§ MR. C. J. MONK (Gloucester)
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether, in framing an order for the election of parish councillors on the 9th March, he has taken into consideration that the annual assembly of the parish meeting is directed by The Local Government Act, 1894, to be held on the 25th March, or within seven days before or after that day, and the extreme 942 inconvenience and expense which must attend the holding of two parish meetings in rural parishes within ten days or a fortnight of each other; whether he will state under which section of the Act the Board is empowered to fix the date of elections subsequent to the first elections in 1894; and whether such elections may not legally be held at the annual assembly of the parish meeting on the 25th March, or within seven days before or after that day?
§ MR. CHAPLIN
The Local Government Board have fixed the 9th of March as the day for the election of parish councillors under the powers conferred on them by sections 3 and 48 of the Local Government Act, 1894, for prescribing the rules under which the elections of parish councillors shall be conducted. I quite recognise the possibility of inconvenience and I regret it, but I am afraid it is unavoidable. The Act provides that the elections shall be at a parish meeting or a poll consequent thereon, but there is nothing to require that it should be at the annual assembly of the parish meeting. The Board, in fixing the date of the meeting for the election, necessarily have had regard, first, to the time that must be allowed for the proceedings when there is a poll by ballot; secondly, to the date on which Easter falls in the present year; and, thirdly, to the fact that the new parish councillors will come into office on April 15. The annual assembly of the parish meeting will be on another day, and will be quite independent of the meeting for the election.
§ MR. MONK
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will consider the advisability of introducing an amending clause in the Local Government Elections Bill enabling the Local Government Board to fix the annual assembling of the parish meeting and the election of parish councillors on the same day?
§ MR. A. F. JEFFREYS (Hants,) Basingstoke
asked whether, in the event of parish councils failing to hold this meeting for about three weeks, any penalty attached?
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I shall be very glad to consider the suggestion of my hon. Friend, and if it turns out to be advisable and possible to make an alteration in that direction, I shall be glad to do so. It is, however, too late to make any 943 move this year. With regard to penalties, I am afraid I must ask for notice of that question.