§ (1) The Parliamentary and local government register of electors in force at the time of the passing of this Act shall remain in force until Parliament provides for special registers being made or otherwise 2058 directs; and the provisions of the Acts relating to the Registration of Electors, so far as regards the preparation of the new registers in the present year, shall not as from the end of the thirty-first day of July be carried into effect; and any appointments of revising barristers already made, and contracts already entered into for the purpose of the preparation of the registers in the present year are, so far as respects that purpose, hereby annulled:
§ Provided that nothing in this Act shall prevent any payment being made to the overseers or any other officer or person in respect of work done under the Acts relating to the Registration of Electors before the first day of August for the purpose of the preparation of the registers in the present year.
§ (2) If any question arises as to any such, payment or the apportionment thereof or as to the effect of this Section on any contract, that question shall be referred to the Local Government Board, and their decision thereon shall be conclusive for all purposes.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "electors" ["register of electors in force at the time"], to insert the words "or any register based on the same."
§ Mr. BIRRELL
This matter has been brought before my notice by the Belfast Royal Commission, who are under statutory obligation every year to prepare a list of their own. That list is made up of the local government register in the city of Belfast, and also a supplementary register which is a copy of the local government register for town lands, and any person who produces a receipt for the water rate in that area is able to be put upon that list. It is, therefore, an amalgamated list consisting partly of local government voters and partly of certain persons living on certain town lands producing certain receipts. I believe there is a corresponding obligation in different parts of the United Kingdom where they have to prepare a revision list. It is thought desirable that they should be at liberty to get rid of that obligation this year. The Parliamentary draughtsman is confident that this is already provided for under the Bill, but I think there would be an obligation under the Bill to have a modification sanctioned by the Local Government Board. I think myself, and the Attorney-General for England agrees, that the words which have been suggested in this Amendment may 2059 very properly be added, and therefore I offer no objection, because these words make the point perfectly clear.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. LONG
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "directs," to insert the words "but in no case after the 31st day of December, 1916."
The object of this Amendment is to impose a fixed date by which the future operations referred to in the Bill shall be effective, whereas the matter was left open by the previous phraseology. Assuming a happier condition of things, all this proposes is that an ad hoc register must be made by the 31st December, 1916.
I think this proposal is a mistake, and the Bill is better as it is. This Bill should be so drawn that if necessary it can be continued under the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. You will want a fresh Bill next year if the War is not over.
§ Mr. PRATT
There is one fact which the right hon. Gentleman seems to have left out of consideration. According to the Bill there will be the local government elections in 1916. The Bill really puts off the present year's election. If it passes, the town council elections will be held in Great Britain in 1916, and the work of registration and preparing a register of the electors has to be done not for the present year, but the same register will have to go on in subsequent years. You will have the authorities gathering the materials for the new register from 1916, and you will have the local government elections for that year upon a register that would then be two years old, although under the Bill the authorities have been going on gathering the materials for a new register. I think that is hardly satisfactory, and if the right hon. Gentleman would make the date a little earlier that would meet my point.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I also agree, if you have a date at all, that it must be the date of July next year. It would be impossible to carry on the register to December. I agree with the hon. and learned Member (Mr. T. M. Healy), however, that it would be better not to define the date at all. It would be better to assume that Parliament 2060 will deal with the matter. If the War is not over, Parliament will have to deal with it.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
Will the Amendment proposed by the Government come 'into conflict with the Municipal Corporations Act, because the municipal register comes into operation on 1st November every year?
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
If there is no amending Bill, is it understood that there will be a new register next year?
The Bill as it stands is a better Bill than as it is proposed to be amended. We supported the Bill, and cordially supported it, and the Amendment is moved for no purpose except to meet the view of one single Member, a highly respectable Member, but still one who I do not think carries the House with him. I think it would be much better to leave the Bill as it is.
§ Mr. LONG
Obviously, I do not want to press an Amendment which I have myself introduced in order to meet a criticism which has been pressed on the Government, not from one quarter but from several quarters, as to there being no limitation upon the time. If it is contrary to the wish of the House that the Amendment should be inserted, I do not press it. I naturally prefer the Bill in its original form, but I should not be prepared to withdraw the Amendment at this moment, because the hon. Gentlemen who are responsible for it and the original Amendment have left the House. I told them that I would move it in their absence, and, as they have gone, I cannot depart from the arrangement I have made with them.
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "thirty-first day of July," and to insert instead thereof the words "third of August."
I trust that the Local Government Board will be able to accept this Amendment. It is a practical point. There is nothing in the 31st July as such, but on 1st August the overseers, under Statute, produced their lists. On 31st July all the work of the overseers will be done except the publication of the objections to the new lodger and occupier claims, and it would be a very great convenience, I am told, if this list which has been prepared and paid for could be published. The 31st July is a Saturday, and I have put in 3rd August, which is a Tuesday, and which I submit is a more convenient date.
§ Mr. LONG
I hope that this Amendment will not be pressed. This register is really of no value whatever, except in so far as the work of the overseers will afford some material which will be useful in the preparation next year. That material is available, and further publication is unnecessary. It would be a great pity to spend more money on this particular purpose, and I would really ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite whether it is worth his while to press the Amendment. It would certainly involve further expense, which I do not think would result in any material advantage.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I do not press the Amendment, but the Local Government Board is not advised properly upon one point. All the expenditure has been incurred. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] It really has been incurred in England. I am not speaking on my own authority, but on the authority of those who know. This list has been printed and published, and yon can get it for some of the boroughs. I just want to defend myself and my Amendment, and to show that it would not incur any further expense, but I do not press it if the President of the Local Government Board resists it, though I think that it is a mistake.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I desire to re-enforce what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Anglesey has said. I am informed 2062 that all the expenses have really been incurred. The registers are in type, and the printing will have to be paid for. It is only a question of striking them off, and the amount of extra expense is negligible.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
I have two letters in my hand from overseers stating that their lists are printed, and I know that in my own town the lists are printed. They will have to be paid for by the council. The work is done, and, apart from the elections, the lists are very useful to tradespeople for tracing removals and finding out addresses. They are certainly very useful to a very large number of tradespeople who secure them on the payment of a certain sum of money. Although the lists will not come into operation for election purposes, I think that as the council will have to pay for the printing, because this Bill is too late to stop it, there will be no useful purpose served in preventing them from being circulated.
§ Mr. LONG
I really have done my best to inform myself on this subject, and I can assure the Committee that while there are a considerable number of cases where the lists are printed, there are a great many cases where they are not printed. I really cannot accede to the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Stockton (Mr. J. Samuel) that we should not save further expenditure because these lists are useful for a purpose for which they were never intended.
§ Sir G. TOULMIN
Almost the whole of these lists must be printed by now, and I cannot see how they can be useful unless the work is completed. Therefore, I cannot understand why they should not be published. I was under the impression, if it went on to the 31st July, they would still be published, and I could not see the necessity for any Amendment, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Anglesey must have looked into the question and come to a different conclusion, or he would not have insisted on the publication. Surely, if you are breaking a contract—as you are going to, and we shall discuss that on a later Amendment—you will have to compensate the printer for having done all the work, ninety-nine hundredths of it having been completed.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
I would suggest there is an objection to publishing the old lodgers' lists, because, if they are published, they must of necessity be very incomplete and misleading lists. These lists 2063 are prepared so that they may be used at elections, and not to provide tradespeople with the means of tracing customers. I have known them being used in order to trace removals, but I have never known a tradesman use them for the purpose suggested by the hon. Member for Stockton. I think it would be quite unsafe to publish the lists, certainly so far as the old lodgers' lists are concerned, because many people are at the front and their names cannot be put upon the lists.
We did this extraordinary thing last year, and it is now the law, that any person may sign a lodger's declaration instead of the lodger himself, and all this humbug is to be printed. When the matter came up last year we did not say anything about it because of the stringency of the War, but the fact remains that any person may sign a lodger's declaration for a man who is in the trenches, or who, indeed, may be dead.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
May I point out that it will not be a complete register, because the complete register cannot be made up till the 20th August, and until then there is opportunity for making fresh claims'? There are probably hundreds and thousands of names in all parts of the country which ought to be, but are not, on the registers.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words,
"and any appointments of revising barristers already made, and contracts already entered into for the purpose of the preparation of the registers in the present year are, so far as respects that purpose, hereby annulled."
The effect of the words I am seeking to leave out is this: Certain appointments have been made and certain other contracts have been entered into in respect of the registration, and these words provide that the appointment of barristers and the contracts shall be absolutely annulled, and the people concerned will have no remedy at all. I venture to submit that that is an unsound principle. Since I have been in the House of Commons no such proposal has ever been put forward successfully. I remember an attempt being made on one occasion, but the protest 2064 against it was so strong that it had to be abandoned. Eeverybody, I think, will see that the principle I am advocating is a right principle to act upon. If the Government makes a promise or a contract it must carry it out, even if it be to its own prejudice. In this particular case there are two things to be borne in mind—the appointment of revising barristers and the making of other contracts. The appointment of revising barristers stands on an exceptionally clear footing. There was some doubt at the beginning of the year whether or not Revision Courts would beheld this year, but the Prime Minister on two occasions stated in this House that he had come to the conclusion that these Courts should be held. Accordingly the judges with whom the power of appointment rested proceeded to appoint revising barristers, and most of the appointments had been made by the middle of this month. There is, therefore, a definite and binding contract with the Government that these gentlemen should be employed as revising barristers this year. They have in many cases made their arrangements accordingly. They have probably taken houses in the particular districts in which they are to hold Courts, and they have incurred other expenses in consequence of their appointment. I venture, therefore, to say that, as far as these gentlemen are concerned, it is undesirable to adopt a form of legislation which would allow a definite and binding contract to be dealt with in the way proposed in this Bill.
The other class of contract consists largely those entered into with printers. Their contract is that they shall do certain things in September. But this Bill only gives them compensation for work which has been actually done up to the 31st July. Under the Sub-clause the Government are to pay them for work actually done to that date, but anybody who knows anything of business is well aware that that would by no means represent the amount of loss on the contract if it is broken. The printer enters into a contract to print certain lists and then to print revised lists in September, and it will not compensate him if he is simply to get the money for the work he has done in July. The discussion which has just taken place shows that in some cases the work is not really done until August, and therefore in those cases the printer would not be entitled to compensation, although he may have made special arrangements for the work 2065 and perhaps have purchased extra machinery or engaged additional men. In that case it is somewhat hard he should have no remedy at all. I submit that the proper course for the Government to take is this: If they make a contract and then alter it, if they have changed their minds—and in this case they have done so, because the Prime Minister earlier in the 'Session stated that he had come to a certain conclusion, and the Government, very likely rightly, have now come to another conclusion—they ought to stand by their contract to this extent, that if they break it, they should pay the ordinary compensation to the people with whom they made the contract. In the case of the printer he is likely to have been put to loss. He may have had to make other contracts in preparation for the work, but now the Government have come down with a Bill which provides that his contract shall be simply annulled
I submit, with great respect, that that is a bad form of legislation. When I advanced some of these arguments the other night the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland made a very eloquent speech against them. He said, very emphatically, I ought not to have raised the point on the Second Reading as it was a Committee matter, but he also went so far as to indicate that these people ought to be compensated. He is not in charge of the Bill, but I have some hope that he will be prepared to extend courteous consideration to this Amendment. I am asking here for ordinary justice. The Government have made a contract with the revising barristers, because the appointments are made by His Majesty's judges. The contract is a statutory contract under the Act of 1888. The terms of the contract, as to remuneration and so forth and the sums the Government have to pay, are set out with great clearness in Section 9 of the Act of 1888. It is, therefore, a statutory contract with the Government. The Government may change their minds, but if they do, they ought not to exercise their great power of bringing in an Act of Parliament to annul a contract, but to stand by the ordinary consequences which would happen to any one of us if we, for good reasons, gave up a contract we entered into, and they should pay compensation under the ordinary common law. I would press the Amendment very strongly on the Government, because the principle is a bad one. I 2066 know I shall not get much sympathy from hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, but once you introduce a Bill breaking contracts you introduce a dangerous principle which may be used very often afterwards.
Mr. DUNDAS WHITE
On the Second Reading of this Bill this matter was discussed mostly by Members of the Bar. I hope that as a Member of the Bar, who is of sufficient standing to be appointed a revising barrister, I may be allowed without professional bias to say a few words on this question, looking at it simply and solely from, the standpoint of a Member of the House of Commons. I have been a little in doubt as to what the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Rawlinson) proposes, because while he spoke of a larger measure of damage, if I may use a technical phrase, the Amendment he has put down on the Paper—I am not speaking of the present Amendment, but of the consequential one—that the revising barrister should have the usual payment.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
May I say that I am not going to move the other Amendment. I put it down alternatively.
I am very glad the hon. and learned Gentleman does not propose that, and that he merely asks for some measure of damage to cover, for instance, those cases where, on the strength of the appointment, a house has been taken or other arrangements made.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
The hon. Gentleman must not misunderstand me. I am now moving to leave out the words which annul a contract, therefore the contract stands if the Amendment is carried. As to the measure of damage, that is a matter for the ordinary common law, with which the hon. Member is familiar.
I do not think the two things can be separated in that way. We have to consider the question as a whole. On this Amendment we have to consider the question of the course which should be pursued with reference to those revising barristers who have been appointed already. We cannot split the question into watertight compartments in the way that the hon. and learned Gentleman suggests. I think the measure of damage 2067 might to some extent cover those matters to which he and I have referred. There seems to be very considerable difficulty in taking individual cases and attempting to find out what expenditure or obligations each particular barrister has incurred. The best thing would be to have some general plan, taking some general proportion and making the same compensation on a general principle. Although I quite understand that the hon. and learned Member is not going to press his Amendment, I would point out that the ordinary fee of 250 guineas, which is fixed by Statute, is intended not only as a remuneration for services, but also the Statute provides expressly that—
"The revising barrister shall be paid the sum of two hundred and fifty guineas by way of remuneration to him, and in satisfaction of his travelling and other expenses."
It is rather important to bear that in mind, because, in view of the fact that these gentlemen are not in fact going to do the work, and that they will incur no travelling or other expenses, two hundred and fifty guineas ought not to be taken as a basis on which some proportional remuneration should be paid, but a lower sum should be taken instead. I would remind the Committee that the matter is one of considerable importance, because while 250 guineas is the fee, the number of those who receive that fee is somewhere between ninety and a hundred, and the total of these revising barristers' fees will be somewhere between £22,000 and £25,000. In view of that amount, it seems a great pity that this difficulty was not anticipated at an earlier stage, and that greater care was not taken that these gentlemen should not be appointed until it was abundantly clear that they would be called upon to perform the duties. I would suggest that from this a lesson might be taken for the next appointments, and that when the time comes to make these appointments again, fresh appointments next year ought not to be made until the position has been made absolutely clear by Parliament.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I have an Amendment down in the same sense as that of my hon. and learned Friend. I have been twenty-three years in the House of Commons and I do not remember the Government ever bringing in a Bill which deliberately annulled a contract into which 2068 they have entered. I have endeavoured during those twenty-three years to stop, and I have succeeded in stopping, private Members who attempted to do that, but I do not remember that a Government has done it, unless it was some promise made two or three days ago with regard to the Price of Coal (Limitation) Bill. There again I must point out that the President of the Board of Trade made one of the most effective speeches I have ever heard in support of the sanctity of contracts, and he pointed out what great evils would ensue if you broke a contract. He rather altered the tenour of his remarks towards the end of his speech by saying that he would consider something, which, so far as I know, has not yet appeared on the Paper. The Coal Mines Bill is a very exceptional Bill. I have not taken any part in it. I do not like that sort of thing, but it is an exceptional Bill, and does not apply to this particular case. Here is a bargain deliberately entered into, and then the Government, who through their own fault entered into the bargain before they had made up their mind what they were going to do, having changed their mind, deliberately put words into an Act of Parliament which will break and annul a contract which they have already entered into. I have spent a good many years of my life in the City of London, and there we were taught that the first essential for a man in business was to observe the sanctity of contracts and that when he had given his word to purchase or sell any security or commodity, whether by having done so he made a loss or not, he had to carry out that bargain. I have always understood that that was the principle of the Tory party. They generally have all the right principles.
Parliament has always held, in the Committee Booms and everywhere else, to the sanctity of contracts, and now because it is rather convenient for them not to carry out the arrangement which they have entered into they actually put into an Act of Parliament that a contract which they have already made may be annulled. I really do no know what would happen if the House, of Commons passed a Clause of that sort. It would be taken as a precedent at once that any bargain which it was not particularly convenient to carry out might be broken and it would destroy the basis of all our commercial prosperity, which is founded upon sanctity of contract. I do not want to argue as to whether or not 250 guineas is a fee which 2069 includes travelling expenses and other things. That is nothing to do with this Amendment or with the similar Amendment in my name. All our Amendment provides is that a contract shall not be broken. If it is possible for the Government to make an arrangement with these gentlemen that as they are not going to do the work they are prepared to do other work or take a smaller fee for it, I have nothing to do with that. If the revising barristers choose to make an arrangement that under the circumstances they are prepared to accept a less sum, or to do something else, that is another matter. Neither have I anything to do with what compensation ought to be given to them provided it is not possible to carry out the contract. What I want to do is to prevent appearing in an Act of Parliament that anyone, much less the Government, actually propose to break a contract. I feel so strongly on this that I intend to divide the House if I can get a teller, even if no one goes into the Lobby with me.
§ Mr. LONG
I think I had better state at once what is the position of the Government. I listened with amazement to the speeches of my two hon. Friends (Mr. Rawlinson and Sir F. Banbury). I do not think anyone hearing those speeches would have thought it possible that this country w as engaged in the greatest War in which she has been engaged in the whole of her history. I should like to know what has become of the sanctity of contract in France or in Belgium at this moment? What is the position of thousands of people in this country whose cases are daily before me—the people who are at this moment deprived of everything that they thought was theirs, and who are exposed to absolute beggary as a direct consequence, not of the War, but of the measures taken to protect my hon. Friends and the rest of the country against the possible consequences of war? That is the sacrifice and suffering imposed upon some of the poorest people of this country. My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment seems to suffer under a strange hallucination. He is always talking about the convenience of the Government. What does he mean? I should be very grateful if he would explain. My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Rawlinson) indulged in a speech the other day in which he used some somewhat strong language about the Government, and especially about myself, and he kept talking, when he had ex- 2070 hausted his adjectives, about the convenience of the Government. What docs he mean by the convenience of the Government? He talks about the Government wanting to get themselves out of some inconvenience. I do not know what he means. The facts of the case are these: This House, I think I may claim now at this period of our debate on this subject, with practical unanimity, has declared that these registers and the revision work in connection with them would be useless, and what my two hon. Friends propose is not that something is to be done for the convenience of the Government but that, Parliament having declared quite definitely that the work which is usually done in the Revision Courts by the revising barristers being utterly useless, and being a waste of work on their part, and on the part of those who take part in it, none the less they are to be paid for doing work which the country does not want them to do.
I have had some communication with the revising barristers, and I do not believe that expresses the views which the majority of them hold. I do not believe they ask that their case shall be put before the House as one which justifies their being treated in this extraordinarily special manner. With regard to the sanctity of Contract, my hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury), who attacked me with great asperity, tells us he never knew a case of the kind occur before. No; thank God he has not been through a great war of this kind before, and I hope he will never have a similar experience. If sanctity of contract, and the rights of property, and the right of the individual under the laws of our land to the enjoyment of property, which hitherto has been his most sacred possession, are to be held as so sacred that in no circumstances must we, even in the interests of the community as a whole and as a war measure interfere with them, my hon. Friend will preach his doctrine of economy in vain so far as the Government are concerned, because at every move we make, whether in my Department or any other, we are brought right up against the fact that if you are going to effect economies you can only do it at the expense of those who have got what they regard as quite as good contracts as any which are held by the revising barristers. Therefore you are asking us to approach an impossible task at a time, when we are called upon to take exceptional measures and to do things which we hate doing, but which we must do in order that our country 2071 may come safely through this tremendous emergency. If you are going to condemn us in the language which has been used opposite, you are going to make our task absolutely impossible. No one wants to do injury to the revising barristers. No one wants to do injury to the tradesmen who suffer through this War, as they are suffering every day, if not by Statute by the executive action of His Majesty's Government, but I fear me they must continue to suffer.
We do not want them to suffer. We do not want the revising barristers to suffer. In connection with the Bill which was passed the other day for a national register, there is a great deal of work for the performance of which barristers are fitted and for which I shall be very glad to employ those who hold appointments as revising barristers. If any of them choose to apply to the office over which I preside, I have not the smallest doubt that it will be easy to secure employment for probably the greater number of those who had anticipated being employed in the Revision Courts. I do not expect to satisfy my hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury), but that ought to satisfy those who are urging the case of the revising barristers. The hon. Baronet talks as if he was the only one in this House who believes in the sanctity of contract. At all events, he did not give us on this bench any credit for anything of the kind. I am just as firm a believer in these old principles as he is, but I realise that at a time like this, whether we like it or not, we are compelled to take special measures. I realise, too, that at a time like this, if we are to bring our country through her difficulties, we must call for sacrifices. These sacrifices are not called for, as the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University suggests, for the convenience of the Government. He does not seem to realise that it is not even the Government that have to pay all this money. Half of the money is found by the ratepayers. What right have we here to say that because these appointments were made in perfect good faith they must be carried out, and that we here in Parliament should say to the ratepayers that they must find this money, even though Parliament has declared, without a dissentient voice, that if this money is spent it will be spent upon an object from which no benefit will arise and will be actually wasted. It 2072 is preposterous to make any suggestion of that kind to the ratepayers of the country generally.
What else remains? The only other argument that the hon. and learned Member used is to quote, as he has done repeatedly, the language used by the Prime Minister on the 21st June. Surely my hon. and learned Friend has been long enough a Member of this House to know perfectly well that the Prime Minister, in a matter of that kind, would act, not on his own know ledge, but upon the information given to him by those at the head of the Department concerned. If there is to be any charge of bad faith, and it was made very deliberately—
§ Mr. LONG
I only take the statements as they were deliberately made. There was a deliberate charge made that the Prime Minister had made that statement on behalf of the Government, and that we, having given our promise, had deliberately broken it by this Bill. I take full responsibility for it. I did give the Prime Minister that advice. My hon. and learned Friend challenged me to say whether at the time the Prime Minister made that statement we had under consideration the abandonment of the Revision Courts. We had. At that time, I honestly confess—and I think my hon. and learned Friend will accept my assurance—that I did not realise how utterly futile would be the registers when they emerged from the Revision Courts. I did not realise then that these registers, the new registers, would be full of the names of those who stayed at home, but would contain practically none of the names of those who were fighting for us either on sea or on land. I set myself the task at that time to try to devise some method by which we could legally reduce or remove altogether this difficulty, but I found it impossible of attainment. I therefore came at once to the conclusion that the only course to take was to alter my mind, and I gave that advice to the Prime Minister and to my colleagues, and they acted upon it. I am not ashamed to confess that I changed my mind. I realised that if I had not changed my mind, but had adhered to the original suggestion, the result might be one that would involve a great waste of money, and the production of a register which would not only be useless and futile, but which would contain on it a minimum of the 2073 names of those men who, above all others, ought to have their say in connection with elections.
This is a perfectly frank statement of the reasons which led the Government to take the course they have taken. I believe we have provided for every just claim which can be made and established. So far as revising barristers are concerned I make here, as the Minister responsible for this Bill, and with the full concurrence of my colleagues, the statement that I have made. I was assisted by the Home Secretary, the Attorney-General, and the hon. Members for Aberdeen University and the Kingston Division, who have been good enough to give me their advice. I am satisfied that all that is reasonable and fair can be done for men who have been deprived of appointments, the duties of which they had a considerable right to anticipate they would perform. When I am told that this outrageous proposal to interfere with the sanctity of contracts has raised very much opposition, I can only say to the Committee that steps of this kind are only taken for exceptional reasons in exceptional times. I believe my hon. Friends opposite are rendering bad service to the cause which they have so close at heart, when they tell the Government that even though we realise that the money would be wasted, and that the work would be futile, yet in' order to preserve this great tradition, this great principle, we ought to waste the ratepayers' money and do work which is unnecessary, so that afterwards we may be able to say that we have observed the sanctity of contracts. If we can avoid injustice to the individual, I believe there is no man in the land who will not realise, upon consideration, that the Government have taken the right course and one which in the special and terrible circumstances in which we are living at the present time, is the only course we could possibly take.
§ Mr. DUKE
I hope the remarks which the right hon. Gentleman has made to the Committee will not have been made in vain. I would like to supplement one of the observations which my right hon. Friend made with some facts as to the position of various classes of the community who are affected by the incidence of War administration, facts which, I am quite sure, will weigh with those who have to take into consideration what is undoubtedly the very hard case of many revising barristers. The facts which I 2074 contribute to the Debate are facts which come to my knowledge in another capacity, not sitting here, but sitting in a tribunal in which money payment has to be deter mined upon other lines, due to the administrative acts of the Government. I may tell the Committee what is no secret to those who have had to go to the Royal Commission, that the principle which has been of necessity applied there, under the terms which are in general application for the country at large, is that regard is not had to the commercial value of the property which is requisitioned by His Majesty's Government. Regard is only had to the damage which the individual has suffered by reason of the requisition. When the matter is considered, I think it will be seen that while we are at war it would be impossible to extend the principle of compensation upon commercial lines to all the detriment which has been suffered by subjects by reason of the necessary administrative interference with rights in regard to property and rights in regard to business It is quite true that the whole of these proceedings are novel, and the action of the Crown in extending consideration to sufferers by war damage is more novel than the infliction of that damage. These matters have to be considered—
§ Mr. DUKE
I am only trying to point out to my hon. Friends what is happening to a large class of the population who have to submit to this damage and to take the only relief that can be given to them. This matter, of course, ought to be dealt with in such a way as that it will not put the revising barrister, whose means very often are of the narrowest kind, in a worse position than his fellow subjects. Any man who has had the long experience at the Bar of my hon. and learned Friend or my right hon. Friend opposite, or the experience which I have had myself, knows how great is the sacrifice which is being asked by Parliament from the revising barristers who are here in question. But recognising that the sacrifice is a serious sacrifice, I have no hesitation in saying that I am quite sure that there is no member of the Bar who is affected by this proposal of the Government who will not be ready to make the sacrifice which his fellow subjects are making if he is satisfied that he is not being called upon to 2075 make a greater sacrifice, and if he is satisfied also that steps are being taken to reduce the extent of his sacrifice so far as is possible consistently with the national interests.
What is the position? A month or six weeks ago these gentlemen were appointed to perform their usual functions in the expectation that this could be done with some advantage. His Majesty's Government have come to the conclusion—I do not examine the correctness of it because I have not the means and they had; at least, I assume that they had—that this money, if spent, would have been thrown away. The House of Commons, if it is going to deal with other questions of public money, as I am afraid it sometimes shrinks from doing, has to deal with this declaration that this particular expenditure will be money thrown away—that is to say, that the Revision Courts will be a farce and the expenditure of the money involved will be an extravagance. The farce would be indecent, and the waste of money in these circumstances I am quite satisfied is a thing to which the House of Commons would not think of consenting. In those circumstances the right hon. Gentleman says, as I understand, "We cannot appoint revising barristers. If appointments have been made they have been made in mistake. We are going to cancel them and we will ask the House of Commons to sanction that very drastic course." I do not know that I have ever consciously, until now, voted in this House to annul a contract, but if His Majesty's Government say to this House: "You must annul these contracts, and it is your public duty," I put my confidence in His Majesty's Government in this as in other matters, and I shall support them on a Division, disagreeable as it would be, because many of the persons concerned are old personal friends of mine.
The right hon. Gentleman says, as I understand—and I hope it will be made clear—that in the case of all these revising barristers who are ready to undertake work he can hold out the prospect of work in a public Department, which will be honourable work, war work, work in the public interests, which will substantially prevent them from being damaged. I do not mean that it will be worth £250, but it is quite true that travelling expenses are included and any expenditure of time and labour; and as I understand my right hon. 2076 Friend is ready to promise to these barristers, who are ready to accept the work, work which will prevent their being actually pecuniary losers, so far as remuneration goes for work done, not so far as payment goes for expenses not incurred. If I correctly understand my right hon. Friend—and I gather that he assents to what I say—I can only say that if there is any citizen who has been damaged by interference with his property or business who comes to the Royal Commission and says: "I have suffered that damage but I was offered something which would recoup me the amount of my damage," the Royal Commission would not determine that payment should be made to him out of the Exchequer because of the commercial value which he might otherwise have realised. In these circumstances I have to ask myself, if my hon. Friend the Member for the City goes to a Division, what course I shall take. I shall take the course with regard to my personal friends which I shall take with regard to those whom I do not know, but who are my fellow subjects, and I shall vote against my hon. Friend and with the Government.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I am quite sure that we all desire to do what is fair by the revising barristers and also by the printers and other workmen who are closely affected by this matter; for not only are there revising barristers, but there are many hundreds of working people who are closely connected with the printing of these registers. But I must confess that I was very much surprised at the speech of the hon. Member for the City of London, because I have always regarded him as above all the chief apostle of economy in this House.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Yes, but economy in a righteous way, and not by breaking contracts and saving money in that way.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
Yet what he is urging the Government to do now is to pay money in respect of hotel expenses that will never be involved, and travelling expenses that will never be involved, and of work done that does not require to be done. I submit that that is not economy at all, but that it is going to the length of very reckless expenditure. What is proposed in regard to these revising barristers is a very fair proposal, and I should be glad indeed if the many hundreds of working men who are involved in this matter are going to receive equally good terms so far as the 2077 Government are concerned. I think, however, that the action of the Government is rather belated in this matter, and it would have been well for them to have put forward their proposals some time ago, before the necessity for this thing arose. But I should have been very glad if the President of the Board of Trade had been present to listen to what I think was the entirely excellent speech just made by the President of the Local Government Board, because one day we have the Government taking a stand on the sanctity of contracts with regard to coal owners, and the next day we have them setting contracts aside when dealing with another matter. Therefore I shall be very glad to-morrow, when another point arises, to read certain extracts from the entirely admirable speech of the President of the Local Government Board. In matters of this kind I think that we have not only to think of the sanctity of private interests, but we have to think of the sanctity of public interests also, and we have got to do it in very different circumstances and to involve the least possible harm to revising barristers or workmen or anyone else. The point is that sacrifices must be made, and must be "endured, and are being endured by all classes in the community. The proposals made with regard to the revising barristers are fair proposals. If the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London goes to a Division I shall be compelled to vote against him.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I admit the great force of the contention of my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board, in pointing out the most exceptional conditions in which we find ourselves. I agree that in many respects some principles on which we have been accustomed to act as regards contracts, and many other matters, must be largely modified under the strenuous conditions which exist in this country at this time. But I am not quite satisfied with the way in which he has proposed to deal with this matter. My right hon. Friend does not dispute, as I understood him, that in this ease there was an interference with a statutory contract between the revising barrister and the State, under which he was appointed to do certain work, and he undertook to do that work and he was to get remuneration as fixed by Statute. But the right hon. Gentleman said that circumstances are exceptional, and he justified the breaking of these contracts by the exceptional circumstances, and said 2078 that there were many other hardships involved on individuals which they had to endure. My right hon. Friend the Member for Exeter took the same view, and he said that many classes in the community are suffering in this way. Of course there are. Of course, most of us are only too delighted to accept our share of the self sacrifice which is involved. But this is rather an exceptional case. Instead of their making a sacrifice voluntarily, you are asking them really to lose part of their income on which their livelihood depends, income which the 'Government had contracted to pay, because this Bill was not announced at an earlier period. That is the whole situation. Had it been announced at an earlier period, no case of the sort ever could have arisen.
These gentlemen who have been appointed revising barristers are for the most part extremely poor; in some cases their very livelihood, their whole existence, depends upon this remuneration which they get, and I do not suppose that there is any case in which it can be said that they do not depend upon it to a very considerable extent. That being so, it is a very serious matter to cancel those contracts and to say that they shall have no remuneration whatever. I am sorry the President of the Local Government Board has left the House, because I wanted to ask him whether he could not make a little more definite what is the alternative proposal. He made a statement—which, so far as it went, was at any rate something—to the effect that his Department would be prepared to give employment, when possible, to those revising barristers who desire to minimise the loss they incurred. I confess I thought that statement of a rather vague character. The right hon. Gentleman did not tell us what the nature of the employment was, or whether the remuneration would be at all commensurate with the loss these men would suffer, or what is to be the remuneration they are to receive. My right hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke) made the matter much more definite, and, as I gathered, he understood the pledge of the Government was that a revising barrister who had been appointed to his post, and who desired to get employment from the Government, would get it at a remuneration somewhat commensurate with the loss he would incur by his contract being cancelled.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
That is what the right hon. Gentleman had in his mind as to the 2079 payment to a revising barrister, and that these revising barristers would have preferential treatment over other persons who work under the National Registration Act. He will make every effort to secure that as far as possible the payment to them shall be commensurate with the actual loss incurred. I am sure that that is what the right hon. Gentleman meant.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman who has made that statement on behalf of the Government, and, therefore, if the Government really find themselves unable to accept the Amendment I think it is something considerable to have got this promise, this practical promise of employment, at remuneration commensurate substantially with the loss incurred by cancelling the contracts.
§ Sir G. TOULMIN
I desire to direct attention to the latter portion of the Amendment which has been moved. Possibly it may be convenient that I should say what I wish to say here, instead of moving the Amendment which I have on the Paper, and if that Amendment is accepted or altered by the Government it can be done without my further addressing the House. I am rather inclined to agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Anderson) that it is the old compositors who generally look to the register as the one sure job of the year who are going to be among those who are likely to suffer most from this Bill. There are some three hundred compositors in London who have been guaranteed four weeks work on the register, of which at present they have had only two or three. It is quite possible that under the contract with their employer they may not be affected by this particular Clause; but they also, just as much as the revising barrister, expected—I do not say that they have got a contract—this other share of the job in the autumn, and they are very frequently the older members of the trade who are not regularly employed on other work. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary of the Local Government Board to explain, if he will be good enough, the exact effect of the printer's contract being annulled. The beginning of this Clause says—
"the provisions of the Acts shall not, from the end of the 31st day of July, be carried into effect, and contracts so far as respects that purpose are annulled." 2080 What I wish to ask is whether is it that the whole contract is annulled or is it the intention to hold the printer to his contract for that part of the work which has been done before 31st July, which it is desired to still pay him for at the contract price? If that is so, I am afraid that a great injustice will be done to the printer. I desire that the Local Government Board should fully understand the nature of these contracts. These contracts are not entered into even for one year only—they are entered into for three years. The work of each year is frequently looked upon as one. In July there is possibly three-quarters of the work done, and from October to December about a quarter of the work is done. In the second year of the contract there is perhaps not more than two-thirds of the work in the first year, and in the third year, also, about two-thirds of the work. The President of the Local Government Board said that the contracts which were being annulled were the contracts in respect of work which had not been done; but the printer's contract which has been annulled is in respect of work which has been partly done, because the greater part of the work is done in preparing the original work. It is work which is of a continuing nature, that which is done in July, being, as I said before, three-quarters of it good for October.
In the charging, it is not charged three-quarters and a quarter, but generally half and half, and, if you have to pay the contract price on the July work, then they would not be getting complete pay for the work they have done. What the Local Government Board should take into consideration is that if the contract is broken the printer should be paid for the work which he has done in July as a separate job. I am not asking for compensation for the fact that he has lost the October work, but I am asking for full payment for the work which he has done in July, as if it were quite separate, and which he only took at the price which is named in the contract because he was perfectly certain, judging from what had happened in other years, that the actual type and the actual setting which he did for the job in July would be used again in October. If that is well understood, I quite agree, if this Bill is to pass, that these contracts must either be annulled—I do not like the word—or suspended or varied, but let the terms which are settled be considered in view of 2081 the fact that portions of the work contracted for were expected to be used again and will not now be so used, so that the printer will not be an actual pecuniary-loser from the loss of that work.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I am glad that the hon. Member (Sir G. Toulmin) has raised this point. I believe a great deal of the trouble that has arisen about this Clause is in consequence of the way in which this portion of it has been drawn. The words certainly give rise to a very considerable amount of misgiving. I assume that the proviso of Sub-section (1) is intended to secure to the printer payment for the work that he has done. If you leave the words standing as they are the contracts which have been entered into for the preparation of the registers are annulled, and the proviso allows for payment to the overseers or any other officer or person in respect of work done under the Acts. I do not think those words will include the printer, and some words will have to be added in order to make good what is the intention of the Clause, namely, to show that you intend to pay for work which has in fact been done by some person, although that person has not technically had the duty imposed on him by the Acts, nor is he an overseer or an officer. The printer does the work in consequence of some officer telling him, but it is not work under the Acts but under a contract which has been annulled. The point is a small one which can be put right in accordance with the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury. I come back to the question of the revising barristers and after the very frank and explicit statement made by the right hon. Gentleman no doubt a good deal of misunderstanding has been cleared away. It is quite true, as the hon. Member for Sheffield said, that the public service must be paramount and all private interest must give way at present, and we should be doing a great disservice to the revising barristers if we supposed that they were not equally prepared with other members of the community to make sacrifices and to undergo such suffering as may be needed.
The suggestion is made by the right hon. Gentleman that he will make good to them, so far as lies in his power, by other employment the losses they might suffer by reason of their appointment being annulled. Here I agree with the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. D. White), who pointed 2082 out that £250 covers expenses, and therefore to that extent something ought to be cut off from that figure. In the old days the fee was £200, but on a certain amount of fresh work it was increased to £250, and that was to cover expenses. The revising barrister has not suffered the full loss because he has not been put to the expense. I want to understand whether or not the loss which will be compensated for by other work means the loss which has been incurred up to the date of the passing of the Act or the loss which has been suffered by his not getting the employment. I am quite sure the revising barristers do not wish to be paid for employment that has not arisen. The proviso relates to work which has been done before the 1st August, but if there is any sort of analogy between the work indicated in the proviso and the loss supposed to have been suffered by the revising barrister. Their losses up to the present are very trifling. I understand, however, the right hon. Gentleman uses the word "losses" in rather a wider sense.
§ Mr. LONG
The revising barristers had their appointments from the judges in the ordinary way. I think myself it is a little dangerous to argue amongst laymen on the ground of a strict contract, as has been argued here, but I admit, of course, that they had their appointments by the judges in writing. The work which they were appointed to do has been held by the House of Commons to be useless, and therefore the money which was to have been given to them for doing the work which is not wanted is not to be given. On the other hand, there is work which the country wants done. Some, of it arises in my Department, and whilst I must guard myself against payment to any persons for losses sustained, what I am prepared to do on behalf of the Government is to offer to those revising barristers, if they desire to apply, employment in connection with those Acts of Parliament which we have to carry out, and I believe that in the majority, if not in all the cases, they will be no losers. But I cannot bind myself that in each case the amount will be exactly the same, nor can I bind myself that it will amount to precisely the same sum as each would have had for doing the work of the register. Generally speaking, I made that offer to the Committee, and I am prepared to abide by it, as far as we can really deal with those cases in the way I 2083 have indicated. I think that the compensation to printers may be reduced to a minimum by transferring to them a great deal of the extra printing work which the Government have to undertake, and which we hope, the local authorities and ourselves, to hand over to men deprived of their work.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I am quite sure the Committee are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the very explicit statement he has made and which has cleared away, I think, any possible doubts. I should be the last myself to argue for any binding engagement or as to any actual sum to be received, and I certainly should not ask for that on behalf of the revising barristers. What I fully appreciate is that, an effort will be made, as far as the right hon. Gentleman can do it without binding himself, to meet their case fairly and reasonably. As the right hon. Gentleman has so frankly stated that he sees the justice of the claim, I think it would be very unfortunate if the Committee did not accept the generous terms that he has announced. With regard to the first point to which I referred, I hope words will be introduced to prevent the proviso from failing in the object it is intended to have.
(indistinctly heard): The words "any appointments of revising barristers already made" are extraordinarily wide. I should like in this connection to refer to the appointment of revising barristers for the County and City of Dublin. The Act appointing the revising barrister for the County of Dublin provides that the person so appointed shall hold office during good behaviour. On top of that, you enact that "any" appointments of revising barristers already made shall be annulled. Later on it is provided that Courts shall be held in Ireland by County Court judges or revising barristers for the revision of jurors' lists. That, however, does not save the old freehold office.
That is no answer. If you enact that "any" appointments already made shall be annulled, that includes every appointment.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Are they not called in the Statute by some other name, or are they merely styled "revising barristers?"
It is true that he does other work, but the Act says that the person so appointed "shall be styled revising barrister for the County of Dublin." In the same way with regard to the City of Dublin, the Act provides—
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The words "any appointments of revising barristers already made," simply have reference to the English revising barristers who have been appointed by the judges in the manner with which we are familiar. In order to prevent the annulment of the appointment of permanent revising barristers, I think we can promise to introduce words on Report if the hon. and learned Member will suggest them.
§ Colonel YATE
I think it should be clearly understood that the difficulty in reference to the printers will not be general throughout the country. The county council of the county which I have the honour to represent inform me that so many printers have enlisted and so-short are they of men that if the registers were compiled in the Revision Courts they could not possibly print them in the time laid down. When this Bill was introduced I sent a copy to the county council, and I have this morning received a letter in which they approve of the Bill as a useful and practicable measure, and state that in their county they, will save over £1,000 in printing and about £800 the cost of the next election. If that is the case with all the counties, we can congratulate ourselves that this measure will meet with considerable approval throughout the country.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
The Chief Secretary stated, in reply to a question just now, that applications from revising barristers for work under the Registration Act would be treated on a preferential basis. At that moment the President of the Local Government Board was not in the House. I think it would be desirable to have it on record that in regard to England at all events, for which the Chief Secretary could not speak, that promise is just as binding as in the case of Ireland.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir G. TOULMIN
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), after the word "annulled," 2085 to insert the words "or suspended." I should like to know whether the word "annulled" is to stand entirely.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I think the word "annulled" must stand. The hon. Gentleman asked me on the last Amendment whether the three years contracts would be annulled. That is certainly not my reading of the Clause. The words are:—
"contracts already entered into for the purpose of the preparation of the registers in the present year are, so far as respects that purpose, hereby annulled." I do not think that three years contracts would be annulled under that provision, except so far as they are affected by the words "for the purpose of the preparation of the registers in the present year." As to the question whether the work done would be paid for in all cases, I think that is met by the proviso that nothing in this Act shall prevent any payment being made to the overseers or any other officer or person in respect of work done under the Acts relating to the registration of electors. The hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. Pollock) suggested that possibly his work would not be work done "under" the Act. Our advisers inform me that they are very confident that these words do secure that proper payment shall be made for all work which can properly be said to be done in connection with the preparation of the registers in the present year. I would not mind accepting such words as "in respect of work done under or in connection with the Act relating to the registration of electors, etc." These words would undoubtedly cover such cases as those which have been mentioned.
§ Sir G. TOULM1N
There is one point which the right hon. Gentleman has not covered. As I explained before, the contracts made up to the 31st July are made at a particular price, in view of the works being used again in October. Out of a shillingsworth of work it is not a case of 6d. and 6d.; probably nine pennyworth would be done in July.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
That is rather a difficult conundrum. Sub-section (2) reads as follows:—
(2) If any question arises as to any such payment or the apportionment thereof, or as to the effect of this Section on any contract, that question shall be referred to the Local Government Board, and their decision thereon shall be conclusive for all purposes.
2086 That does not mean the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board on the floor of the House. It means that we shall have the assistance of our legal advisers in the matter.
The printers put the matter in type and leave it standing. They then make their changes in the following year. Surely you are not going to allow the printers to have a claim like that suggested—that they originally set up this long list of O'Brien's and Murphy's and should be paid for it again? The setting up of a claim for this original type-setting will be a very dangerous expenditure to throw upon the Irish counties. Make a clean job of it so far as the present year is concerned. Revising barristers have to put up with the loss, and I do not think we ought to be more careful about printers than about revising barristers. They will all have to suffer. We must remember the consequential claims. I respectfully advise the Government to leave the words, as far as possible, as they now are in the Bill.
§ Sir G. TOULMIN
The printer does not stand at all on the same basis as the revising barrister. The revising barristers have not done any of the work; the printer has done his work and has paid his compositors, and he has not charged for that in the first part of his contract. But I am quite content to leave the matter with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir JAMES DOUGHERTY
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "nothing in this Act shall prevent payment being made to the overseers or any other officer or person in respect of work done under the Acts relating to the registration of electors before the 1st day of August for the purpose of the preparation of the registers in the present year," in order to insert instead thereof the words "overseers or any other officer or person shall be entitled to receive remuneration in respect of work done before 1st of August, under the Acts relating to the registration of electors for the purposes of the preparation of the register for the present year."
The Bill itself recognises that any work done; in connection with the register should be paid for, but in 2087 a somewhat feeble and halting way, if I may say so. [HON. MEMBEHS: "Speak up!"] The object of my Amendment is to strengthen this, so that no injustice may be done to any deserving class of men. We have in Ireland, as in England, a large supply of that class of altruist, who has the greatest zeal for sacrifice by imposing burdens upon the shoulders of others. If the Bill is left in its present form, in many local authorities there will be discussion as to whether there ought or ought not to be payment. It will be said, and said I think with some reason, that if this work is useless for any purpose why should it be paid for? We shall have unpleasant discussions in many of our local bodies. Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 gives the right of appeal to the Local Government Board. But I do think it is desirable, if possible, to avoid friction between the local authorities in Ireland and the Local Government Board. I am sorry that I have not the opportunity of submitting this Amendment to my right hon. Friend who is in charge of the Bill, but I did mention it to my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary.
I think the Amendment will be better by using the word "person" only and leaving out the word "overseers." Some Amendment of this kind is necessary.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Speaking in a representative capacity and not as representing the autocratic and tyrannical sway of Dublin Castle, I am very glad that my hon. Friend has called attention by this Amendment to this matter. But I have satisfied myself, in consultation with my learned Friends, that the Amendment proposed is not necessary to secure that any of these persons, whether called overseers or any other name, should be able, if any local authority contested their right to be paid, to bring the matter, under Subsection (2), to the Local Government Board. They would have a locus standi, just as would anybody else, if payment is due, and would be able of their own motion and without the permission of the local authority to take the question to the Local Government Board and obtain their decision whether or not they should receive payment. A portion of Sub-section (1) says, "provided that nothing in this Act shall prevent any payment being made." The right hon. Gentleman desires words to be inserted that they should be paid, although we go on to say in the Bill 2088 that any question arising as to such payment or the apportionment of it shall be settled by the Local Government Board. I think my right hon. Friend will be satisfied with the statement that any person who considers payment is due to him under this Clause will be able, without the permission of his local board, to take the matter before the Local Government Board, before whom he must go in order to ascertain the amount and the apportionment of it. I am rather surprised to hear there are no overseers in Ireland.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I certainly very often have had the word communicated to me from Ireland, and I have heard statements as to the manner in which they have received payment. But, if there are no overseers in Ireland, there certainly are such persons in England, and the words "any other officer or person" will satisfy, I think, the case of Ireland. If, however, the hon. and learned Gentleman thinks, in the interests of good drafting—
The right hon. Gentleman is asking for payment for work which, if I may say so, is inchoate.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment made: In Sub-section (1), after the word "under" ["work done under the Acts"], insert the words "or in connection with."—[Mr. Mayes Fisher.]
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I beg to move, at the beginning of Sub-section (2), to insert, "The duty of certifying for payment of expenses in relation to the preparation of the register for the present year shall be performed by the Local Government Board and."
This is merely to secure what, I think, is an omission in the Bill.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.