The Marquis of Blandford
inquired why certain returns for which he had formerly moved, to show the number of persons entitled to vote in the several cities, boroughs, and towns in the United Kingdom, had not been made out?
said, the case was simply this. An Address was moved to his Majesty last Session, at an early period in the evening, shortly before the House adjourned, that there should be laid before the House a return of the number of persons entitled to vote in the several Cities and Boroughs in Great Britain. The return called for was of the number of persons entitled to vote, and it was impossible to make such a return, for it would be a most dangerous practice to allow the returning officer to decide upon the number of persons entitled to vote in any particular borough or city. A return could be furnished certainly of the number of persons who had actually voted at the, last election.
wished to know what inference could be drawn from the number that had voted at the last election? Many instances might occur where there had been no contest at all, and where, therefore, no such return could be made out.
Mr. O' Connell
suggested that a distinction should be made between the returns as to counties and as to cities and boroughs. In the latter places the number of voters could be easily ascertained, as the persons qualified to vote possessed that right in consequence of being freemen or free burgesses, &c,
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, it would be impossible to ascertain the number of scot and lot voters; and no return in that case, corresponding to the motion of the noble Lord could be made.
§ Lord Nugent
observed, that the return contemplated by the hon. Member for Aberdeen could not be made out correctly; for instance, as regarded the borough which he (Lord Nugent) represented. In 1818, 1,400 persons voted at the election in that borough; and since that period many who possessed the right to vote there had lost it, while the right to vote had been acquired since by others, who did not vote on that occasion.
The Marquis of Blandford
wished to know whether he was to understand that the motion which he had made upon a former occasion, and to which no opposition was then offered, could not be complied with?
observed, that it would be more convenient if the noble Lord would give notice in future when he introduced motions of that description. No opposition had then been offered to his motion, because no person was aware that he intended to bring it on.
§ Mr. Hume
was desirous to know what was the purpose for which it was proposed to go into committee on this evening? was it intended to vote the Ordnance Estimates, upon this occasion, in a Committee upon the Navy Estimates, and before the House was prepared to go into the Ordnance Estimates? He should certainly object to such a course of proceeding, though he should have no objection that a certain sum, which might be necessary to meet the present expenses of this department should be now taken upon account.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that a certain sum was necessary at present for the public service in this department. His hon. friend intended to take a vote upon account for 200,000l. to meet the existing exigencies, and the Ordnance Estimates would be left open for discussion by the House on a future occasion.