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was the meaning of the Bill, then he for one would raise no further objection to it. The real question for consideration was not a question with regard to any particular newspaper, but a question of public convenience. If the House once interfered with the freedom of transmitting a newspaper, they would interfere with the daily enjoyment of large classes of the people, and he, therefore, trusted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was quite right in the understanding he had given that the transmission of newspapers would be as free as at present.
quer whether he was willing to consent to an extension of the period for retransmitting newspapers through the post? The ostensible object of the Bill was to extend the circulation of news, but if the limit at present proposed to the retransmission of newspapers were not extended, the circulation of news would be considerably curtailed.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER said, he was aware of the wish of the trade, and had promised to consider it, but could not pledge himself.
MR. CAYLEY thought that, after the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, his hon. Friend would act wisely in not pressing his clause. He wished, however, to ask the Chancellor of the Exche-tice would be done to the distiller in Ire
The several clauses were then considered, and agreed to seriatim.
CAPTAIN JONES said, that much injus
MR. MAGUIRE remarked, that the power of retransmission was no advantage to the newspaper proprietor, but was a great advantage to the public.
MR. NAPIER was not present when his hon. Friend brought forward his clause, but it occurred to him that it was a reasonable proposition, because otherwise an additional tax might be placed upon the circulation of advertisements, and it was of great importance to the community. generally that every facility should be given to the circulation of advertisements. As, however, the feelings of the House was in favour of the Bill as it now stood, he thought his hon. Friend would not feel inclined to press the clause.
Question put and negatived :—Amendment made; Bill passed.
MR. VANCE trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would consult the interests of the trade in allowing the Bill to come into operation on the 1st of October. House in Committee.
SPIRIT DUTIES (SCOTLAND AND IRELAND) BILL. Order for Committee read. MR. GROGAN said, he had put amendments of a serious nature on the paper, but he understood that there had been an arrangement entered into with the parties interested to pass another Bill to obviate certain grievances. When would it be introduced?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER said, it was in preparation.
MR. GROGAN, in consequence of the arrangement alluded to, withdrew his amendments. But he trusted the Bill would come into operation on the 1st of October, otherwise great injury would result to the trade.
land if the same amount of drawback were not allowed upon spirits already distilled from malt and now in bond, as was proposed to be allowed upon spirits hereafter distilled. He proposed, therefore, to insert in Schedule B the words "or bonded under the Exportation Act of the 17th and 18th Vict. chap. 27, and mashed on and after the 8th day of May, 1854."
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER suggested that if the hon. and gallant Member would withdraw his amendment for the present he would consider it in the interval before the third reading of the Bill.
On the motion of the CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER various clauses and amendments were introduced into the Bill.
House resumed; Bill reported as amended.
CUSTOMS DUTIES BILL. Bill, as amended, considered.
MR. BLACKBURN moved that, instead of a duty of 12s. 9d. per cwt. being levied upon yellow Muscovado and brown clayed sugar, or sugar rendered by any process equal in quality to yellow muscovado or brown clayed, and not equal to white clayed, for the year following the 5th day of April, which shall first happen after the end of twelve months, from the date of a definitive treaty of peace with Russia, the duty be fixed at 12s. 3d., and for subsequent years at 10s. instead of 10s. 6d., and that during the same period the duty upon brown Muscovado or any other sugar, not being equal in quality to yellow Muscovado or brown clayed sugar, be fixed at ls. 5§d. and 9s. 2d. respec
tively, instead of at 11s. 8d. and 9s. 6d. | penny stamp on bankers' cheques to all
Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 40,
cheques which were drawn within a dis-
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHE-posed duty. It was represented to him QUER said, that the scale had been esta- that the operation of the duty would be to blished in accordance with what had ap- discourage, to a great extent, the banking peared to him to be the express desire of trade, by preventing customers from drawthe House upon the second reading of the ing cheques of small amount; and he Bill. He still adhered to the opinion which learnt that the practice of making small he had then expressed, that it would have payments by cheque had increased of late been better for the House not to predeter- years, and that it had been found benemine the decision of the House before the ficial to traders, more especially to small period at which the proposed scale of traders, who were thus enabled to economise duties would come into operation should their payments and to keep their accounts have arrived. In framing the prospective in a more regular manner. He confessed scale of duties, he had endeavoured to that before he received the communications bring back the duties to the amount at to which he had referred, he was under which they stood before they were in the impression that the average amount creased in consequence of the war. The of the cheques drawn upon bankers was question before the House depended upon considerably above 5l., or even 107.; but a small consideration. One class of sugar from the evidence laid before him he could upon which the duty had been 10s. per not doubt that in London, particularly, the cwt. had, for certain reasons, been divided practice of drawing cheques for small sums into two classes, the duties upon which prevailed to a very great extent, and that were different, and in the two columns it was on the increase. It had been stated of duties which he had drawn up he pro- to him by gentlemen with whom he had posed that when the increased duties had an interview, that the number of should be reduced those two classes should cheques paid by the London and Westrespectively pay 9s. 6d, and 10s. 6d. per minster Bank, and the National Provincial cwt., instead of being amalgamated into Bank of England, not exceeding 101., was one class, paying a duty of 10s. 33 per cent of the whole. It could scarcely be doubted that the imposition of a penny stamp in the case of cheques of that description would operate as a discouragement, and it had therefore been suggested to him to exempt from the proposed duty cheques below 101. Now, if this sugges tion were adopted, a very complex state of the law would arise. With regard to the cheques drawn more than fifteen miles from the Bank, there would be a stamp
MR. HANKEY said, it was agreed last year that the whole of these duties should be laid down at a minimum price; and the late Chancellor of the Exchequer feeling, when he increased these duties 20 per cent, that an injustice would be done to a certain description of sugar, he created another class with a reduced duty. All the West India interest was to be put on the same footing as the East India interest, and he (Mr. Hankey) was sur-duty of a penny, whatever might be their prised to hear the right hon. Gentleman amount. On the other hand, with regard regret that he had assented to this ar- to cheques drawn within that distance, rangement. there would be a double class; there would be cheques above 107. with a stamp, and cheques below that sum without one; and this distinction would create great inconvenience, and would be sure to raise the question, whether cheques ought to be subject to a stamp at all. Moreover, a difference with respect to amount would open an easy means of evasion, and persons who were influenced by a desire to save even the small sum of a penny on a cheque might draw several cheques under
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
STAMP DUTIES (DRAFTS ON BANKERS)
Order for Second Reading read. THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER said, the House might recollect that he stated, on a former occasion, that he should submit to their consideration a proposal for extending the present
10%. in order to evade the duty. thought the House would agree with him that in imposing new charges on the public, it was most important to avoid, if possible, doing anything which would interfere with the operations of trade, or in any way check the production of wealth. Having given the best consideration in his power to the facts and arguments which had been presented to his mind with respect to the probable operation of this small stamp duty on cheques-looking to the present state of the finances, and to the fact that in estimating the Ways and Means to meet the expenditure of the next year, he deemed it prudent to leave a sufficient margin for contingencies, he had come to the conclusion that for the pre sent, at least, it was not desirable that he should persist in his proposition. He had estimated the amount to be derived from the new duty at 200,000l. There were very different opinions on that subject. On the one hand he had been told that his estimate was greatly under the truth, and that the duty would produce 600,000l. or 700,000l. Gentlemen who took that view of course did not concur in the opinion that it would discourage the practice of drawing small cheques. On the other hand, he had been told that, inasmuch as cheques would be payable, to a great extent, to bearer and not to order, the cheque would, by a simple process, be converted into a receipt, and the public would lose the benefit of the proposed duty-that he should lose in receipts to a greater amount than he should gain in cheques. On the whole, he did not think the present state of the finances of the country made it incumbent on the Government to urge this proposition any further.
He tutes now in force, omitting all such enactments as are repealed, obsolete, or expired, would be Parliament and to the generality of Her Majesmore accessible and intelligible to Members of ty's subjects than the present Statute Book, and ought to be undertaken under the authority of this House."
"That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the best mode of making a new, complete, and systematic edition of the statutes now in force, omitting all such enactments as are repealed, obsolete, or expired."
MR. ALEXANDER HASTIE had heard with great regret the announcement of the right hon. Gentleman. He could see no reason why the same rule should not be followed in the case of cheques drawn within sixteen miles of London, as in those drawn beyond that distance. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would afford some explanation of the reasons for this exceptional legislation.
Order of the Day discharged.
CONSOLIDATION OF THE STATUTES. MR. LOCKE KING moved the following Resolutions :
"That it is the opinion of this House that a new, complete, and systematic edition of the Sta
The hon. Member observed that his object was to substitute a living law, as it were, for a dead one. There were some 17,000 statutes scattered over 100 volumes of the Svo. edition in existence, only 2,500 of which were in force. His object was, to substitute those 2,500 for the 17,000, and when that should be done he thought that there would be the raw material for the consolidation of the statutes hereafter.
MR. APSLEY PELLATT seconded the Motion.
SIR GEORGE GREY said, that Her Majesty's Government were not prepared to assent to the Motion. The object of the hon. Member, the consolidation of the statutes, was a very important one; but there was a Statute Law Commission actually sitting, and if the statute law was to be consolidated at all, it could be much better done by a Commission than by a Committee. If the hon. and learned Gentleman thought that the Statute Law Commission was not properly discharging its duty, he should bring that question formally before the House.
MR. NAPIER said, that the practical object of the Motion appeared to him to be a most desirable one. With regard to the Commission that was actually sitting it was proposed to include Ireland, and a
communication was made to him soon after he was appointed a Member of that Commission, requesting him to make suggestions as to the course that should be adopted with respect to Irish law. He made a number of suggestions accordingly; but up to this time was not aware that they had produced any effect. They were going on every day in that House increasing, by the passing of new Acts, the anomaly that existed with regard to statute law of the Empire. The plan he suggested was, that the Commission should take up by degrees the subjects that were of immediate and pressing importance, and that they should pay a number of gentlemen of experience to frame statutes to be submitted to the decision of practical men, and thus they
should in time get the statute law reduced manner proposed. If the hon. and learned into shape; but the keeping up a Statute Gentleman desired to have full informaLaw Commission merely to be consulted tion as to the labours of the Commission, as to the form of new statutes to be passed such information would be at once afforded was a totally futile proceeding. They were him. getting no good at all from the labours of the Commission, though the object for which that Commission was appointed was considered a most important one, so far back as the time of Bacon. He would earnestly press upon the Government the necessity for having our statute law put into proper shape. If proper means were taken to get competent persons to give their attention to different departments of the law, the task of consolidation, though a Herculean one, might be accomplished. He should certainly support the Motion for a Committee, if for no better purpose than that that Committee should inquire what the Commission were doing.
MR. MALINS said, he was one of those who did not expect much from the labours of any Commission which was not empowered to say that the statutes which it drew should be the only ones necessary to be referred to. People talked about consolidating the statute law as though there was not already in existence a collection of the statutes by Sir W. D. Evans, from the earliest period down to the time of George IV., which, in eight small octavo volumes, contained everything that was required for ordinary purposes; and even a professional man would scarcely have occasion to refer to anything else above once a year. With regard to this motion, he was not very much impressed with the idea that a Committee would be of any great utility. The consolidation of the statutes must be a labour of years. It could not be done in one Parliament, and it was a task which a Committee could not be expected to undertake, and which, even if it did undertake it, it could not satisfactorily perform.
VISCOUNT PALMERSTON said, that what had passed showed two things, namely the great importance of the subject, and the extreme difficulty of accomplishing the object in view. If the Committee which his hon. Friend proposed to appoint was to be expected to perform itself any part of the work to which the Resolution applied, what fell from the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite was quite conclusive that THE LORD ADVOCATE said, he was the Committee was not the instrument by a Member of the Statute Law Commission, which it would be possible in any degree though he must say he had not had an whatever to accomplish so great and arduopportunity of attending many of their ous an undertaking. He concluded that meetings; but he had sufficient knowledge the object of his hon. Friend was, not that of their procedure to be able to say that it the Committee should proceed itself to was by no means fair to represent their effect a consolidation of the statutes, but to labours as being so fruitless as hon. Mem- inquire into the proceedings of the Combers had stated. The task that Commis-mission. With all deference to his hou. sion had to perform was one of the most Friend, he thought that was rather the difficult that could be imagined, and if a duty of the Government than of a Com. Committee of the House took upon them-mittee of that House, and he was sure that selves to decide what statutes were re-the Government had better means than a pealed, obsolete, or expired, they would Committee to go into the examination. very soon find they had undertaken a task He agreed in the statement that should far beyond their powers. He knew this- the Committee begin by taking evidence, that upon various subjects of the law there the proceedings would be of great length, had been drafted consolidation statutes, not and after all they might not come to a final, but to be referred to the deliberation clear and definite conclusion. Many perof the Commission; and it would be very sons thought that the duty of the Commisimpolitic to supersede those labours in the sion was to pick out statutes which
MR. G. BUTT would wish to leave things as they were at the present moment, if he could think that the Commission was doing any real good; but neither from experience nor from inquiry had he learned that that Commission had yet consolidated any branch of the law. The state of our statute law was a disgrace, and subject of universal ridicule and contempt both in this and in foreign countries; and the injury caused by its condition, not only to English lawyers, but to the public, was very great. He would suggest that they should re-instruct the Commissionnot in the terms of the hon. Gentleman's Motion, but taking great branches of the law, and consolidating the statutes upon those great heads.
MR. HADFIELD said, that he did not
were in force, and to separate them from | been appointed to execute it, immense those that were obsolete or had expired, or sums of money had been expended upon been repealed, and that the Commission it, and a great deal of labour thrown away could present a volume which would be a with but little result. That the task was guide to those who wanted to seek what a feasible one was evident from the exthe law was; but he apprehended that ample of the excellent work of Sir W. D. was by no means the function of the Com- Evans, referred to by the hon. and learned mission any more than of a Committee. Member (Mr. Malins), and, believing that When a Commission had consolidated the the appointment of a Committee would law on any particular subject, it must rest have the effect of advancing the object with Parliament to pass a new law founded which the hon. Mover had in view, he (Sir upon their report, because they could not H. Willoughby) should give him his cordial entrust to any Commission the powers of support. legislation. They might embody in a Bill the laws which they thought should be re-think the task would be so difficult as the tained in existence, but they must go to noble Lord had stated. The admirable Parliament to give that compilation the work of Sir D. W. Evans was produced force of law. Therefore the particular during his intervals of leisure from proprocess which the Resolution pointed out fessional business in Manchester; and if a was not a process which the Commission competent person were appointed to concould, of its own authority, by any means tinue and complete the same work, it would or possibility accomplish. He thought, no doubt be executed in a much more saundoubtedly, that this was a subject which tisfactory manner than it ever could be by required the most earnest and early atten- the Commission of which the Lord Advocate tion, and he could only say that it would be was an ornament. The matter would only the duty of the Government to inquire what be cushioned for many a long year to was the state of the Commission, whether it come by being referred back to the Gorequired augmentation, or strengthening, or vernment. spurring on. They should undoubtedly inquire into the matter; and he trusted if there should be wanting in the Commission sufficient force to carry on its labours with adequate expedition, they would be able to give it that additional force; but what had fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite should be borne in mind was that the task was one of immense magnitude. Nobody must expect that the most able and learned men, and in the greatest numbers, could accomplish that task of which they were talking within any short period of time, for the very importance of the subject and its magnitude would necessarily require that a considerable period of time should be devoted to it. He could assure his hon. Friend that it would be the duty of the Government to inquire into the subject, and take every possible means for accelerating the object he had in view.
MR. I. BUTT said, if the House undertook the duty set forth in the hon. Member's Resolution it would be unprecedented. What was the authority of the House to compile a second edition of the statutes? A publication of that kind would have no more weight than the compilation which had been referred to. What would be the use of sending out a volume which would have no weight in the courts of law, or be any guide to lawyers? He was anxious at all times to uphold the dignity of the House, and therefore he was reluctant to see the House deal with matters which it was unfit to deal with, and could not execute properly.
SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY understood that the object of the Motion was not-as had been alleged-that a Committee should undertake the work of consolidating the statutes, but that it should simply consider the best mode of effecting that task. It was impossible that the Government, with so much already on its hands, could accomplish this additional task; and, as for the Commission that had
LORD JOHN RUSSELL observed, that any work which consolidated the statutes might, as a literary work, be very useful to lawyers and to the country generally, and might be undertaken by any lawyer; but as the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had pointed out, it would be a work of no authority, and if questions came before the Judges they could take no notice of such a compilation, but would decide upon the statutes as they existed; neither could the authority of the House of Commons give any weight to the omission in such work of particular statutes. But there was another task which the Resolution before the House contemplated