moved the second reading of the Charitable Institutions' Bill, in doing which he observed, that Charitable Institutions were exposed to very great hardships, and the designs of the benevolent were defeated to a very great extent, in consequence of the right assumed by Parochial Authorities, of making an assessment for Poor-rates upon property that was, and ought to be, exclusively devoted to charitable purposes. Bethlehem Hospital was rated at 2,500l. a-year. The Trustees appealed to the Magistrates in Quarter Sessions assembled, but the Magistrates informed them that they could afford no remedy. They then appealed to the humanity and justice of the Parochial Authorities, but with similar success. The Trustees of Bethlehem Hospital alleged, most truly, that they had under their care no less than eighty-five paupers, who but for that establishment would have become chargeable upon the parish in which their house was situated. He denied that the Charity in question had accumulated property to the amount stated in the petitions presented against the Bill, and as to the ground that they occupied in the parish, he thought the objection founded upon that was fully met by the fact of the number of paupers they maintained.
Mr. N. Calvert
said, he had been intrusted with a petition to present against the Bill. He had been informed that the Bethlehem Hospital trustees had realised property from their surplus income to the amount of 14,000l. The rate levied some time since upon the Hospital was only one shilling in the pound —it had since been reduced to ninepence, and he really thought that the Trustees ought not to be unwilling to pay so small a rate for lighting and improving the ways leading to their princely establishment. Guy's and St. Thomas's Hospitals both paid rates, and he therefore did not see why Bethlehem was to be excepted. So large a portion of the parish was occupied by Hospitals, that unless they were rated the rates collected would be trifling.
§ Mr. Alderman Winchester
supported the Bill. The whole of the funds of such an institution ought to be applied to charitable purposes.
§ Sir R. Wilson
said, that he should oppose the Bill, because he looked upon it as one which was unjust in its principles, and which had been introduced at a most unseasonable time, as there was great distress in the particular district to which it had reference. The whole of the district of St. George's consisted but of 130 acres, of which thirty were occupied by charitable institutions.
said, that it was distinctly enacted, that all charitable institutions should be liable to pay rates, and he did not see any good reason why the Hospitals in St. George's parish should be exempted from that rule.
§ Sir M. W. Ridley
said, that if Bethlehem Hospital were made to pay rates, it must come on the County for funds to support the paupers it now maintained.
§ Mr. Maberly
thought, on the contrary, that if the institutions were exonerated, the charge it now sustained would fall on poor householders, and would be ruin to them.
Mr. Hughes Hughes
would oppose the Bill, but he recommended that a middle course should be adopted, and the Hospital pay the rates on a reduced scale.
§ Mr. Briscoe
opposed the Bill, because he thought that the rates would then fall too heavily upon the poor inhabitants of the district.
§ The House divided: For the Second Reading 36; Against it 70.—Majority against the Bill 34.