HC Deb 17 May 1897 vol 49 c628

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board if it is legal for Boards of Guardians to expend any of their funds in opposing public Bills which are before Parliament; and, if it is the case that the Local Government Board has sanctioned payments by certain Boards of Guardians to the Rating and Assessing Authorities' Defence Association, whose object, as stated in a circular issued under its, authority, is to watch all movements connected with any Rating of Machinery Bill, and to take such action as will tend to its defeat in Parliament; and, if so, under what statutory authority has such sanction been given, seeing that in the case of other Boards of Guardians subscribing to the same association the district auditors have disallowed these payments on the ground that they were contrary to law?


I am advised that expenditure by a Board of Guardians in opposing a public Bill by which they would be affected would not necessarily be illegal, but all the circumstances, including the nature of the expenditure, would have to be considered before a definite opinion could be expressed as regards any particular case. The Board have, in some instances, sanctioned payments of the kind referred to in the second paragraph of the Question, where application has been made to them for the purpose after the expenditure has been incurred and with a view to obviating a difficulty at the audit. The sanction has been given under the Local Authorities (Expenses) Act, 1887. They have, however, of late thought it right in giving the sanction to couple with it an intimation that they would not be prepared again to sanction expenditure of this kind.