§ Order for Committee read; Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he thought that a Bill of this importance should not go into Committee without an explanation being given to the House of its scope and object. Circumstances had occurred which prevented the statement being made in the usual stage or stages of the Bill. His hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General of the late Government, on the night upon which the division took place upon the Local Militia Bill, had introduced the present measure; but feeling that after what had occurred there would be a natural impatience on the part of the House if it were then called, upon to listen to any statement, however clear and interesting, and however important the subject, he merely introduced the Bill, and it was read a first time without any observation being made. The Bill stood for a second reading on that day fortnight; but he (the Attorney General) did not feel that, as it was a Bill introduced by the late Government, it would be becoming in him to take it out of the hands of those who had introduced it, without an invita- 209 tion being given to him for that purpose. But on application being made by the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir George Grey), that the present Government should take charge of the Bill, he (the Attorney General) intimated his readiness to do so, and he proposed to postpone the second reading to that day. A suggestion was, however, made, that the Bill had better be read a second time pro formâ, and rather hastily and unguardedly he had adopted that suggestion. He was not aware at the time that the Bill had not been printed, and as the Bill had been read a second time under those circumstances, he owed an apology to the House for having allowed it to go to that stage without a statement of the objects and scope of the Bill being presented to the House. He felt bound to state that the whole origin and merit of this important measure were due to the late Government. Those who had turned their attention to this question—who knew the urgent necessity of a measure of this kind—who were aware of the vast importance of the subject, and the large amount of property that was to be affected by it—who knew the inquiries that had taken place at a vast expense to the country, year after year—the experiments that had been made in legislation, and the failures that had accompanied them—must feel that those who had been able to frame a measure which would accomplish the benefits they believed it was so desirable to attain, and avoid all the objections that had been urged against former measures, certainly were entitled to a large debt of gratitude from the country. Hon. Gentlemen who had turned their attention to this subject would be aware that the Bill dealt with a large amount of property, the annual income of the charities embraced in it being very nearly 1,500,000l.; and amongst those charities there were no less than 21,000 which had incomes of less than 20l. a year, and out of that number there were upwards of 13,000 that had incomes of less than 5l. a year. Now with regard to charities of this description, it was quite obvious that the machinery at present existing was wholly inapplicable to them. The Court of Chancery was the only tribunal which had the control and jurisdiction over charities; and it was impossible for any of those smaller charities to resort to that Court for any purpose whatever without having the whole of their property 210 entirely absorbed. He admitted that with respect to largely endowed charities it was impossible to conceive a tribunal better calculated to carry into effect a system of control and administration than the Court of Chancery; but with respect to the smaller charities, they were really wholly unprotected, and they continued to be so, notwithstanding the repeated suggestions on the subject which had been reported to the House by Commissions which had been issued time after time, and at very considerable expense. In introducing a measure of this kind it was important the House should bear in mind what was the existing state of the law on the subject, and what were the evils which had arisen out of that state of the law, because then they would be better able to appreciate what was the remedy which was proposed to be applied to the grievances that exist. It was extraordinary that upon a subject of this immense importance, the law at the present day should mainly depend upon a statute that was passed so long ago as the reign of Queen Elizabeth, "The Statute of Charitable Trusts." Under that statute, the control over all charities was given to the Court of Chancery. That Court had power to issue a Commission to the bishop of a diocese and to other persons, empowering them to summon a jury of the county in which the property belonging to the charity was situate, to inquire into any abuses or malversations of trustees, and upon the inquisition of the jury to make reports for rectifying those abuses or malversations. That order was subject to an appeal to the Court of Chancery, and, in point of fact, all questions with regard to charities ended where they began—in that Court; and the Commissions of the description provided by the Act of Parliament had become practically obsolete, because, in point of fact, they were utterly useless. From that time down to 1786 nothing whatever was done in the way of legislation on the subject. He need hardly advert, by way of exception, to the Act of James I., which merely regulated charities for binding poor boys as apprentices. In the year 1786, the Act commonly called Gilbert's Act was passed, which required the minister, church-wardens, and overseers of every parish to make returns to Parliament of all the charities existing within the parish; and under that Act returns were made of charitable property to the extent annually of 200,000l. or 300,000l. a year. The re- 211 turns were of no great value, except as showing the extent of the charities. They gave no information as to the state of the charities, but they served as an index to different charities, and greatly assisted the Commissioners who were subsequently appointed. In 1812 an Act was passed, through the instrumentality of Sir Samuel Bdihilly—a name always to be mentioned with respect, especially in reference to reforms of the law—the object of which Act was to provide a summary remedy for correcting abuses in charities, by rendering it unnecessary to file an information in the Court of Chancery, and enabling parties to apply by petition. But, as had been well observed by a noble Friend of his, the word "summary" must be interpreted according to the glossary of the Court of Chancery; for although it might be cheaper and more expeditious to proceed by petition rather than by information, it was, with the costly machinery of the Court of Chancery, little adapted to the cases of the poorer charities. In the same year, 1812, another Act Was passed, compelling returns to be made of the different existing charities throughout the country, and the amount of real and personal property belonging to them, and also provision was made in that Act for obtaining a return from charities that might be Created after the Act. After that Act of Parliament, various returns were made as to existing charities, but, with regard to the charities subsequently erected, the Act was in point of fact a dead letter; moreover, it applied only to charities that were charged upon the land. Having given that sketch of the legislation on the subject down to 1812, he had informed the House of the whole state of the law in the year 1816, when a Committee Was first appointed to make inquiries, not into charities in general, but with respect to the state of education of the lower orders of the metropolis. That Committee incidentally mentioned that, beside the abuses they found to exist in the educational charities, great negligence and malversation also existed in the management of other charities. In consequence of that report, in the year 1818 an Act of Parliament was passed, establishing a Commission of Inquiry into the condition of educational charities, which in the year 1819 was enlarged, giving the Commissioners power to extend their inquiries to all charities throughout England and Wales; and there having been in those Acts of 1818 and 1819 a power given to the Commissioners 212 only to certify to the Crown, and to Parliament; in the year 1819 another Act Was passed which empowered the Commissioners, where they saw the interference of the Court of Chancery was necessary, to certify to the Attorney General cases of abuse of trust in which they thought it was necessary he should interfere, and call the parties to account. Those Commissions were renewed from time to tithe by various Acts of Parliament down to the 1st of July, 1834, when the last Act was passed. The Commissioners made no less than 32 reports, which were contained in 37 folio Volumes. Anybody who referred to those reports would find the fullest and most important information with regard to the charities. But it Was very remarkable that so early as the year 1820, in one of the reports of the Commissioners, they pointed out distinctly the absence of any efficient jurisdiction with respect to small charities; and he (the Attorney General) must confess it appeared to him that one could hardly read that Report without a feeling of shame that thirty-two years ago those evils having been distinctly pointed out to the attention of the Legislature as having existed from the very time of the establishment of those charities, such a period should have been allowed to elapse without the application of some effectual remedy. Nothing had been done up to the present moment, and the smaller charities remained precisely in the same state, utterly out of the protection of the law. Now, inasmuch as he knew there would be some opposition made, not to the general principle of the Bill, but requiring some exemptions to be made, he thought it important the House should understand precisely what were the exemptions that were made in the different Acts of Parliament to which he had adverted, between the years 1818 and 1834, When the last Act was passed. There were exemptions introduced into all the Acts in favour of the Universities, Collegiate and Cathedral Churches, some of the public schools, and with regard to charities where there Was a special visitor; but from the year 1818 down to the year 1830 there was no exemption whatever with regard to the great London hospitals or any of the City companies. In 1830 an exemption was introduced in favour of the great London Hospitals; but in the year 1834, in the Act of Parliament that was passed re-establishing the Commission, that exemption which had been allowed to exist for four years, and four 213 years only, was taken away; and if hon. Members would turn to the Act of 5 & 6 Will. IV. they would find no such exemption existing; yet he had been given to understand that such an exemption was to be strongly contended for on the present occasion, notwithstanding he believed that the Withdrawal of that exemption was essential to promote a full investigation. Those great bodies were liable to all the injuries to which other charities were exposed; and he believed considerable benefits had arisen from the inquiries directed to those institutions, and that from the suggestions made to them reforms had taken place that were beneficial. He only used that circumstance in answer to the case that would be made on the part of the great London hospitals, and to show that the Legislature, having originally exempted them, had taken away that exemption, and exposed them to the inquiry that was applicable to all other charities. Independent of those various Commissions, a Committee of the House was appointed in the year 1835 for the purpose of examining and considering the evidence and the reports presented by the Commissioners, and the course that should be adopted to complete the inquiry relative to uninvestigated charities, and to report by what mode charitable funds might be most efficiently, promptly, and economically administered. That Committee made a Report of the greatest importance; and he would, with the permission of the House, read a portion of it, as showing what were the recommendations of that Committee, after careful deliberation on the subject. He would take the last head of the inquiry on which the Committee had reported their opinion, namely—the mode in which charitable funds might be most efficiently, promptly, and economically administered. The Report contained many recommendations of great interest, and when it was considered that the funds amounted to a million and more, it was evident that their proper management was a matter of national concern, and applied to a great extent to the education and comfort of the poor. In that Report the Committee expressed the following opinion:—Your Committee are inclined to recommend that the superintendence, and in certain cases the administration, of all property devoted to charitable uses, should be entrusted to a permanent Board of three Commissioners, or some other independent authority, on whom should be imposed the duty of superintendence and control over the administration of all property devoted to 214 charitable uses; that such Board should have Authority to call for, from time to time, and to enforce, a return or an account of the annual funds and property of any charitable institution, and have power to summon before themselves, or other persons specially authorised by them, all parties concerned in the management or administration of any charitable institution or funds; in case of necessity to appoint, and, upon adequate cause clearly established, to remove, trustees; to take care that no sale, mortgage, or exchange of charity property be effected without their concurrence, and that all funds applicable to charitable purposes be invested upon real or Government security. … The Board to be empowered to suggest schemes for the government of all charities, and for the management of all estates and funds belonging to such charities, and to correct any abuses therein, subject to the like concurrence in cases where there are special visitors.He had considered it important to call the attention of the House to the statements contained in this Report, because the framers of the Bill had adopted the recommendations made by the Committee so long ago as 1835. The House must not Suppose that these Commissions were utterly fruitless. Inquiries were carried on at a large expense to the country, amounting to very near 300,000l.; but the Commissioners, in the course of their labours, recommended certain cases of abuses of trusts to the notice of the Attorney General—he believed there were no less than 386 cases which were so certified by the Commissioners. In a great number of them the Attorney General proceeded against the parties; and the result of those suits—some of them being carried to an ultimate determination—some of them being compromised—some parties having submitted without any suit being instituted at all—the result was, that great benefits were conferred on the charities by means of those proceedings—funds were recovered to the amount of upwards of 600,000l. and schemes were established in respect to grammar and other schools, the income of which amounted to 28,000l. Although the Commission had expired in July, 1837, let it not be considered that nothing had been since done to correct abuses of trusts or the maladministration of charities. The country had not been largely taxed upon the subject, and an erroneous opinion seemed to prevail concerning it. He believed that, with very considerable benefit to a number of charities in the kingdom, the amount of expense to the country had not been more than 1,000l. a year, a great part of which was returned by means of the costs obtained from the parties against 215 whom they had proceeded. But undoubtedly, the Commission having expired in July, 1837, it was a matter of astonishment that this state of things which was described so forcibly in all the Reports of the Commissioners, and in the Report of the Committee, should be allowed to exist, and that no attempt whatever should be made to legislate on the subject from the year 1837 down to the year 1844. In the year 1844 a Bill was introduced into the House of Lords by Lord Lyndhurst, then Lord Chancellor, for the purpose of establishing a jurisdiction in cases of small charities. That Bill was read a second time in the House of Lords in that Session, and then was dropped. In the year 1845 a similar Bill was introduced by Lord Lyndhurst, read a third time, came down to that House late in the Session, was read a first time, and then dropped. In the year 1846 another Bill was introduced by Lord Lyndhurst. After very considerable discussion, and being exposed to great opposition, the result was, that on the second reading of the Bill it was thrown out by a majority of two in the House of Lords. It was not unimportant that the House should understand the nature of the Bills that had been introduced by Lord Lyndhurst. In these Bills he adopted generally the recommendations of the Committee, as to establishing a Board not merely of advice, assistance, and supervision, but of absolute jurisdiction over charities of a small amount. The charities to which the rule extended were various in the different Bills. In the first Bill the blanks were not filled up; in the second Bill it was proposed to extend its operation to charities under 50l.; and in the third Bill the jurisdiction was enlarged to charities with incomes of not more than 100l. The Commissioners were to be entrusted with large and ample jurisdiction over these charities. They were empowered to make schemes, change trusts, even to alter the destination of the charities, and where in their judgment the intentions of the founder could not be beneficially carried out, they had power to substitute some other objects. Both Lord Cottenham and Lord Campbell strongly objected to such arbitrary and despotic powers, as they described them to be, given to a secret and irresponsible tribunal. There were powers, also, in all those Bills of imposing a tax upon the charities, for the purpose of supporting the establishment of the Board. In the first Bill of 1844, the amount proposed, was 3d. in the pound; in the second 216 Bill it was raised to 6d.; and in the third Bill, there being a general jurisdiction, given, in addition to the jurisdiction gives, over the smaller charities, which enabled them to call the larger charities to account, a tax was proposed of 3d. in the pound on the smaller charities, l½d. in the pound, on the larger charities; thus adjusting the, tax in proportion to the benefits which it was anticipated the different descriptions of charities would derive from its establishment. This Bill, however, found no favour with the House of Lords, and the result was what he had stated. A change of Government took place in the year 1846, and Lord Cottenham became Lord Chancellor. Lord Cottenham had unfortunately offered a fierce and resolute opposition to that portion of the Bill of Lord Lyndhurst which provided for the establishment of a Board, and therefore it was, hardly possible for Lord Cottenham, however disposed to legislate on the subject, to introduce any measure of a similar description. That noble and learned Lord introduced Bills on the subject in the years 1847, 1848, and 1849; and a Bill similar to those measures was introduced into that House by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Master of the Rolls in the year 1850. These Bills were all of a similar character, and got rid altogether of the Board; but they established a difference between charities of different amounts. Where charities existed with an income of less than 30l., the Judges of the County Courts were empowered to exercise jurisdiction over them; and in those whose incomes were between 30l. and 100l. a Master in Chancery was enabled to do all that in the case of the larger charities the Court of Chancery might do. An appeal was given from the decision of the Master in Chancery; and with respect to appeals from the decision of the Judges of the County Courts, they were only to be permitted with the sanction of the Judges themselves. His right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) opposed the Bill of 1850, considering that the Judges of the County Courts were not likely to be competent to execute the duties that were imposed on, them; and he more particularly objected that they should have the absolute power, without any check except that which was, afforded by appeal which had been sanctioned by themselves. However, notwithstanding the opposition of his right hon. Friend, and that of the present Vice- 217 Chancellor Turner, the Bill was read a third time. It went up to the House of Lords; but on the 5th of August it was withdrawn. In the mean time a new Commission had been established for the purpose of making inquiry into those cases of charities which had not been certified to the Attorney General. That Commission, he thought, was issued in 1849. They were Commissioners appointed to inquire into those cases which were investigated by and reported upon the Charity Commission, but not certified to the Attorney General, and to report what proceedings, if any, should be taken thereupon. On the 29th June, 1850, that Commission made their first Report, in which they said that in addition to the information communicated in answer to their inquiries, they had received numerous complaints of maladministration, and in other instances their advice had been asked by parties desirous of correcting defects of irregularity; and from those several sources of information it was made evident that the evils and abuses pointed out by former Commissions and Committees of Parliament were still in existence to a very wide extent, and that no sufficient remedy had as yet been provided for their correction. They stated that in order to apply an effectual remedy to those various abuses, it was necessary to create by legislative enactment some public permanent authority, which should be charged with the duty of supervising the administration of those charitable trusts. In the second Report of that same Commission they said they had continued to prosecute their inquiries into charities, and had selected thirteen cases which they recommended to be laid before the Attorney General, in order that he might deal with them in such a manner as he might think necessary; and they repeated, what they had already stated, that some legislative measure was necessary to secure the due administration of charitable trusts, and said that they had, by the sanction of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, prepared a Bill for facilitating and better securing the due administration of the charities in England and Wales, which they had submitted to the consideration of the House. Now, the Bill which was so prepared was, in point of fact, the Bill which was now presented to the House. It was brought into the House of Lords in 1851, where it was received with almost unanimous approbation so far as its principles were concerned; there was 218 merely an application on the part of a noble Duke to introduce some exemptions with regard to the great London hospitals, which proposition was negatived. The Bill was read a third time; but it came down to the House of Commons at so late a period of the Session that it shared the fate of all its predecessors: there was no time to pass it; and therefore there was yet no law for the correction of those abuses which were admitted to exist, or to prevent the recurrence of those abuses which had occurred from time to time. He (the Attorney General) feared that he had trespassed too long on the attention of the House in making this detailed statement; but he thought it most important that the House should be fully alive to all the difficulties that surrounded the subject, to the greatness of the interests involved in it, and to the objections which had from time to time been urged, in order that they might be able to appreciate the value of this Bill, and to understand the mode in which those various objections were now met, and, as he trusted the House would consider, completely overcome. The general character of the Bill was this. Adopting the recommendations of the Committee of 1839, and following out the precedent of the Bills of Lord Lyndhurst in 1844, 1845, and 1846, it was proposed to establish a Board which was to consist of five Commissioners, two of whom were to be paid. Whether those two would be sufficient or not would be a matter for the anxious and attentive consideration of the House. A power was proposed to be reserved, supposing the Commissioners to be found insufficient, for the Lord Chancellor to appoint a third paid Commissioner; but his (the Attorney General's) belief was, that when the Board was first established, their labours would he so considerable, to bring matters into train, and to establish a general system applicable to all the charities throughout the kingdom, that it would be found the proposed number of two would be insufficient. He merely threw that out for the consideration of the House. It was a matter of very great importance, because he thought it would not be desirable that this experiment—for such it would be at the first—for want of sufficient strength in those appointed to the duty of carrying it out, should turn out to be a failure. The proposed Board was not to be invested with any jurisdiction over the charities at all. It was to be a Board for the purpose of supervision, of control, and of advice. It was 219 proposed that no suit or proceeding should he instituted with respect to any breach of trust, or to any matter connected with those charities, without the consent of the Commissioners who formed the Board. The object of that, and the effect of it, would he to prevent a number of suits which had unfortunately from time to time been brought, notwithstanding the check and control of the Attorney General, by parties in the character of relators, merely for the purpose of costs; and it was a check which would be infinitely more beneficial in the case of the large charities than that of the smaller ones, for the large charities were the more likely to tempt the cupidity of speculators, since they would have the better chance of obtaining the costs in the event of a decision in their favour. With respect to, charities with an income under 30l., it wag proposed to give jurisdiction to the County Court, or to the District Courts of Bankruptcy; and as to charities with an income between 30l. and 100l., to give jurisdiction to the Masters in Chancery; not, however, compelling the parties, as now, to go with a petition to the Court before they could he sent to the Master, but enabling them simply to carry in a state of facts to the Master, and to have his decision on the matter. There was also a provision, on which he laid great stress, for enabling trustees and persons interested in charities to obtain the advice of the Commissioners of the Board as to their proceedings under the trust: and it was proposed to render those persons who resorted to the Commissioners for their advice safe in acting under it, by giving them an indemnity for their acts, although there might be an ultimate decision of a Court of competent jurisdiction on the subject, and although that Court might decide that the Commissioners had taken an erroneous view of the course that ought to have been adopted. The Commissioners would have power to send questions relating to charities under 30l. a year either to the County Courts or to the District Courts of Bankruptcy; and they had power also, or it was proposed they should have power, to interpose to stay any proceedings which they thought were improperly conducted. At the same time, in order to provide a check against any improper interference on the part of the Commissioners, they were to have no control at all over the Attorney General, and when he thought proper to proceed ex officio no certificate of the Commissioners was to be necessary before any suit could be instituted 220 either in the County Court or the District Court of Bankruptcy, or any proceedings before the Master or before the Lord Chancellor. He (the Attorney General) thought the system which was proposed by the present Bill would obviate some of the objections which had been urged against former measures. In the first place, the Commissioners would be strictly a Board, and would not be a Court. They would have a power to advise, and of directing proceedings to be taken; they would have a power of ordering the Court in which those proceedings were to be instituted, subject of course to the limitations he had already mentioned; and they would also have this power, which might operate as a salutary check on the decisions of the County Court Judges, that if they were dissatisfied they might remove the case from the County Court, and might direct it to be carried before the Master or the Lord Chancellor. Now, he thought his right hon. Friend the Member for the University pf Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) would be of opinion that that would remove the objection which he raised in the case of the Bill of 1850, to the absolute and uncontrolled power given to the Judges of the County Courts. There was one part of the Bill on which, from what he had heard, he expected very considerable opposition: he meant that which proposed to tax the charities indiscriminately, from 10l. or upwards, with the amount of 2d. in the pound, providing at the same time that no charity should pay a larger amount than 50l. It had been estimated that that would raise a sum of 8,500l., which would probably be sufficient for the maintenance of the Board of Commissioners and the staff which would he necessary for carrying out the objects, of the Bill. He had heard it said, that with regard to the small charities, this Bill was absolutely essential; they would otherwise have no protection, and that, therefore, it was perfectly right that they should be called on to pay for the great benefits they would derive from this, measure; but with respect to the larger charities, it was said the means which they had to remedy any abuses which might exist—if abuses did exist, which was Stoutly denied—would remain precisely the same, and that, therefore, they derived no advantage from the machinery provided in this Bill. He must confess that this, appeared to him to be a very great misapprehension, and he was sure a little consideration would convince those who were. 221 interested on behalf of those charities, that they would at least derive a benefit from this measure commensurate with the rate it was proposed to impose on them. In the first place, they would find provision was made by which the necessity of resorting to Parliament for Bills to accomplish various objects absolutely necessary under the existing state of the law, would be entirely removed by the measure it was proposed to introduce. He had before him a short time ago a list of the various Private Bills which had been applied for during the present century from 1800 to 1850, and he found there were no less than 135 Private Bills which had been passed for various objects which could not be carried out without the intervention of the Legislature in different charities. The average cost of each of those Private Bills was estimated at 600l., so that there had been no less a sum than 81,000l. spent on them during the last fifty years; and he found that among the Bills which had been applied for, the Hospital of St. Bartholomew bad applied for three, and the Hospital of St. Thomas for three, not to mention others of the great London hospitals. Now, if this Bill only prevented the necessity of their applying at such enormous expense to accomplish objects which were desirable for the purposes of the charity, he should venture to submit to their consideration whether they would not admit that the benefit to them would be very considerable, and whether it would be reasonable to object to the payment of 50l. a year to get rid of what might indeed be a contingency, but which might again happen as it had done before, entailing on them costs to a large amount. Was it nothing to them that there was a Board established to which they might resort in any case of difficulty or doubt as to the extent of their powers, and whether it would be expedient to exercise them? Would it be said that those great bodies were so entirely free from any liability to difficulties of that kind, that this machinery, which was so carefully provided to extend its protection over all the charities throughout the kingdom, should not be applicable to them? This brought him to the exemptions of various kinds which he was aware would be called for by various parties, but the introduction of which, in his opinion, would go far to disable a Bill of this kind. The exemptions at present proposed were these: The Universities, which had been always exempted, cathedral and collegiate 222 churches, the British Museum, and institutions which were supported wholly by voluntary contributions. Now, on former occasions—he thought in some of the Acts establishing the Commission—institutions which were supported principally by charitable contributions were exempted from their operation; and in 1846, upon some application which was made. Lord Lyndhurst proposed to introduce into his Bill a proposition to that effect; on which Lord Cottenham said it would be fatal to the Bill, because every charity, by merely obtaining a small subscription, would immediately remove itself entirely from the operation of the Bill. They had, therefore, endeavoured to avoid any objection of that kind; and it was stated in the exemption clause that where institutions were supported partly by charitable contributions and partly by endowment, that portion of the funds which arose from charitable can tributions should not be liable to the supervision of the Board; but that which depended upon endowment should, like all other endowments, be liable to its supervision. With respect to the exemption of the great London Hospitals from the Bill, he believed such Hospitals were never exempted before except from 1840 to 1844. They were not exempted by Lord Cottenham in the Bill of 1847; they were not exempted in the Bill of 1848, nor in that of 1849. He believed that in 1850 the Master of the Rolls, feeling the importance of passing the Bill then before the House, and that it was essential that some jurisdiction should be established for the administration of the smaller charities, yielded to an application that was made to him, and introduced an alteration into that Bill which he (the Attorney General) thought would be contrary to the principle of the present measure, and which, notwithstanding the pressing appeal that was made in a statement which no doubt was in the hands of most hon. Members, he should feel it his duty most strenuously to resist. He did not know whether it would be necessary for him to enter into a more lengthened detail of the provisions of this most important measure. His object in doing so was, that when they went into Committee hon. Members might be alive to all the details of the Bill, and might be prepared for any objection that might be urged, and for the reasons that would be offered to them in support of its different provisions; and he must confess he did look with considerable anxiety to the re- 223 suit of the investigation to which the Bill would be submitted in its passage through the Committee. Everybody admitted the necessity for legislation; it had been called for repeatedly, and year after year all the objections which existed in the present system had been pointed out in the most forcible language; all the abuses which prevailed had been over and over again brought to the attention of the House; repeatedly had they been asked to interfere for the protection of charities, many of which, he believed, had been annihilated in consequence of there being no protection at all; and if after all the various attempts that had been made, and the failures that had taken place, this measure, which had been prepared with the utmost care with reference to every suggestion that had ever been made on the subject, with regard to the necessities of almost every case, and with respect to the objections which had been at different times urged against various provisions; if, after all that, this measure should fail like its predecessors, he (the Attorney General) should utterly despair of ever being able to carry through Parliament any Bill whatever for the administration of charitable trusts. He must also say that when the urgent necessity for legislation had been admitted year after year, it would be a reproach to the House of Commons if they were to lose this, which he might almost say was the last opportunity that might present itself of passing a measure which tad been framed to meet every case, and to answer almost every objection, and which would undoubtedly be of the utmost benefit to the country.
§ SIR ALEXANDER COCKBURN
said, he should certainly give the hon. and learned Attorney General every assistance in his power towards passing the Bill. When it was recollected that the annual revenue of the charities of this country was a million and a half, which, at twenty-six years' purchase, gave a gross value of forty millions, everybody must be impressed with the importance of legislating on proper principles for interests so large. Considering the nature of the property, and the mode of its administration, no one could wonder at the fact, which was beyond contradiction, that the grossest abuses had prevailed in the disposition of the funds of these charities. For the most part, it had been bestowed by donors about to quit the world, for the benefit of poor persons, who had no means of asserting or enforcing 224 their rights; so that there was no wonder that abuses had sprung up. A vast deal of it had been left in trust to municipal corporations, who had abused those trusts in an eminent degree. In many cases, local jobbing had absorbed the charity funds, and diverted them from the channels to which the donors had intended them to flow. Some idea might be formed of the nature and extent of those abuses, when it was known that, since the attention of the Legislature had been directed to the subject, upwards of 650,000l. had been recovered from corporations and individuals who had abused the trust confided in them. The case of the Hospital of St. Cross, at Winchester, was one of the most prominent of the manner in which the munificence of the founder had been abused and made subservient to individual and selfish purposes. That charity, one of the noblest in England—whose income would shortly amount to not less than 10,000l. per annum, and in twenty or thirty years would probably far exceed that amount—was founded by William of Rohan, the brother of King Stephen, and Bishop of Winchester. When William of Wykeham succeeded to the see of Winchester, he found that the Master had abused his trust; and after a lengthened inquiry, the charity was at last put on a proper footing. Five hundred years elapsed, and the same charity was again brought under the notice of the House, and a Commission was appointed to inquire into its affairs; and it then turned out that the son of the late Bishop of Winchester, being then Master of that Hospital, had followed in the steps of his predecessor. He had applied to his own purpose all the fines received on the renewal of leases, the whole had fallen into decay; the recipients of the charity had gone; and it had been made entirely subservient to individual purposes. He was happy to say a suit had been instituted, and, before long, he hoped that that noble institution would be made applicable to the higher order of charity for which it was intended by the institution of the founder. At present all charities were subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, which could only be put in motion by the Attorney General. But with his other occupations, it was impossible for the Attorney General to exercise an effective supervision over all the charities of the empire; all he could do was to cause proceedings to be taken where gross abuses were brought to light, or to allow his 225 name to be used by relators when abuses were alleged to exist. In many instances abuses were not brought to his knowledge, and in others he was induced to sanction suits which turned out to be brought merely to put costs into the pockets of the relators. It was quite clear, therefore, that the existing jurisdiction of the Attorney General was wholly inadequate to meet the evil. Of the charities now existing in England, no less than 18,000 did not exceed 10l. per annum each, their aggregate income being nearly 60,000l. With regard to those, it was clear that an appeal to the Court of Chancery involved an amount of expense which they were utterly unable to bear. The present Bill provided a remedy for this, for it would enable the Commissioners to put the County Courts or the Courts of Bankruptcy in motion, so that the charities might he regulated with an amount of expense not disproportionate to their income. There was another important provision in the Bill, which was, that the Commissioners were to be tribunals in a certain sense, standing between the charities and those interested in them, and the Courts of Law. In many instances, abuses had grown up in consequence of the ignorance of trustees as to the history and affairs of their trusts, or of their powers and duties as trustees. A little guidance would have kept them right; they only required to be advised or warned. The Commissioners to be appointed under this Bill would occupy such a position that they could give proper directions in all matters affecting the charities. The Commissioners would be placed in such a position that they could exercise watchful superintendence and efficient control, while they would not be put in possession of any inquisitorial or arbitrary powers, nor was it intended to invest them with any judicial functions. They would be put in motion where necessary, and repress litigation where it was resorted to for selfish purposes. He believed the provisions of the Bill were calculated to repress abuses, and that, when they became law, they would have the effect of rendering the great charities of the country still more useful and efficient.
MR. ALDERMAN THOMPSON
felt the disadvantageous position in which he stood in opposing this Bill, which had the advantages of the support of Her Majesty's Attorney General and of the late Attorney General, and who had preceded him in this debate. He was aware of 226 the great amount of property involved, the abuses that existed in certain endowed charities, and the necessity of some more efficient control over them. But there was a wide difference between charitable foundations endowed in former ages, and the management of which was now intrusted to irresponsible individuals, and those which were in great part supported by the contributions of benevolent persons in the present day. He desired to see exceptions made in favour of those institutions which were supported by voluntary subscriptions, or many most useful institutions for the poor would cease to exist. He had no personal interest in opposing this Bill; but he had for many years taken a deep interest in the welfare and management of one of these great institutions. He alluded to Christ's Hospital, an institution deriving an income of 10,000l. a year from the munificence of private individuals, and which was managed by governors now living who had contributed not less than 200,000l. to its funds. Now, he asked whether it was just right under these circumstances that the affairs of Christ's Hospital were to be managed by the governors of the institution, or whether the management was to be taken out of their hands and transferred to the Commissioners under this Bill? In the latter event he felt confident that the revenue, or a great part of the revenue, now enjoyed by the institution, would very shortly disappear. There were 500 governors, every one of whom was summoned from eight to ten times a year to attend the business of the hospital. There was a committee of management, consisting of forty-eight individuals, elected by the governors annually, and there were twelve auditors elected by the subscribers, who audited and published the accounts in extenso, and sent a copy to every governor. With such a government what need could there be for the interference proposed by this Bill? It was not the paltry 50l. a year that Christ's Hospital would contribute to the general fund that he cared about; but the great majority of those benevolent individuals who now took a lively interest in its affairs, would be disgusted at the interference of the Commissioners, and would no longer feel the same interest in the management of the institution. Christ's Hospital clothed, maintained, and educated 1,400 children—the children of poor clergymen with large families, of half-pay officers in Her Majesty's Army and Navy, and the orphans 227 of officers who had fallen in the defence of their country. He denied that any objection was made on the part of the Royal Hospitals to the most searching inquiry by the Commissioners. For more than twelve months they had been employed examining into Christchurch Hospital, and they published their report in 300 folio pages. No cases of bad management, or of abuse of any kind, had ever been urged against Christ's Hospital; and the only recommendation even suggested by the Commissioners was, that the 500l. qualification of governors should be increased to 900l.—a proposition to which he was decidedly opposed, because it would make that great public institution too exclusive. With regard to the other Hospitals—St. Bartholomew's, Bethle'm, and St. Thomas's—they were also managed by committees who met once in the fortnight, and whose proceedings were submitted in every particular to the court of governors, so that they could not appropriate 10l. without its being investigated and sanctioned. These institutions were the pride of the inhabitants of London, and the wonder of foreigners, who were utterly astonished when told that they were supported by voluntary contributions. In the Bills which had been brought forward in 1848, 1849, and 1850, a clause was inserted, excluding from their operation those charitable institutions which were supported by voluntary subscriptions, and the affairs of which were managed by persons elected to the office by the subscribers themselves. If a similar clause were introduced into the present Bill, he would have no objection to it, as he considered that some control was necessary over the small endowed charities where the trustees were self-elected; but he was satisfied that if all charitable institutions were indiscriminately subjected to the provisions of the Bill, it would go far to stop the stream of charity in this country. He thought, at the same time, that the expenses of the Commission, instead of being drawn from charities in the way of a rate, should be paid out of the Consolidated Fund. He did not see how it could be possible that a great and important measure like this could be properly considered in a Committee of the whole House. In his opinion the Bill ought to be referred to the searching and deliberate inquiry of a Committee upstairs, and he would, therefore, move, as an amendment, that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.
§ SIR ROBERT H. INGLIS
seconded 228 the Amendment. He did not deny that some legislation was necessary on this subject; but the evil of this Bill was that it would punish those who were unblamed and blameless; for every person who knew anything of the charitable institutions of this country knew that very few gentlemen would be found to work gratuitously as the trustees and managers of the Royal Hospitals, or of the voluntary charitable institutions of this metropolis, if they found not only that their accounts were to be open to the inspection of paid Commissioners, but that these Commissioners would have the power of summoning them at their pleasure, and of inflicting a penalty upon them for non-attendance. How far they might be right in the case of any one receiving pay for his services, it was not necessary to inquire; but here the power was to be exercised over men of the highest character, who rendered gratuitous services in these hospitals, day by day, and hour by hour, in the cause of Christian charity. He had presented a petition the other day from the Committee of the Royal Literary Fund, praying that that institution should be exempt from the operation of the Bill. The ground of exemption they set forth was this—that the Literary Fund was an institution incorporated for the purpose of relieving the distress of literary men, who, from the nature of their minds and occupations, were peculiarly sensitive and susceptible. It was considered a sacred duty on the part of those who administered that Fund not to communicate the name of any person relieved by the society. But if this Bill became law, and were made applicable to that corporation, the recipients of this Fund would have their distress made known as publicly as those who entered the union workhouse. The object which the hon. and learned Gentleman stated he had in view in not granting the exception now asked for was, that he could not otherwise find the means of inquiring into the abuses of the small charities. Was not this punishing the innocent in order to amend the guilty? And though the amount to be raised upon the income of the greater hospitals, for instance, was not to exceed 50l., yet he begged the House to recollect that even this sum excluded two patients annually and permanently from relief in each of these hospitals; and the entire cost of the Commission, as proposed by the Bill, was not so great that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would say that the Consolidated 229 Fund could not afford it. It should be recollected that all the gentlemen who administered the funds of our great institutions, not only received no salaries, but the majority of them were large contributors to those funds. He thought that it would be better to pay the expense of the inquiry into the management of the funds of our charitable institutions from the Imperial purse, than to attempt to provide against the misconduct of trustees by a process so objectionable as this. If the amount were even double, he did not believe that the veteran economist of that House, who was then not in his place (Mr. Hume), would grudge it when the effect of a refusal would be to dry up the sources of private benevolence; for men would not be found to give their aid and their time to these charities if they were compelled to give an account of their own gratuitous stewardship to paid Commissioners. The hon. Gentleman who had just spoken told the House that living governors contributed the enormous sum of 200,000l. to one of these charities. He knew one governor (the late Mr. Hunt) who had bequeathed a sum of nearly 200,000l. to Guy's Hospital, from his confidence in the administration of that hospital. He had heard also of the case of a governor still living who had given 12,000l., and he knew another who intended to leave 5,000l. to one of the Royal Hospitals, but who had refrained from doing so till he learned whether those institutions were or were not to be exempted from the operation of this measure. The great charities of the metropolis were administered by men who themselves contributed so largely to the funds, that in the case of Christ's Hospital, they might almost be said to administer their own donations. There was no breach of trust charged against these charities; and the measure as proposed by the late Government could very well be carried out without depriving those who administered the charities of London of all personal interest in those great establishments. He hoped, therefore, that they might be exempted, and that they would not interfere with the healthy self-working of these great public institutions. He trusted that the hon. and learned Gentleman would reconsider that part of the Bill, and not drive them to the necessity of opposing the Bill in toto, for he admitted the necessity of legislation with regard to the small charities.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. ALDERMAN SIDNEY
regretted he could not concur in the Amendment. His hon. Friend said that Christ's Hospital was managed with great assiduity. He admitted that such was the case now, but was it always the case? [Mr. Alderman THOMPSON: Yes.] He would show that it was not always the case. Not many years since an order was passed by the hoard of governors not to admit any boy whose friends had property exceeding a fixed amount, namely, 300l. The hospital was founded by Edward VI., for the education of the poor children of the City of London; but until comparatively few years ago, the sons of noblemen had been brought up within its walls; and there were many now in the hospital who were the children neither of the poor nor the indigent. He would fully admit the excellence of the present management; but what security had they that that good management would be perpetuated? He had had experience of a great many of the charities of the City of London, and they did certainly not in the aggregate carry out the intentions of the donors; and if Christ's Hospital were exempted from the operation of the Bill, the same indulgence must be extended to many others. The two Royal Hospitals of St. Bartholomew and St. Thomas certainly did an immense amount of good; but he could not forget that not many years ago St. Thomas's and Bridewell Hospitals were greatly inconvenienced by the defalcations of their treasurers. Again, the present hospital of Bridewell had very little extended its usefulness during the last 150 years, although its revenues had been tripled. It was founded by Edward VI. for the reception of idle disorderly persons, and of poor children, for the purpose of teaching them a trade; and, he would ask, whether the munificent intentions of that young but benevolent Monarch had been carried out pari passu with the wants of the present metropolis? Surely there were plenty of the sort of persons in London whom the establishment was intended to benefit; but the governors of the charity knew that it would be useless to put forth any appeal to the public while the present system of management was continued. Those who were disposed to give to those charities would feel yet more so when they knew 231 that the objects contemplated would he properly carried out; and therefore he could not help thinking that it was rather a feeling of false pride on the part of Christ's Hospital that had dictated their opposition to the Bill. He never could see what disadvantage it would be to any charity to have a proper inquiry into the manner in which its trust was discharged. His great objection was against Clause 85, which exempted the universities from the operation of the Bill. He knew not why they should be exempt; but he knew that' there were several great charities connected with the Church of England, the objects of which were not legitimately carried out. There were many grammar schools and other trusts connected with the Church, which did not do anything like the amount of good which they ought; and, if he might judge by the charities with which he was connected, he should certainly ask hon. Gentlemen to pause ere they threw any obstacles in the way of this admirable Bill. Surely if the distinguished and benevolent individuals in the other House had not objected to the proposed inquiry, they of the House of Commons need not be so sensitive. It might not he generally known that in the time of George II. an Act was passed to enable either of the Lord Chief Justices or the Lord Chief Barons, with a number of the magistrates, to form a court of inquiry into benefactions for poor prisoners. That clause was embodied in an Act of George IV.; but he (Mr. Alderman Sidney) believed that it had never been put into operation till the 18th of February last. On that occassion the Lord Chief Baron and three aldermen formed a court of inquiry into the City prisons. The charities to the City prisoners had amounted two years ago to 700l.; but the very rumour of an inquiry had increased that sum the year after to 1,100l., and last year to between 1,400l. and 1,500l. It appeared that there were in the City of London no fewer than 1,224 endowed charities, independent of the Royal Hospitals. Out of that number they had already mede a partial inquiry into 53 connected with the City prisons, and a further inquiry was to take place into 30 more. The first that came under their notice was Ashton's Charity. The board of governors was the most honourable that could be conceived, comprising, as it did, the Chairman of the Bank of England, Sir Robert Inglis, the Rector of Dunstable, Dean Elliot, of Bristol, and other gentlemen. The charity was bequeathed in 1727, when 232 Mrs. Ashton left the sum of 100l. a year to be paid (after deducting 5l. per annum for the expenses of the trust) to the poor prisoners within the City of London. From that time to the present year, the trust had not been complied with; and if they calculated 125 years at 95l. a year, with interest at 3 per cent, it would amount to the astonishing sum of 100,000l. That estate was still in existence, and the governors had some thousands of pounds in hand, as was proved before the Lord Chief Baron. Again, the Merchant Tailors' Company had no fewer than seven charities for the release of poor prisoners. For the last ten years the annual amount paid by the Company had not exceeded 40l.; but the Company's clerk, Mr. Fisher, deposed on oath before the Lord Chief Baron, that in 1850 a scheme had been sanctioned by the Lord Chancellor for the consolidation of three of the trusts; and that notice had been sent to the parties in prison, but that they did not appear. That scheme was entirely unknown to the City Solicitor; but the Company was willing to admit that they had 2,291l. 5s. 2d. in the funds, and an annual rental of 259l. belonging to the City prisoners. The scheme agreed to was therefore that, instead of 40l., they should pay 300l. a year. When hon. Gentlemen heard that such had been some of the fruits of so partial an inquiry, he would ask whether they were prepared to object to so excellent a Bill as that before them?
MR. ALDERMAN THOMPSON
said, he could not allow one observation made by the hon. Member (Mr. Alderman Sidney) to pass without explanation—namely, that it had been the practice to admit the sons of noblemen on the books of Christ's Hospital. He (Mr. Alderman Thompson) was aware of only one instance of such an occurrence, in the case of a grandson of the great Lord Rodney, who was an orphan, and had been admitted on special grounds.
§ SIR ROBERT H. INGLIS
had no right again to address the House; but, as his name had been introduced by the worthy Alderman (Mr. Alderman Sidney) who had lately risen, he threw himself on their indulgence while he explained the case so far as he knew it. It was said that no respectability of names in the apparent government of a Charity constituted any real security for the faithful discharge of the original trust; and, as an instance, Ashton's Charity was quoted; and the names of the Governor of the Bank, of Sir Edward Ryan, and of himself, were 233 announced as the trustees, while it was stated that the testatrix had, nearly a hundred and thirty years ago, directed that 95l. should annually be laid out in releasing poor prisoners from the City gaols, whereas no such money had ever been paid; and the aggregate they kept back amounted at compound interest to 100,000l.; and all this while respectable persons professed to discharge the duties of the trust. He had no reason whatever to admit the accuracy of the allegations, so far as related to the earlier administration of the charity; but whether they were unfounded, or whether they were exaggerated, that, at all events, he knew, that he himself and the two other gentlemen whose names had been mentioned had nothing whatever to do with that earlier administration. Three or four years ago, the Attorney General of the day stated to him in this House, that arrangements were in progress in Chancery for a new scheme for a charity called the Ashton Trust; and he did him the honour to ask whether he would allow his name to be inserted in the scheme as one of the trustees to be submitted to the Lord Chancellor. He (Sir R. H. Inglis) asked, in return, who were to be his colleagues, and who was the solicitor; and, feeling the value of a compliment thus unsought and unexpected, accepted the office. But the proceedings in Chancery incident to this renewal of the trust were even yet scarcely completed. It was necessary, last year, to have the sanction of the Master to some alterations of the prisons named in the will. Two or three, Ludgate and the Compters, had been abolished since the date of the will, and the Master had already substituted the Queen's Bench. But it was likewise suggested to the Master that the sum of 5l., which had been expressly limited by the testatrix as the amount of debt to be relieved, beyond which her benefaction was not to extend, might be enlarged to 15l., as more equal to the measure of her intentions. This had been granted by the Court of Chancery; and in the present year the new trustees would, he hoped, be enabled to exercise their powers. He thanked the House for their indulgence in listening to him when he had no right to address them.
§ SIR WILLIAM PAGE WOOD
said, at that late hour he would not have risen to take any part in the discussion, wore it not that he was anxious to allay those apprehensions which appeared to be entertained by the hon. Alderman with respect 234 to Christ's Hospital. The hon. Alderman seemed to suppose that, by the appointment of Commissioners, there was to be some control over the charity funds, which, as he said, and he (Sir W. P. Wood) believed correctly said, were so admirably exercised. By the Bill, the different charities were simply required every year to submit a statement of their accounts to the Commissioners; those accounts came before the Commissioners, who had the power, if they thought fit, of examining the different accounts of each charity—they had no power or control whatever, but simply the power to examine and report upon those accounts. The Commissioners, in fact, were simply a medium—and he (Sir W. P. Wood) thought a most beneficial one—between the charities and the Court of Chancery, in order to save the expense, which was always considerable, whether the parties came into Court in a friendly suit to administer a trust, or to contest a hostile suit. Another advantage which the Bill would confer on the charities was the power it would give of granting building leases without going to Parliament; for a few years ago the governors of Christ's Hospital had to obtain an Act for that purpose, and that Act could not have cost less than 500l. or 600l., every farthing of which would be saved by this Bill. The governors of Christ's Hospital ought to be the last people in the world to complain of the Charity Commissioners, for it was by their means that the Hospital had obtained a large endowment from the Reading Charity; it was the ulterior provision of a will that if certain trusts were mal-administered by the Corporation of Reading, the benefit of the trust should pass to Christ's Hospital. The Charity Commissioners discovered the maladministration of the Corporation of Reading; and Christ's Hospital claimed and obtained the reversion of the endowment, though not without a long and expensive Chancery suit. Indeed it was lamentable to see how the property of the charities was wasted in these Chancery suits. He recollected going accidentally into a church in the Strand—the new church opposite Somerset House—and he saw there an inscription, setting forth that Mrs. So-and-So left 600l. to the church for charitable purposes, but by a Chancery suit it had been reduced to 5l. When he saw such instances of abuse as that, it made him regret that a moment should be lost in passing this Bill.
§ MR. FRESHFIELD,
who was almost inaudible, spoke in defence of the management of the Royal Hospitals, and said that the trustees of those charities were most desirous of being exempted from the operation of the present Bill. If they were liable to any charge, let them he proceeded against, and let them take the consequences; but do not call upon them year after year to send their accounts into the County Courts, to be copied by the registrar, and require them to contribute, however commendable their conduct, 50l. a year out of their funds to enable those Commisioners to carry out the Bill.
§ MR. GOULBURN
said, the Bill as it stood was in a very different form from that with which he formerly objected to legislation on the subject; and so far as the tribunal was concerned, he had nothing to say against it. He had before admitted the necessity of legislation, and he was prepared to support the principle of the present Bill, without pledging himself to the details. Neither could he see why the Committee on a question of public importance should be a select one. The exemption or non-exemption of particular bodies was a question well worthy of consideration. On the one hand, it might be made so general as to defeat the object of the Bill; and, on the other, narrowed so far as to make the Bill oppressive and tyrannical. The question was one, he thought, which could better be discussed by a Committee of the whole House, than by five or six gentlemen only. The objection to the Bill was in some of its details. He had presented a petition from an hospital which well deserved attention, namely, the Foundling Hospital; and the governors of that institution objected to constant liability to interference, on the ground that it would check the course of charity. He certainly thought it no more than right that there should be periodical visitations to all charities, to ascertain whether they were properly administered; but, on the other hand, they ought to be exempted at least from the daily and hourly interference which under this Bill would take place, and he thought some clause to provide for this ought to be introduced into the Bill. To secure a proper administration of these charities without offending the feelings of the persons concerned, was a most desirable object, and one which, he conceived, it would not be impossible to attain.
MR. J. A. SMITH
rose to put a question either to the late Attorney General 236 or the present, relative to the misapplication, which he had alleged, of the funds of St. Cross's Hospital, at Winchester, Did the law afford any means to procure the restoration of those misapplied funds, and would those means be put into action to obtain that result?
§ MR. P. HOWARD
said, that in the case of charitable institutions under private management, the greatest delicacy ought to be exercised in any question of legislative interference, and he thought it desirable to submit the Bill not to the desultory conversation of an open Committee, but to a Select Committee, which would enter deliberately into every necessary detail.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that considering the length of time which had elapsed during which Parliament had given its attention to this subject, he should be very sorry if any farther delay should take place. He, therefore, could not give his support to the Amendment of the hon. Alderman, to refer the Bill to a Select Committee, fearing that that would furnish an occasion for fresh delay, and put it out of their power to pass the Bill in the present Session. He did think, however, that the circumstances which had been stated with regard to several of the Royal Hospitals were deserving of the attention of the Attorney General. If, as was said, 200,000l. was contributed to one hospital alone from private funds, it certainly did show that it was important that there should be no unnecessary interference with such establishment. He should therefore be inclined to agree with the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn), to insert a clause in the Bill to exempt such establishments, at least from a constant interference, and subject them simply to periodical visitation, conducted by Commissioners appointed for the purpose. Such a clause would go far to relieve the apprehensions now entertained by persons who had long been concerned in the management of these hospitals. With respect to the raising of funds necessary to carry out this supervision, he thought it would he very unjust to tax well-conducted establishments for the purpose of controlling those not so well managed; and rather than this, he would prefer that the public money should be applied to that purpose.
MR. ALDERMAN THOMPSON
said, that being anxious that no delay should take place, he would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn; Main Question put, and agreed to; Bill considered in Committee.
§ House resumed; Committee report progress.