HC Deb 13 June 1817 vol 36 cc959-60

On the motion for the second reading of this bill.

Mr. V. Fitzgerald

said, that one great object of the bill was, the appointment of a civil engineer in each county to regulate and inspect the public works therein undertaken or the plans or presentments made. Another was the providing that all presentments, except on extraordinary occasions, should be made in the Spring assizes. It also extended the power of traversing all the objects of county assessment, by those who paid county-rates. Nothing was more essential to the well-being of Ireland than a reform in the mode of presentments by the grand jury. It would check the system of profligate jobbing and expense, and the frequent instances of perjury which occured in consequence of the mischievous system now in force.

Mr. Barry

approved of the general principle of the bill, but he objected to levying all the assessments at one period of the year, as being calculated to create general inconvenience, and often distress.

Sir H. Parnell

spoke in favour of the bill, though he apprehended the expense attending the appointments would be more considerable than had been at first apprehended.

Mr. Peel

suggested the expediency of relieving the grand juries from so much of their oath of secrecy as related to the regulation of public works, conceiving that public opinion was the best check on improvident expenditure.

Sir J. Newport

urged the immediate forwarding of the measure.

Sir F. Flood

approved of the measure as far as it went.

Mr. Croker

strongly recommended, that if there was to be but one presentment in a year, that presentment should be made at one assizes, and re-considered at the next.

Sir N. Colthurst

saw no reason to be dissatisfied with the general spirit of the bill. He must still, in candour, confess that the clause which confined the passing of presentments to one particular assizes or sessions, was, in his mind, likely to create inconvenience to the civil business of the county.

Sir G. Hill

opposed the bill, as being calculated to deprive the gentlemen of the county of their proper influence and authority, and to transfer it to the county surveyors.

Mr. Cooper

observed, that although the bill was not as effectual as he could wish it to be, yet in the present state of the session he thought it more prudent to pass the measure than to permit things to remain in their present state.

Mr. Abercrombie

referred to the report of the committee of the House on this subject, and contended, that every page of it rendered such a measure as the present necessary.

The bill was read a second time.