complained, that the improvements promised by the Government, were neither more nor less than the turning out one set of Commissioners to make way for another. He thought that the claims of a man like Mr. Payne, whose abilities were acknowledged, and who had been thirty-three years a servant of the public, should not be passed over; and he moved, therefore, that the word "three" in clause 5th, should be left out, for the purpose of substituting "three of the present," meaning Commissioners of Inland Navigation.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
repelled the imputations of the right hon. Gentleman with great indignation, and said, that instead of these gentlemen being all friends of the present Government, one of them had been absolutely promoted to office by the right hon. Gentleman himself, whilst Secretary for Ireland.
defended the conduct of the Irish Government in the appointments referred to. He himself had the blame or merit of them, such as they were. One of the parties he had never seen, to his knowledge, to that hour, and he had only appointed the gentleman from the account he had received of his diligence and activity in the discharge of his public duty. He utterly disclaimed the imputation of having made the appointments from personal or party feelings.
§ Mr. George Dawson
did not mean to deny the activity and intelligence of the gentlemen appointed; but those who had been passed over had equal, if not superior claims on similar grounds; and they had the additional claim of having been much longer in the public service. One of the gentlemen so passed over had been for thirty-four years an able, active, and in- 98 telligent public servant; another had served in the office he had held with credit to himself and advantage to the country for sixteen years; but the gentlemen appointed had not seen any thing like that length of service—one of them having been in office only six years. He did not blame Ministers for serving their friends, but they ought not to do injustice to others who had long been employed in important situations, the duties of which they had discharged with zeal, ability, and fidelity to the public.
opposed the Bill, but not on the grounds alleged by the hon. Gentlemen below him. He did not attribute to his Majesty's Ministers any partiality or favouritism. God knew, any thing but that. It was the conversation in every place, on every day, that his Majesty's Ministers were more incapable of distinguishing between their friends and their enemies, than any men who had ever sat on the Treasury benches; and it would be a miracle if they could carry on the great measure which they had undertaken, against the exertions making in hostility to it by official men. Why, there were the recent occurrences at the Dublin election. If he had been in the situation of his Majesty's Ministers he would have removed half the persons in office who had opposed them on that occasion. He hoped they would not continue to be so weak as to be advised by their enemies; but that they would rally round their friends. He was borne out in these observations by everything that occurred. The majority of the Lord-lieutenants of the counties of England were opposed to his Majesty's present Ministers. [Some Hon. Member exclaimed, "That's in The Morning Chronicle!"]. To be sure; it was in The Morning Chronicle, He wished his Majesty's Ministers would take a leaf out of The Morning Chronicle. They would consult the feelings and advantage of the country by doing so. He repeated, that his Majesty's present Government had acted with more partiality towards those politically opposed to them, than any Government that had ever preceded them. It was not, therefore, on the ground of the political partiality of Ministers that he opposed the Bill. He opposed it because the appointment of the Board under the Bill appeared to him to be a great waste of the public money. He wished to have the advances for public 99 works for England, Ireland, and Scotland, all under the disposal of the unpaid Commissioners of London. Those Commissioners had disposed of 3,285,000l., with no expense to the country but the trifling one of clerks and house-rent. Why not place at their disposal the 500,000l. for Ireland? Why have a local Board? If it were necessary to employ engineers in Ireland, let them be employed under the Board settled in London. He had no objection to the consolidation of the Boards of Inland Navigation and Public Works in Ireland, but he did strongly object to a Board of paid Commissioners for applying 500,000l. for Public Works.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, that not withstanding the observations made by his hon. friend, and his desire to have all the public business conducted in London, he must be permitted to say, that although he was a decided enemy to all jobbing, yet it would be wholly impossible to conduct the business which it was the duty of this Board to perform by persons resident in London. It would be necessary on any applications being made for money, to send to Ireland, and make inquiries, to wait for answers, by which means several weeks at least would be wholly lost. This delay would tend to defeat the beneficial measure itself; he had always felt an objection to the constitution of the Board of Inland Navigation. The Commissioners had little else to do but receive their salaries. He therefore supported the measure, and was sure that it would be most beneficial.
§ Mr. James Grattan
said, that the Commissioners of Inland Navigation had never performed any services to the public, and he saw no reason why any of them should be appointed to a situation where real and efficient services would be required. He should have liked the Bill better if none of the old Commissioners had been placed on the new Board. He was confident that a sufficient number of gentlemen could be found in Ireland willing to perform the duties of Commissioners gratuitously.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, that he saw no reason to doubt that a sufficient number of gentlemen could be got in Ireland to perform the duties of a Commission, without salary, if it were deemed expedient to adopt that course; but he acknowledged that he did not possess sufficient information to enable him to pronounce upon its practicability. 100 He was sure, that in the proposed diminution of the number of Commissioners, his right hon. friend, the Secretary to the Treasury, consulted the interests of the public.
did not approve of the system proposed to be established by the Bill. He thought it exceedingly cumbersome, and very unlikely to produce the desired effect.
§ The Amendment negatived, and clause agreed to.
§ On the 12th clause being read,
§ Mr. George Dawson
remarked, that he thought this clause objectionable, as it contained an oath which he saw no necessity for, and it was a bad practice to multiply oaths in legislative enactments. The oath was simply this—"I—do swear that I will faithfully and impartially exercise the powers vested in me by this Act." He hoped this might be left out of the clause.
concurred in the objection made by the right hon. Gentleman; it would have the effect of increasing the horrible practice of oath-taking. As his Majesty's Government had, in one year, abolished such a vast number of unnecessary oaths, he hoped they would not resist a similar improvement in the present Act.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
observed, the oath had been introduced in conformity with established custom, but he had no objection to dispense with it in the present Bill.
§ Clause agreed, to omitting the oath.
§ On the 24th clause being read,
objected to the clause which gave power to the Grand Jury to raise money by loan for the purposes of these works. Such a power was a dangerous one, and likely to lead to extravagance. The effect of it was visible in the heavy burthens which the public had now to bear from the facility of borrowing money for unlimited periods. If a person borrowed money for three or four years, he might reasonably be supposed to make some provision for repaying it, but if he borrowed for many years, he became callous and indifferent as to the payment.
§ Mr. George Dawson
considered this clause to be the most unexceptionable part of the Bill. He could by no means believe any Grand Jury would abuse the powers intrusted to it. Parliament might have the conduct of the Grand Jury brought before it, besides which, there was the superintendance of the Treasury.
agreed with the hon. member for Middlesex in the opinion that the power given by the clause to Grand Juries would be exorbitant, and might be exercised to the prejudice of the community.
Mr. O' Connell
also thought, that the clause was one from which mischief would arise. He considered that the proposition manifested a spirit to trifle with the country which Ministers professed to serve. It was at best nothing more than a species of quack medicine, and held out to Grand Juries a temptation to make places and emoluments for themselves and their friends.
§ Mr. Brownlow
said, that one of the great wants of Ireland was the want of good roads from one part of Ireland to the other. In many districts the roads intersected each other, and the travelling was rendered, by that means, extremely difficult. The clause, he thought, ought to be adopted, as it would furnish a means of repairing and making these roads, and promoting the improvements of Ireland, while it gave employment to the people.
Sir Robert Bateson
supported the clause, although he thought it would give facilities for corrupt practices. The repairing of the roads he looked upon as a paramount object, and would compensate for the abuse which might grow out of the experiment. The Grand Jury system needed a total Reform. In fact, it was fraught with more dangers and evils than any other system from which the population of Ireland was suffering so grievously; and if that system were effectually reformed, it would be a great benefit to the people of Ireland. As to the Bill itself, he must say, that it had much disappointed him.
§ Mr. James Grattan
objected to giving Grand Juries any additional powers. At present, it was only necessary to ask Grand Juries for money, and it was sure to be granted. The clause would operate as a tax on the occupiers of the land.
thought the clause was a salutary one, and that the objections which were made to it would extend to the whole Grand Jury system. Without the clause the Bill would be inefficient.
said, that on principle he could not consent to Grand Juries having the power to mortgage the revenues of the county. As an instance of the way in which such things were managed, he would refer to the parish of St. Marylebone, in which he resided, and which was governed by a self-elected Vestry, who, in the course of a 102 few years, had spent upwards of 200.000l. In one instance they had built a new court house at the cost of 60,000l., while there was already one in existence which answered all the purposes required. He wished that the power of issuing money should be limited to five years.
§ Mr. Daniel Whittle Harvey
said, that the Gentlemen who opposed the clause proceeded upon the assumption, that Grand Jurors had no interest in the soil, but only in the misapplication of money. The hon. member for Middlesex had compared their constitution to that of the Select Vestry of Marylebone, but the cases were very different. In the Select Vestry case the complaint was, the people had no control over their own affairs, while, under this Bill, every inquiry and examination must be gone into, before any advance of money could be had. The Board was to see it properly applied, and that the security was adequate. The excellence of the plan, in his mind, was, that while it gave every encouragement to judicious improvement, it provided for the repayment of the money expended.
said, his great objection to the clause was, that it seemed to encourage a feeling which was already too prevalent, viz., that because persons had a power to borrow they must necessarily be rich. If persons could easily get money, they were always careless as to their payments; but as the general feeling of the House seemed not to go to the extent of his Amendment, he would content himself by moving an Amendment, the effect of which would be, to secure the repayment of the money in five years instead of ten.
§ On the Amendment being put,
§ Mr. Ruthven
said, as Grand Jury jobbing had been referred to, in illustration of that he would instance one fact in the county of Kildare: two gaols had been built at opposite extremities of the county where one in the middle would have answered every purpose.
§ Mr. George Dawson
observed, that the building of gaols did not rest with the Grand Juries. They could not be erected without an Act of Parliament, by which the power was vested in the Judge to say in what case a gaol was necessary; therefore the instances of jobbing introduced by the hon. member for Downpatrick, only went to prove, if there was jobbing, that it rested with the House of Commons. All 103 the Grand Jury had to do was, the levying money by the authority of Act of Parliament.
Sir Robert Peel
thought, that as some alteration was to be made in the Grand Jury system, it would be better to wait till then before they granted a sum of 500.000l. to be placed at the disposal of a Grand Jury, which was, at present, an evanescent and irresponsible body. At the same time, he thought that in legislating for Ireland, they often made three holes in attempting to mend one. He wished to see the nature of the system to be substituted, for at present, he viewed the expediency of granting money to Grand Juries in Ireland, to be expended on public works, with some doubt. He was more anxious to grant money for Ireland than for England, because it was more wanted; but he wished it to be expended on some sound principles of economy.
hoped, that he should be more fortunate than his predecessors in the Bill which it was his intention soon to submit to the House, for amending the Grand Jury-laws. He admitted, that the great defect of the Grand Jury system was the want of responsibility and of publicity. That defect he hoped to remedy in his Bill. At the same time, practically, the Grand Juries could not now be called evanescent, as it was rather matter of complaint against them, that they were generally composed of almost the same persons.
said, he had not heard a single reason to make him alter his opinion on this clause. He thought it ought to be rejected. It was a mere delusion to make the Irish people believe there was any great advantage to be derived from the advance of money which was to be repaid again with interest. He was surprised to hear Gentlemen call out "money, money," upon all occasions. He was afraid this measure would merely give the country the appearance of temporary prosperity, to end in disappointment and vexation when the amount advanced was to be repaid.
said, he should certainly take the sense of the Committee on the clause, which he thought would lead to abuses. He had served himself on many 104 Grand Juries, and had always observed, there was a greater inclination to expend large sums of money when the repayment was spread over a great many years.
was of opinion, with other hon. Gentleman who knew the constitution of Grand Juries, that too much power was to be given to them under the clause. He knew several cases in which they had encouraged a most lavish expense of money. If the hon. member for Cork, therefore, persisted in dividing the House, he must vote with him.
said, that expunging this clause would destroy the effect of the Bill. The power could not well be granted to individuals, but must be given to public bodies, and there was no other public body equal to the Grand Jury, which was generally composed of the gentry of the county, and, in fact, taxed themselves. All the evidence before Committees, and past experience, had proved, that public works wherever they had been carried on in Ireland, had produced great public benefits. The public would have a control over the money; there was to be no clandestine appropriation of it.
Sir Robert Peel
was of the same opinion. He had not intended to vote against the clause. If the alternative were offered him, either to reject the clause, or let it stand as it did, he should adopt the latter, much as he disliked the intrusting this grant to Grand Juries. He had thought it would be an improvement of the clause to substitute five years for ten.
said, that in deference to what appeared to be the wish of the Committee, he should not persist in his intention to divide on the clause, and he should vote for the Amendment of the hon. member for Middlesex.
§ Colonel Torrens
thought it was absurd to expect that a country would derive any permanent advantage from a loan of money to carry on public works, unless it could be shewn they were of such a nature as would yield a surplus after the repayment of the sums employed in them.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
was afraid, by enacting the advances to be repaid within five years, such hard terms would be enforced on Grand Juries as would effectually retard the promotion of public works.
said, it was only by a steady increase of employment the country could 105 be permanently benefitted. It was an erroneous system to lay out as much in one year as could be repaid in ten; he should certainly press his Amendment.
§ The Committee divided on the Amendment: Ayes 33; Noes 102—Majority 69.
thought five per cent interest was too much to be charged on these advances, when the interest on Exchequer-bills was not much more than half that amount; he should therefore move as an Amendment, that four per cent should be substituted for five per cent, as the interest of loans made under the Bill. He wished to inform the House, that nine millions and a half of money had been expended in England for public purposes at an annual expense of 2,700l.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
said, the clause was precisely the same as that contained in the English Bill on the same subject; the Commissioners had precisely the same powers.
§ The Committee divided upon the Amendment: Ayes 43; Noes 81—Majority 38.
§ Clauses from 26 to 32 were then severally read, and agreed to. The 33rd clause was then read, when
§ Mr. Lefroy
thought it was impossible that the clause could stand as it was. The advances were to take precedence for repayment of mortgages and all existing encumbrances. The present claimants on property would be wholly forestalled by the Commissioners for money lent on the speculation of improving the property. Suppose land was mortgaged to a considerable extent, and advances made by the Commissioners on that land were to take precedence of such claims, the effect of the clause would be in such cases most unjust.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
said, if the hon. and learned Gentleman would consider, that as the value of the land would be most materially increased by those advances, it was by no means unjust that the Commissioners should have the first claim.
said, he must wholly protest against such proceedings and doctrines: the Government undertook to advance money on land, whether a person who held a considerable claim on it approved it or not, and then said, we have the first claim; why, this was interfering with private property in a most unfair manner.
§ Mr. Crampton
said, his hon. friend had left one part of the case out of view, if he would but consider how much the property 106 would be improved, he would see that the security to the holder of the mortgage would be increased.
§ Mr. James Grattan
remarked, that it was possible that the proprietor of the land might borrow money from the Commissioners merely for the purpose of evading the payment of a mortgage, and in some cases it would be impossible that the land could be so much improved as to recompense the mortgagee for this inconvenience.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
said, in consequence of the objections that had been made, the clause should be withdrawn for the present. In the next clause he begged to inform the Committee, an Amendment had been introduced; it had been originally intended, that where the extension of any work was proposed, the Commissioners should not be satisfied with the security of such extension, but that they should require security for the performance of the whole work. It had been suggested, that such a clause might in certain cases be very inconvenient; for instance, suppose a canal of thirty or forty miles in length which produced an annual return of 10,OOOl., was proposed to be extended, it would be most unreasonable to require security for the amount of the whole work.
§ The Amendment was agreed to.
§ Clauses from 33 to 113 were then agreed to, with three new clauses proposed by Mr. Stanley.
§ House resumed.