§ Order for Second Reading read,
said, he was willing to admit that this Bill was a great Amendment upon the Bill of last year, but he objected to its being proceeded with at so late an hour (a quarter past twelve o'clock). The Bill of last Session had passed without any discussion upon the immense imposition then placed upon the county rate. In former days the counties had to afford storehouses for the militia arms, but that never used to cost more than 50l. for one regiment, or 100l. for two. But, by the Bill of last Session, the counties had to find not only storehouses, but what he might call a barrack, which was to contain rooms for the sergeant-major and the permanent staff. Ground, also, had to be 1415 provided to enable the whole militia regiment to be assembled, and to deliver their arms at any time. This was an immense expense to counties. The militia were now a national force, and if storehouses were required, the nation ought to pay for them. Some day ought to be appointed for the discussion of this Bill, when it could be carefully considered.
§ MR. IRTON
said, he also must protest against the Bill. The tendency of the legislation of recent years had been to give the ratepayers some control over the rates; but this measure proceeded in a directly opposite course, for it not only took all power out of the hands of the magistrates, but transferred it to the deputy lieutenants alone. Now that was a principle totally at variance with the principle by which that House professed to be guided, and contrary also to the principle of the measure which the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had promised to introduce with regard to county rates, but which measure, like so many others that were promised, had never yet seen the light.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he would not press the second reading of the Bill at that late hour of the night, if hon. Gentlemen wished to have the opportunity of expressing their opinions with regard to it. He must be allowed to say, however, after what had passed, that the obligation to find storehouses was not a new obligation on the counties. It was imposed by the old militia laws, especially by the Act 42 Geo. III.; and the objection taken by the hon. Member who last spoke—namely, that it was the deputy lieutenants who had to determine—was not a new enactment. That also was the standing law provided in the same Act of 42 Geo. III. It was quite a misnomer to call these storehouses barracks, because all that was required was lodging for a small portion of the staff, amounting to a very few men; and if, on the one hand, any additional accommodation was required, on the other hand the expense was thrown over a long period of time. Therefore, the real annual charge to the county was much less than it otherwise would have been. It was also said that this was a national force, and that the burden ought to be borne by the country; but let it be recollected if the Government, or the Government of Gentlemen opposite, who had the merit of setting on foot the militia, had had recourse to the provisions of the 42 Geo. III., and enforced the ballot, that 1416 would have entailed on counties a great deal more expense, trouble, and inconvenience than had arisen from the system of voluntary enlistment, and the public had taken upon themselves the expense of that voluntary enlistment. If country gentlemen would consider the two sides of the account, they would find that the counties were the gainers by the arrangement which had been adopted. He would not then, however, go further into the subject, but postpone the order until Monday, with the view of taking some early day after that for reading the Bill a second time.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he must express a hope that the House would be afforded sufficient time for considering the measure; and that the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) would endeavour to devise some convenient machinery for dividing the burdens between the towns and the counties.
§ Second Reading deferred till Monday next.