HC Deb 26 April 1836 vol 33 cc320-3
Mr. Leader,

in moving for a Select Committee to inquire into the constitution and operation of Select Vestries in the city of Bristol, presented a petition numerously signed by parishioners and rate-payers of that city, charging the Select Vestries with refusing to allow them to inspect their account-books; with making surcharges of rates upon some inhabitants to make up for the defaulters, who were in general their own political partisans, all those who were surcharged being Dissenters; with making unequal and illegal assessments, thereby depriving many persons of votes to which they were entitled; with making the collectors inconveniently press their political adversaries, and favour their friends; and with squandering the public money improperly, and for party purposes. In fact, the hon. Member said, he accused them of being self-elected, irresponsible, corrupt, and corrupting. He was sure there would be no peace in Bristol until some remedy was applied to this enormous evil. He was prepared with evidence to prove the truth of the allegations he had stated, if the House would give him an opportunity; but if they refused, he gave the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Richard Vyvyan) fail-warning that, perhaps this Session, but certainly next Session, he would introduce a Bill, either applicable to Select Vestries throughout the country, or to the case of Bristol only.

Sir Richard Vyvyan

said, that he had to present a counter-petition, which was most respectably signed, and which entirely con- tradicted the whole of the accusations of the other petition. That was the very hest answer he could make to the statements of the hon. Member for Bridgewater, who he believed had been misled by the misrepresentations of others. Nothing could be more untrue than the charges which had been made; but if there were any evils to be removed, the rate-payers had the power in their own hands. As to the warning which the hon. Member had given him, he would remind him that the experiment had been tried before, and that it failed because it was not supported by the parishioners; and, therefore, he (Sir Richard Vyvyan) would not be the only opponent which the hon. Member would have to contend against.

Lord John Russell

expressed a hope that the motion would not be pressed. He did not think a sufficient case had been made out to induce him to agree to it.

Motion withdrawn.