§ MR. ASHTON (Bedfordshire, Luton)
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether it is in contemplation to issue an order for the dissolution of the Woburn Union in Bedfordshire; whether the inspector sent down to inquire into the merits of dissolution is the same official who suggested to the guardians on 5th November, 1897, that dissolution was desirable; and, if so, whether he will consider the desirability of a re-investigation by another inspector; whether he is aware that public meetings have been held in many places in the union against dissolution, that petitions against it have been presented to the Board from fourteen out of the seventeen parishes, and no petitions have been presented in favour of it, that the resolution in favour of dissolution was only carried at the meeting of the Board of Guardians by ten to seven, that the question of dissolution was not before the ratepayers at the last election of guardians; and, whether, under these circumstances, he will withhold his consent to dissolution until after the next election of guardians.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
The answer to the first paragraph is in the affirmative, and I believe that the facts are generally as stated in the question. The inspector who held the inquiry states that in making his Report he was not guided in any way by his private opinion, but simply and entirely by the evidence given at the inquiry. The decision rested not with him, but with the Local Government Board. I understand that the question of dissolution of the union was before the ratepayers at the last election, and it does not appear to me to be necessary either that a further investigation should be held, or that the dissolution should be postponed until after the next election.