§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.— (Lord Taunton.)
§ LORD KLNGSDOWN moved that it be read a second time that day six months. He had no connection with either the promoters or the opponents of the Bill, and made his Motion solely on public grounds —namely, that it would perpetuate a great injustice upon the City of London, and that it ought to come before the House as a Public and not as a Private Bill: on that point, however, he was prepared to accept the decision of his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, and the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees. The Bill proposed two things. The first proposal was to repeal so much of an Act of Queen Anne as required all brokers in the City of London to be admitted and sworn 409 before the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen; and the other was to repeal another Act which imposed certain securities upon brokers as the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen might from time to time think it right to adopt. His objection was mainly founded upon the fact that the Act which it proposed to repeal was an Act passed for the regulation of brokers in the City of London, with a view to the public benefit and the security of commerce within the City of London. It was a great mistake to suppose that the jurisdiction was introduced in the reign of Queen Anne, for the principle was established 600 years ago, in the time of Edward I., in whose reign an Act was passed, which Act provided that no broker should be admitted to practise unless he had been sworn in before the Lord Mayor and the Court of Aldermen. The reason for that regulation was obvious, because it prevented improper persons from exercising those privileges. Whether the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen were a good tribunal for regulating a subject of so much importance it was not necessary to consider, but whether it should be dealt with by public or private legislation. This was nothing but an attempt to deprive the City of London of an income which they purchased for a large sum of money, and which they had enjoyed for many centuries, and the only ground for depriving them of it was that the Corporation received from this source too large a sum of money. He trusted he had shown sufficient grounds for the Amendment which he proposed.
§ Amendment moved, to leave out ("now") and insert ("this Day Six Months.")—(Lord Kingsdown.)
§ LORD TAUNTON
said, that the abuse against which the Bill was directed was one that loudly called for removal. It had in its favour the recommendation of the Commission appointed to inquire into the state of the Corporation of London, on which Sir George Lewis and Sir John Pattison were his colleagues, and it had been thoroughly examined by a Committee of the House of Commons and passed unanimously, and was warmly approved of by the commercial interests in the City. His noble and learned Friend had been supplied with all his arguments by the Corporation of London, who were interested parties, as it was they who benefited by the abuse. The Corporation levied the tax on the most respectable 410 brokers, whilst whole hosts of interlopers passed scot free. Sir Robert Carden had given evidence against the present system before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, and the late Mr. Charles Pearson, the City solicitor, and an exceedingly shrewd man, had advised his clients to get the tax when they could, never to enforce it, and above all things never to raise discussion as to its merits. It appeared that the case of the Corporation having broken down before the Committee of the House of Commons, in which there were many friends of the City, they had gone round to their Lordships' House, and were at last fortunate in finding an advocate in his noble and learned Friend. A Committee of their Lordships' House might inquire whether anything in the way of a compromise might be effected, and he was sure that any suggestion coming from such a source would be received with great respect by the promoters. He believed there never had been a Bill which had undergone a more searching or scrutinising inquiry in the House of Commons, and it would be a great misfortune if the two Houses of Parliament should come to separate views upon such a subject.
§ LORD REDESDALE
said, he had always been particularly careful to keep private legislation within its proper bounds, so that it should not interfere with public legislation; and the first thing he found in this Bill was that it is proposed to repeal a Public Act, and secondly that it sought to bring about a great measure of municipal reform by indirect means. Now, nothing would be more dangerous than to allow a municipal reform to be made by private legislation. On these grounds he thought the Bill ought to be rejected.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
hoped that their Lordships would pause before they rejected the Bill, which had been passed unanimously in the other House of Parliament, and which had passed through its several stages hitherto with the full conviction of those promoting it that it could not be objected to as a Private Bill. The promoters asked that the Bill should be considered by a Committee of this House; and it would then be competent for their Lordships, acting upon the Report of the Committee, to reject the Bill if they thought fit so to do. But he submitted that it would be an objectionable precedent to reject the measure in its present stage.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
said, he should 411 not object to the sending of the Bill to a Select Committee if he did not think it contained a dangerous and destructive principle. It was the most undisguised measure of confiscation ever submitted to Parliament. No good reason had been shown for taking these revenues from the corporation, to whom they had been secured by successive Sovereigns for many centuries, and the only ground for doing so was that they amounted to a considerable sum. He should therefore cordially support the Amendment.
§ On Question, That ("now") stand part of the Motion? Resolved in the Negative; and Bill to be read 2a on this Day Six Months.