HC Deb 13 July 1853 vol 129 cc146-9

Order for Committee read.


said he wished to put a question to the noble Lord the Home Secretary on the subject of this Bill, which stood first in the Orders of the Day. He saw that there many hon. Gentlemen on the benches opposite who had attended, no doubt, with the view of assisting him to perfect the measure proposing Amendments. But before proceeding he wished to know whether there was any truth in a rumour which had reached him, that Her Majesty's Government, being in favour of the principle of the measure, were prepared to bring in a Bill to carry out that principle, or to devise such improvements upon it as they might think best calculated to effect the purpose? If he could have an assurance to that effect from the Government, it might change the course of the proceedings today; but until he had heard what the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department might state in reply to his question, he should decline making his final remark on the subject.


, in reply, said, that though the right hon. Gentleman invited his friends opposite to hold a conversazione on the subject of this Bill, there was little chance, he believed, of its passing in the present Session. Therefore he (Viscount Palmerston), should suggest that his right hon. Friend should postpone his further notice of the weekly meeting. He should leave his right hon. Friend to do so in his own terms, for that House having frequently considered the principle of representation with reference to the administration of county affairs, and that House having repeatedly admitted that principle, he (Lord Palmerston), if the right hon. Gentleman should drop the Bill, was prepared to say that in the beginning of the next Session Her Majesty's Government would propose to Parliament such a measure as they might think fit to recommend, founded on the principles of popular representation as regarded the administration of the affairs of counties.


said, that under those circumstances he should move that the Order of the Day for the Committee on the County Rates Expenditure Bill might he discharged. He should do so on the understanding that the noble Lord had undertaken to introduce a Bill on the subject in the next Session.


said, he was extremely glad that the House, was not to be engaged in a conversazione of six hours' duration—which on the 13th of July would be a great waste of its time—on a matter which involved at least four large subjects of detail; and, though the House had devoted the whole sitting to the purpose, they could not hope to make any material progress, nor could the right hon. Gentleman have any prospect of passing the measure this Session. From what the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department had said, it appeared that he had brought something of the caution of the Foreign Office into the transaction of our domestic affairs. The noble Lord had given an answer as cautious in its tone as was necessary and becoming on this subject. He (Sir J. Pakington) was one of those who had contended for several years that if any legislation on this subject were to take place, it ought to be brought forward with the authority, sanction, and weight of the Government. The right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), who had fought most gallantly for several years in favour of the Bill, must have found how difficult it was for an independent Member to pass a measure of this nature. But, as the noble Lord had consented, and wisely so, to take up the measure in a future Session, he (Sir J. Pakington) must express his earnest hope that the noble Lord would not think it ne- cessary to prescribe for all England after feeling the pulse of Lancashire only. In other words, he hoped he would not adopt a remedy which was applicable to only a particular part of the country, and force it upon the whole. Even assuming that the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman were right in regard to the principle, he was convinced that the noble Lord would find many difficulties in the details. The noble Lord, he hoped, would approach the subject with those feelings of caution which had been shown to-day, and would be cautious how he meddled with a system which had worked so long and so well for this country.


said, he would suggest that in any future Bill on this subject the noble Lord would do well to direct his attention to the great distinction between the assessment of county rates and the administration of county expenditure. These two things were essentially different.


said, he wished to repeat an observation he had made before, that such a Bill as the County Rates Expenditure Bill ought to extend to a country which appeared to be almost altogether forgotten. As an hon. Member once reminded the House that there was such a country as England, he should remind the House that there was such a place as Ireland. The case of Lancashire was a strong case, but was not equal to that of counties in Ireland—the county of Tipperary, for example, having no control over nine-tenths of the county expenditure. He hoped the noble Lord would include Ireland in the measure. Separate legislation for England and Ireland was an immense waste of the time of the House, and did a great deal to sever the two countries from each other.


said, he fully concurred with the hon. Member who had just spoken, and, as an English Member, begged to remark, that since the short time he had been in that House he had wondered to see the waste of time from Scotch law officers bringing in Scotch Bills, Irish law officers bringing in Irish Bills, and English law officers bringing in English Bills. The right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) had preached caution to the noble Lord the Home Secretary; he (Captain Scobell) should preach boldness; he should exhort the noble Lord to do what he did in no niggardly way.


said, he must express the hope, that, if the noble Lord meant to remove the anomaly of taxation without representation, which distinguished the administration of county affairs, he would carry out fairly and effectually the removal of that anomaly, and not impose such restrictions as should render the measure a mere mockery. Lancashire alone was not interested in this question; and it was hard to understand why an anomaly which extended to the whole of England should be treated as one connected with a single county.

Order for going into Committee discharged.