HC Deb 26 April 1837 vol 38 cc288-90

Sir Andrew L. Hay moved the second reading of the Burghs of Barony (Scotland) Bill. The object of the Bill was to introduce a more substantial police regulation into these towns, and to enable them to appoint an efficient magistracy, which they were very much in want of at present. The Bill was optional, and the towns could accept or reject it by public meeting to be convened for the purpose.

Sir George Clerk

objected to the Bill, because it was quite unnecessary, and because it was an overloading of the Statute Book with minute laws. The whole of the legislation which it was intended to accomplish by it could have been included in six lines of the Bill, which had been just read a second time, or the Bill of the Lord Advocate, as ef- fectively as it would be by the sixty pages it comprehended. He was opposed to the principle of the 51. qualification, because he saw no reason and could augur no good from its introduction into the measure; and he deprecated confiding, as it purported to do, the magisterial power, to the class of persons on whom it was intended to be conferred. On these grounds, he hoped the hon. and gallant Member would see fit to withdraw the Bill.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

said, the burghs desired the measure for their own peace sake; they were in a most lawless state at present for want of an efficient system of police and a resident magistracy. Nothing could be better calculated to remedy the evils than the measure under consideration, as its great object was, to obviate them not alone in the burghs, but the incorporated towns. There were upwards of 130 petitions from the several burghs in its favour; he hoped, therefore, the House would pass the Bill.

Major Cumming Bruce

conceived the Bill was altogether unnecessary, as a separate measure, as it could easily be embodied in either of the Bills for the municipal regulation of the Scottish boroughs then before the House. He should oppose the second reading.

Dr. Bowring

supported the Bill. It was exceedingly popular in Scotland, and besides it was another step to the grand object of his side of the House, the great end of self government.

Mr. Forbes

denied that the hon. Member, (Dr. Bowring) was entitled to assume to represent the popular interests of the country. On behalf of those popular interests he decidedly objected to this Bill.

Mr. Dunlop

supported the Bill, which was very popular in the towns in his county. This measure was very much wanted, for many of the towns were actually without local magistrates, so that depredations were openly committed without fear of punishment.

Mr. Pringle

felt considerable objections to the measure. It introduced changes unjustly affecting the arrangements and property of upwards of 100 burghs in Scotland. He was opposed to the powers given to the Commissioners, enabling them to fix the boundaries of the burghs in the most arbitrary manner.

Mr. Williams Wynn

concurred in the propriety of the objections taken by the hon. Gentleman near him against the incorporation of these towns by an act of the Legislature. The power of instituting the corporations ought to be left to the Crown.

Lord John Russell

stated, in reply to a question from the right hon. Gentleman, that on the passing of the English Municipal Bill he had made inquiries as to the expense attending the grant of town charters, and he found that it amounted to 700l. or 800l., the great part of which was occasioned by the fees demandedon the number of names inserted in the charters, these names being the names of the first members of the corporation. By the passing of the English Municipal Act, however, it was not necessary to have that enumeration, and scarcely necessary to introduce any names at all in the charters; consequently there was a considerable diminution of expense on that head, and the Treasury had, upon application, remitted other fees, the payment of which they could excuse consistently with the existing law. Consequently, the amount of the fees to be paid, according to the different circumstances of the boroughs, amounted to between 120l. and 150l. which he did not think too large a sum for a wealthy and populous borough in England, requiring a charter to devote to that purpose.

Sir G. Clerk

said, his object was not so much to oppose the Bill as to effect a consolidation of all the different Bills. He would, therefore, take an opportunity to move an instruction to the Committee for the consolidation of the Bills. He should also endeavour to introduce a clause similar to the one in the English Municipal Bill, empowering the Crown to grant charters upon the application of the boroughs. He also expressed a hope that the fees would be as far as possible remitted, even if the noble Lord should find it necessary to apply for an Act of Parliament for that purpose, and should in consequence withdraw his opposition to the Bill.

Bill read a second time.