HC Deb 01 March 1927 vol 203 cc218-9

I beg to move, That leave be given to introduce a Bill to alter the dates of elections of urban district councillors. This Bill is a very simple Measure, and, as far as I know, has no controversial aspect about it. It is promoted by the Urban District Councils Association. The reasons for it are four in number, and I will deal with them in what appears to be the inverse order of their importance. The first is that the urban district council elections are held on the first Monday in April, or, if that is Easter Monday, then on the last Monday in March. It is considered very desirable on general grounds that there should be a fixed date, instead of a possibly varying date. The date desired is the 1st November. The second reason is that the register on which the elections take place comes into force on the 15th October, and the qualifying period is three months ending 1st June. If the elections are held on the 1st November, as proposed by the Bill, they can be contested on a new Register, which, I think, must be recognised as more desirable than, on an old Register. At present the elections are contested on a Register which has, been in force for nearly six months, and which only contains the names of electors qualified 10 months prior to the election.

The third reason is that the urban district councils frame their estimates the months of February and March, and the elections are held very shortly after the estimates are framed. It is not desirable that the estimates should be framed and settled by a council of whom possibly one-third, and in the case of triennial elections a greater number, go out of existence immediately the estimates are fixed. It is better that they should be framed by a body which will not only have some responsibility for framing them, but have some personal experience of their actual working after they are framed. Perhaps the most important reason for the change proposed by this Bill is that there are throughout the country many Joint Boards and Joint Committees upon which representatives of borough councils and urban district councils sit. As the election of borough councils is on the 1st November, the constitution of these Joint Boards and Joint Committees necessarily gets changed at that time. As at present urban district council elections are held in April, it follows that six months after that disturbance, a number of urban district representatives on those Joint Boards also go out of office, so that the constitution of these Boards is liable to constant change throughout the period of the year in which they operate. I submit that it is clearly more desirable that the members of these Boards should not be liable to change at varying periods while holding office. It is much better that they should be able to attend to the business before them without changing their representatives throughout the whole of the year.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Looker, Lieut.-Colonel Heneage, Dr. Vernon Davies, and Mr. Thomas Williams.