§ Commons Consequential Amendments considered (according to order.)
§ LORD HERSCHELL
In moving that this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments, I shall not need to trouble your Lordships at any great length. The Bill is a Bill introduced by the Corporation of Dublin, with the full approval of the citizens of Dublin ascertained in the manner required by Parliament. A part of that Bill as introduced and approved provided for the transfer of the 618 collection of rates from the Collector General to the Corporation of Dublin. Exception was taken to those clauses in the House. The Bill was referred to a Committee composed of Members of great experience in matters of this description. It was not an ordinary Private Bill Committee, but it was a Committee consisting of eleven Members, appointed to consider Bills having reference to Police and Sanitary Regulations, and the matter having been hotly contested before that Committee, in the result the Committee did not permit Part IV. of the Bill, with the clauses of the Promoters, to stand as it was, but they amended those provisions and, so amended, the Bill passed from that House and came to your Lordships' House. When the measure came to your Lordships' House it went in the usual course to a Private Bill Committee. That Committee disagreed with the view, and I may say the unanimous view, of those eleven Members of the other House who had sat and considered the Bill, and the Committee struck out the whole of the clauses. My Lords, I am not going to say a word as to the wisdom or propriety of that proceeding; but the clauses having been so struck out, naturally enough, those promoting the Bill felt themselves very much aggrieved. The clauses which they had originally proposed had not been accepted, but a substitute had been found by the House of Commons for those which they had inserted in the Bill which would have effected substantially the purpose they desired, namely, the transfer to the Corporation of Dublin of the collection of its own rates. Feeling themselves thus aggrieved, it was only natural that they should see whether it would not be possible to arrive at an understanding with the Government, who had not been willing that the Bill should pass in the form it was proposed as to that part of it, and to ascertain whether, by some new suggestion, a means might not be found of proceeding and carrying out that which the Corporation desired, without involving any consequences which would be improper or prejudicial. Accordingly, after consultation, Her Majesty's Government approved of a set of clauses to be substituted for those which had been originally in Part IV. of the Bill; and the Bill then before your Lordships' 619 House was re-committed with a view to the reconsideration of those suggested new clauses, if they met the views of the promoters, which in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government might safely be adopted. I cannot help thinking that most unfortunately the Committee of your Lordships' House, notwithstanding that the clauses had the origin and approval to which I have alluded, determined not to pass them, and the consequence was that the Bill went down to the other House without any clauses having in view the object aimed at by the fourth part of the Bill. In the other House Her Majesty's Government, in the person of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, moved the insertion of these clauses; and the matter having been discussed in the other House, the minority that were opposed to the insertion of these clauses was so absolutely insignificant, I mean in point of numbers, that they did not venture even to show how insignificant in numbers they were by dividing the House against the clauses, and, therefore, without division, these clauses were inserted in the other House. Now, those are the circumstances which have induced me to invite your Lordships to agree with the other House in the Amendments which they have made. The object of these Amendments is, as I have said, the transfer to the Corporation of Dublin of the power of collecting their own rates. It is said that in the year 1849—over 40 years ago—a different arrangement was made. I do not recognise, and do not understand how this House can recognise, the fact that an arrangement was arrived at in 1849 as being a conclusive reason why it should continue in the present day and indefinitely onwards. Indeed, I am not going to argue the question at the present moment, because I am absolutely unable to understand the fear, or almost passion, which seems to be excited against this proposal by many of those who are opposing it. It seems to be such a natural thing, such a reasonable thing, that when you are dealing with the first Corporation in Ireland, which has great powers, and to which, by this Bill, you are giving greater powers—that when the Corporation of Dublin desire it, you should give it the limited addition to its powers, that it may be permitted to collect its own rates. That is the proposal, and no more than the proposal which is now 620 before your Lordships' House, and what I would ask your Lordships to consider seriously is this, that the House would suffer no loss of dignity by agreeing to these Amendments. Noble Lords who have objected to the clauses would suffer no loss of dignity; they thought the clauses bad, and acted upon their opinion. Nor would the Committee which has taken part in the consideration of this matter, and which was a Committee certainly not inferior in ability and experience to other Committees of the same kind, suffer any loss of dignity. They have taken a different view with regard to the propositions which are now submitted to your Lordships. With regard to any loss of dignity, I think your Lordships would be doing that which is reasonable in saying that you will concur in the opinion which has been arrived at, even if you should have been of opinion that it would be wiser that these clauses should not be inserted. All I submit to your Lordships is that it would not be wise, expedient, or desirable that in such a matter as this you should come in conflict with the view taken by men of such different views and opposing politics in the other House. I therefore move that your Lordships agree with the Commons' Amendments to this Bill.
Moved, to agree to the consequential Amendment made by the Commons, namely, in page 2, after line I9, in lieu of the words omitted by the Lords, to insert—
And whereas it is expedient that a separate department should be formed in the office of the Collector-General of Rates for the supervision of the applotting and levying all municipal rates, and that the power of collecting such rates should be vested in and exercised by the Corporation."—(The Lord Herschell.)
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
My Lords, I rise to say a few words upon this Motion, and I shall conclude my observations by moving an Amendment, but I wish to commence by saying that in my remarks not one word will your Lordships hear of anything connected with any political question or political considerations. It appears to me that when we are considering a Private Bill as this is, a Bill for altering the system of the collection of rates in Dublin that the introduction of political topics is altogether out of place. The discussions on this Bill have been in part guided elsewhere by considerations 621 with regard to certain political effects or changes which may be the result of these clauses, and I think it would be very unfortunate if we were in this House to follow that example. At all events, my Lords, I shall not give it. I wish to consider this Bill, which is a Bill promoted by the Corporation of Dublin, exactly in the same way as I should consider a similar proposal put forward by the City of London, or the City of Edinburgh. Now, of these clauses which your Lordships are asked to adopt, two of them, Clauses A and B, alter the constitution of the Collector General's Office. There are two further clauses, C and F, which I may call the alternative propositions, which are to come into force at the will of the Municipality of Dublin, or at the will of the Lord Lieutenant; and the effect of those two clauses is to hand over to the Corporation in certain eventualities the collection of the Municipal rates of Dublin. The noble and learned Lord who has just spoken said that the object of these clauses which are now laid before your Lordships is to give to the Municipality the collection of the Municipal rates. Now, he was not strictly correct in that, because, if the first scheme, namely, that which gives to the Corporation the power of appointing a certain number of officers in what is called the Municipal Department, a certain number of clerks, and also a certain number of Collectors—if that system should be adopted, that would not give to the Municipality directly a power of collecting Municipal rates. In order to give the Municipality the power of directing the collection of the Municipal rates, it would be necessary for either Clause C or Clause F to be brought into force. The noble and learned Lord just now gave to your Lordships a very brief history of what had occurred during the present year with regard to this matter, and, therefore, it is not necessary for me to repeat what he said; but I would take up his statement at this point: he said, that the House of Commons' Police and Sanitary Committee inserted into the Bill a clause giving to the Corporation the power of collecting for the future the Municipal rates; and he further went on to say that when the Bill came up to this House and was referred to the Committee, over which the noble Duke sitting near me 622 presided, that Committee came to a conclusion which was contrary to the conclusion which had been come to by the Committee of the other House. As I have seen the same thing stated elsewhere upon this subject, I have endeavoured to make myself master of this case, and I have read the statements of the promoters quite as much as I have the statements of the opponents of this Bill. I have here, among other things, this statement by the promoters, which they laid on the Table of the other House, and in which they state—and this really is the main allegation in it—Thus the unanimous decision of one Committee was reversed by the unanimous decision of another.My Lords, my answer to that is, that it is based, as I think, upon a total misconception of what the finding of the Committee of this House was. It is quite true the Committee of the House of Commons found, and they decided, that it was desirable to give to the Municipality of Dublin the right to collect the Municipal rates. The noble Duke's Committee never decided that it was not; what the noble Duke's Committee did was this: as the Bill came up to this House there was in it no financial provision whatever for meeting the difficulty which arose in consequence of the reduced receipts which the Collector General would have, with which to pay the salaries, superannuations, and so on, of his staff; and, therefore, what the noble Duke decided was that—until there was some such arrangement inserted in the Bill this transfer of the power of collecting municipal rates could not be given. Of course, I am obliged to speak roughly in making a general statement, but now, having stated it generally, I will read the actual words of the Chairman, and your Lordships will see that is correct He said—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 so, under the Bill with only one-third of the present fund available for the payment of the services of the Collector and his staff; and if that is the case the Committee are unanimously of opinion that under the present circumstances of the case the rating clauses in Part IV. ought to be struck out.That was his finding, and your Lordships will see how correctly I have stated the 623 effect of it. The members of the Committee will no doubt tell your Lordships presently whether I have not stated correctly what their finding was. But that was not all; because, to show how absolutely right they were, I must remind your Lordships in the first place that, as I have said, there was no such arrangement in the Bill. Nobody contends there was, and though I say it with every respect to the Committee of the House of Commons, for whose able Chairman, and for whom generally I entertain every possible respect, I say they did make a slip in sending up a Bill to this House which embodied a very important principle, but which contained no clause for meeting the difficulties occasioned by the adoption of that principle. Now, what was the state of things with which the Committee of this House had to deal? There was nothing, as I have told your Lordships, in the Bill to meet the difficulty. A proposal was made by the Government to the promoters; that proposal the promoters refused to accept, and the promoters also refused, in writing,—writing to the Irish Office,—to lay any proposal themselves before the Committee in regard to this Bill. I will read to your Lordships the letter, because I wish to prove every word as I go on. The noble Duke very properly observed to Sir Richard Wyatt, when he was reading to the Committee a printed statement by the Irish Office, which he had been directed to get from the Irish Office, that he had said something about certain clauses which had been proposed; and he then, and very properly, asked him—With regard to the clauses proposed to be inserted, when were they rejected; were they before the other House?—No, my Lord, they were not,and so on. Then Sir Richard Wyatt says—a little later—Your Grace was anxious to know when the letters were sent to the promoters, and I have the acknowledgment of them here dated 9th July.The letter is—We desire to inform you that the Corporation cannot agree to the clauses which you" (that is the Irish Office) "have sent them as to the collection of rates and compensation to the officers, and, as at present advised, they do not intend to submit to the Committee any Amendments of the clauses as they now stand in the Bill.624 Therefore, the Duke's Committee was in this position: There was nothing in the Bill to meet the difficulty; the Irish Office suggested an arrangement to the promoters, which they would not accept, and they said they did not propose to lay any suggestion before the Committee. What, under the circumstances, was the Committee to do? What could they do except to say, as there was no financial arrangement proposed, they could not see how the fourth part of the Bill was to go on. Now, with regard to these new clauses, as the noble and learned Lord has said, the Committee finished their labours, and the Bill was brought back to this House. As the noble and learned Lord has stated, negotiations were then opened between the Government and the promoters in order to see whether any new clauses could be drafted which would meet the difficulty. My Lords, I do not say anything against that being done; but I do say, and I am sure the promoters would admit it, that they were treated in this case with very exceptional indulgence indeed. I never remember a single case since I had the honour of a seat in your Lordships' House, in which, after clauses had been presented and proposed in a Private Bill and defeated, the promoters were allowed to introduce new clauses, and in which the Bill was re-committed for that purpose. That was the course which this House took, and I say nothing against it; but all I say is, it was a course the reverse of unfavourable to the promoters, and I think they will themselves admit that the House treated them with every possible consideration. Then these clauses were again referred to this Committee, and, very fortunately, the noble Lord, the Chairman, was able to secure the services of the whole five members of the original Committee. It was very late in the Session, but, fortunately, he obtained the services of the very members who had sat in Committee on the original Bill. They went back to their labours, and after hearing evidence and hearing the case submitted, and the whole of the statements made, they decided that these clauses were bad in themselves, and they also stated that they thought the matter ought to be proceeded with by Public Bill. Here, again, I will refer to the decision of the Committee in order that there may be no 625 mistake, and I shall ask the noble Lords who were members of the Committee to say when they speak whether what I say is correct or not. Here is the decision of the Committee:—The Committee do not approve of the new clauses which have been proposed to them under circumstances which they believe to be unprecedented. They are of opinion that the alterations in the Act of 1849 are an important change in public policy, which should be made if at all by a public Act.Therefore, they lay down those two propositions, that the clauses were bad and that the matter should have been dealt with by a Public Bill.
§ LORD HERSCHELL
Is it that they are not really good, or is it only that they were submitted to them under circumstances which were unprecedented, which, as I gather, is the case?
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
The noble and learned Lord is quite right. I was going a little too far in my inference. The fact is that I consulted the Committee as to what their intention was in this finding, and I was told by a member of the Committee to that effect. No doubt the noble and learned Lord is quite right in his suggestion. I do not think myself that the words quite convey as much as I said, but at all events, the noble Lords who were on the Committee will themselves tell your Lordships presently what they intended this written finding to cover. Then the Bill returned to this House, and was read a third time. Not a word was said in this House when the Bill was proposed for Third Reading—not a word, either on that side of the House or on this; and I submit to your Lordships that if the Government intended to take the course they subsequently took of moving a few hours later in another place through the Chief Secretary for Ireland that these clauses should be agreed to, they should have said so in this House; and if any noble Lord in this House had disagreed with the finding of the Committee, it is a pity he did not take the opportunity of getting up and making any statement he had to make. But let me show your Lordships the result of the silence. I am sure the disadvantage was not intended to be caused, but I merely wish to point out what the result was of the course which was taken. The result of it was that when the Bill was proposed for Third Reading, the noble Duke had 626 no reason for opening his mouth. What reason was there for doing so? What more could he wish than that the House should agree with him? If no one rose to question his action, what reason was there for him to get up and make a speech about it? I think it would have been considered by most of your Lordships that he would in doing so have been performing a work of entire supererogation. That, to my mind, would have been the opinion of all the Members of your Lordships' House. The position was this: a Private Bill had been dealt with by the Committee, and under the circumstances nobody would have been justified in saying that there was any disagreement with the finding of the Committee. Then the result has been that the months of the Members of the Committee have been closed. If the noble Duke had had the opportunity of making his speech, he would have given the reasons of the Committee, no doubt, for arriving at the conclusions they did arrive at, and very possibly he might have produced an effect upon those who differed with him. At all events, it would have given important information to the Members of the House of Commons, 99 out of 100 of whom, I will undertake to say, did not know in the least what had happened before that Committee. That was the result of the proceedings in this House. Well, a few hours afterwards, the Chief Secretary for Ireland moved to insert these clauses, and yesterday these clauses were inserted (without hearing any evidence) which the Committee of this House rejected, after hearing all the evidence, and after full consideration of the case. Now, let me come for a moment, and it shall only be for a moment, to the clauses themselves—Clause A and Clause B. Clause A creates what is called a Municipal Department of clerks within the office of the Collector General, and that staff of clerks is to be presided over (I will presently refer your Lordships to the clause itself) by an officer who shall be appointed by the Municipality, and who, therefore, will be independent of the Collector General. He will have "the control of the said Department," under the Collector General, and the Department is to consist of himself and so many other officials as the Corporation, with the consent of the Lord Lieutenant, shall determine. Therefore, the 627 Lord Lieutenant and the Corporation will fix what the strength of the Department is to be. All the officers of this Department are to be appointed by the Corporation, and, with the exception of the first set of officials, who are at the present time in the office of the Collector General, the Municipality will have the power of removing them also. The next clause, B, states that two-thirds of the collectors who will be appointed are to be appointed in future by the Corporation, and, therefore, the position of the office will be this: that the Collector General himself will, through the Lord Lieutenant, or the Lord Lieutenant will in his own way, appoint one-third of the collectors of the rates, and the Corporation of the City of Duhlia will appoint the other two-thirds. I would only put it to your Lordships, Has such an office ever been heard of before? It is to consist, in the first place, of a staff of clerks, the head of whom is to be a person appointed outside the office, and apparently almost solely under the control of the Municipality; the clerks themselves are to be appointed and removed, after the office has become established, by the Municipality entirely; and, with regard to the collectors, the Municipality is to appoint two-thirds of them. It has been said, and I have also seen it stated, that this appointment of two-thirds of the collectors will not really give the Corporation any power of influencing the Department of the Collector General, because the removal of those officials will rest with the Lord Lieutenant, and, therefore, the Corporation would have no power of removing them. I dare say that is so; but all I can say is, that if this power of appointment does not give them any influence over these men, what is the good of giving them a power of appointment at all? I do not see the use of it unless it is to give them some influence. Otherwise, I cannot see the use of this extraordinary power being given of appointing two-thirds of the collectors of rates within the Collector General's Office. As I have said, this office does appear to me to be an extraordinary office. It does not give the collection of municipal rates direct to the Municipality as the noble and learned Lord seemed to suppose—not at all. We have not arrived at that point yet; but you are 628 going to start with this arrangement, and you will be in this position with such an office as I have described: that the Municipality undoubtedly will have a very serious temptation to interfere through those officers with the collection of the rates, further than with the mere purpose of collecting the municipal rates itself. I do not mean to say or to insinuate a single syllable against the Corporation of Dublin, but I do say that unless the Corporation of Dublin is unlike all other Corporations I have ever heard of, unless the Corporation of Dublin is composed, in short, of some sort of, one might say, "municipal angels" with a tenfold proportion of the virtues of self-restraint and of non-interference—unless they are to be credited with those virtues, I say they will be tempted very strongly to interfere beyond the immediate purpose of the collection of their municipal rates. Now, the next question about this proposal is—is it workable? Well, I do ask your Lordships, is it? In the first place, I have shewn your Lordships primâ facie that it is very likely that friction would arise and without any particular fault, either in the Collector General or in the Municipality. But in the next place, the Collector General has been called before the Committee, as your Lordships will be told presently no doubt, and he has said that it will not work; and most strangely, too, even the Irish Office itself is opposed to it. I am going to refer again to this written statement of Sir Richard Wyatt's, which was prepared by the Irish Office for the noble Duke's Committee, and which was read there.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
The first—this Report was written only so far back as the 15th July, and I apprehend between the 15th of July and the 4th or 5th of August the Department had not changed its mind.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
I see what the noble and learned Lord means, but I assure him I am only going to read that portion of this Report which relates to the principle which I have just described as going to be applied in the creation of this new Office. 629It is admitted," he says, "that there are very great objections to the proposal of the Corporation that Government Officials employed in the Collector-General's Office shall, while filling such employment, be allowed to become at the same time the Servants of the Corporation for the collection of the Municipal rates.My Lords, that proposal is as nearly as possible the very same proposal as is put forward in Clause A and Clause B, which are now submitted to you. And further than this, the authors of the clause themselves show that they have no confidence in the working of this scheme, because they have provided Clauses C and F under which this arrangement may be brought to an end at any time either the Corporation or the Lord Lieutenant may choose. My Lords, I am only going to make one remark with regard to these two clauses, and that is, I think, a very important one, and I would invite the attention of the noble and learned Lord who has charge of these clauses to it, though I really do not know whether the Government are in charge of the clauses or my noble and learned Friend on this side of the House. But whoever it is that has charge of them, I invite their attention to this, that in these two clauses there appears for the first time, I believe, an arrangement dealing with the question of superannuation allowances, and it provides, with regard to the existing officers, that the Corporation shall pay two-thirds of their superannuations for service which has been given by them in the Collector General's Office up to the time of the passing of this Act or up to the date at which they are taken over. But with regard to salaries, and with regard to the other costs and charges of the office, there is in these new clauses no provision made at all. Now, I have satisfied myself that is so, because as I tell your Lordships, I have no personal feeling in the matter whatever, not the least, either for the opponents or for the promoters, no more for one than the other. I have communicated with the promoters with regard to the effect of these clauses, that is to say with persons who know a great deal about these clauses and who ought to have a very good opinion of them, and they state that in their view there is no such arrangement under the clauses. Indeed, I am bound to go further, and say that the Promoters state that the Bill as it stands is properly drawn, and that there ought to be no such arrangement. 630 But, as a matter of fact, there is in the clauses no proposal to deal with salaries and the other charges, or with the deficit which will be occasioned in paying the salaries and other charges of the Collector General. So that, after all the changes which these clauses have gone through, the Bill is in as nearly as possible the same position as it was when the noble Duke's Committee rejected the fourth part of the Bill on the first occasion, because there was not a proper financial arrangement included in it. I must now apologise to your Lordships for having spoken at such length. I think I have not said a single word that I could have omitted; but I would like to make a suggestion to your Lordships. I should like to ask, what is the use of having this friction at all? What is the good of setting up a complicated arrangement of this sort which nobody likes? For the Corporation do not like it; the Corporation say what they want is the power of collecting their municipal rates, and they have asked Parliament for it. The House of Commons said they were willing to grant it to them, and the Committee of this House have not said they are not willing to grant it to them, as I have told your Lordships. I am bound to say, speaking as a Member of your Lordships' House, as regards the Corporation of this very important City, that if they come to Parliament to ask for that power, I certainly should not vote against giving it to them. If the Corporation choose to have a separate collection of municipal rates it will entail some additional cost. That may not fall on the municipal ratepayers of Dublin, but it must fall on somebody, and if the same ratepayers will, irrespective of the municipal rates, contribute a portion of the rates still to be collected by the Collector General, then I say it will come to a certain extent out of their pockets. I say that I would support an arrangement giving to the Dublin Corporation the collection of the municipal rates only, provided there was some financial arrangement made to meet the difficulty in respect of the Collector General's Office to which I have adverted. It seems to me these Clauses A and B which will come into operation first, if your Lordships approve of the Motion which has been made, are the very worst solution of the question 631 which could be advanced. It is almost inevitable that there should be friction, and I cannot see the necessity for having these clauses at all; and, to attempt at this moment, at the fag-end of the Session, to introduce further Amendments which will meet the objections to these clauses which I have pointed out to your Lordships, is at this time, as I think, a thing which it is absolutely impossible to carry out. I would, for one, speaking for myself, undertake to support most willingly a Bill next Session to give the power to the Dublin Corporation of collecting their municipal rates; but I think it would be much better if it were done by a Public Bill. I think that would be more satisfactory to everybody. I do not think it is right to say that it cannot be done by a Private Bill, because I think it can, and the legal and best-informed authorities upon these matters have told me it can be done, and done properly; but I think it would be much more satisfactory that the Public Act of 1849 should, if possible, be amended by another Public Act. But, my Lords, however that may be, I have not heard yet from anybody anything which will lead me to go against the finding of the Committee of your Lordships' House. So far, no one has said anything at all against this finding—no one has suggested anything in this House. And beyond the statement, the mistaken statement as I consider it, that they have arrived at a conclusion which is diametrically opposed to the conclusion which the House of Commons' Committee have arrived at, I am not aware that anything has been said anywhere against their decision; and I am sure nothing could be said against their proceedings. I have carefully studied those proceedings; I have made it my business to study the proceedings both in this House and in the other House with regard to this question of the collection of rates, from the beginning to the end; and I am bound to say that in my opinion the noble Duke and his Committee acted with the greatest possible fairness to the parties, and that they took the greatest pains to examine into the merits of the questions which were submitted to them. I think their findings were right, as I have said. In my view they were right in the first 632 instance in saying that until there was some financial arrangement the transfer of the collection of the Municipal rates ought not to be made. Consequently, I think, we in this House are quite right in saying that these Clauses A and B are not good clauses, but are defective in themselves. Holding these opinions, and having heard nothing to the contrary, I have to ask your Lordships to support the Committee, and to adhere to the Bill in the form in which it left your Lordships' House.
§ THE DUKE OF WESTMINSTER
My Lords, having been Chairman of the Committee which has been alluded to, your Lordships will naturally expect that I should make some explanation of the course which we followed during the numerous sittings which we held in regard to this Bill. At the same time we cannot but be aware of the inconvenience which attaches to the discussion of Private Bills here from the want of information in regard to all the various details and proceedings which have occurred. The Act of 1849 has been alluded to by my noble and learned Friend. There were three Acts. They were Public Acts, though relating to private or local affairs in Dublin; but they were carried at that time in order to consolidate the method of collection of rates in Dublin. I think it right to go into a little detail in order to put the matter as clearly as I can before your Lordships without going over the ground which has been already trodden by the noble Lord behind me. There had been previously six Boards. They were consolidated, and the collection of the rates was placed in the hands of the Collector General, who was appointed by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The Corporation had petitioned against that Act. They were always desirous naturally of having a hand in the collection of the rates themselves, and the Act of 1849 was not passed, therefore, without some opposition and some disagreement on the part of the Corporation of Dublin. From that time to this the collection of rates has been carried on by the Collector General and his staff without, I believe, any serious complaints with regard to the working and with regard to the method of collection. There were, however, some irregularities, and a Commission was appointed, I think in the year 633 1878, to go into the question of the collection of rates, but that Commission made no proposal to do away with the system of the collection of the rates by the Collector General. Since the tenure of office by the present Collector General, Dr. Kennedy, there have been no complaints, as I understand, whatever. The whole of the machinery has worked without any derangement; but the Corporation, having been able to pass what is called their Borough Funds Act, which enabled them to raise funds to meet the expenses of bringing a Bill before Parliament, brought in the present Bill this year. As has been stated by the noble and learned Lord, that Bill provided that the collection of the whole of the rates should be made by the Corporation of Dublin. The Bill passed before the Committee of the other House. They had 14 sittings, and they came to the conclusion that the Bill should be modified to this extent: that the Corporation of Dublin should collect the municipal rates within the city of Dublin proper. I must first explain to the House that the whole rate amounts in round numbers to about £300,000 a year, and that the municipal rate which would come out of that would be about two thirds, or about £200,000, leaving £100,000 a year, which is only one-third. That would have been the sum dealt with if that proposal had been carried, that the municipal rates to be raised by the Corporation should be collected by the Collector General. As the noble Lord behind me states, there is this peculiar difficulty in the Bill: that although under the clauses giving the collection of rates to the Corporation within the City of Dublin proper, they take away naturally two-thirds, the cost of collecting the £200,000 amounts out of the whole cost of collection (that being £10,000 a year) to £6,500 a year, leaving for the Collector General only one-third, or about £3,500 a year, making up the £10,000, the total cost of collection. But it seems that the work of the Collector General is the same, whether he has to collect 1s. or 3s.; whether he collects one-third or two-thirds of the rates, his expenses are very much the same; and, therefore, he would have to do the work of collecting the rates with £3,500, instead of £10,000, which he has at the present moment. That was the difficulty which we in the 634 Committee were not able to get over. There was no counter-proposal for getting over that difficulty, and the consequence was, that the rating clauses of the Bill were struck out. It was impossible that the Collector General should go on doing the same work, or almost the same work, with a diminished salary of two-thirds; that is, having two-thirds taken off the receipts from the collection. Therefore, though we were perfectly willing to consider and adopt, if possible, any fair arrangement by which the Corporation of Dublin might collect their own rates, there was nothing for it but to throw out the rating clauses of the Bill, because the Bill was absolutely unworkable as sent up by the other House. It seems to me, from the negotiations which have been carried on since between the Irish Office and the Corporation of Dublin, that that was the time, as the Bill stood when it left the House of Commons, when those negotiations should have been entered into rather than that we should have had all the trouble and expense incurred of having the matter brought before your Lordships' Committee and decided, and then that at the eleventh hour new clauses should be sprung upon us and that the Bill should be re-committed under circumstances which, as I understand, are entirely without precedent. After all, Part IV., relating to the rating clauses, is the main portion of the Bill. It was what is called an "Omnibus Bill;" there were portions of it directed to other purposes, but that was the main part of it. That was entirely altered by the new arrangement. New clauses were brought forward, and I understand that such a course, namely, bringing in what is practically a new Bill which cannot go before a Committee of the House of Commons is entirely without precedent. I have had some little experience in these matters, and I remember also that I myself moved that a Bill should be re-committed a few years ago—the Wrexham Mold and Connah's Quay Bill. But that was a different case altogether, because it was the same Bill, and there had been no alteration made in it. This was, in fact, entirely a new Bill which was re-committed to our Committee. As has been said, a new Department is created by these clauses; and it seemed to the Committee to be a very unworkable proposal 635 that there should be created an imperium in imperio, that this Corporation should have an office within the office of the Collector General; and those noble Lords who are the most conversant with these matters, will, I think, agree with me in the opinion that, especially in Ireland, such an office could not possibly work without very considerable difficulty and very serious friction. The constitution of that office has been explained by the noble Lord behind me, and therefore I will not go over the same ground again. It establishes a dual control, which, as we know, does not always work well; and the evidence of the officials of the Irish Office has been quoted strongly in opposition to any such proposal. In the first part of our sittings on the Committee the Collector General's evidence was this—I will not read it, because I do not wish to take up your Lordships' time, but I would just point out that he was in rather a delicate position in reference to the first and second parts of the inquiry. In the first instance he was asked, "Do you think that this dual control system would not work?" And his answer was "I do—emphatically I do." He thought this double sort of arrangement could not possibly work. And then, again, when he was examined afterwards, being in rather a delicate position as I have said as a servant of the Government, his evidence was that the alternative scheme could not work. He was asked, "Do you deem this a workable scheme?" and he said, "No, I think not." That is the evidence of a gentleman, who is, of course, most experienced in the working of the whole machinery, being as he is, the collector of the rates, and having had experience for seven years in that department. There is other evidence from the senior clerk to the same effect. The proposal, therefore, is for this sort of double office, one office working within the other, under those circumstances. Then there is this remarkable clause, which gives power to the Corporation at so early a period as the 1st of January next, to upset all the arrangements, and to confine themselves to levying the municipal rates only. But though, as the noble Lord has said, there is provision made in some manner for the superannuation of officers, we are landed in the same difficulty which made us 636 throw out the other rating clauses of the Bill—and my noble Friend has already alluded to it—that there is no power under the Bill of paying the salaries for this collection of rates. That is, that the Collector General having to collect one-third of the rates, or £100,000 a year, has not sufficient means to enable him to collect the rates because, as I have said before, it gives him as much trouble to collect 1s. as to collect 3s., and he will not in any sensible degree be able to reduce his expenditure. Therefore, the Committee, my Lords, came to the conclusion that the machinery would not work satisfactorily, that there would be too much friction, and that we should soon arrive, as we should have done before under the first Bill, at a deadlock with regard to the scale of payment of the Collector General's staff, and that the probability was very strong in the direction of increased expense being incurred to the ratepayers at large. The Committee, I need not say, came with a perfectly open mind to the matter; they were only anxious to effect, if they could, an arrangement, and they were much disappointed that they could not do it. My Lords, I think I have put the matter without going over ground which has been already trodden by noble Lords, as clearly as I can. There is a good deal more that I might have wished to say to your Lordships, but, in conclusion, I will only say that I hope the noble and learned Lord, having come on this occasion to the assistance of the Government, will follow on in that course, and that in future measures dealing with Ireland, the Government will have the assistance of himself and his friends for many Sessions.
§ EARL CADOGAN
It is not usual in your Lordships' House for the Government to take part in discussions upon, or to deal with, Private Bills; but it will, I think, be admitted that this Bill, though in effect a Private Bill, yet dealing as it does with a Government Department, is one upon which the Government is bound to offer its opinions. It has been said that this Bill should have been a public one, and that the subject with which it deals is not one which should properly be treated in a Private Bill. I am bound to confess myself that I think on the whole it would have been better if such a 637 change as that which is here contemplated could have been made in a Public Bill. But on the other hand, it should be remembered that the Act of 1849, to which allusion has been made, though it was, in fact, a public measure, in reality dealt with local and private concerns; and it was, therefore, thought by the promoters that inasmuch as that was a Bill of a quasi-private character, so also in this year, when it is thought desirable to make a modification of those former arrangements, a Private Bill would be an appropriate vehicle for so doing. I should like to be allowed to say that I have no wish, and I am sure none of my Colleagues have any wish, either to speak or to act in any way which could be considered disrespectful towards any of the Committees of your Lordships' House or towards the particular Committee which has considered this Bill. Those tribunals, I believe, command, and rightly command, the respect and confidence of the whole community; and, certainly, if fault could be found with the proceedings of any Private Bill Committees of your Lordships' House, it would not be with one of those which has been so ably presided over by the noble Duke. There is one point which, as far as I know, has not yet been made, which touches upon our attitude towards this Committee on this present occasion. It appears not to have been generally remarked that the clauses which are now before your Lordships' House are not precisely similar to—I would say that they differ somewhat materially from—those which the noble Duke opposite dealt with in the second Committee, over which he presided. If your Lordships will look at the Paper in your hand you will see that in Section A, in the 4th line, the words "the supervision of" have been inserted and added to the words of the clause as it stood when it was before my noble Friend's Committee, and, in my opinion, and I hope also in the opinion of the House, the addition of those words has made a considerable difference. Because it is a different thing that this sub-Department should be appointed for the purpose of the supervision and levying of these rates, and not as simply in the former clauses for the applotting and levying of the same. And that will touch to some extent upon the 638 question of economy, to which allusion has been made by my noble Friend opposite, and to which I shall have occasion possibly to refer later. The noble Earl who spoke after the noble and learned Lord appears to me to have argued rather in a circle in the criticisms which he made upon these clauses. He stated, and if I may venture to say it, very clearly and correctly stated to your Lordships, that there were two sets of clauses which were placed before the Committee. The first clauses, roughly speaking, provided that the consolidated rate, which was instituted under the settlement of 1849, should be separated, and that the Dublin Corporation should provide for the collection of their own municipal rates, while the collection of the other rates should be left to the Collector General. To that proposition the Committee over which the noble Duke presided replied that they considered that system would be an extravagant one, and if I am not misinterpreting the main reason which the noble Duke and his Committee had in striking out those first clauses it was this, that the system would not be economical, and that the original system of consolidated collection of rate should be maintained. I hope I am not misinterpreting the Report of the Committee, but that is what I understand from it.
§ THE DUKE OF WESTMINSTER
What we said was that the Collector General had the same work to do with about two-thirds less money to pay for doing it.
§ EARL CADOGAN
And for that reason I think my noble Friend's Committee came to the conclusion that it was an undesirable proposal, in the interests of economy.
§ EARL CADOGAN
That deals with what may be called the Commons' Clauses. Then, after the Bill was recommitted, after the arrangement had been made between my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland on behalf of the Government and the promoters of the Bill, it was provided that the consolidated collection should be maintained. As has been stated by the noble and learned Lord opposite, a sub-department is to be 639 created under the Collector General which is to supervise on behalf of the Corporation the collection of the municipal rate; and, inasmuch as the municipal rates forms two-thirds of the whole rates, it was, therefore, provided that two-thirds of the collectors should be appointed by the Corporation, although they are to be removable only by the permission of the Lord Lieutenant. Now, the noble Duke has said that this system would be likely to be unworkable, that there would be created an imperium in imperio, and that considerable friction would be likely to arise. Well, it is quite possible that some difficulty may be found in carrying this out, but the Government foreseeing that, have, by arrangement with the promoters, provided, as the noble Duke has already noticed, under subsequent sections, that if this system is found unworkable the consolidated collection may be divided, and that the Corporation may collect the municipal rates and the Collector General the remainder. But then, says the noble Duke, there is no provision in the Bill in that case (and I think Lord Camper-down said the same) whereby the extra expenditure of such a divided collection might be met. In reply to that, I can only say that the Government—I am not sure whether the promoters of the Bill would be equally willing—but the Government would be willing to insert a clause in the Bill providing for the expenses thus incurred. It might be done by increasing the limit of 2½ per cent., which is now the limit upon the rate. I only throw that out as a suggestion, and the Government would be prepared to so far meet the suggestion of the noble Duke and the noble Earl by inserting in the Bill some provision of that kind for the purpose of providing for this expense. But I cannot resist calling the attention of the noble Earl opposite to the fact that if this were to happen, as it may happen—if the consolidated rate were divided, and if the Corporation assumes the collection of its own rates, leaving the Collector General to collect the remainder, we shall then be landed exactly in the position which I understand the noble Lord opposite desires, because the noble Earl stated that he himself admitted the principle that the Corporation bad the right to collect their municipal rates. He was prepared to 640 admit that principle, but he did not see how the expenses of that collection could be met.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
What I said was that I was prepared to support an arrangement by which the Corporation should collect the municipal rates, provided there was inserted in the Bill carrying out that arrangement some means of meeting the deficit which would be occasioned in the funds of the Collector General, to some extent from the funds of the Corporation.
§ EARL CADOGAN
That is exactly what I stated, the Government would be prepared to insert a provision in the Bill for meeting the very proper objection which the noble Earl has raised, that in the event of this separation there is no provision for the funds which would be necessary for the purpose. But the question, after all, is whether it is not better in the interests of the ratepayers of Dublin, and in the interests of all parties, that the consolidated method of collection should be maintained, and it is for that reason, my Lords, that Her Majesty's Government have decided to support the clauses which are now before your House. It is in their desire to maintain economy and to prevent the extra expenditure which would be caused by division that they have agreed to the bringing in of these clauses, which at all events for the time being will leave the consolidated method of collection in operation. As to the other objections which have been put forward to these clauses, it would be impossible to pretend to be deaf to some of the objections which we have heard lately, and especially to that one objection which has been so much insisted upon, that the power which the Corporation will obtain by the creation of this Sub-Department in the Collector's Office will give them an opportunity of manipulating the franchise, and otherwise encouraging malpractices in the collection of the rates. I think it is very easy to see that any such doubts and fears as those are groundless. If the collection remains consolidated all these various rates must be collected together. Now the franchise is given upon the payment of the poor rate. Well, the poor rate would form part of the consolidated rate which would be collected. Inasmuch as the Corporation of Dublin will be entitled to two-thirds 641 of the Consolidated Rate, is it likely or probable that they would permit anyone over whom they had control to omit to enforce the payment of the whole of the consolidated rate in order thereby to manipulate the franchise? My Lords, I think that even if these collectors were entirely under the control of the Corporation of Dublin, such fears are not only exaggerated but are entirely groundless. But as these clauses stand, those collectors who are to be appointed by the Corporation are only to be appointed by them, they are to be under the control of the Collector General, they will be under his supervision, and will be in fact his servants. Therefore it is impossible to believe that men serving in an office under a superior, upon whose recommendation they might be dismissed by the Lord Lieutenant if they performed their duties in a manner in any way dishonourable, would risk the tenure of their office by any such acts as those which have been suggested. It has been said, "Why not let well alone; why insert any of these clauses at all?" Well, the position in which we find ourselves is this, that that system which might have been desirable and reasonable in the year 1849, it is impossible to maintain at the present time. The Corporation of Dublin have made a claim—I will not call it a demand—which, as far as I know, on neither side in this House nor in the other House, is considered in any way to be unreasonable or undesirable. They ask, as my noble Friend admits they have a right to do, to have the collection of their own rates. They did, it is true, in the earlier stages wish to collect the whole of the consolidated rate; they then lowered their demands by asking for a division of the rate, and for the collection alone by them of their municipal rates; and now, after conference with Her Majesty's Government, they have agreed to a compromise, which I am bound to say I think is not open to any really serious objection, and to which, so far as I can understand, none of the arguments of my noble and learned Friend opposite were fatal. I admit that there is that one rift in the scheme, namely, that no provision is made, in case of ultimate division, for the extra expense which will be incurred; but as I said before, we are prepared to remedy that in the way 642 I have suggested. One word more I should like to say before I sit down. We, as Members of the Government, have said much about our intention of giving Local Government to Ireland, and we have been encouraged to believe by noble Lords opposite, that it is the view of nearly all those who have given attention to Irish affairs, that such a concession cannot be long delayed. Well, what position will noble Lords then find themselves in, and in what position will this House be placed, if upon the first occasion of an application made for what I must call a reasonable and fair modicum of Local Government on the part of so important a body, as the Corporation of Dublin, that proposal is, I will not say scouted, but at all events refused somewhat peremptorily, by your Lordships? I hope I have made the matter quite clear, as far as the Committee is concerned, over which my noble Friend the noble Duke presided. I have nothing to say as to the reasons, no doubt satisfactory to them, which induced them to throw out these clauses; but I do most earnestly hope that noble Lords will not, after the settlement which has been come to by the Government, see fit to throw out these clauses, and thereby do an act which I believe myself will redound certainly not to the credit of this House, and which, obviously, will not assist us in the remedial legislation which we contemplate for Ireland.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD (who, by leave of the House, was heard sitting)
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just sat down has placed before your House several points with regard to these clauses, with which I cannot at all agree. He has pointed out to your Lordships that the word "supervision" has been added to this clause. I am informed that that word "supervision" was put in, in Committee, in the other House, and it was not put in, as I believe, at the instance of Her Majesty's Government, though I am not sure about that.
§ EARL CADOGAN
I said those words were not submitted to the Committee over which my noble Friend presided, and that therefore it now constituted a somewhat different clause to that which was originally presented.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD
That word does not alter, in my view, 643 the objection which I have to this clause, because, although the word "supervision" is a very plausible word to put before your Lordships, yet at the same time, if you turn to page 2 of the Amendments you will see it is perfectly immaterial whether it is to be "supervision" or not, as what is objected to in this clause is that the Corporation of Dublin should have the appointment of the officers who are to be under the Collector General. The Corporation of Dublin appoints two-thirds of the officers. Whether they have supervision (and it is only supervision) or not is perfectly immaterial if the Collector General in Dublin is to have under his employment a number of men over whom he cannot possibly have any control whatever. The noble Lord has pointed out that he has the power of dismissal over these men. Quite so; but whom would the Corporation be likely to appoint in their stead? Our objection to these clauses was that we considered them absolutely unworkable. The noble Lord has explained that they will be economical. Our opinion is that they will be very much more extravagant than before, and that it is perfectly impossible that these clauses can work. The noble Lord suggested that the Government should insert a new clause to deal with the question of expense. I think the difficulty was pointed out by the noble Lord the Earl of Camperdown; but in the first place, if the provision contained in these clauses comes to an end, and I believe it will come to an end on the expiration of six months—supposing it does so, where is the machinery in the Bill to work on after that time? The noble Lord (the Lord Privy Seal) stated that his new clause would meet the difficulty raised by Lord Camperdown; but I deny that entirely. In my opinion, it would not meet that difficulty. There is no machinery, in the first place, for providing for the expense; there is no machinery, in the next place, for carrying on the collection of the rates. If what may take place under these clauses, and what is really contemplated by them, actually happens, and they come to an end either at the instance of the Lord Lieutenant, or at the instance of the Corporation, it would be perfectly impossible to go on without bringing in 644 a fresh Bill. The noble Lord has admitted that is so with regard to the expense but not with regard to the machinery. There is, in fact, no machinery provided; the machinery was swept out of the Bill in the clause rejected by the noble Duke's first Committee. That is a point which has not, I think, been properly considered, and it shows how very crudely these clauses have been drawn and presented to your Lordships' House. I think the whole history of this Bill is most curious. In the first instance, Her Majesty's Government opposed the Bill in another place, then it came up to this House and was considered by the noble Duke's Committee, who went into it most carefully as the noble Duke has told us. The noble and learned Lord opposite mentioned that the Committee of the other House was a much larger Committee. I am sure your Lordships will have every belief in the ability of the Committee who considered this matter in the other House, but I am informed that, although there were eleven names mentioned as constituting it, there were really not more than half a dozen Members who were ever present. That is, perhaps, an immaterial point, but as the noble and learned Lord dwelt upon the numbers of the Committee, I thought I might as well mention the matter. But now I come to the point which has not been raised by any other speaker in your Lordships' House, except the Lord Privy Seal, and that is the point of manipulating the franchise. The Loyalists in Dublin are very much afraid, as to this matter, the noble Lord has said, that the men who have the management of this matter under the command of the Collector General may be dismissed. That is exactly the point. In carrying this out the Executive in Ireland may come to loggerheads with the Corporation. The Executive in Ireland will dismiss the men and the Corporation will probably re appoint them, or appoint the same sort of men to carry on in very much the same way exactly the same business. As to the franchise, that is a point which is very much regarded by the Loyalists in Dublin. The noble and learned Lord mentioned that "the Bill was supported by the citizens of Dublin," but, on the other hand, I can 645 inform the House that all the Loyalists, including the Chamber of Commerce, oppose the Bill. Perhaps numbers weighed more than property with the noble and learned Lord, but at the same time it is the fact that the largest ratepayers in Dublin are opposing the Bill, and certainly among the men who represent Loyalist opinions in Dublin this is considered as a direct blow to their interests. I believe that these clauses were moved in another place by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I do not know why the late Lord Chancellor moved them in this House. We have two noble and learned Lords present who might have done so, as this appears to have been taken up as a Government measure. There is no one who has a greater admiration for the Chief Secretary for Ireland than I have, and all the Unionists throughout Ireland and England have the same admiration for him as myself, but at the same time I think this is a most extraordinary thing for him to have done, because, as I said before, I think in this he has struck a direct blow at the Loyalists of Dublin. Then the noble and learned Lord referred to the Committee of the Commons, and he stated it would be very wrong of your Lordships' House to disagree with a Committee so constituted as that which considered this Bill in the other House, that at any rate it would be very wise for your Lordships' House not to disagree with it. But the Committee of the other House never had these clauses before them at all, and therefore your Lordships' House will not be disagreeing with that Committee if you reject these clauses. They had quite different clauses before them. They had no doubt a clause which it has been said was a very reasonable clause, and one to which I should not have objected, a clause that enabled the Corporation of Dublin to collect their own rates. The noble Duke did not object to that.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD
He struck it out because he considered it was absolutely unworkable, the noble Duke did not object to the principle; and, not only that, but Her Majesty's Government appeared against the clause. That was the clause that was before the Committee in the other House. The noble 646 and learned Lord has no doubt got a little mystified with the many changes of front that have taken place in this matter, but I understood the noble and learned Lord to state that the Committee of the other House had agreed to these clauses. The Select Committee of the other House never agreed to them at all, because they never were before them. Again, the noble and learned Lord said that these clauses were to enable the Corporation to collect their own rates. That is not quite the case; it is only to enable the Corporation to name two-thirds of the subordinates of the Collector General. That is not enabling the Corporation to collect their own rates, it is merely enabling the Corporation to upset, or I may say these clauses will upset, the collection of all rates in Dublin. We are not objecting to the Corporation collecting their own rates, we are objecting to the whole collection of rates in Dublin being upset by clauses which we consider to be absolutely unworkable. I will not detain your Lordships longer. I have tried to place before your Lordships' House as shortly as I could our great objection to this Bill, and I certainly hope that the noble Earl will divide the House on the question of rejecting these clauses, which, I think, will be of the greatest possible injury to Dublin, and a great blow to the principle of non-interference with a public Department by a Private Bill, and which will be absolutely un workable, and must undoubtedly come to an end in six months, when a fresh Bill will have to be introduced in another place or in your Lordships' House to make this new system of managing affairs workable.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND
Your Lordships have listened to a very interesting and temperate discussion in reference to the Bill which is now before your House. The noble Marquess who has just spoken has said that these particular clauses have never been placed before the Committee of the House of Commons. That, my Lords, is true: but they passed the whole House of Commons. This question was debated in the whole House, not before a Committee, but before the full House of Commons. They received the approval of the Chairman of the Committee of the House of Commons who presided over the deliberations, the 647 lengthened deliberations of the Committee, and what is the result? That these clauses come now before your Lordships accredited by the unanimous decision of the House of Commons, because when they were submitted to its judgment there was no Division challenged on them, and therefore I say they come before your Lordships with the full authority of the other House, after full examination of the details, and after discussion, when every opportunity was given for argument, and for the consideration of reasons which might be urged against them, when the Chairman of the Committee of the House of Commons (Mr. Hastings) took part in the discussion, as I collect from reading the papers this morning, and expressed his approval. The clauses now come before your Lordships. The objections which have been taken to them, presented on behalf of the Government by the right hon. the Chief Secretary for Ireland, were objections which I thought, until my noble Friend who has just sat down spoke, were admitted to be, not of principle or substance, but were all, if I may say so, without disrespect, merely drafting objections—that is to say, that the drafting of the clauses was not adequate or complete, or quite satisfactory, and that these amendments were necessary to carry out the benevolent design which underlay the clauses; that the clauses could not be carried out because they would not work. I believe I have not misrepresented the general opinion upon that point, and I say that the noble Earl or the noble Duke had nothing to urge in principle against these clauses, but that they were merely pointing out objections to their workableness, and indicating that if there was time they would require some probably far-reaching amendments.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND
I have no intention of misrepresenting the noble Duke or the noble Earl in a single detail of their interesting speeches, but I think my noble Friend's objection was directed to what will occur if there should be a hiatus, or if difficulty arises hereafter owing to the non-existence of the clauses. I do not think they went to the substance of what has been done. I have no intention 648 in the slightest degree of misrepresenting the purport or minimising the importance of the argument my noble Friend addressed to your Lordships; but, my Lords, it is necessary to remember that you have before you clauses which deal, although in a Private Bill, with a public and Government Department. It is true these clauses were presented to the House of Commons in a Private Bill. The measure was challenged by those who actively opposed these rating clauses, as to which I am sure it will be admitted there was a very strong feeling shown. It was indicated, and there was great force in the argument put forward by the objectors, that this was a matter which should be dealt with in a public rather than in a Private Bill. That was the argument in the House of Commons, and those whose duty it was to deal with it came to the conclusion that, although it did deal with a Government and public Department, it was a matter which was competent to be dealt with in a Private Bill, and it comes before your Lordships accordingly in the form of a Private Bill. But the substance of it remains. It is a Private Bill which, no doubt, deals in some of its most important provisions with a Government Department, and that is the reason why my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland and his Colleagues felt that they were called upon to take an active part in the legislation with regard to that Public Department; a fact which has been made plain by my noble Friend who has already spoken, the Lord Privy Seal. Well, that being so, this being a matter of much importance to those who have the working of Public Business in Ireland, it became important to consider what had been done before the Committee of the House of Commons. I should like to refer to one portion of the evidence before that large and mixed Committee which dealt with the matter. That Committee was not composed entirely of those who are opposed to me in politics; it was presided over by a gentleman who is a Liberal Unionist in politics, and it had many members who entirely concur, I believe, with my own way of thinking in politics, and it had others to whom I am opposed. Being such a large and mixed Committee, it arrived unanimously at the following conclusion:—"That the Committee 649 are of opinion that it is not reasonable to refuse to the Corporation of Dublin the rights of levying and collecting any of their own municipal rates, rights which are enjoyed, as the Committee believe, by every other Municipal Corporation in the United Kingdom; they have, therefore, inserted provisions in the Bill conferring this right on the Corporation; the decision of the Committee on this point was unanimous." That finding of the House of Commons Committee is of the highest importance. It underlies all that is contained in these clauses; and when it came before the Committee of your Lordships' House, so well presided over by the Duke of Westminster, who has spoken so ably to-day, that finding of the House of Commons Committee was not dissented from in one singular particular. On the contrary, it was rather adopted in silence and accepted without question; but it was indicated that, sound as it might be in principle, it could not be applied, as there was not the necessary machinery provided for it, and that to supply that machinery would cost a great deal of money. Therefore, they came to the conclusion that it was desirable to throw out the Bating Clauses. I do not think I have misrepresented—and I am very far from intending to do so—the grounds on which your Lordships' Committee proceeded when this Bill was before them. I agree with all that has fallen from the Lord Privy Seal as to the respect due to the Committees of your Lordships' House, and the respect due to the able way in which they do their work, and certainly not less for the Committee which was presided over by the noble Duke. But, my Lords, bear in mind what the noble Duke has told you to-day. He has not indicated that they dissented in any particular from the findings of the House of Commons' Committee on the important point which I have read, which was that it is not reasonable to deny to the Corporation of Dublin the right which is enjoyed by every other Corporation in the United Kingdom. The ground on which your Lordships' Committee threw out the Rating Clauses was not on any point of dissent whatever in regard to principle, because they agreed with the principle; but they said it would be expensive to carry out; that it would cause expense to carry out the principle; and that there was 650 no financial provision to be found within the corners of the measure submitted to us to enable it adequately to work. My noble Friend, the Lord Privy Seal, has intimated to your Lordships that he is willing, on behalf of the Government, to meet that objection, so far as there is substance in it, by expressing his willingness to remove the limit of 2½ per cent. which is found in the Bill of 1849, subject to the sanction of the Lord Lieutenant in Council, which would prevent any possibility of there being any want of ways and means for the working of the Collector General's Department after the separation has taken place. That being so, is it too much to say that if such an amendment had been included in the clauses now before your Lordships it would not have removed the objection which I have stated to your Lordships was made by the noble Duke, and that the result would have been different? The noble Marquess who last addressed your Lordships has indicated a fear that if these clauses are adopted the Corporation of Dublin would be found so wanting in duty, so wanting in the recognition of the propriety of public life as to be parties to a working and manipulation of the rate-books which would operate upon the franchise against their opponents. My Lords, that is a fear which, I am aware, has been expressed in some quarters, and I am aware that it has been held in Dublin also, where, of course, as in many other places, a strong party feeling prevails. The majority of the Corporation hold strong political views which are opposed to the views that I myself and many others of the citizens of Dublin hold. But look, my Lords, at what is the fear that is expressed by the noble Marquess, and look at all that has to be overcome before that fear is to be realised. I do not put aside what I have stated in the first instance, that this is a matter which affects the Corporation of the Metropolis of Ireland in exercising its duties before the public, amenable to public criticism, acting under the surveillance of an active public press, and with keen party antagonists. But I say more; I say that the Corporation of Dublin would not only be knaves, but fools, if they could ever propose to act in such a way as that it could be said there was any real ground for the fear expressed by my noble Friend, because 651 if they abstained from collecting the rates in order to disfranchise their political opponents, they would be acting against every atom of their own self-interest, they would be depriving themselves of thousands of pounds of rates by leaving uncollected the comparatively small proportion of the rates, the non-collection of which might disfranchise their opponents. As I have said, in doing that they would, at the same time, be leaving uncollected a very substantial sum, which would otherwise have found its way into their own pockets. But, my Lords, it does not rest there. There are other checks. The officers of this Department will act not under the control and surveillance of the Corporation; they will still act in future, as at present, under the control of the Collector General, who is a Government official. And if they so conduct themselves, so flagrantly and so unscrupulously misbehave as to be willing to leave uncollected rates for some fraudulent and improper purpose, of course they would be at once dismissed, with the approval of every right-minded man in the community. And more than that, there is this provision in the clauses, that if this system of joint working is found to be unsatisfactory, it can be determined at any moment by the Lord Lieutenant as well as by the Corporation. The Government has the power of determining this arrangement, and leaving the Corporation to collect its own municipal rates, keeping in the hands of the Government officials, and under their own control, the collection of the poor's and other rates, and avoiding the possibility of the existence of any form of improper practices. Therefore I venture to think it would be impossible, and that these checks and safeguards are real. They are important, and they are distinctly to be borne in mind as an answer to the fears which have been expressed by my noble friends, and which I am aware are entertained in some quarters, and entertained by many of those whose opinions I value in the city from which I come. Now, what really is the character of the amendments which are submitted to your Lordships? They are susceptible of very ample and very plain statement. They recognise as an underlying fact, what has not been gainsaid by any one 652 in your Lordships' House, and the noble Marquess himself has not ventured to call in question—that which was the unanimous finding of the Committee of the House of Commons, assented to practically by the Committee of your Lordships' House, sent to us in this House unchallenged by Division last night in the House of Commons—that it is fair and reasonable that the Corporation of Dublin should have granted to it the right which is exercised by every other Municipality in the United Kingdom. That is the underlying principle of every one of the clauses before your Lordships, and that is besides the scheme of the Bill as it is worked out. In addition to that, objection has been taken by the noble Duke that it is advisable to postpone this in order to see if some modus vivendi can be adopted—that it might possibly be found that some other method could be adopted, and that it is advisable to postpone the measure in order to see whether both parties cannot go on under some cheaper system than this—that it would be well to avoid this expensive method of giving the Corporation the right to collect their own rates by a separate machinery. But it is said that you have provided such a cumbrous method that it will be too expensive, and that the clauses are open to objection upon their drafting details. But is that so? What is the system that is provided? It is proposed that at some future time, if either the Corporation on the one side, or the Government on the other, think it desirable for their interests, or on account of public expediency, that there should be any separation, that then it shall take place; and it is considered that that is right in principle. But what is the machinery that is provided before that remission is determined upon? It is to be subjected to the tests and teachings of experience. If it breaks down upon the teaching of experience, that will show that it is necessary to have the separation; but are not these clauses reasonably and temperately drawn, if there is to be any form of experience in older to avoid the expense of creating any separation now? It provides that it is to be subject to the control and discipline of the Collector General, who is a Government officer. The collectors remain under the supervision of the head of the whole 653 Department, all the officers of that Department, whether appointed by the Corporation or by the Lord Lieutenant, are amenable to his discipline, and while this lasts there is to be a Department under him, under his discipline, and amenable to his control. The authority and control, and the power of supervision in the Department, and the power of inspecting and looking at the books, are matters to which evidently the Corporation attach very considerable weight. That allegation, whether well or ill-founded, I am not now concerned to discuss. I am not to be taken as assenting to the views which have been expressed by the Corporation, but they are allegations of the grounds upon which they desire to have some form of supervision. They say they being the principal authority in Dublin, are entitled to have an opportunity of supervising the books in connection with which these rates are levied and collected, and that it is reasonable they should have the power of seeing and understanding how it is that certain large arrears have been allowed to accumulate in Dublin. The Collector General is of opinion that those arrears accumulated owing, I suppose, to normal causes. But the Corporation say that however that may be, as those are arrears in respect of taxable premises within their own authority they have the right of examining and considering how the arrears have grown up and of making the necessary checks, and therefore a machinery is provided; not, I should say an expensive machinery at all, for I should think it could be limited to two or three officers under the control of the Collector General, but appointed by the Corporation, who would have the power of examining the books, and who would have that power of supervision to which my noble Friend the Lord Privy Seal has referred. It is obvious that some such clauses are expedient in the interests of economy. It is perfectly plain that whenever a separation takes place, it must in the nature of things cause expense. You cannot have two separate Departments without causing expense, and you practically say to the Corporation of Dublin, "You are never to have this right, which is admitted to be reasonable by the House of Commons Committee and by the House of Commons itself, which has been assented to by the Committee 654 of your Lordships' House, and which is not traversed by any Member of your Lordships' House who has taken part in the debate upon this Bill." Of course it cannot be granted or carried out without costing something. It must be a more or less expensive process; it will be expensive to the Corporation and expensive also to the Government, but not, I should think, in any serious degree. That is, this staff will have to work the whole Department with funds not so extensive as at present. That represents the last objection that has been taken. It was taken by the noble Earl who spoke after my noble and learned Friend, Lord Herschell, that there is no machinery (and this is a point which was also taken by the noble Marquess) for the working of the Collector General's Department after the separation takes place. I am informed by my friend, the Attorney General for Ireland, who has looked very closely into this matter—and I may say that my own judgment, as far as I have had an opportunity of looking into it, coincides—that this Bill does provide ample machinery, in addition to the fact that it leaves untouched the other clauses of the Act, 1849, and that the Department in so far as it is affected by this new arrangement will go on, will have its staff provided for, and its salaries paid; and there is ample machinery under existing legislation unaffected by the new legislation, which will enable the new Department to go on after the separation. That leaves the point which was taken by the noble Earl and the noble Duke untouched—that the funds are not sufficient; but my noble Friend, the Lord Privy Seal, met that point, and it is the only point which I think really requires to be dealt with, speaking without disrespect to the other portions of the argument. My noble friend, the Lord Privy Seal, stated that the Government are prepared to insert a clause at the end which would prevent the possibility of there being any hitch in regard to the amount of the funds requisite for the payment of the staff of the Collector-General. The only hitch that could arise would be if the 2½ per cent. payable upon the sum collected under the existing legislation should be found insufficient, or when so large a sum was required that that difficulty would have to be removed by 655 taking away that power and giving it to the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant in Council as at present. I am not aware that there has been any other point presented to your Lordships upon which, I think, I might be able to offer the House any assistance. I venture to present to your Lordships that the objections which have been taken before have all conceded, or left absolutely unchallenged, the governing principle of these clauses, that the main portions of the objections have been to the inadequate framing of the clauses—that they are not workable, which I venture to call drafting objections, and objections to the mere form of the clauses. The other objections are those which have been taken by my noble Friend, which I have endeavoured to meet by indicating all the checks of public opinion, self-interest, discipline, and the controlling power of the Lord Lieutenant, which I venture to think will prevent the fear of, undoubtedly, a very grave character which has been expressed being realised. Therefore I hope your Lordships will assent to the clauses which have been presented by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and which were framed after much consideration.
THE EARL OF MORLEY
I do not propose to make any lengthened remarks upon the merits of this Bill, but I do desire to make a few remarks upon the position in which it stands at present in your Lordships' House, and upon the position in which it stood in the Committee over which the noble Duke behind me presided. A good deal has been said tonight about the action which was taken in recommitting the Bill to the Committee on Unopposed Bills. I am entirely responsible for that action. I think it is desirable that I should say two or three words upon the subject. In the first place, I understood that the clauses as they came up from the House of Commons were rejected by the noble Duke's Committee simply because, in their opinion, they would not work. Nothing was said in opposition to the principle which, I believe, has been conceded generally, which, at any rate, I have not heard opposed by any noble Lord who has spoken, namely, that the Corporation of Dublin, if they desire to do so, should have power to collect their own 656 rates. Believing that that principle was not opposed in Committee, and finding that the clauses, either in their existing form or in the form which the Committee might think desirable, might lead to a satisfactory solution of the question, it appeared to me that the opportunity should not be lost of endeavouring to arrive at an arrangement, and I think your I ordships would have accused me of perhaps excessive deference to rule if I had refused when I was asked to do so to recommit the Bill. But, my Lords, the clauses which were then introduced again did not meet with the approval of the Committee. The Committee's decision is unquestionably deserving of all approval and support from your Lordships' House, as indeed are the decisions of all Private Bill Committees, and I am quite sure this Committee was far from being an exception to the general rule, for it took great pains and trouble in the examination of the scheme which was presented before it. But I think it is to be regretted, I am bound to say, that the Government did not take an earlier opportunity, when the Bill was committed to the Opposed Bills Committee, of opposing the clauses then in the Bill. It was quite at the last moment that that opposition was brought before the Committee, and then not in a satisfactory manner. The Government placed the Committee in a position of no little difficulty, and it placed upon the Committee a responsibility which I think it was hardly fair to place upon them. But may I ask your Lordships for a moment to consider what the position of affairs is at present. The principle, as I said before, has been generally conceded, that if the Corporation of Dublin desire to collect their own municipal rates they should be allowed to do so. The Committee objected on various grounds to the proposals by which that principle was to be carried into effect. The last objection, and the one which I think the noble Lord who moved that the Amendments should not be agreed to, laid especial stress upon was that in the event of the arrangement for the joint collection officers falling through there was no machinery or means of paying for the divided collection of rates, and this appears to me to be a good, a valid objection. Now 657 I understand that the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal is prepared to introduce a clause to remedy that defect, and that appears to me in great measure to meet one of the main objections brought forward in the noble Duke's Committee. But I would point out this fact: that though this is a Private Bill, and in spite of what has been said, it is quite competent in a Private Bill to alter a public measure, especially when that public measure relates to only one locality. Still, I think it might have been better if it had been introduced as a public measure first of all. It deals with a public, a Government office, and with persons who are to be appointed and to be dismissed by Government, and it appears from the arguments on both sides that the Committee to whom the Bill was referred would be justified without retracting the opinions which they had formed (and I think they have shown good reasons for the opinions which they formed), and without any loss of dignity whatever, refuse to take upon themselves the responsibility of opposing a change in a public office which has been supported by Government, and of which the Government must take the whole responsibility. That seems to me to be the position with regard to the Committee itself. I need not assure your Lordships that I shall always be, as I hope my predecessors were, jealous of any interference with the decisions at which Private Bill Committees arrive. I think any attempt at reversing their decisions should be most jealously guarded, and, indeed, hardly ever allowed; but, as I said before, this is a very peculiar case, and I think, without any loss of dignity whatever, this Committee might assent to a reversal of its opinion, having heard the alterations which the Government propose to make in the clauses to which they objected. In this way I think we may fairly say the Committee would be entirely relieved from all responsibility in regard to the opinion they have expressed; and when the Government tells your Lordships, as they have told you, that the change is one which is desirable on public grounds and that the scheme is one that will work, and is one for which they will be responsible, and they alone, I think, without either any loss of dignity to the Committee, or danger of establishing a 658 precedent in future, your Lordships might agree to the Amendments proposed.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I only wish to say a word or two. This Bill is perfectly new to me, and I do not hold myself competent at all to express an opinion on the very detailed questions which have been handled in this Debate. If only a Private Bill interest were involved I should say the Government would be behaving very improperly in interposing at all in the deliberations of the House upon the subject, but it is evident, from what we see, that there is something more than a Private Bill interest in this matter—that there are public interests concerned on one side and another; and it is with reference to that side of the question and that aspect of it that I desire to say one word. I do not think that mere questions of private and local interest are sufficiently large to have attracted all the attention that this Bill has attracted either in this House or in the other. What I wish to say refers to the opinions of some of my noble Friends behind me. The Irish Office has a very difficult task to perform. Nobody recognises that more fully than my noble Friend opposite. There are great differences of opinion as to the mode in which that task has been performed, but I think I may say that on this side of the House there is a general opinion that the mode in which the Irish Office has been conducted is worthy of commendation. [Ministerial cheers] Yes; but if that is your opinion you must give effect to it. You cannot accept a policy and take little bits out of it at your pleasure. If the-Irish Office is not worthy of your confidence, if you do not approve of the way in which it is conducted, if its general spirit is alien to your views, I have not a word to say against any opposition you may bring against it; but if the contrary of all that is the case, and if in the case of a measure which, though apparently a Private Bill, has yet obviously public features very strongly marked which have been of sufficient importance to induce the Government to interfere and themselves to move changes in the Bill—if in that matter you withdraw the good opinion which you previously held and try to make an isolated alteration 659 I think you will see that you do that which you would not like to do with any person whom you employ in any department of life, and that yon would hesitate very considerably before you interfered in a matter of which your knowledge is necessarily imperfect, and in which you must be guided by the information of those whom you trust. Therefore, my Lords, I think on that ground alone my noble Friends will take a very great responsibility if they give a vote to night which means a vote for the dropping of the Bill. But there is one further consideration which I would impress upon their minds. The loyal minority of Ireland is not strongly represented in Parliament, not so largely as its numbers by any means deserve, but it receives a very considerable addition to its representation by the condition of opinion in this House; and the votes of my noble Friends are looked upon as the expression of the opinion of the loyal minority. Divested of all technicalities, the form in which the announcement that this Bill has been lost by the vote of the House of Lords will be to say, "In spite of the efforts of the Government the House of Lords has thrown out the Dublin Corporation Bill." What is the impression that will give of the attitude of those of your Lordships who sympathise with the loyal minority towards the Government? Will not the feeling be in Ireland that we have not only to contend with the bitter and relentless hostility of a large portion of the population, but also that we have lost the confidence of those with whom we have been hitherto supposed to be in deepest sympathy? And remember that you strike that blow at our moral credit at a moment when we have very heavy tasks before us—tasks that will require beyond everything else the cordial support of all those who generally sympathise in the policy that we pursue. Both, therefore, my Lords, on account of the individual Bill itself, and on account of the interpretation which will be put upon the attitude of this side of the House to the Government in Ireland, I hope that your Lordships will not be persuaded to give a vote that will reject the Bill.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
I rise to ask the indulgence of the House for the purpose of addressing a 660 question with regard to a statement as to a matter of fact which has been made by Lord Cadogan and the Lord Chancellor of Ireland just now in reference to the Bill. They said with regard to dealing with the deficiency which will be occasioned in the salaries of the Collector General's Office that they are prepared to introduce a clause for that purpose. In the event of the collection of the municipal rates being taken over by the Corporation of Dublin, the collection of £200,000, or two-thirds of the rates, will go to the Corporation of Dublin, and one-third will remain under the control of the Collector General. Now, what I want to ask is this: Does the noble Lord (the Lord Privy Seal) mean by that that he will make this arrangement with regard to the salaries—that he will increase the poundage upon the £100,000 and make that £100,000 of rates, or rather the persons who pay that £100,000 of rates, whoever they may be, in that way liable for the deficiency in the salaries of that Department?
§ THE DUKE OF WESTMINSTER
If the noble Lord will pardon me for one moment, might I ask whether it would not be possible to make it certain that the rest of Dublin shall not suffer, but that the whole rate shall be placed upon the City of Dublin as well as upon the outside townships. It is very hard upon the outside townships if it cannot be placed on the whole of the £300,000. I think it would be more fair if that could be done.
§ LORD HERSCHELL
My Lords, I was appealed to by the noble Duke in rather an inquiring fashion as to whether the support which I have given to Her Majesty's Government on this occasion, could be reckoned on by them in future in their dealings with Ireland. I can only give this answer—that I support them on this occasion because, honestly, I believe they are in the right. If that conviction arises in other matters on any future occasion in regard to any of their proposed dealings with Ireland, I can only say that they may count upon the same hearty support; but, my Lords, I cannot help feeling that this is a matter which does very seriously concern your 661 Lordships' House, and I certainly have not made this proposal from any desire to serve any party end. It appears to me, with the views which I entertain as to the necessity for some greater change than many think desirable, or necessary in the Government of Ireland, that the very best thing that could possibly happen would be that the noble Earl who commenced this debate should succeed, and should carry his rejection of the proposal which I make to the House. I do not think that that success would be a good thing for your Lordships' House. I believe it would be mischievous, and that is one of my motives in making this proposal, and in urging it upon your Lordships. I have no desire to see anything done that would diminish the credit or impair the future usefulness of your Lordships' House, but if I were actuated by political motives, I confess it does seem to me that I have every reason to desire that my motion should not be sucessful. I have always adopted this attitude with regard to the government of Ireland. I believe great changes are necessary, but, at the same time, so long as those changes cannot be made, I have always felt that I ought not to cast any difficulty in the way of the administration of the Government in Ireland—at all events, unless some deep question of principle is involved; and on this occasion, it seems to me, it would be adding to the difficulties of any government in dealing with Ireland, if when the Irish Government and an important Corporation—the Corporation of the chief city of Ireland—are agreed upon a particular matter such as the collection of rates, your Lordships were to interfere—if Parliament were to interfere and determine, although they had come to such an agreement as this—although they have thought it workable and satisfactory, that it should not come into operation. Although I cannot be actuated by the appeal of the noble Marquesi opposite, who urged that those should support this proposal who had unalloyed confidence in the Irish Government—although I cannot profess to entertain that unalloyed confidence, or to be influenced by that in my action to-night, yet I have this confidence, that if the Irish Government and the Corporation of Dublin are agreed upon a matter, having regard to their extreme 662 opposition in political views, and in regard to the administration of the Government, that affords in the highest degree the fullest probability that the result which they have arrived at is a correct and sound one. And when we are told that this scheme is unworkable, what impresses my mind is this: I mean no disrespect to the noble Duke's Committee in saying it, but I would rather have on a matter of this kind the joint opinion of the Irish Government and the Corporation of Dublin than that of any four noble Lords of this House, whoever they may be, especially if they are altogether unconnected with Ireland, and know nothing about the collection of rates, or about the Dublin Corporation. That is my reason for asking your Lordships to believe that this arrangement is a more workable one than has been suggested. But I should like to add this. I have read the evidence to which the noble Duke called attention with regard to this scheme being an unworkable one, that is to say, the evidence of the Collector General himself, and it seems to me that it was rather an over-statement of the case to say that he represented the scheme as unworkable. He said that it depended upon how it was worked, "whether the Corporation are to act independently of my office or by way of supervision; if the former is intended, it will be unworkable." The noble Duke said the words might be understood to intend that. But, then, he was asked—"What would you suggest if that is to be intended?" and he said, "It might be used for the superintending and the applotting and levying of the Municipal rates. "In the clause now before your Lordships that objection has been met. Something very like those exact words have been adopted, namely, that for the word "superintend," which he used, the word "supervision" has been adopted. I say, therefore, that has been met by the altered form in which the clause has been submitted to your Lordships' House from that in which it was submitted to the Committee. Therefore, it cannot be said that the opinion of the Collector General was pronounced upon exactly this form of the clause, and you will not, therefore, be following his guidance if you vote for the rejection of the clause. I will not trouble your lordships further, 663 except upon one point. I cannot understand how any human being can bring himself to believe that it would be possible under these provisions, even if it were at all probable, for the Corporation officials to manipulate the rates, and so disfranchise their political opponents. It seems to me the wildest idea that ever entered human imagination; but that it has actuated the minds of many noble Lords there can be no doubt, because what else can have brought so many noble Lords down to the House? I cannot otherwise understand the whips that have been issued and the large attendance of noble Lords to-night. I am unable to discover whence these ideas can have sprung; but, however, there they are; and, what is more, the noble Marquess, with an absence of the reticence which was displayed on this side of the House, has plainly advanced them. On what ground has it been supposed that this would be done, even if it could be done? What motive is there on the part of the Corporation for doing it as has been suggested? I can understand the anxiety of noble Lords on this side of the House, and I sympathise with them in their desire not to have any diminution in the number of Liberal Unionists to be found in Dublin; but, really, when one considers it for a moment, what motive could there be for it? This is not a case in which opposing political views are nearly, or anything like nearly, balanced; and it is ridiculous to suppose that people are going, without motive, to disfranchise their political opponents, even if they could. Is it reasonable that such a suggestion as that should be made? What sort of feelings would be excited among the majority by the adoption of such a course? The noble Marquess speaks for the Loyalist minority, but does he think nothing of, and care nothing for, the majority? And, yet, what is he suggesting? He says: "These votes may be manipulated by whoever has the collection of the rates; therefore, let us keep the collection of the rates strictly and exclusively in true Loyalist hands." Does he think that other people may not suspect that the collection of the rates may be manipulated for political purposes just as much by their opponents? Do you think there is no probability of anything of that sort? 664 I do not at all believe in either party-doing it; but it seems to me there is something rather outrageous in the objection that now all is pure because the collection of the rates is for the most part in the hands of the Loyalist minority, but that it would become impure if it passed into the hands of the political majority. Is it wise to put forward such a view as that? But, my Lords, in truth, the view is an impossible one, and I venture to say it is absolutely chimerical. If they wanted to do it they could not do it. Let the experiment be made as the Bill provides; and I venture to say that it is impossible it can be worked for the disenfranchisement of people in Dublin, whatever their political views may be. I assure my noble Friends, whatever political party it may serve, if I thought it could be used for such a purpose, I should not be found supporting it, because nothing would be further from my views or my desire; but I think these clauses may well be adopted, and that there is not any foundation for the fears which have been expressed by some noble Lords opposite, and by some also on this side of the House. Though I do not know that I have any right to appeal to them, I would remind them of what was said by their Leader in the other House only yesterday. He said that the land legislation of the Government was going to be followed by another form of legislation, and he said that this is a necessary preliminary to a complete and liberal extension of Local Self-Government. I would appeal to his followers in this House whether they think it wise as their contribution to this question of Local Self-Government in Ireland, to take part to-day in rejecting provisions the loss of which will be so much regretted by an important local body in Ireland, and the rejection of which will be believed, I will venture to say, to be fatal to the prospects of any satisfactory scheme of Local Government. My Lords, I will conclude by moving the adoption of the first of the Commons' Amendments in regard to the formation of a separate department in the office of the Collector General of Rates for the supervision of the applotting and levying of municipal rates, and providing that the power of collecting such rates should be vested in and exercised by the Corporation.
§ On Question, their Lordships divided:—Contents 29; Not-contents 21.
§ Resolved in the affirmative.
§ The rest of the said Amendments agreed to.
§ EARL CADOGAN
My Lords, I move to insert the following after Clause F, as a new clause:—If at any time it appears to the Lord Lieutenant, after investigation, that the expenses specified in Section 27 of the Collection of Rates Act, 1849, in relation to the rates for the time being collected by the Collector General, regard being had to due and reasonable economy, are such that the limit of £2 10s. in the said section mentioned will not be sufficient to discharge such expenses, the Lord Lieutenant may, by order made by and with the consent of the Privy Council, direct that the said limit shall, for a period to be named in the order, be such amount greater than £2 10s. as shall under the circumstance be necessary to discharge such expenses, and therefore the said section shall, with respect to such period, be read and construed as it the amount specified in the said order were inserted in the said section in relation to the rates in this section before-mentioned, instead of the amount of £2 10s."—(Earl Cadogan.)
§ Agreed to.
§ Bill returned to the Commons.