HC Deb 27 May 1919 vol 116 cc1080-2

(1) The next triennial elections of county councillors, rural district councillors, and guardians in urban districts, instead of being held on the ordinary day of election in the year nineteen hundred and nineteen, shall be further postponed until the ordinary day of election in the year nineteen hundred and twenty, and the term of office of each existing councillor and guardian shall accordingly be further extended so as to expire on the day next after such day of election.

(2) In this Section the expression "existing councillor and guardian" means a councillor or guardian holding office on the ordinary day of election in the year nineteen hundred and nineteen.

(3) Any provisions of any Act, Order, or Regulations relating to county councillors, rural district councillors, or guardians, or to chair men, vice-chairmen, deputy vice-chairmen, or committees of those bodies shall be construed as if they were modified in such manner as to give full effect to the provisions of this Section.


I beg to move, at the end, to add the following new Sub-section: (4)This Section shall be deemed to have had effect as from the fifteenth day of April, nine teen hundred and nineteen, and accordingly any act, matter, or thing done or omitted by any county council, rural district council, or board of guardians, or by any member or officer thereof (including a returning officer), after that day and before the passing of this Act which would have been lawfully done or omitted if this Section had then been in actual operation, shall be deemed to have been lawfully done or omitted, and any election of councillors or guardians held within the period aforesaid shall be deemed to be void, and each existing councillor and guardian shall be deemed to have continued in office notwithstanding that the ordinary day of election or retirement occurred within the said period. This is practically in the nature of a new Clause which has become necessary on account of the delay in passing this measure. In certain districts they have already made arrangements for elections, although they have been warned by the Local Government Board to make no arrangements or to incur no expense in connection with elections. One local body has elected or purported to elect certain representatives.


Is that where you are going to be sued for contempt of Court?


I understand so. This Clause is to invalidate any proceedings which have taken place hitherto.

5.0 P.M.


Instead of invalidating the proceedings which have already taken place, would it not be more correct to say that this is a Clause to validate the illegal acts already committed by the Attorney-General?


Why was this Clause not inserted in the original Bill? I do not know anything about the legal proceedings to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, but I think it is a highly reprehensible proceeding to leave the public under the impression that they can go on with the elections, and then, when they do go on with the elections, that the Attorney-General should come along with an Amendment and insert it in the Bill on Report. I think that is very unfair and very inconvenient to the public. I do not see why the right hon. Gentleman should be brought before the Courts for a simple matter of this sort, when they break every law, human and divine, in the government of the country. He ought to apologise to the representatives from Ireland for all the inconvenience of this bad draftsmanship. It is no use him saying it is only in one district, because in several districts elections are to take place to-morrow. I know that in the City of Belfast, where nothing goes wrong and everything is perfect, there is an election to-morrow for the Poor Law Board, and men of all parties are put to the expense and inconvenience of holding this election. Circulars have been issued by the Local Government Board, I believe, but the proper way to have done this was to incorporate a Clause of this character in this Bill, in order to give due warning to the public. As a matter of fact, in Belfast, speaking alone for my own friends, I am told they are at a tremendous expense and inconvenience, and that the elections are actually going on to-morrow. This slipshod and irresponsible method of going on is most unfair, not only to the public, but to the ratepayers, who will be put to a considerable expense.


Help us to kill the Bill.


It is not worth killing over this point.

Amendment agreed to.