§ Lord John Russell
moved the Order of the Day for the House to go into a Committee on the Municipal Corporation Reform Bill.
§ Mr. Cayley
rose before going into Committee on the Municipal Reform Bill, to call the attention of his noble Friend below him to the circumstance of existing corporations having, since the introduction of this Bill, entered upon the practice of letting out corporate lands and other property on long leases; of course on advantageous terms, and for which, one day or other, they would have an equivalent, at the expense of the interests of their trust. One instance of this kind he had heard of as having taken place in his own constituency, namely, the borough of Scarborough, where he understood they had never been in the habit of leasing out the corporate property. He had heard this on very good authority; and if it were true, it demanded the immediate interposition of the House, in order to render null and void any bargains of this nature. It appeared to him a gross contempt of the proceedings of this House, and he hoped his noble Friend would not fail to institute a remedy.
§ The House went into Committee on this Bill.
§ Clause 37 was proposed.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
moved the Amendment of which he had given notice, to the effect "that Municipal Officers should take the oaths of allegiance before they could perform any of the duties of their office." He said, in rising to suggest an alteration in this Clause, that, except as to the other Clauses of which he had given notice, he should not take any other opportunity of calling the attention of the House to the Bill, till the more regular opportunity; viz. the bringing up of the Report. But 187 with respect to this Clause, he should have no other opportunity of coming to a conclusion upon the subject but by proposing an Amendment. The Clause in question permitted that the Mayor in Council could not act until they had made a declaration. The object he had in view would be effected by striking out the word "declaration," and substituting for it the word "oath." He knew that in these times there was a great indisposition on the part of the House to multiply oaths, but he requested attention to the fact that he was asking them to do that which was already done. He called upon the noble Lord who introduced the Bill to state to the House whether there was in that Bill one single office from the highest functionary to any of its lowest officers—one office in which the person appointed to it had not taken an oath upon his entrance into it. His objection to the declaration was not merely that it was a declaration instead of being an oath; but that it was a declaration not of conscience but of opinion; the party stated "that he would discharge his duties according to the best of his judgment, &c." His objection, he repeated, was, that it was a declaration, and he wished to direct it not to the judgment merely, but to the conscience, the moral sense, of the individual by whom it was to be taken. He had said he believed that not all the inquiries of the noble Lord, no nor even the antiquarian researches of the Attorney-General would enable him to produce a single instance of any Corporation in England from far distant times to the present, from the highest officer down to the lowest, in which the duties discharged by that officer had not been imposed under the sanction of an oath; and more than that, it was an oath to discharge his duties as a subject of the King. Last year on the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster, that House ordered Returns of all the oaths taken in the City of London. He did not venture to suppose that many Gentlemen who heard him had read that Return; but with scarce an exception, every one of them was an oath to the King himself. The first office,—viz. that of the Lord Mayor swore, that he would "well and faithfully serve the King's Majesty in the office of Mayor." The Aldermen swore to serve "their Sovereign Lord the King in their office." His objection to the Bill was, in part, (he had many objections) but the Bill seemed to recognize much more the democratical, than the monarchical part of the Constitution. 188 In every part of the Bill there was a want of that recognition of the King's rights which such a Bill ought to present. Objecting, therefore, in the first place, to the novelty now introduced, of substituting a declaration for an oath; objecting to the terms of the declaration itself, as binding, not the conscience, but merely the opinion of the party; objecting to the terms of the declaration upon this ground also, that it failed to recognize the duty of the party as a subject of the King, he felt much inclined to take the sense of the House upon it, but in order (knowing well what, in the present state of the House, the result of such an appeal would be)—in order, as he was very anxious to do, to discharge his duty according to his own sense of obligation, though he should propose his Motion he would not give the Committee the trouble of dividing upon it. But he thought he was not asking too much of the noble Lord, the Home Secretary, when he asked him to contradict, if he could, the fact, that this was the first instance, in the history of Municipal Corporations of England in which any man had ever been admitted to a public office who had not first given to the King the pledge of his allegiance upon oath—who had not, in the second place given to his colleagues in the administration of such Municipal Corporations, the equal sanction of an oath, to discharge his duty. He called upon the noble Lord in the last place, even if he differed from him upon the general principle of substituting the declaration for the oath, at least to permit him (Sir Robert Inglis) or (which would be much better) to take upon himself the task of supplying those parts of the declaration which he deemed deficient;—viz. that part when he took the oath or the declaration, to insert words binding him to the King, that he would faithfully discharge his duty as a subject of the King, and to his colleagues or to his constituents, that he would discharge his duty not only to the best of his judgment and ability, hut to the best of his conscience. With these remarks he would conclude, by moving that in the 25th line, the word "oath" should be substituted in lieu of the word "declaration."
§ Lord John Russell
was of opinion that the removal of oaths in every case in which it was possible tended to strengthen the efficacy of those oaths which were allowed to remain. He did not think the present one of the cases in which an oath ought to be retained. As the hon. Baronet did not 189 mean to press his Motion to a division he would not occupy the time of the Committee in discussing it.
§ Amendment withdrawn, and the Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 43 having been proposed, relating to Town Clerks and other officers of the borough.
§ Lord John Russell
said, that he proposed to make an alteration in the Clause, by which, after the word "borough," the words "every year," should be inserted. The effect of this alteration would be, that the officers who filled those situations specified in the Clause would be removable at the expiration of each year. It was intended, however, that though this power was conferred on the Council, it should not be exercised except on such grounds as imperatively called for their interference.
rose to move his Amendment of this Clause, which was to the effect, that the Town Clerks hereafter to be appointed should have a tenure of office during good behaviour. The noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell) had made some alteration in the Clause as it originally stood; but the effect of that alteration would be that the question of the propriety of continuing the Town Clerk in his office would be one annually submitted for the decision of the Council. Now, the Amendment which he meant to propose was directed towards the attainment of a very different purpose—namely, that when a respectable individual, one well qualified to fill the office of Town Clerk, was once appointed, he should not be subject to removal at the caprice or wish of a certain portion of a constantly fluctuating body, such as the proposed Council was intended to be. He did not propose his Amendment with any view of affecting by it the appointment of the other officers of the proposed bodies to which the Clause referred; but he was decidedly of opinion that when the Town Clerk was once chosen, he ought not to be exposed to the chance of dimissal but should he allowed to retain his office, except some charge of misconduct were proved against him. There might, perhaps be even some restrictions beneficially imposed on the powers which the Council would possess with respect to other officers of those Municipal bodies; but with regard to the Town Clerk, he was one, of all others, whose tenure of office it was desirable to have as permanent as possible. For what were the duties of the Town Clerk? He was aware that those duties would 190 be considerably diminished by his being released from the part which he hitherto took in the criminal jurisdiction which belonged to Magistrates; but he would have still many functions to discharge which were of the highest importance. It should he recollected that the Town Clerk would be still the confidential adviser of the Council, and the individual upon whom the conduct of their legal proceedings generally devolved. Hardly a year could pass but the Council would be engaged in some lawsuit; and if, therefore, the Town Clerk was to be removable, not according to the decision by whom he was appointed, and on whose countenance he might, during good behaviour, rely; but according to the feelings and opinions of a different body, who had different objects to attain, and different personal views to answer, the result would be, that not merely an act of comparative injustice would be inflicted on the Town Clerk, but that the greatest embarrassment in the local, and particularly in the legal, business of the Council, must inevitably ensue. A new Town Clerk might, at the expiration of a year or two, be thus appointed, who would be called on to conduct proceedings with which he was necessarily unacquainted (his nomination to his office being subsequent to their commencement), and his ignorance of which must cause delay, or entail additional expense on the borough. The man who was previously in office would leave, in all probability, a mass of documents (and every one acquainted with corporate towns must be aware that the papers and documents belonging to the Corporations were very voluminous) which it would be necessary for his successor to examine, and which he could do only with great delay and expense. But the noble Lord saw the inconvenience of the Town Clerk being liable to be removed annually, and he seemed to admit that he ought to be allowed to remain in office during his good behaviour. But how did he seek to effect this object? The noble Lord might have great confidence in the entire purity of the new corporate bodies; he might have the strongest reliance on the prevalence amongst the members of constantly changing bodies; but the respectable attorneys throughout the country might not be exactly of the same opinion as the noble Lord, and the House might find, after a short period from the time at which this Bill would be carried into operation, that respectable attorneys would not be willing to accept the 191 very important office of Town Clerk (important in the eyes of such individuals, not from the emoluments derived from it, but on account of the degree of dignity which it conferred on those who held it) from which they would every year be liable to be removed, or at all events to have the proofs of their good conduct and the claims for their continuance in office, annually made the subject of debate in a popular assembly. If this should be the case, they would, by passing such a Clause, inflict great and serious injury on the local interests of the towns throughout the kingdom, by depriving them of the services of men as Town Clerks who had no other object to attain but the acquisition of that honour which in such a sphere the possession of such an office conferred; and substituting a class of individuals, who, being intrusted with the guardianship of great, important, and permanent interests, would look to this and this only—by what sacrifice of the public interests they might be introduced into office, or continue in its possession. As he said before, he did not wish to take away from the Councils the power of r - moving their treasurers, clerks, and collectors, which was given them by the Bill, but he was desirous that due protection should be given to those who held the higher offices under it. It had already been admitted that the office of coroner, which was under the control of the same body as that to which his Amendment referred, should be held during good behaviour. It might be said, however, that the office of coroner was a judicial one, and, therefore, ought to be exempted from frequent election; but he would contend that the duties which devolved upon the Town Clerk were of an equally important and permanent nature, and that his office was one which should be peculiarly kept out of the influence of local animosities and little private jobs which might frequently arise in a narrow sphere, but of which the Members of that House, as they were not affected by them, could scarcely have any knowledge. The tenures by which Town Clerks held their offices under the existing system were various. At Hull, for instance, they were appointed under the sign manual. They generally, however, held their offices for life; and the effect of the Clause then before the House would be to confer on a fluctuating body a larger share of power with regard to the persons who should be appointed to such offices than the present permanent corporate bodies possessed. On 192 these considerations, and with a view to the good government of the boroughs to which this Bill applied, he felt bound to submit his Amendment—not, however, with the expectation in the present state of the House, of having it adopted, if he should press it to a division. All he desired was—not a positive answer from the noble Lord, as to whether or not he would accede to his recommendations, but some intimation that before the Report was brought up, he would take that part of the Clause which applied to the office of Town Clerk into his serious consideration. The noble Lord concluded by proposing as an Amendment, that Town Clerks should hold their office during good behaviour.
§ Viscount Howick
admitted that great inconvenience must arise from constant changes being made with respect to the persons who should in future fill the office of Town Clerk. Every Gentleman in that House must know that it was with great inconvenience and difficulty that the management of his private affairs were taken out of the hands of an agent, to whose care they had been, for any considerable period, intrusted. That was an inconvenience which, no doubt, arose in an equal degree from frequent changes as to the persons who should fill the office of Town Clerk. It was certainly true that the Town Council might be a fluctuating body, and might have different objects to accomplish at different periods, but he took it for granted that the Town Council for the time being, however their views might vary on other matters, would be uniformly influenced by a desire to maintain their own rights to their full extent, and to carry as far as possible all their legal claims. It would, in fact, be their first object to promote by all means their own interests. Therefore the person most likely to ensure his continuance in office was the Town Clerk, who had for the longest period remained in office, and who had consequently acquired that experience which best enabled him to serve those by whom he was employed. But if his tenure of office was made not really and practically during good behaviour, as the Clause signified, but according to the Amendment of his noble Friend—legally and technically during good behaviour—so that the office should be held until proved misconduct was urged against its possessor—the effect would certainly be, that the Town Clerk would be made independent, but the Council would as certainly be rendered dependent on him. His noble 193 Friend must be perfectly aware that in existing corporations the Town Clerk was the life and soul of those bodies. They were in truth mere puppets played by his hands, and managed entirely at his pleasure. That was a state of things which he did not consider it desirable to prolong. He was desirous that the Town Clerk should be an officer having a reasonable security for the tenure of his office—that he should be a person not altogether independent of the Council, but bonâ fide their servant, and therefore liable to the just exercise of their authority. So much with respect to what might be called the legal duties of the Town Clerk; he should next say a few words as to the working of the Clause as regarded the inhabitants of the towns, and amongst them the claimants for this office. The fears of the noble Lord as to the probability that no respectable practitioners would seek the office of Town Clerk under this Bill were, he had good reason to believe, without foundation, for he knew that there was at this moment an active canvass going forward throughout the different towns for the office of Town Clerk by persons well qualified to fill it. As to the condition on which the noble Lord agreed that an individual should be removable from this office—namely, his misconduct, he considered such a condition as tending to raise the very embarrassing question, what was misconduct, and who were to be the judges of it? Misconduct in a judicial capacity might be tried by a few and simple tests, such as partiality and unfairness; but those which applied to the office of Town Clerk were far more numerous and diversified; for inattention, negligence, want of activity, zeal, and ability in the discharge of the duties which it imposed, constituted, in his opinion, amongst many others, strong grounds for the dismissal of any person from the situation who was fairly open to such charges. These faults were such, however, as, though they might eminently disqualify for the office, were not at all likely to be urged under the vague imputation of "misconduct."
§ Sir Robert Peel
did not consider the arguments of the noble Lord who had just addressed the House perfectly conclusive in favour of retaining the Clause as it stood. The noble Lord, for instance, in the first place, stated that one of the grounds on which the Town Clerk would, under the proposed Bill, be sure to be continued in office, was the difficulty of getting rid of him. Was there, then, to be such a want 194 of fixedness of purpose amongst the new bodies—were they to be so completely subject to unjust influence, as that an officer appointed under them had no other security for the tenure of his office than their inability to go on without him. The noble Lord had argued almost entirely for the vices of the present system. Every deduction which could be derived from the working of the existing corporate bodies, the noble Lord enlisted into his service. Now, he thought that these bodies would be subjected so completely to the influence of popular opinion, and that the duties of their officers, and amongst others, their Town Clerk, would be so clearly defined, as that it would be almost impossible they should do wrong, and consequently be subjected to the loss of office, except by wilful and gross misconduct. The noble Lord appeared to be labouring under some mistake as to the practical effect of this measure, or he took a very despairing view of it, and seemed to entertain much less confidence in the exercise of public opinion than could have been expected. The noble Lord had stated that a canvass was already going forward for the office of Town Clerk. Certainly these canvassers must be gifted with the keenest scent of office of any men who ever existed, for be it recollected, it was the Council who had the power of nominating to the office of Town Clerk and the solicitation must be directed to a Council not yet in existence, which was to be chosen by burgesses, not yet made. The reasons which induced the House to give the coroner his tenure of office during good behaviour, applied to the Town Clerk, for the duties of both were analogous. For his part he thought all legal appointments should be permanent, and he regretted that it was not customary to continue in office the Attorney-General on a change of administration. He ought to be a man who from long experience was well acquainted with the duties of his office, and was active in the performance of them. There was no reason why the Attorney-General should be a political officer more than a Judge.
§ The Attorney-General
Nothing should induce me to hold office under men from, whom I differ in politics.
§ Sir Robert Peel
resumed. He was only-speaking of an Attorney-General in the abstract, he was making no particular allusion to the hon. and learned Gentleman. Crambo had found it impossible to form an abstract idea of a Lord Mayor without imagining some particular individual clothed 195 in the robes of office—gold chain, furred gown, and the other exterior manifestations of the civic dignity. But he merely spoke of an Attorney-General in the abstract, and regretted that that hon. and learned Gentleman sitting opposite to him had, by his impatient political virtue, tended to disturb his abstract idea of an Attorney-General. He had, however, known instances in which Attorney-Generals had remained in office when a change in the Administration had taken place. [The Attorney-General: I would not do so.] The chivalrous declaration of the hon. and learned Gentleman was favourable to his view; for it went to prove that if the office of Town-clerk were made a political one he would be deprived of his office every time a change took place in the dominant party in the Council. Would not this be the language held in the different boroughs by those from whom the town-clerk might differ in politics:—"True, he discharges his duties exceedingly well; we have no fault to find with him on that head; but then there are dozens of our own active partisans here, of known adherence to our political opinions, and one of whom we are, therefore, bound to appoint to his office." Such was the principle which had been declared by the hon. Member for Nottingham when he stated that he could not permit Lord Ellenborough's nominee to remain in office, and recommended his Majesty to remove Lord Heylesbury, and was such a principle to be acted on in every borough in the kingdom." Then again, according to the principle of the hon. and learned Gentleman, not only will political opinions influence the elections of legal officers, but if the town-clerk, for example, entertained certain views in politics which differed, or which he thought differed, from the opinions which prevailed in the Council, he would be bound according to the praiseworthy declaration of the hon. and learned Gentleman, immediately on ascertaining the fact, to tender his resignation. He only put this case hypothetically; and he trusted that the town-clerk, when once appointed, might rely on his personal integrity and character as a security for the permanent tenure of his office, and might feel convinced, that when he once lost that security he could no longer retain office against the good sense and feeling of his fellow-citizens. It certainly appeared to him to be of great importance, that as the Council was a fluctuating body, and as two-thirds of them retired annually, that such an officer as the town-clerk should 196 hold office during the continuance of his good conduct, and that the services of an officer of the Council should be thus secured; a man who could answer those inquiries which would be likely to be made by a new Council, who was acquainted with all the points of law referring to them as a body, who was in possession of all their records, and who had a personal interest in promoting the welfare of the borough. He thought that on the principle that the Speaker of that House was appointed during the existence of the Parliament, without its being necessary to hold over him the constant control of annual rejection, it would conduce to the respectability of the office of town-clerk, and of the man who filled it, if the tenure of office were permanent and dependant only on good behaviour.
§ Mr. Poulett Thomson
said, that while he was of opinion, that frequent changes were highly undesirable, he thought the nature of the Town Clerk's office rendered an agreement in political opinion between him and the Town Council absolutely necessary. The Amendment of the noble Lord, however, went to render that office permanent, rendered his removal impracticable unless for fraud or felony, and thus enabled him to set the council at defiance. He was of opinion that the course adopted by the Bill was the best; for, while it rendered it easy to dismiss the Town Clerk, it rendered it impossible to dismiss him for any trivial cause, or anything short of the displeasure of the majority of the Town Council. With respect to what the right hon. Baronet had so facetiously observed, on the canvass going on at present for the office of Town Clerk, though there were no burgesses as yet appointed, and no Town Council—the electors in the case—in existence, he should only say, that the burgesses, though not as yet appointed, were pretty well ascertained, and also that it was tolerably easy to foresee in every borough who would be the Town Councillors. Therefore, the argument of the right hon. Gentleman derived from the ludicrous assumption which he put, was worth the laugh it caused, and no more. In point of fact, he knew of his own knowledge in one borough, that an active canvass for the situation of the Town Clerk was actually on foot at that moment. So much, therefore, for the right hon. Baronet's supposititious case. He hoped the Committee would adopt the clause as it stood, and give a power of removal to the Council. He particularly hoped so, as to 197 do otherwise would be to depart from the general principle of the whole Bill, which was to place the power of appointing all the Municipal Officers of the borough in the hands of the people.
observed, that the arguments on the other side altogether made in favour of his proposition. They were encouraging the doctrine, that the office of Town Clerk should be a political office. They were now canvassing on the relative strength of parties. They were making a legal and professional office a political and party office. The result of the canvass was not to be determined by the personal and professional character of the candidate, but by his politics and his party zeal, and the office was to be obtained by the man's political adhesion to the dominant party at the time being in the borough. They told him, that if the borough generally changed its politics, it would be a good ground for changing the Town Clerk; and now they, in fact, offered it as a prize for political support. The appointment would be a standing job. He did not say this with reference to the Representative in that House, for which it would be too contemptible, but with respect to Corporations. They were on the system proposed laying it down as a foundation for truckling for borough office upon political grounds. The Town Clerk would have to look anxiously to every change of politics in the Council, to every, the minutest, change in the Government. They would be laying the foundation of corruption in that which they desired to have pure. If they wished to have the office filled by respectable professional men, who would occasionally, be it remembered, have to do unpopular work, they should accede to his proposition. Suppose the Town Clerk was concerned for the borough in any legal affairs against any influential political persons there, how was he to execute his duties? The local affairs of the borough must in such a case infallibly suffer. He really would beg to appeal to the good sense of his noble Friend opposite. His noble Friend's Government would have the first appointments which would be made under the excitement of change, and in the full freshness of odium against the old Tory Corporations. He, therefore, could only wish to preserve the Friends of the existing Government in office, for they would be elected till they misconducted 198 themselves, If he had seen the least sign of his noble Friend's disposition to accede to his proposition, he would not have troubled the House with a word further. He had not intended to press the question to a division, but now he should certainly do so, though he knew it was useless as to the result. He was anxious, however, to record his own opinion. [Mr. Tulk: In the borough I alluded to, the appointment would be given to a Tory.] That made no difference to his argument. He would move, that the words "during good behaviour" should be substituted, for the words following in the Clause, "to be removable at their pleasure." He explained, that he only meant the new words to apply to the office of Town Clerk.
suggested, that the noble Lord's object would be better attained by moving, that the words "Town Clerk" be left out.
The Attorney General
said, that in many Corporations the Town Clerk was now appointed annually, but, notwithstanding this, was, if he conducted himself properly, constantly re-elected year after year. As to the functions of a Town Clerk they were Ministerial. They were analogous to those of the Clerks of the House. It was not necessary that the Town Clerk should be the Solicitor for the Corporation. He did not think the Town Clerk ought also to be the Solicitor. He should say, too, that if the Town Clerk had Municipal functions to discharge, he should go out with the change of his party. It was true, as the right hon. Baronet observed, that there was a case of an officer's continuing to hold his place under a new Government, differing widely from that which preceded it. He blushed to say, that he knew one instance in which an Attorney-General did remain in office after his friends had left power. But he could assure the right hon. Baronet that no consideration would have induced the Law Officers of the Government which preceded the right hon. Baronet's to continue to hold their places under his Administration. [A voice, "mere you asked?"] He had not been asked. No question had been put to him—no lure held out. He also admitted, that the right hon. Baronet had made a most excellent selection of his Law Officers. But he was sure the right hon. Gentleman would allow that he knew if the offer of remaining had been made to him, it would not have been accepted.
Mr. William Williams Coventry
In 199 London the Town Clerk and other officers were elected annually, and there was no instance of a man's being removed unless when guilty of improper conduct. The office of Town Clerk had been held by the present Clerk and his father for a period of twenty-five years, and added, that some officers had occasionally sums of money in their hands amounting to 80,000l. or 100,000l. The best security for good conduct was, in his opinion, found to be in the power of removal at pleasure.
thought the noble Lord was quite right in not wishing to have the appointment of the Town Clerk made a job. The question was, whether the appointment as proposed in the Clause, would or would not be a job. Certain he was, at all events, that if this officer were to be appointed during good behaviour, it would become a permanent job. If this were to be the arrangement the Town Clerk would be the master, instead of the servant, of the Council. The noble Lord, in speaking of the Council, and especially of the appointment of the Town Clerk, had spoken of it as a job too contemptible for that House to deal with. "I should be glad to know (continued the learned Gentleman) if any job can be too contemptible for this House to deal with. I should be glad to know how the noble Lord, sitting where he now does, can talk of any job as too contemptible, for what job was too contemptible, for those around the noble Lord to deal with? The noble Lord should not speak in this strain.
(who sat on the Opposition Bench) said: The words which I used were "too contemptible to have the Members of this House affected by, and therefore unknown to them."
Sir, I wish to know what is the meaning which the hon. and learned Gentleman attaches to his words in the face of the House; and in the face of the House I demand an explanation of them. I have a right to stand on my character, when that character is assailed publicly; I am bound to defend it particularly when the attack comes from one who neither here nor elsewhere is prepared to vindicate his assertion. I have a right to ask what 200 the hon. Gentleman means, sitting on the side of the House which he does, by addressing this side of the House, and stating that I have no right to speak of any job as being too contemptible.
I congratulate the noble Lord on his extreme valour. I rejoice at it. If he had attended to my words, and repeated them correctly, there would not have been the least occasion for this ebullition.
I asked, whether there was any job too contemptible for the side of the House, on which the noble Lord sits, to think of.
I rise to order, I wish to know whether it is consistent with the observance of order in this House, that any hon. Member sitting in the place in which the hon. and learned Member sits, can speak of "any job as being too contemptible to think of?"
If the noble Lord had allowed me to finish, he would have seen that there was no necessity for his interruption. I added to my former remark, that I did not see how, sitting in the place in which the noble Lord sat—I wondered how he could consider any job as being too contemptible to think of. I said that, and I repeat it.
§ Lord Sandon
If the hon. and learned Gentleman meant to make the charge generally, he would tell him that he had no right to consider those who sat at that side as being capable of jobbing.
I did not attack individuals, but of a side of the House. I did not charge the noble Lord particularly with adopting jobs, though from the violence with which he met my observation it would appear that he for the first time consented to pass a thought on them, however he may desire to have us imagine that a thought about them could never enter his mind. I go further—I put the case individually, and I ask whether every man of us would not be more likely to become permanent jobbers if we had a permanent tenure of our seats here. The noble Lord's argument that these Councils being political Councils, should therefore choose their officers according to their political opinions, was not a sound one. Politics might occasionally interfere with their proceedings, but they would be generally constructed with a view to local interests or urban purposes. If, however, you have permanent Town Clerks, 201 you will have permanent politicians, and these invested with such a share of power as to render them permanent jobbers. They would be men not attending to municipal business, but jobbing from year to year in politics, and they would be ready to sell their politics whenever they found a market for them. The more independent of popular control you render these men, the more do you necessarily expose them to the temptation of becoming jobbers.
regretted to interfere, even for the shortest possible time, with the regular and orderly proceedings of the Committee; but he trusted that, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, the Committee would bear with him if he alluded to the attack which had been made by the hon. and learned Member for the City of Dublin on himself personally, and on the body of Members in that House from whom he differed in some points, and with whom he agreed in others, but by whom it so happened, by the arrangement of the House, that he was surrounded. The hon. and learned Member for the City of Dublin had spoken of him as sitting on that (the Opposition) side, and had coupled that remark with an accusation which he trusted it was quite unnecessary for him to take the trouble of throwing off in that House, and of which he should certainly take no other notice. But as the personal attack thus made upon him, although of no importance in that House, might be considered so out of doors, where the circumstances of a Member sitting in one place, or sitting in another place, was not so well understood, he would trouble the Committee with a few words on the subject. At the commencement of the present Session of Parliament, and when the country was under a different Administration, he had felt it his duty to adopt the line of conduct prescribed to him by his conscience and his feelings. Being unable altogether to agree with the then existing Ministers, and yet being determined to manifest towards them no factious or violent opposition, he had taken that place in the House which was considered a post of neutrality between contending parties. On a change taking place in the Government he maintained the same place and the same determination; and, so far as he could do so, consistently with his own opinions, he had shown no hostility to the Government of his noble Friend. But some observations which had been lately 202 made, rendered it necessary for him to depart from the situation which he had hitherto occupied. In doing so, however, he by no means departed from the principles by which he had hitherto been actuated; they remained unchanged; and, whether in public or in private, he should continue to pursue the course which he had felt it his duty to adopt. But when he found, on successive nights, that he is sitting on the same side with men who, if in the discussions which had taken place on the details of the measure under consideration (a measure the progress of which he was as anxious to forward as any man), a division occurred, hailed his return to his seat after that division with cheers, personally insulting to himself, and clearly indicating the opinion of the persons from whom they proceeded, that he was not fit for their society (in which opinion he humbly acquiesced); when he saw this feeling so plainly indicated that it was impossible to mistake it, he felt it to be his duty, especially after the comments of the public press on the subject on the following day, and desirous as he was on the one hand not to provoke offence from others, and on the other hand not to give offence to them, to withdraw from a society which so evidently wished to be relieved from his presence. To those persons who might think it worth their while to conjecture the motives for the step which he had taken, he repeated, that he came to the place which he then occupied (the Opposition Bench) because he did not wish to hear observations calculated to give offence, and because he did not wish to say anything calculated to give offence to others. In the place which he had recently occupied, he constantly heard observations on friends of his, which in private life could not be passed over, although in public they could not be noticed; and those observations proceeded from persons who were not prepared to justify them either in public or in private. ["Hear.!"] He had thus availed himself of the personal attack which had just been made upon him, to set himself right with the public, and state the causes by which he had been actuated in his change of position. Whether he sat on one side of the House or on the other, he would make no further reference to the accusations which the hon. and learned Member for the City of Dublin had thrown out wholesale against the hon. Members near him, and against himself personally. Feeling as the Committee did, 203 as Gentlemen and men of honour, he was sure they would allow that what he, as a gentleman and a man of honour, had said, was only what was necessary in his own vindication.
§ Lord John Russell
would trespass on the attention of the Committee for only a single moment. It had given him great pain, as his noble Friend well knew, that the difference of opinion had taken place between them which occurred last year. He also regretted the course which his noble Friend had pursued this year, as well as the other differences of opinion on matters of policy which had occurred between them; and which had occurred to such an extent, that whenever a division took place in that House on any contested point, his noble Friend and himself were generally found on different sides. With respect, however, to the seat which his noble Friend might think fit to occupy, that was certainly a matter entirely for his own decision: and he (Lord John Russell) would not take the liberty of making a single remark upon that subject. But as to the cheers to which his noble Friend had alluded, as having taken place at the close of some of the divisions, he must say, that he thought they proceeded rather from a disposition to excite a laugh, than from any more serious motive; and that his noble Friend attached too much importance to the circumstance. With regard, too, to the comments of the public Press, he thought his noble Friend would better pursue the course of duty to himself by disregarding what was said without the walls of that House, rather than by permitting himself to be influenced by comments which they all knew appeared day after day, and which were frequently couched in terms of great violence and bitterness. His noble Friend had stated that his opinions were not changed by his change of place. He had no doubt of it; but he could assure his noble Friend, with regard to the whole course of his public conduct, both when he (Lord John Russell) had the good fortune to agree with his noble Friend, and when he had the misfortune to differ from him, that he was thoroughly persuaded that if there was any man on whom no imputation of unworthy motives could possibly be cast, and who acted universally on his own convictions of right, that man was his noble Friend. No part in politics which his noble Friend might take would ever induce him to believe that he acted from any other motive than his own sense of honour.
§ Mr. Cressett Pelham
thought the circumstance which had just taken place highly important—so important, indeed, that he did not consider it right, in justice either to himself or to the House, to allow it to pass unnoticed. The question was, whether lion. Members were to come there to be the servile slaves of a party. He conceived that he had a perfect right to take his place in whatever part of the House he chose. It had happened to him to change his seat; and in his experience he had seen hon. Gentlemen change their seats very often. He was sorry to hear a noble Lord apply the term "puppets" to Town-Clerks. It was but justice to his constituents at Shrewsbury to say that that was not the case in that town. At the same time he thought a Town-Clerk should not be a political Town-Clerk.
§ The Committee divided on the Amendment: Ayes 65; Noes 125; Majority 60.
|List of the Noes.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Fitzsimon, C.|
|Anson, Sir George||Fitzsimon, N.|
|Attwood, Thomas||Forster, C. S.|
|Bagshaw, John||Fort, John|
|Baines, Edward||Gaskell, Daniel|
|Baldwin, Dr.||Goring, H.|
|Barclay, David||Grote, G.|
|Baring, F. T.||Hawes, Benjamin|
|Barnard, E. G.||Hawkins, J. H.|
|Bellew, P. M.||Heathcoat, J.|
|Bewes, Thomas||Hector, C. J.|
|Biddulph, Robert||Hindley, Charles|
|Blackburne, John||Hodges, Thomas L,|
|Blamire, William||Holland, Edward|
|Blunt, Sir Charles||Hoskins, K.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Howick, Lord|
|Bowring, Dr.||Jervis, John|
|Brady, D. C.||Lennard, T. B.|
|Bridgeman, H.||Lister, E. C.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Lushington, Dr.|
|Brodie, W. B.||Lushington, C.|
|Brotherton, Joseph||M'Cance, J.|
|Browne, Rt. Hn. D.||M'Leod, R.|
|Burdon, W. W.||Maher, John|
|Campbell, Sir John||Mangles, J.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Marjoribanks, S.|
|Chalmers, Patrick||Marsland, H.|
|Chapman, M. L.||Maule, Hon. Fox|
|Clay, W.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Crawford, W.||Morrison, James|
|Crawford, Sharman||Murray, John A.|
|Curteis, H.||Musgrave, Sir R.|
|Dennistoun, A.||Nagle, Sir R.|
|Dillwyn, L. W.||O'Connell, D.|
|Dykes, F. L. B.||O'Connell, J.|
|Elphinstone, Howard||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Ewart, William||O'Ferrall, More|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. C||Ord, W. H.|
|Fergus, John||Oswald, J.|
|Fielden, John||Parker, J.|
|Parrott, J.||Steuart, Rt.|
|Pease, J.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Perrin, L.||Stuart, Lord Jas.|
|Philips, Mark||Strutt, Ed.|
|Pinney, W.||Sullivan, R.|
|Potter, Richard||Talbot, J. H.|
|Poulter, J. S.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Power, James||Thomson, Rt. Hn. C. P.|
|Ramsbottom, John||Thornely, Thomas|
|Rippon, C.||Trelawney, Sir W.|
|Robinson, George||Troubridge, Sir Thos|
|Roche, W.||Tulk, C. A.|
|Rolfe, R. M.||Villiers, Charles|
|Ronayne, Domk.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Rundle, John||Wakley, Thomas|
|Russell, Lord John||Walker, Richard|
|Russell, Lord Charles||Walker, C. A.|
|Ruthven, E.||Warburton, H.|
|Ruthven, E. S.||Ward, H. G.|
|Scholefield, Jos.||Wason, R.|
|Seymour, Lord||Wilks, John|
|Sheldon, E. R.||Williams, W. A.|
|Smith, B.||Williams, W.|
|Spiers, A. G.||Teller.|
|Stewart, P. M.||Stanley, E. J.|
§ On the question that Clause 42 stand part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Hughes Hughes
Before that Clause was passed he begged again to draw the attention of the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to a point which he had raised when Clause 3, which enacted the style of the new bodies corporate, was under consideration. He then stated that the present style of the Corporation of Oxford, was the Mayor, Bailiffs, and commonalty, and that the Bailiffs executed in that city the functions performed by Sheriffs in counties, in executing the process of the Court of Session, and taking custody of the prisoners; and he had inquired how the execution of those duties was provided for by this Bill. The noble Lord the Secretary-at-War answered that the Council, under the Clause then before the Committee, would have power to appoint officers for the discharge of those duties. He was of a different opinion at the time, and a letter he held in his hand confirmed that opinion. It was from the learned Recorder of Oxford, whose opinion was entitled to the greatest attention, not only from his great legal knowledge and experience, but from the circumstance of his having for considerably more than twenty years represented the city of Oxford in Parliament—he meant Mr. Lockhart, who must be known to a great many Members. The learned Gentleman stated that the office of Bailiff was attached to the Court of Quarter Sessions, and that it was impossible that that officer should be ap- 206 pointed by a Council who would have nothing whatever to do with that Court. He begged, therefore, to know whether the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, agreed in opinion with the noble Lord, the Secretary-at-War; and, if not, how he proposed that the office of Bailiff should be performed?
§ Lord John Russell
certainly thought that the officer in question could not be appointed under this Clause, but a Clause must be introduced for that purpose.
§ The Clause as amended to stand part of the Bill.
§ On the reading of the 43rd Clause, prohibiting the Treasurer from paying money but by order of Council, viz. "And be it enacted that the Treasurer of any borough shall pay no money on account of the Mayor and Burgesses of such borough, save only upon the order in writing of the Council, signed by three or more Councillors, and countersigned by the Town-Clerk of such borough."
§ The Attorney-General
said, there was this objection to the Amendment, that it would often happen an order would be made by the Council in substance, which could not be signed till it was drawn up in form. That form might require consideration, and it would be found exceedingly inconvenient for Councillors to wait till the minutes were put into form for them to sign, or might lead to the practice (as we understood the learned Gentleman) of a blank paper being given them to sign, which the Town Clerk would afterwards fill up. Orders being to be signed by three Councilmen, as well as by the Town Clerk, precluded the idea of danger.
begged to remind the hon. Member for Boston that the Town Clerk, treasurer, and other officers had to give security, and that no money could be paid except upon an order made by the Council, which would make the responsible officers take care that the order was in proper form.
The Committee divided on the Amendment: Ayes 65; Noes 106; Majority against the Amendment 41.
§ On the Question that Clause 50, ("The questions brought before the Council shall be decided by a majority of Councillors present, and that one-third part of the 207 whole number be a quorum,") should stand part of the Bill,
§ Mr. Hughes Hughes
rose to propose an Amendment, namely, that two-third, parts, Instead of one-third part of the number of the whole Council shall constitute a quorum. He had, on more than one occasion, had to advert to the fact, that of the present Corporation of Oxford, consisting of ninety members, forty must be present whenever a vote of money was passed. Considerable jealousy was naturally felt, that eleven, being one-third of the proposed new Council, should be able to perform all the functions, which less than forty of the present Corporation could not execute. If, under the existing system no difficulty had been felt in obtaining the attendance of forty members, surely under the new system of popular and frequent elections, none would be experienced in requiring the attendance of twenty-two members; and as no property qualification was to be required from the new Councillors, and they would have all the Corporation Funds in their power, he thought that the security should be given which was implied in his Amendment. The hon. Member moved an Amendment to the effect stated.
§ Lord John Russell
thought that the adoption of this Amendment might be productive of inconvenience in this way,—that when the business to be transacted in the Council consisted of mere matters of course, it would be difficult to obtain the attendance of two-thirds of the Councillors. On the other hand, it was not at all probable that any abuse would arise under the Clause as it stood, because there could be little doubt, that when any business of importance was to be transacted, there would be a full attendance of members.
§ Mr. Estcourt
said, that the observations of the noble Lord had not convinced him of the inexpediency of adopting the Amendment. At present, when the Corporations were not under the influence of popular control, no difficulty was found in obtaining the attendance of members to transact business, and he was surprised that the noble Lord should anticipate that a difficulty would arise after the passing of the Bill.
§ Mr. Hughes Hughes
With the understanding that the noble Lord would in another stage of the Bill, introduce words into this Clause, to the effect that no busi- 208 ness not mentioned in the summons should be transacted at any meeting of the Town Council, he was ready to withdraw his Amendment, his only object being the proper transaction of the business, and especially the protection of the funds of the Corporation.
§ Amendment withdrawn—Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 51st also agreed to.
§ The 52nd Clause—"Ale-house licences to be granted by the Town Council," being put—
§ Sir James Graham
rose to move the Amendment on the Clause, of which he had given notice. He spoke to the following effect:—Mr. Bernal, Sir, as I understand, in the Clause now under discussion, the 52nd, it is proposed that the Councils shall have the power of granting licences to ale-houses, only in cases in which a separate jurisdiction shall be granted to the borough. This anomaly appears, to me, inexplicable. My objection certainly would not have been diminished if I could have understood the reason. As the Clause now stands, I not only object to the principle, but to the arrangement, which is such as I cannot understand. Where there is a separate jurisdiction given, following the analogy of all arrangements respecting ale-houses, one would have said, that the local jurisdiction should have exercised the power of licensing ale-houses: where there was no longer the jurisdiction, there, I could have understood it would have been expedient, if you were unwilling to grant this power to the County Magistrates, to give it to the Council. But however, by this Clause, where you have the opportunity, you have not intrusted these judicial functions, but delegate them to the Council exercising no other judicial functions but this one: where you have not the opportunity, (and where I could have understood the intrusting this power to the Council,) there you delegate them to the magistrates. How extremely anomalous this will be. I take the case of Guildford, in the second division of Schedule A, which will have a Council of only eighteen, an even number (to which it is intended to give a separate jurisdiction,)—the Council will grant licences to alehouses; and I take the city of Huntingdon, a county town, having a larger number of Councillors than Guildford, or twenty-one. It is not proposed to give a separate jurisdiction to the city of Huntingdon; and, whereas the eighteen Councillors of Guildford will grant licences, 209 in Huntingdon, with twenty-one Councillors, the licences will be granted by the Magistrates. This anomaly remains to me inexplicable, but does not affect the principle to which I mainly object. The noble Lord (the Secretary at War) I think stated upon a former occasion, that the great object of this Bill was, that the judicial and magisterial functions should not be mixed up with party politics; I admit that principle most distinctly; but I contend that this course pursued with respect to ale-houses is a direct violation of that principle. For the question then arises, what is the character of the functions of licensing ale-houses? I say, that, according to the whole analogy of our policy, it is judicial; it is magisterial. Will the noble Lord deny that? He will hardly do that, when he reflects to whom these powers are intrusted all over England—to the County Magistrates. Your second anomaly arises thus: that, whereas the principle of this Bill is declared to be the separation of the judicial and magisterial functions from all political power, the plain violation of that principle is to be found, that in a body decidedly political, viz. the Town Council in large cities, there and there only is to be vested the usually magisterial functions of licensing ale-houses. And now again, I would call to the attention of the House that throughout the English counties the justices to whom this power is intrusted (whether rightly or wrongly, I will not stop to argue,)—the justices of the English counties a certain qualification is required, and to a considerable extent,—no less than 100l. a-year of real estate. Now we have already decided in the progress of this Bill, that no qualification whatever shall be demanded of the Town Council; therefore, in all the counties of England where, though you require the justices to whom those powers are intrusted to have a qualification, and a very considerable one, (with respect only to the police,) as the power of licensing so refused, will not lead to such fatal consequences as in large towns—in these cities, where the duties are more important, you require no qualification at all. Then we come to the question of disqualification. In the Bill brought in by the hon. Member for Oxford there was this disqualification most studiously and properly inserted:—"No brewer, no person who sells exciseable liquor, no maltster, no one interested in an ale-house collectively or individually, by birth or by marriage, shall be intrusted 210 with the power of licensing." Now the same disqualification is retained here, I admit; but then you must consider the different situation of the parties; and I think that where among the Justices of the county you would find one person to whom this disqualification attaches, you will have five or ten in the Council. You disqualify the brewer,—but the brewer in those towns will have friends who will be quite able to job for him. You disqualify the maltster,—but he also will have his friend in the Council; and I am quite satisfied that where you find out one case of such an individual in the County Magistrates, you would, directly or indirectly, find ten cases at least in the Town Council. But now, Sir, I will just point out another inconsistency, and, as it appears to me, very important one, in the formation of this part of the measure. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir J. C. Hobhouse) contended it was right that the people should have some choice in the selection of their magistrates. Now, Sir, I do not wish to raise this great constitutional question; but I should say it is altogether a novelty; for, in this country, and under the form of government in which we live, the Crown is the fountain of justice, the great conservator of the Peace. All the authority connected with the preservation of the peace is derived from the Crown: if the peace is broken, it is the King's peace that is broken. If any person is called upon to preserve the peace, he is called upon in the King's name; and if he is indicted for breaking the peace, he is indicted because he has violated the peace against the Crown. The whole principle, therefore, in the conservation of the peace rests upon the admission that, in this country the preservation of the peace is delegated by the Crown, and is derived from the Crown. It may be contended that in the ancient cities there were elective magistrates. But then, be it remembered, that this was under Charters of Incorporation granted by the Crown. But, even, suppose I concede that there should be this electing power to choose the Magistrates in the people, as the Councils are under the 82nd Clause, where you give the power to the ratepayers of the boroughs to point out to the Crown certain persons to whom authority should be given, and his Majesty grants the Commission of the Peace to whom he thinks fit. Then, in the 85th Clause, you deprive them of the power of granting licences; that is in direct violation of the 211 law as it now stands in regard to ale-house licences—which are placed under the judicial authority of the Magistrates in the county, and for what reason? They are immediately connected with the police and the Government; and upon the same principle that the preservation of the peace is intrusted to the magistrates, I hold their authority should he secured over the particular subject which is so connected with the preservation of the peace, and is placed under the control of the Magistrates. Now we have some experience, too, upon this point. The Magistrates, so holding their authority from the Crown, and exercising their powers in such a case, have given entire satisfaction—[No, No!]—Is that denied?—I have never heard it denied.—I do not know whether my hon. Friend, the Member for Sheffield, is here, but I see the hon. Member for Leeds in his place, and I would appeal with confidence to him, whether that population of 90,000 inhabitants living in Sheffield, who have no local judicature whatever, are not entirely satisfied with the manner in which the magistrates of the county, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, exercising their magisterial authority in that city, have performed their duties? I also see, and appeal with the same confidence, to the hon. Member for Manchester, and the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade. In that town there are four stipendiary magistrates—[Mr. Potter: "One."] Well, the Magistrates of the County Palatine of Lancaster exercise their jurisdiction in that city, hold quarter sessions for the county, and act at the petty sessions; and I have never heard any complaints of the manner in which they perform their duties. I appeal to these instances—great and striking instances—of the manner in which the judicial authority is exercised by the County Magistrates. I take the converse of the proposition. In the Report of the Commissioners there is the case of the electing magistrates in Caernarvon, in which the Mayor is elected by the burgesses; and the Sheriffs of the county, being to a great extent, I will admit, a close election—to a certain extent; for it is not of that character which elects any man. There is the greatest jealousy of all the judicial functions performed by the Mayor, who is so elected—there is the greatest possible jealousy of the Sheriffs, who are so elected—but there is the greatest possible confidence in justice when administered by the Recorder of that city, who is appointed by the Crown. I 212 do not know whether it is necessary for me to occupy the Committee any further, in thus opening the view I am disposed to take of this Question. The proposition with which I shall conclude is not exactly identified with the notice which I gave. I am disposed to repeat the proposition which I made in 1828, when my hon. Friend, the Member for Oxford, introduced his Bill with respect to licences—in the 7th Clause of that Bill—inserted in cases of concurrent jurisdiction given to the county magistrates. It provided, that in all cases in which the Magistrates having exclusive jurisdiction should not be disqualified, that in such cases the County Magistrates shall exercise concurrent jurisdiction. On that occasion I made a Motion, in Committee, on that Bill, to extend this. Upon the present occasion the Motion with which I shall conclude is, that all the words after the word "that," be omitted, and I shall announce my intention to omit the three subsequent Clauses 53, 54, 55, (containing the machinery for ale-house licensing in the boroughs), for the purpose of inserting these words:—"That in every borough to which a separate commission of the peace shall be granted, the justices of the peace for the county in which such borough is situated, shall after the 1st day of May, 1836", exercise in all cases concurrent jurisdiction with the local magistrates of such boroughs; and in that every borough where there were no local magistrates, the justices of the peace for the county of the town, or of the county in which such borough shall be situated, shall, on the 1st day of May, in the year 1836, exercise all the powers, authority, and jurisdiction which by law they are entitled to exercise in the body of their respective counties; Provided always that nothing herein contained shall give or be construed to give to the county magistrates any power, or concurrent power with the local magistrates in the levying or appropriation of the borough funds."
§ Lord Howick
said, it appeared to him that his right hon. Friend, the Member for Cumberland did not properly perceive the view upon which his Majesty's Government had devolved the power of granting licences to the Town Councils. The difference between the views of his right hon. Friend and those of the Government was this, that while he contended that the power of licensing was a judicial function, he (Lord Howick) contended that it was a power which had no relation whatever with the judicial functions of the magistracy. The 213 right hon. Baronet said, that the Crown was the fountain of all authority, and the chief conservator of the peace, and that all the authority of the Magistrates was therefore derived from the Crown. Now one of the greatest abuses of the present state of the Magistracy was, that it not only was without responsibility to the Crown, but was beyond the control of the people. The Government thought that the Magistrates ought in the first place to be chosen upon the recommendation of the people, but should derive their power from the Crown. It was upon that principle—a principle which he conceived to be perfectly in accordance with the principles of the constitution—that they had introduced this provision. If the distribution of ale-house licences were left in the hands of the Magistrates, it might be made the vehicle of great political power, which would probably be exercised for political purposes. The power was certainly an invidious function, but it was necessary that it should be placed in some hands or other, and they thought it most important that the hands in which it was placed should not be those of the Magistrates who had the administration of criminal justice. They thought, in short, that the administration of criminal justice and political power should be kept as far separate as possible. And it was upon that account that they took the granting of ale-house licences out of the hands of the justices. He admitted that the contrary had been the late practice, by the statute law, hut he contended that it was not so by the principles of the constitution. It was only subsequent to the Revolution that the power of licensing was first given to the Magistrates. His firm belief was, that it would be of less mischief to the people themselves, if the power of licensing were not united with the administration of justice.
§ Mr. Baines
said, that having been appealed to by the right hon. Baronet as to the practice at Leeds, he could state that at Leeds, the County Magistrates had no concurrent jurisdiction with the Magistrates of the borough. As a proof that the power of granting licences was used by the Magistrates for party purposes, he might mention that while a large proportion of the population of Sheffield was in favour of the liberal candidates at the late election, the publicans were as two to one against them.
said, that the licensing was a part of our system of police, and as the police was put under the control of the Town Council, he could see no reason why the 214 power of licensing should not be put under the same jurisdiction.
§ Mr. Mark Philips
said, that he thought placing this power in the hands of the Council would be much better than allowing it to remain with the Magistrates. The local knowledge of the Council of the temper and wants of the inhabitants would qualify them better for the distribution of the licences than the Magistrates could be.
§ Mr. Estcourt
could not consent to give this power to a half sort of magisterial body of persons. He wanted to know what the objection was to the present system exercised by the Magistrates. Perhaps he should be told that the Magistrates made a jobbing and partial business of it. If the noble Lord could prove any such practices on the part of the Magistrates, he would be the last to raise or support an objection to the removal of the power from the Magistrates, but no such attempt had been made. He admitted it was a most invidious duty to perform, but take by far the greater proportion of the cases in which licenses had been granted, and he was perfectly confident it would be found and admitted on all hands that they had been fairly, reasonably, and properly granted. The noble Lord not only now proposed to take it out of the hands of the Magistrates, and to place it in the hands of six other persons, but he proposed to leave it in the hands of a Committee of two of those very impartial persons—a duty which the Magistrates were not to be supposed competent or impartial enough to discharge. It would appear that those persons on whom such an office was to be made to devolve must be persons of a very superior grade and degree of intellectual power to that of the Magistrates of the present day. He was not aware that any persons who could be elected as a Council could be of superior ability or respectability to the Magistrates. If the Magistrates were accused of partiality they could be removed from their office; and as the law now stood, there was much less reason to suppose there would be any greater connexion between the present powers that distributed the licences and the lower grades than there would be between that class of persons and the Council. He would submit to the noble Lord whether he was warranted in making this alteration without bringing forward some cause of delinquency on the part of the Magistrates. In the great majority of cases licences had been granted most impartially and with very great discretion. He was sure that in large 215 towns there was nothing like a general complaint against the system of granting licences. On the contrary, if the granting of the licences was put into the hands of the council, there would be constant applications made to them for that which would be considered a patronage and which would become a downright system of party feeling. Those who would have to administer the duty hereafter would not be so nice in their discriminations as those who did it now. The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman would be a very judicious one for the noble Lord to adopt, and which he hoped the House would carry.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
said, that in putting this power into the hands of the Council, the House would be investing a body of persons with that power who would be disposed to encourage the existence of Tom and Jerry shops; and in taking it from the Magistrates, they would be unnecessarily and unjustly impeaching the respectability of those gentlemen.
§ Major Cumming Bruce
was clearly of opinion that there ought, at any rate, a concurrent jurisdiction to be given to the county Magistrates and to whom an appeal might lie.
§ Lord Sandon
said, it was very well known that there was no body of persons who exercised a greater influence at elections than publicans; therefore, the placing of this power in the hands of the Council would be clothing them with a very great political influence. It would be just the thing to lead to a corrupt system. The Magistrates were the best persons to have the power, of granting licences, but if it was to be removed from them, the Town Council were the very last persons to whom it ought to be transferred. The Town Council would have to grant the licences to the very individuals whom they would have to look to for their re-election to office; and they would both grant and take away licences for the very purpose of securing interest for their re-election. All persons might be supposed liable to abuse the power, but certainly the Magistrates were the least likely to lend themselves to malpractices.
§ Mr. Hughes Hughes
said, that during the four Parliaments he had had a seat in that House he had never heard a single complaint brought against the Magistracy for the manner in which they had discharged this duty. It was to be remembered that in conjunction with them there was the Recorder, who had also to exercise 216 a judgment and control, which was no unimportant security against corruption. He would be the last to object to a concurrent jurisdiction in the Town Council, but he for one should certainly object to giving up all the power of licensing all the publicans Oxford into the hands of the Town Council. He considered the proposition of the right hon. Baronet much less objectionable than the original Clause therefore he hoped the House would feel disposed to carry it.
§ Sir James Graham
, in reply to observations made by the noble Lord (Howick), quoted the words of the statute passed in the year 1552, in the reign of Edward 6th, by which all the ale-houses in the realm were placed under the jurisdiction of the Magistracy. He was more anxious to appeal to practical experience, according to which the power of licensing had never been abused, than to any of the fanciful theories resorted to by the Government for placing it in hands with which it had never yet been intrusted; and, judging from the character of the county Magistrates on the one hand, and the Town Councilmen on the other, he did think that the power of granting ale-house licences would be placed with much greater safety in the hands of the former than in those of the latter.
§ The Committee divided on the Amendment.
§ Ayes 166; Noes 211; Majority 45.
§ Clause agreed to. As was Clause 54.
|List of the NOES.|
|Adam, Admiral||Browne, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Buller, Charles|
|Ainsworth, Peter||Barton, H.|
|Alston, Rowland||Butler, Hon. P.|
|Angerstein, John||Byng, George|
|Attwood, T.||Callaghan, D.|
|Bagshaw, John||Campbell, Sir John|
|Bainbridge E. T.||Campbell, W. F|
|Baines, Edward||Cavendish, Hon. C.|
|Baldwin, Dr.||Cayley, E. S.|
|Baring, F. T.||Chalmers, Patrick|
|Barnard, E. G.||Chichester, J. P. B.|
|Barry, G. S.||Clive, E. B.|
|Beauclerk, Major||Cockerell, Sir C.|
|Benett, John||Codrington, Sir E.|
|Bewes, Thomas||Collier, John|
|Bish, Thomas||Cookes, T. H.|
|Blake, M. J.||Crawford, Sharman|
|Blackburn, J.||Crompton, Samuel|
|Blamire, William||Curties, H. B.|
|Blunt, Sir Charles||Denistoun, Alex.|
|Bowes, John||Dobbin, L.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Donkin, Sir R.|
|Bridgeman, H.||Dundas, Hon. T.|
|Brocklehurst, John||Dunlop, John|
|Brodie, W. B.||Dykes, F. L. B.|
|Brotherton, J.||Elphinstone, H.|
|Evans, G.||Musgrave, Sir R.|
|Ewart, W.||Nagle, Sir R.|
|Ferguson, Sir R.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Fergus, John||O'Connell, D.|
|Ferguson, R.||O'Connell, M.|
|Ferguson, Rt. Hon. C.||O'Connell, J.|
|French, Fitzstephen||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Fielden, John||O'Connell, Morgan|
|Fitzgibbon, Hon. R.||O'Ferrall, More|
|Fitzroy, Lord Charles||Ord, W. H.|
|Fitzsimon, R.||Oswald, James|
|Fleetwood, P. H.||Poulter, John S.|
|Folkes, Sir W.||Palmer, General|
|Fort, John||Parker, John|
|Gaskell, D.||Parnell, Sir Henry|
|Gordon, R.||Parrott, Jasper|
|Goring, H. D.||Pease, J.|
|Grattan, James||Pechell, Captain|
|Grey, Sir G.||Perrin, L.|
|Grote, G.||Philips, M.|
|Hume, J.||Pinney, W.|
|Howard, P. H.||Ponsonby, Hon. J.|
|Hall, B.||Potter, R.|
|Harland, W. C.||Power, J.|
|Hawes, B.||Poyntz, W. S.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Price, Sir Robert|
|Hay, Col. Leith||Raphael, Sheriff|
|Heathcoat, John||Ramsbottom, John|
|Heathcote, R. E.||Rice, Rt. Hon. T. S.|
|Hector, C. J.||Rippon, C.|
|Hindley, C.||Robarts, A. W.|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon.||Roche, W.|
|Sir John||Roche, D.|
|Hodges, T. J.||Rolfe, R. M.|
|Holland, E.||Ronayne, Dominick|
|Howard, Hon. E.||Rundle, John|
|Howick, Lord||Russell, Lord John|
|Hoy, Barlow||Russell, Lord|
|Hurst, R. H.||Russell, Lord Charles|
|Hutt, W.||Ruthven, E.|
|Jervis, J.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Kemp, T. R.||Scholefield, J.|
|Kerry, Earl of||Seale, Colonel|
|King, Bolton||Seymour, Lord|
|Labouchere, Henry||Sharpe, General|
|Leader, J. T.||Sheldon, E. R.|
|Lefevre, C. S.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Lennard, T. B.||Smith, Vernon|
|Lister, E. C.||Smith, B.|
|Loch, James||Speirs, A. G.|
|Locke, W.||Spry, Sir Samuel|
|Lushington, Dr.||Steuart, R.|
|Lushington, Charles||Stuart, Lord C.|
|Lynch, A. H.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|M'Leod, R.||Strutt, E.|
|Maher, John||Sullivan, Richard|
|Mangles, James||Talbot, J. H.|
|Marjoribanks, S.||Talfourd, T. N.|
|Marshall, W.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Marsland, Henry||Thompson, P. B.|
|Maule, Hon. Fox||Thomson, Right Hon.|
|Maxwell, John||C. P.|
|M'Cance, John||Thompson, Colonel|
|M'Taggart, John||Thornely, T.|
|Milton, Lord||Tooke, W.|
|Morpeth Lord||Tracy, C. H.|
|Morrison, James||Trelawney, Sir W.|
|Troubridge, Sir T.||Wilbraham, G.|
|Tulk, C. A.||Wilks, J.|
|Turner, W.||Williams, Sir James|
|Tynte, C. J. K.||Williams, W. A.|
|Vigors, N. A.||Williams, W.|
|Villiers, C. P.||Wilson, Henry|
|Vivian, J. G.||Winnington, Sir T.|
|Wakley, T.||Winnington, Capt.|
|Walker, R.||Wood, Charles|
|Walker, C. A.||Wood, Alderman|
|Wallace, R.||Wrightson, W. B|
|Walter, John||Wrottesley, Sir John|
|Warburton, H.||Wyse, T.|
|Wigney, J. N.||Stanley, E. J.|
§ House resumed, Committee to sit again.