§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
§ THE EARL OF ERNE
My Lords, the Bill I am asking your Lordships to read a second time is very simple and is designed to regulate the registration of voters in the borough of Belfast, and deals with other matters connected 677 with that borough. By the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, the boundaries of the borough of Belfast were extended so as to include seven townlands in the County of Antrim and 14 in the County Down; and the electors in those places have thereby become electors for the Borough of Belfast. By an arrangement existing before that Act came into operation the expenses of the Clerk of the Peace were paid by the Grand Jury of Antrim, but when the borough was extended by including townlands in the County Down, the County Antrim objected to pay the expenses of registering voters living in those townlands. There was no power to compel them to do so, and, as a matter of fact, I believe the Clerk of the Peace has been out of pocket for that reason since 1887. That is obviously unjust, and the Bill is intended to remedy it. The Bill provides that the accounts of expenses shall be laid before the Recorder of Belfast, who shall certify the sums to be paid. The amounts to be contributed by the two counties are to be calculated according to the proportions which the voters in the town lands bear to the total number of voters in Belfast. The accounts, certified by the Recorder, are to be laid before the Grand Juries of Down and Antrim and Town Council of Belfast, and those bodies are to present for such sums as are due to the Clerk of the Peace and Town Clerk respectively. There is another provision, giving authority for the use of the Antrim Court House. The Sheriff has to be asked for permission every time it is used: that has been done by mutual arrangement, and in future it will be dispensed with. I have only to add that this Bill has passed the House of Commons without opposition, and the Lord Privy Seal has authorised me to state that there is no objection to it on the part of Her Majesty's Government. I trust it will receive your Lordships' assent, and I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
§ On Question, agreed to.
§ Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Monday next.