Select Vestries Bill

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A bill for the better regulating of Select Vestries, usually referred to as the Select Vestries Bill, is customarily the first bill introduced and debated in the United Kingdom's House of Lords at the start of each session of Parliament. The equivalent bill used by the House of Commons is the Outlawries Bill.

The bill is read after the Queen's Speech, after the Commons have returned to their chamber, but before any debate on the contents of the Speech. The bill is given a pro forma first reading upon the motion of the Leader of the House of Lords, to demonstrate that the House can debate on whatever it chooses and set its own business independently of the Crown.

Origin of the title[edit]

The title of the bill refers to the select vestries that were established in each parish to administer the Poor Law. These bodies met in the vestry of the local parish church and were responsible for imposing a form of local taxes known as the church rate. Over time, these bodies became notoriously corrupt.[citation needed] They have now been replaced by parochial church councils for ecclesiastical business and parish councils for secular business.

Select Vestries Acts[edit]

The term Select Vestries Acts collectively refers to two Acts of Parliament passed in 1818 and 1819 respectively, the Act for the Regulation of Parish Vestries (Vestries Act 1818, 58 Geo. III c. 69), and the Act to Amend the Law for the Relief of the Poor (Poor Relief Act 1819, 59 Geo. III c.12). These acts were promoted by William Sturges Bourne, MP and Chairman of a Committee to reform the Poor Laws, and are therefore also known as the Sturges Bourne Acts.

See also[edit]