HC Deb 01 September 1835 vol 30 cc1192-228

The House resumed the consideration of the Lords' Amendments to the Corporation Reform Bill.

Lord John Russell

would take that opportunity to state the course which he intended to propose respecting the qualification, the Clause regarding which had been postponed. As he had stated last night, he was disposed to take 1,000l. as the qualification for Town-councillors in boroughs with four wards, and 500l. in boroughs with less wards than four. He would propose no other security than that contemplated in the original Bill—that the person should make a declaration that he possessed such a qualification, and that he should be subject to a penalty if he acted without having the required qualification. He thought it a great advantage thus to get rid of the list of one-sixth of the highest rate-payers, and the councillors' roll. The councillors' roll would he rendered wholly unnecessary, and thus that palpable distinction of one portion of the inhabitants of a town from the other would be removed. All the Clause, as he proposed it, would require was, that when a person was elected a Town-councillor he should make a declaration that he had the necessary qualification. By that means no person would have a right to say to his neighbour, "You see I am on the councillors' list. I can be a councillor, but you are excluded from any chance of attaining that honour." Obviously, the best time for requiring a test as to the qualification was when a person had been so far trusted by his fellow-citizens as to be elected to such an office. He intended to propose a clause comprehending the alterations he had mentioned, and to propose that part of the Lords' Amendments relating to a list of one-sixth of the highest rate-payers and the councillors' roll. That Clause had been already postponed, and he would propose to go back to the consideration of it after the House had disposed of the Clause relating to Dissenters taking part in the appointment to benefices.

Sir Robert Peel

said, that the principle of qualification having been conceded by the noble Lord, he (Sir R. Peel) was clear as to this point, that the simplest test as to qualification that could be proposed would be by far the best. He did not think that the selection of one-sixth of the highest ratepayers was a good test. It certainly had the advantage of simplicity, but it was at the same time fraught with an infinity of disadvantages, that countervailed completely all the benefit derivable from its simple nature. In the Jury Bill, where a qualification was required, he had selected the simplest as the best test, and a man who occupied a house with fifteen windows was qualified to serve on juries. They could not have such a test here, but they should be guided by the same principle of simplicity in selecting one. The noble Lord proposed only one test—namely, 1,000l. in real or personal property for boroughs with four wards, and 500l. for boroughs with a less number of wards. Now, he (Sir R. Peel) thought that it would be a great advantage to give an alternative test. He repeated, he had no objection to abandon the one-sixth of the highest rate-payers, as he regarded it as a bad one. He would propose, however, to superadd to the test of possession of property rating to a certain value or amount. He would propose, that in the first class of towns parties rated at 30l. a-year, and in the second class of towns parties rated at 15l. a-year, should be eligible as Town-councillors. He could very well conceive the case of a man of respectability, of integrity, and consideration in one of those towns—a man possessing the confidence of his fellow-townsmen—occupying premises of a certain value, and paying rates to a certain amount, and yet who might find it difficult to declare that he was worth 1,000l. He could conceive the case of such a man, occupied in expensive but safe and lucrative speculations, as to whose wealth there could be no doubt amongst his fellow-townsmen, and yet who might have a scruple to declare that he was actually worth 1,000l. Besides, there would arise this consideration—was it 1,000l. free of all debts and incumbrances? Now he would meet cases of that kind by this alternative, test of rating. It was a thing easily ascertained, and about which there could be no doubt.

Lord John Russell

was glad to find the right hon. Gentleman agree with him in thinking that the preservation of the list of one-sixth of the highest rate-payers was not necessary. He thought the alternative test now proposed by the right hon. Baronet an improvement in the Clause, and he would move its introduction when they came to the consideration of the Clause.

Mr. Grote

had no doubt of the disposition of the House to simplify the test as to qualification, but he objected altogether to the principle of a qualification. It was just as easy to conceive cases of men deservedly possessing the confidence of their townsmen for their integrity and spotless conduct, but who were not rated to the amount specified by the right hon. Baronet, as it was to conceive similar men not worth 1,000l.

Mr. Roebuck

thought he should be enabled to state a proposition more desirable and beneficial than that laid down by the noble Lord himself. In small towns it would be found impossible to get a sufficient number of Councilmen worth 1,000l. and, that being the case, what had been done? Why, it was proposed that in such places 500l. should be sufficient; that, in his opinion, would in many places be utterly impracticable. Upon the first occasion almost of his addressing the House he stated his opinion to be, that the only proper test of a man's capability for an office was his free election to it by his townsmen; and in that opinion the noble Lord fully coincided

Mr. Harvey

trusted the House would not be led away by any suggestion, however plausible. The right hon. Baronet who had thrown out the one so eagerly taken up by the noble Lord, said it would get rid of the qualification roll of one-sixth of the rate-payers; but it was to be considered that rating in the country was not on the same basis as in Whitehall or Westminster. There 15l. was not only in a great many places a high rating, but a high rent; and there would be many towns in which not ten houses would be found rated at the full amount. According to the proposition, a person in Bath, which had four wards, might be worth 800l., but there he could not be a councillor, for 1,000l. was the qualification; but let him go to Frome, which was divided into two wards, and there he was immediately elevated into wealth, rank, station, and intelligence, none of which he possessed in Bath, and there he was perfectly fit for the station he could not fill in Bath. Though he should be sorry to see the Bill lost, he did hope there would be a division, in order to show the people that this Amendment, this great boon, was given them by those who delighted in being called the Tribunes of the people.

Lord John Russell

was anxious to say a few words in answer to what had fallen from the two hon. Gentlemen who had last addressed the House, He begged to state most distinctly, that in agreeing to Amendments now in the Bill, and in proposing others of the same import, he did so solely with the view of passing what was an efficient measure, notwithstanding all its glaring defects. He protested against its being considered that he thereby gave in his adhesion to the alterations made in the Bill elsewhere. He should still consider himself at liberty, nay he might feel it his duty, if by any chance the Bill was not passed, to introduce the old Bill in its perfect integrity. He totally denied that he had made any concession in principle, or one that would bind him not to alter the Bill.

Mr. Ward

hoped no division would take place on this question, because he felt that it would give no fair test of the real opinions of the House in a case like the present. No man was more strongly opposed to qualification than himself, but he thought a division on the subject would be impolitic. Though the Qualification Clause was unjust, unwise, and wholly inoperative, as it would only affect the conscientious and scrupulous burgess, yet he should oppose any division on it now, because his desire was, after making the Bill as perfect as circumstances would permit, to secure its passing into a law. A division, he would repeat, would in no respect give the real sense of the House. They had already had a division upon the same principle, and it was well known to the country that the new clause was none of theirs. He always with great regret differed with the hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Grote), but on this occasion, these Amendments being taken both by the Ministry and that House under protest, and the concessions of Government being met in so conciliatory a spirit by the other side, the Debate had taken quite a different turn, and he would not like to see a division upon this point. The circumstances of the case had induced him (Mr. Ward), not to give expression to his opinions upon the practical difficulty which a Reformed House of Commons experienced in working with an unreformed hereditary House of Peers. Although he was satisfied that if that House had taken a strong and decided course, they would have had the sense of the country in their favour. But as the hon. Members on the opposite side had, through the right hon. Member for Tamworth, their legitimate leader, expressed their willingness to accept the concessions made by the Government in that House, it put an end to all discussions upon that point. He disapproved of many of the concessions which had been made; among others, the perpetuation of the rights of freemen, and the appointment of aldermen for six years, which was almost as bad as the present system; yet he was ready to pass over these objections, in order to show the spirit of conciliation that existed in the House, and that they did not wish to enforce their opinions without regard to those of others. Nothing but considerations such as these should have induced him to assent to any Amendment so narrow-minded, so over, bearing, so insolent, as that which constituted the Oligarchical Councillors' list, an oligarchy of the breeches'-pocket, and not of probity, experience, or intelligence. The Amendment proposed by the right hon. Member for Tamworth, made a material difference in his view of the case, and he should oppose a division on the Question, reserving to himself the full right of protesting against any qualification whatever as a principle.

Sir Robert Peel,

in consequence of an observation which had fallen from the hon. Gentleman, felt himself called upon to restate what he had already stated yesterday —namely, that in what he said with regard to these Amendments, he was only giving expression to his own opinions, and not expressing the opinions of others. To the opinions which he entertained before these Amendments were made, he was still ready to adhere, but at the same time, he was prepared, as far as possible, to acquiesce in any Amendments, beside those which he himself suggested, which would have the effect of leading to an amicable arrangement of the question. He proposed the qualification of rating not in lieu of the other, as seemed to be imagined by the line of argument which had been adopted, but concomitantly with the pecuniary qualification, and for the purpose of widening the sphere from which the Town Council was to be selected. Hon. Members threatened a division. Well, then, were they to divide upon the qualification, or were they not? If a division were resolved upon, the sooner it was resorted to the better; but, in his opinion, notwithstanding all the absurdity that had been attributed to the qualification, there would be still more in pressing a division which hon. Gentlemen would go to with a trembling hope that they might prove unsuccessful.

Mr. Clay

thought the arguments of the hon. Members for London and Bath were unanswerable; but it would be better not to press the Amendment to a division. He was against the principle of qualification, but it was necessary to make some compromise. He begged to ask the noble Lord whether there would be any test as to the amount of qualification or any scrutiny, and he would also be glad to know whether the noble Lord meant to accede to the alteration in the qualification proposed by the right hon. Baronet?

Lord John Russell

proposed to omit the "List," and also to do away with the necessity of qualifying, except in the cases of persons who were actually elected to office, when they would have to make a declaration. He was prepared also to accede to the right hon. Baronet's alternative qualification of paying rates to a certain amount in cases where parties were not worth 1,000l. or 500l. pounds. He would also adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet, so as that the party could qualify either by property or rate. The amount of the rate might be a subject of discussion; but for himself he was disposed to accede to the proposition of the right hon. Baronet.

Sir Robert Peel

said, that the proposition he made was, that the 1,000l. qualification should have a concomitant one of a rating of 40l., and that of 500l., one of 20l. He had since considered and inquired on the matter, and had been induced to take a lower rating, namely 30l. and 15l. Below this he was not prepared to go.

Mr. Bernal

said, there was no man in the House who was so positively opposed to the doctrine of qualification as he was, because he considered it useless, and he was sure it would prove inoperative, and it would be a source of discord throughout the country. If one man swore or made a declaration that he was worth 1,000l. or 500l., another of the same business would consider him to be his rival, and that if he did not make the same declaration, he would be committing an act of suicide and insolvency. Again, in many places in the country, there were men of property living in great respectability, who occupied houses that were rated no higher than 10l. per annum; he, therefore, thought the scale mentioned too high. He hoped, however, the point would not be pressed to a division.

Mr. Baines

observed, that the proposition of the right hon. Baronet would be attended with difficulties in consequence of the inequality of the valuations, which were sometimes to the full amount of the rent, sometimes to one-third, and sometimes as low as one-fifth. He would vote for the qualification, though, in his opinion, the Bill would be much better without it. He would entreat the hon. Member for London not to press this matter to a division, as it would, not effect the purpose he had in view, viz., to show what was the disposition of the House upon this point?

Mr. Sergeant Wilde

was satisfied that the result of a division would be that it would lead to an impression that a very considerable number of Members did not disapprove of the principle, although they voted in the majority from far different reasons. With respect to the question itself, he, for one, was very much gratified at the course taken by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. He did not show any desire to triumph, but to forward a really practical measure of great public utility; and this measure going to the country with his sanction, would be efficient to a greater degree than otherwise. He was therefore desirous of acquiescing in any suggestion of his upon this occasion, because he was satisfied that in his suggestions he acted perfectly bonâ fide, and not from any desire of impeding the fair effect of the Bill.

Mr. Wallace

would like to know why there was to be a different measure meted out to England, from that which had been given to Scotland? They had no qualification there, they wanted none, and the whole system worked well without it.

Mr. O'Connell

would not detain them for many minutes. It was always wise to divide upon a difference of principle, as every man thought it of importance to have his own opinions known, and to know how many would vote with him. But upon this question it would mark no such distinction; he was himself as much opposed to a qualification as any man could be, and yet he would vote for the Clause, and many others had said they would do the same. He did it on the principle of a compromise, and in order to throw the blame upon others if the Bill were lost. He thought the qualification, as it came from the House of Lords, was totally undeserving the consideration of the House, and he was happy to see that it was thrown over by everybody. He did not see how human ingenuity could have invented a greater inquisitorial oppression than the qualification proposed by the House of Lords. So absurd and unjust a qualification he had never heard of. He was exceedingly glad that the qualification had been so far modified.

Colonel Sibthorp,

for one, most cordially agreed to the Lords' Amendments. He wished the House would divide, for he wanted the opinions of Members to be known. His own humble opinions he was ever ready to make known; but this was exactly the reason why he doubted that others in the House would consent to a division. "Discretion, was often the best attribute of a General." The dispute reminded him of a quarrel between two dogs—one a fine constitutional bloodhound (the Lords) the other a miserable mongrel, and in the end the dog of noble blood would be sure to have the victory.

Mr. Leader

could not agree with the hon. and gallant Member who had just spoken, for he disapproved of every one of the alterations which the Lords had made in the Corporation Reform Bill. They must, he supposed, salute the gallant Member as leader of the Conservatives, as the right hon. Baronet had resigned that, important trust—or, rather in the gallant Colonel's own impressive words, they must salute him chief of the constitutional blood-hounds of Great Britain. With respect to the Qualification Clause, he could assure the hon. Member for Rochester that he disliked it fully as much as he could. He (Mr. Leader) detested the principle of a money qualification—and looked upon this clause as the most objectionable and the most pernicious of the Lords' alterations. But they were told that men who had the charge of public property should be men possessing property themselves. Why, suppose such a principle established, what sort of Chancellor should we have? Suppose that there existed a law, excluding from the office of Lord Chancellor of England any man who was not possessed of a clear landed estate of 20,000l. a-year—such a law would certainly be absurd—but not more absurd than this Qualification Clause. Had such a law existed, a certain highly distinguished individual must have been contented to remain a plain barrister—begetting none but plebeians—a Whig, and something more than a Whig—instead of being (as he now is) a pensioned Ex-Chancellor of England —having the enviable power of procreating a Peer, and being a Tory, and something more than a Tory. He did not complain of that individual's high station. He raised himself, he had no doubt, as all lawyers in this country must raise themselves, by his own merit and by his own exertions—but he did complain that a qualification should be demanded of Town-councillors, when no qualification was required of a Chancellor. Why, the property administered by the Lord Chancellor was surely of infinitely more value and importance than that of which the Town-councillors are to have the charge. They had been taunted with being afraid of a division; he for one was not afraid of any division which there might be upon this point—he looked upon it as unimportant, for they had, for the sake of attaining a great object, waved the Question of Qualification altogether. The only division which he feared was a division in principles among the supporters of a liberal cause. But whether there was to be a division or not, he could not allow this discussion to close without protesting most strongly against the principle of pecuniary qualification.

Lord John Russell

said, as they had fully explained themselves as to the Qualification Clause, and must for the present postpone the verbal alteration necessary in it, he should, propose to go back to the 25th Clause; he would move, as an amendment, that the words "preacher," or "teacher," in any Dissenting congregation, should be struck out, and the following words should be added "or being the regular minister of any Dissenting congregation."

Mr. Goulburn

did not think the words were sufficiently comprehensive — there were many Dissenting ministers who were not regular ministers.

Mr. Wilks

was fully satisfied with the words proposed by the noble Lord. There were many men who, though preachers or teachers, were not regular ministers, but followed another calling. He wished only the regular ministers of congregations to be excluded.

Mr. Goulburn

suggested the Amendment should be, "whether a Dissenting minister or not, appointed to any congregation." He thought all should be equally excluded, and that the Amendment should be extended to shut out all preachers.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

would take all the objections that had been urged, and would add another from himself. If the Lords' Amendment were agreed to, it would exclude all the Society of Friends, for they were all preachers, and the effect of that clause would be to exclude every Quaker.

The Amendment agreed to.

Lord John Russell

would then return to the Qualification Clause, he proposed to insert these words, "unless he shall be seised or possessed of real or personal property to the following amount, that is to say, in all Boroughs which by the provisions of this Act are to be divided into four or more wards, 1,000l. and in all boroughs which shall be divided into less than four wards, or not divided into wards, 500l." After these words he should propose to insert the alternative qualification of the right hon. Baronet opposite.

Mr. Ervart

thought the smaller qualification might safely be taken in the largest towns; 1,000l. was much too high.

Sir Edward Codrington

objected altogether to the principle of qualification. In the Town which he had the honour to represent a qualification of 1,000l. or Stock to the amount of 1,500l. was required and these persons being obliged to swear to that amount had deterred a great number of most respectable persons in the tow from taking office. He himself was aware of not less than twenty-seven persons who continued in the Corporation having sworn that they possessed the required amount of property until they actually became insolvent. He believed it would not work well in towns, and he should be glad to see it altogether done away with.

Mr. William Williams

would give his most decided objection to the Qualification Clause. The noble Lord had last night spoken so powerfully against it that he had hoped that he had altogether abandoned it. There was one point to which he wished to call the attention of the House. The other House had shown a great at achment to ancient customs in discussing the principles of that Bill. But it so happened that in none of the ancient charters was any qualification necessary. The City of London possessed one of the most important and ancient charters, and in none of the corporate officers was qualification required. The Common Council had the power of establishing a qualification, and although they had been 500 years a governing body in no one instance had they attempted to establish such a test. It could not be proved that in any of the Corporations qualifications were required for any office. It was remarkable that in the City of London persons might be disqualified from serving some offices; as, for instance, a person elected to serve as an Alderman would be disqualified if he swore that he was not worth 15,000l. or, if elected a Lord Mayor he would be disqualified if he swore himself not worth 20,000l. As to the Common Council, there never was any qualification required for the office, which was made compulsory like that of constable. A person elected to serve as Sheriff would not be excused unless he paid a fine: in point of fact, the only qualification for these offices was the being chosen. In many places men might be worth 100,000l. but so engaged in business that they would rather pay 500l. than serve the office, while another man, not worth more than 100l. would feel a pleasure in serving the public.

Sir Ronald Ferguson

was opposed to the principle of qualification, and hoped that the country would pour in numerous and strong petitions against it, and calling upon the Lords to remove all qualification. He thought it most unjust to establish rates of qualification—1,000l. for one, and 500l. for another. In large towns there were many men not worth 500l. who were as fully competent as men worth as many thousands to fill the office of councillor.

Mr. Hindley

observed, that a man might be rich in pocket, and poor in powers of mind. He hoped the time would come when every man would be rated, not according to his wealth, but according to his merit.

Mr. Grote

had come down to the House with the full intention of dividing upon this question of qualification; but after the observations he had heard, he was disposed to alter his purpose. Yet he was anxious to give the reasons which had induced him to form that purpose—viz., to show his repugnance to the principle of qualification, and to mark his sense that the extent of the concession made to the Lords was greater than the occasion required. This principle had been adopted by men whom he respected; but he must say, that the tone of this debate was calculated to have no other effect than to give the Lords a power of legislating over this House, and to make the country believe that this House would not stand by any great principle which it had endeavoured to establish. He could not see what the country had gained by the Reform Bill, which had in a great measure put an end to the system of filling the House by the nominees of the Lords, if the other House was to exercise its power in another way, by enabling minorities of the Commons to triumph over decided majorities of the Representatives of the people. However, the observations which he had heard, accompanied as they were by protests against the principle of qualification, proved to him that if he were to take a division on this question, it would practically go forth to the country, that this principle was less unpopular in that House than he was happy to find that it actually was. It was, therefore, with this view that he took this method of protesting against the principle, instead of pressing for a division. Since, however, qualification must be conceded, he was glad to see the absurd and odious list rejected; and he admitted, that hitherto the alterations in the amended Bill, effected by the Clause, had a tendency to mitigate its bad principles.

Major Beauclerk,

as the motion was about to be withdrawn, felt bound to protest against the Clause as it at present stood. It was objectionable to the great body of the people, to the lower class of tradesmen, inasmuch as it obliged individuals to prove to the amount of their property, which, in a commercial country like this, he considered most invidious and harmful. He thought that his Majesty's Ministers had yielded too much in favour of the other House; and though he hoped that they would give satisfaction to that House, he could not help feeling that the day would soon come, when they would find that House would never go on in conformity with the other House. He protested in the strongest terms against this clause, which he was sure would spread general dissatisfaction throughout the country.

Mr. Mark Philips

protested against a qualification altogether. If any noble Lord would only spend three years of his life amongst the middling classes, he would then be able to understand the feelings of those for whom he attempted to legislate. He believed, that at the expiration of that time his opinion, with respect to a qualification, would be entirely changed. He had seen so much in the old constituencies of heart-burnings, arising from the system of qualification under Sturges Bourne's Act, which had been called a qualification of bricks against brains— that he could never consent to any measure that contained a qualification of this nature. Though he had given this measure his most cordial support in its original state, yet as one of those who had done so, he could not allow this Clause to be introduced without expressing his deep disappointment, and without complaining of the pressure which had compelled his Majesty's Ministers to depart from their original proposition. He could not allow this vote to be taken without rising to declare that the introduction of a qualification into this measure would give great dissatisfaction, and was perfectly uncalled for.

Mr. Harvey

said, that if that House yielded to the other, it was not their fault, but the fault of the people who had sent in the strong array of numbers and intellect which formed the Opposition in the Reformed Parliament. The people had no right to complain that concessions were made by so small a majority as that which supported the present Ministry. The majority recognised, but did not approve, the suggestions of the right hon. Member for Tamworth. Did not the other House boast that the minority here was the largest ever known in opposition to Ministers? The public, whilst expecting much, could not suppose that, circumstanced as the majority in that House were, they could do everything; nor, indeed, would it be right that they should. That House reflected the public mind; it was the mirror of opinion. Let the constituent body then understand, that if the majority of that House did not effect more, it was not that they wanted the will, but that the public withheld the power. If they could not carry this, in his estimation the greatest Bill that ever passed that House, in its integrity, the fault lay with those who had returned so large a minority. But when the Bill should pass into a law, and that corporate monopolies were broken up, they would before three years have a majority in that House, which would free them from the dictation of any other, and enable the people to assert their claims in a manner that would be resistless. This Bill would enlarge the foundation of the constituent body, and open a channel for popular opinion so wide and free, that it would bear safely upon its current all measures of useful improvement.

Mr. Scarlett

was always of opinion, and it was now avowed by the hon. Member for Southwark, that the object of this measure was to influence elections rather than to improve corporations. Many of the supporters of this measure appeared to have an objection to a mixed form of Government. For himself, it was the form he was most attached to, and this attachment he shared with the great majority of the people.

Mr. Robinson

objected to so high a qualification. He proposed that there should be a rating of 20l. in the larger, and 10l. in the smaller towns. He did not, however, wish to embarrass the Government by any amendment, but merely threw out that suggestion for their consideration.

Lord John Russell

could only say, that without giving any opinion as to whether there might not be a smaller qualification, or a smaller amount of rating, notwithstanding the declaration of the right hon. Baronet opposite, that he spoke merely his own individual opinion, he (Lord J. Russell) should like to carry the Amendment with the weight of the right hon. Baronet's authority, though it might be only his individually.

Mr. George F. Young

was of opinion that the qualification was too high, and he drew his inference from the fact that the number of registered 10l. voters in the borough which he had the honour to represent, was only 670, though the population was 27,000. If the Amendment were agreed to, the House would limit the number much more than they imagined.

Mr. Roebuck

would propose that a rating of 10l. should be the qualification in all cases, and he would take the sense of the House upon it.

Dr. Bowring

instanced the case of Blackburn, which, with a population of 37,000 inhabitants, had only 700 registered voters.

Mr. Hume

understood that there was no hope of the Bill passing the House of Lords without a Qualification Clause. If, therefore, they were obliged to knock under—if they were obliged to yield the principle, and destroy the essence of the Bill, the question was, whether they should place the large boroughs in a situation where there would be no choice at all. If they restricted it so much, they would take away all popular choice. He put it to the noble Lord, seeing the anxiety of the House to meet the difficulties of the case, whether a 10l. qualification, such as entitled persons to vote for Members of Parliament, was not a fair and liberal proposition? And he would ask the right hon. Baronet whether it would not be unpleasant to draw a distinction between the great and small towns, when no distinction was made in the right of voting for Members of Parliament? He hoped the proposition of the hon. Member for Bath would be acceded to.

Lord John Russell

was of opinion that there was only one of two courses to be adopted. The first was to adhere to the excellent original principle laid down in the Bill and have no qualification at all. The second was to take such a qualification as might be acceptable elsewhere. He (Lord John Russell) was not prepared to remove all qualification, and therefore he must adhere to the original Amendment.

Mr. Hawes

objected to the hon. Mem- ber for Bath's Amendment. Having swallowed a camel, having consented to a qualification, he was now straining at a gnat. Although he (Mr. Hawes) disapproved of any qualification, he would vote for the noble Lord's, as it was the only one likely to be acceptable to the other House, and as he was anxious that the Bill, which was valuable in other respects, should be carried.

Sir Robert Peel

said, that hon. Members seemed to think that he had proposed his Amendment with a view of restricting the constituency, when in fact his proposition of taking the rate as the qualification would enlarge it. He did not consider his proposition very unreasonable. Hon. Members argued as if the House had been unanimous upon the subject. Now, when the Bill was formerly before the House, he moved as an amendment that the qualification should be 40l. and 20l., and upon that occasion he divided the House, when the numbers for his amendment were 204, the number against it being 262. Yet, notwithstanding that, he voluntarily came forward, and proposed that it should be reduced to 20l. and 15l. He thought that a moderate proposition; considering that he had so large a minority as 204. As to the rating in provincial towns, he apprehended that it was higher than was generally supposed. He had called for returns from the Portsea district, and he found that both there and in Portsmouth it was very large. He saw no evil which could result from the adoption of his proposition. Besides, as they had adopted the principle of qualification, it was desirable, as the noble Lord opposite had stated, that they should also adopt such a scale of qualification as was likely to be adopted by the other House.

Mr. Harvey

considered this rate qualification as one of those incidental and gratuitous acts of kindness in which right hon. Gentlemen abounded. It was possible that an insolvent might be rated 15l. or even 30l., and therefore this qualification might let in the very class of persons it was desirable to keep out. He would much rather forego the rate qualification than adopt one so large as that proposed, and retain the money qualification only. It was said, however, that if this was not acceded to, the Bill would be hazarded. Not considering it as a final measure, and looking forward to future legislation, he did not wish to hazard the Bill; for it was in politics, as well as in morals and nature, it could not be foretold what a day or an hour would bring forth. They could not always keep up the excitement of the people, or, as the phrase was they could not always keep the steam up. It would, indeed, be a great national evil to lose the Bill, for, at the present rate of legislation, they could but get through one Bill in a Session. One Bill, the Irish Church Reform Bill, had been lost, and another was in danger. And, at all events, he would rather forego the question of qualification. He was, therefore, not prepared to vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Bath, because it not only endangered the Bill during the present Session, but risked the loss of it altogether. As to the notion of the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet enlarging the constituency, there was in fact nothing in it; for there were scarcely any provincial towns in which houses were rated at 30l. or 15l.

The House divided on Mr. Roebuck's Amendment: Ayes 37; Noes 271; Majority 234.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Mullins, F. W.
Attwood, T. O'Connell, D.
Blake, M. J. O'Connell, M.
Bowring, Dr. Palmer, General
Beauclerk, Major Phillips, M.
Brabazon, Sir W. Rippon, C.
Brady, D. C. Thomson, C. P.
Buckingham, J. S. Tooke, W.
Bulwer, H. L. Tulk, C. A.
Byng, Hon. G. Vivian, E.
Conyngham, Lord A. Wakley, T.
Crawford, W. Walker, C. A.
Dundas, J. C. Wallace, R.
Elphinstone, H. Warburton, H.
Ewart, W. Williams, W.
Fielden, J. TELLERS.
Grote, G.
Hector, J. C. Roebuck, J. A.
Marsland, H. Hindley, C.
Macnamara, Major Cole, Arthur

On Clause 47,

The Attorney General

said, that this Clause imposed a hardship upon those who were chosen to be councillors; inasmuch as, in the event of their not having a qualification, it threw upon them the burden of proving that they did not possess a qualification. He proposed that the words should be inserted "at the time of making such declaration" which would throw the onus probandi upon the complaining party.

Mr. Law

could not consent to any Amendment, the effect of which might be, that although a person had a qualification when he took office, he might not have it during the whole period of his holding office.

Mr. Jervis

said, that the object was to provide that every one taking office should have a bonâ fide qualification. He thought that the qualification ought to be confined to the time when the party accepted office. It would be extremely hard if a party were liable to be called upon at any moment to prove his qualification.

Mr. Sergeant Goulburn

agreed with his hon. and learned Friend the Recorder of London, in thinking that the qualification should constantly subsist.

Major Beauclerk

did not agree with the hon. Member. He was afraid that the doctrine would apply very unfortunately to some of the Members of that House.

Mr. Harvey

begged the House to consider that though it was sufficiently easy to ascertain whether a person had a qualification when the qualification depended upon real property, yet it was very difficult in the case of shopkeepers and tradesmen, whose qualification alone would be questioned under this Clause. Their property depended on the debts owing to them, and their solvency depended upon the solvency of others. A man might be worth many thousands, in his own opinion, and yet, when his debts were called in and enforced, he might not be worth five shillings in the pound.

Mr. George F. Young

reminded the House that they had rejected the proposition of a Property-tax, on the ground of its being invidious and inquisitorial, and yet this would lead to inquiries more odious and more inquisitorial than the property-tax.

The House divided. On the Amendment, Ayes 167; Noes 53; Majority 114.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Admiral Blunt, Sir C.
Aglionby, H. A. Bowring, Dr.
Angerstein, J. Brady, D. C.
Anson, Sir G. Brabazon, Sir W.
Bagshaw, J. Bridgman, H.
Burton, H. Brocklehurst, I.
Baring, F. Browne, D.
Barry, G. S. Brodie, W. B.
Barren, H. W. Brotherton, J.
Barnard, E. G. Buckingham, J.
Beauclerk, Major Buller, G.
Bernal, R. Burdon, W.
Bewes, T. Buxton, F.
Bellew, Sir P. Butler, Colonel
Berkeley, Captain Byng, Captain
Blamire, W. Byng, G.
Blake, M. J. Callaghan, D.
Blackburn, J. Campbell, Sir J.
Carter, B. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Chalmers, P. O'Loughlen, M.
Clements, Viscount Ord, W. H.
Clive, E. B. Oswald, J.
Clayton, Sir R. Palmerston, Lord
Clay, W. Parnell, Sir H.
Cockerell, Sir C. Parker, J.
Collier, J. Parrott, J.
Codrington, Sir E. Pechell, Capt. R.
Crawford, W. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Crawford, S. Pepys, Sir C.
Conyngham, Lord A. Philips, G. R.
Curteis, H. B. Phillips, C. M.
D'Eyncourt, C. T. Philips, Mark
Denison, J. Pinney, W.
Divett, R. Power, R.
Duncombe, T. S. Potter, R.
Dundas, J. C. Poulter, J.
Dunlop, C. Price, Sir Robert
Ebrington, Lord Pryse, Pryse
Elphinstone, H. Ramsbottom, J.
Etwell, R. Robinson, G.
Evans, G. Roche, D.
Ewart, W. Rolfe, Sir R. M.
Fergusson, C. Ronayne, D.
Ferguson, Sir R. Russell, Lord J.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Russell, Lord C.
Fitzsimon, N. Russell, Lord
Fleetwood, H. Scholefield, J.
Gaskell, D. Scrope, G. P.
Grattan, H. Seale, Colonel
Grote, G. Sheldon, C.
Guest, J. Simeon, Sir R.
Harland, W. Smith, V.
Hawes, B. Steuart, R.
Harvey, D. W. Strickland, Sir G.
Hawkins, J. W. Strutt, E.
Heathcote, R. E. Sullivan, R.
Hobhouse, Sir J. C. Surrey, Lord
Howick, Lord Talbot, J. H.
Hoskins, K. Talfourd, Sergeant
Hodges, T. L. Tancred, H. W.
Howard, P. H. Thorneley, R. G.
Hutt, W. Tooke, W.
Hurst, R. H. Townley, R. G.
Humphery, J. Troubridge, Sir T.
Jervis, J. Turner, W.
Kemp, T. R. Tynte, C.
Leader, J. T. Villiers, C.
Lennard, T. B. Wakley, T.
Lennox, Lord G. Walker, C. A.
Loch, W. Warburton, H.
Lynch, A. H. Wall, C. B.
Maule, Hon. F. Wilbraham, G.
M'Leod, R. Whalley, Sir S.
Maher, J. Wilkes, J.
Mangles, J. Williams, W. A.
Marshall, W. Williams, W.
Marsland, H. Wilson, H.
Methuen, P. Wilde, Sergeant
Mostyn, E. Wood, C.
Mullins, F. W. Wood, Alderman
Musgrave, Sir R. Wrightson, J.
O'Connell, D. Wrottesley, Sir J.
O'Connell, J. Young, G. F.
O'Connell M.
O'Connell, M. J.
Ward, H. G. Baines, E.
List of the NOES.
Alsager, Captain Lowther, J. H.
Arbuthnot, Hon. H. Manners, Lord C.
Ashley, Lord Neeld, J.
Brownrigg, J. S. Nichol, J.
Bruen, Colonel H. Peel, Sir R.
Borthwick, P. Palmer, R.
Barneby, J. Praed, W. M.
Bonham, F. R. Price, G.
Baring, T. Pemberton, T.
Bentinck, Lord G. Ross, C.
Cartwright, W. L. Russell, C.
Dowdeswell, W. Reid, Sir J. R.
Damer, G. D. Somerset, Lord G.
Davenport, E. D. Sheppard, T.
Elwes, J. Stormont, Lord
Eaton, R. J. Sandon, Lord
Fleming, J. W. Sibthorpe, Colonel
Gaskell, J. Milnes Trench, Colonel
Goulburn, Rt.Hon H. Vere, Sir C. B.
Gordon, Hon. Captain Wortley, Hon. J.
Grimstone, Lord Worcester, Lord
Halford, H. Wilbraham, B.
Hawkes, T. Wyndham, W.
Herries, Rt. Hon. J. Walter, J.
Jackson, J.D. Wynn, C. W. W.
Jones, Captain TELLERS.
Law, E. Freshfield, J. W.
Longfield, R. Goulburn, E.
Lewes, W.
Mr. Williams Wynn

then said, that the Amendment which had been just agreed to, and which threw the onus probandi on the objector, was in fact to get rid of the qualification by a side-wind.

Lord John Russell

said, that the right hon. Gentleman was not justified in saying that it was meant to get rid of the qualification by a side-wind. Since he came into the House, the Amendment had been suggested by his hon. Friend, the Member for Portsmouth, and having been acceded to by his hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney-General, he did not hesitate to adopt it. From these circumstances it would be evident that he had not had much time to consider the effect of the words; but he protested against its being said that any thing like getting rid of the qualification by a side-wind, or their acting in bad faith, was intended.

Mr. Williams Wynn

had not meant to impute bad faith to the noble Lord. All he meant to say was, that this Amendment was not a bonâ fide acquiescence in the Amendment of the other House.

Mr. Lam

would just suggest to the noble Lord, that the Amendment which had just been carried might prove fatal to the Bill in another place. He understood that the noble Lord had acquiesced in the principle of qualification. If that were the case, let them then make the qualification effective. Or, if they did not mean to meet the wishes of the other House, let them not make a shew of doing so, but throw the Bill out at once. He warned the House of the danger of adopting an Amendment, which was in fact directly in fraud of the principle of qualification, and which would wholly defeat the operation of that Clause. As a means of preventing persons holding these offices from evading the qualification, he would propose that the words "during the continuance in office" be added.

Lord John Russell

certainly wished the qualification to be bona fide; and would propose words which he thought would meet the difficulty. He then proposed words to the effect, that after the person should cease to be qualified he should be liable to the penalty if he retained office.

Mr. Sergeant Wilde

would ask, if a respectable man, having suffered a serious loss in business, was to publish it to the world that he was no longer solvent? He thought this would be a very injurious Clause.

Mr. Warburton

thought that no man would consent to serve as a councillor, if it subjected his estate and pecuniary circumstances to public inquiry.

Sir Robert Peel

considered that they had sent up the Bill to the Lords with a qualification of a continuous nature; it was now proposed to add a pecuniary qualification, subject to the same rules; but the effect of that proposition would be to destroy the continuous qualification.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that having once affirmed the principle of a qualification, they were bound to give it effect fairly and honestly. The case, he admitted, was one of considerable difficulty.

Mr. Jervis

was quite sure that both parties were most willing to bring the whole case fairly and fully under discussion. He considered the proposed Amendment as most vexatious, for no man could qualify under it, unless he was ready at any moment to declare that he was worth 1,000l.; he would then not only be struck off the roll of councillors, but his credit would also have been ruined.

Mr. Warde

considered that both parties might be conciliated if certain periods were fixed for inquiry into the qualification of these councillors by Act of Parliament.

Lord John Russell

said, he considered the Question as one of very great importance and difficulty, and he would propose that it be postponed.

Mr. Harvey

remarked upon a case unprovided for in the Bill—that of a corporator who was qualified when he took his office, but became disqualified within the year by a reverse of fortune; as the Clause now stood such a man was liable to penalties, and had no means of escape, as he could not disrobe himself of his office.

The farther consideration of the Amendment, was postponed.

Lord John Russell

said, that in Clause 52 the Lords had decided that Town Clerks should hold their office "during good behaviour:" he did not mean to restore the Bill in this respect to its original state, but to agree to part of the Amendment with the substitution of the words "during pleasure" for "during good behaviour." [Mr. Roebuck: during whose pleasure?] During the pleasure of the Town Council of every borough.

Colonel Sibthorp

objected to the proposal, and instanced the city he represented, the Town-Clerk of which was opposed to him in politics; nevertheless he did not wish him to be removed, because he believed him to be a competent and useful officer. The words "during pleasure," rendered the Town Clerk subject to removal merely at he will of the Town-Council, and they would hang as a rod over his head.

Mr. Scarlett

maintained that this Amendment by the noble Lord proved, if any fresh proof were wanted, that the measure was not intended to reform abuses in Corporations but for political purposes, so that a Radical Town Council might have the power of appointing a Radical Town Clerk. He asserted that the present Town Clerks were honest and efficient servants, who ought not to be removed.

Amendment agreed to.

Lord John Russell

proposed a change in Clause 59, providing that officers of the Corporation should not hold their appointments during life, but during good behaviour.

Sir Robert Peel

observed, that justice seemed to require that every officer should be protected by the Bill, according to the tenure of his situation. He would not have given Town-Clerks their appointments for life, but where it was found that they so held them he would have protected them to that extent. In this respect he would have adopted the principle of the Scotch Municipal Reform which was likewise observed as to patent places, and offices held during good behaviour. Where Town-clerks of boroughs in Schedules A and B, held during pleasure, so they ought to continue, but where they held for life, it was but fair that their tenure should not be disturbed.

Mr. Roebuck

could not admit that the House ought to recognise any such right, and contended that no office of the kind was property, and ought not to be dealt with as property. Powers were conferred for the benefit of the community, and not for the advantage of the individual. Every Town-Clerk had been well paid while he had held his situation, and he saw no reason for granting him compensation merely because he had indulged unreasonable exactations.

Sir Robert Peel

had never said that a Town-Clerk's office was analogous to property, nor had he proposed the grant of compensation: that was a clause in the Bill when it was sent to the House of Lords, he and the hon Member apparently wished for the same thing—viz., that the corporate officers should hold their places upon their present tenures, and they both seemed to think it exceedingly hard that the Council should be called upon to grant compensation.

Lord Howick

thought it better for all parties that the Town-Council should have the option either to continue a man in office or to allow compensation. Whenever an officer was unexceptionable, and sufficiently discharged his duties, it would be desirable tha the should be continued, but the Town-Council ought to have, by power of dismissal, that due control which all Governments possessed over persons in subordinate situations. The right hon. Baronet had admitted last night that the rule ought to be the same as on a change of Ministers, where, although the principal persons went out, the Clerks remained in their places. Ministers on coming into office had the power, under a certain responsibility, to dismiss any of the inferior servants in the different departments, such as the permanent Under Secretaries, Clerks, &c. These all held their appointments strictly during pleasure, but practically it was during good behaviour. The Town-Council of a borough would act under a similar responsibility, but it ought to possess a similar power, and the constituency would always require to know why a particular officer had been dismissed. As to the Town-Clerk, no arrangement could be satisfactory unless he were made dependent upon the Town-Council, and the power of resorting to the Court of King's Bench on any occasion where he misconducted himself would not be sufficient. For these reasons he concurred in the change proposed by his noble Friend.

Mr. George F. Young

agreed with the noble Lord who had just spoken. The amendment proposed was a middle course that exactly met the justice of the case.

Colonel Leith Hay

alluded to the reference made by the right hon. Baronet to the case of the Town-Clerks of Scotch burghs, and denied that the system had worked well there. Hereafter it would be found necessary to put the Town-Clerks in Scotland on a different footing, in order that they might act more in accordance with the main body of the Corporation.

The Chancellor of Ike Exchequer

said that the amendment of his noble Friend would remedy the inconveniences of the arrangement adopted by the Lords, and ought to be adopted both on the principles laid down by the right hon. Baronet opposite and on those laid down by the House of Lords itself. No alteration could be suggested more fatal to the peace of towns, or more prejudicial to the interest of the community in general, than that which had been passed by that House; it would interfere indeed more than anything else with the good working of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause M. (after Clause 63), which had been inserted by the Lords to provide that Members of the Church only should appoint to vacant benefices, &c, in the gift of Corporations, was then taken into consideration.

Lord John Russell

observed that this was entirely a new Clause, and one to which, as he observed last night, he could not give his assent. He was not unwilling to agree to a proposition which might be framed for giving every possible security to the Church in the exercise of the patronage in question, but he was not disposed to agree to any proposition by which the Council would be divided into two parts, one being composed of members of the Church of England, and the other of Dissenters. At the time of the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, no security was required from Dissenters on being admitted into Corporations, except that contained in a declaration to be taken alike by Churchmen and Dissenters. He would repeat that he was ready to accede to any proposition by which security to the Church could be further obtained in this respect; and that he was not prepared to con- tend, as an abstract principle, that those who dissented from the Church were therefore the persons in whose hands ought to be placed the appointment to Church benefices in any portion of the patronage of the Church; but he regarded it as a very different matter from taking a course of that kind, to establish the principle that the governing Council of the Municipal bodies should be divided into two parts, separated from each other by a line of jealousy. On this ground he could not do otherwise, in the present state of the question, there being no other proposal on the subject before the House, than move that they disagree to the Lords Amendment, leaving to those that are of opinion that the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts and the original provisions of the present Bill left the question too open, to suggest any other arrangement which they might deem fit, in order to provide some additional security for the Church.

Mr. Goulburn

thought Municipal Corporations were not fit depositories for Church patronage. If the amendment which had been introduced by the House of Lords were omitted, a power of exercising Church patronage would be placed in the hands of Dissenters, who had never enjoyed it before. Against the principle of such an arrangement he for one could not refrain from raising his voice.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said that he was willing to make any concessions with respect to the clauses of the Bill, which were consistent with reason or common sense; but this amendment contained a principle which was abhorrent to his sense of justice and toleration. It was one which he could never agree to. But even supposing for the sake of argument that such a principle might be adopted, it must be utterly impracticable and worthless, and could not be carried into execution without the imposition of a religious test, the revival of which would be received with horror and disgust, and would never be submitted to. He quite agreed in the declaration made by the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last, who stated that corporate bodies were not the best depositories of such a right as that exercised with respect to Church preferment. Though he was disposed to yield on other points of the Bill, yet the principle involved in the amendment of the Lords on this part of the Bill was one which he felt bound to resist. He therefore took that opportunity of giving notice, that if this Clause were omitted, he should, at a more advanced stage of the Bill, propose a Clause directing Corporations to sell the Church property over which they exercised control, and apply the proceeds to the common uses of the towns.

Mr. Twiss

thought the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman a proper one; and he believed that its adoption would prevent any dissensions which might arise between Dissenters and Members of the Established Church, with regard to the exercise of the right of presentation.

Mr. Wilks

was not disposed to offer any opposition to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman. It would, in his opinion, if complied with, tend to prevent collision between Churchmen and Dissenters.

The Attorney-General

thought that all the difficulties which surrounded this question might be overcome by consenting to the suggestion of his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The power over Church property which it was proposed to confer on the Council as a body, without regard to the religious opinions of its members, was exercised in Scotland both by individual Dissenters and by Councils, some of the Members of which were Dissenters, with the best possible results. He thought, however, that Municipal Corporations ought to have nothing to do with Church patronage. They were never instituted for any such purpose, but were established with a view of managing only the local affairs of the towns, such as lighting, paving, cleansing, &c. To this object they should be confined, and the sooner their right of Church patronage was abolished the better.

Sir F. Pollock

heartily concurred in the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Charles Barclay

thought that such an arrangement as that proposed, would be acceptable to all parties.

Mr. Poulter

was of opinion that these Church preferments enjoyed by the Corporations should be purchased by the Crown.

Lord John Russell

said, that as the proposition of his right hon. Friend appeared to give general satisfaction, he did not think it necessary to enter into any discussion on the principles of this Clause, as amended by the House of Lords. It appeared to him, from the manner in which that proposition was received by both sides of the House, that it would relieve the question from all the difficulties by which it was embarrassed. With respect to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Shaftes-bury, that the property in these livings should be bought by the Crown, he really thought it much better not to encumber the present question with the objections to which such a proposition might be held liable. He hoped his right hon. Friend would frame the Clause which he intended to submit for adoption in such a manner as to meet with general concurrence.

Dr. Bowring

observed that the Clause, as it stood amended by the Lords, cast the greatest opprobrium on the Dissenters. He hoped the Government would not consent to add to their difficulties by adopting, inconsiderately, the proposition of his bon. Friend near him (Mr. Poulter). As for the Church patronage being exercised by Dissenters he, for one, would assure the House that they would gladly wash their hands of it; yet at the same time it should not be forgotten that Dissenters must have an interest in an Establishment to the support of which they so largely contributed.

Sir Robert Peel

wished that the advice as to conciliation had been sooner followed; for motives were attributed in the strongest terms to the House of Lords, for the Amendments which they had made, which were not, he was persuaded, justifiable. Even the hon. Gentleman who spoke last said, that the Amendments of the House of Lords cast an opprobrium on the Dissenters. Now he must declare, that he did not believe the House of Lords had the slightest intention of fixing or implying any opprobrium on the Dissenting body, by the introduction of the Amendment which they had made. He, for one, would never consent to take any part, either directly or indirectly, which would frustrate the effects of that political and religious equality which had been established by the Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts; but he must say, that the Clause which prevented the members of one spiritual creed from appointing the ministers of another, did not, in his opinion, interfere in any way with the beneficial consequences of the abolition of such laws as the Test and Corporation Acts. If by Act of Parliament, the nomination of Unitarian or other Dissenting ministers were placed in the hands of members of the Church of England, such a legislative provision would be reprobated by all parties. It was no answer to that position to say that the parties who in such cases would be selected would in all probability be well qualified and proper persons. He was, at the same time, ready to admit, that the existing law did give Dissenters, who were members of the corporations, the right of taking a part in the appointment to the livings which were in the gift of those corporations. It was, however, clearly the principle of our law, before the passing of the Test and Corporation Acts, that the members of corporations should be members of the Church of England, although an annual bill of indemnity was agreed to for the purpose of relieving those who violated that law from being subjected to its penalties. In many cases in which there were numerous livings in the gift of corporations—such, for instance, as Bristol and Norwich, it was clear that the majority of the members of such corporations might be Unitarians or other Dissenters, and that the whole right of presentation would be vested in them. Now, he never could be persuaded that an arrangement by which such a state of things could be produced, would be satisfactory either to the possessors of the patronage themselves, or to the members of the Church of England who were more immediately affected by it. In limiting the right of presentation, therefore, to those members of the new corporations who were also members of the Church of England, he was convinced that the House of Lords had not intended any disrespect to Dissenters, and had not manifested the intolerant spirit which had been imputed to them. It should be remembered that there was a wide distinction between a civil trust and a spiritual trust. He could never admit that the House of Lords, in what they had done on this subject, had justly subjected themselves to the odium which was attempted to be cast upon them of wishing to affect the great principle which had been established by law of a perfect equality of civil rights. With regard to the proposition which had been made by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was one of very great importance; and he thought that it would be more satisfactory to all parties if the discussion on the Clause under consideration were postponed until they saw the mode in which the right hon. Gentleman meant to develope that proposition. At the same time, it was exceedingly desirable that the whole subject—the Clause in the Bill which it was proposed to omit, and the provision which it was proposed to introduce—should be taken into consideration at the same time; and he, therefore, thought that it was not advisable to dispose of the Clause to-night, and to take the right hon. Gentleman's proposition into consideration to-morrow. He confessed, too, that on a matter of such importance, introduced for the first time to the House, although he was not in a condition to state that he entertained any serious objections to it, he was still desirous of reserving to himself the power of deliberation, before he yielded to it his assent. He certainly was not prepared at the moment to give to the proposition the unqualified approbation which had been given to it by his hon. and learned Friend. In the first place, he should have been glad if it could be found practicable to avoid an absolute compulsion by law on the corporations to dispose of their Church patronage. It might be, that in many cases they were by far the fittest persons to exercise it. He would rather wish to avoid compelling, by law, either corporations or individuals to sell property of that description. Whether, however, the right hon. Gentleman's proposition would be preferable to leaving the nomination to livings in the hands of Dissenters, was a question on which he was not prepared at once to decide. Some of the corporations possessed very extensive Church patronage. The Corporations of Bristol and Norwich, to which he had before alluded, had, he believed, no fewer than twenty-two livings in their gift. At so short a notice, he did not think the House ought to be called upon to deal with so considerable a property without due consideration. Many points must be considered. Within what time were the Corporations expected to dispose of this property? If the Legislature recognised it as the property of the Corporations, they certainly ought not to compel the proprietors to dispose of it under circumstances which would not allow them to realize its value. The suggestion of the hon. Member for Shaftesbury, that the property in question might be purchased by the Crown, and the nomination placed in the hands of the Bishops, would, perhaps, be a better mode of dealing with the subject; but, at the same time, he readily admitted that it would not be wise to encumber the Bill at present with such a proposition. He hoped, however, that his Majesty's Government would not preclude themselves from considering the suggestion at a future opportunity, He trusted that the noble Lord would postpone the further proceeding with the Clause in question until time had been afforded to take into consideration the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman. He had been too much in public life not to know the value of four-and-twenty hours in deliberating on any great public subject.

Lord John Russell

said, that if there was a general wish on the part of honourable Members to postpone the further proceeding on the Clause in the Bill, until it could be considered in conjunction with his right hon. Friend's proposition, he was ready to postpone it until to-morrow.

Clause postponed.

On the 96th Clause, in which the House of Lords had omitted the provision that the Councils of the different boroughs should, from time to time, name so many fit persons as to them might seem expedient, for the purpose of being qualified to receive his Majesty's commission to act as justices of the peace,

Lord John Russell

moved the re-insertion of the words omitted by the House of Lords.

Sir William Follett

had a great objection to the original Clause, and he should, therefore, oppose the noble Lord's proposition. It was the first time since the settlement of the Constitution that an attempt had been made to affect the power of the Crown in regard to appointments to the magistracy. Under the original Clause the Crown had only the power of appointing at the recommendation of the council. Could any one deny that that was a limitation of the prerogative? Suppose the Crown should reject the persons recommended by the council, was the borough to be without magistrates, or was there to be a perpetual and unseemly collision between the council and the Crown? That was no imaginary case; for a similar one existed in the city of London at this moment. The wards had a power of electing their aldermen, and the Court of Aldermen had a power of rejecting any person so elected if they chose. They had done it in many instances; and even at that moment it was a question of law how far the aldermen had a power of filling up vacancies in their own body. He also objected to the original Clause because the magistrates were virtually created by popular election. The council was popularly elected, and their election of magisrates would naturally partake of the same character. He thought it highly objectionable that the magistrates should be mixed up with party feeling or local politics, and was convinced the administration of the law would be better consulted if the nomination of the magistrates were left to the Crown. If it were the case, it would be the only one in which the power of the Crown in appointments to the magistracy was curtailed. He hoped the noble Lord, therefore, would not press his proposition.

Mr. Charles Buller

said, that whilst this appointment of justices rested with the Tory Corporations, who appointed without the intervention of the Crown, no one even on the Opposition side of the House ever considered the Crown was illtreated; but the moment it was proposed to give the right of choosing their magistracy to the people, then a new-fangled loyalty sprung up in the breast of Tory politicians, and they felt it consistent and convenient to inveigh against the charge as an infringement of the Royal prerogative, though the Crown was still required to approve of the nomination.

Mr. Goulburn

said, that the result of passing the Clause in the shape in which it had been sent up by that House to the House of Lords would be, either that there would be no Magistrates at all in a Borough, or that all the Magistrates would be of one political feeling.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, it was not fair to state that the Clause, as it originally stood, introduced the principle of popular election into the nomination, of Magistrates. Strong supporter as he was of popular rights, he would not consent to any proposition that would make the situation of Magistrate a matter of popular canvass. But it was not a subject of popular election. If the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman were good, as applicable to the proposed Corporations, it was equally applicable to the existing Corporations. He looked at the matter practically. In many of the borough towns at the present time, the Magistrates were not only elected by the Corporations, but elected annually. If, therefore, the objection was to the appointment of Magistrates of one predominant opinion, that objection applied to the existing law, and not to the present Bill. He saw at present, in many of the borough towns, Magistrates not only elected, but annually elected. If, therefore, there were an objection to gentlemen so elected administering the law, he said it was an objection which applied to the present system, and not to the Bill under their consideration. The Bill did not assume a new principle or a new prerogative, but it placed the old principle and the old prerogative on better and purer grounds than existed under the present law. By way of comparison he might ask what was the custom in counties? In counties the Lord-lieutenant, a responsible officer, recommended to the Crown the persons whom, from his local experience, he considered to be best qualified to act as Magistrates, and almost without exception the recommendation of the Lord-lieutenant was deemed sufficient to warrant the appointment. Now what was the course proposed to be taken with respect to the appointment of Magistrates in cities and boroughs? Hitherto the Crown had had no power of appointment in corporate towns, and it was of course impossible that it should in every instance have a sufficient knowledge of local circumstances and local characters to enable it to make the most proper appointments. To remedy this defect, as there was no Lieutenant or responsible person from whom the recommendation could come, it was proposed to give the right of recommendation to the representative body. No one would suspect for a moment that the representative body would abuse the trust thus confided to them. The proposition of his noble Friend (Russell) was not to limit the authority of the Crown, but to supply it with a responsible adviser.

Sir Robert Peel

thought, that the alteration made by the Lords in this part of the Bill was a very great improvement, and he should cordially support the proposition of his learned Friend (Sir W. Follett) for retaining that alteration. He thought the Amendment of the Lords drew the proper distinction between political and judicial functions. He thought that the Lords in making that Amendment had acted upon the principle recommended by the Bill itself, which did not leave the Recorder, or any other judicial officer, of any corporate city or town to be popularly elected, but enabled the Crown to appoint, arbitrarily and at once, without reference to the Town-council, or to the constituency of the Town-council. It was hard that they could not discuss these subjects without having motives imputed to them. The hon. Member for Liskeard was not justified in attributing to them interested motives, a new-fangled loyalty, or in fact anything but a desire to improve the measures which were brought before them for their consideration. If the hon. Gentle- man's principle were correct, why did he not allow the Council to appoint the Recorder, and other judicial functionaries; and if he were so satisfied that the people would always make a proper choice of Magistrates, why did he not allow the people, who elected the Council, to appoint the Magistrates? Why did he leave any intermediate body at all? The right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had said he was sure no one could breathe a suspicion against the justice and discretion of the new corporate bodies as regarded the recommendation of fit and proper persons to sit as Magistrates. Surely that observation came strangely from one who said that the new corporate bodies were not to be trusted with the distribution of Church patronage. Under all the circumstances, he regretted that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) should seek to interfere with what he conceived to be the very judicious and very proper Amendment of the Lords.

Mr. Charles Buller

, in explanation, begged to say that he had attributed no motive to any one; all that he had contended against was, the deep-seated prejudice of some of the Gentlemen opposite.

Mr. Strutt

contended, that there was no analogy between the appointment of a Recorder and the appointment of local Magistrates. The Recorder was necessarily chosen from the members of the legal profession, and the Crown had always about it persons possessing an intimate knowledge of the whole Bar, and consequently fully capable of making the best and most judicious recommendation of the party most fit to act as Recorder. The case was quite different with respect to the appointment of Borough Magistrates. The Crown had about it no person who possessed a sufficient local knowledge of every borough town to know who of its inhabitants were best qualified to act as Magistrates. Hence the proposition for vesting the power of recommendation in the Town-council. The question was, whether the Crown should have some responsible adviser to direct its choice, or whether it should derive its information from some secret and party channel. He contended that the original proposition as agreed to by the Commons, and as now proposed to be restored, instead of restricting, in fact extended the power and prerogative of the Crown, because it would give the Crown the power which it had never before under any circumstances possessed, of appointing Magistrates in cities and boroughs.

The Attorney-General

highly approved of the proposition of his noble Friend. It was but just that the Town-council should be permitted to submit those whom they considered to be eligible to the approbation of the Crown; for it should be observed that before any one of these persons so named could be admitted to the office, he must be approved by the Crown. It was contended that by the Bill the appointment would be practically in the Town-council, because the Council recommended the persons to be appointed. He could not perceive that this was a necessary consequence. The Crown could not be supposed to have any local knowledge as to the fitness or unfitness of the parties; they must be recommended or pointed out by some one, if not by the Council, and it would be just as fair to say that in the former case these Magistrates were in fact appointed not by the Crown, but by that individual who had, on being consulted, pointed out the individuals most fit to fill the situation. He altogether differed with his hon. and learned Friend as to the inference he attempted to draw from the Town-council being permitted to select in the first instance, the persons most eligible for these situations—for, so far from thinking that the prerogative of the Crown would be infringed thereby, he saw reason to be convinced that the restoration of the Clause to its original state would have the directly contrary effect, and tend to increase the prerogative of the Crown; and for this express reason, that the Crown would hereafter be sure to appoint the Magistrates in the new Corporations upon the recommendation of the Council; whilst it was perfectly notorious that at present, in close Corporations, both the situation and appointment were made by the Corporation itself.

The House divided on Lord John Russell's Motion: Ayes 164; Noes 69: Majority 95.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Admiral Baring, F. T.
Aglionby, H. A. Barnard, E. G.
Angerstein, J. Barron, H. W.
Anson, Sir G. Barry, G. S.
Astley, Sir J. Bellew, Sir P.
Attwood, T. Berkeley, Hon. P.
Baines, E. Bernal, R.
Baldwin, Dr. Bewes, T.
Bish, T. Lefevre, C. S.
Blake, M. J. Lennard, T. B.
Blamire, W. Lister, C. N.
Blount, Sir C. Locke, W.
Bowring, Dr. Lushington, C.
Brabazon, Sir W. Lushington, Dr.
Brady, D. C. Lynch, A.
Bridgeman, H. Macleod, R.
Brocklehurst, J. Macnamara, W. W.
Brodie, W. B. Maher, J.
Brotherton, J. Marshall, W.
Buckingham, J. S. Marsland, H.
Buller, C. Maule, Hon. C. F.
Burdon, W. W. Moreton, Hon. A.
Butler, Col. Morrison, J.
Buxton, T. F. Mostyn, E. L.
Byng, G. Mullins, F. W.
Byng, Hon. Col. Nagle, Sir R.
Campbell, Sir J. North, F.
Carter, J. B. O'Connell, D.
Chalmers, P. O'Connell, J.
Clay, W. O'Connell, M.
Clayton, Sir W. O'Logblen, M.
Codrington, Sir E. Ord, W.
Collier, J. Ord, W. H.
Cooper, E. J. Oswald, J.
Crawford, W. S. Palmer, General
Curteis, H. Parker, J.
D'Eyncourt, C. T. Parrott, J.
Denison, J. C. Pattison, J.
Divett, E. Pease, J.
Donkin, Sir R. Pechell, Captain
Duncombe, T. S. Phillips, M.
Dundas, J. C. Ponsonby, Hon. W. S.
Dunlop, J. Poulter, J.S.
Dykes, F. L. Power, J.
Ebrington, Lord Pryme, G.
Elphinstone, H. Pryse, Pryse
Etwall, R. Ramsbottom, J.
Evans, G. Rice, Rt. Hon. T. S.
Ewart, W. Rickford, W.
Fellowes, Hon. N. Rippon, C.
Fergusson, Rt. Hon. C. Robinson, G. R.
Fielden, J. Roche, D.
Fitzsimon, N. Roche, W.
French, F. Rolfe, Sir R.
Gaskell, D. Ronayne, D.
Grattan, H. Russell, Lord John
Grey, Sir George Ruthven, E.S.
Guest, J. J. Seale, Col.
Handley, H. Sheldon, F. R. C.
Harcourt, G. Simeon, Sir R.
Hawes, B. Smith, B.
Hawkins, J. H. Stanley, E. J.
Hay, Colonel L. Steuart, R.
Heathcote, R. C. Stewart, P. M.
Hobhouse, Rt. Hn. J.C. Strickland, Sir George
Hodges, T. L. Strutt, E.
Howard, R. Sullivan, R.
Howick, Lord Talbot, J. H.
Hume, J. Talfourd, T. N.
Hutt, W. Tancred, H. W.
Jephson, C. D. Thorneley, T.
Jervis, J. Tooke, W.
Kerry, Lord Turner, W.
Labouchere, H. Wakley, T.
Leader, J. T. Walker, R.
Walker, C. A. Winnington, H. J.
Wallace, R. Wood, C.
Warburton, H. Wood, M.
Ward, H. G. Wrightson, W. P.
Westenra, Hon. H. R. Wrottesley, Sir J.
Wilde, Sergeant Wyse, T.
Wilks, J. Young, G. F.
Williams, W. A. PAIRED OFF.
Wilson, H. Williams, W.
Winnington, Sir T. Johnston, A.
List of the NOES.
Arbuthnot, General Jones, T.
Ashley, Lord Kerrison, Sir E.
Ashley, Hon. H. C. Knightly, Sir C.
Attwood, M. Lewis, D.
Barclay, C. Matthew, Capt.
Bramston, T. W. Meynell, Capt.
Bruce, Lord E. Nicholl, J.
Bruen, Col. Palmer, R.
Calcraft, J. H. Peel, Sir Robert
Cartwright, W. R. Perceval, Col.
Chapman, A. Plunket, Hon. R.
Cole, Hon. A. H. Polhill, Capt.
Dalbiac, Sir C. Pollen, Sir J.
Dare, R. W. H. Powell, Col.
Dick, Q. Price, S. G.
Dillwyn, L. W. Reid, Sir J. R.
Eastnor, Viscount Ross, C.
Eaton, R. J. Rushbrooke, Col.
Egerton, W. T. Sibthorpe, Col.
Elley, Sir J. Stormont, Viscount
Elwes, J. P. Sturt, H. C.
Fleming, J. Trevor, Hon. G. R.
Fremantle, Sir T. Twiss, H.
Freshfield, J. W. Vere, Sir C. B.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Walter, J.
Gladstone, W. E. Wilbraham, G. H.
Gore, W. O. Wood, Col.
Goulburn, Rt.Hon. H. Worcester, Marquess of
Goulburn, Sergeant Wortley, Hon. J. S.
Grimstone, Hon. E. Wyndham, W.
Hanmer, Col. Wynn, Rt.Hon.C.W.
Hawkes, T. Yorke, E. T.
Henniker, Lord
Herries, Rt. Hon. J. TELLERS.
Jackson, Sergeant Follett, Sir W. W.
Jermyn, Earl Scarlett, Hon. R.

Lords' Amendment struck out, and Clause restored as it originally stood.

Lord John Russell

then moved that Clause T, inserted by the Lords for preserving the jurisdiction of the Cinque Ports, be adopted.

Mr. Elphinstone

objected to this and the three following clauses inserted by the Lords, and moved that Clause T be rejected.

Mr. Curteis

agreed with the hon. Member for Hastings, and considered that these clauses had been inserted by the Duke of Wellington, without exactly knowing their real import. The clauses were in the nature of a private Bill, and ought to form the subject of a separate measure.

Mr. Price

was of opinion that these Clauses had been fully entered into by the Government, and were perfectly understood by them. He considered their insertion to be essentially necessary.

Mr. Warburton

said, it was taking an advantage of a public Bill to introduce clauses which were only fitted for a private Bill.

Sir Robert Peel

thought there had been a general concurrence in the House of Lords on the part of the Government, as to the propriety of inserting these Clauses.

Clause agreed to.

The further consideration of the Bill postponed.