HC Deb 18 February 1852 vol 119 cc728-45

Order for Second Reading read.


(in the absence of Mr. Mr. Gibson), moved the Second Reading of this Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."


said, that when hon. Members remembered the great extent to which this Bill differed from its predecessor, they would not be surprised to hear that he felt it his duty to meet the Bill at this stage with the most decided opposition. Measures of this hind were, in his judgment, an attempt to introduce into the financial arrangements of counties principles that were not adapted to them. Without calling in question the connexion that ought to exist between taxation and representation, he was prepared to assort that that rule, although generally applicable to all countries with free institutions, did not apply at all to county affairs, or only in a degree which was very limited, and it would not be wise in Parliament, for the sake of adopting a theoretical advantage, to tamper with arrangements which had long worked beneficially to the country, and which had never worked more beneficially than at the present time. The financial affairs of the counties were now confessedly conducted with greater publicity, a closer economy, and a more scrupulous regard for the general interests of the public, than at any former period. In spite of these views and these facts, he should, however, have not opposed the second reading of the Bill had it been presented to them in the shape in which it came from the Committee last year, because the House had so far recognised the principle of the Bill as to send it to a Select Committee for further consideration. In that case he would have reserved his objections for discussion in Committee. But the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) bad not brought in his Bill in that shape, or even in the shape in which it was submitted to the House at the commencement of last Session. He must call attention to the extraordinary course taken by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to this Bill, Two Sessions ago, when the right hon. Gentleman first brought in this measure, it was referred to a Select Committee, which was empowered to take evidence. That Committee, of which he (Sir J. Pakington) was a member, devoted itself to a most laborious inquiry into the whole subject. That Committee was selected by the right hon. Gentleman himself. It was a Committee to the composition of which they who were unfavourable to the principle of the Bill objected. But this Committee, so selected raid so constituted, rejected the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, and recommended to the House, in a series of resolutions, a number of improvements which ought to be introduced. Notwithstanding that decision of the Select Committee, the right hon. Gentleman, at the commencement of last Session, brought in the same Bill. It was again referred to a Select Committee, but not for inquiry, but a Committee on the Bill itself. On that Committee sat some of the most distinguished Members of that House. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir G. Grey) was a member of that Committee, and he was most indefatigable in his attendance and attention to its duties. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham), whose absence from the House at that moment he (Sir J. Pakington) much regretted, was also on the Committee, and likewise gave great attention to this Bill. It was presided over with exemplary patience by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. Baines); and after a lengthened investigation, which lasted the whole Session, the Bill was returned to the House with many improvements. It was then too late to pass it; and it was to be expected that when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) brought in the Bill this Session, it would have taken the shape in which the Committee had left it. He (Sir J. Pakington) did not approve of the Bill even in that shape: it appeared to him, that in their anxiety to avoid certain inconveniences, the Committee had fallen into others equally, if not more, objectionable, creating, for instance, double and concurrent jurisdictions, which must prove extremely injurious; and he doubted much whether be could have supported that Bill. But what was the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman now? It appeared to him to be one most disrespectful to that House, for the right hon. Gentleman had brought in a Bill differing not merely in unimportant details, but in those which were most essential, and which formed the very foundation of the enactment. Without going into minor matters, he would just name one most essential difference. In all the former measures introduced into this House on this subject, the right hon. Gentleman proposed that these intended county financial boards should consist, one-half of persons elected by the ratepayers, and the other half of magistrates of the county; but in the Bill now before the House the magistrates were thrown out altogether, and would no longer form even a part of that body which directed the whole expenditure of the county, unless indeed they were elected by the ratepayers, who thus had the option whether any magistrate should be on the board or not. This was a change in the principle of the Bill so essential and important as to justify him (Sir J. Pakington) in giving the Bill his most strenuous opposition. He could not believe that Her Majesty's Government could give their assent to the Bill as it was. He asked the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary whether he was prepared to sanction a measure which destroyed altogether the jurisdiction of the magistracy in the government of the gaols, the management of the police force, the care of the lunatic asylums, and in many other branches of the internal administration of this country, in which the magistrates had hitherto performed so important and so useful a part? Was the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) prepared, in the present state of the police of this country, which made it most essential that the magistrates should retain the powers invested in them by so many Acts of Parliament, to adopt a measure such as this? Was the right hon. Baronet prepared at this moment to take from them the management of the gaols, than which there was no subject more important, or one on which public opinion was less informed or matured? Was the House prepared to take the gaols entirely out of the hands of the justices, and leave the system to be pursued in them to a board such as that proposed in this Bill? This was a matter, in truth, far too important to be left to volunteer legislation. The Bill dealt with institutions of great antiquity; it dealt with the conduct of affairs of the last importance to this country; it dealt with a long series of Acts of Parliament placed on the Statute-book; and it enacted what would be in effect a complete revolution of the affairs of our counties. Such great interests ought to be dealt with only by the Government—after the most careful consideration, and on the responsibility of a Cabinet. He should move, therefore, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.


seconded the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."


said, that having supported the second reading of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill of last Session, and having punctually attended the meetings of the Select Committee to which the Bill had been referred, he had been prepared to support the second reading of that measure. He had been prevented by circumstances from attending in his place since the first night of the Session, but came up to town in order to support the second reading to-day. But what was his surprise to find that the principle of the Bill was altogether altered, and was based upon another principle. He did not by any means object to the principle that those persons who contributed to the county rate should have a voice in the expenditure. Last year the Bill provided that the ratepayers, through the Boards of Guardians, should nominate one person from each Board to be a member of the county financial boards, and that the county magistrates in quarter-sessions should nominate an equal number of their body to sit at the Board. He was doubtful whether any particular advantages would be gained by the ratepayers by this arrangement; but he did not object to it. He now found a Bill of a totally different nature, by which it was left entirely to the Boards of Guardians to say whether a single magistrate, however large his property, or however great his influence in the county, should be a member of the board charged with the administration and expenditure of the county rates. To such a measure he (Mr. R. Palmer) could not agree, and he thought the right hon. Gentleman had not dealt fairly with the House, or with the Committee of last year, in thus altering the principle of his Bill. He (Mr. R. Palmer) had endeavoured to ascertain the opinion of the ratepayers of his county (Berkshire) relative to the Bill of last year; and last August he sent a copy of the Bill to the chairman of every Board of Guardians in the county, with a printed letter explanatory of the objects of the Bill, and requesting that it might be taken into consideration by the Board. Several months elapsed, and he received no reply to his communication, which did not look as if the Boards were very eager for such a measure. His letter was afterwards printed in the county paper, and then he received four communications from Boards of Guardians. The first, from the Board of Cook-ham Union, and signed by the clerk, communicated a resolution of the Board to the effect that the expenditure of the county was conducted in the most economical and satisfactory manner, and that, in their opinion, the Bill was unnecessary. The next was from Abingdon, the Guardians of which Union resolved that they did not consider there was any necessity for the application of the Bill to the county of Berkshire. The next communication was a private letter from the chairman of the Newbury Board of Guardians, who stated that the Board had met and arrived at no conclusion regarding the Bill. There was only one union out of the twelve to which he had written, that had returned a reply favourable to the Bill. The Board of Guardians of the Wantage Union avowed their belief that the object of the Bill was just and the principle good; but, at the same time, they thought the object of such a measure would be defeated if ex officio guardians were allowed to sit at the county hoard. Thus only one Board of Guardians out of twelve expressed an opinion in favour of the Bill. He was consequently prepared to vote against the second reading of the present Bill; and, if the hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) found himself in a minority, he, had only himself to blame for not having dealt more fairly with the House.


thought the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down went a little too far when he assumed that, because certain of the Unions in his county were silent, they were opposed to the measure. He had quite as good a right to say that silence might imply consent. Anxious as he was to see the ratepayers exercising some control over the county expenditure, he could not go so far as the Board of Guardians of the Wantage Onion, who declared that the county magistrates ought not even to be eligible to sit as members of the financial boards.


said, the Wantage Guardians thought that the Poor Law Guardians ought not to have the power of electing a person who was a magistrate.


, on the contrary, was in favour of allowing the guardians to elect magistrates if they thought proper. He (Mr. M. Gibson) proposed to constitute the county boards by what ap- peared to him to be a proper mode, namely, to give the ratepayers power to select such persons, be they magistrates or not, as seemed to be best qualified to act as a financial board for controlling the assessment and expenditure of the county rates. With regard to the charge of unfairness on his part towards the Committee, he thought hon. Members were going too far in making that assertion, because he felt he was entitled, when bringing in the Bill, to have the provisions in accordance with his opinions. While he adhered to the principle of the measure, he felt he was entitled to bring the matter of detail in the way before the House that he thought the House ought to deal with it, leaving it to the House in Committee to deal with those matters as it thought proper. He admitted the Bill, as originally proposed, was so constituted, that of the members of these financial boards one half were to be magistrates, and the other half were not to be magistrates; but in going through the Select Committee very great alterations were made in the powers vested in these boards. The Committee ruled that the regulation of gaols, the appointment of officers, and all other matters not strictly financial, should be left intact to the magistrates; and it being no longer necessary that a certain proportion of magistrates should be associated with the elected members, the Bill was purposely altered, leaving the ratepayers to elect magistrates if they pleased, but not compelling them to take magistrates, as it was not intended to trench in any way on the judicial duties of the magistracy. The Bill proposed that the financial hoard should fix the amount of salaries which the officers should receive, leaving to the magistrates to appoint those officers, and to make the regulations necessary in the gaols; and this, he contended, was in accordance with the principle laid down by the Committee, that these boards should be strictly financial, and not in the smallest degree interfere with the judicial duties of the magistrates. With regard to the alterations respecting the constabulary made in the Bill since it came out of the Committee, it was first proposed that the financial boards should decide whether the rural police should he adopted or not; and as to the appointment of the chief constable, the Committee in the first instance decided that the financial boards should have that power, because it was said town councils in boroughs had that power, and the object of the Bill was to adhere as far as possible to the same principles as those which were recognised in boroughs. A division took place in the Committee on the question, and it was decided by a majority that that was a sound mode of proceeding. Afterwards, and at the end of the inquiry, the right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department thought proper to come down and reverse that decision. The proposal for vesting the management of the rural police in these boards was supported by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Commission, who was the chairman of the Committee, and gave his casting vote in its favour. He (Mr. M. Gibson) thought that first decision of the Committee was the correct one, and he had not felt bound to alter the Bill in accordance with the second decision. He was not aware that there were any other alterations. The Bill, contained many clauses, relating to matters of detail of considerable importance, which were originated in the Committee, and for many of those suggestions the Committee were indebted to the hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington). The hon. Member for Droitwich had reflected upon him (Mr. M. Gibson) for being a volunteer legislator. He (Mr. M. Gibson) admitted that it would have been very desirable if the Government had taken the subject into their own hands. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) was the first volunteer, or rather the pioneer in the matter; and he observed that in all improvements, before they were ripened to such a point as would induce the Government to take them up, the initiative must be the work of volunteers. There would never be any progress if no one would bring forward measures until the Government were prepared to submit them to the House; and no one set a greater example of volunteer legislation than the hon. Member for Droitwich himself, who, at this early period of the Session, had already one, if not two, Bills on the paper for consideration. The principle of this Bill having been twice assented to by the House, he thought the Government ought to have felt it their duty to have taken it up. He conceived that when the House of Commons had deliberately sanctioned a principle, it became the duty of the Executive Government to carry that principle into practical legislation. For his own part, he should be most glad to surrender this measure into the hands of Government, if they would give some promise that they were ready to take it up. He was sorry, however, that the hon. Member for Droitwich and the Gentlemen who sat opposite should have made this a party question. He was surprised when he read the hon. Member's notice on the paper, that he should move the second reading of the Bill that day six months; and he thought he had a much better right to charge the hon. Gentleman with unfairness, than the hon. Gentleman had to charge him with unfairness, because after labouring to amend this Bill in so many ways, and devoting so much attention to the subject, to attempt to negative the Bill, when it was obvious the details could be altered in Committee; was, in his opinion, taking a course somewhat of a party character. He would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that he did not desire to found his arguments on any better authorities than he derived from that side of the House. What said the Earl of Derby himself? Speaking on the second reading of the Petty Sessions Bill, he said— That he thought, with his noble Friend the Earl of Malmesbury, the great and rapid increase of county rates well deserved their Lordships' attention. In the county with which he was connected, the county rate had risen from 77,000l. in 1823, to 175,000l. in 1848; and it did seem an anomaly that such a sum should be assessed by the local magistrates without the control of the ratepayers. What did he find in a petition from the farmers of Buckinghamshire, the constituents of another distinguished Member on their side of the House? The petition stated that the petitioners represented a Union of forty parishes, mostly agricultural; that they were principally occupiers of land, and in that capacity contributed to the poor-rates, over which, as ratepayers, they possessed a right of administration and control; that they also contributed largely to the county rates; and, without impugning the proper application of those rates, they respectfully urged that the principle of supervision in the case of the poor-rates should be extended to the county rates; that the county expenditure was increasing, and, being one of the most important branches of internal administration, the occupiers of land ought to be represented in the management of those funds. His only object in the constitution of financial boards, was to carry out that principle, so that magistrates, farmers, and ratepayers, might co-operate together. He did not desire to create any bad feeling among different classes; he wished to give the ratepayers the power of choosing, among all classes in the county, whether magistrates or not, fit and proper business men to control the expenditure of the county rates. That was the simple principle of the Bill, and he hoped the House would not—in throwing it out on the second reading—affirm that magistrates were to be vested with the irresponsible control of these large sums, but that it was fitting that legislation should take place for the purpose of giving the ratepayers that control which they were entitled constitutionally to possess.


said, he did not coincide in the censure which had been cast on his right hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson) for presenting for consideration a Bill which embodied his own views and opinions; at the same time, looking at the important differences between this Bill and the Bill on the same subject last Session, he thought it would have been better if, in moving for leave to introduce the Bill, his right hon. Friend had stated the outline of his proposed measure. But while he gave full liberty to his right hon. Friend to propose what Bill he pleased—dissenting, as his right hon. Friend did, from the decision of a majority of the Committee appointed last year—those who on a former occasion advocated the principle of admitting representation in the control of county expenditure were not the least bound to support him, without previously considering what were the recommendations of the Committee, and the details as well as the principle of the Bill submitted to the House. While he (Sir G. Grey) stated last year that, although no great evils could be said to exist in the administration of the county rates, and although the amount of those rates was gradually diminishing, he was unable to deny that in principle there should be a representation in the constitution of financial boards, to whom should be entrusted the administration and control of county expenditure; he also felt the subject was a most complicated one, and he only consented to a second reading of the Bill introduced by the right hon. Gentleman on the understanding that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee, on which he volunteered to give what assistance he could in amending its provisions. The House agreed to the second reading, and the Bill went to a Select Committee. He was bound to say he never belonged to a Committee which gave more close atten- tion to business, or discussed the matter before them in a fairer spirit; but his right hon. Friend had hardly stated correctly what were the proceedings of that Committee. There were some important distinctions, not only between the Bill originally proposed and that returned to the House, but between the original Bill and the Bill now introduced. The boards, as first proposed by his right hon. Friend, were to consist partly of magistrates and partly of members of Boards of Guardians, each Board electing one member. The Committee made no alteration in that respect, but they thought it inexpedient to retain the ineligibility of magistrates to be elected by the Boards of Guardians. His right hon. Friend now proposed that the magistrates should all be excluded. The Boards were wholly to be elected, and the magistrates were not only to be excluded from the right to form a portion of the Board, but from taking any share of the election of members by the Boards of Guardians. He (Sir G. Grey) was not prepared to agree to that exclusion. He could not assent to a Bill containing such an exclusion. [Mr. M. GIBSON: That could be altered in Committee, He would deal with that presently. Then, again, it was proposed that the whole powers of the magistrates in the county constabulary should be transferred to these financial boards. The Committee discussed that matter very fully, and, on a close division, decided to that effect; but then the right hon. Gentleman said, he (Sir G. Grey) came down and took upon himself to reverse that decision. In the first place, he had no such power. The Committee paid close attention to the provisions of the Bill, and as they proceeded conviction was forced on the minds of a majority of the Committee that the original decision was wrong. The right hon. Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham), whom he regretted not to see in his place, avowed the change in his opinion on that point, and invited the Committee to reconsider the question. The Committee adopted in their final determination the view which he (Sir G. Grey) entertained, that it would be most unadvisable, inexpedient, and dangerous to the public peace, to deprive the magistrates of all control in the appointment of the chief constable, and in the arrangements con-rooted with the constabulary. It was said this power existed in boroughs, but the Committee felt that there was a great difference between the two cases; that the area was much larger in a county than in a borough, the ratepayers were more scattered, and the magistrates in particular districts were responsible for the preservation of the peace. He could not then assent to a Bill which would deprive the magistrates of all voice in the appointment of police officers, or in fixing the amount of salary for which they could procure the service of persons competent to discharge those duties. The same objection partially applied to gaols, inasmuch as the Bill proposed to leave the management and appointment of officers in the hands of the magistrates, but to give the financial boards unrestricted power over the amount of salaries. Last year clauses were prepared by which the financial boards would have a voice in fixing the amount of salaries, as well as the magistrates, and, in case of disagreement, reference would be made to the Secretary of State. The right hon. Gentleman had rejected all those clauses, and practically, while he kept the word of promise to the ear, he broke it to the hope, for it was evident that if the financial board should have the unrestricted power of fixing salaries, they would practically possess the power of appointing the recipients of them. The right hon. Gentleman had not acceded to the suggestions of the Committee with respect to lunatic asylums; and with regard to Clause 45, the general powers thereby transferred were far more than the Committee thought expedient. Those were the leading points; and if the Bill stood in its present shape, he could not give his assent to it. The right hon. Gentleman said, the principle of the Bill being admitted, the details could be considered in Committee of the whole House. Looking at the complicated nature of the details and the numerous Acts of Parliament connected with the subject, he thought a Select Committee was the proper body by whom these details could be considered. They had had a Select Committee, to which he had given his assistance to the best of his ability, and he was not prepared to assent to a second reading in order to go over precisely the same grounds, and without any result. If there was any reasonable hope that the right hon. Gentleman would consent to such Amendments as would embody the modified principle to which he (Sir G. Grey) gave his assent last year, and the application of which the Committee endeavoured to reconcile with the existing law, he should be prepared to vote in favour of the second reading. But if those Amendments were to be considered in Committee of the whole House, and objected to by the promoters of the Bill, the only result would be to consume a great deal of time very uselessly; and, therefore, whilst adhering to the opinion expressed last year with regard to the principle of that Bill, he was not prepared to assent to the second reading of the Bill now before the House.


had not heard anything to prove that a good Bill might not be made out of the Bill submitted by his right hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson); and he thought the differences between the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the promoters of the Bill, might be easily compromised. For instance, the right hon. Secretary of State might move clauses which he moved in Committee upstairs; and, assuming they were accepted, and no other objection existed, the Bill could pass into law. The right hon. the Secretary of State said he offered his assistance. No doubt he offered his assistance to overthrow the Bill. It was perfectly notorious that throughout the whole transaction the right hon. Gentleman had exerted his great influence in Committee for the purpose of making this Bill as little like that the promoters wished as possible. There were some changes to which they could not agree, and they had therefore induced his right hon. Friend to bring the Bill before the House in the shape in which they now found it. With the discussion that day, and the course taken by the right hon. the Secretary of State, the Bill would not be read a second time. It was no great consequence whether it was passed in this or in the next Session, but the Bill would be passed before long, for he was satisfied there was a growing requirement among the ratepayers to have some control of county expenditure. They were told the rates were diminishing; but they had increased up to the time when the agitation commenced, and had only diminished in consequence of public attention being called to the question. Probably the right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Grey) was not aware that there were more than a hmndred parishes in which the county rate was far in excess of the poor-rate; and when the ratepayers paid those assessments they thought they had some power of control in the Boards of Guardians, whereas more than one-half was handed over to the magistrates to be expended, contrary to the constitution, entirely without the control of those upon whom the assessment was made. The ratepayers would not, however, continue to pay 1,250,000l. annually, without any supervision, without making some complaint to that House, and insisting that a measure of this kind should be passed. He trusted no man would hope again to receive any succour from the right hon. Gentlemen the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who, he was certain—and he spoke after observing his speeches and his conduct—had been a concealed opponent of this measure—[Cries of "Oh, oh!"]—he would not say a concealed, but almost an open opponent of the measure. He thought it would have been better if, instead of playing with the measure, trifling with it, encouraging and discouraging it, the right hon. Gentleman had opposed it. However, no one out of the House relied on the Government for any support with regard to it.


, as a Member of the Committee, was bound to state publicly that it was utterly impossible for a more impartial part to have been taken by any one than was taken by the right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department, and the right hon. President of the Poor Law Commission. He maintained that there were material alterations in the Bill, in principle, and not merely in detail, since it was returned to the House by the Committee last year. He dislaimed being actuated by any party motive whatever. The promoters of the Bill had departed from the usual practice of the House; and if the labours of Committees were to receive such treatment, the sooner they gave up referring matters to Select Committees the better would it be for the conduct of public business.


said, it was to be regretted that the ratepayers of the country at large should suffer through any want of tact in the Mover of the Bill. The right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey), after twice supporting the principle of the Bill, now turned round on the ratepayers, and refused their just claims. Let the Bill go into a Committee, and let the right hon. Gentleman then propose such alterations as he thought desirable. When be (Mr. Hume) first introduced this measure, the law adviser of the Ministry bad declared to the noble Lord at the head of the Government that it was a measure which ought to be taken up by the Government. He hoped the right hon. Baronet would reconsider his determination, and allow the Bill to go into Committee.


said, this question was so difficult, and, at the same time, so little understood by the right hon. Member who had brought it forward, that if he had sincerely desired its settlement he would have availed himself of the assistance given by two Committees to which the question had been referred. The right hon. Member for Manchester had accused Gentlemen sitting on that (the Opposition) side of the House of being influenced by party motives in dealing with this question, and the right hon. Gentleman's Colleague (Mr. Bright) had attacked the right hon. Home Secretary in a way that was not usual; but after what had passed it was not improbable people out of doors would think that the question had been brought forward rather with a view to getting up an agitation than procuring a settlement. A good deal had been said about representation; but after all what sort of representation did this Bill propose? Representation diluted through a Board of Guardians. If there must be an electoral body, let it be the ratepayers. Boards of Guardians were respectable bodies, well adapted to the purposes fur which they were formed; but he would not consent to convert them into electoral colleges. Under the present Bill, the magistrates would be saddled with all responsibility respecting gaols, while they would be deprived of all influence over the expenditure. They were to have no voice whatever in the question whether any improvement was to take place in a prison, or whether proper salaries were given to the men in whom they vested the duties of the prison. Could any Member of that House wish to see this question settled who brought in such a provision as this? It would be better to bring in a Bill at once to sweep away the magistrates altogether, and vest the duties in the ratepayers or the Boards of Guardians. It was the same with the lunatic asylums; and he was sure it was a principle which the House would not sanction. If it was really wished to settle this complicated question, the course taken last year should have been followed; but as it was, the only alternative that now presented itself was to vote against the second reading of the Bill. He wished it, to be understood that he had never expressed an opinion against the ratepayers having a control over the expenditure, if a right system could be chalked out; but he held by the principle, that so long as the magistrates had their present important duties to perform, they ought to have a share in the management.


said, he held the principle of the Bill to be this—that the ratepayers should have the control of the taxation which they paid; and he could not concur in the view, that because the control and payment of the officers of a county were vested in the parties proposed by the Bill, therefore the whole business of that county would be brought to a dead lock. That House fixed the salaries of the Ministers of the Crown; but did the business of the country stand still on that account? The object of the Bill was very much to remove a singular anomaly, for there was no other public rate in this country in which the ratepayers had not the power of regulating the expenditure. The principle was carried out to its fullest extent in boroughs, and no difficulty whatever was experienced. Then, why should it not work well in the counties? He begged to remind hon. Members that the Commission under which they acted, as administrators of the criminal law, gave them no control whatever over the county expenditure. He had the greatest respect for the magistrates—a body with whom he was himself connected, and that respect was shared in, he was sure, by the country at large; but he did not think that ratepayers were willing to entrust the administration of their finances except to persons elected by themselves, and in some way responsible to them, and such responsibility should be secured by the principle of re-election at stated periods. When he heard the hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) admit the principle of the Bill, but object to some of the provisions, he confessed that he thought he should have been prepared at least with an outline of the measure he wished to sanction. It was said the large ratepayers would be excluded under this Bill; but, as in the election of Boards of Guardians, owners had a right to vote as well as occupiers, and as the guardian of a parish belonging to a single owner had a vote as powerful as that of the guardian who represented a large number of occupiers, there was no fear that property would not have sufficient influence in the selection of the proposed board. For these and other reasons he would vote for the second reading of the Bill.


said, he must protest against the doctrine laid down by the last speaker, that because a Member objected to a particular measure he was therefore obliged to introduce one himself. If legislation on this matter was required, there should be a strong feeling in the country as to what the nature of that legislation ought to be. Now, when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) first introduced this subject, printed letters and petitions were sent to every Board of Guardians in England, asking them to sanction the principle of a representative system in the management of county rates; but in Lincolnshire—of which he could speak—only two Boards of Guardians gave a qualified assent to the principle of the measure. He must say, that he did not think it would be right in that House to give its approbation to a measure so different from that agreed to by the Select Committee, and brought forward last Session; and therefore he would vote against the second reading of the Bill.


agreed with the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) that it was to be regretted that the ratepayers should be disappointed of a measure of this kind because there was a difference of opinion as to some parts of the Bill. He could state that the feeling of the county from which he came was very strong upon the question, and in deference to that feeling he would vote for the second reading. But in doing so he thought his right hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson) had incurred considerable responsibility in taking the course he had done. When he (Mr. W. Patten) first saw the present Bill, he was surprised beyond measure. The last time he saw his right hon. Friend at Manchester, it was understood that the same Bill as that of last year was to be introduced. He would vote for the second reading, in the hope that in Committee it might be restored to something like its former shape. It was his intention if the Bill should go into Committee to support the reintroduction of a clause that would combine the control of the magistrates with that of the ratepayers.


regretted that the Bill did not contain the same clauses of compromise that it did last year between the magistrates and those to be elected by the Boards of Guardians. He did not see how the ratepayers generally could be satisfied with the Bill as it came from the Committee. He thought the House ought to consider that the greater part of them were magistrates, and in possession of power, and that they ought rather to err on the side of mercy that otherwise. A clause was introduced by the Committee by which there should be a qualification similar to that of the magistrates before a person could be elected to the board. This would have the effect of excluding small ratepayers; besides which, it was proposed to give a large share of power to the Secretary of State. He thought, therefore, his right hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson) could not have brought in such a measure as had been proposed by the Committee. They had already obtained poor-law reform and municipal reform; and the time could not be far distant when they were to have county-rate reform.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 63; Noes 130: Majority 67.

List of the Ayes.
Aglionby, H. A. Melgund, Visct.
Alcock, T. Milligan, R.
Barrow, W. H. Mitchell, T. A.
Bass, M. T. Morris, D.
Bell, J. Mowatt, F.
Bonnet, P. O'Connell, M. J.
Bright, J. O'Connor, F.
Brotherton, J. Patten, J. W.
Child, S. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Clay, J. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Cobden, R. Pilkington, J.
Corbally, M. E. Power, Dr.
Crawford, W. S, Robartes, T. J. A.
Dawes, E. Salwey, Col.
Duncan, G. Scholefield, W.
Ellis, J. Scobell, Capt.
Evans, Sir De L. Scully, F.
Forster, M. Smith, J. B.
Fox, W. J. Strickland, Sir G.
French, F. Stuart, Lord D.
Glyn, G. C. Sullivan, M.
Grenfell, C. P. Thicknesse, R. A.
Hardcastle, J. A. Thompson, Col.
Harris, R. Thornely, T.
Headlam, T. E. Walmsley, Sir J.
Henry, A. Wawn, J. T.
Heywood, J. Wilcox, B. M.
Hindley, C. Williams, J.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Williams, W.
Howard, Sir R. Willyams, H.
Kershaw, J. TELLERS.
King, hon. J. P. L. Gibson, T. M.
M'Cullagh, W. T. Hume, J.
List of the Noes.
Adderley, C. B. Bowles, Adm.
Armstrong, Sir A. Bramston, T. W.
Baillie, H. J. Buck, L. W.
Baines rt. hon. M. T. Bunbury, E. H.
Barrington, Visct, Charteris, hon. F.
Beresford, W. Christopher, R. A.
Best, J. Clifford, H. M.
Blair, S. Clive, hon. R. H.
Blandford, Marq. of Cobbold, J. C.
Boldero, H. G. Cocks, T. S.
Booth, Sir R. G. Coles, H. B.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Collins, T.
Compton, H. C. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Mackenzie, W. F.
Cubitt, Ald. Macnaghten, Sir E.
Davies, D. A. S. Manners, Lord J.
Divett, E. Matheson, A.
Dodd, G. Meux, Sir H.
Drumlanrig, Visct. Milnes, R. M.
Duncombe, hon. W. E. Moody, C. A.
Duncuft, J. Morgan, O.
Du Pre, C. G. Mullings, J. R.
East, Sir J. B. Newport, Visct.
Edwards, H. O'Brien, Sir L.
Egerton, Sir P. Ogle, S. C. H.
Egerton, W. T. Packe, C. W.
Farrer, J. Palmer, R.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Portal, M.
Foley, J. H. H. Power, N.
Forbes, W. Prime, R.
Fordyce, A. D. Renton, J. C.
Forester, hon. G. C. W. Ricardo, O.
Freestun, Col. Richards, R.
Freshfield, J. W. Russell, F. C. H.
Fuller, A. E. Sandars, G.
Gilpin, Col. Scott, hon. F.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Seaham, Visct.
Gooch, Sir E. S. Seymer, H. K.
Goold, W. Sibthorp, Col.
Gore, W. R. O. Slaney, R. A.
Greene, T. Smyth, J. G.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Spooner, R.
Grosvenor, Earl Stafford, A.
Halford, Sir H. Stanford, J. F.
Hallewell, E. G. Stanley, E.
Harcourt, G. G. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Hardinge, hon. C. S. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Harris, hon. Capt. Stuart, H.
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Tollemache, J.
Henley, J. W. Townley, R. G.
Herbert, H. A. Tyler, Sir G.
Hildyard, R. C. Verney, Sir H.
Hodgson, W. N. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Hope, Sir J. Walter, J.
Hotham, Lord Watkins, Col. L.
Howard, Lord E. Wegg-Prosser, F. R.
Hughes, W. B. West, F. R.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Wilson, J.
Knox, hon. W. S. Wodehouse, E.
Langton, W. H. P. G. Wood, Sir W. P.
Lennox, Lord A. G. Wynn, H. W. W.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Wyvill, M.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Lewis, G. C.
Lindsay, hon. Col. TELLERS.
Lockhart, W. Pakington, Sir J.
Long, W. Deedes, W.

Words added;—Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to:—Bill put off for six months.

The House adjourned at half after Five o'clock.