HC Deb 04 May 1899 vol 70 cc1321-74

Amendment again proposed— In page 1, line 30, to leave out from the word 'ward,' to the word 'regard,' in page 2, line 1."—(Mr. Sydney Buxton)

MR. STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

ventured to express the hope that the right honourable Gentleman in charge of the Bill would see his way to accept the present Amendment. In reviewing the history of the system of election of local governing bodies, lie called attention to the fact that, whereas in London, under the provisions the Act of 1894, it, was open to every board of guardians to elect one-third of its members every year, or to have the election of the whole board every three years, all the boards of guardians in London had adopted the triennial method. He thought that fact should disabuse the mind of any Gentleman in the House who might think this was in any sense a Party question, because both Liberals and Conservatives were agreed as to the desirability of adopting this system of election. He appealed to Members on both sides of the House who were personally identified with the local government of London as to whether the multiplicity of elections in London was not a really serious evil. They had already three great triennial elections in Loodon—those were for the County Council, the Boards of Guardians, and the School Board. It would, however, be an advantage to have those elections in different years. In 1900 there would be the next. School Beard election; in 1901 the next election of the London county council; and if they could arrange that the second election for he new bodies came in 1902 they would have the great municipal elections of London placed in different years. He thought that would give rise to a greater amount of interest in local matters, and to the advantage of all concerned. The extension and multiplicity of elections was a serious item, but he did not advocate triennial elections merely from the point of view of cost. Everyone connected with local government in London was impressed with the disadvantage of too many elections The boards of guardians, which represented every shade of political opinion and voluntarily adopted triennial elections, were well satisfied with the results, and he trusted that that system would be adopted in the present Bill.

MR. W. F. D. SMITH (Strand)

said he thought the arguments on both sides were very evenly balanced. He admitted, however, that there were strong arguments in favour of annual elections, but there was one that had net been mentioned. For instance, if in a par particular borough a policy was being pursued which was very much to the distaste of the majority of the electors, the composition of the council could, at the end of the year, be changed to such an extent as either to modify or reverse that policy. So little interest had been shown in the annual elections in London that this, in itself, was a strong argument for making the elections triennial. He ventured to suggest that the views of both sides of the question might be met if, at a later stage of the proceedings, the Government provided for triennial elections in London should two-thirds of the borough councils petition the Local Government, Board for them.

MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)

said the right honourable Gentleman in charge of the Bill must see that there was a very strong feeling on both sides of the House in favour of the Amendment. For his part, he did not attach too much importance to the fact that all the, guardians, or at any rate an enormous majority of them, had adopted the system of triennial election. He based his arguments in support of the Amendment on very different grounds. In the first place, the Lane of vestrydom in London had been the lack of popular interest in vestry elections. By the adoption of triennial elections that apathy would, to a very considerable extent, disappear. Triennial elections were a necessary concomitant of the adoption of the system of aldermen. Whatever strength the objection as to cost formerly had it had greater strength now, for double-membered constituencies were now being adopted, and the only way, in which annual elections in those constituencies could be worked would be by taking one-third of the districts each year.


said he desired, as one who had lived for the greater part of his life in London, to put before the Committee certain considerations. The object of the Bill, as he understood it, was to improve local administration in London, and, as everyone who had taken part in such administration must be aware, there never could be a permanent improvement until there was an elevation of the social and intellectual standard of those who had the public spirit to come forward and take office. He might be wrong, but he had always believed that one of the reasons why, as a rule, the administration of provisional municipalities was unquestionably superior to that of London was to be found in the fact that there were annual elections. Speaking generally, municipal administration in the provinces had attained a higher standard than that which prevailed in London, and the London County Council elections were held every three years. His experience of London was that for a considerable part of the first year after the elections members were occupied in fighting their battles over again, and as soon as they arrived within measureable distance of the next election a large pro-portion of the time of the representatives of the local bodies was taken up with electioneering matters. He thought the excellent administration which existed in provincial municipalities was due to the fact that members gave a very considerable proportion of their time to the work of improving local administration. He was afraid that if honourable Mem- bers adopted the Amendment gentlemen who could make plausible appeals to the electors, and whose special aptitude for electioneering was superior to their administrative capacity, would come into prominence, and these were not of a class that they desired to permanently dominate the new municipalities. He quite admitted that the question was a very difficult one, but he could not help thinking that the adoption, of the Amendment would largely vitiate the benefit expected from the Act.

MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)

said he would venture to add his appeal to the Government to adopt the principle of triennial elections. He did not quite agree, with his honourable Friend the Member for the Strand that the arguments on both sides of the House were very evenly balanced, because, to his mind, this question went to the very root of the Bill. As he understood it, the motive of the Bill was to create such public interest in local government as would lead to a restoration of the use of the franchise. The use of the franchise in these local elections had fallen away almost to nothing in many parts of London, and it had fallen away not only because of the want of dignity attaching to the local authority, but because these constant elections were never concentrated upon any comprehensive view or question. He could not himself see anything of importance in the argument which had been so freely used as to triennial elections introducing an element of politics in local government, because if politics were to be introduced in these, elections they would be introduced just as much in the annual as in the triennial elections. Politics were introduced by the Party organisations. The Party organisations always existed, and they were only too glad of the manual opportunity of exercising their efforts, and, so far as his acquaintance with London went, they certainly not retire from the exercise of those efforts on account of annual elections. But there was one argument which appeared to him to be of equal importance, and that was that by these annual elections they never obtained from the electorate a comprehensive view of the policy of the vestry. Elections were often in the nature of snatch divisions: they turned on some incident of the moment, and their frequency detracted from their interest.

MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)

said he thought honourable Members opposite attached too much importance to this issue. Considerable evidence was given on the point before toe Royal Commission, and witnesses, who came from all parts of the country, were very emphatic, each in supporting the system to which he was accustomed. There doubtless was a good deal to be said as to the difference between London and the country in this respect. The opinion had been expressed that they must have these elections every year in order to get rid of the apathy that prevailed. Great boroughs like Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham however, were all very much excited when the annual elections came round. The official representatives of these, great municipal boroughs gave evidence that the system of annual elections was very greatly approved of. But how were they going to get rid of the apathy of London? Surely if London were so easily moved it would be very much excited at the present moment. Here was a Bill before Parliament which dealt with the whole organisation of local government of London, and yet he feared very little opinion had been expressed with regard to it. The hope of getting persons engaged in London government whom they had not had before, charged with superior duties, was, he believed, more likely to be realised by getting one-third of the members elected every year than by electing all the members every third year. The opinion given before the Royal Commission by the representatives of provincial municipalities was that they bad tried the existing system and approved of its simplicity and continuity, and that the administrative excellence of their corporations depended on its permanence. He suggested, therefore, that the system proposed in the Bill should in the first place be tried.

MR. BOND (Nottingham, E.)

thought that if they adopted the plan of having the elections every three years a larger number of voters would go to the poll, but it did not necessarily follow that they would get better representatives sent to the vestry. The excitement, if any, would be of a comparatively factitious nature, and would largely depend upon the interest that the local political organisations took in the matter. Nor did he think that the electors who would be induced by what he might call political pressure to go to the poll would necessarily select the men best fitted for the local governing body. It was quite true that. London was different from provincial boroughs. There was no doubt that that was to be accounted for by the fact that in London there could not be the same kind of political life that they bad in a provincial borough. The inhabitant of Hampstead, Chelsea, Fulham, or Kensington, went to his work in the morning in some spot far away from the place where he lived, and returned in the evening tired with his day's work, and disinclined to interest himself in local matters. In Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and provincial towns, with a smaller population, the man who took part in local affairs was known by name to a very large section of the community. The local journal, which was the newspaper to which the great bulk of the inhabitants went for information and guidance, took note of the doings of the local councillors, and if they appeared at public meetings or took part in any way in the public life of the town, they were more or less conspicuous in the eyes of their fellow-townsmen. But the local affairs of Kensington or of Chelsea did not receive recognition in the papers which the inhabitants of Kensington or Chelsea were in the habit of reading. There might or might not be local papers, but those local papers were only read by a very small section of the community, and the consequence was that when the inhabitants of those places were asked to vote for persons to represent their interests upon the local councils they did not., as a rule, know anything about them. Therefore, when the names and qualifications of 18, 20, or 24 candidates came before them they would have to seek for guidance somewhere else. The guidance, of course, would be furnished in the shape of a list of candidates by the local political organisation, with a request to the elector to vote for the whole of the names. He thought everyone would agree that that was not a satisfactory way of arriving at the best possible men for the conduct of local administrative work, and for that reason he, for one, thought it would he rather a disaster if they were to depart from a well-established practice in favour of a proposal which had been commended to the Government by the opposite side.

MR. LOWLES (Shoreditch, Haggerston)

said the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Bodmin was quite wrong when he remarked that London was indifferent to the Measure now before the House. He would not have said that if he had been a London Member, because for the last month scarcely a post had passed which had not brought a considerable body of evidence showing the interest taken by local bodies and individuals in the question. Some change was wanted for the better; the state of affairs could not possibly be worse than it was now. In his own constituency he had known vestry elections in which only 5 per cent. of the electors had gone to the poll, and it was ridiculous to contend that this proportion represented the opinion of the constituency. A Bill was required to emphasise this new departure. He was confident that the result of making the elections triennial would be to give an additional importance to the contest, while inducing a larger number of voters to go to the poll.


In expressing my own views upon this subject the difficulty in which I find myself placed is not diminished by the fact that, on the whole, I feel myself driven to a conclusion, not indeed very strongly felt, but clearly felt, which does not appear to be in harmony with a great number of honourable Members on both sides of the House who represent London constituencies. I cannot help thinking that something which fell from the last speaker indicates the temper of mind in which this question is very naturally viewed. It. has a great deal of justification, though I am not sure that it is of a character to enable the House to arrive at a right, sober, and judicious decision. My honourable Friend said that the present system of election to vestries is intolerable, that only 5 per cent. of the electors go to the poll, and that a change is called for. Now, Sir, I sympathise with my honourable Friend. The whole object of this Bill, no doubt, is to make a change to substitute for the vestries, which have not risen to the full height of their opportunities in local government; bodies of higher dignity and authority. The mere fact that a particular form of election is associated with the bodies whom my honourable Friend wishes to dispossess is not, I think, by itself a very strong reason for making the particular change the honourable Member desires, and the arguments on the other side have not, perhaps, received clue consideration from my honourable Friends. I admit that the effect of this Amendment, or of any Amendment, must inevitably leave a large element of conjecture. The House is dealing with a state of new things about which we may have guesses and prophecies, but with regard to which we have no absolute settled experience. No analogies drawn front the extra-metropolitan area, from the principal boroughs in the country, from the vestries, are conclusive as to the result we may anticipate from this or any other suggested change. But I think that my honourable Friends, in their laudable desire to produce this kind of interest in the elections which they think will bring forward the right kind of candidates and get them elected to serve in the new boroughs, have rather mistaken the character of the disease from which the community suffers and the nature of the remedy appropriate to it. Suppose that the result of adopting the Amendment will be that every three years there will be an agitation extending over the whole of London and affecting every borough in the vast area—an agitation similar in kind and carried out by the same bodies, supported by the same papers, by the same organisations as in the case of the London County Council elections—will they or will they not by that augmentation of interest get a better class of men on the vestry? I confess that I greatly doubt this. The only produce of that species of agitation on which my honourable Friends rely for augmenting the interest of local elections is not that the local man of position, anxious to do the practical work of a borough, will come forward. It is rather the gentleman, probably with great facility of speech, a man very desirous to serve his Party organisation, be that Party organisation Conservative or Radical, in some sphere or other in the House if possible, in the County Council if not, and next in the borough council. Perhaps it may be said that we all belong to that class of man—that we are all more or less professional politicians in that sense. But I ask my honourable Friends whether the particular class of man they wish to introduce in these borough councils is not of a somewhat different complexion; whether the particular class of men they wish to elect is not a man who has a solid desire to do the routine work connected with his district, and who looks upon local agitation and electoral contests as so much time abstracted from the proper work of his life. That is the kind of man I wish to get. I am far indeed from being convinced that the species of interest which will no doubt arise in having the elections triennial will produce that kind of candidate. We do not want all the agitation connected with a general election to accompany not merely the County Council and School Board elections, but the elections for the new bodies. It should not be extended, at any rate, without further thought, consideration, and experience of these new municipal boroughs. The right honourable Member for Bodmin referred to the experience of the great municipalities of the country. It is true that London differs from Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, or Leeds; but, though there are differences, human nature, after all, is the same in each; and I think it has to be shown that the differences are such that we ought to adopt a policy in London which not one of the great cities I have mentioned would tolerate. My right honourable Friend has quoted the evidence given before the Royal Commission. I have taken some trouble to make inquiries of those intimately concerned with electoral matters in these boroughs, and I cannot exaggerate the strength of their opinion or the fervour with which they hold the faith that it is on the annual elections, and the annual elections alone, that the sound working of their system depends. It seems to me against that universal and strong experience that we have no counter experience to advance. My honourable Friends rely upon the experience of the vestries. But we all admit that the vestries have been a failure, and that it is not from the vestries that we can draw any true analogy as regards the future London local life. And, if that is so, should we not be in the highest degree rash in introducing into Bill which has for its primary object to assimilate these new boroughs with the great extra-metropolitan boroughs—a principle of election which was against the unanimous experience and the strong conviction of every man who worked in the municipalities of these boroughs? Judging from the speeches we have heard, I gather that a, majority of the London representatives do not hold the view which I have perhaps very imperfectly endeavoured to express. I may remind theta, that not merely the vestries alluded to by my honourable Friend, but the Committee of the great Westminster conference, representing two or three millions of the people, and I do not know what rateable value, unanimously passed a resolution in favour of annual as against triennial elections. I think that fact should be borne in mind. But I should rely, in the advice I am now offering the House, more on the caution which ought to regulate our proceedings in this House, than on any cut-and-dried theory in which people profess to have absolute confidence. I have no such confidence. All I can say is let us in the inception of these new bodies learn from the experience of similar bodies outside London. If we find, after a. fair trial, that the system is a failure, and that there is some mysterious and unexplained reason why Loudon cannot, without the stimulus of a general election, get up and keep up any interest in local affairs, then we may have, though with_ sorrow and regret., to abandon the system of an annual election and substitute for it that of triennial election. Such a, Bill would be very easily passed through the House; there would be no difficulty in making that change; but all I plead for is that before the change is made we should have adequate experience of the system which has succeeded so well elsewhere. I should feel, so far as I am concerned, I should be taking a very heavy responsibility if under my advice the House deliberately rejected the universal experience of every borough outside London, and I ask it to take advantage of the lesson which these boroughs have given us, and accept the proposal in the Bill.


said he had listened with regret to the conclusion to which the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House had come, be cause he thought that, in consequence of the way in which the Debate had been conducted, and the large number of Members who had spoken in favour of the Amendment, the right honourable Gentleman would have considered it more favourably. The right honourable Gentleman had said that he would not alter the original proposal in the Bill for annual elections, because it had been a success in the case of the great municipalities outside London. He did not know why that argument should have such great influence with the right honourable Gentleman, because, after all, they had had no experience outside London of the triennial system, and it did not follow that they would not have been still more successful if they had tried the triennial system. If the annual system bad been so successful in regard to municipalities outside London, why was it that the Government only a few years ago had adopted in regard to the London County Council and the county councils throughout the country the triennial system? He would say, as a London Member, and one interested much in London questions, that the triennial -system had been extraordinarily successful in the case of the London County Council, and he believed that every member of that body, whether he was Moderate or Progressive, would admit that the triennial system had worked successfully, that it had created a widespread interest in the work of that assembly, and, in his opinion, had produced a better class of candidates than would have stood in the case of annual elections. He believed that they would get a better class of candidates for the new boroughs if the elections were tri- ennial; at any rate, it ought to be left to the option of the electors to have the election annually or triennially. It had been said they suffered from two things in London; one was the apathy of the electors, and the other was the number of elections. Now, the London County Council represented to them the municipalities of other towns, and it was admitted that the interest in the London County Council was very great. Now, if the Amendment was not accepted they would be practically adding to the already large number of elections in London. The honourable Member for Nottingham had made a point about the large number of councillors who had in be elected for each ward in the new boroughs, but in some parts of London, for the- School Board, for instance, they had to elect eight or nine members, and that had not created any substantial difficulty. After the very strong expression of opinion that had been given on the other side of the House, after the way in which this had been treated as a non-Party question, but especially titer the hesitating speech of the Leader of the House, he thought he would be justified in pressing the Amendment to a Division.

SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)

said that, although the other London Members might hardly regard him as a London Member for the purposes of this Bill, yet at the same time he had had a good deal of experience of London Government. For the first few years he had had a seat in the House he sat for a borough in the country, and his experience in every way was similar to that of the honourable Member for Bodmin, and he was very glad to hear that his honourable Friend intended to support the Bill as it stood. For his own part, he believed that, good as the work of the London County Council had been in many respects, it would have been better if they had had annual elections instead of triennial elections. There was no doubt that if the elections came triennially there would be more excitement, but he was not sure that excitement was the atmosphere in which they would secure the best candidates. A question had been asked, Why it was that there were not more elections in the City? Well, if elections turned on political considerations, everybody was likely to vote, but if they turned on purely municipal grounds, there was naturally not quite so much interest in the matter. Elections in the City were not fought so much on political grounds, and that was the reason why there were not many contests in the City. It seemed to him that the system the Government proposed would promote elections on purely municipal considerations.


had hoped that annual elections would be done away with, if only for the reason that the people were apathetic when elections were so frequent. At least, it was only political electors who then voted. If the object was to further efficiency of administration and continuity of policy, that would be much better obtained by the election of the whole body for three years rather than by partial elections every year, while considerable expense would be saved. He had consulted many vestry clerks about the matter, but although they were in favour of annual elections because they made a certain amount of profit out of them, they admitted that it would be better for London if the election were triennial. He had examined very carefully different communications from vestries all over London, and he was glad to see that a great majority were in favour of triennial elections. He did not like to hear so much about the vestries having been a failure. They had conducted the business of London for something like 44 years, and the manner in which they had done so ought not to be disparaged. They deserved, on the contrary, praise for what they had done.

SIR A. K. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)

said that this was so important a point in regard to municipal administration that he ventured to say a few words on it. On the abstract question there was room for almost any amount of diversity of opinion. They were, therefore, thrown back on the cardinal fact of experience in municipal affairs. Well, that ex- perience extended over half a century in. all the large, as well as the smaller, centres of population. He was bound to say that the Association of Municipal Corporations, although they showed diversity of opinion in regard to Poor Law administration—had always, whenever this question was approached, been. unanimous in favour of the annual system of retirement by thirds. The object of the Bill, as he understood, was to conform the local government of London to what had proved so successful in the provinces, and if the provincial experience had been so marked in regard to the great success of annual elections, they should pause before they risked an experiment in London, so different. His belief was that the annual system would eradicate politics from municipal elections—a very important consideration indeed. He would use an argument which would appeal to honourable Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, namely, that the annual system was, essentially a democratic system. It secured that the representation should be a reflex of the opinion of the electorate of the moment. Under the triennial system, there might be a change in public opinion about many questions, yet the council might continue to enforce a policy which was far from a reflex of the opinion outside. With the annual system they had a more frequent change of the representative body, and, therefore, it became inure directly representative of the opinion of the constituencies. It appealed more directly to the electors, while at the same time it preserved the continuity of general policy and administration.


urgently appealed to the Leader of the House to allow the Division to be taken on independent lines. He did so more confidently because, during the Debate, opinion had been expressed altogether apart from Party considerations and associations. As a very old London citizen, he could, from experience, entirely agree with the statement that the local spirit had by no means the vitality here as elsewhere, and that was the reason why experience drawn from elsewhere entirely failed in regard to London. It had been said that annual elections were more democratic than triennial. But he would point to the United States, where the elections were almost. universally annual, and every sound political thinker there condemned the system as a besetting evil. Under that system, the elections had passed from the hands of the people into the hands of a certain number of political wire pullers who arranged, convened, and influenced the political conventions. The result was obvious. The ordinary citizen got sick of the whole business, and neglected to go to the poll, and the elections fell into the hands of the political and municipal bosses—one of the most odious creations of modern democracy. He had been brought to the very opposite conclusions from the same facts as his right honourable Friend the Member for Bodmin. That right honourable Gentleman said that if they had triennial elections, there would be excitement, agitation, large meetings, and much public speaking. But when brought to the concrete, that meant that the Citizens of London, who had hitherto taken no interest in local affairs, would begin to take an interest in them. The honourable Member had stated that only 5 per cent. of the voters in those constituencies took part. If they had annual elections they would continue to have this normal number. It was only by giving to these elections the seriousness which they would get by triennial elections that they could hope to get the people to take an interest in local affairs, and if they did not do this the Bill would he a failure.

SIR J. BLUNDELL MAPLE (Camberwell, Dulwich)

said that he hoped to get an alteration made in clause 21, so that they might have these bodies elected at the first election for three years certain. No doubt they wanted better men, and this would guarantee that they would get good men, and afterwards one-third could go out annually. This was a new experiment, but London was different to other places, and it was too soon to say that one-third should go off in the first year. In several large clubs with which he was connected, they found it better to elect the committee for three years, and then allow a third of it to retire every year. Some time would elapse before these new bodies could be properly organised, and the mem- bers of the first body elected should have time to mature their thoughts. He should vote for the Bill as it was now drawn, hoping that clause 21 might be amended in the way he had suggested.

MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

said the First Lord of the Treasury had admitted the value of Home Rule in his speech, and if there must be a Division it should be between the London Members. There seemed to be a disposition to treat the London Members as if they did not know their own business. They had had speeches from Members for all sorts of distant places, but so far as the opinion of the London Members was concerned, they were pretty unanimous in favour of triennial elections. He denied that the Westminster conference ever took place, although certain gentlemen were called together to discuss a scheme proposed by Mr. Wheeler. The local authorities were so heartbroken about this Westminster conference that they resolved to hold a genuine conference, to which the whole of the 42 governing bodies in the metropolis were invited. There were 26 local bodies who sent delegates, and they spent the whole afternoon in discussing these problems.


Who was the chairman?


said the vicar of Islington was the chairman of the conference, at which a resolution in favour of triennial elections was carried by 29 votes to 19. There was really no provision in the Bill for an annual election, because there was all the difference in the world between an election and a third of an election. There was as much difference between an election and a. third of an election as there was between a horse and a third of a horse. A horse was a most useful animal, but a third of a horse was only fit for cat's meat. These bodies, like the House of Commons, wanted a clean sweep of the old gang occasionally. Another important objection was in regard to the expense, for there was nothing which the people groaned under so much as the rates. Annual elections were one of the most expensive luxuries of the whole of their municipal system, for they would cost practically as much as triennial elections. The Member for Birmingham made a singular mistake when he said that annual elections would only be one-third of the cost, for they would be just as expensive as the election of the whole body. The right honourable Gentleman had carried the analogy of the country municipalities too far, for there was no central body in Manchester and Liverpool like there was in London, where they had the London County Council, which was elected triennially. He hoped they would continue to have triennial elections in London, instead of these worrying, costly annual elections. The conditions were not the same as in the country, and he hoped the Committee would treat the question from the standpoint of Home Rule and let the London Members decide the question.

MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)

thought that the First Lord of the Treasury had altogether ignored the experience of London upon this subject. The voice of London was one chorus of condemnation of the present system. The people were worried and harassed, and put to expense, and they would have no more of it, and they would rather let their institutions go to the dogs than turn out at so many elections. What was one man's meat was another man's poison, and in provincial towns they had not so many difficulties to contend with as they had in London. From inquiries he had made he did not think that opinion in favour of annual elections was at all universal in the provincial municipalities. If this Measure was to reform local life, at all events they should reform that which would lead up to it. He did not think it was respectful to London, with 5,000,000 of inhabitants, that their experience should be ignored altogether, and he very much regretted the decision which the Government had come to. He hoped the Government would allow them to vote freely upon this question, for he felt sure that a large majority of the House were in favour of triennial elections. The machinery required to work an annual election would cost just as much as a triennial election of the whole body. The apathy complained of was due to the disgust of the electors on account of the unnecessary worry they were subjected to, and that apathy would continue unless the cause of it was removed.

MR. DOUGHTY (Great Grimsby)

believed that it was vital to the success of this Bill that they should have annual elections. He felt sure that if the municipal corporations of England were asked their opinion, they would not assent to triennial elections. He could not agree with the honourable Member for Islington that these would be only partial elections, for they could not adopt a better method of educating the people year by year than by getting them to register their votes annually. Some important municipalities had been spoiled by being converted into mere political point of Home Rule and let the London institutions, and the best corporations Members decide the question were those who endeavoured to elect die best men, regardless of what their political views might be. If they only had an election every three years they were much noire likely to have politics dragged in. He hoped, therefore, that the Committee would approve of the position taken up by the First Lord of the Treasury.

MR. STUART-WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)

thought it was advisable that the Government should consider whether it was not possible to allow the new bodies themselves to decide the question. If a majority of the municipalities of the country asked to have their method of election changed, would any Government drum up the county Members in order to keep things as they were? If power was given to the London County Council and to each vestry to choose between the two alternatives, surely they could grant the same privilege to these new bodies. If annual elections did not suit Walworth or Camberwell, why should they try to force upon those places what they did not desire to have?

CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)

said he had had considerable experience of these local elections, and one of their greatest difficulties was the getting of suitable candidates and inducing the electors to go to the poll. He did not wish to say anything discourteous to the vestries, but when a comparison was drawn between them and the municipalities throughout the country he wished to point out that there could be no analogy whatever. In London they did not get people to take any interest in local affairs until the London County Council was formed, for up to that time the vestries were in the hands chiefly of local builders. They were going to enlarge the areas of elections, and they hoped by doing that to get a better class of men to come forward. In the poorer districts, where the men were not known to each other, there would still be a difficulty in getting good men. It had been said that officials generally were in favour of annual elections, but that was only human nature, for they were always in favour of extra expenditure and greater importance being attached to their office. The tendency would be if they adopted annual elections to put greater power into the hands of the officials, and it would allow jerrymandering, and cliques or gangs to get into these new bodies, such as they had in the vestries of old. Surely this was a matter in which the wishes of the people of London should be consulted, and they should not seek to multiply these local elections.


I hope the Committee will not unduly prolong a Debate on which I think all that is to be said has been raid, and very ably said, by Gentlemen on both sides. I recognise that the general tendency of London feeling is against the proposal of this Bill as it stands. I have had Home Rule attributed to me by Gentlemen opposite, and I entirely agree that if London spoke with the experience of the new boroughs it would be impossible for the Government to resist their united voice, and no Government would attempt it. The advice I have given I have based on the fact that London has really not got that experience of the system which is proposed, but the country has, and if we take this experience and balance it against the non-experience of London the verdict must be in the direction of the proposal in the Bill as it stands. The answer to that, made by my honourable Friend and by other honourable Members on the other side of the House, is that London has had experience in vestry elections, but I do not think that the vestries are at all parallel to the new borough councils. I do not wish to labour that point, but I desire to throw out the possibility of some course which may be accepted, if not perfectly satisfactory, as an arrangement which may reconcile both sides of the House. I have indicated that if London had the experience of the new boroughs and were to decide upon triennial elections I should not resist their view. I suggest that we should put something in this. Bill which will enable the various parts of London to have a trial of this annual system, and give to these new boroughs the power of changing that system if they think it requires changing after they have had some experience of it. There is a very close analogy to this course in the Act of 1894. In that year I believe the Government brought in their Bill in the shape in which I have brought in mine, and I believe they were, subjected to something like the ordeal that I have been subjected to in defending this proposal, and they introduced the compromise, which I would now suggest to the House. If my proposal meets with general approval the result of that course would be that some boroughs might adopt the annual system of election and some the triennial system, and I see no reason why that line should not be adopted. There might be some advantage in it; but at all events each locality, judging by its own needs and its own wishes, would settle by a two-thirds majority, subject to the veto, which I presume would rarely be exercised, of the Local Government Board, what form of election it would have. If that compromise commends itself, on the whole, to both sides of the House, I, at all events, am perfectly ready to give up my view on the subject.


said he understood the right honourable Gentleman to offer that the new municipalities were to be elected for one year, and subsequent to that they would have the option of choosing whether their elections should be every year or triennially. If the right honourable Gentleman had put it in the opposite way, that the first election should be for three years, and allow them to decide whether subsequent elections should be annually or not, he would have withdrawn his Amendment, but upon the question of principle he must take a Division.


said he was very much in favour of triennial elections, and should have supported the Amendment, but in view of what had been said lie should now accept the compromise suggested by his right honourable Friend. He understood that the borough councils would be elected together in the first instance, and that an opportunity would be given them of deciding, what should be their procedure hereafter. He thanked the right honourable Gentleman for the handsome way in which he had met their wishes.


asked the right honourable Gentleman for some further explanation with regard to the arrangement which had been suggested. Was it the intention that the first election should be for three years, and then the council should determine before the end of the first year whether they should proceed 1,, retire by thirds or not?


said that so long as the question of the duration of these new bodies was left to the boroughs themselves to decide he most strongly appealed to his honourable Friends to accept the compromise. He hoped simple majority of the council would be allowed to decide the point.


two-thirds majority.


thought a two-thirds majority was contrary to precedent, and he asked the right honourable Gentleman to consent to leave the matter to he decided by a simple majority.


There is a precedent for what I suggest in the last sub-section of clause 23 of the Act of 1891. Of course, the exact phrasing of the sub-section will not do for this Act, but it shows the nature the compromise which I suggest.

MR. BURNS (Battersea)

reminded the right honourable Gentleman that since the Act of 1894 was passed there had been a general concurrence throughout the country, and certainly in London, that vestries and guardians should conic under the triennial election system, and all come out at once. The whole of the boards of guardians which came under that sub-section had expressed themselves in favour of the triennial system, which applied to the London County Council and the London School Board. Since the Parish Councils Act was put in force there Lad been general dissatisfaction with the annual appeal to the electorate. He thought honourable Members should differentiate between municipal life in the provinces and in the metropolis. In the provinces there were not the same number of elections as there were in London, which were due to the special circumstances of London's complex life and as both sides of the County Council had agreed that three years should be the period for the district councils, he appealed to the First Lord of the Treasury net to still further confuse London life t having annual elections. (Cries of "Agreed, agreed") If they were agreed he was not, and he was going to exercise his right. He thought the triennial system was by far the most preferable method and best adapted to London life. The suggestion made by the First Lord of the Treasury, although conciliatory, was very confusing, and would lead to the new councils having a "send off" under conditions which would not make for the dignity which this Bill claimed to give them.


pointed out that the guardians had decided in favour of triennial elections, and he believed they had better men on the guardians than, as a rule, on the vestries.


said that what they wanted to discover was whether annual elections prevented the best men coming forward. The Act of 1891 gave the power of deciding the period to the councils, but in this case he thought the best thing to do would be to give the power to the Local Government Board.


said that after what had been said he would not put the House to the trouble of a Division, and he begged leave to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed— Clause 2, page 2, line 1, after 'three,' insert 'and not exceeding six.'"—(Mr. H. Robertson.)


said that he realised the fact that the number of councillors was smaller than the number on the vestries because a ward of 30 would be reduced to a ward of 15, but that appeared to him to be much too great.


I entirely agree with the principle which animates my honourable Friend in putting this Amendment on the Paper. I do not think he need have any fear that the representatives of the wards will be excessive, and I think the Privy Council can be trusted to deal with this subject.


thought the proposal might very well remain as it was.


said that after the explanation of the First Lord of the Treasury he would withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed— Clause 2, page 2, lines 1 and 2, leave out 'to the rateable value as well as.'"—(Captain Norton.)


explained that the object of his Amendment was to prevent the application of a pernicious principle in relation to London as a whole. This Bill carved out London into a certain number of areas, and left the poorer parts to be dealt with by the Commissioners. He thought this might lead to the jerrymandering of the wards, and this might occur if they decided to divide the whole of the South East of London into two immense municipalities. In that part of London along the river side great warehouses and wharves existed, and that portion would be divided into rich and poor wards. The riverside portion had a high rateable value and a comparatively small population, and it might occur if the district was divided into five wards that two of those wards might contain quite two-thirds of the inhabitants of the whole borough. That might give a preponderating power to those who, so far as lighting and sanitation were concerned, had less interest in the borough than the more populous winds. Those who had warehouses which were highly rated did not dwell within the boundaries of these municipalities, while those people who dwelt in the poorer wards were the mechanics and workers of various kinds who lived iii that particular locality week in and week out; their wives and families were permanently, domiciled there, and they had no chance of escape from that area. Therefore, it was only right and proper that population, and population alone, should be the basis in the granting of councillors for these new areas, because the efficient management of the parish in lighting and sanitation was of the utmost importance to the poorer class of people who spent their lives in those thickly- populated localities.


I hope that the honourable Member will not press the Amendment. The several Acts dealing with wards, clown to the most recent of them, have laid down the principle of defining them according to the double qualification of population and rateable value.


said that Parliament had, since 1894, abolished rating as a basis for the local franchise in London.

MR. BOUSFIELD (Hackney, N.)

expressed the hope that the influence of rateable value would not be diminished.


urged that good local administration was most needed in those areas where there were the largest and poorest populations. In Islington there were four wards each returning nine members, but having populations varying from 17,000 to 33,000.

Question put. "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 212, Noes 114.—(Division List No. 114.)

Another Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 2, after the word "wards." to insert the words— Provided that the powers and duties of the London County Council, under section five of the Metropolis Management Act, 1855, and section fifteen of the London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1893, as amended by section forty-two of the London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1895, which relate to alteration of the number of vestrymen to be elected for the wards of a parish, and to the re-arrangement of the wards of a parish, shall apply with the necessary modifications to the councillors and wards of the metropolitan boroughs created by or under this Act."—(Mr. Trevelyan.)

MR.TREVELYAN (York, W.R., Elland)

pointed out that there was no machinery by which there could be any re-arrangement of 'Wards in the event of au increase of population. The power which was at present vested in the London County Council had been exercised to the general satisfaction of the people. On the Second Reading of the Bill the First Lord of the Treasury said he was not in the least jealous of the County Council. Some of them were rather sceptical as to that statement, but the right honourable Gentleman had now an opportunity of showing beyond all doubt that he had confidence in the County Council and in its ability to carry out the work for which it existed.


said he agreed that arrangements should be made in such cases as the increase of population, but the Bill provided for that by machinery which already existed for municipal boroughs throughout the country.


said that metropolitan opinion was unanimous that the County Council had exercised this duty exceedingly well, and he saw no reason why it should be deprived of this power. They wanted this power to be exercised promptly by a body that knew the locality.


said he could state from personal experience that in two cases with which he was acquainted—namely, Cambridge and Wigan—wards had been altered under the Municipal Corporations Act in a very satisfactory way.

Mr. HALDANE (Haddington)

said the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act were applicable to borough councils who applied on very special and rare occasions for alterations of their wards, but he questioned whether the same elaborate machinery was appropriate to the present case. They were dealing with matters which related not to one great municipal corporation, but to a number of municipal corporations. The London County Council was familiar with the work, and surely the simple, tried, and inexpensive way was the most satisfactory.

CAPTAIN JESSEL (St. Pancras, S.)

said it seemed to him that the honourable Member who had just spoken had forgotten that in every case the alteration of the wards must be approved by the Secretary of State, and therefore it was simpler for the borough council to go direct to the Secretary of State than for the new London boroughs to go first of all to the London County Council and then to the Secretary of State. For, after all, it was with the Secretary of State that the ultimate decision rested.


said lie thought his honourable and gallant Friend who had just spoken did not quite understand the point at issue. As far as regarded the merits of the question, he could not conceive what defence could be made by the Party opposite for adopting in this matter a different practice from that which had been adopted by the county councils all through the country. While the power was in the hands of local bodies local satisfaction was almost invariably given.


said he thought the honourable and gallant Member for St. Pancras had somewhat misunderstood the present position of the matter. He understood him to say that there was as much difficulty and as much machinery in connection with the exercise of the power under the London County Council as there would be under the Government. At present the thing was done by the County Council in the ordinary course without any trouble; there was no necessity for any inquiry, no complaints had been made, and it cost the ratepayers nothing. But the proposal now adopted by the Government would necessitate great cost, great delay, and great difficulty in carrying out. In the present case they were only dealing with very small matters which necessitated the alteration of the existing boundaries, and machinery which might be very valuable and possibly necessary for the original creation of wards was cumbersome and costly as applied to such matters as the sub-division of wards. To his mind it was simply a question as to which was the most simple and economical process. The existing system had worked with great satisfaction; there seemed to be no necessity under the circumstances to alter it, and he appealed to the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House to unfold to the Committee the object and the advantage of making the alteration. He could only think that it was made with the view of taking from the Council a power it at the present moment exercised to the general satisfaction. There could be no other reason, because he did not think the right honourable Gentleman could deny that under the proposed arrangement there must be greater cost, greater delay, and greater chance of injustice than there could be under the present arrangement.


said the honourable and gallant Member was in error in supposing that the procedure was easy in the case of the Municipal Corporations Act. He had had a good deal to do with the private Bills of the House, and he believed he was right in saying that that method of changing the wards of the municipalities of the country was a dead letter.


believed that whatever complaints might be made against the Metropolitan Board of Works, complaint was never made of their action in this respect. He sympathised to a certain extent with the idea that the Government had in their minds. It was, he supposed, to give more independence to the new London boroughs, and to assimilate them to the county boroughs. But he thought that in this respect it had been shown that the system in the county boroughs did not work nearly so well as the present system in London.


said these adjustments of boundaries were being made by the county councils almost every day with the greatest possible ease, with the greatest possible facility, and with the greatest satisfaction to everybody concerned.


said the analogy of the provincial councils was not only the proper, but the most recent one. He could hardly think that the Government would adhere to the decision announced by the Solicitor-General. The Government were going out of their way to import into the Bill machinery which was not working well and was so unsatisfactory that even the municipalities had ceased to use it.


expressed the hope that his right honourable Friend would accept the Amendment. The present procedure was working well in London, and, on the principle of leaving well alone, the concession asked for might, he thought, well be made.

MR. J. SAMUEL (Stockton)

also appealed to the Government to accept the Amendment, and thus allow the London County Council to do what they had previously done with full satisfaction to the local authorities.


was bound to admit that the London County Council understood this question. They had performed the duties of dividing wards in a satisfactory manner, and he thought that they could be trusted to perform the duty as well as any other body that could be created.


I am quite sure that the London County Council have exercised the functions of altering boundaries where such alteration was required with probity, discretion and great local knowledge. But that does not, I confess, affect the view I take of the proposal of the honourable Gentleman opposite. My view of the relation between the County Council and these boroughs is that in all central matters the County Council should be supreme, but in all matters that are not central the whole business of local government in the new boroughs should be carried on without the reality or the appearance of interference from or subordination to the County Council. That being the principle embodied in the Bill, it appears to me that if we give to external authorities the right to deal with boundaries, that right should not go to the County Council—not because they have misused their powers, or were at all likely to do so, but because it was not in conformity with the general principles upon which the Bill has been constructed, and the general lines on which its foundations have been laid. What is that complaint of the honouralde and gallant Friend behind me, which is an alternative to the one which is now before the Committee? The only objection I have heard is that an appeal to the Privy Council is a very costly and a very long proceeding. It has been alleged by an honourable Gentleman on the other side of the House that an appeal to the Privy Council remains for years unanswered, and also that it is costly.


I did not say that the appeal was a long time before the Privy Council, but that the local authorities, knowing that the appeal was costly, took a long time before they made the appeal.


Perhaps I misunderstood the honourable Gentleman. The delay that occurs is not due to any laches on the part of the Privy Council, but to the fact that the only machinery that the Privy Council can put in operation is one essentially costly and over-elaborate. Well, I have made inquiries on the matter and cannot affect to give an independent judgment upon it; but there is another provision in the Bill which I think may afford a fair solution of the question, and that is the analogy of the action of the county councils when they want to alter their own boundaries. Certainly, so far as their own internal divisions are concerned, they have the power to appeal to the Local Government Board, and that Board sends down an inspector. I have made inquiry, and the Under Secretary of the Local Government Board informs me that it is an extremely cheap and also a rapid process. I think, therefore, that when we come to a subsequent part of the Bill where my honourable Friend's Amendment would appropriately come in, it may be found desirable to substitute the more modern machinery of the Local Government Act of 1888 for what the honourable Gentleman regards as the cumbrous machinery of the Municipal Corporations Act. That I will carefully consider. I hope the House will understand that no reflection was intended to be cast on that august body—the London County Council—but it appears to me that this is one of those matters which does not directly concern it. I am not willing that these new municipalities should be in any sense subordinate to the London County Council, though, of course, in all matters of central concern the London County Council must be, and ought to be, supreme.


The right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House has started a new proposal.


What we are now discussing is the Amendment of the honourable Gentleman opposite and a possible alternative.


said it was the alternative to the London County Council proposal that they were now to debate, and therefore they must take it into consideration. The proposal to make use of section 27 of the Act of 1888 was different from going to the Privy Council, which was an expensive piece of machinery compared with what was proposed in the Amendment. It was per- fectly plain that the real reason for introducing this piece of machinery was the desire of the Government to keep the London County Council out of any department connected with these new boroughs. He quite understood the reason, but he did not think it was satisfactory, and would in many cases lead to expense and delay.

Question put. "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 69; Noes 152.—(Division List No. 115.)

On the return of the CHAIRMAN, after the usual interval—


moved as an Amendment— Clause 2, page 2, line 3, leave out from 'that,' to end of sub-section, and insert 'the number of aldermen shall be one-sixth of the number of councillors, and the total number of aldermen and councillors for each borough shall not exceed 70.' He hoped the Government would accept his Amendment, the more so because when the question of aldermen was being discussed, the First Lord of the Treasury pledged himself that the number of aldermen on each council would be considered hereafter. There was a precedent for the course which he suggested. The proportion of aldermen to councillors in the London County Council at the present time was as nearly as possible one to six, and when the suggestion was made in 1888 it was accepted without demur by the Minister in charge of the Bill. There was one argument in favour of his Amendment which he thought of importance Where a number of local authorities were amalgamated, many vestrymen would of necessity lose their seats, and it was possible that some of the localities might feel themselves to be under-represented, and if they had rather more members to elect under the Bill, that feeling might be to a certain extent minimised. He did not think himself that the number of aldermen should be insignificant, but at the same time they ought not to be preponderatingly numerous. And he really believed that the proportion of one-sixth was more suitable than that proposed in the At any rate it would meet; an argument used by an honourable Member on the other side of the House that the honour of alderman was being made so common that it would be no dignity at all. If the Government accepted his Amendment the proportion of aldermen to councillors in London would be very considerably smaller than in the boroughs in the country.

*MR. WHITMORE (Chelsea)

was perfectly certain that the acceptance by the Government of the Amendment moved by his honourable Friend would give universal satisfaction throughout London to all those over the country who were interested in the local government of London. It should be remembered that the system to be set up by the Bill was a new system, and that the new borough councils, composed partly of aldermen and partly of councillors, would be substituted for bodies which at present time were purely popularly elected. Some regard should also be given to the very large number of aldermen that would be created by the proposal of the Bill for the whole area of London. He was certain that the system would cause less friction if the proportion of aldermen was rather less than in the Bill as it stood.


said that the argument brought forward in favour of the Amendment was certainly very strong, and on behalf of the Government he was prepared to receive it.


felt quite certain that a sufficient number of proper persons could be found inside the areas to undertake the duties and accept the position of aldermen. The duties on these bodies would be, for a matter of fact, purely local, and not, as in the case of the London County Council, the administration of the affairs of the whole metropolitan area, and it seemed to him best to leave the administration of their local affairs to residents in the boroughs, without the interference of those not directly interested in the locality.


was glad to see that the Government had gone as far as they had in reducing the number of aldermen. Most people would have preferred that there should have been no aldermen at all. He regretted that there should be any, but he should sup- port the Amendment, as he thought it was perfectly useless to take any other course; and after all, half a loaf was better than no bread.


said he could not allow the opportunity to go by without protesting against one-sixth of the councils being aldermen. Aldermen were not required at all, and if he could reduce the number be should do so. In his opinion aldermen were not only useless, but positively dangerous, and the position ought to be abolished. He believed that they had been incorporated into the Bill with the object of suppressing progressive activity in local government. He predicted that in a very few years the borough councils would be disgusted with their aldermen, and he thought and hoped that they would do away with them as speedily as possible.

The Amendment was agreed to.


was called upon to propose an Amendment, but did not answer.


said, before passing from the Amendment of Captain Jessel, he wished to know what course it was proposed to take with regard to it. Did the Government propose to adopt it?


said that it would probably be more convenient to bring it forward at a future period in the shape of a separate clause.

Upon Sub-section 3,

SIR J. WOODHOUSE (Huddersfield)

said perhaps the Solicitor-General would be able to explain this clause, which he had found it very difficult to follow. Sub-section 3 declared that the provisions of the Local Government Act, 1888, with respect to the chairman of the county council and the county aldermen shall apply to the mayor and aldermen of a metropolitan borough. He complained that the whole form of the clause was obscure and unintelligible, and if it could be set out exactly and in detail it would be to great advantage. The hon. Member then moved to insert at the beginning of the Sub-section the words, "Except as otherwise provided provided for in this Act."


said the Government could not accept the Amendment, and he could not himself see that there was any obscurity in the clause as it stood. It referred to other Acts which were all pretty well understood, and he saw no reason in this case to depart from the legislation which had been adopted in those Acts.


desired to associate himself with the view which had been put forward as to the clause being absolutely unintelligible as it stood, and said he was supported by a great weight of opinion. High legal authorities differed very greatly as to what the words really meant.


thought that in sub-clause 3 legislation, by reference had been carried to an extreme which had never been previously reached. One of the objects of the Bill was, he believed, to give greater dignity to these local bodies by giving them a mayor, but sub-clause 3, as it stood, enacted that the mayor should be called chairman. That was one of the extraordinary results which followed from the form which the Government had adopted.


said he hoped that the Government would make some attempt to meet the objections to this clause, which nobody understood. He appealed to the Solicitor-General to postpone the discussion upon it in order that another Amendment might be brought in. So far as he could see, the Solicitor-General was not so strong, in his objection to the clause being amended as he was to the form of the Amendment proposed. He thought if the discussion was postponed the clause might be satisfactorily dealt with later.


deprecated the practice of legislating by reference which had crept into Parliament during late years Although it was apparent that the Solicitor-General had given this clause great attention, it appeared to him that if the clause passed into law in its present form it would be very difficult for anybody elected to these district councils to know what his duties were. The clause referred to other Acts of Parliament, and the difficulty of the Committee was that they did not know under which of those Acts the clause was to come. He thought that the matter should be made quite clear and pe put into such a position that people would know how they stood.


was not quite certain that the words might not have to be added before the Committee reached the pith of sub-clause. One of the difficulties that he felt was whether the Local Government Act of 1888, which was referred to, applied to London or not.


accepted the Amendment, stating that when he first read the clause he read it to mean that the Local Government Act, so far as it applied to London, applied to this case; but upon further consideration and looking further back, he found it specially stated that aldermen should be one-sixth, and he gathered from that that was not so. He agreed that the words "except as otherwise provided in this Act" should be placed in the beginning of the clause.

Amendment agreed to.


proposed to add to sub-section 3— Provided that any 12 councillors may unite their votes in favour of one person as alderman, and such person shall thereupon be declared elected, and the councillors voting for him shall have no further vote in the election of aldermen. He understood that under the Bill as it now stood the aldermen would be elected for six years, and that one-half of them would retire every third year. If in a council there were 60 elected members there would be 10 aldermen, five of whom would retire every third year. The object he had in proposing the Amendment was to secure that the 60 councillors, when electing the five aldermen, should be able to elect them in proportion to their own opinions, so that the five aldermen should represent as far as possible the whole of the councillors. The past history of the municipal corporations of the country showed that up to the present time the majority of the council had complete control in the matter. The majority of the London County Council had not, in the election of aldermen, used their power auto- cratically, but had recognised the right of the minority to representation on the aldermanic bench. He, however, wanted to secure that that representation should be obtained, not by grace or favour, which might raise awkward questions from time to time, but by means of simple automatic machinery perfectly intelligible to the electors. In the case of a council having 60 councillors his proposal would mean that any 12 councillors might agree in choosing A. B. to be their alderman. Thereupon A. B. would be elected alderman and the 12 councillors would retire from the process of election for that term. A second 12 might, if they liked, choose C. D. to be their alderman, and a third 12 and a fourth 12 might choose E. F. and G. H. respectively. If the whole 60 were divided in that way, by spontaneous action, into groups a perfect representation would be obtained. If only three groups of 12 each chose aldermen in the way he suggested, the remaining 24 councillors would fill up the two vacancies in the ordinary fashion—namely, by a mere majority. From the point of view of machinery there could be no objection to his proposal, while from that of principle it was impossible to conceive a better means of obtaining a just and fair representation. He submitted that there would be no difficulty as to the machinery necessary to carry out his Amendment. The experience of the London County Council showed that the power now vested in a majority to secure for themselves the privilege of filling up the vacant places of aldermen should be exercised so as to secure for the different sections of the council their proportional representation of aldermen. He could supplement what he had said by a subsequent explanation if necessary, but his proposal was so simple that he failed to see how anyone could misunderstand it.


said that the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Bodmin had moved this Amendment for what he called proportionate representation, but everything he had said would apply to every municipality throughout the Kingdom as well as the boroughs under this Bill.


The principle might go that far, but the proposal only applies to this Bill.


And to county councils and all other bodies in connection with which similar elections might take place. He would much rather see a great principle of this kind dealt with in a Measure which would be applicable to all those bodies than by an Amendment which applied only to a particular case. He knew the great interest which the right honourable Gentleman took in proportionate representation, and he thoroughly agreed that there was no difficulty in the proposals that he made; but he did not like to adopt a principle in one particular instance which would go a great deal further, and ought, if it was adopted, to be made applicable in ail cases. With regard to the practical side, whatever might be said against it, he thought that in practice the present system had not worked out so badly, and on these grounds he hoped the Committee would not accept the Amendment.


said he was in favour of proportionate representation, and although he would have preferred to see his own Amendment upon this question, still he should support so far could that of the right honourable Member for Bodmin. He thought the system proposed in the Amendment was more equitable and just than the present. His own Amendment was somewhat similar to the one before the Committee, but his idea was that the two-thirds of the aldermen should be elected by the majority of the council and one-third by the minority, and that would not give the majority the same disproportionate advantage as at present. For a matter of fact it was about the proportion the majority on the London County Council granted in the aldermanic representation on that body on a recent occasion, but that was granted simply as a favour. His Amendment would give it to the minority as a, right, and save all the trouble of conferences, interviews and other arrangements betwixt, the leaders of the respective parties. Saying now, for instance, to take a concrete case, a given borough had to elect 50 councillors, of whom 26 were chosen from one Party and 24 from the other. Would it be equitable to give the power to the 26 councillors to select eight aldermen to increase their majority to 34. By the system he proposed the majority would elect five aldermen, and the minority three, and the respective parties would thus stand numerically at 31 and 27. In the event of the Committee not accepting the Amendment before them, he hoped they would accept some system by which all the aldermen should not be elected by a bare majority, and the minority have no power of electing any, except as a favour.

MR. ABEL THOMAS (Carmarthenshire, E.)

thought that the present method might be greatly improved upon in this respect, and he saw no hope of the Bill being effective if some difference in the election of aldermen was not made. In the county where he came from these matters were run upon political lines, and if the Liberals were in the majority in the council they always elected aldermen of their own political persuasion, and the Conservatives did the same. That was a system which ought to be avoided if possible. Under the circumstances, it the matter was pressed to a Division, he should vote with the Mover of the Amendment.

MR. BABTLEY (Islington, N.)

said that, in his opinion, if the Committee adopted some such suggestion as that which was now before it it would do away with a great many of the objections which many people had to aldermen. It was very damaging to the business of a council to have elected aldermen of all one colour, and he thought the minority ought to have a voice in their election. He should certainly support the Amendment.


said he thought that first of all 12 aldermen should be elected, but that in the subsequent elections six would be the number, assuming the total council to be 72.

COLONEL MILWARD (Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon)

said that chance vacancies very often occurred in county councils. Sometimes two vacancies occurred at the same time, and what he wanted to know was on what principle were those to be filled? He expressed the hope that the Government would resist the proposal.


said that if the principle of the proposal were accepted it would be easy to amend the drafting. He was disappointed by the attitude which the Solicitor-General had assumed. The argument that if a particular proposition were accepted it would have to be extended to a hundred other cases was the old sluggish, lazy plea of the man looking for the first easy reason to say no. But the Solicitor-General had brought forward no other argument against this proposal. From the Solicitor-General he would pass to the Leader of the House—from the workman to the "boss." It was well known that the Leader of the House was not only capable of understanding the proposition, but had actually voted for it on more than one occasion. Would the right honourable Gentleman condescend to say something more than the Solicitor-General had been able to say as a reason for refusing this proposal? It was a practical proposal; there was no question as to the ease with which it would work or as to its utility. It might be that in some cases county council majorities had thought it prudent to let in some of their opponents; but that was the exception, and not the rule. Our ideas were so dimmed and clouded in Party controversy that the best men were always on our own side. The great Darwin once said to him:—"What astonishes me very much about your action in the House of Commons is that you do not regard politics as an experimental science, that you do not try here and there how an experiment will work and, if it succeeds, extend it." Here, then, was a case in which to try an experiment. It might be said that he was a fanatic, a faddist, who could not look at both sides of a question. But here was a practical, simple suggestion, dealing with a practical, simple matter. Everyone knew the jealousies which arose over the election of aldermen to the county councils and how difficult it was to get the best men. Without considerations of political bias his plan would give an opportunity for the introduction of the best men for the work, and he hoped his right honourable Friend would give some reason that would at least not excite wonder for not adopting in relation to this matter a principle he had himself supported both by vote and voice.


said he was opposed to the institution of aldermen. Their presence on the London County Council had been the cause of the introduction of political feeling, and he therefore approved of the suggestion of the right honourable Gentleman.


My right honourable Friend has made a suggestion which has the advantage over others he has offered that no Member can pretend that he does not understand it. It has no doubt been the objection urged against representation proposals from Hare's downwards by those who wished to be considered practical that they could not understand them, but in many cases they did not and do not wish to understand them, being accustomed to the simple plan of working matters in the House and in subordinate assemblies by a simple majority. My right honourable Friend escapes the objection that his proposal could not be understood, but not on that account is it likely to meet with favour from the general body of the house. I have myself voted with my right honourable Friend on a previous occasion; and, more than that I, myself, brought in a Local Government Bill for Ireland in which minority representation was included. My own belief still is that unless the scheme of last year had been devised we should either have to leave Irish local government alone altogether or we should be driven to some form of minority representation. I am convinced that nothing but the clearest consciousness that a great injustice would be done to the minority by not giving them representation would ever induce this House or the majority of Englishmen to accept what an honourable Member just now called a fancy franchise. In the matter of aldermen, there was not that overmastering sense of probable injustice that would drive the Committee into accepting the Amendment proposed by my right honourable Friend. It is perfectly true that some minorities have artificially kept themselves in a majority in borough and county councils by the misuse and abuse of the system of aldermen, but practically no one can contend that injustice to individuals happened there from or that any great difference occurred in the government of the com- munity interested. If we had to deal with the case of Ireland, the matter would be different; it would have been necessary either to leave the whole subject alone or to try some form of minority representation. That does not arise in this Bill, and I do not believe my right honourable Friend has the least chance of inducing the House of Commons to accept his Amendment. He suggested that unless the House chooses occasionally to try an experiment it would never be able to judge of the value of any innovation, but as the father of these nascent boroughs I do not wish any rash experiments tried upon them. I should like something more mature to be taken as the subject of the proposed experiment, and if it were found to work well, I should be very glad to see it extended to the boroughs which we are occupied in creating. There is one other point which I would bring before my right honourable Friend. He has assumed that the fight will be between two parties—let us call them, for the sake of argument, Progressive and Moderate—and that whichever Party is in the majority will elect a solid mass of its own way of thinking. That has been true in certain cases of the past, and may be true in certain cases in the future. But the 10 councillors in his plan may not at all be within the organised fold of either of the two Parties and they might bring in a very inexpedient addition from outside. If the Amendment lower down on the Paper, proposing a selection of aldermen from London citizens, is carried, it is evident that these 10 councillors might bring in from outside somebody very indifferent as far as carrying out the work of the borough was concerned. That may not be a practical danger, but I rather think it is. It would not be a practical danger in a House like this, but I do not think that an ordinary borough council would be improved by the sort of addition I have in my mind. We avoid that if we make a Party responsible for the election; they might have a kind of concrete responsibility extending far beyond 10 councillors, and therefore, although they may be tempted to elect persons of their own way of thinking, they have a kind of corporate responsibility which would prevent them from committing extravagances or excesses in the election of aldermen. I would suggest to my right honourable Friend that nothing will be gained by pressing his Amendment to a Division, because I am convinced the Committee would never consent to accept the novel principle he proposes unless there were a probability of extravagance or injustice, and that they are prepared to maintain the system which prevails in our boroughs all over the country.


said he had much sympathy with what his right honourable Friend had said, but he did not think he would examine his arguments. It really depended upon his right honourable Friend whether they would initiate a change which would be of great public advantage. He would not press his Amendment to a Division, because it would be only a caricature, and he was quite content if the Committee allowed him to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. BILLSON (Halifax)

moved— In clause 2, page 2, line 11, after 'borough insert' provided that no person shall be eligible as an alderman who is not a councillor at the time of his election as alderman.' He said he regretted that aldermen could be selected from any district in London. He had the greatest objection to it because, as the new boroughs were local bodies, they ought to have people from the locality on them who would take an interest in the affairs of the district, and that would be militated against if they could select aldermen from any other district in London. It was not unreasonable if they were to have aldermen that they should be members of the council, who had perhaps for many years given their services to the community, and who, not caring to face their constituents again, should have an opportunity of being elected to the honourable position of alderman, in which they would remain undisturbed for six years. The opposite result had been followed on many councils, the dominant majority endeavouring to make their domination as permanent as possible by selecting all the aldermen of their own Party. He heard with satisfaction the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury, that that practice had almost entirely died out. His honourable Friend the Member for Barnsley told him that for 20 years it was the practice in Manchester not to select aldermen otherwise than from the councillors. If his Amendment were adopted they would have to a certain extent a check upon the selection of aldermen, because if the selection were limited to members of the council no alderman could be elected who had not submitted himself to the votes of the constituency. In that way, public opinion would be brought to bear on the selection of aldermen.


I hope the honourable Member will not press to a Division his Amendment, which would greatly militate against the efficiency of the councils. Naturally, councillors who have the choice in their own hands would elect men in their own body in preference to outsiders, but there may be cases where it would be a great convenience and advantage to the council to be able to go outside. I do not see why they should be prevented from exercising that discretion, and it is a discretion which is not likely to be abused.


said it had been freely stated that the present arrangements for the election of aldermen had been utilised to elect defeated candidates, and a very unpleasant feeling had frequently arisen on that ground. There was a tendency in a Party which met together to elect one of their own number who had just failed at the poll, and there was a great deal of grumbling in such cases because the verdict of the constituency had been reversed. He thought that was a very sound reason for accepting the Amendment. He put it to honourable Members opposite whether he had not touched a difficulty which was common to both sides. That difficulty would, however, be avoided by accepting the Amendment of his honourable Friend, who he hoped would carry it to a Division.

SIR J. BRUNNER (Cheshire, North-wich)

said he would be pleased if the leader of the House would accept the Amendment; it was not moved in the interests of any Party, but in the interests of the purity of elections. There were many cases in which a man was induced to engage in a hopeless contest, encouraged by the promise that it he failed he would be elected an, alderman. That ought not to be approved of. He thought that that dodge for defeating the wishes of the ratepayers should not be encouraged. That was the common sense view of the question, and he hoped his honourable Friend would go to a Division.


said that, speaking simply for himself, he was sorry he had to disagree with the views of his honourable Friend in the matter. The point was, would they get better aldermen if they confined their selection to members of the Council? If they were to have aldermen at all, he should like to see the area of selection as large as possible. His honourable Friend had stated that aldermen would be elected from candidates defeated at the poll; he himself showed the fallacy connected with that view. The man who stood for a constituency in which he had very little chance of being successful, rendered a service, not only to his Party but also to the ratepayers, by giving them an opportunity of recording their opinion.


said that the Government would stultify themselves if they did not accept the Amendment. If the new boroughs were to be separate municipalities as the Bill proposed, on what principle could they go outside in order to find aldermen? Moreover, he thought they would be doing an injustice to those within the municipality, as there would be a great temptation to go outside in order to obtain aldermen. Many of them were not in favour of having aldermen at all, but if there were to be aldermen it was only right and fair they should be chosen within the district.

Question put— That those words be there inserted.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 87; Noes 187.—(Division List No. 116.)


The next Amendment standing in the name of the honourable Member for St. Pancras ought to be raised as a new clause. It is a, separate matter, not dealing with mayors or aldermen.


moved— In clause 2, page 2, line 11, to leave out 'borough' to the end of line 13. It was an. Amendment consequential to one which had been already accepted.


said he could not understand how it could be consequential.

Question put—



moved— In clause 2, page 2, line 13, at end insert, 'Provided also that nothing in this Act shall entitle a borough council to pay to the mayor any remuneration. He said he wished to know the opinion of the Government on the matter. At the first glance the Amendment might appear to be anti-democratic, but there was a great deal to be said for it. He believed that the Chairman of the London School Board received a salary for the first two years, but certainly not for the past 20 years. The Chairman of the County Council, although entitled to it, had never taken a salary. Seeing that they were appointing mayors all over London a great deal of expense would be incurred if they were all paid salaries.


said that as the Bill stood it would be in the power of a council to pay its mayors such remuneration as it thought fit, and the Government saw no reason for departing from the ordinary law on the subject. The matter was entirely in the hands of the representatives of the constituencies.


said he was in favour of the clause as it stood, and hoped his honourable Friend would withdraw the Amendment.


said he had placed the Amendment upon the Paper in order to elicit the opinion of the Government on the subject, and he now asked leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


moved— In clause 2, page 2, line 14, to leave out 'or under.' He said he should like to have some explanation as to why the words were inserted. The sub-section read "except as otherwise provided by or under this Act." It seemed to him that the words he proposed to omit might have a very dangerous tendency. They should remember that the Act rested, to a large extent, on Orders of Council, and if they were to be governed by the words in the sub-section, a very wide door would be opened. He should not be surprised if the words had crept in through some inaccuracy in drafting the Bill.


said the words were not inserted through inadvertence. It was absolutely necessary to insert them in order to provide powers for the first constitution of the boroughs.


The words ought not to apply after the first constitution of the councils.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


moved— In clause 2, page 2, line 16, to leave out 'and auditors.' Nothing was worse in the administration of the vestries of London than the auditing of their accounts. In some instances men who were not in any way qualified were elected as auditors. One vestry elected a cabman as auditor. No doubt they do their best. But how can many of them understand the powers many Acts of Parliament give them to surcharge expenditure which the local authorities have ultra vires incurred. Under the Local Government Act of 1888 the London County Council accounts were very strictly audited, and the accounts of the board of guardians were also strictly audited. The whole at these accounts were kept for the whole metropolitan area under one system and audited by one Local Government Board inspector with the aid of only one assistant. Why in the interests of economy, efficiency, and uniformity they could not do the same in regard to these municipalities for London he failed to understand. He ventured to urge the Government to do away with the old-fashioned, effete, and rotten system. He should be told that the system that he proposed was not that of the municipal corporations in the country, but they had to follow in many instances the Act of 1888 and the Act of 1854 as well as the Municipal Corporations Act. In the interests of economy, and taking into consideration the fact that at least 12 other Members, nearly all of whom sat on that side of the House and represented large London constituencies, had put down Amendments in the same sense as his, he trusted the Government would accept it.


said he could not accept the sympathy with the Amendment of his honourable Friend. The retention of the words his honourable Friend proposed to leave out would stereotype the existing system of auditing and effectively tie their hands for the future, which he thought ought not to be done. He did not, however, pledge himself to accept his honourable Friend's suggestion to have the work done by the Local Government Board auditors, but before the end of the Committee stage was reached he himself would bring up a proposal on the subject.

EARL PERCY (Kensington, S.)

said while he was anxious that the auditors should be thoroughly qualified, he was in favour of the retention of the provision to allow them to be popularly elected.


said he could not accept his noble Friend's suggestion. The Government must be left free in the matter.


pointed out that the existing audit was destroyed by the Bill as it at present stood.


said he would deal with that point later.

MR. RICHARDS (Finsbury, E.)

hoped that the representatives of various divisions of London would be able to get away that night knowing that there was no likelihood of the suggestion of the noble Lord being carried out. Men of position and large ratepayers constantly objected to the idea of electing auditors. These elections had been made very often for no other reason than that the men were members of a political party, and that something should be done for them. He recommended that the Local Government Board audit should be adopted, or that there should be a certain professional qualification in regard to the gentlemen appointed.


said that his suggestion had been misunderstood. What he wanted was the appointment of professional auditors, but that they should be popularly elected.

MR. STEADMAN (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)

said that the system suggested by the noble Lord was in operation in certain vestries in London. In his own vestry they had a system of appointing chartered accountants as auditors. But while they had a firm of chartered accountants to audit for their own protection, the law compelled them to have different auditors resident in the borough, so that the system was a mere farce. He hoped that the First Lord of the Treasury would adhere to the proposal that the elected auditor should be abolished.


hoped the right honourable Gentleman in considering the matter would adopt the most popular form, which was audit by the Local Government Board, and which gave universal satisfaction.


said that in Scotland, where they had not a Local Government Board audit, they had a system of professional audit, but that did not secure a uniform system. In the Local Government Board they had a perfectly organised machinery, which was working extremely well, and was administered by men who thoroughly knew their business. Although the Municipal Corporations Act did not apply to borough councils throughout England, still, if he was not mistaken, in all recent charters the Government insisted on a Local Government Board audit.


said that the real reason why he objected to doing away With the popularly-elected auditors, and substituting, for them the audit of the Local Government Board, was that it would introduce an invidious distinction between these boroughs and others in the country. The district auditors appointed by the Local Government Board were, he believed, in no sense trained auditors, and in the second place the system of accounts and balancing payments and receipts demanded by the Board made it absolutely impossible to compare one year's balance-sheet with another. If the Local Government Board would arrange for a system of audit by firms of professional accountants there would be very little objection to it. The Board of Trade had a power of audit in connection with electric lighting undertakings, and if the Local Government Board audit was adopted the result would be that a council might have to make up two different balance-sheets, which would add to the expense. The Government had a very useful precedent in this matter in the case of the University Act of 1874, under which the Universities were obliged to appoint an auditor who belonged to a firm of professional accountants, or who was approved by the Treasury. The area from which the Treasury elected an auditor was therefore very narrow.


said that the reflection thrown on the Local Government Board audit system was by no means deserved. He had from time to time brought this matter of the appointing of auditors before the House in order that the men appointed auditors might be trained from an early age.


They are not trained accountants.


said they were better than trained accountants: they were men who had first served as auditors' clerks, and had a thorough knowledge of local government accounts. So long as the Local Government Board set its face against political jobbery in the appointment of auditors no complaints would arise.

MR. SHARPE (Kensington, N.)

thought that the suggestion of his noble Friend was well worthy of consideration. In his own college of Trinity, Dublin, there was a system of double auditors—an external auditor appointed from professional chartered accountants, and the internal auditor elected under the statutes from the senior Fellows annually. The report of the external auditor formed the basis on which the statutory auditor did his work.


hoped that as this was a public business matter altogether, the Government should look for auditing where it was thoroughly well done. He could say that the auditing of the London County Council accounts by the Local Government Board was thoroughly well done. The control was most efficient, and prompt steps were taken to call the council to account for anything in which they might have gone beyond their powers. He trusted that the Government would have no fancy audit.


said that practical experience was the best test. The accounts of the Board of Guardians, of the London County Council, and of the London School Board were audited by the Local Government Board, and he did not see why the new boroughs should not have the same audit. A chartered accountant, however able, would confine himself to the balancing of income and expenditure, but the great advantage of the Local Government Board system was that the clerks who assisted the auditor had been thoroughly trained, and knew every legal charge.

The Amendment was agreed to.


moved— In Clause 2, page 2, line 20, at end, add— 'Provided as follows—The quorum of the borough council shall be one third of the whole number of the council, and one-fourth shall be substituted for the numbers prescribed by section twenty-eight of the Metropolis Management Act, 1885.' He said he hoped that the Government would accept the Amendment, so that on many important questions the council would get a decent quorum of members.


thought that the Committee would agree as to the quorum being too small. He suggested for the consideration of his honourable Friend whether it would not be better to accept one-third instead of one-fourth.

The suggestion of the Solicitor-General was accepted, and the Amendment, as amended, was agreed to.


further moved to insert— The Local Government Board may, on request made by a borough council in pursuance of a resolution of the council passed by a majority of two-thirds of the members present at a meeting of the council duly convened for the purpose, make an order directing that the whole of the councillors shall retire together on the ordinary day of election in every third year, and may on like request rescind any such order.


We discussed the substance of the honourable Member's question early in the evening, and I only rise now to make an inquiry, which is, whether "County Council" should not be substituted for "Local Government Board." In the ordinary course the County Council would be the authority, and I do not see the necessity of the Local Government Board being brought into this matter at all. Whatever authority is intended, whether it be the Local Government Board or the County Council I assume it is to have some discretion in the matter; the word is "may," not "shall." I move that "County Council" be substituted for "Local Government Board."


I think the right honourable Gentleman is quite right in saying that the word "may" means "may" and not "shall." But the right honourable Gentleman is not aware that when, earlier in the evening, we discussed the arrangement of the words we came to the conclusion that it was desirable that these new borough councils, in so far as they were subject to any authority at all, should only be subject to the authority of some Government Department.


expressed the opinion that the matter was not so entirely settled as the right honourable Gentleman appeared to think. The Committee bad been assured repeatedly that these councils were not subject to the authority of the Local Government Board; but they had not reached the third clause before the Government went out of their way to put a stigma on the London County Council. It was admitted on all sides that that body had carried out its duties with perfect satisfaction, and yet when it came to such a question as this the Government wished to put the Local Government Board forward instead of the County Council. Remarkable ingenuity had been displayed by the Government by putting stigmas on the County Council. What should be done in this matter was to promote harmonious relations between these proposed new bodies and the central authority, which would not be done if the Government went out of their way to put a slight and a stigma upon it. He hoped that the Government would reconsider the matter before they took this step.

Question proposed— That those words be there added.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment— To leave out the words 'The Local Government Board,' and insert the words 'The County Council'"—(Mr. Asquith.)


I am not satisfied with any sufficient reason as has been given for taking away this duty from the County Council and putting the Local Government Board in its place.

MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)

asked that the Amendment of the right honourable Gentleman might not be adopted, because he, as a member of the London County Council, desired to promote harmonious relations between the County Council and the proposed new bodies. He did not think for a moment that if this power were given to the London County Council that it would be exercised in an arbitrary manner, but at the same time there might be apprehensions that such might be the case. He was quite sure that the Government would do wisely in rejecting the Amendment.


said he did not think there was much danger of disturbing the harmonious relations between these new bodies and the London County Council. There was no control given over the new bodies. He regretted that the Local Government, Board was introduced unnecessarily into the Bill, because, while it was admittedly a hard-worked body, he did not appreciate what it had to do with London. The Treasury had more to do with London vestries than the Local Government Board. He thought this power should be given to the London County Council.


expressed surprise that the honourable Member for East Islington should have advocated the transference of this power to the Local Government Board, having regard to the fact that the honourable Member had on several occasions expressed an opinion in favour of giving the County Council the control of the finances of these new bodies. Surely if the County Council was capable of exercising that function with impartiality, it was equally able to exercise the more formal function which was proposed by this Amendment with equal impartiality. It appeared to him that this was an attempt to deprive the County Council of some of the powers which they had up to now exercised with great judgment, and he implored the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury not to strip it of its powers.


thought that the new councils would be more happy under the Local Government Board than under the County Council. He was fully persuaded of that fact, and he was quite sure that it was the object of the Government to make these new bodies as independent as possible, and not render them subservient to the London County Council.


remarked that already, by the Act of 1894, this power was given to the county councils in respect to the boards of guardians, and he saw no reason why it should not be given to them how in regard to the proposed new boroughs. Certainly, no reason had been put forward for withholding this power from the County Council.


agreed that in this matter the County Council had discharged its duties in an able manner, but he thought the local bodies would feel more independent if they were sent to the Local Government Board instead of to the County Council. By this proposal no slight of the County Council was intended. They were not taking away any powers from the London County Council. What they were considering was whether the County Council should have similar powers in connection with the new bodies to those they now possessed in connection with the vestries.


said that as the local bodies had worked harmoniously with the London County Council in this matter, it would be unwise now to bring in the Local Government Board. The proposal would prove very disadvantageous, and would cause considerable friction. They were more likely to promote good feeling by frankly giving to the London County Council the powers in connection with the new bodies which they had hitherto held and exercised with advantage in connection with the vestries, and by showing the local authorities that it was to their interests as well as to the real interests of London that they should work in harmony with the central authority.

Question put— That the words The Local Government Board' stand part of the proposed Amendment.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 186; Noes 83.—(Division List No. 117.)

Question proposed— That those words be there added.

And, it being midnight, the CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.