§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he wished to obtain some information respecting a provision in the measure bearing on the power of the Crown. The Crown's right of vetoing Bills that had passed through both Houses of Parliament had been practically obsolete for 200 years; but from this measure it would appear that the power which had deserted the domes and pinnacles of the constitution still lurked about its cellars and sewers. An official employé of the Crown, who was not responsible to that House, and scarcely known to the country, now came forward to revive that obsolete veto. He was surprised to find the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown referring to such a power, and it was on that account that he ventured to raise this question. He had ventured to object to the clause in Committee, but he was told that, as his voice alone was raised, he could not divide, as there would be no second teller. The fact was that he had another teller, and he hoped that the circumstance would not be used as a precedent. He had himself acted some years ago as a teller for a gentleman, who succeeded in carrying his Motion, although no one raised his voice with him.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he rose to order. He submitted that the hon. Member was out of order in alluding now to a question of order that had arisen upon a past occasion.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, he did not understand that the hon. Member was raising a question of order, which would certainly be irregular; but it appeared to be the opinion of the House that the observations of the hon. Member were discursive in their nature, beyond the limits of 311 order, and he had himself difficulty in not arriving at the same conclusion. The fact of the hon. Gentleman having some years ago acted as a teller, and the circumstances under which it took place, could not properly have reference to the third reading of the Bill before the House.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he bowed to the decision of the right hon. Gentleman, and would content himself with protesting against the power given by the Bill to the Crown in its private capacity.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he did not wish to renew the discussion upon the scheme, which, he believed, the public would soon find to be devised in the most expensive, but not the most advantageous, manner; but he wished to vindicate his own accuracy. Upon a certain clause he asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Commissioner of Works whether, having employed a private solicitor to prepare the Bill, and other solicitors at Hertford as Parliamentary agents, their charges would be the limit of charge on that account. The right hon. Gentleman took occasion to remark that he (Mr. Ayrton) had made a malicious suggestion, that was unfounded in fact. As his motives had been impugned, he thought he was justified in showing that he had no such motive as was suggested, that his statements were correct, and that the right hon. Gentleman representing Hertford ought not to have spoken as he did, considering the nature of the facts. He could only say that he had made his statement on the authority of the Law List; and he had since received a copy of the Hertford Guardian, which stated that the firm alluded to were solicitors at Hertford, with their names upon their office door, and that the right hon. Gentleman must have been cognizant of these facts. He would not read the paragraph, which might be disagreeable; but, no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman had seen it, and perhaps would admit that he was in error, and that he was conscious of facts which he must have forgotten on the former occasion. If ever the right hon. Gentleman should again take up any metropolitan question, it was to be hoped that he would be more accurate then he had been in respect of this Bill. He had asked the right hon. Gentleman what was the state of the fund proposed to be dealt with, and the right hon. Gentleman simply referred him to the clause in the Bill by which the Treasury were empowered to hand over any surplus 312 from the London Bridge Approaches Fund for the purpose. When the right hon. Gentleman was again asked about it, he could not say. In fact, they were passing the Bill almost wholly in the dark upon the most essential point—where the fund for constructing the embankment was to come from. The Bill would deal with property, and plans ought to have been deposited, but he did not believe that all the plans had even then been deposited.
said, he thought he had more reason to complain of the hon. Gentleman and others than they had to complain of him. Instead of meeting the only points really at issue in the Bill, they had from the beginning attempted to divert the discussion to mere personal matters, which were immaterial, and had no relation to the subject before the House. Then the hon. Gentleman raised a question whether the Parliamentary agents were or were not resident at Hertford, which could have nothing to do with a Thames Embankment Bill.
said, he thought it was immaterial whether they were solicitors as well as Parliamentary agents. He did not know the minute details of the firm, but he knew one of the gentlemen as a Parliamentary agent, and not as a solicitor. He did not know that they acted as solicitors at Hertford, though he had since been informed that the gentleman had a son who was a solicitor, and not a Parliamentary agent. But, at all events, the question whether a man was a Parliamentary agent or a solicitor had nothing to do with the Bill, and he thought it quite inappropriate to enter into a discussion of that point. As to the money question raised by the hon. Member, he had declined to discuss that also, because he thought it beside the subject before the House. The Bill was designed to effect a great improvement, and it was most desirable that it should not be delayed. As to the question of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Darby Griffith), he would simply reply—No property was taken from any individual in this country without giving him an opportunity of expressing his assent or dissent; and as Parliament proposed to take a certain portion of the property of the Crown, the Crown was only placed by the Bill, with respect to the hereditary property, in the same position as private individuals.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, there were certain 313 finances of Jamaica by means of loan, and sums of money in dispute. He had asked what monies were to be appropriated by the Treasury under a certain clause of the Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman refused to answer.
said, the clause referred to stated that the Treasury should be empowered to hand over such surplus as they might find after paying all the charges; he was asked what that sum would be, and he could not answer the question, because the amount could not be ascertained until the Bill had become law, and the Treasury had looked into all the charges on the fund.
§ Bill read 3°, and passed.