§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. SOTHERON
felt it unnecessary to trouble the House at any length in moving the second reading of this Bill, as it passed through that House last year without opposition. Its object was to supply an omission in the Act of 1845, relative to pauper lunatic asylums. By the Act of 1828, on that subject, it was enacted that the rate should be charged be- 1136 tween owner and occupier, but this provision was omitted in the last Act; by the present Bill it was proposed to restore that mode of rating.
§ SIR H. WILLOUGHBY
did not understand the principle upon which they were legislating on this Bill. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth when he proposed the repeal of the corn laws, also, for the partial relief of the agricultural interest, removed a portion of the charge for criminal prosecutions, which formerly fell on the county rate, to the Consolidated Fund. He (Sir H. Willoughby) thought the charge for lunatic asylums should be placed on the same footing. He could not conceive why this charge should fall only on real property, while all classes of the community were subject to the grievous calamity of lunacy. Not less than 12,708 persons were confined in the pauper lunatic asylums last year. He thought that it would be better to deal at once with the county rates than by a small measure like the present.
§ MR. SOTHERON
perfectly concurred with the hon. Baronet who had last spoken, that the same principle which recognised the division of the rate between the owners and occupiers for the maintenance of lunatic asylums, equally applied to a division of the rate raised for erecting prisons and all other county buildings; and if his hon. Friend would bring forward a proposition for making the Consolidated Fund bear the expenses of all these county matters, he (Mr. Sotheron) would vote with him; but at present he wished to deal with what he understood to be an evil much complained of. The fact was, that the Bill passed in 1845 for providing for the expense of erecting these buildings, omitted a clause which was inserted in the Act of 1848; and all that he now intended to do was to re-enact that clause.
§ SIR H. HALFORD
agreed that the principle of the Bill was in the right direction, but he did not see why it should not be extended to the case of county rates
§ MR. SPOONER
said, his objection to the measure was that this charge ought not to be thrown upon the landed property at all. Lunatic asylums were buildings in which the whole community had an interest. The charge ought, therefore, to be borne by the whole community, and paid out of the Consolidated Fund.
§ SIR G. GREY
supported the principle of the Bill, but he did not consider that principle to involve the paying of the ex- 1137 penses of lunatic asylums out of the Consolidated Fund.
§ MR. HUME
said, that upon the same principle as that which had been urged by Mr. Spooner, the whole charges which now devolved upon owners and occupiers, such as poor-rates, county rates, and other rates, ought to be laid upon the Consolidated Fund. Too much had been already done in that way. He objected upon principle to any charge being thrown upon the Consolidated Fund that was not expended under the direction of Her Majesty's Government. Where the appropriation of the money was under the sole authority of the magistrates, it would be a perversion of principle to impose a charge upon the national taxes. He therefore protested against the doctrine of his hon. Friend. He had no objection to the present measure; it was a very small concern, and it seemed to him that it would be better to bring all these charges under one category.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, if Mr. Hume was prepared to act upon the principle he had laid down, he would consent to place this charge upon the Consolidated Fund, because not a single shilling could be laid out upon the erection of a lunatic asylum without the sanction of the Secretary of State for the Home Department.
§ SIR G. GREY
observed, that to a certain degree, Parliament had imposed a duty on the Secretary of State in reference to the erection of pauper lunatic asylums. The ratepayers in counties and boroughs were under the obligation of building those asylums, and the Secretary of State was bound to see that the obligation was fulfilled; but he had no control over the expense.
§ Bill read a second time.
§ The other Orders of the Day were then disposed of; and
§ The House adjourned at a quarter after Five o'clock.