HL Deb 24 March 1836 vol 32 cc546-8
Viscount Melbourne

said, that if the noble Duke opposite had any objection to the Constabulary Bill being read a second time, his Majesty's Government should not persevere, the more particularly as they were exceedingly anxious to pass a Bill which he then held in his hand—the Municipal Act Amendment Bill—if possible, before the first day of Term, as if the Bill were delayed to a longer period, it would cause a great deal of public inconvenience, and give rise to a great deal of litigation. That Bill might be read a first time now, a second time to-morrow, and if no serious objection were found to exist to its principle, it might be passed before the recess, which it might be, as it was not intended to adjourn the House until Thursday.

The Duke of Wellington

said, it was very unusual to protract the adjournment of that House, at least, until Thursday. It was usual to adjourn on Wednesday, and therefore the time which the noble Lord proposed was to be gained by an unusual course of proceeding. The Bill which the noble Lord was so anxious to pass before the recess referred, as their Lordships were told, to a Bill which had passed through that House during the last session of Parliament. Now, there were many of their Lordships who would be, doubtless, anxious to compare the two measures, and if the present Bill were hurried through the House in the manner it was proposed, they would not have the opportunity. The noble Lord proposed to read the Bill a first time to-night, a second time to-morrow night, and then commit it for Monday. This, he thought, was proceeding with a degree of haste quite incompatible with the proper consideration of the measure.

Viscount Melbourne

was anxious that this Bill should pass, merely because it would save a great deal of expense to the public. If the noble Duke, however, wished to subject the public to the inconvenience and the expense that must be incurred from the law being left in its present condition, he (Lord Melbourne) should, however unwillingly, acquiesce, as he could not press the second reading in opposition to the noble Duke and the noble Lords opposite.

The Duke of Wellington

had simply asked for time to give the subject that full and mature deliberation to which the noble Lord himself considered it entitled, and he thought it not quite fair to impute to him a wish to put the public to inconvenience and expense.

The Lord Chancellor

said, that it was of the utmost importance that the Bill should be passed before the first day of next Term, if possible. A number of proceedings had been commenced under quo warranto, which, if the present Bill were not passed into a law before the beginning of Term (the 15th of April), would be renewed at very great expense and inconvenience to the parties. That was the reason his Majesty's Government were anxious that the Bill should be passed before the recess.

Lord Ellenborough

had read the Bill in a cursory manner certainly; but from what he had seen of it, he had no hesitation in expressing his conviction that it would be quite impossible to pass it before the recess.

The Earl of Harrowby

thought the noble Duke near him had been very unjustly charged with an indifference about the passing of this Bill, the delay of which their Lordships were told would produce so much expense and inconvenience. If there were any blame to be attributed to any parties, it was to those who were aware that such a measure was necessary, and that its delay beyond the first day of Term would be attended with so much inconvenience, yet delayed to introduce it until it was quite impossible it could pass through their Lordships' House before the recess, unless it were hurried through with very indecorous haste. If the noble Viscount and his Majesty's Ministers were so persuaded of the importance of this measure passing before next Thursday, why was it not introduced before the 24th March.

Viscount Melbourne

said, that both the noble Duke and the noble Lord (Harrowby) appeared to have mistaken the proposition he had submitted to the House. He merely asked that the Bill should be read a first time now—that its second reading should be fixed for Monday, and if on the discussion on the second reading no very serious objection were stated to the Bill, it might be passed before the recess. If, however, any serious objection were stated to the Bill on the second reading, he should not, of course, persevere in his anxiety to have it passed before the recess.

The Marquess of Lansdowne

, said there could be no objection, at all events, to the principle of the Bill, which was only to explain and amend. If any objection were found to the details, surely it might be stated and urged in Committee.

Bill read a first time.