I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, whether it is competent or legal for a Rural District Council, or a Parochial Committee of that Council, to meet and transact the business of the township within the walls of a public house. Whether in districts where there are not other facilities of meeting than in a schoolroom in that locality, such schoolroom can be refused when proper application is made by the local authority for its use; whether he is aware that at the present time the Parochial Committee of the Rural District Council of Shevington, near Wigan, are transacting the business of the township inside licensed premises; and, whether he will make full inquiries into this matter with a view of remedying the existing state of things?
I have made enquiry as to the case of the Shevington Parochial Committee, and I am informed that their meetings are held in a large room forming part of licensed premises. The Local Government Act, 1894, prohibits a Rural District Council or a Parish Council from holding a meeting on licensed premises, except in cases where no other suitable room is available, either free of charge or at a reasonable cost; but I am advised that it is doubtful whether the prohibition extends to a Parochial Committee appointed by a District Council where the Parish Council are not themselves the Committee. I am also advised that the right conferred by the Act on the parochial electors to use the public elementary school for certain meetings does not extend to the meetings of such a Committee. The Rural District Council are, however, empowered to determine the place of meeting of the Committee, and it appears to me desirable that they should exercise this power in the present case.