HL Deb 18 July 1836 vol 35 cc250-3
The Lord Chancellor

rose, to bring under the attention of the House the Commons' reasons for disagreeing to the Lords' amendments in the Municipal Corporations' Act Amendment Bill, and the amendments which the Commons had made to this Bill. After proposing the adoption of several verbal amendments, which were agreed to, the noble and learned Lord proceeded to explain the nature of an amendment of the Commons upon the 5th Clause, by which it was provided, that, in the event of the Council not being able to agree in the election of a mayor, the decision should be referred to the burgesses at large. By their Lordships' amendment it was provided, that, in the event of an equal divi- sion of the town-council, and there being no probability of agreement, the presiding officer should be chosen by lot, and to have the casting vote; the alteration made by the Commons was, that in such cases, which he (the Lord Chancellor) considered would be very rare, the decision should revert to the burgesses, by whom the town-council itself was elected.

The Duke of Wellington

expressed his dissatisfaction at the alteration which had been made in this amendment by the Commons, and contended that it was a departure from the principle which had been laid down, when he and his noble Friends consented to wave their opposition to the decision of the Committee above stairs, and unanimously to adopt the amendments as they were framed by that Committee. The amendments were adopted by the noble Lords opposite, and unopposed by the noble Lords on his side of the House for the sake of unanimity, and therefore he could not but feel surprised that some measures were not taken to insure a similar decision in another place. With respect to the particular clause, now before the House, he had before opposed a proposition to the same effect, and he must still oppose it, as being essentially at variance with the principle upon which the House had unanimously passed the amendments, and to which principle he thought they were bound to adhere.

Viscount Melbourne

thought the observations of the noble Duke rather unparliamentary and unconstitutional in their character. It was not to be expected that the other House should be bound by the decision of a Committee of their Lordships' House. The Bill had not been sent down to the House of Commons as the Bill of a Committee, or of any party in that House; and the amendments were subject to the approval or rejection of the House of Commons. It was quite new to him, that any man or any set of men in that assembly should have the power of destroying the independence of Parliamentary proceedings.

The Duke of Wellington

begged to explain, that his observations were confined to the course which had been pursued in reference to these amendments, and not to the right of the House of Commons to interfere with them. What he complained of was, that while the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack had supported the amendments of the Committee of that House, they should be opposed and altered by the Attorney-General in the other House.

Lord Ellenborough

expressed his surprise that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, after acquiescing in the amendments, now should request their Lordships to abandon them. The Bill had gone down to the other House as a Government measure in one shape, and it came up in another shape, but still it was called a Government measure. It appeared to him that there were two Governments, one in that House, and one in the other. He had seen these alterations with regret; and he must say that he very much disliked that disposition which prevailed, to look upon Municipal Corporations as composed of two different parties, for he was convinced that politics had nothing whatever to do with their character and constitution.

The Marquess of Lansdowne

was as much surprised as the noble and learned Lord to hear even a hint thrown out, that a party in that House could compel a party in the other House to take a particular course, because that course had been agreed to or recommended by a Committee of their Lordships' House.

Lord Lyndhurst

thought the effect of the amendment, as it now stood, would be to give at all times an undue influence to the extreme popular party, because it would destroy that wholesome check which would exist under the other regulation, and by which that party, to a certain extent, would be controlled.

The Earl of Devon

expressed his concurrence in the opinions of the noble and learned Lord.

The House divided—Contents 33; Not-contents 63: Majority 30.

List of the CONTENTS.
The Lord Chancellor VISCOUNTS.
DUKES. Melbourne
Richmond Duncannon
Sutherland BISHOPS.
Lansdowne Hereford
Headfort Bristol
Chichester Audley
Radnor Mostyn
Burlington Gardner
Granville Templemore
Ilchester Teynham
Carlisle Lilford
Leitrim Holland
Minto Segrave
Plunket Dinorben
Barham Hatherton
Dacre Ducie

Commons' amendment disagreed to.

The other amendments were agreed to.