HC Deb 27 May 1919 vol 116 cc1078-80

The first triennial elections after the passing of this Act of aldermen and councillors of boroughs, councillors of urban districts, and commissioners of towns shall be held on the ordinary day of election of councillors and commissioners in the year nineteen hundred and twenty, and the subsequent triennial elections shall be held on the ordinary day of election in each third subsequent year, and all the aldermen, councillors and commissioners who hold office on any such day shall retire to- gether on the next following day which shall be the ordinary day of retirement of aldermen, councillors, and commissioners, and the newly elected aldermen, councillors and commissioners shall (save as is otherwise provided in this Act) come into office on the ordinary day of retirement.


I beg to move, to leave out the words on the ordinary day election and to insert instead thereof in the first week of June. The effect of this Amendment would be that at the first triennial election after those to be held next year rural and urban elections would be held in the first week in June. When I made a similar proposal with regard to the forthcoming elections it was pointed out that in urban districts it was the custom to budget in the early part of the year, and that therefore the holding of the elections for urban districts in June would give rise to difficulty. My present proposal will give the urban authorities three years' notice to effect a change in their budgeting arrangements. It will be a matter of great public convenience to have all these elections held at the one period of the year, and at present it is a great inconvenience to have the urban elections held in the depth of winter. The feeling in Ireland is that the elections should be held at a time of the year when the least public inconvenience is caused.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I regret that the Attorney-General did not see his way to provide that the forthcoming election, urban and rural, should be held in June. I think he will admit that my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. MacVeagh) has gone a long way in allowing three years to elapse before the change from the present system takes place. I cannot for the life of me see why there should be a difference in this respect as between rural and urban areas. It is certainly inconvenient to hold the urban elections in the winter period of the year.


I do not see my way to accept this Amendment. In Committee it was originally proposed that the rural elections should be held in December, but it was pointed out that that would be a very inconvenient month, and so would any winter month, for rural elections. We ascertained from many local authorities that the month of June would certainly be the proper month for a rural election. The urban elections always take place in January, and there is no reason why they should be changed. The present representatives of county councils and borough councils have been in office for a very long time, and in Ireland as soon as possible there should be an election. As to the urban elections, there was no representation whatsoever from any urban body in favour of the suggestion of the Amendment, and I am informed by the Local Government Board that these bodies would not like the present system altered, whereby they budget at the commencement of the year and begin from the 31st March. The areas in the towns are small, and no inconvenience results. I would ask my hon. Friend to stick to the compromise we came to upstairs.


Might I suggest the Attorney-General to fix the 1st April for all the elections. I think it would be a very suitable date.


I would suggest the 12th July.


Make it the 12th July.

Amendment negatived.