HC Deb 16 April 1847 vol 91 cc871-2

rose, in pursuance of notice, to direct the attention of the House to a subject of considerable public importance, founded upon the Second Report of the Select Committee on Private Bills. He moved that the Second Report from Committee on Private Bills be read. The report having been read, the hon. Member proceeded. It was acknowledged even by the officers of the House, and especially by the Clerk of the Fees, that fees on Private Bills were extremely complicated, and it appeared to all that a change of system was necessary. It was of much consequence to people out of doors that the matter should be clearly understood, since a notion was generally prevalent that the great expense of Private Bills was occasioned by the large fees of the House, when the fact was the very reverse. But whatever fees were charged, it was most expedient that they should be simple and intelligible; and the Committee had been of opinion that this end might be easily accomplished, and to the satisfaction of all parties. Their report was in favour of the abolition of the whole of the present complex system of fees, and of the adoption, in lieu of it, of a single and a certain fee upon every distinct stage of a Private Bill. The Committee was well aware that the Speaker had bestowed much attention on the subject, and wished that he should prepare a new table of fees upon the principle pointed out. The Members considered it was unworthy the House to derive profit or revenue from the fees, and suggested that the Speaker should form them upon such a scale as would merely meet the charges and pay the expenses of the official establishment. They thought that 1844 was a year with a fair average of private business, but that 1845 and 1846 were not fair average years, and that it was expedient to calculate the new table of fees upon the average of 1844. Their report, therefore, was, that the Speaker should prepare a new table of fees, and upon this report he founded his Motion. The hon. Member concluded by moving the first of the two following Resolutions:— Resolved—"That it is expedient to establish a new Table of Fees, as recommended by the Committee on Private Business in their Second Report, with a view to abolish the present complex system of charging a great many small fees on the various proceedings of a Bill, and to substitute a single fee on the principal stages. Resolved—"That Mr. Speaker be requested to cause a new Table of Fees to be prepared in lieu of the several Tables and Resolutions relating to Fee, of the 22nd day of February, 1731; the 19th day of June, 1746; the 13th day of June, 1751; the 2nd day of July, 1801; the 4th day of April, 1803; the 18th day of May, 1813; the 4th day of July, 1822; the 16th day of February, 1829; and the 22nd day of July, 1830.


seconded the Motion, wishing it to be distinctly understood, that until last year the House had derived no revenue from the fees upon Private Bills; last year the private business had been so abundant as more than to pay the ordinary expenses of the officers of the House. Generally the fees paid by parties had not been sufficient for that purpose, and they were placed in a common fee-fund, out of which the clerks and others were remunerated by salaries; if there were any deficiency, it was made up out of the Exchequer; but last year a sum was paid into the Exchequer in consequence of the large sums contributed to the fee-fund.

The Resolutions were both agreed to.

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