§ On the motion of Lord John Russell, the House resolved itself into a Committee upon the Reform of Parliament (England), Mr. Bernal in the Chair.
§ The Chairman having put the question, "that Kendal, including the town of Kendal, stand part of schedule D,"
§ Mr. Croker
said, that, from all the returns he had seen up to last night, there was not, in the district of Kendal, a sufficient number of inhabitants to supply an adequate constituency for a place about to be enfranchised. He had thought Representation ought not to be given to any place containing less than 10,000 inhabitants. The addition of the township of Kirkland had, however, removed his objection to this question. It was the leaving out of Kirkland which he thought a grievance, and against which he had intended to address the Committee. These cases, as well as that of Saltash, fully proved the propriety of the remarks on the details of the Bill which hon. Members had submitted to the Committee.
§ Question carried.
§ The Chairman put as the question, "that the town of Walsall, including the borough and foreign of Walsall, stand part of schedule D."
§ Mr. Croker
said, he rose pursuant to a notice he had given, to move an amendment 894 upon the question now put. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) smiled, as if he was appearing in a new character, that of a Reformer. The fact was not so; but he had now to deal with the details of a Bill, the principle of which had been adopted, and while the Bill was in Committee he had left his character of anti-Reformer in abeyance, and was bound to relieve the Bill as far as possible from its evil qualities and inconsistencies. In the neighbourhood of Walsall was situated the important town of Wednesbury, which had the advantage of being one embodied town, if he might use the expression, in contradistinction to places that were formed rather of scattered villages than of continuous streets. Walsall had a smaller population than any place in the schedule D, excepting Gateshead; and, therefore, the constituency could not be rendered too large by the addition of another moderately-sized place. Nor was Wednesbury far distant from Walsall; at least, it was situated nearer to that town than several of the places united with Wolverhampton were with that town. He had no personal interest whatever in the question, but, looking at the disposal of the franchise in the county in which Walsall was situated, he found that Wednesbury was the only place of importance in that county, that had not a direct share in returning a Representative. He, therefore, moved as an amendment, that the words "and town of Wednesbury" be added. He would not insist upon a division, but he thought it his duty to submit the Motion to the Committee.
Lord John Russell
said, the town and foreign of Walsall, included in this vote, were under one municipal Constitution, and contained a population of 15,000 souls, and furnished a constituency of 750 voters. Walsall formed a distinct town of itself; it was not connected with Wednesbury; and being sufficiently large to be intrusted with the privilege of returning a Member, he saw no reason for the amendment of the right hon. Gentleman. He knew also, that the freeholders of Wednesbury would be sorry to relinquish their county votes for the purpose of returning a Member with Walsall.
Mr. Stuart Wortley
thought it would have been much more just, with a view to an equal protection of the iron trade, to have given one of these numerous Members, 895 intended for the Potteries, to Merthyr Tydvil, instead of leaving the whole of that important district with but one Representative.
Sir Robert Peel
said, his hon. friend, the member for Staffordshire (Mr. Littleton), had, on a former occasion, remarked, that the freeholders of Wednesbury would rather enjoy their county franchise than be united with Walsall, and have the privilege of directly returning a Member. Surely, that was no proof of the overwhelming desire of the people for the extravagant and dangerous changes to be made in this Bill. The freeholders of Wednesbury, a large town, preferred the system under which they had so long been represented, to the Bill of the noble Lord. Walsall had only a population of 12,000.
Sir Robert Peel
continued. The population was now 15,000! What, then, were they now to have recourse to the population of 1831? When the disfranchising clauses were under consideration, and rights and privileges, which had endured and been protected and upheld for four centuries, were to be assailed and destroyed, then the population returns of 1821 only were to be consulted. The gross injustice and inconsistency of such conduct must be evident to the whole country, and sooner or later it must produce its natural effect. He must remark, too, that it was wonderful to observe how strong an affection the noble Lord had conceived for "municipal constitutions" since schedules A and B had been disposed of. While those schedules were under discussion, corporate rights were ridiculed; but now Walsall was to return a Member by itself, because it was under one municipal Constitution. Such inconsistency appeared both ridiculous and contemptible, and he should support the amendment. The argument of his hon. friend (Mr. Littleton) surprised him very much. His hon. friend had stated, that the people of Wednesbury were so well pleased with the right given to them by the Bill, to vote for the county Representatives, that they did not care to have a Representative of their own. He was aware, that it was useless to press the amendment, especially on a Saturday, unless the noble Lord chose to lend a favourable ear to the Representations which had been made.
§ Mr. Littleton
wished to correct his 896 right hon. friend. He had not said, that the freeholders of Wednesbury were adverse to being united with Walsall, but that he had not received any application from them requesting that Wednesbury might be united with Walsall; and the inference he drew, therefore, was, that the people were satisfied with the qualification they would possess as freeholders, to vote for the county. He had no personal interest in the question, and would support the original motion.
§ Lord Althorp
preferred giving the franchise to a corporate town singly, in case the corporate town had a sufficient constituency. Walsall had that, and, therefore, he thought the Bill should stand as it did.
Sir Robert Peel
said, the noble Lord must surely speak in entire forgetfulness of what clauses there were in the Bill. The clause under which Commissioners were to be appointed would interfere with every local jurisdiction in the country.
said, that so far as the inhabitants of Merthyr Tydvil were concerned, he could declare, they were indifferent whether their claims were to be decided by the census of 1821 or 1831. The question with them was, not whether they should be incorporated with some other place, but whether they ought not to return Members themselves.
§ Amendment negatived, and the original question carried.
§ On the question, "that Whitehaven, including the town of Whitehaven, the town and parish of Workington, and the parish of Harrington, in the county of Cumberland, stand part of schedule B,"
§ Lord John Russell moved, as an amendment, that after the words "town of Whitehaven," the words "and Preston Quarter, and parish of Meresly" be inserted.
§ Mr. Croker
said, this question formed one of the most extraordinary anomalies of the whole Bill. He must contend, that the town of Whitehaven ought not to be united to the town and parish of Workington, and that the population of the former being 17,000, was sufficient to entitle it to a Member without any such union. Workington was eight miles distant, and the interest of its inhabitants was in direct opposition to that of the people of Whitehaven. He thought both places were better entitled, from their size and importance, to send Representatives to Parliament 897 than either Walsall, Gateshead, Tynemouth, or South Shields. It was a total want of consistency to propose to unite Whitehaven, which had a population of 12,000 inhabitants, and had, in its immediate vicinity, a further population of 5,000, to another town, of nearly equal size, at a distance of eight miles; while Walsall and Wednesbury, two towns in the immediate vicinity of each other, and whose interests were also united, were not to be joined for the purposes of Representation. This was a most glaring anomaly, and would open a new field for discussion, which would involve Ministers in many difficulties; and he should, therefore, be glad to hear from the noble Lords opposite, the cause of this extraordinary union?
Sir James Graham
said, that party divisions, in which he had, unfortunately, had his share, would prevent the Committee, probably, from considering him as an impartial judge, although he had considerable local knowledge of the districts which this Bill proposed to unite. He would, however, endeavour to satisfy the right hon. Gentleman, that the union which he so much deprecated was not so inconsistent with other parts of the Bill as he supposed. The objections were, the distance of the towns from each other, and that they had separate interests. Now, the fact was, that Preston Quarter, Moresby, Harrington, and Workington, were all situated on the sea-coast, and, although at some distance from each other, were all included in the sea-port of Whitehaven, and had a common interest in the Irish coal trade. This was one reason for their uniting them. Another was, the necessity of increasing the constituency of Whitehaven, because the whole town belonged to one noble individual, who, if the elective franchise was confined to it, would exclusively influence its Representation, and Whitehaven would be a nomination borough. The case of Huddersfield, agreed to last night, was precisely similar to the case of Whitehaven.
§ Colonel Lowther
said, as the town and neighbourhood of Whitehaven were allowed to contain 17,000 inhabitants, he left it to the Committee to judge whether the noble individual alluded to, could have such a great preponderance in the influence of the elections as to return the member for Whitehaven. He wished to take that opportunity to express his surprise, 898 that the parish of Bissington, which lay between Whitehaven and Workington, was not included with the other places which were to form component parts of this new borough. As for Harrington, which the hon. Gentleman had described as a sea-port, it was as much so as the Regent's Park. The sea did not come within a mile and half of it. He, therefore, begged to inquire, why Bissington had been excluded?
§ Mr. Croker
said, notwithstanding the candour and fairness of the right hon. Baronet's statement, which he fully admitted, he could not yet see one shadow of reason or justice in the course Ministers were now pursuing. This was, probably, one of the last occasions on which he should trouble the Committee, and therefore he could not help declaring, that no ground whatever existed for the proposed union between Whitehaven and Workington, and he should, therefore, conclude, by moving as an Amendment, that all the words in the question, after the words "Town of Whitehaven," be omitted.
§ Mr. Blamire
had some local knowledge of the places included in the question, and he saw nothing anomalous or inconsistent in the proposition. The places proposed to be united were connected in one continuous line, running along the sea-coast, and their interests were precisely similar. The parish of Bissington was not on the sea-coast, which was the reason, he presumed, why it was not included in the district.
§ Lord Althorp
was ready to admit, that the question of admitting Bissington was one of difficulty; but, after the fullest consideration, they had decided not to include it. The hon. Gentleman had correctly stated, that Whitehaven and Bissington joined, but they both wholly belonged to one individual, and this was chiefly the cause why it was resolved to exclude the latter. They had endeavoured to prevent, the exercise of too great power in influencing the elections, by adding Workington to Whitehaven, as in the case of Huddersfield, where the whole township belonged to one individual. In that case, they had thought it expedient to add the remainder of the parish, to prevent the overbearing influence that the ownership of the land on which the town stood would necessarily give. According to the population returns, the whole of the district of Huddersfield contained 31,000 persons, 899 and of these, 10,000 were in the parish. It was thought, that including the whole was sufficient to insure a free exercise of the franchise. The principle on which Ministers proceeded was, in disfranchising, not to allow the mere influence of property to prevail, because, in many instances, that was the only claim that could be set up; but, in enfranchising, not to interfere with the legitimate influence of property. In the present instance, they joined Workington with Whitehaven, because, in the latter case, the whole influence of property was in the hands of one individual.
§ Sir George Murray
said, the noble Lord and the First Lord of the Admiralty appeared to be proceeding on a new principle. Ministers originally declared, that they wished to destroy nomination, but not to interfere with the just influence of property. The noble Lord now said, that he would strictly adhere to the rule of disregarding the influence of property, in cases of disfranchisement, but that, in cases of enfranchisement, he would admit that influence to a certain extent. Here, it appeared that Workington was to be joined with Whitehaven, because the influence of property, placed in the hands of one individual, was considered to be too great in the latter place. Now, his chief objection to the principle thus laid down was, the endless succession of changes which it was calculated to produce. The Bill, he feared, would furnish a number of precedents, which other, and more eager, Reformers would gladly lay hold of, in furtherance of more extensive measures; and the country would thus be exposed to a succession of dangerous changes. The noble Lord might think that he had drawn a line sufficiently strong between nomination and the legitimate influence of property; but he would, most probably, find, that that line would be easily passed by those who wished for additional change, and who would readily argue, that this influence of property was, in fact, nomination.
§ Lord Althorp
said, the object here was, to create a new borough that should not be the property of one individual.
§ Sir George Murray
said, what had been said by the noble Lord did not remove his objection. Was not, in fact, the introduction of Workington an interference with the legitimate influence of property? In the case of Downton also, there had been an interference of the same nature, which had been properly designated as the introduction 900 of a new principle into the Bill. That case, he admitted, was different from the present; but this, as he before remarked, would serve as a precedent and justification for meddling with all sorts of property connected with the Representation of boroughs hereafter.
§ Lord Althorp
must deny, that any new principle had been introduced, either in the present instance, or in that of Downton. The Ministers had made this proposition, not in departure from any rule, but as an exception. They proposed to create a new borough; and their object was, to prevent the same influence of property, which had induced them to recommend the disfranchisement of so many other places, from converting this into a nomination borough. They proposed extensive constituencies to prevent such an influence, and had applied this to the newly-created boroughs, as well as those previously in existence.
§ Sir George Murray
inferred from what the noble Lord had said, that the influence of property was to be guarded against, beyond a certain extent, and that this was the case with Whitehaven and Huddersfield, in which the influence of two landowners was to be corrected in the manner proposed. But this principle was not carried to other places, where it was as much required. The boroughs of Malton and Tavistock (he did not mention those places invidiously, but because the names had been so frequently introduced, they were the first that presented themselves) had not been so interfered with. The influence of property was left to its full exercise in these places. He objected to this partial interference, because it would ultimately lead to the total destruction of all such influence by future Reformers, who would not be limited by the line drawn by the noble Lord.
§ Mr. John H. Lowther
contended, that Ministers were now acting not only upon a new, but upon a dangerous principle. There was a decided difference between the present case and that of Huddersfield.
asked whether, if the amendment were carried, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Croker) would consent to give a separate member to Workington, Bissington, and Harrington?
§ Mr. Croker
could not consent to purchase the vote of the hon. Gentleman by greeing to any such proposition. He opposed the Bill upon principle.
§ Mr. Ramsden
requested to be permitted to say a few words, as allusion had been made to the influence he was likely to possess, from his family being the proprietors of the soil on which Huddersfield stood. This property had not been purchased for electioneering purposes, but had belonged to him and his ancestors for three centuries, and his influence would not be very great. He thought bestowing the franchise on large manufacturing towns a wise measure, and he should regret if the influence of property in any of these places were so great as to prevent the expression of the wishes of the constituency. As one of the Representatives of the county of York, he could assert, that the measure met with support and approbation from his constituents, and he had no doubt the country generally would he benefitted by it. He approved of this Bill; it did away with direct, influence, while it gave its fair weight to indirect influence, which ought to be cherished, because it kept up and perpetuated the good feeling which it was so desirable to preserve between landlord and tenant. He was happy to say, such an understanding did prevail in the part of the country with which he was connected. If the inhabitants of Huddersfield should do him the honour of electing any person connected with him, he should feel happy, but this would never result from any power he possessed to control their choice.
§ Mr. Croker
desired to cherish indirect influence on this very ground. There was no comparison between the cases of Huddersfield and Whitehaven. If there was any principle in the Bill, it ought to be acted on in all cases. He could not help repeating, that the present proposition was extremely unjust.
§ Mr. Ramsden
thought the right hon. Gentleman was very much mistaken, if he believed the influence of property would continue to be great in Huddersfield.
§ Mr. Hunt
would avail himself of the opportunity of the hon. member for Yorkshire being in his place, to make a few remarks on what that hon. Member was pleased to say, relating to a petition which he (Mr. Hunt) had presented from Huddersfield. The hon. Gentleman had declared, that, the petition and meeting at which it was got up, was unknown at that place: now the meeting had been advertised in several local newspapers, and the walk were placarded with bills in announce 902 it. He knew the person (he was present at the meeting, and offered no opposition to the petition) who had written to the hon. Member, and induced him to make the statement alluded to.
§ Mr. Ramsden
thought, it was a matter of very little consequence whether he made any reply to the hon. member for Preston or not. He had certainly received a letter from a person, accidentally present at, the meeting, and who was not connected with Huddersfield, but he knew, from his own sources of knowledge, that the petition presented by the hon. Member did not speak the sentiments of the inhabitants. He had examined the names attached to the petition, and the greater number were evidently in the same handwriting.
§ The Committee divided on the Amendment:—Ayes 60; Noes 104—Majority 44.
§ [Strangers remained excluded for upwards of half an hour, during which time a very warm discussion is said to have taken place. The House was thin when thegallery was cleared, and the division was unexpected. As soon, however, as it was announced, that the Committee was about to divide, there was instantly a rush of Members from the Library, and from other places attached to the House. Upon the appearance of this reinforcement, objections were made to the new comers being allowed to vote. It was argued on one side, that the rule of the House was, that no Member should be allowed to vote who had not been present when the question was put, or at least who had not been within certain precincts of the House when the question was put. The Speaker stated, that such was certainly the rule, and defined the precincts to be all places situated within those doors which are locked when a division took place. On the other side it was complained, that this was very sharp practice, inasmuch as neither the mover nor the supporters of the amendment had intimated that it was their intention to divide the Committee. The strict enforcement of the rule was insisted on, and the votes of all Members who had not been in the House, or within he defined precincts, when the question was put, were rejected.903
§ On the original question being put,
§ Mr. Littleton
expressed a hope that the Gentlemen on his (the Ministerial) side of the House would not be provoked, by what had just passed, to retaliate upon their opponents, and enforce the strict rule of the House against them. Nothing could be more inconvenient than the adoption of such a course.
§ Sir George Murray
certainly did not recollect anything which had ever given him more surprise than the observations of the hon. member for Staffordshire. Never had there been observations more uncalled for—never had there been imputations more unfounded—than those which the hon. Member had endeavoured to fix upon that side of the House. They were perfectly sensible on that side of the House that they were in a minority, and they were perfectly sensible also, that there was no number of their friends, within the districts pointed out by the Speaker, which could convert them into a majority. The hon. Member had expressed a hope that the Gentlemen opposite would not follow the example which had been set by the Opposition side of the House. If there was anything improper in what that side of the House had done, he heartily joined in that hope. But he contended, that there had been no impropriety in the conduct of that side of the House. He considered it to be exceedingly proper, that the rules of the House should be strictly adhered to; and the rule in this case had been most clearly and most distinctly laid down by the Speaker.
§ Mr. Littleton
begged to state, that he had cast no imputations upon the hon. Gentlemen opposite. His observation was made for no other purpose than to prevent exasperation on his side the House, and to deter Gentlemen from adopting a similar course to that which had been pursued by the opponents of the Bill. He admitted that course to be perfectly parliamentary; but he was sure that it was very inconvenient, and he should be very sorry to see it vexatiously followed by his side of the House.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
said, that if they would have rules, it was highly necessary that they should be enforced. Every Gentleman must be aware of the existence of this rule, and ought, therefore, to be prepared for its being enforced. It was of no use to carry this conversation further, because it would always be in the power of 904 any individual Member to enforce this rule if he thought proper. It should be recollected, however, that the case which had just occurred, was not one of frequent occurrence.
Sir James Graham
admitted that, this was not a case of frequent occurrence: but why was it not a case of frequent occurrence? It was because Gentlemen, who meant to divide, usually had the courtesy to tell the Chairman that such was their intention. When the Chairman received such an intimation, he never put the question until the gallery was cleared, and Members had time to reach their seats before the division took place. He agreed, therefore, with the right hon. Gentleman, that this was not a case of frequent occurrence, but the reason of that was, that the want of courtesy which had been practised in the present instance was also not a case of frequent occurrence. He further agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, that the rules of the House ought to be strictly enforced; but the whole defect and complaint in the present case arose from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Croker) having concealed his intention of dividing. He did not mean to say, that this had been done by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Croker) intentionally. He had no doubt that it had proceeded from inadvertence, which he thought very excusable in the right hon. Gentleman, although most of the Gentlemen opposite considered inadvertence to be an offence highly culpable, when Ministers were guilty of it.
§ Mr. Croker
must altogether disclaim the imputation which was conveyed in the charge that he had concealed his intention. He denied, that the First Lord of the Admiralty had stated correctly the usual practice of the House. The practice, as he understood it, was, for the Chairman to ask the Member if he meant to divide. But he did not hear the question put until the last moment, and he hardly knew whether he was to say ay or no. He did not mean to make any complaint of neglect against the Chairman, who had conducted himself in the most exemplary manner throughout this Committee, and whose conduct had been such, on every occasion, as to give perfect satisfaction, even to the losing party, which was the highest praise he could give the Chairman.
905 The Chairman begged to be allowed to say a few words. He had never accused the right hon. Gentleman either of neglect or want of courtesy. All he had said was, that it was a courtesy observed by hon. Members, to give notice to the Chairman of their intention to divide. But the fact was, that this clause was a very complicated one. The Committee had gone into a discussion altogether foreign to the clause; and he had no doubt that it had arisen from mere inadvertence, that the right hon. Gentleman had not told him that he meant to divide. He would only add, that from the character of the discussion, he had not the slightest idea that a division was intended.
said, that generally speaking, when the word "retaliation" was used, it implied that something improper and unfair had been done. It must be seen, however, after the explanation of his hon. friend, that nothing of the kind was intended to be implied in this instance.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
assured the noble Lord, that the word "retaliation" had been felt at that side of the House in the way he had expressed his own impressions of it. Indeed, from the use of it, it would appear they had done wrong, in objecting to the votes of hon. Members who had not heard one word of the discussion, and he had intended to have expressed his sentiments rather warmly on the subject; but as the hon. Member had given so candid an explanation, he would say no more than that he rather believed that there was no intention to divide the Committee, until the First Lord of the Admiralty laid down a very novel proposition. This was the cause of the division, and he was sure that his right hon. friend (Mr. Croker) had no intention of taking the House by surprise.
said, that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. W. Wynn) below him, had spoken as though every Member was acquainted with this rule. Now, he did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman himself was aware of the rule, and he would tell the House why. On the division respecting the Dublin Election Committee, many Members who were 906 brought out of the Speaker's room, were compelled to vote without having the question put to them. But, according to what had just occurred, it was clear that these Members ought to have had the question put to them; but they had not, although a majority was obtained by means of them.
Mr. Davies Gilbert
begged to state, as a Member of that House of thirty years' standing, that in his opinion this rule ought to be revised. If the strict forms of the House were adhered to, nine-tenths of their time would be occupied with those forms.
§ Mr. George Bankes,
in reply to the hon. and learned Member (Mr. O'Connell) begged to state, that the Speaker's room was within the doors which were locked during divisions. As to the question which had occupied so much time, he must ask, whether Members who had been engaged all day in the Library writing letters, ought to be allowed to vote upon a question to which, when put by the Chairman, those who had been present during the whole discussion, hardly knew whether they were to say "ay" or "no." If they were to be brought down there on a Saturday, the supporters of the Bill ought to be present. It was not to be tolerated that a majority of the House should be in the library, and he was of opinion that this rule ought to be enforced on every occasion.
said, that he was exceedingly tempted to answer the Gentleman opposite, but he would not yield to the temptation. He rose merely for the purpose of putting it to the Committee, whether this discussion ought to be allowed to go on, to the obstruction of the business which they were met to transact.
The Chairman must suggest to the Committee, that although hon. Members had, in the course of the Committee, wandered very far from the points immediately under discussion, yet that they had never so completely lost sight of the question before them as they had to-day.
would not detain the Committee two minutes. The hon. member for Corfe Castle (Mr. G. Bankes) had misunderstood him. He had complained, not of Members having been brought from the Speaker's room, but of those Members not having had the question put to them.
§ The original question agreed to.
§ Mr. Davies Gilbert rose to bring under the notice of the Committee the claims of Penzance to return one Representative to Parliament. In doing so he must disclaim any reference to the number of Members nominally sent by Cornwall, because he believed that county would be much more amply represented by the new, than under the old system. The claim of Penzance rested on the size and population of the town and adjacent district, and on the respectability, wealth, and intelligence of the inhabitants. He begged to move, that Penzance, with the parish in which it stood, with an adjoining parish, which contained two small towns, and the town of Marazion, should return one Member. The population of these united places amounted to 17,000 or 18,000. Penzance furnished a large supply of tin, and possessed one of the greatest fisheries in the kingdom. It possessed also an extensive foreign trade, and had a pier, built by the inhabitants themselves, capable of sheltering many vessels. He should abstain from carrying his motion to a division, but would leave it in the hands of Government, with a full persuasion, that by such a course he best served the interest, of his friends.
Lord John Russell
said, that unless very strong grounds had been laid for giving a Member in this instance, and he did not think that such had been the case, his Majesty's Ministers would be unwilling to disturb the balance of the number of Members, as already settled. Though Penzance was a respectable town, there were other towns in Cornwall which could put in equal claims to entitle them to have a Member each, and it appeared to him that the present Bill gave an abundantly sufficient proportion of Representatives to Cornwall.
Mr. Davies Gilbert
said, he was ready to withdraw his motion; but he would recommend the case of Penzance to the candid attention of his Majesty's Ministers. He thought that, at least, it should be added to St. Ives, which was only seven miles distant from it,
said, that he did not 908 think that Penzance was one of those places which ought to get one Representative. He was sure that such was the feeling of the respectable persons there; for if they had wished for a Representative, he was certain, that they would have forwarded a memorial to that effect.
§ Motion withdrawn.
said, Ministers had laid down no rule for enfranchisement, and he did not believe they could frame one that would not have been liable to great objections; but this imposed upon him and others, the necessity of comparing the places which were to receive Representatives, with those which were excluded from that privilege by the present measure. He had not had any previous or private communication with Government, as to the amendment he meant to move, because the noble Lord who possessed considerable property in the place to which his amendment applied, being a political supporter of the Ministers, he did not wish it to furnish the least ground for any insinuations or taunts of partiality. The place he wished to bring under the notice of the Committee was, Toxteth Park, which need not fear comparison with any place in the kingdom for wealth and intelligence. He had much wished to bring his proposition forward when Gateshead was allowed a Member, because it would be easy to show that Toxteth Park had much greater claims, than that place, both as to wealth and population, and as the claim of the former was based on the shipping interest, Toxteth Park was as far superior to it on that account as was Liverpool to Newcastle. The Committee had in many cases decided, that contiguity was no objection to granting the elective franchise, and therefore, there could be no objection on that account to Toxteth Park, which joined Liverpool in the same manner as the metropolitan districts were connected with the City of London. At the same time, the boundaries were as distinct and as well defined as any county or parish. Before going into the particulars of the comparisons he proposed to institute, he wished to be allowed to remark, that Lancashire would only have one Member to every 52,000 inhabitants, while Yorkshire would have one to 32,000, and Durham one to 20,000. According to the returns on the Table it appeared, that Harrington and Toxteth had a population of 24,000 inhabitants, a greater number than sixteen 909 of the towns in schedule D. They contained 1,119 10l. houses; and 624 houses of the value of 20l. and upwards; a greater number than twenty of the towns in schedule B, and as many as four of the places included in that schedule united together. He thought this statement was amply sufficient to entitle these places to receive one Member. In comparing Toxteth with Salford and Gates-head, which had been separated, the latter from Newcastle, and the former from Manchester, for the purpose of separately returning one Member each, it would be first necessary to compare Liverpool with Newcastle and Manchester, in order to show, that if it were necessary to separate their suburbs on account of their numerous constituencies, it was still more necessary to separate Toxteth from Liverpool. Liverpool contained 2,851 10l. houses, and 2,387 20l. houses and upwards, more than Manchester and Salford, Liverpool and Toxteth had 9,853 10l. houses, and 4,601 20l. houses and upwards, more than Newcastle and Gates-head. Toxteth itself contained 153 10l. houses, and 161 20l. houses, more than Salford; and 642 10l. houses, and 476 20l. houses, more than Gateshead. By this statement it appeared, that the future constituency of Liverpool would be larger than that of Manchester and Newcastle, and that of Toxteth greater than that of Salford or Gateshead. Indeed there were more houses of upwards of 20l. value in Toxteth, than in both these places united. To grant Members to such places, and refuse one to Toxteth was an act of political injustice. He therefore begged leave to move, that Toxteth Park be included in the provisions of schedule D.
§ Lord Althorp
was ready to admit, that Toxteth Park was a most important district of the flourishing town of Liverpool, but he must say, that if they were to give more Representatives to the commercial interest, there would be many commercial places which possessed greater claims than Toxteth Park to Representatives. There was Ashton-under-Lyne, and several equally important places. If they could conveniently add Members to the commercial interest, he would wish to bestow one upon Ashton, because Toxteth Park was sure of being adequately represented with Liverpool. On these grounds he must oppose the proposition of the hon. Gentleman.
said, that the arguments 910 urged by the hon. member for Ipswich might be very good reasons for giving an additional Member to Liverpool, but they did not constitute any grounds for separating Toxteth Park from Liverpool, with which it was completely identified. If they separated this district from Liverpool, it would deprive that town of the most respectable portion of its constituency. The inhabitants of Toxteth Park themselves had no desire to be separated. They had not petitioned for it, nor made any application whatever. He should certainly oppose the Motion.
said, as he had been alluded to by the hon. Member, and as Representative for the county, he must declare, that he was decidedly opposed to the, motion, for which he would give his reasons as briefly as possible. The arguments used were, that the places were closely allied, and had the same commercial interests: this clearly proved, that they ought not to be separated. That was a strong reason, combined with the great wealth and respectability of Liverpool, for giving that place another Member, but no reason for dividing it into districts for that purpose. He should have been much gratified if additional Representation could be given to Liverpool, which he thought was inadequately represented, when its commercial importance and rising greatness were considered. The House must be aware that the two places mentioned in the hon. Gentleman's motion, were only two of the branches of that great town, which was extending itself in all directions. These branches consisted of four towns, first, Toxteth Park and Harrington, which contained 24,000 souls; second, West Derby, with a population of 12,000; third, Churchill, with 9,000; and fourth, Everton, with 3,000 inhabitants. All these were in the immediate vicinity of Liverpool, and were considered part of that town. If additional Representation was allotted to Liverpool, the whole ought to be included, instead of confining them to one part, as proposed by the hon. Member. He conceived no case had been made out for the separation, but directly the reverse. He must, therefore, oppose the Motion.
perceived the sense of the House was against him, and therefore begged leave to withdraw his Motion.
§ Motion withdrawn.
§ The question put, that the clause, as amended, "stand part of the Bill,"911
said, he rose merely for the purpose of throwing out a suggestion to Government, and not of proposing any amendment. It appeared to him that, as the Bill stood at present, the western clothing district of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Dorsetshire would not have its fair proportion of Representation, as compared with other parts of the kingdom, particularly the northern clothing district. It would be a mockery to say that the giving a Representative to Cheltenham was making any addition to the Representation of Gloucestershire, for any one acquainted with the circumstances of Cheltenham, must know, that its Representative was not at all likely to be a Gloucestershire man. His Majesty's Ministers should have allotted the Representatives given under the present Bill, so as to afford a fair Representation to all the various interests in the country. He thought, that the towns of Bradford and Trowbridge, in Wilts, and Stroud, Gloucestershire, containing as they did a numerous population, and forming the centres of a great clothing district, were clearly entitled to Representatives. Four Members were to be added to counties for the purpose of giving a more effectual Representation of the agricultural districts; but if Members were; not given to the places he had mentioned, and others of the same description, the clothing interests of the west of England would not be represented at all. He wished to know whether his Majesty's Ministers would allow those districts to have Members? Perhaps the answer to this would be, that they did not desire to have this privilege conferred on them—that they had presented no memorial on the subject. It was not on such a principle they should legislate. They ought not to attend to the present inclinations or partialities of individuals; not consult alone the interest or the wishes of the present moment, but those of posterity. But he was afraid, that communications had been made to his Majesty's Ministers by private individuals, upon prejudiced feelings, and that upon such communications the Ministers in this instance had acted.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that the hon. Member had assumed certain premises altogether gratuitously. Private and prejudiced representations had not been admitted by his Majesty's Ministers in laying down the plan of Reform which 912 was now submitted to the country. They found no other town in Gloucestershire with a population equal to Cheltenham, and they had, on that account alone, given it Members. He did not know why the clothing interests should not be as much and as fully represented, after the passing of this Bill, as they were under the present system. He admitted the great importance of those districts in the counties that had been alluded to, and he was perfectly satisfied, that the proposed addition of Members to Wiltshire and Gloucestershire would secure a proper Representation of those clothing districts. Where Ministers had not found any large and populous towns in counties, their object had been, to leave out districts altogether, with few exceptions, giving the Members to the counties; with the exception of Cheltenham, there was no town in either county which had a sufficient population to require a Representative. His Majesty's Ministers, therefore, did not think that there were any grounds for giving Members to Bradford or Trowbridge.
§ Mr. Benett
certainly thought, that Bradford and Trowbridge were entitled to Members. They were contiguous, and contained a flourishing and numerous population. The inhabitants, however, of those towns had sent up no memorial to that effect. If they had done so, he would have supported it. He begged his Majesty's Ministers to reconsider this part of the Bill.
Mr. Robert Gordon
thought it was not sufficient to say these towns had presented no memorial. If they were entitled to a Member they ought to have one, whether they had presented a memorial or not. These towns had a right to be represented, having each at present a population of 10,000. Ministers, however, were sure of a majority. Their argument was, "it is so, and it shall be so."
§ Mr. Croker
saw no reason why the same rule should not be applied here as in the case of Wolverhampton, where three parishes were united, and a Member given to the connected parishes and townships.
did not believe, that either of these towns contained a population of 10,000; and to unite them for the purpose of making up that number would be against the principle of the Bill. He must say, that to him it appeared foolish and preposterous to suppose that the agricultural 913 interest in that House would neglect or act in hostility to the manufacturing. He begged the Committee to reflect, that county Members were not exclusively the Representatives of agricultural interests. And he believed, therefore, that the clothing interest in the west of England would be adequately represented by the new Members given to Wilts and Gloucestershire.
§ The question "that the third clause, as amended, do stand part of the Bill," carried without a division.
§ On the next clause, "That the towns of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis shall, for the purposes of this Act, be taken as one town; and shall, after the end of the present Parliament, return only—Members to serve in Parliament,"
§ Mr. Baring Wall
said, that his return to that House was a proof of the re-action which had taken place throughout the country on the subject of the Reform Bill; and he believed that that re-action was very much promoted by the conduct of Government, in making no replies to the objections which, from time to time, had been made to it—a course of conduct which had given the people, at least of Dorsetshire, less faith in that measure than they formerly had. With regard to Weymouth, the people there were moderate Reformers, and the request he had now to make for them was, not to retain four Members, but that they might be allowed three. After the speech made by the hon. member for Cricklade, he (Mr. Baring Wall) knew well the difficulty there would be to get Government to alter their opinions, or to do any act of grace or favour which they had made up their minds not to do. In the reign of Elizabeth, Weymouth and Melcombe Regis were incorporated, and had, ever since, enjoyed the same privileges. Melcombe had alone 4,000 inhabitants, and Weymouth more than 2,000. Upon the principles laid down for schedules A and B, Melcombe ought to retain its two Members, and Weymouth one. As far as regarded the latter place, it was peculiarly situated. There was only one borough in the county of Dorset (Poole) untouched. Dorchester and Bridport, two of the principal towns of the county, were in schedule B, and both these cases had excited a strong feeling in the minds of the people in that county, which they considered had been very ill used. At the time of his 914 election, wishing to make himself popular, he began to feel his way a little, and very soon found, the more he deprecated the conduct of his Majesty's Ministers, the more likely he was to be popular. And he had no hesitation in saying, that had the election continued for the space of nine days, so that the conduct of Ministers should have become fully known, there would not have been one Reformer in Weymouth. He should have other opportunities of addressing the House on the general measure, but he must say now, he thought there ought to have been but one schedule, and a population of 3,000 taken as a measure of disfranchisement. He had insuperable objections to schedule B, because he was sure it would create more enmity than was at present thought of. It would set Tory against Whig, and Churchman against Dissenter. It was not his intention to divide the Committee on the question, but he trusted they would take it into particular consideration.
§ Mr. Masterton Ure
stated, that, as the clause in question affected the rights and privileges of those towns which he had, for a long period, had the honour of representing in that House, he hoped he might be allowed to make a few observations. In doing so, he wished to avoid entering into the general principle of the Bill, being anxious to save the time of the House. He felt it necessary, however, to say, that he had always been hostile to disfranchisement, conceiving that it was neither right nor just to take away privileges conferred by Charters and Acts of Parliament, without the consent of those who enjoyed them, or their having forfeited them by misconduct. He felt this more especially with regard to those places which, instead of going to decay, had risen in wealth and population. With regard to Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, he begged leave to state, that Melcombe Regis had been enfranchised as a borough by Edward 1st, in the eighth year of the reign of that monarch. Weymouth had been enfranchised by Edward 2nd, in the twelfth year of his reign. Those two boroughs had sent two Members each to Parliament, from those periods downwards to the time of Queen Elizabeth, with interruptions of certain periods in the reigns of Edward 5th, Richard 3rd, Henry 7th, and Henry 8th. In the time of Queen Elizabeth, in consequence of 915 disputes which arose between the two towns, each claiming certain rights in the harbour which divided them, and other causes, that Queen, under the advice of that celebrated Statesman, Lord Treasurer Cecil, incorporated the two towns. An Act of Parliament was passed in the 13th year of her reign, by which the two boroughs were united under one Corporation, preserving, however, their two Members each, the four Members being returned in one indenture. It appeared, by an article written by Mr. John Coker, in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, which refers to this union by Queen Elizabeth, that" immediately on which they enjoined themselves together by that faire bridge of timber which ye see; yet still they send either of them two Burgesses to Parliament." He mentioned this for the purpose of showing, that the Act of Queen Elizabeth had not infringed on the right of these boroughs as to the number of their Representatives. He regretted, that the noble Lord, the author of this Bill (Lord John Russell), had left the House, for he thought he could claim some favour from him for Weymouth, when he reminded that noble Lord, that it was the accident of Philip, King of Castile, and his Queen, having landed at Weymouth, and afterwards going to the Court of King Henry 7th, carrying with them Mr. Russell, which first led to the magnificent fortune and lofty titles of the house of Bedford. The name, too, of a Lord John Russell appeared in some ancient documents as the owner of property at Weymouth. Weymouth had frequently rendered important services to the State. In the time of Edward 3rd, when that sovereign was anxious to lay claim to the Crown of France, Weymouth furnished to the King twenty ships and 264 mariners. He had already stated, that he would avoid, on the present occasion, entering into a general discussion on the principle of the Bill. If the whole of existing rights had been swept away, and the Committee were dealing out the Representation by departments, he certainly could not stand forward as the advocate of the claim he intended to make; but he thought he was entitled to claim the benefit of the line of demarcation which the author of the Bill had drawn. The population of Melcombe Regis, by the census of 1821, was 4,252; the population of Weymouth, by the same census, 916 was 2,370. By the census of 1831, which he thought the framers of the Bill should have adopted, in preference to a census taken ten years ago, the population of Melcombe Regis was 5,126, and the population of Weymouth was 2,529. It was proper to remark, that the census was taken at a period of the year (May) when the population was less than at other periods. The towns of Weymouth and Melcombe paid 3,746l. of assessed taxes. The number of houses rated to the poor, at and above 10l. per annum, amounted to 948. These towns were increasing, both in wealth and population, and he, therefore, considered, that even under the provisions of this Bill, they were entitled to retain their rights and privileges, so far as that Melcombe Regis, the population of which entitled it to two Members, should continue to send two, and that Weymouth, whose population entitled it to one Member, should have the privilege of returning one Member accordingly.
§ Lord Althorp
was rather surprised at the observation of the hon. Member who spoke first on this question, that Ministers had decreased in popularity from their not speaking enough, or sufficiently often, on the Bill. For his part he apprehended that the complaint would have been quite the other way. It generally fell to his lot to have to get up and speak five or six times every night, and which he thought sufficient in all reason, especially as what he had to say was chiefly to repeat a refutation of statements which had been reiterated from the other side of the House about thirty times, and had been as often refuted. The boroughs of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis had been incorporated ever since the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and he did not see any reason whatever for separating them now. Similar applications had been resisted by the Committee, in the case of East and West Looe, and of several other places; and, if the present wish were complied with, it would justify charges of inconsistency and unfairness against Government.
§ The clause agreed to.
§ The next question was, "that the blank be filled up with the word 'two.'"
§ Mr. George Bankes
hoped, that an opportunity would be taken, in the progress of the Bill, to move, that Melcombe and Weymouth should return three instead of two Members. The Gentlemen at the other side of the House gave the noble 917 Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) the whole pleasure of answering all questions; but his answers were so unsatisfactory, that the country was beginning to see, that the course of equity and justice had not been pursued, even on the principles laid down. He agreed with his hon. friend (Mr. Baring Wall), that Dorsetshire was hardly used. The returns of the value of houses under the house duty proved, that it had a considerable majority of 10l., 15l., and 20l. houses over the counties of Northumberland and Derby, which were to have an equal number of Members. He could not help thinking the case of Melcombe and Weymouth a hardship, though they were only divided by a bridge, when he remembered the decision of the House on the case of Gateshead. The trade of Melcombe was considerable, and it, was a singular fact that, next to London, it furnished the greatest number of ships to Elizabeth, to oppose the Armada.
§ Mr. George Bankes
said, not at all; it only shewed that the spirit of the inhabitants then was great; and he was sure, if any national emergency should arise, they would now make equal efforts. Weymouth was more a place of fashionable resort than of trade; but it did not diminish the regret of the inhabitants of Melcombe at having their own Members taken away, when they found, that the rival towns of Cheltenham and Brighton were now enfranchised. He could see no reason why those places should not have Members, and Weymouth keep what that town now had. The Government had still many Representatives to dispose of.
§ Mr. Portman
had been, within the last few days, in Dorsetshire, and could take it upon him to say, in opposition to the hon. member for Weymouth, that the feelings of the people in favour of the Reform Bill had, so far from abating, if possible, increased in intensity. This was plain, from the circumstance that steps had been taken to call a county meeting, to urge Ministers to expedite the progress of the Bill; and that meeting would still be held should that progress continue at its present slow rate. One fact alone was decisive as to the feeling of the county of Dorset in favour of Reform; it had rejected Mr. Bankes, who had for many 918 years been their Representative, and whose family was one of the most respectable and influential in the county, merely because he was opposed to the Bill, and had elected in his stead a right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Calcraft), solely because he pledged himself to support the Bill.
§ Mr. Baring Wall
repeated, that the opinions of the inhabitants in the vicinity of Weymouth were very much altered, and that a decided re-action against the Bill had taken place. In Dorchester and Bridport also great dissatisfaction existed.
§ Mr. Portman
said, his hon. friend must not suppose the feelings of Bridport and Dorchester, which were to be partially disfranchised, were the feelings of the whole county of Dorset.
observed, that, according to the provisions of this Bill, Dorsetshire, which, in 1821,had a population of 144,000 inhabitants, would return eleven Members; Cambridge, with 120,000, would return but five; and Chester, with a population of 270,000, nearly double that of Dorsetshire, would have no more than eight Members. Under these circumstances, Dorsetshire had no cause to complain. Bridport and Dorchester, it was probable, would feel hurt at being partially disfranchised, but the feeling could not be general in the county.
§ Lord Stormont
wished the noble Lord had gone a little farther north with his comparative statements. He would have there found, that the county of Perth, with a population of 140,000 inhabitants, had only one Member. He, therefore, hoped they should have the noble Lord's support, when they came to the consideration of giving additional Members to that part of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Bearing Wall
said, the chief ground of complaint at Dorchester and Bridport was, that the 10l. householders of these places would have a vote for one Member only, while the inhabitants of the disfranchised town of Corfe Castle, and other small places, would have votes for two. Thus the electors in schedule B were worse used than those in schedule A.
§ Question put and carried. House resumed. Committee to sit again on Tuesday.