HC Deb 06 August 1844 vol 76 cc1847-9

A conference having taken place between the two Houses on the subject of the Lords' disagreement with the Commons' Amendments in the Arts Union Bill,

Mr. Wyse

appeared at the Bar, and brought up their Lordships' reasons for not agreeing with the Commons' Amendments in the Arts Union Bill. Their Lordships objected to any legislation with reference to particular cases. It was stated by the dissentients that these individuals had sufficient cognizance of the illegality of their proceedings. They had the same knowledge, it was said, as those officially engaged in these Art Unions. He (Mr. Wyse) thought it was necessary to strike out the second Clause, in order to avoid forming a precedent. The House had, with reference to the qui tam actions, thrown its protection around certain individuals. The House ought to extend the same protection to those individuals who, by connecting themselves with a society for the promotion of art, had unintentionally violated the law. He, therefore, moved that the House of Commons should insist upon its Amendments.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

asked whether it would be politic to insist upon their Amendments?

Mr. T. Duncombe

said, if the Government would seriously take up the Amendments made by the House of Commons, he was quite sure that both the Bill and its Amendments would be carried, provided the Amendments were insisted upon. A great injustice would be done to three or four individuals if these Amendments were not agreed to by the House of Lords. Had not the House, with reference to certain gambling transactions, protected particular individuals? and it would be a gross act of inconsistency, cruelty, and injustice, if the House did not give those parties interested in the Bill its protection.

Mr. Bernal

thought the case of these individuals particular cases of hardship. They could not separate these individual cases from the Art Unions themselves. It would be considered out of the House a hard measure towards these persons—individuals who had not, like other parties, the power themselves of bringing their grievances before either House of Parliament. Although he did not agree with the hon. Member (Mr. Wyse) with regard to the great utility of these Art Unions, he still protested against an act of injustice being done to particular individuals.

Sir R. Peel

knew nothing whatever of the circumstances under which the alterations in the Bill were made. It certainly would be unfortunate if as the result of this interference the Bill was lost altogether, because they could not place the parties in the same position they were in prior to the introduction of this Bill. He hoped that the House would not insist upon its Amendments. He only suggested this course in order to avoid what he conceived to be a greater evil,—viz., the loss of the Bill, and an exposure of those parties to the penalties of the law. It was a great mistake to imagine that the Government had any hostility to the existence of Art Unions. Counsels' opinions had been taken with regard to their legality, and then it was that the Government thought it necessary to give notice to those parties that they were committing a violation of the law. It was under these circumstances that Parliament con- sidered itself justified in interfering. Without giving anything like a guarantee with regard to the course which the Government might think proper to take, he asked for the delay of twenty-four hours rather than hazard the loss of the measure altogether.

Mr. Wyse

expressed his entire concurrence in what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet, and he would move the postponement of the subject until tomorrow.

The Lords' reasons for dissenting from the Commons' Amendments to be printed, and taken into consideration on the following day.