HC Deb 14 June 1895 vol 34 cc1157-8
MR. HENRY COBB (Warwick, S.E., Rugby)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that in several instances doubts have been raised as to whether a married woman, having on interest in her husband's business, is disqualified from being elected or from sitting and voting as a member of a Board of Guardians under Sub-section (e) of Section 46 of the Local Government Act, 1894, because her husband, either solely or as a member of a firm, has a contract with the Board for the supply of provisions; whether he is aware that in one instance a large firm at Leamington have ceased to contract with the Warwick Board of Guardians for the supply of provisions because the wife of the senior partner, having an interest in the business of the firm, was elected a guardian, and doubts were raised under the subsection as to her right to vote, and that for some time during the existence of a previous contract with the firm she abstained from voting; and whether, as the doubts which have been raised upon the sub-section are calculated to interfere with and restrict trade and to prevent married women from performing their duties as guardians, he will take the opinion of the Law Officers upon the point?


Section 46 (1) (e) of the Local Government Act provides that a person shall be disqualified for being a member of a Board of Guardians if he is concerned in any bargain or contract entered into with the Board or participates in the profit of any such bargain or contract, or of any work done under the authority of the Board. I am aware that the question has been raised whether the wife of a person who has contracted with the Guardians for the supply of goods does not come within this disqualification. It appears to me that each case must be considered with reference to the particular facts, and that without those facts no general legal opinion would be of much value.