HC Deb 23 June 1854 vol 134 cc632-6

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.

Clause 23 (Qualification of Electors at Elections of Commissioners).


moved the insertion of the words "as occupier of such lands, tenements, or hereditaments at a net annual value of 8l. or upwards." His object in proposing this Amendment was to render the Bill consistent with itself. As, for the purpose of summoning meetings and deciding whether the provisions of the Act should be put in force or not, an 8l. rating was sanctioned by the previous clauses of the Bill, lie merely asked that, fur the much more important functions of electing the Commissioners, upon whom very extensive powers of taxation and government would be conferred, the persons choosing such Commissioners should be of equal rank in society and be rated at an equal value.


said, he must oppose the Amendment, on the ground that it would have the effect of greatly limiting the number of persons who ought to ex-exercise an influence and control in carrying out the Bill. With a 4l. rating, he believed many occupiers would be induced to pay their poor rates for the purpose of having a voice in the management of their own local concerns, and they would have a good, a respectable, and a solvent constituency.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 26; Noes 85: Majority 59.

Clause agreed to; as was also Clause 24.

Clause 25.


said, he begged to move the omission of this clause. The Bill proposed to consolidate various Acts, containing about 390 clauses in all. He deprecated the practice of incorporating extracts from old Acts of Parliament in new Acts merely referring to them; and he thought the Committee would do wisely to adopt his Motion, as it would help to get rid of the practice. The Commissioners for the Consolidation of the Law had condemned the practice: Mr. Coade, one of them, had done so at some length. [The noble Lord read the passage for the Committee.] It was a practice productive of many evil consequences. On that ground, therefore, he moved the rejection of the clause. He moved it also, however, on the ground that it was an infringement of the privileges of that House, and that it gave power to the framers of Bills which was never contemplated. He objected to the clause likewise because it gave power to the Commissioners which in many cases they were incompetent to exercise.


said, he hoped the Committee would not agree with the Motion of the noble Lord. He concurred in the views of the Consolidation Commissioners; but the extract read by the noble Lord from their Report was inapplicable to the Bill before the House. He denied that the power conferred by the Bill was an infringement of the privileges of the House. The Bill was intended to supply the place of a private Act in places which were too poor to obtain a separate Act; and it was founded on the clauses of the Consolidation Act. Some arrangement should be made by which the clauses referred to would be made easy of access in a schedule.


said, he agreed in all, the doctrines of the noble Lord (Lord Naas) in respect to the mode of legislation by reference; but he thought there was a great deal of weight in the objections of the right hon. Gentleman the Irish Secretary. He was of opinion that the Bill was not one of the nature contemplated by Mr. Coade; and he hoped the noble Lord would not press his Motion, as the Bill was greatly wanted in Ireland.


said, he thought the objection of the noble Lord was a perfectly reasonable one; but he was also of opinion that the plan proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland was satisfactory in reference to it. None of the Irish Members were opposed to the measure, and though he (Colonel Dunne) had voted against the Government in the last division on the Bill, he had done so under a misapprehension.

Motion negatived; Clause agreed to.

Clause 26.


said, he wished to move to insert after the word "say" the following Amendment— Every person who shall have been for twelve months preceding the 1st January in the years in which such election is held the immediate lessor of lands, tenements, and hereditaments within such town or within such boundaries of the same respectively as aforesaid, of the value of 50l. or upwards, according to the last poor law valuation, and who shall reside within five miles of the boundary of such town. Amendment agreed to; Clause agreed to; as were also Clauses 27 to 29.

Clause 30.


said, he wished to propose an Amendment. The clause as it stood required the Lord Chancellor to approve of the person selected to fill the office of chairman of the town council. The purport of the Amendment was that the person elected should be considered duly elected unless disapproved of by the Lord Chancellor.


opposed the Amendment, as he considered that the effect of it would be to throw an invidious duty on the Lord Chancellor.


said, as head of the magistrates of Ireland, the Lord Chancellor had constantly to fulfil a similar duty, and therefore he was surprised to hear hon. Gentlemen call the duty that was proposed to be assigned to the Lord Chancellor an invidious duty.


said, it would be more satisfactory to know that the names to be intrusted with this onerous office should be openly sent up to the Lord Chancellor, who ought to be required to give his sanction openly and directly to such appointments.


said, he wished to inquire why the Lord Chancellor should have the power of interfering with a person elected under this Act? When party feeling ran high, the Lord Chancellor might be advised to reject the person whom the electors had chosen.


said, it was proposed in this clause that the Chairman of the Commission should be a magistrate within the town for the purposes of the Act. It would be much better to make him a county magistrate.


said, he thought the suggestion a most objectionable one, for it was equivalent to saying that the Commissioners might elect a county magistrate.

Clause, as amended, agreed to; as were also Clauses 31 to 45 inclusive. Clause 46.


said, he objected to that portion of the clause by which a power was to be conferred upon the Commissioners to compel every person who let lodgings to make each day to the chief of the constabulary of the district a report of the number and description of persons who occupied house lodgings during the preceding night or day.


said, the power the clause proposed to confer upon the Commissioners had already existed with respect to Scotland as provided in the Bill which lied passed in the Session of the year 1851. The clause under the consideration of the Committee had in fact been copied from the 108th clause of that The power of compelling a report to be made would be vested in the Commissioners, who would of course exercise a sound discretion with reference to its exercise.

Clause agreed to; as were all the clauses up to Clause 55 inclusive. Clause 56 struck out; Clauses up to 68 agreed to. Clause 69 struck out; Clauses 70 to 72 agreed to.

Clause 73.


said, he thought the provisions of the clause were too stringent to be made applicable to the country towns of Ireland. It would be right also if the offences mentioned in the schedule were better defined.


said, he must call the attention of the Committee to the fact that the power of imprisonment for fourteen days vested in magistrates was entirely a discretionary power. It was obvious, therefore, that such cases as a gentleman leaving a horse at a door while he entered the house, or a person selling a horse by auction in the street, were not the obstructions meant in the Bill.


objected to such a wholesale discretion being vested in magistrates.


said, that there were crimes dealt with by the clause for which imprisonment for fourteen days was an inadequate punishment.


said, he thought the penalties under the Bill were altogether disproportionate to the offences. Thus, the same penalty, a fine of 10s., was imposed upon the man whose rabid clog accidentally got loose and on the man who set on his dog to worry a person. Besides, fourteen days' imprisonment was too severe a punishment as a commutation for a fine of 10s. He should certainly, if the clause were not amended in this respect, move an Amendment at a future stage.


said, he would alter the clause, so as to meet the wishes of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House. Clause agreed to; as were also the remaining clauses.

House resumed; Bill reported as amended.