HL Deb 13 June 1839 vol 48 cc172-3
Lord Redesdale

moved the Second Reading of the Clerks of the Peace Bill.

Lord Portman

said, that he should move that it be read a second time that day three months. The grievance which it proposed to remedy, had Occurred once only since the 7th of Henry 8th, and that grievance was this—the Lord-lieutenant of the county of Worcester had left England without appointing a vice-lieutenant; and the present bill consequently proposed to give to the magistrates the power of appointing a clerk of the peace on any sudden emergency, who was to be removed if, within three months, the Lord-lieutenant appointed another person. The evil had only arisen once, and he thought that that circumstance was sufficient in itself to provide a remedy, by making Lords-lieutenant cautious not to leave England without appointing a vice-lieutenant.

Lord Redesdale

said, that he should not have thought of founding a bill upon a solitary case, if the evils which had arisen from that single case had not been very great. The consequence in that case had been, that the gaol could not be delivered, and owing to its crowded state a fever broke out, and many lives were lost.

Lord Brougham

opposed the bill. This measure gave the magistrates the patronage of the office of clerk of the peace, for a certain time at least; and if they happened to appoint a person who discharged the duties of the office with satisfaction to the magistrates and suitors, it would place the Lord -lieutenant in a very invidious position if he were to remove that person, and appoint one whom he might think better fitted for it.

The Earl of Hardwicke

concurred with the noble and learned Lord opposite. He thought the measure calculated to give rise to a misunderstanding between the magistrates and Lords-lieutenant.

The Earl of Harewood

thought this measure quite unnecessary. If the grievance required a remedy, the obvious and easy one was to compel the Lord-lieutenant not to absent himself without appointing or nominating a vice-lieutenant.

Lord Portman

suggested, that the noble Lord (Redesdale) had better bring in a bill to enable the justices of the peace to appoint a person to perform such of the duties of the clerk of the peace as might be necessary for that Sessions; no patronage would then be interfered with.

The Duke of Richmond

said, that her Majesty's Government might have prevented all the inconvenience; they had nothing to do but remove the Lord-lieutenant who had absented himself, and, if that had been done, then the new Lord-lieutenant would have appointed a clerk of the peace, and the mischief would not have arisen. When the remedy, therefore, was so easy and effectual, for he would venture to say, if that had been done, the case would not have occurred again. He thought there was no ground for the bill, and be hoped his noble Friend would withdraw it.

Bill withdrawn.