§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD HYLTON
My Lords, in asking your Lordships to give a Second Reading to this Bill, I would respectfully remind you that it is a war emergency measure, and it is by those standards and not by ordinary standards that I venture to think you should look at its provisions. The 746 Bill deals with two separate subjects, and I will endeavour to keep them distinct in the few remarks which I propose to offer. Subsection (1) of Clause 1 relates to the postponement of the next statutory elections of county and borough councillors, district councillors, guardians, and parish councillors, and provides that the elections which would naturally take place in a short time shall be postponed for a year and that the term of office of the existing councillors and guardians shall accordingly be extended by one year. Subsection (2) of the same clause provides a method for filling up any casual vacancy that may occur; the vacancy is to be filled, not by election, but by co-optation. By subsection (3) your Lordships will observe that the provisions of this clause may be applied, if necessary, to the election, appointment, or co-optation of the chairman, vice-chairman, elective auditors, or members of any kind of local or other body, or committee thereof, by Order of the Local Government Board as respects local bodies and by Order of the appropriate Government Department as respects any other bodies. To this part Of the Bill I do not think your Lordships will be inclined to offer more opposition than was offered in the other House. There opinion was almost unanimous as to the desirability in these war days of postponing the municipal contests that would otherwise take place either in the month of November next as regards borough councils or in the month of March next as regards county councils. In another place there was a general consensus of opinion that all the energy and time of able-bodied persons were required for national purposes, and that municipal contests, with all the paraphernalia such as meetings, canvassing, placards, and so on, might very well be postponed to more peaceful times. Clause 2 of the Bill relates merely to the City of London, and I believe the object of that clause is to enable the election of the Lord Mayor to take place as usual in the month of November.
When you conic to Clause 3 you arrive at a different part of the subject altogether. This clause has nothing to do with the postponement of municipal and local elections, but contains provisions for the postponement of registration. A certain amount of work has already been done as regards the preparation of the Parliamentary and local government registers, but 747 this clause enacts that no more work shall take place after the 31st day of the present month, and the grounds on which I venture to recommend this part of the Bill to your Lordships' favourable consideration are these. In the first place, on the ground of economy. It was stated in another place by the President of the Local Government Board that a saving of about £100,000 was anticipated if this Bill became law, and so far as I am aware that figure was not challenged. The second object of this portion of the Bill is to obviate the difficulty which would arise in ma ay places of even getting the work done were it decided to go on with the preparaticn of the registers.
In that connection perhaps your Lordships will allow me to quote from the remarks that were made in the House of Commons by the Secretary for Scotland. He told the House that when he went to Scotland to talk about economy he received a remarkable deputation from the City of Glasgow, consisting of the chief Unionist agent, the chief Liberal agent, the Nationalist agent, and the Labour agent, and they were absolutely unanimous in begging him to do what he could to forward legislation with the object of having registration work stopped. I believe that in Scotland a great deal of this work which in England is done under the auspices of revising barristers is done by officers known as assessors, and Mr. McKinnon Wood informed the House of Commons that the gentlemen who filled this office to whom he spoke on the subject in Glasgow informed him that they were so much engaged with every kind of national work at this moment—with recruiting, the care of Belgian refugees, the proper carrying out of the Munitions Act, and various other national objects—that they had neither the staff nor the time necessary to carry out their usual registration duties.
A third argument which I think may be justly brought forward in favour of this legislation is that it is almost universally acknowledged that it would be quite impossible this year to obtain a good register. The old register has, of course, now become what is generally called a waning register, but even as such it is considered by those best entitled to speak on this matter to be a more representative register than any new register could be that was drawn up under present conditions when such a vast number of voters have enlisted in the Army and Navy or removed 748 from their old habitations ill connection with Government work, and when, in fact, an altogether unprecedented dislocation of the population has taken place. There is, perhaps, a fourth argument that I am justified in bringing forward in asking your Lordships to pass this portion of the Bill. You are all aware that the Revision Courts held every Year in every constituency—I am talking now of the Parliamentary register—forum arenas in which the flame of political animosity is kept bright and the rival political agents indulge in more or less acrimonious controversy. In a word, the holding of Revision Courts throughout the country would naturally tend to some extent to keep up political and Party strife which quite possibly might otherwise die down. Perhaps your Lordships will think it worth while to give a sympathetic consideration to this view of the matter after the speeches that were made in this House yesterday by the most rev. Primate and by the noble Marquess who leads the House, in which they both spoke in a very sympathetic way of the necessity at this time, as long as the war lasts, of softening as far as possible political asperities. It has been argued that certain expenses have already been incurred in preparing the register. That is quite true, but I hardly think that is a strong argument for going on with the register and increasing those expenses. On that point I can only repeat that it is calculated that a material saying, amounting as I said just now to £100,000, will be effected if this Bill becomes law.
Perhaps I shall be expected to say a word or two with regard to the last lines in subsection (1) of Clause 3. That subsection proposes that any appointments of revising barristers already made and contracts already entered into for the purposes of the preparation of the registers in the present year are, so far as respects that purpose, hereby annulled. Your Lordships may be aware that about three weeks ago the annual appointment of revising barristers by the Judges took place. It is not altogether pleasant to stand up, either here or anywhere else, and suggest, that any contract should be annulled. But your Lordships will, I hope, remember that this is no ordinary time, and that this is a war emergency measure; and I think that revising banisters in particular, and the Bar in general, are patriotic enough to realise that in these times there are 749 very few of us who are not called upon to make some sacrifice or other. If your Lordships hold that on the general merits of the Bill a good case has been made out fur passing it into law it would, I think, be almost grotesque that the Revision Courts should be held this year merely in order to give occupation to the revising barristers. In another place the President of the Local Government Board has said that if the Bill becomes law he will use every endeavour to provide other employment in his Department, for those gentlemen whose appointments are annulled and who are willing and able to render assistance to that Government Department. It will be my duty presently, if your Lordships are willing to give a Second Reading to this Bill, to move certain Amendments making Mr. Long's object in that respect a little clearer than perhaps it otherwise would be. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Hylton.)
§ EARL ST. ALDWYN
My Lords, I certainly do not rise to oppose this Bill, for I believe it to be necessary in present circumstances, and I have no doubt that will be the view of your Lordships. But I confess to some surprise that His Majesty's Government did not introduce it a couple of months ago before any registration work had been done and before the revising barristers had been appointed. I do not know in the least what the reasons for the delay could have been. The circumstances were just the same as they are now, and it was pretty clear then that something of the kind would be required unless we were to have these municipal and other contests during the time now before us, which none of us desire.
I should like to say a few words with regard to Clause 3, which practically continues the present register, which is waning, until the end of the year 1916. That register is now very imperfect; by that time it will be really obsolete, and it is perfectly obvious that it will not be a register upon which any election ought to take place. Supposing there are Parliamentary vacancies during the year 1916 when that register ordinarily would be no longer in force, what is to happen? It is all very well to say that by arrangement between the Parties there will be no contests, but this Bill does not prohibit 750 contests in Parliamentary constituencies, and the register will be so imperfect that if there should be any independent candidate, desiring to stand he will certainly not have a fair opportunity of contesting the opinion of the electors. Further, if happily the war should be over before the end of 1916, as I am sure we all desire, the time will unquestionably come for an appeal to the country by the Government of the day. It will take some time to prepare a new register. The circumstances will be difficult. Many of those who ought to vote will be abroad and will have been abroad for some time. Our soldiers and sailors will be largely deprived, because of their non-residence, of the franchise which they axe so well qualified to exercise, and they may, although the war is over, be still absent, from the country on naval or military service. I have no doubt that the matter has been considered by the Local Government Board, but I confess it does not seem to me that this Bill deals very satisfactorily with the question of the register for Parliamentary elections, and I should have been glad to hear something from the noble Lord in charge of the Bill with regard to the intentions of the Government as to future dealing with that matter.
Some of us can remember occasions when there has been a Reform Bill passed by Parliament and when the ordinary registration of the year has been accelerated in order that there might be an election under the new Reform Act. Even then it takes some time; and having regard to that fact and to the difficulty of residence to which I have alluded I confess I have a feeling that, as His Majesty's Government delayed dealing as with this question of registration so long that a considerable part of the work had already been done, it would have been better, in spite of the extra expenditure that would have been required, to complete the register for the present year. One of the main expenses in connection with the Parliamentary register, after it has been settled by the revising barrister, is the printing of the new register. That might certainly have been delayed until it appeared likely that the register would be required for the purpose of an election. I know from what passed in my own county council that the saving would have been considerable by the mere delay of the printing. I suspect it would form a very large part of the saving of £100,000 to which my noble friend 751 alluded. Therefore I am sorry that, having delayed the introduction of this Bill until so much of the registration work of this year had been completed, His Majesty's Government have not hardened their hearts to go on with it to completion, leaving the printing of the new register to be done at such time as might be thought desirable.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
My Lords, I desire to make a slight suggestion to the noble Lord in charge of the Bill with regard to one part of it. I gathered from his concluding remarks that we are to have something which answers to a Committee stage on this Bill, because he said he was going to move Amendments. Well, that is an improvement on some of the procedure to which we have recently got accustomed. In these circumstances I think it would be convenient if I indicate to the noble Lord the nature of the simple Amendment which I propose to move. My Amendment has nothing to do with registration or with any public body that requires popular election in the ordinary sense; but there are a certain number of corporations in Scotland which have changes from time to time in their constitution, such as harbour boards, and it is quite unnecessary to bring them under this Bill at all, because there is no register, nothing but a circulation of proxies to vote by post, and I cannot see why that should not go on as usual. The framers of the Bill seem to wish to bring that into operation, because the first words of subsection (3) of Clause 1 are that the provisions of this clause may be applied if necessary to certain bodies. My suggestion is that the best judge of whether the application of the Bill is necessary or not is the body itself, which knows its constitution and its difficulty. These harbour boards are not under the Secretary for Scotland, nor are they under the control of any Department. What I suggest is that after the word "body" where it first occurs in subsection (3) of Clause 1 the words, "and on the application of such body" should be inserted. That is the form of my Amendment, and I thought it would be convenient to the noble Lord to know the precise suggestion that I am going to make.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
My Lords, of course we take careful note of what fell from the noble Lord who has just sat down as to the terms of the Amendment 752 which he desires to move to subsection (3) of Clause 1. I have no wish to argue the point with him at all now, although I confess I should have supposed that in such cases as those which he mentioned, where no expense is involved and where none of the apparatus which accompanies so many of the elections dealt with by this Bill is involved, the particular Department concerned would have had no difficulty in meeting the wishes of those who compose the body and in authorising the particular election to take place. There are, of course, certain bodies which are only indirectly public bodies where large expense would be avoided by the application of this Bill—such a body, for instance, as the General Medical Council, who are anxious to postpone their election—but I have no doubt there are cases which fall within the category which the noble Lord mentioned, and I should have thought in regard to those that the terms of the Bill would have satisfied all that the noble Lord requires. But, of course, he will have the opportunity of stating his case further.
With reference to what fell from the noble Earl on the Front Bench opposite, I think it must generally be admitted that there are certain objections attaching to this postponement, as is certain to happen in every such case. We do not at all attempt to deny the validity of the objecttions which the noble Earl raised. In one of the cases which he mentioned, that of a by-election for a Parliamentary constituency, the objection of an imperfect register would no doubt apply. In the case, however, of a possible General Election at an earlier date than seems from all the indications we possess to be at all likely, I am bound to say that I do not think the noble Earl's objections have so complete foundation. In the first place the probability is, I am afraid, a very remote one; and, in the second place, I think it would be less difficult than the noble Earl appears to suppose to make special arrangements for such a contingency.
The noble Earl proceeded to argue that as some part of the registration business had been already undertaken and some expense incurred, it would have been desirable to complete the register although the printing of the lists might have been deferred. My impression is that the expense which has already been undertaken is not a large fraction of the total which would be incurred if the 753 ordinary practice were pursued and the register completed. I cannot help noting that this is an instance, although not by any means a glaring instance, of the difficulty which always confronts us when particular economies are suggested. There are always arguments at any rate of a certain force to be found against the undertaking of any particular saving of expenditure. The saving of expenditure in this case is not, of course, very large in comparison with the sums which we are spending, but on the other hand it is not contemptible; and while admitting the force of the suggestions which the noble Earl has stated we must, I think, continue to hold that the advantages—and not less the advantage of the saving in money—which will be the consequence outweigh the objections which the noble Earl stated.
§ THE EARL OF HALSBURY
My Lords, I cannot help feeling that in this Bill a matter of simple justice has been very lightly treated. At a stated period the senior Judge of the Assize, wherever it is, is obliged by law to appoint the barristers who are to revise the register. One must not forget what the state of things used to be before revising barristers were appointed. For days one had to wait for the decision of the returning officer, who had himself to decide such questions as would now arise before the revising barrister and be decided before the election took place. Everything in connection with the registration this year has been done in the ordinary course. The revising barristers have been appointed in pursuance of the Statute and have made their arrangements, and the importance of having Revision Courts every year is illustrated by the experience of everybody who has undertaken a contested election. I have had the satisfaction of having undertaken five. One of the great difficulties in an election is change of residence and hunting out the persons who are entitled to vote. All the appointments, as I have said, have been made this year, expenses have been incurred by the persons appointed, and that is all to be set aside and no arrangement is to be made. It may be asked, What is the use of the register when there is to be no election upon it? There is a great mistake made in taking that view. One of the things that strikes one in this matter is the extraordinary number of changes of residence even in the same year; and everybody knows that at the 754 end of the year it has always been a sort of tradition that if there is to be an election you must wait for the new register, because the expense is extraordinary which is incurred in tracing those persons whose residences have changed in the interval.
As a matter of mere justice I want to know what is to be done for the revising barristers who have already been appointed. Let it be remembered that the Government knew what the course would be. Those who are responsible for this Bill must have known that such a thing was going to be done as is now suggested, and were perfectly able to give notice before the appointments were made. But though the revising barristers are nominally appointed year by year, these are definite appointments, except through death, illness, or misconduct. Now, having allowed the whole course of things to be taken as though the work was going to be done, it is proposed that there should be no register. I think that in itself is a misfortune, for the reasons I have given. But what is perfectly scandalous, as it appears to me, is that no provision is made for the compensation of those persons who have incurred expenses upon their appointment for the purpose of fulfilling it. I suggest to your Lordships that that is not a thing one ought to sanction. I think further that the importance of having the register as accurate as it can be is a matter which should be well considered before it is abandoned. At all events I make an appeal on behalf of the revising barristers who have been appointed, and who are entitled to such expenses as they have already incurred in the endeavour to fulfil the appointment which is now being set aside.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD BUCKMASTER)
My Lords, there are two points raised by the noble and learned Earl, and they will be recognised at once as quite distinct and independent of each other. The first is whether or not registration should be suspended; the second is, if it be, whether it should be suspended upon the terms provided by the Bill. The noble and learned Earl thinks that there is no advantage gained by suspending registration. I think, if he will allow me to say so, he has overlooked the fact that if registration were to proceed now it must be a loose register having regard to the number of people who are away and under 755 arms and who have removed their residence. Therefore the register made this autumn would be perfectly useless for the following year. That is the first reason why registration ought to be stopped. The next is this. Although there may be special cases, as Lord St. Aldwyn mentioned, where unexpected by-elections will in spite of Party arrangements take place, it is well understood that there will be no contested Party election until the General Election, and when that takes place there will be provision made beforehand to secure that there is a proper register on which it can proceed. When you find that the representatives of every Party agree that to proceed with registration now would be a waste of money it appears to me impossible to avoid coming to the conclusion that, unless there were some overwhelming disadvantage associated with postponing the registration, registration ought not to take place. If we feel, as I am sure we do, that one of our first duties at home is to promote a domestic campaign for economy, surely we ought not to look too closely and too critically at the means by which that economy is to be secured.
The second part of the noble and learned Earl's speech deals with another matter, and the opinions which he expressed are exactly what we might have expected when we know the sympathetic interest which he has always shown in the people who have been the least fortunate in the great struggle in the profession of the law. But I think that there he has again, quite unintentionally, over-estimated the disadvantage that will arise. Let me assume that it is agreed that registration ought not to take place this year and that had this Bill been introduced six weeks earlier, say, no reasonable objection could have been taken to its passage. In that case I feel quite certain that the noble and learned Earl would not have said that the revising barristers were, none the less, to expect to be appointed to an office which could have no duties whatever associated with it. That cannot for a moment be maintained. What has happened is no doubt unfortunate. The introduction of this Bill has been so long delayed that some of the barristers have been appointed, but they have discharged no duty, and though it may be, as the noble and learned Earl says, that in certain cases they have made plans thinking their services would be required, I feel certain that 756 representations made upon that footing to the Local Government Board would meet with the sympathetic consideration of Mr. Walter Long, who has promised that he will do all things in his power to secure that the opportunities of giving work which he possesses shall be utilised for the purpose of mitigating to the greatest possible extent any hardship that may be suffered by reason of this Bill. In circumstances like that I feel quite sure that members of the bar, even those who suffer most acutely by what this Bill provides, would be most reluctant to have their personal interests urged against a matter which was believed to be for the public good. For these reasons I trust that your Lordships will give a Second Reading to this Bill.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
My Lords, there is one point which I should like to mention in connection with what has been said by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. The noble and learned Lord told us that this registration would be of no value because of the number of soldiers and sailors who are absent. But, if I max say so, that does not agree with the statement made on the same subject by Mr. Walter Long in introducing this Bill. He said, on the contrary—It means that all these overseers' lists will be available as the foundation of the new register upon which any future election will have to take place, and therefore not only do I deny that this work has been wasted, but, on the contrary, I think it is very valuable and necessary work which has been done.It is quite clear that there is a complete contradiction there between the views of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack and those of Mr. Walter Long who introduced the Bill, because if the imperfect list uncriticised by the revising barristers is of very great value for future elections it follows much more clearly that when that list has been revised and finished it must be of considerably more value. One is very glad to hear that, £100,000 is going to be saved. I think it is rather a pity that the £200,000 which has been expended has not been saved also. But my point is this—Is it really a saving admitting, as Mr. Walter Long says, that the work that has been done will be of great value?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Perhaps the noble Viscount will permit me to call his attention to something he has over- 757 looked. In the later part of his speech Mr. Walter Long made this statement—I have not thought it necessary to go into the whole details of registration, but that is one of the reasons why a register made this year must be absolutely valueless, because all the soldiers and the sailors, all the men engaged in mine-sweeping, all the men who are doing heroic service to the country, in addition to the men who are now engaged in munition work, who have been moved, not of their own will, from one part of the world to another to serve their country, and all the men who have been moved from their homes to different parts of the country, will be left out of the register, besides a great many others. Therefore it would be utterly useless.Therefore I am right in what I said.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I certainly read that passage, but the only reason I did not refer to it was that I did not think it necessary to show contradictions existing between the statements of a Minister in another place. It is perfectly obvious that Mr. Walter Long means that this work is of considerable value as far as it goes, but a completed register would not be useful because it would not embrace soldiers and sailors. That does not disturb my main point which is this. You have spent already £200,000. Next year you may have to say "We will have another register." You will then have to go back two years to an old register, and it is far more difficult to go back for two years than to go back for one year, and it may be that the cost of the extra labour you will incur in going Lack two years will exceed the amount of £100,000 which you will have saved by not completing this present registration. That is a point that has not been dealt with, but I am advised by those who have more knowledge than I have of election expenses that that very likely may take place.
§ LORD HYLTON
My Lords, I should like to say a word with regard to the grievance that Lord Halsbury thought the revising barristers would suffer from. It is unfortunate that the Amendments which it will be my duty to move presently in Committee have not been printed and circulated. I apologise to the House, but it is not my fault. As a matter of fact this legislation was taken very late in another place, and the Bill was only printed and circulated here this morning. Therefore although I am not strictly in order, perhaps the noble and learned Earl will allow me to read out an Amendment which I am going to move in Committee, which will show him that the interests of the 758 revising barristers have not been altogether forgotten in this matter. At the end of subsection (2) of Clause 3, I propose to move that these words be inserted—Provided that the duty of certifying for payment of expenses certifiable by a revising barrister in relation to the preparation of the register in the present year and the apportionment of such expenses shall be performed by the Local Government Board, or by some person appointed by them.If those words are inserted in the Bill I hope that the persons so appointed by the Local Government Board will be those who would otherwise this year be revising barristers. As to the questions raised by my noble friend Lord Peel, the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has answered them fully.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and (Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended) Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House forthwith.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.
§ Clause 1:
§ Postponement of local elections.
§ 1.—(1) The next statutory elections of county and borough councillors, district councillors, guardians, and parish councillors, shall be postponed for a year, and the term of office of the existing councilors and guardians shall accordingly be extended by one year.
§ This provision shall apply only where the next statutory election would take place before the first day of duly nineteen hundred and sixteen.
§ (2) Any casual vacancy, requiring to be filled by election, among the members of any county council, any borough council, any district council, any board of guardians, or any parish council shall, until a new register comes into force, instead of being filled by an election, be tilled by means of the choice by the council or board of a person to fill the vacancy, and a councillor or guardian so chosen shall hold office in the same manner in all respects as if he had been elected to fill the vacancy.
§ (3) The provisions of this section may be applied, if necessary, to the election, appointment or co-optation of the chairman, vice-chairman, elective auditors, or members of any kind of local or other body or committee thereof, by order of the Local Government Board as respects local bodies, and by order of the appropriate Government Department as respects any other bodies, and may be so applied with the necessary modifications and either generally as regards all bodies of any particular kind, or specially as regards any particular body or bodies. In the year nineteen hundred and sixteen the day of election of a chairman of a county council shall be the day of the first ordinary quarterly meeting of that council after the eighth day of March in that year, and nothing in any Act of Parliament shall require the council to hold a meeting for the election of the chairman or of aldermen apart from other county business.759
§ (4) Any provisions of any Act or Order or regulations relating to any such councillors or guardians, or to any such chairman, vice-chairman, or member of a local or other body, shall be construed as if they were modified in such a manner as to give effect to the provisions of this section, and the Local Government Board as respects councillors, guardians, or local bodies, and the appropriate Government Department as respects any other bodies, if any question arises, may by Order specify the actual modification which is to be made in pursuance of this section.
§ (5) If any question arises as to the appropriate Government Department by which an Order should be made under this section, that question shall be determined by the Treasury, and their decision on the matter shall be conclusive for all purposes.
§ (6) For the purposes of this section the expression "councillor" includes "alderman," the expression "borough" includes "metropolitan borough," the expression "statutory election" means an election to fill the place of councillors and guardians retiring on the expiration of their term of office, and the expression "existing councillors and guardians" means councillors and guardians who are in office at the time when the next retirement of councillors or guardians after the passing of this Act would, but for this Act, have taken place:
§ Provided that a person so chosen shall hold office only until the next statutory election of councillors or guardians, and provided also that nothing in this subsection shall alter the law regulating the filling of a casual vacancy in Scotland or Ireland.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
My Lords, the Amendment which I spoke of a few moments ago is in Clause 1, subsection (3), after the words "or members of any kind of local or other body," to insert the words "and on the application of such body." I beg to move.
Clause 1, subsection (3), page 2, line 1, insert ("and on the application of such body").—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)
§ LORD HYLTON
I do not know whether the noble Lord would be satisfied with an assurance that the provisions of the Bill will not be imposed on any harbour board against the wishes of that board.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
There are other bodies of the same class, such as the Medical Council in Glasgow and the Councils of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons and Physicians. If the noble Lord gives a pledge on behalf of the Government that in cases of that kind, where there is no register and no popular election, it is not intended to enforce the provisions of this Bill without the consent of the body, then I am satisfied.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD HYLTON
In subsection (3), after the words "In the year nineteen hundred and sixteen the day of election of a chairman of a county council," I move to insert "in England and Wales other than the London County Council." There are no quarterly meetings of the London County Council, and the words "in England and Wales" were in the Amendment as moved in the House of Commons but appear to have been omitted by inadvertence.
Clause 1, page 2, line 8, after ("council") insert ("in England and Wales other than the London County Council").—(Lord Hylton.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD HYLTON
I move to delete from subsection (6) the words "Provided that a person so chosen shall hold office only until the next statutory election of councillors or guardians, and provided also that nothing in this subsection shall alter the law regulating the filling of a casual vacancy in Scotland or Ireland." The principal reason for moving that these words should be left out is that they would interfere with the rotation system in the case of councils whose members retire by thirds each year. In the House of Commons the President of the Local Government Board accepted the Amendment that was moved that these words should be inserted, but he did so subject to its being clearly understood that at a further stage of the Bill he should have the opportunity of moving to strike out the words if he so desired. The Local Government Board have considered this case very carefully, and think it would be inconvenient were these words to remain. In their opinion it would be far better that the councillor who is co-opted should remain in office for three years, two years, or one year, as the case may be, in common with his colleagues who were elected at the same time.
Clause 1, page 2, line,36, leave out from ("Provided") to the end of line 39.—(Lord Hylton.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.761
§ Clause 2 agreed to.
§ Clause 3:
§ Postponement of registration.
§ 3.—(1) The parliamentary and local government register of electors, or any register based on the same, in force at the time of the passing of this Act, shall remain in force until Parliament provides for special registers being made or otherwise directs, but in no case after the thirty-first day of December nineteen hundred and sixteen; and the provisions of the Acts relating to the Registration of Electors, so far as regards the preparation of the new registers in the present year. shall not as from the end of the thirty-first day of July be carried into effect; and any appointments of revising barristers already made, and contracts already entered into for the purpose of the preparation of the registers in the present year are, so far as respects that purpose, hereby annulled:
§ Provided that nothing in this Act shall prevent any payment being made to the overseers or any other officer or person in respect of work done under or in connection with the Acts relating to the Registration of Electors before the first day of August fur the purpose of the preparation of the registers in the present year.
§ (2) The duty of certifying for payment of expenses in relation to the preparation of the register for the present year shall be performed by the Local Government Board, and if any question arises as to any such payment or the apportionment thereof or as to the effect of this section on any contract, that question shall be referred to the Local Government Board, and their decision thereon shall be conclusive for all purposes.
§ LORD HYLTON
I move to omit from subsection (2) the words "The duty of certifying for payment of expenses in relation to the preparation of the register for the present year shall be performed by the Local Government Board, and." Then I shall move to insert at the end of the clause words which will make a rearrangement of this subsection.
Clause 3, page 3, line 23, leave out from the words ("The duty") to the word ("and") in line 25 inclusive.—(Lord Hylton.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD HYLTON
I now move to insert at the end of subsection (2) a proviso which it is hoped will enable the Local Government Board, in pursuance of the undertaking that was given by the President in the other House, to give work to those revising barristers who are willing and able to undertake it.
§ Amendment moved—
Clause 3, line 29, insert:
Provided that the duty of certifying for payment of expenses certifiable by a revising barrister in relation to the preparation of the register in the present year and the apportionment of such expenses shall be performed by the Local Government Board, or by some person appointed by them."—(Lord Hylton.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ Amendments reported: Bill read 3a, with the Amendments, and passed, and returned to the Commons, and to be printed as amended. (No. 155.)