HC Deb 05 January 1894 vol 20 cc926-44


Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 58 (Construction of Act).

On Motion of Mr. H. H. FOWLER, Clause further postponed.

Clause 61 (First elections to Parish Councils).

On Motion of Mr. H. H. FOWLER, the following Amendments were agreed to:— In page 33, line 28, to leave out from the word "parish," to the word "and," in line 31, and insert the words "at the time fixed by the Rules for the election of Parish Councillors, whether there is or is not a Parish Council for the parish. In page 33, line 33, to leave, out Sub-section (2). In page 34, line 3, at end, to insert as a new Sub-section—"(3) This first Parish Councillors elected under this Act shall retire on the second ordinary day of coming into office of Councillors which happens after their election.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 62 (First elections of Guardians and District Councils).

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

In order to give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of making a statement as to the intentions of the Government relative to bringing the Act into force, I propose, if desired, to move a formal Amendment.


I will take this opportunity of stating to the Committee what course the Government propose to suggest with reference to bringing this Act into force. We propose to continue in office all existing Local Authorities, whether Boards of Guardians, London Vestries, Rural Sanitary Authorities, or whatever the Local Authorities may be, until the first election under this Bill has taken place. I propose that the people shall not he put to the expense of an election in the course of the Spring of this year, but the Government will ask them to have an election in the Autumn of this year. An Amendment will be put down providing for that. I propose that the appointed day for bringing this Bill into force—i.e., the day of the election—shall be, following the example of the Act of 1885, the 8th of November. I believe that Act contemplated the 7th of November as the first possible day on which the registration could be completed. We have, therefore, fixed the 8th November for the elections to take place, but hon. Members will notice that some elasticity is given to the Local Government Board, by which the period of election may be extended to the close of the year. The difficulty will be to complete the Register at an earlier period, so as to allow the election to take place in the month of November. That is a question partly of machinery and partly of cost, and, following the examples of 1885 and 1888, the Government will ask Parliament to pass a short Act accelerating the registration, and, of course, providing any additional Revising Barristers who may be necessary, so that the election may take place at the time I have named. That is, roughly, the course of procedure the Government propose to adopt. The question of acceleration can, of course, be discussed on a, later clause, or upon the Bill when I bring it in. Perhaps now, however, will be a, convenient time for any criticism on the scheme of the Government. We wish to allow an interval of eight or nine months at least between the passing of the Act and its coming into force. Any attempt to have the election upon the existing Register would be most unsatisfactory, if not impossible. There would be a defective Register, and we should have people voting who are being disqualified, perhaps at the very time the election is going on, and that seems to me to be an indefensible procedure altogether. The simplest and best, plan is to have a new Register and to accelerate it. My own judgment is that this scheme will work satisfactorily, and will give the Local Authorities sufficient time, to put the scheme into operation. Therefore, I propose to omit Sub-sections (2) and (8), because they relate to provisions for bringing the Act, into force under the theory that annual retirement is compulsory. We propose to insert provisions for the continuance of the existing Local Authorities in office until the first election under this Bill.


said, he understood the right, hon. Baronet, the Member for the Forest of Dean intended to move a formal Amendment to enable them to say a few words upon the proposals of the Government. He took it that their comments would not be limited to the exact proposal before the Committee.


In moving to substitute "now" for "the," in the first line, I may say I am perfectly satisfied with the statement of my right, hon. Friend. I would ask whether, if my right hon. Friend omits Sub-sections (2) and (3), it, will not be necessary to modify Sub-sections (4) and (5)?


I will think as to that.

Amendment proposed, In page 33, line 4, after the word "the," to insert the word "now."—(Sir C. W. Dilke.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' be there inserted."


said, he understood that the proposal of the right, hon. Gentleman was that, having fixed the day to bring into operation this Bill, he would subsequently introduce a Bill to give effect to its provisions by bringing forward the registration. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to what took place in 1888, but he would like to point out one or two wide distinctions between that Act and the Act now before Parliament. Under the Act, of 1888 the franchise which was selected by Parliament was the franchise then in existence for the municipal boroughs; and that franchise properly came into force on November 1, and not on January 1, as did the Parliamentary Register. The difficulty in which the House would find itself in consequence of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal would be this—that for the purposes of this Bill, and this Bill only, the date on which the Parliamentary Register became effective would be put forward. The Committee ought to know when the Government proposed to introduce the Bill which was to give effect to their plan. The officers charged with the preparation of the Registers would, he ventured to say, have as much as they could do to finish them in time to submit them to the Revising Barristers. He did not say it was impossible, but there was some probability that in many cases the Registers would be incomplete by the appointed day. The Committee had not realised the difficulty of arranging this new Register, which was a mixture of two existing Registers, with certain new elements thrown in. A great deal depended on the time when this new measure was to be brought in. He heartily commended, however, the proposal of the Government to keep in existence all the present Local Bodies, for it would be a monstrous thing to make them seek election now and then put them to the expense and trouble of another election in the Autumn. He should like to know whether the appointed day for the first election waste stand for the future, or whether the Government proposed to revert, to the natural date, in the Spring, for subsequent elections? Finally, he wished to know when the House would be made acquainted with the details of this new measure.


The Government propose to continue in office all bodies elected under the Bill, whether Parish Councils, or Boards of Guardians, or London Vestries, until the second ordinary annual day of election. Thus, a Board of Guardians elected next November will remain in office until the following April twelvemonths. We propose, too, to continue in office existing authorities until the new bodies are elected. Therefore, there will be no more elections under the existing state of things, and it is the general sense of the House that these elections shall in the ordinary course take place in the Spring and not in the Winter. Nothing remains, therefore, but the acceleration of the Register, so that it may be ready in time for the first election in November or December. I am advised that that is a pure question of pounds, shillings, and pence. It will in no way affect the local machinery, but only the Revising Barristers, who will not have the usual month or six weeks for their work. Following the example of 1888 and of 1885, the Government propose to ask Parliament for authority to employ such a number of additional Barristers as will enable the revision to be completed early in October. Then something more than a month will remain for the printing of the Registers; and I am advised that the work can be done in the time, as it was in 1885. That is the simple object of the Bill which the Government are to introduce, but I cannot fix the date for its introduction.

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

Of course, the time to criticise the proposals of the Government with respect to their new measure will be when that measure is brought in. The Government are certainly right in endeavouring to fix as far as possible the date on which the present Bill will come info operation. To have a new constitution hanging overhead, without knowing when it is to have effect, would he a great burden and oppression to everyone. It is, however, an integral part of the plan that the bodies first elected shall hold office for a year and a-half nearly. I have no theoretical objection to that proposal; but if exceptional privileges are to be given to any of these bodies, I should not wish them to be given at the first election, when the machine has first come into operation, and when extravagant anticipations may be entertained as to its working in the future. Very unfounded expectations may be entertained by the electors, and under the influence of those expectations persons may be elected merely from their supposed power to carry out some strange and impossible scheme of reform. It is not to such a body that I should wish to give the extra half-year's term of office. But there is another consideration. The Government propose to modify the Parliamentary franchise. I do not mean that they propose to modify the class of persons on it, but they do intend to deal with it in some way in their new proposal.


The Government are merely proposing that the Parliamentary Register shall come into force two months earlier, but not for Parliamentary purposes.


Undoubtedly the new Bill will deal with the Parliamentary Register. That is a serious matter, and I hope the Government will pause before the Parliamentary Register is affected in any way, because that will necessarily and inevitably raise controversial questions which had better be left quiescent. The only other point I wish to touch upon now is this: The Government say that the difficulty of the plan is only one of pounds, shillings, and pence in the provision of an additional staff of Revising Barristers. But it is not the Revising Barrister who prepares the Register; it is the Overseer and the Assistant Overseer. You will not merely have to pay additional Revising Barristers; you will also have to provide increased remuneration for the Overseers and Assistant Overseers, as in consequence of throwing this additional burden upon them the Overseers' staff's will have to be greatly increased. The officials who have to prepare the Register will have to do extra work, and will have to do their work much faster than before. If so, they will have to have additional remuneration. I have only to say, in conclusion, that I hope the Government will throw the cost of this expedited Register on the Exchequer, and not on the localities. It will be a very grave injustice to the localities to make them pay for what, if it be an error at all, is an error of the Government, and not, of the localities. I hope, therefore, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will show himself to be of a generous disposition, and will pay out of the National Funds the additional cost which must come out of someone's pockets, and which, I submit, ought to come out of the pockets of the Government themselves.


It has always been the intention of the Government that this charge should come out of the Exchequer. As to the additional expenditure, all that will be necessary will be to put on such a staff of Revising Barristers as will secure the revision of the lists by the beginning of October. That, I understand, will involve no additional expense on the part of the Overseers in the preparation of the lists. It is their duty to have the lists prepared ready for the Revising Barrister to revise. All the classes of people who will have to be on the Register are, with the exception of the married women, now to be found on one Register or the other. If they are not on the Local Government Register, they are on the Parliamentary Register, and, therefore, it is not contemplated that there would be any considerable additional work. After the lists are revised, which we hope will be in the first week in October, there will be a month in which to print them. Surely that will impose no great tax upon the Overseers, or whoever are responsible for printing the list. I know a ease in which, in a constituency numbering, I believe, 17,000 electors, all the ballot papers were printed in one night That being so, the printing of the lists ought to be done in less than a month. What is going to take place is what, I understand, took place in 1889 when the lists were made from a perfectly new Register, the leasehold franchises and other franchises which had not been known before being then introduced. I entirely agree with what the right hon. Gentleman has said—namely, that when you establish a new body it should come as soon as can reasonably be expected into operation, and I think it would be a very great disappointment to the people throughout the country, who are looking forward to the creation of these Parish Councils, if we did not bring them into operation in 1895. There will, in my opinion, be no hardship in carrying out the scheme which the Government have presented to the Committee.

MR. STOREY (Sunderland)

said, his right hon. Friend was not quite correct in saying that there would be no additional expense except that of the Revising Barristers. There would also be an additional expense for the Assistant Overseers, because they were paid according to the number of names they had to deal with. This additional expense, however, would necessarily occur every year in future in consequence of the growth of the size of the Register, and, therefore, it, was not a matter about which any complaint could be made. As to the additional expenses of the Revising Barrister, he quite concurred with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in thinking that they should be paid not out of local funds, but out of the Imperial Exchequer. As to the question of time, the Government ought to give as long a period as possible for the process of printing. The difficulty was much greater than some Members supposed. In the County of Durham the electors were numbered by tens of thousands, and the County Council Clerk had to arrange in various parts of the county to get the lists printed, and to supervise the printing so as to see that there were no errors in the proofs. The longest time the Government could give for the purpose would be consequently very advantageous. There would be no difficulty as to the time allowed to the Assistant Overseers, because the lists were now ready long before they were needed by the Revising Barristers. He thanked his right hon. Friend for his proposals. He was sure his right hon. Friend had arranged for the election at the earliest possible time, and that if anybody prevented the carrying out of the proposal he would be considered much to blame by the people of the locality.

MR. W. LONG (Liverpool, West Derby)

said, it was perfectly true that the additional expenses which would be thrown on the Assistant Overseers would be the normal expenses of the future. It had been the practice to talk in a slighting way of the expenses and the work that were thrown on the County Councils, but in 1888 the Clerk of the Peace in his county found it necessary to have an additional staff for the purpose of preparing the Register. He wished lo know from the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, if the County Authorities were put to extra, expenditure in consequence of the necessary acceleration by Parliament of the Registers, they would be entitled to obtain repayment of the amount from the Treasury?


I have already said that the additional cost which is incurred will be found by the Government. I would suggest that all these questions would be more properly debated on the Bill the Government will have to introduce in order to authorise the employment of additional Revising Barristers. That will be the proper time to discuss whether any additional expenditure should be paid by the Government.

* MR. J. LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

said, the right hon. Gentleman was quite right in saving that the proper time for discussing these matters of detail would be when the Bill was in the hands of Members. But, without wishing to deny the importance of performing the operation with such speed as circumstances would permit, he would ask what object the Government wished to serve by putting all parties to considerable inconvenience, lie was glad to see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer looked forward to the payment of public funds with a cheerful countenance, but be thought it was worth the right hon. Gentleman's while to consider, even in the affluent condition in which he now found himself, what were the reasons for the expenditure proposed. There were occasions when time was of the very essence of the matter. In 1885 it was thought necessary to go to expense and incur great trouble to accelerate the period when the Parliamentary registration would become operative, because if that had not been done the ordinary Session of Parliament (he was not referring to abnormal Sittings such its prevailed in these latter days) would have been interfered with. It was possible that, by appointing extra Revising Barristers and hurrying the Local Authorities forward in the preparation of their lists, the Government might be able to save a certain amount of time this year. How long a time would they save? At the outside, about two months. Was the game worth the candle? He thought it would be very desirable, before the Government committed themselves definitely to the introduction of the Bill, that they should consider whether it was worth while to go to all the expense and trouble proposed when the gain would be so very slight.

MR. H. HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)

said, he was entirely in favour of bringing this new body into working order as soon as possible, but he thought the Government somewhat underrated the practical difficulties attending the acceleration of the elections. They relied on the precedents of 1885 and 1888. It was quite true that in 1885 there was a new Parliamentary Register, but there was no County Government Register, and no Parish Register, and he could assure the Government that the addition that had since been made, and the additions proposed to be made under this Bill, would add considerably to the time needed for completing the registration. In 1888 the Government decided to put off the election till January in order to give time to prepare the lists; but when the second election time came round, it was found that it would lie impossible to bring the Register into force on the 1st of November for the County Council elections unless there was a large amount of acceleration. A Bill was, therefore, brought in to accelerate the time, but it was blocked by a few hon. Gentlemen then sitting on the Opposition side of the House, and had to he abandoned. The only possible alternative was then adopted, and the County Council elections were put off to a later date—namely, the mouth of March. He did not think the time allowed by the present proposal would be sufficient to overcome the difficulty of getting the lists printed. Although the printing might very easily be done in the Autumn in very large towns, and possibly in such counties as Lancashire and Durham, the difficulty of getting all the lists printed at once in rural counties was extremely great and almost insuperable. An acceleration involved very largely-increased expenditure. Several hundred pounds extra had to be spent in his county owing to the additional pressure that occurred in 1888. There was a risk also of more mistakes occurring, and this risk under the "starring" system was a very serious one. At present more than two months were allowed for printing, and there ought certainly to be more time than a month if the lists were to be properly prepared.

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

wished to add his testimony to the statement that the printing of voters' lists in country districts was a great trouble. In 1891, when the County Council election had to be deferred, he had a good deal of consultation with the Clerk of the Peace of his county, and ascertained that it was absolutely impossible to get the printing done in time for the elections at the beginning of November. No doubt there was a saving clause in the present proposal, because power was taken to postpone the elections if necessary. But what on earth it mattered to any living soul whether proposals which were intended to last for generations should come into operation a month or two earlier or later he could not conceive! He supposed gentlemen opposite conceived that it would operate beneficially to their interests to have the elections as soon as possible; but to contend that it really mattered to the community generally whether the elections took place two months earlier or later was to put too great a strain upon the credulity of the Committee.

MR. J. STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

sincerely hoped that his right hon. Friend (Mr. H. H. Fowler) would stick to November, and to the earliest date he could get in November, for having the elections. Not only had the registration been accelerated in 1885, but the Municipal Register was made up in the time proposed every year in every municipal borough in England. It was of very great importance that the new election should come on at the earliest possible date. [Cries of "Why?"] Hon. Members asked why. Why should the Bill come into operation at all? That, no doubt, was what gentlemen opposite felt. If it was to come into operation, it was because there was a, demand for it, and because it was needed. That being so, it was desirable that it should be put into execution as soon as possible. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour) hit the nail on the head when he said it was undesirable that Parliament should maintain a suspensory attitude for any lengthened period. He must congratulate the President of the Local Government Board not only on providing for the acceleration of the elections, but upon the very wise decision that there should be no intermediate election.

SIR J. GORST (Cambridge University)

said, it was perfectly possible to accelerate the registrations in the manner proposed by the Government, and the only question was that of cost. That which the present manœuvre of the Government had not at all answered was the statement which had been made to the Committee that the Bill could not be brought into operation until there had been a new Register formed. Sometime ago a suggestion was made by the President of the Local Government Board that somehow or other the existing Register could be so manipulated that the Bill could be brought into operation by the month of July. It now appeared that the right hon. Gentleman had been advised by his technical advisers that the scheme he then foreshadowed was utterly impracticable. The Government, therefore, not willing to be discredited in the matter, had fallen back upon the plan of accelerating the Register, and they would be able by the expenditure of public money to bring the Bill into operation six or seven weeks earlier than the 1st day of January, 1895. In order to do this the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to find from his very slender resources for the coming year an additional sum to pay the Revising Barristers, and the whole question which the Committee had to decide was whether the benefit of bringing the Bill into operation six months earlier was worth the amount which would have to be spent for the purpose. He observed that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. H. H. Fowler) had carefully avoided telling the Committee what would be the additional cost. It would have been more businesslike if the Committee had been informed of the exact number of hundreds of thousands of pounds.


A few thousands.


said, it would have been more businesslike, then, if the Committee had been informed of the exact number of thousands of pounds that would have to be paid for bringing the measure into force a few weeks earlier than it would otherwise have come into operation.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I move to omit Sub-sections (2) and (3).

Amendment proposed, That Sub-sections (2) and (3) be omitted."—(Mr. H. H. Fowler.)

Question proposed, "That Sub-sections (2) and (3) stand part of the Clause."


I presume the right hon. Gentleman intends to introduce an Amendment for the purpose of modifying this clause, and bringing it into conformity with the decision arrived at by the House last night, leaving it to the County Council to decide whether or not it will adopt the triplicate form of the division of area—a proposal which the Government seek to father upon me, although I do not think it is the one I made. My idea is that the triplicate form should be the rule, but that it should be open to the County Council to show to the Local Government Board in London reasons to the contrary. I think the Amendment should take some such form as that.


In consequence of the decision arrived at last night, a few words will have to be introduced to provide for the optional state of things to be created under the clause, and those words will be brought forward on Report.

Question put, and negatived.

On Motion of Mr. H. H. Fowler, the following Amendments were agreed to:— In page 34, Sub-section (5), line 26, to leave out "a," in order to insert "an urban. In page 34, line 32, at end of Sub-section (6) insert,—"but until that day the Guardians and members of Urban Sanitary Authorities (not boroughs) and of Highway Boards shall continue in office not withstanding any want of qualification. In page 34, line 33, to leave out the word "rural.

Amendment proposed, In page 34, to leave out Sub-section (8).—(Mr. H. H. Fowler.)


asked, if it were proposed to put a corresponding subsection in ii not her clause, as provisions to this effect had always been inserted in legislation of this kind?


This is a transfer clause, pure and simple, and therefore I do not think it necessary.

Question put, and agreed to.

On Motion of Mr. H. H. FOWLER, the following Amendment was agreed to:— At end insert,—"(8) The foregoing provisions shall apply to the existing members and first members elected under this Act of the Local Board of Woolwich and of any Vestry under the Metropolis Management Acts, 1855 to 1890, and any Act amending the same in like manner as if they were Urban District Councillors.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 64 (Existing officers).

On Motion of Mr. H. H. FOWLER, the following Amendment was agreed to:— In page 35, line 19, after the word "Council," insert the words "and for the purposes of this suction the body appointing a surveyor of highways shall be deemed to be a Highway Authority and the surveyor to bean officer of that body.

Amendment proposed, In page 35, line 20, to leave out the words "Any existing Vestry clerk in a rural parish," and insert "Where there is in a rural parish an existing Vestry clerk appointed under 'The Vestries Act, 1850,' he."—(Mr. H. H. Fowler.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."


said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would recollect the enormous trouble involved when a whole parish was polled for the election of a Vestry clerk.


I intend to propose in the Schedule some limitation in the right to demand a poll.


asked if it was intended that this provision should apply only to Vestry clerks appointed under the Vestries Act of 1850? What virtue was there in those special appointments to justify their being taken out of the ordinary category?


It all depends on the Act of Parliament under which the appointments were made.

Question put, and negatived.

On Motion of Mr. H. H. FOWLER, the following Amendment was agreed to:— In page 85, line 22, after the word "parish," to insert the words "then, notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this Act.

SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)

I rise to a point of Order. I have for a long time had on the Taper an Amendment to this clause, and it has been passed over.


What is the question of Order?


My Amendment has been passed over.


Where the Government has an Amendment at the same place as those of private Members the Government has precedence.

Amendment proposed, In page 35, after line 38, to insert the following sub-sections:— (7) The Parish Council or District Council, as the case may be, may abolish the office of any existing officer whose office they may deem unnecessary, but any such officer shall be entitled to compensation under this Act. (8) Section 120 of 'The Local Government Act, 1888,' which relates to compensation to existing officers, shall apply in the case of existing officers affected by this Act, as if references in that section to the County Council were references to the Parish Council, or the District Council, as the case may require. Provided that all expenses incurred by a District Council, in pursuance of this section, shall be paid as general expenses of the Council."—(Mr. H. H. Fowler.)

Question proposed, "That those Subsections be there inserted."


asked the President of the Local Government Board if he could see his way on Report to amplify powers to cover such difficulties as had arisen under the Act of 1888, owing to the fact that Parliament had not determined in what form compensation given to dispossessed officers was to be levied upon the county rates. The powers conferred under the Act of 1888 had led to litigation, and the County Councils had pleaded that, although they were liable for compensation, the Act failed to specify in what form it was to be paid, or how it was to be levied on the county rate. The result had been in some cases that, although the Courts had decided in favour of the Vestry officers, those unfortunate gentlemen bad failed to get the compensation awarded to them, even though in some cases the amount had been small. In the administrative county district of Wiltshire that blot had become apparent, and they would be much obliged if the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to remove it. On another point this clause was a little bit mixed. The object they all had at heart was that these new authorities should be able to deal with areas in such a manner as to make them most suitable for the purposes of local government. One of the greatest difficulties in connection with that was that they had to dispossess certain officers, and unless they could compensate them fairly, it was only natural that they should offer objections to the proceedings of the Local Authorities. If, then, they could make it clear that in future any dispossessed officer—unless, of course, he was dispossessed for misconduct—would have fair play in the matter of compensation, they would get rid of a great difficulty. If the right hon. Gentleman could make a statement on that subject they would be very grateful to him.


I am aware of the difficulty referred to by the hon. Gentleman, because I have bad such a case before me in which there was a considerable difference of opinion. In that case I rather leaned to the view of the County Council, that the officer was not entitled to compensation. I have set my face against any amendment of the Local Government Act of 1888, which would embark the Committee on a very stormy sea of contentious discussion; but if an Amendment is moved which, without altering the law, will have the effect of giving greater elasticity, I should, if there were any prospect of its being accepted without Debate, be disposed to look upon it favourably.

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

said, he hoped something would be done in the matter. In London, in the district he was connected with, they bad a case of hardship, in which an officer who was dispossessed received no compensation. He did think they should look into such matters, and he would express a hope that the right hon. Gentleman would do so.


asked whether paragraph 8 of his Amendment to line 38 of the Clause (64) would he affected by the discussion that had taken place?


said, he was not prepared to go any further. The section of the Act which he proposed to apply was, he believed, a very fair method of dealing with the question.


said, he thought it was important that paragraph 8 should be included.




said, he wished to know whether the class of officers covered by the provision now being made by the right hon. Gentleman would include officers of the character mentioned in paragraph 8?


said, that was certainly not intended.


asked, would he be at liberty to move the paragraph as a, sub-section?


Order! We must deal with the present Amendment in the first instance.

Question put, and agreed to.


said, he begged to move the paragraph to which he had referred— After sub-section 6, to insert,—"That it shall not be lawful for any Parish or District Council to dismiss any officer who shall receive his appointment by virtue of this Act without paying him compensation for the loss of the appointment, according to the scale mentioned in the County Councils Act of 1888, except in the case of misconduct.

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said, the proposal of the hon. Baronet was equivalent to saying that these bodies should not have power to dismiss an officer for incompetence without his having a statutable right to compensation. That would strike at the root of efficiency in the Public Service. No great Society—no Railway Company, for instance—would submit to such a restriction.

Question put, and negatived.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 66 (Appointed day).

Amendment proposed, In page 36, line 3, at beginning, to insert—

  1. "(1.) The first elections under this Act shall be held on the 8th day of November next after the passing of this Act, or such later date in the year 1894 as the Local Government Board may fix.
  2. (2.) The persons elected shall come into office on the second Thursday next after their election, or such other day not more than seven days earlier or later as may be fixed by or in pursuance of the Rules made under this Act in relation to their election.
  3. (3.) Every division into wards or alteration of the boundaries of any parish or Union which is to affect the first election shall be made before the 1st day of July next after the passing of this Act."—(Mr. H. H. Fowler.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

said, he thought it, would be desirable to fix an earlier date than July 1 for the arrangement of wards and boundaries. The business might be expedited by Orders from the Local Government Board to be issued under a new clause.

MR. H. HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)

said, he had hail advice en this subject from the Clerks of the Peace of Middlesex and Lancashire, and he believed the time allowed was far too short to enable all the necessary arrangements to be carried into effect. He wished to propose an Amendment substituting "September" for July. He must say that, so far as his experience went, he agreed that it would be impossible to carry out these arrangements in the time proposed by the Government. They could not, at all events, be carried out before August. He did not wish to go into detail. It was a very practical question for the comity officers. If the Bill passed in February, unless the Government were prepared to alter very drastically the provisions as to boundaries, there would be very little time for those officers to go into the questions that were necessary to be dealt with in connection with these arrangements. He was sure the right hon. Gentleman would see that some months ought to be allowed for the discharge of the various duties; and that if such were not the case, the matter, being looked after hurriedly, would lead to discontent and difficulty. It should be their desire, as he was sure it was, to have changes accomplished without irritation and after careful consideration. He was as anxious as the right hon. Gentleman to secure the object he had in view, and he hoped, therefore, the Amendment would be accepted. He begged to move— In line 11, to leave out the word "July," and insert the word "September."—(Mr. H. Hobhouse.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'July' stand part of the Clause."

MR. WARNER (Somerset, N.)

thought the Amendment was quite unnecessary.


who was indistinctly heard, said that this was a highly technical matter, and had been dealt with by experts, who were well acquainted with it. His experts had told him that it was absolutely necessary that the work of alteration of boundaries should be complete before July next if the registration was to be done this year, and, further, they did not think there would be any very great difficulty in carrying out the provision. He admitted that extra work would be imposed on the County Councils, but he was quite sure that the public-spirited men on the County Councils would not shrink from that work in order to bring the Act into play. If the Committee accepted the Amendment of the hon. Member he feared they would not get the registration this year.

MR. W. LONG (Liverpool, West Derby)

said, it seemed to him that they who had been called the critics of this measure must leave to the Government the responsibility for the proposals they were making. He entirely agreed with his hon. Friend opposite, and ventured to say that the experts who had advised the right hon. Gentleman, however competent they might be—and he knew how competent they were from the point of view of Parliamentary practice or of central local government—they had not had any conception, he was convinced, of the difficulties which would confront the County Councils, especially in the rural districts. The County Councils had public spirit, but they could not provide the means of communication necessary to enable them to get from one place to another. In the rural parts of the country a great deal of the work could not be done by a committee of the County Council sitting in a Central Office, and by means of a, map and directory, but would involve visitation of the localities and careful inquiry into local circumstances. Still, he did not think it would be right to offer opposition to the Government in this matter, but he left his hon. Friend to decide whether he would leave the responsibility to them or not.


said, that nothing was further from his intention than to offer any opposition to the Government or to relieve them of responsibility, but he could not help thinking that when there had been a little more time to look into the matter than had hitherto been at the disposal of the Treasury Bench, they might view it in a different light. He would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, In page 36, line 4, to leave out from the word "be," to the first "or" in line 6, and insert the words "the day fixed for the first elections under this Act.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Forward to