§ Mr. J. Parker
appeared at the bar, and said that the committee appointed to examine the journals of the House of Lords had done so, and had found that the Rating of Stock in Trade Bill, sent up from this House, had been read a first and second time by their Lordships, and that the report of their Lordships' committee on the bill was ordered to be brought up on that day six months.
§ Lord J. Russell
said, he hoped the House, as this was a matter of great importance, would allow him to introduce a new bill and pass it as rapidly as possible. He understood that one question, and that a principal one, upon which this bill had been lost in the House of Lords, was the question as to the liability which was taken away by this bill. That was a point upon which he need not give an opinion. All he would say was, that his hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney-General, was clearly of opinion that the liability, as regarded all occupiers, was neither varied nor changed. It was, however, supposed that occupiers would be exempted from liability under the words which exempted, or at least were intended to exempt, inhabitants only. He had been also told, that there was great objection in the other House to pass this as a permanent act, several noble Lords thinking that the question ought to be again considered in the next session. That certainly was not his opinion. It was essential, however, to pass a bill in the present session, and he would, therefore, propose to introduce a hill, and, if possible, pass it through the whole of the stages that day, so that it might be considered in the House of Lords to-morrow. The noble Lord concluded by moving for leave to bring in a bill.
The Attorney General
rose cordially to second the motion. There could be no doubt that it was essential that a bill of this sort should be passed; at the same time he owed to himself, and to the question of law, to state that he was of the clearest and most confident opinion that the objections taken to the bill in the House of Lords were altogether unfounded. There was not the smallest pretence for saying that the bill would have the operation apprehended. The only object of the bill was to prevent persons who 1281 were inhabitants from being rated for stock in trade. In every other capacity, and as regarded every other species of property, they remained rateable as before. There appeared to exist a dread that leasehold property would be exempted from rating. If the bill had been liable to such a construction, he would have been very much to blame, because he had no doubt that leasehold property chiefly contributed to the rate for the relief of the poor. He begged, however, to say, that it was utterly impossible that such a construction could be put on the bill. After the report made by the hon. Members who had examined the journals of the House of Lords, it was absolutely necessary that something should be done; for if not—if the question were left in its present state, no rate could be made for the poor in any parish in the kingdom. Under the circumstances, the course which his noble Friend proposed was the best that could be pursued. The House had agreed to the bill in all its stages, with very little objection to some of the details—not so much as to prevent him from hoping that the bill would be allowed to pass through all its stages this evening.
§ Leave given; bill brought in, and read a first time; the standing orders having been suspended, it was passed through all the other stages.