The Marquess of Londonderry
certainly did. After the unanswered and unanswerable speech which they had heard from counsel at the bar against this bill, he could not reconcile himself to consent to the further progress of the measure under any circumstances. He admitted the abilities, the zeal, the perspicacity, of his noble and learned Friend who intended to propose amendments in this bill; but, in his opinion, nothing which his noble and learned Friend could propose could so alter the bill as to justify their Lordships in passing it. When they found petitions pouring in from every part of Ireland against the measure, he trusted that their Lordships would not sanction it. What would be the effect of the bill? It would take power out of the hands of those who were properly intrusted with it, because they had always used it wisely, and would throw it into the hands of a party who were adverse to the British connexion. He had expected when the bill was brought forward to hear from the noble Viscount opposite some answer to the statements contained in those most able and eloquent speeches that were made at their Lordships' Bar against the measure. But what was the sort of argument that the noble Viscount urged on the House? All they heard from the noble Viscount was, that their Lordships had already passed two such bills for regulating, or rather for subverting, municipal corporations in Ireland, and therefore that they ought also to entertain the present measure. He could not consider that to be any proper ground for agreeing to this bill. The argument, if argument it could be called, amounted merely to this—that because they had in two sessions sent 162 down to the Commons a similar bill, ergo, it was their duty to send down this. Before they passed such a measure, let them look to the effect which had been produced by measures that had already been enacted with reference to Ireland. Let them well consider the power which those measures had unfortunately thrown into the hands of one individual, who actually wished to overturn the connection between the two countries. That person had disseminated his proposals for a repeal of the union, and for the course which should be pursued afterwards through all the towns and cities of Ireland. His object evidently was, to place the Roman Catholics in full possession of the whole power of the country. When he saw such projects disseminated far and wide, he felt it to be his duty to raise his Irish voice against such proceedings, and to give the utmost opposition to every measure that was calculated in the smallest degree to foster them. Had the noble Viscount taken any measures for urging the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland to put the law in force against such proceedings as he had described, and which in his opinion were decidedly illegal? When the individual to whom he alluded told the people of Ireland that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland was formerly favourable to the Repeal of the Union, and that probably he held the same opinion still—when he declared, that unless he attained all that he demanded, he would, by every means that he could command, endeavour to effect a Repeal of the Union, it was time that an end should be put to such proceedings; and, above all, their Lordships ought to take care not to tolerate any measure that would throw additional power into such hands. On this point there was a passage so true and so strong in the speech delivered at their Lordships' Bar by a learned Gentleman (Mr. Butt) a short time since, that he begged leave to read it. The noble Marquess read an extract from the speech of Mr. Butt, in which the learned Gntleman, after alluding to the conspiracy which was proved before a Committee of their Lordships' House to exist in Ireland, emphatically called on their Lordships to say, "whether they would intrust the peace of the towns of Ireland to men who were notoriously connected with that conspiracy?" There were other parts of that speech, one particularly, that referred to taxation in Dublin, that were no less wor- 163 thy of their Lordships' serious consideration. He knew that many of their Lordships regretted the Act of Emancipation after what had followed it; he had heard many of their Lordships declare, that if they could have foreseen to what extent the Catholics would attempt to domineer over the Protestants, they would not have been induced to assent to it. Partial amendments, such as those of his noble Friends near him, to exclude Dublin and Belfast from the operation of this measure, would never undo the mischief that would be done by passing this bill. He had never seen any measure whose effects would be so radically mischievous and fatal to the interests of Ireland, and particularly to the interests of the- property of that country.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
said, that from the complicated nature of this bill, he thought it would be convenient that he should pursue the course he had taken on former occasions, which was, to refer successively to the amendments, that it was his intention to move in Committee, and without the adoption of which he was persuaded their Lordships would never consent to pass this bill into law. He assured their Lordships that he should occupy as small a portion of their time as was consistent with the necessary statement of the facts to which he was about to refer. It was not his intention to say a single word with respect to the principle of this bill, with respect to the effect it was likely to produce in Ireland on the Protestant Church, and the general interests of the country, or with respect to the feeling which the bill had created in Ireland, and the growing distaste to the measure, according to his view, in this country. He should pass over all those topics, however fruitful they might be, because he did not think them suitable to the present occasion, and he should confine himself simply to the details of the clauses, and the amendments which it was his intention to propose. He must be allowed to say, that there were some circumstances connected with this bill which would strike their Lordships as a little singular. They had had a measure of this kind in 1836, another in 1837, a third in 1838, and a fourth in 1839. All those bills had come up from the other House of Parliament, drawn in the same form and upon the same model, so that it was easy for their Lordships to see the alterations which had been made in them, and 164 the amendments which it might be necessary to introduce. In the present case a new plan had been followed, and the whole bill had been remodelled, with what object it was difficult to conceive, unless for the purpose of concealing some alterations, minute indeed in appearance, but which, if passed over without detection, would have been productive of consequences most mischievous to the interests of Ireland. Those alterations in the form of the bill had led to some very extraordinary blunders, one or two of which he should mention by way of sample. In the 68th clause, their Lordships would find, that the churchwardens were liable to be indicted for a misdemeanour if they did not perform the duties, or supposed duties, imposed on them by this bill. Now, he had looked through its clauses, and did not find a single duty imposed on those officers by any one clause. So much for the alterations which had been made in the frame and texture of the bill, and the consequences that would result from them. In the 46th clause he found that it was the duty of the town-clerks to copy and print certain lists made out by the churchwardens, and if they neglected to do so they were made subject to certain penalties. He had looked through every clause of the bill, and did not find that the churchwardens were bound to prepare any lists whatever, or that they had any authority to interfere in any manner with the subject. So much for the accuracy with which the bill had been framed. With regard to the amendments which it was his intention to propose, some of them were already familiar to their Lordships. The first he meant to propose related to the right of freemen voting for Members of Parliament. This bill professedly did not interfere with that right; it would remain precisely where it now stood. He should therefore direct their Lordships' attention to this subject; and first, he should say a few words as to the history of the clause. In 1838 the clause was amended by their Lordships, and went down to the other House of Parliament. The amendment was discussed there, its adoption was opposed, and along speech was made by a noble Lord who led the Government party in that House. Notwithstanding all the arguments used by that noble Lord against the amendment, it was afterwards assented to by him; so that in 1838, after a discussion and division in 165 their Lordships' House, and a discussion without a division in the other House, both Houses of Parliament came to an agreement with respect to this clause. It was natural to suppose that under such circumstances, in the following year, the clause so agreed to by both Houses would have kept its place in the bill when it came before their Lordships. No such thing; the clause was abandoned. The subject was again discussed before their Lordships at great length, and with great ability, by his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack, and the amendment was adopted by a very large majority. It was his intention then to move, by way of amendment, that the clause agreed to in 1838 be restored to the bill. That was the effect of the amendment he meant to propose with respect to the freemen's clause. The noble Viscount on a former night, feeling himself pressed by the agreement of both Houses on this point, told their Lordships that the clause was not understood in the other House, not even by the noble Lord to whom he had referred. That was certainly a singular compliment to pay to the noble Lord, supported as he was by Irish law officers, English law officers, and all those persons who formed the "following," he would not use a more offensive word, of the individual who had taken such an active part in the discussion of the measure. But the noble Viscount's supposition was not correct. If the noble Viscount would have the goodness to refer to the speech of the noble Lord, who entered into every part of the discussion relating to the clause, he would find, that it was perfectly understood. Therefore the observation which the noble Viscount had made, for the purpose of impairing the force of the assent which the noble Lord had given to the amendment, was not well founded, But the noble Viscount said, that the clause was not understood, not Only by Members of the House, but by those of their Lordships who had proposed the amendment. The noble Viscount insinuated that it had been suggested by some one behind the curtain, and that their Lordships were carrying into effect designs and projects of which they did not perceive the full extent. He could assure the noble Viscount that there was as little foundation for this statement as for the other, for he knew of his own knowledge that the clause was amended by a lawyer 166 of great eminence, not a Member of either House of Parliament, and unconnected with any political party, in order to secure to the freemen the rights of voting which they now enjoyed, and which they would continue to enjoy if this bill did not pass into a law. He would now say a word with respect to the clause as it at present stood, for the purpose of showing the necessity of the amendment he should propose. All parties admitted the principle that this bill should not in the slightest degree affect the right of voting for Members of Parliament. It provided, however, that any person who had obtained his freedom after the 31st of March, 1831, should have no right to transmit it by birth or marriage to another individual. That was a direct infraction of the Parliamentary Reform Bill. If this were not agreed to, those individuals would have the right of transmitting the right of voting and of their freedom to other persona by birth or marriage. But there was an exception to this regulation. Every person who should have obtained his freedom after the 31st of March, 1831, by servitude, was allowed to transmit the right to other individuals. What was the reason, of this modification? Their Lordships would see at once the spirit in which this clause was drawn. Transmission by birth or marriage would give the freedom generally to Protestants, but by servitude a lower class of freemen was introduced, the greater portion of whom would be Catholics. Therefore the exception was made in favour of Catholics, while the exclusion was rendered absolute when the freedom was transmitted by birth or marriage. He would ask their Lordships whether, if the constituencies were to remain as they were, it did not become absolutely necessary that this clause should be amended. There was a large class of freemen of different guilds of Dublin (it was remarkable that this Dill was drawn more with reference to Dublin than any other part of Ireland) who by birth, marriage, or servitude, had an inchoate right to be freemen of that corporation. It happened now and then, to be sure, that the parties who had the right of judging whether or not they should be admitted excluded them, but that was a most rare occurrence; their admission was regarded as a matter of course, and upon their admission they became entitled to vote at elections for Members of Parliament, All those classes 167 of persons were absolutely excluded by this bill, and the object of his amendments would be, to restore them to their rights. So much for this part of the case. The next clause to which he should call their Lordships' attention was the 22nd, which was usually called the boundary clause. Their Lordships were aware that in counties of cities and towns, there was, besides the city or town, a large rural district, forming a part of the county of the city or town. In the county of the city of Cork the rural district contained seventy square miles, while the town itself had only four square miles. The boundaries fixed by the bill of last year excluded the whole, or nearly the whole, of the rural districts from the towns, in order to obviate what was clearly a grievance of some magnitude, that those districts should be taxed for town purposes, in which they had no interest. It was provided by the bill of last year that those districts should, for the purpose of grand jury presentments, be annexed to the counties at large. That was done upon a principle of justice, their Lordships assented to it, and upon that point both Houses agreed. In the present bill the whole of that arrangement was reversed. The amendment was entirely got rid of, and the rural districts, instead of being annexed to the adjoining counties, were annexed to the towns for the purpose of grand jury presentment, so that the evil so much complained of would be restored by the alterations made in this clause. On what principle, he would ask, should their Lordships reverse the arrangement which had been made by the former bill? The present enactment would be directly at variance with the recommendation of the boundary commissioners. He would read to their Lordships an extract from the report of those commissioners, and then their Lordships would see if great injustice would not be done by the course which was now proposed:—The result of this system," said the commissioners, "is, that the poor agriculturists are taxed enormously to supply things which they never enjoy; the rich citizens are taxed lightly to supply things that they always enjoy; the poor countryman pays more than six times the rate of the tax paid by the rich citizen on a fair relative comparison, to support city taxes, city corporations, and general city establishments.That was the report of the commis- 168 sioners appointed by Government, and upon that report, and for the purpose of obviating this grievance, the clause was drawn and prepared last year in the manner he had stated. Although the Government in the House of Commons admitted the injustice and impropriety of their boundary clauses, yet in this Session of Parliament they had inserted a clause to reverse the proceeding to which they had formerly agreed, and to restore the bill to the form in which it had come up to their Lordships last Session. This was a most singular proceeding. Their Lordships might be desirous of getting rid of this injustice, but they had no power of doing so, because the House of Commons thought proper to insert in the bill clauses which their Lordships could not alter. What course was he then to pursue? If he attempted to amend the clause, he should be told, that he was interfering with the privileges of the House of Commons. He would not knowingly and advisedly recommend an amendment contrary to the privileges of that House, and therefore he would leave the clause as it at present stood, open to the injustice he had stated, and he would then appeal to Ministers to provide a remedy. If they would not do so, it would be for their Lordships to say whether, with a grievance of such magnitude perpetuated by this bill, which they bad no right to alter, they would pass this bill. He would not amend this clause, because any Member of the other House might at once say to the Speaker, "Is this not an infringement of our privileges?" The answer would be in the affirmative, and the amendments would be rejected, not on their merits, but on a point of form, as was the course pursued last Session. The next point was that of the qualification, which their Lordships had always insisted should be fixed at 10l. Much embarrassment bad been created on former occasions by the question, in what manner this value should be ascertained. The other House had adopted the criterion selected by their Lordships for that purpose, as far as the boroughs in schedule A were concerned, but they proposed to reduce the qualification in the boroughs in schedule B to 8l. He was sure their Lordships would not assent to this reduction. There was no variety in the qualification either in England or Scotland, and the 10l. franchise corresponded exactly to that of the 169 Scottish Municipal Bill. If the qualification were to vary according to the population of the towns, he should insist, that instead of one of 10l. in the city of Dublin, there should be one of 15l. or 20l. The whole question, which was a very important one, would be opened by the change which he had mentioned. That was not the only alteration; this qualification was to exist for three years, and at the end of that time to be entirely changed. The qualification at the end of that time was no longer to depend on value, but upon the payment of rates and taxes within a certain period. When the time arrived their Lordships would be able to see what the right of qualification then was. But he was certain, that their Lordships would never assume that the state of things three years hence in Ireland would be such as any individual might think fit to anticipate at present. He therefore intended to propose as an amendment, that in all boroughs included in schedule A, and also in all boroughs included in schedule B, the qualification should amount to 10l., in other words, he intended to propose, that the qualification should correspond to the qualification in the Scotch Municipal Reform Bill. The next point, and it was a material one, to which he wished to call the attention of their Lordships, was the appointment of sheriffs. In the year 1836, when the bill was introduced into the other House of Parliament, the appointment of sheriffs was vested in the Crown out of certain parties elected by the town-council. But in the discussion which took place upon it in that House, it was suggested, that these offices were connected with the administration of justice in Ireland, and it was then conceded, that the appointments to them should be vested absolutely in the Lord-lieutenant. The bill, so amended, was sent up to their Lordships. Now, by the present bill it was provided, that the Lord-lieutenant should not have the absolute appointment of the sheriffs, but that the town-council should nominate three persons, that out of the three persons so nominated the Lord-lieutenant should appoint one, that if he were of opinion that none of the three were fit persons to be appointed, the town-council should nominate other three persons, and that in case he did not approve of any one of the three then nominated, then, and then only, he should have the abso- 170 lute appointment of the sheriffs. Any person who knew how this clause would operate practically, must see that it vested the appointment of the sheriffs in the town-council. These corporation jurisdictions were counties, they were counties of cities it was true, but in point of law they were the same as counties at large. He intended to propose, that the appointment of sheriffs in these towns should be placed on the same footing as the appointment of sheriffs in counties at large. He was sure, that their Lordships would see the propriety of this amendment, and that they would in consequence accede to it. It was acceded to by their Lordships last Session after a division, and it was also acceded to in the Session of 1838 by a majority of voices. The noble Viscount in the Session of 1836 had expressed himself in strong terms as to the propriety of these appointments being vested in the Lord-lieutenant, and he therefore trusted that the noble Viscount, armed with his own authority upon the subject, would not hesitate to declare his acquiescence once more in this amendment. He should not detain their Lordships many minutes longer, but there was an amendment, which, in a former Session, had been proposed by a noble Duke, and which he still conceived to be of vast importance—he meant the amendment by which the auditors of public accounts were vested with authority to investigate into the accounts of these corporations. They had to deal with large sums of money. The corporation of Dublin had an annual revenue of 30,000l. or 40,000l., and by this bill it would be enabled to raise by a rate as much more. It was, therefore, important that there should be an audit appointed to prevent the existence of any abuse in the management of such large funds. When the noble Duke moved the clauses which were necessary to carry this amendment into effect, they were assented to by their Lordships; and also, when they went down to the other House, by the House of Commons. He did suppose, that, as a matter of course, he should have found the same clauses introduced into this bill. For some unknown, or at least for some unexplained, cause, they were now omitted. He understood, that Government had said something in the other House of Parliament about the propriety of introducing them; but the bill had nevertheless been read a third time with- 171 out any proposition having been made to introduce them. He was sure that their Lordships would see the propriety of restoring these clauses to the bill. In the course of last Session, a noble Friend of his, not then in his place, had presented a petition from the town of Galway, signed by every rate-payer and respectable inhabitant in that town, praying that it might be taken out of Schedule A, and inserted in Schedule B. His noble Friend rested his claim for that exception, not only on the numbers and respectability of those who had signed the petition, but also upon the facts of the case. The petitioners averred that they had a private Act of Parliament under which everything that could be done under a corporation was now done without one. They, therefore, protested against being placed under a corporation, and against being exposed to a system of agitation which had not hitherto been introduced into their town. Their statement made an impression upon the noble Lords opposite, and his noble Friend was, in consequence, allowed to introduce his clause. He believed, that he was not quite correct in his last position—the clause was rather carried upon a division. The bill went down to the House of Commons containing this amendment. This exception, then, having been once adopted by their Lordships, he felt himself entitled, on the request of his noble Friend, to introduce it again; and he trusted that their Lordships would re-insert this clause, or rather the several clauses, which were necessary to carry it into effect without difficulty. These were the principal amendments which he intended to propose. He considered them to be of great importance. The other amendments which he had to propose were mere matters of detail, which could not be made clear without their Lordships having the clauses before them. The amendments, however, which he had already explained, contained principles so important to the bill itself, that unless their Lordships adopted them, he could not submit to allow this bill to be read a third time. His Lordship concluded by moving, that their Lordships now resolve themselves into a Committee on the bill.
§ The Lord Chancellor
said, he could not help thinking that the amendments which his noble and learned Friend proposed making, would have been much better discussed when they came to the clauses 172 themselves in Committee, than by a preliminary debate before going into Committee; but, at the same time, there were one or two remarks made by his noble and learned Friend in the course of his speech which he could not allow to pass unnoticed. With regard to the first clause upon which his noble and learned Friend proposed to make an amendment—namely, the freemen's clause—he was very glad to observe, from what had fallen from his noble and learned Friend, that the House would be saved a good deal of trouble on this point. On a former occasion, he had explained to their Lordships what he considered would be the effect of this clause, as it was then amended; and if he remembered rightly, a noble Earl, who sat on the Opposition side of the House, expressed his doubts whether he had correctly described it, but said, that if he thought he had correctly described it, he should be very much inclined to vote against such an amendment. Now, it happened that his noble and learned Friend had, this evening, entirely admitted what he had, on that occasion, said on this subject. He maintained that the effect and object of the proposed amendment would be, not to retain the Parliamentary franchise as settled by the Reform Act, but to alter it very materially, giving rights which never existed under it. He was prepared to examine the clause by the test of maintaining the Parliamentary franchise unaltered, and he had no doubt, upon that ground, of being able to prove to their Lordships, that they ought not to agree to this amendment. This bill, as it came from the Commons, provided for all these interests. The object of the bill was to place the freemen in the same situation that they were before in as to the Parliamentary franchise. It was, therefore, that the only right recognizable by this bill was that which could be enforced by law. The right should be one that could be enforced by mandamus. But, in the Dublin case, it had been decided that the men claiming the freedom of the corporation had no such right. It had been so decided in 1826. The object, however, in the noble and learned Lord's amendment on this clause, was to introduce a right, a legal right, which has never before existed under the pretence of preserving the Parliamentary franchise. There was another part of this case on which the observations of his noble and learned Friend had greatly 173 surprised him. He meant the observations of his noble and learned Friend with regard to the liberties, or precincts, of the counties of cities, or towns. His noble and learned Friend had seemed to say, that there was something improper in the course adopted upon the present occasion, as if there was here something which their Lordships could not alter. Now, his noble and learned Friend had not informed them of that, which it was his duty to inform them, and the accuracy of which their Lordships could ascertain in one minute. This part of the bill, as it now came up from the House of Commons, was precisely the same as that which their Lordships had assented to in 1838. In a question of this kind, when there was great difficulty in bringing the two houses to coincide in opinion upon the same point, he thought that where there was that agreement of opinion discovered, it at least was a part of the case on which it was not necessary to raise a discussion. When the proposition was made as to the towns in which corporations should be established, it happened that no notice was taken of those districts which were attached to the town. Their Lordships thought that was objectionable, and they therefore limited the corporations to certain bounds prescribed in the bill; but they did not interfere with those portions which belonged to the cities and towns. Thus in the bill of 1838 they left the corporations within the narrow limits of the towns; but the counties remained as they were before. There was the county cess and the grand jury cess, unaffected by the municipal corporations, so that the provisions of the bill referred to by his noble Friend did not deal with the same fund. The corporations bad only to deal with the corporation funds, while the grand jury provided for all the expenses necessary for the counties. Their Lordships had so amended the bill of 1838, and what was then done was precisely what was done by his bill. The Commons had assented to that amendment in 1838, and if there were not other difficulties in the case, Ireland would since then have had the benefit of corporations, with this very provision embodied in the bill, that gave them to that country. In 1839 the House of Commons sent up to their Lordships another scheme. There was an obvious inconvenience in this respect, which the House of Commons was desirous of rectifying, They proposed to 174 take the county districts from the towns and convey them to the neighbouring barony, or half barony, and throw them into the county at large. This left the towns within the municipal boundaries, as prescribed in the act. It took the county jurisdiction over them from the county grand juries, and transferred it to the town council. When that bill came up to their Lordships they adopted that part of it by which the districts adjoining to the boroughs were thrown into the county at large, and they at the same time took away the protection from the towns, which it was proposed they should have. That was a proposition which the House of Commons was not likely to agree to, because it was unjust in the highest degree. It was a-half measure, taking away one thing without giving another. It was taking from the towns that which was the only compensation that they would have. In consequence of what had passed last session, it was thought necessary to divide the bill into two. If both bills passed, that would be accomplished which was proposed by the bill of 1839. Their Lordships had thrown out one of the bills, and of that bill he would say nothing, except in so far as it affected the present bill. Their Lordships, then, had here a bill which thus far they had accepted in 1838, and yet this was now made a matter of complaint. When their Lordships had altered the former bill, the House of Commons had assented to it, and the merit of this bill was, that it made no alteration in this respect. This was made a matter of reproach. He was astonished that his noble and learned Friend should have objected to that which not only the House of Commons had sanctioned, but which their Lordships had agreed to in 1838. He was glad, however, to find that there was no proposition now made to alter that part of the bill. He admitted, that it might be improved had the other bill been permitted; but he should not now pursue the case further. He was only sorry to have occupied their Lordships' time; but he was sure that their Lordships would not now desire to alter that which formerly they had approved, and the House of Commons had sanctioned.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
wished to make a few observations with respect to the last point which had been alluded to by the noble and learned Lord, because on going into Committee, he would not have an oppor- 175 tunity of replying as to that point. He would confine himself to the 22nd., or boundary clause. He differed entirely from his noble and learned Friend as to what had taken place in 1838. Their Lordships had introduced a clause by way of amendment, annexing the rural districts to the counties at large. He had had some share in preparing the clause; and he could say that its object was, that the grand jury of the county at large should present with respect to those districts so annexed. He admitted that there was some ambiguity in the terms in which the clause was worded; but that this was the object of the clause he could take it on himself to aver. It was impossible to read it and not to see that the intention was to annex them to the counties at large, for the purposes of civil and criminal jurisdiction, and also of grand jury presentment. In 1838 that clause had been assented to by the other House of Parliament. The House of Commons in the following year, retained these very words, but the terms which they employed was still clearer as to those districts being annexed to the counties for the grand jury presentments, and also for civil and criminal jurisdiction. Their Lordships had every reason to suppose that that clause would have formed part of the present bill. Why did it not form a part. The ground of annexing the rural districts to the counties at large was to preserve them from the liability of contributing to the expenses of the towns. This was the acknowledged object. But it was stated that the House of Commons did not mean to do this, unless their Lordships assented to something else. To do what? To do that to which he never would consent—namely, to transfer from the grand jury to the council the right of making presentments. Their Lordships had expressed themselves of opinion that it would be injurious to intrust this power to the town-council. When his noble and learned Friend asked in whom did the vested right exist to dispose of these funds, he replied, "Let them be intrusted to the same authority which disposes of the county funds." Which was the more suitable body to preside in Ireland over the distribution of funds of this description, whether their amount was limited or extended—the grand jury, with all those guards and guarantees to which he had alluded on a former evening, or the town- 176 council without any? Because their Lordships would not consent to vest the undivided control over these funds in the town-councils, they were answered by a declaration that the rural districts would not be relieved from the taxation of the towns. He apprehended that this was a complete answer. In 1838 the two Houses agreed to a principle which was afterwards more clearly asserted by the Commons, and assented to by the Lords in 1839. With respect to the rest of the case, a great part of what he (Lord Lyndhurst) had said had been left unanswered. First, as to that part of the case which had reference to the admission of freemen, he (Lord Lyndhurst) had adverted to the circumstance that, after 1831, freemen could not be promoted by birth or marriage, but that they could by servitude; and to that the noble and learned Lord had made no answer whatever. The noble and learned Lord said, that the Members of the guilds had no right by law to be admitted to the freedom, unless through birth, marriage, or servitude. This was stated by Mr. Justice Burton to be "inchoate freedom." And what did they do? They abolished the power to complete this right; and then they said, that they made no alteration in the constituency. This inchoate right enabled these persons to apply to the corporation to be admitted; and practically this amounted to admission; for no instance, he believed, had ever occurred in which the application had been refused. Noble Lords on the opposite side would deprive the constituencies of this right, and yet they asserted that they did not at all touch them. In point of fact, they did interfere by this bill with existing rights, and to a much larger extent than was generally supposed.
§ The Lord Chancellor
referred to the bill of 1838 for the purpose of showing that there was no ambiguity in the clause which threw the liberties of towns into the counties. If his noble and learned Friend were right in his interpretation, they must have in all those places two grand juries and two assizes.
not having the honour of being present at the second reading of this bill, only rose for the purpose of saying that he adhered to the principle of the bill, and continued his opposition to all the amendments proposed by his noble 177 and learned Friend. He earnestly hoped that, in which a great majority of their Lordships agreed, some measure on this subject would be passed. He feared in entertaining that hope he should be disappointed from one thing that had been said by his noble and learned Friend, and he trusted he had misunderstood his noble and learned Friend, because if not, he apprehended that all their labour would be vain; and that whether they agreed to or rejected the amendment, this bill would finally be rejected at the instance of his noble and learned Friend. His noble and learned Friend had said, that unless they adopted his amendments he would vote against the bill at some other stage, and in that case, he believed his noble and learned Friend would have the power to prevail on their Lordships to reject the bill. But he had no apprehension upon that ground; because he was afraid that their Lordships would adopt the amendments of his noble and learned Friend. It was not from that quarter he had any apprehension, but it was from another part of the speech, and he hoped he had misunderstood his noble and learned Friend, and that if his noble and learned Friend could comfort him by saying so, he hoped he would tell him that he had misunderstood his noble and learned Friend. He understood his noble and learned Friend to say, after the course that had been adopted with the Grand Jury Cess Bill, that he totally disapproved of the councils of the corporations having taxing powers, and yet he did not intend to move an amendment in that part of the bill, as it would run counter to the admitted privileges of the Commons, and make it imperative upon them to throw out this bill; but then it was said by his noble and learned Friend, that if some other measure were not introduced by the Government, in the only place where it could be introduced, namely, in the other House, and unless that measure were adopted in that House, then, as he understood his noble and learned Friend, he would reject the present bill. He wished to know if he had misunderstood his noble and learned Friend? [Lord Lyndhurst nodded assent.] Then if he so understood his noble and learned Friend, he must say that, coupling the statement of to-night with the question which his noble and learned Friend had put a few nights since, as to the introducing of an- 178 other bill into the other House, and remembering the negative answer of his noble Friend (Viscount Melbourne), that it was not the intention of her Majesty's Government to introduce such a measure, perhaps doubting that they would carry it in the other House—then he feared that the shorter and the more convenient course that his noble and learned Friend could have taken, would be not to put them to the trouble of going through the Committee, but at once tell them to reject the bill. They must know, that that would be the inevitable consequence of putting the bill upon the issue, either that the Government did not intend to introduce such a bill, or if they did, that they would not be able to carry it. If he rightly understood that question and answer, he had little hope that even then, on the fourth or fifth occasion that this bill was before them—and although they thought it absolutely necessary for the peace of Ireland, or at all events highly expedient in every view which could be taken of it—that even then the bill would pass the two branches of the Legislature. With respect to the other matters dwelt upon by his noble and learned Friend, there would be time enough in Committee, if they did go into Committee, to discuss them. He would only add, that he still retained the opinion which he had ever held on the most important part of the subject—the qualification of the franchise. He differed from his noble Friend near him, who approved of the qualification in the bill. For his part, so far from thinking it too low, he thought it too high. He would have no qualification in Ireland different from the qualification in England. The household qualification gave the franchise in England in all the municipal corporations. It had been found to work well. In all the objections that had been urged against the Municipal Bill he never yet heard one whisper against the qualification, and therefore, as at present advised—and it was for the second and third time discussed—he saw no one earthly reason for making one qualification for one part of the empire—he meant England—and another for Ireland. Trust men, and they would show themselves to be trustworthy; show that you distrusted them, and they uniformly earned the title to be distrusted.
The Earl of Wicklow
hoped that his noble and learned Friend would explain the 179 statement to which the noble and learned Lord opposite had alluded. It was not his intention to discuss the proposed amendments then, as a more convenient opportunity for doing so would be afforded when their Lordships got into Committee; but he wished to say a few words in regard to the boundary question. His noble and learned Friend and the noble and learned Lord upon the woolsack were at variance on this question, and he thought it was therefore desirable that their Lordships should come to some understanding in respect to boundaries before going into Committee. There were large districts not connected with the towns, and nothing could be more unjust than that the towns should have the power of taxing those districts. There ought to be but one system of taxation in the towns, while at present there were two, viz., that under the municipal corporations, and that under the grand jury. He was anxious to call the attention of the Government to this subject, in order that they might, if they saw necessary, introduce a bill for settling the difficulty which existed.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
said that he never meant to say positively that if the Government did not bring in a bill for the purpose of rectifying what he considered unjust, he would not give his assent to the present bill. What he intended to say, and what he thought he did say was, that he would not amend this bill in such a way as to infringe with his eyes open upon the privileges of the House of Commons; therefore that he would pass over the clauses connected with the point, leaving it for the Government or her Majesty's Ministers to pursue such a course as they might think it expedient and prudent to pursue with respect to it, leaving to himself afterwards, upon due consideration of what the Government might do or omit to do, to pursue such a course as under all the circumstances they might think it prudent and wise to adopt.
was exceedingly relieved by what had fallen from his noble and learned Friend. He would have been more entirely relieved if there had been less of doubt and postponement in the tone of his noble and learned Friend. However, he felt that there was much less gloom in his (Lord Brougham's) prospects, and he could not avoid fairly stating that his noble and learned Friend had very considerably relieved him.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
said, that the noble and learned Lord opposite objected to the power of taxation being given to the municipal bodies, because it was not accompanied by sufficient guards, by such guards as existed in the case of grand juries to prevent abuse. He was ready to state, if the noble and learned Lord would consent to give the power upon condition of having such guards, that there would be no objection on the part of the Government to proposing them. But he must take that opportunity of expressing his hostility to one of the noble Lord's amendments, which appeared to him subversive of the principle on which the bill was founded, namely, responsibility. He was astonished to find this amendment introduced, though certainly not introduced into the speech of the noble and learned Lord. He was astonished to find when their Lordships were engaged upon a bill with the important object of creating throughout Ireland responsible government, and responsible administration, that the noble and learned Lord should select that opportunity for attempting to create by Act of Parliament a corporate body responsible to no one; to provide for its perpetuity, by making the Members elect each other, and by excluding the public from every protection against the abuse of the public funds entrusted to that corporation. The amendment to which he adverted was that referring to the Blue-coat Hospital. [Lord Lyndhurst: It was in the bill of last year, and of the year before.] It was; and it was then objected to by him. He had objected to it before, and he would object to it on every occasion on which the noble and learned Lord might bring it forward, or attempt to set up irresponsible government; he would not say for the purpose, but certainly with the effect of perpetuating abuse. What was the case of the Blue-coat Hospital? The noble and learned Lord said that it originated in a charter of Charles 2nd, which granted land for the maintenance and education of children, and for the relief of the poor and impotent; the administration of that property was placed in the hands of the mayor and common council of Dublin, changeable from time to time, and amenable of course for the consequences of abuse to the corporation at large. How did the noble and learned Lord deal with the Blue-coat Corporation. He excepted it from the 181 bill, and from the power which the bill gave to the Lord Chancellor to appoint trustees. For the conduct of this charity, the noble and learned Lord determines that the persons actually forming the body should continue to form it, and ad minister the funds of the charity, supplying vacancies by self-election, and utterly unaccountable to any human being. Nay, this corporation was to be exempted from the operation of clause 215, which required accounts to be referred to the commissioners of public accounts, and which applied to all the new corporations. The noble and learned Lord did not think it necessary that the persons forming this corporation should be accountable at all. He did not seem to think there could be any delinquencies, except in the new corporations. Everything old in Ireland seemed to have established such a character for itself in the opinion of the noble and learned Lord, that he thought those who administered it might be left to their own guidance. It was important it was said, to retain this body in existence, because it was for Protestant purposes. But let them be honest Protestant purposes. So far they were provided for by the bill as it stood, which directed the Lord Chancellor to name trustees. There was certainly nothing in the charter to confirm the application of the funds to Protestant purposes. But even admitting the limited sense of Christian charity which had grown up within the walls of Dublin, still it did not follow that what was intended for the poor of Dublin should be restricted to a portion of the Protestant population. Assuming the expediency of continuing the body, there was no reason why its benefits should be confined to the freemen of the late corporation—for it would be the late corporation when this bill passed. Nor did the funds appear very beneficially placed in the hands of managers who could not keep children for less than 26l. per annum each, and who made that an excuse for reducing the number of children in the institution. He did not think this proved much fitness for administering the funds without responsibility. There was another point in the noble and learned Lord's amendment, which was inconsistent with his propositions of last year—as great an inconsistency as any which he charged on the Government. The noble and learned Lord had introduced words which would 182 produce a year's delay before the bill came into operation. In reference to the poor-rate, the noble and learned Lord required that the party should be assessed ten months before the enjoyment of the right to vote. Then there was a clause giving power to the Lord-lieutenant such as had never been given to a public officer. It gave power to the Lord-lieutenant to tax the municipalities at his pleasure. He might select one officer of the corporation, and might say he should have thrice the amount of salary of his predecessor in the office by virtue of the act, and this without any permission from the people on whom the money was levied. Was such a power ever given to a Lord-lieutenant? Would her Majesty's Ministers ever ask for such a power while professing the utmost jealousy and distrust of the new bodies—which, as his noble and learned Friend had said, it was not extremely wise to show at the moment when they said they were compelled to call these bodies into existence, and to give them a certain degree of power—but while exhibiting this distrust, they proposed in addition to give to one man the power of taxing every municipality without limit. Their Lordships would find, that he had not overstated the necessary results of the clause by which the Lord-lieutenant might determine to increase and then diminish, and then to increase and diminish again at pleasure, the salaries of public officers without control. The noble and learned Lord talked of the jealousy of the House of Commons in matters connected with the franchise. How could he expect the House of Commons to assent to a proposition for granting one man the power of taxing the people of the country? He had thought it right to state these objections at the outset, and he should certainly take the sense of the House upon the clause giving such extraordinary powers to a public officer.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
said, that he had not professed, in his opening statement, to enter into every clause in the bill. It never struck him that it was necessary to refer to a clause such as that relating to the Blue-coat Hospital, which, on two successive occasions, had been sanctioned by a majority of their Lordships. The noble Marquess was quite mistaken in supposing that the managers of that charity would be irresponsible. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack could 183 tell him that the Court of Chancery had power to make such parties perform their duties.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
understood the noble and learned Lord to say, that if a poor Protestant of Dublin found his child unjustly excluded from the Blue-coat School, he had the very satisfactory remedy of instituting a suit in Chancery. That was the kind of remedy which the noble and learned Lord would have for abuses in the municipal corporations.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
said, that the conduct or misconduct of persons in a public situation could only be determined by a judicial inquiry. Nothing of the kind had taken place with respect to the managers of this charity, and he could attach no value to assertions of their misconduct.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
had said nothing of the management of the charity, which was not founded on the report of the commissioners, a document which the noble and learned Lord himself frequently quoted.
§ House in Committee.
§ On Clause 6,
§ Lord Lyndhurst
proposed, as an amendment, to leave out the following words in the said clause:—Provided, that nothing herein contained shall prejudice, confirm, effect, or alter any right of voting of any such person who shall have been admitted a freeman of any such borough at any time before this act shall come into operation in that borough; and that every person who shall then have, or who, if this Act had not been passed, thereafter would have had a right, by reason of birth, marriage, or service, or of any statute so in force, to be admitted a freeman of any such borough, to be placed on the roll of freemen of such borough, and to acquire as such freemen the right of voting in the election of a member or members to serve in Parliament for such borough, shall be entitled to be admitted and enrolled as a freeman of such borough, on the previous roll, according to the provisions hereinafter contained, and to acquire and enjoy as such freemen such right of voting, subject to the conditions in such recited act contained, as fully as if this act had not been passed, and as if he had been actually admitted a freeman of such borough, provided he shall be enrolled in the freemen's roll of such borough, according to the provisions hereinafter contained.For the purpose of substituting the following:—That all persona now entitled to vote at 184 the election of a member or members to serve in Parliament for any borough named in either of the said schedules (A and B), shall continue to enjoy such right as fully as if this act had not been passed; and that every person who, if this Act had not been passed, would have had a right to be admitted a freeman or burgess, or to be placed on the roll of freemen or burgesses of any such borough as aforesaid, in order to be registered, and to vote in the election of a member or members to serve in Parliament, or might hereafter have been entitled to acquire, in respect of birth, or marriage, or servitude, or of any statute then in force, as a freeman or burgess, the right of voting in the election of a member or members to serve in Parliament for such borough, shall be entitled, if such borough be one of the boroughs named in the said schedule A, or one of the boroughs to which a charter of incorporation shall have been granted, as hereinafter is mentioned, to be admitted a freeman or burgess, or placed on the freemen's roll of such borough, and to acquire and enjoy such right of voting as fully as if this Act had not been passed; and if such borough be one of the boroughs named in the said schedule B, to which no such charter of incorporation as aforesaid shall have been granted, to acquire and enjoy without having been admitted a freeman or burgess, such right of voting as fully as if this act had not been passed, provided he shall be enrolled on the freemen's roll of such borough according to the provisions hereinafter contained.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
opposed the amendment. The Court of Queen's Bench in Dublin had decided on a writ of mandamus, that these persons had not the right described by the noble and learned Lord. The effect of the noble Lord's amendment was, that person's possessing certain opinions should have the franchise, which he should withhold from every other person in the same station of life who did not hold those opinions.
The Earl of Wicklow
said, that both noble Lords proposed to continue the existing rights of Parliamentary voters, but the question was, whether the bill, as it existed, would continue them. Being desirous to pass the bill if it were possible, but not to deprive any individual of his municipal rights, if any plan could be suggested by which the difficulties would be removed, he would go to a division; but as at present advised, he had come to a resolution not to divide at all.
§ The Lord Chancellor
asked, why, if these persons were included, because they had the capacity of being elected, all other persons were not also included? The noble Lord wished to give to these 185 persons that which the Legislature refused to honorary freemen. It was contrary to the English Reform Act.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
referred to the opinion of the Court of Queen's Bench in Dublin, as expressed by Mr. Justice Burton, and said, that if their Lordships did not admit this amendment, but retained the clause in the bill as originally intended, there would be certain persons who had advanced a certain point to a station, and when they acquired their right of freedom you deprived them of the advantage of the position in which they were placed by abolishing the tribunal whose duty it was to decide, and said they should have no right at all.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
differed from the noble Lord. Their Lordships ought to give these persons the right by enlarging the operation of this bill, so as to include the citizens of Dublin, and not restrict it, so that it was almost a farce to say you were giving it to the freemen. He hoped that their Lordships would give no exclusive right to persons because they had certain opinions, and deny those rights to all other fellow-citizens of the same class.
The Marquess of Normanby
referred to the evidence of Alderman Nugent, in p. 10, where he said, "that of 4,000 freemen not one was a Catholic. In point of fact, the corporation was not open to Roman Catholics. Six or seven highly respectable Roman Catholics were admitted to the merchants' guild many years ago, but they were not admitted to the freedom of the city."
§ Their Lordships divided on the original question:—Contents 60; Not-contents -104;—Majority 44.188
|List of the CONTENTS.|
|Byron||Saye and Sele|
|Cottenham||Stanley of Alderley|
|De Freyne||Stuart de Decies|
|List of the NOT-CONTENTS.|
|Dartmouth||Willoughby de Broke|
|Delamere||Stuart de Rothesay|
|Duke of Buccleuch||Lord Strafford|
|Duke of Argyll||Lord Berners|
|Duke of Montrose||Earl of Yarborough|
|Marquess of Tweeddale||Earl of Kintore|
|Marquess of Lothian||Lord Petre|
|Marquess of Salisbury||Lord Dacre|
|Marquess of Bute||Lord Clifford|
|Marquess of Thomond||Earl of Cork|
|Marquess of Exeter||Marquess of Sligo|
|Marquess of Cholmondely||Duke of Leeds|
|Marquess of Ormond||Lord Stourton|
|Earl of Sandwich||Earl of Uxbridge|
|Earl of Jersey||Lord Godolphin|
|Earl of Morton||Earl of Zetland|
|Earl of Eglintoun||Lord Belhaven|
|Earl of Galloway||Lord Lynedoch|
|Earl of Dalhousie||Marquess of Breadalbane|
|Earl of Airlie||Earl of Radnor|
|Earl Talbot||Lord Sherborne|
|Earl of Digby||Earl of Carlisle|
|Earl of Beverley||Lord Seaford|
|Earl of Carnarvon||Earl of Suffolk|
|Earl of Liverpool||Earl of Rosebery|
|Earl of Malmesbury||Lord Arundell|
|Earl of Roden||Marquess of Conyngham|
|Earl of Mountcashel||Lord Lovat|
|Earl of Longford||Marquess of Anglesey|
|Earl of Clare||Duke of Sutherland|
|Earl of Rosslyn||Earl of Sefton|
|Earl Manvers||Lord Howden|
|Earl of Lonsdale||Earl of Shrewsbury|
|Earl of Bradford||Earl of Oxford|
|Earl of Sheffield||Lord Talbot de Malahide|
|Earl of Falmouth||Lord Montford|
|Earl Howe||Lord Western|
|Earl of Stradbroke||Earl Bruce|
|Earl of Dunraven||Lord Wrottesley|
|Viscount Maynard||Duke of Norfolk|
|Viscount De Vesci||Bishop of Ripon|
|Viscount Doneraile||Lord Carew|
|Viscount Ferrard||Lord Plunket|
|Viscount Canning||Earl Cowper|
|Bishop of Winchester||Bishop of Norwich|
|Bishop of Rochester||Bishop of Salisbury|
|Bishop of Carlisle||Bishop of Hereford|
|Lord Sinclair||Lord Dunfermlin|
|Lord Monson||Duke of Sussex|
|Lord Southampton||Lord Seagrave|
|Lord Kenyon||Lord Langdale|
|Lord Dunsany||Lord Cloncurry|
|Lord Farnham||Earl of Meath|
|Lord Clonbrock||Earl Spencer|
|Lord Churchill||Lord Camoys|
|Lord Prudhoe||Lord Lilford|
|Lord Rayleigh||Duke of Cleveland|
|Lord Tenterden||Lord Dinorben|
|Lord Cowley||Lord Bateman|
|Lord Haytesbury.||Earl of Fingal|
§ Clause as amended to stand part of the bill.
§ On Clause 7,
§ The Lord Chancellor
observing, that under the Reform Act no honorary freeman admitted since the 31st of March, 1831, could vote in the election of Members of Parliament; but, in Ireland, though such persons were not entitled to exercise the Parliamentary franchise, they served to transmit to their children the privilege of being freemen of right; and there had been consequently a large manufacture of honorary freemen, not for the purpose of voting, but of transmitting the right to others. The object of this clause was to assimilate the law in Ireland to what it was in England, and to provide that no man should have a right to the freedom, who did not derive through some one who was a freeman previously to the 31st of March, 1831, or through some person who, since that time, should have become, or should hereafter become, a freeman in respect of servitude.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
said, the clause in the hill applied not only to honorary freemen, but to all freemen, whether admitted by birth or marriage, since 1831. His noble and learned Friend proposed this clause on the statement, that he understood a great number of honorary freemen had been made in late years, for the purpose of out-voting the bonâ fide electors; but the fact was the reverse, and there were fewer honorary freemen made since March, 1831, than in any similar preceding period. By allowing the clause in the bill to stand, they would be altering the Reform Act, as they would be thereby cutting off from the franchise, those persons who under that act were entitled to it.
§ The Lord Chancellor
admitted, that they were attempting to correct an abuse, which existed under that act, by excluding from the freedom those who derived their title through honorary freemen admitted since the 31st of March, 1831.
The Earl of Wicklow
objected to the clause. By the proposed amendment they would do nothing with the Reform Act. His objection to the last clause was, that it 189 interfered with the Reform Bill. The noble and learned Lord said, there was a mistake in the Reform Act. If so, let the Government bring in a bill to amend it. Surely they could not object to do that, as they were in the habit of bringing in bills each Session, to amend some act of theirs in a preceding Session.
§ Clause struck out.
§ On Clause 13,
§ Lord Lyndhurst moved an amendment to except the town of Gal way from the operation of the bill.
The Earl of Wicklow
objected to this amendment. He saw no reason why one of the largest towns in Ireland should be excluded from municipal rights. When this amendment was proposed last year he should have voted against it if her Majesty's Ministers had gone to a division on it.
The Marquis of Clanricarde
supported the amendment. Galway was peculiarly situated. It so happened that, for a very long time, a constant struggle had been carried on between the corporation and the inhabitants, who had at length succeeded in perfectly reforming all the abuses which formerly existed, and it was now in the very state to which they wish to bring all the towns of Ireland. They had the lighting, paving, and other business of the town managed by commissioners under local acts. He should prefer having Galway placed in Schedule B.
The Marquess of Downshire
had presented a petition from the town of Belfast, and he thought that if the town of Galway was to be excepted, that of Belfast should be excepted also.
The Earl of Wicklow
congratulated her Majesty's Ministers on the support of the noble Marquess opposite, who, though a great advocate for municipal reform, was anxious to have his own town of Galway exempted from the operations of this bill.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
said the noble Earl had mistaken what he had stated. He had only said there were local acts applying to Galway so late, he believed, as 1836, which had given it the reformed corporation which it had at present. That reform being so late, and effectual, and consonant with the wishes of the inhabitants, he did not see any necessity for their Lordships now interfering.
The Marquess of Westmeath
said it appeared that in Galway the people had 190 obtained sufficient economy in the management of their public funds without any reform. Seeing that the object could be thus attained, he should, therefore, object to applying this bill to any town in Ireland.
The Marquess of Normanby
observed, that the proposition of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Wynford) was to leave Dublin out of the operation of the bill, which was, in point of fact, to continue all the abuses which at present existed there, while his noble Friend merely recommended that the town of Galway should be transferred from schedule A to schedule B. He would not trouble the Committee to divide on the proposition now made by the noble and learned Lord.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ On Clause 14,
The Earl of Wicklow
said he thought that this clause was the most dangerous in the bill, as affording a fruitful source of agitation amongst a poor population, who would be liable to be influenced to petition for a charter of incorporation. The clause was exceedingly objectionable, inasmuch as it gave such a power to so small a body of inhabitants in any place as 3,000 to form such a corporation which might be turned to dangerous political purposes by designing men, especially when it might happen that there would not be more than three or four persons of property amounting to 10l. in the entire. The whole arrangement was so different from that which was provided for the formation of English corporations, that he should, on the bringing up the report, move the rejection of the clause.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ On Clause 34,
§ Lord Lyndhurst
objected to the qualification laid down by this clause, and meant to propose instead of it the qualification which was passed in the bill of 1838—the qualification, in fact, of the Scottish Municipal Reform Bill—the occupation of a house of 10l. value for the twelve months preceding, and payment of all rates up to within three months of the particular date fixed. As the clause originally stood, it was enacted, that after three years the qualification should cease, and that every householder rated for the poor during that period should be entitled to vote. To this provision he objected, and should, therefore, press his amendment.
§ Lord Stuart de Decies
opposed the amendment, which, he contended, originated in an anti-Irish feeling at the other side of the House. He declared that the Roman Catholics were generally richer in towns than their Protestant fellow-citizens, and that the three years contemplated would not make any difference in their comparative conditions similar to what appeared to be expected by the noble and learned Lord. The sole object of the clause, which the noble and learned Lord wished to set aside, was to place the people of both countries on a level, while the opposition to it was grounded upon the mischievous principle of ecclesiastical ascendancy in civil affairs.
The Earl of Wicklow
denied the justness of the imputation that their Lordships at his side of the House were animated by anti-Irish feelings. Never was a speech so inapplicable, and never was a speech so unfounded. The object of the amendment was most consistent-—to provide that the qualification should, in all cases, be 10l., and permanently adjusted according to the rating under the Poor-law.
§ Their Lordships' House divided on Lord Lyndhurst's amendment,—contents 92; not-contents 50: majority 42.
§ On the clause relating to the sheriffs of town-counties, (152),
§ Lord Lyndhurst
remarked, that in a former bill of this description, proposed in the year before last, the appointment of the sheriffs had been proposed to be vested in the corporations in the first instance, by their appointing or selecting three burgesses or members of the corporation, in order that the Lord-lieutenant should elect one of them to be sheriff of such place, and should he object to all three, the corporators should have a right again to name three more, and submit to the Lord-lieutenant those candidates for election. If he should again decline to select one of them to the office, then and not till then, the appointment was absolutely to vest in the Lord-lieutenant. That bill had been amended in their Lordships' House, with the assent of the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, and he saw the same reasons for proposing an amendment similar to that which had before received the assent of their Lordships, of which reasons he conceived the strongest to be, that as the sheriff's duty was magisterial and connected with the highest department of the administration of justice within 192 the law, that office ought not to be subjected to the mere choice of the persons composing the corporation, but ought to be vested in the first magistrate of the country. He was not prepared to find that this clause of the bill should, after the discussion which had taken place on the occasion alluded to, be restored to its original state. He should now move as an amendment that the clause be altered, so that the appointment of the sheriff of corporations in the cities, boroughs, and towns of counties in Ireland, should be vested, as was now the practice with respect to the sheriffs of counties throughout Ireland, in the Lord-lieutenant.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ On Clause 167,
§ Lord Lyndhurst
proposed the omission of the words directing the Recorder of Dublin to hold his court at such times, besides those which he should appoint, "as the Lord-lieutenant should from time to time think fit to direct." He was sure that no person could, in the discharge of his duties, exceed the present Recorder of Dublin.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
said, that the higher the opinion which he entertained of the recorder, the more anxious was he for his attendance. Could the noble Lord state that the Recorder of Dublin held sessions more frequently than the Recorder of Cork? Was he aware that six weeks often passed without a gaol delivery?
The Marquess of Normanby
said, that on more than one occasion had the judges impressed upon the Lord Mayor of Dublin, on ins presentation to them for their approbation, the necessity of endeavouring to obtain a more frequent gaol delivery.
§ Lord Lyndhurst withdrew his amendment—clause agreed to.
§ All the clauses of the bill were passed through, some were struck out, and several were amended.
§ Schedules postponed. The House resumed.—Committee to sit again.