HC Deb 09 August 1839 vol 50 cc137-9

Lord John Russell moved the order of the day for the consideration of the Lords' amendments on this bill. He did so, that the consideration of them might be again postponed till Monday; but he would take that opportunity to say, that with respect to that part of the question which related to the privileges of the House, after the very great pains taken by the Chair to investigate the subject, after the opinion which had been given from the Chair, and having since heard the opinions of many Members fully cognizant of the subject, he was of opinion that it would not be expedient for the House to make any concession on the point of privilege. He was at the same time aware, that there would be a considerable disadvantage in raising that point, unless it were absolutely necessary. With regard to the merits of the bill, there were a number of amendments introduced by the House of Lords, which he had not time to consider, and which, as the predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman had observed, it would be most convenient to adopt or reject at once. With these limitations, and seeing very great difficulty in coming to any agreement with the House of Lords on the subject this Session, and it being at the same time, he must say, the anxious wish of the Government to pass some legislative measure on this subject,—from what he also heard from those most anxious on this question in Ireland, and considering also the nature of their differences, he thought that a bill might be framed so as to meet the views of both Houses. He did not think it would have been proper to allow the present opportunity to pass without indicating the views which he entertained, and the wishes of the Government on this subject.

Mr. Shaw

agreed with the noble Lord as to the inexpediency of returning the bill on the question of privilege to the House of Lords, and saying they did so on that ground. With respect to the other parts of the noble Lord's observations, he was not certain if he were correct in his opinion, but he thought he gathered from them, that the noble Lord was not very urgent in his objections to the amendments of the House of Lords. These amendments were of three kinds: those relating to the franchise, to the freemen, and the third, which involved the point of privilege, namely, the clauses which the House of Lords had struck out, transferring certain fiscal powers from the grand juries to the new town councils to be created under the bill. Now, the noble Lord had not said anything on the subject of the franchise, but he thought, from what the noble Lord had said, that he did not mean to insist on refusing the amendments of the House of Lords. As regarded the freemen, the House of Lords had left them in the same state as proposed in the bill of last year. And then as to the third question, that of transferring the powers of taxation to the new municipal bodies, he must observe, that it was a question involving great changes in the law of the country. It was, besides, entirely a new question, and one which had been introduced irregularly into the bill when it was in committee. Those clauses were not in the bill at all, as introduced, even this year; but the alteration was made in committee, where thirteen new clauses had been introduced, entirely altering the state of the law on the subject. Except on these points, he was not aware of any other difference; and as on that side of the House they had already conceded so much, it was quite impossible for them to concede more. He thought the preferable plan would be for the noble Lord to waive the question of privilege, and introduce a new bill on the subject.

Sir R. H. Inglis

entertaining the greatest objection to this measure—viewing it as one of unmixed evil—and as invading the rights of the Established Church, regretted, that instead of postponing the consideration of the bill till Monday, the noble Lord had not moved its postponement for three weeks. He did not, indeed, understand, that the noble Lord intended to bring in a new bill this Session, but in the next. He viewed this measure as one of unmixed evil, and, therefore, regretted, that any further progress with it was in contemplation.

Mr. O'Connell

could not agree with the hon. Baronet in his description of this measure, that it was one of unmixed evil but must protest against any idea going abroad, that Ireland was not entitled to the same measure of corporate reform, as had already been given to England. The people of Ireland did not ask for more, and they never would be satisfied with less. The corporations of Ireland never assumed a clerical character, except in the estimation of the hon. Baronet the Member for the university of Oxford, who viewed them, he believed at present, as models of piety and promoters of Christianity. The learned recorder for the city of Dublin, had twice pressed this bill on her Majesty's Government. He did not think that circumstance would add to its popularity among the people of Ireland, or tend to make them satisfied with it. Why should there be a 5l. franchise in England, and 10l. in Ireland? Why one set of freemen's franchises in England, and another set in Ireland? He rose, however, merely to protest in point of principle, that Ireland never would be satisfied while they were deprived of the same franchises which England has.

Consideration of the Lords' amendments postponed.