HC Deb 26 April 1843 vol 68 cc976-95

On the Order of the Day for the second reading of the Municipal Corporations Bill,

Lord J. Russell

rose to move the second reading, and said that when he obtained the leave of the House to bring in the bill, the House had been sufficiently indulgent to him to allow him to bring it in without further explanation, on the understanding that on the motion for the second reading he should explain the objects which he proposed to effect by the measures. He would, therefore, proceed to state his views and the grounds on which he thought the House ought to pass the second reading of this bill. The bill had reference to those corporations of England and Wales which had been left untouched by the Municipal Corporations Act. Some of those corporations were of little importance, whilst others, as being possessed of considerable property, were of great importance in the country. In 1835 the House had passed a law, altering the constitution of a great number of the corporations of this country, reforming them on one model, allowing of popular control, and introducing the principle of popular election. Before the introduction of that measure, in most of these corporations the members had elected themselves. When he had introduced that measure, he had stated that there were several corporations to which it was not intended to apply the provisions of that bill. He now proposed to deal with those corporations. He divided them into two classes. In the first class he placed those corporations which were of little importance, and of the existence of the charters of which there were, in some instances, great doubts; and, in the second class, he placed those corporations which were possessed of considerable property. With respect to these last, he trusted that Parliament would adhere to the principle which it had sanctioned, by a large majority, in legislating for the other corporations in 1835, and would substitute in those also the principle of popular control and of popular election for that of self-election, from which so many abuses had resulted. He would state next what was the character of these different classes of corporations. He was not about to do so on his own authority, but on the authority of the reports of commissioners, who had been appointed in consequence of a recommendation of a committee of that House. He would first refer to those boroughs which were contained in Schedule A., and the first of them was Ash-ton-under-Lyne. In this borough there was no knowledge of any charter. It was not known whether the charter had been forfeited, or whether it ever had a charter; and the mayor had no other duties to perform except those of a returning officer- The next borough in the list was Bala, a borough in Merionethshire. Of this borough, a gentleman resident in the neighbourhood said, that it was a corporate town; he was the only person who knew anything about it: he had heard that from a learned man who had used many Latin words, and he believed that he was the only person who knew that it was a corporate town. He had heard his father say it was a corporate town and therefore he believed it was. There were no duties attached to the corporation. There was another borough called Harlech, also in Merionethshire, of which Mr. Palmer was mayor, and who described the chief use of the corporation to be, that it gave him a good dinner once a year, and he should be very sorry to lose it. With respect to the others he would not enter into details; he would only say, that they were governed by the same kind of narrow spirit which prevailed in all self-elections, and that the corporate officers had little or no business to perform. There was one, the borough of Newborough, in Wales, of which the mayor proposed to the burgesses to divide the commons and. told them that if they did not agree to divide the commons he would go away and not come again. They appealed from the mayor to the recorder, and the recorder told them that if they could not agree he should do the same as the mayor, go away, and not come again. The burgesses did not agree, and the mayor and the recorder went away, and were never seen any more. That was the commissioners' statement, and they said that these corporations answered no good purpose, that they were not wanted, that they caused expense, that the tolls they levied were very often extremely vexatious, that they were governed by a body of select persons self-elected, and that they ought to be abolished. With regard to one place Mr. Jardine had stated that it had no jurisdiction, and no duties equivalent to the expense of the establishment. Such was the general character of the unimportant corporations with which he proposed to deal. There were other corporations of a very different character, and with respect to which he proposed an entirely different measure. They were boroughs which he proposed to include in schedule D. But there was an error in printing the bill, which it was necessary he should notice; the clause which included the boroughs of this description being printed in schedule C instead of schedule D. The corporations of this description retained their municipal institutions; but their constitutions as they now exist were full of abuses. They were in the hands of a few persons, who received all the advantages of the corporations, who impoverished the people, and it was fit they should be reformed on the principle adopted in the Corporation Act of 1835. He would take the case of the corporation of Queenborough, which had been repeatedly brought before the House by petition, and which would illustrate other cases. He wished to call the attention of the House to the state of that borough, because he understood that the second reading of the bill was to be opposed, and he was desirous of ascertaining whether the inhabitants of this borough were to be left without a remedy for the grievances they endured. He put it to the House whether it would, by refusing to read the bill a second time, leave those people without any redress? What was the case of Queenborough? In that place there was a fishery of considerable value, which in the last few years had yielded a sum of more than 100,000l. That was so stated it) the report of the commissioners. They said that far the last four years the revenue obtained from these fisheries amounted to 13,000l. to 15,000l. and sometimes to 13,000l. That was the gross amount, from which certainly was to be deducted the expense of the fisheries. The fishery was intended to benefit the place; but in consequence of the power of the corporation being in the hands of a few persons, the fishery was not only not beneficial to the Crown, but it had been made the means of entirely destroying it, by the tyranny, oppression, and cruelty which were exercised on the inhabitants. The people of Queenborough thought they had a right to be present when the accounts were audited, but they were refused to be admitted, and the case was sent to the courts of law, where the corporation took care that the people could not come in con- sequence of the expense. The people had, in truth, no means of prosecuting the suit, while the corporation carried it on with the corporation funds. It appeared that the corporate officers had spent 1,000l. in paying the expenses of one lawsuit, and they wasted the money in expensive lawsuits, which should have been employed in keeping up the fisheries, of which they were the wardens. They made bye-laws of the most oppressive nature, by which they did not allow the dredgers for oysters to carry on their calling unless they obtained their permission. Another bye-law ordered the fishermen to dredge for oysters for a great length of time, for which they would not pay above 1s and if they refused to serve these masters, they were excluded from all employment. They were, in fact, reduced to the condition of slaves of the worst description by the tyranny of these corporate officers. That was stated in the report of the commissioners. He had some time since presented a petition from the free burgesses of Queenborough, who wished to have the remedy provided by this bill. They stated that out of 120 houses 66 were unoccupied; that the grass was growing in the streets, and that the people were suffering the greatest privations. The fisheries were going to waste, and the borough was saddled with a heavy debt. It was not only saddled with a heavy debt; but the oyster beds to which the people had to look for support, had not been supplied with oysters in the proper season, and it was feared that the fishery would be entirely destroyed. The corporation was ruining the common people, who saw with envy the prosperity of Rochester and other towns arising from their flourishing fisheries. He must ask, then, were these people to have no remedy, and were they to be left without any redress By the House refusing to pass this bill? There was another case, Saltash, which was one of great abuse. It was stated that all municipal purposes were greatly neglected, that the gaol was not fit to hold the prisoners, and that the debt of the town was greatly increased. The inhabitants of that borough, too, had petitioned the House to pass the present bill. He could not believe, under such circumstances, that the second reading of the bill was to be opposed, though it was so stated; for he did not know on what grounds the House could refuse to read the bill a second time, unless it meant to say that there should be no remedy for these great abuses. He came next to the remedy which ha proposed. With regard to all the boroughs in schedule A, which were insignificant places and generally destitute of charters and property, he proposed that they should be dissolved. with regard to other small boroughs which bad soma property, he proposed that they should be dissolved also, and their property be left to the disposal of the vestries or the parishes, to be applied by them, not to the poor-rates or the highway. rates, but to purposes of improvement. He would not exclude them from applying the property to church-rates, because it had in many cases been intended for purposes of that kind. In many cases, however, this property, which appeared to be considerable, was not so in fact. In the borough of Henley, for example, the property of the corporation was said to amount to 1,200l. a-year, but that was not ail at the disposal of the corporation, which could only control about 357l. the rest of it was appropriated by law to other purposes. There were the bridge rents, amounting to 342l. a-year, which were in the hands of the bridgemen, who did not belong to the corporation. Those persons held these funds in trust—they performed no duties to the town, and applied them to the repairs of the church. There were various other small sums, which went to parties different from the corporation. The corporation had claimed to have the disposal of some of these funds, but the Charity Commissioners in their reports proved that the claims of the corporation were incorrect and unfounded. He proposed that the boroughs in schedule D should be continued, but that they should be subjected to a governing body elected by the great body of the people, under similar regulations to those of the reformed corporations—that is, that they should be elected by persons who had resided three years in the borough, and paid taxes and rates. He did propose, however, that these changes should not be all immediate, but that on the 9th of November next the change should begin, and on every following 9th of November more of the officers should be changed. His wish was to make the change gradual, so as to cause no alarm, but at the same time to put an end to all existing corporations which were formed on the principle of self-election. Boroughs in which seven or eight or twelve persons elected their successors, to the exclusion of ail the other inhabitants of the town, were not to be continued. The Parliament had passed the Municipal Act to put an end to such corporations, and he could not believe that the Parliament would new refuse to give to the smaller boroughs the now constitution it had given to the larger ones. He appealed to the House to listen to the prayers of the people of Queenboraugh, and by passing the bill enable them to receive the benefits of the new municipal regulations, and obtain redress of their many grievances. The noble Lord concluded by moving that the bill be reed a second time.

Mr. W. Williams

, in supporting the motion, said that he considered that the House was deeply indebted to the noble Lord for having, by his Municipal Reform Bill, annihilated those nests of corruption and local mismanagement, and substituted for them new corporations, founded en the elective franchise. But then he did not understand why the noble Lord had left untouched the corporation of the city of London, which exceeded all other corporations in corruption and profligacy, and in which seemed to be accumulated all the vices which all other corporations had practised. He could tell the noble Lord that his constituents felt aggrieved that they should be excepted from a system of reform, which they felt so requisite for their advantage, or that there should be continued that system of misrule and profligacy, of which they had already complained to that House in the strongest possible terms, and that, too, in a petition, in which the noble Lord, before he became their representative, had presented; and that was signed by from eight to nine thousand inhabitant householders of the city. Not only were the inhabitants of the city under the domination of the London corporation, but all who lived in the vast valley of the Thames, from Windsor to the Medway, were under its jurisdiction, and from them it exacted taxes; upon the most important necessaries of life. He should like to know on what ground of justice or morality these corruptions were to be continued, when all the towns in England had been purified? He was sorry that the noble Lord had shrunk from the dealing with that giant mass of corruption — the corporation which he himself represented. But then if the noble Lord did shrink from this task, he appealed to her Majesty's Government, and in doing so, could not but express the hope that they would not allow this nuisance to continue any longer. Why, he asked, were the inhabitants of the whole of this metropolis to be under the ban, and afflicted with taxes by that profligate corporation? He should like much to know why it was that the members of the metropolitan boroughs did not attack that corporation. Why did their members remain listless whilst the property of their constituents were taxed by the corporation of London? He would like to ask the noble Lord who brought in the present bill, if he thought it just that such a system should continue for one day longer? He might be allowed to give one instance of the oppressions of the London corporation. No man could engage in trade in the city without paying a tax to the corporation of something like 11l. 5s. Such a system of taxation, he said, was never heard of in any other part of the world. It never was even attempted in any one of the old corporations that they had abolished. It was not known anywhere else in any part of the United Kingdom. He was sure that the House could not be aware of the extent of oppressions practised and enforced by the London corporation. Every article that was consumed was made to pay a tax to the corporation. In the city of London there was not a single article that was not made to pay a tax. Let them, for instance, look to the Lord Mayor's department. He was glad to see that the Lord Mayor was present and taking notes. Now, not a ship nor a boat laden with corn, fruit, potatoes, or almost any necessary of life, could enter the port of London and offer its cargo for sale, whether fruit, corn, or potatoes, before a person landed and went to the Mansion-house and paid the Lord Mayor a tax and received his permission for a sale, as without that permission no sale could take place. The tax was not a very heavy one, but it was to be complained of as a great inconvenience to trade. There were several charges made at the Cocket-office. There was the payment of a sum of money to an officer Called a "Trier." In ancient times, when a cargo of fruit arrived in London, it might have been proper to wait on the Lord Mayor with a sample, and obtain his permission to sell it, and then the Lord Mayor sent round his crier to announce the arrival of such a cargo. That might have been all very proper seven or eight hundred years ago, but it was not proper or just that the exaction should be continued to the present day. The amount of taxes that were profligately expended on feasting and revelling by the corporation was enormous. The city laid taxes upon potatoes, salt, coals—in short, upon every article that came into the metropolis. The corporation imposed its taxes, not merely on the channel of the Thames, but also on every tributary stream to the Thames. 100,000l. a year collected" in this way formed one of the sources of the revenue. But this was not all. Merchants could not land a cargo of corn, or coal, or fruit, without being compelled to employ labourers who were freemen of the city of London, and who must on that account pay taxes to the corporation. He said that such a corporation—a corporation which the noble Lord represented, ought to be the very first subjected to reformation. A committee had five years ago been appointed to inquire into the management of the port of London by the corporation. Let the House only think of such a river as the Thames being under the management of such a corporation. The Lord Mayor was called "Conservator," or some such name, and he was assisted by a committee of the Common Council. They were to superintend the safety of the river, and look to the mud banks that interrupted the navigation. It was not merchants of London who might be competent judges of such a matter, who were appointed to perform that duty—no, but they were members of the corporation, and there was always a great scramble to get upon the committees, because in committees there was always the largest amount of feasting. He could assure the House that the principal Members of the committees were butchers, bakers, tailors, shoemakers, slop-sellers, and persons of that description. Such were the persons that the corporation thought were the most fit for the management of an important river like that of the Thames. The consequence of this mismanagement could only be appreciated by those who suffered. There could not be a steamer on the Thames without the officer being a freeman. They could not discharge a coal-ship or a barge without employing freemen of the city of London, and thus there were extravagant charges for the work done, and frequently they could not get the work done in the time required. And how, then, was the law business of the corporation performed? The corporation kept up a staff of not less than ten regularly paid lawyers! There was the town clerk, the city remembrancer, the comptroller—then there was the common-sergeant, the recorder, and there were the four city pleaders, with another whom he did not recollect, making in all ten lawyers regularly employed; and yet it was most remarkable, that whenever there was a case of the least importance to be tried, the corporation did not intrust their case to their own law officers, but had to ask for the aid of foreigners, for such foreigners as the Attorney-general and other distinguished Members of the Bar. The corporation showed that it was not satisfied with the talent of its own staff of ten lawyers. He did not mean on this occasion to go into the question of expense, or to show what all these things cost in pounds, shillings, and pence. That he reserved for another opportunity. He wished, however, to show, in the first instance, that it was the duty of the noble Lord to introduce a bill for the reform of the corporation of London, and if the noble Lord declined the task, then he hoped that the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, would take up the question. If he did so, whilst he found the political feeling of the corporation divided, that which was proved in the last election; he would also learn, that by undertaking the management of the. subject, he would entitle himself to the gratitude of the great body of the inhabitants of London, who felt deeply the grievances inflicted upon them by the corporation. The commissioners appointed to inquire into corporation abuses, had actually obtained no information of any use. The only information they got was from the officers of the corporation, who gave them as little as possible. But he referred the right hon. Baronet to a report of the Common Council itself, and which was made in 1836. From that they obtained some insight into the corporation. There the right hon. Baronet might see what was the vast extent of public money that was taken in taxes, not only in the city of London, but from the inhabitants of the whole of the metropolis. Why, the right hon. Baronet would find from that report, that the cost of the corporation of London, in proportion to the number of its inhabitants, was very nearly twice as much as the cost of the Government of this country was in proportion to each individual in the population, and in this calculation he included the payment of the debt, the army, navy, colonies and all. For instance, there was the office of Lord Mayor. They saw a dignified civic officer, sitting down at the head of the civic table at Guildhall, surrounded with the great nobility of the land, by bishops and archbishops, by judges, her Majesty's great officers of state, and her Majesty's ministers. He passed no reflection upon his right hon. Friend the present Lord Mayor, for none could fill the office with greater credit, or, as Lord Mayor, better sustain what was called the hospitality of the City. He did not complain even of any Lord Mayor who had preceded the present. He only exhibited the system; and he did not mean to say that, if he were in the same situation, he would not act himself as they had done, for be did not pretend to virtue more than any other man; but it was the system that he complained of. The cost, he could tell them, of a Lord Mayor of London was prodigious. Gentlemen would be surprised, who were present at these feasts, when he informed them that the whole amount of the feasting came from taxes upon bread, potatoes, coals, salt, and other necessaries of life consumed by the inhabitants of London. The poor who lived in their garrets, aye, and in their cellars, contributed to the City taxes, for the purpose of maintaining these splendid feasts, at which the great men of the land were partakers. Such things, he said, ought not to be permitted. He challenged any Lord Mayor who had passed the civic chair to show that they had not pocketed a large amount of the salaries allowed them. In 1836 an application was made to all the aldermen who had passed the civic chair for a return of their expenses, for there were many items that did not appear in any account at all. These aldermen were called upon to state the amount that they had received; and they all refused but one —that was Sir Peter Laurie, who stated that he had received 7,900l. He could not conclude without expressing the hope that the corporation would not be allowed long to continue without reform.

Sir James Graham

intended to intrude but for a very short time upon the attention of the House. He confessed that he had almost anticipated from the speech made by the hon. Gentleman, that, instead of seconding the motion of the noble Lord it was his intention to have moved, that it be an instruction to the committee that the corporation of the City of London should be included in one of the schedules of the bill. It was not, he confessed, his intention to become the assailant of that corporation, or to do that which the hon. Gentleman had recommended him to do— to undertake its reform. He thought at the present moment he had quite sufficient to do, without placing upon his shoulders this new burthen. He found that he had already excited a good deal of feeling out of doors, and had incurred no small share of obloquy, by venturing to bring forward the education clauses in the Factory Bill; and then he had undertaken he was afraid, with a considerable degree of rashness, to bring forward a bill, which would affect the medical profession — a task in which it was to be anticipated that difficulties might be encountered. But those difficulties would be of trifling import compared with the difficulties which he would have to encounter, were he to make the attack on the Corporation of London which the hon. Gentleman recommended. For, notwithstanding the divisions which the hon. Gentleman said prevailed in the corporation, he was sure that the first motion of an assailant character, of which notice was given in that House, would unite its members, as one man, to resist the attack. Bat if he would not be the assailant, so neither did he intend to become the defender of the corporation. Its defence might be more safely entrusted to the hands of the Lord Mayor of London, whom he saw opposite; and he was quite sure that the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) who sat next but one to him, if from no other motive but gratitude, would assist him. But, if the right hon. Gentleman would take his (Sir J. Graham's) advice, he would postpone his defence to a more opportune season. Time reminded him that an occupation quite as necessary, and more congenial to the habits of a Lord Mayor called. He might be allowed to say, that he cordially agreed in the eulogium pronounced by the hon. Gentleman on the Lord Mayor—to express the sense which he entertained of the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had performed his duties—to add, that the manner in which his hospitality had been maintained, and the demeanour which had characterised him in his office, must not only have exalted him in the opinion of the citizens of London, but must have added to the good will which he had enjoyed before. With the permission of the House he meant very shortly to state the reasons why he offered his opposition to the second reading of this bill. The noble Lord had stated to the House on a former occasion, when he had moved for leave to bring in a bill, that it was not necessary for him to open fully the nature of the measure that he meant to propose. Now amongst other reasons that he had for resisting the bill of the noble Lord was this, that the country was taken quite by surprise by this measure. He had reason to know, from information which he had received that morning, that there were corporate towns which would be affected by the bill that had not the slightest notion that it was intended to propose a measure of this description. There were no petitions complaining of any abuses [Lord John Russell, hear, hear.] The noble Lord cheered him. He knew very well that the noble Lord relied on the report which he had read. He wished now to go shortly through the whole of this case. What was the report the noble Lord relied upon? Were there any grievances. Were there any abuses which were now revealed for the first time. The date of the report on which the noble Lord relied, was 1834, and immediately preceding the Municipal Reform Bill. The noble Lord had cognizance of these abuses for above eight years. The noble Lord had deliberated on this subject, when he brought forward the Municipal Reform Act. Then either the noble Lord considered such corporations so small as that they were unworthy of legislative notice; or, dealing with what he conceived to be the greater grievances, and which demanded immediate attention, he had postponed them as matters which might well wait for some legislative measure for two or three years to come. The noble Lord held power for six years after the passing of the Municipal Reform Act, and yet whilst he held power he never thought it necessary to propose any measure on this subject. This long delay while the noble Lord held power, showed that he did not consider these things of which he now complained to be crying evils; and it would even appear, that the idea of touching those corporations was at least but an idea taken up in haste. He said that there were symptoms of haste, in the preparation of the bill. First of all, there was a class of boroughs returning Members which were included in schedule C; it would appear as if they were to be abolished entirely, whereas, it was now stated that they ought to have been placed in schedule D. and were intended to retain their corporate character. Then there was another regulation by which every man paying 40s. a year would be entitled to the franchise, and this would give to every such person in four out of the six boroughs, the right of voting for Members of Parliament, thus greatly extending the franchise. Then there was Woodstock. That corporation was not to be included in schedule A or B, and yet the noble Lord dealt with Woodstock, for the mere purpose of changing the name of the returning officer. Instead of being "the mayor," he was henceforward to be called "the baliff." The noble Lord dealt with Woodstock for no other purpose than that of changing the name of the returning officer. That, he said, was another proof of haste. Then there was another clause, by which officers ceasing to be mayors and becoming bailiffs, were to be returning officers for the ensuing year; but it did so happen that after the ensuing year, there was no provision made as to who was to be returning officer. The noble Lord stated in the bill, that for certain disqualifications quo rvrranto writs should not issue; but there was in this bill no enumeration whatever of the nature of the disqualifications to which that clause should apply. He (Sir J. Graham) produced these only as proofs that this measure had been taken up in haste by the noble Lord, and that it had been prepared without that caution and care which appeared to him to be absolutely necessary in the preparation of such a measure. By the first clause of this bill the noble Lord proposed to abolish entirely and summarily eighty-five charters of incorporation, and some of them the most ancient in the country. The noble Lord said, they ought to have similarity of legislation and identity of principle. It was on this ground that he took his stand in resisting the bill. If the House would look at clause 4, it applied to thirty-two corporations. He would beg to call the attention of the House to toe new principle introduced in clause 4. The analogy had been carefully preserved in the Municipal Reform Act, between the new constitution in the towns to which it applied, and the old principle of legislation and delegation in corporate towns as to trusts exercised by trustees delegated by the constituent body. The noble Lord in the 4th clause, introduced an entirely new principle; he put an end to legislation and delegation of trustees quoad representatives and vested an absolute power, as to trusts, in the rate-payers of the town in vestry assembled; and he did not delegate that power to their representatives, but it was to be exercised indirectly through the overseers, their appointed servants. The practical operation of the plan would be most extraordinary; the noble Lord, not trusting even that popular body to whom for the first time such large powers were to be given, imposed upon them a discretion which they were to exercise under these limitations, viz., they were not to apply one shilling of the money, even with the sanction of an overwhelming majority in vestry assembled, and even though they thought it was for the public good so to appropriate any surplus revenue, to the diminution of the poor-rate, or to the extinction of the church-rate, or for any other purpose by which the burthens upon the rate-payers would be reduced. Then, again, the noble Lord gave the vestry a complete control over all the trusts, and there were some ancient trusts which by this arrangement would be abused or diverted from their purpose. For instance, there were some trusts connected with the Established Church, and in many cases some of the inhabitants in vestry assembled, being conscientious Dissenters from the Church of England, might, with the noble Lord's assistance, given to them by this bill, divert the funds from their original purposes, although they were strictly defined by those who had made the bequests. He thought, indeed, that it was inevitable that those trusts would be set aside, and the funds applied to objects diametrically opposite to those intended by the founders. The noble Lord had relied upon one particular case—that of Queenborough, and it was true that very serious abuses existed there; but that case had net been overlooked by her Majesty's Government. The law officers of the Crown were investigating it for the purpose of obtaining evidence to go before the Court of Chan- cery, in order to file a bill of discovery, and if it should be found, as probably it would be, that there had been gross perversion of the trusts and malversation in the administration of the funds by the corporators, every effort would be used by judicial authority to make those corporators refund. With respect to the proposal for abolishing the chartered coroners and justices of the peace of these boroughs, he (Sir James Graham) must say, that he entertained very great doubts whether it conduced to the credit of these corporations, or to the advancement of justice, that the officers who were charged with the execution of their local trusts should perform the functions of justices to administer the criminal law. He thought that in such places it would be better that Ministerial functions of this kind should be performed by the magistrates and coroners of the counties. These were points which were open for consideration at some future period; but he thought, on the whole, with regard to this bill, for which he could see no necessity, and which, as he had shown, had not been prepared with sufficient care to be capable of practical application, that its further progress should be postponed. With regard to the suggestion that the affairs of the city of London required the mending hand of legislation as much as others, he did not wish to enter upon that question at present, but he must say that there was such a thing as straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel, and that whilst the city of London was allowed to retain all its privileges untouched and unimpaired, it was not too much to ask that a few small Welsh boroughs should be also left unharmed. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving, as an amendment, that the bill be read a second time that day six months.

The Lord Mayor

said, that very erroneous opinions prevailed respecting the Lord Mayor's expenses. What was the income of the corporation? 156,354l. It was raised from the following sources: — Rents and quit-rents, 56,896l.; renewing fines for leases, 723l.; markets, 17,126l.; tolls and duties, 7,067l.; coal and corn dues, 60,881l.; bequests, 135l.; brokers' rents and fines, 3,892l.; admissions to the freedom of the city, 4,518l.; there were two other items, interest and incidental receipts, making up the total amount of the 156,000l. The corporation, then, did not swallow down so much as had been stated. What was the expenditure? The charges on the contra rents, revenues, and income of the corporation was, in the first place, in aid of the improvement fund, 11,500l.; on the corporation rental, including the management of estates 6,999l.; on markets, 8,995l.; on tolls, duties, offices, &c, 24,664l.; on brokers' rents and fines, 278l.; these items made a total of 52,437l. out of the 156,000l. Then there were the expenses of the magistracy of the City of London, which, including all the officers, and 10,118l. for the police, were 18,279l. Then, all the prisoners in the City prisons were maintained at the expense of the corporation, for there was no county-rate for the purpose. The expense of Newgate was 9,223l.; of the House of Correction, 7,602l.; of the Debtors' Prison, 4,955l., with the general prison expenses, 26l., making together 21,809l. The charges for the administration of justice at the Central Criminal Court, were 12,182l.; the office of coroner, 840l. Here there was a further total of 53,120l., which, added to the former, amounted to 105,000l. out of the 156,000l. Then, the expenses of the conservancy of the Thames and Medway were 3,117l.; the expense of the civil government of the City, including every expense belonging to it, and all the officers, solicitors, and state persons attached, was 24,446l.; of the Borough Compter and magistracy, 1,541l.; of sundry public buildings, 123l.; of charitable donations, pensions, and honorary rewards, 6,805l. Payment in respect of the arrangement for purchasing the right of alienation of offices, 2,100l. Bequests not charged on the property of the corporation, 302l. Sundry miscellaneous and incidental expenditure, much of the money being given away, 3,913l. Contribution in aid of an improvement in Newgate-street, 2,000l. These items, with interest and annuities, made the total of expenditure 150,979l. But, besides that, the corporation had last year paid off 10,000l., which they had previously borrowed. The hon. Gentleman had been himself once a member of the corporation of the City of London, and had endeavoured to obtain the popularity necessary to enable him to become an alderman, but he could not attain that share of popularity; and being disappointed, he had since endeavoured to do all in his power to throw odium on the corporation. There was one thing which the hon. Gentleman did which had ever since been scouted. He held in his hand the hon. Gentleman's own book, signed by himself, and he would just read the propositions which he had there made. The hon. Gentleman had estimated the expense of building the Mansion-house at 70,900l., additional expenses and repairs 5,000l., making a total of 75,900l.; and he proposed to charge 7 per cent, upon this amount to the Lord Mayor for the time being. He had then estimated the value of the site of the Mansion-house, supposing it were pulled down and occupied by shops, at 23,000l., and he proposed to charge 4 per cent. upon this sum against the Lord Mayor. He then estimated the expense of the library, the state-barge, and other items, at 22,000l.; and he charged 7 per cent. on this sum against the Lord mayor, making a total charge which the hon. Gentleman proposed to inflict upon the Lord Mayor of 8,000l. a-year. [Mr. W. Williams: Go on—go on.] No: he had said he would not detain the House unnecessarily with details of this kind, and he thought he had said enough on this score. The hon. Gentleman then went on to speak of the splendid income which the Lord Mayor received, and which the hon. Gentleman said he would as splendidly expend. Now that I doubt. The hon. Gentleman, the author of this book, had then gone on to assert that everything was provided out of the corporate funds for the Lord Mayor, during his stay in office. Now, the fact was the very reverse. There was nothing provided for him but the House and its appurtenances; every other expense, including lighting, servants, the porters at the doors, and there were some five-and-twenty servants in the establishment, was paid out of the pocket of the Lord Mayor. What the Lord Mayor received to meet all these charges was 8,000l,, out of which he had to pay 1,500l., before he got anything for the entertainment at Guildhall, and he would leave it to the House to judge if he could keep up the usual hospitalities of the City, and lay anything by out of the balance. For his own part, he only knew that it cost him a great deal more than he received; and he hoped that Noblemen and Gentlemen who had done him the honour of dining with him at the Mansion-house, would do him the credit of believing that he should be very sorry to invite them if he thought that in so doing he was asking them to eat the poor man's bread. He was quite sure, on the other hand, that if the hon. Gentleman who had written this book were to find himself called upon to do the honours of the Mansion-house (he had no chance of doing so, however), he would forthwith get rid of the paraphernalia of a Lord Mayor's-day, and of all other lavish expenditure, and would put a very large sum of money into his pocket. He was only sorry the hon. Gentleman would never have the opportunity.

Mr. W. Williams

wished to explain. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he had sought to obtain the office of Lord Mayor. In this the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly mistaken. The fact was, that during the time he had resided in the City of London he had been offered all the situations in the corporation. That was, he had been applied to to fill the office of sheriff, and had been invited by three different wards to serve the office of alderman. He certainly had been, during two years, and a short period longer, a member of the common council. He had been solicited for many years to become a member of the common council, but had always declined, until the City authorities adopted the extraordinary part of refusing all information to the citizens in reference to the management of their affairs, and he then consented to go into the common council, in order to bring this matter to an issue, and, having succeeded in obtaining the information which was printed in this book, he retired.

Mr. W. Howard

wished to know from the right hon. the Secretary for the Home Department, whether he had any intention of extending to Malmesbury the same course of investigation as he had adopted in regard to Queenborough? He believed that this place afforded as gross an instance of peculation, malversation, and corruption as any borough corporate in England.

Sir J. Graham

said, that if any facts tending to support a charge of misconduct on the part of the borough of Malmesbury were brought before him, he should be ready to take them into consideration.

Lord J. Russell

, in reply, said, that whenever the hon. Gentleman behind him brought forward his motion for the reform of the corporation of London, he should be quite ready to consider it; and he thought the corporation could not be in better hands than those of the right hon. the Lord Mayor, who had not only given an able answer to the attack of the hon. Member for Coventry, but had by his hospitality so far allayed the enmity of a more formidable foe, as to induce him to "give perpetual prosperity to the corporation of the City of London," at a recent festivity. The right hon. Gentleman had given some reasons why the House should not agree to the second reading of this bill; and one of his objections was to certain misprints in the present copy. Why, in a most important bill introduced by the right hon. Gentleman himself, several very extensive alterations were made after it had been allowed to be read a second time. The right hon. Gentleman had reproached him with having left the subject untouched for eight years. He was afraid that in several cases many minor and private grievances had existed; but it was not easy to legislate for them. When, however, in the course of last year, the case of Queen-borough was laid before him, when he found that out of 120 houses fifty were unoccupied, and that the people were obliged to emigrate, and when he was called upon to redeem a pledge which he had made some years ago, he thought he could not refuse or refrain from introducing such a bill as the present. The right hon. Gentleman had now proposed as his remedy for the existing abuses, that the parties should go before the Court of Chancery. How could people who were suffering distress for want of occupation go to the Court of Chancery? Was t at to be their only remedy, after another year's pause? Must they waste more time in appealing, first to the Vice-Chancellor, and afterwards to the Lord Chancellor, and perhaps elsewhere? Was that the remedy which the right hon. Gentleman proposed for a practical grievance? It appeared to him that the right hon. Gentleman would rather screen the self-elected corporation, than prevent or punish their abuses by his opposition to this bill.

The House divided on the question that the word "now" stand part of the question. —Ayes 46; Noes 99:—Majority 53.

List of the AYES.
Aldam, W. Carew, hon. R. S.
Barnard, E. G. Cayley, E. S.
Bernal, R. Christie, W. D.
Brotherton J. Craig, W. G.
Busfeild, W. Dalmeny, Lord
Evans, W. Russell, Lord E.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Scholefield, J.
French, F. Smith, rt. hn. R. V.
Gisborne, T. Stuart, W. V.
Gore, hon. R. Thornely, T.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Towneley, J.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Trelawney, J. S.
Howard, hon. J. K. Turner, E.
Howard, Lord Villiers, hon. C.
Howard, hon. H. Wall, C. B.
Langston, J. H. Ward, H. G.
Lord Mayor of London Williams, W.
Wood, B.
Marsland, H Wood, G. W.
Mitchell, T. A. Wrightson, W. B.
O'Brien, J. Wyse, T.
O'Brien, W. S. Yorke, H. R.
Plumridge, Capt. TELLERS.
Ponsonby, hn. C. F. C. Hill, Lord M.
Russell, Lord J. Tufnell, H.
List of the NOES.
Acland, T. D. Hervey, Lord A.
Adderley, C. B. Hodgson, R.
Allix, J. P. Hope, G. W.
Baillie, H. J. Irving, J.
Bankes, G, Jermyn, Earl
Baskerville, T. B. M. Jocelyn, Visct.
Beresford, Major Joliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Blackstone, W. S. Kelburne, Visct.
Boldero, H. G. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.
Borthwick, P. Legh, G. C.
Broadwood, H. Lincoln, Earl of
Bruce, Lord E. Lockhart, W.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Lowther, hon. Col.
Chute, W. L. W. M'Geachy, F. A.
Clayton, R. R. Mahon, Visct.
Clerk, Sir G. Miles, P. W. S.
Clive, Visct. Miles, W.
Cochrane, A. Murray, C. R. S.
Corry, rt hn. H. Neeld, J.
Cripps, W. Neville, R.
Damer, hon. Col. Newdegate, C. N.
Darby, G. Newport, Visct,
Davies, D. A. S. Newry, Visct.
Douglas, Sir H. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Norreys, Lord
Duffield, T. O'Brien, A. S
Egerton, W. T. Palmer, R.
Eliot, Lord Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Escott, B. Peel, J.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Pennant, hon. Col.
Flower, Sir J. Pollock, Sir F.
Follett, Sir W. W. Pringle, A.
Fox, S. L. Rolleston, Col.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Rose, rt. hn. Sir G.
Gladstone, Capt. Round, J.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Russell, C.
Gore, W. O. Sanderson, R.
Goulburn, rt. hn. H. Sandon, Visct.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Scarlett, hon. R. C.
Greene, T. Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.
Hampden, R. Smythe, hon. G.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Somerset, Lord G.
Henley, J. W. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Stanley, Lord
Herbert, hon. S. Stewart, J.
Sutton, hon. H. M. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Tennent, J. E. Wood, Cot.
Thesiger, F. Wood, Col. T.
Tomline, G. TELLERS.
Trench, Sir F. W. Fremantle, Sir T.
Trevor, hon. G. R. Baring, H.

Main question, as amended, put and agreed to. Bill put off for six months.

House adjourned at a quarter past seven o'clock.