HC Deb 01 February 1819 vol 39 cc167-8

The sheriffs of London presented a petition from the city of London, praying for leave to appropriate a certain portion of the unclaimed dividends of the Orphan Fund, towards the liquidation of the expenses attending the building of the New Prison.

Mr. Holme Sumner

said, that this was a petition precisely similar to one which was presented last year. He had then said, before the city of London could claim the funds of others for their own purposes, they ought first to show that their own funds were insufficient. He had then moved for certain accounts in order to ascertain this. No answer was returned to the order for these accounts for more than three months, and at last, instead of complying with the order, the city of London presented a petition to the House to reconsider the matter: in short, rather than show the accounts, the city of London withdrew their bill. He now gave notice, that whenever they moved for leave to bring in a bill for the object in question, he should move for the production of the accounts of the city.

Mr. Waithman

said, he had not satin the House last session, nor had he taken a part in the debates on the subject elsewhere. He would however say, that the corporation of London were ready to show all the accounts which, in common fairness, they were bound to show to the House; and they would make it appear, that their application in this case was founded on reason and justice. They not only supported their own prisoners, but also those of the county of Middlesex. Now, the prisoners of the county of Middlesex were, to those of the city of London, in the proportion of five to one. When it became necessary for the city of London to erect a new prison at a great expense, chiefly on account of the prisoners of the county of Middlesex, surely it was but fair and reasonable that they should derive assistance from the Orphan Fund.

Mr. Serjeant Onslow

admitted, that the worthy alderman was not in parliament when this subject had last come before the House. On that occasion, when the House ordered the Corporation to produce their accounts, they did not do so; but they abandoned the attempt for that time. As to what had been said, relative to a gaol for the accommodation of Middlesex prisoners, if the corporation have expended money m the erection of such a prison, the more regular way Was, to raise that money by a local tax. He did not comprehend why coals, one of the most necessary articles of life, should be taxed in the counties of Surrey, Oxford, Essex, and Kent, merely because the corporation of London had built a prison, in which prisoners for the county of Middlesex were confined. As a representative of the county of Surrey, to which place the tax would extend, he Would protest against the prayer of the present petition on principle, and would submit to the House, that it would be impossible to entertain it for a moment until those accounts which had been formerly ordered, and which had been never furnished, should be laid before them.

Ordered to lie on the table.