HC Deb 02 December 1830 vol 1 cc744-6
Mr. Wyse

rose, pursuant to the notice he had given, to move for a return specifying the number of 50l., 20l., and 10l. freeholders and clergymen who voted at the General Elections of this year, for the return of Members to Parliament from counties in Ireland. At the present moment, when we were waiting for the discussion of the most interesting subject which could engage the attention of Parliament,—that of reform,—it was important that every information which could bear on the question should be before the House. By the returns for which he now moved, it would be seen how far the influence of the Crown was exercised on the constituency of that country, by showing how the clergy voted; for in some counties, by the effect of the bill for disfranchising the 40s. freeholders, the clergy now bore a more than ordinary proportion to the persons entitled to vote. In one county, out of 191 votes there were thirty-one clergymen who voted against the popular candidate. The votes of the clergy had this advantage— that they were not subject to registry, and that they might vote at any booth they pleased; thus having the power to turn the scale at that booth. He had no wish to limit the elective franchise in any case; but he did not see why that of clergymen should not be exercised under the same formalities as those which regulated the franchise of other freeholders. He would not go further into the subject at present, as a more fit opportunity would occur hereafter; but he trusted that what he had said would show a fair ground for acceding to his Motion.

Mr. Leader

said, that he had no objection to the motion of his hon. friend, but he thought it would be useful to extend it, and to show also the number of 40s. freeholders who voted at the last General Election. The number had been reduced to a comparatively small amount. Not more than about 3,000 had voted; but these, though the poorest, were, he believed, the most honest and valuable portion of the electors. He the more readily concurred in the motion of his hon. friend, as he thought it was important to inquire into the amount of ecclesiastical patronage at elections.

Motion agreed to.

On the Motion of Mr. H. Drummond, the name of Sir George Clerk was added to the Committee of Standing Orders.

On the Motion of Mr. S. Rice, the Consolidated Fund Bill went through a Committee, and the report was ordered to be received on Monday.