HC Deb 02 April 1832 vol 11 cc1184-5
Mr. Robert A. Dundas

presented a Petition from the Trustees of Heriot's Charity, Edinburgh, praying that they might be heard at the Bar of the House, by Counsel, to ascertain whether they were entitled to compensation for the loss of certain superiorities, the right to enjoy which the House had sanctioned in 1827, and now sought, by the Scotch Reform Bill, to abolish in 1832. Though the time was fast approaching when the Scotch Reform Bill would come before the House, and the subject of the present petition then be discussed, yet he thought it his duty to move—"that the petitioners be heard by Counsel at the Bar of the House."

The Lord Advocate

admitted the case stated in the petition to be one of considerable hardship, owing to the circumstance of the superiorities being in the hands of a Corporation instituted for charitable purposes. The feudal right of superiorities had, by accident, and by an abuse of the true principles on which Representation ought to be founded, obtained a considerable money value. As trustees of a charity, the petitioners had a right to make every fair claim on behalf of such charity; but he did not conceive they could have any claim for compensation for a pecuniary loss which was the result of a great abuse.

Mr. Dixon

observed, that this was a case of peculiar hardship, and well deserved the attentive consideration of the House.

Mr. M'Leod

was of the same opinion; but, if they were to admit the claim of compensation in this instance, there would be no end to the claims of a similar character.

Sir George Clerk

said, that this claim for compensation was for a perfectly different species of property from any that was known in this country. He had a petition from an individual on the same subject, and he thought that individuals had a claim to compensation as well as such public bodies as Heriot's Hospital. He hoped that the Government would find some means of lessening the loss which these individuals would suffer. He thought compensation should be paid to all those who lost superiorities, and that the compensation should be paid by those who were to receive the new franchise. Cases happened in which gentlemen sold their estates, reserving the superiorities, for a less sum than they would have fetched with the superiorities. It would be hard on such persons to take away the superiority from them, and confer that vote for which it was valuable on the man who had bought the estate but had not paid for the superiority.

Petition to be printed.