HL Deb 04 August 1890 vol 347 cc1709-13

My Lords, the Motion that stands in my name requires a few words of explanation. The Motion is that the Bill relating to the Dublin Corporation be re-committed so far as relates to Part IV. The facts of the case are these: When the Bill came up from the House of Commons these clauses relating to the collection of rates were in such a condition that the Committee to which the Bill was referred did not consider, under the circumstances, they were able to pass the clauses. Perhaps I had better read the Chairman of the Committee's statement on the subject. He states— I have to remark in the first instance, that the Bill, as it left the other House, did not attempt to deal with the great difficulty in the case, that of the altered position of the Collector General and his staff, his duties being the same, or nearly the same under the Bill, with only one-third of the sum available for the payment of himself and his staff. Then he recommends that the rating clauses of the Bill ought to be struck out, and that the preamble be amended accordingly. Since that decision was arrived at clauses have been prepared which have been agreed to by certain parties to the Bill. It was thought extremely desirable by them that the matter should be again brought before the same Committee, when, of course, any opponents of the new clauses, whoever they might be, would have an opportunity of being heard. It was a point of some difficulty, and it was thought by myself far better that the matter should be settled in a satisfactory manner here, and sent down in a satisfactory form to the Commons. That is all I have to say now about the matter. It is not, of course, for me to express any opinion, or to make any statements as to the merits of the case, in regard to which I am afraid I am not competent to speak,

Moved— That the Bill be re-committed so far as relates to Part IV. (Rates), and the corresponding recitals in the preamble."—(The Chairman of Committees.)


(who spoke by leave of the House sitting): My Lords, I must really make the strongest protest I am able against the Motion of the noble Earl. I do not think the Motion comes exactly from himself. I think it is a change of front on the part of Her Majesty's Government, and a very extraordinary change of front it is. I will put before your Lordships very shortly what happened with regard to his Bill. Originally, when the Bill came into another place, it proposed to transfer the appointment of the Collector General to the Corporation. Well, that was opposed by Her Majesty's Government, and amended, and it was then arranged that the Corporation should collect its own rates, and that the other rates should still be collected by the Collector General. The Bill was then placed before a Committee of your Lordships' House. It was again opposed by Her Ma- jesty's Government, these clauses were opposed by the Government in the person of Sir Richard Wyatt acting for the Government, it was opposed by the Chambers of Commerce in Dublin, who represent the largest ratepayers in that town. It was also opposed by the Port and Docks Board. Now, let me point out what happened then. All these different bodies have been heard by counsel upstairs, at great expense to them; and now, by the re-committal of this Bill, they must go through all that expense again. It is a most unsatisfactory arrangement; and I am sure your Lordships will agree with me that if the Government opposed this Bill up stairs they should not have changed front now, and come forward with a large sheaf of other clauses which the Government made no mention of before that Committee. I may mention that the clauses in Part IV. of this Bill were unanimously rejected by the Committee upstairs. These new clauses which the noble Chairman has suggested will improve the Bill are perfectly unworkable. They are most complicated; and to prove to your Lordships that even the framers of these clauses do not think much of them, they have inserted a proviso at the end that if either of the parties object to them they are at the end of six months to become a dead letter and to no longer have effect. I think on the part of the framers them selves that is not saying very much in favour of these clauses. I say these clauses simply do not carry out the original decision of the House of Commons. That decision was that the Corporation should collect its own rates. This does not even arrange for that; but it arranges that the Corporation is to interfere with the collection of all rates. I must protest very strongly against this change of front- The expense of this re-committal will to everybody be very great. The opponents received no notice, and at the last moment these clauses are brought for ward, clauses which are very crude, and, as I venture to think, though I cannot claim great skill draughtsman, extremely badly drawn. From my own knowledge of the country also I believe them to be absolutely unworkable. They arrange that the Corporation shall have the appointment of two-thirds of the staff by which they provide really for the collection of the whole of the rates in Dublin. I hope sincerely that if your Lordships agree to refer this Bill to the Committee again the Committee will not follow the example of Her Majesty's Government, but will adhere to their former decision.


I beg to support every word which has been said by the noble Lord who has just sat down, and to protest most strongly against the action taken in re-committing this Bill. The clauses relating to rating have been unanimously rejected by the Committee upstairs. At the same time, other similar clauses have been inserted at the action of certain persons, and I shall be very much obliged if the noble Lord will inform the House why the wishes of those certain persons who have met these clauses with approbation have been consulted in the matter, and why this Bill is to be laid before the Committee upstairs again without any notice. It has caused, I am bound to say, great consternation among a large number of Her Majesty's citizens in Dublin, who had no notice that this action was to be taken, and who thought that when the Bill came down from the other House all further legislation on that head was at an end. I must say that I think the various opponents of this Bill have great cause of complaint, for not only have they been taken completely by surprise, but they will be put to great expense in having to employ counsel at great expense to re-argue the case.


I think I ought to explain, in answer to what has fallen from the noble Duke, that the opponents of the Bill have had ample warning or notice in this matter. The Motion which I have made has been on the Paper for a week, and ample opportunity has therefore been given to any persons desirous of opposing the Bill, and discussing the matter before the Committee.


I rise not at all for the purpose of entering into the matters which have been referred to by the noble Lords, or with any desire of prolonging this discussion, but merely to point out that the question before the House is whether this Bill should be re- committed or not. I am bound to say that in my opinion the noble Lord, the Chairman of Committees, has shown good ground for such re-committal, and I hope your Lordships will agree to it. On Question agreed to.

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