HL Deb 12 June 1840 vol 54 cc1110-3

On the Order of the Day for a Committee on the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Bill, Viscount Melbourne moved, that the House do now resolve itself into Committee.

The Duke of Wellington

said, it had been agreed, that this bill should not proceed until their Lordships had had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the contents of the bill which their Lordships had just disposed of. The object of that bill was to fix the boundaries of cer- tain corporate towns in Ireland, and under its provisions these towns were exposed, as the noble Marquess who had spoken upon it (the Marquess of Westmeath) had said, to the grievance of being taxed both by the grand jury and by the municipal councils. Now, in order to relieve those towns from this inconvenience, their Lordships, in the course of the last Session of Parliament, had made an amendment to a similar bill to this, and adopted a provision which went to relieve those towns from these double taxing powers. The House of Commons considered the amendment to be a breach of its privileges, and rejected the bill so amended, and the consequence was, the necessity of introducing a new bill in the present Session. That bill had been sent up to their Lordships with the same inconvenient provisions as were contained in the measure of last year—that was to say, with many clauses which had been introduced unnecessarily, to which the House had last year objected, and which the introducers of the bill just rejected had insisted, notwithstanding the remonstrances made elsewhere, should be included in the bill of this year. Now that bill had been rejected, and this House had not the power of applying a remedy for the grievances which were admitted to exist without a breach of the privileges of the other House. Under these circumstances, he thought their Lordships ought to postpone the consideration of the Municipal Corporations Bill, for a few days, until an opportunity was afforded her Majesty's government to introduce such a bill as this House could agree to, in order to relieve the corporate towns from those grievances for which last Session the House had attempted a remedy, and from which they would have been relieved if the bill, as amended last year by their Lordships, had been allowed to pass into a law. On these grounds, he should move as an amendment, that the further consideration of the Municipal Corporations Bill be postponed until Friday next.

Viscount Melbourne

said, the postponement of the present bill until the measure just now disposed of, came up from the other House of Parliament, had been urged by noble Lords opposite, and not by his side of the House. He had only acquiesced in the postponement in compliance with the wish expressed by noble Lords opposite. At the same time, he must say, that the Government was not in the slight- est degree, bound to acquiesce in now further deferring the consideration of the Municipal Corporations Bill; and he must take leave to say, that after the length of time which had elapsed since this bill had been brought up from the other House—after the repeated delays which had taken place since the commencement of the Session, when this bill was first laid on the table, what could be expected as the effect and result of every further postponement but to show a determination not to take the bill into consideration at all, and not to carry into effect, the arrangement entered into, and thus produce the ultimate defeat of the bill. This postponement was proposed to evade the undertaking entered into by the other side of the House, which otherwise could not be got rid of. Not admitting that any grounds had been stated for further postponing this bill, but abiding by the principle on which it had been postponed till this time, he could not reconcile it with his sense of duty to consent to any further postponement, and, therefore, he must press upon their Lordships, that they do now take the bill into their consideration.

The Duke of Wellington

said, he must make an observation, in consequence of what had fallen from the noble Viscount. The noble Viscount had said, that this was an attempt on his part to postpone the bill beyond the day fixed for its consideration. Now, he had understood when this bill was last spoken of, that the noble Viscount postponed it, as the other bill had not yet come up, and could not come up for a certain period of time. He thought, also, the noble Marquess opposite had stated, at an early period of this Session, that the other bill just now disposed of was necessary to relieve the grievances which would exist under this bill in certain districts. The noble Viscount said, the object of the now proposed postponement was to defeat this bill. Now, he (the Duke of Wellington) wanted to know if there was any intention on the part of the noble Viscount to carry it, because, if so, nothing would have been easier than last week for the Government to have adopted the proposition made by an hon. Friend of his, that the bill just rejected should be divided into two bills. Thus all inconvenience would have been avoided, and the consideration of the enactments of this bill which every body admitted must become law, might have now proceeded. He said, that they had the power to carry them. Why did they not put a clause into this bill originally which would have enabled them to carry into execution their measure with respect to these boundaries? But no; they had not done so; they did not choose to do that. Why did they not take care that the other enactments were so framed, that that House should have the power of pronouncing "content" or "not-content?" But no such thing; they sent it up there in as objectionable a form as in the last Parliament, and they must either do that which they had done on this occasion, or pass that which was an improper measure.

The Lord Chancellor

then put the question. The question was, "That the House resolve itself into a Committee;" since which it had been moved, "that the House resolve itself into Committee on Friday next."

Strangers were then ordered to withdraw, and

their Lordships divided on the original question:—Contents 68; Not-contents 94: Majority 26.

Committee put off till Friday.