HC Deb 06 July 1847 vol 93 cc1278-81

House in Committee.

VISCOUNT MORPETH moved— That provision be made for advancing, out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the sums necessary for defraying the expenses of preliminary inquiries which may be made in pursuance of any Act of the present Session for improving the Health of Towns in England.


said, that this was a very indefinite vote. The House ought to be informed of the probable amount that would be required.


replied, that the House having sanctioned a clause in the Bill for preliminary surveys, the object of the present proceeding was to enable the Government to make advances for that purpose.


was by no means satisfied with the explanation. Some estimate of the amount required ought at least to have been furnished. As the matter at present stood, the noble Lord the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests asked for an unlimited vote.


did not know what amount would be required, as he could not tell how many places would come under the operation of the Bill. The whole expenditure, however, would be under the control of the Treasury.


was of opinion that it was not proper for the House to grant the vote without having some estimate of the sum likely to be required. He objected to the practice of the Woods and Forests and the Admiralty sending down public surveyors on all occasions. In one instance which came within his own knowledge, some honest millers desired to make some improvements in their property, for which they proposed to obtain an Act of Parliament. The Woods and Forests sent down a surveyor, and these parties were obliged to pay a bill of 3501. sent in from the Woods and Forests. He did not find fault with the proceedings of Government generally; but he did find fault with the practice of Government sending down persons who knew nothing about the business they were sent upon, and who only interfered in some petty manner, for the purpose of justifying the bills which the Woods and Forests and Admiralty were certain to send in to the parties. It was unworthy of Government to interpose in many of those petty matters and improvements which parties might choose to undertake.


said, this was merely a vote to allow an advance to be made, which would be paid by each town under the provisions of Clause 17. It would not be possible at once to form an estimate of the amount required; but the Government would take every care to check the amount of expenditure. The difficulty in the way of forming an estimate arose from the circumstance that it would be difficult to say what amount would be required for each town; but the Treasury would only advance so much as was absolutely necessary. By the means thus proposed the towns would be enabled to repay their respective quotas gradually.


observed, that the course proposed to be taken was a much more serious matter to the towns than if the charge was at once placed on the Consolidated Fund. The charge for the repayment of the advances was nominally to be on them for five years; but who could say that it would then end? In point of fact, this resolution gave the power of unlimited and uncontrolled taxation. This charge also would fall with peculiar weight on those places least able to bear it. He objected to the proceeding with such a matter while several Committees on important subjects were sitting. He had himself to attend a Committee on the law of settlement at one o'clock; he trusted, therefore, that the question would be postponed.


said, that it was clear that the hon. Gentleman mistook the object in view. By the 14th and 15th Clauses, towns which were not corporations could not be brought under the operation of this Act unless with their own consent. It was utterly impossible in the first instance to state what amount would be required, as they knew not to what extent and how many surveys would be required. He thought this was one of the most convenient modes by which improvements could be carried out.


could not agree with his right hon. Friend Mr. Hudson in opposition to this resolution. It appeared to him that the opposition to the vote was only intended as another mode of taking the sense of the House on the Bill, for it was clear that no measure of this kind could be carried out by the Government without such a vote. He was anxious that it should be postponed; but it appeared to him that the course now taken was something more than a legitimate opposition. The question had already been so often decided by large majorities, that he objected to such an opposition.


suggested that the amount of the vote should be limited to 20,000l. If this were done, he would offer no further opposition to it. He moved to limit the vote to that sum.


thought that 20,000l. would be sufficient to carry out the surveys which could be executed in the present year. He rose to suggest, however, that the preliminary expenses of inquiry should be borne by parties making application from towns which were not corporations until the Government reports were received respecting them.


observed, that if they made the charge upon those making applications for sanitary purposes, individuals would not come forward to take that burden on themselves. He conceived that the amount named would not be immediately required; but he really did not know the extent to which applications might be made. He, therefore, did not wish to cripple any future usefulness by limiting the amount of the vote.


was satisfied if they came to a vote for a specific amount, the Commissioners would take care to make their expenditure equivalent to the whole amount. If the matter was left to the Government, he did not think there would be any extravagant expenditure.


did not think that it would be fair to bind the towns down to those charges, which might be imposed upon them on the application of 300 persons. He trusted, however, his noble Friend would not divide the House on this vote.

Amendment negatived.

Resolution agreed to.

House resumed. Resolution to be reported.

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