HL Deb 02 June 1835 vol 28 cc365-8
Lord Brougham

rose to present two petitions of great importance, not on the subject which had occupied their Lordships so many hours, and from a continuance of which he had no doubt their Lordships were not disinclined to escape. The first petition was signed by a right rev. Prelate, their Honours the Master of the Rolls and the Vice-Chancellor, his Majesty's Solicitor-General, about two dozen King's Counsel, all the Masters in Chancery, a great many Judges, barristers, and respectable solicitors of Lincoln's Inn and the other Inns of Court. The petition complained of the present state of the markets in the metropolis, and was in favour of the present Bill. The other petition was from equally respectable individuals, but was of a different description—against the Bill. It was signed by many graziers of great respectability in the county of Gloucester. He (Lord Brougham) should not take upon himself to say whether the Master of the Rolls, the Vice-Chancellor, or the graziers were in the right on the subject, which was of too critical a nature for his unenlightened and uneducated opinion.—He was not acquainted with the subject, except in a different shape, but he begged to present both petitions to their Lordships.

The Marquess of Salisbury

moved the second reading of the Bill. He should only make one observation, and that was on a statement that had been handed about, for the purpose of proving that the public would suffer by the establishment of the New Islington Market. The tolls, it was said, would be higher than at Smithfield. Such statement was incorrect and certainly somewhat singular, coming out of the mouths of those who would be benefitted by the tolls being higher at Islington than at Smithfield.

The Duke of Richmond

said, that he would not take upon himself to say whether or not the statement in question was correct. He had an opposite statement to which he should call, the attention of their Lordships. He considered the present a bad time to be making experiments on agricultural distress. He could inform the House of the opinion entertained respecting this Bill by a noble Earl, who, although their Lordships might not agree as to his being the best Chancellor of the Exchequer in the world, they would all admit to be opposed to everything like monopoly and to be the advocate of free trade. He alluded to Earl Spencer, whose opinion upon such a subject as the present their Lordships would be as much disposed to respect as he was sure they respected him personally. He had received a letter from that noble Earl, who was at present out of town, expressing himself strongly against the Bill. In that letter the noble Earl stated that if he (the Duke of Richmond) should succeed in throwing out the Bill he would confer a great service not only on the consumer, but on the grazier and the other agricultural interests connected with Smithfield market. He (the Duke of Richmond) felt satisfied that this Bill could not have been properly attended to in the House of Commons, or the powers that were given under it to the owners of the market would never have been conferred on any individuals. It gave the owners the power to make bye laws, and the Magistrates of the county were compelled to sanction those bye laws. Such power, he believed, was never given by any Bill of the kind before, and he was sure they ought not to be conferred in this instance. As to the immorality of Smithfield, that had been so much dwelt on, surely every body knew that there must be more or less immorality where there were a number of drovers. He confessed, he could not consent to grant such tremendous powers as were given by this Bill to the owners of the Islington market, and should oppose the second reading.

Earl Suffield

said that the noble Duke could only allege, in opposition to the Bill, the opinion of a noble Earl who was at present in Northamptonshire, and whose opinion he (Earl Suffield) had no doubt was formed on the gross misrepresentations that were so industriously sent abroad as to this Bill. No man could respect the character of the noble Earl (Spencer), both as a good statesman and an excellent farmer, more than he did; but he conceived that anybody else might be just as good a judge of a nuisance at Smithfield as that noble Earl. The fact of a monopoly and a nuisance at Smithfield were undoubted, and their removal had been long and loudly called for by numbers far exceeding those who opposed the present Bill. Upwards of 10,000 graziers and others of that interest had petitioned the House of Commons in favour of this Bill, and it was too much therefore, to say that Smithfield was not complained of. As to the regulation of tolls, the House had the power of fixing what those tolls should be in Committee and he therefore hoped the Bill would not be opposed upon this ground.

Lord Alvanley

said that more arbitrary powers were never given by any Legislative Measure than by the present Bill.—It empowered Mr. Perkins, the owner of the Market, to summon a jury, and value any property he pleased for the use of the Market, and if the sum awarded by the Jury did not exceed the sum offered to the owner, then each party was to pay half the expense. This he considered a most unprecedented power to place in the hands of any individual, and he should therefore move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.

The Marquis of Salisbury

said, that he hoped the Bill would be suffered to go into Committee, as that would be the best opportunity of judging of its details.

Their Lordships divided: Contents 30; Not-Contents, 1; Majority, 29.

The Bill read a second time.