HC Deb 15 June 1848 vol 99 cc688-91

Order of the Day for the further consideration of the Report on the Health of Town Bill read,


said, it would be in the recollection of the House, that when the Bill was in Committee, he gave notice that it was his intention to move Amendments on the third and fourth clauses, and it was suggested that he should postpone them till the bringing up of the report. He begged now to state the reasons which had influenced him in abandoning that intention, and in making no opposition to the constitution of the Board which the noble Lord now proposed. He (Lord Lincoln) had always objected to the board as originally constructed, because he thought that not only its probable but its necessary tendency would be to extend the central authority to the details of local government in a greater degree than would be either advisable or palatable to the country at large. At the same time, he had expressed a strong opinion that it was necessary there should be a certain amount of central authority exercised by means of inspection, with a view to enforce activity where negligence existed, and to give advice where knowledge was wanting, so as to facilitate the operations which it was the intention of the Bill to effect. If the Bill had stood as when it was originally introduced, the objections he brought against that part of it would still have existed; and certainly, looking to the immense alterations which had been introduced into the Bill by the noble Lord on the various occasions on which it had been before the Committee, he thought that the noble Lord would himself now entirely agree with him that a central board would have been unnecessary, and that the duties might have devolved, without any additional aid, on some of the existing offices of Government, if those duties had been confined to a slight supervision. But since he gave the notice to which he had referred, there had been an entire reconstruction of the machinery of the Bill, by a few simple alterations, which had wisely, as he thought, been adopted by the noble Lord—so that it was not only desirable, but absolutely necessary, that there should be a new office to superintend the operation of the Bill, because, looking to the precedent of the Enclosure Act, which was passed three or four years back, he was satisfied that it would now be impossible either for the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests, or any other existing officer of Government, to carry into effect the provisions of the Bill, particularly as regarded the preliminary inquiries which were necessary in certain cases. The ground had, therefore, been completely cut from under his feet in regard to the Amendments he had intended to propose. He agreed with the noble Lord in the alterations he had made, with a single exception. The noble Lord, in consenting to the Amendments which had been proposed by the hon. Member for Oxfordshire, had undoubtedly, in one respect, gone greatly beyond his (Lord Lincoln's) views as to the limitation of central authority. He did regret that the noble Lord had consented to abandon the power of supervision by central authority, in the way of local inspection; for, looking to the experience they had had of the exercise of this power in regard to gaols, factories, and schools, he considered that great benefit had resulted from it; and he could not help thinking that when (as he had no doubt would be the case with a measure of so comprehensive a character) the noble Lord came to Parliament to get it amended, he would find that experience had proved that the power of inspection should not have been abandoned. With this exception, he highly approved of the other alterations which the noble Lord had adopted, and would not therefore press his intended Amendments.

Several verbal Amendments having been agreed to,

CAPTAIN PECHELL moved an Amendment to strike out all that part of the Bill which gave owners and ratepayers more than one vote each. He had no objection to give owners an additional vote where they were occupiers also. The effect of the proposed system of plurality of votes would be, that the richer classes or the manufacturers would create some monster nuisance, and then by their twelve votes they would overpower and outvote the poorer classes.


thought it extremely desirable to make this Bill as popular as possible; but if the scale of voting adopted by the new poor-law were retained as proposed, great discontent would be caused. One great cause of the dislike with which the new poor-law was regarded in Middlesex arose from whole streets being swamped by the plurality of votes enjoyed by some of the owners of property. He hoped the Government would consent to give every individual ratepayer one vote only.


reminded the House that this point had been very fully argued and considered in Committee, and the House had decided by a very large majority that the present mode of rating should be retained. Apart from the reasons which might be urged in favour of the mode of voting provided by the Bill, he did not think it would be respectful to the House to cancel their former decision. Property was very largely dealt with by the Bill, and it therefore gave to owners and occupiers of property that protection for their proportionate interests which the plurality of votes was intended to confer.


would strongly support the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton (Captain Pechell.

The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill:—Ayes 46; Noes 18: Majority 28.

List of the AYES.
Anson, hon. Col. Grey, R. W.
Armstrong, R. B. Hanmer, Sir J.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Hawes, B.
Hay, Lord J.
Baines, M. T. Hayter, W. G.
Bellew, R. M. Henley, J. W.
Bernal, R. Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.
Christy, S. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Jervis, Sir J.
Cubitt, W. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Divett, E. Lacy, H. C.
Drummond, H. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Lewis, G. C.
Forster, M. Mackinnon, W. A.
Maher, N. V. Russell, F. C. H.
Masterman, J. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Somerville rt. hon. Sir W.
Mitchell, T. A. Spooner, R.
Morpeth, Visct. Turner, E.
Newdegate, C. N. Turner, G. J.
O'Brien, J. Wood, rt. hn. Sir C.
Parker, J. Wyld, J.
Raphael, A. TELLERS.
Romilly, Sir J. Tufnell, H.
Russell, Lord J. Hill, Lord M.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Perfect, R.
Clay, J. Salwey, Col.
Clay, Sir W. Scholefield, W.
Cobden, R. Stuart, Lord D.
Crawford, W. S. Thompson, Col.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. Thornely, T.
Evans, J. Urquhart, D.
Fox, W. J.
Hall, Sir B. TELLEES.
Henry, A. Hume, J.
Pearson, C. Pechell, Capt.

Report agreed to.