HL Deb 27 March 1849 vol 103 cc1364-6

, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, said its object was to place cities and boroughs on the same footing as counties with regard to Petty Sessions Courts; and to enable the magistrates to secure suitable places in which to hold their petty sessions. The noble and learned Lord, from the returns which had been presented on the Motion of the Marquess of Salisbury, quoted several instances of the inconvenience to which magistrates had been subjected for the want of proper accommodation. The Bill was intended to be permissive only, not compulsory, and it proposed that the expenses should be paid out of the county rate.


said, this Bill was brought in for the benefit of certain gentlemen who were very useful to the country, but who were interested in providing places for holding the petty sessions, which were held to the number of 730 throughout the entire country. The noble Marquess complained of the great cost which it must entail on the ratepayers. The smallest cost of the erection of any of these buildings would be 500l.; and under any circumstances it ought not to be paid out of the county rate, but it should be a charge on the Consolidated Fund. He did not think any case had been made out for the passing of this Bill; and he therefore begged to move that it be read a second time that day six months.


said, the noble and learned Lord had chosen a most unfortunate time for bringing forward such a measure. He should like to see the system of local taxation reformed, for it had become almost intolerable, and no one could doubt that the pressure on the county rate was already very severe. The poor-rate and county rate in his own parish of Christ Church had increased to an alarming extent within the last twelve years; and he was not inclined to give magistrates a further discretionary power to increase those rates until the whole system of local taxation had been amended. He thought personal property should be liable to the payment of rates as well as real property. Personal property was that which was generally stolen, notwithstanding which the cost of maintaining the gaols and lunatic asylums was thrown entirely on the land.

After a few words from Lord CAMPBELL, LORD STANLEY suggested to his noble Friends behind him, whether the measure might not be modified in Committee in such a manner as to meet their wishes, and then if they did not succeed in removing what they considered obnoxious, they might move to reject the Bill on the third reading. As to the question of county rates there was no subject more worthy of their Lordships' consideration than the great and rapid increase of the county rates. He thought that he was not mistaken in saying, that in his county in 1823 the county rates amounted to 77,000l., whilst in 1849 they reached 179,000l. He must say that there was a great and a general feeling that the power vested in magistrates at quarter-sessions required revision and control. It appeared to him to be a great anomaly that a sum of money, amounting to 179,000l., should be assessed by the local magistrates without any influence being exercised over it by the ratepayers. He must say that when the burdens on the land were so great, it was the duty of their Lordships to watch with constitutional jealousy any progress to increase the expenditure of counties. True it was that this Bill was only permissive; but still it gave a power to the magistrates to increase the rates for the purpose of promoting their own comforts and convenience. But what their Lordships had to guard against was the possibility of a profuse expenditure. He would, therefore, propose to omit the words enabling the magistrates to provide accommodation by means of building. If they gave to the magistrates the power of building, they would give a great temptation to profuse expenditure; and he would advise his noble Friends to add a proviso that no buildings should be erected in places where they did not already exist, and that they should be restricted to the having of proper places, and that they should not even do that without the authority of the magistrates in quarter-sessions assembled, and notice being previously given of the intention to raise such question to the magistrates at large. This Bill, he thought, went beyond the necessity of the case. He would again submit to his noble Friends whether the whole object they had in view would not be answered by allowing the Bill to be read a second time, and amending it in Committee.


said, he was not certain whether he understood this Bill. Lately many Acts had passed which gave certain powers to magistrates assembled at petty sessions; but these acts did not extend the jurisdiction to where boroughs and city magistrates were sitting together. He believed, however, that the object of the first part of this Bill was to extend that power to such magistrates; and to that part of the Bill he thought no objection could be taken. With regard to the second part of the Bill, that was a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence. If this were an Act to enforce the building of these houses for holding petty sessions, and fixing an amount of rate on the county, then it would be an objectionable Bill; but it appeared to him that the measure was modelled on the Bill called the Lock-up Houses Bill, with which many of their Lordships were acquainted.

After a few words from the Earl of HARROWBY and Lord CAMPBELL, which were inaudible in the gallery.


, upon the understanding that some amendments would be introduced in Committee, withdrew his amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill read 2a

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