§ MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
On behalf of the honourable Member for East Antrim I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that, in regard to the district council of Antrim, that township and its rural electors, numbering 810 voters, are to have six representatives, while the town and rural electors of Ballyclare, in the same district council, numbering 925 voters, are to have but two representatives; and whether he will direct the attention of the Local Government Board to the matter, so that the anomaly may be amended?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY TO THE LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND (Mr. GERALD W. BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
In fixing the number of councillors for towns under section 23 of the Act of last year, the general principle followed was to give the towns as nearly as possible the same representation on the district councils, in proportion to the total number of councillors, as they had on the board of guardians. When the number of district councillors in a rural electoral division was made two instead of one by an Amendment carried in the House of Lords, the number of councillors assigned to the electoral division of Antrim, which previously had three guardians, was also doubled, in order to keep the proportion the same. Of the six councillors thus assigned to the original electoral division of Antrim, four were assigned to Antrim Urban, and the other two, in accordance with the Act, to Antrim Rural. Ballyclare is a purely rural division. No dissatisfaction was expressed at the number of councillors to be returned for it until the Orders of the Local Government Board had been issued, and the question of adding to its representation was not considered. There are, undoubtedly. 521 anomalies in connection with the population and representation of different electoral divisions in many cases throughout Ireland, but, as I have already explained, it would have been impossible to have remedied this state of things without carefully examining the circumstances of some 4,000 constituencies.