HL Deb 23 March 1896 vol 38 cc1585-7

in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, said it was a permissive Bill. It did not compel anyone to do anything. At present Vestrymen retired by one-thirds every year, and what it was proposed by the Bill to do was to authorise London Vestries to request the London County Council to permit the simultaneous retirement of the whole body every three years. Under the Local Government Act of 1894, Boards of Guardians were authorised to make a similar request, and have largely availed themselves of that power. There was a general feeling that the stimulating effect of local elections in London was impaired by reason of their frequency. The Bill was supported by both sides in the County Council. As to the details of the Bill, he did not say they were beyond criticism. There were a good many suggestions which might profitably be made in Committee, and, of course, he should be willing to consider them.


said, he had intended to oppose the Bill, but he understood that the Local Government Board was prepared to accept it. He did not agree with the noble Lord that the Bill was supported by all Members of both parties in the County Council. The permissive character of the Bill was objectionable. Then the title of the Bill, which was to assimilate the law as to Vestries with the law as to Boards of Guardians, would have to be amended, for he did not think that these bodies stood in exactly a similar position. The object of re-electing the one-thirds every year was to keep up a continuity of policy, which was very necessary in such bodies as Vestries, where there were considerable spending powers. As the Government had accepted the Bill he should watch for the Amendments and see whether the noble Lord was prepared to accept them in Committee.


said, his instructions were to accept the principle of the Bill, but he was bound to say it would require a good many Amendments, which he hoped the noble Lord would accept in Committee. He understood, from the conversation he had had with the noble Lord, that he was prepared to accept Amendments with regard to the title and the inclusion of auditors, which were not referred to in the Bill. Again, the provisions of the Bill did not appear to be complete as regarded area. Next, as to the fixing of the date in May for the election—this was a power exercised hitherto by the County Council, and under instructions from the Local Government Board. The Bill as it stood would, therefore, be inconsistent with the Act of 1894. With regard to the observations of his noble Friend behind, with reference to continuity, he should take care that his observations should be brought before the President of the Local Government Board.


thought that the Amendments suggested would be an improvement, and he was prepared to give them his best consideration. In answer to the noble Earl opposite, he begged to point out that two of the bodies in London which exercised the largest spending powers—the County Council and the School Board—were elected on the triennial principle.

Read 2a (according to Order), and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.