HC Deb 18 May 1825 vol 13 c784

called the attention of the House to a subject which he deemed of considerable importance. On the 21st of April a complaint had been made to the House by the hon. member for Yorkshire, that a day had been appointed for the meeting of the committee on the above bill, and that, though all the parties interested in opposing the bill, with their counsel, had appeared, and incurred great expense, yet no committee took place. Another meeting had then been appointed for that day, and a like circumstance took place. The hon. member, after adverting to the inconvenience and expense which parties were thus put to, moved, "That the order for the committee on the said bill be discharged."

Lord Milton

seconded the motion. The parties opposing the bill had been, he said, most inconveniently and expensively kept in town, and had received no notice of postponement in either instance.

The Speaker

said, he had paid great attention to the private business, in order, if possible, to remedy the inconvenience arising from the great pressure of it this session, and that it might be better regulated for the general benefit of the public. But, whatever might be the complaints of parties as to their agents, or as to their being delayed in town, yet if the gentlemen who constituted the committee absented themselves, and never attended, as had been the case on the present occasion, it was quite idle to think that any regula- tions could remedy the present grievances. He would say, that nothing was more degrading to the character of the House, in whose hands was vested such a mass of property, than that such a proceeding should take place; which to use the slightest term, savoured of the grossest negligence.

Sir J. Wrottesley

thanked the Speaker for the attention he had paid to this subject. He hoped that what had taken place with respect to this company, would put the House on its guard as to the character of such companies as these; and that persons who were the dupes of such companies would be a little more careful in making inquiries before they risked their property. He thought that something like recognizances, might be necessary to compel the attendance of persons introducing private bills of this kind.

Mr. Jones

impressed upon the House the extreme inconvenience to which parties were exposed by such misconduct.

Mr. M. A. Taylor

said, that unless some steps were taken to remedy the inconvenience arising from the quantity of private business, and the manner in which it was conducted, the public would have a right to complain of neglect. He had been on several committees, and lamented the expense that persons were put to, in order to protect their property against the many schemes which were brought forward. In one committee which he had attended, a gentleman, whose ancestors had held a property of 2,000l. for many years, had been put to the expense of 1,000l. in order to defend that property. It was incumbent on the House to endeavour to frame some regulations which should place the business on a footing different from that on which it now stood, and subject those persons to punishment who came, without any claims, to invade private property.

Mr. S. Wortley

declares he had never seen so gross a case of neglect as the present. The company had not only no committee, but had not even given notice that they meant to adjourn.

Mr. Hume

suggested, that the only likely mode of reforming the present evils would be, to allow the public papers to report the proceedings of private committees.

The order was then discharged.