§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Question [24th March], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)
said he had no objection to this Bill being read a second time, the only thing that he would like to know was whether Scotland could not be included. The reason he asked for the inclusion of Scotland was that both the Scotch and the English law were exactly the same, and therefore if any Bill gave particular powers in the case of England it would naturally follow that the same course should be adopted with regard to Scotland.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE (Wiltshire, Cricklade)
said he hoped the Second Reading of this Bill would be allowed to pass. It was a Bill which had been most anxiously desired for many years by the County Councils of England, and they ought to be thankful to the right hon. Gentleman for having taken the case up in the manner in which he had. He had only one word to say with regard to the Bill itself, and that was on the second clause with regard to local enquiry and notice to the overseers. He thought that clause was unnecessary. He could not help thinking that the appearance on the County Councils of a representative of any district must be sufficient protection against any one district of the Council being unduly charged, and he thought they might rely on the representatives of the parishes in the county to defend those parishes against any job that might be attempted to be perpetrated. But rather than lose the Bill he would accept the clause. As he understood, the reason for the Government insisting on this clause was that they thought there ought to be special protection given to the ratepayers, and if the Government pressed the point he should offer no opposition to it. In regard to the question raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid. Lanark, he could not help thinking that neither Ireland nor Scotland was prejudiced by not being inserted in this Bill, because both could use the Bill as an argument for its future extension to those countries. If it was thought the Bill should be made general, then there could be an instruction to insert Ireland or Scotland, or both. He did not object to that, but he asked that neither Scotland nor Ireland should be allowed to stand in the way of this Bill becoming law this year.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Perthshire, E.)
said the Scotsmen had no desire to prejudice the passage of the English Bill. All they wanted was the inclusion of Scotland, and he did not think that would in any way prejudice the measure. The object of his rising was to ask whether the Government were prepared to accept an instruction to the Committee to make the Bill apply to Scotland.
§ MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)
said that he hoped that the proposed extension of the Bill to Scotland would not prevent this country from getting the reform which it had desired for the last fifteen years. Nothing could be more absurd than the present law, which denied to the largest County Council powers which had long been granted to every small town. At present County Councils had to promote Bills at the risk of a few individuals. Such a state of things required immediate remedy.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. WALTER LONG,) Bristol, S.
thought it might be convenient if he stated the position of the Government with regard to the extension of this Bill to Scotland and to Ireland. As President of the Local Government Board he was only responsible for legislation for England and Wales, but he had promised the hon. Member for Mid. Lanark that he would consider whether this Bill could be made general. The difficulty in regard to Scotland was not the same as that with regard to Ireland. He would be happy to consult with his right hon. friends the Chief Secretary and the Lord Advocate as to the possibility of similiar powers being granted in Ireland and Scotland.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed to the Standing Committee on Law, etc.