§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
My Lords, I need not detain the House many moments in asking you to read this Bill a Second time. It consists of only one clause, and is of a wholly uncontroversial character. The sole effect of it, if passed, will be to change the majority required for initiating proceedings in a Town Council, or changing the number or boundaries of the wards, from the two-thirds majority of that body at present required into a simple majority of the whole number. As Burghs increase, the population increasing and spreading over a wider area, it is very often necessary and only right that alterations should be made in the divisions of the wards into which the burgh is divided. Difficulty has been found in many cases in getting the requisite two-thirds majority because there are always some persons interested in keeping up the existing state of affairs; and the more the existing state of affairs gives reason for complaint the more unlikely it is that the requisite two-thirds majority will be got. I believe this inconvenience has been found in many towns, and that its removal will be heartily welcomed. I ask your Lordships to give the Bill a Second Heading, and I may mention that it has passed through all its stages in the other House.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Lord Balfour).
My Lords, Mr. Asquith approved the principles of the Bill, and consequently it passed through all its stages, as the noble Lord has said, in the House of Commons. But it seems that the Privy Council has raised one or two objections to the Bill as it now stands, and the Home Office think some time ought to be allowed to elapse before the Committee Stage. I shall say nothing more about it now, but I hope 834 the noble, Lord will consent to that course.
I do not exactly know what date they will be content to have it put off to, but if the noble Lord will put it down for that date, I suppose it will be pro forma?
§ Motion agreed to; Read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Friday the 21st of April next.