HL Deb 22 July 1897 vol 51 cc696-8

Amendments reported (according to Order).

Clause 1,—


On and after the passing of this Act any local authority shall have the power, when and in their discretion they shall see fit, to permit any person who shall apply to the said authority, on the ground that he is infested with vermin, to have the use, free of charge, of the apparatus (if any) which the authority possess for cleansing the person and his clothing from vermin. The use of such apparatus shall not be considered to be parochial relief or charitable allowance to the person using the same, or to the parent of such person, and no such person or parent shall by reason thereof be deprived of any right or privilege or be subject to any disqualification or disability.

Local authorities may expend any reasonable sum on buildings, appliances, and attendants that may be required for the carrying out of this Act.


said he had spared no pains to meet the point taken by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack and by Lord Kimberley, and to identify the fund out of which the expenses of this Bill should be met. He proposed with this object to insert the following words in Clause 1,— And the objects of this Act may be met out of any rate or fund applicable by the authority for general sanitary purposes or for the relief of the poor.


said he was not prepared to say that the noble Lord would succeed in the ingenious device he had adopted, but a difficulty arose in a way the noble Lord did not seem to contemplate. A rate was only imposed by statute for some specific purpose. If there was any general rate by which such purposes as these could be satisfied it could be charged on it. Otherwise, if they made a rate for a purpose not authorised by statute the rate was simply bad. The result would be that if there was no rate to meet the duties placed on local bodies by this Act, there would be no machinery to put the Act into force unless some one was to pay the expenses out of his own pocket. If there was a rate already chargeable for these purposes, the Amendment was not necessary. If there was not, then he ventured to suggest that they were creating a new rate and placing a new charge on the community which exposed them to another objection. On the other hand, he could not help feeling that if no Amendment was put in the other House they would have no opportunity of dealing with the Bill at all. It would be taken as it was, and in that condition of difficulty the noble. Lord had apparently adopted the only possible device.


said he could not help feeling that there was a good deal of difficulty in the matter, and he should like to know what was the view of the Local Government Board on the subject. The Amendment said that the expenses might be met out of any fund for general sanitary purposes, but he knew that in regard to some sanitary measures, certainly, there was a different proportion to be paid by house property and by lands. Of course, it would not be right that there should be cleansing of verminous persons from a rate which was proportioned, for very different reasons, indeed, in a peculiar manner. On the other hand, it was rather anomalous to enact that it should be from any fund which was raised for poor relief, because it was especially stated in the Bill that it was not to make a man a pauper in any way.


said the noble Earl opposite seemed to feel that there was a difficulty, where the rate was paid in the proportions of one by the country and three by the town, in applying such a rate as that to the discharge of the purposes of this Bill. But people who lived in houses had much more interest in getting rid of vermin than the person who merely walked in the fields—[laughter]—and therefore it was quite proper that the houses should be specially charged in order to get rid of this nuisance. [Laughter.]


I must be allowed to say that that is a most ingenious argument, and I am quite prepared to accept it. [Laughter.]


said it seemed somewhat audacious on his part to advance an opinion in opposition to the Lord Chancellor, but it was the Local Government Board's opinion, and not his personal opinion. Their opinion was that the Bill as originally drafted was sufficient, and that it would have been legal to supply those appliances out of the rates. But to meet the noble mid learned Lord's suggestion that it would be necessary to specify the rate, these words had been inserted.


Then the Local Government Board do not object to the words moved?


No; they have suggested them themselves. [Laughter.]

Clause 2,—

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