§ Order for Committee read.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he wished to propose that the Bill should stand over till after Easter, as there was certain amendments which, it might be desirable to make in it.
§ VISCOUNT CHELSEA
said, if the Bill were not to become law till after Easter, great inconvenience would be caused in all the parishes of the metropolis, since under the old law the elections of the open vestries must take place on Easter Tuesday, and the doubt which the Bill was intended to settle was, whether those vestries were entirely superseded by the Act of last Session. In every parish there was a number of persons who were in the habit of contesting anything or everything, and the expense of the litigation would fall on the ratepayers. He believed the Chief Commissioner of Public Works was not of the same opinion as the hon. and learned Attorney General about the necessity for this Bill, but thought that his Act of last Session absorbed all the powers of the old vestries.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he was anxious to carry this Bill speedily, to solve doubts and prevent litigation, but the Government were threatened that day with a very formidable opposition to it, a numerous deputation from all the parishes coming to him to complain of the haste with which the Bill had been brought in, and to request some delay, that they might have time to petition for the maintenance of the open vestries. The hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. T. Duncombe) had asked that the Bill should not be pressed on at a late hour that night, and considering the number of parishes concerned, the Government thought they would not be justified in doing so. It would, therefore, be quite impossible, even if the Orders of the House were suspended, for the Bill to become law before Easter. No such difference of opinion as had been alluded to existed between him and the right, hon. Baronet (Sir B. Hall), with whom he agreed in thinking that the effect of the 8th section of the Act of last Session was to supersede the open vestries; but there were great doubts entertained about it by men of legal eminence, and he had himself changed his opinion on the subject.
§ Committed deferred till Friday, 11th April.
§ House adjourned at half after One o'clock, till Monday next.