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nere accidental circumstance of the might mention that a few months Wo constituent members of the prior to this transaction the burgh town-council being called in upon had been declared bankrupt for the the occasion, that it had ever come sum of L.230,000. It had been before that House. After these pro- said, that the burgesses of Aberdeen ceedings, and previous to the deter- were liable for the debt thus conmination of the Privy Council on the tracted by self-elected Magistrates ; different petitions presented to it, in- and he should be glad to hear the terim Magistrates were appointed.learned Lord's opinion upon that The question on these petitions in subject. But it was of little imporvolving the future exercise of au- tance, whether six hundred persons thority in the burgh, was referred were subject to the payment when to the law-officers. Upon the ad- the creditors were of the same numvice, as he presumed, of these gentle. ber; but it was desirable to know on men, the Crown had been induced whom the loss must ultimately fall. to grant a warrant, annulling and At this moment there was also a annihilating a decree of the Court deficiency of L. 2,000 annual inof Session, rejecting the petitions of terest: he meant of income applithose who prayed for a correction of cable to the payment of interest on abuses, and confirming the authority the debt. He might add to what he of those who were interested in their had already said upon this subject, continuance. What, however, form- that of the L. 230,000 of debt, ed the chief ground of his complaint L. 57,000 had been borrowed for the was, that his Majesty's Ministers, payment of interest. This, however, or the learned Lord alone, had ad- he was sorry to say, was but onevised a warrant, enabling the old half of the mischief. By the constiMagistrates, instead of the burgesses tution of the burgh, an annual head at large, to elect the new Magis- meeting of the burgesses was held, trates. If this advice had been given, for the purpose of hearing the burgh
as it seemed reasonable to suppose accounts stated by the Magistrates. : it had been, with a full knowledge At these meetings not one syllable
of all the circumstances which had about the amount or existence of given rise to the question, he must the debt had ever been mentioned. consider it to have been contrary to And here it was his duty to state, the interests of the burgh, and in what he would not state unless he consistent with the duty of its re. believed, and had the best grounds sponsible authors. The sum and for believing it to be true, that a substance of his motion was, that great part of the debt of L. 230,000 the House were justified in this case so incurred and concealed, had been in calling for all those papers which contracted by means of forged and had been submitted to the law.of. false minutes. Under such circumficers for Scotland, and on which stances, lo deliver over 40,000 or their opinion had been founded. 50,000 persons to the authority of He would detail to the House a case the same Magistrates, was like deof gross mismanagement, which was livering them to military execution. alone sufficient to call for its inter. No part of the money could have ference.
He defied the learned been borrowed without the authoLord to contradict this statement; rity of some of these self-elected Maand as a convincing proof of the gistrates, and the whole transaction rottenness be had described, he exhibited not only a tissue of mismanagement, but of fraud the most granted for renovating the burgh, gross, and oppression the most pro- and even conferring on it a new set fligate. In the year 1817, nineteen or constitution. Why had the learngentlemen were elected to the Ma. ed Lord abandoned his precedent? gistracy, of whom six accepted of. Why had he acted so differently in fice only on condition. So gross and the case of Aberdeen, which called so insulting, however, had the abuses much more imperatively for a similar become, that those Magistrates who reformation? He could not see the were going out at the end of the possibility of defending both proceedyear, from some feelings, whether of ings; though he certainly approved compunction or hypocrisy, or of of that with respect to Monirose, as tardy conversion 16 just principles, justified both by policy and practice, he could not determine, thought and he hoped by law also. In Monproper to put upon record their trose a poll warrant had been granted, sentiments respecting the state of or, in other words, the election of mathe burgh. This declaration was in gistrates was vested in the burgesses substance, that they, the ex-magis. at large; but the warrant to Abertrates, on looking at the calamitous deen was altogether sui generis, such situation of the burgh, were desirous, as he believed had never before been in justice to themselves, to state framed in Scotland. His Lordship their opinions on certain topics re. then went into a variety of collateral Jative to the City Treasury. They topics ; and, before concluding, refeel it their duty to express their de- served to himself the right of moving, cided conviction, that the mode of if necessary, for a copy of the report electing the Magistrates and Town of the law officers of the Crown of Council was radically defective, giv. England and Scotland, in addition ing to a small number of individuals to the papers already specified. an undue preponderance of au- The Lord Advocate said it bad thority, and fostering a system of never been doubted, that the failure concealment, under which the best of that burgh arose from a great Magistrates became useless from public undertaking, which had not their ignorance. To the existence turned out so lucrative as the Magis. of this mode of election, and the trates had been warranted to expect. want of all control over the expen. He denied the charge as to forged diture, they ascribed the heavy ca- minutes, and was sure that in the lamity which had befallen the burgh. proceedings before the Court of What, however, was worse than all Session, and in other proceedings inthis iniquity, was, that under the pre- stituted by persons opposed to the sent system it was legal ; and if its Magistrates, that charge had never authors were called to that bar, and been brought forward. As to the chose to add boldness to their de- mode in which the election was set linquency, they might assert, “ We aside, the Noble Lord was incorrect, have done all that you charge us with when he said, that setting aside the doing, and defy you to call us to ac- Magistrates disfranchised a burgb. count." Another point to which it It was the same he believed, as dewas necessary to advert in the consi- claring in England, that a borough deration of this warrant, was the very was not competent to regulate itself. different course pursued upon the dis. From the statement of the Noble franchisement of the burgh of Mon. Lord, the House would be led to betrose. In that case a warrant had been lieve, that the election of Magistrates n 1817 was set aside, on the ground on the petitions for burgh reform, of lavish expenditure of the funds; which we shall give some account of but the only ground stated before immediately. In the mean time, a the Court of Session was, that of the great number of petitions from vaforty electors, who by the set of the rious places were presented against burgh were required to be present, the bill, the provisions of which, one man of the name of Rae was though it assumed the accountability found to be disqualified because he of the magistrates of burghs, and could not produce a burgess's ticket. proposed to appoint auditors to exThe Noble Lord was wrong in suppo. amine and pass their accounts, were sing that there never had been a by no means satisfactory to a great crown-warrant in a similar case. In majority of the burgesses of Scot1746 the election for this very burgh land. was set aside by the Magistrales On the 6th of May, Lord Archibeing ousted from the town by the bald Hamilton, in rising to bring on rebels, and a similar warrant to the his motion for referring the petitions present had then been issued. In of the royal burghs to a Committee, Montrose the election had been set said, that after the numerous petiaside, because all the Magistrates had tions which had been received by unanimously united in what was il- the House, it was unnecessary for legal; in Aberdeen, the election had him to say any thing of the oppresbeen set aside in consequence only sion under which the petitioners laof an error arising from mistake. boured. He therefore thought that In Montrose the election had been there could be no rational objection illegal, since it had been conducted to his motion for a committee. It on principles that had been condemn. had been stated, that this subject was ed, even in the reign of Charles II. merely used as a cloak for Parliaunder a most corrupt and profligate mentary Reform; he denied this asadministration. In Aberdeen the sertion most positively, and said that error was only casual. The learned it might be seen how unfounded it Lord then took an opportunity of was from reading the petitions thempaying some high compliments to selves. The only indirect way in the judicial authorities of Scotland, which this motion touched upon Parand defended, in very strong terms, liamentary Reform was, that where the conduct of the council of Aber. the Magistrates were self-elected, deen. A pretty long discussion here they returned the members to Parensued; but in the end, the Noble Jiament. Now the burgesses wished Lord's motion was negatived by only to have the same share in the eleca majority of 5.
tion of their magistrates as their maOn the 6th of April, the Lord Ad- gistrates had in the election of their vocate obtained leave to bring in the representatives. This was the only bill which he had last year introdu. way in which the subject of a reform ced, and subsequently withdrawn, for in Parliament was connected with regulating the mode of accounting that of a reform in the burgh system. in the Royal Burglis of Scotland. He must say a word or two on an The second reading was fixed for observation which had fallen from the 26th, but postponed, and after the Lord Advocate on these petiwards arrested by the success of tions : 1st, the petitioners were not Lord Archibald Hamilton's motion numerous : 2dly, they were not infor the appointment of a Committee terested persons. The objection to
ken by the Noble and Learned Lord, ment, and carried through its sevethat these petitions cảme from the ral stages with great dispatch, for burgesses themselves only, and not facilitating the adıninistration of from the country at large, was an justice in Scotland, by regulating objection equally frivolous and un- and giving permanency to the Jury meaning. What did the Noble Lord Court, which had been originally require? If they were numerous, established on the recommendation he disputed their respectability; and of the Commission, appointed some if they were but few, he contended years ago to inquire into the state that they were not of sufficient inte. of the Courts of Law in Scotland. rest to require the House's interfe. This bill was intended to remedy rence. The evils which they had some of the defects in the original complained of on a former occasion constitution of the Jury Court, and had not been denied ; the system particularly to save a great deal of which they complained of had not the unnecessary expense incurred been defended. The Noble and by the preliminary proceedings be Learned Lord at one time denied the fore cases were sent to the jury, by existence of those evils; at another, authorising the Lord Ordinary, in the objected to entertain the question, first instance, or, if he should think on the ground that the country was fit, on reference to the Divisions of satisfied with the present state of the Court of Session, to send the case things; and at another, that he was before a jury. All matters of law, not assured of the respectability of were, as heretofore, confined to the the petitioners. But would the Noble jurisdiction of the Court and the Lord, or any of his friends, stand up Lord Ordinary; and the bill, more: and say, that if their allegations were over, provided for the presence of true, they ought not to be taken in- two Judges in the Jury Court, and to immediate consideration? The enabled them to consult the Court Noble Lord then proceeded to enu- of Session, and to pass acts of sedemerate the grievances under which runt for the regulation of their prothe burgesses presently laboured, cedure. On the 24th of June, howand concluded by moving, " that the ever, some time after the bill had passseveral petitions presented during ed into a law, Lord A. Hamilton the present session of Parliament, brought forward a motion, that an adfrom the royal burghs of Scotland, dress be presented to the Prince Rebe referred to a Committee, to exa- gent, praying that the appointments mine the matter thereof, and to re- created by the recent Jury Court act port their opinion thereon accord- might not be filled up till one month ingly.”
after the next session of Parliament, The motion was opposed by Mr or until the commissioners on courts W. Dundas, Mr W. Douglas, Mr of justice in Scotland should have Boswell, Lord Binning, and Mr Can- made a report regarding the said ning, and defended by the Hon. Mr court. The reasons alleged as the Primrose, Mr J. P. Grant and Mr grounds of this motion, were, the Wynn, and after a brief reply from rapidity with which the bill had been Lord A. Hamilton, the House divid. carried through Parliament, and the ed, when the motion was carried by appointment of several new, and, a majority of 149 to 144.
as the Noble Lord observed, superIn the early part of the Session a fluous officers. bill had been introduced into Parlia- The Solicitor-General and Lord
istlereagh opposed the motion, on to be printed. The committee ape grounds, that as the jurisdiction pear to have chiefly confined their the Court had been extended, such attention to the four burghs of Edini increase was rendered necessary, burgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Dunid that the suspension of the en. fermline, of the affairs of which they tments of a bill, after it had pass- give an ample and detailed account ; 1, would not only form a dangerous entering into the specific complaints recedent, but would be a virtual of the petitioners, and carefully cknowledgment that Parliament had stating the grounds upon which they ot properly legislated on a subject come to the conclusion, " that the hich it had previously advised with general allegations of the petitioners, ompetent authorities.
These con- as far as the committee have yet exiderations seemed to weigh with the amined them, appear to be very Noble Lord, who, in consequence, warranted by the evidence." consented to withdraw his motion. Parliament, as we have already
On the 12th of July, Lord Archi- stated, re-assembled in November; vald Hamilton brought up the Re- and on the 22d of December Lord port of the Committee on the Royal A. Hamilton moved the re-appointBurghs of Scotland, which, after an ment of the Committee, which, after attempt by Lord Binning to give it some opposition from Mr W. Dunthe go-by, was received and ordered das and Mr C. Forbes, was agreed to.