§ Mr. Sharman Crawford
rose to move the postponement of the Bill until next Session. It appeared to him that the Bill would take away the rights of common from all future generations, and that the benefits of such rights of common would be taken away from the poor without any adequate compensation. The provisions of the Bill would offer a bribe to those who had the present use of those rights to sell that which they had no power to dispose of, namely, the rights of future generations. Ten acres was the utmost amount of common allowed for a population of from ten thousand to thirty thousand. He did not object to enclosures of commons on just and equitable terms, but the interests of the poor were not provided for by the Bill before the House. If the pasturage of cows on commons was subject to proper regulations, it would be of great benefit to the poor man. The experience of past Enclosure Bills, proved to him that the interests of the poor were not cared for. It was said, that the poor would benefit by the employment which the enclosure of commons would give rise to; but he thought that was very doubtful—he did not think the evidence of the past was very encouraging on this point. From the reign of Queen Anne down to the reign of George the Fourth, upwards of 6,000,000 acres of land had been enclosed; he did not, however, think that the employment of the poor and the improvement of their means would bear any proportion to the quantity of land which had been enclosed. Waste land, if applied to the purposes of small occupation, would be of great benefit to the poor, both by increasing their employment, and their supply of food. The House did not seem to like small occupancies, and the example of Ireland had been referred to. It was, however, unfair to say that the distress of the people of Ireland arose from small occupancies. The following was the average size of farms in different counties, computed on the number of arable acres in each county, and taken 16 from the population returns of 1841; Armagh, eleven acres; Down, fifteen acres; Meath, thirty-seven acres; Cork, 113 acres; Galway, thirty acres; Mayo, twenty-three acres. The wages of the Irish labourers did not exceed 6d. or 8d. a day, and they were therefore driven to the necessity of occupying small tenements. Mr. George Nicholls, in his Third Report on Holland and Belgium, stated—The farms in Belgium rarely exceed 100 acres; the number containing fifty acres is not great; those of thirty and twenty acres are more numerous; but the number of holdings of from five to ten fifteen and twenty acres is very considerable, especially those of the smaller extent, and to these I chiefly confined my inquiries.It further appeared that the small farms, of from five to ten acres, which abounded in many parts of Belgium, closely resembled the small holdings in Ireland; but the small Irish holder, in many cases, existed in a miserable state, destitute of the common comforts and conveniences of civilized life, whilst the Belgian peasant farmer enjoyed a large portion of these comforts. Mr. Nicholls described the houses, the mode of living, the mode of management, the dress and condition of the small occupier, which in every respect indicated the greatest degree of rural comfort. Mr. Nicholls also said—The productive powers of the soil are inferior to the soil of Ireland. To the soil and climate, therefore, the Belgian farmer did not owe his superiority in comfort over the Irish cultivator, but to the system of cultivation, and the habits of economy and forethought of the people.Mr. Nicholls said, that in a farm of six acres, the whole was worked by spade labour, and that the farmer had no assistance save that of his wife and children, excepting occasionally the aid of a neighbour or hired labourer in the harvest season. It was most gratifying to observe the comfort displayed in the whole economy of these small cultivators, and the respectability in which they lived. He described the circumstances of a particular small occupier in Ghent:—He had a wife and five children, and appeared to live in much comfort. He paid for house and land 9l. 7s, 6d. per annum. He owed little or nothing, but had no capital beyond that employed on his farm. He questioned him respecting his resources in case of sickness. He replied, that an illness of long duration would press heavily on him, 17 and he might be obliged to sell part of his stock. If his wife and family were long ill, the doctor would give him credit, and he would, if he retained his strength, pay him in a year or two. The thought of applying for assistance in any quarter never appeared to have entered his mind.Mr. Nicholls added—As far as I could learn, there was no tendency to the subdivision of the small holdings. I heard of none under five acres held by the class of peasant farmers: and six, seven, or eight acres is the more common size.Mr. Laing, in his "Notes of a Traveller," said—The first operation in reclaiming land from a state of nature is certainly to plant it with men." … "It is the time only, and that time not valued, of the small proprietor, which can fertilize, bit by bit, such land;(alluding to the poor, sandy, sterile heath land of Holland). Speaking of the outcry against small holders in Ireland, Mr. Laing said—They do not consider the somewhat important difference of people being the owners or not the owners of the land divided.He also instanced, in support of the benefit of small holdings, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, and Tuscany, where forty-eight families in every hundred had land as their own property. He was of opinion that the Bill was calculated to benefit chiefly the landed proprietors, and, if so, it was unfair that the people at large should have to pay for Commissioners who were not intended to do them any service whatever. He would repeat, that the Bill was a landlords' Act; and he was farther of opinion, that whatever land was not now directly given up by this measure to the lords of the manor would ultimately come into their possession, because the small holders would be brought up by them, and all would thus become theirs. Another objection which he had to the Bill proceeding at present was, that it contained no less than 161 clauses; and he would put it to the House whether it was fair that a measure containing so many clauses, and such important provisions, should be brought forward at this late period of the Session? Under these circumstances, he had felt it to be his duty to record his dissent from the principle of the Bill, by moving its postponement until next Session. He thought he had given sufficient reasons for the 18 measure being delayed, at least for that period; and he would, therefore beg leave to move that the House go into Committee on the Bill that day three months.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
said, he fully agreed with the hon. Member for Rochdale, who had just sat down, that it was better to postpone the consideration of the Bill for another Session. There were so many interests concerned in the provisions of this Bill, that he confessed he thought the present was not a period of the Session when they could satisfactorily take the matter into consideration. He confessed he thought that the Bill was a vast improvement upon the measure that had been introduced by his noble Friend opposite, the Member for North Lincolnshire (Lord Worsley); but still there were many parts of it to which he had the strongest objection. It would, for instance, give great powers to men who were wholly unacquainted with the various parts of the country with which they would have to interfere, and where these inclosures would take place. Besides, he had no great predilection for Commissioners; and, he believed, the country agreed with him in that. They had sufficient experience already of the expenses of Commissioners, and of the little good which they effected. They had instances of that in the Poor Law Commissioners and in the Tithe Commissioners. These latter originated in the year 1836, and from that time to the present, they had cost the country some hundreds of thousands of pounds; and, after all, had done little or nothing for it. This Bill would give great powers to the lords of the manor. It would enable those individuals to take good care of themselves; and he had some misgivings about the manner in which they would exercise the power given to them. On going into Committee, he should endeavour to do his duty in improving the measure, and he certainly should aid his noble Friend (the Earl of Lincoln) as far as he possibly could.
§ Lord Worsley
hoped the House would direct its attention to what he conceived to be the grounds on which this Bill rested. He had not had an opportunity of being present in the House when the Bill had been introduced by the noble Lord (the Earl of Lincoln); and he would, therefore, wish briefly to refer to what had already been done with respect to this subject. Hon. Gentlemen would, perhaps, recollect that 19 he had himself introduced a Bill of this description three years ago, and with the permission of the House he would beg leave briefly to explain the progress of the measure from that period up to the present time. It was in the year 1837, that at the suggestion of one of his constituents, he brought in a Bill to facilitate the making of common fields enclosures; and having been fortunate enough to succeed in getting it passed into a law, he had for two or three years afterwards constant applications from parties connected with waste lands, pressing him to bring in a Bill for extending the provisions of his former measure. From the difficulties, however, which he had to contend against in the progress of the first Bill, he did not wish to do so; until the year 1843, when there were so many applications made to him on the subject, and so many of the hon. Gentlemen who had voted with him in 1837, promised him their support and assistance, that he was induced to comply with the solicitations that had been made to him. He had been selected as the fittest Member to bring the subject forward in the House, in consequence of his connexion with the former Bill; and because it so happened that he was neither directly nor indirectly connected with any land which this Bill or any general Enclosure Act could affect. The original Bill of 1837 had, he was aware, many imperfections, which were, to a great extent, to be attributed to his want of ability; but the subsequent measure which had been introduced by him had been prepared with great care, as affecting the rights and interests of a much larger class of persons. When the Bill of 1842 had been first drawn up, the Commissioners were left blank; and he expressly provided in the measure, that one of the Principal Secretaries of State should be the party to appoint the Commissioners, and that he was to be a party in carrying out the Bill. He then inserted the names of the Tithe Commissioners, against their express remonstrances, and merely because he believed them to be the fittest parties for carrying the measure into execution. It was only right that he should state this, because an impression had gone abroad that as the duties of the Tithe Commissioners would very soon cease, the insertion of their names in the Bill was a job on their part, in order to get their offices made perpetual. He wished, therefore, it should be known 20 that it was his own suggestion, and, in fact, contrary to the wishes of the Tithe Commissioners, that he had mentioned them in the Bill. He should add, that he had been under the impression at first that the Tithe Commission would last. His Bill was not successful the first year, in consequence of the late period in the Session in which it had been introduced; and in the year after—1844—in consequence of the time devoted to private matters, there would have been very little chance of getting on with it. The Government then conceived that the House would not pay that attention to the question which its importance required, without having the Report of a Committee upon it. A Committee had been accordingly named; and the noble Lord opposite (the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) could bear testimony with him to the exertions which that Committee had used to discharge the task entrusted to them in the most efficient manner. They continued their sittings for a considerable time, and collected the evidence of a great number of witnesses from different counties in England and Wales; and the result was, that, with the exception of the noble Lord (Lord Granville Somerset) alone, the Committee were unanimous in favour of a general Act. Accordingly, in the present Session, before he returned to England, he got his hon. Friend the Member for Cockermouth to give notice, in his name, that it was his intention to introduce a Bill on the subject at an early date. Shortly afterwards, he received a communication from the noble Lord opposite (Lord Lincoln), that the Government had it in contemplation to take up the question, and introduce a Bill at once in the House. It had been stated by some persons that he (Lord Worsley) was badly treated by the Government, in having the measure taken out of his hands. In this feeling he did not at all participate. He certainly thought that the Bill now before the House would require some important alterations to make it successful; but he was so sensible of the importance of having the measure brought forward on the responsibility of the Government, and of having as little time as possible lost in bringing it under the consideration of Parliament, that he could not but feel gratified at the course which had been taken. He should be exceedingly sorry if the opposition which was now offered 21 to the Bill, were to be persevered in, and if the House were not to proceed with it in Committee. He would not detain the House with any lengthened observations on the subject at present. He could assure his hon. Friend who had moved this Amendment, that if he would take the trouble to look into the evidence that had been taken before the Committee, he would find abundant proofs in it of the advantages which it was calculated to afford to the poor in the vicinity of these commons. He would find that labourers who now found a difficulty in getting employment even for a short time, near these unenclosed lands, would be afforded an opportunity of earning a considerable amount of wages in enclosing and bringing them into a state of cultivation; and there was also abundant evidence of improvement being thus effected in the condition of these poor people, and of constant employment being afforded to them in places where now, from the unwillingness of the farmers to employ them, they were living in the most wretched condition. He trusted hon. Gentlemen would, at least, take the trouble of looking into the Report of the Committee before they came to any conclusion hostile to the measure. They would find the evidence of many men, who were most competent to judge of the question, all in favour of such a measure; and that, as he had before stated, the Committee, with the exception of the noble Lord the Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster alone, had come to a unanimous decision in favour of such a Bill being passed. He would not detain the House longer but he could not avoid taking that opportunity of expressing his gratitude to his noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Lincoln), for the very complimentary terms in which he had spoken of him in his (Lord Worsley's) absence, in connection with the subject now before the House, and his gratification that a measure which had given him a great deal of trouble, and for the success of which he felt a lively interest, was likely to become the law of the land. But at the same time he should repeat that he sincerely hoped the Amendments which he suggested in the measure, would meet with the favourable consideration of the Government, as without them he believed there would be felt a want of confidence on the part of those who would be anxious to avail themselves of the provisions of the Act, and who 22 would be deterred by an apprehension of great expense from coming before Parliament. He would propose no Amendment with regard to the Commissoners, though he had a very strong opinion that the course proposed in the Bill was not the best one that could be taken. It was said that a Commission presided over by the chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests would form a very proper board to be entrusted with the management of this law; but it should be recollected by the House that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests were the parties who had the management of all property of which the down was lord of the manor, both in Wales and in many parts of England; and that by the present Bill they would establish a board of commissioners over them. When they got into Committee on the Bill, he would, he thought, be able to show that the Bill proposed giving too much power to the valuers. It gave them power of adjudicating on claims; and he believed the evidence would bear him out in saying that this would open up many very great difficulties, which would require to be dealt with by men of considerable experience, and not by mere land agents. It might be supposed by some that these commons or unenclosed lands were of small extent. Such was not the fact in many instances; and the Committee had one case in particular mentioned before them, in which there were no less than 19,000 acres of unenclosed land. The valuers would thus be given very considerable authority. There were also in many cases portions of these lands occupied by squatters, who would be bringing claims before these valuers, and thus more power would be given to that description of persons, than he thought ought to be entrusted to them. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Lord would consider well before he allowed such a measure to pass unaltered. If his Bill, and that now before the House, were compared together clause by clause, there would be very little difference found as far as the mere marginal notes were concerned; but when the clauses were read through, very material differences, it would be found, had been introduced in the working of the measure. He had to express a hope that the Bill would be allowed to proceed in Committee. He was afraid that a Bill with 161 clauses would not pass through Committee as quickly as the Government 23 seemed to expect; but he, at the same time, hoped that more hon. Members would be found to take a greater interest in having it proceeded with, than was the case on former occasions; and that at all events there would be no danger of the House being counted out during its progress.
§ Mr. Hume
was sorry to feel it to be his duty to oppose this Bill; but he was bound to give his support to the Amendment on the same grounds on which he had resisted the measures of the noble Lord (Lord Worsley) in former years. The noble Lord might recollect that he had invariably opposed his Motions on this subject; and in adopting a similar course on the present occasion, he felt bound to express his surprise at the manner in which so important an enactment was allowed to proceed, as if it were some mere every-day occurrence, and not deserving of any particular attention from the House. He considered that, generally speaking, all lands that were worth enclosing had already been enclosed, and any which were not, ought to be interfered with only by special application to the House and on its own merits. He objected to the Bill because it was a landed proprietors' Bill, be they large or small; and because it would take away from poor men—from those who constituted the great mass of the community—the advantages which they now possessed in the enjoyment of air and exercise on these commons. He was sorry to hear from a legal Friend near him, that commonages were all private property. In his opinion, and as he interpreted the law, they comprised lands never granted to any individuals; but belonging to the Crown for the benefit of the public. He, therefore, regarded this Bill as one for taking away the little public property which still remained available for the health and enjoyment of the community, in order to divide it amongst the landed proprietors. It was true that some persons who possessed small spots of land would obtain a proportionate share of the common to be enclosed; but still the great advantage would clearly be derived by the large proprietors; while the poor, who now had the privilege of going through the lands, were to be entirely excluded, as the whole would be enclosed. He, therefore, considered the question as politically of importance; and if he had 24 objected to it while in the hands of the noble Lord, his objection was still stronger when it was taken up by the Government. He objected to persons who would be removed with every change of Ministry, being entrusted with the property of the community at large. He had no objection that the individual who was to be placed at the head of the Crown lands should have a seat in the Cabinet, and be subject to those changes; but it did appear to him, that a public officer so circumstanced and filling such a post, ought not to be placed over two other commissioners in a board which would have the power of interfering with the property of the public. The noble Lord had stated, very properly, that the evidence given before the Committee was favourable to such a measure as the present; but he should be glad to hear what trouble had been taken by the Committee to get the evidence of the poor man and the labourer on the matter? What evidence had they from the poor who used these commons? In the absence of any such evidence, he had therefore a right to say that it was a one-sided Report in favour of the landed proprietors, large and small as they might be; and on that ground he opposed any measure founded upon it, as taking away the rights of the community at large. Even the landed proprietors themselves ought, he thought, to be cautious in passing such a measure. They ought to recollect that the effect of it would be to alter the character of the labouring population, and to reduce them to the condition of the poor inhabitants of the dirty streets and lanes of the towns. With the exception of some 50 or 100 square yards of a bit of green in the midst of a village, they proposed to grasp at the whole of the commonages of the land. The House ought, he thought, to consider seriously before they swept away at once the little independent property that remained in the country. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), who was not then in his place, admitted on a former occasion that it was a question whether the poor ought not to be more indentified with the land; and he would wish to put it to that right hon. Gentleman, whether getting rid altogether of the connexion of the poor with the soil, was not an evil which would affect society at large? He had no interest against this Bill. On the contrary, his individual interests would go in favour of 25 it; but when be looked at the mass of persons who would be shut out from all the opportunities of recreation which they now enjoyed, he could not consent to the passing of such a measure. In the next place, he objected to the proposal for paying out of the Consolidated Fund the expenses of all these enclosures, undertaken for the benefit of the landed proprietors, without any benefit being obtained by the public at large. It was on that ground that he had before objected to the Tithe Commission; and in proof that he was right on that occasion, he might observe that, though the Commission had only been a few years in existence, it had already caused an expense to the country of 600,000l. ["No, no!"] He believed the sum to be about what he had stated. The expense of the Tithe Commission was upwards of 60,000l. a year, and that, in the ten years since its appointment, would give a sum of 600,000l. But whatever the expense might be, it was paid out of the general taxation of the country, while it benefited only those who were in possession of the tithes and advowsons. He should, therefore, if this Bill got into Committee, offer every opposition to this clause; but for the present he should express his decided disapproval of the principle of the Bill. The measure had been already postponed two Sessions, and he thought it would be better, under all the circumstances, for the House now to consent to its postponement for another year.
§ Mr. Trelawny
said, his hon. Friend who had just sat down, had commenced by saying, that this was a landlords' Bill; and he asked, why should they not come before Parliament in every case in which it was desirable to effect enclosures of waste ground? But would the House bear in mind the great expense of getting one of these Enclosure Bills passed? They would require to have some 4,000 Enclosure Bills passed, each of which would cost the parties from 1,000l. to 2,000l. They had already evidence of the manner in which the Commissioners and attorneys engaged in these enclosure cases proceeded. It would appear that they were in the habit of meeting at ten o'clock in the morning to breakfast. They then cracked their jokes, to use the words of the witnesses, until twelve, and after dining together at three o'clock, proceeded 26 then to the business of the day. There were, in his opinion, several faults in the present measure. For instance, it required the landlord's veto to be given in each case. That, he supposed, was intended to prevent any supposed interference with the rights of property. The hon. Member read several extracts from the evidence of some of the clergymen examined before the Committee, to show the state in which the commons were kept, and the poverty and wretchedness to be found around them. The hon. Member for Rochdale was wrong in supposing that these commons were the property of the public at large, as they were the property of a number of individuals residing in their immediate vicinity. He would not, however, trouble the House at any further length at present.
§ Viscount Palmerston
said, he should support the general principles of the Bill; but he would reserve to himself the right of thinking that some of the details might be improved. He felt anxious, before the House came to a division on the Amendment, to say a few words on the argument of his hon. Friend. The hon. Member conceived that the Bill was a landlords' Bill—that the object of it was to take away from the people of this country lands which he seemed to think were now vested in the Crown for the use of the population at large. Now, he differed entirely from his hon. Friend as to his legal theory, as well as from his view of the Bill. Nothing, he believed, could be more indisputable in point of law, than that the common land of the country does not belong to the community at large, but to a certain number of individuals resident in the neighbourhood. There was no question, but that all the commons in the country were the property of some one, or some set of persons. As to this Bill being to the prejudice of the labouring classes, he considered that it was a Bill essentially for the interest of the agricultural labourers. There was altogether in England and Wales about 37,000,000 of acres of land, and of these 10,000,000 would come under the operation of this Bill. It was in evidence before the Committee, that, taking one description of land with another, and setting aside the temporary employment that would be afforded before the enclosures could be completed, in the draining, the fencing, the ditching the lands, and in the erection of the 27 variety of buildings which would be consequent upon the enclosures, that there would be a permanent additional employment to the agricultural labouring classes, to the extent of one labourer and his family finding employment, for every fifty acres of land; so that under The operation of this Bill, employment would be afforded to 200,000 families of agricultural labourers. It had been stated very recently, in the course of a debate in that House, that the condition of the labourer did not so much depend on the nature of his employment on the land, as on the wages which he received; and therefore this Bill, by increasing the amount of employment for the agricultural labourers, would increase their wages, and thus prove an important boon to the labouring classes. His hon. Friend said, that the labouring classes would be deprived of the commons and waste lands, which afforded them places for air and exercise. From such language, it might be supposed that the operation of this Bill would apply to such places as Clapham-common, and Turnham-green, and similar open spaces which were surrounded with buildings. Nothing, however, was more unlike reality; for by one of the clauses of the Bill, it was provided that all open spaces, within a certain number of miles from a town, containing also a certain number of inhabitants, should be excluded from the operation of the Bill. For instance, the distance from London was to be ten miles, and a proportionate distance according to the population of a place. Thus, then, no land would be inclosed within a specified distance of a town, and in no case would the village green be enclosed. But what was the sort of air and exercise which was got upon these large open spaces? It should be remembered that the land which came under the operation of this Bill did not comprise village greens, commons in the vicinity of towns, but vast spaces of unenclosed land. And what was the character of the poorer or labouring classes in the vicinity of those large tracts of unenclosed land? They were employed by the richer classes in the neighbourhood of those places, and who possessed the right of pasturage, to hunt with wild dogs the oxen and sheep of other claimants of commonage; and it generally therefore happened that by expending money on such a description of employment, that the richer farmer, by 28 these means, engrossed to himself the advantages of the common. Nothing could be better to the labouring classes than constant employment, where moral conduct was regarded, and where there was a strict attention to the rights of others. It had been proved before the Committee, that the class of persons living on the borders of these large unenclosed tracts of country were of the most irregular habits. Any one who lived on the borders of an unenclosed tract of country, of a forest, as he did, in Hampshire, must be well aware that the habits of the labouring classes in such districts were very different in their character and conduct from those of the agricultural labourers in other parts of the country, where they depended on the regular employment of their labour. There was another point connected with this subject, namely, the conflicting rights over unenclosed lands, which prevented all enclosure taking place. In many places one man was entitled to the pasturage, and another to the wood; and it was most difficult to bring about an agreement to enclose under such circumstances. The Bill would free lands from such evils. In some cases an individual had the Tight to pasture his sheep on a common from April to October; and certainly this was a great bar to the improvement of the land. The present measure would afford more ample means for promoting enclosure than mow existed; and these conflicting rights would be extinguished by compensation, which now so seriously interfered with improvements. He saw with great satisfaction the introduction of this measure, and thought that it should be called a Bill for the improvement of the condition of the agricultural labouring classes, as it would tend materially to the increase of their wages; he, therefore, should give it his cordial support.
The Earl of Lincoln
would not detain the House for more than a few minutes, from coming to a division; but having taken upon himself to conduct this Bill, with the concurrence of his noble Friend, he thought that the House might expect him to refer to some of the objections which had been raised against it; but, after what had fallen from the noble Lord who had just sat down, he felt that he should have very little to say. Two reasons had been stated why they should not proceed with this Bill into Committee that evening. The hon. Member for Montrose said that 29 he objected to the principle of the Bill. If that was the case, the hon. Member must object to the enclosure of land altogether, and., therefore, to be consistent, he not only must oppose this Bill, but he should also have opposed the numerous Private Enclosure Bills which passed through that House every Session. There was nothing more objectionable in this than there was to be met with in every parish Enclosure Bill which passed that House almost without notice. By the use of such language as had been resorted to with respect to this Bill, they would be very apt to mislead popular feeling out of doors on this subject, and more especially by calling it by such a name as a landlords' bill. He would remind the hon. Member that this Bill provided in the most satisfactory manner for the maintenance of every right which now existed, or compensation in place of it. The noble Viscount had so completely refuted the speech of the hon. Member as to the commons' lands belonging to the poorer classes, that he did not feel it necessary to trouble the House at greater length on the point. The hon. Member for Rochdale had stated that the rights of the poor would be infringed on by this Bill. This was a misapprehension on the part of the hon. Member. Certainly it might be so in the case of a Private ill before the House for the purpose of an enclosure. In such case the matter was decided upon before a Committee of that House, and it was notorious that this was an expensive tribunal; and, although it might be anxious to do its duty to the poor, yet as they had not the means of coming before it, the rights of the poor might unintentionally be infringed on. Now, what was the course proposed in that Bill? That the rights of the poor should be decided on by parties quite independent of local interests, and who would be sent down to examine into the subject, and to investigate the relative claims of the various parties. Since, however, he had introduced this Bill, he had made a very important addition to it for the defence of the rights of the poorer claimants; and this he had chiefly been induced to do in consequence of the debates which had taken place in the House on the subject during the last two years. He had made this change, he repeated, in order to provide additional security, and to get rid of the objections which had continually been made on discussions 30 of this subject during the last two Sessions. He proposed that in all cases where land was subject to indefinite common rights, that they should not be enclosed without the previous and special direction of Parliament. In such cases, also, where the parties could not appear without material expense, that they should be able to come before the House, not as formerly, when they appeared in opposition to a Private Enclosure Bill, but that the Commissioners appointed under the Bill should make a Report on every such case to the House, and that it should then be proceeded with by the House or not, as the House might decide. He also proposed that all Bills for such enclosures should be regarded as Public Bills, and taken at the time of public business, and not, as now, as Private Bills, which were passed in such a manner that hardly any of the Members knew what they were passing. By this means every opportunity would be afforded to parties to vindicate their rights, as the printed Bills would be in the hands of Members, and they would be enabled to hold ready communication with the parties interested; and if, in any case, it should be found that the Commissioners had been guilty of the blunder of infringing on the rights of parties, any hon. Member could move that provision be made accordingly. For his own part, he believed that no greater security could be afforded for the protection of rights, than were provided for under this Bill. The hon. Member for Rochdale said, that the Bill would take rights of certain lands from the poor which their ancestors had held for several generations, and which their successors hereafter would be entitled to: that under this Bill their rights, which had existed from generation to generation, could be alienated. He admitted that this was the case; but it was also the case now that parties in the possession of the right of commonage could alienate all their property in it without reference to those who might come after them. He, therefore, conceived that the objection of the hon. Member on this point amounted to nothing. In 1829, Mr. Whittle Harvey brought under the notice of Parliament, the utter insecurity of rights which existed under the system of private Enclosure Bills; and many of the evils which were then pointed out would be prevented under this Bill. The hon. Member for Rochdale alluded to allotments 31 of land which were intended for the recreations of the people; and he complained that they did not preserve land for such recreations of towns with less than 10,000 inhabitants. But, if the hon. Member would look into the 13th Clause of this Bill, he would find that the provision respecting no enclosure taking place near places with 10,000 inhabitants, bore a different sense to that which the hon. Member attached to it. It was proposed to enact that within a certain distance of towns with 10,000 inhabitants and upwards, no enclosure should take place without special provision being made for each particular case, and the following clause enacted that no town green or village green should be enclosed, but that provision should be made for preserving the surface and fixing their boundaries. The hon. Member stated that no substantial benefit had been given to the population of the country by enclosures; and went into calculations respecting the number of enclosures during the last three centuries, with the intention of showing that no improvement had taken place in the condition of the agricultural labourers during that period, and that there had been no additional amount of employment in consequence of them. The hon. Member might as well contend that there was no greater amount of agricultural labourers employed in the present day than in the time of the Druids, when the whole country was unenclosed. Several hon. Members, in the course of the discussion, had alluded to the great expense that would attend the appointment of this Commission; and stated that, inasmuch as the measure would be solely for the benefit of the owners of the soil, that the expense of it should not be paid by the State. He did not believe that the benefits to be derived from this measure would be confined to the owners of the soil, but that it would prove to be a national benefit. In the first place, the salaries were to paid out of the Consolidated Fund. It should be recollected that of the three Commissioners, two were unpaid, and one was paid; and in addition to this, there would be a charge for Assistant Commissioners, a Secretary, and a few Clerks. If the hon. Member would refer to the 125th Clause, he would find that the expense of the Assistant Commissioners, and other persons employed on any enclosure, was made chargeable to the 32 land so enclosed, and the amount was to be paid to the Consolidated Fund. The whole amount, therefore, would be repaid, with the exception of a very small sum. The result of the whole measure would be, that there would be an immense reduction in the expense of an enclosure. He believed, that under the proposed system, they would not be above one-tenth or one-twelfth of the present amount. The evidence annexed to the Report of the Committee showed that the expense attending enclosures under the present system was so great, that it often prevented extensive enclosures being undertaken. He would not then enter into an answer to the objections raised by his noble Friend to some of the details of the Bill, but would pos pone them until they went into Committee, where they would regularly come under consideration.
§ The House divided on the Question, that the words proposed to be left out should stand part of the Question:—Ayes 121; Noes 11: Majority 110.
§ House in Committee.
§ On the 1st Clause (relating to the appointment of Commissioners),
§ Mr. C. Buller
said, that he intended to move an Amendment to the 1st Clause, although he did not object to the principle of the Bill. There was, however, a matter involved in the 1st Clause, which appeared to him to be so objectionable that, if persisted in, it would almost induce him to oppose the Bill. His opinion had always been that the greatest facilities should be given for the enclosure of the common land of the country, after the maintenance of any right or compensation in lieu of it; and he believed, that no class of persons were so much interested in carrying out a sound system of enclosure as the poorer classes. He should now endeavour to induce the House to adopt alterations in the machinery of the Bill, which, if he succeeded in doing, his main objections to the Bill would be removed. The Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for Lincolnshire proposed that the inquiries respecting enclosures should be referred to a Board of Comissioners now existing, and which was conversant with questions connected with the land of this country, and was wholly unconnected with politics. He thought, that the great objection to this Bill was, that such great powers under it 33 should be placed in the hands of a Government Board, forming a part of the Administration of the day. He entertained no jealousy of the abuse of the powers by the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests; for he believed that such powers would be as secure in his hands as in those of any person that could be named. He objected, however, to the principle, and should object as strongly if the powers were to be entrusted to political friends of his own. Now, what were the powers involved in this Bill? Powers were to be entrusted to the Commissioners by which the whole of the landed property of the country would be affected. The Commissioners were to determine whether or not commons or waste lands should be enclosed or not. Under such circumstances, it was obvious that they would have great power over the landed property of the country, and also over a large mass of the people not holders of landed property. Was it constitutional that such power should be placed in the hands of the Minister of the day, who was obliged to depend for the tenure of his office on the votes of a majority of that House? No doubt, in a question which involved the general interests of the people of this country, public attention would be called to the matter, and the infliction of injustice might be prevented; but in a question affecting individuals, he believed that every one would say that the decision should not be referred to a board dependent on party, nor on the votes of a majority of that House. By the alterations which had been made in the Bill of his noble Friend, the whole power of effecting enclosures was placed in the hands of the Woods and Forests. It appeared by the present Bill that three Commissioners were to be appointed; but that the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests was always to be one. It appeared also, that two of the Commissioners were to have no pay, and he doubted whether they would be able to get any but a Member of the Executive Government to act as the second Commissioner, without delay. The third Commissioner was to be paid, and was to be removable at the pleasure of the Secretary of State, and would be as much removable as a Lord of the Treasury. Without any disrepect to the Lords of the Treasury, he hoped he might say that they were apt to be swayed by party feelings, and that they were not exactly the 34 kind of grave and judicial characters which should be appointed Commissioners under a measure of this kind. The change of the Minister of the day applied also to all the appointments, and thus the change of the head of the department depended on the fluctuations of the politics of the day. There was another objection to such a board, namely, that the chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests, who was to administer the powers under this Bill, was the administrator of the landed property of the Crown. This was most objectionable, for he was interested as a party in the questions that would come before the Board. It was necessary, under the provisions of the Bill, that lords of manors should have a proportionate interest in the enclosure of each manor. Now, how many manors were held by the Crown in England and Wales?—Not less than 579. He did not know the extent of those manors in acres, but it must be obvious that 579 manors contained a considerable proportion of the landed property of the country. He thought that a grave objection. He had never heard any valid reason for altering the machinery proposed by the noble Lord the Member for Lincolnshire. The Tithe Commissioners, in the prosecution of their duties, had to make the fullest inquiries into the nature and value of land throughout the kingdom; and he thought that with such a body as that in operation, it was most consistent with common sense to entrust to them duties of a nature altogether analogous with their own, instead of appointing a new board for the purpose. The Bill itself incidentally acknowledged the competency for the purpose of the Tithe Commission, one clause distinctly directing that for particular classes of minute local information, recourse should be had to that Commission; why not have recourse to it altogether? It was a body free from objections on the score of political or party bias; it was not removable on a change of Government, and it had ample experience and information on the subject, all which were features peculiarly adapting the Tithe Commission for the purposes of the Bill, in preference to the board proposed by the noble Lord opposite. If a new board were absolutely necessary, he should be the last man to object to its being constituted. The question of mere economy was comparatively unimportant in such cases; but with such a board as 35 the Tithe Commission in active operation, a new board was perfectly superfluous, and worse than useless. He should, with this feeling, propose to return to the machinery of the former Bill. He was not so wedded to the Tithe Commissioners, but that if any other board were pointed out to him more adapted to the purpose, he should be ready to accede to the suggestion. At present, however, he was not aware of any body with superior qualifications, and he therefore begged to move as an Amendment, in line 13, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Clause, in order to add the words—The Tithe Commissioners of England and Wales shall be the Commissioners under this Act.
The Earl of Lincoln
said, that the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard had stated his objections so candidly and fairly, so entirely without allusion to remarks made elsewhere, suggesting that the alterations which had been made in the Bill were of a personal nature, that he was happily relieved from the necessity himself of adverting to those absurd suggestions. He could safely say that if any other existing board could be named as eligible for carrying out the Bill, exempt from those objections which he considered applied to the Tithe Commission in the matter, he should be very glad to relieve himself from the onerous and disagreeable addition now proposed to the already onerous duties involved in the office he had the honour to fill. At the same time, he begged to point out to the House how very differently hon. Gentlemen had viewed this subject on former occasions. When the noble Member for Lincolnshire introduced his first Bill on the subject, two years since, he introduced it with this clause in blank, a most unusual course. At the same time, the hon. Member for Berkshire also introduced a Bill for the general drainage of the country; and both of these hon. Gentlemen applied to him to sanction, on the part of the Woods and Forests Department, that the Woods and Forests Board should be the board to carry into effect the duties which it was now proposed to entrust to a board, of which the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests was to be a member. He represented to these hon. Gentleman what he considered would be grave objections to such an arrangement, arising out of the landed property of the Crown, cases affecting which would, to a large extent, 36 come before the Board for settlement; and he considered it clearly improper that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests should be the sole parties adjudicating in cases in which they were themselves so intimately concerned. The noble Lord and the hon. Member for Berkshire yielded to the objection so raised. The hon. Member for Liskeard urged that the Commissioners under this Bill should be wholly unconnected with the Government, so that no ground for suspecting Government influence should be left. It appeared to him that, certainly, if ever there were measures which could be considered more entirely free from the chance of political or party influence or interests than any others, they were the present measure, and the measure relating to drainage. It was altogether a misconception to suppose that the power would devolve wholly upon the Woods and Forests; the two other Commissioners, one of whom would be a paid Commissioner, would have equal powers to the Chief Commissioner of the Woods and Forests. As to the Commissioner being removable at the pleasure of the Crown, this, if it were an objection, applied alike to all other Commissions, the Tithe Commission among the rest. With reference to the noble Lord's first Bill, it was introduced at a period when the Session was too far advanced, and there was too much business before the House, to admit of proceeding with it, or of the Government paying due attention to it. In the next Session, the noble Lord had brought forward the subject at a period sufficiently early to enable the Government to give attention to it. Hon. Gentlemen asked, why had not the machinery of that Bill been adopted now? The reason was simply this—that Government did not consider it advisable to devolve upon a Commission, appointed for a specific and temporary purpose, and whose term of existence would now expire in two years, duties of a peculiar character, which for those two years in all probability occasioning a large amount of labour, would necessitate the attention of a Board for several years beyond the period assigned to the Tithe Commission, though the duties in these subsequent years would be of a very light nature, only a few applications, most likely, dribbling in during the year, after the first mass of cases had been disposed of. It would, consequently, be a clear saving to appoint the Commission 37 suggested, instead of keeping on the Tithe Commission for the purpose, the more especially as in all probability, after the five years named in the Bill, it would be quite feasible to dispense with the paid Commissioner altogether.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
was no friend to Commissions, and should object to keeping up the Tithe Commission, which had already cost the country 220,000l. without doing anything at all like commensurate service. If there must be Commissioners for this Bill, let them be Commissioners appointed by the different counties, acquainted with the localities, and with the wants and feelings of the localities, instead of a Commissioner sent down by Government, and knowing nothing about the places or persons. As to the paid Commissioner being kept on for only five years, everybody knew the value of such intimations.
§ Mr. Warburton
agreed with the noble Lord in thinking that there was no fear that political influence would interfere with the working of the commission. But to the objection of the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, as to the Crown lands, and the impropriety of the Woods and Forests being on the Commission, the noble Lord had given no answer. It was a general principle that no individual body should adjudicate on cases where they were interested. He objected on this ground to a Commissioner of the Woods and Forests being a Member of the Commission under this Bill. With regard to the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that the Tithe Commissioners should work this measure, he was inclined to support it, partly because of the experience they must have acquired, and partly because it would get rid of the objection to the Woods and Forests being connected with the Commission.
§ Mr. Henley
regarded the objections stated to the appointment of the Tithe Commission as in no degree valid; but there was this very valuable difference between the Bill of the noble Lord opposite, and that before the House, that the latter allowed an appeal to the House in the more important matter of disputed enclosure cases.
§ Lord Worsley
said, that as to the Woods and Forests being entrusted with the management of this Bill, the opinions of Mr. Frankland Lewis, as they appeared 38 in the evidence, and which the noble Lord would probably think worthy of his attention, were entirely opposed to such a proposition. Mr. Frankland Lewis said:—You think it more desirable to create a new Commission? Yes; that you should create some new and appropriate power, unless you give the business to some one of the existing officers of State; I have not had time to think much upon the matter, but I have no doubt it would be far better to annex it to some such Department as that of the Woods and Forets.—Do you think it would give satisfaction in Wales, that the Board of Woods and Forests should have the control? I do not think they would feel the slightest dissatisfaction, if you could define what is to be done with the Crown manors.—Is there not some jealousy in Wales as to the Crown property? Yes; particularly in North Wales, where there are mineral rights; there is property in dispute there, and it is not known what the Crown's rights are; there are disputes of that kind: but setting apart the difficulty that arises connected with the Crown property, I should entertain the impression myself, that where the Crown's interests were not concerned, the Woods and Forests would be a very good tribunal; and wherever the Crown is concerned, I think some particular step should be taken to deal with its rights in that respect.He had received a variety of communications from Wales, assuring him that there would be the greatest possible jealousy excited on the part of the small landowners there, if the office of Woods and Forests was connected with the measure. As to the Tithe Commission having no time for doing the work, he had been assured by them that they should be able to do all the work which they anticipated as likely to arise under the Bill. As to the Tithe Commission only lasting two years more, even supposing that such should be the case, it was to be remembered that the same Commissioners also constituted the copyhold Commission, the duties of which would certainly not be terminated for some time beyond the two years. From all parts of the country he had received assurances from well-informed persons that the Bill would not work satisfactorily if the Woods and Forests had any share in its administration.
§ Mr. Escott
observed, that the most efficient means of any to check improper practices on the part of a Commission such as this, would be, that a Member of 39 the House should be named on it. If the hon. Member for Liskeard, for instance, were made one of the Commissioners, he would, sitting there opposite to the Government, be a great check upon the conduct of the Board.
The Earl of Lincoln
begged to remind the noble Lord opposite that the opinions which Mr. Frankland Lewis had expressed were in reply to questions put by the noble Lord, having reference, not to the proposition of the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests being a member of the Commission under consideration, but to the proposition that the Board of Woods and Forests should be the Commission itself. The opinions of Mr. Frankland Lewis had been referred to, but those opinions were against the appointment of the Tithe Commissioners; for that gentleman stated, that as soon as the Commissioners had discharged the particular duty for which they had been appointed, the Commission ought to be at an end. If that opinion of Mr. Lewis were true, then it was quite evident that the Tithe Commissioners would not be the proper tribunal to decide upon those questions which would arise under this Bill. It was necessary that a Commission to decide on claims of this nature would require to have the perfect confidence of those whose rights would be effected by its decisions; and, therefore, seeing how much engaged the Tithe Commissioners had been in proceedings the very nature of which necessarily caused them to be unpopular with parties who would be affected by this Bill, he did not think that they would form the best tribunal to decide upon those claims.
§ Viscount Palmerston
fully concurred with the proposal of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Liskeard, not in consequence of any doubt which he could possibly entertain of a Board of Commissioners with the noble Lord (Lord Lincoln) at their head; for he should, with the greatest pleasure, submit any private right in which he was concerned to the decision of the noble Lord. It was not enough that a tribunal of the nature of the Commission which was to be appointed under this Bill should have the confidence of the House in the justice of its decisions, or that the House should have an opportunity of calling for explanations of its proceedings from a responsible Minister of the Government; the object was to inspire the country with confidence in that tribunal. 40 If persons, who were ignorant and ill-informed, entertained apprehensions with regard to the constitution of the Commission, and such persons were those who would most probably entertain them, then the Bill must necessarily fail in its purpose, as applications would not be made for the exercise of the power which it was intended to create. It was true that the Tithe Commissioners had been appointed by the Executive Government; but the question was for them to consider whether a Commission so appointed, or the Government of the day, were most open to suspicion (without just ground he would admit), on the part of those whose rights would be affected by the decision of the Commissioners under this Bill. An argument which had been used by the noble Lord opposite (the Earl of Lincoln), formed, in his opinion, a strong illustration of the advantage which was to be derived from appointing the Tithe Commissioners to this duty, instead of the board which was proposed by the Bill in its present shape. The noble Lord said that he did not know the political opinions of the Tithe Commissioners, with the exception of one, who had been a Member of the House of Commons. No one could say that of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests in that House, whose political opinions were well known; and when he recollected the conflict of opinions which was caused by the claims of adverse rights in distant parts of the country, he was led to the belief that application for the exercise of the powers of the Bill would often be prevented by a dread of political bias, or that, in cases where decisions were made, those decisions would be frequently attributed, unjustly, he admitted, to the influence of political bias. It was said that the Tithe Commissioners had now nearly concluded their labours, and that a proposal to entrust to them the duties which were to be discharged under this Bill, was a proposal to make them immortal; but if hon. Members would look to the 5th Clause of the Bill, they would see that the Commissioners under this Bill were to be appointed only for five years; and supposing that, according to the statement of the noble Lord, the greater number of applications under this Bill would be disposed of in the first two or three years, it would be seen that the Tithe Commissioners might be employed in the discharge of 41 those duties without becoming a permanent commission. The hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Sibthorp) remembering how many lives the Income Tax possessed, appeared to feel a difficulty in believing that the existence of the Commission would be limited to five years; but he would remind the hon. Member that the length of time during which it was to continue was to be settled only by the consent of Parliament. He (Lord Palmerston) would put it to the House—not in a party view—but on those grounds which he would take in regarding it if he were himself a Member of the Government, whether it were right that the Commission ought to be free from all suspicion of political bias. He would put it to them whether it would not be better to adopt some machinery such as his hon. and learned Friend had suggested, than to mix up the Government of the day with decisions concerning the private rights of individuals? He perfectly agreed with his hon. and learned Friend in thinking that they ought to endeavour to establish a machinery which would prevent those imputations—unjust though they might be—which would arise from having the rights of private individuals decided by a board connected with the Government of the day.
thought that, considering the important questions of property which the Commissioners would be called upon to decide, it was desirable that one of them, at least, should be a lawyer of considerable standing in his profession. He thought that there would be a great advantage in having the head of the Woods and Forests connected with the Commission; as by this arrangement a great deal of practical knowledge would be brought to the assistance of the Commission, and an additional security given for impartiality in the decisions of the Commission.
said, it was proposed to saddle the country with additional and unnecessary expense in carrying out this Bill; and he was strongly opposed to that part of it. Why were the public called upon to contribute the funds to meet those expenses? He had not, for his own part, the slightest doubt as to the justice and impartiality of the Head Commissioner of Woods and Forests; but he agreed in thinking that a differently constituted tribunal would be preferred by those who would be more immediately affected by the decisions of the Commissioners; and he should, therefore, 42 support the Motion of the hon. Member for Liskeard.
§ Mr. Wakley
had voted against going into Committee on the Bill, because he did not believe that it had been sufficiently long before the public; and that, consequently, it was not well understood out of doors. There was a strong feeling against it outside that House; and he was perfectly satisfied it was a feeling which would not be so strong if the Bill were properly understood. He was of opinion that the principle of the Bill was good, and he looked upon it as a measure which was calculated to confer considerable advantage on the working people. He was in favour of the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard; for he thought the appointment of new Commissioners for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Bill, was quite unnecessary; and he was the more inclined to have the Tithe Commissioners appointed to discharge these duties, in consequence of the satisfactory manner in which they had performed that which had already been assigned to them. What necessity existed for the appointment of new Commissioners? The noble Lord (Lord Lincoln) had replied to his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Buller), but he had not answered any of his arguments satisfactorily. He objected to the appointment of a Minister of the Crown as one of the Commissioners; for he did not conceive that real responsibility would attach to the Minister in consequence of that appointment, whilst at the same time it would give to the Government such influence as would enable it to carry any measure it pleased; and then the Minister could come down to the House, and say that it was not his individual act, but the act of the Commissioners generally. If more time were granted before the Bill were carried, it would be a very great advantage; as an erroneous impression, which very generally prevailed at present, might be removed. There was an impression abroad at present, that this Bill was an outrageous attack upon the rights of the poor; but he could say that, so far as his experience had gone in that House, when an Enclosure Bill was proceeding under the present system, a poor man had no chance in the conflict; and he never could find in the result of the proceedings of this nature, that the poor man had any rights at all. It was supposed by great numbers, that those who lived around a common were generally a happy population; but there could not be a greater mistake. They 43 were generally very poor, and in times of unusual distress suffered very greatly from the indisposition of the farmers in the neighbourhood to employ them. If this Bill came into operation, there would be a vast increase in the amount of land which would be brought into cultivation; and there would be more employment given to the working people by the cultivation of 100 acres of land, than by 10,000 acres of land allowed to remain as a common. He hoped, therefore, that they would not attempt to carry such a valuable Bill into effect under the prejudice which existed against it from an erroneous impression which was very general with respect to it.
§ Mr. Newdegate
thought that it was impossible there could be any well-founded suspicion of the decisions and motives of the Board on such matters as those that would come before them; and, in a constitutional point of view, he did not think that there was any danger to be apprehended from the appointment of a Minister of the Crown to the Commission.
§ Viscount Ebrington
saw little objection to the appointment of the Tithe Commissioners for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Bill. Those Commissioners had at present a great deal of time on their hands, and he thought it would be well to occupy that time with some kindred work for which they were eminently fitted. He looked upon the appointment of new Commissioners as perfectly needless.
§ Mr. Brotherton
said, that the Bill was better calculated to preserve and defend the rights of the poor, than the existing law. It was impossible, under the present system, for a poor man to defend his rights, whilst a Commission would give him very great facilities in that regard, which he did not at present possess.
§ Mr. C. Buller
, in reply, would ask hon. Members if the House would act with more perfect freedom as regarded a Report laid on the Table of the House, which Report was prepared by gentlemen for whom the Government were not responsible, or a Report prepared by a Commission connected with the Government of the day? He had not the least suspicion as to the honour and impartiality of the noble Lord (Lord Lincoln); but he regarded with great alarm the exertions which were every day making to place powers which affected the rights of individuals, in the hands of the Executive 44 Government. That was a course which had a dangerous tendency; and he hoped that in the case before them, the House would pause before they agreed to a proposal to place questions of private rights at the decision of the Government of the day. It had been said that the Tithe Commissioners had nearly concluded their labours, and that at best they could continue no more than two or three years longer; but every one conversant with the subject knew that the delay was not their own fault, and that their duties could not possibly terminate at an earlier period than five years hence at the earliest; and if the House appointed the Tithe Commissioners to carry this Bill into effect, they could at the end of that period adopt a fresh machinery. The question, however, which was then before the Committee was, whether the power was to be vested in the Commissioners of Woods and Forests.
§ The Committee divided on the Question, that the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the Question:—Ayes 53; Noes 16: Majority 37.
|List of the AYES.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Kemble, H.|
|Lincoln, Earl of|
|Baird, W.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Baring, rt. hon. W. B.||M'Neill, D.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Borthwick, P.||Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Peel, J.|
|Cardwell, E.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Clive, Visct.||Polhill, F.|
|Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.||Pringle, A.|
|Courtenay, Lord||Pusey, P.|
|Darby, G.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Entwisle, W.||Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.|
|Escott, B.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T.||Tower, C.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Goring, C.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Trotter, J.|
|Hampden, R.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Herbert, rt. hn. S.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Hope, Sir J.|
|Hope, hon. C.||TELLERS.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Young, J.|
|Jocelyn, Visct.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Brotherton, J.||Henley, J. W.|
|Christie, W. D.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Hindley, C.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T||Hume, J.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Worsley, Lord|
|Wawn, J. T.||Buller, C.|
|Williams, W.||Warburton, H.|
§ The clause to stand part of the Bill.
§ On Clause 6, which provides a salary for one of the Commissioners,
wished to know whether the expense was to be permanently fixed upon the public, or whether a charge was to be levied on the enclosures which should in the course of the year pay the whole expense of the Commission and the Commissioners. If the noble Lord would not consent to the latter arrangement, he (Mr. Williams) would take the sense of the House against granting any salary to the Commissioner.
The Earl of Lincoln
did not intend to fix the salary on the enclosures, but that it should be defrayed, not only in the first instance, but ultimately by the public. The other expenses would fall legitimately and properly upon each particular enclosure; but he thought it was justifiable that this small sum should be defrayed by the public, looking upon the measure, as he did, not as a measure for the exelusive benefit of any class, but as one of national importance and advantage.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
said, he observed that the Lord High Commissioner, or Commissioners, might allow to any commissioner, assistant commissioner, secretary, clerk, messenger, or other officer, such reasonable travelling and other expenses as might be incurred in the performance of their duty, in addition to his salary or allowance. He did not like this uncertainty. He hoped those persons would travel by second-class carriages; but they might travel very expensively, and he thought this was a power that ought not to be given.
Mr. B. Denison
did not consider 1,500l. too much for an important benefit: but he wished the noble Lord would be good enough to state the amount of the expenses (the whole sum) which would fall on the different parties suing for an enclosure, and what part was to come out of the Consolidated Fund, and what from the enclosures.
The Earl of Lincoln
said, the distinction was this — the expenses which properly attached to each particular enclosure, those 46 of the assistant commissioners, surveyors, and so forth, would be repaid, under the 125th Clause, to the Consolidated Fund; but those appointments which were permanent, and were for the national benefit, and would apply to all enclosures, must come out of the Consolidated Fund. He believed, in addition to the Commissioners, a secretary, and two or three clerks, would be all that would be required for the performance of the duties; but not being able to foresee the number of enclosures, he could not say what would be the exact expense.
The Earl of Lincoln
said, he was anxious to give every information in his power, and if he could form anything like a calculation, he would give it. He would lather, however, run the risk of a division than mislead any Gentleman, and, therefore, beyond the 1,500l., he could not state the expense.
§ Lord Worsley
said, it was difficult to estimate the expense, as the circumstances of each enclosure must regulate the expense. He would suppose a case where, for the convenience of occupation, allotments had been already made, but where the parties agreed that it would be better to have different allotments, and to have the land enclosed. In such a case the expense would be but small; but the case would be different in a place where, instead of 100 acres, there was a common of 20,000 acres, of which only 1,000 acres were to be enclosed, where there were a variety of claimants, and many of those who made claims had no rights. The consequence of this would be repeated adjournments and increased expense. It was of the utmost importance that the paid Commissioner should be a man in whom all parties had confidence. He would also impress upon his noble Friend the absolute necessity of having, as one of the Commissioners, a person who was a good lawyer. Independently of other considerations, a great saving of expense would thereby be occasioned.
§ Mr. Wakley
thought, that in every respect the public would be greatly the gainers by this Bill. They would not only thereby acquire a vast amount of additional labour for the unemployed poor, but they would also facilitate, by means of the Bill, the bringing into market of an immense additional supply of food—a consideration which, of itself, should weigh 47 deeply with his Anti-Corn Law friends. If the machinery of the Bill could only be brought to work well, he could see nothing but benefit as about to result from it. There was one thing, however, to which they should very closely look, and that was, the condition of the people with respect to paying the salaries of the Commissioners. The House was in the habit of acting as if it thought that it was only by expending large sums that they could induce able men to undertake the tasks sought to be devolved upon them. His firm conviction was, that, in reference to the present case, they could get as good a man to act as Commissioner for 1,000l. as they could for 1,500l. a year. If, therefore, the hon. Gentleman divided upon his Motion, he would divide with him. Two Commissioners were, in fact, to be paid; but what was to become of the third Commissioner, who was to have no salary? How was it to be expected that he would attend to his business? It was recommended that one of the Commissioners should be a lawyer; but he was quite sure that there was no lawyer who would undertake the part of the unfortunate third Commissioner, who was not to be paid for his trouble. He thought that it would be found that so much business would devolve upon the Commissioners, that it would be necessary to pay this third Commissioner also, to induce him to attend; and as it was, therefore, likely that there would soon be application to Parliament for the purpose of giving him a salary also, would it not be better that, in anticipation of such a demand, they should fix the sum at present under consideration at 1,000l., instead of 1,500l. a year?
§ Dr. Bowring
concurred in the view taken by the hon. Gentleman as to reducing the sum. The principle on which they should act in a case of this kind was, to maximise aptitude, and to minimise expense. [Laughter.] They might laugh, but it was the duty of the Government, in cases like the present, to get the best man at the cheapest rate.
§ The Committee divided on the Question that the blank be filled up with 1,500l.—Ayes 63; Noes 13: Majority 50.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, T. D.||Bernard, Visct.|
|Arundel and Surrey Earl of||Boldero, H. G.|
|Bramston, T. W.|
|Baird, W.||Broadley, H.|
|Baring, rt. hon. W. B.||Browne, hon. W.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Buller, C.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Burroughes, H. N.|
|Cardwell, E.||M'Neill, D.|
|Christie, W. D.||Masterman, J.|
|Clerk, rt. hn. Sir G.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Clive, Visct.||Nicholl, rt. hn. J.|
|Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Darby, G.||Patten, J. W.|
|Denison, E. B.||Peel, J.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Polhill, F.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Pusey, P.|
|Entwisle, W.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Gardner, J. D.||Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Tower, C.|
|Henley, J. W.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Herbert, rt. hn. S.||Trotter, J.|
|Hinde, J. H.||Warburton, H.|
|Hope, Sir J.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Kemble, H.||Worsley, Lord|
|Langston, J. H.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||TELLERS.|
|Lockhart, W.||Young, J.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Johnson, Gen.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Brotherton, J.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Williams, W.|
|Ellis, W.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Hawes, B.||Wakley, P.|
|Hume, J.||Wawn, J. T.|
§ Blank filled up with 1,500l.
§ On Clause 11,
§ Mr. Henley
wished to put a question to the noble Lord. He found in this clause eleven definitions of property liable to come under the operation of the Act; and in the clause which followed it three descriptions of property exempted from its operation, and which it was provided were not to be enclosed without the special authority of Parliament. Now it so happened that the three descriptions of property which were so exempted did not agree with the eleven descriptions of property which were to come under the operation of the Act. Why give power to do eleven things, and then proceed to exempt three, without using, as to those exempted, the same kind of language as was employed in reference to the others?
would call attention to line 38 in the clause then before the Committee. In that, and in the two lines which followed, he found these words, "all lands in which the property or right of or to the vesture or herbage, or any part thereof, during the whole or any part of 49 the year, is separated from the property of the soil." He would ask the noble Lord (as we understood) whether this was intended to mean Lammas and Michaelmas land? Parties interested in that sort of land were desirous to know whether these words included that description of property; and if not, whether the noble Lord would agree to insert it?
The Earl of Lincoln
would first observe, in answer to the hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), that the difference between the two classes of land described in the clauses referred to was this, that the eleven descriptions of property alluded to property which might be enclosed without coming to Parliament for previous sanction for such enclosure. The 12th Clause defined those lands which could not be so enclosed without first coming to Parliament for sanction so to do. As to the question of the hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Williams), the definition would not include Lammas fields. It was not proposed to exempt any class of land under this Act; but the land which the hon. Gentleman alluded to came under the 12th Clause. Lammas fields being generally in the neighbourhood of large towns, came under the provisions applicable to the neighbourhoods of such towns.
said, that it was desirable to place all such lands as he had alluded to under the operation of the Act, whereas by the Bill as it at present stood some of these lands would be enclosed and some not.
The Earl of Lincoln
observed, that, with a view to prevent the enclosure of lands within a certain distance of large towns, it was intended that no enclosure of such should take place without the attention of Parliament being directed to it. All lands coming under the three descriptions referred to by the hon. Member for Oxfordshire must have the previous sanction of Parliament to enclose them, otherwise they could not be enclosed; and the lands luded to by the hon. Member for Coventry came in under the clause containing these three descriptions.
The Earl of Lincoln
said, that the process was this: Whenever an enclosure was intended to take place, the parties seeking such enclosure must, in the first instance, apply to the Commissioners, and answer certain printed forms with which they would be furnished. If the Commissioners 50 thought that it was desirable that such enclosure should be made, they would then send down an Assistant Commissioner to make further inquiries into the matter. On the result of these inquiries being known, if favourable to the enclosure, a provisional order would be made for the enclosure. There the matter would, for the moment, stop, and the circumstances detailed in the provisional order would be embodied in an Annual Report, which Report would be laid before Parliament at the commencement of each Session; and on that Report, such enclosures as were recommended by the Commissioners would be inserted in a schedule to a Bill to be introduced and passed through that House, before any further proceedings should take place as to the proposed enclosures.
§ Mr. C. Buller
wished to know why a distinction was made as to classes of land, some of which, it appeared, were to fall under the operation of the 11th Clause, and some under the 12th Clause? As he understood, there never was to be an enclosure made without an Act of Parliament; but why was there some inquiry not to be applicable to the three last classes of commons, which required, it appeared, a different machinery from eleven other classes? What was to be the difference between them? Suppose he wanted to have an enclosure under the 12th Clause, was there then to be a previous application to Parliament, as under the old form? What was there that should exempt those three classes of commons from the general provisions of the Bill? The exceptions seemed to him so large as to defeat the intentions of the Bill. Perhaps the noble Lord would explain the reason for making this distinction?
The Earl of Lincoln
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman misunderstood the whole of the explanation he had given. By 6 and 7 William IV. he would find that provision had been made for enclosing certain lands without the consent of Parliament; these were the lands that were accurately comprised in one clause, and all these lands might be enclosed by the Commissioners. The reason why they were included in this Bill, was, that lands might now be enclosed by a private agreement, and great security of title had been found. It was intended to remedy that; and it was most desirable that facilities should be given under this Bill for remedying that defect. Parties would be enabled to enclose under this Bill, who could enclose under 6th William IV. 51 Then came the exception, which embraced all the commons of the country. These classes of land could not be enclosed except by Act of Parliament. This he had just explained to the hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Williams); and he now wished to explain another thing; that the Bill to be introduced annually would be a public Bill, and would be exempt from all those fees to which private Bills were now subjected.
§ Mr. C. Buller
observed that, by the 12th Clause, it was stated that lands should be enclosed under this Bill. He referred to line 7, Clause 12. What, then, was the meaning of the 11th Clause, as to lands that might be enclosed? Were they, too, not under the operation of this Act?
The Earl of Lincoln
said, if the hon. and learned Gentleman would look to the 37th Clause, he would find the matter perfectly clear. The 37th Clause stated that the Act of Parliament by which the lands were to be enclosed should be a public Act.
§ Mr. C. Buller
considered that it would be impossible for any one to read those two Clauses, the 11th and 12th, without falling into an error. That which the 12th Clause required, was something different from Clause 11. That now, however, seemed not to be the meaning of the Act. It seemed to him that the clauses were misplaced.
The Earl of Lincoln
repeated that none of the classes in Clause 12 could be brought into operation without a public Act of Parliament.
§ Mr. C. Buller
observed that in the Clause 12, it was said by the noble Lord that none of the classes comprised in it could be brought into operation without a public Act of Parliament. As he understood the Bill, no commons of any kind could be enclosed without the direction of Parliament. The noble Lord then said nothing of those three other kinds of commons referred to in Clause 11 (as we understood); and the ambiguity which would arise from this was, that there seemed to be some other kind of commons besides those in the 12th Clause, which might be enclosed without an application to Parliament. He took it that there was only one class of commons—that in the 11th Clause—which might be enclosed without an application to Parliament.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ The Committee divided on the Question, that the clause stand part of the Bill:—Ayes 49; Noes 27: Majority 22.
|List of the AYES.|
|Antrobus, E.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Greenall, P.|
|Hamilton, G. A.|
|Baring, rt. hon. W. B.||Hamilton, W. J.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Henley, J. W.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Boyd, J.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Broadley, H.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||M'Neill, D.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Masterman, J.|
|Cardwell, E.||Morris, D.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Palmer, R.|
|Clive, Visct.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Rolleston, Col.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Smith, rt. hn. T.B.C.|
|Cripps, W.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Trotter, J.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||TELLERS.|
|Goring, C.||Young, J.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Aldam, W.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Brotherton, J.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Buller, C.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Clements, Visct.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Warburton, H.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Entwisle, W.||Williams, W.|
|Ewart, W.||Worsley, Lord|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||TELLERS.|
|Hawes, B.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Hume, J.||Bouverie, hon. E. P.|
§ The clause was then agreed to.
§ Clauses to 32 agreed to.
§ House resumed. Committee to sit again.