§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD ELTISLEY
My Lords, in view of the important debates likely to arise 1040 on the two Motions on the Order Paper I will be as brief as possible in pointing out the aims and objects of this Bill. It is promoted by the County Councils' Association. That Association is representative of the county councils of England and Wales and the Bill has received the unanimous support and backing of the Councils which are the constituent bodies of the Association. The purpose of this little measure is two-fold. In the first place it is to consolidate subscriptions which are now payable by county councils to the Association. In the second place the object is to provide for a small increase in the funds available to the Association, an increase required to meet the additional expenditure with which the Association is now confronted. The additional expenditure has been occasioned in large measure by—I might say it is the inevitable result of—new legislation, which has imposed new duties upon the county councils through various recent Acts of Parliament. The new duties with which the Association has been confronted arise out of such matters as town planning, public assistance, ribbon development, education, and so on. In fact neary every Statute which is passed imposes in a greater or lesser degree some new responsibility upon the Association.
I might remind the House that in 1890 the maximum annual subscription payable by a county council to the Association was thirty guineas. Thirty years later, in 1920, an amending Act was passed which increased the maximum subscription payable by a county council to forty guineas. It has proved since 1920 that a forty-guinea subscription is not sufficient to meet the full needs of the Association, and so this small revenue has had to be supplemented in various ways. For instance, the Association, in addition to its annual subscriptions from county councils, has had to obtain further funds by way of special contributions in respect of public assistance and education, and by the promoting of literature in the form of the County Councils Gazette. It seems rather ridiculous—in fact, it is ridiculous—that the Association's revenue, instead of coming in the form of one adequate annual subscription, should have to be derived from other extraneous sources of this kind, which necessarily entail additional and unnecessary burdens of accountancy both upon the county coun- 1041 cils themselves and the Association. Even if the annual subscription of 1920 is supplemented in this extraneous manner, the total revenue to the Association does not exceed £3,900 per annum, or, to put it in another way, does not exceed one hundred-and-fortieth part of a penny rate.
It is now desired, in this little measure, to consolidate the subscriptions which are given by the county councils to the Association and at the same time to increase the revenue of the Association by approximately £1,000 per annum. If this be done it will impose not more than one hundred-and-tenth part of a penny rate on the ratepayers of the Association's constituent bodies—I venture to suggest a purely negligible sum. At the same time it would secure adequate revenue for carrying out the duties of the Association. I believe that the Government Departments who are in close touch with the Association and who consult the Association on the working of the various measures placed upon the Statute Book, and also, to a considerable extent on proposed new legislation, will not stand in the way of the increase of the Association's income. It has always been the ambition and the desire of the Association to do everything it could to work in close harmony with Government Departments, and I believe that these Government Departments will agree that the work of the Association should not be hampered or hindered by any lack of funds. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Eltisley.)
My Lords, I rise only for the purpose of saying that this Bill has the entire support of His Majesty's Government.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.