HL Deb 09 April 1886 vol 304 cc1145-50

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, "That the House do now resolve itself into Committee on the said Bill."—(The Earl of Elgin.)


, in moving— That it is inexpedient that the House should so resolve itself until such time as the measure promised by Her Majesty's Government for the establishment of county government boards has been presented to Parliament, in view of the possible changes that may thus be effected in the administration of the police force in Scotland, said, that the object of the Bill was to consolidate the whole of the laws in Scotland relating to burgh police, of which one-tenth were general and nine-tenths were local laws. If there was any intention to alter the constitution of the County Government Boards, it seemed to him there might be a difficulty in regard to the police in passing this Bill before the introduction of one for the purpose to which he had just alluded. He thought it would be a wiser course that the Local Government Board Bill should pass pari passu with this Burgh Police Bill. If there was no intention whatsoever on the part of the Government to put the counties under new Authorities, then, of course, his argument fell to the ground. As he had pointed out to their Lordships, on the Motion for the second reading of the Bill, he was of opinion that an attempt should be made to make the police force of Scotland more elastic. The present system of police was somewhat obsolete, and he felt convinced that if they rendered the organization more elastic not only would they increase its efficiency, but they would bring about economy. The force, in his opinion, ought to be more of a general force. He trusted their Lordships would not think from the terms of his Notice that he desired to defeat the Bill. That was far from his desire, and there was, he thought, some reason for his proposal.


said, he did not think the principle which the noble Earl had set forward was one on which legislation could be conducted at all. His Amendment was quite inopportune at this stage of the Bill; or, if he intended to reject the Bill altogether, it would have been much better to have moved it on the second reading. He asked the noble Earl if it was reasonable to reject a Bill like this, upon which so much labour had been spent, which had been three years before the country, which had been before a Select Committee of the House of Commons, and afterwards before a Select Committee of their Lordships, and to reject it on the ground he had put forward? He believed their Lordships would do well to go into Committee without further delay, and at once set aside the objection of the noble Earl.

Amendment negatived.

House in Committee.

Clauses 1 to 4, inclusive, agreed to, with Amendments.

Clause 5 (Places to which Act shall apply).


, in moving, in page 6, line 10, leave out ("and so long as such local Act remains operative and unrepealed;") and at end of clause add— ("this Act as regards Part V. (Mitigation and Prevention of Disease) shall not apply in burghs or populous places declared to be burghs under the provisions of this Act with a population not exceeding ten thousand, unless and until the same has been adopted by resolution of the commissioners in the same manner as is provided with reference to Parts II., IV., and VI., and as specified in clause 14 hereof,") said, the object of his Amendment was to enable smaller burghs and populous places to elect whether the provisions of the Bill should apply to them. The measure was divided into several parts, some of them being compulsory on all burghs and populous places, and some only permissive. The latter had to be adopted by resolution, according to the machinery provided in the Bill. The object of his Amendment was to take Part 5 from the compulsory category and place it in the permissive category. The section dealt with certain sanitary matters, and he believed that while public opinion would be in favour of its adoption for large towns and cities, yet its machinery was much too cumbrous for the smaller places, even if it would not produce mischief by bringing about a reaction against sanitary legislation of this kind. He therefore thought that each small town and populous place should be enabled to say whether it would have these provisions forced upon it. This was a part of the Bill which had been very much overlooked in Scotland. He did not believe that the in- habitants of urban communities were at all aware of the great changes which it would introduce in the laws affecting them if this part of the Bill was made compulsory, although he did not see that any harm would accrue if it were rendered permissive.

Amendment moved, In page 6, line 10, leave out ("and so long as such local Act remains operative and unrepealed"); and at end of clause add ("this Act as regards Part V. (Mitigation and Prevention of Disease) shall not apply in burghs or populous places declared to be burghs under the provisions of this Act with a population not exceeding ten thousand, unless and until the same has been adopted by resolution of the commissioners in the same manner as is provided with reference to Parts II., IV., and VI., and as specified in clause 14 hereof."—(The Lord Balfour.)


said, he hoped the House would not accept the Amendment. He might say, on behalf of the Government, that this was perhaps the most necessary part of the Bill. As to small places, they were the very worst, from a sanitary point of view, in the whole of Scotland. Ignorance abounded in them, there was no organization, and no one was responsible for seeing sanitary matters properly attended to. It was precisely that the inhabitants of these places might become aware of what was necessary for public health that the measure had been framed.

Amendment (by leave of the House) withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 (Boundaries of burghs to which this Act does not apply from its commencement. If not adopted within a year, boundaries to be held to be unascertained).

On the Motion of The Earl of DALHOUSIE, the following sub-section was inserted in line 29, after ("unascertained"):— ("8. Where any such populous place shall have resolved not to adopt this Act, the householders thereof may, as often as they shall think proper thereafter, but not sooner than two years from the date of any preceding meeting held for the purpose of considering whether the Act should be adopted, by such and the like proceedings, again take this Act into consideration, and adopt the same or determine not to adopt the same.")

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 9 to 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 (Adoption in burghs wholly administered under local Police Acts).


said, he begged to move an Amendment to empower the inhabitants to appear before the Sheriff and state objections. As the measure stood, the inhabitants had no knowledge of any application that might be made, except through notice published in the newspapers, and he did not see the use of giving them notice unless they had also a locus standi to object if they desired.

Amendment moved, In page 11, line 11, after ("notice") insert ("in a newspaper published or circulating in the burgh, which notice shall specify the parts and sections of this Act proposed to be adopted and the portions of local police Acts proposed to be repealed"); inline 17, after ("books") add ("but in the event of any ratepayer or ratepayers lodging with the sheriff clerk objections to such resolution, which they shall be entitled to do within fourteen days of first publication of said advertisement, the sheriff shall hear parties thereon and dispose of said objections, and it shall be competent to appeal his decision to either division of the Court of Session, whose decision shall be final.")—(The Lord Balfour.)


said, he could not accept the Amendment, as it seemed to be altogether wide of the intentions of the Bill.


said, that if the decision to adopt the Act might be come to by the Town Council or representative body by only a majority of one, his desire was that before the Act was fixed for all time upon the inhabitants that they should have the right, under such circumstances, to object. As the Bill was so far-reaching in its provisions, he hoped the matter might still be reconsidered.


said, they must either trust the representation principle or they must not. If a Town Council, having decided to adopt the Act, were to have its decision overhauled by the inhabitonts it would be an extraordinary view to take.


observed, that in case the inhabitants disapproved of the action of the Town Council, and turned out every member of it, yet, as the Bill stood, the town would remain fettered by its provisions for all time, even though the decision had only been arrived at by a majority of one.


asked if the noble Earl in charge of the Bill would consider the question?


submitted that the proper course would be to withdraw the Amendment in the meantime.


said, he would accept the suggestion.

Amendment (by leave of the House) withdrawn.

Clauses 15 and 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 (Contracts, &c, under former Acts to be saved. Saving of private contracts).

On the Motion of The Earl of DALHOUSIE, Amendment made, in page 12, line 43, by adding as a new paragraph— ("All complaints and prosecutions raised or pending at the passing of this Act at the instance of the Procurator Fiscal shall continue and be followed forth to a conclusion in the same way and with the same jurisdiction, remedies, penalties, and powers as if the Act had not passed.")

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 18 to 74 agreed to.

Clause 75 (Power to detach constables to other places).

On the Motion of The Earl of DALHOUSIE, Amendment made, in page 35, line 4, after ("respectively"), by adding— ("And further, on the requisition or order of the Secretary for Scotland, the head constable of any burgh, or the chief constable of any county, shall have power to supply a certain portion of the police force under his charge for any special or temporary duty or service elsewhere within Scotland, the proportion from any one force not to exceed ten per centum, and the expense to be defrayed by the force requiring the extra police assistance.")

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 76 to 437 agreed to.

Clauses 438 to 441 struck out.

Clauses 442 and 443 agreed to.

Clause 444 struck out.

Remaining Clauses agreed to.

The Report of the Amendments to be received on Tuesday next; and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 69).