HC Deb 06 July 1899 vol 74 cc43-81

Lords' Amendments considered.

Lords' Amendment, in page 1, line 19, to leave out from "councillors," to the end of the sub-section, and insert "provided that no woman shall be eligible for any such office" the first Amendment, read a second time.

* MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)

I have first to apologise to the House that the Amendment which I propose to submit does not appear on the Paper. I had intended that it should be circulated this morning, and it is entirely through a mis- understanding that it has miscarried. Still it is so very simple that I trust no one will be inconvenienced. The Lords by the Amendment which they have inserted in the Bill have disabled women from filling the office of aldermen or councillors. That is in reality cutting them off from a privilege they now enjoy. I propose to consent to the Lords' Amendment as far as it relates to the office of alderman, and to insist on maintaining the view of the House in respect of the office of elected councillors. At this moment women are eligible to sit, and do sit, as members of the London vestries—the very bodies which are to he transformed under this Bill into the London municipal corporations—and if the Amendment which I intend to propose is accepted, the result will simply be to maintain women in the position they now occupy, and to enable them to continue to discharge the functions which they now discharge, and to perform the duties they now perform. Perhaps I may be permitted to make a short survey of the situation when this Bill left the House. We had voted on the question of the eligibility of women to fill these offices, and the result in Committee was such a state of confusion that it was determined the issue should be decided on the Report stage. Accordingly, on that stage I submitted to the House a proposition that neither sex nor marriage should disable women from being aldermen or councillors. It is sometimes said that the vote taken on that proposition was hastily taken and that it was a snatch vote. I hope that any hon. Members who echo that statement will examine for a moment the facts as they stand. It is quite true the vote was actually taken two or three hours before it was thought probable at the beginning of the sitting.. But it was taken about seven o'clock in a very full House which was well acquainted with the fact that the issue was coming on. The records, of course, show at what hour the vote was taken, and as to the question whether or not the House was a full one, the number who voted was 357. Is not that a reasonably full House? How many Members voted on the proposal that the Bill be read a second time? Remember the Second Reading was challenged by the Opposition; there was a two days' Debate; party Whips were issued on both sides; and in all 363 voted. Can it then be said that the number who voted on the question of the eligibility of women was an inadequate number? The highest number of Members who voted on the Bill has been 385, or 28 more than on my Amendment, and if those 28 had been added to the minority the other night, the vote would still have been declared in favour of women. In fact neither side was benefited or injured by taking the vote two hours earlier than had been anticipated, and there certainly was nothing of a snatch or chance character about the division. I believe if the judgment of the House could to-day be taken in the same unbiassed manner we should have the same result. But unfortunately we shall not be able to put that to the test. The Lords have refused to assent to the proposition we inserted in the Bill, and they have done so by a considerable majority. The decision of the Lords has not unnaturally influenced the Government in relation to the matter, and any division now taken will be taken under entirely different circumstances. I do not wish to underrate the action taken by the House of Lords, and neither do I want to say much about the character of the vote given. I am prepared to deal with it in a spirit of sweet reasonableness. But everyone who has studied the conduct of business in the House of Lords knows that there is a great reserve of voting power which does not usually find any issue in divisions in that House; but now and then, at longish intervals, some question is raised exciting great feeling, and a number of Members come and vote who very rarely take part in their proceedings. Now I cannot say that an expression of opinion so given is entitled at once to absolute deference. Members who come in in that fashion to record their votes—at rare intervals, under impulse, and without listening to or attending very much to the business of the House at ordinary times—cannot complain if the House of Commons is disposed to ask them to reconsider the verdict at which they have arrived. Members of the House of Peers, again, or a large number of them, act under no sense of responsibility as we do here. I ought not to say under no sense of responsibility—for of course they are all public men—but under no such sense of responsibility as Members do here. There is no one to whom they have to give any account; there is no penalty to be enforced, no disqualification can be brought to bear, And when a large number of them turn up unexpectedly, it may be truly said they have not the same touch of public life, they are not in such keen and active, relation to the currents of political thought as Members of this House must be who habitually and daily give up their minds to the study and conduct of political questions. Here, again, it cannot be said that we are acting in offensive manner to the House of Lords if we ask that House to reconsider, with further knowledge, the question on which they have already pronounced a first opinion. I do not wish to speak disrespectfully of the House of Lords as a whole, or of Members of it in particular, but it may be said of them as of Members of this House, and, as I fully admit of myself, that this is a question which is concerned with a mass of facts, with a large accumulation of phenomena, of circumstances connected with our town life, with which few or none of us are completely acquainted. If this were a question of the eligibility of women to be Poor Law guardians nobody would venture to contest the issue. Their fitness for the functions of Poor Law guardians has been too amply demonstrated to be questioned; yet when it was first proposed to make them so eligible, the very men who now say they would not for a moment remove them from that position were in not a few cases opposed to their admission on those boards. There was difficulty in getting women made eligible for boards of guardians. The invincible logic of facts has proved their ability, their fitness, their worth, and their public service. I believe if anyone will examine the facts of London life they will find in the records of the last four years the same powerful series of arguments in favour of the eligibility of women to be members of vestries and of these municipal corporations. What they have done in the last four years, if fully known, would make many Members who now oppose the eligibility of women to be members of those corporations change their minds, as they have changed their minds in relation to women on boards of guardians. It is difficult for any of us to, appreciate adequately the conditions under which many of our fellow-citizens in this mighty London live. How many Members can conceive of the conditions under which families live who inhabit one room, and one room only, in a tenement house in the East-end? Even in the richest districts there are places where the same conditions prevail—where cleanliness is impossible, where decency and morality are difficult. It was to deal with these facts that women twenty years ago ventured into London life to do the work they now do. Miss Octavia Hill and the band of women who work with her were occupied with life under those conditions before men were concerned with it; and when the Local Government Act of 1894 was passed, there was found already trained a service of women fit to serve in the vestries in fulfilment of the duties they had voluntarily undertaken, and in discharge of functions which the men themselves, if left alone, would have been unable to discharge. It is pathetic to hear, as I have done, men who are concerned with vestries in the south and east of London and in mid-London, say that the work they have to do cannot be done by men. It has been done with the help of women. And now it is proposed, in pure ignorance, to take away from women the opportunity of continuing the work they have done so well and so much to the public advantage. The mere supervision of tenement houses, the treatment of outbreaks of disease, all these things require the use of women. To superintend, supervise, and instruct women officers in the conduct of affairs, women have been necessary on the vestries, and have been found of such assistance that they have been appointed on committee after committee for dealing with matters concerning tenement houses and the treatment of the sick. Suppose an infectious disease breaks out in a house in every room of which there is living a family of moderate size; it is the intervention of women that has enabled parish officers to treat such cases properly, to organise a service to relieve others from infection, and to set up reception houses to which infected persons are taken while the process of disinfection goes on, and whence they can only be taken by persuasion. It is the agency of women who have been acting as part of the parish vestries which has enabled all this to be done. It is said that the work of boards of guardians is important, and that it could not be done without the assistance of women. But sanitation is at least as important as the work of boards of guardians. It is said, with some force, that sanitation is a matter of prevention, whereas the work of boards of guardians has to do with the cure of the evils which arise from the defects of sanitation. You are going to the origin of things when you deal with these wretched houses of these poor inhabitants. When you try to regulate and civilise them, to raise their standard of existence, you anticipate the conduct of the lives of persons who, if left alone, would in the end fill your workhouses and become the objects of the attention of guardians. It was proposed a year ago that a certain lady who has done good work on a vestry on the south side of London should stand for the board of guardians, but she felt that she could not discharge the duties of both offices. Thereupon a meeting of working men was held, and it was decided that the work of the vestry was more important than that of the guardians, and they could not allow this lady to give up her place on the vestry. Those who confess that women are so important in regard to boards of guardians must see some force in this opinion of the working men themselves as to the desirability of women serving on vestries. The new municipalities will take over the work of the vestries, and all the good work which the women have done will have to be done under the new bodies in some sort of way. It could not have been done in the past but for their co-operation, and if you take away the possibility of women co-operators in the municipalities of the future that work will be done very badly. There will also be some additional functions, such as the housing of the poor. Who have as much knowledge and capacity for dealing with questions arising from the housing of the poor as the women to whom I have referred, who have been engaged in considering this problem in the most practical way for the last four years, who have trained up women specially acquainted with the facts, and specially acquainted with the dangers to be avoided, and specially informed as to the needs to be met and the benefits to be secured? There may also have to be added the question of common lodging houses. Without the assistance of women you really will never be able to regulate common lodging houses as they ought to be regulated. The Secretary for the Colonies, who is a great authority on municipal matters, said on one occasion that municipal action goes home to the lives of the masses; it concerns their health, their comfort, and their recreation. I accept every word of that statement. I go further, and say that the more intimate the action of the muncipalities is in relation to domestic life the more important is the co-operation of women in making that action intelligent and effective. We are very often told that this Bill is intended to create interest in municipal life. Here you have a hand of women who have exhibited the very interest you desire to excite, and it is actually proposed to turn them off from taking that share of the duties which they have hitherto discharged. You want to elevate the tone of municipal life. Women have done it. They have bettered the manners and improved the tone of and elevated the conduct of those concerned in the work of vestries. You want to sweeten the conduct of affairs. They are the people who have done it and will continue to do it. You want also to have engaged in the conduct of your municipalities persons who are above suspicion of being personally interested. The great defect of vestries in the past has been the intrusion of men who came there to do some little job or to promote some interest of their own. The women who have been engaged on vestries have never been suspected of the least taint of personal interest in their action. The motion I make is simply to keep women in the discharge of the duties they have performed so well for the last five years, and the most powerful argument in its favour is the work which they have done. The facts, if realised, would be all-powerful. I merely ask that this question may be sent to the House of Lords for reconsideration. What reason is there why it should not be submitted once more to their judgment? If they insist upon their view we could at last only be beaten and acquiesce in their decision. There is no risk to the Bill or the conduct of public business involved in inserting the Amendment which I propose. Surely it might be urged in the House of Lords above all assemblies that they should not take away from any person or persons the privileges and rights which they at present enjoy. I hope the Government will yet allow this matter to be au open question. I will not appeal to the Leader of the House; I know his heart and brain are with us in this matter; he strongly supports the proposition which is sub- mitted, although he may have to urge the propriety of deferring to the House of Lords in the judgment which they have pronounced. But there is no necessity so to defer at this stage. There is no reason why you should not give the Lords an opportunity of reconsidering the vote which they have given, and that is all that I ask may be done. There is no political reason, and certainly no Party reason, why that should not be done. The question is confined simply to whether or not we should allow women to go on filling the posts they have been chosen to fill in the past, and which they have filled with so much acceptance to the inhabitants of this overcrowded metropolis. I trust the House will reaffirm the eligibility of women for this office, and for that purpose I move my Amendment.

Amendment proposed— To the words inserted by the Lords, at the end, to add the words 'except that of councillor.'"—(Mr. Courtney.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."


My right hon. friend, as he was perfectly justified in doing, has made a survey of the whole question with which this House has been more than once interested in connection with the Bill which has recently been dealt with in another place. I do not propose to follow his example, or to discuss the advantages or disadvantages of having women on the new municipalities, or the more general question of the work women are capable of doing on public bodies, with which he has dealt with the earnest conviction which we all know he possesses, and with great fulness and completeness of argument. I will only say that I recognise, and I believe those who do not agree with me on this question also recognise, the value of the work women have done on boards of guardians and other public bodies, and in connection with the life of the poor in our crowded cities, and the amelioration which may be introduced into their lot. It may be possible—though this is not an occasion for contemplating or discussing such a provision—that, even without running counter to the views of that great body of public opinion which, I think, unfortunately, is intent on resisting the equality of women and men in connection with these municipal bodies—it may be possible to devise, by a general Bill, arrangements by which they may serve on committees specially connected with such interests as my right hon. friend has dealt with. That may meet with the acceptance of Members on both sides of the House, and I only throw it out as a suggestion. Having thrown out that suggestion I pass on to say that I do not propose to discuss with my right hon. friend the best form in which, in his opinion or in the opinion of this House, the Bill might be passed. We have to-day a different task—to consider whether it is in the interests of the Bill which we are desirous of passing through the House that we should enter into a contest with the Upper House on this question. The Government are unanimously of opinion that it is not in the interests of the Bill. My right hon. friend has pointed out that the final Division on the question during the Report stage of the Bill was taken in a House which could not be described as an empty House, and he maintained that it fairly represented the general opinion of the House and the balance of parties in the House on this particular question. I do not know whether my right hon. friend was right or wrong, but, at all events, he will be in agreement with me when I say that the utterances of this House have been, to a certain extent, doubtful and vacillating on this subject, while the utterances of the House of Peers—whatever may be said of them—have been neither doubtful nor vacillating. I cannot believe that any majority which, under any circumstances, could still be obtained in this House in favour of allowing women to have seats on the new municipal bodies, would be sufficient to induce the House of Lords to yield upon a point on which they have expressed so clear and strong a conviction by such an overwhelming majority. Under these circumstances it would be merely provoking a useless contest, possibly endangering the Bill, if we attempted to restore the Bill to the original shape in which it left this House, or adopt the modification my right hon. friend proposes. If the modification were of a character which would conciliate the opposition of the House of Lords something might be said for it. But any one who followed the course of the Debate in the House of Lords or the trend of opinion there would see that the objection to allowing women to be councillors would not in any sense be mitigated by not allowing them to be aldermen or mayors. That being so, I do not think my right hon. friend has proposed what may be properly called a compromise. I do not think his suggestion, if carried by this House, would lead to an agreement between the two Houses. That being so, in the interests of the measure which I have been responsible for carrying through this House, on the part of the Government I am obliged to say that we propose to resist the Amendment of my right hon. friend.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

This question is one of very great importance, and I trust that it is not going to be divided upon without some further discussion besides that which it has already received. I must say, in the first place, that I cannot agree with the policy pursued by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin, who has proposed the compromise which is embodied in his Amendment, and for this reason—that I do not believe that he will secure one single vote more by this compromise, as compared with a motion to reject the Lords Amendment in this House. I fancy that he himself will be doubtful as to the wisdom of his policy, after hearing the speech which has come from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, and which, I assume, means that the Government Whips are to tell in the Division in support of the Amendment of the House of Lords. The whole course of the discussion of this question in the House of Commons has been one of the most singular which I have ever observed in my own experience. When the question was first submitted to the House, the Government left it an absolutely open question, and the Leader of the House rather indicated that his sympathies went with the eligibility of women sitting upon these bodies, and in the lobby afterwards we had the advantage of the support of the First Lord of the Treasury, of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and some other Members of the Government. I notice this extraordinary fact—and I think it is right that the public should know it—that while the First Lord of the Treasury declared that this was an open question in which the Government would take no part, the Government Whips were active in working against the eligibility of women sitting on the new municipalities, just as if it were a Government matter. In all the Divisions there is no doubt that the Government Whips worked against the proposal to allow women to be eligible for these bodies, with the greatest possible activity, and I have no doubt that that had a great effect in influencing the Members who voted. I do not think it is fair play to approach this question in that way, and I think the Government ought to have had the courage to take up the question. Certainly, after having announced through the Leader of the House that this was to be left an open question, I do think that the Government Whips ought not to have operated to influence the result either one way or the other. I listened with great interest and with some sympathy and compassion to the somewhat pathetic speech of my right hon. friend the Member for Bodmin, in which he still clings to the delusion that you can discover in the House of Lords any sympathy with human suffering. He devoted a considerable time to explaining—I suppose for the benefit of the large section of the House of Lords who are listening to this Debate—the enormous benefits which women have brought by their public work on these public bodies to the suffering poor in this great city. If the right hon. Gentleman thought that would recommend his cause to the Members of the House of Lords sitting in another place he is greatly mistaken, for in the Upper House when the ordinary work of the nation is transacted very few members attend. But on certain occasions, as the right hon. Gentleman truly said, they are seen assembling there in great numbers, and their faces are so unfamiliar that the doorkeepers at the House of Lords have often attempted to prevent some of them going in. When it comes to a question of women discharging duties which they are better fitted to discharge than men, then Members of the House of Lords are brought down, who have not sat in that chamber for years, to give a vote, just as they did on another historic occasion, when I saw brought into the House of Lords to vote the lame, and the blind, and even a Member was brought down in a perambulator to give his vote in order that the poor suffering tenants of Ireland might be kept out of their homes. I hope this lesson will not be lost on the right hon. Gentleman, and that he will be, at last, weaned from the idea that the House of Peers is an essential part of the constitution of this country. But whether essential or not it has always distinguished itself by blocking and obstructing throughout this century every proposal for the benefit of the people, and intended for the relief of human suffering. I desire now to turn to the speech made by the Leader of the House. He is a distinguished advocate of the rights of women, and he goes somewhat further than I have ever gone in that direction; but I would ask his followers and the Members on this side of the House—and there are many men equally opposed to this question on this side of the House—have they fully considered what effect such a speech will have? I must say that I think the action taken by the Leader of the House to-day in. the face of the facts is cowardly. I have never voted myself for the Parliamentary suffrage of women, for I have always seen great difficulties in the way, although I have never voted against it. One of the arguments which I have always found the greatest difficulty in getting over is that women have said, and said with great force, "Until we have the suffrage we shall never get fair play or justice in the House of Commons." To-day that argument will have great additional strength, because if ever there was a case in which the women have all the justice on their side in favour of the claim which they are making, that case is the one in which the House of Commons is called upon to judge to-day. If the women of this country possessed votes, would the action of the Leader of the House have been what it is to-day? Does any man suppose that, if we had to consider the votes of the women in our constituencies, the House of Commons would do otherwise than grant this concession and throw out the Amendment of the House of Lords? We know how different the result of the Division would be if women had votes. In view of that fact I say that if you decide to-day to deny to women their right to be elected on these bodies, where they are certainly qualified to sit and to do the business better than men, you are giving an enormous impetus to the cause of the Parliamentary suffrage being extended to women. I hope the women of Great Britain will note the action of the Government and will scan the Division List very carefully. On what ground are women being excluded? I have listened to all the Debates that have taken place on this question, and I have listened in vain for one single argument except one, to which I will allude in a moment, why we should neglect this claim. We have had ridicule—we are accustomed to that—and we have had sneers at women in the usual style, but no Member has stood up in a serious spirit and has endeavoured to meet the arguments adduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin, and to explain on what grounds of public policy they seek to deny to the poor of this city the enormous advantage they now obtain by women serving on these boards. I have only heard one argument—that used by the noble Lord opposite—viz., that women should not be exposed to the rough and tumble and to the unpleasant scenes at contested elections. Certainly in England, though not yet in Ireland, women of both political parties have taken quite as active a part as men in elections. The ladies of the Primrose League and the Women's Liberal Association do not appear to be much afraid of the rough and tumble of elections. In every contested election where a man is sufficiently happy to be the possessor of a wife he always arrives on the scene accompanied by her. Really I cannot see much force in that argument. If there were any force in it—I do not attach any weight to it—we could provide in this Bill machinery which would enable women to avoid the rough and tumble of elections. I object to the proposed compromise now before the House. If women are eligible to be councillors, a fortiori they are eligible to be aldermen. If there is any force in the argument that it is not desirable to expose women to the rough and tumble of contested elections, then they ought to be admitted as aldermen to these councils should the councils desire it. I will only say in conclusion, for the benefit of those who oppose this claim because of their prejudice against the claim of women to the Parliamentary franchise, that I do not believe this proposal would advance that claim. On the contrary, I believe, and I sincerely believe, that the cowardly refusal of this House to grant this reasonable request will give a very considerable impetus to the agitation for conferring the Parliamentary franchise on women.

* MR. FAITHFULL BEGG (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

As I propose to vote against my Party on this occasion, I do not wish to give a silent vote. In the previous Debates which have taken place on this question I have followed my right hon. friend the Member for Bodmin, because he was fully authorised to represent the views of those interested in this question. I think, perhaps, at an earlier stage some slight error of judgment was made, in the sense that too much was asked for, and possibly owing to that the present difficulty has arisen. But, however that may be, I cannot agree with those who say that what is now proposed is not essentially in the nature of a compromise. What had been asked was that the functions which women are now discharging should be extended. What is now proposed is that those functions should be in the new bodies exactly as they were in the old bodies, and I have the high authority of Lord Salisbury for stating that to all intents and purposes the new bodies will be the same as the bodies they are superseding. We are face to face with a somewhat difficult situation, but I have no hesitation whatever in taking the course I propose to take, and that is to go into the lobby with my right hon. friend the Member for Bodmin. I do not propose to argue the subject from the point of view of the merit of the services already rendered by women in the government of London. I recognise this as an important Bill which the Government cannot afford to have defeated, but I really do not think there is any risk of defeat if this very reasonable proposal be sent up to the Lords for reconsideration. What have we to contend with? The Lords are essentially accustomed to compromise, they exist practically to compromise, if it is shown to them that this House has made up its mind absolutely on any question. There is great force in the remark of the hon. Member opposite that although ostensibly the Government left Members free to vote in any way they pleased on this question, yet the Government whips did influence Members and to that extent influenced the result. I think, therefore, it is exceedingly unfortunate that we should be asked by the Government to throw up the sponge at the present moment. My right hon. friend threw out a suggestion which was referred to in the speech of the Leader of the House. I am not quite sure whether I understood him to suggest that an enabling Bill might be brought in at a later stage to enable women to serve on a species of committee on these new bodies. Are we to understand that such a pledge is to be given?


No, Sir.


Then, I do not see anything in the suggestion calculated to let down easily those who feel very strongly on this question. Even if such an enabling Bill were passed, I am not at all sure it would meet the case. It would be saying to the women: "There are certain questions regarding which you may be of use, and on these questions come into council with us, but as regards other questions we will not permit you to interfere. You shall continue to pay rates, but you shall not have any say as to how these rates are spent." We have not, I maintain, been treated in a reasonable way by the Government, in view of the earlier stages of this discussion, and I shall certainly vote with my right hon. friend the Member for Bodmin.

* MR. BIRRELL (Fife, W.)

I confess I see in the somewhat discreditable position in which the House of Commons finds itself at the present moment, in its contest with the other House, the judgment of Heaven upon us for having sent up to that truth-loving assembly a measure so dressed up with tinselled phrases and fraudulent pretences as to induce those innocently-minded persons to believe, notwithstanding the assurances of the Prime Minister to the contrary, that the Bill was really one of first-class importance. I remember—I am sure I am the only person in the House who does remember—that I described this Bill during the discussion in Committee as a Bill to call an old thing by a new name. Nobody took any notice of the observation, which, none the less, or, perhaps, all the more, I treasured near my heart. Judge, therefore, my delight when, happening to cross over to another place, I heard Lord Salisbury, who, after all, is Prime Minister and the head of the Government, and by common consent the ablest and not the least straightforward Member of it, make the very same observation—of course, in chaster language. I do not know whether I am in order in referring to what the noble Lord said, but I heard the noble Lord distinctly say that the object of this Bill was simply to give vestries new names, and that it added, save in one respect the housing of the poor, nothing to their authority. It has not been alleged for a single moment, even in another place, with the plentiful experience we now have of the mode and manner in which women conduct such public duties as they are allowed to perform, that they have not shown good judgment and great capacity. On school boards, boards of guardians, and wherever they have been permitted to serve they have shown remarkable competency in discharging those duties. I wily not enter into any vulgar comparisons with the work discharged by male members of these bodies. We have had large experience all over the country on boards of every kind and description, and we find that wherever women have had an opportunity of exercising public functions they have shown they possess very considerable qualifications for that purpose. It is, therefore, not because women are incapable that the House of Lords proceeded to take the step it has taken. I confess, when we are told that nobody complains of women sitting on boards of guardians, I am ashamed of the chivalry of man. If there is a place where it is hard for an educated arid refined and pious woman to sit, it is on a board of guardians, cheek by jowl with greasy publicans and small shopkeepers, smiling uneasily at the clumsy pleasantries of her associates, and very often blushing scarlet at their unseemly jokes. To that martyrdom for the love of God and the service of the poor, you are willing that they should submit themselves. We allow them to sit in unreformed vestries, through scenes when Bloggins the ironmonger pulls the nose of Scroggins the greengrocer. That does not interfere with the purity of their characters; but the moment you reform these vestries, and make them more popular and more suitable to persons of refinement and education, you select that very moment to turn round on women and say, "You are no longer fit to sit here; these are not the places for you; out you go" This is the message the House of Commons sends to the women of England, and I say it is a message of insult. Everybody knows that the reason that the House of Lords made this Amendment is not that they have in any way a rooted objection, or care a snap of their august fingers whether half a dozen women take their seats fitfully in the dingy chambers where these new sprawling municipalities will hold their meetings. Nobody cares a straw on the subject. We are thinking of this "house beautiful." We are thinking that, some day or other, if women are allowed the opportunity of showing their competence all over the country, on this board and that board, and on these municipal councils—if nothing can be said against the mode in which they have discharged their duties, if they have won admiration and disarmed opposition—then, on some day or another, in far-off summers we shall never see, women may come and say, "We have made out our claim to admission within these portals." That is not the question we are considering now. Nothing that we can do will bind the hands of our posterity. When called to fight that question, they will fight it with their own arguments, without any regard to what we say this afternoon. For my own part, I contemplate that possibility with the equanimity of one who, in the first place, is assured that he will be dead at the time; and, in the second place, remembers how this House has survived every kind of change and every sort of Member. Since this House has existed we have seen prize-fighters, jockeys, bullies, cowards, and drunkards, all taking their seats in it. You may go into the library and take down the three bloated volumes of "Russell on Crime"; you may search that gloomy catalogue and not find a single crime, however hideous; a single felony, however shameful; a single misdemeanour, however disgusting and discreditable, which has not at one time or another been committed by a Member of this House. Not only have they at divers times committed these offences but they have been found out, and have suffered all the diverse penalties of the law and every period of penal servitude. Notwithstanding all these things, notwithstanding the appearance from time to time of persons of that sort in this House, we still consider ourselves the pride of the country and the envy of surrounding nations. Even were that the question, this House would be found strong enough to survive it. But it is not the question. The question is, whether women should be deprived of a right which they at present enjoy, whether women, judged by their conduct in the past, have disqualified themselves for discharging the public duties which they have, by common consent, hitherto admirably discharged. Are we to go back on something we have already done? Are we to take away the right which women now enjoy—not because we are frightened at the manner in which they will exercise this particular privilege—if privilege it be—but because of something in the far-off future which we dare not contemplate? I cannot assume that anything we do to-day will interfere or call in question how posterity will vote on this question when it arises. But, if we do not reject the Lords' Amendment, we may accelerate that period that some of us pretend to deplore, because after the Vote which will be taken this afternoon, you will be able to write over the portals of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons, "Here dwell a race of men who are afraid of women."

MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

I cannot hope to compete with the eloquence of the hon. and learned Member who has just sat down, but I would like to make a brief protest against the course which the right hon. the Leader of the House has elected to follow. Not a single reason has been given to us why we should not agree to the Amendment. Within the last fortnight, on two important London questions connected with measures which passed in this House, the Lords have corrected mistakes we made in this House. We owe them a debt of gratitude for that. I think this afternoon we should give them an opportunity of correcting the mistake they have made in regard to this Bill. I only desire to make one point on this subject. If the First Lord of the Treasury will not consent to reconsider this matter, the Government will be guilty of a total breach of faith with the House and with London. The first promise the First Lord made was that there should be no interference with any of the franchises which London enjoyed at present as compared with the provincial municipalities. Now, one of the most valuable franchises we have got is that which gives the right to women to sit on these boards, where they have done most useful work. But it is a franchise of the voters also, because they can select women to sit on these hoards. In that respect we ought to remember the voters as well as the women. There are duties which women can discharge better than men, and why should the right hon. Gentleman, in the face of his promises, deprive the people of London of the right to return women to look after baths and washhouses and the other women's work which they have done so well in the past?


The right hon. Gentleman has no right to charge me with breach of faith.


With great respect, I may say I think I have made good my point, but I will not repeat it.




I do not feel hound to withdraw, for I think I have made my point fairly. Another promise made by the right hon. Gentleman was that the Government would leave hon. Members on both sides of the House free to vote as they pleased. I do not think he is keeping his promise in that matter. The Government is now interfering, and Gentlemen on the other side of the House will not be able to vote as they think right, because their allegiance to party compels them to vote with the right hon. Gentlemen. The promise was made that we should be left free to vote on this matter, and now we are not to be allowed a free vote. I do not think a single reason has been given why we should not give the Lords an opportunity of reconsidering this matter. It will not endanger the Bill, for there will be other points to be debated and sent up to the Lords for reconsideration. I say that if the Government press on this decision they will court an adverse judgment from the country, and it will soon be given, when, I am sure, the policy pursued by the Government during the last few years will be reversed.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I intend to vote not with the Government or the Leader of the House, or against the Leader of the Opposition; I am just going to vote with the Lords, and therefore I wish to explain my position. This question is not in any sense a Liberal, Democratic, or Conservative question. It is simply a question of sentiment on which gentlemen on this side may have one view, and gentlemen on the other side may have another view, and some on both sides may take opposite views. Thirty years ago the most ardent democrat in the country did not dream of giving women a vote or a seat in these councils.


I did.


The right hon Gentleman says he did thirty years ago. Well, I will say that if any person fifty years ago, or since the commencement of the world, had proposed that women were to be given the same political rights as men he would have been looked upon as a lunatic. Take Tiberius Gracchus, the Roman democrat. What would have been thought of him by his fellow-countrymen if he had proposed that women should sit in the Roman Senate? We know very well that there have been democrats in this country for many centuries, and you may search the motions made in this House for the last five hundred years in vain till the year 1865 or 1866, when the first motion was made in regard to giving votes to women, and then it was defeated. Let us be fair and honest in this matter of giving votes to women. What I object to is that hon. Gentlemen who think that women ought to have the same political rights as men do not bring in a Bill of their own; but they lay their eggs—female eggs—in a Bill of other people. This Bill, when it was brought in, had absolutely nothing to do with this question of women; but up got my right hon. friend the Member for Bodmin, and seized the opportunity to propose a clause that women should be given votes by this Bill. My right hon. friend is a man for whom I have a special admiration, because there is no humbug about my right hon. friend. My right hon. friend is a thoroughly honest man. He does not come down here, as some people do, and say: "Oh, we would not give women the suffrage; we would give a few, perhaps, the suffrage, but not many; but we would not allow them to sit in this House." My right hon. friend thoroughly believes that women ought to have in every way the same political rights as men, and he knows perfectly well that he cannot establish that change at one blow; he will carry the day if by degrees he can sap the fortress in which men are entrenched. That is why I admire the right hon. Gentleman. But this special proposal is the most absurd of any of the proposals in regard to women that I have yet heard discussed in this House. You do not give married women votes, and yet you absolutely say that you are to allow women to sit on these august municipalities. Surely, that is putting the cart before the horse.


They have votes.


Married women?




That is the case with regard to married women who have property of their own; hut, as my right hon. friend knows perfectly well, his proposal is to allow women to sit on these municipalities whether they have property or not. Then my right hon. friend understands tactics; he first proposes to get half his case. He says, "I won't ask the House to disagree with that part of the proposal which forbids women to be aldermen, but let them be only common councillors." Can he adduce one single reason why a woman should be a common councillor and not an alderman? If my right hon. friend is able to slip in as a common councillor, what will be the effect? My right hon. friend will come down another time and say, "Is it not monstrous that when you allow women to be councillors, you won't allow them to be aldermen?" Then we shall make them aldermen. And then, having elected them aldermen, he will say, "It is perfectly preposterous that while women can be aldermen and councillors in London they are not to be aldermen and councillors in municipalities in the country." And then, having again carried his point, my right hon. friend will propose that they should sit in this House.

MR. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)

Why not?


My hon. friend says, "Why not?" My hon. friend is an honest man; he knows this will be the result. It was on this very ground that I voted against the proposal. A horrible vision appears before me. I seem to see ladies sitting on these benches. I see the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Government, Scotch ladies, very likely. I see that one of the able Whips of the Government has just come in. We know what the duties of Whips are, and as those duties are to get votes the most fascinating ladies will, of course, be selected for these posts; and what will happen? I tremble to think. Even your chair, Sir, would not be sacred. It appears to me that the attitude of the Lords is a most becoming one in this matter. It is precisely what I have always wanted the Lords to do. I went into. another place when a nobleman was discussing the matter, and what did that nobleman say? He said he understood that the Division in this House had been a scratch Division, and he went on to say, "We don't want to interfere with the House of Commons, but we want to know what the House of Commons really wishes. If the House of Commons is really in favour of this clause, then we will not stand to our views; but we really think it right to send back the clause to the House of Commons, and to ask the House of Commons to inform us what their wishes are, which we are ready to accept." ("No.") Yes, and it seems to me to be a very proper attitude on the part of the House of Lords. Well, there was a scratch Division. Even my right hon. friend the Member for Bodmin tried to prove that it was not a scratch Division because it happened at seven o'clock. What did happen on that day? The Finance Bill had been under discussion. It was not intended to take a Division on the Finance Bill, and a great many Members went home, preferring to read the speeches than to hear them in the House of Commons. For some reason the discussion on the Finance Bill broke down, and the next Bill on the Order Paper went off unexpectedly. Suddenly this Division came on. At the commencement of the evening, when I asked some of my friends who are in favour of everything connected with woman: "Is that woman question coming on?" they said, I have no doubt quite honestly, "No." Well, I did not care to stop for the Finance Bill, and I was on the point of going home when somebody came on the Terrace and said, "That woman question has come on." I naturally remained to vote against it, but there were a great many hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, as well as on the other side, opposed to the proposal who were not there at the time. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury says that he stands entirely to his views, although I do not know how the right hon. Gentleman is going to vote. But we can now vote on this Amendment with a full and perfect knowledge of the question before us.

* MR. C. P. SCOTT (Lancashire, Leigh)

We have been told that this question is not to be decided upon its merits, but is to be decided for us by a more august tribunal. I hope, however, that the question will be decided, not with respect to what has been done elsewhere, but upon the merits of the question. We ought to consider whether in excluding women from these councils we shall be doing a kind or unkind thing to the poor of the country. Shall we be depriving them of assistance they ought to have? I think the arguments of the right hon. Member for Bodmin deserve a little more attention than they have received. The right hon. Gentleman has appealed to hon. Members to consider what is the nature of the work which women are doing on these municipal bodies, and I hope the House will look at the matter in that practical way. I do not think that the poor of the country are so well off that this House should deprive them of the assistance which any human being could give them. Is it pretended or alleged that women have not done admirable work on the vestries? No one can pretend that for a moment; and how, then, can anyone say that there is not similar work for them to do on the new bodies? Women are better able to serve the interests of the poor than anybody else, but because of the exigencies of our Parliamentary system this House is to refuse to allow women to do this work. That is not a position which can be fairly or honestly defended. I wish hon. Members opposite, who, I believe, care as much for the condition of the poor as hon. Members on this side, would take their courage in both hands and decide this question on its merits. This is not a matter which should be treated as one of form simply. We ought to consider what will be the practical result of admitting women to these bodies. If the matter is looked at in that light I do not believe that the House would hesitate for a moment in asking the Lords to reconsider their judgment. It is a much more important matter than might be supposed from the course of the Debate. The whole tendency of municipal government in this country is to bring that government into closer contact with the life of the poor and to take up one subject after another which goes home to their daily life. It would not be right to reject now the assistance which women have in this respect been able to give hitherto upon the vestries. I think, therefore, that we should do well to give the Lords an opportunity for repentance.


I had really not intended to speak in this Debate; but I desire to express my surprise that no honourable or right hon. Gentleman from the Front Opposition Bench has got up to defend what I maintain to be a contribution of the Liberal Government to the local government of the country of the greatest importance—I mean the Amendment which was adopted in the Act of 1894 when passing through this House of Commons. In that Bill the right was assured to women to sit upon the vestries of London, and to exercise duties upon the vestries of London which they have shown themselves capable of exercising with efficiency and with benefit to the public. I consider it an honour to the liberal Ministry which introduced that in an Act of Parliament, and I wish to express my regret that no one on the Front Opposition Bench has pit up to defend the rights of women on this question. I myself have sat with women on local bodies, and I know the excellent work they have done. The First Lord of the Treasury is going to sacrifice the opinions which a large majority of the Members of the House have repeatedly expressed to women who were interested in questions in their own constituencies. Members on the Government side of the House and the Opposition side have repeatedly given their pledges to the women that they would defend their rights on this question, and at the present moment the Government are cowardly enough not to face the House of Lords in the matter. I wish to enter an emphatic protest against the contemptible action of the House of Commons on this occasion, and the lack of courage in not standing up for the opinions to which Members of the House had repeatedly pledged themselves both in the House and in the country. It is absolutely unreasonable to contend that the rights which had been given to women by the Act of 1894 by the deliberate action of the House of Commons are to be recklessly abolished at the dictation of the other House. The result would be, as many hon. Members on the Government side of the House who are now abandoning their pledges will find out, that there are many women who will exercise their electoral power—their moral and social power—to vindicate their rights, and they will act rightly in doing so. This question has come before the House just after there had been perhaps the most distinguished and remarkable gathering of women from every quarter of the world to discuss important questions of social and administrative reforms, and many of those questions which had been entrusted to them on the local bodies. Any man who has followed the discussions in connection with the International Congress of Women will know that the discussions of that Congress had left on the minds of all sensible men a very favourable impression of the capacity of women and their moral right to share in these questions of local government. I wish to enter my most emphatic protest against the conduct of Her Majesty's Government and the refusal of hon. Members to keep their pledges.


I do not often intervene in Debate, especially when the House is nearing a Division; but I cannot help feeling this afternoon that the House is going to weaken the good influence of this London Government Bill by the vote it is going to give against this Amendment; and, as a resident in London practically all my life, I venture to say a word before we come to a Division. There is one aspect of the case which I do not think has received fair attention. If the

Bill is to be a real success, which all of us who reside in London are anxious should be the case, it will be because we shall call forth the best energies of our local life. We hope that those who will seek for seats upon these new municipalities will represent all the different classes in the district. We hope there will be those who represent business houses, and who are principals of houses where they carry on their business apart from their residences. We hope, also, there will be those who represent the business men of the district; and we hope there will be a good contingent of the working classes. But, having had fifteen years' experience on a suburban local board, I say there is danger that you will only have in the great majority of cases on your municipalities those who are able to attend during evening meetings, and you will have very few who are able to attend committee meetings during the day. If we can have a fair share of women on these municipalities, you would have those who can give you their work during the day, when so many of the male representatives are bound to be in other parts of London—the working men at their work, and business men at their business. You will have, of course, a few men, I take it, of leisure; but if you deprive the municipalities of being able to choose some of the most capable women in the district, you will not only deprive them of a great source of power for good, but you will deprive the municipalities of the aid of many who can do a great deal of the detail work, and prepare for the general meetings of the municipalities, and you will in this way place your work far more in the hands of the officials than I believe is good for any municipality. For these reasons I trust the House will not resist this Amendment.

The House divided:—Ayes, 177; Noes, 246. (Division List No. 223.)

Allan, William (Gateshead) Bethell, Commander Burt, Thomas
Allen, W.(Newc.-under-Lyme) Bill, Charles Buxton, Sydney Charles
Allison, Robert Andrew Billson, Alfred Caldwell, James
Ambrose, Robert Birrell, Augustine Cameron, Sir Charles(Glasgow
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Blake, Edward Cameron, Robert (Durham)
Ashton, Thomas Gair Bousfield, William Robert Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbt. Hen. Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.
Austin, M. Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Carvill, Patrick G. Hamilton
Bainbridge, Emerson Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Causton, Richard Knight
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Burns, John Cawley, Frederick
Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.) Johnston, William (Belfast) Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Clough, Walter Owen Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Pilkington, Sir G. A. (Lancs S W)
Coghill, Douglas Harry Jones, David B. (Swansea) Price, Robert John
Corbett, A. Cameron(Glasgow) Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire) Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)
Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard H Kay-Shuttle worth, Rt Hn Sir U Provand, Andrew Dryburgh
Crombie, John William Kearley, Hudson E. Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Curran, Thos. B, (Donegal) Kemp, George Redmond, William (Clare)
Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) Kitson, Sir James Richardson, J. (Durham, S. E.)
Dalziel, James Henry Lambert, George Roberts, J. H. (Denbighs.)
Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan Langley, Batty Robertson, Edm. (Dundee)
Davitt, Michael Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland) Robson, William Snowdon
Denny, Colonel Leng, Sir John Samuel, J. (Stockton-on Tees)
Dewar, Arthur Lewis. John Herbert Schwann, Charles E.
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Lloyd-George, David Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)
Dillon, John Logan, John William Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Doogan, P. C. Lough, Thomas Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Lowles, John Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Dunn, Sir William Lubbock. Rt. Hon. Sir John Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Edwards, Owen Morgan Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred Souttar, Robinson
Ellis, John Edward Macaleese, Daniel Spicer, Albert
Farquharson, Dr. Robert MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Steadman, William Chares
Fenwick, Charles M'Arthur, William(Cornwall) Stephens, Henry Charles
Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith) M'Ghee, Richard Strachey, Edward
Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond M'Kenna, Reginald Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Flynn, James Christopher M'Killop, James Stuart, James (Shoreditch)
Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk) M'Laren, Charles Benjamin Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir H. M'Leod, John Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxfd Uni.)
Galloway, Wm. Johnson Maddison, Fred. Tennant, Harold John
Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J. Mellor, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Yorks.) Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)
Goddard, Daniel Ford Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley Monckton, Edward Philip Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)
Graham, Henry Robert Montagu, Hn. J. S. (Hants) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick) Morgan, W P. (Merthyr) Wallace, Robert
Gull, Sir Cameron Morrell, George Herbert Walton, J. Lawson, (Leeds, S.)
Haldane, Richard Burdon Morrison, Walter Wedderburn, Sir William
Harwood, George Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford) Weir, James Galloway
Hatch, Ernest Frederick G. Moulton, John Fletcher Whiteley, George (Stockport)
Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale- Norton, Capt. Cecil William Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Hazell, Walter Nussey, Thomas Willans Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Healy, Timothy, M.(N.Louth) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Williams, John C. (Notts.)
Hedderwick, Thomas C. H. O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W. Wills, Sir William Henry
Hobhouse, Henry O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)
Hogan, James Francis Oldroyd, Mark Wilson, John (Govan)
Holden, Sir Angus Palmer, Sir Charles M.(Durham Woodhouse, Sir J. T.(Hudd'sf'd)
Holland, Wm. H. (York, W. R.) Palmer, George W. (Reading) Woods, Samuel
Horniman, Frederick John Paulton, James Mellor Young, S. (Cavan, East)
Hughes, Colonel Edwin Pearson, Sir Weetman D. Yoxall, James Henry
Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Perks, Robert William Mr. Faithfull Begg and Mr. Monk.
Jacoby, James Alfred Pickard, Benjamin
Aird, John Beckett, Ernest William Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)
Allsopp, Hon. George Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Biddulph, Michael Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)
Arnold, Alfred Blakiston-Houston, John Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r
Arrol, Sir William Blundell, Colonel Henry Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme Charrington, Spencer
Bagot, Capt. JoscelineFitzRoy Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Chelsea, Viscount
Bailey, James (Walworth) Boulnois, Edmund Clarke, Sir Edw. (Plymouth)
Balcarres, Lord Bowles, Capt. H. F.(Middlesex) Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.
Baldwin, Alfred Bowles, T. Gibson(King's Lynn) Coddington, Sir William
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J.(Manch'r) Brassey, Albert Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse
Balfour, Rt. Hn. G.W.(Leeds) Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Colomb, Sir John Charles R.
Banbury, Frederick George Brookfield, A. Montagu Compton, Lord Alwyne
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Brown, Alexander H. Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd
Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor) Bullard, Sir Harry Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.
Bartley, George C. T. Butcher, John George Cox, Irwin Edw. Bainbridge
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Carew, James Laurence Cranborne, Viscount
Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. Carlile, William Walter Cripps, Charles Alfred
Beach, Rt Hn Sir M. H. (Bristol) Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Cross, Herbert S. (Bolton)
Beach, W. W. B. (Hants.) Cayzer, Sir Charles William Cruddas, William Donaldson
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East) Curzon, Viscount
Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies Pilkington, R. (Lancs, Newton
Dalkeith, Earl of Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Pollock, Harry Frederick
Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham) Jenkins, Sir John Jones Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Dickson-Poynder, Sir, John P. Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)
Digby, John K. D. Wingfield- Joicey, Sir James Quilter Sir Cuthbert
Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Jolliffe, Hon. H. George Rasch, Major, Frederic Carne
Dorington, Sir John Edward Kenyon, James Reckitt, Harold James
Doughty, George Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Keswick, William Rentoul, James Alexander
Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S. King, Sir Henry Seymour Richardson, Sir T. Hartlep'l)
Doxford, William Theodore Knowles, Lees Rickett, J. Compton
Drage, Geoffrey Labouchere, Henry Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.
Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Lafone, Alfred Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson
Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph D. Laurie, Lieut.-General Robertson, Herbert, (Hackney
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn Robinson, Brooke
Fardell, Sir T. George Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool) Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw. Lea, Sir Thomas(Londonderry) Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.
Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir J(Manc'r) Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead) Russell, Gen. F.S.(Cheltenham)
Field, Admiral (Eastbourne) Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Finch, George H. Leighton, Stanley Ryder, John Herbert Dudley
Finlay, Sir Robert B. Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn(Swansea Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)
Fisher, William Hayes Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles
FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose- Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
FitzWygram, General Sir F. Long, Col C. W. (Evesham) Savory, Sir Joseph
Flannery, Sir Fortescue Lorne, Marquess of Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard
Fletcher, Sir Henry Lowe. Francis William Seely, Charles Hilton
Foster, Colonel (Lancaster) Lowther, Rt. Hon. Jas. (Kent) Seton-Karr, Henry
Garfit, William Loyd, Archie Kirkman Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)
Gedge, Sydney Macartney, W. G. Ellison Sidebottom, T Harrop) Stalybr.
Gibbons, J. Lloyd Macdona, John Cumming Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)
Gibbs, Hon.Vicary(St Albans) MacIver, David (Liverpool) Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)
Godson, Sir A. Frederick Maclure, Sir John William Stanley, Edward J.(Somerset)
Goldsworthy, Major-General Malcolm, Ian Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth)
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E. Manners, Lord Edward W. J. Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Goschen, Rt Hn. G. J.(StGeo.'s) Maple, Sir John Blundell Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart
Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Marks, Henry Hananel Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Green, W. D. (Wednesbnry) Martin, Richard Biddulph Stock, James Henry
Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury) Massey-Mainwaring, Hon W F Stone, Sir Benjamin
Gretton, John Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire) Strauss, Arthur
Greville, Hon. Ronald Melville, Beresford Valentine Sutherland, Sir Thomas
Gunter, Colonel Milbank, Sir Powlett Chas. J. Tollemache, Henry James
Gurdon, Sir William B. Milton, Viscount Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Hall, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Usborne, Thomas
Halsey, Thomas Frederick Moore, William (Antrim, N.) Valentia, Viscount
Hamilton Rt. Hon. Lord Geo. More, Robt. Jasper, Shropshire) Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard
Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W. Morgan, Hn. Fred.(Monm'ths.) Wanklyn, James Leslie
Hanson, Sir Reginald Mount, William George Warde, Lieut.-Col. C.E.(Kent)
Hardy, Laurence Muntz, Philp A. Warner Thos. Courtenay T.
Hare, Thomas Leigh Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute) Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.
Helder, Augustus Murray, C. J. (Coventry) Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Henderson, Alexander Murray. Col. Wyndham (Bath) Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd
Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter Myers, William Henry Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Hill, Arthur (Down, West) Newark, Viscount Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm
Hill, Sir Edward S. (Bristol) Nicol, Donald Ninian Willox, Sir John Archibald
Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead) O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R.(Bath)
Hoare, Samuel (Norwich) Parkes. Ebenezer Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Hornby, Sir William Henry Pease, Sir J. W. (Durham) Wyndham, George
Howard, Joseph Pender, sir James Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy
Howell, William Tudor Penn, John Young, Commander(Berks, E.)
Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle Percy, Earl TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn Philphotts, Captain Arthur Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther
Hutton, John (Yorks N.R.) Pierpoint, Robert

Motion made, and Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided:—Ayes, 243; Noes, 174. (Division List No. 224.)

Aird, John Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W.(Leeds)
Allsopp, Hon. George Bagot, Capt JoscelineFitzRoy Banbury, Frederick George
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Bailey, James (Walworth) Barnes, Frederic Gorell
Arnold, Alfred Baldwin, Alfred Barry, Sir Francis T.(Windsor)
Arrol, Sir William Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Man.) Bartley, George C. T.
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Foster, Colonel (Lancaster) Milton, Viscount
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Garfit, William Moon, Edward Robert Pacy
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H.(Bristol Gedge, Sydney Moore, William (Antrim, N.)
Beach, W. W. Bramston (Hants) Gibbons, J. Lloyd More, Robt. Jasper (Shropsh.)
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Gibbs, Hon. Vicary(St.Albans) Morgan, Hon. F.(Monm'thsh.)
Beckett, Ernest William Godson, Sir Augustus Fred. Mount, William George
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Goldsworthy, Major-General Muntz, Philip A.
Biddulph, Michael Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)
Blakiston-Houston, John Goschen, Rt Hn G J (StGeorge's) Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)
Blundell, Colonel Henry Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Murray, Col. W. (Bath)
Bonsor, H. Cosmo Orme Green, W. D. (Wednesbury) Myers, William Henry
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury) Newark, Viscount
Boulnois, Edmund Gretton, John Nicol, Donald Ninian
Bowles, Capt. H. F.(Middlesex) Greville, Hon. Ronald
Bowles, T. Gibson (King'sLynn Gunter, Colonel O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Brassey, Albert Gurdon, Sir William B. Parkes Ebenezer
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Hall, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Pease, Sir Joseph W.(Durham)
Brookfield, A. Montagu Halsey, Thomas Frederick Pender, Sir James
Brown, Alexander H. Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George Penn, John
Bullard, Sir Harry Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. Percy, Earl
Butcher, John George Hanson, Sir Reginald Phillpotts, Captain Arthur
Carew, James Laurence Hardy, Laurence Pierpoint, Robert
Carlile, William Walton Hare, Thomas Leigh Pilkington, R. (Lancs,Newton)
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Helder, Augustus Pollock, Harry Frederick
Cayzer, Sir C. William Henderson, Alexander Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East) Hermon-Hodge, R. Trotter Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)
Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich) Hill, Arthur (Down, West)
Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Hill, Sir Edward S. (Bristol) Quilter, Sir Cuthbert
Chamberlain, Rt Hon J (Birm.) Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead) Rasch, Major F. Carne
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Hoare, Samuel (Norwich) Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Hornby, Sir William Henry Rentoul, James Alexander
Charrington, Spencer Howard, Joseph Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)
Chelsea, Viscount Howell, William Tudor Rickett, J. Compton
Clarke, Sir Edw. (Plymouth)) Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.
Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E. Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. T.
Coddington, Sir William Hutton, John (Yorks, N.R.) Robertson, Herbert(Hackney)
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Jackson, Rt. Hn. W. Lawies Robinson, Brooke
Colomb, Sir Jno. Chas. Ready Jebb, Richard Claverhouse Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter
Compton, Lord Alwyne Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Russell, Gen. F. S. (Ch'lten'm)
Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth) Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Cooke,C. W Radcliffe(Heref'd) Jolliffe, Hon. H. George Ryder, John Herbert Dudley
Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W. Kenyon, James Samuel, H. S. (Limehonse)
Cox, Irwin Edw. Bainbridge Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles
Cranborne, Viscount Keswick, William Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Cripps, Charles Alfred Knowles, Lees Savory, Sir Joseph
Cross Herb Shepherd (Bolton) Labouchere, Henry Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard
Cruddas, Wm. Donaldson Laurie, Lieut.-General Seely, Charles Hilton
Curzon, Viscount Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn Seton Karr, Henry
Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh Lawrence. W. F. (Liverpool) Sharpe, William Edward T.
Dalkeith, Earl of Lea, Sir Thos. (Londonderry) Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)
Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham) Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead) Sidebottom, T. H. (Stalybr.)
Dickson-Poynder, Sir J. P. Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)
Digby, John K D. Wingfield- Leighton, Stanley Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)
Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Llewelyn, Sir D.- (Swansea Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)
Dorington, Sir John Edward Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth)
Doughty, George Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Stanley, Lord(Lancs.)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart
Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S. Lorne, Marquess of Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M
Doxford, William Theodore Lowe, Francis William Stock, James Henry
Drage, Geoffrey Lowther, Rt. Hon. J. (Kent) Stone, Sir Benjamin
Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Loyd, Archie Kirkman Strauss, Arthur
Dyke, Rt Hon Sir William Hart Macartney, W. G. Ellison Sutherland, Sir Thomas
Elliot, Hon. A. Ra1ph Douglas Macdona John Cumming Tollemache, Henry James
Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan) MacIver, David (Liverpool) Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Fardell, Sir T. George Maclure, Sir John William
Fellowes, Hon AilwynEdward M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Valentia, Viscount
Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J.(Manc'r Macolm, Ian Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard
Field, Admiral (Eastbourne) Manners, Lord EdwardWm.J. Wanklyn, James Leslie
Finch, George H. Maple, Sir John Blundell Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E.(Kent)
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Marks, Henry Hananel Warner. Thos. Courtenay T.
Fisher, William Hayes Martin, Richard Biddulph Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.
FitzGerald, SirRobert Penrose- Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F. Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
FitzWygram, General S F. Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire) Wharton, Rt. Hon. Jno. Lloyd
Flannery, Sir Fortescue Melville, Beresford Valentine Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Fletcher, Sir Henry Milbank, Sir Powlett C. John Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)
Willox, Sir John Archibald Wyndham, George TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R.(Bath) Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm Young, Commander(Berks,E.)
Allan, William (Gateshead) Gourley, Sir Edward Temperley O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Allison, Robert Andrew Graham, Henry Robert Oldroyd, Mark
Ambrose, Robert Gull, Sir Cameron O'Malley, William
Anson, Sir William Reynell Haldane, Richard Burdon Palmer, Sir Charles M(Durham)
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Harwood, George Palmer, G. Wm. (Reading)
Ashton, Thomas Gair Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo. Paulton, James Mellor
Asquith, Rt. Hon. H. Henry Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- Pearson, Sir Weetman D.
Austin, M. Hazen, Walter Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)
Bainbridge, Emerson Healy, T. M. (N. Louth) Perks, Robert William
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H. Pickard, Benjamin
Begg, Ferdinand Faithful Hobhouse, Henry Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Bethell, Commander Hogan, James Francis Pilkington, Sir GA(Lancs S W)
Billson, Alfred Holden, Sir Angus Price, Robert John
Birrell, Augustine Holland, W. H. (York, W. R.) Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)
Blake, Edward Horniman, Frederick John Provand, Andrew Dryburgh
Bousfield, William Robert Hughes, Colonel Edwin Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Brunner, Sir J. Tomlinson Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Richardson, J. (Durham, S.E.)
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Roberts, John H. (Denbighs)
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Jacoby, James Alfred Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
Burns, John Johnston, William (Belfast) Robson, William Snowdon
Burt, Thomas Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Buxton, Sydney Charles Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea) Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Caldwell, James Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.) Schwann, Charles E.
Cameron, Sir Charles(Glasgow) Kay-Shuttle worth, Rt Hn Sir U Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)
Cameron, Robert (Durham) Kearley, Hudson E. Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.)
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Kemp, George Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)
Carvill. P. George Hamilton Kitson, Sir James Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Causton, Richard Knight Lambert, George Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Cawley, Frederick Langley, Batty Souttar, Robinson
Clark, Dr. G. B.(Caithnes-sh.) Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland) Steadman, William Charles
Clough, Walter Owen Leng, Sir John Stephens, Henry Charles
Coghill, Douglas Harry Lewis, John Herbert Strachey, Edward
Corbett, A. Cameron(Glasgow) Lloyd-George, David Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H. Logan, John William Stuart, James (Shoreditch)
Crombie, John William Lough, Thomas Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal) Lowles, John Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G.(Oxf'd Un.)
Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John Thomas, Abel(Carmarthen, E.)
Dalziel, James Henry Lyttleton, Hon. Alfred Thomas, Alfred(Glamorgan, E.)
Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan Macaleese, Daniel Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)
Davitt, Michael MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Thornton, Percy M.
Denny, Colonel M'Arthur, William (Cornwall) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Dewar, Arthur M'Ghee, Richard Wallace, Robert (Perth)
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles M'Killop, James Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds S.)
Dillon, John M'Laren, Charles Benjamin Wedderburn, Sir William
Doogan, P. C. M'Leod, John Weir, James Galloway
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Maddison, Fred Whiteley, George (Stockport)
Dunn, Sir William Mellor, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Yorks.) Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Edwards, Owen Morgan Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Ellis. John Edward Monckton, Edward Philip Williams, John Carvell(Notts.)
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Monk, Charles James Wills, Sir William Henry
Fenwick, Charles Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.) Wilson, Henry J.(York, W.R.)
Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith) Morgan, W. P. (Merthyr) Wilson, John (Govan)
Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Morrell, George Herbert Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Hudders.)
Flynn, James Christopher Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford) Woods, Samuel
Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk) Moulton, John Fletcher Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)
Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Norton, Capt. Cecil William Yovall, James Henry
Galloway, William Johnson Nussey, Thomas Willans
Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J. O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Tennant and Mr. Spicer.
Goddard, Daniel Ford O'Connor, James(Wicklow, W.

Lords' Amendment— In page 6, line 25, after 'council' insert: 3. Every borough council shall from time to time appoint a finance committee for regulating and controlling the finance of the council; and no order for payment of any sum, whether on account of capital or income, shall be made by a borough council except in pursuance of a resolution of the council passed on the recommendation of the finance committee; and any costs, debt, or liability exceeding fifty pounds shall not be incurred except upon a resolution of the council passed on an estimate submitted by the finance committee. The notice of the meeting at which any resolution for the pay- ment of any sum by the borough council (otherwise than for ordinary periodical payments) or any resolution for incurring any costs, debt, or liability exceeding fifty pounds will be proposed, shall state the amount of the said slum, costs, debt. or liability, and the purpose for which they are to be paid or incurred. Provided that the foregoing provisions shall not apply to payments made in pursuance of a precept from another authority.'

the next Amendment, read a second time.


This is an Amendment of a very stringent character, and so far as municipal corporations are concerned it is an entirely novel provision. The clause enables one of the committees—the statutory finance committee—of the councils practically to have the whole control of the financial operations of the new corporations. I venture to think the provisions of the Bill were quite adequate for the purpose of maintaining the proper management of the finances of the corporations. By Clause 13 an audit is to take place, and if there has been any improper expenditure a surcharge can be made, and the responsibility falls upon the individuals who concurred in making the payments. The Lords by a small majority, and against the Government, carried the addition of this clause, which lessens the comparatively small freedom which is given to these new corporations. The proposal is objectionable from a business point of view, as the delay and inconvenience caused by the provision will be great, and to carry through some proposals may involve very considerable time. I know of no similar provision in the Municipal Corporations Act, which has been generally cited as based upon long experience and as the best mode of indicating how the new councils should conduct their business. In that Act the greatest freedom is given to the corporation to appoint any committees it thinks fit for any purposes which, in the opinion of the council, will be better conducted by means of a committee than by the whole council. That is the businesslike way of dealing with the matter, as local views and local circumstances differ. I quite admit that as the councils will be composed of business men they probably will, as the municipal corporations do, appoint a finance committee, but they will do it much better by having regard to their own particular circumstances than by having a stereotyped statutory limitation imposed upon them, which they may feel from experience to be inconvenient, but which cannot possibly be avoided without an amending statute. The best way to form these councils is to trust them as business-like bodies to conduct their business in a proper way, and if they find it necessary to have financial control we may depend upon it that that financial control will be found. In my own constituency the greatest difficulty is apprehended from this restrictive system, and the feeling of the vestries is very strongly opposed to the proposal. It may be said that this provision has been made in the case of county councils, but the closer analogy by far is the borough councils of which the new corporation is to form a unit. There is a great distinction between the county councils and the borough councils in this matter. The former have very lunch larger areas of administration, their proceedings are comparatively slower, and they have time for going through all these formalities and conforming to the provisions of the Act of 1888. But in boroughs generally, and in London especially, these are matters which have to be very frequently conducted with some speed. It is very difficult to get the three member together to sign the cheques; they may be distributed throughout London during the day. I think, under the circumstances I have set forth, this is not an Amendment which this House ought to sanction, and I hope it will not be agreed to.


I do not know that this Amendment is of very great importance, but on the whole I should advise the House to accept the Amendment of the Lords. It is quite true that these boroughs are intended to follow the general lines of the municipal corporations, and it is also true that in the Municipal Corporation Act there is no statutory obligation to form committees for carrying out the financial operations of the council, but as a matter of fact all those boroughs which have financial matters to deal with do appoint these committees, and in all our recent legislation such committees have been made obligatory. Not merely in the rural county councils, but in the London County Council there must be a separate committee to deal with financial matters, and no inconvenience has been found to follow such a proceeding. We have therefore to guide us the experience of the twelve years which have elapsed since the establishment of county councils, and that would be enough to show conclusively whether or not there was any practical inconvenience attaching to the scheme which has been thought by Parliament to be advisable as a check upon wasteful expenditure or vast financial undertakings. That being so, I think it would be desirable to accept this Amendment of the Lords. We may do so without having any fear as to the inconvenience to the vestries which it is anticipated will ensue. I took some trouble to inquire upon that point among the local authorities existing in London, and it was only to-day I received one suggestion in the direction indicated by my right hon. friend. All the other vestries were clear that the provision at the worst would be inoperative, while most of them anticipated that some advantage would follow from it.

MR. STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

I merely wish to corroborate the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that this system has worked exceedingly well on the London County Council. There is no doubt it acts as a salutary check, and the result has been that in all the Debates in this House there has never any fault been found with the finance of the London County Council. It has been of immense advantage to the London County Council to have such a check, and I cannot recall anything but advantage which has resulted to that body from this system.

Lords' Amendment agreed to.

Lords' Amendment— In page after Clause 8, insert Clause A— '(A.)—(1) All payment to and by the borough council shall be made to and by the borough treasurer, and all payments by the council shall, unless made in pursuance of the specific requirement of an Act of Parliament or of an order of a competent court, be made in pursuance of an order of the council signed by three members of the finance committee present at the meeting of the council, and countersigned by the town clerk, and the same order may include several payments. Moreover, all cheques for payment of moneys issued in pursuance of any such order, shall be countersigned by the town clerk, or by a deputy approved by the council. '(2) Any such order may be removed into the High Court of Justice by writ of certiorari, and may be wholly or partially disallowed or confirmed on motion and hearing with or without costs, according to the judgment and discretion of the court,'

the next Amendment, read a second time.


I am rather inclined to agree with the argument used by the First Lord of the Treasury in regard to the Amendment just decided, but I think in this case the principle is carried a little too far. There are further conditions to the payment of money by these bodies. Some of those provisions are of a very salutary character, but at the end of the clause are these words: "Moreover, all cheques for payment of moneys issued in pursuance of any such order shall be countersigned by the town clerk." The Amendment I move is to leave out the word "counter," and simply say they should be signed by the town clerk. Every necessity of good finance is secured in the early part of the clause, and it is also provided that the town clerk should sign every order. The bank cannot pay these orders unless it has already received instructions signed by three members of the committee, and my suggestion is that it would be sufficient then if the cheque was signed by the town clerk, and not countersigned. Think what will be involved. There are 500 cheques to be signed every fortnight in the Islington Vestry, some for very small amounts. If these four names have to be attached, 2,000 signatures will have to he made, and no good end will be secured, because the bank will have already got a list signed by three members of the committee, and will have no power to pay anything not on that list. The clause, as it stands, will involve a great deal of financial difficulty, red tape, and unnecessary restriction, and therefore I move this Amendment.

Amendment proposed to the Lords Amendment— In line 9, to leave out the word 'countersigned,' and insert the word 'signed,'—(Mr. Lough)-instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the word 'countersigned' stand part of the Lords, Amendment."


I hope the House will not accept the proposal to omit the word "counter." Under the Local Government Act all such cheques have to be countersigned by the clerk of the council or his deputy, and I think it is only right that after a cheque has been signed in the usual way it should be further verified by the signature of the town clerk being affixed to it.


In view of that expression of opinion I will withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lords' Amendment agreed to.

Other Lords' Amendments agreed to.

Lords' Amendment— In page 10, line 37, to leave out from 'that' to end of the sub-section, and insert: '(a) If the Commissioners under this Act make a special Report to Parliament that by reason of anything done under any of the adoptive Acts, or for any other exceptional reason, it is impracticable to deal with a detached part of a parish in manner required by the foregoing provisions of this section, those provisions shall not apply; and further provided that: '(b) The foregoing provisions of this section shall not apply to the hamlet of Knightsbridge,'

the next Lords' Amendment, read a second time.

MR. BOUSFIELD (Hackney, N.)

I do not think it was the intention of the Lords in introducing this Amendment to make any change in sub-Section 2; but as it refers to "the foregoing provisions" that sub-section would be affected. I would suggest that some words should be inserted to make that clear.


No words are needed at all, as it is only in the case of a parish in London which is wholly detached that the provision is operative. The second sub-section deals with another matter.

Lords' Amendment agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to, with a consequential Amendment to the Bill.