HC Deb 05 May 1847 vol 92 cc387-9

in moving the Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into Committee on the Drainage of Lands Bill, said, that as a similar Bill had since the second reading of this Bill been introduced for Scotland exclusively, he should move in Committee that this Bill be limited in its operation to England and Wales, and that all words having reference to Scotland should be expunged.


rose to oppose the further progress of this Bill. He had objected, and always would object, to it, because it proposed to interfere with the private property of individuals. He was for letting every man drain his land in any way he liked, without being subjected to the interference of other parties. He believed he might safely say, that no one individual had expended more than he had in draining his lands. He thought that the duty which he owed to his tenants and the country at large required him to drain his lands effectively; but he found no individual ready to assist him, he found no one willing to lend him a hand of assistance in the improvement of his property, but quite the contrary. He had expended 1,000l. in improving a single drain on his property, without receiving a single shilling by way of assistance from any party. But this Bill proposed to grant powers to Commissioners, with regard to drainage, whose fees would of course be a great expense to the parties concerned. They had the power of adjourning from day to day, and therefore the time when the improvements contemplated under the Bill would commence was indefinite. He was requested to ask the noble Lord, whether he had any objection to introduce a clause that would give security of compensation to copyholders for the large improvements which they might effect in the drainage of their lands. Under the present law the benefits of all those improvements would revert to the lords of the manors, without any compensation by law being made to the copyholders. As a lord of the manor, he should be ashamed to take any such advantage of his copyhold tenants; but he thought that the House would act unfairly and unjustly to copyholders, if they allowed it to pass without inserting a clause which would give the security to which he alluded. He felt it to be a duty which he owed to himself and the country at large, to prevent as much as possible the great inroads on private property contemplated by this Bill.


said, the objection which he had to the introduction of the clause proposed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman was this: that whereas this Bill merely professed one mode of improving landed property in England, it would be a manifest injustice to introduce any provision in this Bill which should be applicable to that species of improvement and to no others. He was by no means inclined to dispute with the hon. and gallant Gentleman that it was desirable that the protection of which he had spoken should be afforded to copyholders; and the best way of affording that protection, he believed, would be by introducing a Bill for that especial purpose. The whole laws relating to copyholders certainly required amendment. With regard to the objection raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman to the Commissioners, he (the Earl of Lincoln) wished to observe that that objection could not be maintained, inasmuch as the duties of the Commissioners would be performed by the present Inclosure Commissioners without any increase being made to their salaries. And with regard to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's objection, that this Bill would sanction a violation of the rights of property, he would remind him that there was a maxim in the law, that "You are to use your own property in such a way as not to injure that of your neighbour." All that he proposed to do by this Bill was, to prevent a man injuring the property of his neighbour, by preventing him from carrying into effect works of drainage for the improvement of his property. He could not think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman would maintain that they would be infringing the rights of property if they should prevent him from damming up the waters which might run through his estate, when the lands of another were ruined for want of them. Those were the objects of the Bill; and he hoped that the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not intend to prevent the House going into Committee on the Bill.

House resolved itself into Committee. Bill went through Committee, and House resumed.