HC Deb 24 June 1869 vol 197 cc519-36

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 4 (Constructive payment of the rate).


said, he had given notice of an Amendment which raised a very important question. When this Bill was brought forward in its amended shape his right hon. Friend who had charge of it said it had two aspects—the first being its economical aspect, and the second being its political bearing on the franchise. As far as they had hitherto gone they had dealt with the economical aspect of the measure, and had determined to restore the system of compounding that was abolished by the Reform Bill of 1867. They had resolved to retrieve that which, by the admission of both sides of the House, was acknowledged to have been a great economical blunder produced by the political necessities of the day. They had been occupied last Monday in assisting at the obsequies of that once famous principle—''the personal payment of rates." Besides the active part taken on the Liberal side in that proceeding, they had had the additional advantage of the tacit consent of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who might be said to have assisted as mutes at the funeral of a personage who had been once so dear to them. The result of connecting the political franchise with the payment of parochial rates had been that the rating system could not be placed on a sound footing without revolutionizing the whole basis of the poli- tical franchise, and for this reason the House of Commons had restored the system of composition. The effect of the first three clauses of the Bill, and of the new clause of which notice had been given by his right hon. Friend the President of the Poor Law Board, would, unless further precautions were taken, be to deprive the whole of the operative classes of the country of the political franchise. The first two clauses provided that the occupier should pay the rate and re-coup himself afterwards from his landlord, while the 3rd clause enacted that by agreement between the occupier and the owner the rate might be paid by the owner and not by the occupier. But the really operative clause of the Bill would be that of which his right hon. Friend had given notice, for it proposed to give to the vestries a compulsory power to rate the owner instead of the occupier, and that clause would, if the law remained as it at present stood, in point of fact, produce the result to which he had just referred. Indeed, this new clause would sweep away Clause 3 altogether, though, he confessed, he did not complain of this, because he had always been in favour of compulsion. But, in spite of the Resolution of the House of Commons last Monday night not to give more than 25 per cent as a bonus to the owner, the new clause proposed to give him 30 per cent, thus reversing the former decision of the House. Now, if a man who was coerced by the vestry was to have 30 per cent, and if he agreed voluntarily with the overseers only 25 per cent, was it at all likely that any man would come to a voluntary agreement? The other evening he had stated his objection to making the fate of the occupiers dependent on the discretion of vestries in which the owners predominated by their plurality of votes.


, interposing, reminded the hon. and learned Member that the owners had no vote in the vestries.


said, he was glad to be corrected on such high authority; but he had always been under the impression that the owners of house property possessed a plurality of votes in the parochial franchise. In his opinion, the position of the occupiers ought to be under the guardianship of Parliament, and not left to the discretion of vestries. His right hon. Friend hoped, with himself, that by these clauses they would substantially effect the rating of the owners instead of the occupiers; but the difference between them was the method by which that result was to be produced. Supposing the plan of his right hon. Friend to be successful, the owner of every house under £20 rateable value in the metropolis, and under £8 rateable value in the country, would be rated instead of the occupier, and as long as the Reform Acts of 1832 and 1867 were adhered to, this would amount to a complete disfranchisement of every occupier of a tenement which came under the operation of the clause. That being so, let them consider the magnitude of the question. When they were dealing with the compound-householder below £6 it was estimated that it affected 480,000 votes; but in dealing with occupiers up to £8 in the country, and £20 in the metropolis, the number affected would not be far short of 1,000,000. By this Assessed Rates Bill they proposed therefore practically to determine the political rights of the working classes for the future. They might call the Bill what they liked, but there could be no doubt it was a new Reform Bill, necessitated by the errors of the Bill of 1867. Clause 4 gave the title to vote, and Clause 12 provided the manner in which that title was to be recorded. Clause 4 proposed to deal with two questions. It stated that— Every payment of a rate by such occupier, notwithstanding the amount thereof may be deducted from his rent as herein provided, shall be regarded as payment of the rate by the occupier; and then they came to the words which he proposed to alter by his Amendment— And every payment of a rate by the owner, notwithstanding the allowance of the commission under this Act, shall be deemed a payment of the full rate. If there was one principle to which the Liberal party were committed more than any other, it was that they should not seek to establish the political franchise upon the basis of payment of rates; but in this enfranchising clause of this Liberal Reform Bill, it was proposed to make the title of the occupier depend on the payment of rates by the owner. He quite admitted that so long as the owner paid the rate his right hon. Friend had made provision that the occupier should have the franchise; but that was no more than the law already did for him, when it said that a payment by the owner on behalf of the occupier should be deemed equivalent to a payment by the occupier himself. There was, however, a ease for which Clause 4 made no provision. Let him suppose that the owner did not pay the rates—what would happen? The question was one which affected thousands and tens of thousands of votes throughout the country, for the result of the non-payment of the rate by the owner would be that the occupier, who was not liable for its payment, would be disfranchised. But then it might be contended that the owner would be simply an agent for the parish to collect the rate, and that the person who really owed it was the occupier. The consequence would in either case be precisely the same. If the owner was to be the agent for the parish in the collection of the rate, and that he made default, he wanted to know whether the payment of the rate to him was not to be regarded as a payment to the parish so far as the occupier was concerned? Could anybody deny that when the owner collected the weekly rent, which included the rate, he being appointed by the vestry to collect the rate, the payment of it to him by the occupier was not a complete payment of the rate? If that were so, the occupier was, he maintained, as fully entitled to his vote as if he had paid the money into the hands of the vestry itself, or into those of the overseer, and it would be not more absurd to disfranchise him because the overseer ran away with the rate, than as in the present case to disfranchise the occupier because default happened to be made by the owner. The occupiers having paid their rate in their rent, ought not, he maintained, to be affected by the default of the owner, but until that morning the Bill of the Government contained no sort of provision for securing them a vote. His right hon. Friend the President of the Poor Law Board had now admitted that some protection was due to occupiers in the case of default on the part of the owner. He had given notice of a clause which provided that where owners omitted to pay rates the occupiers might pay the same and deduct the amount from the rent. Was that an effective remedy? It was an old remedy which had been proved over and over again to be ineffectual, and, in fact, inoperative. Under the Small Tenements Act of 1850 every facility was given to the occupiers to get upon the register, by paying the rate if the owner made default in paying it; but no occupier did anything of the sort, and the whole of those men were disfranchised. It was offering these people stone for bread. He could not help regretting that his right hon. Friend had proposed a remedy for them which was known to be practically inefficient. The scheme of his right hon. Friend was much the same as saying to a man—''Before you drink a glass of beer you shall pay the malt tax upon the whole barrel; but when you have paid the malt tax upon the whole barrel, you may deduct it from the publican." That would place a working man who wanted to drink a glass of beer in a considerable state of embarrassment. An owner of houses, for political reasons, might not choose to pay the rate, or might become bankrupt, so that the élite of the working classes might be disfranchised under the Bill as it stood. The Amendment which he proposed would provide that where the owner made default the occupier should have his vote in the same manner as if the owner had paid the rate, and this, in his opinion, was a fair provision. It would, perhaps, be said—"The result will be to produce residential household suffrage with reference to the working classes." No doubt, and he was in favour of that conclusion. Otherwise the Bill would give, not household suffrage dependent on the payment of rates, but household suffrage dependent on the solvency of landlords, or on their choosing or not choosing to enfranchise their tenants. This was, in fact, a new Reform Bill under Clause 4. He did not wish, from their side of the House, to re-enact the payment of rates at all as a condition of the franchise; but, if that principle were adopted, it should be payment of rates by the person liable. The clause as it stood was wholly inconsistent with the pledges of those who had undertaken to repeal the principle of the payment of rates as the foundation for the franchise. So far as this clause was concerned, all he could say was—"liberavi animam meam," and he now left the matter to the candid consideration of the House and the Government. He moved an Amendment to leave out in Clause 4, and in lines 14 and 15, the words— And every payment of a rate by the owner, notwithstanding the allowance of the commission under this Act, for the purpose of inserting the words of which he had given notice.

Amendment proposed, In page 2, line 14, to leave out the words "and every payment of a rate by the owner, notwithstanding the allowance of the commission under this Act," in order to insert the words "and every occupier of any rateable hereditament in respect of which by agreement between the owner and the overseers, or otherwise, the owner is made liable to the rate, or in respect of which, in consideration of the payment by the occupier of a gross sum under the name of rent, the owner, with the consent of the overseers, undertakes to pay the rate, shall be entitled to all Municipal and Parliamentary franchises in as full a manner as if such occupier had been himself liable to and had paid the rate, whether such owner shall have made default in the payment of the rate or not." (Mr. Vernon Harcourt.)


agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Oxford in thinking this point important, because if the indictment just brought against Clause 4 were true great injustice would be done by it; but the hon. and learned Gentleman had rested his indictment against the Bill on both an erroneous assumption and a misconception of the facts of the case and of the present state of the law. The new clauses did not amount to a reversal of the decision of the House. The hon. and learned Member said that owners had a plurality of votes in the vestry; but the hon. and learned Member seemed to confound the vote in the vestry with the vote in respect to Guardians of the Poor, and it was in the latter case only that plurality of votes was allowed. He (Mr. Goschen) wanted to know in what way, if the hon. and learned Member's Amendment were carried, the owners of compound houses would be represented? Not only would they be unrepresented in the vestry, but even at the Board of Guardians. The really important point raised by the speech of his hon. and learned Friend was whether the non-payment of rates by the owner would disqualify the tenant from voting. That required to be met at once. He was no more afraid of residential suffrage than the hon. and learned Member, but he differed from the hon. and learned Member when he described the Bill as a new Reform Bill. He treated the question, in fact, as if the Reform Bill were entirely swept away, and as if the clause now proposed were an enfranchising Amendment. The fact was that nothing more was proposed to be done than to get rid of an economical grievance, and to take care, at the same time, that in effecting that object those entitled to the franchise should not be deprived of it. His hon. and learned Friend was for giving the vote to the occupier, when the owner agreed to pay the rates, whether the rates were paid or not. The natural consequence of this would be that those who did not compound at all should also vote without being compelled to pay their rates. The question involved in the Amendment was whether, by a Bill introduced to remedy an economical grievance, the rate-paying clauses of the Reform Bill of 1867, and of the Reform Bill of 1832 should be repealed. The Government were not prepared to do that which they scarcely thought would be consistent with good faith to propose in the present stage of the proceedings. If it were true that the occupiers were liable to be disfranchised under the present clause, it would then certainly be a question whether the Government should proceed with it, because to such disfranchisement it would become neither a Liberal Government nor the Liberal party to consent. But what were the facts? In order to qualify the occupier to be put upon the register on the 1st of August, the rates previously due on the 5th of January must be paid; and if the rates were not paid by the 20th of June notice of that fact was to be given to the tenant, who would then have all the time from the 20th of June till the 1st of August to pay the rates, deducting them afterwards from the rent. His hon. and learned Friend had said that until that morning there was no provision as to how the occupier was to get his vote in the case of the non-payment of rates by the landlord; but, as a matter of fact, the Government had intended to adopt an Amendment on that subject, notice of which had been given by the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Dent). He knew of no reason why, even in case of a bankrupt owner, the rate might not be deducted from the rent. He, therefore, could not agree in the statement that the precautions taken by the Government to preserve the political franchise would be perfectly nugatory. He thought he had shown the Committee that the danger anticipated by his hon. and learned Friend—which, if real, would be a very serious one— was practically not likely to occur. The question really before the Committee was this—was that danger so great as to compel them at that moment to reconsider the question of the Reform Act of 1867? That there were many points in that Act which at the proper time might require re-consideration was clear to everyone sitting on that side of the House; but the Government must really claim, on their responsibility, to choose the time for introducing such alterations as they thought proper. He did not think it would be felt that they had been remiss in their attention to matters during this Session. They had dealt with as many questions as they thought could fairly be dealt with this Session. His hon. and learned Friend had introduced new issues which would impede and perhaps imperil the Bill altogether. What was now proposed was to remedy, as far as they could, those dangers and inconveniences that had resulted from the abolition of compounding. He hoped the Committee would consider the matter fairly, and not give a vote which would really impede the carrying of the Bill.


said, that as hon. Gentlemen had been accused of sitting like mutes at the discussion, he would take the liberty of making a few observations. He could see nothing in the Bill to over-ride the provisions of Sir William Clay's Act; but the result of the Amendment under consideration would virtually be, that every one not an owner would be an occupier; that every occupier, under any circumstances, would become a voter; and that all those should be accounted rate-payers who did not pay any rates. That would be the effect of the Amendment, against which he should be obliged to record his vote. He was glad to know that the Government declined to re-open the political question, but would confine itself for the present to the more limited part of the subject.


said, that though, like most other Liberal Members, he was pledged to vote for the repeal of the rating clauses, he was unable to support the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Harcourt), because it raised that important question in an incidental and fragmentary manner, and proposed to confer the franchise on a small class of persons, and differently to the way in which it was enjoyed by the mass of the people. But he should be prepared, at the proper time, to support any Motion for the abolition of the rate-paying clauses.


said, it was in vain to expect that the electors would be satisfied until the rate-paying clauses of the Reform Act were done away with. They might as well ask a man to pay his butcher's bill before he could vote.


said, he thought no portion of the Ministerial scheme had caused so much disappointment to the Liberal party as the manner in which the President of the Poor Law Board had dealt with this question. The right hon. Gentleman was in this case putting the screw on the wrong man—the small occupier—and not being satisfied with the explanation which had been given, he should support the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford. Notwithstanding what the right hon. Gentleman said about the notice to the occupier from the 20th of June to the 1st of August, the effect would be that the tenant, having paid the rates in his rent, would have to pay them again in order to obtain the right to vote.


urged the importance of making the Bill complete for the purpose for which it was introduced. Hon. Members had drifted from the consideration of this simple purpose into the discussion of the wider and strictly political question whether the rate-paying clauses should be abolished. No doubt they had a perfect right to enter upon this discussion, and so to mark the Bill as to make it serve a strictly political end; but he suggested that this more ambitious course might prevent the application of an immediate and complete remedy to a serious practical grievance. In order that it might not be supposed that the Government had any desire to shirk a discussion of the rate-paying clauses, he wished to point out that they had no choice. In the Speech from the Throne a paragraph was inserted, stating that— A measure will be brought under your notice for the relief of some classes of occupiers from hardships in respect of Hating, which appear to be capable of remedy. That was a distinct pledge as to the character and scope of the measure; and no one who read the paragraph could for a moment suppose that it embraced the repeal of the rate-paying clauses, because the condition involved in those clauses was universal in its operation, and not confined to "some" classes only. It was perfectly well understood that their intention was to ask the assent of the House to a measure which aimed at remedying hardships unforeseen by many, and. which had grown out of the operation of the Reform Act of 1867. If it had been intended to re-open political questions connected with the representation of the people, it would have been their duty to make an intimation of a totally different nature in the Speech, from the Throne. As they had not done so, it was necessary to limit themselves to applying a practical remedy to a practical grievance, and leave the discussion of the general question of the payment of rates as a condition of the franchise to be dealt with on another occasion, which was hardly likely to arise during the present Session. They were not by the present vote asking the House to express any opinion, favourable or otherwise, on the question of the rate-paying clauses. His right hon. Friend had shown that the Bill would provide an effective remedy for a practical grievance, and he very much mistook the disposition of the House of Commons if, in order to attain a good which was not in immediate prospect, they would put in hazard the realization of a practical and important measure.


said, that he was unable to withdraw the Amendment, because the speech of his right hon. Friend at the head of the Poor Law Board had failed to satisfy him that the Bill really accomplished the object aimed at in his Amendment. Supposing the case of a weekly tenant who had paid the rate to his landlord; the landlord became bankrupt, say on the 24th of June, or failed to pay over the amount to the overseer; the result would be that the name of the tenant would be struck off the register, unless he was willing to pay a second time the rate that he had already paid once. He would not be deterred from dividing because the right hon. Gentleman had said that it would be necessary, if the Amendment were carried, to do justice to all classes of rate-payers. He was prepared for that.


said, his hon. and learned Friend had declared that he would not divide if he should receive an assurance that the occupier would not have to pay the rate out of his own pocket. That assurance he would give his hon. and learned Friend, therefore he felt sure no division would take place. The occupier would not have to pay the rate out of his own pocket, for he would pay it out of the rent. There would be four or five weeks to deduct the rate, and there was no case where the quarterly rate would exceed four weeks' rent. He thought, therefore, that the Amendment ought not to be pressed after what the hon. and learned Gentleman had stated, and he hoped the Committee would not be called upon now to divide upon the question of the rate-paying clauses of the Reform Act.

Question put, "That the words 'and every payment of a rate by the owner stand, part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 291; Noes 42: Majority 249.

MR. GOSCHEN moved, in page 2, line 14, to leave out after "owner" to "shall," in line 15, and insert— Whether he is himself rated instead of the occupier, or has agreed with the occupier or with the overseers to pay such rate, and notwithstanding any ailowap.C3 or deduction which the overseers are empowered to make from the rate.


asked the President of the Poor Law Board whether he did not think it would be expedient to debar small occupiers whose rates were compounded for from voting at the election of guardians or parish officers. Such occupiers, not paying the rate themselves, might be under a great temptation to vote for any guardian who, for example, would support the absence of any labour test or the indiscriminate grant of out-door relief.


said, he thought it was not desirable altogether to disqualify small occupiers whose rates were compounded for from voting for guardians of the poor. On a future occasion, however, it might be important to consider whether the owners should not be placed in a different position in respect to Boards of Guardians.

Amendment agreed to.


in moving the addition at the end of the clause of the proviso of which he had given notice, said the Reform Act of 1867 had originally proposed to base the franchise on the personal payment of rates by the occupier. There was, however, a clause in that Act which enabled rates to be paid by the agent of the occupier; and that was afterwards construed to mean that the landlord might be the agent of the occupier, and practically the rates were paid to a very large extent by the landlord for the occupier. That increased the franchise to a very considerable extent. To that, however, he did not object. But the right hon. Gentleman said he wished by that clause to preserve the political rights of all occupiers enfranchised by the Reform Act of 1867, while, at the same time, securing to them the economical advantages of this Bill. The clause, however, would not only preserve for the occupiers enfranchised by the Reform Act of 1867 the franchise which they already held, but would operate in many boroughs as a large measure of further enfranchisement. It had been repeatedly stated that the grievance to be remedied was this—Many small occupiers were unable to pay their rates directly to the overseer, and were either excused from payment; or, after the process of summons, had distress warrants executed against them, thereby forcing them into pauperism. If those occupiers were excused from payment or were compelled to receive parish relief, they would, in either case, lose their votes under the existing law. But the effect of this Bill in enfranchising the small occupiers would be proportionate to the amount of distress which had existed in certain boroughs. In boroughs like Birmingham or Hackney, where large numbers of persons had been excused from the payment of rates, or driven into pauperism by being compelled to pay, this measure would produce a great effect, because all such persons would become voters under this Bill; and, therefore, the House ought to consider whether some limit ought not to be put on the proposed extension of the franchise. Who were the persons on whom the franchise would thus be bestowed? They were persons not removed in reality from the pauper class; for he held that persons who were excused from the payment of rates were practically in receipt of parochial relief. Another qualification of the franchise—namely, residence—was also interfered with by this Bill. The Reform Act of 1867 provided that the residence should be for a year, and further that residence in different houses in immediate succession in the same borough should be equivalent to a continuous residence for twelve months in one dwelling-house. This proviso, which had considerable connection with rating, was necessary to meet the case of workmen who were compelled to change their residence in order to be near the place of their employment; but he desired to point out that, under the present Bill, it would be possible, in a town where all the low class property was compounded for by the landlords, for a man to occupy several of such houses during a year, each for a month or two at a time, and to obtain a vote in respect of such residence, although he would have paid no rates, and might not have paid more than a very small amount of rent to any of his landlords. This was surely a class of persons who ought not to be placed on the Parliamentary register, and he begged, therefore, to move to add to the clause the following words:— Provided, That no occupation of any tenement with respect to which the owner shall have made such agreement with the overseers as is provided for under the third section of this Act shall be taken into account in reckoning the period of occupation of different premises in immediate succession necessary for the purpose of any such qualification or franchise, unless the occupation of such tenement shall have been continuous for a period of not less that six months.


said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board would agree to the Amendment of his hon. Friend, because he was strongly of opinion that some restriction ought to be placed upon this class of people. It might, however, be desirable to fix the limit at three, instead of six months. If a man did not pay either his rent or his rates for three months, no one could pretend that he had fairly entitled himself to the franchise. It might be urged that many people had to move about from one house to another in order to be near their work; but he thought that, generally speaking, a man who took a house for less than six months could hardly be what he should call respectable.


said, he hoped the Committee would not accept the Amendment, which proposed that residences of less than six months should not be counted in making up the year which was necessary for enfranchisement. In canvassing a large town he had found that some of the most respectable working men were in the habit of moving about in order to be near their work.


said, he hoped the hon. Baronet would not press his Mo- tion, not only on account of the excellent reasons given by his noble Friend (Lord Henley), but also because the proposed clause was open to the same objection that was applied to the proposal of his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Oxford (Mr. Harcourt). If this had been a new Reform Bill the hon. Baronet might very properly, from a Conservative point of view, have raised the present issue; but, as the Government had endeavoured to keep the political element out of the Bill, he trusted that no extraneous matter would be introduced into it in the shape of disfranchisement, or the establishment of a new qualification.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 5 (Liability of owner under agreement).


said, that he had prepared a plan whereby existing hardships on small tenants could be avoided. That plan was that, instead of distraining on a tenant as at present, the rent should for a given time be paid, over to the parish authorities, instead of to the landlord. In that way he thought the object of the clause could be secured, without undue injury to the occupiers. He was, however, glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board had on the Paper an Amendment that would meet the point. He was ready to waive his plan for that of the right hon. Gentleman.


said, that the words which the right hon. Gentleman was about to introduce completely protected the occupier; but he thought that power ought to be given to the overseers to attach the rents of a block of houses, and not merely of one house, when the rates were unpaid.


said, the clause as originally worded was taken from the Small Tenements Act; but in consequence of the suggestions of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford and of the hon. Member for Salford, Amendments had been framed which he hoped would prevent any hard ship to the poorer class of occupiers. But to attach the rents of one house for the rates due upon another house would be to introduce an entirely new principle, and he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Amendment.


said, that an agreement was often made by a landlord in respect, say, of the rates of twenty houses, for which he was allowed a discount. His suggestion was merely that the rents of those houses should be jointly liable for the rates which were to be jointly paid, and that when the time for payment came the collector should not surfer loss by those that were unoccupied.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 6 (Recovery of rates unpaid by the owner).

MR. GOSCHEN moved, in line 30, after "owner," insert— Subject to the following provisions:—1. That no such distress shall be levied unless the rate has been demanded in writing by the overseers from the occupier, and the occupier has failed to put the same within fourteen clays after the service of such demand; 2. That no greater sum shall be raised by such distress than shall at the time of making the same be actually due from the occupier for rent of the premises on which the distress is made.

Amendment agreed to.


moved, in page 2, at end, add— Provided always, That any such occupier shall be entitled to deduct the amount of rates for which such distraint is made, and the expense of distraint, from the rent due or accruing due to the owner, and every such payment shall be a valid discharge of the rent to the extent of the rate and expenses paid.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 7 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 10 (Provision for successive occupiers and for occupiers coming into unoccupied hereditaments).

On Motion of Mr. RATHBONE, an Amendment was introduced to the effect that an out-going occupier should remain liable for so much and no more of the rate as was proportionate to the time of his occupation within the period for which the rate was made.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 11 and 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 (Interpretation clause).

MR. DIXON moved in line 5, leave out "who shall not be usually resident within the parish in which the hereditament shall be situated," and insert "for whom he is acting as agent."

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.


proposed a new clause (Vestries may order the owner to be rated instead of the occupier), in redemption of his pledge that he would give the vestries power to rate the owners compulsorily, and thanked the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. C. Forster) for his exertions on this question. The owners were to receive 15 per cent for being compulsorily rated instead of the occupier; and if then they chose to compound for the empty houses, another allowance of 15 per cent would be made to them.


said, the clause gave effect to his suggestions on this subject, and on his own behalf and that of several other representatives of boroughs he expressed his obligations to his right hon. Friend for having carried it out. At the same time he felt that this was only a temporary measure, and would avail himself of any future opportunity of getting rid of the payment of rates as a condition of the franchise.


asked what was to be the inducement to owners to agree to compound under Clause 3 with an allowance of 25 per cent, whereas, if they held on, under this new clause, they would get 30 per cent?


said, there were many places where the vestries would not act at all under the powers now given to them by this clause; while Clause 3 was optional both with owners and overseers.


objected to the allowance of 30 per cent in face of the decision of the Committee that 25 was sufficient; and called attention to the fact that with the allowance of 20 per cent under the Valuation of Property Act, it would in reality make 50 per cent. If he had the slightest hope of success, he would move that the allowance to the owners for compulsory rating should be 10 per cent instead of 15, so as to reduce the total allowance under this Bill to 25 per cent, the original proposal of the Government.


said, that the 20 per cent under the Valuation of Property Act was merely legalizing the practice which now existed, of considering that the value of a tenement let at a certain sum by the week was less than the value of a tenement let at the same sum by the year.


remarked that they allowed the composition to be made in the metropolitan parishes up to £20, and asked why they should limit it in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and such towns to £8? He was quite sure that if this provision were adhered to it would create a sense of injustice in the minds of persons in the country. He suggested that the vestries should be allowed to decide whether the compounding ought not to extend up to £15.


supported the Committee's limitation, and said, that to give such power to the vestries would be to introduce all the old evils and difficulties which existed under the local acts, by which, in some cases, deductions of 66½ per cent were made.


expressed his concurrence in the observations of the hon. Member (Mr. Collins). In the speech made by the President of the Board of Trade on this point, he distinctly stated that where the line should be drawn was a matter on. which the Government would be willing to act in accord with the general sense of the Committee, and they thought that the opinion of the Committee should be decisive upon the point. It would not be expedient to give power to the vestries to make any change, because it would give rise to a suspicion of jobbery, though he would admit that it would not necessarily lead to jobbery.


said, he hoped the Government would adhere to the £8 principle in the provinces.

Clause agreed to.

On Motion of Mr. GOSCHEN, a new clause was added— (Evidence of making and publication of rates.) The production of the book purporting to contain a poor rate, with the allowance of the rate by the justices shall, if the rate is made in the form prescribed by law, be prima facie evidence of the due making and publication of such rate.


then moved a new clause— (Notice to occupiers of rates in arrear.) Section twenty-eight of 'The Representation of the People Act, 1867,' with respect to notice to be given of rates in arrear, shall apply to occupiers of premises capable of conferring the parliamentary franchise, although the owners of such premises have become liable for the rates assessed thereon under the provisions of this Act.


appealed to the right hon. Gentlemen to give a little more time. Notice was to be given on the 20th of June, and that was the ordinary notice, no doubt; but as the lists were made up on the 31st of July, only five weeks were left to enable the occupier, who had already paid his rates to the owner, to find the money to pay them again to the overseer. The rate being the January rate, notice might very well be given in March or April.


said, he thought it would be productive of much confusion if they fixed one day for the owner and another for the occupier. He would consider the matter, and if it could be easily done would cheerfully accede to the proposal.


thought more harm, than good would result from introducing a new time of notice to the occupier.


said, he did not consider any longer notice necessary, as one week's rent would be sufficient to pay the rates due, which could be deducted from the five weeks' rent accruing.

Clause added to the Bill.


proposed a new clause after Clause 9 (One justice may act in certain cases).


objected to the clause. It would place the borough and county magistrates in a different position; and besides that, it would give justices, in these particular instances, powers which they did not possess under the general law.


said, he was afraid he could not accept the clause, which gave very extensive powers; among others, that of committing a man. to prison, which it was very undesirable to give to one justice.

Clause negatived.

Preamble agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 178.]