HC Deb 11 May 1815 vol 31 cc248-9
Mr. Lockhart,

according to notice, moved for leave to bring in a Bill to regulate the right of freemen and burgesses to vote at elections of members to serve in parliament. He observed that the object of the measure which he had to propose was to oblige freemen to take out their freedom a certain short time before they could vote. Such a measure was called for by the great number of persons who took an opportunity to become freemen of boroughs immediately before a contested election, whereby the expense of those contests was increased to an extravagant amounts. Whether the period was three months, one month, or even a fortnight, it would answer the purpose which he had in view.

Mr. Tierney

said the proposed measure being one which would deprive persons who had a perfect right from exercising it during a certain time, was such a partial disfranchisement that could not be justifiable unless a strong case were made out.

Mr. Rose

said a faw words in favour of the measure.

Mr. Wetherell

thought the Bill could not be rendered justifiable by any particular case of inconvenience.

Sir M. W. Ridley

disapproved of the measure.

Mr. Calcraft

said, that the Bill would disfranchise many of his constituents, and other voters, who were sea-faring men, and therefore had often no opportunity to take out their freedom before the time of election, although on that account there could be no reasonable objection to their votes.

Mr. Wynn

gave no opinion on the measure before the House, but thought that the great source of the expense and criminality at contested elections, arose from the non-resident voters, with respect to whom some measure should be adopted.

Sir J. Newport

thought some measure was necessary to put it out of the power of the mayor to act partially with respect to the admission of freemen. It was now in the power of the mayor in many places to refuse to admit a freeman at a particular time, by declining to call a court for his admission.

Leave was given, and the Bill being brought in was read a first time.