HL Deb 18 August 1835 vol 30 cc629-49

The House resolved itself into Committee on the Corporation Reform Bill.

The 35th Clause, which provides "that existing Mayors and Councils shall go out of office on the election of Councils under this Act, and that those Persons who are Justices of the Peace in any borough at the time of passing this Act shall continue to exercise their powers until the 1st day of May, 1836, and no longer," having been read,

Lord Lyndhurst rose, and said, he had first to propose a verbal Amendment, and he should next move to strike out the words "until the 1st day of May, in the year 1836, and no longer." To explain his reason for proposing that Amendment, he should refer to the 96th Clause, which set forth, "That it shall be lawful for the Council of every borough to which his Majesty shall at any time hereafter be pleased to grant licence in that behalf, and each of them is required, from time to time, to name so many fit persons as to the Council of each of the said boroughs respectively from time to time shall seem expedient, for the purpose of being qualified to receive his Majesty's Commission to act as Justices of the Peace in and for such boroughs and counties; and his Majesty thereupon may assign so many of the persons so named as to his Majesty shall seem fit to be his Majesty's Justices, and to keep the peace in the said boroughs and counties," &c. Now, this involved a direct limitation of the power of the Crown, to which he strongly objected. In his opinion those persons who were at present Justices of the Peace in boroughs or counties, in consequence of the right which they claimed under Charter, should continue to hold the same situation which they now held, but which, under this Bill, they were only empowered to hold until the 1st of May, 1836. He therefore proposed to omit the words "until the 1st day of May, 1836, and no longer."

Lord Brougham

said, his noble and learned Friend had again got the knife in his hand, with which on the preceding night he had butchered the Bill. He was extremely sorry to see it. Did his noble and learned Friend mean to say, that all borough Magistrates whatever were to be Justices of the Peace, although they did not belong to the Corporation? It did not follow that all Aldermen were Justices of the Peace. In many boroughs the two senior Aldermen only exercised the duties of that office, and in some they devolved only on those who had passed the Chair. It was extraordinary to say, that an individual should continue during his life to act as a Justice of the Peace, merely because in his time he had as an Alderman exercised judicial functions. He did not wish to argue as if he were at the Bar before his noble and learned Friend, and yet he felt that he ought almost to plead before him, as he appeared to be sitting in judicial authority on the Bill. He should therefore request of the Court to re-consider the subject, to rehear the matter on the part of the Bill, and to pass a different sentence from that which his Lordship had already been pleased to pronounce. He hoped the noble and learned Judge would think favourably of the proposition which he now submitted to the Court.

Lord Lyndhurst

said, he had heard with patience the argument of the noble and learned Advocate but it it had not induced him to come to a different conclusion. His object was to secure justice for those persons who filled the situation of justices of the peace, under charter, in different boroughs. He saw no reason why those individuals who had filled the situation of justice of the peace, under a charter, and who had performed their duties efficiently, should be removed from that situation. In his view of the subject, they ought to be protected in the enjoyment of a privilege or power which they had showed themselves capable of exercising beneficially for the public. That was the judgment which he had pronounced. If the noble and learned Advocate thought proper to cause a writ of error to be moved in the other House of Parliament, he must patiently await the decision.

Lord Brougham

said, that on ordinary occasions his noble and learned Friend waited till he heard the arguments on both sides, and then decided; whereas on the present occasion he wrote his judgment beforehand, and heard counsel afterwards. That, he was sure, was not the sort of justice to which his noble and learned Friend wished to lay claim. It was the justice of Minos and Rhadamanthus—judges who presided in a place to which he hoped his noble and learned Friend was not going. Series in cœlum redeat. His noble and learned Friend was just doing the very same thing that gave to those judges their fame and their seat at the infernal tribunal. Castigatque auditque. He would not say dolos, because there were no doli there. They first punished, and afterwards, at their leisure, he supposed, they heard. His noble and learned friend was just proceeding in the same way. He believed, however, that the suggestion which he had thrown out had never occurred to his noble and learned Friend. If it had, he was convinced that his noble and learned Friend never would have come to such a decision. He trusted that, having heard that suggestion, his noble and learned Friend would not adhere to his decision merely because he had stated his opinion, but that he would again consider it.

Lord Lyndhurst

I have read the papers, listened attentively to the argument, and pronounced judgment afterwards. From that judgment I see no reason to depart.

Viscount Melbourne

said, their Lordships had agreed generally to the principle of the measure: they had admitted that a reform of the Municipal Corporations was necessary and how were they now proceeding? They were sweeping away from this Bill almost everything—almost every point that could be useful. It was impossible that their Lordships could have taken means more effectual to prevent this measure from remedying any of the evils that had been complained of, or from producing any of the advantages which was expected to arise from it, than those which they had adopted. The preservation of so much abuse, and moreover the preservation of so much of that which it was desirable on every account to get rid of, rendered the Bill perfectly inefficient for the purposes for which it was originally intended. He should make no opposition either to this or to any other Amendment, because from the determination by which their Lordships had shown themselves actuated at present, such opposition would be evidently useless. But when these Amendments of their Lordships should all be adopted, and when the Bill should be seen in the state in which their Lordships might be disposed to leave it, it would then be matter of serious—ay, of very serious consideration, whether his Majesty's Ministers could proceed with a measure so mutilated and so spoiled.

Amendments agreed to.

On the 36th Clause being proposed, which relates to the division of certain boroughs into wards.

Lord Ellenborough

rose to request the attention of their Lordships to this Clause, and to some important Amendments which he should propose to them to make in it. In the first place, he objected to giving his Majesty in Council the power of dividing the different municipal boroughs into wards. Under the Reform Bill the boundaries of the different Parliamentary boroughs had been taken by a Parliamentary Commission, and their Lordships had already decided that the municipal boundaries of such boroughs as were not Parliamentary boroughs, should remain as they were until Parliament decided otherwise. The difficulty, however, of dividing the municipal boroughs into wards was greater than that of fixing their boundaries, for their Lordships had no information respecting what ought to be the internal limits of the different wards in the different corporate towns of the kingdom. He was unwilling to say anything that might prove painful to the feelings of hon. Gentlemen who had been engaged in arduous public duties; yet a sense of public duty compelled him to say, that in many respects the boundary Commissioners as well as the corporation Commissioners had not acted in a satisfactory manner. It was evident that they did not understand the objects for which they were appointed; it was likewise evident to him that the instructions issued to them by his Majesty's Government were not calculated to give them a proper notion of the duties which they had to discharge; and having that feeling on his mind, having a great want of confidence in these Commissioners, and also in the Government which appointed these Commissioners, he was unwilling to delegate to his Majesty in Council the power of dividing the municipal boroughs into wards. If such power were granted to his Majesty in Council, or in other words to Commissioners appointed by the Government, those Commissioners must also be intrusted with the power of apportioning to the different wards their respective number of councillors. Thus they would have the power of giving to any party which they pleased the power of deciding all the elections in its own favour. By whom, then, ought this power of dividing the boroughs into wards to be exercised? It ought to be placed in the hands of those who had the fullest local information, and who were the most likely to be free from all suspicion of abusing the confidence reposed in them. Their Lordships ought perhaps to choose the members of the existing corporate bodies as those who had the fullest local information: but as they were unfortunately, he did not say justly, open to suspicion, they did not combine in themselves the two qualifications which he deemed necessary, and therefore his choice would not fall upon them. Under the Reform Act power was granted to the Magistrates assembled in Quarter Sessions to divide counties into districts, and to select the rolling places for the several districts. There was, however, this objection to granting to the Magistrates assembled in Quarter Sessions the power of dividing the boroughs into wards. They had not the local information that was necessary to the proper making of such divisions, though they must be admitted on all hands to be far above suspicion. There were, however, the Magistrates of the division in the neighbourhood of the municipal borough, who must have the requisite local knowledge, and as they were above suspicion, this power was safely delegated to them; and such being the case, he should propose an Amendment on this Clause giving them the power to divide the boroughs into wards. He had also to object to the mode in which this Clause limited the division into wards. Under this Clause no borough was to be divided into wards unless its population exceeded 12,000 inhabitants. But half the boroughs comprised in this Bill contained less than 12,000 inhabitants. If their only object in dividing boroughs into wards was to avoid disturbance at the election of councillors, that object might be accomplished by increasing the number of polling places; but the object of dividing boroughs into wards was, as he conceived, to give all classes and interests in the community a fair chance of being equally represented. He would therefore carry the division into wards as low down as it was possible. For instance, he would assign to every borough of which the population exceeded 6,000, and was under 9,000 persons, two wards; to every borough of which the population exceeded 9,000, and was under 13,000, three wards; to every borough of which the population exceeded 13,000, and was under 18,000, four wards; and soon, until he reached boroughs of which the population varied from 55,000 to 70,000 inhabitants, which he would divide into eight wards. This mode, he contended, would be more effectual than that proposed in the Bill, if the object of the promoters of it were to give each and every interest in the borough a fair share of the representation. Then came the question, how were the number of councillors to be apportioned to each ward? To decide that question, their Lordships must consider the nature and character of the constituency which they had created. He believed that their Lordships had determined to take the constituency as it stood in the Bill as sent up from the House of Commons. Now, it appeared to him that in no way could their Lordships have testified their disposition to adhere as far as they could to the arrange- ments of the other House of Parliament than by adopting that new constituency. He thought that his Majesty's Government had acted wisely in not creating for the municipal elections the same constituency as had votes for the election of Members of Parliament. It would be dangerous, if not fatal, to the tranquillity and well-being of the corporate towns, if on every election of mayor, or town councillor, or auditor, or any other municipal officer, there were a trial made of the electoral strength of the two parties in the state, which would be the case were the Parliamentary and municipal constituency of the borough the same. In such a state of things every election of a municipal officer would be considered as a trial of a very different issue, and the issue to be determined by that trial would be which party should nominate the Member of Parliament at the next election? He saw great advantage in appointing for the municipal boroughs a constituency lower than that of the 10l. householders, for it created a dependence of the higher classes on the lower classes of the community, which was done away with by the Reform Bill. He thought that their Lordships would admit that in all towns subject to municipal government the persons rated at a lower sum than 10l. would have a great numerical preponderancy over those who were rated at a higher sum than 10l. Their Lordships were therefore creating under this Bill a constituency far more numerous than that which existed under the Reform Act. Under such circumstances it became a question upon what principle Parliament should apportion the number of councillors allotted to the borough among its different wards—whether it should pay regard to the relative numbers, or to the relative property of the wards, or whether it should pay regard to the numbers and property combined. For his own part, he thought that the latter was the consideration to which their Lordships ought principally to look. The combined ratio of numbers and property was the principle which the House adopted in saving the Parliamentary boroughs from the schedules A and B of the Reform Bill—it was the principle which the House had adopted in the Vestry Act—it was the principle which the House had adopted in a very excellent Act which it had passed for the local government of Manchester. He, therefore, thought it desirable that this priniciple should be adopted in this Bill; for if their Lordships wished the Bill to be permanent, they ought not to frame the constituency under it in such a manner as would deprive six-eighths of them of all real power, and he should propose an Amendment to apportion the councillors to such wards in proportion to the numbers and property of the wards. The noble Lord moved that the original clause be left out of the Bill, and that in lieu of it a clause containing his Amendments be inserted.

Viscount Melbourne

observed, that it wag impossible for him to argue against the want of confidence which the noble Baron said that he entertained, not only for the boundary Commissioners and the Corporation Commissioners, but also for His Majesty's Government who appointed them. For his own part, he could not see why confidence was to be refused to the Commissioners appointed to fix the boundaries of the municipal boroughs, on account of the instructions which had been issued to them by Government. The noble Baron had said, that those instructions betrayed the object for which they were framed. One of them was in these words:—[The noble Viscount read a paper to this effect—"You shall not divide the boroughs into wards, so as to throw the rich inhabitants into one ward, and the poor into another; but you shall so divide them as to throw the rich and poor into wards together, in nearly equal proportions."] That appeared to him to be a perfectly reasonable instruction. The whole town was best constituted when the rich and the poor resided together. The ward of a town was but a representation of the town itself, and that was implied in the criterion which the noble Lord had himself taken in the latter part of his speech, for the number of councillors to be appointed to each ward, when he said that it ought to be fixed on the combined ratio of property and of numbers. The noble Baron, who was such a stickler for the prerogatives of the Crown, proposed to place the power of dividing boroughs into wards in the hands of the magistrates of the divisions neighbouring on the boroughs to be divided, and refused to place it in the hands of the King in Council, or in those of the Commissioners whom the King in Council might appoint. Now, he did not think the course proposed by the noble Baron a prudent course. It was not a course calculated to secure a wise and temperate administration of the Bill. It was taking at haphazard men with more or less discretion, with more or less interest in the local affairs and prejudices of the different boroughs, and placing in their hands a power, which the noble Baron said was of a very delicate nature, and most difficult to be exercised with impartiality. He could not but think that this power would be more prudently and more skilfully exercised by Commissioners appointed by the Crown, than it would be by any magistrates taken at haphazard. The noble Baron had taken upon himself to assert, that the Commissioners under the Boundaries Act had not conducted themselves with discretion and propriety. This was the first time he had ever heard such a charge made against them, and all he should say in reply to it was, that all their proceedings had passed under the review of Parliament, and that the objections made against them had been few in number, and insignificant in point of weight. The noble Baron would also have a more minute division of boroughs into wards than that which was contemplated by this Bill. He would divide into wards, towns which had less than 12,000 inhabitants. Towns of 6000 inhabitants were to have only one ward; but all above 6000 and under 9000 were to have two wards, and so upwards on an ascending scale. Now, he must say, that he saw no advantage in these minute subdivisions, except it were to divide towns into snug coteries, over which rich men might exercise the right of nomination by dint of money. He was of opinion, that the limit to the number of wards provided by this Bill was quite sufficient. From the hurried manner in which the noble Lord had given the statement of the substance of his Clauses, he had not been able to understand the mode in which the noble Baron would fix the number of Councillors; but, as far as he could understand it, it appeared to him to be another well-devised scheme to give additional weight to the influence of property. It appeared to him, that this Amendment gave a still more aristocratical character to the Bill than that which their Lordships had already unfortunately impressed upon it. In conclusion, he must observe, that he could not help looking upon these Amendments with considerable suspicion.

The Earl of Winchilsea

expressed his intention to support this Amendment, which he was convinced would give great satisfaction to the country. He expressed his conviction that this Bill was brought forward for party purposes, and for party purposes only. It was intended to raise one party, and to depress another. That was not a legitimate mode of legislation. He was con- vinced that the country was sick of party feelings and party agitation, and only wished to be at rest.

The Earl of Ripon

was inclined to think that the limitation fixed by the Amendment for the number of wards, was too low, and that the limitation fixed by the Bill was too high. He thought that in fixing 6,000 as the limit at which the division into two wards was to commence, his noble Friend (Lord Ellenborough) had begun at too low a number, whilst the Bill, in fixing 12,000 for the same object had begun too high. He felt considerable doubt as to the policy of leaving the division of boroughs into wards to the magistrates of the divisions neighbouring on the towns, instead of leaving it to the King in Council. He knew not how this matter affected the political views of His Majesty's Government on the one side, or their political opponents on the other. He thought that the King in Council was the party to whom this power of division ought to be left. The best plan, as it appeared to him, would be for their Lordships to enact in the Schedules of the Bill precisely those divisions which they wished to have made. He admitted, however, that in the present Session it was too late to take that course. To whom, then, ought this power to be intrusted? In his opinion to the King in Council. By granting this power to the magistrates of the neighbouring division, you would place them in an inconveniently invidious position, because though they might be perfectly impartial, it did not follow that the inhabitants of the boroughs would think them so. In conclusion, he expressed an opinion, that in every case where a town had a population of 10,000 souls, there two wards should be established.

Lord Ellenborough

said, that such a rule would exclude not less than fifty boroughs.

The Duke of Richmond

objected to that part of the Amendment which threw upon the neighbouring magistracy the responsibility of dividing the boroughs into wards. Take, for instance, the case of Chichester, a town which had one of these Corporations. He happened to be the Chairman of the Petty Sessions held for that town and neighbourhood. There were three or four county magistrates who resided in Chichester, and some who resided within two or three miles of it. The political opinions of each of these Magistrates were well known, and yet it was proposed to intrust to them the decision of a point which must involve them in a collision with one party or another in that city. It would be still worse to leave the point to be decided by the Magistrates assembled in Quarter Sessions; for, in an extensive county like Sussex, you might as well refer it to the Magistrates of Yorkshire, as to the Magistrates who came from districts remote from Chichester, for as a body they could know nothing of the local circumstances of the city of Chichester. He also objected to giving this power to the County Magistrates upon another ground. By so doing, were not their Lordships converting the magistracy into a political body? In the present circumstances of the country, was that advisable?—was it even expedient? He regretted to find that those noble Lords who had hitherto sustained the rights of the Crown, were the first to take measures to infringe those rights, merely because they had no confidence in the present Administration. He thought that this power ought to be consigned to the hands of Commissioners appointed by the Crown; for, if those Commissioners should happen to do wrong, it would be in the power of their Lordships to remedy that misconduct afterwards. In reference to the subject of wards, he thought that the limitation should be lower than it was fixed in the Bill: but, still, though such was his opinion, he thought that the noble Baron had fixed it too low. His reason for wishing to have the limitation lower than that fixed in the Bill was, that he thought it would give a greater chance for a fair election, and would prevent any club from carrying at pleasure the election of its nominees. By dividing the boroughs into wards, the chance of having fair and free elections was increased.

Lord Ellenborough.

—Surely the noble Duke must have forgotten that he was a member of the Government which passed the Reform Bill, and gave to the Magistrates assembled in Quarter Sessions the power of dividing counties into districts, and of appointing polling places.

Lord Brougham

protested against the argument, now too common in that House, of binding all the parties to a project of a Bill, when it was first introduced, to every principle contained in it. Were they never to depart from a measure, because it was once introduced into Parliament? Were they to declare unblushingly to the world that in that House at least, they would shut their eyes to every thing passing around them, and never profit by experience? A more ridiculous, and, with all deference to those who propounded it, a more absurd principle he had never heard defended by the mouth of man. What would be the consequence, he would ask, of adopting the principle and the practice of this Amendment? Great discontent, he knew, existed in various parts of the country, owing to the manner in which the Magistrates at Quarter Sessions had divided the counties into districts, and had fixed polling places under the Reform Act. He could himself name more than half a dozen cases, in which many parties had been so annoyed—in which the Magistrates on the one side, and the inhabitants of the district on the other, were ready to come before Parliament, and pray that a new arrangement of the polling districts might take place without delay. He had never himself been favourable to the plan of vesting in the Magistrates the power given to them in the counties by the Reform Act. He had, however, only a choice of evils before him, and thinking that evil to be the least, he had consented to give to the Magistrates a power, which he now most sincerely regretted having ever given them. In like manner he repented of having given to the judges, under the Reform Act, the power of appointing the revising barristers. He had not consented to give them that power under the present Bill, for he thought that the judges had not exercised, as they ought, the power which had been formerly intrusted to their hands. He admitted, that the question of division into wards was a question of great nicety and difficulty. Where there were only two or three candidates, it was easy enough to conduct the election in the ordinary way, by increasing the number of polling places; but it was not quite so easy where you had twelve or fourteen persons, to be elected by a popular constituency. In such a case you must have a house list, or else by means of the cross-votes, parties might be elected in whom the bulk of the community had little confidence. Into whose hands, then, would these house-lists generally fall? Into the hands of some electioneering clerk or club—into the hands of what they call a Cacus in America—[Lord Lyndhurst—Say Caucus.] He stood corrected. He supposed that it was Caucus—for he admitted his noble and learned Friend to be more skilled than he was in the language of America. To return, however, to the Amendment. He did not understand what was meant exactly by the neighbouring magistracy. There were also two other points in it, to which he was obliged to object. He objected to those "neighbouring Magistrates" having the power of ap- portioning the number of Councillors to the different wards. That was imposing a most invidious task upon them. He thought it would be better to leave the matter in the hands of the King in Council; for it was erroneous to suppose that anything done by that authority was final, or could not be regulated or qualified by a subsequent Act of Parliament. His noble Friend opposite objected to this course, because the present Government was now in power. Now, he not having the lynx-eyes that the noble Lord seemed to possess, could not discover so many defects in the Government as the noble Lord. The present Government, like all Governments, had their course of politics, but he did not see that they would be less likely to exercise their judicial functions wisely, be they politicians or non-politicians. It was a matter of perfect indifference to them, or to any Government, how Bridport, Devonport, or any other borough might be divided into wards, and he really did not see any grounds for objecting to intrusting to the King, advised by his Ministers in Council, the determination as to the mode in which such divisions should be made.

Lord Skelmersdale

said, that as chairman of the Quarter Sessions of the peace for one division of the county of Lancaster, he had been concerned in the nomination of the polling places in that county, under the Reform Act, and he could say, that the Magistrates with whom he had acted discharged those duties with the utmost cheerfulness and unanimity, and he could assure the House that no dissatisfaction had, up to the present moment, been expressed by any party as to the arrangements which by them had been so made. For his own part, he would say, he would most cheerfully undertake the duties which, under the amendment of his noble Friend, would devolve upon the Magistracy, and he did not know any Magistrate in the same district as himself, who would not also most cheerfully take his share of the labour. As it had been said, the number of Magistrates attending petty sessions was small, he would suggest, that instead of the clause confining these duties to them, it should be provided that the Magistrates of the division should hold a special sessions for the purposes of this Bill, and he had no doubt that special sessions would be numerously attended. On the whole, he thought the matter would be better placed in the hands of the Magistracy than in those of a body of Commissioners. He, however, had no objection to the Magistrates first making a report to the King in Council, and that on that report final arrangements should be made.

Lord Segrave

could not think there would be found among the Magistrates generally that unanimity on this subject which the noble Lord seemed to anticipate. The Magistracy were peculiarly under the influence of political feelings on one side or the other, and he could appeal to the noble Baron opposite (Lord Ellenborough), whether, while acting under the Reform Bill, the Magistrates of the county of Glocester had acted with any thing at all approaching to unanimity. He had no hesitation in saying, that one of the very worst provisions of the Reform Act was, that the nomination of the polling places should be left to the Magistracy. At all events, they did not agree in the county of Gloucester.

Lord Ellenborough

was present at the meeting of the Magistrates of the county of Glocester on the occasion to which the noble Baron referred. He had, however, taken no part in the proceedings, though the noble Baron took a very active part. He must say, however, that the proceedings appeared to him to be as fair as he had ever witnessed.

Lord Hatherton

said, that in the county of Stafford no differences or disputes had arisen, because the Magistrates felt they were charged with the business of the county when deputed by the Reform Act to fix the polling-places for the county. The duty proposed now to be imposed upon them was very different, and he thought that Magistrates would be unwilling to act in interfering with the borough, and he was sure their interference would be regarded with suspicion by the inhabitants. He could not admit that there was any analogy in the duties imposed on the Magistrates and those proposed in the Amendment of the noble Baron.

The Duke of Richmond

said, that allusion having been made to his having been a Member of the Government by which the Reform Bill had been proposed, he must he allowed to observe that he was surprised that the noble Baron, who had himself served his Majesty in different offices, seemed not to be aware that it was perfectly impossible to find sixteen or seventeen gentlemen who would wholly agree in every single word of any particular measure. He begged to ask the noble Baron whether, supposing he had been in the Cabinet, which agreed in every principle of the Reform Bill, he would have thought himself justified in resigning his office merely because the Bill contained one clause which called on the Magistrates of the country to discharge a certain duty? It appeared to him, notwithstanding the suspicion which the noble Baron had thrown upon the Commissioners, that the best course would be that they should report to the King in Council, and that the first elections should be held under their arrangements by an order in Council, but that hereafter the division into wards should be regulated by a distinct Act of Parliament, to be passed after the information of the Commissioners should be received. He did not suppose for a moment that the Magistrates would not faithfully discharge this duty, but he did not think they could do so to the entire satisfaction of the residents in the town or borough near which they might be allocated.

Lord Ellenborough

conceived the first election under this Bill to be the most important, and with that view it was that he had moved the Amendment. He admitted that a man serving his Majesty must sacrifice his own feelings upon minor points to the general opinions of his colleagues, but at all events he had primâ facie grounds for supposing that the noble Duke had agreed in the portion of the Reform Bill to which he had alluded.

The Earl of Harrowby

said, that, under existing circumstances, he had strong objections to leave the matter of this division into wards to the decision of the King in Council. That body must rely upon information coining from a body of Commissioners, and it was quite clear to him, looking at the manner in which they were appointed, and the manner in which they had alraady executed the duties intrusted to them, they would exercise their functions with one particular view and object. Seeing, therefore, the quarter from which the information was to come, he owned he should regret to see the apportionment of these boroughs into wards left to the King in Council. At the same time, he felt considerable doubts as to the propriety of the mode proposed by his noble Friend He agreed with the noble Duke on the cross-benches in thinking there would be great inconvenience in throwing upon the Magistracy the responsibility of dividing the boroughs into wards. The proposition that they should report to the King in Council was well worthy of consideration and he thought that would be the least objectionable mode of proceeding. With regard to the apportionment of the number of councillors to each ward, he thought the good feeling of the people would be best secured by giving the same number to each. He threw out this suggestion for consideration before the Bill again was discussed, and in the mean time he should hope, that the Clauses proposed by his noble Friend would be adopted, subject, of course, to discussion in a future stage.

The Marquess of Lansdowne

would be very happy to see the Council relieved from the duties imposed upon them by the Clause under discussion. He was not aware of any distinct ground of imputation, but they certainly were under the necessity, in all such cases, of seeking information elsewhere. It rested with those who objected to this arrangement, however, to propose some better. He felt bound to say, that if there were a class of persons who were liable, he would not say to the just, but to the apparent, imputation of interfering from political motives, it was the Magistrates immediately surrounding the large towns. He was not at all certain that the power might not, in particular instances, be exercised for political purposes, and thus taint its general exercise. He spoke from some experience, as the Lord Lieutenant of a large manufacturing county himself, when he said, that the Lord Lieutenant had great difficulty in finding persons who would undertake the duties of Magistrates in large towns, from a fear on their parts, that they would be mixed up with the political and party concerns of those towns. Now, if these feelings prevailed among the Magistrates, what would be the consequence of imposing this duty on them? His noble Friend, on any other occasion, would not have the least chance of carrying such a Motion as he now made. He could not conceive anything more clear than that the persons who now managed parish affairs, under the Vestry Act, regulated them with the most admirable effect; whereas, formerly, some of the ablest men who attended the vestries totally failed in accomplishing that object; and why? Because they were so much removed from those whose conduct they had to regulate, that they did not know how to go about it, whereas the class of persons who now constituted the vestries, knew well how to deal with the persons under their control. These Town Councils would, in the same way, exercise the task assigned them much more satisfactorily than the Magistrates. He had no idea, however, of dividing the Committee upon the Motion. He should as soon think of carrying the House, with all their Lordships in it, across the Thames.

Lord Ashburton

was willing to bear testimony to the ability with which parish affairs were conducted by vestries appointed under the Act alluded to by the noble and learned Lord; but the powers now proposed to be given to those Councillors were far beyond those which a vestry, or any similar body, had hitherto exercised. He admitted that the subject of public-house licences was at all times a difficult one to deal with, but, until it entered into the imagination of the framers of that Bill, he would venture to say, nobody had ever dreamed of vesting the power of granting licences in the hands of a popularly elected body. If, indeed, their Lordships were to set their wits to work to devise some means by which the whole system of society in small towns might be deranged, he knew not how they could possibly hit upon anything more directly tending to that end than the proposition contained in that Clause.

The Earl of Radnor

differed from the noble Lord who had just sat down. He thought that the power of granting licences might very properly be vested in the hands of the Town Council. If the Town Council was composed of the men he expected it would be. They were the very parties in whom this power ought to rest, because they were the persons most immediately interested in maintaining good order.

The Amendment was agreed to.

The Clauses to the 66th were also agreed to.

On the reading of the 67th Clause—the first of those which relate to Charie Trusts,

Lord Lyndhurst

said, that, as they had now arrived at one of the most important sections of the Bill, he was anxious to state the course that he and his noble Friends around him were disposed to pursue. They thought it necessary that Parliament should come to some arrangement with respect to Charitable Trusts. They were aware that the noble and learned Lord (Brougham) opposite had introduced a Bill upon the subject, but they thought, looking at the complicated character of the provisions which such a measure must necessarily contain, it would be quite impossible that it should pass into a law, in the shape in which it stood, that Session, He (Lord Lyndhurst) was anxious to give every consideration to the Bill; and if his noble and learned Friend would bring it forward at an early period in the next Session, and so give their Lordships something to employ themselves about at that time of the year, he would give every attention in his power to it, and would endeavour to bring it to a proper conclusion. The 67th Clause of the present Bill continued in the hands of the persons at present possessing Charitable Trusts the power of dealing with those Trusts up to the 1st of January in the nest year, on which day all Trusts of this description were to be transferred from the present trustees to a committee or body of persons appointed by the new Corporations. What he proposed was, that the period for the transfer should be extended from the 1st of January to the 1st of August next year; that things should remain as they were at present up to that time; and that thus, before any final steps were taken, an opportunity should be afforded of considering the measure proposed by his noble and learned Friend, and of making such an arrangement with respect to the disposition of these Charitable Trusts as the importance of the question and the amount of the property involved required. He proposed, therefore, to act on the principle of the section itself—to adopt the first part of the Clause, and merely to alter the latter part by inserting the words "first of August," for the words "1st of January."

Lord Brougham

did not object to the course which his noble and learned Friend proposed to pursue. He only regretted that the opportunity had not been afforded him of carrying along the measure which he had introduced, upon the subject of Charitable Trusts, pari passu with the present Bill. That was the object which he had in view when he brought it forward, and but for the delays which were thrown in his way from many different quarters, the whole matter might have been finally and satisfactorily settled this Session. His noble and learned Friend might depend upon it that he would not fail to introduce the subject again at the very commencement of the next Session.

Amendment agreed to.

On the 76th Clause,

The Marquess of Lansdowne

said, the noble and learned Lord still spoke of the amount of the qualification, which was not the point to which his (Lord Lansdowne's) question had been addressed. Again, he stated that what he wished to know was, whether the noble and learned Lord in- tended to confine the necessity of qualification to those members of the Town Council who were elected by their fellow citizens.

Lord Lyndhurst

observed that they had not come to that part of the Bill which related to those who were to be members of the Town Council for life. The proposition which he had made related to those who were to be elected for a stated period.

Lord Brougham

remarked, that his noble and learned Friend could never think of retaining paupers as members of a Corporation for life, when those who were elected by their fellow citizens must be sixth raters, or fourth raters, or thousand or five hundred pounders. That would be too monstrous a proceeding. Supposing, however, that the member self-elected for life were to have a qualification at the time of his election, it might happen to him afterwards to fall into bad circumstances, and be under the necessity of applying for parish relief; now, if that happened to a member not elected for life, at the end of three years, or of one year (as the case might be) he would go out, and the Corporation would get rid of a pauper, while the other would remain an alderman and a pauper all the days of his life. He would take the present opportunity of observing, that he had last night stated, with reference to a letter from Glasgow, which had been produced by his noble and learned Friend, that he had no doubt it would be answered by Friday next. It was now only Tuesday, and he had received a letter completely contradicting the statements of his noble and learned Friend's correspondent. This contradiction came from a very respectable individual, a member of the Town Council of Glasgow, and a solicitor of great practice, Mr. Douglas, who had formerly been a candidate for the representation of Glasgow, and had obtained 1,500 votes. The letter stated that there never was a more unfounded statement than that made by the noble and learned Lord's correspondent, that paupers were appointed Members of the Town Council—men who were not rated to the poor-rates, and who were bankrupts. There was one member of the Town Council, a man of highly respectable character, who had been a bankrupt; but the letter stated—

The Marquess of Westmeath called the noble and learned Lord to order.

Lord Brougham

said, the noble Lord could not call him to order. He was about to conclude with a Motion. He would move that the Chairman report progress.

The Chairman

(the Earl of Shaftesbury) observed, that the noble and learned Lord was perfeetly in order.

Lord Brougham

remarked that this was at least the twentieth time that he had experienced a similar interruption from the same quarter. He should have done by this time had he not been interrupted. He had already stated, that notwithstanding the use of the plural number by his noble and learned Friend's correspondent, there was but one Member of the Town Council of Glasgow who had been a bankrupt. There was but one who had not been rated to the poor-rates. But what were the facts of that case? The individual in question was a partner in a respectable manufacturing house. Now, the Commissioners had the power of rating either the firm or the members of it, and they had chosen the former. The third charge adduced by his noble and learned Friend's correspondent was, that the Town Council of Glasgow had put their favourites into office, and had turned out all the other office bearers.

Lord Lyndhurst

said, his correspondent did not accuse them of turning any one out.

Lord Brougham

observed, that the fact was simply this—motives of just economy induced the Town Council to reduce the salary of one of their officers from 600l. a-year to 300l. a-year. It was offered to him to continue in office on the latter allowance: he declined to do so; and of course a successor was appointed. In addition to all this; Mr. Douglas stated that the members of the Town Council generally were among the wealthiest inhabitants and largest ratepayers of Glasgow; and that the finances of the Corporation were never in so flourishing a state as at present.

The Marquess of Westmeath

had called the noble and learned Lord to order, because he thought that noble and learned Lord was about to read a long letter from Glasgow; to which at that late period of the night, he was not disposed to listen. He had no wish whatever to interrupt the noble and learned Lord; for whose talents and powers he had as much respect as any man could have; although he sometimes could not help regretting the application of those talents and powers, and the disposition manifested by the noble and learned Lord to dictate, not only to individual peers, but to the whole House.

Lord Brougham

professed great respect for the noble Marquess. He should receive whatever advice the noble Marquess might please to bestow upon him there, or elsewhere with great respect. But as to what the noble Marquess had said of the misapplication of what the noble Marquess had been pleased to call his talents and powers, he (Lord Brougham) should go on to the end of his life precisely as he had hitherto gone on; respecting the noble Marquess's advice as much, and attending to it as little, as possible.

The Earl of Galloway

said, that he had been informed that the writer of the letter to which the noble and learned Lord had alluded, was a rank Radical; who had made seditious speeches with the red cap of Liberty on his head.

Lord Brougham

observed, that the question was, not what the noble Lord had been informed, but whether or not Mr. Douglas was a respectable man. As to his differing from the noble Earl in politics, that did not lessen Mr. Douglas in his eyes. And was it to be tolerated that a respectable citizen should thus, in his absence, be charged with an indictable offence? Their Lordships ought to set an example of justice, if not of charity; and not accuse of an indictable offence an individual who was as respectable as any one of them.

The remaining Clauses of the Bill were agreed to.

The Bill to be re printed, and re-committed.

The House resumed.