HC Deb 20 March 1837 vol 37 cc672-4

The clauses from the commencement to the 96th Clause were agreed to with only verbal alterations causing no debate but some conversation.

On Clause 96,

Mr. Sharman Crawford

said, he rose for the purpose of moving an amendment for the purpose of assimilating the clause to the practice established in England in towns of a similar class to those named in the clause, and in so doing he was only restoring the clause of the Bill of 1835. He regretted that his Majesty's Ministers had in the present Bill altered that clause so as to give to the Lord-Lieutenant the power of selecting from or totally rejecting the choice of the town-councils. He should propose that the nomination of sheriffs should be vested absolutely in the town-councils. Did his Majesty's Ministers doubt the propriety of intrusting the Irish people with the control and election of their own officers? Or was it done for the purpose of conciliating the party opposite? If it were done for the latter purpose, he would respectfully represent to his Majesty's Ministers that in the progress of the respective measures that had been introduced on this subject many alterations had already been made for that purpose, and with no effect. The present Bill contained as many as twenty towns less than the one first introduced. He should not have so great an objection to the power this clause would give the Lord-Lieutenant if it were always to be exercised by a Government like the present, but he objected to putting that power in the hands of a Government hostile to the Irish people. The hon. Member concluded by moving an amendment, to the effect that the councils of all corporate towns in Ireland should have the absolute power of electing their own sheriffs.

Lord John Russell

said, he gave full credit to the motives that had induced the hon. Member to propose his amendment; but he could not think it was advisable to follow every particular enactment of the English Municipal Bill. If the hon. Gentleman were of a different opinion he could have objected to the modes of electing aldermen which was different in the two bills. He (Lord J. Russell) did not think that dissimilarity any fair ground of objection, and if he had again to bring forward the English Bill he would introduce a similar clause. On the whole he thought it necessary that the Crown should have some power, at least a negative one, in the appointment of officers so closely connected with the administration of justice.

Mr. Shaw

did not think that the noble Lord had given any reason for the altera- tion, and he was surprised that the noble Lord had made so great an alteration in the Bill without being able to assign a better reason for doing so. He thought that either one or other of the propositions should be adopted—either to vest the power in the Lord-Lieutenant or in the town-councils; although, if the present amendment were pressed to a division, which he doubted not it would be, he should not vote for it.

Lord John Russell

had said, that he thought the present clause better than the one in the English Bill. Although he would by no means say that the town-councils would not elect the persons best fitted for the office of sheriff, he nevertheless thought they would be more likely to do so if they knew that their choice would be submitted to the Lord-Lieutenant.

Mr. French

said, that if the clause stood alone, he would support the proposition of the hon. Member for Dundalk. He, however, thought the statement of the noble Lord satisfactory, and he hoped the hon. Member would consent to withdraw his amendment.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that the great object of the clause was, to secure to the country the efficient administration of justice by officers who should not be the subjects of popular election, but appointed by the Crown. If the plan which had been adopted in England and Scotland were a good one, it would still be a question whether or not it would be advisable to extend it to Ireland—there was certainly no part of the empire in which the exercise of any of the functions of the law was more important. He thought that responsibility should be attached to the recommendation and appointment of sheriffs, and that the clause secured that principle. There was one consideration that might have some weight with the right hon. Gentleman opposite, which was, that this principle was by no means a novel one. In many towns the recorder was popularly elected, subject only to the approbation of the Lord-Lieutenant, and as only one individual was sent up that control was inoperative.

The Committee divided on the original clause:—Ayes 65; Noes 5: Majority 60.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Admiral Baines, E.
Aglionby, H. A. Ball, N.
Angerstein, John Baring, F. T.
Bellew, R. M. Parker, John
Bentinck, Lord W. Pease, J.
Blunt, Sir C. Pechell, Capt.
Brocklehurst, J. Philips, Mark
Brotherton, J. Price, Sir R.
Callaghan, D. Rice, rt. hon. T. S.
Campbell, Sir J. Richards, J.
Chalmers, P. Roche, W.
Clive, Edward Bolton Rolfe, Sir R.
Colborne, N. W. R. Russell, Lord J.
Cole, A. H. Russell, Lord
Dalmeny, Lord Scarlett, hon. R.
Evans, G. Seymour, Lord
Fitzroy, Lord C. Smith, R. V.
Folkes, Sir W. Smith, B.
Forster, Charles S. Stuart, V.
French, F. Talbot, C. R. M.
Gordon, R. Thorneley, T.
Grattan, J. Townley, R. G.
Grey, Sir G. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Hay, Sir And. Leith Turner, W.
Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J. Verney, Sir H., Bart.
Hutt, Wm. Warburton, H.
Jephson, C. D. O. Wilson, H.
Lennox, Lord George Woulfe, Sergeant
Leveson, Lord Wrightson, W. B.
Macnamara, Major Wyse, T.
Milton, Viscount Young, G. F.
Morpeth, Lord TELLERS.
O'Connell, M. J. O'Ferrall, R. M.
O'Connell, Morgan Stanley, E. J.
List of the NOES.
Blake, M. J. Ruthven, E.
Bridgman, H. TELLERS.
Hindley, C. Crawford, S.
O'Brien, C. Butler, hon. P.

The remainder of the clause was agreed to, and the House resumed.