§ Mr. Hume
said, he had been requested to present a petition complaining of great abuses in the Corporation of Newcastle-upon-Tyne; by which it appeared how much such abuses might affect not only persons living in the place in which they prevailed, but the community at large. The petition, which was signed by 1,500 persons, had been unanimously agreed to at a large meeting, at the Court of Guild. The number of inhabitants at Newcastle was 42,676; that of free burgesses 619; but of those burgesses, only nine or ten had any thing to do with the election of the Mayor and Aldermen of the town. The petitioners also complained of a misapplication of the revenue of the town. That revenue amounted to 34,000l.; and he begged to call the attention of the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the fact, that upwards of 20,000l. of that sum was raised by dues on shipping and coals; so that the other parts of the community were interested in the subject as well as the inhabitants of Newcastle. It appeared however, that, notwithstanding this large revenue, the Corporation of Newcastle had incurred a debt of 100,000l. It was also 950 stated that in the course of the last eleven years, 217,000l. had been paid among different members of the Corporation. The petitioners prayed for an early inquiry into all these abuses. The hon. Gentleman then moved that the petition be referred to the Committee above stairs on Corporations.
Sir Matthew White Ridley
rose, not to object to the Motion, but on the part of the Corporation of Newcastle, to entreat the House to suspend their opinion until an inquiry had taken place on the subject. He repeated what he stated the other evening, that the Corporation were ready to meet the fullest inquiry which could be instituted into their conduct. He would say a word on one or two of the points which had been touched upon by his hon. friend. It was true that the election of the Mayor and Aldermen was as his hon. friend had described it to be; but that was under an express provision of the charter. The debt of the Corporation, for which they paid interest, was 46,800l.; the remainder consisted of annuities redeemable at half their nominal amount. A great part of the debt of the Corporation arose from their having been obliged, a few years ago, to build a bridge over the Tyne, at an expense of 50,000l.
§ Mr. Cobbett
I merely rise to say that I believe the corruption of the Corporation of Newcastle to be as great as it possibly can be.