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maps, plans, and books of reference for the information of the House and of opponents to the bill. The petitioner for the bill is obliged to make a general declaration,—to be deposited in the Private Bill Office on or before a certain day,—of the powers which are to be given by the bill; and in the case of bills for the incorporation of companies, the financial structure of the contemplated company must be given with clearness and exactness. Precautions are taken that the utmost publicity shall be secured by public advertisement, and that the fact of the petition for a bill shall be fully made known in good time to all persons who may conceivably be affected by the bill. Finally, by a standing order of July 1858, the Commons agreed that this House will o not insist on its privileges, with regard to any clauses . in private bills sent down from the House of Lords, • which refer to tolls and charges for services performed,
and are not in the nature of a tax. This resolution has been held to extend to turnpike, harbour, drainage, and other similar bills, and the effect of it has been to enable bills which must before have been introduced in the House of Commons, to be introduced in the House of Lords.
The inordinate growth of private-bill legislation must lead within no long time to some decisive measures for relieving the Houses, and especially the House of Commons, of the engrossing burden which it casts on members. It is not of any service to contrast the importance of private and of public bills; and therefore it does not help the matter to assume that when their claims come into competition those bills which have an apparently more limited object must give place to those which seem to be of more universal concern. Any such mode of treating political questions neglects the fact of
Probable Creation of New Functionaries. 95
the organic union by which the smallest and narrowest interests are bound up with what are to outward show the most comprehensive, and is deservedly stigmatised as parochial. It may probably be found, however, that the Houses may be able to delegate the important administrative and judicial inquiries which constitute the main difficulty and press of private-bill legislation to independent and permanent functionaries, who shall be sufficiently well paid to be free from all unworthy partiality, and who shall be of a class to command the respect of Parliament. A precedent for such a delegation is afforded by the recent Act for the appointment of Election Judgés; and, like these judges, the functionaries instituted for other objects would have the advantage, not possessed by a Select Committee of one of the Houses, of being able to take evidence upon the spot to which the proposed legislation relates.
A large and courageous extension of the same method of subordinate government may hereafter be found serviceable or indispensable for the purpose of satisfying most of what is substantial in the claims of Ireland to self-government, and of some of the dependencies to actual representation in the English Parliament,the judicial functionaries, in all these cases, being selected from persons who would command the confidence of their fellow-citizens in the county legislated for, as well as that of the central Legislature which receives, and will usually abide by, their report. This subject will be further discussed in the chapter on Dependencies. But it may be found interesting to cite in this place the latest opinions on the subject of the late Earl Russell.' 'I • should have been very glad if the leaders of popular opinion in Ireland had so modified and mollified their demand for Home Rule as to make it consistent with • the unity of the Empire. There can be no doubt that • the existing legislation by private bills is exceedingly "cumbrous and expensive ; that great funds are wasted
1 Recollections and Suggestions, 1813–1873. By John, Earl Russell, 1875, p. 351.
in purchasing private interests, and in giving fees to
lawyers for services which are neither conducive • to the public good nor advantageous to property. It
would have been a great advantage in lightening the • labours of Parliament, and in promoting useful public · legislation, if the rural parts of England, Scotland, and
Ireland had been divided and distributed into munici• palities springing from a popular origin, and invested • with local powers. The principle of our Constitution, • that no taxes or rates should be levied except by popu• lar consent, is gros-ly violated by the raising of large
sums by virtue of the orders of magistrates, named by • the Crown upon the advice of the Lord Chancellor. • The private bills of Lords and Commons do not violate • this principle, but are in many instances very costly. • The late Mr. Brassey was enabled to construct a railway • from Turin to the Alps at no greater expense than • was incurred in carrying a bill 'brough Parliament to 6 sanction the Great Northern Railway of England.'
There is perhaps no part of the Constitution, in its detailed working, on which more anxious care has been bestowed by the House of Commons, expressing its will either by resolutions or by standing orders, than that which determines the mode of granting supplies for the necessities of government, and seeing to their strict application to the purpose for which they were voted. According to the existing procedure, as elaborated only
within the last few years, it may be briefly stated that there are four stages which have to be travelled over before the House of Commons holds itself to have finally discharged its functions in respect of a money grant. These stages may be designated as (1), the formation of a Committee of the whole House, called the Committee of Supply; (2), the formation of a similar committee, called the Committee of Ways and Means; (3), the passing in the Commons of the Appropriation Bill; and (4), the scrutiny of the mode of applying the grant which is conducted by the Committee of Public Accounts. In compliance with two standing orders of the 20th of March, 1866, the House will receive no petition for any sum relating to the public service, por proceed upon any motion for a grant or charge upon the public revenue, whether payable out of the Consolidated Fund, or out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, unless recommended from the Crown; and if any motion be made in the House for such a grant or charge, the consideration and debate thereof shall not be presently entered upon, but shall be adjourned till such further day as the House shall think fit to appoint, and then it shall be referred to a Committee of the whole House before any resolution or vote of the House do pass therein, The Committee of Supply merely determines that “a sum not exceeding a sum • mentioned' be granted for the object or objects specified in the Estimate. The Committee of Ways and Means determines the source from which the grant shall be made, and therefore takes the initiative in dealing with all questions relating to taxation, public loans, and charges on existing revenue, or money in the hands of the Government. The Appropriation Bill enumerates every grant that has been made during the whole session, and authorises the several sums, as voted by the Committee of Supply, to be issued and applied to each separate service. According, indeed, to a resolution of the 30th March, 1849, it was declared to be the bounden duty of the Government department which is charged with a service for which money bas been voted, to take care that the expenditure does not exceed the amount placed at its disposal ; but by a clause in the Appropriation Bill, in cases where delay would be detrimental to the public service, the Treasury may authorise the application of the surpluses upon some votes to the deficiencies upon others, in the grants for the Army and Navy, provided the total grant to each branch of expenditure be not exceeded. A statement is required to be laid before the House, showing all the cases in which such authority has been given, with copies of the representations made upon the subject. Every diversion of the original votes is subsequently sanctioned by a resolution of a Committee of the whole House, and by a clause of the Appropriation Act of the Session. The Committee of Public Accounts was appointed by a standing order of the 3rd of April, 1862, amended on the 28th of March, 1870. The words of the Order as amended are: “ There shall be a “standing Committee, to be designated “the Committee of Public Accounts," for the examination of the ac