HC Deb 24 June 1862 vol 167 cc981-5

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 (Interpretation Clause).


said, he wished to move the insertion of words providing that in any burghs in which commissioners of the police were elected by occupiers of land and premises of a yearly value below £10, the word householder should mean a male occupier of lands and premises of the yearly value required in such burgh for the election of police commissioners.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 4 to 14 also agreed to.

Clause 15 (Parties who may adopt Act).


said, he would take that opportunity of expressing his opinion of the general scope of the measure, to which he entertained strong objections, He believed, however, that the Bill would never pass into a law. He did not oppose going into Committee on it, because he feared he should not be supported. But some of the provisions of this Bill of nearly 500 clauses were monstrous; many of them were nonsensical. His main objection was that it tied hand and foot the proprietors of land and occupiers of houses, and placed them at the mercy of a body of commissioners and magistrates. The only hope was that those commissioners who had to carry the Act into effect would have the good sense not to put in force many of the clauses.


said, he could only account for the strong expressions of the hon. Member, by supposing that he had not read all the clauses of the Bill. The measure, he believed, would be fraught with the greatest benefit to Scotland in a sanitary point of view. A Police Act was passed in 1850, relating to the same matters; that Bill contained 350 clauses; but some of its machinery was found difficult of adoption. The present Act was an improvement and consolidation of that measure. The Bill had been very carefully gone over, and he believed was generally approved by the Scotch boroughs. If the hon. Member objected to any of the clauses, he hoped he would state what those objections were to the Committee.


said, he approved of the Bill generally, though he felt that some objections might be made to it. One of those objections was, that the £5 householders were not to have the right to vote.


said, he believed the Bill had not yet been generally read in Scotland, and that as it became better understood, a strong opposition to it would arise.

MR. ELLICE (Kilmarnock)

said, the Bill had been sent round to all the boroughs of Scotland, and he believed that no objection had been raised in any quarter to the Bill generally. There had been objections to matter of detail; but in most cases those objections had been met on representations being made to the Lord Advocate. On the whole, the Bill would prove of great advantage.

Clause agreed to; as were also Clauses 16 and 17.

Clause 18 (Where this Act adopted, other Acts repealed).


said, he had such a strong objection to the clause, that if any Member would move its omission he would support him.


said, the clause was precisely the same as the clause on the same subject in the Act of 1850.

Clause agreed to; as were also Clauses 19 to 83.

Clause 84 (Commissioners to make Police Assessment).


said, he objected to the clause as it stood, as it would prevent the Bill working in Edinburgh. Under the existing system, the magistrates of Edinburgh were in the habit of levying one rate on rentals above £10, and a lower rate on rentals less than £10. The clause however, would compel them to levy the same rate upon all. He hoped, therefore, that the learned Lord Advocate would accept the following Amendment:— Provided further, when in any burgh, under the provisions of any Police Act, a higher rate of assessment is now and has been in use to be levied upon lands and tenements above a certain fixed rent than upon lower rented lands and tenements, it shall be in the power of the Commissioners, in laying on the assessment under this Act, to continue the same relative rates of assessment, if they think proper.


said, he thought that a graduated scale of rating was objectionable in principle.


said, the graduated scale in Edinburgh was fixed by Act of Parliament. He would accept the Amendment.

Clause agreed to; as were also Clauses 85 to 87.

Clause 88 (Commissioners may grant relief from Police Assessment in case of Poverty.)


proposed, in page 31, line 22, after the word "may," to insert the words "if they think fit, exempt from the police assessment under this Act all premises which shall be let at a, rent not exceeding £3, or such lower sum as they may fix for that purpose; and in respect to premises let at any higher rent, they may also—"


said, that the matter had been fully considered at the private meeting of Scotch Members, who discussed the clauses of the Bill, and he believed they were almost unanimous in agreeing to the principle laid down in Clause 87, which gave the power to the commissioners to levy from the owners, and to allow them a reduction of one-fourth of the assessment.


said, he should support the Amendment of his hon. Friend, on the ground that the clause, as it at present stood, took away from the commissioners the discretion which they now had of exempting certain property from taxation, for police purposes, which in their opinion ought not to be assessed.


said, the effect of the Amendment would be to benefit the owner, not the occupier. The occupier might be exempted, but it was well known that in the long run such exemptions only caused the rents to be increased.


would suggest that the exercise of the power of assessment in Clause 87 should be made imperative and not optional; and if that change were made, he thought it would be sufficient.


said, he should be satisfied if that change were made.


said, he had no objection to make the alteration.


said, he should press his Amendment.

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

The Committee divided: — Ayes 6; Noes 54: Majority 48.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 89 to 177 also agreed to.

Clause 178 (Width of new Streets).


said, the clause appeared to him most objectionable. It provided that no house should be built higher than the width of the street.


said, he would consent to have the clause struck out.

Clause struck out.

Clauses 179 to 181 agreed to.

Clause 182 (Removal of Toll Bars within Burgh).


proposed to leave out this clause.


said, rather than leave out the clause be wished that it should be amended by providing that no contract for the removal of a toll-bar should he valid unless agreed to at a general meeting of trustees, and confirmed at another meeting; and that when a toll-bar had been re-erected, the same tolls should be levied as were levied before its removal.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 183 to 193 likewise agreed to.

Clause 194 omitted.

Clauses 195 to 229 agreed to.


said, he would move that the clauses from 230 to 242, inclusive, be struck out. They gave power to the Commissioners to purchase and lease gasworks and manufacture and supply gas.


opposed the omission.

Clauses struck out.

Remaining clauses agreed to.


said, he proposed to add a clause after Clause 14, providing that where the Act shall be adopted within a portion only of the territory comprehended within the Parliamentary or municipal boundaries of any burgh, the commissioners of supply of the county may petition the sheriff for extension of boundaries, so as to make the place affected by the Act co-extensive with the Parliamentary or municipal boundaries of the said burgh.


said, he could not consent to the clause, as it was generally objected to by the burghs.

Clause brought up, and read 1°.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."

The Committee divided: — Ayes 30; Noes 44: Majority 14.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered on Monday next.