HL Deb 09 July 1900 vol 85 cc924-5


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the object of this Bill is to relieve members of county councils and other local authorities from disqualification by reason of absence when such members are serving with the Regular or Auxiliary forces in South Africa or elsewhere. When I asked a question of Her Majesty's Government some weeks ago on this subject, the Prime Minister practically admitted the hardship of such cases, but suggested that the matter should be put aside for a time until an idea could be formed as to the duration of the war. I imagine that it is impossible to wait much longer if legislation on the subject is to pass both Houses this session, and, therefore, I have ventured to bring in this Bill, which I trust your Lordships will read a second time to-day. The subject has been before the County Councils Association, and a resolution was unanimously passed in favour of such relief being given. I may also say that I have hoard from the Association of Poor Law Unions expressing approval of the measure, and I hope that it may become law.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(The Duke of Northumberland.)


My Lords, I entirely agree as to the desirability of relieving officers and men who are serving for a short period on active service abroad from the penalty of losing their seats; but I think some limit should be inserted, otherwise the Bill might be taken to include officers serving in India for ten years, and this would mean serious inconvenience to local authorities.


My Lords, on behalf of the Local Government Board I have to say that they are in entire agreement with the principle of the Bill. It may, how-ever, be necessary to suggest one or two Amendments in Committee. I have to ask the noble Duke to put the Committee stage down for Monday, so that the Bill may go before the Standing Committee the next day.


In reply to the noble Earl opposite, I may say that the Bill has been drawn with as wide a scope as possible, because I recognised that it would be much easier to narrow the scope of the Bill than to extend it. I shall be happy to consider any Amendments that may be suggested.

On Question agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Monday next.