presented a petition from certain inhabitants of the city of Londonderry, com- 295 plaining that the Corporation had taxed the citizens by a toll upon the new bridge, to pay to the Crown a debt, which ought to be paid out of the property of the Corporation itself. He wished to ask the noble Lord whether it was the intention of his Majesty's Government to allow the 15,000l. due by the Corporation of Derry to be thrown on the country by making it payable out of the tolls of the new bridge, instead of taking it from the corporate body? He believed the Corporation borrowed 30,000l. for rebuilding this bridge, and they had repaid 15,000l.. They had got rid of the burthen which they ought to pay by throwing it on the public.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that he was not, at that moment, prepared to explain precisely the nature of the engagement into which the Corporation had entered for the repayment of the money advanced by the Crown. If the hon. and learned Gentleman, the member for Kerry, would bring forward the subject on some other evening, he should be better able to give a satisfactory explanation. At present, he could only say that his Majesty's present Ministers, on coming into office, found that the Corporation had undertaken to repay the money by instalments, and that some of those instalments had become due, and had not been paid. A long time had elapsed without any demand being made upon them, and they might have had reason to suppose that repayment would not be demanded. However, on looking into the account at the Treasury, the Government felt it to be their duty to require payment; but, at the same time, under the circumstances, they did not wish to press hard on the corporation. Application, however, had been made to the Corporation, which had since set aside the tolls of the bridge for the payment of the money advanced by the Crown, for the building of the bridge.
§ Sir John Newport
said, that the case was simply this: the Corporation was bound to pay the money out of its own estate, and had no right to tax the citizens to pay its debts.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that the security was the same as before. He believed he was correct in saying that originally the tolls were contemplated as part of the security for the repayment of the loan.
§ Mr. Dawson
said, that Government was justified in the course it pursued, for the 296 Corporation was perfectly solvent. Besides, the loan was not with a view to benefit the Corporation, but to serve the public generally. In the year 1814, the bridge over the river was carried away by the ice, and the loan was made for the purpose of rebuilding it. Of course the bridge tolls ought to be liable for its repayment, rather than the funds of the Corporation.
understood that the Corporation had made away with the funds which ought to have been applied to reimburse the public for the money advanced to build the bridge. If the Corporation was solvent, he trusted the Government would enforce the payment of interest upon the instalments which had not been paid within the stipulated time. He trusted that his Majesty's Ministers would not act towards that Corporation with the favouritism which it and other similar bodies had received from the late Government.
§ Mr. Dawson
said, that the late Government had not favoured the Corporation of Londonderry. They were called on to pay the instalments as they became due.
§ Lord Althorp
repeated, that he should be better prepared on another evening to give a full explanation of the matter.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
trusted, that the Government would also compel the Corporation of Dublin to refund the sum of 76,000l., which that body owed to the city of Dublin. Judgment had been given against the Corporation, but no part of the money had yet been repaid. He had spoken to the Irish Solicitor General upon the subject, but that Gentleman paid no attention to his application.
said, there was no occasion for the interference of the Crown lawyers, when judicial proceedings had taken place, and a decree had been pronounced.
§ Mr. Grattan
said, that the Commissioners of Imprest Accounts had given it under their hands, that the Corporation had raised and expended contrary to law 76,000l., the property of the citizens.
said, that it was mere juggling to deny that the money was due to the Crown, and not to the citizens, whose money the Corporation had illegally raised and expended.
said, it might be very well for the insolvent Corporation and its lawyers to juggle and shuffle, so as to shift the debt from one creditor to another. They owed the money, to be sure—they did not deny that; but they were lucky debtors; for they owed it to nobody, and so to nobody they paid it. But the fact was, that the Master of the Rolls, one of the best Judges in Ireland, or, perhaps, in any other country, had given a decree against them, from which they had appealed. It was not denied that they had levied 76,000l. from the people of Dublin, contrary to the Act of Parliament.
§ Petition to be printed.