HC Deb 23 July 1901 vol 97 cc1352-4

I ask leave to bring in a Bill to amend certain sections of the Local Government Act of 1898. The Bill is of a departmental character. The first clause, and indeed all four clauses, have been introduced to meet representations which have reached the Local Government Board from various local bodies in Ireland. Defects have arisen in the deduction of the Consolidated Poor Rate. It is found to involve great difficulties in the case of certain poorer tenants in Ireland, and the simpler plan suggested has been submitted in the first clause of this Bill. It is found that when they fail to make a calculation the result is that they get no deduction at all. The second clause of the Bill provides for considerable defects which have arisen in respect of certain excluded charges, particularly those for malicious injuries. A rate is asked and a sum of money raised often far in excess of the amount needed, and it is found that the balances cannot be applied to any purposes in the localities, and that they remain suspended. The third clause deals with the transitory provisional Order affecting urban and other authorities under the Grand Jury Act; and the fourth clause also deals with another similar imperfection discovered in the Bill called the Town Improvement Act. This Bill is of a strictly departmental character, and all I need ask the House is that they will give leave for the Bill to be read a first time. Hon. Members from Ireland will then have an opportunity of examining it, and discussing it at a subsequent stage.

MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)

I am not going to oppose this Bill, as I do not think it worth while doing so. Ireland, as the House is aware, recently had a system of local government conferred upon it, and in the working of that system naturally a number of defects have been disclosed. We have been unable on the Estimates to discuss the Local Government Board in Ireland, owing to the inadequate arrangements made for the conduct of business. Therefore, we have been unable to call attention to many of those defects, and now the Government propose, not a great comprehensive measure dealing with those defects, but only a comparatively insignificant measure like this, dealing with one or two of the smallest points. No doubt it may be a useful measure as far as it goes. I do not deny it, and therefore I do not desire to stand in the way of its passage; but it is a ridiculous measure, and it is another instance of the way in which serious matters are dealt with by the present Government. Instead of a comprehensive Bill being introduced, and time being given for its discussion, we have introduced under the ten minutes rule, and in the dog days a little insignificant Bill of this character, which will pass through, no doubt, because it will not be worth anybody's while to object. The right hon. Gentleman says that of course time will be given for the discussion of the Bill. Very much time will not be needed for the discussion of the clauses as he has explained them, but if we were to treat this Bill seriously—that is, if we were, as it would be our duty under other circumstances, to deal with this subject in a serious spirit and endeavour to engraft upon this Bill all those changes In the Local Government system which we think are desirable, then a very considerable time would be required for their discussion. If we are to confine our discussion to the points mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, I admit a considerable time will not be required. But some time will be required, because it is ridiculous to suppose that we must not examine the measure, and I take it the right hon. Gentleman will make arrangements for adequate time being given for the discussion of the Bill in Committee. Therefore all I will say with regard to the introduction of the Bill as explained by the right hon. Gentleman is that, while it will not do any harm, it is in my opinion calculated to do very little good, but under the circumstances I will not stand in the way of its introduction.

Bill to amend sections fifty-four, fifty-six, fifty-seven, and seventy-one of The Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, and to make provision with respect to the making of rates in certain urban districts in Ireland, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Wyndham and Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.