THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
presented petitions from owners of mining property against Clause 12, which had been introduced into the Bill in the House of Commons, not by the Government, but without notice by an independent Member. The effect of this clause, the petitioners stated, would be that any land which contained mines in the neighbourhood of a town would be subjected to an assessment four times as heavy as land occupied for other purposes.
explained the grounds on which the clause was admitted into the Bill. By the Act of 1858, a partial exemption was allowed to some kinds of land peculiarly situated: it was provided that the owner of any rent-charge or tithe commutation charge upon land, or the occupier of land used as a railway, road, or towing path, should be assessed in respect only of one-fourth part of the estimated annual value of the land, if built upon or occupied for agricultural purposes. It had been argued that this exemption applied to mining property; and as in some instances, where that property was the most extensive and valuable in the neighbourhood, large sums of money had been borrowed on the security of the rates, it was thought that it would be unjust to allow such an exemption to be established. Although the clause did not originate with the Government, it appeared to him so important that to abandon this clause would be tantamount to the loss of the Bill.
§ House in Committee (according to Order).
§ Clauses 1 to 12 agreed to.
§ Clause 12 (For Relief of Occupiers of Coal Mines, &c, from Proportion of Rates).
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
moved that the clause be omitted. It would render mining property subject to only one-fourth of the rate, and would thus 415 operate to the disadvantage of the owners of houses. He saw no sufficient reason for such a concession, and he had to add that the clause appeared to have undergone very little consideration in the other House, for it had been introduced into the Bill in Committee, without notice, after two o'clock in the morning.
§ Moved, To disagree to the said Clause.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
supported the clause. Mining property would obtain but a small portion of the benefits for which the taxation was to be imposed, and it was only fair that they should be but partially subject to the charge.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, a letter from Bury, in Lancashire, had been placed in his hands that evening, stating that all parties there were utterly ignorant of the alteration in the Bill until the discussion took place upon it, and that numerous petitions against it would be presented to their Lordships in the course of two or three days. Under these circumstances he trusted that, as the clause would injuriously affect a large amount of property, and had no proper relation to the Bill, it would be withdrawn or postponed.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
denied that the clause was irrelevant to the Bill, and contended that it had been introduced in the ordinary course in the other House, where ample opportunities were afforded for its discussion.
§ LORD WENSLEYDALE
also expressed his approval of the clause, which only did that which was just and fair to mining property.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
pointed out that the owners of coal mines derived advantage from the expenditure in towns for police, lighting, &c.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
approved the clause. Until 1848 mines were only liable to one-fourth of the rate. In that year they were made liable to the whole rate, at the same time that analogous descriptions of property were exempted from a portion of the rate. In 1858 tithe and tithe-rent-charge were relieved in the same manner. Coal mines were overlooked, and this clause would only place them in the position in which they were before 1848.
§ THE DUKE OF CLEVELAND
opposed the clause, observing that coal-owners did not wish to be exempted from the rates under the Bill, but to be placed on the same footing as the owners of the soil on the surface. It would be an act of injustice to make them pay as much as the in 416 habitants of towns, who derived far greater advantage from the expenditure of those rates.
§ LORD OVERSTONE
said, that reason and justice were clearly in favour of the clause. As to the mode in which it had been introduced in the other House, he was informed that eleven Members took part in the debate—three opposing and eight supporting it, and that the Home Secretary acceded to its introduction. There had been no surreptitious proceedings, and no one could have been taken by surprise.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
intended to vote against the clause without regard to its merits, because he thought the inhabitants of towns, who would be affected by it, ought to be fairly heard before it was adopted.
§ THE EARL OF SHREWSBURY,
though interested in mines, concurred in the opinion that they ought not to pass a clause which had been introduced into a Bill in the other House at two o'clock in the morning, without notice. He declined to discuss the merits of the clause, but could not help thinking that the proprietors of mines derived great benefit from expenditure in towns on roads, sewers, and lighting.
§ On Question, Whether the said Clause shall stand part of the Bill, their Lordships divided:—Contents 42 Not-Contents 24: Majority 18.
§ An Amendment made; the Report thereof to be received on Thursday next.