§ On Clause 20 (who shall execute the Act in districts which are not corporate towns) being put,
§ CAPTAIN PECHELL moved that the latter part of the clause be struck out, which referred to dividing these towns into wards. In many places where a large number of town commissioners were now elected, the matter was carried on without political excitement; but this would not be the case if they were divided into wards.
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH
was satisfied if they did not divide large towns into wards for the purpose of elections, it would be attended with very great inconvenience.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ CAPTAIN PECHELL
was sure the House was not aware of some of the clauses in the Town Commissioners Act which it was proposed to incorporate into this Bill. Under some of the clauses plurality of voting was allowed, such as was first adopted in Sturges Bourne's Act. By that system a person had a number of votes according to the amount of his rating. For instance, a man rated at less than 501. a year had one vote, while a person rated at 2501. a year had six votes. It was therefore pretty clear what the noble Lord meant when he proposed to insert the word owner in a previous clause. If a proviso was not inserted in the Health of Towns Bill, plurality of voting would be established in every case under this Bill, as it had been adopted under the Commissioners' Clauses Act. He trusted that he should have the assistance of the hon. Member for Finsbury in opposing this clause. He should propose an Amendment to the following effect:—In line 14, after 'electing,' insert the following, 'the said town commissioners, every ratepayer, shall have, and be entitled to give one vote, 1282 and no more, in respect of the property for which he is qualified to vote at such election, and that for the purpose of conducting the election.'
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH
did not dispute the importance of the principle alluded to. If, however, his hon. Friend would look into the subject, he would find that the principle of plurality of voting already existed in several Acts, such as the Parish Vestries Act, the Poor Law, and in the Act which passed this Session called the Commissioners' Clauses Act. It was only proposed to give the same right to property as it possessed under Acts relating to analogous subjects.
§ MR. J. STUART
thought great inconvenience would arise from endeavouring to incorporate into this Bill, which was for a limited purpose, the whole of the enactments of the Commissioners' Clauses Act, which was of general application. He confessed he did not understand this clause, for by the express words of it the whole of the Commissioners' Clauses Act was to be incorporated into it; but when he referred to the 112th Clause of that Act, he found that it was impossible that this could have been intended. He was anxious that a Sanitary Bill should pass, but it should be in such a shape as to furnish every reasonable prospect of its being successful in its operation.
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH
said, the whole question resolved itself into this. Were they prepared to have a bill of 300 clauses, or three bills, one of 112 clauses, another of 150 clauses, and another of 50 clauses? The question was, whether they should repeat in this Bill the enactments of the Commissioners' Clauses Bill, or take the simple mode of referring to the other Bill. This system was the basis of almost all their private legislation.
§ MR. WAKLEY
said, that the explanations had been so involved and intricate, that he could not understand the subject. It had been intimated that the present Government was not the first to introduce Acts of Parliament bodily into other Bills. He would recommend another kind of boast to the noble Lord—that this was the first Government to abandon such a practice. He would suggest, also, that for the future the task of drawing Acts of Parliament should be imposed not upon the legal profession, but upon laymen. He was speaking seriously; and he was satisfied the adoption of his suggestion would lead to much less confusion than now existed as to the meaning of Acts of Parliament. Before he 1283 sat down, he wished to make some observations as to what had fallen a few nights ago from the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Hudson). Dr. Laycock, of York, tad written a letter to him, which he would read to the House, respecting the sanitary condition of York, and also as to the language used by the right hon. Gentleman respecting Dr. Laycock's report. The letter was as follows:—
§ "York, July 4, 1847.
§ "Sir—I infer that you have been somewhat surprised at Mr. Hudson's wild statements respecting my report on the sanitary condition of York. The facts are very simple. The report was revised previously to publication by the Rev. W. V. Harcourt, Chairman of the Sanitary Committee (of which I was the Secretary, at the instance of Mr. Hudson), and eldest son of the Archbishop, and it was unanimously adopted by the Committee. No 'eminent medical men' have ventured, either publicly or privately (to myself), to impugn any one statement the report contains. Mr. Hudson's conduct is the more remarkable, as, on the 9th November, 1844, at the annual meeting of the City Council, before the annual thanks were moved to the outgoing Lord Mayor and sheriff of the city, he got up and moved 'a vote of thanks to Dr. Laycock for his able report on the sanitary condition of the city, and for his courtesy and kindness in presenting copies of that report to every member of the council. For this he conceived that gentleman was entitled to their gratitude, and all must agree that it was a most valuable document, although some had put a construction on it which the author had never intended. Dr. Laycock had been called on to report as to the state of the city with respect to drainage; and having communicated the fact that it was imperfectly supplied in that respect, he thought great public good would be accomplished by rousing attention to so important a subject.' This is a quotation from a report of the proceedings in one of the newspapers. Mr. Hudson has no knowledge of the sanitary condition of the city; he probably never visited a poor sick person in his life, unless it was at the earlier period of his career, when he was a Methodist exhorter and prayer-leader. For several years past I have visited the sick poor of York gratuitously, and without any regard to personal inconvenience. This has continually brought mo into the courts and alleys of the city, and the impression left on my mind is quite opposed to that which Mr. Hudson has expressed.—Believe me, Sir, yours faithfully, "T.LAYCOCK.
§ "T. Wakley, Esq., M.P."
§ He (Mr. Wakley) was not surprised at the strong opinion expressed by Dr. Laycock, who had paid the greatest attention to the subject, and who was naturally surprised at the denial of the statement of facts made by him.
§ MR. HUDSON
stated, that all he had said on a former occasion was, that Dr. Laycock had taken a very exaggerated view of the subject; and he believed the 1284 facts of the case, as stated in that gentleman's sanitary report on York, could not be borne out. Since he made the observations alluded to the other night, he had directed inquiry to be made into the subject; and he should be able in a short time to place a statement on the subject before the House. He thought Dr. Laycock might have spared some of the observations which that gentleman had made with regard to him, and to his not being acquainted with the condition of the inhabitants of alleys and lanes; because he had not been in the habit of visiting the sick. He must observe, that during the period of the cholera, when others were deterred by the fear of contagion, he devoted a considerable portion of his time to the purpose of visiting and relieving those who were afflicted. The hospital committee came to him, and asked him to aid them, and he was almost the only person who dared constantly to visit the hospital. He believed, also, that his fellow-citizens would give him full credit for attention and liberality to the poor, notwithstanding the insinuations contained in the letter. The remarks on him, which he thought should have been spared, were not very fair, coming as they did from a young man of some talent, but who did not fill so prominent a station as he might wish, nor had he much practice in the city of York. The facts of the case were strictly these:—Dr. Laycock came to him and said, that he had made a sanitary report on the state of the city of York, which he should feel obliged to him to notice, in the town-council; and if in addition he would propose a vote of thanks to him for having done so, it would be a very great advantage to him, as it would greatly assist him in obtaining some office under the Board of Health. No doubt Dr. Laycock was a very deserving person; but he had not been fortunate enough to secure that share of public patronage which he seemed to think he was entitled to. It was, however, rather unjust on the part of the Doctor to have made such statements as had emanated from him; for other medical men at York, of much greater practice than Dr. Laycock, had assured him that the state of that city was not such as had been described. He had lived in that city thirty-three years, and had visited, he believed, every hovel in it; and he was sure, if there was any man in existence who knew more of the city than another, it was himself. He had taken part in several contested elections for that place, had canvassed it sis times, and 1285 perhaps the House was not aware that every elector at York expected the candidate to call upon him. He (Mr. Hudson) had been round on several such occasions with the candidate to every resident voter. He did not know whether the hon. Member had ever visited York. [Mr. WAKLEY: Never.] If the hon. Member had, he might form an opinion for himself. As to the allusion made by the hon. Member to his having been a Methodist exhorter, he did not know whether the hon. Member for Finsbury thought that a disgrace or not; but he could say, that he never had had that honour. He believed the Methodists to be a body of persons who had done much public good, and should always be proud of any connexion he had had with them. He should only add, that he always took an interest, and performed his part in every measure that came within his sphere calculated to promote the welfare of his fellow-men. He supposed Dr. Laycock had written the letter to the hon. Member fancying that it would gratify the hon. Gentleman with the prospect of an opportunity of holding forth. However anxious the hon. Gentleman might be for such an opportunity, and however fond the hon. Gentleman was of talking of his medical skill, he did not pay much attention to the hon. Member's prognostics, nor mean to allow the hon. Member to exercise his functions on him. He had no favourable opinion of the hon. Member, cither as a medical man or a coroner; and he should endeavour to enjoy himself and make others happy around him, and not allow himself to be annoyed by the taunts of the hon. Member, on whose good opinion he did not set much value.
§ Further consideration of the Clause postponed.
§ House resumed. Committee to sit again.