HC Deb 30 June 1819 vol 40 cc1424-6

Sir Nicholas Colthurst moved, that this bill be now read a second time,

Mr. Hutchinson

said, he felt it to be his duty to state to the House the very awkward situation in which he was placed with respect to this bill. Some time since, when the hon. baronet brought in the bill, he had received a letter from the mayor of Cork, and from a number of merchants, requesting most anxiously that he would give his support to the measure. By the very same post there was also forwarded to him, a letter, agreed to at a very numerous meeting of the mercantile interest in Cork, calling on him to oppose the bill. He was sorry to find that so decided a difference of opinion existed in the city of Cork; but the fact was, that many of the inhabitants, persons of great respectability, were decidedly opposed to this bill. It was a most desirable object, that the harbour should be properly improved. Those who petitioned against the bill were of that opinion; but they differed essentially, as to the nature of the present measure, from those who approved of this bill. The bill went to impose a considerable taxation on the city of Cork. He found that a public meeting was called, in May last, for the purpose of considering this measure. The object of the meeting was, to discuss the merits of the bill; but that meeting did not come to any decision, although it appeared clearly, that the sentiments of those who attended it were hostile to the bill. Two days afterwards, another meeting was assembled, in consequence of the former not having come to any resolution, and agreed unanimously to a series of resolutions against the bill. Here, he wished to state, that he did not mean to censure the bill; perhaps when the measure was duly considered, it might be found unobjectionable; but it came on him entirely by surprise. They were now very near the termination of the session; so that it was not possible for those who were hostile to the bill, to state, before a committee, their reasons for wishing it to be rejected. He, however, submitted to the hon. baronet, whether it would not be better, to postpone any further proceeding until the ensuing session. It was not the wealthy merchant that would feel its operation, but persons of more humble means, and whose case, therefore, called more especially for the protection of the legislature. He was placed, with respect to this bill, in a most painful situation. Those who were in favour of it had gone, he believed, to great expense to effect their object, and a gentleman of great respectability had come over from Ireland, in order to watch its progress. On the other hand, Mr. Isaac Hewitt had been sent over with a petition against the measure, which had been put into the hands of the hon. member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Bennet). He learned from that petition, and he believed the fact to be so, that there was a strong popular feeling against the bill, and therefore he hoped the hon. baronet would adopt the course he had pointed out, and abstain from pressing it further at present; or, at all events, that he would not precipitate any of its stages through the House.

The Speaker

said, that where a strong opposition was manifested against any private bill, it never was the practice of the House to suffer any of the regular stages to be hurried over. This being the case, it was for gentlemen to consider, whether there was any prospect of the present bill passing through the committee and third reading in this House, and afterwards proceeding through all its stages in the House of Lords, with a proper degree of consideration. Would there be time for proceeding regularly with it? Whatever disposition the House might feel to assist in the acceleration of a measure, by suspending the standing orders, where all the parties were agreed, it was not customary, where a private measure was opposed, to relax any of them.

Sir N. Colthurst

said, he would be the last man to introduce a measure prejudicial to the city of Cork, or opposed to the interests of those whom he had the honour to represent; but he believed that a vast majority was favourable to the bill.

Mr. Bennet

said, that he should, in the course of the evening, have to present a petition against the measure from Mr. Isaac Hewitt, a gentleman of great respectability in Cork: that petition contained an able statement of facts; and after a careful perusal of it, he felt satisfied, that the House would not deem it proper, or even decent, to proceed with the bill. The House divided—when there appeared—For the commitment (Sir N. Colthurst acting as teller) 0; Against it, 45. The bill was consequently lost.