HL Deb 07 September 1835 vol 30 cc1394-7

The Marquess of Westmeath said, the subject to which he was about to call their Lordships' attention was one of considerable interest, which he hoped would be received as an apology for his adverting to it. There had been laid on the Table of the other House a return of all Bills, that had been sent up by the Commons to their Lordships' House, and dropped there. The hon. Gentleman who called for this return did assign any reason for making this Motion, and therefore, as the matter now stood, it would go out to the public as a fact that all the Bills mentioned in that return had been defeated, and that their Lordships had unnecessarily and improperly retarded the business of Parliament. Now, this was contrary to the fact. The return to which he alluded contained the titles of fifty-one Bills. He had investigated the matter, and he found, on looking into their Lordships' votes, that, with the exception of sixteen of these Bills, all had made progress; many of them had passed, some had received, and others were waiting for, the Royal Assent. He would further state, that there was not one of these sixteen Bills, the loss or delay of which could not be satisfactorily accounted for. Some of those Bills had been in the House since the commencement of the Session; and as nobody had thought proper to take them up, they remained as they were. No noble Lord could force a Bill through the House without stating the reason of its introduction, and the grounds on which it proceeded. It was not his intention to read the titles of all the Bills included in this return which had absolutely passed. It would be a waste of their Lordships' time, as their Lordships must be perfectly cognizant of the fact. One of the Bills mentioned in this return was the Great Western Railway Bill, which, at the time the return was moved for, was under consideration, and had since received the Royal Assent. There was also a Bill of considerable importance to the metropolis, he meant the Sale of Bread Bill, which had not been proceeded with in consequence of the peculiar circumstances of the case. The noble Duke (Richmond) on the cross-bench knew that it was referred to a Select Commiteee, it being deemed necessary to hear evidence on the subject, which Committee had reported that it would be inexpedient to proceed with the measure. That Bill came up to their Lordships only a fortnight ago, which accounted for its having been dropped, since it would have been impossible to have managed the inquiry properly within that time. With respect to four Irish Bills that had been before their Lordships, and which were rejected by them, he begged leave to say a word or two, especially as he saw that the Irish papers used very strong, he would add, most unjustifiable language, in speaking of the conduct of that House respecting those Bills. As to the Church Bill, he would observe, what was very little known, that it contained a Clause which fully justified their Lordships in rejecting it—a Clause that would have borne exceedingly hard on property. The effect of the Clause to which he alluded would have been, to allow causes to be tried over again after they had undergone the decision of an appellate jurisdiction—a proceeding without parallel, he believed, in the annals of the legislation of this country. Again, there was the Constabulary Bill, which took away from the Magistrates the right of superintending and appointing to the constabulary force. This was done, not only without putting the Magistrates on their trial, but without bringing any charge against them. Was it fitting that such a Bill as that should pass? Next came the Dublin Police Bill, the effect of which, with reference to the Corporation of Dublin, would have been precisely the same as that of the Constabulary Bill with respect to the Magistracy of Ireland. To the Corporation of Dublin, under various statutes, had been intrusted the management of the police of that metropolis; but this Bill, which was properly thrown out, had superseded their authority, not the least notice having been given to them on the subject. The Irish Voters' Registration Bill was the next to which he should refer. The object of that Bill was to break down the principle assented to by the Legislature, and established by the Reform Bill. The measure went, in fact, to establish a pauper constituency in Ireland, and to render a pauper qualification sufficient for a seat in Parliament. This was his answer to what had been said as to the conduct of that House; and he could not let the Session pass over without noticing the subject, as a Representative Peer of Ireland. It should also be observed, that many of these measures came up to their Lordships at so late a period, that it was quite impossible to pass them, provided that they were to be considered maturely. As he was on his legs, he would briefly refer to another Irish Bill, the Civil Bill Courts Bill, which was lost in the other House. That Bill was introduced early in the Session; and the Gentleman who took charge of it endeavoured, as much as he could, to advance it in the House of Commons. One purpose of that Bill was to provide a cheap mode of obtaining redress in cases where waste might be alleged against the holders of lands, instead of incurring the large expense consequent on Chancery proceedings. This was of very great importance in a country where the land was parcelled out in so many divisions. Another portion of the Bill went to admit the poorer classes to recover property left to them under wills, and to get what they were entitled to by an easy and simple process. At present they could not obtain redress, except by suit in the Ecclesiastical Court of the metropolis—a process to which it was impossible for them, in consequence of their poverty to resort. That measure was lost in consequence of the opposition of the legal Gentlemen in the other House. Now, it was of importance that the public should know these facts, when their Lordships were blamed for not doing their duty. What had been the case with respect to a Bill of this important nature? This was the third Session in which it had been brought forward in the other House, and still it had been defeated. The prejudices of the legal profession would not allow the poorer part of the community to avail them- selves of a cheap mode of proceeding in the attainment of justice, which they had a right to claim.

The Duke of Richmond

said, that the noble Marquess had indulged in what he must consider a very inconvenient practice, that of the Members of one House censuring the conduct of the Members of another House of Parliament. His object in rising was to set the noble Marquess right as to the Sale of Bread Bill. The object of that Bill was to extend the practice then legal in London to the surrounding country. It was true that by the standing order of this House there must be a Select Committee on a Bill of this kind, There had been no inquiry into the matter since 1832, and, therefore it was not possible for there to be any further proceedings in the present Session. However, it was hoped that the Bill would be passed early next Session.

Subject dropped.

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