HC Deb 31 July 1835 vol 29 cc1288-326
Mr. Sergeant Perrin

could not rise to move for leave to bring in a Bill for the better regulation of the Municipal Corporations of Ireland, without in the outset expressing the regret he sincerely felt that the task should not have devolved upon an individual more competent to do justice to it. He hoped that the House would extend towards him that indulgence which, even if he possessed a greater share of experience, he might fairly hope to receive, while he proceeded to develope the grounds on which he founded the motion he meant to submit to the House. Before he proceeded further, they would permit him to express a hope that they would not refuse him the liberty he sought, or object to provide for the better regulation of the Municipal Corporations of Ireland, after they had reformed the Corporations of Scotland, and passed a Bill for the reform of the Municipal Corporations of England. He certainly felt considerably relieved in undertaking the task, by the recollection of the ample discussion and full consideration which the House had very recently bestowed upon the subject of Municipal Corporations, which rendered it as unnecessary as it would be unbecoming to enlarge upon the principles on which a Bill of that sort must rest, or upon the advantages which a well-ordered and well-regulated Municipal Corporation conferred on the district with which it was connected. The subject to which he chiefly wished to call the attention of the House was the present existing state of the corporations of Ireland, and the abuses which had crept into those corporations—which abuses he considered rendered it imperative on the Government to bring them under the consideration of the Legislature. It appeared from the Report of the Commissioners appointed by his Majesty to inquire as to the existing state of the Corporations of Ireland, that the Commissioners found it to be such as required the immediate attention and interference of the House. It appeared from the Report, that the greater number of the Corporations might be generally described as consisting of self-elected, irresponsible governing bodies of twelve or more members, by whom the whole corporate powers were exercised; that in many boroughs the existence of freemen was unknown, and even where admitted, they were, in most cases, comparatively few in number, and had little, if any, power or influence. Would the House believe—yet it appeared by the Commissioners' Report,—that in the town of Belfast there were but six freemen now known to be in existence? It appeared also by the Report, that in those corporations, or at least in the generality of them, for he did not speak universally or absolutely, but in the greater part of the corporations, that the commonalty or freemen had neither, directly or indirectly, any voice in, or control over, the election of the corporate officers, nor any other effective means by which the wishes of the inhabitants could be ascertained as to the choice of those persons who were to manage the corporate business. The modes in which the small share of the popular influence existing in those bodies was exercised, and its practical extent in each varied considerably; but they were minutely laid down in the separate local reports or tables of details, with which it would not be necessary that he should detain the House at present, excepting while he detailed the state of the corporations of one or two towns, with the circumstances of which he himself was well acquainted, as a specimen, to show the general state of the corporations in Ireland. The Commissioners, in describing the present state of the corporations of Ireland, said: "It has followed, that in many towns there is no recognized commonalty; that in others, where existing in name it is entirely disproportioned to the inhabitants, and consists of a very small portion, of an exclusive character, not comprising the mercantile interests, nor representing the wealth, intelligence, or respectability of the town. The corporations are, not without reason, looked upon by the great body of the inhabitants of the corporate districts with suspicion and distrust, as having interests distinct from, and adverse to, the general community, whom they studiously exclude from a participation in the Municipal Government. Their members frequently consist entirely of the relatives and adherents of particular individuals or families, and the principles of their association, and those which regulate admission or exclusion, have rarely any connexion with the common benefit of the district, or the wishes of its inhabitants. In far the greater number of the close corporations, the persons comprising them are the mere nominees of the 'patron' or 'proprietor' of the borough; while in those apparently more enlarged, they are admitted and associated in support of some particular political interest, most frequently at variance with the majority of the resident inhabitancy." But an essential, a fundamental, and most just objection to the present constitution of those corporations was their exclusive and sectarian character. He could not illustrate this in better words than those made use of by the Commissioners in their Report, and he would therefore beg leave to read them. The Report stated that "This system deserves peculiar notice in reference to your Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects. In one corporation alone, that of Tuam, the majority of the governing body is Roman Catholic, one only of the burgesses being a Protestant. The laws which for a series of years operated to exclude those professing the Roman Catholic religion from corporations were repealed in the year 1793, by the statute 33 Geo. 3rd, cap. 21; but the Roman Catholics have hitherto derived little practical advantage from the change. In the close boroughs, they are almost universally excluded from all corporate privileges." The report then proceeds to state that even in the corporations where rights to freedom are acknowledged and conceded, the long operation of the penal code having prevented the acquisition of freedom by the immediate ancestors of the present Roman Catholic population, very few have been enabled, since its repeal to establish the requisite titles; and after stating that the admissions which have taken place have, for the most part, been the result either of personal influence with the members of the governing body, or compliments to individuals of wealth or popularity, it goes on:—"Previously to the relaxation of the penal code, the number of opulent Roman Catholics residing in the corporate cities and towns was necessarily limited. But since those changes in the laws, which have enabled them to share in the general diffusion of wealth and in the benefits of unrestricted industry, they have risen and multiplied in the middle and upper classes, so that, in most of the cities and towns, they constitute not only a majority of the whole population, but a large proportion of the more opulent orders. We feel bound to submit to your Majesty that a system of municipal polity, which excludes such a class of your Majesty's subjects from all substantial Corporate privilege and power, must be essentially defective in its structure. It fails to secure to the different classes of the local community participation in the regulation of their own concerns; and it operates far more widely, and more mischievously, than by the mere denial of equal privilege to persons possessing perfect equality of civil worth; for in places where the great mass of the population is Roman Catholic, and persons of that persuasion are, for all efficient purposes, excluded from corporate privileges, the necessary result is, that the Municipal Magistracy belongs entirely to the other religious persuasion; and the dispensation of local justice, and the selection of Juries, being committed to the members of one class exclusively, it is not surprising that such administration of the laws should be regarded with distrust and suspicion by the other and more numerous body. The unpopular character of the municipal bodies is thus, in too many cases, aggravated by their being considered inimical, on she ground of Sectarian feelings, to a great majority of the resident population, and they become instrumental to the continuance of the unhappy dissensions which it has so long been the policy of the Legislature to allay." And accordingly in the conclusion of their Report the Commissioners state, "that the early and effectual correction of existing evils, and the prevention of future mischief, are anxiously desired and essentially requisite: and that these benefits can be attained only by means of a general and complete reform of the constitution of the Municipal Corporations in Ireland." It was not his intention to detain the House by calling its attention to all the local Reports on the different corporations made by the Commissioners, but he felt that it was material to the understanding of the grounds of his Motion, that he should briefly advert to some remarkable cases, but he would promise to occupy the time of the House as briefly as possible. He would not do so at all if it were not that he was sensible he could not do justice to his case without drawing attention to some particular point of the inquiry. He had already stated that, in many of the Corporations, the inhabitants had but a small share in the administration of the Corporate property. In this he was borne out by the Report of the Commissioners, to a part of whose Report he would now draw attention. He found that in 1833, in the town of Cash el the number of inhabitants was 7,000, while the number of corporators, including mayor, burgesses, and freemen, was only 38. In Clonmel the number of inhabitants was 15,134, and the number of corporators 178. In Kilkenny the number of inhabitants was 23,741, and the number of the corporators 469. In Waterford the population was 28,821l. and the number of corporators 869. In Castlebar the number of inhabitants was 6,373, and the corporators 6. In mentioning these places he was not giving those in which the disproportion between the inhabitants and corporation was greatest, but he merely picked them out as the principal towns in the districts. In Ennis the number of inhabitants was 9, 568, the number of corporators 13. In Galway the number of inhabitants was 33,120, the number of corporators 1,770. In Limerick the number of inhabitants was 66,554, the number of corporators 271. In Tralee the number of inhabitants was 9,568, the number of corporators only 14. In Athlone the number of inhabitants was 11,406, the number of corporators 243. In Carlow the inhabitants were 9,114, the corporators 33. In Maryborough the inhabitants were 5,000, the corporators 9. In Naas the number of inhabitants was 3,808 the number of corporators 16. In Portarlington the number of inhabitants was 3,091, the number of corporators 16. In Cork the number of inhabitants was 100,716, the number of corporators 2,665. In Kinsale the number of inhabitants was 8,126, the corporators 63, In Youghall the number of inhabitants was 11,327, while the number of corporators 221. In Armagh the number of inhabitants was 9,470, the corporators 16. In Belfast the inhabitants were 53,287, the corporators 21. In Drogheda the inhabitants were 17,365, the corporators 426. In Dundalk the inhabitants were 10,750, the number of corporators 40; and in Dublin, with a population of upwards of 200,000 persons, the corporators only numbered 4,000. There were five towns which had sent no returns, but the result of the whole corporators, with the exception of those not returned, and they were not. of any particular importance, was, that the whole body of corporators might be safely taken at 13,000 for the whole of Ireland, while the population of the boroughs was 900,000; so that the whole body which represented those 900,000 inhabitants of those towns, by whom the police of the towns was governed, by whom their affairs were directed—the body which governed all the public affairs of that large constituency consisted of only 13,000 persons. In large towns, and counties of cities and towns, it was to be observed that these corporators who were so disproportioned in their number to the inhabitants, not only had the regulation of the police of the town under their charge, not merely directed and disbursed the corporate funds and property—not merely had the selection of the magistrates of the borough and managed the municipal corporations—but had the selection of the sheriffs which sheriffs had the selection of juries—of the grand and petty juries who tried all the civil as well as the criminal causes of the country. So that those corporators who had been shown to be a small sectarian and exclusive body, had the selection of the Grand Jury and the Petit Jury, which was to sit in judgment over the lives and property of the whole country. Could it be wondered at that the administration of justice should be under suspicion, when it was placed under such influence? But that was not the only power they had. They had also the power of imposing taxation upon those whom they governed, at their own discretion, and to any extent they chose. The 100,000 inhabitants of Cork could be taxed at discretion by the 2,000 self-elected and uncontrolled corporators. How the small bodies of corporators managed the Corporations might be seen by looking into the Report, but at present it was not his province to enter upon it. He would ask, however, if it was right—if it was agreeable to the principles of the Constitution or to reason, that any body of rational men should endure that 13,000 self-elected persons should not only take possession of all the Corporate property, but even rule the destinies and control the administration of justice over 900,000 persons. With respect to the smaller towns, the entire Corporation, in most instances, did not consist of more than twelve persons, and, as he had before stated, they were generally the nominees of an individual, or connected with each other, being parts of one family. He would, in the first place, call the attention of the House to the state of the borough of Cashel—and he would enlarge the more upon it, not so much on account of its importance, or its peculiar corruption, but because he was connected with that borough, had examined the facts as stated in the Report, and found them entirely correct. These facts had not only been vouched for by competent and dispassionate Commissioners, but had been the subject of legal proceedings, and the records of the Courts of Law in Ireland, before which most of the facts came, supplied additional proofs of their correctness. He thought it might, therefore, be fairly stated that the facts given in the Report might be safely relied upon as correct; and, further, that the evils which appeared in one borough might, be said to exist under different shapes in all the boroughs and Corporations throughout Ireland. It appeared from the Report, "that the population of the city of Cashel, in 1831, was 7,000, but including the liberties and commons it might be near 12,000, of whom we were informed," say the Commissioners, "that the majority were Roman Catholics, perhaps in the proportion of twenty to one. The state of the town is by no means thriving or prosperous, and there is a great number of poor persons in a state of distress. This is ascribed partly to the want of sufficient employment for the poorer classes, and partly to the influx of persons who have been ejected from their farms since the Subletting Act, and who generally come into the town in great poverty and distress." The Report further states, "There is no considerable manufacture here, and there is very little employment for the poorer classes, except in agriculture, and even this is very uncertain; because, at the seasons when labourers are required, there is a considerable influx of them from other parts of the country." And it adds, "The wages of a labourer, on an average, throughout the year, are about 8d. a day without his diet, and this he receives only during the time he is employed, which is about two-thirds of the year. A witness, who is a medical man, was, in the summer of 1832, secretary to the Board of Health in Cashel, and it became his duty to visit the habitations of the poor, and he stated, that on that occasion he ascertained that there were 500 families in Cashel without a blanket to cover them." Now this evidence was given by a person called by the Commissioners, but connected with the Corporation, and as it was given in open court, and viva voce, the corporators had an opportunity, if they did not choose to come forward with evidence themselves (which they did, and he was happy to say that few Corporations had refused to give evidence), they could at least have corrected the evidence of the medical man. So that this statement was as likely to be true as any evidence that could be desired. Now it appeared that the inhabitants of Cashel suffered from the want of a supply of water. The town had been formerly supplied from the river called Bolton's river, which was brought into the town about 100 years ago by Archbishop Bolton, but had soon alter been diverted into a different course, and an Act of Parliament procured to prevent, its being taken away from mills, which were built upon it. It appeared that, a supply of water would be a great relief lo all classes in Cashel, and particularly to the poor who in summer were frequently exposed to extreme inconvenience from the want of water. It was stated as the opinion of an eminent engineer, that a sufficient supply of water for the accommodation of the inhabitants could be procured for 500l., and that a supply of water, for manufacturing purposes, could be brought to Cashel for 2,000l. or 3,000l., which, if done, would, perhaps, be the means of promoting the wealth, industry, and comfort of the inhabitants. That was the state of the poor of Cashel; and it further appeared from the Report that the town was not lighted, and that the streets were as dirty and in want of repair as any in Ireland. But what was the condition of the Corporation in the town thus described? The House would be surprised when he told it that the Corporation of the town, the condition of the poor of which the Commissioners had described as not merely wanting a full supply of water for the ordinary purposes of life, but being altogether deprived of it for the purposes of manufactures, it would be sur- prised to hear that that very Corporation was at this moment in possession of 2,024 acres of land in the neighbourhood of the town which would let at an average at full 1l. per acre. Now for how much would the House believe that these 2,024 acres worth 1l. per acre were let? They were let [...]o a lease for 219l. a-year. How could this be? How could any body of men venture thus to waste the property intrusted to them? But the right by which they ventured to do it appeared plainly from the answer which the corporators made to an information filed against them in 1832, for misappropriating the Corporate property; for in that answer they state that "they are entitled to hold the said land, &c., to and for their own use and benefit freed and discharged from any use and trust whatever, in absolute dominion and ownership." It was not necessary for him to show that, upon every obligation of justice and right, these funds ought to have been applied towards the good of the Corporation. So flagrant was this case that, if he had known no other, he should, upon it alone, have considered himself entitled to ask for a Reform in the Municipal Corporations. It appeared from the Report, that, at the time of the inquiry, the governing body of Cashel, "consisting of the Mayor and Aldermen, are said to be the ruling body of the Corporation; but, in point of fact, it would appear that for many years the absolute power, both over the property and privileges of the Corporation, has been exercised by the head or patron through the Board of Aldermen. Since the year 1777, the patron of the Corporation seems exclusively to have enjoyed the power of procuring the election of the Aldermen and of the several officers of the Corporation, who were said to be elected by the Board of Aldermen; of procuring the admission of freemen; and of disposing of the Corporation property as he pleased; preserving, however, the form of Corporate transactions, by having the orders for granting the loans, &c., entered in the Corporation books as if made by the Board of Aldermen. The late patron seems also to have had the power of procuring the return of the Members of Parliament for the city of Cashel. These powers he is alleged to have exercised for a period of fifty years." The late patron of the borough was a gentleman of great consequence and wealth, and the list of Aldermen, and of the relationship or connexion in which they all stood to him showed the industry and care with which he sought to confirm and perpetuate his power and influence. He would not mention the names of the parties, but they stood in the following relationship to the patron:—The Mayor was son-in-law to the late patron—first Alderman, brother of ditto—second Alderman, son of ditto—third Alderman, son of ditto—fourth Alderman, son-in-law of ditto—fifth Alderman, son-in-law of ditto—sixth Alderman, grandson of ditto—seventh Alderman, nephew of ditto—eighth Alderman, nephew of ditto—ninth Alderman, nephew of ditto—tenth Alderman, cousin of ditto—eleventh Alderman and Recorder, cousin of ditto—twelfth Alderman, cousin of ditto—thirteenth Alderman, cousin of ditto—fourteenth Alderman, married to a niece of ditto—fifteenth Alderman, first cousin of first wife of ditto. Now were all these Aldermen not under the sole rule and direction of one man? The Commissioners added—"The patron's influence in all things but returning the Member to Parliament, since the Reform Act is supposed still to exist; and it would seem that it has been generally exercised for the advantage of the patron and his friends, and that little regard has for many years been paid to the interests of the city or the public." He had now stated to the House the condition of the town of Cashel; but with regard to its property, he might say that it was leased out in ten leases, all of which were in the hands of the family of the patron. There were facts connected with one of the leases which he should like to state. It would occupy their time for some moments, but he hoped he should be excused, as it would show how they managed those things in Ireland. During the discussion upon the Reform Bill, a great deal had been said by lion. Members on the opposite side of the House in regard to the injury which would be done to the poorer towns of England by being deprived of freemen. He hoped that the same feeling which dictated such sentiments—sentiments which he applauded, would lead the same hon. Members now to extend that sympathy to the poorer and humbler freemen of Ireland which they had so strongly felt for the freemen of England. If they did not, the people of England would soon see from what all their sympathies and all their professions proceeded. Although this was not an English question, the freemen of England who were so much cherished, would see that they were the only objects for whom the struggle was made, if their poor brethren of Ireland were to be abandoned by those who so powerfully sustained them. The facts of the case to which he had alluded were these. In 1732 a devise of 1,648 acres of land had been made to a Mr. Bolton on a lease of ninety-nine years, at a rent of 86l. 7s. 6d. This lease naturally dropped in 1831. But the occupier, Mr. Bolton, applied for the renewal of the lease in 1825 or 1826. The facts he was about to mention were stated in evidence by the agent of the patron on whom notice had been served, and the patron, together with his son, the Alderman, and his son-in-law, the Recorder, were present, and, if speaking what was untrue, could have contradicted him; but the facts were never controverted. The agent of the patron stated that Mr. Bolton offered 10,000l, for a renewal of the lease. In the discussion of the English Corporation Bill, a great deal had been said of the manner in which the Corporate property should be managed; but they managed things better in Ireland, for there was never any property left to manage, and all that discussion might be spared. He would say, that whatever the rank of the person, whether he was lord or commoner, or whatever his principles, whether Whig or Tory, they all took care that no trouble should be given as to the management of property. But to return—as he had said, a sum of 10,000l. was offered by Mr. Bolton for a renewal of his lease. The patron said it was too little; Mr. Bolton then said he would give 13,000l., and it was agreed that the question should be referred to a notary; but in the meantime the patron declined renewing the lease at all, and in 1829 he purchased Mr. Bolton's interest, in the remainder of the lease (two years), and gave 2,500l. for it. The patron's son was at that time Mayor of the town. The patron applied for a renewal of the lease, and his son, the Mayor, at once rid him of all the cumbrous details of value and premium, which had so much embarrassed the former negociation, and the Court without hesitation put the Corporation-seal to a lease granted to the patron without any premium. Now, in the year 1732, this land was worth one hundred and odd pounds a-year; but in the year 1830 land in Ireland had so fallen in value, the state of the country was so distracted, that this excellent Corporation, who said that they had the full and absolute dominion of the property of this borough, to and for their own use and benefit, free, and discharged from any use and trust whatsoever, disposed of these 1,500 acres for 86l. a-year. The sequel of the transaction was this:—When the inquiry by the Commissioners was going on, it was found that the property was then vested in the Mayor—his father, the patron, having in the meantime died. And this was one of the persons who said that it was very outrageous in the people of Ireland to call for a Reform in their Corporations. He would ask the House if that was a state of things which ought to continue? Hon. Gentlemen opposite said, "you may reform the English Corporations, but you must not touch the Irish Corporations, for you will endanger the Protestant Establishment. It was absurd to say that agitation had anything to do with the call for Reform. Agitation, however, would continue upon that subject as long as the present system was allowed to continue. He would dwell no longer upon the case of Cashel, but he would beg to bring under the notice of the House a case which occurred at Naas during the year 1832, as given by the Commissioners, but at the same time he would suppress names, as in the former case. The Case, as appeared in the Report of the Commissioners, was as follows:—"On the morning of the 29th of September, 1832, Lord—'s law-agent, at his Lordship's house, by the direction of the Dean of—, entered in the Corporation-book the following resolutions:—"Borough of Naas and county of Kildare, to wit. At an assembly held on the 29th of September, 1832, before R.—, Esq., sovereign; and the hon. and rev. G.—, and J.—, Esq., Portreeves, among other resolutions, it was resolved, that a fee-farm grant for one of the several lands and premises comprised in letters patent of King James 1st, bearing date the 2nd May, 1609, 'excepting, however, and reserving the right to certain lands and premises mentioned and comprised in a certain fee-farm grant from this Corporation to the right hon. John Lord Viscount—, the ancestor of the Earl of—,' be executed and perfected by this Corporation unto the said Earl of—, his heirs and assigns, subject to the yearly rent of 12l. sterling,"—"Resolved, That a fee- farm grant for one of the markets, and several fairs of Naas, including the Tipper fair, with the tolls, customs, &c, be executed and perfected by this Corporation until—, to the right hon. John Earl of—, at the yearly rent of 9l. 15s. 5d. sterling." These resolutions were passed without opposition. To this the Commissioners added, no fine was to have been paid for this fee-farm grant, which, according to the rental produced by the Corporation, and the evidence of the hon. Robert—, was to convey for ever to Lord—, a property producing 320l. a-year, exclusive of Mr.—'s rent, and of the rent of the barracks, and, according to the statement of the inhabitants, upwards of 500l. a-year for a rent of 12l. per annum." The next case he should mention was that of the borough of Portarlington, which was under the management of a noble peer—a general, living in a northern county—a late right hon. Secretary at War—and a right hon. Member of the House, who had otherwise as much to do with Portarlington as he had. He did not refer to the matter invidiously, but to show how the system of nominees proceeded. In the case of Kilmallock, besides property granted by the charter of Elizabeth, the Corporation at one time possessed land and premises near the town to the extent of about 200 acres, and now producing more than 600l. a-year. Of the entire of this property, while in the possession of tenants under determinable leases, they, in the year 1776, granted to the patron a lease for three lives, with perpetual renewal reserving a rent of 82l. 8s., late Irish currency, yearly, and a renewal fine of 5l. on the fall of each life. The alleged consideration for this lease was a sum of 150l., the amount of certain debts due by the Corporation to divers persons, which debts the patron had agreed to pay. The Report stated, in reference to this transaction, that "During all this period, from the execution of the lease of 1776, the rent of 82l. 8s. reserved by it had been paid by the patron to the Corporation, but as it was considered that after the Union that body would be useless, and might, therefore, be permitted to become extinct, it became necessary to consider how the rent should be disposed of. Accordingly a case was laid before Counsel for directions as to what was to be done on this occasion. He advised, that, if the Corpo- ration were permitted to become extinct, all the property belonging to it would lapse to the Crown, to prevent which it would be prudent, lest fortuitously by neglecting to fill up vacancies such an event should occur, that the Corporation should make a conveyance of their property to the patron, by whom, whilst the Corporation was kept up, it might be applied as theretofore in the payment of the salaries of the Corporate officers, or otherwise in trust for the Corporation. Under this opinion it was determined to act, and on the 6th October, 1800, a meeting of the Corporation was held, at which it was ordered that a fee-farm grant should be made by the Corporation, to the patron of the lauds of Kilmallockhill, Quary-hill, and the several other lands, the estate of the Corporation, which were theretofore demised by them to the patron, subject to the said lease and the covenant therein contained, at the rent of a peppercorn, if demanded, and that the Town-clerk should prepare a deed accordingly, to which deed, and a counterpart thereof, it was further ordered that the Corporation-seal should be affixed. The above order was entered on the Corporation-book, and, according to the usual practice, was signed by the Sovereign and ten Burgesses, all of them near relatives or friends of the patron, amongst whom was the then Chancellor of Ireland, who, it appears by another entry in the Corporation-books, was that same day nominated of the council by the Sovereign, and sworn into office. Pursuant to this order, a deed of conveyance was prepared by the patron's solicitor, also one of the Burgesses, whereby the Corporation granted all their interest in the lands to the patron for ever, subject to the peppercorn rent, if demanded; but no stipulation was introduced for the payment of the Corporate officers, nor any other trust declared as to the property." He again asked, was it possible that such a state of things should be allowed to continue? Could they permit a governing body, self-elected and self-nominated, to mismanage the affairs of Corporations—to neglect their duty—to abandon all care of the town—to pay no attention to the police, or the due appointment and proper conduct of the magistracy—in short, to forsake every duty of a Corporation, and to misapply the property of the borough? Would those who professed themselves to be the friends of the poor, and who had lately advocated their cause with such strong and tender sympathy, any longer tolerate such a state of things? Was he to be told that this was a Jacobin attempt to overset the due and proper order that ought to prevail? He proposed not a wild and rash innovation—not a transfer of power from one party to another, but to take from a knot of usurpers property of which they had unjustly possessed themselves, and to restore it to those for whose benefit it had been granted by the royal founders. He proposed, he repeated, no rash innovation, but a renovation and a restoration, on sound, recognized, ancient, but not antiquated principles, admitted in the charters of these Corporations, and lately recognized by an Act of that House. He must trouble the House with a short reference to the original nature of those grants, in order to satisfy them, that in restoring the elective right to the inhabitants at large, he was merely carrying into effect the charters under which the Corporations had been founded, and restoring the original principles on which they proceeded. From the terms of the charters it appeared that the inhabitants generally of Corporate towns were the objects of royal care and protection, the charters containing no exclusive clauses in favour of any particular class. This was especially the case in the charters of James 1st—he supposed the term "Jacobin" might be applied to this statement—charters which strongly illustrated the fact that grants of Corporate rights were made expressly to the inhabitants of those districts and that the commonalty were included in the privileges of the Corporation. The charter of James 1st to Kilkenny, gave "to the sovereign, commonalty, and common burgesses, or inhabitants of the borough, to be a free borough corporate, and to be known by the name of 'the town or free borough of Kilkenny.'" It could not be denied, therefore, that the inhabitants of those boroughs were the original grantees of the charters, and the original constituencies of the governing bodies. Such being the case, he was acting on the ancient principle, when he proposed to extend the franchise, to take it from self-constituted knots of men and to give it to the inhabitants at large. The proposition of the Bill, in this respect, was to constitute, in all cases, the inhabi- tant householders, of a certain value, the elective bodies. He wished the House to recollect that in Ireland there was no general system of rating, as in England, consequently the payment of rates could not be considered the proper basis upon which to rest the qualification; and it was on this account that he proposed to give the franchise, not to the rate-payers, but to the householders. The only test or qualification required for the constituency was, that they should be householders. In large towns, where the population exceeded or amounted to 20,000, he should propose that the constituency should consist of the inhabitant householders, as long as they should remain residents, or occupiers of "any house, warehouse, counting-house, or shop." That was, they must be constant residents within seven miles of the town or borough in which the premises were situate on which they demand the right to vote. Every such house, warehouse, counting-house, or shop, must also be of the full value of 10l. a-year, and must have been occupied six months by the person demanding the insertion of his name on the burgess-roll. Such was the constituency that he should propose for the large towns, and he did not think that it could be said that the qualification was too low. He doubted whether any man, looking to the state of the house-holders of the large towns in Ireland, could fairly say that it was too high. The Corporate body so constituted, could not be controlled by any individual or set of individuals; they would form an intelligent constituency, knowing their rights, and determined to act up to and assert them. In the smaller towns, he intended to propose that the constituency should be composed of persons occupying even a smaller description of houses, and residing within the same distance of seven miles from the town or borough. That was, that in those smaller towns any person who had occupied any house, warehouse, counting-house, or shop, of the annual value of 5l. or upwards, should be entitled to have his name placed on the burgess-roll, and to vote at the election of the members of the council, &c. Some persons might say that this qualification for the voters was too low. He was not surprised that there should be a considerable difference of opinion on this subject. He did not arrogate to himself a claim of being in the right, or that Gentlemen who held a contrary opinion might not. justly have arrived at a correct conclusion; but he had stated his opinion fairly, that he thought that the class of persons he proposed would form a good constituency, and he was prepared to maintain it—not merely by theoretical arguments, or speculative opinions, or by allusions to the state and condition of the towns or boroughs, but by reference to experience and facts. He would take the city of Cashel, which he had the honour to represent, and he was sure that no person acquainted with that place or any other similarly circumstanced, would say that there would be so good, so extensive, or so efficient a constituent body, if they took only the occupiers of houses of more than 10l. value, as if they adopted the constituency which he proposed. This body had been tried and been found to answer well. A Bill had been brought into the House in 1829, he did not know by whom (the 9th of George 4th) by which provision was made to remedy abuses and supply defects in the administration of certain things in Corporate towns. It enabled the inhabitants to rate themselves for the purpose of lighting, cleaning, and watching, towns in Ireland, where provision was not previously made for these objects. The constituency which was appointed to elect the Commissioners under this Bill was formed of the occupiers of houses of 5l. or upwards yearly value. This Bill provided that, whenever a certain number of the inhabitants of any borough or market town in Ireland, wished to have it brought into operation in such place, that twenty-one occupiers of 5l. houses should memorialise the Lord-lieutenant on the subject. That his Excellency might then call upon the inhabitants to meet to consider the subject, and that all occupiers of houses of 5l. yearly value or upwards should be entitled to select a certain number of Commissioners to carry the Bill into effect. All such trustees or commissioners must be occupiers of houses of 21l. a-year value or rental; but the constituent body was composed of the occupiers of 5l. houses or upwards. This Bill had been brought into operation in Newry, Downpatrick, Armagh, and several other towns, which it was unnecessary for him to mention. He knew that it had been carried into operation in several towns most beneficially, and that the Commissioners had been elected by the occupiers of 5l. houses. These Commissioners were elected biennially, they held their office for three years, and went out together, and might be re-elected, but in the measure he now proposed, one-third part of the Council would go out of office annually. The Bill he had referred to worked well wherever it had been carried into effect. He had never beard an objection to it, or that it had led to any thing like sectarian feeling as to who were elected Commissioners. He contended, therefore, that the principle he proposed to proceed in had been fairly tried, and had justly and truly answered. In towns in the north and south of Ireland this 5l. constituency had been tried. The population of those places was composed of persons of various persuasions; in some, one class preponderated, and in others a different denomination was superior, and in many towns the two classes were nearly equal, but he had never heard any complaint. He had never heard that the richer class was opposed by the poorer voters but that wherever it had been fairly and duly applied it had worked extremely well. This then, was the principle on which he proceeded, and in this respect the measure he offered to the House differed from the English Bill. There were some other differences also between the Bills, which it would be his duty to mention to the House, but this was the principal and most important difference between the measures for the two countries. At the same time he wished to observe, that he had followed as nearly as possible, consistently with the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, the provisions of the English Bill. It was well known that there were no overseers of parishes in Ireland, and, therefore, he proposed that the churchwardens of parishes should make out the list of voters the first year; after which time he proposed that this should be done by the town-clerk, or by the aldermen of wards, where there were wards in a town; and that the lists of voters should be revised by the Mayor. He did not ask for any revising barristers, for he thought that the mayor might be sufficiently chocked and controlled by the provisions of the Bill. In England they had not a description of courts of justice which existed in Ireland, he meant the Courts of Assistant Barristers. He proposed, that when the mayor of any town or borough should wil- fully and corruptly exclude any person from the burgess-roll who was entitled to have his name on it, or should place the name of any person in the list of voters who might not be qualified, that he should be subject to a penalty not exceeding 10l. to be recovered before the Assistant Barristers, and this without any costs to the person prosecuting. No man could complain that a public officer was subject to punishment—not for an error of judgment or a mistake—but for the wilful and corrupt exercise of power intrusted to him for the general good. The sum to be recovered was certainly not too high, nor did he believe that it was too low. Of course he meant that 10l. should be recovered in each individual case. It was the impression of his mind that a person in office anxious to exercise his power corruptly, would be the more deterred in doing so by the instant recovery of penalties before the Assistant Barristers, than by the fear of the shame of exposure before the superior courts or the Revising Barrister. There would be no difficulty in getting sufficient evidence to convict. If they could prove corruption in the exercise of power in superior cases, surely they could in the Courts of the Assistant Barristers. [An hon. Member: "How can you prove a corrupt motive?"] How could he prove a corrupt motive? Precisely as in the case of other offences. How could it be proved in a variety of cases, if not here? If he showed the case of a man applying for enrolment, being at the same time properly qualified, and if the mayor could give no satisfactory account why he refused to enrol the applicant, it would not be difficult to infer an improper and a corrupt motive. There was no difficulty in the case, all he craved was liberty to try the experiment, and he begged that a shield might not be thrown between offending parties and punishment, from an affectation that this was not a proper proceeding, or a sufficient mode of punishment. He would not now trouble the House by going through those details of the Bill which were nearly similar to the provisions of the English Bill. It was right, however, to state that it was proposed that the Mayors and the Town Council should be elected in the same way as they would be in England; there would be some difference with respect to the period of election. It was thought proper that in Ireland the Mayor should not be elected immediately after the appointment of the Town Council, but at a different period of the year, and after such a lapse of time, subsequent to the election of the Town Council, as the House might think proper to determine. He conceived that this arrangement would get rid of a difficulty which might attach to the nomination of the Mayor immediately after the election of the Councillors. Supposing that in any borough there were two men, exceedingly fit to be Town Councillors, and that it was desired to appoint one or other of them the Mayor; in this case the friend of one party might endeavour to exclude the other from the town Council, in order to prevent him from becoming a candidate for the office of Mayor. It was for this reason that the election of the Mayors and Town Councillors was fixed at different periods. It was also proposed that towns containing more than 12,000 inhabitants should be divided into two wards; if above 18,000 inhabitants four wards; and that all towns containing more than 24,000 inhabitants should be divided into as many wards as the Lord-lieutenant shall think fit, provided that the number of Councillors in each ward shall be six or upwards. With respect to the Sheriffs of Counties, of Cities, and Towns, he proposed that the Councils of those places should elect them. There was, however, one objection to this, namely, the Sheriff of Londonderry. There was a peculiarity in that case, for Londonderry was not a city or county in itself, but was united to the county, and called the City and County of Londonderry; and there was one Sheriff for both City and County. Now it was provided, that henceforth the Sheriffs of Londonderry should be nominated by the Crown like the other Sheriffs, and that the Corporation should have nothing to do with their appointment. It was also proposed that the Town Councils should be not merely invested with the powers of such boards as should transfer their powers to them, but should also be empowered to visit and examine the account of every Board levying and administering Taxes within Boroughs. His right hon. Friend opposite knew that there existed a great many Boards administering immense sums of money, which were levied within towns and boroughs in Ireland, whose accounts were not to be got at except on this side of the water. The control which the inhabitants at large had over them was next to nothing. In Dublin there existed one Board, which, however, would not be included in the provisions of the present Bill, administering a revenue of 34,000l. Another important difference between the present Bill and the English one was, that it would comprehend within its operation the capital city of the country. Its provisions embraced Dublin, and also several other towns which stood in a peculiar situation. The town of Newry, for instance, which returned a Member to Parliament, and had done so from time immemorial, was a rich, populous, and flourishing city, and yet in that place there was no Chief Magistrate and no fixed returning Officer. The person who discharged the functions of returning Officer was the seneschal of the manor, appointed by an Englishman. With respect to several other places—for instance Mallow, Dungarvan, Downpatrick, and Lisburn, it was important that those towns should, on account of their wealth and population, have the advantage of municipal institutions. It was also intended that in all other boroughs the names of a certain number of persons should be selected by the Council and sent to the Lord-lieutenant, and from this list the Justices of the Peace for the town or borough should be selected. At the same time, however, the Crown should have the power of naming as many other Magistrates as it might deem right or fitting for any town or borough. He proposed that his Majesty should have this right of nominating Magistrates in their places when necessary, because, in Ireland party feeling was often very strong, and might prevail in the choice of Magistrates. Thus, the Justices of the Peace might be named by one party, and their conduct might be influenced towards those who had taken a part against them! This might be the case as well with one party as the other—whichever might be strongest in the place. He also proposed, that there should be a power in the Bill, by which it was enacted that nothing in the Bill should affect the rights of existing freemen. There was another proviso respecting the property belonging to a borough which would affect many places, and among others Cashel. He, perhaps, should best make himself understood by reading the Clause:—"Whereas, many of the said Municipal Corporations in Ireland have been and now are seized and possessed of divers lands, tenements, and hereditaments, and the same have been granted to them, and ought to be vested in them for the public good, and benefit of the said boroughs respectively; and it is expedient to make further provision than now by law exists for preventing the abuse, usurpation, waste, and misapplication of such property, and to secure the preservation and due and faithful application of all such property, and of ail other property which may hereafter be so given, or granted to, or acquired by, Municipal Corporations, for municipal purposes; be it enacted, that in any case of abuse, usurpation, waste, or misapplication of any such property, or of any breach of trust in respect thereof, or wherever the direction, decree, or order of a Court of Equity shall be deemed necessary for the due administration and application of any such property, it shall be lawful for his Majesty's Attorney-General for Ireland, or for any two or more burgesses of the borough, to present a petition to the Court of Chancery or to the Court of Exchequer in Ireland, stating such complaint, and praying such relief as the nature of the case may require; and it shall be lawful for the Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper, or Lords Commissioners of the Great Seal, or the Master of the Rolls for the time being, and for the Court of Exchequer, and they are hereby required to hear such petition in a summary way, and upon such other evidence as shall be produced upon such hearing to determine the same, and to give such relief and make such order therein, with respect to the costs of such application, and to enforce the same by injunction or otherwise, as to him or them shall seem just, and such order shall be final and conclusive, unless the party or parties who shall think himself or themselves aggrieved thereby, shall, within two years from the time when such order shall have been passed and entered by the proper officer, have preferred an appeal from such decision to the House of Lords, to whom (it is hereby declared and enacted) an appeal shall lie from such order." This provision, he was satisfied would be found to be extremely useful in Ireland, considering the state of things that prevailed there. In many places the means of the people were so small that it would be impossible for them to enter into a contest with a municipal corporation. There was also a precedent for what he proposed in an Act that passed in 1813, and which had been found to work ex- tremely well, the great object was to shorten as much as possible litigation, and to lessen the expense of it; on this ground he proposed that the burgesses of a borough should be allowed to proceed by petition instead of filing a Bill. This was in point of fact doing nothing more than restoring the old system which existed in the Court of Chancery. There was also provision made for the regulation of the local Courts for the recovery of debts—arrangements were made and pointed out a various clauses by which debts might be recovered. Debts not exceeding 20l. night be recovered in the Court of Record of the town or borough by the old course of common law, and such actions shall not be removeable by certiorari or other process save writ of error after judgment. This process was very simple, and the proceedings before the tribunal would be readily conducted, and the operation of these courts be rendered most beneficial. Again it was proposed to regulate the Courts of Conscience for the recovery of small debts, or Courts of Requests, as they were called in this country. They now existed in several parts of Ireland, and were found to be very useful, and where they did not now exist, it was intended to establish them. There were four clauses regulating the mode of proceeding in those Courts, but it was unnecessary for him then to explain the details. There were several matters not alluded to in this Bill which were to be found in that relating to the English Corporations; but this arose in consequence of the state of circumstances in England differing from those in Ireland. Such was the general outline of the provisions of the measure which he hoped to be able to lay on the Table. He believed these provisions, if fairly carried into effect, would enable them to establish a fair and adequate municipal government in those towns and boroughs where it was most wanted. The Bill provided for the local government of those places. Due provision was made for the establishment of a new police force, and, at the same time, for the resident magistracy. With the exception of Londonderry, there were few towns where there were resident Magistrates connected with the Corporation. Generally speaking, the magistrates and Aldermen of a Corporate town in Ireland did not now reside within the boundary of the borough. But by this Bill, the constant residence of a good magistracy would be provided for. Such were the detils and objects of the Bill which he had to propose, which if fairly carried into effect, he had no doubt would prove eminently successful. He concluded with moving for leave to bring in a Bill to regulate Municipal Corporations in Ireland.

Mr. Shaw

would offer no opposition to the mere introduction of the Measure, nor would he then discuss its merits; but he must protest against the notion of the Bill being passed in the present Session. He was persuaded that the Government themselves were not serious in pressing it, and would only remind the noble Lord (John Russell), the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that when he assumed the leadership of the House on the part of the present Administration, the noble Lord had announced that the Government meant to propose only two great measures—the Reform of the Municipal Corporations in England and Wales, and the Bill for the regulation of the Irish Church—the noble Lord at the same time stating, as his reason for postponing many important measures, such as the Dissenters' marriages, and the Ecclesiastical Courts' Bill, that it would be impossible to give fair discussion, and do justice to more than the two principal measures to which he had alluded at the then advanced period of the Session. And yet, were they now to be told that a Bill, contemplating such great changes, involving the deep interests and the many important consequences of the measure just proposed by his right hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney-General for Ireland, (Mr. Perrin) could be dispassionately and patiently considered, it being then within a few hours of the 1st of August, and the most natural part of the evidence on which the measure was to be founded not being yet printed. [Mr. Perrin it will be printed next week.] That was towards the middle of the month of August, Members were to get into their hands, for the first time, a copy of the Bill, and two or three immense volumes of evidence, in order to prepare themselves for the discussion during the present Session (and look even at that moment at the deserted state of the benches on a measure one of the most important and momentous, as regarded the future peace and well-being of Ireland, that had ever been brought before that House. He did not deny that there were some abuses and defects in the present system of Corporations, which he should wish to remove, and that in these, as in all other human institutions, the lapse of time, and altered circumstances' called for safe and salutary changes. To such, he for one would not object—and when the proper time and opportunity arrived, he should be found willing to enter upon a fair and unprejudiced consideration of the entire subject. Meantime, however, he would guard himself from the least admission that there was any parallel between the cases of England and Ireland. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Perrin) asked, would you continue abuses, for fear of giving increased power to the agitator? He was not for the continuance of abuses—wherever they were proved, let them be remedied: but he did say, that every care should be taken not to increase the power of agitation. His right hon. Friend had carefully avoided all allusion to that which on the present subject, should never be forgotten—that the origin and principal use of the Irish Corporations was to secure British connexion, and to encourage the Protestant religion in that country; and while he would never set his face against real improvement, come from what quarter it might, he certainly would not be a consenting party to place the Municipal authorities and local jurisdiction throughout Ireland in the hands of those whose avowed object was to subvert the Established Church in that country, and whose scarcely concealed motive was to separate its interests from Great Britain. He (Mr. Shaw) would merely glance at the details of the measure opened by his right hon. Friend, and in doing so he could not avoid expressing his regret that his right hon. Friend should have fixed upon the borough of Cashel to set forth as a sample of all the other Irish Corporations; biassed as the mind of his right hon. Friend must naturally be with reference to a city where, during all the excitement and feeling of contested elections, he had been opposed by what he calls the Corporate interest—and might, therefore, view through rather an exaggerated medium, not only the defects of that Corporation, but of all others of which he judges by comparison with it. His right hon. Friend did not appear to form any very high expectation of the class of persons from which his new mayors were to be selected, if he considered that a penalty of 10l., as a maximum, to be sued for in a Local Court, in case of wilful and corrupt misconduct, would be a necessary and sufficient control over them. He would have no great objection if it were proposed in all cases, as in some mentioned by his right hon. Friend, to vest the appointment of Sheriffs in the Crown. With respect to licensing publicans, he was satisfied that the Sessions Courts would rejoice to get rid of so disagreeable and unsatisfactory a duty; but he doubted much if the interests of morality and the public pence would be served by the transfer of such a power to the new Common Councilmen, and he feared that in its exercise it was very likely to be influenced by party and private consideration. He had, however, said that he would not then discuss either the principles or details of the measure, but sincerely declaring that on the proper occasion he would not object to such changes as could operate real improvement. He must again appeal to the candour of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), whether it was just or reasonable to attempt to force on the discussion of a measure of that vast importance at the present period of the Session. He was satisfied that the noble Lord had not the least intention to do so when he announced the other two Government measures alone, as likely to occupy the whole time and attention of the House. He was quite sure that if the noble Lord did persist, it was not of his own free judgment, but under the constraint of a power which the noble Lord could not venture to control.

Lord John Russell,

as he had been so pointedly appealed to by the right hon. Gentleman, felt bound to make a few observations. If this Bill rested altogether on a new principle, there would be some ground for listening to the recommendation that it should be postponed, but this was not the case. They had discussed the principles, and it had been resolved that there should be Reform in these Municipal Corporations, and in conformity with this his hon. and learned Friend had come down with the proposition he had then made to carry the principle into effect. All the great principles involved in the measure then proposed to be introduced, had been amply discussed and decided on in as full Houses as were ever assembled for the consideration of any measure—he alluded to the proceedings that had taken place in the English Bill. He would ask, then, were the circumstances of England and Ireland so different that the principle applicable in the one case had no force in the other? If this were contended, he, for one, could not agree to such a proposition. He trusted, however, that the state of the House would be such on the discussions on this Bill, although it was such a late period of the Session, as to enable them to go on with it to a satisfactory conclusion. To any proposition which went to the extent that the great principle of the English measure should not be applied in a measure for the Reform of the Irish Municipal Corporations, he would give his unequivocal and decided negative. He thought that the House could not, consistently with justice, say that what was good for England, and applicable here, was not so as regarded Ireland, but that self-elected Corporations and irresponsible power in Ireland was good and should be continued. He trusted that his hon. and learned Friend would not only introduce the Bill, but that there would be ample time during the present Session fully to discuss it, and that it would become the law. He trusted that the English Corporation Bill would survive the very heavy fire which it had been exposed to for a few nights elsewhere, and it would ere long receive the sanction of the Legislature unimpaired. Whether this Bill were or were not to sustain a similar fire from some Irish lawyers he knew not. This, however, he would say, that as he had no doubt the English Bill would survive the attacks he had alluded to, so likewise the Irish Bill, would be triumphant over any assaults of the same nature.

Mr. O'Connell,

Sir, I am exceedingly glad that, the right hon. Gentleman, the learned Recorder of Dublin, has no objection either to the principle or to the material details of this Bill. For if he had any objection he would, I am sure, have felt it his duty to urge them upon the House. It seems to me, Sir, as if he were influenced by his judicial recollections, remembering that when a criminal is convicted his only resource is to cry out for a long day—"Oh," says the right hon. Gentleman, "is it in the month of August you think of bringing in a Bill for the Reform of Municipal Corporations? Do let them live a little longer; let them flourish for another season of cold weather."— Oh, no, Sir, this prayer for a long day must not be granted. The days of the corrupt Corporations are numbered. It is time that the Municipal Institutions should be identified with the interests of the people of Ireland, and that an end should be put to the anomaly by which the affairs of 920,000 people are administered by 13,000. But it appears that everything in Ireland must in one shape or other, assume the colour of Protestantism, and every abuse must be maintained for the protection of what is termed "Protestantism." No relief is to he granted if it interferes with the monopoly that has so long existed under that title. What a way this is to recommend Protestantism to the people of Ireland! And so the Corporations were instituted for "the protection of Protestantism!" So says the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Why, Sir, except the smaller boroughs instituted by James 1st, these Corporations are "relics of Popery." Some of them, in the large towns, existed before the Reformation, and some of them before the time of Henry 2nd. The Corporation of Limerick, for instance, existed before any British power in Ireland. The Corporations of Cork and Waterford so existed, and in the latter the free Danes held it before the reign of Henry 2nd. So far for the right hon. Gentleman's historical knowledge of the foundations of Corporations. Oh, but he tells us they were instituted for the "protection of British connexion." And what, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman, was the British connexion to be protected before the time of Henry 2nd. Oh, but I like the way in which the right hon. Gentleman would preserve this connexion. He would shut out 900,000 persons from the management of their own municipal affairs, and confer it upon 13,000. And this is the way he proposed to protect British connexion! Why, if they were Janisaries—as they are not—they could not effect this. The only means of effecting it is by allowing the Irish people to share the advantages of the British Institutions, and this it is proposed to do under the present Bill. But the right hon. Gentleman's plan of preserving British connexion embraces what he does not dare openly to declare, and that is, that their loyalty shall exist so long as the faction is supported; that their love of British connexion is a solid and substantial love of their own power and domination in a country over which they have so long ruled with a most desolating despotism. This is "the protection of British connexion," which you feel cannot be preserved under this Bill, which my hon. and learned Friend has introduced to night, in as clear, as distinct, as lucid and as powerful a statement as ever was made within the walls of this House—a statement which, though upon a subject of great excitement, did not contain one particle that was calculated to give rise to the slightest feeling of exasperation;—a statement upon a subject which involved great and complicated interests, and in which a determination is manifested to give protection and justice to all. But the Recorder imagines that we shall not he able to obtain respectable Mayors under the new system. Now, Sir, I should be glad to know how this was managed under the old? We had always wealthy and respectable Mayors. In the city of Dublin, for instance, the entire Board of Aldermen, from whom the Lord Mayor is elected, is composed of wealthy and respectable men. No doubt there are some highly respectable men amongst them, some highly respectable Baronets—but are there not some hotel-keepers. Some exceedingly wealthy Aldermen no doubt. Some who never—oh never—went through the Bankrupt Court. And yet it is objected to the new system that we cannot have respectable Mayors under it. The proposed penalty of 10l. to which my hon. and learned Friend adverted, is too small, thinks the Recorder. Why, Sir, does he not know that a small penalty easily recoverable is much more efficacious in effecting its object than a large one, which can only be levied after much toil and difficulty? Does he not know that a Jury is almost always unwilling to mulct in a large sum; that even in opposition to the dictates of their own conscience they will strain their oaths from an unwillingness to inflict a penalty disproportioned to the offence? I regard its simplicity as one of the great recommendations of this part of the Bill, and as the best security for its efficiency. But it is said "You will not be able to prove the offence." I say, Sir, in reply, that if you cannot prove, the only reason is, that there is no cause of complaint. Let me suppose the case of a Catholic Mayor in Ireland refusing to admit a Protestant, and admitting a Catholic upon the same qualification. Would not the very fact of his refusing the one and admitting the other be a proof of his guilt? The inference of corruption is clear and irresistible. And so it will he vice versa, if a case of similar corruption be made out on the other side. Now, if the Clause be not sufficient to satisfy the Recorder, I would suggest to him that when the Bill comes into Committee he should amend it by giving a special action on the case. This alteration would easily remove the right hon. Gentleman's objection, and it is an Amendment which I am sure will not be objected to by my hon. and learned Friend. For the first time it is proposed to identify the people of Ireland with the British Constitution. They have never yet been iden- tified with it. I have heard the details of that Bill—simple and efficacious as they are—with infinite pleasure and delight, and I have no hesitation in saying, that it will give unequivocal satisfaction to every rational man in Ireland. The object of Corporations is, to identify the people with municipal franchises and powers. Has that been done in Ireland? I do not like, Sir, to write the epitaph of these almost departed institutions; but for the purpose of showing the effect of having the Corporations open, the House will allow me to refer to the case of Tuam, in the Corporation of which there is but one Protestant. [The hon. and learned Member read an extract from the report, from which it appeared, that there was in the Corporation of Tuam hut one Protestant, and yet, the Report went on to say, there prevailed in Tuam the utmost religious harmony—there was no animosity or angry feelings.] The hon. and learned Member then continued—"So much for Tuam—the only Corporation in Ireland identified with the people. There you had no religious feuds or animosity, and I do hope, Sir, that this blessed effect will be, before long, experienced in every other Corporation in Ireland. I confess, Sir, I do not like to turn to the representation of the present state of Corporations. But it appears that there are privileges generally attached to these Corporate rights. Well, what is the fact? Why, Sir, the Commissioners have actually reported that even in Corporations where these privileges do not exist, Roman Catholics are excluded. Take Charleville, for instance. There ninety-nine out of the 100 are Catholics—the privilege is of very little value, and yet there is not a single instance of a Catholic having been as yet admitted. I observe, Sir, that the Recorder appears to chuckle over the fact that the Report of the Dublin Corporation had not been as yet laid upon the Table. Why, Sir, the fact of it is, there are so many abuses to be examined into in Dublin, that it was found impossible in so short a time to get all the information required together. But has no evidence been taken? Has no evidence been given before the Commission over which you, Sir, presided. Has the right hon. Gentleman never heard of the 14th report of the Committee of Judicial Inquiry? He is the Recorder of Dublin—the legal adviser of the Corporation, and he has no doubt read that report. I ask him then to lay his finger on one single statement of an abuse, and deny that it is inconsistent with facts. Will he say that a single unwarrantable representation is made? No, Sir, he will not, because he knows, that facts would not bear him out. We had, therefore, this report founded upon the evidence given before the Commission. Why, then, I ask should we not legislate for Ireland? Why, shall you not do this good to my country? Oh! but I suppose elsewhere an attempt will be made to raise a religious cry, an effort will be made to save these abuses by throwing over them the shield of the most sacred of all institutions. Oh, Sir, it is time that this should cease. This is not a question of Church or of Religion, and if you mingle up religion with it, yon mingle it with the frauds and the oppressions and the sad instances of bigotry that had blotted these institutions from 1792 to the present period. Yes—from 1792 to the present day—for forty-three long years—Roman Catholics were admissible to Corporations, and during those forty-three years not one single Roman Catholic was ever admitted. This is a fact—a monstrous and glaring fact. Surely there were amongst them all some men of talent, of large fortunes, exemplary in their lives, loyal in their duties of allegiance, tranquil in their dispositions, virtuous in their social relations; but no, not one of them was ever admitted into a Corporation. I put it to any one amongst you, English Members of this House, is a system, by which, in one Corporation 200,000 Roman Catholics are excluded, while the franchise is exclusively enjoyed by about 100 Protestants of the lower class—is that, I appeal to you—is that a system to be tolerated?—is it a system you are prepared to maintain? It may be a system grateful to some Orange leader or other—who, with sanctity upon his lips, delights in enjoying the power of domination over his fellow-creatures. I hail this Bill, Sir, as the earnest of better days for Ireland. It is the commencement of the reign of Justice. Ireland has never had full justice done to her. We were not admitted as King's subjects until 1608. In 1607, it was no offence to kill an Irishman. It was pleaded in 1607 as a justification that the murdered man was an Irishman. I shall come to the question. There remains this corporate monopoly, and it is the only thing remaining that prevents justice being done to the people. This, and this alone, shuts the inhabitants out from a participation in the advantages of British institutions; and upon this question the Government are prepared to give the people of Ireland redress. This Bill cannot fail to pass this House. It is just. It is agreeable to the dictates of sound policy, and it is kindly to the people of Ireland. And is there any where else where the rights of the people of Ireland are to be stayed for the purpose of listening to some contemptible buffoonery, misrepresentations, and calling nicknames? Is this measure to be impeded by this botherall trash—this idle ribaldry? Talk, indeed, of the rank of station. Why, I ask you, is there any Trades' Union in the country that would for five hours tolerate such absurdities. Or do they imagine that society is now in that state that men will suffer an important measure to be so interrupted—that they will endure this torrent of vituperation and buffoonery that has been poured out on this measure. Oh, Sir, I do not fear for this Bill. It will be carried here by a triumphant majority, and even if now rejected elsewhere, it will be only to make its final success the more secure; for no matter what its present fate, it will be ultimately carried by the united voices of the people of England and Ireland safely to its destination.

Mr. Goulburn

approved of the manner in which the hon. and learned Member had brought forward this present Motion. And its moderation was the more remarkable when compared with the speech of the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down—a speech which was eminently calculated to revive all those animosities which would be much better buried in oblivion—a speech, too, containing most unjustifiable attacks against particular individuals. They came, too, with a peculiarly bad grace from the hon. and learned Member; for if there was one Member in that House who more than another should shrink from the utterance of these irresponsible attacks, it was that hon. and learned Member. But he should not suffer himself to be betrayed into an imitation of the course adopted by the hon. and learned Member, though he could not refrain from observing the strong contrast which it exhibited to the speech of the hon. and learned Member (the Attorney-General.) He came down to the House to listen to the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and not to take a part in the discussion, for he confessed it without shame that he had not as yet read the Report which had been so recently put into the hands of hon. Members. It was a measure which should be discussed, not in reference to what had been urged by the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down, but with reference to interests to which he feared it would be utterly impossible at this late period of the Session to do anything like justice. He protested against the Bill being proceeded with at so late a period. He should, for the present, content himself with this observation, and decline going into any of the details submitted to the House by the hon. and learned gentleman the Attorney-General for Ireland.

Mr. William Roche

said, that as a representative for one of the principal cities in Ireland, that of Limerick, to which the right hon. and learned Mover and his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Dublin both adverted, and a city which, as his learned Friend remarked, did assuredly possess a charter of incorporation long before the sera of the Reformation; a city likewise, than, which few in the United Kingdom had more reason to complain, because few were more aggrieved by the bad conformation of municipal institutions (bad at least in modern times) and the consequent maladministration and corruption which pervaded and deformed them, he protested against any delay in granting to Ireland the same simultaneous measure of justice and protection which (so far as lay in the power of that House) they had given to England. That to postpone it to both countries would be a great, yet as a joint grievance, would be the less irreconcileable to Ireland, but that to grant it to England and postpone it to Ireland must be felt and considered an intolerable aggravation and disappointment. That so exceedingly important, so inestimably valuable, did he deem this measure, that if his Majesty's Ministers had effected nothing more towards promoting the protection, the satisfaction, and contentment of the people; by this alone would they (to use an ancient phrase) "deserve well of their country," and entitle themselves to its warmest gratitude and confidence. That this measure alone did also well requite that House for the exertions, the happily successful exertions it made to reinstate the present ministry in power, and displace those who, if they condescended to make any improvement in municipal institutions, would assuredly dole out but a slender and miserable modicum of it. He proceeded to observe, that the higher or wealthier classes may pride and console themselves in our national glory, our splendid institutions, and the wisdom and dignity of our superior tribunals; but that these very remotely and feebly reach the great mass of the people, and that to millions of the community they would appear but visionary vanities compared with, or divested of the (to the mass of the people) inestimable advantages of good local government, both criminal and civil, so intimately connected as it is with the protection of their persons and property every day and every hour of the day. That he therefore considered this measure as more peculiarly the poor man's charter—the poor man's branch of the Constitution, but that it was not the less interesting to the higher classes, for to whom could it he uninteresting, that an honest and sound administration of affairs, both criminal and civil, should prevail where and around where one resides, and the consequent peace, good order, and prosperity, that must ensue there-from. That to all classes, therefore, Municipal Reform must be most essential and gratifying, unless indeed to those who profited by corruption and spoliation, who fed and fattened on abuses and oppression. Every one, he added, acknowledged that Reform in the representation of the people was but the foundation upon which to raise the superstructure of further improvements, and that of that superstructure, no part was more necessary or more valuable than improvement in local laws and local protection. Followed up, it should therefore be in favor of Ireland as well as of England, and with the same promptitude and firmness, otherwise the people of Ireland would justly complain that a very different share of respect and regard was entertained towards her feelings and interests compared with those of England. That the measure should accordingly have his sincere support, and the promoters of it his sincere thanks.

Mr. Lefroy

said, that the effect which was likely to be produced from such a measure as that proposed to be introduced, might be gathered from the hope expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, that all the corporations in Ireland would soon be in the same situation as that of Tuam, which he described as being composed almost exclusively of Roman Catholics.

Mr. O'Connell

I said nothing of the kind, and the hon. Member knows I did not.

Mr. Shaw

I rise to order. My right hon. Friend has made an observation, whether right or wrong I care not—but the hon. and learned Member has accused him of stating a fact which he knows is not true. I appeal to you, Sir, whether such conduct was not disorderly, and I would ask the House whether we really have not had enough of these scenes?

Mr. O'Connell

I withdraw it.

Mr. Lefroy

said, that he had too much experience in that House, particularly within the last year or two, to be surprised at any statement which fell from him being met by the hon. Member for Dublin in the way, both as to manner and matter, in which his observation had just now been met by the hon. and learned Member. The hon. and learned Member stated, the Corporation of Tuam was, with the exception of one member, composed exclusively of Roman Catholics, and unless his ears had grossly deceived him, he also said, that he hoped the other corporations in Ireland would soon be similarly circumstanced. As, however, the hon. and learned Member denied that he had said so, he (Mr. Lefroy) would not dwell upon the point. But there was one statement which the hon. Member had certainly made, and he (Mr. Lefroy) was never more surprised in his life than when he heard it, namely—that the Corporation of Limerick was anterior to the Establishment of the English power in Ireland. He was at a loss to know from what King the Corporation obtained its charter. There had been suits in Ireland, which led to an investigation into the antiquity of the Corporation of Limerick; but he never before heard that it was established at a period anterior to the British Dominion in Ireland. Upon the present occasion, he would touch but briefly upon the general question; but he could not refrain from remarking, that the corporations in Ireland which it was now proposed to destroy, had fully answered the objects fur which they were established. They had proved eminently conducive to the maintenance of the connexion between England and Ireland, to the progress of civilization, and to the support of the Protestant religion, which was not yet abolished, although political distinctions on account of it were. It was said, that the Rill about to be brought in ought to be adopted with respect to Ireland, because a similar measure had been passed for England; but he implored the House to recollect that the circumstances of the two countries were widely different. At all events, the period of the Session at which the measure was introduced was an insuperable objection to proceeding with it. He appealed to the candour of the hon. and learned Attorney-General for Ireland, whether it was fair to proceed with the Bill, before the House had an opportunity of reading the evidence on which it was represented to he founded. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by expressing his belief that, if the Bill should be adopted by the Legislature, the connexion between the two countries would soon be severed.

Mr. O'Connell

begged to explain, that the right hon. Member had given a meaning to what he had said totally different from that which he intended to convey. He described the Corporation of Tuam, and said, that perfect harmony prevailed amongst the inhabitants of the town of different religious persuasions; and then, he offered the wish which was so offensive to the right hon. Member—namely, that every Corporation in Ireland might soon be like that of Tuam as to that harmony. He knew that that was not the right hon. Gentleman's wish. The right hon. Gentleman wished for ascendancy, he wished for equality, and it was gaining ground every day. The right hon. Gentleman had also mistook what he said about the existence of Corporations in Ireland at a remote period. In the time of John, it was stilted that Limerick had been a Corporation from time immemorial.

Colonel Perceval

rose to order. The hon. and learned Gentleman, instead of confining himself to explanation, was making a second speech.

Mr. O'Connell

said, he could excuse the interruption of the hon. Member, because he was aware that he could not comprehend what he was saying, [Cries of "Speaker," "Chair," and ""Order."] He had a right to show that he had not said what the right hon. Member had attributed to him. The right hon. Gentleman had insinuated, because he was ignorant, that a fact had no existence. He admitted the right hon. Gentleman's ignorance at once.

Mr. Randall Plunkett

said, it was impossible to discuss the question properly, because members were destitute of the means of preparation, unless, perhaps, the hon. and learned Gentleman had communicated the information which he possessed to a favoured few. It was not fair to bring forward a measure which was calculated to make an important change, not only in the circumstances of Ireland, but of the whole empire, at the present period of the Session.

Mr. Perrin

said, that the imputation which the hon. Member had cast upon him of communicating information partially to favoured Members of that House, was utterly without foundation. He was incapable of such conduct.

Mr. Ruthven

trusted, that the people of Ireland would obtain equal justice with the people of England.

Mr. Henry Graltan

said, that the House was in possession of sufficient evidence to prove that the Corporations in Ireland were corrupt bodies. He was happy to find from the declaration which had been made by the noble Member for Stroud, that the Bill would pass through the House this Session.

Colonel Perceval

protested against a measure of such vital importance being proceeded with at a time when the House was exhausted, and most members had left town, and would not return again, unless there should be a call of the House. He must say, that he had fallen into a similar error (if error it were) as that into which his right hon. Friend (Mr. Lefroy) had been accused of having been led into, as to the observations of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, in reference to the Tuam Corporation. He had understood the hon. and learned Gentleman to state boastingly, that in the Tuam Corporation there was thirty-seven Roman Catholics and only one Protestant, and the hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say, that there was no religious discord amongst the corporators. Was it to be wondered at where there was such an overwhelming majority of Roman Catholics against a solitary Protestant? The hon. and learned Gentleman had also expressed a hope, that shortly after the passing of the present Bill all the Corporations in Ireland would be similarly circumstanced with that of Tuam. The hon. and learned Gentleman had been loud in his praises of the Bill; but in the same proportion that it gave satisfaction to the hon. and learned Gentleman, it filled him (Colonel Perceval) with dread; as sure he was that if the 5l. qualification was adhered to, it would throw all the Corporations in Ireland into the hands of the Roman Catholics, and, consequently, place them at the disposal of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin. He (Colonel Perceval) it appeared had also mistaken what had fallen from the noble Lord (John Russell.) shortly after the present Government had been formed. That noble Lord, as he understood him, had stated that as so much of the Session had passed away, Government would confine themselves to passing the two great measures, of Corporate Reform for England, and the settlement of the Irish Tithe Bill; and, further, the noble Lord had stated, that owing to the press of business, he should be obliged to postpone the Dissenters' Marriage Bill, and other measures of equal importance. But, it now appeared that the hon. and learned Member for Dublin having stated, that his Majesty's Ministers must pass the Irish Corporation Bill, they were left no option but to do as they were bid. The House had just heard the hon. and learned Gentleman declare that it must pass, and of course his decision was final. He could not sit down without again expressing his regret, that in the month of August a measure of so much importance should be introduced; but, in the brief observations he had made, he had, he trusted, avoided the example set by the hon. and learned Member, who commenced by stating, that the question was not a religious one—but, as was his custom, in the course of his speech he indulged in every acrimonious and exciting religious topic which his fertile imagination could suggest, and in gross and unbecoming personalities towards individuals not then present.

Mr. Shiel

said, that the hon. and gallant Officer was quite correct in his allusion to the absence of so many Members. It was true that the House was nearly deserted. The leader of the party to which the hon. and gallant Officer was attached was absent, and his absence was certainly significant. It showed that that right hon. individual fully felt the impossibility of resisting this proposal of Reform, exactly on the principle on which he had stated, that when a Reform of Parliament were once granted in England, it must soon follow in Ireland. Remarks had been made on the circumstance of no Report having been made on the Corporation of Dublin. No such Report was necessary—the House needed none, with this simple fact staring them in the face:—that although the Legislature had admitted Catholics to a full participation in the civil rights afforded by the Constitution, a body calling itself the Common Council of Dublin, had excluded them from that Corporation. Let there be a return called for from the Insolvent Court, and the House would then be in full possession of the ingredients of the Corporation of Dublin.

Colonel Sibthorp

felt no doubt that on this Question, as on that of the Reform of the Corporations of England, the other House of Parliament, though often taunted as an Aristocratic body, would show the considerate feeling which they entertained for the rights of the lower classes of their countrymen; and after the most able, and he would say, unparalleled speech, lately delivered in that House by an hon. and learned Gentleman formerly, and he regretted not now, a Member of the British Parliament, he firmly believed that the good sense of that House, feeling as they did for the people, and regarding their petitions which had been spurned by the House he was addressing, would yet save the Corporations, unconvicted and uncontaminated from the designs and machinations of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and rescue from annihilation those rights and privileges of the lower classes of the people, which ought, in his opinion, to be maintained. Who, he would ask, had been more disposed to cut up the liberties of the people, than those who bore the name of Liberals—but whom he called revolutionists and levellers—men having no feeling for Church, King, State, or people, or anything which had hitherto made England a great nation.

Motion agreed to—Leave given—Bill brought in and read a first time.