HC Deb 07 February 1838 vol 40 cc832-7
Sir H. Verney

rose to postpone the second reading of this Bill until after Easter. It was his intention to propose, in the interim, that the subject be referred to a Select Committee.

Sir E. Knatchbull

thought, the better way would be, to read the Bill a second time at the present moment, and afterwards to send it for consideration to a Select Committee.

Lord J. Russell

said, that, as there was great opposition to this Bill, and as some persons opposed the principle, and others the details, of the measure, he thought the course proposed by the hon. Member behind him (Sir H. Verney) was the most convenient that could be adopted. A Select Committee would have an opportunity of examining evidence, and the report of that Committee might enable the House to form a correct opinion on the subject. He had no wish that the measure should pass the second reading without full discussion.

Lord G. Somerset

said, that, if he understood the noble Lord to mean that the Committee would have the power of taking evidence, and of reporting their own opinions to the House, he should be glad if the course proposed were adopted.

Sir E. Knatchbull, if the Committee was to have the power alluded to by his noble Friend (Lord G. Somerset), would not object to the course which had been proposed.

Mr. Pryme

said, the result of this Bill would be to impose a heavy burthen, and he should feel it to be his duty to give it the most strenuous opposition. In his opinion it was a most mischievous measure, and could be productive of not the slightest amount of good. His hon. Friend had, no doubt, introduced this Bill with the best intentions, as there was undoubtedly a grievance in regard to this subject for which a remedy was necessary. He had felt this to be the case, and had also introduced a measure with a view to remove the grievance, but his Bill and that of his hon. Friend were very different. He would, therefore, propose that both Bills should be referred to the proposed Committee, in order that they might take evidence and report in regard to each of the measures.

Captain Pechell

objected to wasting the time of the House by a discussion on the propriety of postponing the second reading of this Bill. In his opinion it would have been better to have gone to the second reading at once, for it was impos- sible that such a measure could ever pass the House.

Mr. M. Philips

wished to state, that in the borough he had the honour to represent, there were 33,000 rate-payers, to 18,000 of whom this Bill would have reference. It was, therefore, highly important that a measure affecting so large a portion of the people, should be fully considered. If the Bill of the hon. Baronet, the Member for Buckingham, and the Bill of the hon. Member for Cambridge, were referred to a Select Committee, he thought that the Bill of the hon. Member for Cockermouth, for the recovery of tenements, ought also to be referred to the same Committee, as the subject of all the three Bills was intimately connected.

Mr. Briscoe

thought, a Bill of greater importance than that proposed to be introduced by the hon. Baronet, the Member for Buckingham, was seldom brought under the consideration of Parliament. The Bill affected the working millions, on whom the prosperity of the country chiefly depended, and, in his opinion, the time of the House could not be better employed than in discussing a subject so important, and affecting so large a portion of their countrymen. He could not, however, approve of the measure proposed, nor could he see how any Select Committee could render it acceptable to the House. There was not a single clause in the Bill to which he could give his support, and the very first clause contained a provision so unjust and injurious, that he was sure the House never could agree to it. If the Bill were sent to a Committee, it would come out from that Committee without a single clause remaining as it stood at present: but if the sense of the House were in favour of the course which had been proposed, he should not offer any further opposition to the measure.

Viscount Sandon

rose to ask the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, in what way he proposed to constitute the Committee—whether it was the intention of the noble Lord to name the Committee himself, or to leave the nomination to the hon. Mover of the motion before the House? He hoped the Government would take the matter into their own hands, as it was a measure affecting in a most important manner the internal government of the country.

Mr. Wakley

also hoped the Government would feel it to be their duty to take the matter into their own hands. From the violent opposition of hon. Members on the other side of the House, he was inclined to believe, that many of the provisions of the Bill were good, and it would, therefore, be better to leave the measure in the hands of the Government than in those of a private Member. He trusted the hon. Member for Cambridge and the hon. Member for Cockermouth would consent to have their Bills referred to the same Committee, as all the three measures, in fact, related to the same subject.

Mr. Aglionby

said, that, though he had originally been willing to give every possible support to this Bill, yet he had always considered many of its details defective, and, after mature deliberation, he had come to the conclusion, that both the principle and details were so bad that he could support neither. There was no connexion between this Bill and the one he had introduced for the recovery of tenements, and he did not think, that they ought to go before the same Committee. He hoped, however, that the House would insist on the two Bills for rating of tenements, and on his own Bill, being taken up by her Majesty's Ministers. He had often wished the Government to take the measure he had brought forward into their own hands, but had never been able to induce them to do so. The Government had as yet brought forward no measure in relation to the law of landlord and tenant, notwithstanding what had been said on the subject in the report of the Civil Law Commissioners; and if they would take the three bills to which he had alluded, into their own hands, they might then bring forward some general measure embracing the object of the three bills now before the House. The whole subject would then be in the hands of those who ought to take the matter up, and he trusted the House would join with him in requesting Government to take the management of the whole three bills into their own power, and not leave the matter to the efforts of private Members of that House.

Mr. Ayshford Sanford

said that he had intended to support the second reading of this bill, though there were many of its details which he should wish to see altered, but after what had passed, he thought the better course would be to refer the whole question, and not the bill itself, to a Select Committee, to be named by her Majesty's Government.

Sir H. Verney

begged to assure the House that the turn which the discussion had taken, gave him as much satisfaction as if he had personally succeeded with his bill, and he greatly rejoiced that the whole question would be referred to a Select Committee under the responsibility of the Government.

Mr. Baines

advised the Government to have nothing whatever to do with the bill, which was of a most obnoxious character, and would only bring odium upon them. It would be best, in his opinion, at once to dispose of the bill.

Lord J. Russell

remarked, that this was not, by any means, a pleasant subject for the Government to take up, though he felt the full force of the suggestion, that if a measure of this kind were adopted, the occupiers of small tenements in country districts would be greatly relieved. On the other hand, however, the bill if passed in its present shape, would inflict a great hardship in several of the large towns, upon the owners and occupiers of small tenements. The subject was one deserving of inquiry, and he would, therefore, undertake to name a Select Committee which should be attended by some Member connected with the Government. Further than that he would not at present undertake.

Sir R. Peel

trusted that when the Committee was appointed, the Members composing it would feel the importance of closing their investigation as soon as possible, consistent with a full and ample inquiry, as the question, remaining open, would throw a vast deal of property into embarrassment. The noble Lord thought that a bill of this kind would be a benefit to the country districts, but would inflict a hardship on the large towns. He begged to ask what effect it would have upon the owners of small tenements in the country, and trusted that point would be inquired into. It was well known that the owners of property in the country districts erected cottages to increase the comforts of the agricultural labouring population, without any adequate return in the way of rent, and if the consequences of such a bill should be to compel the owners to pay rates, he very much feared that their desire to accommodate the poor would be very much abated; for then, they would not only lose the interest of the money laid out, but would be subject to positive taxation. This was a point to which inquiry ought to be directed.

Second reading of the bill postponed.

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