§ Order of the Day for the Third Beading, read.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 3a."—(The Earl of Shaftesbury.)
§ LORD REDESDALE
moved, as an Amendment, that it be read a third time that day three months. The original Bill contained 46 clauses; but since the second reading the Preamble had been amended, and the first and all after the second clause had been struck out of the Bill, and he contended that that was not a proper manner of dealing with a measure. He understood that the Bill would be re-committed, but that had not been done. The Bill would be of no practical use whatever. It gave no further power to corporations than they at present possessed, except in this—that it proposed that they should grant leases for 999 years or for a longer period. He thought that under the Municipal Corporations Act the promoters of this Bill would be able to do all they wished. The provisions of the Bill were restrictive of the beneficial powers which the Treasury had over the corporations in the matter of the letting of their lands, and as he regarded the measure as objectionable in other respects, he trusted their Lordships would reject it.
§ An Amendment moved, to leave out "now," and add at the end of the Motion "this day three months."—(The Lord Redesdale.)
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
said, that although the Bill was a very small one, and although it had passed through 291 the House of Commons without a division, yet it had caused their Lordships more trouble than if it had been a Bill for the better government of our Indian Empire. The object of the Bill was to enable working men to provide themselves with dwellings outside towns, and for this purpose it enabled corporations to let their lands on long leases, with the view of small tenements being erected on them, in order to encourage thrift on the part of the working men, by giving them an opportunity of becoming the owners of the houses they occupied, and to relieve the densely crowded centres of population. The original Bill was intended to enable men to become the freeholders of their own dwellings; but the objections of noble and learned Lords to the plans proposed were so great, that the promoters of the Bill had been driven to provide a new machinery. They accordingly struck out the clauses relating to freeholds, and introduced others providing for the granting of leases. Under the Act to which the noble Lord had alluded—the Municipal Corporations Act—the corporations had powers to sell with the consent of the Treasury; but they had not the powers which the Bill would give them—namely, to lay out lands, make roads, and to make the other necessary alterations before offering the lands in lots for building purposes. He wished before the noble Lord (Lord Redesdale) had risen to speak on this subject, he had witnessed what had been done within ten minutes' journey of that House to enable the working classes to have comfortable residences of their own, because the sight was one that the world had never seen before. Instead of raising objections to the scheme, the noble Lord ought to be thankful that so grand an experiment had resulted in success. If the noble Lord would visit the densely crowded courts of London, he would learn that the artizans had the greatest desire to live in the suburbs; and every statesman ought to encourage that desire, as well as the wish of the artizans to become the owners of their dwellings. In his opinion, this Bill would conduce largely to the comfort, happiness, and prosperity of the working classes, and consequently conduce in a corresponding degree to the stability of the State. He therefore hoped that their Lordships 292 by passing this measure, would show themselves to be equally anxious with the House of Commons for the interest and welfare of the working classes.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that the plan of the Municipal Corporations Act was one of prohibition—that was to say, the corporations could do nothing in respect to parting with their property for a period exceeding 31 years, without the sanction of the Treasury, and it could not be expected that any corporation would run to the Treasury to ask power to grant a lease, or do other small matters. This Bill would enable corporations to lease their property for the specific purpose mentioned in the Bill without such restriction, and he thought it was a power that might very well be granted.
§ On Question, That ("now") stand part of the Motion? Resolved in the Affirmative; Bill read 3a accordingly, with the Amendments; further Amendments made; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.
§ House adjourned at Nine o'clock, 'till To-morrow, a quarter before Five o'clock.