§ Amendment again proposed, in page 2, line 17, to leave out the word "rural."—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)
Question again proposed—
That the word 'rural' stand part of the clause.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. J. DALY (Monaghan, S.)
I do not propose to trouble the Committee with more than a few arguments. The right honourable Gentleman stated yesterday that rural district councils would have an opportunity of returning a member to the county council. There are little towns where the tenants have their holdings purchased under the Ashbourne Act, and the result will be that those tenants will have to pay the whole of the county cess and the whole of the rural cess. To my mind, if you take the small towns of this class they will have to be added to the rural area. I think it is only fair to the ratepayers in towns that the chairmen of town boards should be ex officio members of the county councils. I give this as my opinion, having had some experience in this matter, and I hope the right honourable Gentleman will see his way to accept this Amendment, because the number of members that will be added to the county council will be very insignificant. I think it will be placing every hardship on the ratepayers in towns, and the cess payers who pay the whole of the county cess and the whole of the poor rate, if they have to be put alongside of the rural districts in electing a member of the county council. There are certain towns whore the 1406 tenants are holders of their property in fee, and those people have to pay for the entire county cess and the entire poor rate, and to put those people along with tenants who get the land and get half of their poor rate paid by the Government is, to my mind, scarcely fair. I think it would not be fair treatment to the tenants in towns who hold their property in fee, and I hope the right honourable Gentleman will see his way to accept the Amendment.
§ DR. J. A. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
If all the counties are situated as county Louth is, this Amendment might be accepted. As far as I understand, in county Louth you have three places in which the Amendment will apply. But in a certain other county there will be 15 urban councils represented, and the county council will be largely dominated by chairmen from all these different places. Therefore, seeing that the interests of the urban districts have not the same concerns as the rural districts, and seeing that there is not the same need for representation, owing to a close connection between urban district councils and county councils as there is between rural district councils and county councils, I think it is extremely unfair, in the interests of the farmer, that certain county towns should send in 15 men who would be far more likely to attend the council than the men who came from the country districts. It is quite possible that in county towns we might find chairmen from the urban district councils ruling on certain occasions in a majority of the entire councils. I feel certain that that consideration did not enter the mind of the honourable and learned Gentleman who proposed this Amendment. In the case of such a small number as county Louth would return, no one would object to give the chairman of the urban district council any added dignity by being on the county council. But it is a serious matter in some cases. I hope the Government will not accept the Amendment of my honourable and learned Friend. I make these remarks because of the statement made several times yesterday that the Chief Secretary had accepted this Amendment, seeing that he had the 1407 support of the entire Irish representation. It is true that one Irish Member spoke on behalf of it, but I understand that the Unionist representatives from Ireland are almost all against it.
§ MR. J. JORDAN (Fermanagh, S.)
I do not desire to retard the progress of this Bill by prolonging the Debate. I am proud to facilitate its progress; but, before we pass away from this clause, I rise to make an appeal to the Chief Secretary on behalf of the Chairman of the Town Commissioners of Enniskillen, of which I am a member. I am convinced that the right honourable Gentleman docs not intend that this Bill should be a disabled Measure, but if Clause 3 passes in its present form it will curtail the privileges and it will diminish the statutory rights of the Enniskillen Corporation. This Enniskillen Corporation for which I appear is a Unionist corporation; and, so far as I am concerned, I do not care whether it is Unionist or Nationalist. I only want to do what is right under all the circumstances; I am prepared to advocate the interests of a Unionist Corporation, as well as of a Nationalist Corporation. The Enniskillen Town Commissioners, I may state for the information of the right honourable Gentleman, if I can get his attention, are constituted under an Act of George IV., under the Town Improvement Act of 1854, and under a special Act of their own, passed in this House in the year 1870. The 25th and 26th Sections of this special Act provide for three things. They provide for the contribution of the town of Enniskillen to the general county expenses at large; secondly, for the mode of assessment; and, thirdly, for the representative rights of the Commissioners in the outlay of this contribution. If the House will not think it too long, I should like to read this 26th section—The amount of the contribution of the borough towards the amount presented as aforesaid shall be proportioned to the valuation of property in the borough as compared with the valuation of property in the county, and the amount of such contribution shall be certified in detail under the hand of the treasurer of the county, such certificate to be delivered to the clerk of the Commissioners at the time when the warrants for collecting are delivered to the collectors of 1408 county cess and six weeks at least before the commencement of each assizes for the county. Provided always that the chairman of the Commissioners for the time being shall be entitled to sit and act as one of the associated cess payers at every county-at-large presentment sessions and to represent the borough at every such sessions.Now, Sir, under these two sections we pay from £250 to £500 a year, and as the valuation of the town increases our contribution will be more. As the result of this 26th. Section our chairman sits and acts and votes as an associated cess-payer. Under your Bill there will be no associated cess payers; so that the rights of the Commissioners, as such, under the 26th Section of this Act, will be abrogated without the gain of any equivalent rights. If we accept the Amendment, and constitute the chairman of the Commissioners a member of the county council, he will still sit and act in the outlay of the Commissioners' contribution to the county at large. I say now to the Chief Secretary that it would be most unfair to deprive us of our legal rights. It would be most unfair to deprive the Chairman of the Enniskillen Urban District Board of his statutory rights, and to confer these rights upon the chairman of a brand new body, which hitherto had no existence and no rights, and which was not so deserving. I noted the right honourable Gentleman yesterday made use of two arguments in favour of rural chairmen as against urban chairmen. First, he says the urban district will be represented on the county council. The second argument was that the chairman of the rural district council would be perfectly familiar with the wants of the district. But surely the right hon. Gentleman must see that these arguments apply with greater force in favour of the chairman of the urban council being ex officio a member of the county council than in favour of the chairman of the rural council; for all the area covered by the district council will be represented on the county council, and the chairman of the Commissioners will assuredly be more perfectly familiar with the affairs of the urban district council than the chairman of the rural district council can be familiar with the affairs of the rural district. I ask, in justice to the Chairman of the Enniskillen Commissioners, that he be not deprived of his legal rights, and that 1409 the Chief Secretary, in the interests of the town of Enniskillen, and other towns similarly situated, will see his way to accept the very modest Amendment proposed by the honourable Member for North Louth.
§ MR. M. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)
My honourable Friend is quite right to look after the interests of Enniskillen; but he must not overlook the fact that there are wider interests involved—namely, those of the tenant farmers of Ireland. They will have to look entirely to county councils for the complete representation of their interests. It would be unfair to give urban bodies an unfair representation on these county councils. As well as I understand it, this Bill—in this clause at any rate—proposes to hold the balance of power fairly in the county councils, the urban councils, and the rural councils. If this Amendment is carried, see how it will work. For instance, in the county of Dublin, which is a small county, I assume that the number of councillors will not be less than 16 or 18, and if this Amendment is carried, the chairmen of eight urban councils will be entitled to sit on the county council. I think I am safe in saying that urban interests will be more intelligently safeguarded by urban councils than the interests of the county will be under county councils. I sincerely trust that the right honourable Gentleman will look after the interests of the wider class of tenant farmers.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY TO THE LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND (Mr. G. W. BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
I am sorry to again intervene in the Debate on this Amendment, but the speakers in favour of it do not in the smallest degree appreciate the considerations which led us, in regard to the Bill in its present form, to resist the Amendment. There is a practical difference between the rural district councils and the urban district councils. The latter are to a large extent independent of the county councils. They can raise their own rate, and have practical control over their own roads and public works. The rural district 1410 councils have not control over their Own roads and public works. They submit their proposals to the county councils and the county councils have got an abso-that ground that we have proposed this that ground that we have proposed this link between the county councils and the rural district councils. We want somebody who is absolutely acquainted with what is going on to represent their cast to the county councils when the business comes up for consideration. That is practically the main reason why we have sought to establish a difference between the rural district councils and the urban district councils. As to rural district council ex-officio representation, county officials will not necessarily be included. You might have a rural district council which, so far as representation of the area on the county council is concerned, would in no single instance be found on that council. It is otherwise with urban councils. A town sufficiently large will, as such, constitute a separate county electoral division, and its representatives will be strictly members of that district. On the other hand, an urban district may be so small as not to constitute a county division, but to form part of a county division. In that case the town will be so small that to give it additional representation will cause it to be grossly over represented on the county council. Suppose there are over 5,000 inhabitants—the number of a county electoral division—such towns would send representatives direct to the county council. But, supposing that the town has less than 5,000 inhabitants, if you were to give it additional representation, such a small town would have a much larger representation than it is entitled to. In some councils you would have the force of rural district councils, when they came before the councils, controlled not merely by representatives directly elected from the urban districts, but by ex-offico representatives. I say that, having regard to the interests of both, parties, it would not be fair for the Government to place the rural districts on such terms as those. I do not think that the county councils should be so largely reinforced with ex-offico members.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
I think the right honourable Gentleman has made out a very good case for the 1411 Amendment. I go further, and say that it would be a distinct strengthening of the boards to have the chairmen of the district councils on them. Therefore, I feel inclined to go to a Division, unless the alternative suggestion be accepted. The right honourable Gentleman stated that town councils were practically separate entities, Home Rulers, and made their own roads. With great respect to him I submit that that is an entire delusion. Why should a man who has to maintain his own roads and light his own town have to pay half the charges which run through other districts? The tenant farmers along the road will have half of their own roads provided for them by the agricultural grant. The tenant farmers all along the roads will have half their rates provided for by the agricultural grant, but a man in Dundalk will not only have to find half the payment for these roads, but will have to provide his proportion of other county charges, including his proportion of the county surveyor's salary. In Drogheda the position is still worse. Whereas the country dwellers will have half their poor rate and county cess paid by the State, the people of Drogheda will not get a shilling from any source whatever, while the county charges will have to be borne by them. The city of Kilkenny is the same, the town of Galway is the same, and I think Carrickfergus would be under a similar obligation. I am, perhaps, more acquainted with dwellers in towns than dwellers in counties, but I want fair play for both. I do not care a dump what the effect in either direction may be, except in so far as it tends to the interests of justice. Under this Bill, however, all the county road charges and a similar number of other charges will have to be borne by the town dwellers, who have not got the special representation on the county council which the right honourable Gentleman has given to the rural districts. The Government have a clause dealing with adjustments as between counties and towns, and I would suggest that the clause be made retroactive, so that it may deal with past adjustments. Unless the Government give some assurance in regard to the unfair operation of the Bill on urban localities, I shall feel bound to go to a Division.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE (Wiltshire, Cricklade)
We have heard a great deal of the analogy between the Irish Local Government Act and the English Act, and I would venture to urge upon the Chief Secretary that in this case the analogy of the English Act, which I shall try to point out, is in favour of the Amendment. We all know that in the county council there are aldermen, and they are elected from the whole county at large. Anybody who has a county qualification—whether he lives in a town or whether he lives in a country district—can be elected an alderman. Now, in this Bill there are no aldermen, but this particular clause is in reality a substitute, and, I venture to say, a very good substitute, for the provision in the English Act in regard to the election of aldermen by the county council itself, and I congratulate my right honourable Friend upon it. By this means he gets over a good deal of the difficulty which may arise in an English county council about the election of aldermen, because there is sometimes a suspicion that aldermen are unduly elected from one part of a county. There may be a populous district, or a district inhabited by influential people, concerning which there is a suspicion of over-representation. The provision of the Bill in this respect is exceedingly good, and it is an improvement on the English Bill, because it has, as it were, distributed the election of these aldermen over the whole of the county. With regard to the objections which have been made, that certain counties in the north of Ireland, where the urban element is strong, will have on the county councils an over-representation of the urban element, it seems to me that that argument answers itself, because if in any county the urban element is strong, not only in point of numbers, but in point of pecuniary contributions to the county charges, surely it is only fair in the matter of representation that the urban element shall have the same rights as rural districts. Where the urban element is weak, the representation will be weak; but where in counties in the north of Ireland the industrial element is strong, there the urban representation will be strong, as it ought to be. I cannot help saying that the added 1413 experience of gentlemen who have been chairmen of urban councils upon the county councils will, I believe, if they are of the same use that they have been in the English county councils, be very useful, especially in the case of gentlemen from the smaller towns, which are not independent counties of themselves, and the representatives of which have served the office of mayor in those boroughs. And why should it be otherwise in Ireland? Surely the line is not drawn so hard and sharp between the inhabitants of the comparatively small country towns and the country around as to justify the inference that the inhabitant of the town has an opposite interest to the farmer outside? We know that in many cases the farmers are closely connected by marriage and interests with the towns. Then, Sir, I cannot help thinking that the right honourable Gentleman has, to a certain extent, not quite adequately grasped what will be the future operation of the financial clauses of his own Bill. I am not saying for a moment that he has given an incorrect description, but I think he has, if I may say so, exaggerated to a perceptible extent in theory, but still more what would be the working in practice of the so-called independence of the urban councils. I cannot see that under the clauses of this Bill the urban council in Ireland stands in any very different position from the rural council, especially when a rural council has gained a little independence from experience. In regard to the county charges, the honourable Member for Louth has pointed out, and pointed out unanswerably, that the ratepayer in the urban district is exactly in the same position as the ratepayer in the rural district.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE
I am coming to that. In regard to the roads which run through an urban council district, which are charged on the county at large, the urban ratepayer will, under this Bill, contribute exactly as the rural ratepayer does to county charges. He will pay out of one pocket, and he will receive into the other. I cannot see 1414 myself that any answer has been made to the argument on financial grounds, and so far as I can gather there is no reason for setting up this difference between town and country. I cannot help hoping that if not in Committee, at any rate on the report stage, we may arrive at some agreement in regard to this matter, and that in any case the objections of over-lapping areas may not be considered a fatal one. There is no necessity whatever when the counties are mapped out for electoral divisions, whether urban or rural, for them to overlap. I cannot therefore see why, either in regard to overlapping or financial control, any inequality should be introduced in Ireland.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I am afraid I must take exception to the suggestion of my right honourable Friend that I did not understand my own Bill. I understand my own Bill a good deal better than he does. He seems to have absolutely forgotten the nature and extent of district charges, which I venture to say are of extreme importance, and he has actually passed them over altogether and told me that I do not understand the financial position of my own Bill, because, according to him, I had not taken into consideration the charges which are contributed to by urban district councils as well as by rural. Anybody who is acquainted with the system of local government in Ireland must know that these district charges are of extreme importance. They cannot be set aside in that way. Then, Sir, my noble friend goes on to establish, but only partially establish, an analogy between ex-officio members of county councils and aldermen in English county councils. Sir, the analogy exists only in the right honourable Gentleman's own mind. It, was never my intention, nor the intention of the framers of the Bill, that these should correspond. The reason for establishing the system of ex-officio members I have fully explained, and I venture to say that no Member of the House has met the argument. I have drawn of the broad distinction between the relations of the county council to urban districts and to rural districts. The honourable and learned Member for Louth has suggested 1415 that when we come to the adjustment of the clause the adjustment should be retrospective as well as applicable to existing charges. I must say at first blush that does appear to be a proposal which I am indisposed to accept, for it certainly opens the door to a large number of considerations which I would gladly exclude, and imposes a task on the Local Government Board almost impossible to fulfil.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I must say the right honourable Gentleman has not met my argument in favour of the Amendment. I am quite willing to admit that there is a great deal to be said on his side of the question, and he has put it very well and very concisely, and we fully appreciate the merits of the case. We have, however, put forward a counter proposition, and I hope I shall be doing no injustice in saying that he has not met any portion of the arguments which have been put forward on my side. Has he met my argument in regard to Kilkenny? Has he met my argument in regard to Galway? Has he met my argument in regard to Carrickfergus? Has he met my argument in regard to Drogheda? The right honourable Gentleman has put these arguments aside, and has ambled into the paddock where he had his own reserves of argument. There is something to be said for his argument, but I believe there is more to be said, on the whole, in favour of mine. May I make one suggestion to the right honourable Gentleman? He has twice apologised to the Committee for having risen. I hope he will never make an apology for rising again. We are always glad to hear him. I believe he understands his Bill better than anybody else in the House, and I include in that the Irish Members and all the assistance he has at his side—his draughtsman and his lawyer. He certainly could not be supported by a more able staff. But we are denied those advantages. We have to study these questions in our spare moments, and do as volunteers, what he has a very large and valued staff paid to assist him in doing. Under these circumstances, therefore, he need make no apology for giving us light and leading with regard to the evident intentions of certain clauses. In the present 1416 instance I venture to think the right honourable Gentleman has not met the arguments which we have put forward on behalf of the Amendment, and I therefore think that, though he has apologised to the House for rising twice, we should be very glad to hear him a third time.
§ MR. P. A. M'HUGH (Leitrim, N.)
I have only one observation to make upon this question. The town of Dundalk and other towns have been referred to. I wish to refer to the town of Sligo, which will be, under the new Bill, a district council. As I understand it, the Corporation of Sligo will be an urban district council, and the chairman of the urban district council will be the Mayor. What we claim under this Amendment is that the Mayor of the town of Sligo should have the right of sitting as an ex-officio member of the county council. We pay a portion of the county at large charges in the county of Sligo, as well as a portion of the salaries. But, while we have always had representation on the grand jury, which is, in my judgment, one of the most bigoted and intolerant bodies that ever sat in Europe. We are deprived, by the provisions of this Bill, so far as Sligo is concerned, of representation on the county council, and this privilege will be be a great disappointment to the inhabitants of that town.
§ MR. E. F. VESEY KNOX (Londonderry)
There is one point to which I desire to draw attention concerning the Amendment under consideration. There are in Ireland main roads which are, to all intents and purposes, the same as the main roads in England—that is to say, roads which have been kept up by the county at large. That provision is to be abolished, and instead of that we are to have a new arrangement, under which the county council, subject to the approval of the Local Government Board, are empowered to declare what are to be main roads and what, are not. That is an obvious impossibility, inasmuch as almost every county council will consist of a large majority of rural members, and there will be a tendency to increase the extent of main roads beyond what has been known in the past. If the number of main roads 1417 are increased the number of roads towards which the urban districts contribute will increase at the same time. In any case, there does seem to be a possibility of a larger expenditure falling upon the urban districts. In that, event, I understood the Chief Secretary to say that the urban districts, by the Amendment which he suggests, would be exempted from any additional charge in such a case. When we consider that the urban districts received no relief whatever from the agricultural grant, I do think it would not be a bad thing to give them even a little more representation than they are strictly entitled to by numbers, rather than a little less, as they get under this Bill. When we consider that, in almost every part of Ireland the urban districts will be in a small minority, and that a large majority may have some interest in increasing the charges, it might not be a bad thing if the Chief Secretary were to proceed in an opposite direction and give the urban districts a little more representation than the rural districts. Personally, I occupy an entirely impartial position in this matter, as I represent a county borough which is not affected either way. But it seems to me that there might be some advantage in the exchange which I have suggested. I admit that there is a certain number of urban districts to which it would be a mistake to give special, representation; but there is a considerable number of those large places where it would not harm anybody. The case of Enniskillen, to which attention has been directed in the course of the evening, is a very strong one. Under this Bill it will have a less representation, in proportion to its size, than any other part of the country. It seems to me that it is a case in which existing privileges ought to be taken into account. I suggest that the Chief Secretary might well consider whether the largest of these districts should not be given this special representation.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
The observations of the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland apply more forcibly to the county boroughs than to the 1418 ordinary urban districts. I am not sure that the House understands what an urban district is. The attention of honourable Members has not been directed to it. The Bill itself defines what constitutes an urban district. The 18th Clause of the Bill is as follows—All urban sanitary authorities shall be called urban district councils, and their districts shall be called urban districts, but nothing in this section shall alter the style or title of the Corporation or Council of a borough.The urban sanitary authorities referred to in this clause are the sanitary authorities defined under Section 3 of the Public Health (Ireland) Act, 1878, and are towns, the population of which, according to the last census, exceed 6,000 persons, so that, as this Bill stands now, no town in Ireland with a population less than 6,000 will be an urban district.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
The right, honourable Gentleman says "No, no!" If he is correct, then I do not know the meaning of the phrases in this 18th clause. It distinctly says that—All urban sanitary authorities shall be called urban district councils, and their districts shall be called urban districts, but nothing in this section shall alter the style or title of the corporation or council of a borough.The definition of an urban sanitary authority is to be found in the Public Health (Ireland) Act of 1878, and that definition makes it the more necessary that this Amendment should be carried. I rest my argument for this Amendment upon very narrow grounds. The county councils have now all the powers of the grand jury with regard to the main road and for the maintenance of bridges and court-houses, and for other purposes, all of which come under the head of county-at-large expenses. These expenses must be contributed to by the urban district councils. If we were only dealing with county boroughs, like Dublin or Cork, the case would be different. But does the right honourable Gentleman mean to say that towns like Sligo, Strabane, or Dundalk will not have to contribute to the county-at-large expenses? The county councils are to regulate the conditions of these expenses, and does it not follow, in common justice, that the urban 1419 districts should be represented on the taxing body if this Act is passed? Assuming that the section to which I have called attention gives power to constitute small towns into urban districts, the effect in each county will be almost inappreciable. There is another point to which I wish to call attention. Section 8, Sub-section 3, provides that the councils of each county may make a general declaration of the roads in the county that shall be main roads. There is absolute power given to the council to declare every street in a town a main road.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
If the right honourable Gentleman will follow me, on page 4 he will see whether I am under a delusion. It is stated on page 4, line 7, that—The council of each county may, upon the report of the county surveyor, make a general declaration declaring what roads in the county shall be main roads.What is the meaning of that? Surely all the ingenuity in the world cannot alter the meaning! The inference I draw—and I am speaking in the presence of many honourable Members who have been grand jurors in Ireland—is that, as the law stands at present, half the expense of the mail roads, running through every county town in Ireland, is paid by the town. These mail roads now cease, and' main roads are substituted for them, because in the same section it is provided that—Every road, the maintenance of which, at the passing of this Act, is levied partly off the county at large, and partly off any barony shall be a main road until it ceases so to be as hereinafter provided, and the enactments respecting mail roads shall be repealed.If the members of this Committee are wrong about the law, as it is at present in Ireland, they will be happy to be put right by the honourable and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland. As the law exists at present, all those roads through which main roads run are taxed for the support of those main roads. These roads now cease to exist in name, but they remain in substance, and will have to be paid for by the inhabitants of the small towns through 1420 which they run. Why should' those towns have the right to go to a council and see whether one shilling or two shillings in the pound is the proper tax? Why should they not have a voice in this matter?
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
In what way? I am sure no party or political consideration can enter into the question. I exclude—and I am sure the House also will exclude—such considerations, but I maintain that the body that has the power to impose taxation should be represented, and that no preference should be given to the rural districts.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork)
No honourable Member will deny that, under this Bill, a town apparently can derive any advantage as regards its roads, from its alliance with the county, whereas the towns incur a certain liability as regards, roads in the county. If the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary can cut off the towns, so far as roads are concerned, altogether from the county, there would be some reason for the position which he takes up. Perhaps, the right honourable Gentleman will allow me to point out the very serious administrative difficulty which will arise as a result of that position. There will be two classes of main roads in the county. The classification between district roads, and main roads, we can understand, and it is intelligible; but now it is proposed to have two classes of main roads in the county, to one of which towns will have to contribute, and to the other to which the towns will not have to contribute. I submit that it will be a great administrative inconvenience, and I maintain that there should be one solid classification—main roads and district roads. Moreover, the question of the expenses of the roads carries with it also the consideration of other expenses. If the towns are to be excluded from the expenses of the roads, I think it follows that the towns ought to be excluded from any burden, as regards the salaries of the county surveyor and the district surveyor. The functions of these officials are almost altogether confined to roads, and if you cut 1421 off the towns, from the county for the purposes of roads, it will be wrong to saddle the towns with any proportion of these surveyors' salaries. I would also point, out that the larger urban areas have at present to provide for the office of borough surveyor, and it appears to me rather hard that such areas should be put to this expense, and at the same time be saddled with a contribution for a county surveyor. I would not be in favour of entirely cutting off these urban areas from the county, because there are cases in which such an alliance is necessary and desirable, but I think this matter of the roads is one in connection with which it might be well to keep the urban areas distinct from the county altogether.
§ MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN (Kilkenny)
I desire to support the Amendment of the honourable Member for Louth, and I wish to see it go to a Division. Kilkenny, the city which I have the honour
§ to represent in this House, is not one of the cities raised to the rank of a county borough under this Bill, although, in the opinion of everyone I have consulted, it ought to be so raised. Kilkenny is a city of the first importance in Ireland, and was once the seat of a Parliament, but, like every other place in Ireland, it has declined as the result of the misgovernment of England. In the county of Kilkenny there are eleven towns, with populations varying from about 2,000 to 500, and only one of them will have direct representation upon the county council. But in all cases these towns form a portion of the electoral divisions, and they will be absolutely swamped by the rural vote. I hope the Government will be prepared to give Kilkenny its proper place amongst county boroughs.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 224; Noes 150.—(Division List No. 80.)1425
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Cayzer, Sir C. W.||Foster, Colonel|
|Aird, John||Cecil, Lord Hugh||Garfit, William|
|Allsopp, Hon. George (Worc.)||Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Gedge, Sydney|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Gibbons, J. Lloyd|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. J.||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. H.||Gilliat, John S.|
|Bagot, Captain J. F.||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Goldsworthy, Mj.-Gen. W. T.|
|Baird, John George A.||Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Gordon, Hon. John F.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch.)||Cohen, Benjamin L.||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geo's)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds)||Colomb, Sir John C. R.||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow)||Goulding, Edward A.|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H.||Graham, Henry R.|
|Barry, Rt. Hon. A. H. Smith-||Cox, Robert||Green, Walford-Davis|
|Barry, F. Tress (Windsor)||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow||Gull, Sir Cameron|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Cross, Herbert S. (Bolton)||Gunter, Colonel|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunkett||Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)||Hall, Sir Charles|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Davenport, W. Bromley-||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Davitt, Michael (Mayo, S.)||Hanson, Sir Reginald|
|Bethell, Commander||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Hardy, Laurence|
|Biddulph, Mich.||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. D.||Haslett, Sir James H.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Donkin, Richard Sim||Heath, James|
|Boscawen, A. Griffith-||Dorington, Sir John E.||Helder, Augustus|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Doogan, P. C.||Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)|
|Bousfield, William R.||Doxford, William T.||Hoare, Edw. B. (Hampstead)|
|Bowles, Maj. H. F. (Mid'sex.)||Duncombe, Hon. H. V.||Hobhouse, Henry|
|Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn)||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Holland, Hon. L. R.|
|Brassey, Albert||Fardell, Sir T. George||Hornby, William H.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. J.||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.||Howard, J.|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc.)||Howell, William T.|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Hubbard, Hon. F.|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Finlay, Sir Robert B.||Hudson, George B.|
|Butcher, John George||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Jeffreys, A. F.|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Fisher, William Hayes||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Carlile, William Walter||Fison, F. W.||Johnstone, John H. (Sussex)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (Lancs.)||Flannery, Fortescue||Jolliffe, Hon. H. G.|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Folkestone, Viscount||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J. H.|
|Kenrick, William||Muntz, P. A.||Spencer, Ernest|
|Kilbride, Denis||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Knowles, Lees||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Stanley, E. J. (Somerset)|
|Lafone, Alfred||Myers, William Henry||Stanley, H. M. (Lambeth)|
|Laurie, Lieutenant-General||Newdigate, Francis A.||Stephens, H. C.|
|Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)||Nicholson, W. G.||Stewart, Sir M. J. M. T.|
|Lawson, J. G. (Yorks., N. R.)||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.|
|Lea, Sir Thomas||Northcote, Hon. Sir H. S.||Strutt, Hon. C. H.|
|Legh, Hon. T. Wodehouse||Pease, Arthur (Darlington)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Pender, James||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.)|
|Loder, Gerald W. E.||Penn, John||Thorburn, W.|
|Logan, John William||Phillpotts, Captain A.||Tomlinson, Wm. Edward M.|
|Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Pickersgill, E. H.||Tritton, Charles E.|
|Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Pierpoint, Robert||Valentia, Viscount|
|Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Verney, Hon. R. G.|
|Lowles, J.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Pretyman, Captain E. G.||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent.)|
|Lucas-Shadwell, William||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)||Waring, Col. Thomas|
|Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Pym, C. Guy||Warkworth, Lord|
|Macartney, W. G. E.||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Warr, A. F.|
|Macdona, J.||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)|
|Maclure, Sir John William||Rentonl, James A.||Webster, Sir R. E. (Isle of Wight.)|
|McArthur, Chas. (Liverpool)||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)||Wentworth, B. C. Vernon-|
|McCalmont, Mj-Gn. (Ant'm, N.)||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. L.|
|McCalmont, Col. J. (Ant'm, E.)||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|McIver, Sir Lewis||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Malcolm, Ian||Roche, John (Galway)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Manners, Lord E. W. J.||Rothschild, Baron F. J. de||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Martin, R. B.||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Chelt'm.||Willoughby de Fresby, Lord|
|Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Willox, Sir J. A.|
|Midmay, Francis B.||Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Milward, Colonel V.||Seely, Charles Hilton||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh.)|
|Monk, Charles James||Seton-Karr, Henry||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Montagu, Hon. J. S. (Hants)||Sharpe, William E. T.||Wylie, Alexander|
|More, R. Jasper||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Young, Samuel|
|Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Skewes-Cox, T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Mount, William G.||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Mowbray, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Smith, J. Parker (Lanark)||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Crilly, Daniel||Harrington, T.|
|Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.)||Curran, Thomas (Sligo)||Hayden, John P.|
|Ambrose, Robert (Mayo)||Daly, James||Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Scale-|
|Asher, Alexander||Dalziel, James H.||Healy, Maurice (Cork)|
|Austin, Sir J.||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Healy, Thos. J. (Wexford)|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Dillon, John||Hedderwick, T. C. H.|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Donelan, Captain A.||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. C. H.|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Duckworth, James||Hogan, James F.|
|Billson, Alfred||Dunn, Sir William||Holburn, J. G.|
|Birrell, Augustine||Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Horniman, F. J.|
|Blake, Edward||Engledew, Charles J.||Jacoby, James A.|
|Bolton, Thomas D.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Jameson, Major J. Eustace|
|Brigg, John||Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Johnson-Ferguson, J. E.|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Farrell, J. P. (Cavan, W.)||Joicey, Sir James|
|Brunner, Sir J. T.||Fenwick, Charles||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. J.||Ffrench, Peter||Jordan, Jeremiah|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Field, William (Dublin)||Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U.|
|Burt, Thomas||FitzGerald, Sir R. U. Penrose||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Caldwell, James||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmund||Kinloch, Sir J. G. S.|
|Camenron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Labouchere, Henry|
|Carew, J. L.||Flynn, James Christopher||Lambert, George|
|Carmichael Sir T. D. Gibson-||Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)|
|Carvill, Patrick George H.||Fowler Rt Hn Sir H. (Wolv'r)||Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.|
|Channing, F. A.||Fox, Dr. J. F.||Leng, Sir John|
|Clancy, John J.||Gold, Charles||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Gourley, Sir Edward T.||McDonnell, Dr. M. (Qn.'s Co.)|
|Collery, Bernard||Grey, Sir Edward||MacNeill, John G. Swift|
|Condon, Thomas J.||Hammond, John (Carlow)||McDermott, Patrick|
|Crean, Eugene||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.||McEwan, William|
|M'Ghee, Richard||Perks, R. W.||Strachey, Edward|
|M'Hugh, E. (Armagh)||Philipps, J. Wynford||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)||Pirie, Captain Duncan||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal)|
|McKenna, Reginald||Plunkett, Rt. Hon. H. C.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen)|
|McLaren, C. B.||Power, Patrick J.||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan)|
|Maddison, Fred.||Price, Robert John||Tully, Jasper|
|Mandeville, J. Francis||Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)||Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)|
|Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Redmond, William (Clare)||Wallace, Robert (Perth)|
|Minch, Matthew||Reid, Sir Robert T.||Walton, John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Molley, B. C.||Richardson, J. (Durham)||Wayman, T.|
|Morris, Samuel||Roberts, J. Compton||Weir, James G.|
|Murnaghan, George||Roberts, J. B. (Carnarvonsh.)||Whittaker, Thomas P.|
|Nussey, Thomas W.||Roberts, J. H. (Denbighshire)||Williams, J. Carvell (Notts)|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary)||Roche, Hon. James (Kerry)||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|O'Connor, James (Wicklow)||Saunderson, Col. E. J.||Wilson, F. W. (Norfolk, Mid)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|O'Kelly, James||Shee, James John||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Oldroyd, Mark||Souttar, Robinson||Younger, W.|
|O'Neill., Hon. R. T.||Spicer, Albert||Yoxall, James H.|
|Parnell, J. Howard||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Pease, A. E. (Cleveland)||Steadman, W. C.||Mr. T. M. Healy and Mr.|
|Pease, J. A. (Northumb.)||Stevenson, Francis S.||Patrick O'Brien.|
§ Amendment proposed in page 2, line 20, to leave out the words "or is disqualified for election as a member."—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I raise this point because it seems to me the Government are needlessly restricting the Bill. What I suggest is that it should be open to county councils, in making their selections, to choose persons who are disqualified from being voted for. For this reason: as the Bill new stands clergymen are disqualified from being elected by the voters. It may not be in order for me discuss now whether that clause is a sound one, but if we are prepared to go that length as regards clergymen and women the county councils should not be precluded from selecting distinguished persons of either sex. It would be a pure act of co-option. The Government must remember that they are allowing the grand juries, at least as regards the first period of election, to send a representative to the county councils. One of those grand jurors may be a clergyman. There was a clergyman a grand juror in the county of Monaghan within the last three years, and there was another in Cork, and another in Kilkenny. Practically, a grand, jury will have the right of selecting a clergyman as one of their number to sit on a county council, whereas the council would not be able to select the same gentleman, or a 1426 priest, or a lady. It appears to me it is only a reasonable option to offer to the county council, that if you persist in the exclusions later on to be discussed, you should not fetter the councils, if there be distinguished persons to whom they are desirous of paying the compliment of co-option, or of co-opting for business purposes. We have heard of able and qualified women being elected to boards all over the country. I do not say it may not be fair to exclude them from the general body by means of election, but that is no reason why they should be excluded from co-option. One extraordinary thing is that when you cross a caned in Dublin the disabilities of sex begin to prevail. There must be absurdities under any scheme of law, but it is a remarkable fact that in Rathmines, Kingstown, Blackrock, and Clontarf women can sit on the councils, but in the city of Dublin itself they are disqualified. Therefore when Dublin obtains an Act to extend its boundaries if will pass an Act disfranchising women as regards the corporation. Why keep up the disqualification proposed in the Bill? We are not only continuing the disqualification, but also preventing the councils from co-opting, for instance, a Presbyterian clergyman in the county of Down, a clergyman of the Established Church in Fermanagh, or a Catholic priest in Cork or Donegal. It may be that my Amendment, in one respect, goes too far. That is the invariable result of following the drafting of a Bill, and moving to omit 1427 words—not to insert them. I would suggest that the Bill, as now drawn, is, at any rate, too tight, and that a somewhat greater margin of elasticity should be allowed.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
These words, which the honourable and learned Member desires to omit, apply to cases where persons not disqualified for district councils are disqualified for county councils. One case is that of women. It has been decided that no change shall be made in the law in that respect as regards Ireland, and it is not desirable now to raise the question of sex. The other class who might, under the operation of these words, be excluded from county councils, although members of district councils are persons who, although they had no contracts with the district council, had contracts with the county council. I think the Committee will agree with me that it would not be possible to make an exception although the county council might be ready to co-operate.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment proposed in page 2, line 20, after "election," insert "or declines to act as such additional member."—(Sir John T. Brunner.)
§ SIR JOHN T. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
The Amendment I have put on the Paper is specially designed to allow district councils to elect another member of their own body, in case the chairman found it inconvenient for any reason to become a member of the county council. I heard the right honourable Gentleman yesterday arguing in favour of a wide area of choice for the electors and by parity of reasoning. I hope to hear from him arguments in favour of the widening of choice for the members of district councils. It may be the members of a district council have among them a man whom they cordially approve of as chairman, but who may live a great distance from the place of meeting of the county council. In England I know it is very frequently a matter of great inconvenience, and it 1428 would be very much greater in Ireland than in England. I would, therefore, urge on the right honourable Gentleman to give the district councils facilities that if the chairman finds it would be inconvenient to hold the two offices they should be empowered to elect another member to represent them on the county council. I may ingratiate myself with the right honourable Gentleman by stating that this is a matter in which I take very great interest. In 1888 I got inserted in the Local Government Bill more Amendments than any other private Member of the House, almost without exception, and many of them were accepted by the Government without Debate. Seeing that I am only following the arguments of the right honourable Gentleman yesterday that the electors should have as wide a choice as possible, and that the only reason for the whole section is that there should be a connection between the two bodies, and that the connection by any member not necessarily the chairman would be just as good, I hope the right honourable Gentleman will be good enough to accept my Amendment.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I am afraid in this case I do not see my way to accept the Amendment. The chairman of a district council will be elected with a full knowledge of the duties attaching to his office, and I doubt if it would be desirable to encourage the chairman not to undertake such duties. It is desirable that the duties of the district and county councils would be attached, but the Amendment would weaken it.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Amendment proposed in page 2, lines 25 and 26, leave out "and if they think fit a vice-chairman."—(Mr. T. Lough.)
§ MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
Mr. Lowther, this is a small Amendment, but yet one of some importance. It is another of the innovations which I hope the right honourable Gentleman will be willing to redress. The sub-section 1429 provides that if a county council see fit they can elect a vice-chairman from outside the council. This provision does not exist in the English Act, and I have great objection to it, because it increases the number of persons on the council not elected by the electors. I do not think any reason has been given by the right honourable Gentleman why the English Act has been departed from. I believe that if the permission to choose a chairman from outside is exercised, as I believe it will be, it is all the more necessary that the vice-chairman should be selected from the elected members, as in England. The elected members might wish that one of these dignities should be reserved for themselves. The Amendment is a small but very important one. Unless some reason stronger than anything I have been able to devise for departing from the English Act is given, it would be much better to abide by the excellent precedent that Act sets.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
This seems a small point, and I do not attach much importance to it. I did depart from the English precedent in order to give additional opportunities to the county councils, should they so desire to choose their officers from outside.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
The Amendment enables two outsiders to be brought into the council, but I think it would be a very strange thing if they were to be the chairman and vice-chairman. I submit it would be much better to enable two persons to be co-opted, and, if necessary, that the chairman should be one of them, and not that one should necessarily be chairman and the other vice-chairman.
§ MR. JOHN DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I have an excessively strong objection to either the chairman or the vice-chairman being brought in from outside. I object to the system of co-option altogether. This is a Bill founded, we are told, on a democratic basis, and I think every member of the council should run the gauntlet of the electors. The proposal of the Bill is that the elected representatives of the people are to be at liberty to invite as chairman 1430 and vice-chairman men who have not been elected, and who, er hypothesi, are unwilling, for some reason, to go before the electors. The law in England is only in regard to the chairman, and I think this is one of the particulars in which the right honourable Gentleman might improve on the English Act, by not only doing away with the principle as regards the vice-chairman, but the chairman also, in respect to which I have an Amendment on the Paper. I think the chairman of the council should be like our own chairman—a man who has seen red the suffrages and the confidence of the people. It would be just as reasonable to make it the practice, or to make it possible, to select a Chairman of Committees, or a Speaker, from outside this House, as it is to select outsiders for the chairmanship and vice-chairmanship of the councils. For that reason, I strongly support the Amendment.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
As this is simply permissive, I cannot understand why honourable Members are afraid to trust a county council going where they like to get their chairman.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB
As regards the Amendment. I am rather inclined to agree with it. It is a very small point, to my mind, and I do not attach very much importance to it.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
As regards the choice of a chairman from outside, I quite understand that in some cases it may be acceptable to the county councils, but the position of vice-chairman should be in the hands of the elected members. The council should give this position of distinction to one of their own body, who has gone through the process of popular election, and the right honourable Gentleman might very well waive the right enabling them to co-opt a vice-chairman as well as a chairman. The office of vice-chairman is not of very great importance and should not be included in the power of going outside to fill.
§ COLONEL E. J. SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
I entirely agree with the clause as drafted in the Bill. The county councils will be elected bodies, and they might have difficulty in carrying on the business, and it would be a wise thing for them to get somebody with a knowledge of county, affairs to preside over them. I think the Government acted wisely in putting the provision into the Bill. Personally I am quite indifferent in the matter, but it would be a wise thing. I think it would be common sense if, under certain circumstances, the county councils in Ireland got somebody to preside over them who is well acquainted with county affairs.
§ MR. L. H. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said that he had sympathy with neither of the objections that had been raised. The privilege of co-option was one which was very frequently exercised. If these bodies could add to the value of their knowledge by bringing in an outsider why should not they be allowed to do so? He was so little disposed to fall in with the objections, and he thought so lightly of the principle of co-option, that he would like to see it brought into operation with this House. He could not, however, see why it should be necessary that these added members should be chairman and vice-chairman, as proposed by the clause, and he hoped that his right honourable Friend would reconsider that matter. Why should not these public bodies be allowed to exercise a free choice? He urged that, though he was strongly in favour of facilities being granted for excluding this admirable system of co-option, he disliked the idea of these co-opted members being placed in a position which the electors themselves might not desire. The members who were the free choice of the electors should themselves say in what capacity the co-opted members should be utilised.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The honourable Member for Cork and my right honourable Friend who has just spoken have made proposals which go beyond the proposals of the Bill. I am prepared 1432 to do this: instead of allowing the chairman and vice-chairman to be the members taken from the outside, to allow two additional members to be co-opted who need not necessarily be chairman and vice-chairman. Perhaps we had better put the matter off till we reach the report stage, when I will bring up an Amendment to that effect.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
I am very glad to hear the announcement of the right honourable Gentleman. I entirely sympathise with his desire that some of the grand jury should be co-opted upon these councils. The mass of the Irish people have been excluded from county government for such a long period that they would not know how to week the administration of the county, and would be ignorant of their duties. I do not think it will be a valuable thing that one or two members of the grand jury class, who have been accustomed to county business, be brought in to give the new councils the benefit of their experience, and I cannot agree with the opinion that has been expressed that he presence of two members of the grand jury class on these county councils could in any way deteriorate its general quality. That, I think, is absurd, and I think it shows a great want of trust in these new councils to say that they cannot be trusted to-select two or three grand jurors to become members of their body without running the risk that in some way their nature will be debased. I believe it to be a valuable thing that this power should exist, and I hope, for my own part, that the district council will, exercise the power. I think there will be co-option in very few instances, but if it is left to the councils themselves to co-opt whom they like, and then for them to select any chairman or vice-chairman they think fit, then I think it will be a good thing.
§ MR. DILLON
I cannot agree with the view of co-option, and I believe the power of co-option is a wrong thing to give in a, Bill of this sort. So far as this Bill is concerned, it will be a small evil, but I think that even to that extent its introduction is in itself an evil, because you 1433 are introducing a strange and foreign element, of non-elected members. One thing I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to is this: that what I objected to originally was that the chairman of the council should be one of these non-elected members. I hold very strongly that the chairman of the county council should be a man who has been elected by the people. The argument has been used by the right honourable Gentleman opposite that the freedom of choice should rest with these councillors who have been freely elected by the people; but yesterday, in this Committee, when I was agitating for the freedom of choice of the electors, the Government and the majority of this House, for certain reasons, decided that the electors should not be allowed to go out of the county, even if they thought they could find a man who would do the business better than anyone in the county. The argument as to the limit of choice of selection in regard to the chairman of the county council is infinitely stronger than anything that was said about leaving it to the choice of the electors themselves. The chairman and vice-chairman of these councils ought to be men who owe their seats to the confidence of the people. I have not had time to examine the Act, but I am informed that in the Act for Scotland—the Local Government for Scotland Act—it is necessary that the chairman should be a member of the county council. I am not aware as to whether there is any provision in the Scotch Act for co-option, but if there be any such provision, and if the chairman, as I gather, must be a councillor elected by the people, then I say that the Irish county councils ought to have the same treatment in this respect as the Scotch county councils have.
§ SIR T. G. ESMONDE (Kerry, W.)
I think it will be a desirable thing to leave the management of these things vested in the council. I understand that no power of co-option exists in the Scotch Act, but what I want to point out is this: the honourable and gallant Gentleman opposite seemed to suggest that some of the members of these county councils would be utterly incapable of 1434 handling the affairs of the county, but provision is made for that, because you have three ex-grand jurors members of the first county council, so that they can give the benefit of their experience to the councillors.
§ MR. LOUGH
I think the best plan is to accept the suggestion made by the right honourable Gentleman. As far as I understand the situation it is this: that at any rate if is not absolutely necessary that the second co-opted Member should be the vice-chairman. I think the right honourable Gentleman concedes that point, but he promised on the Report stage to bring up a clause which will enable the county council be co-opt two Members if they like without making them either chairman or vice-chairman. I think that is an improvement. The only difficulty that occurs to me is, supposing that a county council was returned with a small majority say 13 on one side and 12 on the other—perhaps even in that case it would be desirable that the 13 should be able to select two more to give them a working majority, as the administrative business of the county must be carried on. By accepting the right honourable Gentleman's Amendment, we are not precluded from considering the clause when ii is brought, up. Therefore, with the leave of the Committee, I will accept the suggestion of the right honourable Gentleman, and withdraw my Amendment.
§ MR. DILLON
I think it would be generally advantageous to postpone this discussion, and as I understand the right, honourable Gentleman is going to bring up an alternative proposal I shall not waste the time of the Committee by discussing the matter now. I only desire to say, however, that, as far as I understand the suggestion which has been thrown out by the right honourable Gentleman, it does not at present meet my objection.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause (iii.) agreed to.