§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE EARL OF STAMFORD
My Lords, this is an extremely simple Bill, and it will need only a very few words of explanation. In the Municipal Corporations Act, 1882, it is laid down that a person shall be disqualified from being elected and being a municipal councillor if, and while, among other disqualifications, he has directly or indirectly, by himself or his partners, any share or interest in any contract or employment, with, by, or on behalf of the council. Then follows this qualification, that he shall not be so disqualified or be deemed to have any share or interest in such a contract or employment by reason of his having any share or interest in, inter alia—Any railway company, or any company incorporated by Act of Parliament, or Royal Charter, or under the Companies Act of 1862.It is proposed to amend this last section by the addition of the words—Or any society registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, 1893 and 1895.As things are at present, if a member of such a society has a seat on a municipal council, and that council enters into a contract with the society of which such person is a member, it is held that he is disqualified for being a councillor. I think your Lordships will acknowledge that this is a matter which should be remedied. It is merely sought to place a 7 member of such a society on the same footing as a shareholder in a joint stock company; or, in other words, to place a man who may be described as a small member of a large society on the same footing as a large shareholder of a small company. The question is one of some importance at the present day, although it was a small matter at the time when the Municipal Corporations Act was amended in 1882. The figures in the last report of the Chief Registrar of Industrial and Provident Societies shows that there were, in 1904, 1,485 such societies in England and Wales, with a membership of 1,787,602, and the sales of the societies amounted to £71,153,459. These societies have increased very rapidly of late years, and are conducting important businesses, and I hope your Lordships will agree to the proposal contained in this Bill to remove what is felt to be a great inequality.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a." —(The Earl of Stamford.)
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (Earl CARRINGTON)
My Lords, there is no doubt whatever that the law should be made uniform in this respect, and my right hon. friend the President desires me to say that he sees no objection to this Bill, which he looks upon as a very useful and practical measure.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Friday next.