HC Deb 12 May 1898 vol 57 cc1099-127

Question proposed— Page 9, line 32, to leave out sub-section (b), and insert instead thereof— (b) The local government electors for each district electoral division shall elect two councillors for each such division which now returns one elected poor law guardian, and three councillors for each such division which now returns two elected poor law guardians."—(Mr. Smith-Barry.)

MR. J. C. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

resumed his speech, which was interrupted on the previous evening by the rules of the House. He said: I do not intend to encroach upon the time of the Committee in re-discussing this proposal. I regard it as an attempt to get in a class of representatives under which the so-called minority will be benefited. But I may point out that, when this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, there should be no such thing as majorities or minorities in connection with the work of local government. I am persuaded that the electors, whether for county councils or district councils, will take a broad and proper view of this question, and will elect men upon their merits—men who have done good service and have a good record in their own localities. No narrow system of exclusiveness will restrict the electors in their choice. I believe the principle of the Amendment is wrong. It proposes to establish a precedent which has not been introduced into the English or Scotch Bills. I am convinced that English and Scotch Members would not tolerate the introduction of such a clause, and I hope the Government will not entertain the idea of this Amendment. Towards the close of our proceedings last night I gathered from a few observations of the right honourable Gentleman, the Chief Secretary for Ireland that the Government were going to consider this proposal on the Report stage. If the right honourable Gentleman had not made these observations I should not have continued my short speech this evening, but I think the right honourable Gentleman should not hastily make any declaration of that kind. Speaking for myself, and I think I may say for many Irish Members, we shall conceive it to be our duty to oppose it with all the resources and all the strength we can command. I believe, as I have said, the principle of the Amendment is wrong: it is not in the English Act, it is not in the Scotch Act, and it is a reflection upon the men for whose protection it is supposed to be designed.


I had the honour to move an Amendment, at an earlier stage of the proceedings, of a similar kind, and perhaps the Committee will allow ma to say a word or two on the question. The same arguments that were used in opposing my Amendment have been used in opposing the Amendment of the honourable Member for South Hunts. On the occasion of my Amendment we had a speech from the honourable Member for South Louth, who delivered pretty much the same speech in opposing the Amendment of the honourable Member for South Hunts, and who seemed to be influenced and biassed by some experience he had of the London County Council. He informed the Committee that he and some other gentlemen were elected for some division of London to the County Council. They were opposed in politics, and apparently, from what the honourable Member said, both went into the County Council against the principles which they advocated outside the Council. If we had double constituencies for the rural districts, a similar misfortune might arise, although I do not anticipate that in Ireland we shall have such a misfortune. According to the honourable Member for South Louth, if the same constituency in Ireland elected him and myself, that constituency would pratically cease to be represented. That is not so; we would not nullify each other. If the safety of the British Empire were in question, that might be so; but, on all matters which affect the welfare of Ireland, I am happy to say that I would find myself in the same Lobby as the honourable Member. Then would be seen the edifying spectacle of the Unionist lamb and the Home Rule tiger walking peaceably together into the Division Lobbies.

MR. M. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)

The Unionist lamb would be inside the Home Rule tiger.


I look forward with great confidence to the future of these boards. I hope the good sense of the gentlemen elected to represent the constituencies will prevent them taking opposite sides in these councils simply because one happens to be a Unionist and one a Home Ruler, one a non-ratepayer and the other a ratepayer. They will, I hope, consider the matters that come before them from the point of view as to whether or not it would be a good thing for the county and the people whom they represent. If we have only single constituencies the result will be that if two men stand, one a Home Ruler and the other a Unionist, undoubtedly the electors of that division will stand by the man of their own political colour; but, if two candidates are standing for the division, the electors will say, "We will elect the man of our own political colour, and if the other man is likely to make a good local representative and do the work, we will give him a vote as well. This is not a question of a landlord minority; it is not a landlords' question at all; it is a ratepayers' question, and, from my knowledge of the feeling in Ireland, I can say that the Amendment of the honourable Member for South Hants and the Amendment I moved on a former occasion have the entire acceptance of the great majority of the ratepayers of Ireland.


The honourable and gallant Member who has just sat down has not done justice to his own intelligence in the speech he has just made. He has told us that there is no division between Members on this side of the House when the purpose is the plunder of the British taxpayer.


I did not say plunder.


It is characteristic of the landlord class that they are prepared to unite with the whole of the English people on the one hand, or with their political opponents on the other, if, as a result of this united action, money can be put into the pockets of the Irish landlords. But, whenever money is not concerned, when any question of principle or national sentiment or liberty may be at stake, the Irish landlords are ranged on the opposite side from the mass of the Irish people. I oppose this Amendment on two grounds; first, because, if carried, it would, I think, defeat the object for which the Member for South Belfast has fought so long and so consistently—namely, to have women representatives on district councils; and, secondly, because it goes contrary to the obvious bargain of the Bill. What is that bargain? It is this: that the landlords and grand jurors of Ireland have, with their eyes open, willingly contracted to sell the power they have possessed in local governments for so much cash. They are going to get the cash, and under this Amendment they also wish to retain the power. I protest, Mr. Lowther, that they cannot have their cake and eat it. This Bill proposes to provide them with an endowment which I value at £20,000,000 or £30,000,000, and, if they have any honest sentiment, they ought not to seek, in an Amendment of this kind, to obtain special representation on the district councils. I hope the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland will stand to the bargain which, in this Bill, he has very generously provided out of the public purse for his political friends and supporters in Ireland. If I were in the position of the right honourable Gentleman opposite, the mover of this Amendment, who is to be a beneficiary under this Bill to the extent of £1,500 or £2,000 per annum, I would be ashamed to take part in this Division.


I should not have intervened again in connection with this Amendment but for the remarks made by the honourable Member for South Mayo. I support the Amendment for the reason that it is necessary in the interests of local government by women. The honourable Member for South Mayo himself is in favour of giving to women a proper share in the local government of the country. I hold in my hand a letter from the Women's Local Government Society—an entirely non-party organisation, of which the President is the Countess of Aberdeen—in which it is started that the Society is desirous of informing me that they have received a letter from one of the women guardians in Ireland strongly urging that steps be taken in favour of the Bill, which provides two councillors for each district, because, the letter goes on to say, they have had letters from Ireland in which it is stated that the electors would desire to elect men to represent them on questions of politics and religion, but would elect women to see to the sick poor. In the interests of social well-being, and in the interests of the sick poor, I ask the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to support this proposal of the honourable Member for South Hants, so as to enable women to take their proper share in the local government of Ireland.


At an earlier stage of the proceedings on the Bill, when I suggested that consideration of the question of double-member constituencies in connection with county councils should be postponed to the Report stage, in order that an opportunity might be given for the fuller formation of public opinion on the subject, I had in view, not merely the constituencies in county councils, but also the constituencies in district councils. I recognise that, if there are sufficient arguments in favour of double-member constituencies in the election of county councils, the arguments in favour of double members in district councils are stronger. The honourable Member for South Mayo has just suggested that the landlords of Ireland have entered into a bargain in this matter, but that I absolutely deny. The position is this: that, while we do not view with favour the introduction of a system of minority representation, or of what have been called "fancy franchises," on the other hand we should be glad to see the adoption of a system which would facilitate the retention on county or district councils of members of the grand jury class; and I have always understood that that desire was fully shared by honourable Members opposite, who wished to see the grand jury class have a proper representation.


What the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland said, on introducing the Bill, was that he trusted members of the grand jury class would stand as candidates for these popular bodies.


That is so, and this proposal that each elector should have two votes for each of the councils is not a proposal for minority representation. The honourable Member contended that, while that is not a minority representation, it will, incidentally, have the effect of enabling a large number of grand jury representatives to be returned than by the single member system. If that is so, if that argument has any force, it is a great recommendation of the system. I am in doubt, however, as to whether the object will be achieved by the system of double-member constituencies, and I think my honourable Friends will do well to consider very carefully whether the doubling of the members of the council will not bring with it disadvantages greater than the advantages which the honourable Member expects. I have stated the difficulties which I see in the adoption of the proposal. However, I am prepared to consider the whole subject on the Report stage, and will approach its decision with a perfectly open mind; but in the meantime I do trust that my honourable Friends will carefully consider the arguments on both sides before coming to a final conclusion.


As the Amendment is to be withdrawn, I only rise to say that the view I take and the grounds on which I object to this matter are nearly exactly the same as have been just stated by the right honourable Gentleman. I do not think that the effect of the operation of the Amendment would be to put a larger number of the grand jury class on the county councils. The grand jury class can get back into some share of control by one means, and one means only, and that is by winning the confidence of the people. They are mistaken if they imagine they can get returned by having two-member constituencies, for if the people are determined not to have a member of the grand jury class they will not return him whether there be one or two members to be elected. I object to the Amendment because it would throw a considerable burden on many parts of the country in expense and in finding candidates, and it would injure the councils by doubling the number of members and lowering the qualifications of the men to be elected.


Why not get women?


That is one aspect of the question into which I do not care to enter, because I have not voted for many of these proposals in this House. The proposal of the honourable Member for South Belfast is that one man and one woman should be returned, but I do not consider that feasible. Under the Act of the honourable Member for South Belfast a great many women have been elected to poor law boards in preference to men. I. myself know many districts in which women have beaten men. But, coming back to the Amendment, the person who is liked best by the people will be elected in these elections. One of the reasons why I support this Bill as enthusiastically as I do is that the poor people will have a vote now owing to the abolition of the property qualification, and whover these poor people think will treat them most kindly and do the business of the district best will be elected. I am strongly opposed to the Amendment, as I believe nearly all the Irish Nationalist Members are, mainly on the grounds stated by the right honourable Gentleman.

SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)

There is one point arising on this Amendment to which attention has not been called. The effect which would result from increasing the number of representatives in each division would depend very much on the system of voting adopted. If the Chief Secretary decides to increase the number, I hope he will consider the great importance of introducing proportional representation. Several honourable Members on the other side of the House have discussed this question as if the effect of proportional representation would be to give the minority greater power than they otherwise would have, but there are many cases in which it would have just the opposite effect. No doubt it would do something to give the minority their fair share; but, on the other hand, it would secure a majority to the majority of the electors. The system of single and double constituencies did not secure that. On the contrary, it was quite possible that a minority of the electors might secure a majority of the representatives. This had happened over and over again, and had led to revolutions, as, for instance, in Geneva and in Ticino only a few years ago. Reference has been made to the case of London. It was very remarkable, because at the last county council election a minority of the voters secured a majority of the representatives. This would not have happened under proportional representation. I hope Her Majesty's Government will not only consider the number of seats for each district, but also the way in which the votes are to be given, in order that not only shall the minority have that representation to which they are entitled, but also that the majority shall have the majority of representatives. I hope the matter will be fully considered by the Chief Secretary, but, after the assurance he has given, I think my right honourable Friend would be well advised not to press the matter.


After the satisfactory assurance that the right honourable Gentleman has given us that he will consider this matter, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment. In doing so I may say that I do not look on this as a question of proportional minority-representation, or as a landlord Amendment. It has met with great favour from many different classes throughout Ireland, and is really a question of general convenience rather than an Amendment moved in the interests of any particular party.


Before the Amendment is withdrawn, may I say that I very strongly object to it? I believe it would make the new bodies very unwieldy. The more members there are the more difficult it is to transact business. We have to look at this matter from the point of view of practical business. The honourable Member for South Belfast is anxious that ladies should be represented on these councils. I can assure him there is no strong objection to ladies on these benches, and we would be very glad indeed to see ladies elected.

LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE (Wiltshire, Cricklade)

There is no doubt that in postponing this proposal we are postponing a very important matter to the Report stage. From what the Chief Secretary has said he appears rather favourably disposed towards some change from the Bill as it now stands. I hope the right honourable Gentleman the Member for South Hunts will allow me to say, and I hope he will believe me, that I hope that whatever plan of representation may ultimately be adopted, it may be a plan whereby the landlord or Unionist class in Ireland—call it which you will—will not be excluded from representation on these important bodies. Although I sit on the opposite side of the House from his, I look upon this question from that point of view. This Amendment has been supported as a means of defending the landlord class in Ireland; but I venture to ask the right honourable Gentleman to weigh very carefully the remarks of the Chief Secretary, and to consider whether this Amendment may not have the very opposite effect. May I remind the right honourable Gentleman that in 1885 single-member constituencies were strongly put forward by the Conservative party as the best means of preserving the interests of Conservatism at Parliamentary elections in constituencies which are analogous to those now before us, and for obvious reasons? Suppose it happens that a landlord is very popular in a certain district, and that you add to it another district in which he is not well known—it is very probable he would not be elected. The honourable Member for Mid-Armagh indulged in political prophecy, which I think is a rash thing to do. I am not going to indulge in political prophecy, but I venture to say that there is no certainty in the matter. It seems to me it is possible this proposal would work in a way different from what he thinks. He says that, if there are two members, people will split their votes and return one Unionist and one Home Ruler. How does he know? Is it not equally probable that if there is a Unionist or a Home Rule majority, two Unionists or two Home Rulers will be returned? These are probabilities of which it is impossible to state the result. If I may express my own opinion it would be that the landlord or Unionist class in Ireland should identify themselves as much as they can with the people among whom they live; and if they do that, though. I am not a Unionist myself, they will find, whether there be single or double-member constituencies, that, instead of being able to preserve only the rags of minority representation, they will very likely command a majority.

MR. TULLY (Leitrim, S.)

I want very briefly to give the Committee one or two instances which tell against this proposal. The unions in Ireland generally consist of twenty-five or thirty electoral divisions. Take the case of this House. When it appoints a Committee to inquire into South African affairs, petroleum, or any other important matter, it limits it to seventeen members. Does anyone imagine it would be better to have 34 members? You will generally find that a crowd is always more cruel than a committee, and surely it stands to common sense that where there is a large number of men acting and reacting on each other there must be excitement and less chance of fair play. We are all aware that a mob will do a thing which an individual would shrink from. Instead of this Amendment being favourable to the views of the Unionists, it would tell against them by crowding the board rooms.

MR. W. E. H. LECKY (Dublin University)

I think it should be remembered that there are many electoral districts in Ireland now returning two members, and which have also an ex-officio member, all working together in perfect harmony. It is surely very desirable that these districts under the new system should be able to elect this ex-officio member with out being obliged to displace one of the two other members whom they had elected, and with whom they had every reason to be satisfied. The conversion of one member into two member constituencies will not secure a minority representative if the elections are run on exclusively political grounds. But politics have naturally little or nothing to say to that work of the district councils. Many boards of guardians are not elected on such grounds. It is probable that this will be the case in many of the new councils, and the probable result will be that one or two members will be returned of the tenant class and one of the grand jury or large ratepayer class. This would be of all things the most desirable. I hope the Government will consider the Amendment favourably, as it is vary strongly supported on this side of the House.

MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

May I point out to the right honourable Gentleman that one of the difficulties he mentions exists in the last sub-section to clause 18. He will see that any electoral division divided into wards will in future be divided into separate electoral divisions corresponding with the wards, and the council will consist of as many members as there are now wards. I am satisfied to a great extent with the comments of the right honourable Gentleman in postponing this point, but I would attach great importance to the adoption of this Amendment or anything like it. It would throw on Ireland the difficulty of finding five thousand more candidates. Five thousand candidates will be required as the Bill now stands, and it would be impossible to get an additional five thousand. The board rooms would also have to be altered or new ones built, and the councils would be very unwieldy. I hope the right honourable Gentleman will consider these difficulties which he recognises, and if he does, he will stick to the Bill as it stands.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. JOHN ROCHE (Galway, E.)

I have put down the Amendment standing in my name in order to ascertain how the electoral qualifications under the Bill compare with the qualifications now in force in reference to poor law guardians. At present any person holding rateable property to the value of £8 in a union can be a poor law candidate in any division of it, and what I desire to know from the right honourable Gentleman is whether an elector may become a candidate for any division within a rural district other than the division in which he is residing.


Oh, yes.


That being so, I beg to move.

Question put.


I am afraid the Government cannot accept this Amendment. What the honourable Member proposes is to shut out all the disqualifications provided by the Bill, one of which is that a person having a contract with the district council may not be elected.


Do I understand the right honourable Gentleman to say that any man who has a qualification in a district is entitled to stand for any division of that district?


Yes, Sir.


That is my point.


I gave the honourable Member that answer, and I thought he was satisfied. But the Amendment not having been withdrawn, I gave my reasons for not accepting it.

MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)

The wording of the Bill as regards county councils and district councils, with reference to this matter, is very vague. I may assure the right honourable Gentleman that legal authorities in Ireland do not understand whether or not a man eligible as a candidate for an electoral division must be resident in that division. I understand from the explanation of the right honourable Gentleman that he need not be resident in the division, but I would suggest that the wording of the Bill be made clearer.


It is perfectly clear. There is not the slightest doubt about it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed— Page 10, line 6, after 'district,' insert— 'Or has, during the whole of the twelve months preceding the election resided and continues to reside, in the district.'"—(Mr. Gerald Balfour.)


Perhaps it may be necessary to state why these words have been introduced. They are almost identical with the words of the English Act, and, unless residence is made a qualification as well as rate-paying, it would be very much more difficult for women to be elected to district councils than without this qualification.


Would an elector who goes to the seaside for a couple of months be disqualified?


No, Sir.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment proposed— Page 10, line 6, after 'district,' insert— 'And no person shall be disqualified by sex or marriage for being elected or being a district councillor.'"—(Sir C. Dilke.)

SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)

The Amendment which I propose to move is not an Amendment of substance, as far as the intention of the Government is concerned. I may call it an Amendment of form, and it is the most curious case of an Amendment of form being necessary that I have ever come across in all my experience of dealing with eligibility and the qualifications for electors. Under the Bill there is an extension of the principle of legislation by reference, because a great number of things, which in other Acts have been done in the Acts themselves, are now proposed to be done by an Order in Council, which is to come before the House afterwards. Now, Sir, the case I have to put before the Committee is a much stronger one than the ordinary one to which I have referred. In this particular case no ordinary human being will be able to make out what is the meaning of the law by perusing it, and even lawyers will differ about it. The words which deal with the subject in this legislation should be quite clear. The rights of the electors and the question as to who should be elected are not questions of opinion, and ought to be clear to any ordinary person. They are matters which cannot be referred to the opinion of an official, they have to be decided by the electors themselves, and it is essential that the Act should be clear regarding them. The effect of the clause is to upset both the present law and the intention of the Government if we take the Act without the Order in Council as regards married women. The honourable Member for South Belfast carried in 1896 a Statute, entitled the Poor Law Guardians (Ireland) Women Act, and that Act was clear as regards the rights of married women. Married women can now be elected to boards of guardians. But clause 20 repeals that Act, if it stood by itself without the Order in Council; but the Order in Council sets it up again. The Order in Council again makes the law that which Parliament made the law in 1896. The intention of the Government is perfectly clear. It is to include Parliamentary electors, and, "in addition, women, who would be Parliamentary electors, but for the fact that they are women." But they are excluded under the words of clause 20, to be again included by the Order in Council. My case is no doubt a case of form, and the Order in Council is clear. I do not suppose that will be disputed. But I do submit to the Committee that this is essentially a question in which it is important that the definite meaning of the Government should be conveyed in the Statute itself, and the words should not be simply set out in an Order in Council. It should be clearly stated what the intention of the Government is in the Act, and then people will know exactly where to find it. With regard to the rights of the electors as to who shall be qualified to be elected, the words of the Statute should be complete and final, and it should not be necessary to go to an Order in Council at all.


I have a similar Amendment a little lower down on the Paper, and, whilst I thank the Chief Secretary for accepting the first part of it, and inserting it in the Bill, I hope the Government will accept the Amendment of the right honourable Baronet.


The system adopted in this Bill of legislation by an Order in Council is, I think, entirely without precedent in the legislation of this country. The Chief Secretary in introducing the Bill said that he would be careful to see that no contentious subjects were left out of the Bill and that only those which were not contentious would be left to be dealt with by the Orders in Council. There are certainly a good many instances in which he has not observed that pledge. Under clause 62 the Order is an Act in itself and a good deal of it is concerned with detail about which contention would arise, and there are a good many clauses which undoubtedly ought not to be withdrawn from the consideration of the House. These Orders in Council are subsequently to be altered in accordance with any change made in the Act, and to be laid upon the Table of the House, and the only method by which the House can deal with them will be by moving an Address after Twelve o'clock at night. It means practically withdrawing the matter altogether from the consideration of the House. Well, Sir, in this Order in Council, clause 11 deals with disqualifications, and under that clause comes Sub-section 1. Now, that is a highly contentious subject of debate. The second sub-section is again a contentious question, and certainly one upon which we may have a difference of opinion. Then, again, there are in that clause several other disqualifications. For instance, there is a disqualification that nobody is to be eligible for any post or position of a county council or a district council or board of guardians who has been, five years before his election, or since his election, convicted on indictment and sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour without the option of a fine. Some years ago, whole boards of guardians would have been cleared out by the operation of that disqualification, and, possibly, the whole of a district council may be so affected. I consider that such a disqualification as that ought not to be put into the Bill, and the question will have to be raised by Amendments to that Bill. What I rose for the purpose of addressing the Committee upon, was to say that I entirely agree with the view put forward by the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, that the enormous extension given to this system of Orders in Council is a very evil precedent, and the right honourable Gentleman ought, at least, to observe strictly the promise he gave in introducing the Bill, that all contentious matters would be kept out of the Order. I maintain that in that one clause he has put three or four very contentious matters which ought to have appeared in the Bill itself.


In substance, the English Act has been followed in this case. The mere fact that it is proposed to deal with this matter by an Order in Council does not prevent the honourable Member for East Mayo moving an Amendment to the clause dealing with the question of the disqualification, if he thinks it is a contentious matter. But, Sir, I do submit that this is not a very convenient place to discuss the considerations which have induced the Government to adopt the system of Orders in Council. Having regard to the immense length of these Orders in Council, the difficulty was that, if we had inserted clauses in the Bill on these various questions dealt with by the Orders in Council they would have endangered the success of the Bill, which we think it is extremely important should be passed this Session. Sir, in reply to the right honourable Baronet, I cannot see that he has got anything to complain of, because when the Orders in Council are passed they will form part of the Act of Parliament just as much as the Act itself. As a matter of fact, it appears to me that, on the whole, this question is clear, and that there is absolutely no ambiguity about the disqualification as to what is meant. I really cannot understand what is the nature of the complaint which the right honourable Baronet has made, except in so far as it is a complaint against the existing system of legislating by Orders in Council.


What is the intention in putting it in the Bill at all? If the defence is that which we have just heard, why not say that the whole question of disqualification is to be dealt with by the Order in Council? My point is that the Bill says one thing, and the effect of the Order in Council is to override it on that particular point, and make it a different thing. This is a very objectionable way of dealing with the question. What is to be the position of the ordinary person desiring to see who is eligible for election on these bodies? Is he to have to go to two different documents to find eligibility? I am quite sure that the ordinary voter will not be able to understand the language of this clause.


I am not prepared for a moment to admit that there is any difference between the Order in Council and this Bill. The right honourable Baronet asks, will the Orders in Council be contained in the Statute Book? I presume that, unless there is a special provision made, that will not be done. But everybody will know, by looking at clause 52, which is meant, and everybody will know that this Act must be read in connection with the Order in Council. I suppose there is hardly any Act of Parliament—any important Act—which must not be read in conjunction with other Acts of Parliament, and I see no greater inconvenience in this Act having to be read in connection with an Order in Council than arises in all the other Acts passed, which have to be read in connection with other Acts. It is perfectly clear that under this Bill no one will be disqualified by sex or marriage.


Will the right honourable Gentleman assure us that no person will be disqualified by sex?


The words are— No person shall be disqualified by sex or marriage.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

Having had some experience in the passing of Acts of Parliament through this House, I venture to say that it is not in the power of the British Government to get a Measure of this magnitude through without adopting some such principle as the Government has adopted. I say this with deep regret, because it leads to confusion, and there is enormous difficulty in getting it understood, having regard to the cumbrous and lumbersome machinery of this House in regard to Irish legislation. Unless some method of this kind had been adopted, I venture to say that we should never have got through it.


I have more than once in this House protested against legislation by reference and allusion as an abuse of our system of legislation. Sir, the system of legislation by reference and allusion is extremely mischievous, and the right honourable Gentleman himself and his colleagues on the third Bench below the Gangway say that this course is only pursued because the Government dare not submit to Parliament the proposals they embody in these Orders in Council in their Bill. It has been again and again admitted that this is so, and it is now admitted again here. I have certain proposals which I wish to embody in this Act of Parliament, and if I did embody them I could not get the House of Commons to consider them, or they would not adopt them. I am, therefore, forced to put the effective part of my proposal into another document, and legislate by reference. What I wish to point out is this: that I have heard constantly of legislation by reference and allusion to other Statutes. Now, that is abusive enough, and that is improper enough, but how much more abusive and improper is it to legislate by allusion and reference not only to Statutes themselves, but also to an Order in Council, which is no part of the legislation of the country, but which is an act of the executive, and finds no place in the Statute Book. Sir, I say that this is an outrageous exaggeration of the principle of legislation by reference. Without reference or allusion to existing Statutes we are now asked to legislate by reference to an enormously long Order in Council, which is itself as long as two or three Acts of Parliament. I am surprised, after the replies we got, that the Government is going to pursue this vicious system of making it impossible to ascertain what is the real meaning of the Act.


There would be some point in the argument of the honourable Member for King's Lynn if the proposal before us were to add the whole of the Order in Council to the Bill. But that is not the proposal in the Amendment of the right honourable Baronet. What he wants to do is to make it perfectly plain to the public in the text of the Bill that women are qualified to represent people on the district council. In view of the widespread interest taken in this question throughout the country, I hope the Government will see its way to concede this small point, in order that there will be no doubt about it at all as to the meaning of the Bill.

MR. MCKENNA (Monmouth, N.)

I think there is a very practical reason for this Amendment, for there are five Orders in Council, and it is extremely difficult to find which are the particular paragraphs that apply to married women. In the Orders which I hold in my hand I find there are five different indexes, and consequently the woman who desires to know if she is eligible to stand will meet with great difficulty in discovering what is the law. She will first of all have to consult the Act of Parliament, and she will find that she is disqualified because, although an Act which already exists does give her the necessary qualification, that is repealed, and that will give her the impression that she is not qualified. She will then, probably, be told to refer to the Orders in Council, but as no references are given in the Bill itself to the particular paragraphs of the Orders, it will be impossible for any ordinary person to discover easily what the law is on the subject.


The right honourable Gentleman probably has no difficulty in finding those words in the Order. Perhaps he would have no objection to allowing them to be inserted in the Bill.


I am afraid I cannot accept them.


I trust the right honourable Baronet will go to a Division on this Amendment if the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary does not accept it. I pointed out, some days ago, in the course of the Debate, that in a matter of such importance as this, which deals with the qualification of a large mass of the popula- tion, namely, the married women, we should not trust to this or that reference to this or that Order in Council. In the first place, that particular Order in Council may not be adopted by the Privy Council in Dublin. The Privy Council in Dublin has a right—and I have no doubt will exercise it—to modify any of the clauses, and, according to their law and constitution, it may be put to the vote at the Privy Council whether a particular clause shall pass or not. There may be occasions on which it is necessary to rely upon an Order in Council, rather than to spread it out on the face of the Bill. But this is a simple Amendment to remove all possible doubt. In three lines it shows that there is no question as to whether a woman is qualified to be a district councillor, and the fact of her being a married woman should be no disqualification. Why, for the sake of consistency, or for any other reason, that simple point should not be put upon the face of the Act of Parliament, I, for my part, cannot understand.

MR. L. H. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)

I have no doubt that my right honourable Friend the Chief Secretary does not need any encouragement upon this point. I quite approve of the method of proceeding which the Government have adopted, because I think it is most desirable that we should recognise the necessity of relieving Bills of all details which can be dealt with independently. But supplementing a Measure by Orders in Council, where it can be done with advantage, as in the present case, is, in my opinion, a very wise procedure, and one which every foreign Legislature adopts. As to the Bill itself, it has been made as simple as possible by the principle of these Orders in Council, and I think the course adopted in the present Bill is a great improvement on the previous machinery. We have been legislating by reference of a most intricate kind, but in this case it is plain and simple, because you have all the supplementary provisions taken in order. The only thing that is necessary now is that the Orders shall be obtainable as easily and expeditiously as any of the Acts themselves. Therefore the criticisms as to the confusion and doubt, and the possibility of not being able to ascertain the meaning of the Act of Parliament, have no real existence whatever. The ordinary man and woman even now do not desire to consult Acts of Parliament, and they will not desire to do so in future. They will know, if this Bill is passed, that married women are eligible to sit on district councils, as provided by the Order in Council, and there will be no doubt whatever about the law on the subject.

SIR H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

I have great sympathy with my honourable Friend who has just sat down, and I have also with many Members of the House, because I have had a very painful experience myself of carrying through the House a Measure of a similar character to that which is now before the House. When I heard just now the Member for King's Lynn protesting against legislation by reference, I thought I had heard that speech before on a similar Bill before the House. I quite agree with my honourable Friend who has just sat down that he must adopt this mode of carrying through this Bill. I do not suppose many Members would like to contemplate the prospect of this Bill being 40 or 60 days, as the English Local Government Bill was, in Committee. I think it is to the interest of all who desire that this Bill should be passed, that we should facilitate, as far as possible, any reasonable arrangement that the Government may make to narrow down the actual legislation in the Bill to what are beyond all question matters of contention. But I think this case hardly comes within that category. This has not been so clear a matter as my right honourable Friend who has just sat down seems to think, as he has presented it to the House. Now, when I was at the head of the Local Government Board I expressed a very strong opinion that no board of guardians in this country was properly qualified unless a woman were upon it, and I hold the view now which I held then, because the admission of women to boards of guardians has been such a great success in England. I was confronted, when the Bill of 1894 was before the House, with a very serious difficulty, and that was whether married women were legally competent to discharge those duties, although there was no question about single women. Practically, the law was to be enforced by the electors themselves, because the Local Government Board always declined to express any opinion upon that point, but Presidents of the Local Government Board, who held certain views, encouraged the election of married women without positively saying that it was legal. From the point of view of the Local Government Board, we fought that question, and the words were put in which my right honourable Friend now wishes to put into this Bill in order that there should be no disqualification either by sex or marriage. Now, I understand that the right honourable Gentleman does not object at all to these words, because they already appear in the Order in Council, I understand.


Yes, they are.


Then it is simply a question that there should be no possibility of a mistake on this question. Let me appeal to the right honourable Gentleman as to what he himself has done. Under clause 19 he has distinctly enacted that— A person, shall not be qualified to be elected or to be a councillor of the council of a county district unless he is a local government elector for the district. And he has actually amended that, and carried it a step further by the last Amendment that was put from the Chair, namely— or has during the whole of the twelve months preceding the election resided, and continues to reside, in the district. Now, if that is right to be put in, and I think it is a reform, why not put the other question in, around which there has gathered a controversy, and in reference to which there is much difference of opinion, although I do not think the effect will be different? I quite admit that the Order in Council will be the statutory authority, but I cannot under- stand what objection there can be to inserting these lines. I do not think the right honourable Gentleman in any way infringes the principle that all non-controversial matters shall be put in the Order in Council, and he will make this Bill clear beyond all question. At all events, it will settle the principle by actual legislation.


The cases which the right honourable Gentleman who has just spoken alluded to are altogether dissimilar. The Amendment proposed does not alter the intention of the Bill.


It is by way of addition.


Undoubtedly. The introduction of the words proposed by the right honourable Baronet will in no sense alter the effect of the Bill.


Not if taken together.


The Bill and the Order in Council are to be taken together all through. The right honourable Gentleman speaks of this as having been a matter of controversy, but there is no doubt in the mind of anyone as to what the law means. We have put this into the Order in Council because it was simply our object to bring up the law in Ireland as regards election under the Bill to a district or a county council exactly to the point where it already stands in England and Scotland, and we did it in this way purposely in order to avoid the introduction of anything contentious. In this Bill we have strictly carried out my undertaking that what was put in the Orders in Council might be regarded as non-controversial. One word more in reference to what has fallen from the honourable Member for King's Lynn in regard to legislation by reference. I may say that I agree with what has fallen from the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Bodmin, that this method of legislating by Orders in Council is, in many respects, a very great improvement on the old system of legislating by reference, which taxed so greatly the ingenuity of draftsmen. We have attempted to do this by Order in Council, in order to put it in the shortest form instead of having to refer to innumerable Acts of Parliament, and in order that everything could be stated with the utmost clearness, and so far from this being a disadvantage from the point of view of the person desiring information, I really think that it is a great improvement.

MR. FAITHFULL BEGG (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

This is a subject in which I take an especial interest, and upon which I should like to say a few words. I am exceedingly glad that the right honourable Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite has expressed the opinion which he has just given to the House. I confess when my right honourable Friend rose a minute or two ago, I was somewhat taken aback, because I regard his authority as very high in this House upon subjects such as this. But here is a common sense matter before us, and it seems to me that as men of business we ought to make things absolutely clear, and nothing could do that better than the insertion of this Amendment. There appears to

be no difference of opinion as to what these words should be, and there appears to be no difference of opinion as to what ought to be done. Let us therefore agree to put the words into the Bill, and then this vexed question will be settled for ever. I may say that if the right honourable Baronet goes to a Division I shall go into the lobby with him.


Has this House lost its common sense? Here is a proposal which the Government intends to make law. It is in the schedule, and the course pursued is this. It being as much law in the Schedule as it is in the Bill the question is whether you will have your law in the Schedule or in the Bill, and this House of Commons solemnly proposes to take up time and to go to a Division upon a question of that sort. Irish Members are often acoused of loquacity and folly, but we have never fallen to such folly as this yet.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 125; Noes 246.—(Division List No. 95.)

Abraham, Wm. (Rhondda) Donelan, Captain A. Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Ed.
Allan, William (Gateshead) Doogan, P. C. Joicey, Sir James
Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.) Doughty, George Jordan, Jeremiah
Ashton, Thomas Gair Duckworth, James Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn. Sir U.
Asquith, Rt. Hon. H. H. Dunn, Sir William Kinloch, Sir John G. Smyth
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Esmonde, Sir Thomas Lambert, George
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Evershed, Sydney Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)
Balfour, Rt. Hn. J. B. (Clackm.) Farquharson, Dr. Robert Lewis, John Herbert
Barlow, John Emmott Fenwick, Charles Lloyd-George, David
Bayley, Thos. (Derbyshire) Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith) Logan, John William
Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Lough, Thomas
Billson, Alfred Flavin, Michael Joseph Luttrell, Hugh Fownes
Brigg, John Flynn, James Christopher Lyell, Sir Leonard
Brunner, Sir Jno. Tomlinson Fowler, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (Wol'tn) MacNeill, John Gordon Swift
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Goddard, Daniel Ford McEwan, William
Burt, Thomas Gold, Charles M'Ghee, Richard
Caldwell, James Greene, W. Raymonde- (Cambs.) M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)
Cameron, Robert (Durham) Grey, Sir Edw. (Berwick) McKenna, Reginald
Carew, James Laurence Haldane, Richard Burdon Maddison, Fred.
Causton, Richard Knight Harwood, George Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe
Cawley, Frederick Hayden, John Patrick Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand
Channing, Francis Allston Havne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale- Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)
Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.) Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H. Morley, Rt. Hn. J. (Montrose)
Clough, Walter Owen Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H. Moss, Samuel
Commins, Andrew Holburn, J. G. Murnaghan, George
Cozens-Hardy, H. H. Holden, Sir Angus Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Crombie, John William Hudson, Geo. Bickersteth O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Dalziel, James Henry Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Davitt, Michael Jacoby, James Alfred Oldroyd, Mark
Dillon, John Jameson, Major J. Eustace O'Malley, William
Parnell, John Howard Souttar, Robinson Weir, James Galloway
Pease, Alfred B. (Cleveland) Spicer, Albert Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.) Stanhope, Hon. Philip J. Wilson, John (Govan)
Perks, Robert William Steadman, William Charles Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbro'gh)
Pickersgill, Edward Hare Strachey, Edward Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Hudd'rsf'ld)
Richardson, J. (Durham) Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.) Woods, Samuel
Rickett, J. Compton Tanner, Charles Kearns Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)
Roche, Hon. J. (Kerry, E.) Tennant, Harold John Yoxall, James Henry
Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees) Thomas, Alf. (Glamorgan, E.)
Schwann, Charles E. Wallace, Robert (Perth) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Shaw, Chas. E. (Stafford) Walton, Joseph (Barnsley) Sir Charles Dilke and Mr.
Shaw, Thos. (Hawick, B.) Wayman, Thomas William Johnston.
Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.) Wedderburn, Sir William
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F. Cripps, C. A. Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)
Aird, John Cross, H. S. (Bolton) Hill, Sir Ed. Stock (Bristol)
Allhusen, A. H. E. Cruddas, William Donaldson Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampst'd)
Allsopp, Hon. George Curran, T. B. (Donegal) Hobhouse, Henry
Arrol, Sir William Curran, Thos. (Sligo, S.) Holland, Hon. Lionel Raliegh
Ascroft, Robert Currie, Sir Donald Hornby, William Henry
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lanc S. W.) Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry
Baden-Powell, Sir G. Smyth Curzon, Viscount (Bucks.) Howard, Joseph
Bailey, James (Walworth) Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh Howell, William Tudor
Baird, John G. Alexander Dalrymple, Sir Charles Hozier, Hon. James Henry C.
Balcarres, Lord Daly, James Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn
Baldwin, Alfred Denny, Colonel Jackson, Rt. Hon. W. Lawies
Balfour, Rt. Hn. Grld W. (Leeds) Dickson-Poynder, Sir J. P. Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick
Banbury, Frederick George Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. D. Jenkins, Sir John Jones
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Dorington, Sir John Edward Jolliffe, Hon. H. George
Barry, Rt. Hn. A. H. Smith- (Hunts) Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J. H.
Barry, Francis T. (Windsor) Doxford, William Theodore Kenyon-Slaney, Colonel Wm
Bartley, George C. T. Drage, Geoffrey Kimber, Henry
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. King, Sir Henry Seymour
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj. Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Hart Knowles, Lees
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l) Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw. Lafone, Alfred
Beach, W. W. (Hants.) Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc.) Lawrence, Sir Ed. (Cornwall)
Beckett, Ernest William Ffrench, Peter Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)
Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe Field, Admiral (Eastbourne) Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)
Beresford, Lord Charles Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Lea, Sir Thos. (Londonderry)
Bethell, Commander Fisher, W. H. Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.
Boulnois, Edmund FitzWygram, General Sir F. Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)
Brassey, Albert Flannery, Fortescue Leighton, Stanley
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Fletcher, Sir Henry Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.
Brookfield, A. Montagu Folkestone, Viscount Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)
Bullard, Sir Harry Forwood, Rt. Hon. Sir A. B. Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)
Butcher, John George Foster, Colonel (Lancaster) Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller
Carlile, William Walter Fry, Lewis Lowe, Francis William
Carvill, Patrick G. Hamilton Garfit, William Lowles, John
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.) Gedge, Sydney Loyd, Archie Kirkman
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H. (C. of Lond.) Lubbock, Rt. Hon. St. John
Cecil, Lord Hugh Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans) Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred
Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Gibney, James Macaleese, Daniel
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.) Giles, Charles Tyrrell Macartney, W. G. Ellison
Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.) Gilliat, John Saunders McArthur, Chas. (Liverpool)
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Goldsworthy, Major-General McCalmont, Gen. (Antrim, N.)
Chelsea, Viscount Gordon, Hon. John Edward McCalmont, Col. J. (Antrim E.)
Clancy, John Joseph Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon M'Hugh, E. (Armagh, S.)
Clarke, Sir Edw. (Plymouth) Gray, Ernest (West Ham) McKillop, James
Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E. Gretton, John Martin, Richard Biddulph
Coddington, Sir William Halsey, Thomas Frederick Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. F.
Coghill, Douglas Harry Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G. Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Hammond, John (Carlow) Milward, Colonel Victor
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Molloy, Bernard Charles
Colomb, Sir John C. Ready Hatch, Ernest Frederick G. Monckton, Edward Philip
Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford) Healy, Maurice (Cork) Monk, Charles James
Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D. Healy, T. M. (Louth, N.) Montagu, Hon. J. S. (Hants)
Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H. Heath, James Moon, Edward Robert Pacy
Crilly, Daniel Henderson, Alexander More, Robert Jasper
Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford) Rothschild, Baron F. J. de Thornton, Percy M.
Muntz, Philip A. Round, James Tritton, Charles E.
Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute) Royds, Clement Molyneux Tully, Jasper
Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry) Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenham) Valentia, Viscount
Murray, Col. W. (Bath) Russell, T. W. (Tyrone) Ward, Hon. Robt. A. (Crewe)
Myers, William Henry Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse) Waring, Col. Thomas
Newark, Viscount Saunderson, Col. Edw. Jas. Warkworth, Lord
Nicholson, William Graham Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)
Nicol, Donald Ninan Seely, Charles Hilton Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)
O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary) Seton-Karr, Henry Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.
O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.) Sharpe, Wm. Edward T. Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
O'Neill, Hon. Robt. Torrens Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew) Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. Lloyd
Parkes, Ebenezer Sidebottom, T. H. (Stalybr.) Whiteley, George (Stockport)
Pease, Arthur (Darlington) Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.) Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)
Phillpotts, Captain Arthur Simeon, Sir Barrington Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Plunkett, Rt. Hon. H. C. Smith, Abel (Herts) Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.) Smith, James P. (Govan) Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)
Pryce-Jones, Edward Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Purvis, Robert Stanley, Lord (Lancs.) Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks)
Quilter, Sir Cuthbert Stanley, Ed. Jas. (Somerset) Wodehouse, Edm. R. (Bath)
Rankin, James Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth) Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Rasch, Major Frederic Carne Stephens, Henry Charles Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Reid, Sir Robert T. Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart Wyvill, Marmaduke d'Arcy
Renshaw, Charles Bine Strauss, Arthur Wyndham, George
Rentoul, James Alexander Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley Young, Capt. (Berks, E.)
Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l) Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath) Younger, William
Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W. Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. T. Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Uny) Sir William Walrond and
Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Thorburn, Walter Mr. Anstruther.

Question put and agreed to— That clause 19 as amended stand part of the Bill.

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