A RARE honour could be given to an entire French town by Kirklees councillors.
They are to debate whether or not to bestow the Freedom of the Borough on 122,000 citizens of Besançon, to mark 50 years of twinning.
If approved, the proposal would make Besançon's citizens only the third to have the honour.
Former Huddersfield East MP Sir William ("Bill") Mallalieu was given the honour in January, 1990, and the former Speaker of the House of Commons, Dewsbury-born Betty Boothroyd, was granted Freeman status in November, 1992.
The honour of Freedom of a Borough dates back hundreds of years in some cases, but obviously only back to 1974 as far as Kirklees goes.
A report prepared for councillors suggests that the honour be given to Besançon at a special meeting in October.
A council spokesman said: "The working group looking at the 50th anniversary of twinning feel that by conferring this honour Kirklees would demonstrate the value it places on the benefits of international links - and the Besançon link in particular.
"The link with Besançon has been active throughout the whole of the 50-year period. It has involved a wide range of activities and groups.
"We feel that conferring the Freedom on the citizens of Besançon would be an appropriate civic focus for the activities planned in October, when a delegation arrives in Kirklees.
"The current Mayor of Besançon could accept the honour on behalf of the citizens."
Kirklees councillors must now decide whether or not to approve the proposal, which will need a two-thirds majority.
* Before the year 1835 freemen existed in many boroughs as a constituent part of the corporation.
* Freemen enjoyed special rights, dependent on local customs, such as rights of pasturage on corporate land and exemptions from certain tolls and dues.
* In Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, a 1607 bye-law said only freemen of the borough could set up in business.
* Since the 1835 Municipal Corporations Act borough councils have continued to be given the power to appoint Freemen.
But the law has gradually reduced the privileges associated with the office.
The 1972 Local Government Act introduced the major change in powers and structures of councils which continued this power.
* Borough councils can make freemen of people of distinction and persons who have rendered eminent services to the borough.
* An illuminated scroll is usually presented to the recipient.
The freedom is the highest tribute that a borough can bestow.
* Although in modern times it is an honour only and confers no legal rights, honorary freemen are invariably invited to take part in all important ceremonial occasions in the borough.