HC Deb 23 June 1904 vol 136 cc1060-6
DR. SHIPMAN (Northampton)

said that in moving the Instruction that stood in his name, he hoped he had done all that was possible to bring the matter to a settlement, and he had put down an Instruction as, he thought, representing fairly what Mr. Joseph Taylor claimed. The Maidenhead Bridge Bill was brought forward in order that the corporation might not be charged with the application of certain moneys that had been received and which properly belonged to the public. It was a Bill to indemnify the Corporation of Maidenhead, who appeared as claimants not so much for justice as for mercy, and asked that all its misdeeds should be passed over and that it should be enabled to start a new and more honourable career as a corporation. Section 11 of the Bill said the corporation was to be discharged from liability for past misapplication of this fund. It also asked that they might be put into secure possession of a property to which they had no right. It also asked to be allowed to borrow £20,000 in order to pay past debts, and all expenses and costs incurred in getting this Act passed. The House might ask with reason, "Where does Mr. Taylor come in? He did not come in at present, but he had as large a claim to do so as had the corporation. Neither had any legal claim. The corporation asked for an act of mercy, and he pleaded on behalf of Mr. Taylor for an act of justice. The corporation wanted to be whitewashed, but it wanted the expenses to be paid by someone else. It had used the bridge estate, which was a valuable property purchased out of tolls and which should have gone to free and maintain the bridge. If it was mean of Mr. Taylor to ask for his expenses to be paid, it was equally mean for the corporation to make a similar appeal. They were both on the same level, except that Mr. Taylor was a weak and helpless man and the corporation was a strong body. Mr. Taylor would have liked to address the Committee of the House of Commons just as he addressed the Committee of House of Lords. The corporation, being afraid, put in a notice of objection, and the Court of Referees said he had no locus standi. The Court could not have acted otherwise, but the corporation might have given Mr. Taylor a chance of being heard before a Committee of the House of Commons. The only opportunity afforded was by addressing the House through a Member, and he believed Mr. Taylor had an excellent case, as whatever grounds could be used for supporting the corporation in getting this Bill passed could be used in favour of Mr. Taylor. It had been said that he wanted to blackmail the corporation, but, as a rule, blackmailers did not do their work first and then ask for their money. The reputation of Mr. Taylor could stand all the petty insinuations that had been launched against him. He had devoted a great deal of his time to the public service. He had got Windsor Bridge freed by taking an action up to the House of Lords, and it was due to his energy and public spirit that he got the Charity Commissioners to investigate the whole matter. Mr. Taylor did not ask for all the expenses to which he might have a moral claim, but only for the barest expenses that could be properly allowed, and he was willing for the amount to be determined by a taxing official. The sum in question could not be very large, but in case there was any dispute and the parties could not agree it was proposed to take the matter before a taxing official either of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. The Instruction only asked for the actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred incidental to, and arising from, the inquiry held by the Charity Commissioners, and further that, as he had already received something from the public, anything received in the shape of public subscription should be deducted. He asked the House to pass the Instruction and embody it in a clause to be added to the Bill. It would be hard if a great corporation was to approach the House of Commons and get what it wanted and for an individual who had done a great public service to be denied a simple act of justice.

MR. THEODORE TAYLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)

, in seconding the Resolution, desired to explain that he was not a relative of Mr. Joseph Taylor. They did not bring the Instruction forward in any vindictive or censorious spirit, but only asked the House of Commons to do justice to this private individual who, without personal interest and gain, had done a great public service to the inhabitants of the district. Maidenhead Bridge was the second that Mr. Taylor had freed. He had no desire to cast a stone at the Corporation of Maidenhead, but their action in the past had required whitewashing by means of this Bill, and private individuals ought not to be allowed to lose money by doing the public a service. They had heard about the extravagance of corporations, but this would not be a case of wasting public money. It was only a simple act of justice that this gentleman should have his expenses, and he hoped that the Rules of the House would permit them to be paid.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to insert a clause directing the Corporation of Maidenhead to pay as costs, under Section 28, the balance of the actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred by Joseph Taylor, of Eton, Buckinghamshire, incidental to and arising from the inquiry held by the Charity Commissioners on the 18th November, 1902, after deducting there from £35 19s. received by him from public subscriptions, and in ease of difference the amount of those expenses to be taxed in the manner provided by the said section." —(Dr. Shipman.)

MR. GARDNER (Berkshire, Wokingham)

said he agreed with the mover and seconder that there was no reflection against Mr. Taylor intended by the Corporation of Maidenhead. He had, however, to speak for the ratepayers. There was a debate on the Second Reading of the Bill when the sins of the corporation of pretty well a century ago were brought up. The present day ratepayers were under no responsibility for the troubles caused in respect of their bridge, and it was unreasonable that they should be called upon to do more than was necessary to put themselves right. He did not quarrel with the suggestion that Mr. Taylor should not be a loser by the course he had taken, but he did not think that Mr. Taylor had any right to go beyond the necessities of the case with which they were dealing. Mr. Taylor's action in regard to Windsor Bridge had been referred to in support of his claim in this matter. Windsor Bridge was freed by proceedings which were much more expensive.


There is about Windsor Bridge in the nothing in the Instruction. The hon. Member must confine his remarks to the Instruction.


said that when Mr. Taylor suspected there was something wrong with the administration of this bridge, all he had to do was to move the Charity Commissioners and ask them to hold an inquiry. But he went beyond it. He took counsel's opinion, and, having obtained that, all he had to do was to tell the Charity Commissioners what he had done and leave the whole question in their hands. There was no necessity whatever for him to have gone beyond that. Reasons could be advanced that made the corporation fear very much to allow Mr. Taylor to have more than his legal expenses. Out of what funds was the corporation to pay the costs, if awarded? They could only come out of funds to be provided by this Act and to be borrowed under the control of the Local Government Board. The funds had all to be accounted for, and he suggested that they had no right to make any further demand upon those funds beyond the necessities of the case. Mr. Taylor had already received by public subscription£35 or £36,and the case of the corporation was that that amply covered all the expenses to which he had been put in this matter. The corporation feared that if this Instruction were passed Mr. Taylor might make terms which it would be difficult to satisfy or repudiate. He had made large claims in the past, and, although they had now been limited, the corporation objected to be in his grip or under his control in this matter. They had done everything to put themselves right; they thought that they had behaved straightforwardly, and they asked to be protected from this Instruction.

MR. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)

said he knew nothing about the merits of the case until that evening, but in his opinion a weaker case had never been brought forward. He hoped no one would think the House would bear hardly upon any individual, but, if they were to act with impartiality, no such Instruction as this ought to be passed except in an extreme case. Could anyone think it right to put upon borough funds, compulsorily and without any inquiry, an expense of this sort—an expense to which there was no claim whatever, and which ought not to have been brought before the House? To pass this Instruction would be to act in the teeth of all tradition of private business, and he hoped the House would not consent to the Instruction.

MR. TOULMIN (Bury, Lancashire)

said the hon. Member for Berkshire hid admitted that out-of-pocket expenses should be granted, and if Mr. Taylor were found to have no claim there would be nothing to pay. The claim was to be submitted to the taxing officer, and if he did not establish anything there would be nothing to pay. The corporation might not have the power to make the payment, but this Bill would give them the power, and he thought a case for the Instruction had been made out.

SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)

asserted that a more extraordinary Instruction had never been submitted to the House of Commons. Mr. Taylor, from philanthropic or some other motive, took certain proceedings of his own free will, but he afterwards asked the ratepayers to pay him for doing it. In this case the Maidenhead Corporation had taken the only course possible to pursue, and it was useless to contend that the House of Commons ought to sanction the payment of expenses incurred of one's own free will. Such a course would raise up a class of people who would take action in order to get something out of it.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 85; Noes 69. (Division List No. 172.)

Abraham,William (Cork,N.E.) Hayter,Rt.Hn. Sir Arthur D. O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Austin, Sir John Holland, Sir William Henry O'Dowd, John
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Horniman, Frederick John O'Kelly,James (Roscommon.N.
Bell, Richard Johnson, John (Gateshead) O'Malley, William
Boland, John Jones,William (Carnarvonshire O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Brigg, John Jordan, Jeremiah O'Shee, James John
Burke, E. Haviland Joyce, Michael Power, Patrick Joseph
Burt, Thomas Kennedy,Vincent P.(Cavan,W. Reddy, M.
Caldwell, James Kilbride, Denis Redmond,John E. (Waterford)
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Law, Hugh Alex.(Donegal,W.) Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Cogan, Denis J. Lundon, W. Roche, John
Condon, Thomas Joseph MacVeagh, Jeremiah Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)
Crean, Eugene M'Arthur, William (Cornwall Shackleton, David James
Crooks, William M'Crae, George Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Cullinan, J. M'Hugh, Patrick A. Sheehy, David
Delany, William M'Kean, John Sloan, Thomas Henry
Devlin,CharlesRamsay(Galway M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Spear, John Ward
Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.) Mooney, John J. Spencer.Rt.Hn.C.R. (Nothants
Donelan, Captain A. Moss, Samuel Sullivan, Donal
Doogan, P. C. Murphy, John Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)
Esmonde, Sir Thomas Nannetti, Joseph P. Thomas, DavidAlfred(Merthyr)
Farrell, James Patrick Nolan, Col.JohnP.(Galway,N.) Toulmin, George
Fenwick, Charles Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Ffrench, Peter O'Brien, James F X. (Cork) White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Field, William O'Brien,Kendal(Tipperary Mid Young, Samuel
Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Flynn, James Christopher O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) TELLERS for the Ayes—Dr.
Gilhooly, James O'Connor,James (Wicklow,W.) Shipman and Mr. Theodore
Hammond, John O'Doherty, William Taylor.
Hayden, John Patrick O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)
Acland-Hood,Capt. Sir Alex F. Fellowes,Hon. Ailwyn Edward Randles, John S.
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Forster, Henry William Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Greene,Henry D. (Shrewsbury) Reid, James (Greenock)
Bain, Colonel James Robert Groves, James Grimble Renwick, George
Balcarres, Lord Haslam, Sir Alfred S. Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Beach, Rt. Hn.Sir MichaelHicks Haslett, Sir James Horner Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Hay, Hon. Claude George Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Bignold, Arthur Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T. Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Blundell, Colonel Henry Hoult, Joseph Sandys, Lieut-Col. Thos. Myles
Bowles,Lt.-Col.H.F (Middlesex Hudson, George Bickersteth Sharpe, William Edward T.
Campbell,J.H.M.(Dublin Univ. Hunt, Rowland Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Cavendish,V.C.W. (Derbyshire King, Sir Henry Seymour Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Stone, Sir Benjamin
Chamberlain,RtHn.J.A (Worc. Lawson,JohnGrant(Yorks N.R. Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Chapman, Edward Lee,ArthurH.(Hants, Fareham Valentia, Viscount
Clive, Captain Percy A. Macdona, John Cumming Walrond, Rt. Hn Sir William H
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim,S. M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire) Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Cripps, Charles Alfred Mount, William Arthur Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Cross, Alexander (Glasgow) O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile Pease Herbert Pike (Darlington Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart
Davies, SirHoratio D.(Chatham Peel,Hn.Wm.Robert Wellesley
Dickson, Charles Scott Pemberton, John S. G. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Disraeli. Coningsby Ralph Percy, Earl Mr.Gardner and SirFrederick
Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas Piatt-Higgins, Frederick Banbury.