§ MR. BRIGHT
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the practice of some local authorities to borrow money for special purposes by means of overdraft instead of by recourse to the method provided by statute; whether, in Provisional Orders of the Local Government Board presented to this House for confirmation, such borrowings have been legalised; if so, whether, in each of such cases, an inquiry has been made in the presence of the ratepayers affected, and the circumstances recorded; and what are the number and amounts of such borrowings so legalised since 1895, and at present intended by the Board to be legalised.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I am aware that in some instances local authorities have borrowed money by means of unauthorised overdrafts. The Local Government Board strongly disapprove of this practice; but there have been cases in which they have considered that the facts justified the insertion in Provisional Orders of clauses conferring borrowing or other powers on the local authority with a view to the overdraft being paid off. In each case, before the Order has been made, a local inquiry has been held after notice inviting any person interested to attend, and the circumstances have been reported to the Board by the inspector holding the inquiry. Cases of the kind since 1895 have not been numerous, but an examination of the Papers relating to a very large number of Provisional Orders would be necessary before the precise facts could be given.
§ MR. BRIGHT
Is it the custom to surcharge members of councils who exceed their powers in this respect?