Page 11, leave out lines 5 and 6."—(Mr. Serjeant Hemphill.)
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
My only object in putting down this Amendment is to ascertain from the Chief Secretary, or the Attorney General for Ireland, what the object of this clause is. The words of clause 22 provide that—Subject to the provisions of this Act there shall be transferred to the district council of every county district the business of any baronial presentment sessions so far as respects their district"—That is quite clear—and to the district council of every urban district, so far as respects their district, the business of the Grand Jury of the county in relation to public works, the maintenance of which is not wholly or partly leviable off the county at large.And then come the words which I cannot understand. It may be my fault, but so it is, and I should like a little explanation with regard to them—But the said transfer shall only operate so far as the business is not already the business of the district council.If it is the business of the district council, I fail to see how it could be trans- 1134 ferred, and, therefore, for that reason, I propose, by my Amendment, to eliminate from the clause those words which appear to me to be utterly unnecessary, and which only embarrass it.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (MR. ATKINSON,) Londonderry, N.
In reply to my honourable Friend's remarks, I am bound to say the words are not necessary. The whole meaning of the Act is that the business of the district shall be transferred to the district councils. Having regard to the provisions of sub-section 3, the meaning is made clear, and those words were only intended to perfect the machinery for the business transferred. I do not think myself that they are necessary, but they are put in as a Measure of greater caution.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
I do not press my Amendment if my right honourable Friend does not like to accept it, but I think this clause would be much better without these words.
MR. T. M. HEALY
At one time I must admit that I had a great objection to this clause on account of the restrictions placed on the powers of road-making, etc., in this Bill, but now I must confess that so far as I can see it does not matter in the slightest degree if you continue to pile up restriction upon restriction ad infinitum in this clause, because it is not on this clause that the objection arises at all; it is in clause 11 that the restrictions are expressed; and I think that the right honourable Gentleman, by providing in this section that the county councils are not to spend more than £50, has practically killed the making of roads in Ireland, and my Amendments upon this point have lost their value. It does not matter whether by this clause you restrict the expense to one-fourth of the amount certified by the Local Government Board, or whether you restrict it to a one hundred and twenty-fourth. The whole question is this. I have spoken to several Irish Conservative Members of this House upon the object of clause 11, and the action taken by the Government 1135 upon it, and I have spoken to several eminent Irish lawyers also, and they all agree that it is entirely unnecessary to alter the grand jury procedure in this matter. One gentleman told me there was not a case in which a landlord had ever put in a claim, upon the making of a new road, for compensation. Now, however, the Government proposes that a new road shall not be made under the old procedure, and, in addition, that the county councils shall not expend more than one-fourth of the amount certified by the Local Government Board to have been the average expenditure thereon during the three yews preceding this Act, which will practically put a stop to the making of new roads altogether. For myself, I have lost all the interest that I had in this clause. My real point was on clause 11, and as we have been defeated upon that "horse, foot, and dragoons," I will not move my Amendment now. I have not quite lost all hope that when we come to a new clause, which I have put down on the Paper, later on the Government may make some concession and relieve us from the ancient procedure in Ireland which so oppresses us. I do not move the Amendment upon this clause which stands in my name, because I feel the utmost indifference to the provisions of this clause. If the Government will amend their earlier clause I will attach some importance to this. Otherwise I decline absolutely to debate this matter until we come to the new clause which I have put down upon the Paper dealing with the whole question of roads.
§ Amendment withdrawn.
Page 11, line 7, leave out sub-section 2."—(Mr. Dillon.)
§ MR. DILLON
I propose the Amendment that stands in my name. Now, under this clause there was no limit on the part of the grand jury for making the roads. When the grand jury in sessions determined to expend money in making new roads the men who had to pay the greatest portion of the expense of the rate leviable for that purpose had no voice whatever as to the road being made. If that system worked so well, as 1136 we have been told it did by hon. Members opposite, I want to know upon what ground the Government proposes to put a limitation upon these bodies, which will under this Bill be representative of every ratepayer who has to pay a share of the expense of making the roads. No man who has to pay for the work of making a new road in Ireland now will be denied a voice in this council, and, that being so, I cannot understand why the Government should put a restriction upon the councils in the matter of making new roads, which does not exist, so far as the grand juries are concerned—a body of much less value than the councils to be instituted under this Bill. We have heard a great deal about the large ratepayers, but the small ratepayers are just as much entitled to be considered in this matter as the large ratepayers, and you may be perfectly certain, so far as these county councils, who are to be responsible to the ratepayers for three years, are concerned, that if the result of their three years' administration is not satisfactory to the electors they will be very soon cleared out and a new set of men brought in. If you are going to give the whole responsibility to these local bodies which you are going to set up, the only check you have upon their extravagance is the vote of the ratepayers.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The honourable Member for East Mayo professes not to know, or not to understand, the reason why the Government has imposed these restrictions with regard to this subject. I thought myself that the reason had been explained with sufficient clearness in the previous stages of this Bill. I explained it at great length upon the First Reading of the Bill, but perhaps, I had better do so again. Sir, the reason we propose these safeguards, if I may once more say so, is this, that the new county councils will be elected by ratepayers who, in any case, pay so small a rate that the rate they pay and the increase would be practically of no importance to them compared to the amount which they would receive in the shape of wages when they were engaged upon the work of making new roads. 1137 What operates in the mind of the Government is this: we feel that the district councils may, under pressure from these ratepayers, start works in road-making or road-repairing, which would be practically in the shape of relief works. That is a well-founded apprehension, which is very widely felt, and if the Government did not stand firmly by this provision it might be very well said, and with justice, that they were not keeping faith with their old friends on this side of the House with regard to whom the insertion of a clause of this character was one of the reasons for their acquiescing in, and accepting, this Measure; and, therefore, the Government will have most certainly to stand fast by this provision. The honourable Gentleman for North Louth said he did not attach very much importance to this subject.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The Government, on the other hand, does attach very great importance to it. Now, I can say that if this sub-section is added to the Bill, we might possibly consider whether any concession can be made as to the procedure of road-making. But, if this sub-section is not included in the Bill, the procedure as to road-making must be made much more strict than it is. I am prepared at a later stage to consider this matter, but not on this present occasion.
MR. T. M. HEALY
Certainly, if the Government will not give way on this point, I should say let us wait and see how the clause will operate. Do the Government really suggest—do they really believe in their own minds—that the small Irish ratepayers will stir up first the rural council, and then the district council and the county councils, and, finally, the Privy Council of Ireland, to sanction extravagance in order that they might get wages on relief works? That is the grotesque absurdity of this clause, and I, for my part, would rather be put under sound restrictions than lose, 1138 as we shall do under this Bill, the privilege of road-making in Ireland. I have spoken to a number of Irish Members upon this subject, and there is not one man who has a word to say in favour of clause 11; and if the Irish grand jury system worked so well, I do not see the necessity for that clause. But, let us see what the Government proposes to do. I trust, and do urge, that they will not take away from us the power which is of vital importance to the Irish people—the power of making roads and of opening up the desolate mountain districts.
§ LORD E. FITZMAURICE
I should like to make one suggestion to the right honourable Gentleman, and that is—if he will not give way on this subsection altogether, whether he will not limit it to a certain extent, as I pointed out in the earlier clause the other night. In all these matters there are two things to be considered: there is the expenditure for the repairing and maintenance of the road—the annual up-keep of the road; and there are the works for improvements which are charged on capital expenditure. Now, as I read this clause, the standard expenditure will include everything; and, therefore, you will have the fact that the Local Government Board, in giving their warranty or authority under this sub-section, would have to start upon a basis of figures which, presumably, have not included any considerable sum for capital expenditure. You may assume that in Ireland, a good deal more than in England, these local bodies, in their early days, will have to make good a great deal of the neglect of past years. It may be found necessary to expend large amounts of money. Now, under this sub-section, you will have to pin down these boards to an exceedingly narrow basis of expenditure. The full extent to which the clause will operate was, in my opinion, certainly not appreciated by the Gentleman who drew it up. As the honourable Member for North Louth has pointed out, what you have to consider is the development of the country; and there is nothing in the world upon which a country depends so much for the development of its rural and poorer districts, as the making of roads. There are many poor districts in 1139 Ireland where development is necessary, and where the only way to develop the country is the making of roads, which are useful and necessary to the people. Therefore, I ask the right honourable Gentleman whether, as regards this subsection, the average standard expenditure now mentioned should not be restricted to the up-keep of the roads so as to distinguish it from the amounts required for the improvement of the roads. The picture which has been drawn of the ratepayer clamouring for more roads in order that he may be engaged upon the work of making them I do not attach importance to. I do not apprehend that that state of things will occur. I am inclined to think that the small tenant farmer, to whom every penny he makes is of importance, is rather more likely to err on the side of sordid economy than in any reckless expenditure or extravagance in road-making. It is the intelligent opinion of the better educated class of ratepayers who see the advantages to be derived from these matters, and who, as a rule, have to overcome the antagonism of the more Ignorant who do not see the advantages of them before they can be undertaken, on which you will have to rely.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
said the noble Lord who had spoken had made a suggestion which had no foundation at all. He said that there was no doubt that, as in England so in Ireland, the new local bodies would have to make great improvements in regard to the maintenance and repair of the roads that had in the past been neglected. Now, the noble Lord must know there was no part of the United Kingdom in which the roads were so good, and, in that respect, attracted the attention of strangers visiting Ireland.
§ LORD E. FITZMAURICE
I did not say the existing main roads were not good. I know well enough that there are some splendid roads; but there are a great number of places where the roads are few and far between, and where the expenses of making and repairing would be great.
§ MR. DILLON
said his desire was to be brief; and he was in hopes that there might have been some change of mind on the part of the Chief Secretary and the Government, after the arguments they had heard. He listened the other day to the Chief Secretary's statement that his speech was so incorrectly reported that it could not be referred to.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I did not say that. I was speaking in reference to certain particular figures. The figures were so confused in the report in Hansard—though not in the Times—that it was impossible to make anything of them.
§ MR. DILLON
said the right honourable Gentleman never gave them one argument in support of this sub-section. The contention of the Government in regard to this clause was absurd; it was that, in order to carry out a corrupt distribution of the rates—which it was feared would happen—there would be put on the relief-works the majority of the small ratepayers of the entire county. They had simply got to state that argument to show its absurdity.
§ SIR T. ESMONDE (Kerry, W.)
said there had been a considerable increase in the expense of road-making. He was chairman of a committee of a grand jury that went all over the country, and they came to the conclusion that considerable expense would be necessary to put these roads into proper condition. Contracts were tendered for these roads; and it must be remembered that in Ireland they were bound by law to give these contracts to the lowest tenderer. He wished to point out that under the law at present it was almost impossible to carry out these contracts satisfactorily. He hoped the Government would consider that point. If they would insist on making a limit to the expenditure upon roads they ought to raise this one-fourth to one-third.
MR. T. M. HEALY
said it would be well if they could confine county surveyors to their work solely in the counties. They sometimes found that a man would be county surveyor in one part and engineer in another, and then come in for superannuation under this Bill. Would the Government state that they would put down a clause in reference to this matter before the Report stage, or give them some pledge that their arguments on clause 11 had penetrated their minds?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said he could not give that pledge. The Government, however, would reconsider the procedure in connection with the making of the roads. At present the Government could not possibly give way on this sub-section. He hoped it would not be discussed at great length. Ample power was given under the sub-section to the Local Government Board to increase the amounts that might be spent if good cause were shown.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
confessed that he thought the Government ought to show more confidence in their new county councils than they do by insisting on this. He could not agree with the Member for Great Yarmouth—whose knowledge was probably derived from the county Kerry—as regards the condition of the roads. The main roads in Kerry might be very good, but no doubt Kerry would be very much improved by suitable expenditure on the district or smaller country roads. It appeared to him that the Bill did limit and fetter the county council. It showed a great want of confidence in the powers of judgment and discretion of the county councils. It would seriously hamper them in the discharge of their duties, and his opinion was that the effect would be that the roads of Ireland would be in a worse condition than they were at present. He hoped that the honourable Member would go to a Division. The Chief Secretary had said that the Government were determined to carry the clause, and that there was no use in opposing it. If that were accepted as an argument it would apply to almost every clause.
§ MR. FLYNN
took exception to what an honourable Member has said as to the roads of Ireland being the best in the kingdom. On that matter he would refer the honourable Member to the cyclists. Their testimony was to the contrary. Here and there in Ireland there might be good roads, but, taken as a whole, they were not as they ought to be, for the reason that under the contract system the contracts were taken at prices so low that they could not make good roads. The Irish roads were half starved. It was practically impossible for the county surveyor to exercise such pressure upon the authorities, and to overlook them, so that they might be put in a proper condition. They were unfed and starved, and he hoped the new bodies would put things right. There would be great difficulties in many instances, but there was no doubt that the expenditure would have to be increased on these roads. This one-fourth would very easily be eaten up. He could not understand why the Government took up this attitude in regard to local affairs; he could not understand why they should not be in the hands of the district and county councils. Heaven knew if there had been extravagant expenditure on the roads! But now every additional penny expended would fall upon the occupier; and they were actually told that they would cut off their own noses to spite somebody else's face—that they would injure themselves in order to do a possible injury to somebody else. It was really very childish, petulant, and obstinate on the part of the Government. With regard to some of those clauses, they might understand that honourable Members from Ireland on both sides of the House knew the local government of Ireland better than the Government did—their knowledge of local roads, works, and such things was far greater. He did not offer any advice to the Chief Secretary. He seemed to think that obstinacy was a virtue. Their progress on the Bill would be very much quicker if the right honourable Gentleman would give way. At any rate, he hoped the mover of the Amendment would go to a Division. There was a very strong opinion on his side of the House 1143 in regard to it. They believed that this Sub-section was utterly unnecessary.
§ MR. JORDAN (Fermanagh, S.)
said there were cases, as once in Derrygonnelly, in which every associated cesspayer and every magistrate voted against the making of new roads and the repairs of old ones. He was afraid that district councils and county councils would be slow to vote even sufficient money for the improvement and maintenance of the roads. He himself would be the first to recommend the spending of money for the improvement of the country. Instead of there being extra outlay, his fear was that they would not vote sufficient money to keep the roads in repair. An honourable Member a few moments ago declared that the roads of Ireland were very good. In that case there was no need to fear the next outlay.
§ MR. JORDAN
No doubt there were dome that were good already, but in out-of-the-way mountainous places they were very bad, and people had the greatest possible difficulty in getting to fairs and markets, taking their produce there, and bringing back their requirements. Under these circumstances he could not see why the Chief Secretary should refuse to listen to the suggestions made by the honourable Member for Louth, and other Members from Ireland, that the restriction of one-fourth should be changed to one-third, or even one-half. It was not fair that the county councils should be treated differently from the grand juries; it was not fair to tell county councils to go to the Local Government Board for their assent to the making of a road in any part of a county. Would the county council not be as good a custodian of the public purse as the grand jury? Why should the county councils not be able to make roads in the mountainous districts? If, as was said, there was some jobbing with the old grand juries, the new county councils could not be worse. If they trusted grand juries to make roads and repair them he did not see why they should not trust county councils. This proposal would constantly put them under the supervision of Dublin Castle. 1144 If the right honourable Gentleman would give way there would be a great deal more confidence in the scheme of the Government than they had now. Dublin Castle, or the Local Government Board, would insist on measuring things by their red tape; they would keep the county councils 12 months before they could make up their minds, and the matter would have to be submitted to some Board of Works attorney of Dublin Castle. And all this while the money was the people's own. They were to be guided by the advice of some paid official, who might not agree. Thus was the interests of their country jeopardised by Dublin Castle or the Dublin Local Government Board.
§ MR. M. HEALY
This Bill has been introduced, and certain suggestions for its improvement have been made by the representatives on this side of the House. One thing that strikes me is the distrust in the people shown by the Government. The people of Ireland are in future going to vote the money for this purpose out of their own pockets, and my experience of the smaller ratepayers who sit upon boards of guardians is that the smaller the valuation the more narrowly do they look at every project which comes before them at the board. I speak, Mr. Lowther, from my own experience, and, since the £8 ratepayers became members of boards of guardians, I can assure this Committee that the greatest economy has been observed by the guardians. A man of small valuation, whether on a board of guardians or a district council, will look in the most narrow and miserable way at every item that comes before him, while the man of large valuation, who has a large income, looks at those matters in a far broader and more liberal spirit. Therefore, that the Government should say that, because now a number of small ratepayers are to have some say in this matter there will be extravargance unless there is supervision by the Local Government Board, is, to me, simply absurd. I think the right honourable Gentleman need not have the least fear of entrusting matters of this kind to the very smallest ratepayers in Ireland, because, to my mind, instead of extravagance in the future, there will be the greatest narrowness and stinginess exercised by the small ratepayers. 1145 That is my experience, Mr. Lowther, and I would appeal to the right honourable Gentleman not to insist upon this provision, but to accept the Amendment which has now been put before him. I believe that if he does he will find from what conies under his notice hereafter that the smaller the ratepayer is the more stingy he will be in regard to this expenditure. I hope the right honourable Gentleman will not prolong the Debate any further. The right honourable Gentleman is prolonging the Debate by refusing this reasonable Amendment. If he had accepted it we should have been able to devote at least an hour to some other clause, and certainly, so long as the right honourable Gentleman persists in this way in declining to agree to Amendments put forward from this side of the House, we shall have to occupy considerable time until these matters are thoroughly and fully discussed.
§ MR. J. SAMUEL (Stockton)
I will not detain the Committee more than one or two minutes, but this is a question, I may say, that I feel very strongly upon, because I think that in our legislation in this House in regard to the Local Government Bill we have made a very great mistake; in fact, a fatal mistake, as I shall show; and under this sub-clause I fear we are going to commit the same mistake so far as Ireland is concerned. Now we have heard during this discussion, Mr. Lowther, a great deal about assimilating the law of Ireland to that of England; and I am sure that if this proposition was now made with regard to England there is not a single rural or district council in the country that would for a moment submit to have its expenditure supervised by our county councils. In England I may say it is not the rural and district councils who are extravagant. It is not they, but it is the county councils that require to be supervised. I read a report in one of the papers to-day of a most important Debate in one of the northern county councils, where they refused to take over the main roads and to manage those main roads themselves because of the great cost which they would incur by taking them over; and I hold in my hand a statement as to another county 1146 council in a county where the cost of the main roads amounts to £110 per mile, while the same roads as managed by the district councils will only cost £64 per mile. Now I am a member, Mr. Lowther, of a highways committee in a large town, and I have also been a member of the works committee of a county council for the past nine years, and I will tell you why I find there is extravagance in one more than in the other. When I sit as a member of the highways committee in the town, I know whether the expenditure is required or not, because I happen to know the particular road upon which it is proposed to spend the money; but when I sit as a member of the works committee of the county council, which has an area of 40 miles by 20, I am in entire ignorance as to whether the amount of money proposed to be spent is required or not. Many men are there brought together who have not the slightest knowledge as to whether the money proposed to be expended upon a particular road is required or not; and what is the result? It is this: that in the county council—I speak now of the county council of Durham—the expenditure since 1888 upon roads and bridges has gone up from £16,000 to £35,000 a year. It is going up at the rate of a full £1,000 a year, and that is entirely due to the fact that—and it will be the same in the Irish county councils—not a single member knows the road, with the exception of the man who happens to represent the district which is under consideration. Otherwise, not a single member of the county council will have the slightest knowledge as to whether the money has been expended properly or not. And this proposal, in my opinion, will lead in Ireland, as it has led in England, to very great extravagance in main road expenditure.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
Sir, I rise to order, and beg to submit that the observations of the honourable Member have no bearing whatever on the Amendment.
§ MR. J. SAMUEL
Yes, they have a bearing, and this bearing: my argument is that the county council has not the 1147 requisite knowledge to supervise the expenditure.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
Mr. Lowther, the Committee have already decided that the county council shall have this power, and I submit that the honourable Member's argument is not relevant.
§ MR. J. SAMUEL
I understand, Mr. Lowther, that the Amendment which has been moved proposes the omission of sub-section 2, under which the county council will have power to sanction or not to sanction the expenditure of the rural council—that is to say, they will not be permitted to sanction the expenditure if it exceed by one-fourth that of the average expenditure of the past three years. I am afraid that the right honourable Gentleman will find out in time that the only proper way to ensure economy by our spending authorities is to make every local authority feel responsibility for the expenditure. Unless you do that, I am certain that in Ireland, as well as in England, extravagance will follow; and it is because that is the result of my own experience for a long time in this country that I have ventured to make these few remarks.
§ MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
Mr. Lowther, I will occupy only a very few moments in speaking upon this point. The honourable Gentleman who has just sat down has referred to the expenditure of district councils and county councils upon roads in England. I know something of the expenditure upon the
§ maintenance and construction of roads in the Highlands of Scotland, in districts similar to those in the west of Ireland. There the parish councils and the county councils are most careful in their expenditure, and not a sixpence is expended more than is necessary. The parish councils are even parsimonious in their expenditure, and if ever the matter is referred to the county councils the greatest economy is exercised. I would appeal, therefore, to the Chief Secretary for Ireland not to hesitate to give the rural councils under this Bill full powers. They must be the best judges of what expenditure is really necessary; and, as has been said, if the Local Government Board have to be appealed to, there may be a delay of 12 months before the matter is decided. I am convinced from what I have seen in the Highlands of Scotland in regard to expenditure in connection with the repair and construction of roads by rural councils and by the county councils, that the power should be left in the hands of similar bodies in Ireland. The right honourable Gentleman proposes a muzzling process by setting the Local Government Board over these local authorities. The whole thing is absurd, and I trust the mover of this Amendment will carry it to a Division. If he does so, I shall certainly go into the Lobby with him.
That the words 'a county council shall not without the consent of the Local Government Board approve of any expenditure in, stand part of the clause.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 154, Noes 113.—(Division List No. 96.)1151
|Allhusen, A. H. E.||Bigwood, James||Cohen, Benjamin Louis|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Brassey, Albert||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse|
|Arrol, Sir Willam||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Colomb, Sir J. C. Ready|
|Ascroft, Robert||Brookfield, A. Montagu||Cook, F. Lucas (Lambeth)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bullard, Sir Harry||Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)|
|Baden-Powell, Sir Geo. S.||Butcher, John George||Cross, H. S. (Bolton)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh)||Cubitt, Hon. Henry|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cecil, Lord Hugh||Curzon, Viscount (Bucks.)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Barry, Rt. Hn. A. H. Smith- (Hunts)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Chamberlain, J. Austin (Worc'r)||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Hart|
|Beach, W. W. B. (Hants.)||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc)|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lea, Sir T. (Londonderry)||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)|
|FitzWygram, General Sir F.||Lees, Sir E. (Birkenhead)||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Flannery, Fortescue||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. T.|
|Flower, Ernest||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Round, James|
|Folkestone, Viscount||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Forster, Hy. W. (Sevenoaks)||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)|
|Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Saunderson, Col. Ed. James|
|Fry, Lewis||Lowe, Francis William||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Garfit, William||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Sharpe, William Ed. T.|
|Gilliat, John Saunders||McCalmont, Gen. (Antrim, N.)||Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||McCalmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geo's)||McKillop, James||Spencer, Ernest|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Malcolm, Ian||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Gretton, John||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Stanley, Ed. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. W.||Milward, Colonel Victor||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Hanson, Sir Reginald||Monk, Charles James||Thorburn, Walter|
|Hatch, Ernest Fredk. George||More, Robert Jasper||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Heath, James||Morrell, George Herbert||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Helder, Augustus||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Ward, Hon. R. A. (Crewe)|
|Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)||Mount, William George||Waring, Col. Thomas|
|Holland, Hon. Lionel Raleigh||Muntz, Philip A.||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Howard, Joseph||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Howell, William Tudor||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Hozier, Hon. J. Henry Cecil||Murray, Colonel W. (Bath)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Myers, William Henry||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Johnston, Wm. (Belfast)||Newark, Viscount||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Kemp, George||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Wodehouse, Edm. R. (Bath)|
|Kimber, Henry||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Wyndham, George|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour||Pierpoint, Robert||Young, Capt. O. (Berks, E.)|
|Knowles, Lees||Plunkett, Rt. Hon. H. C.|
|Lafone, Alfred||Pollock, Harry Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Lawrence, Sir Ed. (Cornwall)||Purvis, Robert||Sir William Walrond and|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverp'l)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Renshaw, Charles B.|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Donelan, Captain A.||Knox, E. F. Vesey|
|Allan, Wm. (Gateshead)||Doogan, P. C.||Lambert, George|
|Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.)||Duckworth, James||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberl'nd)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Fenwick, Charles||Lloyd-George, David|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Ffrench, Peter||Logan, John William|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. J. B. (Clackm.)||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Lough, Thomas|
|Bayley, Thos. (Derbyshire)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Billson, Alfred||Gibney, James||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Birrell, Augustine||Goddard, Daniel Ford||McCartan, Michael|
|Blake, Edward||Gourley, Sir Ed. Temperley||McDermott, Patrick|
|Bolton, Thos. Dolling||Grey, Sir Edw. (Berwick)||M'Ghee, Richard|
|Brigg, John||Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Hugh, E. (Armagh, S.)|
|Caldwell, James||Hammond, John (Carlow)||M'Hugh, P. A. (Leitrim)|
|Carew, James Laurence||Hayden, John Patrick||Maddison, Fred.|
|Carvill, Patrick G. Hamilton||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale||Molloy, Bernard Charles|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Moss, Samuel|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.)||Healy, T. M. (Louth, N.)||Murnaghan, George|
|Commins, Andrew||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Crean, Eugene||Hogan, James Francis||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Crilly, Daniel||Holburn, J. G.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Crombie, John William||Holden, Sir Angus||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary)|
|Curran, Thos. B. (Donegal)||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||O'Connor, A. (Donegal)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Daly, James||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Jordan, Jeremiah||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Davitt, Michael||Kilbride, Denis||Parnell, John Howard|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Kinloch, Sir J. G. Smyth||Pease, Jos. A. (Northumb.)|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Souttar, Robinson||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)||Steadman, William Charles||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Rickett, John Compton||Strachey, Edward||Weir, James Galloway|
|Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Robson, William Snowdon||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)||Williams, John C. (Notts.)|
|Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Tanner, Charles Kearns||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Fees)||Tully, Jasper|
|Schwann, Charles E.||Ure, Alexander||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Sheehy, David||Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)||Mr. Dillon and Mr. Flynn.|
|Smith, Samuel (Flint)||Wallace, Robert (Perth)|
Question put and agreed to.
§ MR. M. HEALY
Mr. Lowther, I understand that this sub-section is proposed on the ground that the Government fear extravagant expenditure as a consequence of the smaller ratepayers setting on foot what will practically be relief works. I believe that idea to be entirely illusory. The small occupiers, we are told, in many counties constitute a very large bulk of the ratepayers of the district, but to suppose that they are going to tax themselves to provide a road whether it is required or not is a mere absurdity. However, Sir, if there is a danger of that kind, I submit to the Government that such a danger can only arise in the case of a new road. The old roads of the county must always be kept in repair, and contracts must always be given out for that purpose. Those contracts are, as a rule, for five years, and sometimes they are for seven years, and therefore there can be no system of what I may call log-rolling amongst the smaller occupiers in any case, and certainly not in the case of main roads. It is inconceivable that contracts for such a purpose could be given out on that principle. I have observed, Mr. Lowther, that under a later part of this Bill the Government propose to abolish the existing system whereby the lowest contract must be accepted by a district council. I am appalled to see that that is to be done, and when the proper time comes. I shall certainly move an Amendment saving the existing system in that respect. Into the reasons for that I will not, of course, go at present. I quits admit that the present system of contracts is susceptible of abuses, and I will put an Amendment on the Paper with the object of putting an end to every such abuse. But, certainly, the Government are misguided in making the proposition that the lowest tender should not 1152 be accepted. It is at the present time the only safeguard against jobbery. I think myself that it is a most valuable safeguard, and I, for my part, will make a strenuous effort to secure that that safeguard shall be preserved when these new bodies are created. But I note for the present that it is the proposal of the Government that in future the local authority shall not be bound to accept the lowest tender. In other words, having a choice of tenders, both supported by an offer of due security for carrying out the contract, the Government propose that it should be in the power of the county council to say that the higher tender shall be accepted and the lower tender not accepted. Now, that being so, it does seem extraordinary that the same Government should impose this limitation on the expenditure of the county councils. They say, on the one hand, that the local authority may take the higher tender when they might accept a lower tender; and in the same breath they say that if the expenditure exceeds certain limits, it shall not be in the power of the local body to carry out the works. Now, I do submit that whatever may be said as to new roads, in the case of the repair of new roads there can be no danger. I am arguing the question on the supposition that the Government is open to reason on this question, and I say it is absolutely impossible that the proposal as to maintenance charges shall be included in the sub-section under consideration. You have so many miles of roads in each county to keep in repair, and the county council is bound under a clause in this Bill to keep them in repair. They would be bound to do so under the existing law, and I hope they will be bound, if this Bill passes into law, to accept the lowest tender to keep those roads in repair. You have a perfect system of checks to secure that—in regard to the maintenance of roads, at any rate—there shall be no excessive expenditure 1153 on the part of local bodies; what case, therefore, can there be for including maintenance charges under the limitation of expenditure which you propose in this Bill? We all know that the rate at which labor is paid in Ireland has enormously increased during the last 50 years. It has not increased there perhaps so much as it has increased elsewhere; but everybody knows that the rate at which labor is now paid is considerably higher—and we are all very glad of it—than it was 50, or even 20 years ago. Emigration and other causes have brought about a steady increase in the cost of labor, and it is to be presumed, therefore, that there will be a steady increase in the mere cost of keeping the roads in repair. But why should that increase of cost be taken into consideration as against the county and district councils, whether you are estimating that their charges for new works are excessive or extravagant or not? I insist that, apart from the question of expenditure upon new roads, when it comes to a question of maintenance charges, it is most unfair and most unjust to debit as against the county councils in regard to their expenditure the amount which they are compelled by law, and will be compelled under this Bill, to spend on the maintenance of new roads. I trust that the Government will, at any rate, take into consideration the argument I have addressed to them. I submit that there is a valid and reasonable distinction between the cost of maintenance of old roads and the cost of making new roads; and however it may be urged that extravagance may take place with regard to new roads it is impossible to argue that in connection with the maintenance of old road any system of jobbery can exist.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
Mr. Lowther I cannot ask the Government to accept this Amendment. If the proposed words were inserted the effect would be that, in the case of a district council which had not happened to construct any roads in the three years previous to the standard year, the Local Government Board would have to be appealed to in regard to each separate new road. So far from increasing the 1154 liberty of the district councils, the Amendment would restrict it further.
§ MR. TULLY
said the proposal to limit the expenditure of the county councils on roads to one-fourth the amount certified to have been the average expenditure thereon during the previous three years was a very mischievous and monstrous one, as also was the system of accepting the lowest tender for work. The latter system had led to fraud and litigation, and the roads had in the end, though badly made, cost more than was paid in England for good roads. He desired to express his satisfaction that the Government was ready to depart from the vicious system of compelling county councils to accept the lowest tender in all cases.
§ MR. M. HEALY
said that he should raise the question of accepting the lowest tender when the proper time came for discussing it. The right honorable Gentleman the Chief Secretary had stated that if his (the honorable Member's) Amendment were accepted its effect would be that in the case of a district council which had constructed no new roads for the past three years the council would not be able to incur any expenditure in that district without the consent of the Local Government Board. He did not contend that his Amendment was drawn in an ideal form; the form of the Amendment was governed by the wording of the clause. But the argument used by the right honorable Gentleman against the Amendment was the strongest conceivable argument against the Chief Secretary's proposal.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said that if the expenditure on roads was likely to be more than was covered by the margin provided, the Local Government Board would consider the matter and act fairly.
§ MR. M. HEALY
said he was not discussing how far the Local Government Board would exercise their power wisely. If they granted that the Local Government Board would do everything that was reasonable no argument against the clause would remain. The Government, 1155 in this clause, had admitted that there should be a certain margin within which the county councils should act without the authority of the Local Government Board. His argument was that that margin should be extended, and it was no answer to his argument to tell him that the Local Government Board would act reasonably in every case. He hoped the Government would see that there was a distinction to be drawn between maintenance and construction. In connection with the former, there could be no fear of the abuses contemplated by the Government in connection with construction.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said that it would be quite possible for the local authority to require maintenance work far beyond the real necessities of the case.
§ LORD E. FITZMAURICE
suggested that there should be a limit placed on maintenance, and none on construction. He thought that instead of patching up the clause it would be better to strike it out altogether and bring it up in a new form on Report.
MR. T. M. HEALY
AS there is a general desire to get on with the Bill, I think the Amendment might be withdrawn. There is no scientific road-making in Ireland, and it is therefore most desirable that some system should be established by which the counties could obtain the necessary appliances for such a purpose. There is not even power in some cases in Ireland to purchase a steam roller.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn
Page 11, line 16, after 'council,' insert 'not being the council of a county borough.'
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
This clause is not intended to apply to county boroughs. The matter will be made perfectly clear on the Report stage.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1156
Page 11, line 18, after 'Board,' insert, as a new sub-section—
Every urban district council shall, for the purpose of any business transferred to them from a Grand Jury, either by this or any other Act, or by any order made under the Public Health Act, 1878, have the same powers as respects land or easements of rights over land as a county council and the provisions of Part 1 of this Act with respect to the acquisition, purchase, taking on lease, or exchange of land, easements, or rights, or the taking or use of any land, easements, or rights by a county council, shall apply accordingly with the necessary modifications."—(Mr. Gerald Balfour.)
§ MR. M. HEALY
asked the right honoruable Gentleman whether he had considered the desirability of modifying the clause in the Public Health Act, under which it was provided that work could only be commenced in the month of November.
§ Question put.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Page 11, line 28, leave out sub-section 5, and insert—
(5) The council of any urban district may undertake the entire maintenance of any road in the district, the expenses of the maintenance of which are leviable partly off the county at large, and may so undertake upon such terms as may be agreed upon, or in default of agreement, be fixed by the Local Government Board.
(6) Nothing in this section or in the provisions of this Act with respect to main roads shall affect the provisions of any local Act or any Provisional Order confirmed by an Act respecting the maintenance of any road in an urban county district, or respecting the liability of the district to contribute towards the expenses of the maintenance of roads partly leviable off the county at large.'"—(Mr. Gerald Balfour.)
§ MR. M. HEALY
moved to omit the words."roads partly leviable off the county at large" at the end of Subsection 6 in order to insert "any road outside the urban district."
MR. T. M. HEALY
suggested that Some tribunal, such as the Judge of Assizes, or the Local Government Board, should be constituted to settle disputes as to road charges between district and county councils.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said he did not think the suggestion was unjust, but should like some time to consider it.
§ Question put.
§ Amendment to the Amendment agreed to.
§ The new sub-sections were then added to the clause.
§ Clause 22, as amended, agreed to.
§ On the return of the CHAIRMAN after the usual interval,