they had had difficulties in obtaining allotments in the past, not owing to the fault of the County Councils, but due to the Rural Sanitary Authority, for it should not be forgotten that the members of that particular body were returned on an unequal franchise, and there was also a high property qualification. That was totally unsatisfactory. He ventured to appeal to the Government to reconsider this matter. It was a question of convenience and of getting the land more quickly. Under the proposal of the Government Inspectors would be sent down who had no local knowledge, and he thought that in the interests both of the Parish Council and of the landlords they should have practical men as they had in the County Council.

MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)

admitted there was something very substantial in the position taken up by a landlord or a farmer who was to be deprived of his laud for a period of 35 years. It was such an entire wrench from his land as to entitle him to the consideration of the House of Commons. On the other hand, he did not agree with the Member for East Northampton, that they had any reason whatever to show distrust in the County Councils. Their position would be materially changed under this measure, and he regarded them as the most efficient and experienced bodies to which the Parish Councils could refer. In the circumstances, he thought the Government would be justified in concurring in the proposal coming from the other side of the House. He considered that in the machinery of the County Council the agricultural labourers in this county would have every security and every facility that their case required.

MR. EVERETT (Suffolk, Woodbridge)

was one of those who considered that a simple and easy way of acquiring land was an essential part of the present Bill. He confessed that when they came to any question of difference as between the labourers wishing to hire and the owner or occupier of the land it did seem to him the natural course was to call in a jury of their neighbours to decide on the point at issue. To come up to Loudon and bring gentlemen out of an office who were not experienced in agriculture did not commend itself to him as the proper way to get the most satisfactory decision. He lived in a county in which the members of the County Council were, on the whole, decidedly Conservative. He was on the allotments committee of that County Council, and he had found a complete willingness on the part of the members generally to do all they could to get allotments for the labourers. He was convinced that the same spirit pervaded County Councils, whatever might be their political composition, and ho therefore hoped the Government would see their way to take the natural course of allowing an appeal to the County Council.


observed, that the Leader of the Opposition had stated that opinion on the subject of appeal was very strong in regard to hiring as also in regard to purchase, and as the feeling was not unanimous on that side of the House the Government were certainly not desirous of entering into a conflict on the matter in order to press a point on which the majority of the House had no very strong view. It would be very unwise for the Government to do anything of the kind, and, that being so, he would certainly not oppose these Amendments.

Question put, and negatived.

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

said, he understood that the Chancellor of the Exchequer assented to the proposition that there should be some maximum limit to the term for which hiring was to be allowed, and he wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman would move the insertion of words to carry out that intention, or whether it would be done in another place?

MR. F. S. STEVENSON (Suffolk, Eye)

said, many of them in the Eastern Counties and other parts preferred the County Council, but they only preferred it if there was to be an appeal to the Local Government Board. Were they to understand that that was to be the case?


That is so. The effect of this Amendment will be to apply exactly the same process to hiring as to purchase.


observed, that the Government having accepted the Lords Amendment it would be necessary to insert certain consequential Amendments.


said, he must press for an answer to his question, as it raised an important point of Order. He was very glad the Government had agreed to the Lords Amendment, but that would not, as a matter of Order, preclude the insertion elsewhere of a limit of years. If such a limit were not inserted, it would be felt to be an objection on both sides of the House. All they need do was to make verbal alterations in the Lords Amendments to enable that to be done.


We are going to do so.

Lords Amendment read—? The Lords do not insist on that part of their Amendment in page 11, line 8, but proposes in lieu thereof the following Amendment:—Page 11, line 10. after ("hiving") insert ("The arbitrator, in fixing rent or other compensation, shall take into consideration any damage likely to be incurred during the term of hiring by the owner in consequence of his being prevented from applying the land to a more profitable use, or by the occupier by reason of his being hindered in his business as a farmer in respect to other lands by the loss of the land proposed to be taken").


proposed to omit all the words after the word "consideration," for the purpose of inserting the following words:— All the circumstances connected with the land and the use to which it might otherwise be put by the owner, and any depreciation of the value to the tenant of the residue of his holding caused by the withdrawal from the holding of the land hired by the Parish Council,

Amendment agreed to.

Some verbal consequential Amendments agreed to.

Lords Amendment read— The Lords do not insist on their Amendment in page 14, line 37, but propose the following Amendment in lieu thereof:—Page 15. Leave out lines 1 to 23 ("Sub-section (3)"), and insert —("Where the Governing Body of a parochial charity other than an ecclesiastical charity does not include any persons elected by the ratepayers or parochial electors, or inhabitants of the parish or appointed by the Parish Council or parish meeting, the Parish Council may appoint additional members of that Governing Body not exceeding the number allowed by the Charity Commissioners in each case. and not exceeding in any case one-third of the whole number of the Governing Body; and if the management of any such charity is vested in a sole trustee, the number of trustees may, with the approval of the Charity Commissioners, be increased to three, one of whom may be nominated by such sole trustee, and one by the Parish Council or parish meeting. Nothing in this sub-section shall prejudicially affect the power or authority of the Charity Commissioners, under any of the Acts relating to charities, to settle or alter schemes for the better administration of any charity").


I rise to move that we disagree with the Lords Amendment. I think it is not desirable, in an Amendment which we have already fully discussed, that we should enter into any lengthened Debate. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been censured this evening because he has not entered into the arguments of the case where they have been repeated over and over again, and I my self have been recently censured for having entered into the arguments where I admit they have been pretty well known. With regard to the present Amendment, it appears to me that its far as argument goes we are exactly where we were. We think that this is a matter in which the rural population are very deeply interested, and have a very strong opinion which they are extremely entitled to express. I do not dwell upon that argument; but we hold the ground we hold before, and I hope the House will continue to hold its ground. As to the state of opinion in the two Houses upon this subject, the clause has been affirmed by large majorities, by majorities considerably larger than any majority representing only the relative strength of Parties in this House. It was objected that the majority of 61 was obtained in a House of exhausted numbers. But we have had a Division in a House of full numbers, and if the figure was not 61 it was at any rate 51, which represents a considerably larger number than the normal majority of the Government in this House. Exactly the reverse process has taken place in the other House. There leaders of opinion who usually vote against the Government, and form part of the large and solid majority in that House—including some distinguished persons who are certainly persons not wanting in their regard for what might be Conservative policy—have actually voted with friends of the Government, and largely reduced the numbers against us. That being the case, the Government have shown that where there was on the other side of the House a decided opinion and on their own side a divided opinion, they were not unwilling to have regard to that Division, and accept the sentiments which were entertained on opposite sides of the House. I therefore think we might hope to receive similar treatment. We are here a large majority, a decided majority, and a majority including-, its is obvious, some portion of those who usually differ from us. We have in the House of Lords a minority, it is true, but a minority which includes a very considerable and important portion of those who differ from us. This state of things forms, in my opinion, a most legitimate and most weighty plea, which we might fairly use, and it is, therefore, with some confidence as to the result that I venture to ask the House to disagree—.and to disagree by a decided majority—with this Amendment of the House of Lords.

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


The right hon. Gentleman has followed the example of the Chancellor of the Exchequer earlier in the evening, and has relied upon his estimate of the relative forces in each House arrayed for and against the Amendment rather than on the merits of the Amendment itself, and has given as a reason for that procedure the fact I am ready to admit—uamely, that the merits of the Amendment have to a great extent been threshed out on previous occasions, and the right hon. Gentleman is unwilling to repeat arguments which have been used before in the House. I do not say there is no value or weight to be attached to the new method of deciding questions in this House—namely, counting Divisions which have already taken place here and elsewhere. But it. is a very dangerous procedure, because, if I rightly understand the grounds upon which the distinguished persons quoted by the right hon. Gentleman acted in the other House, they gave their votes and made their speeches not so much upon the intrinsic merits of the question as upon Divisions which had taken place in the Commons. Therefore, we are now in this extraordinary position; the noble lords in the other House decide their votes by the votes given in this House, and we in this House modify our actions in conformity with the action of the other House. This kind of action and re-action between the two Houses; these alternate Divisions in which no account is taken of the relative merits of the question, but only what happens in another place, and the number of votes given in the other place is really an argument which, if persisted in, would carry us away from the merits or demerits of the Amendment proposed by the Lords, and the Amendment to that Amendment proposed by the Government. I think it would be most inconvenient at a period of the evening when we ought to divide if we were to review the history of this question; but I must remind the Government that the proposal which the Lords have now sent down is not their own creation at all, but is the creation of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill. The Lords have taken the very words which —speaking not for himself alone, but for the Government of which he is a Member —he announced to the House as the policy of the Government. I am most unwilling to introduce any embittering element into this Debate, but I cannot refrain from pointing out that we were given the most solemn assurances that the particular policy which the right hon. Gentleman announced as the policy of the Government would be carried out in connection with these charities. We were given the very words. Those words have been thrown into the waste-paper basket, and the pledge which was given has been absolutely neglected. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has told us that the rural districts, as I understand him, have pronounced upon this question, and that the Government dare not neglect the opinion they have expressed. How do we know the rural districts have pronounced? I am entirely sceptical on this point. I do not at least deny that hon. Gentlemen who really represent and are really returned for rural districts—but not for counties in which there is a large urban element —who sit on the other side of the House tell us that their constituents are anxious for the Government policy. But gentlemen on this side of the House who have every bit as much means of obtaining the opinion of the agricultural labourer on that subject do not share that view, and in my view the attitude they have taken up is the right one. This is a matter In which not merely or even deeply, ecclesiastical interests are concerned, but in which the interests concerned are rather rural interests—which are deeply involved. I must confess that the whole dealings of this House with fegard to charities belonging to the poor reflects very little Credit upon us. In the '60's it was the fashion of the Liberal Party to say that all these parish charities were ill-administered, and they deliberately, as a matter of policy, made it their business to take away the charities intended for the poor, and hand them over for the purposes of middle-class education, an subject not contemplated by the original donors. That was the first injury inflicted. How are we following out that policy? You first sever the charities from the intentions of the deners, and, now you are taking action which will inevitably dry up the whole sources of charity in the future. I heard only a few days ago of a gentleman who desired to leave a sum of money for the charities of his district. He wrote to a friend of mine on the subject, and was advised that he had better trust to his heir to carry out his views on the matter and tear up his will, because the House of Commons as at present constituted are so indifferent to the wishes of donors that it is perfectly impossible to depend upon them. That is not the way to consult the interests of the poor, and I would earnestly venture to press upon the House that if they cast their eyes over the whole course of the policy of the Government in the discussions on these clauses in the Bill now before the House they will see, in the first place, that the poor have just ground to complain of their action; and, in the second place, that their pledges to us and to the Church, their statements made in this House on the authority of responsible Ministers, not in their own name but in the name of their colleagues, have raised just expectations among large classes of the community, which you would now not only act dishonourably but foolishly if you ignore. I do not wish to press my opinion upon this point further, because I know that the time of the House is limited; but J tell the Government that, as far as I am able to judge of the present position, they may have to choose between the abandonment of the Bill and making some just concessions to just demands. For my own part, as far as I am concerned, so clear does it seem to me that justice, honour, and expediency, as well as the interests of the Church and the poor, are so bound up in this Amendment, that if the Government are unable to carry out to a successful issue legislation based upon a different principle, the sooner they leave it to others to carry that principle into effect and embody it in the form of a Statute in the Statute Book the better I shall be pleased. I can assure hon. Members opposite that if I now bring my remarks to a conclusion it is not because I have nothing further to say in support of my views, but I do so for the convenience of the House. I have made a perfectly clear exposition of my own general grounds for desiring this Amendment and of the situation of affairs should the Government, in an unhappy moment, turn an absolutely deaf ear to the demands of justice, demands not one of which any Member of the Government can get up and give his reasons for resisting.



*MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire,) Arfon

Might I make a suggestion before the right hon. Gentleman speaks?


I beg pardon for a moment. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we have only a short time in which to discuss the question before the House, and, therefore, I shall confine myself to an answer which shall be very brief, and which is based upon an authority which the right hon. Gentleman will pay more respect to than to anything I might myself say. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that this proposal which is now before us, and which was made by Lord Salisbury, was opposed in the House of Lords, not by the Government alone, but by a majority of those who usually were not supporters of the Government. The Leader of that number was the Duke of Devonshire. The only arguments that I shall use in this case are his words, which were as follows:— The only question upon which he entertained any doubt was as to whether the clause raised a question of principle or such other question of vital importance as to make it incumbent upon their Lordships to insist upon their disagreement with the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman will see that neither the Duke of Devonshire nor his friends depended simply upon the numbers that were voted in the House of Commons. He said further— He could not quite understand where the question of principle came in. The contention that they had no right to interfere with the wishes of the founders of these trusts was intelligible. That was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, who has said that we should dry up the fountain of these charities if we diverted these trusts from their original objects. To that the answer is given— That was a position which was inconsistent with what had been done in the case of the Charity Commissioners or with the proposal to appoint one-third of the trustees. The noble Duke was then speaking of this Amendment, and of its author, Lord Salisbury, and he said— The noble Marquess drew a distinction between the introduction of the elective element and the introduction of a majority. He failed, however, to sec that such a distinction amounted to an absolute question of principle upon which the House was bound to insist, and he did not think that it was imperative upon their Lordships to insist upon their Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was inconsistent with the interests of the poor that we should discourage the founders of these charities. That is the old argument that was used when the Charity Commission was created. It was then said that if we once interfered with these charities in any way we should dry up eleemosynary charity.

An hon. MEMBER: So you have.


But what has been the result? There has been more money given to these charities since the creation of that body than at any time before. [Cries of "No!"] I think I may be allowed to say that that has been the result. I entirely agree with what the right hon. Gentleman has said, that it would be an entire mistake to take these charities from the poor and to appropriate them to the education of the middle classes. That is, however, the last thing that a Parish Council would ever do. The right hon. Gentleman has repeated the imputation that this is an Amendment we have no right to support, inasmuch as it is opposed to the original pledge of the Government. We do not admit that. Although it is perfectly true that the Government originally proposed a different arrangement in the Bill, they have always explained that they were entitled and bound to make amendments in the Bill in accordance with the views of those sitting on our side of the House quite as much as in accordance with those held on the other side of the House. Therefore, I do not think our action in this matter can be made the ground for an imputation of want of good faith on our part.


said, they wore not there to consider arguments regarding the majority one way or another in that House or the other on the question. What they had to deal with were the interests of the poor, and those interests were seriously imperilled by this clause. It had been admitted by the Prime Minister that if they made those trusts too large and cumbersome they would ensure maladministration, and that was what this clause inevitably would do. He would propose an Amendment which would not go against the principle laid down by the Prime Minister, and that was that instead of enforcing on rural parishes the necessity of creating trusts that would be absolutely unworkable and ridiculous, they should leave them the chance of managing their business with a little more sense than the House would be showing if it carried this clause. He proposed to alter the clause so that it should read: "Not less than one-third, nor more than a bare majority, of the trust." This Amendment, if adopted, would enable the Parish Councils to form these trusts in a moderate and therefore in a workable size.


I do not intend to delay the House long, but my hon. Friend who has just spoken has put forward views similar to those which I myself have presented to the House on more than one occasion. On the main principle I am bound to agree with the Government. We are dealing now with charities which are non-ecclesiastical. To whom do they belong? They belong to the parish, and, therefore, I say that although a limitation might be placed upon the power of the parish to deal with the corpus of the trust, because that might belong to future generations, yet the representatives of the parish should have full power to deal with the income of the trust. In these circumstances, the parish ought to have the right to appoint a majority of the trustees. But, on the other hand, it does appear most absurd to insist that the parish should be compelled to appoint a majority of the trustees and so create an unworkable body, instead of leaving the matter to their discretion. On a previous occasion I suggested that the word "may" should be substituted for "shall," leaving it open to the Parish Council to appoint a majority of the trustees if they thought fit, and in the cases where they did not think that necessary 'or desirable to appoint a lesser number. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has referred to the Debate in another place, and has spoken of the action taken by certain noble Lords. But he has forgotten to say that that action was taken subsequent to a proposal by one of these noble Lords in favour of the substitution of "may" for "shall." The answer which was given to that proposal was not altogether satisfactory. Lord Kimberley said the Government would give to it a less direct opposition than to the original Amendment. It would materially assist us if the Government would say how they would view such a proposal now. If they accept it I think there would be good reason to hope that that might see an end of the controversy. But if the Government give us no encouragement there will be a loss of time, and if the division of opinion continues what are the Government going to do? Either they will have to give way or they will have to abandon the Bill. Is it conceiv- able that, the Government would be prepared to go to the country and say, "We have abandoned this Bill with all its advantageous provisions because the House of Lords inserted our own Amendment word for word?" The Government are really in a position in which some compromise would not only be graceful, but is almost necessary.


wished to point out that the question was not a rural question alone, for it affected towns.


I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Chamberlain) that his proposal does not arise on the Lords Amendment; it can only arise on the original clause.


It is perfectly possible and competent for the House to reject the Lords Amendment and substitute for it an Amendment of the original clause.


I was going to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, and those who favour his view of the question, that the best course now to take is to disagree with the Lords Amendment as it has come down, and to allow the Lords to send down other proposals, because the House is in ignorance of the view which the Lords take upon the subject. The proposal which was suggested by Lord Helper, and to which Lord Kimberley gave a very judicious reply, never came under consideration in the other House; and, therefore, we are not in a position to judge what view would be taken by the Lords of that plan. I do not say that the Government have made up their minds to oppose such a proposal, but it ought to come to them in a form in which they could consider it.


said, what was wanted was an intimation of the ultimate mind of the Government on the subject. He would ask Mr. Speaker whether, in the event of the House rejecting the Lords Amendment, it would be competent to amend the original clause by substituting "may" for "shall"? The Government were certainly not saving time. He was in favour of the Government proposal as a whole, but he was still more in favour of the proposal to substitute "may" for "shall."


It would he competent to make such a proposal as the right hon. Gentleman indicates, as it would be relevant to the Lords Amendment. If it were not relevant to that Amendment, such a proposal would not be in Order.

MR. ARCH (Norfolk, N.W.)

said, the agricultural labourers had as much right to choose the administrators of charities left for their benefit as a nobleman had to choose trustees of his estate. He hoped the Government would stick to the word "shall."

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 196; Noes 139.—(Division List, No. 449.)


After the discussion that has just taken place as to whether "may" should be substituted for "shall," the Government are willing to agree to that substitution.

Amendment proposed, In page 15, line 3, to leave out the word "shall," and insert the word "may.' —(Sir W. Harcourt.)


As I have more than once had the pleasure of addressing the House on this question, it knows the view I take on it, and that I cannot be satisfied by the proposed change. I do not think the substitution of "may" for "shall" makes the clause materially better than it is at present, and it certainly does not at all leave it in a, position in which it ought to be accepted by the House. I admit, however, that a permissive evil is better than a certain and obligatory evil; and as the clause will be incomparably more workable in its permissive form, leaving principle out of account and treating the matter from the point of view of expediency and convenience, I will not go into the Lobby in opposition to the proposal of the Government.


said, the proposal made by the Government, although it might, to some extent, mitigate the evil, would still leave the clause unsatisfactory. It would not meet the point that had always been made in that House and elsewhere, that the proposal of the Government was a great injustice to the donors of charities and to the trustees who now administered charities for the benefit of the poor. As a matter of fact, he did not believe that the Parish Councils would in very many cases desire to interfere with the adminis- tration of the charities, but in cases where they were opposed to the existing trustees and to the methods under which the charities had hitherto been administered they would retain the power if the proposal of the Government were accepted to divert the charities from the management of those persons to whom they had been entrusted by the donors. This appeared to him to be a matter of the highest importance involving a great principle, and to think that because "may" was substituted for "shall" the clause would be acceptable to the Opposition was to entirely misconceive the position. In the judgment of the Opposition the House had no right whatever to allow the Parish Councils to play fast-and-loose with the wishes of those who had left money for charity. Unless it could be shown that a charity was badly administered, the Government had no right to disfranchise the existing trustees or to give anyone power to do so.

Amendment agreed to.

Lords Reason for insisting on their disagreement to the Commons Amendment in page 27, line 37, to leave out the words "in like manner as to an urban district and," considered.

Resolved, "That this House doth insist on the said Amendment to which the Lords have disagreed."

Lords proposal— The Lords propose to amend the words restored by the Commons by inserting in page 28, line 3, after ("auditors") the words ("for parishes") and by inserting in page 28, line 7, after ("Vestries") the words ("Provided that for the consideration of affairs of the Church (including the election of Churchwardens) and of matters relating to ecclesiastical charities, separate meetings of the said Vestries shall be held, and that at every such meeting the Incumbent, if present, shall be the chairman"); and after ("Provided") insert ("also.")


said, he was unable to agree with this proposal. When the provisions of the Bill were extended to London Vestries, the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean moved the omission of the words which would have constituted the Incumbent ex officio chairman and the Incumbent and the Churchwardens ex officio members of the Vestries. The Government agreed with the right hon. Baronet as to the chairmanship, but pointed out that as there might still be some Church affairs in the hands of the Vestries these officials should remain members of those bodies, and that was decided upon. The House of Lords proposed to create a statutory chairman and to divide the London Vestries into two bodies—one to dispose of matters relating to ecclesiastical affairs and charities, the other the usual functions of a Vestry. There was, moreover, to be a separate chairman for each, and the Government saw no advantage in having two chairmen for one body, as legal difficulties might possibly arise. For instance, the Vestry might transact business with the wrong statutory chairman in the chair, which might lead to serious difficulty. In these circumstances, he asked the House to disagree with the Lords Amendment.

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


said, he was the original Mover of the words out of which this Amendment had grown. He had desired to get rid of the Churchwardens as well as the Incumbent as ex officio members of the Vestry; but the Government had pointed out what was quite true—namely, that the Loudon Vestries had to discharge a few—a very few— ecclesiastical functions, and that, therefore, the Incumbent and Churchwardens should remain ex officio members of the Vestries. The proposal of the Lords would be excellent if it were workable— if they got rid of the membership of the Incumbent and Churchwardens on lay occasions, and only allowed them to act on those rare occasions when ecclesiastical matters were dealt with. He thought it best to adhere to the original House of Commons Amendment.


said, the right hon. Baronet had been for a long time a distinguished member of one of the London Vestries; therefore, he spoke on this subject with some high authority. He (Mr. Balfour) was informed that in some Vestries, though not in that of Chelsea, there were ecclesiastical duties to be performed of a more important character than the right hon. Baronet had any idea of—such as questions with regard to the alterations of the Church. He agreed that if the Government were prepared, as he hoped they were, to grant this Amendment, the grounds for the original compromise were cut away, and the Incumbent and Churchwardens should have nothing to do with lay affairs. He was anxious to meet the practical difficulty and to relieve the Government of the responsibility of handing over strictly ecclesiastical affairs to be dealt with by the Vestry. Ho believed the object might be attained and the interests of the Church safeguarded if the right hon. Gentleman would consent to the division of the kind of Vestries, excluding clergymen from lay work on Vestries.

MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)

said, that one of the important functions of Churchwardens was to provide for spiritual services of the Church during a vacancy in the incumbency. If an Incumbent died some interval must elapse before his successor was instituted, and it would be the duty of the Churchwardens in that interval to provide for spiritual services. It seemed to him to he beyond all things necessary that the Churchwardens should be parties to the holding of the Vestries. Although the Lords Amendment would provide for this the Bill unamended would not.


said, the Incumbent and Churchwardens would remain members of the Vestry. All they were discussing was whether the Incumbent should be put into the chair. If he were not in the chair he would be in a better position, because he would be able to vote, which he would not be able to do if he presided.


said, he had no doubt the Government desired to make the best arrangement they could, but Churchmen would prefer that clergymen should cease to be ex officio members of ordinary Vestries if the Incumbent were put in the chair when ecclesiastical matters were dealt with.


said, that was not the Lords Amendment. It was that the Incumbent should be put in the chair. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Kimber) had given a reason why the clergyman should be put in the chair —namely, because it would be necessary for the Vestry to make arrangements for carrying on the Church services in the event of his death. How the Lords Amendment could enable a clergyman to make arrangements subsequent to his own death he failed to see.


said, ho had not been addressing himself to the question of the chairmanship, but to that of the necessity for a separate meeting.

SIR R. WEBSTER (Isle of Wight)

said, it would not be unreasonable to provide that the Vicar and Churchwardens should cease to be ex officio members of the Vestry for the purposes of parochial affairs, though no such objection could arise if they were left to deal with ecclesiastical affairs. He could endorse what the Leader of the Opposition had said—namely, that Vestries dealt with the question of repairs and of the enlargement of churches in the Metropolis. The Bishop of London was responsible for the Amendment; therefore, it might be taken that it expressed the views of the London clergy.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords proposal agreed to— The Lords propose to amend the Amendment made by the Commons to the Amendment made by the Lords in page 51. line 9, by leaving out, the words ("subject to the provisions of that section"), and inserting the words ('"nothing in this section shall empower a County Council or joint committee to alter the boundaries of a county").

On the Amendment of the Lords that the expression "ecclesiastical charity" shall include any building which in the opinion of the Charity Commissioners has been erected or provided entirely by or at the cost of members of any particular Church or Denomination,


said, the Government could not assent to leave out the words "within 40 years before the passing of this Act," though they recognised the objection which had been raised to the word "entirely." They agreed to substitute the word "mainly."

Word "mainly" substituted for "entirely."

Question proposed, to disagree with the Lords Amendment, striking out the words "within 40 years before the passing of this Act."

Mr. GRIFFITH -BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)

did not know why there should be a limitation of 40 years or 400 years. The same argument which applied to the user of parish rooms to his mind would apply to the user of churches and chapels. They should take the character of the trustees as a test of the character of the parish rooms.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment disagreed with. 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 Amendments made by the Commons to the Amendments made by the Lords to the Bill, and for insisting on one of the Amendments made by the Commons to which the Lords had disagreed:—Mr. H. H. Fowler, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir W. Foster, The Attorney General, The Solicitor General, Mr. H. Gardner, Mr. Causton, Mr. M'Arthur, and Mr. Marjoribanks:—To withdraw immediately.

Ordered, That Three be the quorum. —(Mr. H. H. Fowler.)