§ The Earl of Devon
moved that the House resolve itself into a Committee on the Weights and Measures Bill.
The Marquess of Salisbury
was of opinion that the Bill could not go through the House at so late a period of the Session. The measure professed to remedy certain defects that were embodied in a Bill that had passed last Session. That Bill was brought at a very late period of the Session into their Lordships' House, and was passed, after certain alterations had been made in it. Now, what was the use of that measure? Why, the Commons were now obliged to come forward with another measure to amend it. This subject had been for two years before the House of Commons, and yet the Bill now produced appeared to him to be very defective. The ordinary course would be to send it to a Committee up stairs; but that, he conceived, would be hardly fair, since there would be no chance of getting out of the Committee in time to legislate effectually on the subject in the present Session. This was a very important measure, for it went to alter the whole system of weights and measures. The Bill provided that weights and measures should not be stamped with the stamp of every county, but that there should be one general 959 stamp. Now, he could produce evidence to show that the present mode of stamping was such that it was almost impossible to discover fraudulent stamps. It was also provided that inspectors should be appointed who were to be paid out of the county-rates, whose duty it would be to prevent frauds. He thought that better means might be found for the protection of the poorer class of purchasers. There was a system of a very ancient kind, which might perhaps be beneficially resorted to—he alluded to the appointment of ale-conners, which would, he believed, be more satisfactory to the poorer classes. Those officers might be appointed at the manor courts in every county, and as they would be selected from a respectable class of persons generally known to the inhabitants, their appointment would give satisfaction to the lower orders. He was of opinion that the best course would be to inquire fully into this subject in the next Session of Parliament, and not to press forward this measure at present.
§ The Duke of Richmond
said, he believed a more unpopular measure than the former Bill which this was intended to correct, never passed. If the present Bill were not now passed, the farmers and tradesmen who had purchased the prescribed weights and measures would be put to a great and useless expense.
§ Bill referred to a Committee up stairs.