HC Deb 23 February 1866 vol 181 cc980-94

, in rising to call the attention of the House to a recent decision of the House of Lords on the Rating of the Mersey Docks; and to ask the President of the Poor Law Board questions as to the conduct of the Board in consequence of that decision; and also as to the intention of the Government with respect to the law of rating generally, and especially as it affects charitable institu- tions, such as schools, hospitals, &c, said: The subject to which I wish to call the attention of the House if not of pressing, is at least of growing interest, and will become more so as the consequences of the decision to which I refer are spread throughout the country. I am not going to enter into any discussion as to the grounds of that decision. I am not going to say that it is in any respect contrary to law; on the contrary, if the statute had now been brought for the first time under the notice of the courts of law, it is probable that they would have come to the same decision at which the House of Lords has arrived in the case of the Mersey Docks. At the same time the effect of that decision is so great, and its consequences will be so serious to every part of the country, and it is so much more like legislation than a mere judgment of a court of law, that I have thought it advisable to take the earliest opportunity of calling the attention of the House to the question for the purpose of ascertaining what course the Government intend to adopt, and whether they will propose legislation as a means of remedying the grievances which may arise in consequence of that decision. The decision has made the docks in the Mersey, which for a long time have been exempt from rating, subject to rating. They were exempt from rating on the ground that as all the proceeds of the docks were supposed to go to public purposes, there was no occupier who had a beneficial interest therein, and therefore there was no one to be rated. That is the principle on which many persons have been exempted from rating, they being regarded as merely "occupiers" without beneficial interest. I am not going to dwell upon the subject of the docks; but I may state that their exemption from rateability arose from a decision of Lord Mansfield—who decided that the Hospital of St. Luke's, in London, was not rateable because the trustees in occupation had no beneficial interest in it, and that the poor persons receiving benefits from it were the real occupiers, and they, of course, could not be rated. From that decision have flowed all the subsequent decisions with respect to hospitals, schools, and other charitable institutions of the country which, up to the period of the recent decision of the House of Lords, have, with certain exceptions, been exempted from rateability. It is a remarkable thing that two centuries and a half should have elapsed from the passing of the statute of Elizabeth without any decision having been arrived at as to the meaning of an "occupier" under the statute. The fact is that the statute of Elizabeth intended to rate all persons who derived any benefit from any property whatever—not only from real property, but from stock-in-trade and personal property. The two latter have been for a long time exempt, and are exempted by Act of Parliament, owing to the difficulty of carrying the law into effect. But with respect to the question of charities, it seems to me that a most material point arises for the consideration of the House and the Government. The question is whether or no they will leave charities as they are now placed by the judgment of the House of Lords, or whether they will take steps to place them in the same position as that which they occupied before that decision was given; or, if they will not do that, whether they will take steps to regulate the whole system of rating in this country, and take care that those institutions which are now exempt by statute shall not remain so—whether they will repeal those statutes, or what means they will adopt with the view of dealing equitably with respect to all persons who are called upon to pay rates in this country. It may be said that I am carrying the effect of this decision too far; but I think I am falling short of the difficulties which may arise from it. If it goes the length of rendering all chanties which are now free from rates liable to them, then it will place most serious difficulties in the way of many charities which can barely struggle on at present. If, on the other hand, their position will be doubtful, it will plunge them into litigation with the view of ascertaining their real and actual position. It was said by some of the noble Lords who pronounced judgment in the case, that where there has been a long series of decisions they have almost the effect of legislation, and that in such cases, even if the decision be wrong, it ought to be set right by legislation, and not by the supervision of a superior court. Now, what has taken place with respect to the question of rating? Since the decision in the case of St. Luke's, charities have been exempt from rating. On the faith of that exemption buildings have been erected, contracts have been entered into, liabilities have been incurred, and engagements have been made by persons who now experience the greatest difficulties in carrying on the charities. My attention has been called to the case of the city of Norwich by the Chancellor of the diocese (Mr. Evans), and in order to show the effect which the decision of the House of Lords will have on the charities of the country, I will state to the House the information which he has given me relative to that particular case. He says that the aggregate assessable rental of all their charities amounts to about £2,000 a year; and that as the poor rates and other local rates are very nearly one-third of the rental, the charities would be subject to an annual payment of about £700. So that you will be taking from charities, schools, and other institutions £700 a year which they have enjoyed, which they supposed they had the right to enjoy in consequence of the decisions of the courts having continued in the same course for at least 100 years; and he feared that the effect of this additional burden might be to cause the schools in some of the poorer parishes, which have hitherto been with difficulty maintained, to be closed. It may be said that the decisions cannot be reconciled one with another, and that of late years the courts have generally decided against exemptions instead of in their favour. That is true. But in all the cases in which the exemptions were not confirmed the courts went out of their way to say that they were not overruling former decisions, but were acting upon distinctions which would allow both sets of cases to stand together. No attempt has been made to overrule the decision in the case of St. Luke's, St. Bartholomew's, and a great many other institutions, the Judges recognizing that as the standard and fixed law, and although they carried out the principle of the liability to rating further than they had done before, they expressed their opinion that the cases would stand together, and that they were not overruling the old law. But however that may be, we must look not to the new exposition of the law, but to the decisions on which the charities relied. They relied on decisions which have been recognized by all the courts; and now, by the judgment of the House of Lords, the decisions of 100 years have been overthrown. I do not disagree with the judgment that has been given; but I think it right, in order to confirm what I have stated as to the consequences, to refer to what was stated by Mr. Justice Byles, who differed from the other Judges who advised the House of Lords, and who thought that the cases are reconcilable, and that the Mersey Docks ought to be exempt on the ground that there was no one who had a beneficial occupation. Mr. Justice Byles goes on to say— If a dedication to public purposes be consistent with rateability, then for the future public hospitals like St. Bartholomew's Hospital, St. George's Hospital, the London Hospital, St. Thomas' Hospital, and other establishments of the like nature in the metropolis and throughout the kingdom, with a multitude of other public charities, become at once subject to poor rates. Lunatic asylums, like St. Luke's or Bethlehem in the metropolis, and county lunatic asylums also become assessable at their letting value; though in many instances the exemption of such institutions is recognized by Acts of Parliament, providing that land taken for the purpose shall retain its rateability to the extent of the value of the land without the buildings upon it."—[Law Journal, vol. xxxv.] Now there is another point to which I wish to call the attention of the Government. Is the value of these institutions to be taken at what they are worth as institutions, or as what they would fetch as houses in their present situations applied to other purposes? Supposing you were to value some of these buildings for warehouse purposes, the rating would become enormous, and the pressure so severe that it could not be borne. Therefore you have not only to look at the question of rating, but whether the rating shall be on this hypothetical value. Mr. Justice Byles went on to say— Property is to be rated not at what a tenant does give, but at what he would give for it in its actual condition (6 & 7 Will. IV. c. 96). County gaols, county reformatories, county courts, and courts of justice, not only in counties and cities, but in the metropolis also (not, indeed, in Westminster Hall, because that is one of the Queen's palaces), may become rateable. The property of the Crown, in the occupation of the Crown, will no doubt still be protected from rate-ability; but old questions now at rest will re-appear as to other buildings occupied for public purposes, like the Horse Guards, the Admiralty, many buildings and residences at Portsmouth, Plymouth, Chatham, Milford Haven, and Greenwich, the British Museum, the National Gallery, Greenwich Hospital, the Custom House, the General Post Office, burial-grounds, many of the apartments in Somerset House, the premises occupied by the Poor Law Commissioners and other public bodies, public bridges, public turnpike-roads, and the soil of many navigable rivers, if not of public highways themselves. Now, when a Judge of great ability and legal knowledge like Mr. Justice Byles expresses such opinions, I think I am not wrong in calling the attention of the House to the subject, and impressing on the Government the necessity of taking some steps to place rating on an equitable basis. It is true the property of the Crown is exempt, on the ground that the Crown is not mentioned in the statute of Elizabeth. But how far has that doctrine been carried? It has been carried out not only where the Crown is in actual occupation, but in cases of occupation for public purposes. All county courts, police-stations, everything used for public purposes in connection with the State, have been brought under the exemption. But, according to Mr. Justice Byles, the question will now arise whether they shall be exempt from rating or not; and, therefore, unless some intervention takes place on the part of the Government, we do not know to what extent the decision may go. Now, with respect to what was intended by the statute of Elizabeth. It never could have been meant that charitable institutions should be rated, for it is remarkable that while the statute of Elizabeth provides that funds for the poor are to be raised by the taxation of every inhabitant, occupier, &c, it was provided by a subsequent clause, the 15th, that the Surplusage of the rates should be distributed by the justices for the relief of the poor hospitals in the county, and of those that should sustain losses by fire, water, the sea, or other casualties, and to such other charitable purposes for the relief of the poor. It is pretty obvious that, inasmuch as this allusion is made to charitable institutions, which, so far from paying rates, were to receive the surplus of the rates, the intention of the statute of Elizabeth could not have been to rate charitable institutions. A gentleman of great intelligence waited on me the other day with respect to one of the hospitals in the metropolis. It is an institution of which it cannot be said any one party is more interested in it than another. It extends its benefits to persons of all creeds and opinions; it is an institution which all may concur in supporting. The locality in which it is situated derives the utmost advantage from it, and its benefits extend much beyond that locality. King's College Hospital is entirely dependent on voluntary contributions. It raises, with great difficulty and by special appeals, a sum of £9,000 a year. That sum is not sufficient for its support; and I believe that those who are connected with its management have often to find from their own resources the means of meeting the deficiency. It stands in the parish of St. Clement Danes, and gets from the parish I understand only the small subscription of from £3 to £6. Such a sum is wholly insufficient to meet the expenses of the relief given to the sick poor of that particular parish in and out of the hospital. In 1858 the in-patients from St. Clement Danes were 317, and the out-patients 5,719. All these persons were attended gratuitously in that parish by this hospital. The rent charged by the parish for the ground on which the hospital stands is £240 per annum. The parish derives enormous benefit from the hospital, and these benefits are extended to St. Giles's, other neighbouring parishes, and to the public generally. Since the decision of the House of Lords it has been proposed to rate the hospital. The rating will amount to about £250 a year. How many persons will you deprive of the benefits conferred by the hospital by the imposition of this rate? Persons who contribute voluntarily to these institutions are anxious that their money shall go direct to the objects of the charity, not to the payment of rates and taxes; and many contributors, when they find that any deficiency arises from the imposition of the poor rate, will not be so ready to contribute to the payment of that deficiency, when they have their own rates to pay. All these institutions are conferring a benefit on the public; and the question is whether you are going to change the exemption from rating and load them with taxes at a moment when there is a great demand for them, and when their funds will barely meet their expenses. I do not wish to confine my remarks to hospitals. The principle of the law is that where the occupier has no distinct benefit, and the object is the public good, these institutions should be exempt. And I think the principle is a good one. It is a good thing that charity schools should be exempt. So also with respect to reformatories, industrial schools, and other similar institutions. I speak in no sectarian spirit. The British and Foreign Schools are now as liable to be rated as the National Schools. I would call attention to this fact—that Parliament itself in these latter years seems to have recognized these exemptions. By the 6 & 7 Will. IV. churches and chapels are exempt. Before that time they were only exempt where the pews were not let. Where there was a beneficial occupation they were rated. Parliament went further, and exempted dissenting chapels used as schools. I know that in the case of schools where payments have been made it has been held that there is a beneficial occupation, and on that occupation rates have been laid. For instance, in the case of a Quakers' school it was held that it could not be treated as an institution for public purposes because a payment of £12 a year was made for pupils, and so a direct benefit was received from it, and the institution was not exempted. But, in addition to this, there is a most material circumstance to be considered if the law is to remain in its present state. For what is the case with respect to statutable exemptions? In many instances canal companies, gas companies, persons who have reclaimed land, are exempted from liability beyond what that property was subject to at the time it was first taken for their purposes. In many cases such land has become of enormous value. The London Gas Company possess land of immense value, and the rating is very low on account of statutable exemptions, many of which exemptions were given because it was supposed the property was to be used for public purposes. I wish to ask the House whether scientific and literary institutions are to stand upon a better footing than those great charities or not? They are exempted by statute. For instance, there is the Linnsean Society, which is a most excellent institution and most useful—is that to be put upon the footing of charitable institutions such as I have described—hospitals, schools, reformatories, asylums, and institutions of that nature? Again, there is a literary institution and library society at Bradford, which seemed to me to be very like a reading-room, and that is exempted from rateability under the statute which exempts literary institutions. How can the Government allow that state of things to continue while charities are rated? Now I have detained the House more than I originally intended, but it was difficult to explain what I wished without going rather into detail. I would sum up what I have said in this way. By the statute of Elizabeth occupiers were to be rated in respect of their occupations of property; and the interpretation which from the beginning up to the decision of last year has been put upon that occupation must be that it is what is termed a beneficial occupation. That interpretation was confirmed repeatedly, and especially by the decision of Lord Mansfield, which has been followed up by one continued current of decisions exempting all those charities of the character I have referred to, with exceptions which were made upon grounds not supposed to affect those decisions, up to the period when Lord Campbell became Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench. Lord Campbell took a strong view with respect to exemptions, and in his opinion exemptions were not justifiable, or, at all events, not politic. He took a stringent view of all cases of exemption that came before him, bat even under those circumstances I am not aware that in any case of a distinct charity, where its appropriation to public purposes was the main and distinct object, and no private benefit was sought, he overruled the decisions that were up to that time in force. The Mersey Docks, no doubt, stand upon a different footing. It may be fairly argued that there is a distinct beneficial occupation, because the trustees raise funds upon bonds, and levy tolls or rates to pay the interest. There is, therefore, a distinct beneficial occupation in raising money to pay off debts which they had contracted. But the decision of the House of Lords recognized no such distinction from charitable institutions, for Lord Westbury, in giving his judgment, called the attention of their Lordships to the question of the manner in which public charities might be affected by their judgment. The noble and learned Lord said— Independently of the decided cases—several of which are irreconcilable with each other—it would seem easy to answer this inquiry; and having regard to the Parochial Assessment Act it may be said, in answer, that Occupation to be rateable must be of property yielding, or capable of yielding, a net annual value—that is to say, a clear rent over and above the probable average cost of the repairs, insurance, and other expenses, if any, necessary to maintain the property in a state to command such rent' It is in this sense I understand the words 'beneficial occupation,' whenever it is said that to support a rate the occupation must be a beneficial one. For on principle it is by no means necessary that the occupation should be beneficial to the occupier. It is sufficient if the property be capable of a clear rent over and above the necessary outgoings. So trustees who are in law the tenants and occupiers of valuable property upon trust for charitable purposes, such as hospitals and lunatic asylums, are in principle rateable, notwithstanding that the buildings are actually occupied by paupers who are sick or insane. So that any building or any occupation capable of producing rental is, in Lord Westbury's view, subject to being rated. Does not the principle extend to Crown and Government property? For instance, officers at Woolwich occupy houses taken by the Government for their use, and they are exempted from rateability because they occupy as the servants of the Crown, the Crown itself being considered the real occupier. Now, it may be said that this is a hardship on the parish, and it becomes more so if the exemption, on the ground of public good, be done away in other cases; but I will say nothing more about the Crown property. With regard to charities, the benefits they confer more than make up for any little loss they inflict on the parishes; and so with hospitals, the direct benefit they give to the parishes more than compensates for any rates which the parishes might obtain. If those charities, such as hospitals and infirmaries, are not to be exempted, while they take in poor people from the parishes, the time may come when it will be necessary for the trustees or managers to say, "We are paying rates, and you must pay us for your paupers, if they come into our hospitals and infirmaries." Under the circumstances I have pointed out, I believe that legislation upon the subject is necessary to prevent litigation, if the judgment of the House of Lords in the Mersey Dock case is not conclusive on the point; and, if it is conclusive, then legislation is equally necessary, in order to do away with the statutable exemptions to which I have directed the attention of the House, and which ought not to exist, as they never would have been granted except on the supposition that Lord Mansfield's and the subsequent decisions were in force. I will, in conclusion, ask the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board, Whether the rating placed on these institutions, to which I have referred, has been placed upon them at the instance of the Poor Law Board; whether the Poor Law Board, subsequently to the decision of last year, sent out any instructions to parochial officers, calling upon them to rate those charitable institutions; if so, whether they have any objection to lay those instructions upon the table of the House; whether they are prepared to legislate with a view of putting rating generally on a fairer footing, and of applying some better principle than that of a hypothetical tenancy; and lastly, are they prepared to exempt charities; and, if not, are they prepared to repeal the statutory exemptions to which I have referred in the course of my speech?


said, he hoped that full consideration would be given to the points submitted to the House in the statement just made by the hon. Member. He quite concurred with the hon. Member, that the rating of these institutions had a chilling and prejudicial effect on the voluntary principle of charity which prevailed in this country. To illustrate the probable operation of the law as it stood under the late decision, he might instance the case of certain charities in Manchester rated at the value of £6,000 yearly, which would become liable to local taxation to the amount of £1,000; a result which would be regarded with anything but satisfaction by the inhabitants of Manchester. That was a large sum to deprive charitable institutions of, when it was recollected that of the 50,000 children wandering about the streets of that city they had succeeded solely by voluntary efforts of charity in rescuing 20,000 from ignorance and crime. He hoped the Government would give the matter their serious consideration, and that they would not thus check the efforts of charity which was doing so much to subdue crime.


desired, in consequence of the observations of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bazley), to state that a very different opinion on the subject was entertained a few years back. When the late Mr. Sotheron Estcourt was President of the Poor Law Board, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) was Under Secretary of the Home Department, a Committee was appointed to inquire into the propriety of rating Government and other [public property. At his (Mr. Locke's) suggestion, the inquiry was extended to all public property; and the Committee, which was presided over by the late Mr. Wilson, agreed to a Report which recommended that not only Government property, but the property of all public institutions should be rated. Upon that recommendation Mr. Sotheron Estcourt introduced a Bill for the purpose of rating all public property whatever, including Government property, hospitals, and every description of place throughout the country. That was considered a right and just principle. It was obvious that if they exempted a public building or hospital, the inhabitants of the parish in which it was must pay a larger proportion of rates. The word "occupy" had been twisted and turned about for many generations. At last a decision in regard to the rating of hospitals had been given by Lord West-bury, who certainly was in the habit of looking things full in the face. That eminent man was very much like Lord Abinger, who frequently remarked that he would throw on one side all the decisions of the Courts of Law, and that he would judge for himself. Lord Abinger, on many occasions, set aside a number of decisions, and his judgments were subsequently discovered to be perfectly correct; and there was no doubt that the decision of Lord Westbury would be found equally right. The Governors of the Mersey Docks appeared to be a class of people who derived no benefit from them. They had borrowed a large sum of money, and out of the tolls levied on vessels entering the docks the interest on the loan was paid. It was evident that, where buildings in a parish were exempt from paying rates, those levied upon the other houses must be higher than they would be if there were no exemption. This was the principle laid down by the Government of Lord Derby; and he would ask his right hon. Friend the President of the Poor Law Board whether some amendment in the law with regard to this matter was not required. Should legislative proceedings be taken, he would press upon the Government the advisability of considering not only the poor people in the hospitals, but the poor people out of them. Bethlehem Hospital, alluded to by the hon. Member for Oxford, was allowed to go scot free. When the matter came before the Court of Quarter Sessions for Surrey, he was then practising at those sessions; but ever since the exemption of that institution from liability to pay rates, a large number of people in the parish in which it was situated had been unceasing in their complaints of the injustice which it occasioned. This was a point which ought to be considered; and he had made these observations in order that both sides of the question should be brought under the notice of his right hon. Friend the President of the Poor Law Board.


said, that the apology of the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) for having entered further into the subject under discussion than he had intended was unnecessary. But he might complain a little of the hon. Member's procedure. Not quite understanding the nature of his Question and the course he intended to pursue, he (Mr. Villiers) had asked him whether it was his intention to impugn the judgment lately given in the House of Lords, and deal with the argument in that case; because, had he understood that this was his determination, not having had the opportunity of seeing that judgment, he would have asked him to postpone the Question till a future night. The House, however, had heard the hon. Member, who had come well prepared with his subject, and taken issue with the House of Lords in the judgment it had pronounced. [Mr. GATHORNE HARDY: I stated distinctly that I agreed with it.] The agreement was rather extraordinary, because the hon. Member had only referred to the single Judge who differed from the House of Lords, and he had also to a certain extent impugned their judgment; for he said that its results must be unjust and would operate inequitably. The hon. Gentleman had not, however, mentioned that the House of Lords in this matter sought the assistance of the Judges—a course but rarely adopted—and that it was after hearing their opinions—united, with one exception—that the House of Lords unanimously confirmed the judgment now impugned, or rather complained of, by the hon. Member. He would therefore ask the House to view this case as one that had been decided by the House of Lords, as one that had already been decided in the courts of justice, where the Judges had refused to decide against the judgment of the House of Lords. It was what was termed a legislative exposition of the statute of Elizabeth, at once putting an end to all the questions on this subject that had been so frequently raised before the courts. But this was not all that he had to complain of. The hon. Member had stated that the House of Lords had reversed the current of decision and of all the judgments of previous authorities for more than a century—an assertion which was not correct as to the period of time. If the hon. Gentleman will refer to that judgment he will find that all the decisions during that period of time had been reviewed and were found to be exceedingly conflicting. Until this judgment was delivered the question as to whether charitable institutions should be called upon to pay rates had never been settled. Looking at the enormous evil that arose from the uncertainty of the law, and the injustice perpetrated by the exemptions of certain premises from the liability to pay rates, so far from the introduction of the subject to the highest court of the country being a misfortune, as the hon. Gentleman would seem to imply, he (Mr. Villiers) believed that great convenience and great advantage had resulted therefrom. It was very important that the House should understand, not that the law was unjust, and that fresh legislation was requisite, but that there had been a misconstruction of the law, and that all exemptions were but privileges and favours. And this decision of the House of Lords was in conformity with the opinions expressed by all the highest authorities during a century. The Judges had never slighted Lord Mansfield's authority; they had always treated it with the greatest respect. Lord Ellenborough, Lord Ten-terden, Chief Justice Tindal, and Lord Campbell, always referred to the opinion of Lord Mansfield with deference, but at the same time they disagreed with his decision. He did not say that those learned Judges had given judgments in opposition to that of Lord Mansfield; but had they been called upon for their opinion it would have been different from that of Lord Mansfield. The hon. Member now asked the Government whether any orders had been issued by the Poor Law Board directing parish officers to rate buildings used for charitable purposes. To his (Mr. Villiers') knowledge no such instructions had been sent; but questions had been sent to the Poor Law Board respecting the judgment of the House of Lords; and the answer given by the legal adviser of the Board was that nothing could be more clear, conclusive, and satisfactory, and that property which had hitherto been exempt would be exempt no longer. He did not think that the hon. Member had made out any case in favour of legislative exemption. Those institutions were endowed, and the endowments frequently assumed the form of landed property. Now, there was no reason why this should be exempted more than any other landed property. The hon. Member stated that, in consequence of the practical operation of the decisions of the courts, and the exemption of these institutions, other societies had been relieved from their burdens by statutory exemption; but he did not know from what source the hon. Member obtained his information. It certainly could not be from the debates which had taken place in that House. A few years ago a proposition was made, at the early establishment of literary societies, Athenaeums, and mechanics' institutes, that these societies should not be made liable to the rates, but he did not think that the hon. Member would find in the debates on the subject any reference to charitable institutions. The statutory exemption which was then granted was, however, not extended when application was subsequently made to the House, because such an extension was objected to upon principle. He would mention another consideration which he thought ought to weigh with the House. A few years ago Committees were appointed in both Houses of Parliament to inquire into this matter, and those Committees were composed, as would be seen by reference, of the highest in authority, and the most respectable Members of both Houses of Parliament. Both Committees strongly recommended the abolition of all exemptions; and this view was especially insisted upon by the Committee, composed of Members of the House of Commons, which was presided over by the late Sir George Lewis. They regarded those exemptions as faulty in principle, as tending to litigation, and as bearing unfairly upon the ratepayers in general. Nothing, in fact, could be more clear or distinct than the decision of both Committees. The question was whether, now all this uncertainty and expense of litigation, and all this injustice towards the ratepayers were about to cease in consequence of the decision of the House of Lords, it would be wise to propose to the House of Commons the reversal of a decision which was likely to be attended with such satisfactory results. Nothing could be more comprehensive than the statute which had been referred to. In answer, therefore, to the Question of the hon. Gentleman, he might say that the Government had not at present any intention of introducing any measure upon the subject. It could not be done without creating great confusion and doing much injustice; and if there were cases such as the hon. Member had referred to that evening, it would be better if the hon. Gentleman sought relief from the State or from the House in another form, instead of attempting to do so by a course which had been shown to give rise to much injury and injustice.