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refted, by their actually figning the bill, it is neceffary to employ a proper perfon, and fometimes more than one, to procure this, and afterwards to attend in London to prove it before the committees of both houfes. As it is occafionally necef fary to travel to a confiderable diftanee, and into different parts of the kingdom, for this purpose, the expenfe attending it is in fuch cafes confiderable; and in one inftance it appears to have amounted to between feventy and eighty pounds, to procure the confent of one individual. It is alfo ftated to your committee, that the great number of confents fuppofed to be neceffary, according to the prefent practice of parliament, whether three-fourths, according to the ideas of fome, or four-fifths, according to thofe of others (for there is no fixed rule), is a great bar to enelofure. Your committee are thence led to fubmit it to the wildom of the houfe, whether it may not be expedient in future to allow the proof of a lefs number of confents, provided they amount to a decided preponderance, to be fufficient for obtaining a bill.
The bill having been brought in, read a firft and fecond time, and committed, it is neceffary to bring witnesses to town, to prove that the orders of the houfe have been complied with in the foregoing particulars, and to verify the allegations in the preamble. All this is attended with different degrees of expenfe, according to the number of perfons employed, the diftance of their refidence from the metropolis, and the accidental delays which may retard the progrefs of the bill to the houfe of peers; when the fame perfons muft again attend to be fworn at the bar of the houfe, and afterwards
examined before the committee. In cafes where the bill meets with oppofition, this must neceffarily be confiderable; and in all it is fufficient to deferve attention.
The fubfequent progrefs of the bill through parliament is fubject to the payment of the feveral fees, particularly fpecified in the table annexed to this report. The amount of thefe, it is evident, muft vary according to the fize of the bill, the number of interefts affected by it, and the oppofition it may happen to meet with. The length of the bill chiefly operates as an increase to the expenfe in this ftage of the proceeding, by the additional charge of engroffing and printing. The only other incidental expenfe, not yet noticed in this part of the tranfaction, is that of a town or parlia mentary folicitor, ufually fome per fon whofe experience in fuch bufinefs, and acquaintance with the forms of parliament, render his affiftance particularly defirable; and that of a country folicitor, whofe local knowledge, and immediate connec tion with the parties interefled, in many cafes make his attendance allo material. The charge of the former, for his whole fervice, is ufually twenty guineas; but in controverted, or any complicated cafes, confiderably more; that of the latter is fubject to neceffary variations, according to the length of attendance and other circumstances, but muft in moft cafes be confiderable.
When the bill has received the fanction of the legislature, the ufual mode ofcarrying it into effect, through the intervention of commiffioners, gives rife to charges and expenses of a different nature. The neceflity of peculiar qualifications, as well as a reputation for experience and in
tegrity, in perfons employed for this purpose, has ufually confined the choice of them within no very enlarged limits; and the expediency of difpatch, without the additional expenfe of multiplied litigation, has fuggefted the neceffity of invefting them with a fummary, and in moft cafes uncontrolable jurisdiction; unlets where any flagrant inftance of misbehaviour, of which no inftance has been stated to your committee,, might fubject them to the animadverfion of a criminal court. This latitude of confidence, however neceffary for fome of their functions, may in fome cafes lead to abuse, particularly in the charges which may be occafioned by neglect in not proceeding regularly, and with as little interruption as poffible, in the dispatch of the business intrusted to them.
Your committee find that it is ufual to appoint three commiffioners, the attendance of two of whom is requifite to give effect to their acts; and that the fum allowed to each for his trouble and expenfes is generally about two guineas for each day of neceflary attendance, exclufive of charges for his journey, in fome cafes not only from their refidence to the place of meeting, but from confiderable distances, to which their other avocations may have carried them.
It appears to have been the practice of late years for the commiffioners to appoint a clerk to draw up the minutes of their proceedings, which he may thus be prepared to authenticate in cafe of litigation, to which the commiffioners themfelves are a party, and to aflift them with his advice in legal queftions. The country folicitor employed to prepare the bill is generally appoint
ed the clerk, which feems now to be recognised by the late ftanding orders of the houfe, requiring books of account in all cafes to be left at his office. It appears to your committes, that the clerk receives, in general, emoluments equal to the commiffioners, befides his legal perquifites for bufinefs done as a folicitor, for which his charges are separately made. The expenfes in curred, both on his account, and that of the commiffioners, for attendance at the regular meetings, neceffarily depend on the number of fuch meetings; but it has been stated to your committee, that these are fometimes rendered more frequent than is neceffary by the practice of the fame commiffioners tranfacting the bufinefs of two enclosures on the fame day, which muft neceffarily interfere with the dispatch of one or both of them; that meetings are fometimes held, at which little or nothing is done, and that charges are fometimes made for the attendance of all the commiffioners where one or more may not actually have been prefent, though they may afterwards have figned the minutes of the proceedings.
Acts of enclofure commonly require a furvey to be made either by the commiffioners, or by fome perfon employed by them, and a map to be prepared from it: both which are generally done by furveyor fpecially appointed for the purpose, who alfo frequently makes all the calculations for the commiffioners, and stakes out the feveral allotments; for all which the charge made is one fhilling and fixpence per acre, befides a guinea and a half per day for attending the commiffioners, and an allowance for making a reduced plan. It alfo appears to your com
mittee, that the claufe in the act above-mentioned, is ufually conftrued fo literally, that a fresh furvey and map are often ordered, though there may have been one of each in exiftence fully or nearly adequate to the purpofe; and that in fome counties a practice has prevailed of employing two furveyors, one to take a general, the other a particular furvey. In fome inftances another defcription of perfons is appointed by the act, called quality men, whole bufinefs it is to value the land.
Other expenfes incidental to an enclofure are the fetting out, forming, and putting in repair the neceflary roads, and fencing the feveral allotments, according to the direction of the commiffioners. The former being kept for a certain time under their particular controul, are often, in confequence, the occafion of delaying the execution of the award to a much later period than would otherwife be neceflary. The, expenfes of the latter, particularly the public fencing, have in fome in ftances been very confiderable.
The laft procedure of the commiflioners is the making and enrolling their award, which is required by the feveral acts to be written on parchment, and of which one copy is fometimes required to be depofited in the parish church. This being fubject to confiderable ftampduties, and often of great length, is confequently attended with a proportionate expenfe. Your committee find, however, that it has been the practice of late years to reduce the fize of the award as much as poflible, by omitting the recital of the principal claufes of the act, and the proceedings of the commif
fioners, formerly inferted, and by referring to schedules annexed. Yet, even under thefe reâtrictions, it has been flated to your committee, that they have fometines extended to the length of fixty-seven skins of parchment.
The laft poffible proceeding provided by the act, is the appeal given to the quarter feffions against fuch acts of the commiffioners as are not. thereby declared to be final and conclufive, and particularly against the rates they are empowered to make for the payment of the ex-. penfes. The delay and expenfes attending this part of the proceeding muft of course be cafual and uncertain.
Your committee having thus laid before the house the feveral charges incidental to the prefent mode of procuring and carrying into effect. bills of enclosure, proceed, in the next place, to ftate fuch obfervations as have occurred to them in the courfe of the inquiry; and to fuggeft fuch alterations as may, in their opinion, by diminishing those charges, tend to facilitate the enclofure and improvement of the waftes, commons, common fields, and other unproductive lands of the kingdom.
The firft head of expenfes which appears to them capable of retrenchment, is that which arrifes from the practice of proving by parole evidence the requifite notices, the confents to, the bill, and the allegations of the preamble. If the wifdom of parliament fhould fee fit, for the fake of facilitating the means of general improvement, to depart in this refpect from their accuftom-. ed ufages, your committee conceive that it might be provided by an act,
to be paffed for that purpofe, that affidavits of the truth of thefe facts might be taken, under the penalties of perjury, before one or more neighbouring juftices of the peace; which being properly authenticated by them, might be admitted as fufficient prima-facie evidence before both houfes, without precluding either, if circumstances fhould ap pear to require it, from adopting the prefent mode of inveftigation by rivà voce teftimony. Your committee apprehend that forms of fuch affidavits, adapted to the feveral objects which they may be defigned to prove, might be annexed to the act, fo as to enable not only the agents to fubftantiate the facts within their knowledge, but diftant proprietors, at the fame time that they fignify their affent, to authenticate their having done fo.
The form of the bill itself neceffarily comprising. as before ftated, many provifions of a general nature; has next attracted the attention of your committee; and they are of opinion that it would tend much to reduce the expenfe both of draw ing and copying the bill, and of printing and engroting it, if all fuch claufes as fhould appear from the general practice to be neceflary and ufual in all bills of enclofure were to be incorporated in one general act, and be thereby declared to be applicable (mutatis mutandis) to all future enclosures to be made under the authority of parliament, as to all fuch matters as fhould not be otherwife fpecially provided for by the particular bill.
The next general object that has occurred to your committee is the charges of the folicitor, whether acting as fuch, in the necellary
conduct of the bill through parlia ment, or, after it has pafled, in the additional capacity of clerk to the commiffioners. Should the alterations before fuggefted, as to themode of proof before the two houles, be adopted, your committee are led to hope that thefe charges› would neceffarily be confiderably. reduced; and, that in many cafes where the measure met with no op pofition, the attendance of the folicitor or any other perfon from the country might be difenfed with: but while the exifting charges, whatever they may be, are undefined in their nature, and fubject to no control but through the medium of an expenfive litigation, abutes will in many initances exift. Your committee fee no remedy for thefe, uniels it fhould be found practicable to afcertain the nature of fuch charges with fome degree of precifion, and then to fubject them to taxation in the fame manner as cofis in the courts below,, either by fome officer of thole courts, or by officers of the two houfes of parliament, or others fpecially appointed for that purpole. The particular duty and charges of the clerk to the commiffioners might, as appears to your committee, be prefcribed by the general or particular act, and like that of the commiflioners and furveyor, controled by the fanction of an oath of office.
With refpect to the commitiioners themfelves, upon whofe ability and integrity fo much depend, it might not perhaps be expedient to fubject them to fimilar contronl, left men of refpectability fhould be deterred from engaging in to korious and ufeful an employment; but the abufes above noticed might perhaps
be remedied by defining, in fome degree, the number of hours which ought actually and bona fide to be devoted to each meeting, and requiring that it should not be occupied by attention to any other bufinefs; and also by regulating, at cording to the place of refidence of each commiffioner, the charges to be allowed for travelling expenfes. With a view to afcertain how far the fermer of these regulations had been complied with, it might be defirable that the clerk fhould be required to keep a register of all the days and times employed in the business of the enclosure; which, as well as the books of account, fhould be open to the infpection of all perfons concerned.
On a full confideration of the fubject of parliamentary fees, properly 1o called, which has occupied much of the attention of your committee, they fee no ground to recommend to the houfe any general regulations on that head. As a fuitable recompence for the time, attention, and abilities of the feveral perfons to whom they are payable, they find no reason to object to their ufual amount and from a comparifon of it to that of the other expenfes neceffarily incidental to this procedure, they are not inclined to think it can in general operate as a difcouragement to this mode of improvement. In particular inftances, however, which are not unfrequent, of fmall waftes and commons, it is obvious that the whole expenfe of conducting an enclosure, under the authority of parliament, muft always bear to large a proportion to the value of the land to be divided, as to preclude the poffibility of improvement in that mode. It feems
to your committee worthy the confiderafion of the houfe, how far it might be advifable, in certain cafes of fuch a defcription, to be afcertained either by the number of acres, or value of the land (in addition to the general regulations above fuggelted), to remove fuch part of the impediment as is more immediately under its control, by providing that fuch bills fhould only be confidered, in the payment of fees, as fingle bills, and be entitled to any other indulgence which parliament in its wifdom fhould fee fit. Your com mittee ground this recommendation on the fuppofition that fuch portions of land could by no poffibility be brought into cultivation in the ordinary mode, and that therefore the reduction propofed is not fo much to be confidered as a diminution of probable and accustomed perquifites to the officers of the two houfes, as the means of making that productive of emolument to a certain amount which would otherwife never be at all available to that effect.
On the whole, your committee have thought they should beft fulfil the intentions of the house in referring to them to confider of the most effectual means of facilitating, under the authority of parliament, the enclosure and improvement of the wafte and other unproductive lands of the kingdom, by confining the regulations they might fuggeft to fuch points as appeared to them fimple and of eafy attainment; by which the expense attending enclofure, under the prefent fyftem, would be confiderably diminished, and the plan would in other respects be improved. And if the fuggef. tions they have ventured to recom