HC Deb 07 June 1836 vol 34 cc200-3
Mr. Vernon Smith

moved for "leave to bring in a Bill for the election of Charitable Trustees in the corporate towns in England and Wales." Some such measure as the present was rendered necessary by the Act which passed last Session, "for the better regulation of Municipal Corporations in England and Wales." The House would remember that, in the discussions on that Bill in this House, it was the general object to separate the management of the Charitable Trusts from the immediate control of the Town Councils; and clauses were introduced for that purpose by the noble Lord, the Home Secretary. In the House of Lords, however, Lord Lyndhurst had proposed that these clauses should be expunged from the Bill, on the ground that Lord Brougham had then before that House a Bill "for the Regulation of all Charities, and for the Extension of Education," and in consequence the clauses were withdrawn. Clauses were substituted of a temporary nature, providing that, until August this year, these trusts should remain under the control of the Corporations, and that after that period the nomination of trustees should be vested in the Lord Chancellor, or in the Commissioners of the Great Seal for the time being. Now it was obvious that the Legislature never intended that either of these arrangements should be permanent. The latter would lead to great expense and delay; while it was not to be expected that the Legislature should, after it had been declared that the Corporations were unfit to manage their corporate funds, vest these corporations with the management of the Charitable Trusts belonging to the several towns of England and Wales. It was therefore, with a view of making a permanent provision for the management of these funds that the present Bill was introduced-a Bill which would not in the slightest degree interfere with the working of any Bill that might hereafter be introduced for the general regulation of charities. He proposed that these charitable trusts should be vested in Local Commissioners, but with a view to counteract, as far as possible, the influence of political feelings in the election of the new trustees, the Bill would provide that they should be chosen in the way the auditors were now, and not as were the town councillors-namely, every individual in the constituency would be entitled to a vote, but only for half the number required, which should be fixed by the Town Council. He proposed to leave to the Town Council the power of fixing the number of Commissioners, a certain number going out annually by rotation, but the number would always be one divisible by three. He also proposed to leave it to their own discretion to fix the times of their meetings. In order to keep up some correspondence with the Town Council which might sometimes be useful, he proposed that the mayor should be ex-officio one of the Trustees: and he did not exclude Town Councillors from that body, if the burgesses chose to elect them Commissioners, but it was his (Mr. Vernon Smith's) desire, by every means in his power, to separate the management of these trusts from the political discussions of the Corporations; and it was, therefore, provided, that the treasurer of the Corporation should not be the treasurer of the Commissioners, and that in general all the officers of the two bodies should be distinct.

Colonel Sibthorpe

did not rise to oppose the introduction of the Bill, but he hoped ample time would be given for its discussion, as it was a most important measure.

Mr. Potter

expressed his great satisfaction that a measure of this kind had been introduced.

Leave given.