HC Deb 28 February 1840 vol 52 cc778-83

Viscount Morpeth moved the Order of the Day for going nto Committee on the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Bill.

House in Committee.

On schedule A being put,

Mr. Dunbar moved, that the town of Belfast be struck out of schedule A and placed in schedule B.

Viscount Morpeth

would at once declare, that he must adhere to the schedule as at present constituted.

Mr. Litton

reminded the Committee, that Belfast had petitioned against being included in schedule A.

Mr. Sergeant Jackson

thought, that a different rule ought to be adopted towards those four towns that had petitioned against being included in schedule A, and those who were willing to be included in it.

The Committee divided on the original motion;—Ayes 67; Noes 26: Majority 41.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Admiral Morpeth, Viscount
Aglionby, H. A. Morris, D.
Aglionby, Major Murray, A.
Archbold, R. O'Brien, W. S.
Baines, E. O'Connell, D.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. O'Connell, M. J.
Barnard, E. G. O'Conor, Don
Bellew, R. M. Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H.
Bewes, T. Pechell, Captain
Blake, M. J. Pigot, D. R.
Bridgeman, H. Price, Sir R.
Briscoe, J. I. Rice, E. R.
Brodie, W. B. Roche, W.
Brotherton, J. Russell, Lord J.
Busfield, W. Smith, B.
Callaghan, D. Stock, Dr.
Collier, J. Strutt, E.
Collins, W. Style, Sir C.
Corbally, M. E. Thornley, T.
Curry, Mr. Sergeant Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Dalmeny, Lord Tufnell, H.
Duke, Sir J. Turner, E.
Finch, F. Verney, Sir H.
Fitzpatrick, J. W. Vernon, G. H.
Greg, R. H. Vigors, N. A.
Harcourt, G. G. Warburton, H.
Hawkins, J. H. Wilde, Mr. Sergeant
Hector, C. J. Wood, C.
Hobhouse, T. B. Wood, G. W.
Hodges, T. L. Wood, B.
Howard, P. H. Wyse, T.
Hume, J. Yates, J. A.
Humphery, J. TELLERS.
Hutton, R. O'Ferrall, M.
Lynch, A. H. Parker, J.
List of the NOES.
A'Court, Captain Marsland, T.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Maunsell, T. P.
Blair, J. Maxwell, hon. S. R.
Cochrane, Sir T. J. Perceval, Colonel
Cooper, E. J. Plumptre, J. P.
Corry, hon. H. Polhill, F.
Darby, G. Smyth, Sir G. H.
Du Pre, G. Thornhill, G.
Farnham, E. B. Trench, Sir F.
Halford, H. Verner, Colonel
Hodgson, R. Young, J.
Jackson, Mr. Sergeant
Kemble, H. TELLERS.
Lucas, E. Dunbar,—
Mackenzie, T. Litton, E.
Mr. Blake

objected to the insertion of the town of Galway in this schedule, and stated, that the House of Lords had excluded it from a similar bill last year, upon sufficient grounds being shown before the Committee. He therefore moved, that Galway be expunged from this schedule.

Mr. Sergeant Jackson

seconded the amendment.

Mr. Lynch

was satisfied, that it would be more in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants of Galway if that town were placed in schedule B.

Mr. O'Connell

thought, that Galway ought to stand in schedule A.

Viscount Morpeth

regretted, that he could not comply with the request of his hon. Friend; but as in the case of Belfast he had evinced an insensibility to the allurements of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, so in the present instance he must prove equally coy when courted by his hon. Friend. He could not consent to remove Galway from schedule A.

Mr. Dunbar

supported the amendment. He believed the inhabitants of Galway to be unanimous in their wish to have that town placed in schedule B.

The Committee again divided on the original motion:—Ayes 79; Noes 47: Majority 32.

Schedule agreed to.

Mr. Sergeant Jackson moved the insertion of a clause after clause 4, to enable all persons entitled to vote as freemen or burgesses in the election of Members to serve in Parliament for any borough, to vote likewise in the election of the town councillors and aldermen of such boroughs to be elected under the provisions of this bill. The ground of his motion was this: that the freemen of these corporations had vested interests in the local government of their towns; they were efficiently represented in the town council of Dublin as in other corporations, and he thought it only right and just to continue them in the same position, and to give them a voice in the election of the aldermen and common councillors under this bill. The effect of the bill as it now stood would be to transfer their corporations from the Protestant part of the community into the hands of the Roman Catholics. That certainly would be the case with all the towns in schedule A, except Belfast and Londonderry; and her Majesty's Attorney-general had said, that if that were the effect of the measure, he should be the first to oppose it. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin had scouted that idea, but he (Mr. Sergeant Jackson) had taken the liberty of showing to the House the other night, from returns on the table, that there was a large majority of 10l. householders who were Roman Catholics, except in Belfast and Londonderry. He knew, that in some respects those returns were inaccurate which were furnished by the commissioners of public instruction. He could prove it; but they were the nearest approximation to the truth which he could obtain. He proposed now, therefore, to give the freemen a voice in the election of the aldermen and town council, with a view to counterpoise the influence of Roman Catholics, which this bill must produce.

Viscount Morpeth

thought the hon. and learned Member could hardly be serious in pressing a proposition so entirely inconsistent with the principle and frame-work of this bill. It was not necessary for him to argue the question. The hon. and learned Sergeant said, that most of the present freemen were Protestants, and that might be so; but, looking at some of their late proceedings in the corporation of Dublin, looking at the vulgar squabbles in which they had been engaged—charges banded about of peculation and corruption—there was at present a dispute, he believed, about the disposal of one Church living, looking, too, at their recent conduct with regard to the learned Recorder, he must say, that a body of men who could treat one of their stoutest defenders as he had been treated, were not exactly the class of persons most fitted to take, the management of local interests. He should oppose the amendment as being at variance with the spirit of the bill.

Mr. W. Roche

thought, that nothing could be more destructive of the principle of this bill than an amendment like the present.

Mr. O'Connell

said, that anything equal to the profligacy with which the corporation of Dublin had squandered 200,000l. could not be conceived. The hon. and learned Sergeant admitted, that he had spoken from inaccurate returns; but he reminded him of the lawyer who replied to an objection, that certain evidence was not legal,—"True it's not legal, but it's good enough for the jury." And so the learned Sergeant said—" It's not accurate, but it's good enough for the House of Commons." The bill would be good for nothing if they let these freemen in. The evil would remain during fifty years. Roman Catholics had been admissible to the freedom; but not a single one had been admitted in that period. The object of this bill was to throw religious distinctions aside, and to substitute, by way of qualification, the resident property of the town. The great cause of the present quarrel between the corporation of Dublin was, that he had defended them from the charge of being an exclusive corporation; but they insisted that they were. They had, no doubt, been exclusive, and this bill was proposed to remedy that evil.

Mr. Bellew

said, that if the returns referred to by the learned Sergeant were correct, he could only rejoice that the Liberal party were so strong; and the learned Sergeant ought not to be quite so sure that there would not be a Liberal majority even in Belfast and Londonderry. He regarded the discussion upon this measure with great satisfaction, because he looked upon it as the last time on which those questions would be discussed in that House. They seemed now, indeed, to be coming to the whispering of a faction, not strong enough to be heard out of that House, and very little within it.

Mr. Sergeant Jackson

had referred to the only returns which were at his command, and they were the parliamentary returns laid on the table of the House. They at all events gave an approximation to the truth; and if they were not quite accurate, the disproportion was so great, that his argument would not be effected. The proportion between the Roman Catholics and Protestants was as two to one, or as three to two in all the towns in the schedule, except Londonderry and Belfast. This was a Protestant constitution, and the local Government of these towns ought not to be transferred wholesale from the Protestant to the Catholic inhabitants. It had been said, that if the property were in the hands of the Roman Catholics, then they ought to have a voice in the local government on account of that property. But he denied the fact; for though a majority of those who occupied 5l. and 10l. houses might be Catholics, still the property of the country was in a large proportion in the possession of the Protestants.

Sir R. Inglis

said, the noble Lord had said something about the vulgar squabbles of the corporation of Dublin, but was that the only place where vulgar squabbles occurred. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin had charged the corporation with peculation and profligacy to the amount of 200,000l., but was that House the tribunal to decide such a case? If the case were true, the Courts of Law were the proper tribunals to appeal to. No ground could be more untenable for the destruction of a class of persons holding vested rights than that particular persons had not always spoken and acted with discretion.

Lord J. Russell

said—The hon. Baronet seems to have taken offence at the words "vulgar squabbles," which were used by my noble Friend; but the hon. Baronet, I think, has heard words not much more civil used on the part of the Orange Association in Dublin.

Mr. M. J. O'Connell

was perfectly satisfied that this clause had not been proposed with a view to carrying it into effect. The learned Sergeant could not carry it into effect; but though he acted according to the letter of the arrangement which had been made, he seemed disposed to violate its spirit. He, however was rejoiced to see that the hon. and learned Sergeant bad by his conduct driven away the leaders of his party in that House. It would be much better to oppose the measure openly and honestly than, professing to support the principle of it, to attempt to introduce clauses calculated to defeat its main objects. As to the corporation of Dublin, they had admitted eighty-three freemen between the years 1832 and 1835, of whom, only one was a Catholic.

Mr. W. Roche

said, that hundreds of the freemen of Limerick had never seen the place, the drummers and fifers of a particular regiment, he believed, on one occasion, had been made freemen.

Colonel Perceval

said, there was no ground for charging his hon. and learned Friend with factious opposition to this Bill; he had last Session given notice of the same motion as the present, and had only been prevented by an accident from bringing it forward. He believed that the present unpopularity of the learned Recorder of Dublin, which he hoped was only temporary, had arisen from the part he took in supporting the second reading of this Bill; but that hon. and learned Gentleman had together with himself and his learned Friend near him (Mr. Sergeant Jackson) felt themselves bound in honour so to act in consequence of their acquiescence in the proposition, that if the tithe question were settled on a satisfactory basis, they would not oppose the principle of the Government corporation plan.

Mr. J. Young

could not see how it would be just to admit a rabble of 700 or 800 men to vote along with the rate-payers. The parties who paid the rates were those who should alone exercise the municipal right, and therefore, although he had assented to all the other propositions of his hon. and learned Friend, he could not support him in his present motion.

The Committee divided on the clause—Ayes 44; Noes 97: Majority 53.

List of the AYES.
A'Court, Captain Halford, H.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Henniker, Lord
Bagge, W. Hodgson, R.
Bailey, J. jun. Hope, G. W.
Baring, H. B. Ingestre, Lord Visct.
Boldero, H. G. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Bruges, W. H. L. James, Sir W. C.
Buck, L. W. Kelly, F.
Burroughes, H. N. Litton, E.
Cochrane, Sir T. J. Mackenzie, T.
Codrington, C. W. Maunsell, T. P.
Cole, Lord Viscount Maxwell, hon. S. R.
Cooper, E. J. Neeld, J.
Corry, hon. H. Perceval, hon. G. J.
Darby, G. Plumtre, J. P.
Darlington, Earl of Polhill, F.
Dunbar, G. Praed, W.T.
Du Pre, G. Sandon, Lord Visct.
Fellowes, E. Scarlet, hon. J. Y.
Greene, T. Somerset, Lord G.
Grimsditch, T. Trench, Sir F.
Verner, Colonel Colonel Perceval
Waddington, H. S. Mr. Sergeant Jackson
List of the NOES.
Adam, Admiral Morpeth, Lord Visct.
Aglionby, H. A. Muntz, G. F.
Aglionby, Major Murray, A.
Ainsworth, P. Noel, hon. C. G.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. O'Connell, D.
Barnard, E. G. O'Connell, J.
Bellew, R. M. O'Connell, M. J.
Berkeley, hon. H. O'Connell, M.
Bewes, T. O'Conor Don
Blake, M. J. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Brabazon, Sir W. Palmerston, Lord Vis.
Bridgeman, H. Parker, J.
Briscoe, J. I. Parnell, rt. hon. Sir H.
Brocklehurst, J. Pechell, Captain
Brodie, W. B. Pigot, D. R.
Busfeild, W. Price, Sir R.
Clay, W. Pryme, G.
Collier, J. Rice, E. R.
Collins, W. Roche, W.
Corbally, M. E. Russell, Lord J.
Curry, Mr. Sergeant Salwey, Colonel
Dalmeny, Lord Seale, Sir J. H.
Duke, Sir J. Smith, B.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Smith, R. V.
Ewart, W. Somerville, Sir W.M.
Finch, F. Stock, Dr.
Fitzpatrick, J. W. Strangeways, hon. J.
Fleetwood, Sir P. Strickland, Sir G.
Gisborne, T. Style, Sir C.
Gordon, R. Thornely, T.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Townley, R. G.
Harcourt, G. G. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Hawes, B. Turner, E.
Hayter, W. G. Turner, W.
Hector, C. J. Verney, Sir H.
Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J. Vigurs, N. A.
Hobhouse, T. B. Vivian, right, hn. Sir
Hodges, T. L. R. H.
Hollond, R. Wallace, R.
Horsman, E. Warburton, H.
Howard, P. H. Ward, H. G.
Hume, J White, A.
Humphery, J. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Hutton, R. Wood, C
James, W. Wood, B.
Johnson, General Yates, J. A.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Young, J.
Lushington, C. TELLERS.
Macauley, rt. hn. T.B. Stanley, Hon. E. J.
Melgund, Lord Visc. Tufnel, Mr.

The House resumed, report to be brought up.