Mr. N. Culvert
said, that as the case of the Borough of East Retford had been well known for several years, he did not mean, in bringing forward his motion, to trouble the House at any length. He had no personal feeling in this question; and he thought it very hard that any such motive should be attributed to him. His object was one of strict justice and fairness. Under all the circumstances, he should say no more at present, except to claim his right to reply to any argument or objection that might be raised against his motion, "That leave be given to bring in a bill to prevent Bribery and Corruption in the Borough of East Retford."
§ Mr. Tennyson
hoped, that he should not be accused of pertinacity, if, alter so many 335 decisions against extending the forfeited franchise of East Retford to the town of Birmingham, he still presevered in what he considered a just cause. He now rose to propose an Amendment on the Motion of his hon. Friend. On this occasion, he was labouring under a new embarrassment. The last time this question was discussed, he believed it appeared that the average opinion of the people of Birmingham was, that the measure he proposed would give them perfect satisfaction. But since that period, a considerable change had taken place in the average opinion. The general distress had created a great alteration of opinion; and the people attributed that distress to the general corruption, neglect, and misconduct of Parliament. The consequence was, that at Birmingham they had taken steps for their own protection. This, however, would not alter his course. He would still go on, and endeavour to obtain his original object. He had, last session, urged on the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Peel), the necessity of extending the benefit of representation to the great commercial and manufacturing towns. Government, however, seemed anxious to keep up the old state of things, at the expense of the country, and, he must say, at the expense of common-sense. Under these circumstances, he felt it to be his duty to pursue the course he had formerly taken. That the right of electing Members to sit in Parliament should be taken from East Retford, on account of its notorious corruption, did not, he thought, admit of dispute. It was proved, that in the election of 1826, out of one hundred and sixty-six persons who voted, one hundred and fifty-five received bribes. It was proposed to extend the franchise to the hundred of Bassetlaw, but the freeholders of Bassetlaw were already represented by two hon. Gentlemen—he meant the Members for Nottingham; while many populous towns—for instance, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, and Sheffield—were unrepresented. It was not only absurd, but it was dangerous, to withhold the benefits of representation from places such as these; for he felt that, in times of pressure, a catastrophe would be the certain result of that want of representation. He could not forget the Political Union Society recently established at Birmingham. The prospectus of that society merited the consideration of the House, and it would be most prudent, by 336 giving to Birmingham the right of electing representatives, to form a link between that Political Union and the House. He concluded by moving, "That all the words after 'that' be omitted, for the purpose of introducing the following:—' Leave be given to bring in a Bill to exclude the Borough of East Retford from electing Burgesses to serve in Parliament, and to enable the Town of Birmingham to return two Representatives in lieu thereof.'"
begged leave to second the motion. In his opinion, the franchise ought to be extended to Birmingham, instead of being given to strengthen an interest which already possessed an overwhelming influence.
said, he thought it was contrary to the principle of the constitution that such towns as Leeds, Birmingham, and Sheffield, should not be properly represented; and whenever a specific motion was brought forward for imparting to them the right to return Members to serve in Parliament, he should give it his strongest support. But he certainly would not benefit those towns by disfranchising other places:—he would not agree to that which would be a bill of Pains and Penalties on East Retford.
§ Viscount Howick
said, in consequence of this question having been introduced so soon, he was precluded from making the motion of which he had given notice. He meant, however, to vote for the proposition of the hon. Member for Bletchingley; and if it were not carried, it would then be open to him to move his own resolution as an amendment to the original motion. The hon. Member for Hertfordshire had moved for leave to bring in a bill to prevent Bribery and Corruption in the Borough of East Retford; but the motion which he had meant to propose, if he had come down in time, would go to declare, "that the abuses which were alleged to exist in East Retford, were not confined to that town, but were notorious in many cities and boroughs in the United Kingdom." Such was his opinion; and therefore he thought it was much better to propose a general remedy for a general evil, instead of applying particular remedies to particular places—a course which experience showed did not serve any good purpose, and was positively bad in practice. He originally voted for the motion to disfranchise this borough, not to punish the electors for the crime laid, to 337 their charge, but in order that the franchise taken from East Retford should be given to Birmingham, which, was an improvement in the representation, was an alteration desirable to be procured. But the experience of the last three sessions had greatly changed his views on the subject; and he agreed with the hon. Member who had last spoken, that it would be better to extend the franchise directly to great commercial and manufacturing towns, rather than to benefit them by disfranchising other places. He felt that, in taking a contrary course, the friends of Reform were playing the game of their opponents, and lending their countenance to that which, however gravely put forward, was neither more nor less than a mockery and a delusion. The House ought to be cautious in dealing with cases of this kind. The doctrines laid down with respect to them was, that punishment should not be inflicted on all, except all were shown to have been guilty. This doctrine was perfectly just. But the present proceeding was opposed to it; for here punishment was not regularly inflicted by the regular course of law. This was a bill of Pains and Penalties,—an ex post facto law—by which the Parliament was constituted judge, jury, and executioner. No man, he was sure, could seriously say that bribery could be put an end to by disfranchising any certain place. The proper remedy would be to adopt a general measure, instead of pursuing this dilatory and uncertain course—a course as dilatory and as uncertain as the Court of Chancery. He very much feared that the motives of many of those who supported this measure of disfranchisement were not exactly what at first sight they appeared to be. He believed it was not the crime of bribery which excited their indignation, but the clumsiness with which it was effected. They did not wish to put an end to those abuses, but to keep them from the public eye, and to conceal from the light of day their own secret crimes. This it was that induced them to vote for the disfranchisement of East Retford. Such was his belief; but he certainly did not expect that a motive of this kind would have been openly proclaimed in that House. He alluded to the opinion of the right hon. Member for Liverpool, who, in a speech delivered last year (a speech which he did not hear, but which he had read with astonishment), used the following remarkable 338 words:—"What, then, remains behind? Parliamentary Reform. I trust it will long remain behind. I trust we shall always be able to resist that Reform. I am sure, if the motion of the hon. Member for Bletchingley is lost, the difficulty of resisting Parliamentary Reform will be greatly increased." He (Viscount Howick) felt no difficulty in understanding the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman. He had here made an admission for which he thanked him. Individuals who thought as the right hon. Gentleman did, were willing to give up some of the outworks of corruption, that they might be the better enabled to defend the principal stronghold. They thought that East Retford ought to be partially sacrificed, in order to prevent the whole system of corruption from being overturned. Just as in a bullfight a cloak is dropped to turn aside the rage of the mad animal, while his assailant prepares more securely to destroy him. If the public were ignorant of the undue means by which a large majority of the Members of that House obtained their seats in it, they might declaim against the venality of the voters of East Retford; but, notorious as these circumstances were, he thought it better to pass over the present case in silence till they were prepared to deal with others equally flagitious. It might be hopeless to obtain complete Reform at present, but we might at least abstain from such hypocrisy and insincerity as to pass a bill against an individual rotten borough when so many more demanded equal punishment. He trusted that a dread of public contempt, if no better motive, would prevent the House from taking such a course, and that if they were not disposed to adopt the natural plan for the prevention of bribery and corruption, they would reject the bill of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire. He regretted that he was prevented by the forms of the House from following up his observations with certain resolutions which it had been his intention to propose. Such being the case, he should merely read them as part of his speech. He concluded with reading the following resolutions:—"That the existence of bribery and corruption in the election of Members of that House had frequently been established by evidence at the bar. especially in the instances of Penryn and East Retford; that it was notorious, however, that similar practices occurred in the 339 majority of the other boroughs in the country; and therefore that it would be better to abandon the useless and expensive course of proceeding by bill to disfranchise particular places, and in lieu thereof to adopt some measure for a general Reform of the Representation."
§ Mr. O'Connell
said, he could not content himself with giving a silent vote on this occasion. Being himself a Radical Reformer, and desiring a complete and thorough Reform in every thing corrupt in the country, he was anxious to make an example in every particular case of corruption that came within the general rule. He thought an hon. Member was mistaken when he stated that the House was now called upon to act in a judicial capacity, and decide whether the electors of East Retford had been guilty of bribery and corruption, and that the fact was not proved against the borough on the occasion of the last election. If the fact were not proved, then certainly the hon. Gentleman ought to oppose the bill of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, which proceeded on the supposition that bribery and corruption existed. The hon. Gent. argued that bribery was not proved. He (Mr. O'Connell) had read the evidence in the case, and was convinced that East Retford continued a sink of bribery and corruption up to the present moment. It was quite true that the existence of bribery, on a recent occasion had not been proved, because the time of payment had not arrived; the bribes were due, but had not been paid. The voters sent Members into the House, and gave credit for the bribes, putting faith in the parties for the forty guineas a-piece. The noble Lord (Howick) seemed to think that as all the voters of East Retford had not been proved guilty, all should not be punished; and argued, that though there might be a guilty majority, yet there was an innocent minority, whom it would be wrong to visit with punishment for the faults of others. But let it be recollected that boroughs acted by majorities—that majorities, and not minorities, sent Members to Parliament; so that, supposing a few voters to be free from corruption, yet was the borough corrupt for all purposes of representation; consequently, the majority ought to be punished, and the borough prevented from ever again sending Members to that House. His opinion was, that the right of representation ought not to belong to any pri- 340 vate individual. He had heard and believed that many Members sat in Parliament who were the nominees of noble Lords, but this was a contradiction in terms of the spirit and letter of the Constitution. Let us not talk of the Constitution, if noble Lords, contrary to the resolution of the House, send their nominees here, as I know they do—to be sure I do, [laughter]—every one knows that there are actual nominees of Peers sitting in Parliament. The period would come when the people could no longer be deluded upon this subject. Every man knew that the principle of the Constitution was, that the Crown could not touch a penny of any man's property in the shape of taxes, except through his legal representative; and if taxes were levied upon persons not duly represented, it was, in point of principle, a direct fraud. He should vote for every measure of Reform, and for this among the number. Why let East Retford escape, because, as the noble Lord said, its punishment would be the punishment of a single corrupt borough, when so many others were equally corrupt? Ought the attack to fail, on the ground of its being an isolated one? Suppose, that, during the late severe snows, one hundred and fifty wolves, compelled by the inclemency of the weather, had descended, from the Pyrennees into France; that after having done a great deal of mischief the inhabitants rose against them, and one of the number was clumsy enough to get himself into a corner while the others escaped; what would the people say if it were declared, "Oh, this is an isolated individual, let us not kill him till we can get at the other one hundred and forty-nine, who are quite as bad as he." He, for one, was for destroying the criminal that had been caught, and would not act upon this principle; he should vote for extinguishing the franchise of East Retford, and transferring its privilege of electing Members of Parliament to Birmingham.
fully agreed with the noble Lord (Howick) that the voters of East Retford were not singly or peculiarly guilty, but he was of opinion, that as their case had been brought forward, and their guilt proved, an example should be made of them. He wished to take advantage of their delinquency, for the purpose of making a beneficial change in the representation, and transferring the elec- 341 tive franchise of East Retford to Birmingham. He thought this course preferable to extending the franchise so as to make it take in the hundred of Bassetlaw: if that were done, the inhabitants of the hundred would have double votes, one for Members for the borough, and a second for county Members. He could not approve of this. He thought that with the increasing cry which prevailed through the country on this question, it was time for Government to take an open and manly line of conduct in relation to the subject.
§ Mr. Huskisson
said, he could not give a silent vote on this question. Still, recollecting that only a few months had passed since, at an advanced period of the last Session of Parliament, he had had an opportunity of stating fully (as he did) his views of the subject now under consideration, he did not think it necessary to go again over the ground which he had then traversed. But he must be allowed to say, that every tiling which had occurred within the last few months—every thing which was now passing—every thing in the condition of the country, which even those who ran could read—every thing that occurred in every quarter—pointed out to him as it did to every dispassionate observer, the great and increasing importance and a thorough conviction of the necessity of dealing with a corrupt and rotten borough, like East. Retford, not by extending the franchise to the adjoining hundred of Bassetlaw, the inhabitants of which had already votes for Nottinghamshire, but by disfranchising it altogether, and transferring the elective privilege to the great and populous town of Birmingham, which was altogether unrepresented. He felt the increasing and urgent importance of this in reference to the general question of Reform; and he was not afraid to avow his feeling, as he row did, that it was of the utmost importance we should deal with the matter under consideration so as best to guard ourselves against the growing danger of sweeping Reform on principles too abstract and general. He avowed that to be his feeling, and called upon others who thought with him upon the subject to take up this defensive position against the dangers which pressed upon us from every quarter. If by the influence of his Majesty's Government in this House he should be driven from the position which he now occupied,—if the present proposition for a moderate and 342 reasonable Reform were defeated by means of that influence,—much as he should regret it, he should be driven, very reluctantly, to fall back upon another position, which would also be defensive. Taking, as he now did, the best situation and point of defence he could command against large, wild, and sweeping innovations upon our established institutions, he would maintain it as long as practicable, and when driven from it, as he might be by the means alluded to, he should then take up another line of defence. His principle was, to deal with the evil that came before us, in order to confine the remedy, if possible, to the immediate case which appeared to require its application,—an object best attained by a speedy administration of the remedy. When he said, hypothetically, that if the amendment of the hon. Member for Bletchingley were lost, it would be lost by means of Ministerial influence in that House, he used expressions which were perfectly Parliamentary; and he would add, that that influence had been exercised to the utmost extent to which it could be legitimately pushed in cases like the present. It was seen, that where no such influence had been exercised, the view and intention of Parliament was to transfer the elective franchise from a corrupt borough to the important towns of Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, &c. As far as the matter depended on the House of Commons, they had admitted the principle of conferring upon the great towns that had grown up to their present magnitude and importance in proportion to the growth and increase of our wealth and commercial resources, a substantial representation. The representation of Penryn, as far as that House was concerned,—as far as the Commons House of Parliament could,—was to have been transferred to Manchester. Now, when it was peculiarly necessary to show sympathy with the productive classes,—when it was necessary to give them the means of laying a fair statement of their sufferings before Parliament, with a view to an attempt to relieve them,—there should be a tendency on the part of the House to transfer the franchise of this corrupt borough to the town of Birmingham. From the bottom of his heart he said so, and with the utmost sincerity; with a deep sense of the general and profound feeling possessing the minds of the men of this country, not of the ignorant and 343 uninformed rabble, but of men of education and intellect, as competent as the Members of that House to form a sound and judicious opinion upon the circumstances of the country. Looking at the unsettled and disquieted state of mind prevailing among such persons,—a state of mind that existed not only in reference to their own circumstances, but in reference to the condition of the industrious, agricultural, and manufacturing population of the country,—it would be most gratifying to his feelings, as doubtless it would also be to those of the great mass of the community, if they could persuade themselves that among his Majesty's Ministers there did exist a just sense of what the Commons House of Parliament ought to be in the practical administration, and working of the constitution of the country. The events which had taken place of late years might have taught Ministers a little practical wisdom; and they might also have derived instruction from the working and consequences of these events. As much as any man he rejoiced at the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts. As much as any man he rejoiced at every vestige of the Roman Catholic penal code having been effaced from the pages of our Statute-book. As much as any man he rejoiced that the improved spirit of the age had wrung from Government successive concessions in favour of liberty, concessions in favour of intelligence, concessions in favour of commerce, concessions in favour of general improvement; but when we looked at the history of these concessions, was it creditable to, or consistent with, the character of the legislature of this country, that we should always appear to grant such concessions only at the moment when prudence and necessity compelled us no longer to withhold them!
Under a deep impression, a firm conviction, that many other individuals took a similar view of the subject, and entertaining a hope that his Majesty's Ministers would be alive to the changes that were working around them, he entertained some faint hopes (he confessed they were only faint) that Government would feel disposed to reconsider the question now before the House, and treat it in a manner different from that in which it was treated by them in the last Session of Parliament. He did not wholly despair of it being reconsidered when he heard the noble Lord 344 who moved the Address (Lord Darlington) with an ability and good feeling which did him infinite credit, stating the reasons that induced him, after having sat for seventeen years in Parliament, to undertake a task generally assigned to younger Members, and also entering into an explanation of the grounds upon which he occupied, for the first time, a place upon the Ministerial benches. The noble Lord had thought it necessary to state the reasons that induced him to move the Address, and he did so with great propriety. He told the House that during seventeen years he had been a constant friend and supporter of liberal principles of Government,—that he had seen with satisfaction the advances recently made towards such principles, and that he hailed with pleasure the circumstance of his Majesty's Ministers having adopted measures that had been recommended by the other side of the House. The noble Lord supported the present Government because, forsooth, they were a Tory Administration, governing on Whig principles. [hear] When he heard this sentiment cheered by so many hon. Gentlemen at the period of its being first uttered by the noble Lord, he might be excused if he found ground for hope in the fact. It was also necessary to bear in mind the fact, that Ministers had appointed to the office of first Law Adviser of his Majesty in that House, a learned gentleman (Sir J. Scarlett) who was Attorney-General when his late lamented friend Mr. Canning was at the head of the Administration. By the way, upon that occasion, as on the present, the noble Lord appeared anxious to support the existing Administration in common with many of his friends, because the course taken by it was consistent with their views and feelings. Another right hon. Member (Mr. Abercromby) who was appointed to a high official situation by Mr. Canning, had been recently promoted to a place upon the bench in Scotland by the Government. He greatly rejoiced that this appointment had taken place. He had long known that excellent individual, he had long known the value of his public character, and the extent of his private virtues. He would now say of that gentleman in his absence (the House being unfortunately for itself deprived of the advantage of his services) what he could not have said in his presence,—namely, that a person of a sounder or 345 more correct mind—of greater sterling good sense—of a more honest and uncompromising spirit, he did not know. That right hon. person would carry into his high office a resolute and honest determination to reform abuses if they existed. A fitter person to fill the situation allotted to him could not have been recommended to his Majesty. He rejoiced at the appointment, and sincerely thanked the King's Ministers for it. Connecting all these concessions and appointments (at which he rejoiced as proofs that the spirit which actuated the government of Mr. Canning had not been entirely lost sight of,) he said he rejoiced; and why?—because he thought it possible that the application of the principle of concessions might also have been extended to the present question. He felt the more confident in his expectation, because each and every one of the individuals who now cheered the Government for acting on Whig principles had been among the most zealous supporters of such Reforms. A near connexion of the noble Mover of the Address, since elevated to the House of Peers, but who then represented the county of Durham in Parliament, had supported such a measure. But if it were to be understood from the silence of Ministers that they still adhered to their former line of conduct with respect to the question now before the House,—that they intended to support the extension of the elective franchise to the hundred of Bassetlaw,—he, for one, should deeply lament it, because, under such circumstances, he thought that the impression occasioned out of doors by such a course would be far from favourable to the general interests of the country. He conceived it was quite impossible that anyone in the situation in which he stood with respect to a town of equal importance with Manchester, Birminghan, or Leeds,—one of the greatest towns in point of wealth, and power, and importance in the commercial transactions of the country,—it was quite impossible that he should not almost daily ask himself the question, "How was it possible for him, a Member for Liverpool, to doubt the importance of such a town as Birmingham,—of such a town as Manchester,—of such a town as Leeds, being represented in Parliament?" His constituents must feel how incompetent he was to discharge the duties assigned him as their representative, but still 346 he was prepared to say, from the frequent communications he had with them (from which he derived much material information to his own great benefit and better qualification for the discharge of his duties in Parliament),—he was prepared to say, what his constituents would freely admit, that the fact of their having representatives in Parliament was a great and substantial benefit to them. He could not flatter himself that he had been nominated upon the East India Committee out of any compliment to himself as an humble individual: doubtless, his name was upon the list because he represented a wealthy, active, and important community. Then he asked himself, if Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds had also representatives in Parliament, would the House have been able or inclined to exclude them from being heard through such representatives upon an occasion so important to their interest? It would have been impossible that such a thing should have taken place. Last summer he had spent a fortnight among his constituents at Liverpool, and a shorter period at Manchester, that great seat of the manufacturing interests. From the communications he had had with the most influential and intelligent persons in both those places, he derived much valuable information connected with their peculiar interests and those of the country at large,—information which never could be obtained by formal deputations forwarded to the Board of Trade. It was by duly considering the results of such intercourse, and collecting general opinions on given subjects, that the interests of the public could be best consulted. Why, then, should places capable of affording such sources of information be excluded from the advantages of representation? Upon this principle, when he proposed that the name of Mr. Marshall, the Member for Yorkshire, should be placed upon the East India Committee, in the room of that of the hon. Member for Sussex, because his hon. friend the Member for Yorkshire had paid considerable attention to the subject of India, and the hon. Member for Sussex had not, what did his right hon. friend (Mr. Peel) say in answer to this proposition? Why, that the Committee was very numerous,—that he had endeavoured to select and place it in some representatives of every separate interest in the country, and that the hon. Member for 347 Sussex had been nominated because he represented the Wool Interest. [laughter] He owned that the solemn manner with which his right hon. friend stated his reason about the Wool Interest had nearly overcome his (Mr. H's) gravity; and he felt disposed to ask whether there was a county Member in the House who did not represent something of the Wool Interest as well as also other interests connected with agriculture? When his right hon. friend talked of the Wool Interest being represented by the Member for Sussex, he (Mr. H.) asked the hon. Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Littleton), who was also in the Committee, and indirectly represented the hardware and mineral interests of which Birmingham was the centre, whether those interests did not deserve to be directly represented in that House? Did not these interests form one of the great branches of our national resources? Was the great manufacturing town of Birmingham unrepresented, or the hundred of Bassetlaw represented, as regarded wool, by the Member for Sussex, and as regarded every thing else by the two Members for Nottinghamshire, the worthier of sending Members to Parliament? But now turning from this point, which was merely a question between Bassetlaw and Birmingham, and one that did not admit of a doubt, he came to another consideration. He saw in Birmingham lately an Association which, as far as he could perceive its elements, principles, and operations, seemed exactly formed on the model of the Catholic Association; for it had its subscriptions, its funds, its meetings, its discussions, and its great agitator. [hear, and laughter] The purpose of this Association was to raise a universal cry for Parliamentary Reform,—to carry the question by exaggerating the difficulties, abuses, and distresses of the country. Admiring, as he did, the talent of the gentleman who took the lead (Mr. Attwood) at the Birmingham meeting, he, for one, would much rather see that Gentleman in the House of Commons,—as fortunately he saw the hon. Member for Clare in the House of Commons [hear, and a laugh],—he would rather see the leader of the Birmingham meeting here as the representative of that town, than in conducting such an Association, sending forth these statements and appeals to the country, which was perhaps too prone, at the 348 present moment, to act on the apprehensions generated by them. These were the reasons which induced him to support the amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Bletchingley. If it were lost, he should have no farther concern in the business; for it seemed almost indifferent to him (at least he found little consolation in the alternative), whether the representation remained in the rotten borough of East Retford, or was extended to the influence controlling the adjoining hundred of Bassetlaw.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, he could assure the House that he was by no means unwilling to give an opinion on the present question. His silence hitherto had arisen from deference to his right hon. friend who had just sat down; and who, having been referred to in the discussion, he supposed would wish to avail himself of the earliest opportunity of replying to the allusions that had been made. He had also another reason for his silence. This was not the first occasion on which this question had come before them. The House had, seven or eight times, declared that the franchise of East. Retford should be extended to the hundred of Bassetlaw, and he thought, therefore, that there could be no doubt on the mind of any man that he should adhere to his former conduct, and to the former conduct of the House, in shaping his course on the present occasion. He certainly should vote for the motion of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, because that motion was, in his opinion, most consonant with his views of correcting an established abuse. His right hon. friend had said that he was no Reformer. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) begged to claim for himself the privilege of disclaiming that title also. His right hon. friend, however, thought by the course he proposed to adopt, he should oppose the wilder schemes of Reform, and take up a defensive position against all attempts to carry such schemes into effect. But he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) on the other hand, thought his course was most consistent with the Constitution of that House. He thought that there was great danger in going even one step towards general Reform,—and such a step he thought this to be. His right hon. friend had told them how important it was that Birmingham, and Leeds, and Manchester, and other great towns should send representatives to that House; and, by what 349 his right hon. friend had said on that subject, he had plainly indicated that whenever a measure for giving representatives to such places might be brought forward, he would so depart from the general views he had laid down, as to vote for those measures. His right hon. friend had clearly intimated a disposition to go these further lengths. In so doing, his right hon. friend might think that he was only taking up a defensive position still; but by such a course his right hon. friend would most assuredly go on shifting his position in such a way that, though his right hon. friend might still mean to act on the defensive, there would, at last, be nothing left to defend. His right hon. friend, too, had tried to throw upon the Government the odium, if odium it was to be considered, of not going the length he wished the House to go; and said, that in the event of the rejection of the motion he supported, he should feel himself relieved from the restrictions which, until now, he had imposed upon himself. If, however, his right hon. friend were really desirous of maintaining the Constitution of that House, and of opposing all sweeping measures of Reform, he would find that the course which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) proposed to adopt was at once the most prudent and the best calculated for those views which his right hon. friend professed to entertain. He had said, and he begged leave to repeat, that he was no Reformer. He was quite sure that the House of Commons, as at present constituted, surpassed any similar body in any other country, and he chose rather to remain in the secure possession of these certain advantages than trust to any theoretical views, however specious, for uncertain benefits. Yet, though he was no Reformer, he had never opposed the punishment of corruption: but at the same time he did not seek out cases of corruption with the view of gaining Reform in Parliament, but merely in order to punish delinquents.
The precedents of the House on subjects of this nature he apprehended he was but following on the present occasion. In the case of Grampound it was not thought advisable to transfer the franchise to the neighbouring hundreds; and he was prepared for extending the same principle to Penryn; and for this reason,—that the hundreds abounded in boroughs,—that the adjacent country, in fact, was 350 so studded with boroughs that no voters could be got to infuse life into the decayed places. He therefore had voted that the franchise of Penryn should be transferred to Leeds. His right hon. friend taxed them with inconsistency because they did not adopt with respect to East Retford the same course they had adopted in the cases of Grampound and Penryn. But let him ask his right hon. friend how long he had entertained these opinions? In the case of Penryn, the late Mr. Canning, who then led the House, so far from being inclined to advance a step, and to give the franchise to a large town in order to take up a defensive position, declared his wish and intention that we should infuse new voters into Penryn from the circumjacent country. He did not recollect whether his right hon. friend voted with Mr. Canning on that occasion. His right hon. friend had enlarged on the importance of the representation to large commercial towns. For his own part he was the last person to underrate the representation of the commercial interests; but when his right hon. friend said that those interests were not represented in the House of Commons, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was totally at issue with him. Let his right hon. friend recollect, that when it was proposed to lay a tax on iron, the persons engaged in the iron trade found in the exertions and ability of his hon. friend the Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Littleton) and of other hon. Members, an ample compensation for the want of a particular representative. He would not detain the House longer. Since the former decisions of the House on this subject, he had seen nothing to alter his opinion. He should therefore adhere to the vote he had formerly given, because he thought it more in unison with the practice of Parliament, and because, when ulterior measures of Reform were brought forward, he should be better able to resist them.
Mr. C. Grant
said, it was with great regret that he had heard the speech of his light hon. friend who had just sat down. His right hon. friend, in a very lofty tone, commenced an attack on his right hon. friend (Mr. Huskisson), who sat near him. Now what had his right hon. friend (Mr. Huskisson) said? Why merely that he had taken up a defensive position against the wilder schemes of Reform; that he thought it the duty of the House to watch the 351 signs of the times; and that he regretted that the Government had not only done so, but seemed determined to continue in the opposite course. His right hon. friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), for his part, declared that he would resist the first step; but it happened that he (Mr. Grant) had seen the fate of this doctrine of resisting first steps. It happened that he had seen the meaning of such language. It happened that he had heard the same language delivered in the same assumption of tone, by all the right hon. Gentlemen who had sat on the Treasury Bench. And what had it come to? What had been its course but a course gradually lingering on from partial to actual death. This was not looking to public principle and to the general good. No, it was a timorous, half-consenting, half-suspicious line of conduct, which took away all the advantage of concession, and, by denying that which ought to be granted, invited demands for that which ought to be refused. His right hon. friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had told them, that he had voted for the transfer of a franchise to Leeds. His right hon. friend voted for the transfer of a borough-franchise to Leeds. Why, he thought that his right hon. friend resisted first steps, [hear]—that he adhered to the Constitution of that House, inflexible to persuasion, to eloquence, to influence of whatever kind. But no,—his right hon. friend really voted for the transfer of a franchise to Leeds. Well, then, there could be no question of principle in the manner of his right hon. friend voting; and he thought that his right hon. friend, until he declared it, had forgotten his former vote as to Leeds. Was it not, then, trifling with the House, in a question of this nature, to say, "I resist first steps?" Was it not a mere mockery of debate, to say so, when they knew that if there were two franchises before them, his right hon. friend would give one of them to a large town? He appealed to the House if this were the way in which so grave a question ought to be treated. But his right hon. friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was extremely indignant with his right hon. friend (Mr. Huskisson), because his right hon. friend thought that some portion of the exacerbation of the country arose from the conduct of the Government. Now, at the tremendous risk of incurring the anger of his right hon. friend (the Chan- 352 cellor of the Exchequer) he begged leave to say that he held the same opinion. Had there not been meetings such as had never taken place before? Were there not loud complaints and great dissatisfaction? Were there not signs and symptoms sufficient to make every thinking man pause? And yet his right hon. friend told them that he had seen nothing which could induce him to alter his past conduct. If they refused every thing, then every thing would be asked; if they refused that which was just, that which was unjust would be demanded. Every body knew that the demands of a people under excitement were always much higher than they would be content with having conceded when irritation had subsided. He well knew that the people of England dreaded innovation; that they were sincerely attached to their old institutions; and he knew also that it was judicious to preserve them in that temper, by proceeding, in individual cases of abuse like this of East Retford, in a manner which should be most advantageous to the public interest. While he admitted that this was the disposition of the people, he was inclined to believe that if this temperate mode of remedying abuses were refused them, they would be driven to attack those landmarks which his right hon. friend was so anxious—and justly so anxious—to preserve. His right hon. friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had referred to a circumstance which took place during Mr. Canning's administration. But in that instance what had been done? The Government exercised no influence, and what was the result? Why the House agreed that the franchise of Penryn should be transferred to Manchester, and he acquitted the House, therefore, of all participation in goading the people to overstep the bounds of prudence in their demands. Blame did not attach to the House. It was, however, still in the power of the House to satisfy the just demands of the people. If the popular feeling were just, honest, and English—if it were such as the House was known to participate in, in the name of common-sense what was the spell of Bassetlaw which induced Ministers to resist the popular demand. The people of England—the British public—justly feeling the importance of representation, came to that House, told them of great communities that were unrepresented, and the Government met them,— 353 with what?—with the hundred of Basset-law. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them that on a certain occasion the iron trade had been protected in that House. But were they thus to argue from the interference of individual members on a particular question; or were they to appeal to the common sense of the matter? He would tell the Government of large communities, consisting of thousands of individuals, whose capital was not to be numbered by hundreds or by thousands, but by millions, he would tell the Government of the enterprise, the spirit, the weight, and the importance of such communities, totally unrepresented; and placing these in the balance against the hundred of Bassetlaw, he would leave the result to the common sense and the consciences of hon. Members who heard him.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
wished to explain. There was one point on which his right hon. friend had misunderstood him. He knew and stated that he acted on this question according to precedents; the result of which was, that the franchise should be extended to the hundred, unless the hundred were so small, or so full of other boroughs, that such transfer became unadvisable. In this case the hundred did afford a sufficient number of voters in other boroughs.
Sir F. Blake
said, though nominally it might be an extension of representation to transfer the franchise to the hundred, yet as he did not know under whose influence the hundred of Bassetlaw was, he thought it would be better to disfranchise the borough altogether. [Cries of Question became very loud and general]
said, he was not surprised at the anxiety of the House to come to a decision on a subject which had already been so frequently and so fully discussed, and he could assure hon. Gentlemen that for this reason it was not his intention to trespass long on their patience. He rose from a wish to disembarrass the question of the extraneous political and personal allusions of his right hon. friend the Member for Liverpool. His right hon. friend argued, that because the Government had selected the same gentleman as Attorney-General who had filled that office under the administration of Mr. Canning, they therefore should adopt the same course in respect to the franchise of a corrupt borough as had been adopted by 354 the House in the time of that right hon. Gentleman. His right hon. friend had passed a high eulogium, in the justice of which he (Mr. Peel) fully concurred, on the great learning and talents of Mr. Abercromby. He was happy to have the opportunity of selecting to fill the important office of Chief Baron of Scotland, a gentleman of the acknowledged talents, and great skill in the Scottish law for which that right hon. gentleman was distinguished. In every thing which had been said of that learned gentleman he fully concurred, but why his right hon. friend should infer from that appointment that Government would now be prepared to consent to the transfer of the lapsed franchise to a large town, instead of extending it to the adjoining hundred of Bassetlaw, he (Mr. Peel) was at a loss to conceive; for if they were to follow the course pursued at the time alluded to, it would be to extend the franchise to the adjoining hundred. He owned he could not see what his selection of the hon. Member for Sussex, on a former evening, as a Member of the Committee on Indian affairs, because he represented the interest connected with the growth of wool, had to do as an argument on this question; nor could he see the force of the ridicule which his right hon. friend endeavoured to throw on that selection, and the cause which he had assigned for it. He recollected, that, in a speech made by an hon. Member, last year, on the subject of wool, it was stated, that in the northern parts of China, there would probably be a considerable outlet for our woollen trade. Remembering that, and believing that if the prospect were realized, it would afford a market for one of our staple commodities, he did think it only what was due to that interest to place on the Committee a gentleman representing a part of the country greatly interested in the production of that article. That, he thought, was a reason why an air of ridicule should not be thrown on his selection of Mr. Burrell. He would now put it to the landed interest whether there was a preponderance of that interest when they saw his right hon. friend object to the name of one country gentleman on the Committee, and ask to displace Mr. Burrell by inserting instead of his name that of Mr. Marshall, as a representative of the manufacturing interest. In this he saw no proof of the ascendancy of the landed aristocracy in that House. 355 He (Mr. Peel) did not repent of having preferred the name of Mr. Burreil to that of Mr. Marshall, and he must repeat, he could not see the force of" the ridicule which his right hon. friend endeavoured to cast on him, because in that selection he had not forgot the interest of that staple commodity of our manufactures and trade. He would now say a few words on the subject before them, and would be very brief, as he was sure that most hon. Members were now heartily tired of a subject which had been already so frequently discussed. In the propositions before the House there were tour courses from which they were to choose. The first was to issue the writ for the borough of East Ret-ford at once, because some hon. Members seemed to think that the evidence in proof of general bribery in the borough was not complete, and that whatever corruption had existed, was already sufficiently punished by the long suspension of the issue of the writ. The second course proposed for adoption was that of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, who was for extending the franchise into the hundred of Basset-law. The third was for taking the franchise altogether from East Retford, and transferring: it to Birmingham; and the fourth was that proposed by the noble Lord (Howick), which went, in his (Mr. Peel's) opinion, to cast an imputation of corruption on all the cities and boroughs in the kingdom. Of these four, he was prepared to adopt that of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire. He objected to the first proposition,—that for an immediate issue of the writ—on this ground, that though the evidence did not afford proof of any individual guilt, yet, to his mind, there was sufficient proof of a prevailing-habit of bribery in the borough; and as the House had already declared that the borough was corrupt, and ought to be Punished, it was, he thought, too much to ask that the writ should now be re-issued. With respect to the proposition of the noble Lord, whom he always listened to with respect, because every thing which he pressed on the attention of the House he brought before them with great clearness and ability.—he owned it was one in which he could by no means concur. It was one declaratory of the general prevalence of bribery and corruption in all the cities and boroughs in the kingdom. Now, if he were to admit this, which he did not, but if he were to admit it, it would be an 356 argument in favour of the proposition of his hon. friend the Member for Hertford: because if the cities and boroughs were generally corrupt, it would be a good reason for transferring any franchise which Parliament might have at its disposal, not to any town, but to a county; for the noble Lord's motion did not extend to charge bribery against the counties. He would admit with the noble Lord that there did exist more of bribery and corruption in boroughs and cities than counties, and that, as he had said, would be an additional reason for extending the franchise of this borough to a large body of county voters; but he could not go with the noble Lord in the declaration of general bribery and corruption amongst the boroughs and cities. He could not bring himself to consent to include in such a charge the borough of Westbury, which he had the honour to represent, or to involve its respectable electors in so sweeping a censure. [A laugh, in which the right hon. Gentleman joined.] The noble Lord did not include counties in this charge: he represented a county himself. [Cries of "No, no."] Well, then, a borough; and he (Mr. Peel) would have no objection to the noble Lord applying this charge to his own borough, if he so pleased, but he believed he would get few hon. Members to join him in applying it to the places they represented. He hardly imagined that the hon. Baronet near the noble Lord, (Sir F. Burdett) would consent to such a censure upon his constituents. Taking, then, the proposition of the noble Lord as one to which he thought the House would not consent, he would now come to that of the hon. Member for Hertford, for extending it to the adjoining hundred of Bassetlaw. The argument of his right hon. friend was not understood. His right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that every case of the kind before them should rest on its own abstract merits, and that he saw circumstances in this that induced him to think that the safest course would be to extend the franchise into the neighbouring hundred. But his right hon. friend the Member for Liverpool, (Mr. Huskisson) in a manner unworthy of his great talents, had endeavoured to throw ridicule on the extension of the franchise to Bassetlaw. He (Mr. Peel) had voted for that proposition before; and he saw nothing in the argument of his right hon. friend to induce him to de- 357 part from the same course on this occasion. Some allusions had been made to the influence which the Duke of Newcastle would obtain by the extension of the franchise to Bassetlaw; but it was not necessary for him to state that he could not have any private inclination to promote the political influence of any one opposed to Government. As the thing had been alluded to, however, he would declare, upon his honour, that the support which Government gave to the proposition of his hon. friend, for extending the franchise to the hundred, was not the result of any communication or any understanding whatever with the noble Duke alluded to. [hear] But the fact was, as understood, the interest of the noble Lord would not be promoted by the extension of the right of voting to the hundred. There were in that hundred two thousand freeholders, and if he were correctly informed, there did not exist any great leading interest amongst them.
In stating his intention of giving the same vote on this question now as he had done on former occasions, he must not be understood as expressing himself hostile to the extension of the franchise to large towns. He had voted for the transfer of the franchise from Penryn to Manchester, and on that occasion he stated if, on a future occasion, a majority of the inhabitants of any borough should be proved guilty of bribery and corruption, he should not object to the transfer of the franchise to a large town, with this understanding—that there should be a division of franchises, at the disposal of Parliament, alternately between the landed and commercial and manufacturing interests. He saw no reason to change that opinion, but he thought that there were circumstances in the case of East Retford which should induce Parliament to extend the franchise to the adjoining hundred. This question had been so often under the consideration of the House, and the House had expressed its opinion upon it by so decided a majority, that he did not think it necessary for him then to restate the arguments which he had urged before, on the motion of his hon. friend; but one element in the case which weighed with him was the consideration that the county of Nottingham sent only eight Members to Parliament, and he saw no good reason why that number should be reduced to six. The same consideration did not exist in 358 the case of Penryn. He also considered that this extension would act as a punishment amongst the guilty electors, while it would not take away the right from those who were innocent. The throwing in upon the borough this large number of freeholders would, to use the language of an hon. Member not then in the House, be a punishment, by "sluicing" them with these two thousand fresh voters; and that the electors of East Retford so considered it, was proved by their protest to that House against the proposition. Now, considering that the question had been eight or ten times discussed, and not apprehending any preponderance of the landed interest in the House from this accession, he thought it would be the safest course which the House could pursue, to adhere to its former decisions; but should it now, contrary to those decisions, adopt the amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. Tennyson), he (Mr. Peel) had no hesitation in declaring that he should feel it his duty not to oppose by any vexatious delays the passage to the other House of the bill which the hon. Member would in that case bring in; for, after the decision of to-night, be it what it might, he did hope not to hear the name of this borough again.
Mr. N. Calvert
rose amidst cries of 'question.'—He said, he was anxious to state, that he had no personal acquaintance with the Duke of Newcastle, and was not influenced in this motion by any considerations for the influence of that noble Lord. He did not believe, indeed, that the noble Duke would obtain any increase of influence by the extension of the franchise from East Retford to the hundred. There was a Duke of Newcastle, who, when Minister in the reign of Geo. II., had very great influence in the borough, and it was said gave places under Government to most of the electors, but he believed the present Duke possessed very little if any influence there, and certainly no leading influence in the hundred.
§ Mr. Huskisson
in explanation, begged to observe that his right hon. friend (Mr. Peel) had mistaken his argument about the appointment of Sir J. Scarlett as Attorney-General. What he said was, that seeing a Tory Ministry acting on Whig principles, he thought they would not object to the course which the hon. Member (Mr. Tennyson) had proposed. As to the objection which his right hon. friend 359 supposed him to entertain to the landed interest being on the East India Committee, ha could assure him that in that he was also mistaken. He had not objected to the hon. Member for Sussex because he was connected with that interest; but it would be an error to suppose the landed aristocracy were not fully represented in the East-India Company. The first name on the list was that of the Marquis Graham. There were also those of Lord Chandos, Mr. Cavendish,—all names connected with the great landed aristocracy. His argument against the hon. Member for Sussex being on the Committee was, that he could not be said to represent the wool interest more than any other country Gentleman. His right hon. friend seemed to think that because the hon. Member for Sussex lived in the immediate vicinity of the South Downs, he was therefore more immediately a representative of the wool interest, and he (Mr. Huskisson) alluding to that observation, had asked, where were the representatives of the iron interest? It was true that many Members represented the counties in which iron was produced very well, but not one represented the iron interest.
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, as his right hon. friend, in his explanation, had thought proper to amend his argument, he (Mr. Peel) felt it also necessary to explain. In the first instance his right hon. friend's argument certainly was, that in consequence of the appointments already alluded to, and in consequence of the Government having adopted one great principle, they ought also to adopt the Other principles of Mr. Canning.
§ Mr. Huskisson
begged to repeat, that, considering this Administration to be a Tory Government, supported by Whig principles, he had contended they might have adopted this one Whig principle with the rest.
Mr. C. Grant
explained. He did not mean to throw out any insinuation against the Government, or attribute motives to them which they had disclaimed.
§ Mr. Lumley
hoped if it were thought to be impracticable to come to a decision this session, it would be considered best to let the question fall to the ground, and issue new writs for East Retford.
§ Lord Darlington
said, whatever might have fallen from him the other night (on moving the Address) as to the ground on which he would support Ministers, he 360 must state to the right hon. Member for Liverpool, that he had, whenever the subject was discussed, always voted for the motion of the hon. Member for Hertford.
§ The House divided: For the original Motion 120; For the Amendment 99: Majority 27.
|List of the Majority.|
|Arkwright, R.||Fane, Sip H.|
|Apsley, Lord||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Arbuthnot, rt. hon. C.||Gordon, Sir W.|
|Arbuthnot, Col.||Gower, Lord L.|
|Ashurst, W. H.||Graham, Marquis of|
|Ashley, Hon. W.||Grant, Sir A.|
|Alexander, J.||Grosvenor, Gen.|
|Alexander, H.||Gye, F.|
|Baker, E.||Hardynge, rt. hn. Sir H.|
|Bankes, H.||Hill, Sir R. Bart.|
|Bankes, G.||Hill, rt. hon. Sir. G.|
|Bankes, W.||Hastings, Sir C. A. Bt.|
|Beresford, Sir J. P. bart.||Holmesdale, Viscount|
|Beresford, Marcus||Ingilby, Sir W. A. Bt.|
|Benson, Ralph||Irving, J.|
|Brydges, Sir J.||Knox, Hon. T.|
|Brecknock, Lord||Knatchbull, Sir E. Bt.|
|Becket, rt. hon. Sir J.||King, hon. Gen.|
|Batley, C. H.||Lowther, Lord|
|Barrard, G.||Lennox, Lord G.|
|Balfour, J.||Lowther, Col.|
|Bell, M.||Lushington, Col.|
|Bastard, E. P.||Leake, W.|
|Cholmeley, M.||Lewis, rt. hon. F.|
|Chichester, Major A.||Lygon, Hon. Col. H. P.|
|Carrington, Sir E. C.||Marryatt, J.|
|Campbell, A. of Blythewood.||Murray, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Cust, Hon. P.||Mundy, G.|
|Cust, Hon. E.||Manners, Lord C.|
|Calcraft, rt. hon. J.||Manners, Lord R.|
|Courtenay, rt. hon. T. P.||M'Leod, J. N.|
|Castlereagh, Lord||Moore, G.|
|Clark, Sir G.||Martin, Sir T. B.|
|Croker, rt. hon. J. W.||Manning, W.|
|Cockburn, rt. hn. Sr. G.||Northcote, H. S.|
|Cartwright, W. B.||North, J. H.|
|Clive, H.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Cox, J.||Osborne, Lord F.|
|Cooper, R. B.||Paul, Sir H. St.|
|Cockerell, Sir C. Bart.||Pitt, J.|
|Corry, Hon. H. T. L.||Peel, rt. hon. R.|
|Dundas, R. A.||Peel, W.|
|Dawson, G. R.||Peachy, Lieut-Gen.|
|Davis, Hart||Perceval, S.|
|Darlington, Lord||Peach, N. W.|
|Dotting A. R.||Planta, J.|
|Dawkins, Col. H.||Prendergast, G.|
|Doherty, J.||Robinson, G. R.|
|Duncombe, Hon. W.||Strathaven, Lord|
|Downes, Lord||Sugden, Sir E. B.|
|East, Sir E. Hyde||Stopford, Lord|
|Forrester, Hon. J. G. W.||Smith, Ald.|
|Fitzgibbon, Hon. R.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Farquhar, J.||Somerset, Lord E.|
|Freemantle, Sir T.||Sanderson, R.|
|Sotheron, Adm. F.||Ure, Masterton|
|Stewart, J.||Valletort, Lord|
|Spottiswoode, A.||Van Homrigh, P.|
|Sadler, M. T.||Willoughby, H.|
|Seymour, H. B.||Williams, Owen|
|Thompson, L.||Wetherell, Sir C.|
|Talmash, Hon. F.||Walpole, Hon. Col. J.|
|Trench, Col. F. W.||—|
|Townshend, Hon. J. R.||TELLERS.|
|Thynne, Lord H.||Ross, Charles|
|Vivian, Sir H.||Calvert, Nicholson|
|List of the Minority.|
|Attwood, M.||Milbank, M.|
|Althorpe, Lord||Marshall, J.|
|Barclay, C.||Marshall, W.|
|Barclay, D.||Martin, J.|
|Blandford, Lord||M'Donald, Sir J.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Morpeth, Lord|
|Bernal, R.||Nugent, Lord|
|Brownlow, C.||O'Connell, D.|
|Burdett, Sir F.||Pendarvis, E. W.|
|Blake, Sir F.||Parnell, Sir H.|
|Beaumont, T. W.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Baring, A.||Phillimore, Dr.|
|Baring, F.||Palmerston, Lord|
|Callaghan, G.||Protheroe, E.|
|Cavendish, Hon. H.||Ponsonby, Hon. G.|
|Cavendish, W.||Robarts, A. W.|
|Carter, J. Bonham||Robinson, Sir G.|
|Craddock, Col.||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Calvert, C.||Rickford, W.|
|Duncombe, T.||Russell, W.|
|Davis, Col.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Davenport, E.||Rice, T. S.|
|Dawson, A.||Scarlett, Sir J.|
|Denison, J. J.||Slaney, R. A.|
|Denison, J. W.||Smith, V.|
|Ewart, W.||Smith, W.|
|Ellis, Hon. A.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Easthope, J.||Stewart, Sir W.S.|
|Ferguson, Sir R.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Fortescue, Hon. G.||Taylor, M. A.|
|Fergusson, Cutlar||Thomson, Poulett|
|Fazakerly, T. N.||Wells, J.|
|Ferguson, Sir T.||Westenra, Hon. H. R.|
|Fyler, T. B.||Warrender, Sir G.|
|Gascoyne, Gen.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Guest, J. S.||Wood, Ald.|
|Grant, rt. hon. C.||Wood, C.|
|Grant, R.||Wood, J.|
|Graham, Sir J.||Wilbraham, G.|
|Gordon, R.||Wall, Baring|
|Hoye—(of Southamp.)||Warburton, H.|
|Huskisson, rt. hon. W.||Whitmore, W. W.|
|Hume, J.||Wilson, Sir R.|
|Howick, Lord||Waithman, Ald.|
|Hobhouse, J. C.||Wyvill, Marmaduke|
|Jephson, C. D.||TELLERS.|
|Labouchere, H.||Tennyson, Charles|
|Langston, J.||Normanby, Lord|
|Littleton, E. J.||—|
|Lester, B. L.||Paired off.|
|Lamb, Hon. G.||W. J. Denison.|
§ Lord Howick
, on the question being put, that the Bill be now brought in, said, it was his opinion that it was extremely unfair to fasten on one single case of political delinquency, like that of East Retford, while it was so notorious that the borough thus stigmatized formed only a component part of a widely prevailing system, deserving of reprobation and reform. He would have punishment inflicted indiscriminately on all culprits of every class, high or low, where soever they might be found. It was an incontrovertible fact, that undue influence, whether in the shape of money or otherwise, had been long exercised in every election throughout the United Kingdom. To cause this undoubted truth to be openly declared by the House of Commons was the object of his resolution. It had been already fully admitted by a noble Lord who filled, a prominent part in the administration several years ago (Lord Castlereagh), and the correctness of the statement was too generally established to be questioned from that day to the present. It was suggested by aright hon. Gentleman opposite, that he ought to be prepared to bring in a bill for the prevention of bribery, grounded on his proposed resolution. Now the course which he intended to adopt was this:—after the passing of the declaratory resolution, he might move for the appointment of a Committee, which Committee should be empowered to draw up a scheme for Parliamentary Reform. But were he presented with the alternative of stopping short in his career, or supporting the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, he would not hesitate a moment in his choice. It was his determination to oppose that hon. Gentleman, because he thought his bill an imposition on the country. He considered it a mere mockery to disfranchise a single borough in the existing circumstances of the country, when no person was blind to the means by which numbers procured seats in that Mouse. Perhaps it might be said that by opposing this bill he was virtually encouraging bribery. In reply, however, he could only say, that while abuse at its full growth walked boldly through the land, he would never be brought, at sight of a solitary instance of corruption, to feign a horror and indignation which he did not feel.
§ The House again divided: Ayes 154; Noes 55—Majority 99.
|List of the Minority on Lord Howick's Motion.|
|Baring, Alexander||M'Donald, Sir James|
|Batley, Charles H.||Martin, John|
|Bernal, Ralph||Marshall, Wm.|
|Brownlow, Charles||Nugent, Lord|
|Barclay, Charles||O'Connell, Daniel|
|Barclay, David||Philips, George|
|Blandford, Marquis of||Pendarvis, Edw. W. W.|
|Blake, Sir F.||Ponsonby, Hon. G.|
|Burdett, Sir F.||Pallmer, N.|
|Cavendish, Henry||Protheroe, Edw.|
|Cavendish, Wm.||Russell, W.|
|Cholmeley, Montague||Rice, Thomas Spring|
|Davies, Colonel||Smith Vernon|
|Davenport, Edw.||Stewart, J. (Bevevley)|
|Dawson, Alexander||Tennyson, Charles|
|Easthope, J.||Thompson, Ald. W.|
|Fazakerley, John N.||Thomson, Poulett|
|Fortescue, Hon. G.||Warburton, Henry|
|Ferguson, Sir R. C.||Waithman, Ald.|
|Gordon, Robert||Wilbraham, George|
|Howard, Henry||Whitmore, W. W.|
|Hume, Joseph||Wells, John|
|Hoye—(of Southampton)||Wood, Ald.|
|Hobhouse, J. C.||Wood, John|
|Ingilby, Sir W. A. Bt.||—|
|Lamb, Hon. G.||TELLERS.|
|Labouchere, Henry||Howick, Lord|
|Lumley, John S.||Normanby, Lord|
Mr. N. Calvert
then brought in a Bill to prevent Bribery and Corruption in the Election of Burgesses to serve in Parliament for the Borough of East Retford; which was read a first time, and ordered to be read a second time on Friday, 26th of February.