HL Deb 07 July 1896 vol 42 cc902-4

, in moving that the House go into Committee on this Bill, said he understood that if any Amendments were to be proposed to the Bill, they would be reserved until it came before the Standing Committee. Since he introduced the Measure, he had fully recognised the force of the remarks which the late Prime Minister had made on the Bill as to the difficulty which might arise in case of the migration of the population in a thickly populated district. He thought the interests of the local ratepayers would be well safeguarded under the Bill by the fact that in all local authorities there were two parties, and the one party would closely criticise the action of the other should either be disposed to advance money under unsatisfactory conditions. Again, he thought the interests of the ratepayers under the Bill would be safeguarded to a great extent by the fact that the Local Government Board would exercise more or less control over the local authorities in advancing money, and that Clause 8 would prevent them from doing so in a reckless or careless way. But he had been given to understand that Clause 8 might be read in such a manner as would not sufficiently safeguard the interests of the ratepayers, and in case that opinion was still entertained he was quite ready to suggest that the clause might be made more elastic by giving the Local Government Board more authority than it now possessed under the Bill over the local authorities. He should have no objection to accepting an Amendment, or he would move one himself if it was thought advisable, to the effect that a Local Government Board Inspector should be directed to inspect and report on the buildings proposed to be bought, or on any other details in regard to which it might be thought there was any risk to the ratepayers. He should be ready to move such an Amendment if it was deemed necessary, but at the same time he would point out that the expenses of calling in the Local Government Board Inspector might be so great that it would hardly be worth while doing so in the cases of advancing small sums. But he threw out this suggestion in order to show that he had no desire that the Bill should pass without full regard being shown for the interests of the ratepayers. ["Hear, hear!"] It might be thought that Clause 5 overloaded the Bill. He should be glad to see it passed, but if their Lordships thought in Committee that the Measure in this regard should be passed in the form in which it was originally introduced, he should not object. The noble Earl the late Prime Minister had stated that he regarded the Bill as an experiment, and as such had intimated that he would not oppose it. He acknowledged that the Measure was an experiment, and one which should be closely watched and safeguarded in the interests of the ratepayers, and in that spirit he cordially invited criticism and suggestion. There seemed to be a feeling on the part of some of their Lordships that there was some kind of compulsion in the Measure, and that it was of a somewhat confiscatory character. If his memory served him right, he laid stress, when be introduced the Bill, on the fact that there was no compulsion of any sort or kind, and nothing of a confiscatory spirit in any part of the Measure. Indeed, he went so far as to say that if there had been any intention or spirit of that kind in the Bill, he would not have introduced it. He had brought forward the Bill because he believed it would be an advantage to the working classes to be enabled to borrow money with which to purchase the houses in which they lived on more favourable terms than they could obtain from the Building Societies. That was really the main object of the Bill, and he would not ask their Lordships to approve the Bill unless he were satisfied that it was of a fair, just, and equitable character.

Bill considered in Committee (according to Order); reported without Amendment, and recommitted to the Standing Committee.