HL Deb 03 August 1835 vol 29 cc1340-428
Lord Ellen-borough

presented a Petition from the principal rate-payers of the borough of Tewkesbury, complaining of the change which the Bill would effect on the liability of different classes of persons. The present annual income of the borough was 22l. 10s., and the debt was 3,000l. and by this Bill, the petitioners stated, that the liability to the debt would be shifted on the shoulders of those who ought not to be called on to bear it. The noble Lord presented a petition from Gloucester, complaining of the Clause which related to the leasing of property by Corporations, and declaring that, if passed in its present shape, it would occasion the greatest possible injustice to the present holders of houses and landed property in that city. He regretted that the noble Baron (Lord Seagrave) was not present, as he could support the statement now made. One of the consequences of this Clause was, that many mortgages had now been called in. He wished to ask the noble Viscount whether he would consent to declare that he was willing to adopt such an alteration of the Clause as would protect property situated in the same way as that at Gloucester.

Viscount Melbourne

had no hesitation in making such a declaration. They were aware, from communications from various quarters, that the peculiar way in which property was, in some places, leased out by or to the Corporations, rendered it necessary that some special clause, saving existing agreements, should be introduced.

Petition to lie on the Table.

The Bishop of Exeter

presented a Petition from the Mayor and Aldermen of Dartmouth against the Bill, praying that, as respected the Church property of Corporations, the administration of it should be vested in a Committee composed of members of the Established Church, and that Dissenters should have no control over it. He was aware of the delicacy and difficulty of the point which the petitioners brought to the attention of the House, and of making upon it a provision which should be satisfactory in its nature; at the same time he felt that it was a matter of urgency, and he hoped that some clause would be presented on the subject; if not, he should certainly himself present one. The right rev. Prelate also presented a Petition from the Mayor and Aldermen of South Molton against the Bill. There was not a single charge of misconduct, in any way, brought against them by the Commissioners; but it was stated, in effect, that the result of the inquiry of the Commissioners would enable the Government to mature a measure for the purpose of giving to those who might seem best fitted for the task, the direction of the borough in a financial, judicial, and political point of view. There was a memorandum at the end of the Report, which stated that the practice of elections in the borough was to take men from among a particular class of the Corporators, and thus to exclude the men of the town, which was unjust towards the people; and it was alleged that the mode of regulating the expenditure and of keeping the accounts, was unsatisfactory; and some complaints were made of partiality in the mode of granting licences. Now he had received a letter from a Member of the Corporation, who informed him of the conduct of the Commissioner who went to the borough, and the conduct of that Commissioner was so unfortunate, that he could only say that he trusted, with regard to the other, the proverb ex uno disce omnes was not true; for, if so, a greater fraud upon the public was never committed. The Corporation was informed that it would be visited upon the 10th of October, and the Member accordingly gave public notice that every one might have the opportunity of attending the Court. The Commissioner who came, remained in Court about four hours. The Mayor and other Members of the Corporation attended him; he was told that all their books were open to him, and that he would be permitted to see them and to take extracts. Three persons alone made complaints before him, and they were Messrs. Manly, Moore, and Quick. The first was a saddler by trade, and a poet by profession; but so slight were the complaints that the Commissioner said he did not consider it worth while to make a note of them, and that he should not trouble the parties concerned for any explanation or reply. After this he made the memorandum which had been stated to their Lordships. The petition was moderate in its terms, and the petitioners asked not to be deprived of the advantages of the Corporation.

Petition to lie on the Table.

Viscount Melbourne

moved the Order of the Day, and he wished to state—

The Earl of Falmouth

The Order of the Day should be read before the noble Viscount proceeds to make any observations.

Viscount Melbourne

moved, that the Order of the Day be read, and he meant to state the reasons why he made the motion for moving the reading of the Order of the Day, which was, he believed, that their Lordships should form themselves into a Committee on this Bill ["No, no!".]

Lord Lyndhurst

spoke to order. He thought that the noble Viscount was mistaken in the terms of the Order of the Day.

Viscount Melbourne

said, that it was in substance that the further debates upon this Bill should be resumed. ["No, no!" "Order!" from all parts of the House, which was in a slate of great confusion.] The noble Viscount, as soon as he could make himself heard, said that the motion was, that the Order of the Day, whatever it was, should be read. They all knew what it was—it was for—[Part of this sentence was lost in the confusion.]

Lord Lyndhurst

must again say, that the noble Viscount was mistaken. The nature of the Order might be ascertained by reference to the document itself [cries of "Read the Order of the Day."]

Viscount Melbourne

again attempted to address their Lordships amidst much confusion, and after a short time was heard as follows:—After stating the reasons for the motion, I shall move that the Order of the Day be read; but, in the first instance, it is my wish to address your Lordships on the question that it be read. Amidst the political differences and dissensions with which we have been agitated for the last five years, and which I am afraid still continue to distract and divide us, of which I am not unwilling to say that I am quite sick and tired; amidst, my Lords, these political differences and dissensions, it would he a satisfaction, it would he a very great satisfaction to me, if I could anticipate that I was on the present occasion about to propose a measure on the principle of which your Lordships were all agreed; if I could believe that you all agreed that there was some evil to be remedied, some deficiency to he supplied, that the state of things required some measure to be adopted, and that the only difference between us was, what should be that measure—what should he that remedy, which was to supply an admitted deficiency, and to convert an admitted evil into an acknowledged good. I should be glad, my Lords, if I could anticipate this, and if I could rely on your agreeing on these things, as they have been agreed on in another place. When I recollect that this Bill passed the other House without a single division on its principle, I do not say without a dissentient voice, for several Members of the other House of Parliament protested against it: but when I recollect that it passed without a single division as to the principle of the Bill, and when I recollect, too, that it was admitted by Members from all parts of the empire, and by those who were of great weight and authority in that House of Parliament—and who, I hope, will have some weight with your Lordships—that the measure was one of necessity—that its principle was unanimously admitted; and when I recollect that it was universally acknowledged, that the time had come when the regulation of the abuses of Corporations must take place, and when corporate government must be adopted, which would systematically correct those abuses, and prevent the recurrence of them in future—I draw much encouragement from this circumstance, and hope that in this House, as in the other, there will be but little difference on the principle of the measure, and that the difference between us will be wholly a matter of detail. I trust, if that should be the case, that these details may be adapted so as to meet the evils they are intended to remedy. In all these great remedial measures in which we have been engaged of late years, it has been my most anxious wish to open them in such a manner as not to provoke hostility, so that if I was not justified in anticipating that there would be an agreement among your Lordships as to their adoption, I should do my utmost to promote a spirit of conciliation—to open them in such a way as not to tend to excite irritation—not to use any topics of an irritating nature, and in my consideration of the subjects rather to look forward to the future than backward to the past—not to view them so much with reference to past evils as to look at them with a view to future advantages, and thus to avoid as much as possible introducing anything that might tend to inflame the prejudices, irritate the feelings, and obscure the judgments of those who heard me. I repeat, my Lords, that, on all these occasions my wish has been rather to look forward than backward. In the great measure to amend and improve our Parliamentary representation it was not my wish so much to look to the existing abuses of the system, as to the advantages that would follow upon the change. Again, with relation to the system of our Poor-laws, when the amendment of the abuses of that system was proposed, it was my study to avoid saying anything of the conduct of those with whom many of those abuses had originated, but rather to direct attention to the advantages which would arise from the adoption of a new system. That, my Lords, appears to me not only to be the most expedient, but the most just course of proceeding. To a certain extent, at least, I agree with the sentiment expressed in the protest of Sir Francis Palgrave, that a great deal of evil has arisen from the neglect and inattention of Parliament in treating these matters. My Lords, it seems to me, that in considering these cases of general delinquency, there is one circumstance greatly encouraging in its nature, but which has generally been overlooked; it is a circumstance applicable to crimes against society, to frauds upon individuals, as well as to abuses which often creep in upon long-existing systems of any sort. It is this—that all these evils are much encouraged by the general neglect and inattention of the persons, possessors of property, who are at last obliged loudly to demand a remedy for them. We often hear the exclamations, "What a dreadful case!" "What a frightful breach of trust! why the person gave up all his property to his confidant, and never asked him for an account." My Lords, it is just that which has occasioned the evil—it is that improper confidence, which I will not say palliates the misconduct, but which has undoubtedly tended to produce the offence. The Courts of Justice, I am afraid, are not without their share of the blame in this matter; I fear that they but too often display a considerable leaning towards palliating such misconduct; and sure I am, from experience in the other House of Parliament, that a similar fault is committed there when a case of delinquency is brought before the House. In the case of the city of Coventry, for instance, and in many other cases of a similar kind, though proceedings are at first warmly taken up, the length, the tedium, and the uncertainty of those proceedings, generally produce indifference towards the matter, and little is actually done to check the evil that has been brought under the notice of the House. In pursuance, my Lords, of my intention to lay this subject before you in a calm and dispassionate manner, I shall throw out of the question all those smaller matters as to abuses originated and kept up for the purposes of political influence and interest. I shall not allude to cases like those mentioned by a noble Earl (the Earl of Harrowby) the other day, where such influence was avowedly kept up for the purpose of securing the return of a Member of Parliament—cases where hon. Gentlemen and noble Lords become, for such a purpose, members of country corporations. I shall make no observations, my Lords, upon such cases, beyond saying sunt vitia temporis, vitia hominum. I am also about, my Lords, to make a much larger deduction from the topics of this debate—a deduction, however, of circumstances, which, though I shall leave out of the statement of the matter, I shall hope to take credit with you for not having negligently overlooked; for though I shall not state these circumstances, I trust that you will take them into your account in considering what ought to be the objects provided for by a Bill of the sort which I am now about to submit to your consideration. My Lords, I shall leave out all those cases of gross delinquency which have often been charged to exist in particular boroughs—I shall not advert to Ipswich, Norwich, and other such boroughs. These I shall, in my present statement, entirely leave out of consideration. Not, my Lords, as abandoning them, but from considering that the case which I have to open to your Lordships stands upon broader, more general, and public grounds; and that upon those public grounds it is more fitting in the present stage of the Bill, which is equivalent to a discussion on the second reading, that I should rely. Whatever may have been the origin of these Corporations, it is not my intention to enter upon any antiquarian or historical consideration of them. I believe it is the best opinion that they were in their origin favourable to liberty, and advantageous to commerce. But into that argument I shall not go. But what I say now is, that these institutions are too narrow for the times and circumstances in which we are placed, and that they are too narrow and confined for the communities over which they preside; that they are un fitted to discharge satisfactorily the duties they have to perform; that they are not only unfitted to discharge those duties satisfactorily, but conduce to many other evils, many other dangers, and stand in the way of many other benefits; and that, in my opinion, instead of forming the bulwarks of internal security, they form a source of peril, of hazard, and of danger. I will take, by way of illustrating this opinion, the cases of three Corporations only, against one of which a great deal has been alleged, and, it must be confessed, not altogether unreasonably, that Corporation having certainly laid itself open to suspicion—very likely beyond what is strictly just—by refusing to give any account of its affairs. These Corporations are in the capitals of three neighbouring, and, indeed, contiguous counties. They are all flourishing towns, and all of them towns of manufacturing and commercial importance. The mode of selecting the members of the Corporations is pretty nearly the same in all three; and with respect to the coincidence in the working of these Corporations, I, from my knowledge of that part of the country, was struck with the fact long before this commission or this inquiry was thought of. These towns are Nottingham, Leicester, and Derby; their circumstances coinciding in many respects, but in many respects placed in very different situations. Over one of these towns the influence of a very powerful family in this country has prevailed to a great extent, and where political feelings of what are called the liberal side (I use that expression not in an offensive sense, as implying that those opposed to them are illiberal) have also prevailed. The Corporation of Nottingham has always been a Whig and Dissenting Corporation. The Corporation of Leicester, on the contrary, has always been, to use the language of the day, of Tory and Conservative principles. "With respect to Nottingham (says the Report), the electors are pretty nearly self-elected- the political character of the select body, the exclusion of so many persons of respectability and intelligence, the abuse of the corporate franchise in the creation of freemen, the lavish and unprofitable expenditure of the corporate revenues, the secresy of the financial proceedings, the heavy weight of the local taxation, and the withdrawal of the corporate funds from contributing towards it, are so many causes of well-founded complaint, which have alienated from municipal government the confidence and esteem of the inhabitants." I apprehend the facts in that statement are such as cannot well be controverted. Now, let us look at the Corporation of Leicester. The Report describes the governing body of that Corporation "to be a self-elected, close, and irresponsible body. The results of this system have been highly unsatisfactory, and altogether incompatible with the legitimate objects of municipal government. In no Corporation has a more complete system of political exclusiveness existed than has prevailed in this. From the mayor, to the humblest servant of the Corporation, every office has been filled by persons of the Corporation, or, so called, Tory party, to the total exclusion of all who entertained different opinions, however wealthy, however intelligent, however respectable. Yet the persons, entertaining different political opinions from the Corporation, constitute, to say the very least, an equal proportion of the opulence and intelligence of the town, and unquestionably form a numerical majority of the population." Now as to the Corporation of Derby. This, again, is a town where different politics prevail from those prevailing in Leicester; the House must allow, therefore, that the selection of these three Corporations—two of them being Whig Corporations, and one a Tory Corporation—has been made with strict impartiality. The Report, speaking of Derby, says—"The Corporation of Derby has been almost uniformly composed of persons having one opinion upon political subjects, and the anxiety of the Corporation to maintain the ascendancy of their own opinions has led them to create numerous freemen for political purposes. In the year 1806, 124 honorary freemen were made and sworn. In the year 1819, 132 were admitted and sworn. It was stated, that the Corporation, whenever they thought the number of the freemen in their interest 'getting low,' the mayor, or some other influential member of the Corporation, applied to the agent of the Cavendish family, and requested a list of the names of the persons to be admitted as honorary freemen. The creation of numerous honorary freemen by the Corporation had the effect which was anticipated, for by this unfair and unjust proceeding, a body of voters, subservient to the views of the Corporation, held in check that portion of the inhabitants opposed to the politics of the Corporation, and thus, for thirty years before the passing of the Reform Bill, there was no contest for the representation of the borough of Derby in parliament." It is unnecessary for me to read any more of these Reports, because it is perfectly well known that the result is as I have stated. Now, my Lords, let me ask your lordships what do you think of the working of such a system?—a system which, in three great towns, placed in such different situations, and under such different circumstances, has so entirely produced the same extensive evils, the same bad consequences—that of the exclusion of one-half of the inhabitants of these towns from all participation of authority—from all power or control over the funds and local interests of these boroughs. I am not very well acquainted with the interior statistics of these towns, but I apprehend that the parties who are thus excluded from all participation in the local government of them, are not in property, respectability, talents, or means, less qualified to exercise the powers of government than those who exclusively possess those powers. Now this in my mind has always struck me as being one of the most conclusive proofs of the necessity of making a considerable change and alteration in the system itself. The manner in which that system works in these three important towns, producing the same results, unmitigated and unchanged, by any variation of circumstances, has always appeared to me a subject that showed there was in the constitution of these Corporations an inherent evil—a defect—a curse, which could only be cured by resorting to principles of an opposite character, and extending at least the source from which these Corporations were to flow and have their rise. I will now, my Lords, go to another town, of which we heard a great deal at the Bar of the House the other night—I allude to the city of Coventry. In that city another state of circumstances exists. It is, however, a remarkable fact, that the select body in Coventry is composed of Whigs and Tories pretty nearly in equal numbers. The system, therefore, does not work precisely in the same manner there as in other places, but then the consequences and results are not in the least degree of a better description. Everybody knows what Coventry is, notwithstanding all we heard at the Bar the other evening; and notwithstanding the possibility that the Commissioner may be wrong as to the mismanagement of the school. That single fact was alone adduced by the Counsel at the Bar, by way of impeaching the accuracy of the Commissioners' Report, although there are in that Report many other abuses pointed out, of a far more serious and grievous nature. But although the Corporation is impartially formed—though it is politically impartial—yet in that city there are perpetual contests between the Corporation and the rest of the inhabitants. There is no city in England that, in fact, has been more disgraced by a system of electing Members of Parliament by fraud, corruption, and violence, than the city of Coventry. There is no city in which violence and corruption have been carried to a greater extent, or in which greater enormities have been committed. The Commissioner who drew up the Report with reference to Coventry has, it is true, stated that all these matters have been considerably amended of late years, and that the proceedings at elections there are now much better conducted. But, my Lords, I own that though these' matters, to which I have directed your Lordships' attention, have had a great effect upon my mind, they have not had so great an effect as what I was myself witness to, when I held the seals of the Home Department, with respect to Bristol. "The feeling that prevails in Bristol (says the Report) with respect to the Corporation appeared to be of the most violent and exasperating nature." I entirely agree with that statement. The Commissioners also state, "That among all the quarrels and disturbances to which Bristol unhappily has been exposed, among all the changes of parties, the Corporation has always been the object of attack and animosity;" and they add, "We are of opinion that this feeling cannot permanently endure in any society unless there is something essentially bad in the first principles of its constitution." It is then said, "that measures of the most liberal character would not be popular, if they were to originate with the Corporation." Mr. Hogg, in his protest, which has been furnished after some difficulty, says, "No good man, no real well-wisher of the parties themselves, can approve of the extreme hostility which some of the inhabitants of Bristol, it is hoped but few of them, seem to entertain for the Corporation of their ancient and famous city, and for which the printed Report, although not penned in a spirit of kindness, has displayed no adequate cause. It was necessary to hear the evidence given on the trial at Bar of the information filed by your Majesty's Attorney General, against Charles Pinney, esq., sometime mayor of the city of Bristol, and to observe the temper with which it was given, in order to estimate correctly the insane malignity by which misguided persons may sometimes be animated. To understand how it may happen that the inhabitant should be willing his house and goods should be consumed—that the tradesman should be content to sec his shop in flames—and that the citizen should rejoice to have his whole city wasted, so that the Mayor and Justices might incur blame. That is very strong language—more strong than I should use; but, my Lords, I think it is true. I think there was that feeling in Bristol, though I would not venture to state it. I think there was a feeling of detestation entertained against the Corporation; that they were unwilling to repress violence, at least beforehand; and I think the language of Mr. Hogg is not stronger than is warranted by the facts. Why, then, my Lords, it is because the Corporation has no community of feeling with the public, it is because of its secret character and mode of proceeding; and, above all, because of its exclusive nature, and oligarchical character, that these evils are produced which threaten the peace and security of the country. Why, good God! my Lords, we have passed through troublesome times, have seen a great deal of public excitement and public tumult, but I can only say that I have felt much less fear from Birmingham or Manchester, than I have from any town where there was a Corporation, and for that very reason. Great excitement has prevailed in Birmingham and in Manchester; but there was no local odium, no local hatred, no local irritation, which are all far more violent than the hatred and irritation arising from public and political causes. In places having Corporations, we have not only irritations arising from the agitation of Parliamentary Reform, or the Amendment of the Poor-laws to guard against, but we have the Corporations themselves to contend with. There we have a peculiar element of evil, an additional source of danger—a system of things which, in fact, alienates the great majority of the inhabitants from the King's Government, and makes them disposed, if not to disturb, at least to wink and connive at the disturbance of the public peace. It is for these reasons that I move your Lordships to go into a Committee upon this Bill. I do not know how it may appear to your Lordships, but it appears to myself, my Lords, that I have made out a strong case upon general principles in favour of this Bill. Rut I have left the strongest case behind—and that is, the administration of justice. Justice is the air which society breathes, it is the health of our lives; if it be unjustly administered, or if it be irremediably suspected, then for that community there is no satisfaction, there is no peace, there is no happiness whatsoever. Justice, I believe, is not so corrupted even in the Corporations of cities as it is in the small boroughs which are convulsed with conflicting political feelings. Your Lordships are aware of the strength of those convulsions, and of the violence, hatred, and animosity which accompany them. They overturn the understanding, corrupt the feelings, and make men forget everything that is just and right. Even you, my Lords, are sometimes carried away by feelings of this nature; but I am aristocratic enough, and know enough of human nature, to be convinced that those feelings are ten thousand times more intense in the lower classes of society. So strongly do they operate, that it is impossible to obtain justice from magistrates in those towns, at election times. The only inquiry made is, on what side is the party accused or the party accusing? The answer to this question decides the matter, and not the justice of the case. But I will not dwell further on the point, though this, in my opinion, forms the strong ground on which to rest my case, and upon which I call on the House to go into Committee on the Bill. I know that the Bill is demanded by the inhabitants of all those towns; I believe that it is asked for by a great majority of the people. At least, my Lords, you should attend to that demand so far as to give it mature, cool, and attentive consideration. It is also asked for by the boroughs who have petitioned against it; by the mouth of the learned counsel who were heard at the bar,—for both those counsel ended their speeches by stating that they were perfectly sensible that there ought to be a reformation in these boroughs. Of course they were instructed to speak in that manner by their clients. They said, that the Corporations ought to be put upon more popular grounds; that there ought to be an infusion of fresh persons; that they were perfectly sensible of the evils of the existing system, and that it was desirable to produce a better understanding between the constituents and those who represented them. The second Counsel who spoke, said that his clients desired reform above all things, but they did not wish to take it from his Majesty's present Ministers; but wished to receive it from those who had not sworn the destruction of all Corporations. This was an avowal of political feeling free enough at all events. My Lords, I trust you will not be actuated by those feelings, but that you will look at the measure itself, not at the persons by whom it is introduced, and considering only the grounds and reasons upon which it is founded, your Lordships will decide whether it be fitting that it should pass into a law or not on the strength of those grounds and reasons. Great eulogiums have been passed upon the protest of Sir Francis Palgrave; but, after all, the Gentlemen at the Bar did not make any great use of that protest. I do not deny the ability of Sir Francis Palgrave; I think that learned Gentleman has treated the subject with great talent; but to me it appears that the opinions of Sir Francis Palgrave are in perfect accordance with the principles of the Bill. I do not, therefore, care whether the Commissioners' Report, or the protest of Sir Francis Palgrave be taken for a text, for they are identical. Sir Francis Palgrave takes notice of every one of the evils noted by the Commissioners, though he states them, perhaps, in a somewhat more modified and limited manner; and he points precisely at the same remedies. Some observations have been made upon that part of the preamble of the Bill which states that—"there are defects in the Charters by which the bodies corporate have been constituted;" and it is said that if there be any defects in the charters, the Crown can remedy them by granting new charters; but the Crown cannot remedy many of the defects in the Charters. I will read one line from Sir Francis Palgr ave's protest, to shew that those who have advanced that argument have not read it:—"The Crown can grant the conservancy of the peace to a Corporation, but it cannot grant the compendious powers of levying rates and penalties, and effecting the arrangements by which a town-police can alone be maintained and regulated." There are many other acts, which the Crown, by its own powers cannot do, and which, necessarily, call for the intervention on this subject of an Act of Parliament. The provisions of the Bill have been stated by Sir Charles Wetherell with considerable clearness and accuracy. I shall, therefore, do no more than state the general provisions, and make a few remarks upon them. Objections have been made by the Counsel; but I think the principal provisions of the Bill meet those objections. Having staled the evils, I proceed to the remedies which the Bill provides. It places the general government of the municipal towns in the hands of a governing body, to be elected annually by those who have been resident for a certain time in the borough. The governing body will have the appointment to all corporate offices, the management of the funds, and the superintendence of, and act as trustees for, all charities. I believe this manner of administering the affairs of the borough to be the wisest and most prudent that can be adopted, as it will place the government of the boroughs in the hands of those who are most interested in administering them honestly and justly. My Lords, it has been objected by the learned Counsel at the Bar, that there is in the Bill no qualification for those who are to be members of the Town-Council. On this I would simply observe, that the idea of a qualification is perfectly new in Corporate bodies. There exists no such thing at present. It is also objected, that the Corporations are to be founded on annual elections. The answer is, all elections in Corporate bodies have always been annual. It may be a wrong, or it may be a wise system, but it is no novelty. It was also said by the learned Counsel, that we are going to establish a system of republics throughout the country; but, my Lords, we find these republics already established. If a town, having a right to settle its own municipal government, to manage its own local affairs, and regulate its own police, be, indeed, a republic,—then this system of republics has been already established by the ancient constitution of this country. The only alteration this Bill proposes to make is, that these republics shall be popular instead of being oligarchical. They are at present nothing but oligarchies, and accompanied by all the evils and miseries that have in all places and at all times, flowed from that system of Government,—a system which never promoted the welfare of those committed to its charge, but which was always the object of hatred, odium, and de- testation,—a system which has generally terminated in tumult, turmoil, rebellion, and blood. We are about to give the whole body of the people some interest in the government of their towns, and by that means to give them an interest in the preservation of the public peace, and the protection and good management of public property. My Lords, I shall not discuss the clauses of the Bill, though there is one respecting the granting of alehouse licenses,—a subject which I know your Lordships take a great interest in;—but I will pass from that to clause (76) which gives the Town-council powers with respect to the police. This I conceive to be one of the most important clauses of the Bill. Nobody can look, without feeling considerable apprehension, at the deficient and defective state of the police in various towns of the kingdom, many of which have already swelled out to almost metropolitan greatness. We all know, from the experience of the late few years, the benefit that has arisen from the institution of a well-settled police in this metropolis. Since the period of the establishment of the London police, though we have passed through times likely enough to have produced disturbance of the public peace, yet we have not been obliged to call out a single soldier in quelling riot. This is a great recommendation, especially when your Lordships recollect a period when, on occasion of riots perfectly insignificant in their character, towns were thrown into great alarm, and the destruction of property was hazarded to n great degree by cavalry being stationed among the inhabitants for several days. All attempts to extend the system to other towns have hitherto failed, because the inhabitants have refused, on account of having no confidence in the Corporation, to tax themselves for any such purpose. But when the towns shall have a body of officers elected by all the inhabitants, confidence will be placed in them, and all the difficulty will be removed. We may then expect that the inhabitants will willingly tax themselves for this purpose, that the Town-council and Magistrates, when they elect, will be able to organize an efficient police equal, perhaps, to that of the metropolis. I must next deny, that the creation of the Magistrates on the nomination of the Town-council, will be a limitation of the prerogative of the Crown. This, however, has been stated, as if the Crown had the power to appoint the Magistrates in the boroughs. The Crown has no such power; nor has it the slightest power to remove them for misconduct. But this Bill will give the Crown that power which it did not possess before; it will confer a most useful and advantageous prerogative, which may, and no doubt will, be exercised in a most beneficial manner. I think this will be one of the most useful reformations that the Bill will introduce. Another good effect of the measure will be the appointment of stipendiary Magistrates in large towns, where the duties may be so heavy as to require constant attendance; and this, I think, is a provision of the Bill which will be found to work well. There will also be another advantage to the inhabitants of those towns in the appointment of efficient barristers as recorders, who will administer justice on the spot. These recorders will have to preside over the Quarter-sessions; and, from the care taken in selecting men of sufficient standing and experience in the law, there can be no doubt that this will be found an immense improvement on the present system. I need not trouble your Lordships with any instances of the inefficient working of the system as it now exists in many of the towns; but I apprehend that your Lordships will not be disposed to concur in the view taken by Mr. Hogg, when he says that the town Magistrates are even now more efficient than those of counties. The jurisdiction in capital cases being no longer necessary in those boroughs, or in Quarter-sessions, it will be abolished, and I think with advantage. One point was dwelt upon by the learned Counsel at the bar, which was the abolition of exemption from juries in those towns. This was complained of as a hardship and a grievance; but I think that, when your Lordships take into consideration the difficulty of finding impartial juries in many towns, you will admit that this part of the Bill contains a most useful reform. There are other clauses of the Bill to which I shall not advert at present. I have now stated its chief provisions. I hope your Lordships will give us the opportunity of considering its clauses in the Committee. With this view, I now move, "That the Bill be committed."

The Earl of Carnarvon

said, it was because he was anxious that the House should give this Bill a fair, cool, and attentive consideration, and that the country might be impressed with the sense of the justice of their Lordships, that he rose to move an Amendment. The noble Viscount had referred to the case of Bristol as an argument for having more confidence in towns where there were no Corporations, than in those who possessed them; but the noble Viscount ought to remember the period when those tumults happened. It was during the period of passing the Reform Bill, when most exciting speeches were made, if not by the Ministers themselves, at least by those who supported them. The people were then told that they had rights which the people were bound to insist upon, and that rights were enjoyed by their superiors which ought to be resisted. It must be remembered that at that period the people concerned in those tumults, foolishly imagined that they were following a course which was not altogether displeasing to the Government of the day. He did not, for a moment, mean to say that his Majesty's Ministers were in any way connected with those parties; but still that was the impression upon the general mind. He was anxious that no misconstruction should take place with respect to his vote. He was not opposed to a measure of Corporate Reform. He was persuaded that great abuses existed, and that they must be remedied; and that whatever Government might be called upon to administer the affairs of the country, some measure of Corporate Reform must be introduced. In moving this Amendment, he was not in the slightest degree desirous to interpose between this Bill and the country; although he thought it was not right, at this period of the Session, to proceed with a measure of such magnitude, involving so many complicated rights, and requiring such dispassionate consideration. There ought to be on such a measure a full attendance of Peers; but he put it to the House whether in the month of August it was practicable to obtain that attendance. Private business obliged noble Lords to be absent. But after conceding the principle of the Bill, and after Counsel had been heard on that principle so very recently, it appeared to him not compatible with any notions of justice or consistency to say, that they would not hear evidence in support of the arguments against the principle of the Bill. They were bound, in justice to all those affected by this Bill, to disprove many of the allegations made against them. The Bill deals with their political rights, and rights of property, which, in many instances, were as dear to them as their titles and estates were to their Lordships. It was upon these grounds, and from a conviction that if they acted otherwise, they would forget their high character for justice, and not for the purpose of creating the least delay, he now moved, as an Amendment,—"That Evidence he taken at the Bar of this House in support of the allegations of the several petitions, praying; to be heard against the Bill, before the House be put into a Committee of the whole House on the said Bill."

Lord Winchilsea and Lord Brougham rose together. The call for Lord Windchilsea was very loud; and, after a short time, Lord Brougham gave way.

Lord Winchilsca

returned thanks to the noble Lord for his courtesy, and also to the noble Viscount opposite (Melbourne), for giving him an opportunity of expressing his sentiments on the subject before the House. He should not repeat his notice, neither should he press it on the Government. He only asked the noble Viscount to lay on the Table the Evidence on which the Bill was supported. He did not ask it as a favour; he did not seek it for party purposes; he asked it as a right, and he sought it for the sake of justice. A Commission had been issued by the Crown to inquire into the Corporations of the kingdom, in order that the Legislature might deal as they deemed lit with their privileges and property. Their Lordships were called on to legislate on them without that Evidence. If the noble Viscount did not lay every tittle of it on the Table, he (Lord Winchilsea) should not divide the House, but he should let it stand in the face of the country. He approached this question without the slightest private feeling, for no clause in the Bill would, in the least degree, affect any property which he possessed; and he could only state in addition, that he was influenced by no party considerations in thus differing from noble Lords opposite. He was a friend to Corporation, to Municipal Reform. He did not deny, for one moment, that the alteration of the circumstances of the country might require some change in the constitution of bodies which were created in former and at different periods of time. He did not deny that he asserted that Corporate property was as much the property of the corporators as any property which their Lordships might possess; but, believing that abuses might have crept into the administration of that property, he was very ready to entertain any measure for their correction. But here he should make his stand, and say, that the measure which had come to their Lordships' House was so unconstitutional in its nature, that he could not sacrifice his conscientious opinions by entertaining it for a single moment. He would farther say, if every particle of the recommendations in the Report of the Commissioners were correct, that their Lordships ought not to proceed to correct abuses in a way not sanctioned by the Constitution. He was very ready to support any measure of Corporate Reform which should be introduced on constitutional principles; but he could not support this Bill, which was founded on the Report of Commissioners unconstitutionally appointed. The noble Viscount wished the House to deal with the question as a general measure. He (Lord Winchilsea) could only consider it as a particular measure, as a Bill of pains and penalties, affecting the rights and properties of numerous boroughs, founded on the Report of a Commission issued for purposes of confiscation. What were the words of the preamble? That said, "Whereas partly by neglect and abuse of the privileges by such charters granted." Were not these the words of a Bill of pains and penalties—of a Bill affecting the rights, privileges, and properties of a great body of his fellow-countrymen? But their Lordships were asked to concur in inflicting this Bill of pains and penalties, without knowing whether there was any Evidence to justify such a measure. He implored their Lordships to consider in what situation the Corporations were placed. The case of those venerable bodies had been so powerfully stated by the learned Counsel at the Bar, that he felt it would be impossible for him to strengthen their statement by any argument he could urge; but he would contend that the property of Corporations ought to be considered and dealt with as the property of private individuals. Their property was not granted by the country, but in many cases by lords of manors to their tenants, to recompense them for services performed. He was certainly somewhat surprised to hear so little argument from the noble Viscount at the head of his Majesty's Government, when he asked their Lordships to agree to his motion. The noble Viscount said that in certain municipal towns there now existed certain party feeling. Did the noble Viscount suppose that this measure would not have the effect of creating a democratic spirit and party feeling? It most undoubtedly would, unless those persons who had no interest, either of money or property, could be expected to have a greater regard for Municipal Institutions, than those who had the greatest and the most important stakes. If their Lordships should determine to proceed with the consideration of the Bill, he should think it his duty to move that it be rejected. Before concluding he could only say, that if their Lordships determined to proceed with this measure, at least without hearing evidence, they would forfeit that respect with which they had been hitherto regarded by a large and influential portion of their fellow-countrymen. He was most anxious to do his duty, but he could never consent to sacrifice that duty by agreeing to the principle of this Bill. He knew very well, that the Resolution he intended to propose might appear almost adverse to the motion now before the House, and perhaps he might submit it to their Lordships at another opportunity ["Read, read."] The noble Lord read the Resolution; which was nearly as follows:—"That the House would take into its consideration and give its support to any measure founded on constitutional principles, having for its object the extension of municipal rights and privileges, or for the correction of abuses proved to exist in the municipal boroughs and towns; but that the House would consider itself bound to withhold its consent to any measure of the unconstitutional character of the present, which would subvert, if suffered to pass, the rights and privileges of the corporate bodies, because it destroyed the property of 185 different Corporations, without the House having any Evidence which could justify such a measure." He begged leave not then to move that Resolution; but he would call on their Lordships, if they thought the principle of the Bill unconstitutional, not to sutler it to proceed a single step, but, at all events, not to suffer it to proceed without hearing evidence against it.

Lord Brougham

had wished exceedingly to address their Lordships immediately after the noble Lord on the bench opposite, not merely on account of the great importance of the proposition then before them, and to which he regarded the Amendment of the noble Lord as absolutely fatal, as neither more nor less than positively destructive; but he was also, he confessed, for an infinitely less important reason, as regarded all mankind, except himself, desirous this evening to present himself to their Lordships. It was no light thing to be charged with having been a party—and, from the accidental circumstance of his then situation, the principal party—to issuing an unconstitutional Commission. It was no light thing to be charged with having fixed the Great Seal of this country to an illegal Commission; for illegal and unconstitutional the Commission of Municipal Inquiry had been denounced to be, both by the learned Counsel who had been heard at their Lordships' Bar, and by the noble Lord who had last spoken. He was therefore anxious, in redemption of the pledge he had given to a noble Duke (whom he no longer saw in his place) on a former occasion, that he would take the earliest opportunity that he, the noble Duke, or any other Peer, would afford him in that House, to demonstrate the utter groundlessness of the charge. That was one reason that he had for desiring to address their Lordships before the debate proceeded further, and the desire that he had previously felt had not been lessened, but strengthened, by what had fallen from the noble Lord, who grounded his main objection to the Bill on the unconstitutional, and, as he thought, illegal origin of the Commission, on the Report of which it was grounded. But before he proceeded to that, he must first of all address himself to the Amendment which had been made by the noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) who spoke first; for be was infinitely more anxious for the success of the measure to which the noble Earl's Amendment, if successful, would prove utterly destructive—he was infinitely more anxious for that than he was for the defence of the Commission; the latter, indeed, he looked upon as so clear, that he rather doubted whether he should not be entering upon a superfluous errand, when he undertook to prove its legality as well as its consistency with the spirit and usage of the Constitution. He confessed he had seldom been more astonished than at the proposition of the noble Earl. Astonished in the first place, because after what passed on the first night, when Counsel were proposed to be heard—when it was distinctly stated on that (the Ministerial side of the House) by all who agreed to the proposition, that it was adopted on the footing of its taking two, or at most three days, to discuss the matter—when it was known that had they been of opinion that it would take more than such a period, there was no extremity of debate or dis- cussion in that House which they would not willingly have preferred to hearing one single Counsel make one single statement at the Bar; and when now having heard Counsel at no little length, for three long days; after hearing all that two of the most eminent and the most learned of them could urge; when, after all that, it was threatened to tender, by way of evidence, that which he would presently show to their Lordships, amounted to absolutely nothing; when, instead of proceeding to discuss the principle of the Bill, as had been agreed by compact, by compromise ["No, no;"] when, instead of taking that course which he maintained had been determined upon by special agreement, at the time that the discussion of the principle was deferred upon the second reading; when, instead of taking that course, it was proposed to hear more Counsel, and to call in witnesses, that proposition coming, to make the tiling more wonderful still, from a noble Karl, who prefaced his statement with an admission, which, to use a legal phrase—and a legal phrase on an occasion when the legality of a proceeding was questioned, might not be deemed out of place—when the noble Earl then in legal phrase prefaced his speech with one admission which "showed him out of Court," and again concluded his speech by declaring, that he desired not to interpose one hour's delay between the House mid the passing of the Bill; when he found a proposition for the future hearing of Counsel and the examination of witnesses come from a noble Lord who so expressed himself; and when he remembered the special agreement and compact into which the House had entered, when it was just determined that Counsel should be called in, he confessed he could not adequately express the astonishment he felt at the course it was now proposed to pursue. But the noble Earl's admission at the outset of his speech was in fact utterly destructive of the proposition with which he concluded. The noble Earl began by stating, that he candidly and fairly admitted in the fullest extent the absolute necessity of Corporation Reform. All that he allowed—all that he stated as a matter which no man could doubt—and the greater part of all that was admitted by the noble Earl who moved the Amendment also was admitted by the noble Earl (the Earl of Winchilsea) who spoke after him—but he wanted to have evidence to show that abuses existed—that the constitution of the Corporate bodies was bad— that the evils which existed in the system were such as to produce evils in practice—in short, admitting the existence of evils and abuses, the noble Earl, with admirable consistency, required that they should be proved. The noble Earl admitted that the evil existed, and that a remedy was wanted; yet, admitting these two facts, he required that proof should be called to their Lordships' Bar, and their Lordships time spent or mis-spent rather, in hearing evidence upon points upon which no one pretended to entertain a doubt. The noble Earl commenced by admitting, that to hear evidence was utterly useless and unnecessary ["No! no!"] because he admitted the very things to prove which evidence alone was required. But that some of their Lordships were already assuming a judicial character, and were even pronouncing a judicial decree against him as he passed along. He heard some noble Lords pronouncing with authoritative mien and voice "No! no! no!" therefore he must be pardoned if he presumed to show, show, show [Laughter and cheers] that the evidence which was about to be called to their Lordships' Bar did not in reality lead to the possibility of any one result, except the spending of the valuable time of that House, and the frustrating the just hopes and expectations of the country. The noble Earl's Motion was, that Counsel should be called in for the purpose of examining evidence to prove the statements which they (the Counsel) made last week. What were those statements? He called upon any one who had heard them to show him wherein those statements in the slightest degree affected the principle of the Bill, namely, that abuses existed—that those abuses required a remedy—and that this Bill was the only species of remedy that could appropriately be applied. The noble Earl contended, that if it were determined to hear Counsel, it followed, as a matter of course, that witnesses must be heard to support their statements. It had been maintained, that the course now proposed to be pursued, was utterly at variance with all precedent; that in every case where Counsel were heard, witnesses were also heard. In reply to that argument, he would only intreat their Lordships' attention to two cases—the measure for the abolition of hereditable jurisdictions in 1747, and the proposed measure for the abolition of negro slavery in 1807. In both cases there was an infringement of private rights, and on the first there were families in every ancient town in the kingdom, who lost some office of trust and dignity, and frequently of emolument. If any one of their Lordships possessed a heritable jurisdiction, such as the office held by his noble Friend, who was the hereditary Sheriff of Westmoreland—the most ancient, and not the least noble flower in that noble Lord's coronet—if any noble Lord possessed such an office, endowed with authority, and which was as lucrative as honourable, what would he say to a measure which at one fell swoop destroyed it, and transferred it to the nominees of the Crown? Yet a Bill with such an object was introduced and passed—was introduced by the ancestor of a noble Duke opposite (The Duke of Newcastle), and only Counsel for two Peers and one private gentleman were heard against it—no evidence was given, and only a solitary document produced. The other case was of more recent date, and one which was well remembered. He alluded to the period of 1807, when the slave-trade was proposed to be abolished. The slave-trade was called a trade—was considered all but a municipal privilege—and those who first ventured to trench upon its sacredness were considered to be hostile to the institutions of their country. It was related in Boswell's Life of Johnson, that Johnson ventured to drag the subject within the halls of the non-Sectarian University of Oxford, which was anything but a monstrous focus of innovation, when Johnson, in a speech, to the utter astonishment of his audience, and the horror of his biographer, proposed as a toast, "The West-India Negroes, success to them, and may they soon rebel,"—the more moderate Boswell, more of an Oxonian and Tory than Johnson, added, by way of note, in the life of his friend, "Such is undoubtedly the opinion of my great friend, but my opinion is quite the reverse, for I consider the African slave-trade to be one of the greatest features of the proudest institutions of the country, and one on which the prosperity of England mainly depends." Now, when the Bill of 1807 was introduced, Counsel, clients, mortgagees, owners of estates, ship-owners, all parties engaged in the traffic, even the Corporation of Liverpool—for those venerable bodies took part in the opposition—and Jamaica planters all flocked to the Bar of their Lordships' House, to pray their Lordships not to annihilate their commerce by cutting off the source of their trade. On the 4th of July, 1807, just as was done in this case, the Bill was read a second time, and Mr. Alexander, then a King's Counsel, but afterwards Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, was called in and heard on behalf of the Corporation of Liverpool. That learned Counsel was desirous of producing as a witness the Earl of Balcarras, who had then lately returned from the Government of Jamaica. Instead of being allowed to produce his evidence, the learned Counsel was himself directed to withdraw, and, after a long debate, the House ordered that Counsel for other parties should be heard. Accordingly Mr. Clerk was heard on behalf of the Liverpool Dock Trustees, and on the conclusion of his argument was ordered to withdraw, without being allowed to produce evidence. Mr. Plomer and Mr. Dallas were then called in, and were heard on behalf of the West-India colonies. They were not permitted to adduce evidence in support of their case. The present Lord Abinger, then Mr. Scarlett, was heard on behalf of the planters of Trinidad, but that learned personage, with his usual judgment, declined to offer evidence. All this occurred on the 4th of July, and on the 10th of the same month, the Bill was read a third time and passed, without any evidence having been heard. He would next refer to one or two statements that were made by the learned Counsel in the course of their speeches, with respect to what they called "the illegality" of the Commission. He was not induced to do so from any apprehension, after the admissions from all quarters as to the necessity of Municipal Reform, that either the Commission or the Report was necessary for the passing of this measure. It was admitted upon all hands that abuses existed; and the only question their Lordships had to decide was, whether the proposed measure was calculated to correct those abuses or not? But he was prepared to defend the legality of the Commission, and to show that it was Constitutional. It was Constitutional in its concoction, in its execution, in its results. That he would demonstrate to any man of ordinary information and ability. Since the Revolution, more than twenty times the number of Commissions had been issued without the authority of an Act of Parliament having been sent forth with it. The learned Counsel, therefore, who argued upon this matter, should have felt that, under these circumstances, the onus of proof lay on him. He therefore marvelled much, not at the doctrines which had been maintained by the Counsel at their Lordships' Bar, but at the opinions which were stated to have been given on the case submitted for Counsel's opinions. In fact, he could not have believed that such opinions had been given by the learned persons in question, if he had not seen them in writing. That the Counsel who appeared at the Bar, and were engaged in Courts of Equity, should have fallen into some portion of these blunders, did not much astonish him; but that gentlemen who had had the opportunity of frequenting the Court of King's Bench or Common Pleas—that learned gentlemen—or gentlemen who by courtesy, were styled "learned"—should not have some little modicum of historical learning, which might prevent them from falling into such palpable errors, and set their names to a doubt on the subject of the legality of this Commission, passed his comprehension. The learned Counsel however went very gingerly over the matter. The learned Counsel (Mr. Knight) has quoted from the 4th book of Coke's Institutes, in which there is allusion to the Statute of the 16th Edward 3rd. Their Lordships would observe that the learned Counsel thought it more expedient to quote from Coke than from the Statute itself; and he could not suppress his astonishment, that a gentleman like Mr. Knight, who had such a horror of innovation, should quote from Coke—which was only a new edition of Littleton; but what would be their Lordships' surprise, when they found that he had actually quoted, not even from Hargrave upon Coke, but from Butler upon Hargrave. So that here was 'Pelion upon Ossa'—Butler upon Hargrave upon Coke upon Littleton; and that from a gentleman who entertained a sort of instinctive horror at every species of innovation. But their Lordships would sec that it was much more convenient for these learned gentlemen to refer to Coke rather than to the Statute, for the purpose of showing, that "a Commission of novel inquiry was prohibited by Statute." But even on Saturday the learned Counsel read enough to show that the words applied to Commissions of a very different nature from that now under discussion. Lord Coke meant, not an inquiry instituted for the mere purpose of information or curiosity, but an inquiry in the nature of an inquisition, in which the Commissioners were to inquire into and to determine something judicially. "But," said the learned Counsel, "all Commissions contrary to Magna Charta are illegal;" and he gave an instance of a man being seized and his goods confiscated. The moment he ascertained that these Commissioners had been exercising powers of confiscation and of outlawry, he should be most ready to admit that they had been wielding a power which did not belong to them. But he must say, that Commissions of pure inquiry were as old as Henry 7th. There was a Commission to see whether Owen Tudor, who derived under Henry 5th's widow, was lineally descended from Cadwallader. Now, that was a legal Commission. And here he must allude to the complaint of Counsel, in not being allowed to proceed further in the defence. A more extraordinary complaint he had never heard. The most unlimited license had been afforded. Of persons in the House and persons out of it, Peers and Members of Parliament, persons present and persons absent, the learned Counsel had been permitted to speak with the utmost freedom. Subjects relevant and subjects irrelevant were all dwelt upon with the same degree of unrestraint. The merits of the Irish Corporation Bill—a subject be it remembered not before their Lordships' House—had been the subject for the learned Counsel's descant. Even what had been said by the "organs of intelligence," as the learned Gentleman amusingly called the newspapers of the day, had not passed without allusions. Why did he mention, then, these things? Not that he wished the full freedom of those remarks to be hampered—not to abridge the liberty of speech to that profession in which he had passed the greater part of his life—not that he wished to pass the shadow of a shade of censure on the extreme exercise of the privilege of Counsel, but merely to point out to their Lordships how groundless was the complaint. Counsel more unfettered he thought never pleaded. No noble Lord on either side was disposed to take offence however irregular, however dull, however tedious, however reiterated the arguments of the learned Counsel. His last reason for not complaining of the full liberty which had been allowed them was, that they had declared that they felt the utmost possible respect for their Lordships. That respect he reciprocated with those learned persons; and he therefore could not help expressing his astonishment that men of such high professional character did not perceive how groundless and inapplicable were the illustrations which they applied to the forlorn hope of this most untenable case. The learned Counsel had, among other authorities, quoted Hallam and Fox; and in speaking of the conduct of King James the Second, had designated that Monarch as a most amiable man. "Really," said the noble and learned Lord. "one learns something every day." All the exuberance of metaphor, all the exhaustless invention of Horace, displayed in his choice of epithets in the commencement of his "Ars poetica" was not equal to this. James the Second an amiable man! and this, he would remind their Lordships, was said in the year of grace 1835, and on the morning of Lammas-day. But the learned Gentleman not only called that King an amiable man, but said because King James issued a Commission to regulate Corporations it was a case in point. Why, there "was a river in Macedon and a river in Monmouth;" and so far were Macedon and Monmouth alike. So with the Commission issued by the present Government and the Commission issued by King James. But this good King of amiable and serene memory, attempted to seize the property of Corporations without coming to Parliament. Not so with the present Commissioners. Mr. Fox said, "Go not to the Judge, but to the Parliament, for the Judges may be corrupt." Sir C. Wetherell says the reverse, "Go not to Parliament, but to the Judges." He was grieved too to find that his learned Friend (Mr. Knight) had indulged in a threat, though it might more mildly be termed an admonition. He alluded to his intention expressed of leaving the country if the Bill now before their Lordships' House passed into a law. He trusted his learned Friend would mitigate the ferocity of this resolve—and not inflict upon anxious friends so much injury. The question to which he should next address himself was, the argument against the Bill, founded upon the measure being against constitutional analogy. Of the analogies applicable to such a question, their Lordships he presumed would agree with him, that there could be but two of a constitutional nature;—those of practice, and those of principle. With both of them he proposed to deal. Sir Charles Wetherell argued, and so did Mr. Knight, against the right of the Crown to empower Commissioners to administer oaths. For the purpose of shewing that the Crown did posses;; that right it was not in the least necessary to prove that persons falsely swearing before such Commissioner's could be prosecuted for perjury. The Crown might authorize the administration of an oath, without its following, of necessity, that the crime of perjury in the legal sense, would be committed. Perjury was the offence of falsely swearing to anything material to the issue, in a trial; or false swearing might, in certain cases, be made an offence by statute,—but the act of swearing falsely was, in all cases, at least a misdemeanor—certainly so, in all cases where the administration of the oath has been lawfully authorized. It was as he had said, a misdemeanor, or, as the lawyers would term it, a trifling with an oath. No man had ever attempted to deny that the Crown possessed the right to create a new court of law. It was true no court of equity could be created without an Act of Parliament; but a Court, consisting of a Judge and twelve jurors, might, most assuredly, be constituted by the power of the Crown, although the House of Commons only could originate a measure for paying the officers and Judges of that Court. If the Royal authority could call into being this high power of Judge and juror, surely it would be most strange to exclude the Crown from the power of issuing a Commission of Inquiry. If the larger power of issuing such Commission resided in the Crown, the existence of the smaller power of administering an oath could hardly be disputed. So much for the analogy of principle,—next for that of practice. The un-deviating experience of 150 years had sufficiently established the practice. He had found between twenty-five and thirty such Commissions of simple inquiry; but, from a Return subsequently obtained, it appeared that since 1815 there had been as many as fifty-seven Commissions issued, and only four or five of these had been issued under Act of Parliament. Lord Eldon, when he held the Great Seal, issued a Commission for Inquiry into judicial offices; but with reference to that, perhaps, there might be found those who would allege that such a commission involved no right of property. He would undertake in five minutes by yonder clock, to convince any mind, the most prejudiced, that such an argument was without a semblance of foundation. If there were judicial offices in the one case, were there not mayors, capital burgesses, and a variety of other officers in these Corporations? But did those officers hold their situations for their own or for the public benefit? Were they not, in point of fact, as strictly public as any judicial situation whatever, or as any situation connected with the courts of justice? In corporate officers the public qualities appertaining to them were plain and evident, open to the observation of all men;—while those which belonged to them privately were incidental, remote, and contingent, not necessary or absolute; the purposes of their existence were primarily public, and they could have no more private property in their offices than any other class of public functionaries. With what consistency could the upholders of sinecures say—that the holder of a sinecure had a freehold in the office? Could Lord Arden, for example, contend that the Registrarship of the Admiralty of right belonged to him as a freehold? Inasmuch as all offices were held for the public good, the private right could never be considered in any other light than as contingent and incidental. The highest legal authorities had at all times treated the private estate of an individual as a thing wholly different from the feeble, fleeting estate which the freeman of a borough held in the town-fields or commonages attaching to a borough, of which he might one day be a member, and the next withdrawn from any connexion therewith. He affirmed then, without hesitation, that the one was quite as open as the other to any species of inquiry which the Crown might be advised to institute. Would the House permit him to bring to their recollection the features of the Commission issued in the year 1830, for the purpose of inquiring into the state of the Irish Church? That Commission was issued during the administration of the noble Duke opposite, and the purpose of it was to inquire into the state of parishes and benefices, as well those separate as those where unions had been effected, and the Commissioners were directed to report upon the annual value of such benefices, upon the contiguity of the church or chapel, the possibility of dissolving unions, and the sums which each of the clergy paid to his curate. According to the doctrines held at that Bar in reference to the Municipal Corporations' Commission,—the Commission issued to inquire into the state of the Irish Church was the most Jacobinical that could by any possibility be imagined. It amounted to nothing less than authorizing the Commissioners to send for every one of the Irish parsons, to investigate the income which he enjoyed, and to inquire of him why he did not pay as much to his curate as the Act of Parliament required. Would not their Lordships agree with him that inquisitions of that extent far surpassed any interference, with regard to private rights under the Commission for Inquiry into Municipal Corporations? The learned Counsel, in calling the attention of the House to several authorities vested in the Commission, read over to them with much solemnity and emphasis the passage which gave power to send for persons, papers, records, deeds, and other instruments. What was there in those words beyond the customary forms belonging to all such Commissions? They were apparently, copied from that Commission issued during the administration of the noble Duke, to which the Great Seal was affixed by his noble and learned Friend on the other side of the House. Amongst the various topics which the learned Counsel had thought proper to use in their arguments at the Bar of this House, was the alleged ill-treatment to which the Sovereign was exposed through the illegal character and ineffectual working of the Commission now under consideration. They exclaimed—was ever Sovereign so ill-treated? was ever the Great Seal so degraded? was it ever before reduced to so low a point as that any petty attorney might set it at nought? All this was dwelt on by the learned Counsel in a way, in a tone, which he had never heard equalled out of a place of worship; and then their Lordships were told that when the rights and privileges attaching to the Commissioners, or supposed to attach to them, were disregarded, and their authority set at defiance, the Government by which that Commission was issued, did not make the least attempt to defend that which they themselves had called into existence; it was said, that they did not dare to defend their own work. My Lords, it is easy to say that they did not "dare" to go into the Court of King's Bench and indict persons who refused to obey it. In the first place it was not desirable to take political matters into the Court of King's Bench; more especially when all that was wanted could be got without going thither. Why, because out of numerous cases there were seven or eight of refusal, should they take such a step merely to avoid being told in solemn and sonorous tones that they did not dare do so? For his part, he would rather have his ears pierced with this vehement "dare," than go to the Court of King's Bench uselessly. What if out of the 2,000 Irish parsons who had been subjected to the inquiry of the Ecclesiastical Commission, fifty had refused, leaving 1,953 answerers, so that the object of the Commission was not obstructed, where was the necessity to have recourse to any other means? He knew the noble Duke who had issued that Commission, and the noble and learned Lord who had affixed the Great Seal to it, too well to suppose that they would have dared to go to the Court of King's Bench on such a fool's errand as to indict those parsons who had refused to answer. In all such cases doubts existed as to the power of the Crown to enforce its authority. He had known many refusals—he never knew one of these brought into the Court of King's Bench. With respect to the Commission, it might be that among the twenty members of it, one or two might possibly not have acted with perfect prudence and propriety. But if the Commission had never issued, the Bills under their Lordships' consideration would stand on their own merits. Allowing, therefore, every tittle of what the learned Counsel had said against the Commission would not be to allow anything against the measure. It was said by the learned Counsel that two of the Commissioners had gone to Plymouth and pronounced a panegyric upon the Plymouth Corporation, as a perfect specimen of a municipal body; and yet that it appeared that the Corporation of Plymouth had sold a presentation to a living, and neglected to repair the church, for the purpose of building a theatre and an hotel. Now that Corporation was elected by the freemen, which it was the object of the present Bill henceforth to prevent. It turned out, in fact, that the whole of the Corporation property of Plymouth was in the hands of four hundred and odd freemen, the great bulk of whom were nonresidents. A great sensation had been produced by reading a passage from the Report, in which it was stated that an Alderman of East Retford had been found collaring a culprit who had been brought before him, and rolling with him on the floor, which was denied. Now he had seen a copy of the actual deposition before the Commissioners as it appeared in a provincial newspaper, in which it was stated that Mr. Thomas Rigsby, a respectable solicitor and partner to the late town-clerk, had sworn that he was present when a person charged with some offence was brought before Mr. Alderman Swaney, that he (Mr. Rigsby) happened to go out for a few moments, and that on his return he found the Alderman had collared the culprit, and that they were rolling on the floor together. This certainly was not perfectly decorous. The circumstance might or might not be true, but it had been sworn to; and he had mentioned it to exculpate the Commissioner (Mr. Rushton) from the imputation of having listened to mere gossip. In another part of the Report it was stated, that a noble Duke having given an office in his gift to a worthy and respectable man, he had always afterwards voted for the Duke. That was no charge against the Duke—it was a charge against the voter. [The Duke of Newcastle:—It was my grandfather, not me, who was alluded to.]

It was a matter of perfect indifference whether the case were true or not. He came now to speak of some of the members of the Commission. Two of them (Mr. Blackburne and Sir F. Palsgrave) were Central Commissioners. Of the two whom he bad named, one protested against the Report—the other signed it. Of the remaining sixteen or seventeen, one, certainly not the least able, had entered a protest against the Report in the most decided and vehement language. This gentleman's friends—those who knew him best—could not, and did not, he was informed, believe that he was serious in most of the observations contained in his Report. That Mr. Hogg should have, with the sentiments which he knew him to entertain, put his name to such a document, really filled him with astonishment. He could only account for it by a reference to the temperament of Mr. Hogg; for he had known him many years on the northern circuit, and a more witty and humorous person was nowhere to be found; and he could not look on his Report but in the light of a string of jokes. In one part of his Report he thus expressed himself:—"As one of his Majesty's Commissioners, I can certify, without hesitation, and for reasons which shall hereafter appear, that county magistrates are more satisfactory than borough magistrates." Why, good God! could anything be more different than the two classes of Magistrates. A borough Magistrate discharge his duties more satisfactorily than a county Justice! Why, was not there even a proverb in use whenever a complaint was made of a Magistrate's decision? Was not the jest "charter Justice" in the mouth of every man in the kingdom? It was, in fact, perfectly ridiculous in any man, and still more so in Mr. Hogg, whose profession must have given him so many opportunities of forming a correct opinion upon the subject, to make such a comparison as that found in his protest. Ridiculous, however, as were some of Mr. Hogg's notions, he was glad to find that that learned gentleman did not altogether object to Municipal Reform. On the contrary, he said, "I freely acknowledge that it is expedient to effect a thorough Reform in these institutions—a Reform that shall extend from the root to the summit, from one extremity to the other—penetrating and invigorating every part—complete, yet temperate and judicious—the well-weighed result of calm and mature deliberation, of learning and of experience. I anticipate more confidently and heartily such a Reform, because I have no share in the rash and unsparing censures that threaten to preclude it. To be constrained to concur in the general condemnation of the venerable boroughs would be a sad and disheartening thing indeed for many reasons, but chiefly, perhaps, because all hope of amendment would be taken away by a sentence the severity of which manifestly tends, not to reformation, but to destruction." No—even Mr. Hogg's judgment told him that a measure of Reform was wanting; and, that question at rest, the only one their Lordships had to decide was, whether the measure before them was the kind of Reform desired? True, that was the question; but might he be permitted to ask if such a question required witnesses to prove its expediency—evidence to justify its enactments? No; it required Judges to decide—a tribunal to determine. The matter for consideration was a matter of opinion—a matter of argument; and their Lordships had already heard the arguments at the Bar, and they were now hearing some observations (which no doubt must be tiresome) in reply to them. In another place Mr. Hogg thus expresses himself:—"I can certify, after considerable and attentive observation, without hesitation and without the fear of contradiction, that Englishmen greatly prefer a title derived from King Henry or King Richard, and particularly from King Alfred or King Edgar, to one originating in a statute of the nineteenth century. I speak not of the mushroom population of certain towns mainly peopled by foreigners, but of the settled, indigenous inhabitants of England—that is to say, of a vast majority of the persons residing in that part of your Majesty's opinions." He then said that Englishmen preferred titles not derived from Henry 8th, from whom many of their Lordships had titles, but Henry 1st, or Richard, and particularly from Edgar and Alfred, Why he might just as well institute a comparison between a sphinx and a turkey, or a mermaid and a turkey, or a griffin and a horse. But where could they find a title derived from King Edgar or King Alfred? Surely this individual, who was extremely learned in the law, must know that no such title existed in England. And then the learned gentleman spoke so sneeringly of the "mushroom population of certain towns," alluding, of course, to Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, and such places, where none of the contemporaries of King Edgar or Alfred existed—where there were none of the indigenous inhabitants of the country, but where the whole population had sprung from Normans, Frenchmen, and the various foreigners who had made inroads on this country of late years. In pages twenty-five and twenty-six, this gentleman found fault with the objections taken by the Commissioners to "feasting," and applied the terms "monastic" and "ascetic" to these Commissioners, and described them as "legal monks, who did not like feasting, in which wise men had so often gloried." Again, in another place, he talked, of "transplanting freedom, and allowing it to expand in boundless space." He was willing to admit that this Report might deserve praise, on the ground of being marked by many witticisms and jokes; but he protested against its being put as a counterbalance to the plain, sensible information supplied by the Report of the Commissioners. He had so far addressed himself to the question as to the illegality of issuing this Commission, and as to the manner in which it was conducted; and he was quite ready to admit that these considerations were quite beside the Question; his only apology for applying himself to which was, that he was but rendering an act of justice to those who had issued and executed the Commission. These Commissioners had been attacked vigorously and powerfully, in a manner which he had been informed produced a great impression on their Lordships; but he had not heard any charge against any part of the conduct of these Commissioners; he had not heard any impeachment of their Report which did not come within the description of it which he had already given, namely, that there had been a solitary instance of inaccuracy in the case of Berwick; a trifling mistake of mentioning one particular member of a family instead of another, with respect to East Retford: and with regard to Plymouth, that they had characterized as a good system of Municipal Government a system which was not entitled to so much credit. With respect to the arguments urged against the provisions of the Bill, the principal of them, as laid down by Sir Charles Wetherell, might be divided into heads, It was contended that the Bill took away the power of the King to make Magistrates, because he would be only empowered under it to select the nominees of the Council; and next, that in the last section but one it precluded the Crown from granting any charter henceforward unless under the provisions of the Bill. The King, it was said, had no power whatever to appoint a single Magistrate; his Majesty could neither control nor remove him; and that the power of the Great Seal stopped at the walls of corporate towns, to which it could not enter. Now the King would continue, under this Bill, to have the appointment of Recorder, and the complete control of the criminal jurisdiction of the towns, and the Crown would possess just the same powers with respect to cities already incorporated; and so far from this measure disabling the Crown from granting any charters except under its provisions, it only called for the interference of the King with respect to towns not yet incorporated. But the power given to the Crown of applying, in that case, the provisions of this Act, by incorporating a particular place by charter, did not abridge or annul its rights with respect to towns already incorporated. The principle, "expressio unius est exclusio alterius" did not apply to these cases. [Here some interruption was offered to the noble Lord's address, at the Bar. He suddenly paused, and, looking stedfastly at some individual amongst those at the Bar, exclaimed]—"Nothing so dull as listening to a long speech." "Yes," observed the noble Lord, "there is something still more dull, and that is, standing by and listening to a speech in which you feel no interest."] The noble Lord then resumed: The arguments advanced by Counsel, with respect to those directed to preside over charitable funds, had really startled and alarmed him, for if they were once admitted, they would be the means of preventing all Reform; for if it could be shown, that any right respecting these charities was granted to any person, either by the Crown, the pulic, or some pious and beneficent individual, the public officer so appointed must be perennial in this country. Now, suppose any man had endowed, with a pious and benevolent purpose, the six clerks of the Court of Chancery, with 100l. a-year each, and when he brought forward his measure for Chancery Reform, which was now under the consideration of a Committee up stairs, if there were any provision in it for the purpose of abolishing the amount of the sums paid to these officers, he should be reminded of this Corporation Bill—this only case of perpetuation known to the English law; and he should be told that, this fund must be perpetuated, and in order to meet the views of the donor, that it must not be transferred but suffered to remain in the hands of six clerks, to the end of time. The fact was, that charities had been left to corporate bodies sometimes as trustees only having a legal interest, and sometimes as trustees having a partly beneficial interest. What was more usual than altering the trustees for the administration of charities? Did not every day's practice, every day's authority in the Court of Chancery, prove that nothing was more common, than for misconduct, or a desire to get rid of the trust, persons were continually removed? When the number of the trustees fell off, or the quorum was deficient, the Court of Chancery was not always entitled to fill them up; but when the object of the charity had altogether failed, the Court of Chancery had the power of changing the application of the funds, and directing them to purposes si pres. There were two charities, one of them Michael's Charity, to which funds had been left amounting to 120,000l. and 180,000l. in the other case, to redeem English captives from corsairs. Now, when these pirates no longer infested the seas—when the object of the charity became completely extinguished, the sums thus accumulated might be, and he believed were, applied to the education of the negroes in the West Indies. Now it was precisely on this principle that the Corporation Bill proceeded. Could any man doubt that the persons to whom charitable funds had been left would not have approved of the proposed distribution of these charities? Was it not likely that they would have wished to have those funds watched over by a fairly chosen council, and a mayor elected by that council, which should have a regular and effective control over them. The presumption was, that these funds were left under the management of Corporations, as they existed when these charities were granted, as well as to those which might hereafter be chosen. The argument of Counsel proved too much; but exactly in a contrary direction to that in which those who had brought it forward would have it believed; for it went against leaving any money to Corporations at all. Did it not follow from this argument, that you could never safely leave money to a Corporation; for on one of two horns of a dilemma you were sure to fall—either the Corporation must stand still, or the failure of your charity altogether must inevitably ensue. The principle of the Court of Chancery, and of the law was, that when funds were impressed with a charity, the trustees for its distribution might be appointed, and the original application failing, a new application might be ordained. Now the property left to Corporations was public property, given for public uses for the good of the community, including the corporators themselves—to the inhabitants of the towns over which they were appointed. When he got publicity once impressed upon these funds—when the objects of them failed, or it became expedient to change their administration, they remained public property, and were disbursed for the public benefit, by virtue of the reform in the constitution of the municipal bodies. Every species of vituperative expression and offensive epithet had been lavished on those who had sanctioned this Bill. Never was there such an instance of ignorance or tyranny on record. Who bad looked at the Bill? No lawyer could ever have seen it. To whom was this language applied? Not to those who supported the Hill in that House; but the body to which these words might be applied were nothing more or less than the Commons of England, in imperial Parliament assembled, and truly representing the people. Again, it was said by the learned barristers, "that a Bill was passed, called the Reform Act. I know not exactly in what year." "Oh, yes," continued the noble Lord, "you do know the year well, you and those that instructed you, and those that you spoke for, and those that you spoke to, know well what year it was that Bill passed: and if you were to live not seven years, but seventy times seven years, after the Bill passed, you will reflect (some of you at: least, with a bitter pang) to the last hour of your existence, on the passing of the Re- form Act in the year 1832. One learned Counsel said, "I speak not as an advocate, but as a private gentleman I assert, that I have not laid before you the worst parts of the case, on the great principle that time should be saved." Now, at the risk of infringing on "that great principle," I must be allowed to say, that I cannot, for the life of me, conceive by what right the learned Counsel addresses your Lordships in the capacity of a private gentleman. That, I must say, was an inadvertency of the learned Counsel: he was here as Counsel, and he could be here only as Counsel. If, however, he had not made the best of his ease, if I were his client I would say, that; I would take any Counsel but the learned Gentleman to defend me on another occasion. But the fact was (continued the noble and learned Lord) that the learned Counsel had done their duty. They knew their business as well as any men in the profession; none more sedulous, and none more astute, and he never knew them to keep back anything that was either in their heads or their briefs, which, if stated, could benefit their clients. One extract more from the address of one of the learned Counsel: "How they could state such things, except in the presence of persons without education, or under the influence of faction, or misled by rapacity, I do not know." This was stated of speeches delivered by those in the other House of Parliament, for expressing a wish to remodel our institutions, with a view of intrusting them to the control of the people. "Oh!" it was said, on the part of the Corporations, "but we are ready to accept. Reform, provided it comes to us from a friendly hand; we are quite ready to sacrifice our rights; we care not a farthing for the property or privileges which we have enjoyed since the days of Edgar and Alfred, by the sanction of the wise, the pure, and the honest of all ages; everything shall be abandoned cheerfully, even the aldermanic robes of dignity, provided always that the sacrifice be demanded at our hands by a Tory administration. From them we would receive as a blessing and a been what from others would appear to us a burden and a curse. Not that we should altogether enjoy our degradation, or revel in feastless indolence. No, we are aware of the sacrifice we should make; but this good at least would be gained to us, that we should have our friends in office, and we are necessarily friends of a Tory Administration." This was the real meaning of the arguments on the other side, but no man of common consistency of purpose, who hoped to earn a title to the respect of his countrymen, could for a moment lend his sanction to it. The noble and learned Lord concluded by saying that he had a great debt of gratitude to the House for having thus attentively listened to an individual who had no personal claims to their consideration, and on a subject, more especially, so dull in itself that he could hardly have expected anything like a patient hearing for it; he could only make the House his most hearty acknowledgments for their attention. He felt it due to himself to say, that the part which he had taken in this measure, resulted not only from the deep interest he took in the measure itself, but from the respected attachment which he entertained for the House of which he was an unworthy member.

Lord Lyndhurst

said, it was not his intention to follow the noble and learned Lord through all the topics he had brought forward on the present occasion. It was not his intention to follow him into the discussion of the merits of the Parliamentary Reform Act, which had drawn forth such high and eloquent eulogiums from the noble and learned Lord, further than to remind their Lordships that one of the main objections to this Bill was that it trenched upon that very Reform Bill; that it deprived in its original state a large class of persons of the benefits and advantages which they derived under the Reform Act; that in the first Committee of the Bill in the House of Commons, all attempt to remedy that was firmly and obstinately resisted—that when the Bill was committed a second time the same attempt was made, and with the same success; and it was not till the very last stage of the Bill, after the re-commitment, that those evils, this injury, this destruction of a franchise secured by that final measure of Reform, as it was; called, was in any degree even partially remedied. With respect to what the noble and learned Lord had stated as to Mr. Hogg, he was not disposed to enter into any vindication of that gentleman; if that gentleman had published an absurd report, which, however, he was not prepared to admit—if Mr. Hogg had shown himself totally incompetent for the situation in which he was placed, which, however, he altogether denied, by whom had he been I appointed? who placed him in the situation of Commissioner? Why, the noble and learned Lord, who stated, that after knowing him intimately, having travelled cir- cuit with him for several years, he considered him a fit and proper person to be named one of the Commissioners; and, therefore, that noble and learned Lord should be left to settle this question with his noble Colleagues who now sat near him. He begged leave to call their Lordships' attention from those topics to what was, perhaps, the main subject of this discussion; his noble and learned Friend had referred to two precedents, to two only, which he considered decisive of the present question, and disposing altogether of the motion of the noble Earl (Carnarvon). The first of the precedents arose out of what took place on the abolition of the hereditary jurisdictions in Scotland, and it was said, that although Counsel were heard on that occasion, no witnesses were examined, and no evidence was adduced. But in order to make that a case in point, it was natural to inquire whether, in the first place, any evidence was tendered; whether, if tendered, it was made the subject of discussion and controversy, and whether, after discussion and controversy, it was finally rejected. Unless such had been the case, what would become of the authority of this precedent, on which so much reliance was placed? Their Lordships, however, would be surprised to find that the case was precisely the reverse. All the evidence tendered was received by the House without objection. It was formal and documentary, but still it was evidence, and as such it was received. So much, therefore, for the first precedent. With respect to the second and only remaining precedent, arising out of the Bill for the abolition of the Slave-trade, it was undoubtedly true, that Lord Grenville had opposed the production of evidence, but upon what ground? Why, because in truth it was not evidence. On that occasion Mr. Plumer, the Counsel, observed, that from the long period during which the governor of the island had been in Jamaica, he would be able to point out the consequences of the Bill to the West-India proprietors. Lord Grenville remarked that it was irregular to examine a witness at their Lordships' bar who had no facts to state, but who was merely called to explain his views and opinions; and no doubt in that respect the noble Lord was perfectly correct—it was not legitimate evidence—facts, he said, might be sworn to; but prophecies could not. That kind of evidence was not fit for their Lordships to hear, and therefore he moved that the next Counsel be called in. But Lords Eldon and Liverpool, in the course of the debate, stated, that if proper evidence were adduced in the subsequent Stage of the proceeding it should be received. So much, therefore, for the only remaining precedent relied on by the noble and learned Lord. He would, however, add, on the Slave-trade question, that the agent from Barbadoes claimed to be heard as a witness, and he was heard. He thanked, therefore, his noble and learned Friend for mentioning the subject of the Slave-trade, because mentioning that had caused him to direct inquiry to be made, the result of which inquiry had been the discovery of this precedent, which was confirmatory of the view he took of this case, and entirely destructive of the soundness of the opinion expressed by his noble and learned Friend. Having discovered, then, there was nothing in the two precedents brought forward by his noble and learned Friend, and that there was a precedent the other way, what was there to lead their Lordships to the conclusion that they ought not to examine witnesses? It was necessary to look at what this case was. The preamble of the Bill stated, that in the charters of several Corporations of this kingdom there were divers defects. That certainly was matter of evidence. It did not state they were all defective, and that they were all in one form by which the House could judge of them, but only that in divers Corporations there were certain defects—and was not that matter of evidence? It went on to say, that the Corporations had abused their privileges, and neglected their duties. Was that a matter of evidence, or was it not? Was that to be discovered, ascertained, and fixed by the examination of witnesses, or was it not? But what was the deduction to be drawn from all this? Why, that it was to be enacted that certain provisions and regulations should be made, the result and consequence of which were to be, that a great number of individuals were to be stripped of their property—stripped of that which by law they were entitled to, and which by the operation of no law could they be deprived of, unless charged and convicted of certain offences in a Court of Justice, and that that property was to be transferred to the hands of others. Would noble Lords on the other side of the House say their Lordships ought not to require evidence before they proceeded to enact such a law. Why, the whole of these matters were referred to in the Report of the Commissioners. Tin Commissioners had taken evidence upon which they founded their Report, and without which evidence their Report must be regarded as utterly destitute of all foundation. Could any person who ever sat in a Court of Justice, who was at all imbued with the principles of justice, who had ever practised in a Court of Justice, say that the whole of this was not to depend on evidence? and that parties were to be stripped of their rights and property without a charge being preferred against them, or, if preferred, as had been by this Bill, without having an opportunity of meeting that charge? if his noble and learned Friend's precedents had been correct, if they had been founded in fact, and were exactly as they had been represented by his noble and learned Friend, still he should have said, disregard such precedents, look to the principle of the thing, and to the rules of justice. But when it was found that his noble mid learned Friend's precedents amounted to nothing, and that there was a precedent the other way, what would their Lordships say to the argument of the noble and learned Lord who had sat so long in courts of justice, and appeared to be so much imbued with the very first principles of those courts? Proceeding a little further, the preamble of the Bill stated that the present Corporations were not efficient administrations of local justice. That was the substance of the statement. That being the preamble, and it being taken from the Evidence given before the Commissioners, what would have been the natural course of legislation? One would naturally have expected it would have been said there are old charters granted by the Crown—granted by the prerogative and from the bounty of the Crown—ascertain what the defects are, and let them be amended by remedies consistent with the defects. He did not believe there was a single Corporation in the country which would have been unwilling to have accepted a charter to amend their defects. But if there had been defects in them, and if they had worked injuriously, he was sure their Lordships would have been willing to have amended those defects in the way he had described, and that was the way which cautious, prudent, and wise legislators ought to adopt. But that would not have met the views and the objects of those persons by whom this Bill had been framed. Who could be so blind as not to see that this Bill was not a Bill for the Reform of Corporations, but a Bill brought in to consolidate and to strengthen the party by whom it was brought in. Was there a single individual in that House who was so blind as not to see that? He would beg of the House to look at the nature of the evils complained of, and which were represented as being so pressing and so urgent as that, at this late season of the year, the measure was to be pushed forward with that degree of eagerness which had throughout characterized it. If it was for a party object that the Reform of Corporations was to be effected before the next dissolution of Parliament, he could understand the thing, and so would the noble Lords who heard him. He would call the attention of the noble Lords to a little document he held in his hand, for the purpose of showing the spirit with which this Bill had been conducted. Their Lordships were aware that by this Bill it was proposed the large towns throughout the country were to be divided into wards. A considerable struggle took place in the other House of Parliament to have those towns divided into a great number of wards, and the reason assigned for that was, that if they were divided into a great many wards, there would be a mixed return. That was the object. A noble Lord in the other House of Parliament, by pressing the subject, got an increase of the number of wards, and with this view. Now it was said this was not a party measure. He held in his hand a document which he had moved should be laid on their Lordships' Table, and to which he now called their attention. By the way, this document had all the character of an insult to their Lordships' House. A Bill had been brought into the other House of Parliament, and carried through that House, but which could not become the law of the land till it had been carried through their Lordships'—till it had received the Assent of the King. It appeared indecent, therefore, to assume upon that Bill passing the House of Commons that it would become the law of the land. Instead of waiting until that Bill had passed their Lordships' House and received the Royal Assent, a Commission had already been issued for the purpose of dividing the large towns into wards, in pursuance of a provision in that Bill, which had not yet even passed their Lordships' House. He would entreat their Lordships to mark the instructions that were given. Those instructions were issued by an individual whose name had been often mentioned in their Lordships' House, and who was in close alliance with his noble and learned Friend—no less a personage than Mr. Joseph Parkes. He was a keen, intelligent, and active agent of a party—of a faction, and no man better qualified for the purpose. It was considered necessary then to regulate this division of towns into wards, so as not to defeat the object of the Bill; and the instructions were in these words—"When a borough contains several divisions, some of which contain richer and some of the poorer classes, you will not divide them so as to throw the richer into a ward by themselves, and the poorer into another ward by themselves; but, on the contrary, you will endeavour, as far as possible, to divide them so as to have some of the richer and some of the poorer, and nearly equal proportions, in the same ward." Must not everybody know that the object of these instructions, which no doubt Mr. Joseph Parkes had received from his superiors, was to neutralize and destroy the effect of the division of the larger towns into wards, and that this Clause showed the measure to he a decidedly party measure? It had been just intimated to him, also, that Mr. Parkes advised that the nature of the division should be kept secret, that the people might not know what was going on. But their Lordships lived in the world, they walked the streets, they frequented the clubs, and their ears were already assailed by the statements of the party who brought forward this measure, of the increase of the votes they would have at the next election after this Bill had passed into a law; and, in consequence of the obstruction that had already taken place in the passing of the Bill into a law, by their Lordships' desire to hear Counsel that justice might be done, they were assailed by every species of calumny and abuse that tongue could utter, all, however, forming conclusive evidence to show that the great object of this measure was to increase the power of the Whig party at the expense of those whom his noble and learned Friend had described as the Tory party. The same might be said of a paper which had just been handed to him, confirmatory of his argument, but which he had never seen before—a paper inscribed, We can't afford it; being Thoughts on the Aristocracy of England, part 2nd, by Isaac Tomkins.* What did *It seems necessary to mention in a note, that common report ascribed the authorship of the pamphlet quoted, by Lord Lyndhurst, to Lord Brougham. Isaac Tomkins say? No man could better dress up a bad case; no man could give more effect to a just and righteous cause, and he should state to the House what Mr. Isaac Tomkins had to say: —"The same might be said of Municipal Reform, a measure of infinite importance in furthering our emancipation from the Tory yoke." Then he went on to say, and of the best Reform also—because something was to follow after this, and that was the lowering of the qualification, which he considered must be carried in order to secure the best interests of the party. Thus their Lordships were called upon to violate all those rights which had hitherto been considered as most sacred, for the benefit of one party in the state. Men holding rights, either by charter from the Crown, or by act of Parliament, had generally, heretofore, been considered as holding them by the best title. No man could be stripped of rights, holding them either by the one or the other, except upon a charge being preferred against him, and that charge being there substantiated by satisfactory evidence. That had hitherto been the rule. That had been acted uniformly upon by those who had been called Conservatives and Tories, but sorry was he to say, it had not been so by those who pretended to be the friends of liberty and their country. He believed that this proceeding had been conducted in the other House of Parliament under some obscure notion of the law affecting Corporations. It had been said justly at the Car by the learned Counsel who addressed their Lordships, and not controverted by his noble and learned Friend, that a Corporation held its property by the same title and right by which any private individual held his property. If a private individual held property subject to a trust, that property was bound by that trust. If a Corporation-held property subject to a trust, that property was bound by that trust just in the same way, and to the same extent, as the trust property held by the private individual. Property held by a Corporation, not subject to a trust, was entirely under the control of the Corporation, and at its free disposal, just in the same manner, and subject to the same rules and rights of disposition, as property was held by any private individual in the country. Was there any doubt upon this? He had never heard a doubt about it whispered in that House; but he had heard much out of that House to lead him to the conclusion that those principles of law had not been understood in the other House of Parliament. Sure he was, when he looked through this Report, that that law had been misrepresented by many of the Commissioners, who had come to the conclusion that all corporate property was held subject to some trust. He would repeat that property held by a Corporation and upon trust, was at the free and absolute disposal of the Corporation which held it, whether municipal or not, exactly as property was held by any private individual within these realms. He would refer his noble Friend to a judgment pronounced by Lord Eldon in the "Attorney-General v. the Corporation of Bristol," where that noble and learned Lord laid down all the rules of law applicable to this subject. But that there might be no doubt on this point, he was prepared with a very short and precise passage in a case in which he was employed many years ago as counsel, in which Lord Ellenborough expressed his sentiments on this subject. It was in a case in which he (Lord Lyndhurst) as counsel, had made an application to discharge a rate which had been made by the magistrates of the borough of Berwick. He moved to discharge it on the ground of the Corporation being in possession of funds which it was their duty to apply to the public purposes of that town, and that they were bound so to apply those funds before they could make that rate. Lord Ellenborough, on that occasion, said it lay on those who insisted on the particular application of the Corporate estates, to show they were compelled to apply them in that way; if estates had been granted to them, they had a right to apply them just as any other person would apply their estates, unless they were restrained, by the particular grant, to apply them to particular purposes. He had referred to this to show what was Lord Ellenborough's opinion upon a question of this sort, in concise terms. Applying this to the case of individuals, would their Lordships strip an individual of his property without a charge being preferred against him, and without that charge being supported by evidence? If they would not, then, under similar circumstances, would they not require the same course of proceeding to be adopted with respect to a Corporation that was absolutely essential in reference to an individual? Their Lordships had heard much said about public expediency in reference to grants of Charters by the Crown. Suppose the in- habitants of Westminster were to say it was inexpedient that they should continue to pay the tolls to Covent-Garden. Those tolls were held by a noble Duke, a Member of that House, under Charter granted by Charles 2nd, and if the inhabitants of Westminster were to say, rescind that doctrine, and let them get rid of that Charter without any proof of abuse, or any evidence to establish a charge of abuse, but merely because it was not convenient to them to be subject to such a charge, would not that be considered a monstrous doctrine? And if their Lordships were to act on such a doctrine, where could it be supposed they would stop? If they adopted that in one case of property, what argument could be raised to resist it in another? How many Members of that House held their tides and possessed their rights to sit in that House, by virtue of a patent granted by the Crown under the Great Seal. It might be expedient to remove them, in the eyes of some individuals, without any charge or any evidence of a charge being brought against them; but he would advise their Lordships to be cautious not to take the first step; the first would lead to the second, and the second to a third. He would say to their Lordships, stand on the first principles of justice, and defy public clamour; act as you are bound to act as gentlemen and as nobles of the land, and never mind the consequences. The Corporations of England, the Church, and the hereditary Peerage, stood as barriers between the throne on the one side am the Democracy on the other—a check to the arbitrary power of the Prerogative,—a check to the license of Democracy. Those Corporations were assailed at the time to which his noble and learned Friend had referred, 200 years ago, by the power of the Prerogative, because they stood in the way as a barrier against the arbitrary principles which the Prerogative of the Crown was then anxious to establish. They triumphed in their resistance then; they were now assailed on the other side by the party of the movement, and they stood as a barrier, as it appeared from the documents he had read to their Lordships, against the license of the Democracy, and as a strengthening of the Conservative party; therefore he would say to their Lordships support and maintain them. If they fell, the church would come next, and the hereditary peerage of the realm afterwards. The Aldermen were to be extinguished. What was the cry in the streets? That the extinction of the peers must come next. But he had another objection to this Bill. All the Municipal Corporations throughout this kingdom held their chartered rights under gifts and grants from the Crown. That was a part of the flower of the prerogative of the Crown—that which caused the Crown to be looked up to and respected. Their Lordships were now called upon to cut down those grants which had been the gifts of monarchs for a period of 500 or 600 years; and instead of allowing the Crown to continue to give new grants, the House of Commons was to come in and was to have the initiative power, and it was Parliament that was to grant chartered rights upon the ruin of the charters which had been granted by the Crown. There was a great inconvenience in this. If a charter were grunted by Parliament, and worked ill, the Crown could do nothing with it. If a charter were granted by the Crown and it required to be amended, another might be immediately granted. That power existed now, and it would continue to exist by law so long as charters were granted by the Crown, but the moment this Bill was passed that prerogative would cease. If it was said that self-election was bad law, how easy would it have been to have amended the charters in that respect as they now existed, and to have got rid of that principle? He had looked at the present Hill, with a view to alter that point, and nothing could be more easy. If self-election were an evil, and hereditary legislation might be an evil with some, no doubt the House would pause before it decided broadly that what was called self-election was an evil; but if it was, how easy would it have been to have got rid of that evil by providing for an open election. If an election required control, how easy would it have been to have appointed auditors—auditors nominated by the King. If there were defects in the administration of justice, which was not alleged in the Report of the Commissioners, how easy would it have been to have remedied those defects by declaring that unless there was a recorder appointed no quarter sessions should be held. But that would not have answered the objects and the purposes of those who were the promoters of the present Bill. He had said before that one circumstance which satisfied him of the true object of this Bill was an alteration that had been made in the elective franchise. When the Reform Bill passed through the House of Commons, much discussion took place upon the rights of freemen—whether the rights of freemen—those plague spots, as the Attorney-General of the present Government had called them—whether those rights should he maintained. It was at last declared that they should be maintained as a mode of conciliating their Lordships' House, and of inducing their Lordships to pass that Bill into a law, and which their Lordships did pass. Now, by another Bill, privately and covertly brought into Parliament, those rights were entirely to be swept away. A political measure more base than that had never been thought of. It was a Whig measure—Whig in its principle, Whig in its character, and Whig in its object. This had already been resisted over and over again—resisted almost to the last; and before the Bill finally passed, a proviso was introduced for the purpose of applying a partial remedy. Their Lordships might discuss this measure as they pleased, but the foundation of it was the Commissioners' Report. The King's Speech pointed to that Report as the foundation. No step was taken till that Report was on the Table; the preamble of the Bill was taken out of that Report, and when the Bill was opened in the other House of Parliament, the noble Lord who introduced it made the Report of the Commissioners the foundation of the measure. Who could doubt that it was the foundation of the Bill? He would ask their Lordships then, sitting as legislators and as peers judicially, if they were to deprive men of their franchise, their properties, and their pecuniary rights, upon the foundation of a Report made by Commissioners collected from evidence, to enable them to do that what ought they to require Would they not say to themselves, who were those Commissioners? Had their Lordships seen them in public acting in high stations, so as to have been able to form a correct opinion of their discretion impartiality, caution and sound judgment—a correct opinion of those qualities being possessed by them, what could cause their Lordships to have satisfactory confidence in the result which they had come to upon their inquiries? Before their Lordships acted upon the faith of a Report signed and prepared by any set of men whatever, they would surely ask themselves such questions, and would never consent to strip men of their rights and properties without having made such inquiries. He would ask their Lordships, then, who there was among them who knew any tiling of the Commissioners who made this Report? Was there one noble Lord out of twenty in that House who had heard the name of any one of those Commissioners pronounced until they had seen the Report on their Lordships' Table? Could they, then, safely proceed, without making inquiries for themselves, to strip men of their rights upon the Report of persons of whom their Lordships knew nothing. He knew something of those Commissioners. In the appointment of Commissioners their Lordships would require that the Commissioners should be men free from all imputations and suspicions of partiality—free from all party motives. If a Committee was appointed in the House of Commons to investigate into any trifling matter—in olden times it was so, he knew not what it was now—it would be considered a reproach not to have a mixed Committee, a Committee composed of members of different parties. He would call the attention of their Lordships to the Commissioners in this instance. In his observations he did not mean to reflect in the slightest degree on the private characters of those Gentlemen many of whom he very well knew, but he wished to look at them in reference to their party feelings. In the first place there was John Blackburne—everybody knew that he was a firm unflinching Whig. He was at the head of the Commission, and was a friend of his own. George Long—a strong and stanch Whig. Fortunatus Dwarris—had been in the habit of going upon the circuit, with himself, and was a Whig. Sampson Augustus Rumball—a Whig and something more. George Hutton Wilkinson—whom he was not acquainted with, but who was also a Whig and something more. Mr. Hogg—his noble and learned Friend would vouch for Mr. Hogg having always been considered a Whig. Peregrine Bingham—a Whig and more. David Jardine—a determined Whig. Richard Whitcombe—a Whig. John Elliot Drinkwater—a strong Whig. Thomas Flower Ellis, a Friend of his noble and learned Friend's—a Whig, as his noble and learned Friend would not deny. James Booth—a Whig. Henry Reeve, whom he had the honour of knowing—strongly Whig. Charles Austen—an able man, but he should say more than Whig. Edward Rush ton—a Whig and more. Alexander Edward Cockburn—he did not know whether their Lordships could examine him at the Bar, as he did not know exactly where he was at present, but he was a Whig and more. Then there was Daniel Maude, son of Mr. Maude, on the Northern circuit—a very respectable man, but his noble and learned Friend knew that he was strongly Whig. There was also Mr. Gambier, who had not signed the Report, but who was strongly Whig. Then there was Sir Francis Palgrave, who certainly was not a Whig, one who had written on the subject of Corporate Reform, and was disposed a good deal against existing Corporations; although not a Whig, he was introduced with the nineteen Whigs into the Commission. Then last of all came the Secretary—(and again his noble and learned Friend occurred to his mind)—Mr. Joseph Parkes. Mr. Joseph Parkes, Secretary to the Birmingham Union—Joseph Parkes, Secretary to this Commission—Joseph Parkes, Secretary to the Commission for Dividing the Towns into Wards. After this he would ask their Lordships if they could dispose of the most trilling interests upon the decision of such a tribunal? If his noble and learned Friend was not sitting where he was as a party, how he would ridicule the whole of this proceeding. Would to God that he had his noble mid learned Friend's powers, because if his noble and learned Friend had had to deal with this case adversely, how would he have shown up the twenty Whigs! How would Mr. Blackburne have been made to figure as the leader of this Commission, and with what ridicule would he have shewn that the rear was brought up by the friend of his noble and learned Friend. But their Lordships had not the advantage of the judgment even of those twenty-two, and in some instances only one Commissioner had been sent to make inquiries, collect evidence, and make his Report, which Report was transmitted to the Committee in town, who, acting upon that Report, made their general Report—a most extraordinary course of proceeding. Any one accustomed to a court of justice knew how easy it was for an individual to go into a town where there were two parties, with the King's Commission in his hand, saying he came to receive complaints, to attain evidence upon which he could make a plausible report. But what was it their Lordships had before them? They had in evidence, they had the conclusions which these gentlemen had drawn from the evidence that was before them; not even the conclusions of the twenty, but the conclusions of one or two in particular places which conclusions so drawn were acted upon as evidence by the Commissioners generally. Was not that enough of itself to sweep the whole away? He had not wished to take the noble Viscount opposite by surprise, therefore he asked the noble Viscount if he had any objection to lay the evidence on the Table. The noble Viscount said no. The noble Viscount afterwards went down to the Bar, where he consulted Mr. Joseph Parkes or some one else, and then thought it right to state that the evidence was not in such a condition as to be fit to be laid upon the Table. Why then was their Lordships, upon the report of twenty or thirty persons, appointed for party purposes receiving the pay of a party to deprive persons of their rights and properties, without hearing any evidence whatever against those persons? He remembered being at a trial where Sir Samuel Romilly stated to the learned Judge that he remembered the case of a boy who had found a diamond ring; the boy carried the ring to a jeweller, and asked him what he would give him for it; the jeweller took the diamond out of the ring, returned the ring to the boy and said, "Oh, it's of no value, but I will give you a shilling for it." The boy got assistance, an action was brought against the jeweller, notice was served upon him to produce the diamond, he refused to do so, and the learned Judge upon that trial said everything must be inferred against the party who had taken the diamond out of the ring; and as the jeweller had the means of producing the diamond, but had refused to produce it, the best course would be to give damages to the amount of the most valuable and dearest diamond that could be put into the socket from which the diamond in question had been taken. What was the case here? The noble Viscount had the evidence here, he did not choose to lay it on the Table, so that their Lordships might be enabled to judge of its value by their own inspection of it, and therefore everything was to be inferred, not in favour of the value, but against the value of that evidence. What had been done with reference to other Commissions? His noble and learned Friend had referred to the Chancery Commission. There the evidence was printed, so that everybody might have an opportunity of judging of the nature of it; but in the present instance the evidence taken by twenty or thirty men appointed for a party object was to be concealed from the know- ledge of the House. Was ever anything so monstrous, supported too, as it had been, by a Judge of transcendent powers—a Judge who had held the Great Seals for four years—a Judge who administered justice admirably in that House, but upon whose judgment, even upon a question of law, when it assumed a political shape, he set just as little value as he did esteem the judgment of that noble and learned Lord when that judgment was upon a question of law apart from all political consideration. The House was not to have the evidence, but his noble and learned Friend happened to have that evidence, and he produced it when it seemed to him to answer his purpose. That which answered their purpose was produced, but that which would not answer their purpose was withheld.

Lord Brougham

said, that the noble and learned Lord was quite welcome to all that he had, and offered the noble and learned Lord a sheet of paper he held in his hand.

Lord Lyndhurst

said, that he did not want that fragment. What would answer his noble and learned Friend's purpose would not answer his. No doubt that piece of paper contained a selection of the evidence, and was given to his noble and learned Friend by his friend Mr. Joseph Parkes. His noble and learned Friend had said how monstrous and absurd, it was, to state that this Commission was not legal, and he had spent half an hour in beating down a case from some report which, as he had told his noble and learned Friend, he thought had nothing to do with the subject. Certainly the present Chief Baron had given a distinct and detailed opinion to the Town Clerk at Leicester that it was an illegal Commission. The Town Clerk of Leicester acted upon that opinion, refused to produce another document, and the Government had acceded to that. Sir W. Follett was subsequently consulted upon it, and he gave a similar opinion, stating that it was not a legal Commission.

Lord Brougham

begged the noble and learned Lord's pardon, but Sir William Follett's statement was, that it was not compulsory.

Lord Lyndhurst

considered that to be pretty much the same thing—that the Commission was mere waste paper. He had consulted with a noble and learned Earl, who had presided for twenty-five years over the Court of Chancery, upon this subject, and he could state from that noble and learned Lord's lips, that in his opinion the Commission was illegal, and could not be enforced; in truth, that the Government could not enforce it. But he would not go upon any general principle; he put his finger upon a single passage in which the word "deed" occurred, but which his noble and learned Friend in reading had omitted.

Lord Brougham

had not read a line of the Commission; he had it not with him, but he had read a part of the noble and learned Lord's own Commission.

Lord Lyndhurst

said, that he would then withdraw the observation, and consider that he had been mistaken. He would consider that no Corporation could be required or compelled to produce title deeds under this Commission. The King could not call upon any man to produce his deeds and titles. It could not be done even in the Court of Chancery unless a case was made out for it. A Bill would have to be filed, stating that a particular estate was held in trust, and, unless the party answering that Bill admitted that the property was held by him in trust, he could not be required to produce his title deeds. Yet their Lordships were now to be told that, without any charge or any inquiry, the King could give full authority to Commissions to cause parties to produce their title deeds. He would positively deny that there was any such power in the Crown. In this he was justified by a case to which his noble and learned Friend had referred during the time that he (Lord Lyndhurst) held the Great Seal. In that case the word "deed" was not mentioned. The words were, "papers, documents, and other-writings," which his noble and learned Friend must know very well meant papers and writings of a similar nature and character. He entertained the highest respect for his noble and learned Friend. He did not mean to say he was wrong—he might be right. He was a man of great learning, had been at the Bar as long as himself, had led a life as laborious as he had; his noble Friend had had as much experience as himself, therefore he must defer to his opinion; but still he had to crave that he might be allowed to retain his own opinion, the more especially as his own opinion was in unison with the opinion expressed by the two noble Lords to whom he had alluded. As to the Report of the Commissioners, what did it state? The statement was, that in the great majority of the towns they had visited, a general and just dissatisfaction prevailed. Out of thirty or forty cases where dissatisfaction was stated to prevail, when the particular facts came to be inves- tigated, these charges turned out to be utterly unfounded. So much for this general and just censure, which, when the charges were investigated, canvassed, sifted, and discussed, turned out to be completely unfounded. Next as to the question of revenue. The Corporations were generally charged with the mismanagement of their revenues. But Sir Francis Palgrave had observed in his Report, that these charges of mismanagement of revenue were confined to three or four cases, and these for the most part were of a doubtful description. And he must remark that the borough of Plymouth, which was certainly a popular Corporation, as there were 400 or 500 members of it at least, and the Corporation of Berwick, which was also very popular in its constitution, were mentioned in the Report itself, as affording striking examples of the mismanagement of the Corporate Funds. It turned out, then, that this charge of mismanagement of the revenue did not so much apply to the close Corporations, against which this Bill was levelled, as to the open and popular Corporations, to which all the others were intended to be assimilated. The next point in the Report to which he had to call the attention of their Lordships was the administration of justice. His noble and learned Friend had thrown out many observations, had given utterance to many sarcasms on the manner in which justice was administered at present in corporate towns, and observed, that when it was administered by political opponents it was not accounted justice. But after all, what was the evidence which had been taken before the Commissioners? There was hardly any evidence at all on this head, and when the charges that were made were sifted and examined, the Magistrates were acquitted by the Commissioners themselves. Hitherto he had proceeded upon the statements made by Sir Francis Palgrave. The Counsel at the Bar did not go into all the cases upon which they were instructed, but they had given their Lordships a sample of the Report. By the way, he should very much wish to know whether the perversion of the evidence of Alderman Parkes was wilful or accidental. He was examined before the Commissioners, and his evidence was taken down by a shorthand writer. The Commissioners reported that the Duke of Newcastle had obtained his place for him, and that he in consequence had given his grace his political interest; whereas the truth was, that Lord Grenville gave him the place upon the soli- citation of Earl Fitzwilliam, for whose nominee, Mr. Crompton, he had always voted. He should like to know whether this misrepresentation was wilful or intentional, or whether it was another slip, or a mere joke. Whatever it might be, if they detected errors of this description in the Report, could their Lordships place any reliance upon it for their guidance in any one particular? It was stated of another alderman that he enjoyed a pension which had been obtained for him by the Duke of Newcastle. Why, he had been dead many years. Let him point their attention to another case quite as bad, he meant Sutton Coldfield. He had received his information from a very respectable gentleman, whom he himself knew. According to his statement, the Commissioner opened his court in a room of the Town-hall on the 17th, no member of the Corporation having received notice of his intention to do so. When that gentleman got there, he found three persons who had previously received notice of Mr. Cockburn's coming, who were political opponents of the Corporation, and there were also present some other persons, who had been engaged in a Chancery suit with the Corporation, and in which they had lately been defeated—a pretty partial audience! The deputy steward of the Corporation was also there, but the Commissioner refused, after hearing the charges made by these parties against the Corporation, to take down the explanations offered by the deputy steward. In consequence of what then arose, two members of the Corporation were sent for; the charges were not substantiated, but the Commissioners went and dined with the complainants, and left the town without having given the majority of the Corporation an opportunity of even knowing he was there. Now, then, he would go to Coventry. He had some information as to the state of facts there, which he was desirous to lay before their Lordships. He had taken only a few of the cases he had found, but he knew personally how matters stood. If their Lordships would look at the Report, they would find that the Commissioners, at p. 8, said, "a solicitor who had been much engaged, &c, told us so and so." At p. 15, "a professional gentleman told us so and so." At p. 29, "a solicitor of this town." At another place, "a gentleman who had been much engaged in forwarding the claims of the freemen." In another page, "a solicitor long connected with the Corporation," had given them several pieces of information. Now, their Lordships would very naturally suppose that this information was afforded by different persons. No such thing, this was one individual. And who was he? His name was Richard Mallard, who was formerly in the employ of the Town Clerk, from which he had been dismissed at the instance of a Magistrate of the county, having been known to express a wish that all the churches in England were pulled down, and the materials of which they were built, were used for the macadamization of the roads. Now, here was the portrait of this quintuple or sextuple individual. His noble and learned Friend relied upon the case of Coventry. [Lord Brougham: I never mentioned it.] My noble and learned Friend certainly spoke of the schoolmaster there. ["Schools and books."]

Lord Brougham

did not wish his noble and learned Friend should go on misstating, and he therefore must repeat that he did not mention the name of Coventry at all.

A noble Lord said, that Lord Lyndhurst was mistaken in attributing the reference to Coventry to the noble and learned Lord, whereas it had been made by the noble Viscount (Melbourne).

Lord Lyndhurst

admitted that he had been mistaken. The fact was, he had not distinguished his noble and learned Friend, who was sitting on one side of the division of benches, from the noble Viscount, who was sitting on the other. Indeed, there was so much in his noble and learned Friend of the nature of the Siamese, that it was natural he should make the mistake. Another palpable error which this Report bore on the face of it consisted in the statement made relating to the proportions of the agricultural and urban population of Coventry. The Report stated, that the county of the city of Coventry consisted almost entirely of a rural population. Now, there were contained in it 2,500 families, and out of these the proportion of the agricultural population was not quite 400. And yet these Commissioners had the confidence to assert that it consisted almost exclusively of an agricultural population. He mentioned this, to show the accuracy of these gentlemen, the evidence taken before whom the noble Viscount had thought proper to uphold. He might next go on to Marlborough. The Commissioners summoned a number of witnesses, but they gave no notice to the Corporation of their intention to hold a court. Such evidence as the Commissioners collected, therefore, could not satisfy their Lordships; nor could they proceed on this Report without obtaining better evidence to guide their judgment. Complaint had been made before the Commissioners of the manner in which the Recorder of that borough had exercised his magisterial functions, in the case of a person who was tried before him for an assault; and the Commissioners, in giving an account of this complaint, remarked that the punishment was extremely inadequate to the offence. They, however, prudently added, "We had no opportunity of inquiring into this, and we put it down only as we heard it." The gentleman whose character was implicated wrote to the Commissioners, and demanded to know who was the person who had made the accusation, and who was the party tried, but he received no communication in reply. He applied to the Town Clerk, and he told him the name of the party. The Recorder then referred to his notes of the trial, they revived his memory, and on further investigation, it turned out that the offence was an assault of a violent and aggravated description upon an excise officer in the discharge of his duty, and the punishment awarded was imprisonment for three months. It was impossible that their Lordships could proceed on this Report, sent out to the public by a packed Commission, such as he had described. They were asked on this evidence to rob men of their franchise and of their property without a hearing and without a trial, the franchise and the property not only of Corporations, but of individuals. Now let their Lordships mark the extent and nature of individual rights of property held under Corporations. It frequently happened that a freeman, by virtue of his freedom, had a right to common lands, to a portion of the district near the town. This right was enjoyed by the father, and he might look to see it enjoyed by his son, by his grandson, and his great grandson, and by his descendants for all time. It was as good as a fee; the only condition was, that the parties should take up their freedom. Now, what did this act do? It said, the father shall enjoy the right, so also shall the son, if his right be perfect, but no more descendants. They cut down the fee to an estate for life. Now this was most unjust. That was, indeed, stated in the House of Commons, in the most masterly manner, as indeed every argument stated by Sir William Follett was, but it was stated to insensible ears. He would remind their Lordships that these Corporations were copies, imperfect copies he allowed;, of the three estates of the realm, and yet they were to be annihilated, for what purpose he could not tell, unless the new Corporations were to serve as models for a change of constitution in that House. It would come to that. There would be no defence for the Church, no defence for their own privileges, if they surrendered the Corporations to condemnation unheard. Their case would be like that of a single house left standing in a street which was pulled down, which the owner would at last be forced to abandon. The noble Lord continued—"Pause, my Lords; consider. At all events do no act of injustice. I know the civium ardor prava jubentium will not operate here, and that your Lordships will by your justice and firmness save others from wrong, and your own proper influence from diminution." He would now proceed to consider the principal provisions of this Bill. The first question was, who were to be the electors? They were to be householders, paying rates; any rate, however small, would be enough, and a person paying a rate of 6d. a-year would consequently, under the Bill, be entitled to a vote. Now he would ask their Lordships, would not a majority of such a constituency as this always be of the movement party? No person who had lived in the world did not know that. But the Bill did not stop here. There was to be no qualification for the elected. The council were not required to be possessed of a qualification of any description. It would be well if this were all. The Bill enacted that one-third of the council should go out every year, and when their Lordships recollected that the whole patronage of the borough was vested in the hands of the council, they would readily perceive what a fruitful field was laid open for electioneering jobbing, and how the council would be compelled to give pledges and promises, and would be ruled and dictated to by their electors. They had an example of what might be expected from these new constituencies, in the manner in which the electors, though they were of a much higher character, treated their representatives in the House of Commons. But this want of qualification was not confined to the Council. The mayor was not required to possess any qualification. He appealed with the most entire confidence to his noble and learned Friend for his support against this part of the measure. He had seen the Bill which his noble and learned Friend brought in in 1833. His noble and learned Friend had given them a draught of a Corporation Reform. In the first place, his noble and learned Friend's constituency was composed of 10l. householders, which would make the constituency about one-third of what it was proposed to be. Then, as to the members of the Council, they had a qualification of 1,000l. This was the next step. The mayor was also to have a qualification of 1,000l.; here was another step. But their Lordships would observe what an advance had been made in this Reform. His noble and learned Friend was then a novice, though he was now an adept. His noble Friend then was so far from departing altogether from what he found established, that in his Bill even aldermen found a place. Thus sober was his noble and learned Friend then. At all events the House ought to reform this Bill so as to make it correspond with his noble Friend's measure. As it stood, these new electors would exercise the whole political sway of the district. Did not their Lordships see what would be the consequences of this state of things? A great deal of church patronage was vested in Corporations, and under this Bill persons, whatever might be their religious opinions, would have the distribution of it, as it was to be in the gift of the Town Council. It was, indeed, said that Dissenters might now be admitted to Corporations, and might have the disposal of church patronage. That was perfectly true, but as yet the system had worked no perceptible mischief; the evil had not yet had sufficient time. But now we courted its progress. The noble Viscount (Melbourne), in speaking of the licensing of public-houses, had animadverted upon the jobbing practised under the present system. Why, there might be some jobbing; but if jobbing were practised by magistrates, what might be expected from a Town Council? How this mere circumstance would influence the elections; what promises and pledges would be given and exacted; and no class of men were more influential than those persons who were likely to apply for licenses. As to the magistrates now acting in Corporate towns, they were persons of consideration and respectability, and were of necessity chosen as magistrates; but the King could not appoint any magistrates, according to the Bill, in those towns, but such as were first selected by the Town Council. This Bill went one step further. The whole government and direction of the police was to be subjected to the lowest rabble. The persons against whom the police were to act were to choose the police. These were great evils, but they were small to those which he was now about to mention. His noble and learned Friend knew very well that in the Court of Chancery, where any trustee was appointed, it was referred to the master to inquire into his character, conduct, and sufficiency, and when the Report was made it was submitted to the Chancellor, who, if he thought it necessary, would make further inquiries. This was always the case in appointing trustees for charitable purposes. But under this Bill, persons with no qualification would be appointed members of the Town Council as trustees of all the charitable estates belonging to the Corporation. There were funds to the amount of 32,000l. in the city of Bristol, which would in the event of this Bill passing into a law be at the disposal of these persons, and in different other Corporations funds to an immense amount would be placed under their trusteeship. It was most monstrous, unjust, and absurd to put these monies into the hands of persons over whom could be exercised no control. These were the main features of the Bill. Were their Lordships prepared to pass such a measure without evidence? He would say of it, that under the pretence and colour of a Bill for the Reform of Municipal Corporations, it was a party job, intended to supply the deficiencies of the Reform Bill, and to destroy the Conservative party in the country, in order that their opponents might—and he would tell them it would be for a short time—recover their political influence. The noble Lord, after thanking the House for the indulgence with which they had listened to him, resumed his seat amid cheers from the Opposition.

Lord Brougham

said he had been excessively misrepresented, though he was sure quite unintentionally, by his noble and learned Friend. He had never said a word about Coventry, or schoolmaster, or books, and except the noble Earl opposite, there was not, he was sure, a single man in the House who was not just as thoroughly convinced of it as ever any man was in his life of anything. As to his having omitted the word "deed," he was reading his noble and learned Friend's own commission, he had not a copy of his own in his pocket, and he had never read a line of it. It was very true that he did bring in a Bill for the purpose of promoting Corporation Reform; but when he did so he stated most distinctly that there were two points on which he felt the greatest possible doubt, and those were the choice of aldermen for life, and the other was the qualification of the householders. In fact, they were forced upon him, and were not his own.

The Earl of Radnor

thought, that the real question before their Lordships was, whether evidence should be heard at the Bar of the House. The speech of the noble and learned Lord (Lyndhurst) clearly was for throwing the Bill out altogether. But, taking the view which he did of the subject, he should not go into a discussion of the provisions of the Bill. Nor would he enter into a discussion as to the merits or demerits of the Commissioners, a point on which the noble and learned Lord appeared to have more information than himself; but from the credit which the noble and learned Lord gave to some of those Gentlemen, in the latter part of his speech, he could not think their conduct had been altogether so outrageous as it had been described. With respect to the claim that evidence should be heard, it might be all very well for Counsel to make that claim, but he believed that when they made it they did not expect that it would be complied with, for they must have been aware that on a former night, the general understanding was, that evidence should not be taken, and that Counsel should be heard at the Bar, simply on the principle of the Bill, and not in relation to the facts alleged by the Report. Much had been said of the strong allegations of Counsel, and of their professions of readiness to prove these allegations by witnesses. Though not a professional man himself, he knew enough of professional practice not to place the most implicit reliance on these kind of averments made by Counsel, who, when they believed they would not be called on to prove their case, frequently made statements which they would find it very difficult, legally, to substantiate. Sir Charles Wetherell and Mr. Knight spoke, as all Counsel speak, from their briefs, and the statements made by them were not their statements, but the statements of the Town-Clerks, the statements of the parties who were peculiarly interested in opposing this measure. But it had been urged that that was in itself a reason for calling witnesses, in order that the House might ascertain whether their averments were true or not. For his part, he could not admit, the force of that argument, and the reason was obvious. This Bill was not founded upon the Report; it was not founded upon any of the particular statements at which these Town-Clerks cavilled; but it was founded, as the Bill for Reforming the Representation of the People was founded, upon the notoriety of the fact that such a reform was necessary. That Corporation Reform was requisite nobody denied. It had been admitted by the noble Lord who moved the Amendment; it had been admitted a few nights since, if he remembered rightly, by the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Wellington); it had been admitted by the noble Earl who spoke from the lower benches (Winchilsea); it had been admitted by the noble and learned Lord Who spoke last; and it had finally been admitted even by the Counsel at the Bar. Sir Charles Wetherell had allowed that, in the instance of Bristol, with which he was connected, some Reform was necessary. This, their Lordships would remark, came from this Gentleman's own personal knowledge; he was not then speaking from his brief, and yet he doubted whether the Corporation of Bristol would give quite so ready an assent to their Recorder's proposition as that Gentleman might imagine. Mr. Knight had stated, on the part of the Corporations generally, that he did not believe they would object to some Reform; an admission which he attributed, however, not to any love or desire for Reform, but which he rather considered to be forced from them by what they could not but perceive was the general feeling, not only of the public generally, but even of their Lordships. Indeed, it was now quite surprising to find that every body was a Corporation Reformer, though it might, perhaps, be a matter of some curiosity to inquire how it was that, with all this great love for Municipal Reform, not a word on the subject ever escaped the Corporations till this Bill was brought before Parliament. But then the Corporations, though they did not object to Reform, objected to the manner in which this Bill proposed to accomplish it. Any defects in the existing system could, it was said, be remedied by the Crown granting new charters, to contain provisions for that purpose. But there were two parties to that bargain. Before the Crown could grant new charters, they must first of all prevail on 200 or 300 Corporations to surrender their old ones. What success would be likely to attend such an attempt as this, needed not to be told. Then, as to the bugbear of depriving Corporations of their property, it might be imagined, from the outcry raised on this point, that the property in question belonged to the Members of Corporations for their own personal, individual benefit; whereas they only held the property as trustees for others: they held it, to be applied to certain purposes. The new Corporations would, under this Bill, hold the same property; upon the same trusts; and the properly would be appropriated to the same purposes, and expended in promoting the same objects as heretofore. He did not think that these apprehensions were seriously entertained even by those who put them forth. If the noble and learned Lord opposite had regarded this Bill with so serious an alarm as the earlier part of his speech indicated, he did not think that noble and learned Lord would have treated the matter so jocularly as he afterwards did. Indeed, if the Bill deserved the character which he gave of it, the noble and learned Lord, and those who took the same view, were imperatively bound to reject the Bill at once, and absolutely, instead of tampering with such grave dangers, as they were doing by the course they had now adopted. In reference to the statement made by the noble and learned Lord, that the Corporation Commissioners had transcribed the Report of the Commissioners of Charities till they came to a compliment to the Corporation, he believed, though he had heard the statement before, that it was erroneous; for he had applied to their Lordships' librarian for the Report of the Charity Commissioners in Coventry, and that Gentleman, after a search, had acquainted him that the Charity Commissioners had not reported on Coventry at all. As to White's Charity in that city, which had been so often referred to by the learned Counsel, it had been the subject of many disputes, and had formerly been much abused by the Corporation for their own private benefit. That charity was not given, as had been alleged, for the exclusive benefit of freemen, but for purposes which were general to the inhabitants of the city. The conduct of the Corporation was such, that the Court of Chancery took the trust from them and vested it in other trustees. Suppose the same course were followed with respect to other Corporations, it could make no difference to the charities, it would only place them in other hands. The important question, however, for the consideration of their Lordships was, were the affairs of these Corporations likely to be better managed by trust-worthy people elected by those who had the best interest in seeing that they properly performed their duty, or by self-elected and irresponsible persons? He believed, that throughout the metropolis it had been found, that the affairs of parishes had been much better managed by vestries elected by the rate-payers of a parish at large, than by the old select vestries, which were for the most part self-elected bodies. In the Common Council of the City of London, the elections were annual; and he believed, from ail that he had heard, that the affairs of that Corporation were extremely well managed. In Bristol there were certain boards which were elected by the rate-payers at large. Again, in Liverpool, the rates were levied by Commissioners elected generally by the rate-payers. He was told that a sum passed through their hands each year to the amount of 10,000l., which was managed so as to give universal satisfaction. There were many other instances in which the derided rate-payers, in places almost equally large, chose annually the parties who were to manage their large trusts; and they chose well. And why should they not do the same under any other circumstances? If bodies of men, thus annually elected by rate-payers, transact their affairs with great regularity, why should their Lordships suppose, that under this Bill, the rate-payers of the country generally, will not select their councils and officers equally well? Was there any qualification absolutely necessary now?—No, there was none of any kind or sort whatever. Anybody might be chosen, and might become a mayor or a justice, and grant those alehouse licenses about which so much had been said. Why should their Lordships be led to suppose, by the Counsel at the Bar, that the members of a corporation were all of them admitted under some qualification by law, and that only persons of a certain rank or qualification were eligible for such situations; while, on the contrary, there is no qualification necessary by law. But they were told that 4,000 Corporators would be turned out at once on the wide world. To this he would reply, that if these Corporators had acted honestly in the discharge of their trust, there was no doubt that they would be re-elected. If they had not acted honestly, they did not deserve to he re-elected. With respect to the objections to annual elections, he must observe, that in all the corpora- tions that he was acquainted with, the officers were elected annually, as this Bill would, on that point, constitute nothing new. His learned Friend, Sir Charles Wetherell, might, under the operation of this Bill, be knocked out of the Recorder-ship that he held, as well probably as himself; but he should not regret it if he were, because he did not think that it was fit that a person not professionally educated should be allowed to serve that office. He believed that he had not given much dissatisfaction to those interested; but he did not think that any person should be allowed to administer justice, and above all in cases of life and death, who had not received a learned education. But, without dwelling further upon these points, he would observe, that he rose principally to express his surprise at the course taken by the noble and learned Lord with respect to the Bill. If the Bill were as objectionable as the noble and learned Lord described it, he ought to have acted the straightforward and manly part of meeting it at once with a direct negative, rather than attempting to throw it out by a side wind; for there was little doubt that, if the proposed inquiry were entered into, it would end in the defeat of the Bill. The inquiry itself would be interminable; and, if each Corporation with its own Counsel were permitted to enter into its own case, it would take years before they brought the inquiry to a close. On these grounds he must oppose the Amendment, which appeared to him to have no other object than to defeat the Bill by delay.

Lord Wharncliffe

remarked, that the noble Earl had stated that his noble and learned Friend wished to defeat the Bill by delay. He, however, denied that any such intention was entertained by Peers on that side the House. All that they desired was to see justice done, and that the persons against whom the most serious charges had been brought, should have an opportunity of defending themselves. He sincerely believed, that the only object of the Motion of his noble Friend was, to hear whether the evidence to be adduced at the Bar would bear out the allegations contained in the petitions presented in contradiction to the assertions contained in the Reports of the Commissioners. When the subject was first introduced, it was met by the objection that the Legislature had not sufficient evidence to proceed upon, and in consequence of this the Commission was issued and evidence was examined, and thus a delay of twelve months was interposed. It was said, that the Bill did not rest on the Report of the Commissioners, but it even quoted some of the words of the Report. The noble Lord, however, notwithstanding this, said that they had nothing to do with the Report. If the Bill were not founded on the Report, on what did it rest? If it were not founded on the Report, what had been the use of issuing the Commission? If it were founded on the Report, why not examine evidence to confirm or contradict the allegations contained in it, and which had been copied into the Preamble of the Bill. It was in consequence of an Address to the Crown that a Commission had been appointed to inquire into the state of Municipal Corporations, and the Report emanated from the persons appointed as Commissioners. Why was it that the Report was brought down to that House, if they were not to rely upon it? And yet the noble Viscount had said, that he did not call upon their Lordships to pass the Bill on account of the Report. By every principle of consistency they were bound to refer to the labours of these Commissioners, and what did they find? The Commissioners brought certain charges against Corporations, and on the assumption of which this Measure was founded, and he contended that it was the duty of the House of Lords to examine witnesses, to see whether the accusations that had been made were true or false. The noble Viscount had referred to three instances of mismanagement in the affairs of Corporations—namely, those of Derby, Leicester, and Nottingham; two of them were said to be Liberal bodies, and the other being a Conservative. The result of the Commissioners' inquiry was, that many persons in these towns were discontented, and that, therefore, the Corporations were corrupt. He contended that they were not justified in adopting that inference, until after they had heard evidence at the Bar of their Lordships' House. He did not deny, that great discontent might prevail in many of these towns, but this was not necessarily the consequence of the existence of great abuses. The Crown possessed the right of giving new charters; but Parliament was now called upon not only to set aside any particular rights of existing Corporations, and to give new privileges, but to revoke all existing charters for these towns, and to put their Municipal Government on a totally different footing from that on which it had hitherto rested. In point of fact, it was interfering with the prerogative of the Crown, and was acting on a revolutionary principle. It was taking away the rights belonging to one branch of the Legislature, and disposing of them in a different manner. The Corporations said, the Commissioners accused them of certain offences, and that such charges were unfounded, and they offered to disprove them. He could not believe, that the result of the present Motion would be a refusal on the part of the House to hear such evidence. It had been said, that the statements of lawyers were to be received with hesitation, as they were apt to exaggerate the merits of the case they espoused. It appeared to him that the Commissioners were open to similar charges that had been brought against the lawyers. They were lawyers, and he believed that their labours would not bear the test of examination; and, after what had taken place, he looked with great suspicion at their Reports. No one would deny that nineteen out of twenty of the Commissioners were partisans. He believed, that at least that number of them were Whigs. It was well known that the Secretary of the Commissioners had been the Secretary of the Birmingham Political Union. [Viscount Melbourne: that was not the case.] He had always understood so, but probably his noble Friend had more correct knowledge than he had on the subject. He should like, however, before he proceeded to legislate, to know how far the charges brought against Corporations were founded in truth. He knew that it would he said out of doors, if their Lordships assented to the Motion for hearing evidence at the Bar, that they did so for the purpose of interposing delay; but he denied, as a man of honour, that he supported the Motion on any such ground, or that the charge was founded on fact.

The Marquess of Lansdowne

would very shortly state the grounds which induced him to oppose the motion to hear Evidence at the Bar. He was convinced, whatever might be the intention of noble Lords opposite, that if it were sanctioned, it would be equivalent to the destruction of the measure under consideration. He did not mean to contradict the assertions of the noble Lords as to their intentions, when they stated that they were not unwilling to promote the Reform of Municipal Corporations; but he could not help observing, that in their eagerness to put an end to abuses—that in their anxiety to forward the remedies for the evils they admitted to exist in the present Corporations—they were likely to stifle the measure in their embraces. He was convinced, whatever might be noble Lords' intentions, that if they sanctioned this proposition, they would be guilty of preventing the success of this measure, the object of which was to supply those defects, and remedy those abuses, which were admitted by every one of their Lordships to exist in those Corporations, and which were admitted to exist even by the learned Gentlemen who had appeared at the Bar. He was glad that there was only one Member of their Lordships' House who entertained a contrary opinion. He believed he was justified in stating, that there was a prevailing feeling throughout the country in favour of this measure. And in the other House, where there was an Opposition formidable for its talents and the experience of its leaders, as well as for its numbers, what was the conduct pursued with regard to this Bill, which was to confiscate, as they had been told, the rights and privileges of Corporations? He could not help contrasting the language used by the noble and learned Lord, with respect to this Bill, with the conduct manifested elsewhere by the Opposition with respect to it. This Bill might be as detestable in its object, and as unconstitutional in its character, as it had been described to be; yet it had not been impeded in the other House on any such grounds; it had not even been opposed in its principle, in any one stage of its progress through that place. He was glad to hear from the noble Lord opposite, a declaration that the principle of self-election was the cause of the prevalence of the abuses which existed in Corporations. On this principle, then, it appeared they all agreed; and it might almost be assumed that their object, in common, was the utter and final extinction of this bad system of election. The noble and learned Lord, however, with that sign of prudence which was peculiar to him, when he addressed the House, took care in no one sentence of his speech, which he could tax himself with recollecting, to state that he would consent to see the principle of self-election altered. The noble and learned Lord, with all that caution which was characteristic of a very prudent man, who was not exactly aware of the situation he might be placed in another year, had carefully left to himself a loop-hole through which he might creep, and make the admission that such Reform, as was now proposed, was necessary. He challenged any one to deny that the examination of witnesses at the Bar of their Lordships' House, would be equivalent to defeating the Bill altogether, in any shape, and in all shapes. The noble and learned Lord had told their Lordships to beware how they touched the principle of self-election.

Lord Lyndhurst

said, the noble Marquess might draw this as an inference from what, he had said, but certainly he had not used any words to that effect.

The Marquess of Lansdowne

had so understood the noble and learned Lord, but of course he must take his words in the way that he had explained them. Throughout the whole of the noble and learned Lord's speech, there was manifestly a tone of alarm at the idea of interfering with Institutions which he had previously said were founded on the principle of self-election, and the substitution of that of popular suffrage, which was in harmony with the constitution of the new municipal bodies to be appointed under this Bill. The noble and learned Lord had warned the House on this subject, and had said, God forbid that their Lordships should place such power at the foot of what he was pleased to call democracy; and the noble and learned Lord said that, because the Bill proposed that the people should exercise the right of administering their own affairs and have their Municipal Institutions framed so that they might be of the greatest use, and promote the benefit of those most deeply interested. He did not quarrel with the use of those Institutions in former times, but they did not stand on a sufficiently broad basis, considering the extended knowledge of the present times. It must be admitted that no man, moving in any society in the metropolis, could enter into discussion in any room, who must not admit the great increase of knowledge amongst all classes—not that they were such perfect legislators or lawyers as the noble and learned Lord—but who, by practice and experience, were qualified to judge of their own concerns, and were as well able to manage them as the most learned and experienced. He assumed that knowledge and experience went together, and perfectly prepared the people for the management and control of their own affairs. He was comparatively opulent, and he had not the least hesitation in saying, that his less wealthy neighbours had introduced such wholesome reforms into the management of parish affairs, as had been profitable to himself, as well as to all those connected with land in the parish. He could tell the noble and learned Lord who had cautioned their Lordships against sanctioning this Bill, as it would lead to the insecurity of property, that his poorer neighbours in any parish in London, would be found to promote the best management of local affairs; and in proportion as the elections were rendered more popular, so far from the rich losing, and their property being confiscated, that their interests would be protected. The interests of the rich and the gentry were promoted and secured by those who were the subjects of popular, aye, of annual elections, which the noble and learned Lord had expressed so much alarm at. The noble and learned Lord said, that if this measure were allowed to be carried, political intrigues and cabals would be introduced and exist in every one of the places in which annual elections prevailed. He wished, however, chiefly to advert to the observation of his noble Friend, that this Bill was founded on the Report to which so many objections had been made. He would only repeat what fell from his noble Friend at the Table, that the Report might be laid aside, and they need not assume that the Bill was founded on it. If this were done, they might, as was said by his noble Friend, take the notoriety of the case, coupled with the Report. Taking both together, surely there was sufficient ground to proceed. This was not a Bill of pains and penalties, for if it were, they would not only be obliged to hear all the evidence to be adduced by Sir Charles Wetherell, but also Counsel and Evidence from every Corporation in the empire. The noble Lord said that he wished to see the Evidence, in order that he might apportion the remedy; now that was precisely what he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) did not wish to do. He did not wish to go into an inquiry as to the different degrees of that which was objectionable in each particular case. He wished to have a general measure, founded upon the general notoriety of the abuses, and which, while it cured the whole, would do no more injury to the Corporations of the country than would the Bill respecting local Courts, introduced by his noble and learned Friend last year, and which he wished to God had been passed by their Lordships. That Bill had for its object the abolishing of certain useless Courts, on the ground of public expediency, and the creation of new and efficient ones. What- ever the industry of some of their Lordships might glean out of the four or five folio volumes of which the Report consisted, he would say that he saw nothing in them to justify that general sort of imputation in which the noble and learned Lord had indulged, about this being a party measure, intended to promote party purposes. What were the noble Lords opposite admitting, if what they stated about this being a party measure were correct? Were they of opinion that those principles, and that party to which they were attached, stood so low in the opinion of the population of this country, that the mere destruction of the self-elected Corporations was to overthrow their interest? Were they of opinion that the mere introduction of the principle of popular election into these bodies, would establish that principle which they held so in abhorrence, and which the noble and learned Lord would say was the Whig principle, or something more than Whig? The noble and learned Lord had thought proper to indulge in a course of observations upon the Gentlemen who drew up this Report, for which the slight expression of approbation which accompanied it, did not afford a very satisfactory apology. The noble and learned Lord said he knew them to be most respectable individuals, of strict honour and integrity in private life; yet he, on the other hand, asserted that they would lend themselves for party purposes to carry on a quasi judicial inquiry; and that they would collect evidence, and partially select the facts that came before them, with the intention of misleading the Government and the Parliament as to the result of their Inquiry. It was easy to fix a vague stigma upon public men; and the noble and learned Lord dealt largely in that sort of stigma, his object being to fix a particular character upon those gentlemen. He could assure the noble and learned Lord, that with their politics he was himself unacquainted; they might be what the noble and learned Lord had described them; but suppose that the noble and learned Lord was quite right in that respect, he did not know that the circumstance of a man being born a Whig, and something more than a Whig, was to disqualify him for the exercise of any sort of judicial functions. He was afraid that if the circumstance of an individual having been "a Whig, or something more than Whig" were to be a disqualification, it would reach to much higher and more eminent characters, than those who had been subject to the noble and learned Lord's insinuations. He would say, injustice to individuals both in this House and out of it, that he did not believe that the circumstance of having been a Whig, and something more than Whig, unfitted a man for the exercise of any public function. But though the noble and learned Lord endeavoured to cast only vague imputations upon the characters of most of the Commissioners, there was one imputation in which he indulged which was of a specific nature. The noble and learned Lord, for the purpose of effect and creating an unfavourable impression against one of the individuals who was not here to defend himself, wound up his list of characters, repeating it again and again, with the remark that Mr. Parkes was the Secretary of the Birmingham Political Union. Now in this single instance, in which the noble and learned Lord condescended to name a specific fact, he was mistaken as to that fact. He had received the most distinct assurance that Mr. Parkes never was the Secretary of the Birmingham Political Union. He was quoting the expression of the noble and learned Lord; the noble Lord imputed again and again to Mr. Parkes that he was Secretary of the Birmingham Political Union; and he now told the noble and learned Lord that he was afraid that that imputation was incorrect. No doubt the noble and learned Lord was mistaken; but finding that he was so, would he not extend a little of the charity to those Commissioners which he was under the necessity of claiming for himself. He had charged the Commissioners with inaccuracy, to lower them in their individual estimation; but he hoped that the noble Lord would admit, that with the greatest care, it was not always possible to come to a correct conclusion. He knew not the mode, indeed, by which they could obtain that mass of evidence which they required on such a subject, without being betrayed into a few mistakes, which industry might bring out, and that might be used even as those which had been culled had been used this night. If their Lordships were prepared to go into a close inquiry as to this subject; if they were determined to have stated to them all the facts and contradictory facts connected with all the Corporations; if such was to be their course of proceeding, who could guarantee that it would end in a month or a year, or two years. He contended that they were already in possession of abundant facts upon which the most implicit reliance might be placed. It was notorious that abuses to a great extent had existed; such abuses existed now, and their Lordships were called upon lo apply the remedy. He could not enforce on them in a better way the extent of the impression as to the abuses that prevailed in the public mind than by quoting a passage from the Report of one of those Commissioners whom the noble and learned Lord excepted from his censures. The noble and learned Lord had done that gentleman justice, because he had put in a protect. The gentleman to whom he referred was Sir Francis Palgrave, whom noble Lords opposite would consider an unexceptionable witness. He had the honour of knowing that gentleman himself, and begged to be allowed to say that he much respected him, and believed him to be greatly in favour of the ancient institutions or his country. He would now tell them what it was that, with respect to those institutions, this gentleman stated; he did not speak of facts, but as to the general expression. He said, "Upon examination of the evidence afforded by the Reports, it appears that, taking the municipal system as a whole, the ancient efficiency of the corporate institutions of England and Wales is diminished, and in some particular instances nearly destroyed." He went on to say, "Whilst every other portion of the policy of the realm has been gradually adapted to the progress of society, the improvement of municipal law has been wholly neglected, and Municipal Corporations are labouring at present under the incumbrance of institutions which have ceased to harmonize with the general system of our jurisprudence, and the influence of privileges or immunities, which, however injurious they may have become, have, up to the present day, been created, protected, and fostered by the law." That was the opinion of the "Tory" Sir Francis Palgrave, as the noble and learned Lord described him to be. In other places that gentleman pointed out the denial of justice which took place in a great many of the smaller Corporations, from the impossibility of forming juries, thus tainting the very fountain of justice at its source. Was it necessary to read more than this as to the general opinions entertained of these Corporations to justify the adoption of a larger measure for placing the foundation of Municipal justice, and the financial administration of every portion of the country upon the basis on which alone it would be rendered secure, viz. the principle of free election as opposed to the principle of self-election. These, were the grounds on which he asked their Lordships to proceed without delay into the Committee on this Bill, where they would he enabled to consider any amendment that might he proposed, and he admitted that he had heard some suggested that he would he happy to see incorporated in the Bill. He must in conclusion beg pardon for having addressed their Lordships at such length, but he felt it his duty to say a few words in favour of the measure, being deeply impressed with a sense of its paramount importance.

Lord Lyndhurst

begged to say in explanation that he never intended to mate a charge against the Commissioners—the charge he made was against those who appointed them. He did not intend to say that the Commissioners had not acted according to their best judgment, but everybody knew that party feelings might give a bias to men's minds. Amongst some other of the gentlemen he knew Mr. Austin particularly, and greatly respected him. There was another point on which he wished to remark. He felt that the noble Marquess, in what he had said of those who were Whigs, and something more than Whigs, had conveyed an insinuation against him. He never belonged to any political party till he came into Parliament. He had never belonged to any political society. He had been in Parliament for sixteen years, and he wished the noble Marquess, if he could, to point out any speech or act of his which would justify his being described as a Whig or something more than Whig.

The Duke of Newcastle

My Lords, although upon this as on all occasions I address your Lordships with great reluctance yet I feel that I ought now very briefly to state my opinions on this subject I confess I feel on this question far beyond what I can express, and therefore I request your Lordships' indulgence for the few observations I shall submit to you. I have from the beginning been opposed to this Bill: I anxiously hoped that it was not a Bill which your Lordships would entertain. For that reason I had intended to divide the House upon the second reading, since I was very desirous that the House should not be committed to its principle. To that principle I am most decidedly opposed and I am opposed to it on the ground of infringement on the Royal Prerogative, (a point which I conceive to be of the greatest importance:) as I am also opposed to it because I think it pernicious and unjust, as attacking the rights of our fellow-subjects; rights ensured to them by charters, by titles which have descended to them from the earliest times and which have been secured to them by successive guarantees. I conceive that the Commission is decidedly illegal as it has been proved to be over and over again by noble and learned Lords upon this side of the House, some of the Commissioners have seceded from the Board, and with a Report such as that which has been produced by that Commission, (and which I affirm is of no use at all) it must be on that Report, and that alone that this Bill is founded; I therefore say, my Lords, that the Commission being illegal and the Bill an infringement on the Royal Prerogative it is an irregular proceeding altogether;—I say that this Bill, is pernicious and unjust, and it is impossible your Lordships can ever suffer it to go into Committee; I declare against it altogether as I maintain the right of justice, I say it is an outrageous attempt to deprive the subjects of their birthright and their privileges. These are my sentiments, my Lords, I disclaim any intention to countenance the principle of the Bill, or the conclusions come to by the Commissioners on the evidence furnished to them. I affirm it is a Bill of Pains and Penalties, and that, therefore, it is impossible you can, without a violation of their judicial functions, go into Committee on the Bill unless you previously hear evidence on the charges brought by the Commission on which the Bill is founded. It seems to me that the Viscount has totally failed to make out a case which justifies going into a Committee. For myself, my Lords, I freely confess that I am no reformer at all—I am not ashamed to confess it;—I have been always opposed to the name of Reform. But no person would be more ready, on abuse being proved, to remedy it. My objection is to the word "Reform": and the revolutionary principles implied in the term; therefore it is I own myself an enemy to Reform, and I call upon your Lordships to resist all measures of Reform; I care not what feelings the avowal may excite, here, or elsewhere. I hold this opinion and I will maintain it. I feel it to be the duty of your Lordships to set yourselves up against this principle—this revolutionary principle—by not lending yourselves to the objectionable and revolutionary measure. The House and the coun- try, have gone far enough in Reform. Your Lordships have doubtless heard of Magna Charta: and the Bill of Rights;—your Lordships will, by sanctioning this measure, destroy and violate the privileges both of the Charta and the Bill of Rights. A noble Lord has indeed said, that as Parliament had framed the Bill of Rights, that therefore it can alter it; but I do not agree with that noble Lord; but if it were so, it is impossible that Parliament can have the power of doing an act of injustice. My Lords, though there is no sacrifice which for the good of my country I would not cheerfully make, I did not consent to the second reading; and I cannot conceive that we had sanctioned the principle of the Bill; I feel in the strongest degree the objections which I have imperfectly stated, and therefore, considering the Bill so bad that we cannot make it better, by any alterations, and objecting to it altogether, I shall strenuously oppose the going into Committee. I now beg pardon of your Lordships for having trespassed on you at this late hour of the night but with a view of recording my opinions upon the Bill before your Lordships, I shall move that it be read a second time this day six months.

The Earl of Harewood

having declared that he was opposed to all unnecessary delay, wished to save himself from the charge of inconsistency, should he vote for hearing evidence. He had not been prepared for the accusation made by Counsel against the Commissioners, and now, for several reasons, wished to hear further evidence. First, the allegations of Counsel, which they professed their readiness to prove, bore very much on the propriety of dealing with the Bill; second, the Commissioners; and third, the public ought to desire that an investigation should take place. When a Commission was appointed exclusively of one party, it was but right to know on what evidence they grounded their Report. Everybody must know that the Bill had been produced from the Report. It might at the same time be true that Government had thought some alteration in Corporations necessary, and had, therefore, appointed the Commissioners. But if really the Government were determined to alter to so great an extent as in that Bill, how came it that the whole Commission was made from one party? Certainly this was not the mode to frame it so as to command public respect and confidence. For these reasons he was desirous of going into the inquiry.

Lord Plunkett

wished, without entering on details, to state his reasons why their Lordships should at once go into Committee. The Bill had been passed by the Commons with little opposition generally, and with none to the principle. It was founded on a principle of substituting popular and satisfactory election for self-election, and of removing abuses that were notorious, and adapting the Corporations to the wants and benefits of the community. It had been asked, what was the use of the Commission under such circumstances? He admitted that Government might have been quite justified in proceeding on the notoriety of the abuses and the popular anxiety for amendment, and that it was more satisfactory to the public mind to have it ascertained by a solemn inquiry. The noble and learned Lord repeated these words. He would not go further unless he were allowed to finish the sentence. Certain persons manifested a most intemperate spirit, but he would not suffer it to prevail to interrupt him in the observations he felt it his duty to make. It would be more satisfactory to the public mind to have it ascertained by a solemn inquiry what was the nature of the constitution of these Corporations. This bad been ascertained. No point on which they could be called to legislate had been left unexplained. Nothing that was protested against as an evil and abuse had been denied. Nobody denied that self-election prevailed—that the institutions were too confined and narrow for their purposes, and that Reform was required. Suppose everything which had been said by Counsel could be proved at the Bar, would it alter the nature of the real question which they were now called on to decide. The question before the House did not turn on the contemptible points mooted by Counsel; if every Commissioner had been a Whig, or more than Whig, and committed acts even much more reprehensible than the most serious of those charged against them, would there be any grounds for refusing the reasonable and determined wish of the people of this country. There were two courses which they might pursue. If they thought that the principle of this measure was unjust, and that the demands of the country, as expressed through the Commons of England, ought not to be complied with, it was their duty to say so, and to say so manfully. But if they were of opinion that the feelings of the people could not be abused, and that their wishes ought not to be resisted, lie for one could not venture—he spoke advisedly—to expose himself to the consequences of such an opinion being acted on. "Do not my Lords," exclaimed the noble and learned Lord, "disgrace yourselves in your own minds—do not lessen the character and dignity of this House by having recourse to a contemptible expedient; which, if you consider objectionable, you are bound to meet, in the first instance, by a fair discussion. I have a perfect right, my Lords, to warn you against the adoption of a course which, in my mind, will have the effect of impairing your self-estimation, and losing your character with the public mind." What prospect was there of bringing the measure to a conclusion, if evidence were allowed to be taken? There would, in fact, be no end to their proceedings. The Crown had no right to withdraw charters once granted to Corporations; and if Ministers had so advised the King to adopt the course pursued by Henry 8th, when he procured the voluntary surrender of several charities, what criticism the conduct of those who should authorize such an inquisition would call forth. If the only objection to this measure was, that it tended to introduce a democratic principle into the constitution of these bodies—that, so far from constituting any objection, would form with him a ground of approval of the measure. It was to the fact that the Crown was in this country based upon the perfect favour of the people that its safety and honour were to he attributed. The experience of the last four or five years should, he thought, weigh with their Lordships on this decision. He did not think that the course which had been pursued for some years past by that House was calculated to raise its character in the judgment of the country. He could not help expressing it as his conviction, that most of those who were now engaged in opposition to this measure had not (when they first warmly opposed Emancipation and Reform, and then turned round and proclaimed themselves the advocates of these measures) done much to raise that House in the estimation of the country.

The Duke of Wellington

said, that at first he felt disposed to go into Committee on the Bill, and endeavour to make such alterations in its provisions as he hoped would take from it many of its objectionable qualities; but he felt at the same time that Counsel should previously be heard, and having heard those learned gentlemen, and taking their observations in connexion with the appendix to the Report of the Commissioners, he found it impossible to avoid arriving at the conclusion that the evidence which they tendered at the Bar of their Lordships' House ought to be received. He was the more induced to pursue this course, because they had been assured by the noble Viscount that this Bill was not founded upon the Report of the Corporation Commissioners, and they had since then heard, from the same side of the House, that the Bill was to he based upon that Report. Upon the whole of the inquiries and examination of evidence, he had at once pronounced it to be his own opinion, that the evidence before the House was not such as would authorise any Minister in bringing forward any measure of sweeping Reform on the subject of these Corporations. And he thought so because he found abundant proofs in this Report itself that there were many Corporations which had conducted their local governments so as eminently to deserve the esteem of society. He confessed, after the assurance they had received, he was astonished to find this Bill produced, as confessedly founded upon the Report of these Commissioners. He, also, confessed he had his objection to the constitution of the Commission, yet notwithstanding he was ready and professed his willingness to appear before the Commissioners and give whatever information he could upon the subject of their inquiries into the Corporation with which he was connected. But, though he had done so, no request was made to him to attend before the Commissioners, nor any written question submitted to him for an answer, and yet, notwithstanding this, the Commissioners took the liberty to introduce his name very unjustifiably in the Report. He thought that, considering the Commission had been issued under the sanction of the Great Seal, and by his Majesty's command, the conduct of the Commission was derogatory to the high authority under which it had issued. He must complain openly that this measure, though called a measure of Municipal Reform, was not a general measure. Out of 300 Corporations, it did not even affect to touch above 180. He held that there was a visiting power vested in the Crown sufficient to remedy the evils of the Corporations. These Corporations might have been visited and their condition inquired into by the King, and such persons as he should appoint pro hac vice. If their Lordships were prepared to convict these Corporations of abuse, it was absurd to say they would attain the object contemplated without instituting an examination of witnesses. He confessed he entertained objections to the Bill which he never could imagine would have been assented to without considerable amendments having been introduced in the Committee by their Lordships. He never could have given his assent to a Bill like this, affecting all Corporations, unless their Lordships had ample opportunity of hearing evidence upon the allegations of the Commissioners at their Bar. It was the boast and undoubted right of the subjects of this realm to be entitled to hold their property till they were deprived of that property by due course of law. Here he confessed he saw no ground for their Lordships proceeding to deprive the Corporations of that power which, in many instances, particularly in the case of the Corporation of Liverpool, they exerted most beneficially for the interest of those committed to their government, and for which deprivation and loss no compensation was even tendered; and upon the whole he could not hesitate to give his vote in favour of the amendment of his noble Friend, that evidence be heard at their Bar before they proceeded further with the Bill before their Lordships.

The Earl of Ripon

had no intention of troubling the House at any length at that hour of the morning. The question before the House was, whether or not witnesses should be called in to prove that the Report of the Commissioners was not such as the House could proceed to legislate upon it. Now, though he did not pretend to say that the Report was not open to many objections, yet he did think that the proposed inquiry was beside that which should occupy their Lordships' consideration. He did not think, even from the Report itself, that the Corporations had been proved to be those seats of corruption that they were alleged to be. But this Report was by no means essential to enable the House to legislate upon the question. It was upon this principle the House ought to proceed, and that principle could be but little affected by the Report of the Commissioners. He had detected many errors in the Report, and would instance some errors in the Report upon the Corporation of Ripon, of which he and his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack (Sir Launcelot Shadwell, who sat as Speaker), were Aldermen. The Corporation of Ripon was a burgage tenure Corporation, and had nothing whatever to do with the election of Members of Parliament, yet the Commissioners laboured throughout their Report to connect the Corporation influence with political objects. At the same time he did not sec his way clearly through the proposed inquiry at the Bar, which he was afraid would be endless. Fie thought there were adequate grounds for some measure of Reform similar to that before the House; and feeling that, although that measure was not exactly one of justice, it was one of expediency, he should vote against the Motion of his noble Friend—to hear evidence at the Bar.

The Marquess of Bute

assured their Lordships he did not mean to make a long speech. They had heard from Counsel at the Bar, that numerous Corporations felt themselves aggrieved by the allegations of the Bill before them, and that they were ready to refute those allegations. Now he only called upon their Lordships to act upon that principle of justice which enjoined them to do unto others that which they desired others should do unto them; and, acting in the spirit of that principle, not to condemn parties unheard, and not to alienate property without proof of just grounds for so doing. He could only say for himself, that if he were to entertain this Bill without hearing the parties whose interests and characters were affected by it, he should expect a Bill of Pains and Penalties to be brought in against himself, confiscating his property, and should deserve to fall unpitied.

Viscount Melbourne

—At this late hour of the night, I shall detain your Lordships with but very few observations upon the course which this debate has taken. The noble and learned Lord, the late Lord Chancellor (Lyndhurst), has thought fit to condemn the precedents quoted by my noble and learned Friend against the Motion of the noble Earl opposite. He has told your Lordships that the precedent of the course taken by this House upon the Slave-Trade was not in point, because, upon that occasion, the evidence offered was evidence of opinion, not evidence of fact. Now, my Lords, I think there is some reason to doubt the accuracy of the noble and learned Lord's statement; and although he represents that he has taken it from the Reports of the proceedings, it is to be observed that the Reports of those days were not taken with that accuracy which distinguishes those of the present time. But, my Lords, the noble and' learned Lord, not content with this manner of getting over the difficulty presented by my noble and learned Friend, goes further back in Parliamentary history, and finds out that in the year 1793, this House did hear evidence at the Bar, upon a Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. They did so, indeed, my Lords; but that was when the House swamped the Bill sent up from the Commons. When they wanted to destroy the Bill, they took the course now proposed with regard to the Bill on your Lordships' table, of hearing evidence against it. But in 1806 when they wanted to pass the Measure for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, they refused to hear evidence, as has been already stated by my noble and learned Friend. I must say, my Lords, that I cannot look upon the means taken to perpetuate the nefarious traffic in human flesh as a fit and proper precedent for your Lordships to follow with regard to the alleged abuses in Corporations. The noble and learned Lord also went into a general argument against the whole Bill, describing it as of such a nature, so affecting property, and so fraught with evils of various descriptions, that in his opinion your Lordships ought not to pass it without having Evidence. The noble Duke also took the same objections to the measure, which he described as partial in its operation. This, my Lords, I say is unfounded, as to the general character of that measure, which includes, fairly and impartially, every Corporation having a certain amount of inhabitants. The noble Duke says that this measure ought to have originated in the Court of King's Bench. Indeed, I could not but marvel at the numerous objections urged by that noble Duke, after he had declared himself friendly to the principle of the measure. But if I had cause to be surprised at any thing in the conduct of the noble Duke and the noble and learned Lord, it was at the time taken by them for the statement of their objections. I certainly, my Lords, should not the other night have consented to the postponement of the discussion, if I had not been misled and deceived as to the intention of the opponents of this measure. I ask whether there was not a clear understanding, if not in precise terms, whether there was not a distinct and implicit understanding that no advantage was to be taken for the purposes of delay. I state, my Lords, that I so understood the agreement, and that such was the feeling of the House; and I beg for once to declare, that I will not again enter into any such understandings with those who afterwards may not have the will, or may want the power, to give effect to them. Observations have been made against the preamble of this Bill, and much stress has been laid upon the fact, that certain words have been taken from the Report of the Commissioners. I beg leave to state that the words which are identical in the preamble and the Report, were taken from the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons, in which Report the whole proceedings have had their foundation. Your Lordships must know that a Committee of the House of Commons was originally appointed to consider the state of the Corporations. The Members of that Committee were convinced of the necessity of Corporate Reform, but were also convinced that they could not enter into the investigation by taking evidence in London. Upon this ground a Commission was recommended; and I must say that the opinion of the Committee of the other House, against taking that Evidence, which your Lordships are now recommended to take, ought to weigh with your Lordships as an argument against such a proceeding. I might make many other observations upon what has passed in the discussion this night, but I will not now trouble your Lordships with them. I think your Lordships did wrong in hearing Counsel. I think you will do further wrong in hearing Evidence. This Bill has been called a Bill of Pains and Penalties. It is neither in form nor in substance such a Bill. It has nothing in common with a measure of that description. It is a Bill of general legislation; and I tell your Lordships that by the course you are now pursuing, you are tearing up your own legislative powers by the roots. No Bill can be presented to your Lordships, against which some persons may not allege, and with truth, that he has rights and interests involved in the issue of it; and if you are never to pass any Bill without following the course for which you now propose to establish a precedent, you will destroy your own legislative power, and most effectually tear up your own authority in the state by the roots. I know not, my Lords, to what facts we are called to hear evidence. If Counsel are to be confined to the proof of those facts set forth in their speeches, I am quite sure that we need not waste our time by hearing their witnesses. Those facts will not affect the Bill, but to prove them will be productive of intermina- ble delay. It is proposed, however, by the Counsel, that a Copy of this Bill shall be served upon every Corporation in the kingdom. The object of this is clear, but I beg leave to state to those who are the abettors of this proceeding, that I am not to be beaten by delay. The noble Lords who are the abettors of this proceeding will take upon themselves the conduct and marshalling of the evidence. I, for my part, will attend in my place, and do the best in my power to advance the progress of the Bill, and promote the interests of the country. My Lords, the learned Counsel at your Bar has told you that this Bill will prove the destruction of this House. I think, my Lords, that it may. The learned Counsel said, —ilia dies utramque Ducet ruinam. But, my Lords, every one who knows the passage quoted by the learned Counsel, knows that it alludes to a case of self-immolation—of self-destruction—of meditated suicide, my Lords. So, my Lords, I agree with the learned Counsel, in thinking that if you follow the advice offered to you with respect to this Bill, it may indeed prove the destruction of your House.

Their Lordships divided on the Earl of Carnarvon's Amendment: Contents 124; Not-Contents 54; Majority against Ministers 70.

List of the CONTENTS.
Cumberland Airlie
Leeds Selkirk
Portland Dartmouth
Dorset Tankerville
Wellington Aylesford
MARQUESSES. Harrington
Salisbury Hardwick
Abercorn De Lawarr
Hertford Bathurst
Bute Hillsborough (Marquess of Downshore)
Camden Beverley
Cholmondeley Mansfield
Ailesbury Carnarvon
Westmeath Liverpool
EARLS. Wicklow
Devon Caledon
Westmorland Rosslyn
Chesterfield Wilton
Sandwich Limerick
Doncaster (Duke of Buccleuch) Powis
Shaftesbury Manvers
Abingdon Lonsdale
Jersey Harrowby
Poulett Harewood
Moreton Verulam
Brownlow Redesdale
St. Germain's Ellenborough
Bradford Sheffield (Earl of Sheffield)
Beauchamp Manners
Glengall Meldrum (Earl of Aboyne)
De Grey Harris
Falmouth Prudhoe
Vane (Marquess of Londonerry) Colchester
Ormonde (Marquess of Ormonde)
Hereford Maryborough
Arbuthnot Ravensworth
St. Vincent Forrester
Gordon (Earl of Aberdeen) Downes
Exmouth Penshurst (Viscount Strangford)
BARONS. De Tabley
Willoughby de Broke Wharncliffe
Forbes Lyndhurst
Saltoun Melross (Earl of Haddington)
Colville Cowley
Reay Stuart de Rothesay
Hay(Earl of Kinnoul) Heytesbury
Monson Skelmersdale
Boston Fitzgerald
Camden (Earl of Brecknock) Ashburton
Berwick Canterbury
Montagu BISHOPS.
Kenyon London
Douglas Lichfield
Gage (Viscount Gage) Lincoln
Stewart of Garlies (Earl of Galloway) St. David's
Bayning Carlisle
Northwick Rochester
Fitzgibbon (Earl of Clare) Llandaff
Carberry Oxford
Carberry Glocester
Farnham Exeter
List of the NOT-CONTENTS.
Grafton BARONS.
Cleveland Willoughby de Eresby
MARQUESSES. Howard of Effingham
Lansdowne Saye and Sele
Northampton Teynham
Breadalbane Howland (Marquess of Tavistock)
EARLS. Holland
Thanet Ducie
Scarborough Foley
Albemarle Auckland
Radnor Lilford
Spencer Barham
Charlemont Hill
Minto Melbourne (Viscount Melbourne)
Lichfield Minster (Marquess Conyngham)
VISCOUNTS. Somerhill (Marquess of Clanricarde)
Seaford Templemore
Plunket Solway (Marquess of Queenberry)
Kilmarnock (Earl of Errol) Duncannon (Viscount Duncannon)
Sefton (Earl of Sefton) Hatherton
Clements (Earl of Leitrim) Glenelg
Kenlis (Marquess of Headfort) BISHOPS.
Howden Hereford
Poltimore Bristol
Mostyn Limerick

Counsel were called in, and informed that they were to be ready with the Evidence on the following day.

The following Protest against hearing Evidence on the Municipal Corporation Bill was entered:—

  1. Dissentient:—1. Because we consider the provisions of this Bill, which is neither a private Bill, nor a Bill of Pains and Penalties, but one of a general and remedial nature, as not affording any reason for the admission of evidence that would not have applied equally to a great number of other legislative measures which have been passed through both Houses of Parliament, without the proposition of such an examination of witnesses ever having been made.
  2. 2. Because evidence has been tendered and refused by this House in former cases, where individual interests of property were at least equally involved.
  3. 3. Because the evidence tendered in this instance was all for the purpose of proving facts which are not necessarily in issue between those who support and those who oppose the passing of this Bill—facts all of which may be admitted to be true without the least impeachment of the principle of the measure, or any of its details.
  4. 4. Because the main ground of complaint, and the chief reason urged for receiving evidence is not any objection to the provisions of the Bill, but an objection to one part of its preamble which might be entirely omitted without any prejudice to the Bill.
  5. 5. Because the evidence tendered relates almost exclusively to the conduct of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of Municipal Corporations and the Report of these Commissioners—Whereas their conduct forms no part of the question raised by the Bill now brought before the House, and the Report is no necessary part of that measure.
  6. 6. Because, if evidence is to be received upon the ground that certain parties conceive themselves aggrieved by a certain report, or by the conduct of certain Commissioners, and not in proof of any injury apprehended form a measure before the House, there is no reason why evidence should not be received to son why evidence should not be received to rebut the matters contained in any report or 1428 any the conduct of certain Commissioners, and not in proof of any injury apprehended from a measure before the House, there is no reason why evidence should not be received to rebut the matters contained in any report or any other document laid upon the Table of this House, and proceeding from any quarter whatever, even if no legislative measure should have been grounded thereupon, nor any proceeding of the House proposed to be adopted in connexion therewith.
  7. 7. Because the admission of evidence, beside establishing a precedent for an indulgence which tends directly to impede our legislative functions, must in this instance consume the time of the House, without giving any material assistance to the discussion of the subject, while it places in jeopardy the passing of a Bill called for by every consideration of sound policy, and by a due regard to the rights of the people.
  8. 8. Because when we assented to the application for hearing the case argued by Counsel, we did so protesting against its being either necessary or justifiable, but in order to remove all possible ground of complaint, and in the firm belief that it was the intention of the House to confine the proceeding at the Bar to hearing the arguments of two Counsel.

Brougham, Duncannon,
Vassal Holland, Queensberry,
Cleveland, Albemarle,
Thanet, Torrington,
Melbourne, Except the 8th reason,
Lansdowne, Somerhill.

The following Protest against the Corporations' Reform Bill altogether was also entered:—

  1. Dissentient—1. Because the Commission under which the Commissioners for inquiry into Municipal Corporations have acted is perfectly illegal and unconstitutional, the Constitution of the country recognising no such arbitrary power as that which has been claimed by the Crown, of issuing a Commission (without the consent of the Houses of Parliament) deeply affecting the hereditary rights, privileges, and properties, belonging to the municipal borough towns included in the Report made by the said Commissioners.
  2. 2. That by acknowledging such a principle, by hearing evidence, this House will establish a precedent of a most dangerous character, which will endanger the security not only of all existing hereditary rights and privileges, but of every species of property, whether of a public or private character, existing in this country.
  3. 3. That however specious the title of this Bill may appear, it is evident to every mind unprejudiced by party feeling, that the object which it is intended to accomplish is the furtherance of that democratic spirit which is at present afloat in this country, and which is aiming at the total subversion of all the civil and religious institutions of the British empire.

Winchilsea and Nottingham. Newcastle.

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