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the action, which was brought in the his being the author, and there is intrinsic name of the bankrupt; he therefore, wished evidence in the style of the work which the hon. and learned Gentleman (the So- convinces me that he has written it. No, licitor General) would inform him, whether my noble and learned friend does not take the fiat would enable the assignees to trans- that mode of making his opinions known; fer due authority to the party in the colo- but, being a member of the House he comes nies, for suing, not in their own names, down and states them openly and candidly but in that of the bankrupt, and whether before your Lordships; and certainly í they gave the fiat the effect of the assign- must say, that nothing can be more courtment.

eous and considerate than the tone in The Solicitor General said, the same law which his objections are always urged. that existed in the colonies would continue. The venerable author of the pamphlet, The Bill before them made no alterations not having it in his power to state his senin it, and the fiat would stand in the place timents on the Bankruptcy Court in the of the assignment.

House, has been obliged to take auother The Clause was agreed to, as was the mode of communicating them to the pubregistration Clause. House resumed. lic and to me; but my noble and learned

friend always states what he thinks here,

and not elsewhere, and, of course, anyHOUSE OF LORDS,

thing which I said on Saturday in allusion Monday, October 17, 1831.

to the publication of another could not EXPLANATON-BANKRUPTCY Court possibly apply to him. Bill.] The Duke of Cumberland, seeing The Duke of Cumberland said, the exa noble and learned Lord on the Wool- planation given by the noble and learned sack, begged leave to make an inquiry Lord was quite satisfactory. from him in behalf of a noble and learned friend (the Earl of Eldon), who was not THE SELECT VESTRIES BILL.] The able to attend the House to-day, and the Order of the Day having been read, the question he wished to put was to this House went into Committee on the Select effect—whether the allusion made on Vestries Bill. Saturday, by the poble and learned Lord Viscount Melbourne stated, that the Bill on the Woolsack, relating to the author of which had received the approbation of the a recent pamphlet on the Bankruptcy Act, other House, and was now under the conwas intended to apply to his noble and sideration of their Lordships, had the twolearned friend or not? As all sorts of fold object of correcting the evils which calumnies were current at the present mo- arose from large and tumultuous assemment, his noble friend felt a little sor at blages taking place under the name of its being supposed that those remarks open vestries, and of putting an end to were directed against him; but he was the system of close vestries, by which the sure that a brief explanation would be affairs and property of a parish were disquite sufficient to satisfy his feelings. posed of by a few persons, who re-elected

The Lord Chancellor: I have much each other, or added only those whom pleasure in pointing out to the illustrious they pleased to their numbers, without Duke, that, in the few observations I the consent or control of the great bulk of made on Saturday, I could not have al- the inhabitants. Complaints against both luded to the noble and learned Lord in systems had been received by both Houses whose behalf he has now applied, because of Parliament, and he had, on the one the description I gave of the supposed hand, a petition from Mile-end complainauthor did not at all apply, and although ing of the ill consequences resulting from I said the author of the publication was the open vestry; while, on the other hand, the father of the English Bar, I also said the petitions against the select system that he was the father of Law Reform, were as numerous as the opponents to it and certainly none of your Lordships, nor could desire. even the noble and learned Lord himself, Lord Wynford said, if that was the case could imagine that I would state any such the Bill must be altered from beginning to thing of him. I did not mention the ve- end, as there was no provision in it for nerable and learned person's name (Mr. any thing but a close vestry. In his Bentham) because his name did not appear opinion the Bill would give rise to litigain the pamphlet; but there is no doubt of tion from one end of the kingdom to the

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other. He would, therefore, move any of the closeness of the select vestry on the amendment to the second clause, to the other, the present Bill had been projected, effect that nothing in the Act should ex- and it was intended to be made available tend to parishes where the inhabitants as- in all parishes where the bulk of the insembled in open vestry at present.

habitants were in favour of its adoption. Amendment negatived without a di- The fundamental clause was that which vision.

was called the adoptive clause, and by it The clause having been read regulating the benefits of the Bill might be extendable the mode by which parishes are to adopt to every parish by the wish of the inhabitor reject the Bill-the Bill providing that ants. By the Bill, however, as it came it must be done by a majority of two-thirds from the Select Committee, the power of of ratee-payers,

adopting the measure was not conferred on The Lord Chancellor said, that since the rate-payers of a parish assembled at any the Bill and the amendments proposed on given meeting, convened by public notice, Saturday had been printed, he had given but by an absolute majority which should them his best consideration, and the more constitute two-thirds of the rate-payers of he looked at the measure, the more im- the whole parish. The amendment, howportant he found it, as it was one which ever, of his noble friend, proposed that the proposed a great alteration in the munici- measure could only be adopted by a mapal law of the country, which would be at-jority of the rate-payers present and vottended with the most beneficial or the worst ing at some public meeting. In the former effect in those parishes where it was intro- case, though the great majority of the induced, according to the manner in which habitants might be in favour of the Bill, it it was regulated. It came home to the would be in the power of a few persons to bosom of every family, and, therefore, it preventits being adopted. It could not take deserved the serious consideration of their place unless the majority of the whole Lordships. The object of the Bill, as his rate-payers, whether absent or present, noble friend had explained, was to limit concurred. To show the inconvenience of the confusion which arose from tumul- that course, he had only to suppose that tuons meetings when the inhabitants of a a case should occur where, unless the ma. parisb met in what was called an open jority was double the minority, it was utvestry, and when, however well sustained terly' impossible that the whole of the ratethe discussion on the affairs of the parish payers of the parish could possess themmight be, it was impossible that the busi-selves of the advantages conferred by the ness of the parish could be conducted with Bill. Suppose a parish consisted of 300 any thing like precision and regularity. persons, it required 200 to concur in It was ridiculous to think of every matter favour of the Bill, and not even a majority being left to the disposition of a crowd of of 180 or 190 would be sufficient. "That perhaps 10,000 persons; and certainly it was not all; for, though a meeting might must be admitted, on all sides, that no be assembled with ample notices, yet the worse species of law-making could prevail. absence of a certain portion of rate-payers The only principle which, therefore, could was sufficient to prevent that meeting be introduced was that of delegation, a adopting the Bill. It was of no consequence certain number of persons being appointed that the meeting had discussed the advanby the free consent of the rest to act as tages and disadvantages of the Bill; it was their representatives. This principle ap- of no consequence that the majority bad plied as well to the affairs of a parish as made up their minds in favour of it, after to those of a kingdom, and, therefore, it exchanging opinions with each other, and formed the basis of the present Bill. The being persuaded of the benefit that must other great mischief which the Bill sought accompany it, because there were so many to put an end to was fully as pernicious absentee rate-payers who never heard one the other way as these tumultuous meet- word of the discussion, and who were too ings; and, from his own professional ex- idle to attend. Suppose, therefore, that perience, he could vouch that the system one-third of the parish, containing 300 of self-elected vestries was one of the persons, stayed away-one-third plus one. worst that could be acted upon for the ad- But of 300, 101 were absent—why their ministration of the affairs of a parish. staying away neutralized the votes of 199 With the view of getting rid of the violence respectable persons in the parish, which of an open meeting on the one hand, and I had attended the meeting, and made up

their minds in consequence of what they effect than that of crippling and impeding heard there. It was even still more the natural progress of the Bill. The ababsurd than the way he first put it, for the surdity of it would at once be seen if the 101 who stayed away might not be against House made the case its own; and, though the Bill, but in favour of it; but if they the clerk at the table would perform his would not take the trouble to attend, they duty carefully and correctly, and declare outweighed the force of those who did. those who were entitled to vote and those The absurdity of all this was self-evident, who voted by proxy, it would not be very and surely their Lordships would never pleasant to find, that every solemn depass a Bill where the persons absent neu- cision of the House was neutralized by a tralized the acts of a meeting which they minority who would not attend, and who had it in their power to attend, and by would not even take the trouble to send which an idle minority prevailed against their proxies against any measures. His an active and substantial majority. The noble friend proposed to get rid of all whole clause was full of objections. It these inconveniences by a very simple proposed that the church wardens should amendment, by which the adoption of the calculate the number of the rate-payers Bill was to be determined by a majority of in the parish, and decide whether the the rate-payers present, and voting at a majority of them required by the Bill con- meeting convened by general notice to all sented or not. Now he had never had the parties concerned. But against that it the honour to serve the office of church- was said, that the parish might not assemwarden—and, therefore, did not know ble in sufficient numbers, and that the few how the duties of it were accom- who did assemble could have the power of plished; but he could not possibly see in acting as they pleased. Now, in his opiwhat manner this calculation could be nion, the probability was, that the bulk of made out. It seemed to him to be one of the parishioners would attend the first the most difficult tasks that could ever be great meeting at which the adoption of devolved to mortal church wardens. How the Bill was to be determined, and there was it possible for that officer to know if a was no reason to think that the opponents majority of rate-payers consented or not? of it would be absent, as he ever found How was he to know who was abroad, that the opposers of any measure (he who was at his country-house-who was begged pardon of the noble Lords at the out of the way? The church warden was other side of the House) were always obliged to declare if the Bill had been the most zealous in their attendance. In adopted by two-thirds of the rate-payers; the parish of St. Pancras there were but it was out of his power and ingenuity 14,000 rate-payers; before the time of to determine the point-first, because se- Mr. Sturges Bourne's Act, there were veral rate-payers might be absent whose 10,000; and it was probable that if a Vesopinion could not be taken; and secondly, try Meeting was called, it would be attendbecause a minority not attending the meet- ed by 1,000 or 2,000 persons. Now, if on ing controlled the majority that did. The any given day the adoption clause were to question had often been raised, whether it be then mooted, there would be at least was fit that votes should be given by proxy 2,000 rate-payers collected, and if, after in any case; and now, as they were in a discussion of the merits or demerits of Committee, where proxies could not be the Bill, the adoption of it was carried by given, he would say a few words, which a majority, it was natural to suppose that must not be construed into anything dis- that majority represented the feelings of respectful to the House. But in the House the parish at large. But all that the the proxy gave a positive declaration either 2,000 could do would be useless while for a measure or against it, but here the 8,000 remained at home, and did not proxy was of a negative nature; and the choose to vote at all, or take any part in person not present actually voted by his the proceedings. But suppose

there were absence against those who were. They even 6,000 present, that would not do; had all heard of silence giving consent, and unless there were 7,000, which were but it was the first time that an Act of the two-thirds of 10,000, and unless they Parliament provided that silence gave dis- were all in favour of the Bill, it could sent, and he could not understand for not be adopted in the parish of St. Panwhat purpose such a provision was intro- cras. It was fit after stating these objectduced, which could not have a better lions to the Bill, that he should say that he had no immediate interest in it. He that, in one respect, there was the slightlooked upon it as a public measure, of est difference between them; and, in the great importance to every city and parish instance to which he alluded, he would in the kingdom ; but he felt, after having maintain, that parishes would exercise an examined it, as was his duty to do, that he act of legislation precisely similar to that could not support the clause as framed by which was exercised by their Lordships. the Select Committee, unless it was when the present Bill was passed, its amended by the alterations of his noble adoption would be left optional with the friend.

various parishes in the kingdom. Now, The Earl of Delaware observed, that the the voting this Act to be the law in any clause to which the noble and learned parish would be an act of legislation in Lord on the Woolsack had so strongly ob- the strictest sense of the word. If such jected, had met with the general appro- an act was not a legislative one, he did bation of the ,

not know the distinction. The Earl of Haddington thought, that Lord Wynford was of opinion, that the the suggestion which he was about to Church wardens should calculate the numoffer very briefly to the House would ber of those that actually voted, and that reconcile the differences which existed two-thirds of them, under the regulation in the opinions of their Lordships upon proposed by the noble Earl (Haddington), the subject.

He would let the de- should carry the question. He also cision of the point be left to two-thirds thought, that there should be a scale of of the rate-payers present, if they formed votes, graduated according to the amount a majority of the whole. It was desirable of property assessed, and that, for every that the Bill should not be imposed upon 251. for which an individual was rated, a parish but by a majority of all the beyond the original assessment from which rate-payers. What he meant was this-- he derived his first vote, he should be ensuppose there were 399 rate-payers in a titled to an additional vote, limiting the parish, and that 300 of them should vote, number of votes to which any individual then what he meant was, that 200 or two-could thus become entitled, to six. thirds of the voters should settle the ques- Viscount Melbourne said, that as he tion. He hoped that he had made him was about to address the Committee on self clearly understood.

the Bill, he would include the proposition The Lord Chancellor observed, that the made by a noble Lord on Saturday, by Bill did not contemplate any public meet- which he proposed the rate-payers of each ing, but there could be no doubt, that the parish should possess votes according to question would substantially be decided by the sums they were respectively rated at such ineetings. He thought that there in the parish books. For instance, the was a great deal in the suggestion of the person who was assessed at 501. a-year noble Earl (Haddington), and that its had one vote; at 751. he had two; and so adoption would be an improvement to on for each 251. until it amounted to six the Bill.

votes, to more than which no one person The Earl of Falmouth thought, that was to be entitled. Now, he would at property, to a certain extent, should be once fairly state, that he could not apthe rule of voting. The majority, under prove of those new devices in elections, the present Bill, was left at two-thirds of and he considered that the plan of voting the rate-payers. That numerical majority according to property was liable to every might, in many parishes in the country, objection which had been raised against not comprise the one-lwentieth of the pro- the principles of Representation lately inperty in the parish. The noble and learned troduced by bis colleagues. The prin. Lord opposite had drawn an analogy be- ciple of voting according to property, and tween their Lordships' voting, and pa- not on population, was altogether new. rishes voting under the provisions of this He would not open the Reform question, Bill. Now, it did not appear to him, but he thought the principle of voting in that that analogy was at alla correct one, parishes might be regulated on the same nor did he perceive the least similarity basis as that introduced in the Bill to between the legislative proceedings of that which he alluded. According to the oriHouse, and the proceedings of parishes ginal basis of Representation, property under this Bill.

was not the standard; for instance, RutThe Lord Chancellor did not think I landshire sent as many Members as the

It was

largest county. In the county, freeholders He begged to remind the noble Viscount had the right to vote : in boroughs, the and the Committee, that on an important payer of scot and lot; and the idea of a measure, which had recently passed their graduated scale of voting at elections was Lordships House (he meant the Titheas new and unprecedented as any altera- composition Act), it was made necessary tion proposed by the Reform Bill. He that not only two-thirds of the persons thought that it was founded on an errone- concerned should concur before it could be ous principle, and that it would prove to adopted, but also two-thirds of the value. be most prejudicial in practice. It at- Lord Wynford suggested, that there tacked the principle on which the whole were three-fitihs required, both as to numfunctions of Government stood. That the ber and value. majority should bind the minority was a The Earl of Falmouth was obliged to wise and just rule. If there be any thing the noble and learned Lord. in the foundation of Government which highly necessary that there should be a gave stability to human affairs, it was this considerable majority of parishioners to principle. But the proposition now ad- make any considerable change in parish vanced set forth a different order of things, I proceedings. Persons connected with and it would establish the power of the parish affairs knew well, that there was minority over the majority; and ten per- a great deal of trickery and jobbing; sons possessed of six votes each would and he thought that, before such a measure outnumber fifty-nine who had only one as this was received, a large majority, as qualification each. Was there ever such respected both the property and numbers a receipt for discontent drawn up as this ? in the parish, ought to be required. Was there ever a proposition more preg- Viscount Melbourne, in explanation, nant with quarrels and confusion? But, said that what he meant with respect in fact, the principle was not fully sus- to the adoption of the principle was, that tained, for there inight be persons among it was comparatively of modern origin. the fifty-nine of greater property than the Lord Wynford said, that the principle ten who had outvoted them. A trades- had been known and recognized for a long man might have very large and showy time. It was applied to the case of the premises, and be highly assessed, but still Bank of England, and to the East-India his circumstances might not be flourishing, Company. The right of voting had simply and he might be actually working at a in those instances a reference to property. loss; while another tradesman, who had There ought, in his opinion, to be a graduretired after realizing a considerable for- ated scale by which the parishioners should tune, might live near him in a small have votes according to their property. If tenement, which would be rated consider the noble Viscount meant to reject the ably less than the other, yet, according to proposal for a graduated scale, he would the principle now suggested, the poor man divide the Committee on the clause. would outvote the rich man.

The prin

The Earl of Shaftesbury suggested, that ciple had never come under his consider the best way, he thought, would be, to ation before, but the objections to it were deter the division until the report was to palpable and decided. In his opinion, it be received. would produce discontent, and prevent Lord Wynford had no objection whatwhat was much to be desired in human ever to take that course. He thought, affairs-stability and certainty. He was that a person who was rated at 101. aperfectly convinced, that their Lordships year, and who might be a payer one week would counteract the object they had in and a receiver another, ought not to have view, if the principle contended for by the as much influence in parish matters as a noble Lords opposite were introduced into person who was rated at 1,0001. a-year. the Bill now before the Committee.

The Duke of Wellington said, that the The Earl of Falmouth said, the noble noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack Viscount was wrong if he imagined this bad spoken of parish meetings discussing was a new principle which it was desirable whether they would adopt the Bill or not. to have introduced into the Bill. The It was impossible for meetings consisting principle, in his opinion, ought to be of 2,000 or 3,000 persons to discuss any adopted : it would prevent great mischief, such matters. As he understood, the Bill which he was confident would arise should had been originated in consequence of the Bill pass into a law as it now stood. I certain parishes in the metropolis being

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