§ Lord Auckland moved that the Bill be read a second time.
The Earl of Wicklow
said, that, before the Bill was read, he begged to call the attention of Members to a petition which he had presented on the subject, from a most respectable body of persons in Dublin, who complained that the Bill would work great injustice if passed in its present shape. They stated, that the coal-meters of Dublin were a body of persons whose means of existence depended on the existing law; that they had accepted their situations under the implied promise that they were to hold them for life, or during good behaviour; that the coal-meters of London had received compensation when their offices were abolished; and they prayed their Lordships that the coal-meters of Dublin might be placed in the same situation, and receive compensation, if the measure then before the House passed into a law.
§ Lord Auckland
trusted that the noble Earl would be satisfied that the coal-meters of Dublin would sustain no injustice; but, in consequence of what passed in another place, it had been found necessary to submit their case to the consideration of the Law-officers of the Crown. 487 If it should appear, that the parties bad made good their claim for compensation, it would be granted of course. He, therefore, hoped their Lordships would allow the Bill to proceed upon that understanding.
considered the Bill ought not to be passed upon such an understanding, because it might so happen that it would not be acted on, and their Lordships would then have no means of affording relief, if the parties should make good their claim to compensation. It had been the constant practice of that House to protect the interests of persons so situated, and the principle could not be abandoned in this instance with justice or good faith. He was informed that, under the Bill which passed last year for regulating the coal-trade of London, compensation was allowed to the meters to the extent of 13,000l., and the same measure ought to be dealt out to the coal-meters of Dublin.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, the course proposed to be adopted was not unusual. It had been practised under the Administration of the noble Duke (Wellington) when the Irish Linen Board was abolished.
§ Bill read a second time.