§ MR. GROGAN moved the Second Reading of the Dublin Consolidation, Improvement, Waterworks, and Sewers Bill.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
said, he felt hound, in conformity with the wishes of a large majority of his constituents, to oppose the Motion. Certain facts had been put forward, and circulated in a printed form, among the Members of the House, in support of this Bill; but they were, as he was prepared to show, not facts at all, but the reverse of facts. One of the assertions in this paper was, that none of the local boards were opposed to the Bill, except the Dublin corporation; but so far from that being the case, he held in his hand three petitions against the Bill. One of those was from the Wide-street Commissioners; another was from the Chamber of Commerce; and the other was from the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the city of Dublin. This Bill proposed to abolish four district boards, and to lodge their powers in a new board, to consist of the Lord Mayor, the High Sheriff, the chairman of the two boards of guardians for the city, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, the two representatives in Parliament of the city, and two commissioners to be named by the Lord Lieutenant. But he believed that not one of the gentlemen named would consent to serve, and that the Lord Lieutenant had not been consulted on the matter at all. The effect of the 60th clause would be to give Mr. Jackson, who was the author of this Bill, the costs, not only of the present Bill, but of three former similar Bills that had all been thrown out. The 33rd clause enacted that it should be lawful for the Treasury to advance a sum not exceeding 200,000l. to the commissioners; and he believed that this clause would have the effect of upsetting the entire Bill, as one of the standing orders of the House provided that the House would not proceed on any petition, Motion, or Bill, for granting any money owing to the Crown, but on a Committee of the whole House. He objected to the 643 Bill, because it handed over the fiscal rights of the citizens of Dublin to an irresponsible body, and thus applied a rule to Ireland contrary to that under which the municipal corporations in this country existed. He begged to move that the Bill be postponed for a fortnight, in order that the Speaker might have an opportunity of deciding on the objection which he had raised on the 33rd clause.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, it would be impossible for him to answer the question without having the Bill before him, as much necessarily depended upon the wording of the clause in question. He would look at it, however, and would be able to give an answer to-morrow.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
said, on consulting with his hon. Friends near him, he begged to ask leave to withdraw his Amendment, in order to move that the second reading be postponed until that day six months.
§ The Amendment was then, by leave, withdrawn, when
§ MR. REYNOLDS moved that the Bill be read a second time that day six months. He wished to take that opportunity of asking his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, whether the sanction of Her Majesty's Government had been given to this Bill?
§ MR. GROGAN
said, he should not persevere in the second reading of this Bill, unless under the full conviction that it was absolutely necessary for the city of Dublin. The object of the Bill was to get rid of the many conflicting interests now existing in Dublin, and place the various powers held by them under one board. The corporation of Dublin had already failed in their attempt to pass a similar Bill in their own favour; and he believed it would be admitted that all the respectable classes in the city were unanimous in their opposition to any attempt to confer new powers on the corporation. The hon. Gentleman appeared to have got hold of a wrong document, as the words were "but one of the local boards," instead of "not one of the local boards opposed the Bill."
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
said, his hon. Friend (Mr. Grogan) had not at all overstated the case when he said that the fiscal and other municipal regulations of Dublin required adjustment and improval. Several attempts had been made to introduce a better state of things; but, owing to the strong party animosities which prevailed 644 on the subject, they had been attended with no success. He had himself indulged in a hope last year that he had succeeded in reconciling the parties, but he was disappointed. His belief was, that if the House sanctioned the second reading of this Bill, and permitted it to go before a Committee, they would throw an obstacle in the way of the final settlement of the question. He had received a petition against the Bill from the Chamber of Commerce in Dublin, which, as was well known, represented the opinions of a highly respectable and numerous class of the citizens. The Grand Jury was against the Bill, and all those whom it was proposed to name as commissioners were against it, and the Government had never given any sanction to it, so that he did not think it was too much to say that the Bill had been presented to the House under most disadvantageous circumstances. He believed the only effect of going into Committee on the Bill would be, to subject the parties to unnecessary costs, and, consequently, to increase the ill-will which prevailed upon the subject.
The EARL of LINCOLN
expressed his great regret at the course which the right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Somerville) had thought it to be his duty to take on this question, more especially in the absence of any such pledge as that which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) had called for. He (the Earl of Lincoln) had, since the period of his connexion with Ireland, taken a deep interest in the sanitary improvement of Dublin, as well as of the country generally, and from all the facts that had reached his knowledge, he doubted whether any large town in the empire was so much in want of a measure of this kind as Dublin. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the fact that on more than one occasion his predecessors in office, as well as himself, had endeavoured to bring those opposing parties to some understanding upon this subject; and the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had, he believed, more particularly exerted himself with that view, but without success. The 645 right hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Somerville) now, however, merely held out a hope that, if this Bill were rejected, Her Majesty's Government might be able to bring the parties to terms; but when was he likely to do so? Surely not in the course of the present Session; and were they to throw over all measures for the sanitary improvement of Dublin for another Session, merely in the hope that these boards, who were now represented to be in deadly hostility to each other, might become reconciled before next year—a hope that had been already repeatedly frustrated. The House had now before them the means of legislating for Dublin in a fair and impartial manner, totally irrespective of both parties; and, for his own part, he might be permitted here to observe, that he stood there totally unbiassed towards either. He had had no communication with any of the parties connected with this Bill, and had not had any conversation with his hon. Friend (Mr. Grogan) respecting it up to that moment. They had two Bills before them at present on this subject, the second having been introduced by the party who opposed the present Bill, and being nearly the same as that which had been rejected two years ago, and also by the Committee of last year. He wished to impress this matter on the attention of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department. He was strongly of opinion that it ought not to be considered as a mere private Bill, but as a question of national importance, and one to be taken up by Her Majesty's Government. Surely the Government, if they could not bring the parties to an understanding, could enforce a measure that would secure the general interest upon them. If this Bill passed the second reading, it would go before the same Committee upstairs to which the other Bill would be referred, and, by the rules of the House, they would then have a Committee of five Gentlemen, selected for their intelligence and impartiality, and having no local connexion with Dublin, to consider the whole question, assisted as they would be by the two Members for the city of Dublin, one of whom would be appointed on behalf of each Bill. That Committee would be enabled to reject both Bills, or else to incorporate the provisions of one Bill with those of the other; and even if this Committee passed the Bill now before the House in its present form, it would be still competent for the right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Somerville) 646 to move its rejection at a future stage, if any better plan should occur to the Government as a substitute for it. By refusing to sanction the second reading now, they would, on the other hand, necessarily ensure the postponement of all legislation upon the subject for another year. All he asked was, that the Government should permit this Bill to be read a second time, and let it go before an impartial tribunal, when, if a satisfactory adjustment could not be made, he would be as ready to vote for its rejection as the right hon. Baronet himself.
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
said, there was a great deal in what the noble Earl had said. His only reason for suggesting the course he had done was, that the Lord Lieutenant had a few days ago received a deputation upon this subject, and he expressed to them the opinion that this Bill would impede rather than promote a satisfactory adjustment of the question. It was on that ground he had acted, and he would now suggest to the noble Earl and to the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Grogan), who had charge of the measure, whether it would not be possible to postpone this Bill till he could receive fresh instructions from Dublin. If there was another Bill before the House, it was certainly advisable that the Bills should be considered together.
§ MR. BROTHERTON
said, this suggestion placed them in an awkward predicament, because it had been brought under the notice of the House, that this Bill was an infringement of their Standing Orders.
§ MR. W. PATTEN
suggested, that instead of postponing the Bill, the debate should be adjourned till that day fortnight.
said, that all the respectable citizens of Dublin were opposed to the Bill. No greater injury could be inflicted on that city than its passing,
§ MR. REYNOLDS
was opposed to the adjournment of the debate. If they consented to postpone this measure, they entailed very heavy expenses on the opponents of the Bill. As to the hon. Members for Montrose (Mr. Hume) and Salford (Mr. Brotherton), although he entertained great respect for their opinions, he dissented from their opinions as applied to any of the institutions in Dublin, with which they were not connected or acquainted.
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
appealed to 647 the hon. Member to consent to the postponement, as it was evidently the general wish of the House.
§ Debate adjourned.