HC Deb 21 March 1828 vol 18 cc1252-300

The order of the day being read,

Mr. Tennyson

stated, that he rose to move that this bill be re-committed. He understood his hon. friend's purpose was, to move an Instruction to the Committee; if so, it was clear that such motion would be irregular until the House had resolved to go into a committee, and after the demonstration made by his hon. friend it might be expedient for him (Mr. T.) to explain the course which, in his judgment, ought to be followed in the further discussion of this bill. That discussion would naturally divide itself into three distinct parts. The first question was, "whether sufficient evidence of the Corruption of the Borough of East Retford had been produced, to justify the interference of parliament?" This question he conceived would be decided in the affirmative by the House resolving to go into a committee on the bill, and should be so decided before his hon. friend's proposition could be entertained. This was his apology for interrupting his hon. friend. The second question was, "What should be the measure of that interference?" This would have to be determined in the committee, subject to any instruction which it might receive from the House, and he understood the object of that to be moved by his hon. friend was, to limit the measure of such interference. This imposed upon him (Mr. T.) the duty of stating more distinctly than he should otherwise have deemed necessary, the position to which the borough of East Retford was reduced by the evidence before the House, in order to shew that no measure of interference short of utter disfranchisement could meet the justice of this case. He should however abstain from offering, at present, any observations on the third point for discussion; namely, "the ulterior disposition of the franchise in case East Retford should be deprived of it,"—as he was anxious to observe that delicacy which the right hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Secretary Peel) had recommended on this subject before it was decided, that the borough should in fact be disfranchised, but he trusted that the House would allow him the earliest opportunity for stating his views respecting it, when the proper period should arrive. If, after the ample time and the facilities which had been at forded to him for establishing the facts upon which the ultimate result of the present proceeding was to depend, he should fail in satisfying the House that his proofs were sufficient for the end he had proposed, blame would, beyond all doubt, be justly attributable to him, for not having redeemed that pledge upon which the House had consented to suspend the writ and allowed him to summon witnesses to the bar. But if, on the other hand, a gross and flagrant abuse of a high public trust—one upon which the very existence and vitality of the constitution itself might be said mainly to depend—were exposed and ultimately corrected, he should, in addition to the gratitude he sincerely fell for the support he had received, have the satisfaction of reflecting that he had justified that support and the confidence which the House had been pleased to repose in him. The diligent and anxious attention which the House had paid to this investigation during its progress, rendered it unnecessary for him to go elaborately and minutely into its details, but circumstanced as he was, it would be expected of him,—and seeing the purpose of his hon. friend the member for Hertfordshire,—he felt it his duty, to present a summary of the case, so as to recall the principal points to the recollection of the House before it came to a decision.

The charge against the borough of East Retford was, "that it had been a notorious, long-continued, and general practice for the electors, who voted for the successful candidates, to receive the sum of twenty guineas from each of them, so that those who voted for both the members returned had customarily received forty guineas for such exercise of their elective franchise." It was nearly eleven mouths since this charge had been preferred. Numerous petitions had in the mean time, been presented from the borough. They deprecated the interference of the House in a case where it did not proceed upon corruptions alleged to have taken place at the last election; they stated that the electors had made no previous bargain with the candidates; they insisted on the ancient charters of the borough—but not one word of denial addressed to the main accusation was any where to be found. Neither had the bailiffs and burgesses who in compliance with their petition had been heard at the bar, availed themselves,—although aided by one of the most distinguished counsel of the day—of that, opportunity for attempting to disprove the facts charged. On the other hand those facts, thus uncontradicted, had been established in a manner which must have brought home to every gentleman's mind a moral conviction, that the corruption alleged had, as stated in the charge and in the preamble of the bill, been "notorious, long-continued, and general." The learned counsel at the bar in his able speech did not even affect to deny it, although, oil other grounds he had deprecated any further proceeding. Indeed the case was so distinctly and conclusively made out by a powerful and connected stream of evidence, that all denial must have been vain and futile. Although these payments of head-money had been made for a very long period, he (Mr. T.) had been satisfied not to commence anything like regular proof of such payment before 1807. It appeared by the evidence of Mr. Jonas Warrick, who was the nephew of Mr. Bettison the steward of the duke of Newcastle, that he was employed by his uncle to pay election-money in that year, and that he had gone round to a considerable body of the voters, and delivered them packets containing; money as a remuneration for their suffrages. The next election was in 1812. The payment of head-money was distinctly proved on that occasion by Mr. Hannam, the agent, and Mr. Pickup, the steward of Mr. Osbaldeston, who was then returned for Retford. Mr. Hannam had produced the original list from which these payments were made at Retford, the sums paid deviating in many instances from the usual amount, having been arranged upon a scale adapted to the degree of promptness with which the voters had offered their support. Mr. Pickup admitted that he actually paid the voters indicated to him by Mr. Hannam from that list. He (Mr. T.) would pass by all the minor details, but he could not quit the year 1812, without observing that the only instance in which any successful candidate ever appeared to have omitted the payment of head-money, occurred upon that occasion, when Mr. Osbaldeston's colleague, Mr. Marsh, made a memorable exception on his own behalf, and had never afterwards been seen at Retford. The hon. gentleman then proceeded to the following election of 1818, when Mr. Evans and Mr. Crompton were returned. With regard to the payment of election-money on the part of Mr. Crompton on this occasion, the House had the evidence of Mr. Fox, the clerk of Messrs. Foljambe's bank at Retford. He produced the bank book containing Mr. Crompton's account, from which it appeared that shortly after the election of 1818, that gentleman was charged with 2,840l. as "Sundries," and about the same time there was a corresponding entry of a payment on the part of Mr. Crompton to the firm, of 2,800l. Mr. Fox, after much fencing, stated, most reluctantly, an impression on his memory that this money had been paid to one Westby Leadbetter (now dead) for distribution amongst the voters. This witness appeared so unwilling to give distinct testimony, that the House declared him guilty of a wilful suppression of the truth, and committed him to Newgate; but nevertheless the evidence extracted from him was such as to leave no doubt that the 2,840l. was paid to the electors; indeed the fact of election-money having been received by them at that period on behalf of Mr. Crompton was otherwise evidenced, as he should afterwards shew, and Samuel Buxton had stated before the Election committee that Westby Leadbeater was the individual who received it from the bank. The next head of evidence was applicable to the payments on the part of Mr. Evans in 1818 and also in 1820, when he and Mr. Crompton were again returned without opposition; what opposition, indeed, could have succeeded against gentlemen who so carefully complied with all good customs?—This evidence was contained in the books of Mr. John Thornton, now dead, an Alderman of Retford, and the agent of Mr. Evans at those elections; they were produced by his respectable widow, and in them all the material transactions of her late husband, with Mr. Evans, in connection with his agency, were found recorded. They contained lists of all the burgesses in 1818 and 1820; lists designating such as had romised to vote for Mr. Evans in those years; regular cash accounts between him and his agent relating to each election, and the pay-list, or list from which burgesses residing in and near Retford, who had promised their votes, were actually paid in 1818. Those who had not promised could not, of course, be considered as entitled to the election-money. This pay-list of 1818, and the cash account of that year, named the individuals who were then paid the sum of 21l. each for their votes by the medium of Alderman John Thornton; two of the aldermen yet living did not appear to be included; but Mr. Alderman Clarke (as he himself admitted at the bar) had received 42l.; whether this double payment was made to him as an alderman or a plumper he did not state. From the list and the cash-account it appeared that all the other resident burgesses had received the usual gratuity except two, who had not promised, and except also—an exception he was happy to mention—the rev. Mr. Booth. To these he should add the name of Broxholme Slaney, who had promised, but, for some reason, did not appear to have been paid by Thornton. The name, however, of this voter appeared in the pay-list of 1812, and in 1818 he conveyed the money to his son George Slaney—therefore the House must not imagine that he was to be classed with Mr. Booth. In all, there were paid in 1818, through Thornton, 128 rank and file, with the returning officer (Mr. Cottam) and Aldermen Clarke and Mason at the head. To meet this payment by Thornton, the cash-account shewed that Mr. Evans remitted to him 2,850l., about the same sum as had, for a similar purpose, been disbursed at that period by Mr. Fox for Mr. Crompton.

He would now direct the attention of the House to the election of 1820. He could not produce Mr. Evans's pay-list for this year. It was not entered into Thornton's books; but a note in Thornton's writing-stated that there were "193 to pay" in 1820, as a similar note had stated that there were "148 to pay" in 1818. In fact, he found by Thornton's cash-account of 1820, that 155 voters were paid for voting in that year—134 by himself and 21 by his principal, Mr. Evans, who for this purpose remitted 3,000l. to Thornton, and advanced 420l. more with his own hand. The number so paid, 155, constituted at all times a large majority of the electors, and this fact would, of itself, make out a sufficient case for the disfranchisement of the borough. He could not indeed specify by means of a pay-list (as he had in 1818) the individual voters who were so paid in 1820, except by the admissions of such as had been examined, neither could he shew that more than 155 out of the 193 were actually paid on this occasion; nor that more than 128 out of the 148 were so paid in 1818; but it must be recollected that out of four pay-lists, viz. one for each of the members in each of those years, he had only one—-that of Mr. Evans for 1818—and this only applied to the resident voters, and those in the immediate neighbourhood, who had been paid by Thornton himself. The outvoters would be paid through other channels; Mr. Evans had paid 21 himself in 1820; William Grant, in his examination at the bar, said he had once been paid by a stranger in London, and the House might, fairly arrive at the conclusion, that if it had been furnished with all these pay-lists, scarcely a single voter would be found exempt from corruption, except two or three who from their property and station could not have submitted to such degradation. So far the case stood upon the evidence of payment by members returned and their agents. In addition, and to support that evidence, the House had the admission of every person entitled to vote at former elections, who had been examined either at the bar, or on oath before the Select committee, except the unhappy and ill-advised William Lead-beater, who, having persisted in his denial of the charge, when the House was fully satisfied of its truth by other evidence, was expiating his obstinacy and falsehood in Newgate. This head of testimony went back even to 1796 when Richard Hodgkinson admitted that he received election-money, and the admissions of receipt by the other witnesses in every instance (except that of Lead-better) confirmed the evidence of payment as contained in the lists and accounts produced, and gave them an indisputable authority as applied to the case generally. These admissions ran through a series of elections up to the latest period. They were made by unwilling witnesses; but their testimony, when extracted, was on that ground, entitled to higher credit. Amongst them was Mr. Samuel Hindley, one of the bailiffs, and who would have to exercise the functions of a returning-officer, if an election at Retford were to take place to-morrow. Did his hon. friend, the member for Hertfordshire, mean to include this gentleman in his new elective body, and leave him to officiate when the next return was to be made? If not, could he much more securely fix upon any other individual at Retford unless it were the rev. Mr. Booth?

Mr. Brown

, the town-clerk, had endea- voured in the first instance, to intimate an opinion that the lower voters alone expected election-money. He says he so stated the matter to sir Henry Wright Wilson. It was more difficult to say who were not, than who were, the lower voters at Retford, as they were almost entirely persons in the most abject condition of life. However, among those lower voters, who had actually received election-money were, in the first place, Mr. Brown, the town-clerk, himself, Mr. Alderman Clark, Mr. Alderman Apple-by, Mr. Alderman Mason; Mr. Hindley, one of the present returning officers; Mr. Bailey, who would have been returning officer in 1827, and was a petitioner against this bill; Mr. George Hudson and Mr. John Dauber, the bailiffs and returning officers in 1826; Mr. Cottam, who was a returning officer in 1818; Mr. Hartshorn, a surgeon; and, as a counterpoise to the rev. Mr. Booth, he was sorry to name the rev. John Fell, as one of those lower voters who had consented to receive the wages of corruption. Mr. Brown, however, subsequently admits that there was at the last election, in 1826, a general expectation of election-money, except on the part of those who voted for sir Henry Wilson. He was the agent to that gentleman, and his reason for making this exception was, that, having staled to sir Henry Wilson, before he entered the town upon his canvass, that "the lower voters were expecting money," and sir Henry having replied, "My good fellow, I will say nothing about money—I come here to do what is just and right," he (Mr. Brown) had, in a speech which he addressed to sir Henry's partizans at the Granby-inn, repeated the expressions which the discreet knight, like a practised and kilful electioneerer, had thus confided to his no less adroit agent, who must have well known what effect the announcement of sir Henry's determination to do what was "just and right," (an expression, he should afterwards shew, well understood within the Borough), would have upon any Retford-understanding, although this wary candidate declined, thus prematurely, "to say anything about money." If, in fact, Mr. Brown had really intended to impart to his audience that they must not indulge in pecuniary expectations from sir H. Wilson—an intention which seems to have been quite unauthorized by that gentleman—and which would have been as gratuitous as it appeared incredible on the part of his agent—the English language would have furnished him with plain expressions for his communication. If his conscience called upon him to state anything, he should have stated it distinctly. Of course it could not, if understood, have propitiated the voters, but he might, in making an unequivocal disclosure of the truth, have qualified it by dwelling upon the other grounds which he pretends did influence them to give a disinterested vote. He might have said, "Gentlemen, I stand before you in a most painful and embarrassing situation; I find myself the unhappy agent of a candidate who proves to be so little sensible of what is due to you, to your good and ancient customs, to his own interest, as to have intimated that he has no intention of paying the election-money, if you should return him to parliament. Yet, notwithstanding this novel and disheartening circumstance, I implore you not to desert him, for he comes as the champion of our holy religion against the bigotry, the corruption, and the intolerance, of the church of Rome. Shew yourselves superior to all personal views when the constitution itself is in danger;—throw yourselves between that constitution and the advocates of Popish Superstition!—It is to the Pope that sir Henry Wilson here presents himself as an opponent. Take this as an equivalent and compensation for the election-money, your undoubted and rightful inheritance, but which, on this occasion, and under such circumstances, I would induce you to wave."—No such thing. Not one word of this.—Hedid tell them that sir Henry Wilson would oppose Catholic emancipation, because he thought that would serve his cause; but, with respect to the election-money, this conscientious town-clerk limited himself to the information that sir Henry would do "what was just and right," and left his friends to draw their own inference; what that inference necessarily was, he afterwards himself informed the House, for during his last examination, after much parrying, he admitted that the expressions he used to the voters, unexplained, would be understood by the majority "to mean money," and, when he was asked, why he had not explained them, he replied, that he thought it his duty to confine himself to the expressions used by sir Henry Wilson. He (Mr. T.) had enlarged upon this matter; because the right hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Peel) seemed in the first instance to attach im- portance to this part of Mr. Brown's testimony, but the House would perceive that it operated in a direction opposed to the impression which that witness had attempted to convey. It had been objected in the petitions, by the counsel at the bar, and by others, that the case before the House did not touch the last election. This, however, appeared to him to be a mere objection in form and none in substance; for, if he shewed that the present condition of the borough was such as to render it unfit to retain the elective franchise, he submitted that he had proved a case to support the preamble of the bill. But, if necessary, he could have answered the challenge contained in that objection. The House had seen what the town-clerk (Mr. Brown) said, as to the general expectation of money at the last election in 1826—the town-clerk, an unwilling witness, who, except upon compulsion, had declined to give testimony, and who, from his official position and connection with parties in the borough, was in every way interested and disposed to maintain its credit. He might have referred to the treating which had been carried on at the last election to an extent quite unparalleled: it had been employed for nearly a year prior to, and throughout, the election; the town was thus kept in a state of continual intoxication and disorder. When thus inflamed and besotted by liquor, the excitement attendant upon the crisis of the election contest, produced riots of the most frightful and destructive nature, by which the peaceable inhabitants were thrown into a state of consternation and just alarm for their lives and property. It had even become necessary to send for and employ a body of regular cavalry to suppress them; and when this interference of a military force was complained of as an unconstitutional proceeding, the committee deemed it, under the circumstances, not only justifiable, but so indispensable, that they voted the petition urging that complaint, to be frivolous and vexatious. He might have thrown light upon a scene at the Vine public house, shortly before the last election, where Mr. George Thornton, an alderman of Retford, and agent for one of the candidates, was discovered administering sovereigns out of a canvas bag to several voters, who were called one by one into a private room where he was sitting with the blind drawn down. He might equally have referred to a variety of other evidence before the select committee, of general corruption at the last election, but he preferred dealing with the testimony delivered at the bar as that upon which gentlemen could best exercise their own judgment. That testimony would conclusively show, not only that the borough had been corrupt, but that it was now in so corrupted a state that it must be altogether disfranchised. If, while he was endeavouring to satisfy the House of this, his hon. friend, the member for Hertfordshire, would do him the honour to follow him, he would find that there was no wholesome residue of voters, no sound nucleus, round which, and for the sake of which, he either could or ought to construct a new constituent body; and if he (Mr. T.) proved that, he conceived there was an end of his hon. friend's proposal. Mr. Brown, the town-clerk, had stated, that he believed there were now forty resident burgesses who had never received the election-money. That there were forty in 1818, and forty in 1820. This was the very statement to suit his hon. friend, and it had appeared to make a considerable impression. As he knew it to be ill founded, he had felt it his duty to counteract it by means of Mr. Brown himself. Accordingly, he had put into that witness's hands, lists of the voters in 1818, 1820, and 1826, and desired him to mark the forty pure resident voters in each of those lists. His right hon. friend (Mr. Williams Wynn) had at the time objected to this description of evidence as inconclusive, but he would now find it very conclusive for the object he had in view, for thence it appeared, upon the evidence of the town-clerk himself, that there was no remnant of pure voters to justify the proposal of his hon. friend (Mr. N. Culvert), and therefore, that the franchise must be entirely removed. The result of the operation was; this:—In attempting to mark his forty pure men upon the whole list of 1818, the town-clerk could, in fact, only find twentyseven. Then he was to have marked resident voters. But first he had marked twelve non-residents, as to whom, the House and: Mr. Brown knew, he had no pay-list; one of them appeared to be dead, and eight others of these non-resident voters had not, according to the promise-list, engaged their votes to Mr. Evans, and could not, therefore, be entitled to their money. Then, he had marked the rev. Mr. Booth, the well-known exception, to which he had, with pleasure, already referred. Next he had selected a man who had no vote in 1818, but this was Mr. George Thornton, who had figured with the canvas bag, and otherwise, in 1826. Then he came to five others who were dead, of whom one was John Thornton, the agent who paid the money for Mr. Evans in 1818 and 1820, and three others who had not promised. Next Mr. Brown had unluckily stumbled upon three who had been actually paid,—one of them, a very natural mistake,—the rev. John Fell. Thus he had disposed of twenty-five out of the twenty-seven marked. Two remained; and he must admit that, against these two he had no proof, but it must always be recollected that he had only one pay-list, from which his proofs could be drawn.—With regard to the list of voters in 1820, Mr. Brown, instead of forty had only been able to select twenty-three;—one clergyman (Mr. Booth);—eight non-residents;—-two resident, but who had not promised;—five dead;—two paid;—leaving five unimpeached; but there was no pay-list for 1820, although from J. Thornton's book alone, one hundred and fifty-five appear to have received. In 1826, which is the most important list to attend to for present purposes, exclusively of the burgesses admitted since 1820, Mr. Brown had only ventured to name nineteen persons, instead of the forty resident voters he had spoken of. These nineteen were made up of eight out-voters;—two who were nonresident in 1818 (the year as to which the only pay-list applied);—one, the rev. Mr. Booth;—one,George Thornton, the corrupt agent of 1826;—two dead;—one paid in 1818, one who had not promised in 1818, and three others whom he (Mr. T.) could not impeach, and to whom no other observation applied, except that he had only one of the many pay-lists. But in order to give the House the clearest idea of the result of the whole of the evidence, he had prepared a full list of the present voters for East Retford. Opposite to the name of each of them in any manner affected by the evidence, was stated the bearing of that evidence upon the individual. This list he would place upon the table, in order that any member might examine it for his own satisfaction. It seemed the fairest manner of presenting the case to the scrutiny of the House. The whole result, was, that excluding the burgesses admitted since 1820, (who had no opportunity of receiving head-money) the evidence affected a large majority of the whole number, resident and non-resident;—the whole of the present resident voters who were voters in 1818, except six; and all the others, except five, who were admitted freemen between 1818 and 1820. The number of resident voters was stated at one hundred and four. The whole number of electors exceeded two hundred; but thus tried and sifted, he was justified in maintaining, that the borough was, at this moment, in so corrupted a state, that his hon. friend could not fix upon five or three individuals on whose behalf he could wish to save it, or round whom he could form a new body of electors, with any sort of security that they were not polluted by the corrupt practice proved against the others; unless, indeed, he proposed to adopt, as the centre of his new franchise, the young burgesses who had never had an opportunity of availing themselves of the custom, and thus place them over the heads of their fathers, and masters, and elders in the town. After the statement which he (Mr. T.) had thus deduced from the evidence, was it not absurd to say that the proofs did not come up to the last election? Was it not a mere pretext for defeating his object? When such was the present condition of the borough, could any man doubt that, if the gentlemen returned in 1826 had retained their seats, or if this inquiry had not intervened and others had been elected, the usual gratuity would have been paid on the one hand, and received on the other, as matter of course and custom, by the young, as well as the old voters? He would ask any member who heard him—except his hon. and gallant friend (sir Robert Dundas) whom he was most happy to see again in the House representing another borough—whether it was possible to form any other opinion, unless a miracle had changed the hereditary disposition of the freemen of Retford? Even if the town-clerk had not stated their general expectation in 1826 that the ancient custom would be complied with, it would have been utterly impossible to imagine, unless they were constituted differently from other human beings, that such expectation should not have prevailed universally, after an immemorial usage, only departed from in one single instance—the instance so constantly and readily recurred to by the witnesses—that of the immortal Mr. Marsh,—for immorcal he would be as long as Retford remained a borough,—and whose conscientious conduct in 1812 would have been rewarded by the crown of martrydom if he had ever again ventured within the walls of Retford, where the fate of St. Stephen doubtless awaited him. It seemed absurd to resort to any thing like testimony on this head, but there was in fact abundant proof that at the last election no idea existed that the custom was to be abandoned. Gyles and Palfreman, William Jackson, and Hindley, on oath before the select committee, and Hindley again at the bar, deposed, that in 1826 the hope of receiving the election-money was distinctly held out, even in the public houses, by George Thornton, the agent, upon his canvass. Well acquainted with all the electors and knowing the mode in which he could best operate on their minds, he employed this as the most direct road to their favour on behalf of his principal. William Brown was canvassed with the assurance of the forty guineas by John Taylor;—Francis White, and others, before the select committee, gave similar evidence. The letter written by G. Thornton's direction to Joseph Marshall [printed in the Minutes of Evidence before the Select Committee, p. 68.] was to the same effect. Then came the evidence of Bux-ton and Baker, that Mr. Foljambe had canvassed them with the assurance that it would be "all right" if they would vote as he wished them at the last election—an expression explained as referring to the right and due payment of the election-money. There was a variety of such evidence on the Minutes. Finally came the town-clerk, who had himself received the election-money in 1818 and 1820—who in 1826 informed sir Henry Wilson of the expectation which prevailed, and who communicated to the voters in his interest the worthy knight's reply, that" he came to do what was just and right." His learned friend, the Common Sergeant, when he so ably defended the interests of the burgesses at the bar, had said that this proceeding on his (Mr. Tennyson's) part, was altogether unprecedented, in as much as in the former cases, where parliament had interfered to regulate or to disfranchise, the corruptions on which the proceedings had been founded were uniformly corruptions charged to have occurred at the last election, and were so recited in the several acts of parliament. Knowing his learned friend's great accuracy, he might have relied upon it; however, he had referred to the acts, and to the proceedings which led to them, and found that for once his learned friend was mistaken. In the Shoreham case, the evidence applied to a Society, mis-called the "Christian Society," which had carried on corrupt practices for a series of years, but was not charged with interference at the last election. Mr. Rumbold, who was not returned at the election, the returning officer having objected to the votes tendered on his behalf by the members of this society, was seated on petition, when it appeared that the association was dissolved prior to the election. Accordingly, the Shoreham act did not recite, as had been imagined by his learned friend, that the corruptions on which it proceeded existed at the last election. Again in the recent case, a case of absolute transfer from the borough of Grampound to the county of York, the corruption, for which disfranchisement was inflicted, took place, not at the last election, but sometime before the election which preceded the last. It had been matter of complaint by those who opposed the measure that the corruption was not recent, but had taken place several years before. So in this case again, the act, instead of reciting corruption at the last election, stated that it occurred prior to the election of the members returned to the preceding parliament; in fact there had been two intervening general elections. Thus, so far from being precedents against him, the cases of Shoreham and Grampound were precedents in his favour. But, if parliament thought it right to interfere in those cases, how much more loudly was it called upon to do so here. As a case for mere regulation, by admitting the freeholders of the hundred to vote, the state of East Ret-ford presented no similitude to those, of Shoreham, Cricklade and Aylesbury, where that course had been adopted, and went much beyond the case of the borough of Grampound, which had been visited with entire disfranchisement. At Shoreham, in 1771, there were one hundred and twenty eight voters, of whom sixty-eight were disqualified by act of parliament, leaving sixty, or nearly half, unimpeached. At Cricklade there were two hundred and forty voters, of whom eighty-three were convicted of bribery; forty-three others were charged, but the charges were not pursued;—suppose these, also, to be guilty, still there were one hundred and fourteen unimpeached. At Aylesbury, in 1804, there were four hundred and seventeen voters, fifty-seven were convicted of corruption; it was said there was moral proof against two hundred; still there were two hundred and seventeen, or a majority of pure voters. In each of these cases there was something like half the whole number untainted, and out of consideration for this untainted portion, it was thought right and expedient to preserve the borough, taking, as a security against future corruption, the infusion of a large additional number of electors. The source from which they were derived was one suggested by the convenience of neighbourhood, and not by any claim on the part of the hundred or district in which the borough was situated; such a claim was never thought of. Even at Grampound, the number of voters was sixty-two; twenty-four were convicted; six others were charged, but the proceedings stayed;—suppose thirty to have been guilty—at any rate there were thirty-two—a majority—untouched.—Yet, in that case, the true principle—that the elective franchise is a trust, and not a private possession,—was at length acted upon, and the borough was entirely disfranchised without regard to the residuary voters. But in the case of East Retford, where his hon. friend wished to recur to the old practice, he must first point out the parties for whom this was to be done, and who were to be the pure centre of the future constituent body. So far from being able, as in the other cases cited, to lay his hand upon half the former voters as unimpeached, he could not name a quarter, nor an eighth, nor a sixteenth, nor a twentieth, nor any minor fraction, with the least security, that the individuals he might fix upon were really such as ought to retain the franchise. The town-clerk fancied he could fix upon forty pure men; he tried, but tried in vain; he had named nineteen, but they had proved to be men of straw.

He was sorry that his duty had compelled him to detain the House so long. He should now sit down with the conviction that parliament would deal properly with this case, and would not, by adopting an ulterior measure, at once useless, anomalous, and absurd, leave him under the painful feeling that, instead of procuring, as he had proposed, a substantial benefit for his country, he had been blindly labouring to add one more to a bundle of eccentric precedents, which almost in any case would be faulty in principle and futile in practice, but which were totally inapplicable to the condition of East Retford. It would, moreover, be a wanton waste of a valuable privilege, which other important communities were most anxious to obtain, to bestow it upon a district already represented, and where it was neither asked for nor desired; while such a disposition of it would painfully disappoint the real necessities, and reasonable expectations of the country. The hon. gentleman concluded by moving, that the bill be re-committed.

Mr. George Bankes

said, he considered; the evidence not sufficient to justify the House in taking steps so strong or severe as those to which the hon. gentleman had directed their attention. He did not deny that there was some matter that deserved the consideration of the House; but the proof of corruption had been brought home to so few electors, that he could not consent either to the proposition of the hon. gentleman, or the mitigated proposition which the House was led to expect from the hon. gentleman (Mr. N. Calvert) behind him. On a former night he had called for further evidence; but finding the temper of the House against him, he had yielded to it. Though he had no right to assume the character of advocate for the borough of East Retford, he was desirous that it should receive no injury at his hands. He felt himself in the condition of a judge, who, by the rules of our criminal courts, was bound to act as counsel for the accused, when he had no other defender. He disagreed wholly with the hon. gentleman, in his view of the two cases of Shoreham and Grampound. In both those cases, the inquiries which had ended in the disfranchisement of the boroughs originated with petitions against the returns at the last election. On opposing the disfranchisement of Shoreham, Mr. Fox made the first display of his eloquence in that House; and in twenty-two years afterwards, in 1793, that great man, in opposing the proceedings against Stockbridge, referred to his exertions in the case of Shoreham, and re-stated the same objections in principle. Mr. Fox styled it a bill of pains and penalties, and said, that except on the clearest evidence, he would not deprive any borough of its rights and privileges. In the case of Grampound it was equally certain, that the bill for disfranchising that borough had originated in the proceedings of the last election. On the report of the committee the law officers of the Crown were directed to proceed criminally against certain parties suspected to be guilty of bribery and corruption. Now, the House knew these parties could not have been prosecuted if their offences had been committed two years before. Yet, not only were criminal informations filed against them, but at the assizes thirty-four bills of indictment were found against other parties, of whom no less than twenty-four were convicted. Besides, what was the state of that borough? A witness who had been employed as agent in one of the elections, stated at the bar of this House, that he believed there were very few electors indeed who would not accept the bribes—only two or three at the utmost. The same witness stated, too, that he had been present at a meeting of the electors some time previous to the election, at which the principal persons belonging to the borough attended. At this meeting it was resolved, that the sum of 8,000l. should be asked as the price of their votes; and this resolution was moved by the mayor of Grampound, in the presence of the aldermen and chief people of the place. Yet this borough was not disfranchised until the parties accused had had the benefit of a trial by jury. In all the preceding cases, he contended, the legislature had proceeded on principles essentially different from those applied to the case before the House.—The hon. gentleman then went into the evidence, particularly those parts of it which related to Hannam and Thornton, and contended that enough was not made out by it to justify the House in taking the step proposed by the hon. member. There were certainly no established precedents on which they could act, but against such evidence as that which had been offered to the House he felt it to be his duty to protest. There was no party in that House—-no set of men who wished to encourage and support corruption; but he thought that every one was bound to call for the best evidence that could be procured, and he did not think that they had yet got at it in this case. He granted that enough had been adduced to shew that it was a suspicious case, but there were very few instances in which conviction had been brought home; and without that, the House would not be justified in passing an act of disfranchisement; nor indeed, in proceeding a step further, unless the hon. gentleman should admit that the present evidence was inadequate, and that fresh and better evidence ought to be brought forward. It appeared to him that the hon. gentleman had been taking too much care of his case; he had in a manner overlaid his child; and it certainly had been a matter of surprise to him, that, after such great pretensions, so little had really been accomplished. In the preamble to his bill, the hon. gentleman stated, that what he called for was founded on matter of public and general notoriety; and he therefore supposed the hon. gentleman was content to rest his case on that notoriety alone, without diving any deeper into the merits of the case. But if the borough was really so corrupt, as had been represented, how was it possible to believe that one of the most respected noblemen in England, earl Fitzwilliam, would have been anxious for a relation of his, sir R. Dundas, to have the honour of representing the borough? And yet such was the case, as had been over and over again stated.

Besides, if it was base and sordid in those who received the packets of money for distribution among the burgesses, how much more base and sordid was it in those who supplied the contents of those packets, and sent them down to East Retford, where they were placed not only in the hands of the electors, but in those of their wives and daughters, who were of course more open to temptation? For these reasons he should oppose the bill, as it stood at present, and he trusted that the House would pause before they agreed to pass it into a law.

Lord. Howick

said, that he looked upon this bill as a penal one, and his principle was not to consent to capital punishment, unless for the purpose of getting rid altogether of a crime. But would such be the case in this instance? He, for one, would say, that, under the present constitution of the House of Commons, bribery in borough elections was neither disgraceful nor blameable. Every body must see that, on the principle on which boroughs were now carried on, the self-interest of the electors was the point always consulted; and while such was the fact, it mattered not; whether their vote was paid for in money, or in situations under government, or in East-India patronage, or in letting out lands to them at a price below their value. In fact, there was scarcely a mem- ber in that House, except such as were returned for very populous places, who could say that his return did not proceed from the selfish interests of the electors. While things were in this state, therefore, he could not blame the burgesses of East Retford; it was that House that was guilty and not the electors; and, until some remedy was determined on by the House itself, he thought they would be acting wisely in ceasing to make this vain parade about, any one particular borough. The question, however, for the House to consider was, whether the electors of East Retford were the most proper persons to exercise the elective franchise or not? The House was not to look at this question as a jury would look at it; but as members of parliament, merely considering whether it was a case of political expediency; and, as far as that point was concerned, he contended that it had been sufficiently made out in evidence that they had no claim to such a privilege. In conclusion, he should certainly support the bill as it was framed at present; but if an alteration, which he understood was about to be proposed, should be carried into effect, he should oppose it. Those members who were returned for towns and cities were the really popular members, in the proper acceptation of the word; he thought them more so even than county members; and he therefore thought that, if the borough itself was disfranchised, the privilege of returning members ought to be removed to some considerable town.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

thought the evidence so full and complete, that what had fallen from the hon. gentleman who had spoken last but one had been matter of astonishment to him. His remarks could only have been made under the influence of the most inveterate prejudice or error. The evidence upon which the bill was supported seemed to be as perfect as the House could possibly desire. Nothing could be more consistent than the statement of the gentleman and his clerk; and he had never in the whole course of his life seen any paper drawn up with more nicety, or greater mercantile precision, than the list which was before the House with the names of the voters who had received money for their services. It was a Complete balance-sheet, stating with the greatest precision, the sums received and paid, and to whom those payments were made. He ought, indeed, almost to ask pardon of the House for attempting to say a single word in support of such testimony; as he was satisfied that no one who heard it could have the slightest doubt of the general corruption which prevailed in the borough. With respect to the disposal of the franchise, he might in the first place observe, that the rights which those persons held were merely in trust for the benefit of the public, and when they did those things which laid them open to a forfeiture, the public had a right to resume those rights for the good of the whole community, and to bestow them upon any other place or persons who might be best qualified to receive them.—The worthy alderman then proceeded to contend, that there had been already too many departures from the principles of the constitution. Every one pretended to maintain the theory of those principles; but could any man presume to declare that they were not grossly violated in practice? Lord Chatham, more than fifty years ago, had declared, that the constitution was no longer in practical existence. Upon one occasion that great man had said, that "whoever understood any thing of the theory of the British constitution, and would compare that theory with the fact, would see how widely they differed from each other;" and he went on to say, "Will any man affirm that the constitution now exists? it exists in no degree. It is destroyed." It was the duty of the House to endeavour to return to those principles; and the first step was, to free the system of representation from such blots as were exhibited in the case of the borough of East Retford. He believed there was but one opinion as to the propriety of disfranchising that borough; and he confessed himself astonished that any member could be found to offer any objection to that measure. The question was, to what place were they to remove the elective franchise now possessed by East Retford? He was one of those who thought that the liberties of the country mainly rested upon the purity of the system of representation. He never had been a theorist. He had never, at any period of his life, been an advocate for universal suffrage; but he wished, he confessed, to see the elective franchise more widely extended among the people, and individuals sent to the House of Commons with less expense, instead of paying 4 or 5,000l. for their seat. There might, it was true, be some persons to whom the expenditure of that sum was a matter of no consequence; and who might, he would not say from vanity, but from a desire to keep up their rank and support their dignity in a county, squander large sums upon an election, but he objected to the principle of any sum being paid for a seat in that House, to be afterwards repaid, upon the condition of giving a profligate vote for increasing the burthens of the people. It was notorious, that vast numbers of the members of that House were men who never, in the whole course of their lives, could bring their minds to the expenditure of a single pound for which they did not entertain a fair expectation of receiving two-and-twenty shillings in return. Could it be for an instant supposed by any one at all acquainted with human nature, that these men would all on a sudden determine upon spending four or five thousand pounds for a seat in that House, unless they expected to reap some adequate advantage from that expenditure of their capital? He knew that there had been a time when the House would not have listened to any suggestions of any improper motive in those who were sent to that House. He knew there had been times when the language they had heard on this bill would not have been listened to by the House; but the facts were now known and acknowledged, and although all admitted the corruption, they were slow in applying any remedy. He believed, indeed, that the opinion most prevalent among some members was, that the electors of East Retford had not been dexterous enough in concealing their practice, while others only felt alarm for the situation in which they themselves might be placed. The question, however, was not so much whether the disfranchisement should take place, as to what place the right should be transferred; and he was happy to learn that, from what had taken place, the hon. gentleman near him had abandoned his intention of proposing that it should be transferred to the hundred. What right, indeed, he would boldly ask, had the hundred to obtain that privilege? Why should the inhabitants of the hundred, already possessing a vote for the county of Nottingham, be allowed to return two members for that part in which East Retford was situated, when there were so many and such large and populous places throughout the kingdom which had no right to send members at all. Why should they have that right of representation doubled, when a town like Birmingham, with a hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants, was wholly unrepresented? In looking at the situation of Birmingham, thus unrepresented, and yet subject to all the acts of the government, and liable to all the extent of its taxation, he might use the memorable expression of lord Camden, "That taxation without representation is tyranny; and that no government had a right to impose taxes without the consent of those upon whom they were to be levied, expressed through their representatives;" and he believed that great man added, that "they who attempt to raise taxes without the consent of a representative, attempted a robbery." If they wished to make the theory of the government accordant with its practice, they must confer upon Birmingham, Manchester, and the other large towns, the right of sending representatives to that House, to express the opinions and support the interests of their constituents. He should wish to see ministers taking the lead upon questions like that now before the House. Instead of yielding, as they did in the case of the repeal of the Test and Corporation acts, to the imperious voice of the people, he should wish to see them come forward like men, and take that lead which their situation imposed upon them in the work of improvement. The right turn, gentleman (Mr. Peel), when he came forward with the tardy concession, on that occasion, had talked a good deal of policy; but he thought, for his own part, that honesty, to use the homely phrase, would be always found to be the best policy; and he repeated, that he wished to see the government come forward with the proposition for transferring the right to Manchester or Birmingham. They had often heard that the present system worked well. It would lead him much beyond those bounds which would be agreeable to the House [hear, hear !], if he attempted to shew how the system really had worked; but he might be permitted to observe, that however well it might have worked for some persons, it had worked very ill for the people. There was one argument, however, connected with the population, that he could not pass over. The present system of the representation was settled at the Revolution, when the population did not at the utmost, amount to more than five millions. Now, the two kingdoms, including the principality of Wales, had nearly fifteen millions of inhabitants. He would ask, then, whether the system of representation which was then considered adequate to the wants of five millions of people, at a time too when the whole expenditure of the country was not more than two millions, and the debt merely nominal, could be now considered applicable to a population of fifteen millions, with an expenditure of 50,000,000l. and a debt of 800,000,000l.? Could any man consider that the system settled at the Revolution was a system fit for the present circumstances, when, upon a fair computation, nine tenths of the members of the House were returned from places of little or no importance? Gatton, for instance, had only one house, and yet it sent two members; and old Sarum had not even a single House. He recollected hearing at one time an amusing story upon the subject of the borough of Gatton. It appeared that there was a public-house in the place, and the proprietor of the borough, fearing that some adventuring politician might bribe the landlord, and so endanger his interest in Gatton, took the first opportunity which offered, upon the House becoming vacant, to advertise it to be let, with the condition that no proposal could be received, except from a woman; in order, he supposed, to avoid the danger of having a vote in the borough. There were many boroughs in the same situation; and so convinced was he of the futility and injustice of adding to this imperfect state of representation, by giving the right to the Hundred, that if it was proposed to dispose of the right in that way, he should feel it to be his duty to vote for the borough remaining as it is now; in the hope, that by the corruption being allowed to go on, it would effect its own cure, and bring on that correction which the people have in vain supplicated the House to bestow upon it. To take a specimen of the representation—the county of Cornwall returned forty-four members to that House, while sixteen other counties returned only forty-three members in all, exclusive of those who sat for the counties. Could it be said that this was a fair representation of the people?—and the more so, if they took into their consideration the number who were returned by the influence of the members of the other House of Parliament. In Cornwall, there were only two hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants to return forty-four members; while the towns of Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, and Halifax, contained above four hundred and fifty thousand, and were wholly unrepresented. The whole of the actual voters for the county of Cornwall and all its boroughs was not, he believed, more than two thousand. He had been returned to parliament by the votes of five thousand and forty-one of his fellow citizens, not one vote having cost him even a shilling. The worthy alderman repeated his determination to vote for the franchise remaining with the inhabitants of East Retford, unless it were transferred to some populous town; and asked the House to state what it feared from giving the inhabitants of Birmingham such a right? Did they mean to say, that the people of Birmingham ought not to be trusted to exercise such a right? If they gave any reason why they should not be represented, be was prepared to give many why they should not be taxed. Give them, he would say, a fair trial, and see whether they were fit to be allowed the exercise of their constitutional right; for to say that they had not such a constitutional right was contrary to the principles of the constitution and a libel upon that constitution and those who lived under its protection.

Mr. Secretary Peel

thought that the question now before the House; namely, the disfranchisement of the borough of East Retford, involved considerations of a general nature, nearly similar to those which were connected with the other question of the disfranchisement of Penryn. The first question was that of the measure of justice to be dealt out to the borough; the second involved the consideration of the policy and expediency of disposing of the vacant franchise either to the hundred, or to some populous town. For even supposing the delinquency of the borough to be partly made out, and that enough was proved to justify the forfeiture of the franchise, the question to be considered was, not to what place it might be just, but to what place it might be also politic and expedient, to transfer that right. He proposed to consider, first, the justice of the proceeding itself, and next, whether or not there had been a sufficiency of evidence to warrant any interference with the elective right of the borough which had been accused. And first, with respect to the question of justice. In approaching that part of the subject, he wished to draw a very material distinction between a trust committed to a man in his public capacity for the exercise of a public duty, and to those private rights of property which might happen to be acquired in the enjoyment of that trust. He conceived it useless indeed, to enter into any extended argument upon the nature of property of that description, because it was plain that the common rights of individual property were very different from those which arose out of the exercise of public trusts. He conceived, indeed, that they were not governed by the same rules, or subject to the same laws, and, therefore, the arguments of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Bankes) must be considered wholly inapplicable. The hon. gentleman seemed to suppose a great impediment must be presented by the evidence not being taken upon oath; but if that argument was good, it ought to have been urged at first, and they might then have been able to save that useless waste of time which this inquiry had already cost them. He, however, saw nothing in that objection to impede their course. They had evidence taken upon oath before a committee of that House; they had also evidence taken at the bar for their own satisfaction; and if the objection was to be fatal to the present case, it followed that it must likewise be fatal to every examination in every case where they might be called upon to take evidence at the bar.—He would now speak of his impressions upon the evidence they had heard; and he was compelled to say, taking into consideration the proof of an inveterate habit of bribery pervading the whole corporation, that such a case was made out as justified the interference of the House. He confessed that he had altered his opinion upon the subject, when he heard it stated, that the bribery was confined to the lower class of the people, who, in compliance with a species of established usage, were in the habit of taking money for their votes; he had some doubts of the propriety of depriving the upper classes who remained free from corruption, of the right, which they enjoyed, and rather contemplated the propriety of adopting some measure to alter the nature of the franchise, than the infliction of any punishment which might amount to a total or partial forfeiture of the right of election; but when he found that not only the aldermen of the corporation, but even the returning officer participated in the system of bribery, he confessed his impression was materially altered; and when he saw that not only the lower classes, but the higher, were engaged in the same practices, he could no longer deny that the interference of the House was necessary, in order to put an end to such practices. An hon. member had stated, that those who voted for sir Henry was on did not vote for the sake of any bribe, but in consequence of a conviction that sir Henry was a supporter of the Protestant Establishment, and disposed to vote against Catholic emancipation. Now he could only say, that if it had been proved to him that a majority of the voters gave their suffrages to sir Henry Wilson upon a principle of that kind, he could not conceive any thing more powerful in favour of their purity of feeling. If they gave their votes from any honest conviction upon a principle of that kind, so far from incurring any blame, they were entitled, in his opinion, to the highest praise for exercising that privilege of English men which he, on all occasions, liked to see displayed in the giving utterance to their free and unbiassed opinions. But when he heard it stated, that the worthy candidate declared, come what, might, he was, without any reference to the Catholic question, determined to do whatever was "just and right," he had no longer any doubt upon the principle which actuated the voters of East Retford. He conceived that the proposition for a continued inquiry ought to have been made at an earlier period; and, upon the whole, he repeated his conviction, that enough had been proved to bear out the disfranchisement of the borough. He was satisfied, that in having recourse to that measure there were some who must be injured by the deprivation of their right of voting, and who were above receiving any money for their suffrage. But, in dealing with rights of a corporate nature, it was impossible to do rigid justice without touching upon the rights of those who were comparatively innocent, and involving them in the punishment; if the deprivation of their franchise could be called a punishment. If the question had involved the deprivation of property, or the destruction of a civil right, he could not have consented to go so far without being overborne by a sense of a great public good; but it was because he drew a distinction between the exercise of the franchise for the public good and a right of private property, that he admitted the propriety of the interference. At present, he was prepared to declare his intentions only so far on the subject before the House, as that there was that degree of delinquency made out, which warranted the going into the committee.—He would next proceed to make some observations on the policy of the course to be pursued, without following the worthy alderman through the various topics of a speech, three-fourths of which were occupied in a discussion of the general question of Parliamentary Reform. Although that question had been discussed in parliament a hundred times, yet the worthy alderman had advanced doctrines upon that question entirely new. The worthy alderman had laid it down that population had increased, and that the debt had increased, and be seemed to sanction the proposition, that the increase of the representation should be proportionate to the increase of the population and of the debt. According to this principle, there should, of course, be proportionate increase in the number of representatives in that House; and he was at a loss to know what limit the worthy alderman would propose to the increase of the representation of the country, if his doctrines were to be acted upon. Then the worthy alderman referred to a quotation, which, if he had given in the ardentia verba in which the doctrine was conveyed, would import that, if the people of Birmingham v/ere taxed without being represented, such treatment was absolute tyranny, and they would be justified in resistance.

Mr. Alderman Waithman:—

I said no such thing.

Mr. Secretary Peel

said, that the hon. gentleman had referred to a quotation which, if he had fully brought forward and strictly applied, would establish that doctrine. If taxation without representation was absolute tyranny, and if tyranny justified resistance, would not all those be justified in resistance who were under the age of twenty-one? Again, to cite an illustration adduced on a former occasion by a right hon. Secretary of State, now no more, in reply to this argument, what would become of the whole female sex, or of the large body of freeholders not qualified as 40s. freeholders to vote at elections in this country? In short, if such a doctrine were to be enforced, it would lead to the widest plan of universal suffrage; although the worthy alderman said, indeed, that he had never been an advocate of such a plan of ultra reform—that he, forsooth, had never been a wild speculatist. But, to quote an expression of lord Camden, or of any other person, for the purpose of establishing a comparison between the resistance which a whole country, like America, and that which an individual, or town like Birmingham, might be justified in offering, was absolute nonsense.—As little was he disposed to approve of the position which the hon. gentleman would seem disposed to lay down, that members of that House were incapable of forming a decision upon the subject before them, from an apprehension of being liable to charges of having had recourse to influence of an unwarrantable description in procuring their own returns. He would not believe that the members of that House would feel any such incapacity as the hon. member would impute to them. The hon. member had declared, that he himself never had recourse to such sinister influence. He could state the same exemption from having recourse to it for himself; and he was sure that the members of the House would not feel themselves, from any such imputation, incapable of acting as legislators, on an accusation of a breach of the law. That influence was used at elections was admitted; but there was a wide difference between the fair, legitimate influence that was exercised, and that undue and unlawful influence which was carried by the means of the bribery, of which the House lately had evidence. We did not live either in republica Platonis, or in fœce Romuli; we could neither altogether shut out the influence of the feelings of nature, and of those circumstances by which we were surrounded in society. Equally untrue and unjust would it be to suppose that we were actuated by unworthy motives. At county elections in England, the friendly relations and interchange of mutual kindness subsisting between landlord and tenant—the affection subsisting between brother and brother, and the other close relations of life—unquestionably had, and would continue to have, a material influence. But such influence, however, may not perhaps strictly be sustained by the theory of representation, and was not to be classed in the same scale of offence as a case of absolute bribery and corruption. It might be very well for a philosopher to lay down plans of theoretic perfection in his closet, but such feelings and motives as he had described, and a thousand other indirect influences, prevailed at elections. He could not prevent their prevalence, and if he could, he did not know that he would. In considering the case of East Retford, and in forming a judgment upon it, he could not exclude from his consideration the case of Penryn. After what had already taken place in the last session as well as in the present, respecting the borough of Penryn, he thought he was entitled to consider the appropriation of its franchise as well as that of East Retford. In forming this assumption, he wished not to be understood as pronouncing finally now upon the case of Penryn, which was not strictly before the House; but, after the decision which had been already come to by the House, the forfeiture of its franchise was an assumption which he was entitled to make. The consideration, therefore, of two places—East Retford and Penryn, formed a material element in the view which he at present entertained of dealing with each separately. He was induced to consider the two places conjointly, from the combination of circumstances, the united weight of which made him think that the whole subject might be better disposed of by keeping them both under the view of the House.—Now, what had been the practice respecting the transfer of the franchises of boroughs? In all cases of disfranchisement, until that of Gram-pound, the right of election was transferred to the adjoining hundred. In the cases of Shoreham, Cricklade, and Aylesbury, such had been the course that was adopted. In the case of Grampound a new principle was introduced by that House. Vicinage was the invariable rule that had been observed until then. But, on the disfranchisement of the borough of Gram-pound, a bill passed the House to transfer the franchise to Leeds. That bill, however, was not acquiesced in by the Lords; and it was proposed by them, on rejecting the bill sent up by the Commons, to add two members to the representation of Yorkshire. In this way the bill passed; the franchise having been transferred to the agricultural interest, instead of, as was at first proposed, to a large and populous place. Now, he would propose to adopt a middle course in disposing of the transfer of the franchises of these two boroughs, which, as it was opposed to the partizans of the agricultural and manufacturing interests, might not be likely to conciliate the support of either. He would not vote for the transfer of the franchises of both boroughs to the hundred, or to large manufacturing towns, but he should propose a compromise between the conflicting claims of opposite (using the term in no hostile sense) interests. For this purpose, he should propose, if the forfeiture of the franchises of both were resolved upon, that the transfer of one should be made in favour of a large and populous town, and the other in favour of the hundred. This was the compromise which he proposed to make between what might by some be considered the conflicting claims of the manufacturing and agricultural interests. If the transfer of both franchises was made in favour of large towns, there would be, he anticipated, on future occasions, a very keen look out, a very prying inquiry and searching investigation, into cases of bribery. He anticipated that there would not be wanting parties to get up a case for the purposes of establishing bribery, if they knew that the immediate consequence of making out bribery would be not only a forfeiture of franchise, but a transfer of it to some large and populous town. He would, therefore, disappoint any such eager disposition to get up cases unduly, by not establishing an invariable precedent now in favour of large towns; which, if adopted, would become a standard of reference in all similar cases. In making-this declaration, he wished it to be distinctly understood, that he gave no opinion of marking a preference between Manchester and Birmingham. He was equally attached to the interests of these two important towns; but he had come to no decision in favour of either: he would bestow a fair and impartial consideration on the respective claims of both these large and populous places, and would be guided in his determination, by the result of that consideration. The House would perceive, that throughout these remarks he had proceeded upon the assumption of the forfeiture and transfer of the franchise of Penryn; which was, he trusted, a well-grounded assumption, considering the repeated warnings which that borough had already had, and the disregard it had paid to them. In sanctioning the transfer of the franchise of one of these boroughs to a manufacturing town, and the other to the hundred, he wished distinctly to be understood, that he would not consent to the transfer of the franchise of East Retford to a remote and populous town. The reasons which induced him to approve of the franchise of Penryn being transferred to such a place, were to be found, in a great degree, in the local circumstances of these two boroughs. Penryn was situated in Cornwall, which returned forty-two members to parliament; and he would not consent to the disfranchisement of one of those boroughs, except on an accusation sustained by competent testimony of that borough having abused its rights of franchise by practices of bribery and corruption. But, in considering the policy of the measure of transferring a franchise to a manufacturing district out of the county in which the borough was situated, it should go for something, that Cornwall, in which Penryn was situated, returned forty-two members to parliament; and that Nottinghamshire, in which East Retford was situated, only returned eight. It should go for something also, that close to Penryn there were other boroughs returning members to parliament. Coupling these considerations with the prospect of extending the elective franchise to two thousand voters by transferring the franchise to the hundred, he thought, there were strong reasons for not removing the franchise from the county of Nottingham, which did not equally apply to the county of Cornwall. There was an objection which was supposed to exist on the part of government, to transfer the franchise of East Retford away from the hundred, arising from the desire they had to invest an individual, the duke of Newcastle, with the power of returning a member, if the franchise was given to the hundred. He declared, upon his honour, that no consideration of that kind influenced him—he knew nothing upon the subject, except what he had heard in that House. It might or it might not be, that the duke of Newcastle had such influence; he certainly did not believe it to be so powerful as to sway a body of two thousand voters; but what place could be chosen where some person or persons would not be found to possess considerable influence? It would be mockery to think of selecting any place for the transfer of the franchise which would be perfectly free from influence. All he could say was, that he had no knowledge of the influence alluded to, and he was actuated by no desire of administering to it. If the contrary course from that which he recommended was pursued, and the East Retford franchise was transferred to a large town not in the county, it would increase the already existing disproportion in the representation of Cornwall and Nottinghamshire. Whilst Cornwall returned forty-two members, Nottinghamshire would be reduced to the representation of six. Now, by a comparison of the representation of the county of Nottinghamshire with the other counties of England, the House would perceive, that that county returned not only far fewer members than Cornwall, but fewer even than the average representation of the other counties. The whole representation of England amounted to 489 members. Now, dropping the nine, and dividing the remaining 480 by forty, the average representation of each county will be twelve members. If, then, the number of the present representatives of Nottinghamshire be four below the average representation of the other counties of England, he thought the House should hesitate before it sanctioned any proposition which would diminish that number by two, and thereby reduce the representation of a large and important county, consisting of one hundred and eighty-six thousand inhabitants, to six members of parliament. These were the considerations which induced him to think that if the House should resolve upon the forfeiture of the franchise of both boroughs, and approve of the transfer of one of them to a populous and manufacturing district, East Retford was not the borough of the two, whose disfranchisement it would be most fitting to fix upon for the transfer of the franchise out of the county in which the borough was situated.

Sir J. Mackintosh

said, it was, no doubt, desirable that the House should be in possession of the opinions of the right hon. Secretary as to the course which it was his intention to recommend for their adoption; but he thought the better course, and the one most consistent with the usages of parliament, was, to consider each case on its respective merits. With respect to the corruption of the borough of East Retford, and the expediency of disfranchising that borough, those points had been established on evidence so incontrovertible, that it was unnecessary for him to say a single word upon the subject. As to the other point —that of the place to which the franchise should be transferred—that was a point on which he differed in opinion from the right hon. Secretary; but he should prefer postponing any statement of the grounds of that difference until the proposition came regularly under the consideration of the House.

The motion was then agreed to. On the motion that the Speaker do now leave chair,

Mr. N. Calvert

rose to move the instruction to the committee of which he had given notice; preparatory to which, however, he begged leave to say a few words. It had been admitted by the right hon. Secretary that it was desirable that the elective franchise of one of the boroughs to be disfranchised should be given to the agricultural interest. He should, therefore, propose, that the right of voting in the borough of East Retford should be extended to the hundred of Bassetlaw. In that hundred there was a population of two thousand freeholders, possessing a rental of 191,000l. It was not probable, therefore, that the duke of Newcastle, whose property was said to be contiguous, could have much influence in a district where so large a property belonged to the yeomanry. It was impossible for any parliament to hope that they could, in all cases, prevent the operation of local influence, and deter voters from disposing of their interests to the best advantage. The only thing they could do was, when a strong case of corruption was made out, to apply a remedy. In the amendment he was about to move, his object was, to assimilate the present case to that of Aylesbury, allowing to those who were pure voters of the borough the continuance of the elective franchise. If they went to the extremity of taking it altogether out of the hundred, he doubted very much whether the bill would be successful in another place. He was willing, therefore, to adopt a proposition which might be found practicable; and he would, therefore, move, "That it be an instruction to the committee, that they have power to make provision for the prevention of Bribery and Corruption in the election of members to serve in parliament for the borough of East Retford, by extending the right of voting to all forty-shilling freeholders of the hundred of Bassetlaw."

Sir J. Mackintosh

then addressed the House to the following effect;—Sir, I rise to oppose the hon. gentleman's amendment; and in stating the reasons which induce me to do so, I will be as brief as possible, not only for my own convenience, but also that I may not trespass upon the patience of the House. It has been justly said by the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, that however intricate the subject may be in other respects, and however various the opinions which may be entertained on other points, the decision to which the House has already come, releases any hon. member from the necessity of entering into an examination of the evidence by which the corruption of the borough has been established. That fact is no longer disputed. I am entitled to consider that the House of Commons has determined, I will not say that the borough of East Retford shall be punished, for that would be an incorrect expression, but that it is unfit to discharge the public trust reposed in it by the constitution; and that the corruption practised in it has been so distinctly proved, that it is the duty of the legislature to deprive it of the privilege originally granted it for important public objects, and to bestow that privilege in some other quarter more worthy to enjoy it,—Sir, in what I am about to state on this subject, I shall lay out of my argument all considerations grounded on the expediency of parliamentary reform. My opinions on that question remain unaltered; but the introduction of them on the present occasion would be unnecessary and impertinent. In the support of the bill under our consideration, as all the friends of the general question of parliamentary reform will heartily concur; so, on the other hand, it will exhibit no inconsistency in those who are opposed to that question to join with them in support of the present motion. It has been justly observed by the right hon. gentleman, that where evidence has been given of gross, long-continued, and widely-extended corruption, the elective franchise may safely be taken from the place in which that corruption has been practised, even by those who would more than hesitate to adopt any general plan of a reform in the representation. By agreeing to the present bill, the opponents of general parliamentary reform will strengthen their case against any measure which they may deem sweeping, rash, and dangerous. Whether in future any more extensive plan of reform may be adopted, I leave to the wisdom of parliament to deter- mine. It is sufficient for me, on the present occasion, to say that whatever opinion any hon. member may entertain as to the more general question, he may, with perfect consistency, vote in favour of the present bill. Although the hon. member's motion be in form to preserve the elective franchise to the burgesses of East Retford, though not to the borough, that proposition is not founded on tenderness to those of the burgesses who may be supposed to be pure. His object is, to create another body of constituents; to give to two thousand freeholders the right now possessed by two hundred corporators. Here it is clear that the House is called upon to deliberate on the creation of a new elective body. We have determined to take away the privilege from the borough of East Retford. We are now to look about for the best substitute for that corrupt body. It is as new a question, as if the borough of East Retford had been swallowed up by an earthquake, and as if not a single voter were left alive. The question is divested of all reference to the supposed rights of supposed pure electors in the borough—of all the considerations which influenced the House in the early cases of Grampound, Aylesbury and Cricklade. It is a question of establishing a new body of constituents; and it ought to be considered simply as a great question of civil policy, unencumbered by the slightest vestige of any claim on the part of the corporators of East Retford. This being the case, the right hon. gentleman exhibited much adroitness in introducing that as an understood proposition, which there was no pretence for so considering. Even supposing I were to agree to the right hon. gentleman's proposition (on which I will speak presently), that the elective franchise should be given to the agricultural interest, it does not follow that the right hon. gentleman is silently to assume, that that agricultural interest must be in the neighbourhood of East Retford. Where is the link between the right hon. gentleman's premises and his conclusion? Why is the vicinage of that borough, the very atmosphere of which is foul and tainted, to be preferred to the districts likely to return better members to the House of Commons? All the three cases which have been alluded to occurred in the infancy of legislation on those subjects: they were timid in their character; and the motives by which they were dictated were mingled with a certain degree of tenderness for the individuals who were supposed to be innocent of the corruption proved against the great body of the electors. Those cases must, in fact, be considered as extensions of old rights, not as creations of new. But here, where it has been shown, notwithstanding the artifice which naturally seeks to conceal the fact, that the number of pure electors in the whole borough is not so great as that of the innocent persons whose existence would have obtained mercy for the condemned cities of old, the analogy which it is attempted to establish to the three infant attempts at legislation on these subjects, completely fails. We are now free to choose, from the whole body of the inhabitants of England and Wales, that body likely to send to this House such members as will be best qualified to promote good government and the adoption of wise laws. We are not bound to pay the least regard to the hundred in the neighbourhood of the borough. This is a point over which the right hon. gentleman seemed to think that it was much easier to slide, than to dwell upon.— —quæ Desperat tractata nitescere posse relinquit. The right hon. gentleman talked a great deal of the average of the representatives of the various counties of England. Sir, I well remember having, in former parliaments, heard this doctrine of symmetry, and proportion, and average, assailed by that powerful reasoning and brilliant wit which, alas! will never be again heard within these walls. I have heard almost all the opponents of parliamentary reform speak against this doctrine of proportion. I have heard eulogium heaped upon eulogium, and panegyric upon panegyric, with reference to the irregularities of our system of representation. I am, myself, old-fashioned enough, even as a parliamentary reformer, not to wish altogether to depart from those irregularities. I do really wish that the right hon. gentleman would deliver this question from the nonsense of averages; as I do hope that the right hon. gentleman, who is soon to bring forward another great question—the question of the Corn-laws—will deliver that question from similar nonsense. The view of Cornwall on the one hand, and of Nottinghamshire on the other, must have a tendency very much to disturb those who are friends to the system of averages. If, however, we must have averages, at least let them not be numerical; let them be founded on a comparison of property and interests. Then, indeed, the difference between forty-two members for Cornwall and four for Rutland would appear extreme. Sir, I repeat, that in arguing this question, the right hon. gentleman seemed to offer no reason whatever for preferring this hundred of Bassetlaw to any other district. He assigned reasons for preferring the transfer of the elective franchise to the agricultural rather than to the manufacturing and commercial interest; but he assigned no reasons whatever for making it to this particular hundred. If any place in Lancashire or Yorkshire had been preferred by the right hon. gentleman, I could have understood the proposition. The right hon. gentleman seemed to think, that his whole argument was complete when he had compared a hundred in Cornwall, with a hundred in Nottinghamshire. Now, really, it by no means follows, that because the one place is unfit to enjoy the elective franchise, the other is fit to enjoy it. I am very ready to allow, that nothing can be more abominable than the first; but does it follow that the last, even if it be expedient to transfer the franchise to an agricultural district, is precisely the district to which it is desirable to transfer it?—And now, Sir, for a few words on the preference which the right hon. gentleman shows to the agricultural interest. The right hon. gentleman talks of innovation on the constitution. I contend, that to choose a great manufacturing town, for the purpose of conferring upon it the elective franchise, would be a much less innovation on the constitution, than to vest the right of returning representatives in any county, or part of a county. My reason is this—it may indeed be anticipated by everyone who duly considers the history of this country—it is perfectly well known that, until the Union with Scotland, it was the practice of the Crown to grant the right of returning representatives to parliament to towns as they gradually rose to consideration and magnitude. I am aware that this practice was not founded on any regular principle, or on any uniform public motive. But, although it is true that many insignificant towns were enfranchised, there was no instance, down to the reign of Charles the 1st, of any great and important town being left unrepresented in parliament. If we look at the act, giving the right of being represented to the freeholders of the county of Durham, we shall see that it was also given to the freemen of the city of Durham. This ancient practice of the English constitution fell into disuse, in consequence of the Union with Scotland. To give the right of representation to places not adequately represented, would be to act in conformity with the ancient usage; but to give an additional right of representation to places already adequately represented would be an innovation not justified by precedent. It is not on the ground of innovation that I myself object to it; but surely it behoves those who are the opponents of general reform to be watchful, and to give their support to that of the two propostions which is the less innovation. Now, to place burgesses in the room of burgesses—to give to towns what other towns have enjoyed, is a much less innovation than to give to freeholders what has been taken from freemen, and to place knights of the shire, or individuals of a similar character, in places which the constitution intended should be filled by manufacturing and commercial members. Not only in the form and the letter, but in the spirit, the one is evidently a much greater innovation than the other. It is much more natural that burgesses should succeed burgesses, than that those who are the guardians of the landed interest should succeed burgesses. The right hon. gentleman has stated, that he entertains some notion that the success of the measure elsewhere will depend upon one of the transfers being made to the agricultural, and the other to the manufacturing interest. What is the present state of the case? Three boroughs have been disfranchised, and their rights have been transferred to the hundreds; that is to say, to the lands around them. A fourth borough has been disfranchised, and its rights have been transferred to the county of York. I am aware it will be said, that although nominally to the county, a portion of that representation may be considered as belonging to the town of Leeds. Even with that allowance, let us see how the matter stands. Six members have been at once transferred to the landed interest; and at least one of the other two added to the representation of Yorkshire. So, therefore, there is only one, and he not directly but indirectly, who can be justly considered as the representative and guardian of the great commercial interests. Thus, Sir, it appears that under the head of reform there is an immense arrear due to the manufacturing and commercial interests. The proportion between the grants to the agricultural and the grants to the manufacturing and commercial interests is at present as seven to one. Having allowed that preponderance to be established, are we to leave the inequality undisturbed, and to go on increasing the two interests equally? Such, however, is the right hon. gentleman's proposition. But that is not all. The great and ruling class in this country consists of the landed interest. I have no desire that it should be otherwise. I have no wish to disturb the station which that interest holds. But at the same time I am perfectly justified in saying, that if there be any interest in England unprotected, that interest is not the landed interest. If any class of persons in the kingdom is weaker than it ought to be, it cannot be said that it is the class of landed proprietors. I should be very sorry if it were otherwise. But certainly, under such circumstances, it is a very moderate claim on my part, if I confine myself to declaring, that we ought to make a full payment of the arrear due to the commercial and manufacturing interests, before we dream of going on equally in our grants. As to what the right hon. gentleman has said of the probability of insuring success to these measures hi the other House of Parliament if the course recommended by him be adopted, I can only say, that I always feel a very great uncertainty as to the determinations of that noble and august body. It is probably owing to the superiority of their wisdom, and to the humility of my understanding; but I confess that I can never pretend to calculate upon their decisions. I cannot even conjecture them. How, then, can I allow the supposition of the right hon. gentleman to influence my vote on this question? As a burgess, as a "good man burgess" (to use the name. given by our ancestors), sitting in parliament for a borough in Yorkshire, I must proceed on the plain principles of common sense. I must proceed, in every case, on what appears to me to be the wisest choice. Sir, I do not know what the House of Lords may think proper to do: but I know that the only safe and dignified course for this House to pursue is, to send to that House the result of our own mature and uninfluenced deliberation, seconded—as I firmly believe it will be seconded—by the almost unanimous voice of the people of England; in the well-founded expectation, that the House of Lords, in a matter affecting the other House of Parliament, connected with the equitable representation of the people, and tending to the return of members of a character to support the good government of the kingdom, the equal administration of justice, and the enactment of wise laws, will at least pay some respect to the opinions of the knights, citizens, and burgesses of the Commons' House, as to what is due to the true representation of the people, and in conformity to the sense of the great body of the people. If I were to depart from this sound principle, I should merely involve myself in a labyrinth, and lose myself in conjectures; and in all probability should, as the reward of my concessions, be induced to cherish hopes which would eventually prove delusive. No, Sir, I will never consent to put the dignity and independence of this House into the hands of persons of whose affections and inclinations I can know nothing.—It may be said that we ought not wantonly to incur the risk of a breach between the two Houses of Parliament. Sir, I deprecate as much as any man can deprecate any serious difference between the Houses; but it is impossible for me to suppose, that, in a case like this, the difference could be either very serious, or very durable. If the sense of this House be deliberately and decidedly, and, if need be, repeatedly, pronounced; if, under such circumstances, we should be loudly seconded by the voice of a numerous and powerful people, I cannot pay the House of Lords so bad a compliment as to think, that they would not duly weigh all the circumstances of the case, and consider it only reasonable that the motives which had influenced us, and the people of England, should be allowed to influence them. Let us at least adhere to the ancient maxim, "So to act, that if we fail we shall not be disgraced."—I hope, Sir, that in what I have said I may not be supposed to have insinuated any thins: against the other House. Insinuation I would have disdained, had I been disposed to advance any charge; but I felt bound to declare that which I have declared, in maintenance of the independence and dignity of the assembly to which I have the honour to belong. It has been said by the right hon. gentleman, that if the elective franchise were transferred to Birmingham, my hon. friend would immediately be returned for that place. Unquestionably, if my hon. friend should succeed in this measure, he will have well earned such a distinction. He will have imparted new motives of attachment to the constitution to a numerous and enlightened body of men. But I leave it to my hon. friend to state the reasons which induce him to recommend, that the elective franchise of this borough should be transferred to Birmingham. I have nothing to do with the question as it respects Birmingham, except (comparing it with the section of a county to which the right hon. gentleman proposes to transfer this franchise) to ask, whether the inhabitants of Birmingham, an unrepresented community, a population of 120,000 inhabitants, abounding with men of property, character, and intelligence, or the comparatively small number of 1,500 or 2,000 freeholders of Nottinghamshire, all of whom already possess the right of voting for members of parliament, should be selected as the successors of the delinquent corporators of Retford? Now, Sir, I ask the House whether this is not a question which answers itself? Can any man pretend to say that the claim of Birmingham to this transfer of the elective franchise is not far superior to the claim of a portion only of the county of Nottingham, or that the former is not much more likely to make a sound choice of representatives than the latter? Why, I ask, should we refuse this right to Birmingham, possessing such an extensive population, in order to give it to a number of persons not exceeding one-third of the population of Nottinghamshire? Let the House but consider for a moment the vast importance of the iron trade, of which Birmingham is the chief and centre point—a trade spreading itself over a country composed, as I may say, of towns—a trade running through Warwickshire and Staffordshire. I am not sure whether iron forms the second or third of the great branches of our trade; I think it is the second; but whether second or third is immaterial to my argument; I say that that trade is the least directly represented of any of the three great branches. But, Sir, we have now presented to us the opportunity of remedying this evil, by giving two members to Birmingham on the disfranchisement of the borough of East Retford. The right hon. gentleman has talked to us of the population of this hundred; I wish he had given us some information as to the population of Staffordshire and Warwickshire. I wish he had told us the proportion of representatives to the population of these counties, as compared with the county of Nottingham, instead of telling us that there existed a small arithmetical disproportion between the places to which he has alluded. The question of disfranchising corrupt boroughs, and transferring the franchise to large towns, was so ably handled by a noble friend of mine, earl Dudley, then Mr. Ward, that I think I cannot do better than quote some of his observations. That noble lord proceeded with such a mixture of wit and argument that every pleasantry contained a reason, and every assertion a proof. It had been said, in the course of the discussion to which I allude, that the corruption which had beeen carried on in the boroughs of Gatton and Old Sarum was enough to make our ancestors rise from their graves. "No," said Mr. Ward, "that is not enough to make our ancestors rise from their graves, for they had their Gattons and their Old Sarums as well as ourselves; but there is a circumstance which is enough to call them from their graves, and that is, to see in the present day towns larger and more populous than their London totally unrepresented." is it possible, I ask, to express the defects of the existing state of the representation better, or in fewer words? I say, Sir, that if the House does not avail itself of this opportunity of giving two representatives to one of the great towns, we shall lose one of the best opportunities that ever presented itself of sinking the constitution more deeply into the hearts of the people, and attaching the whole of the community to our national institutions. We shall also lose the opportunity of giving to one. of our greatest trading interests that protection which it requires, and in the absence of which it is left to depend solely on the justice of parliament. We have been told that, to transfer this franchise in the way recommended by my noble friend, would be to establish a new principle, and that we ought not to fetter those who may come after us by the adoption of such a course. Sir, I deny that the course recommended by this bill would have either the one or the other of these effects. I maintain that the parliament of future times would be empowered to exercise the same rights and the same discretion, and, no doubt, would adopt the same wariness in acting upon a precedent as we do at present. It is sufficient—aye, more than sufficient for us—to look at what is passing around us, in order to induce us to sanction changes that have become necessary, without venturing to conjecture either what could be done by those who came after us, or what course the other House of Parliament may think it right to pursue with respect to this measure. We have been told, amongst other things, that this bill will have the effect of creating combinations to detect bribery at elections. But, Sir, I would ask, is that so very great an evil? I say, the disfranchisement of this borough would operate as a warning to all others; and if those others transgressed the law in the face of that warning, let them pay the penalty of their delinquency. An hon. member has talked of this disfranchisement as a punishment to the voters. Sir, I protest against the use or application of the term. I say, we are only taking away the franchise from persons unfit to exercise it. If I looked upon the bill as a punishment, I should object to it; but I view it in a very different light. I look upon it as a measure of great legislative policy, which this House exercises for the general benefit of the community. For my part, though long affected by illness, I came down determined to bear my public testimony to the benefit of this measure, while others of a like beneficial tendency will bear down the name of my noble friend (lord John Russell) to the latest posterity. If I have not been able to enforce my opinions in favour of this most excellent reform, I have at least discharged my conscience from the charge of not having given it my humble support. It is the beauty of our constitution, that while we are enabled to maintain our institution, we are, by its flexibility, also enabled to adapt it to circumstances, without hazarding any of those scenes of tumult and violence, which are so dreadful in their immediate consequences, and so dangerous in their results.

General Gascoync

was altogether op- posed to the transfer to the hundred, and thought it would be even better to leave the franchise to East Retford as it was, than to give influence more permanently and decidedly to a particular interest; as would be the case if the amendment was acceded to.

Mr. Benett

thought that there could be as fair a representation from the hundred, as from any other place. He was of opinion that the landed interest was not at all too powerful, and was satisfied that the commercial interest was fully represented in that House.

Mr. Wynn

said, he did not wish to obtrude himself on the House at that late hour, particularly after the very able and eloquent speech of the right hon. and learned member for Knaresborough. The question, however, was of such importance that he could not reconcile it to himself to give a silent vote upon it. In the three former cases in which the House had interfered, the right of election was only extended, and not absolutely transferred; the reason of which was, that in all of them a portion of the voters were found not to be corrupt. Here, however, the right hon. Secretary had admitted, that bribery had been proved to be tolerably general, but he differed upon that point, as it was rather proved to have been intolerably general; for he never had seen a case in which the practice was proved to have been more universal. With respect to what might be done in another place, he thought they had nothing to do. It was for the House of Commons to adopt that course which they deemed proper, and to leave it to the other House to do as they pleased. There were, he perceived, three modes of obtaining freedom in this borough—by birth, by service, and by redemption. Now, by this latter means, a person possessing great power and influence might create so many votes as to overwhelm his antagonist. Another reason, too, why he wished to transfer the franchise to large populous towns was this, that in large towns which were represented, there was always an action and re-action of public feeling; while in large unrepresented towns the popular feeling was generally on one side, and opposed to those who, they conceived, deprived them of their privileges. Upon these different grounds he would support the original motion.

Mr. Secretary Hushisson

said, he was perfectly ready to agree with those who thought that they ought not to anticipate what might be the decision of the other House of Parliament. The House had now passed beyond the stage of judicial inquiry, and had only to consider the course which, under present circumstances, it was expedient to adopt. If the House of Lords, upon inquiry, arrived at the same conclusion with respect to the delinquency of the borough in question, then the only question which would remain for them to decide would be the question of policy. If, on the present occasion they had only to determine the case of one delinquent borough, then he should not be for following the principle which had been adopted in the last case. He certainly should in that case recommend the measure of transferring the franchise to some great commercial town. It was not with one, but with two, that at present they had to deal; and they had to deal with both at the same time. If he rightly understood the principle upon which they should act, it would be this—not only to consult the feelings of the other branch of the legislature, but also the feelings of the House of Commons; and, what was of infinitely more importance, the feelings of the various classes into which the nation was divided, and out of which grew the balanced and varied representation that formed the distinguishing characteristic of the constitution of this country. A right hon. and learned gentleman opposite had declared himself favourable to the transfer of the franchise, of which it was proposed to deprive East Retford, to some great commercial community, that never before enjoyed that privilege, rather than to some place that, in previous times, had been partially represented; and had cited instances derived from our history near the commencement of the great civil wars, and during the reigns of the Stuarts. That was a period of our history from which few good precedents could be derived. He would rather refer him to a more recent precedent; that of Grampound, where, on the conviction of a corrupt borough, they I had determined to give the franchise to the county of York; which, considering its great wealth, and the extent of its population, it was thought, and justly, the fittest; body, then without it, to which the right could be transferred. He could not agree that the deprivation contemplated in the ! present measure was not to be regarded in {the light of a punishment. His right hon. friend, by whom that had been asserted, opposed himself to no mean authority; namely, that of Mr. Fox. More than once it had been declared by that eminent individual, that to deprive parties so circumstanced, of such a trust, to take away from them so valuable a privilege, would be doing that which, in no point of view, could otherwise be regarded than as a punishment. Now, whether it was considered in the light of a punishment or otherwise, one thing at least was certain—that out of the two cases then before parliament, they ought not to neglect the opportunity afforded them—they should neglect no means likely to attain an end that might be presumed to be useful and satisfactory to the people. It was his opinion, that before they transferred the privilege, heretofore possessed by a corrupt borough, to a great commercial community, they should consider how far that act was in conformity with the great principle from which they should not depart; namely, that of making the transfers alternate between the trading and the landed interests—proceeding always, of course, according to the circumstances of each individual case that came before parliament. He could not agree with his right hon. friend, that all the turbulence and riot which sometimes occurred in this country was confined to places destitute of representation. Nottingham afforded a striking instance to the contrary. It was from that, as a centre, that Luddism spread itself through the country, extended itself to Manchester, and was productive of perhaps more injury than any other similar principle of discord and violence—Glasgow again is represented [No, no]—hon. gentlemen might say "No, no," but he contended, that Glasgow has a representative in this House.

A Member.—

The fourth part of a representative.

Mr. Huskisson.—

That might be said of any town or county, that it had but the fraction of a member. Nevertheless, he would repeat his assertion, that Glasgow had a representative in that House. If they departed from the principle to which he had before adverted, they would be establishing a precedent, which might carry them lengths far beyond what they first contemplated, and far beyond what they might, receive external support in carrying into effect; whereas, if they adhered to it, they might improve the representation of the country, without incurring the hazard of admitting an unwise and dangerous principle of reform. It had sometimes been said, he knew not on what ground, that he was not a friend to the agricultural interest; but he felt the less uneasy under an imputation of that nature, as he was persuaded that an enlarged view of the policy which he always recommended, could not fail to lead to the conclusion, that he had uniformly supported those principles which were best calculated to promote the general interests of each class, and therefore the good of the whole community. His object on the present occasion would certainly be, to confer increased franchises upon the landed interest; but if the two cases were taken into account, as it manifestly was intended they should be, then there would be an equality of advantages—a great commercial community receiving benefit in the one case, and a body of the landed proprietors in the other. Upon these grounds, then, he would support the amendment.

Lord Althorp

contended, that the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department must admit, that, although all the strict rules of evidence observed on a penal proceeding were not applicable to the present proceeding, yet that it was still in some degree a punishment. In the question, whether the elective franchise hitherto enjoyed by East Retford, be or be not transferred to the adjoining hundred, he confessed he had a personal interest; for if the former of these courses were adopted, it would confer upon him a vote. Now he humbly conceived that that would be giving him more than he could justly lay any claim to. What right had he to vote for four members. He certainly had no desire to do so. He would rather see the privilege, in both instances, conferred upon such towns as Birmingham and Manchester. He earnestly called the attention of the House to the importance of the principle which the present discussion involved, and the expediency of guarding chiefly the interest and feelings of the people.

Lord John Russell

said, he thought that some of the reasoning of hon. gentlemen on the other side told quite differently from what they intended it should do. The two right hon. Secretaries opposite, so far from supporting each other, were opposed; the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies having actually given a conclusive reply to his colleague of the Home Department. The one held, that the question was not one of policy but of justice; the other contended, that it was first a question of justice, and then one of expediency. It was feared that if the elective franchise were transferred to a great town, the other House of Parliament would not agree to the measure. He doubted the probability of this; and he questioned the force of the argument sought to be derived from it. It was proposed that Penryn should be altogether disfranchised, and the right of election carried away to a distant place. All the electors of East Retford were proved to have been corrupt; yet they were to retain a portion of their privileges, holding them in conjunction with the adjoining-hundred. One hundred and fifty of the electors of Penryn, for aught that had been shewn to the contrary, might be honest and innocent men; yet they were to be totally deprived of the elective franchise, and the right was to be transferred to a distant place. He saw nothing like justice or consistency in such a proceeding. He complained of it as being as inconsistent with their dignity, their integrity, and their independence; and as being more calculated to sink and degrade them, than any occurrence which had taken place since he accession of the House of Brunswick.

Mr. V. Fitzgerald

agreed that, generally, that House ought in its proceedings to look merely to its own judgment, without being swayed by what might be conjectured to be the views of the other House of Parliament. It was their duty to decide for themselves; and yet, when they considered what had before happened in several cases of this description, they might, even on the principle of being governed only by their own judgment, look to the circumstances which were most likely to promote or retard the effect of their own measures. He regretted that the authority of his right hon. friend opposite should have been applied in a manner so calculated to lead the House to an erroneous decision, and so inconsistent with the sentiments expressed by him on a former occasion. Then he was a decided advocate for conferring the forfeited rights upon the landed interests; now he was the warm supporter of what was called the popular side; then, he thought the manufacturing body sufficiently represented; now he was for giving them additional strength.

Mr. Wynn,

in explanation, said, that in supporting the proposition for conferring rights upon the adjoining hundred, he had never denied that a case might not arise where a different course could advantageously be adopted.

Mr. W. Horton

said, that if they had been at present considering the case of Penryn, he believed there would be little difference of opinion. He had no objection to the transference of the elective franchise to large towns; but he did think that it was proper to consider what was likely to be the result of the measure which they had before them. He himself would have had no objection to transfer the franchise to some great town, instead of throwing it open to the hundred; but he must look at the probable effects which their proceedings were likely to produce in another place.

The House divided: For Mr. Calvert's Amendment 157; Against it 121. Majority 36.

List of the Minority.
Althorp, viscount Fremantle, W. H.
Barclay, D. Fyler, T. B.
Baring, A. Gascoyne, gen.
Baring, F. Gilbert, D.
Baring, W. B. Gordon, R.
Bentinck, lord G. Graham, sir J.
Birch, J. Guise, sir W.
Bouverie, hon. D. Gurney, H.
Boyle, hon. J. Harvey, D. W.
Bradshaw, J. Hobhouse, J. C.
Brougham, J. Howard, H.
Burdett, sir F. Howick, lord
Buxton, John Hume, J.
Buxton, T. F. Jephson, C. O.
Byng, G. Kekewich, S. T.
Calcraft, J. Kennedy, T. F.
Calthorpe, hon. A. Kerrison, sir F.
Calthorpe, hon. F. Labouchere, H.
Carrington, sir E. Lamb, hon. G.
Carter, J. Lambert, J. S.
Cave, R. O. Langston, J.
Cavendish, H. Lascelles. hon. W.
Clive, E. B. Lawley, F.
Corbett, P. Lester, B. L.
Colborne, N. R. Leycester, R.
Davenport, E. D. Littleton, E.
Dawson, A. Loch, T.
Dugdale, D. S. Lucy, G.
Duncombe, T. Macdonald, sir J.
Dundas, hon. sir R. Mackintosh, sir J.
Easthope, J. Marjoribanks, S.
Ebrington, viscount Marshall, J.
Ellis, hon. G. A. Martin, J.
Farquhar, J. Monck, J. B.
Fazakerly, J. N. Morland, sir S. B.
Fergusson, R. C. Morpeth, viscount
Fortescue, hon. G. Newport, sir J.
Fitzgerald, M. Nugent, lord
Ord, W. Stanley, lord
Palmer, C. F. Stanley, hon. E.
Pendarvis, E. Stuart, lord J.
Phillimore, Dr. Stuart, Villiers
Philips, G. Sykes, D.
Philips, G. R. Thompson, ald.
Ponsonby, hon. W. Thomson, C. P.
Powlett, lord W. Townshend, lord C.
Poyntz, W. S. Tomes, J.
Price, R. Waithman, ald.
Protheroe, E. Wall, C. B.
Ramsbottom, J. Warburton, H.
Ramsden, J. C. Webb, E.
Robarts, A. Whitmore, W.
Robinson, G. Wilbraham, G.
Robinson, sir G. Wilson, sir R.
Rumbold, C. E. Wood, ald.
Russell, lord G. W. Wood, C.
Russell, lord J. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Russell, lord W. Wrottesley, sir J.
Sandon, viscount Wynn, sir C. W.
Sefton, earl of
Sebright, sir J. TELLERS.
Smith, J. Tennyson, C.
Smith, W. Normanby, viscount