Sir Robert Inglis
said,* the noble Lord opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), in rising to notice—I will not say, to answer, because it was unanswerable—the*By authority, from the authentic copy, published by Rivington.430 almost unrivalled speech of my right hon. friend, the member for Aldeburgh (Mr. Croker), last night, stated, that if it had not been for the two closing words of that speech, he might have conceived that it referred to any other subject than that of the Reform Bill. It is true that the details of that Bill did not occupy any considerable portion of my right hon. friend's speech: it is true, that in opposing the principles of that Bill, he drew his arguments and his illustrations, as well from events now passing in other countries as from our own history in other ages; and I can, therefore, well understand why the honourable Gentlemen, the disciples of that individual, who told us, qualify the phrase as you will, that history was an old almanac, in other words, that we were not to apply the events of other times to the present, may be reluctant to hear some of those statements which came last night from the lips of my right hon. friend in reference to transactions two centuries ago, as well as to those contemporary warnings to which he so well called our present attention. I contend, that although my right hon. friend did not, on this occasion, as during the course of the last Session, lay open with so strong a hand, cut with so fine a knife, all the contents of the Bill now before us, that, although he did not follow my hon. and learned friend the member for St. Mawes (Sir Edward Sugden), in his acute and penetrating dissection of the Bill in its minuter details, yet he did sufficiently shew, that in its essential and characteristic principles, it was unworthy the adoption of the House. The noble Lord stated, in reference to an observation made on a former occasion by my hon. friend, the member for Westminster, that by his new Constitution the same men would indeed be returned as are now sent here by the old system.
Sir Robert Harry Inglis
It may be so—I thank my hon. friend for his correction. My hon. and learned friend, who is now entering the House, may, for instance, be returned with these different motives, for did he not tell us the other night, that certain influences now existed which induced him not to press his views with respect to the ballot? But, as my hon. and learned friend intimates that I misunderstood him, I will not continue the allusion. The noble Lord has said, more than once, that the same men, or the same class of men, would be returned; but be this as it 431 may, I well remember his saying that the object and effect of the Reform Bill would be to give to the people "an overpowering influence" in this House; and he last night followed up that sentiment by stating, that the Members of the House would be more dependent on the people, their constituents. If this be the case, I contend that all those counteracting influences, which now meet in this House, will be destroyed. The nicely-balanced influences of the three branches of the Legislature, which now exist here, will disappear, and this House will become the single organ of a universal democracy. The House of Commons, instead of being the depository of all existing interests and influences in the State, will become the mere concentrating focus of the will of the people. Let hon. Members consider what must be the consequences of such a state of things in the present artificial condition of society. To take one instance: one-third of the existing property of the country has been created by the will of Parliament, and may be destroyed by the will of Parliament. The whole funded debt of England arose in the first instance, from votes of this House: and the credit thus established may be endangered—I will not say extinguished, by another vote. Let hon. Members, I say, consider that 800,000,000l. of property now existing may be entirely destroyed, or greatly deteriorated in value, by a resolution of the new constituency and the new delegates of England, by the acts of those who may have no other object in view than to liberate themselves from the pressure of a debt contracted by a body, which, for the first time in the history of England, the very Government have taught the people to consider as not their representatives, and therefore not fit to bind them. I cannot but look, indeed, with extreme apprehension to the injury which will accrue to other interests of higher importance even than those of the holders of funded property: but I look, in the first instance, to a general deterioration of all property arising from the immediate action upon this House, of those who have only the interest of relieving themselves from taxes. The noble Lord stated twice, in the course of his speech, that every body now admitted the necessity of Reform. Now, even if I were disposed to admit to him, which I am not, that Reform is inevitable, I will never admit that it is needful. I contend that it was not called for either by the wants or by the wishes of the people; and that the attempt 432 to introduce a measure of this kind has been productive hitherto of nothing but injury to the interests of the country. The noble Lord at the head of the Home Department, in the first line of his letter addressed to the organ of the Government, stated that the Government was prepared to introduce a Bill "founded upon a new basis."* Now, in the interpretation of this word, and in its application to the Bill before us, I am much more disposed to agree with my right hon. friend, the member for Aldeburgh, than with my hon. and learned friend, the member for St. Mawe's; and I fear that we cannot claim the support of any of the Gentlemen opposite, on the ground that the present measure is no longer that to which they swore allegiance. In one sense this Bill rests, indeed, upon a new basis; but in all its substantial parts it is the same measure as the last. Upon the whole, I think that even the machinery of the Bill is worse than it was before; but supposing that there are here and there some few slight technical improvements, it is still essentially the same as that which has been already rejected by the other House of Parliament. What important part of the last Bill is there not in this? Have we not now, as then, disfranchisement without proof of guilt—enfranchisement without proof of need, and the same universal uniform constituency—democratical enough, not only to destroy any monarchy, but almost any republic? The measure has been converted from a Bill of twenty pages into one of forty-eight or fifty pages: its size is altered, its dress is altered, its coat has been fitted to its growth, but its personal identity remains unchanged. What it was at the beginning, on the first day of last March, it is now; and I fear that there is little hope of our ever altering it to any practical good in this House. I trust, however, if it should eventually pass this House, that those to whom reference has been so often made, will, as I believe they will, act on the same principles on which they made their stand before; and notwithstanding all that has been said by the noble Lord, I think that the most satisfactory settlement of the Bill will be its rejection. From the beginning I protested against the principles of this* Letter from the Viscount Melbourne to Lieutenant Drummond, R. E. 24th November, 1831. "The Government having determined to found the Reform Bill on a new basis."—House of Commons Paper, No. 17, ordered to be printed 15th December, 1831.433 Bill. When the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the forces, first introduced it, I felt it to be my duty to contend most earnestly against what, for the first time in our history, was enunciated in the House of Commons, as a right principle of legislation—confiscation without conviction—punishment without trial—destruction without compensation. At that time, I most solemnly entered my protest against those principles; and I now renew that protest, feeling that there is nothing now, as there was nothing then, to justify our acting upon them. My recollection may be imperfect; and, in that case, I shall feel happy to be corrected; but I think, that from the first of March, when the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, introduced a similar bill, no member of his Majesty's Government has opened to us any thing of a general and statesman-like view,—first, of the necessity of these alterations; and, secondly, of the effects which will follow their adoption. If any hon. Gentleman will assist my memory by telling me that, in any one of the discussions which we have had during the last nine months, either any of his Majesty's Ministers, or any of the auxiliary supporters, by whom they are surrounded, have done so, I shall be obliged to him; but I must confess that no such fact comes to my recollection, even with the assistance of those ordinary sources for refreshing the memory, open to us all. The Bill is thrown on the Table of the House, with a popular statement of the anomalies of the existing system, and of the corruptions which prevail under it; but without any proof, or even any statement of the particular evils which the nation, as such, has thereby sustained; without any evidence that the general effect and tendencies of the old Constitution have, on the whole, been practically injurious to the country; without any presumption that the remedy proposed will extirpate the alleged evils, or be unaccompanied by greater evils of its own. Though I complain that the Bill has, by its authors, been left without any large and statesmanlike defence of its principles and its probable effects, I do not mean that it has been trusted alone to its own intrinsic merits, without any defence at all on the part of its noble parents. But while I contend, as I do, that the present Bill is, in all its essential points, the same as that which was rejected elsewhere, I cannot help feeling that the ground upon which the present Bill is now defended, is materially 434 different from that which was taken up in support of the last. When the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, first introduced his measure of Reform to this House, he stated, as a noble Lord did elsewhere, that his object was "restoration." On the second occasion upon which the noble Lord presented himself to us—I mean on the 24th of June—he had discovered that Lord Somers was a reformer, "a friend to innovation,"—that it was not necessary any longer to talk of restoration, and that our Constitution consisted of a series of changes. But now, on his third appeal to us, the noble Lord returns to his first statement, that the Bill will "restore to the people their just rights, which can no longer be withheld." Now, I contend, that a thing to be restored, must have been previously enjoyed, and taken away: but the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, has not shewn us that the people ever before enjoyed what he proposes to bestow upon them. Having entered fully, on a former occasion, into this part of the subject, I will only repeat now, that from the very beginning of Parliaments, there were boroughs as small as any which now exist; in proof of which I have before quoted the 23rd of Edward 1st as the date of the one and same year in which precepts were first issued to Old and to New Sarum: it being perfectly clear, that the one was a decayed city, if the other were any thing more than a rising village; and that the population of the one was removed to the other, both not being great towns at any one period together. Away, then, with the doctrine, that the annihilation of these small boroughs is the restoration of the parliamentary constitution of England. Then, as to the doctrine that the people have an inherent right to be represented, the hon. Baronet, the senior member for Westminster, if I may be so allowed to distinguish the hon. Baronet whom I mean, stated on a former occasion, that the people had the same right to be represented in this House, as the Peers had to sit in their House, or as the King had to sit upon his Throne. My right hon. friend, the member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel), answered that assertion so triumphantly, that I suspect the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Burdett) will not be very eager to sustain it by argument, either here or elsewhere. On the principle advanced by the hon. Baronet, the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hunt, would be entitled to claim his support in favour of Universal Suffrage, or even of an equal division of 435 property. Not that I mean to impute such an idea as this last to the hon. member for Preston; but the arguments of the hon. member for Westminster, as to natural rights, if worth any thing, are at least as good in favour of such objects, as they are in favour of those which he more immediately contemplates, unless, indeed, he be a disciple of Dogberry, and think that as reading and writing come by nature, so does a 10l. qualification. For my own part, however, I cannot see what ground of distinction an advocate of natural rights can take between a man inhabiting a house worth 10l. a year and another inhabiting one worth only 9l. I have already noticed that the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces (Lord J. Russell), on a former occasion, alluded to Lord Somers as to an innovator; but if he can overcome that, which is not an unreasonable repugnance in one of his noble house, so far as to refer to Burke—to his magnificent defence of Lord Somers—he will find that the claim of Lord Somers to the gratitude of posterity rests upon the zeal with which he endeavoured to maintain all the existing institutions of the country. Lord Somers was not an innovator. He and the other great men of the revolution, whose real successors the old Tory party now are, stood up for the integrity of the principles of our institutions. Sir, I say that the old Tory party are the representatives and successors of the great men of the revolution; for I am not aware of any doctrines held by them which are not now held by the Tories; whilst instances can be quoted of men who, inheriting their blood and honours, have violated every principle, for the sake of which those, their illustrious ancestors, would have sacrificed every thing. I speak not of free-trade, I speak not of such comparative trifles, but of things for which those great men were ready to shed their heart's blood, and which some of their descendants would now think it disgraceful to advocate. My right hon. friend, the member for Knaresborough (Sir James Mackintosh), supported the Bill on the ground that the people were thoroughly disgusted with the state of the Representation. I do not know whether the language which I put into his mouth be stronger than he actually used; but I know that it was to the effect, that for seventy years, the people had seen so much bribery going on, that they had lost all confidence in a system under which such practices could prevail. Now, admitting the fact, which I do not—but admitting it for the sake of 436 argument, I ask, whether it will be contended by my right hon. friend, that the Bill before us presents any adequate remedy for that evil. We have heard from the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and from my hon. and learned friend, the member for Calne (Mr. Macaulay), that the expense of a contested county election, under the new system, will be scarcely more than the market price of Old Sarum. I know not what the noble Lord may count the market price of Old Sarum, but I have every reason to believe that it never has been sold. But be that as it may, I do not think that it affects the argument of my right hon. friend, the member for Aldeburgh, last night, against a part of this Bill, when he stated that the expense of fifteen polling-booths in different places in one county would render the expense of an election as great under the new as under the old system, if not greater. But this is a matter upon which it is unnecessary to trouble the House with an observation, because the Bill involves interests of such immeasurably higher importance, that the mere pounds, shillings, and pence view of one fraction of the question is hardly, in the present stage of the proceeding, worth consideration. At the same time, there is one point connected even with the pecuniary part of the question, not altogether undeserving of notice. It is this—you have taken property as the test of qualification in an elector, and in a candidate; but with respect to candidates, the qualification is so often evaded, that the production of it is almost a mockery. Now, it is most desirable that those who are to sit in this House as, in any sense, the Representatives of the people of England, should at least give some evidence that they themselves have a stake in the country, and that they are not mere adventurers, who by popular talents only, without the evidence of personal fortune, can come into a situation to dispose of the fortunes of others. I can see, therefore, even in the expense now incident to popular elections, some check to the otherwise unlimited introduction of pennyless profligate men into these seats of power, into this Representation of all the interests of the people of England. I use the expression "Representative;" but I never will admit that, in the Government sense of that word, this House was ever intended to be a strict Representation of the people. At the beginning, as, on a former occasion, I was enabled, by the indulgence of the House, to statefully, that the 437 King selected certain communities to send here those who might advise with him. My right hon. friend opposite, the member for Knaresborough (Sir James Mackintosh), knows well that such was the principle on which all writs were originally issued. I do not deny the full legislative powers, even in the earliest day, of the House of Commons, when once assembled, however, assembled; but I deny that it was ever assembled, at any time, as a Representation of the people, taken on any one general principle, of wealth, of numbers, or of all classes, or of all combined. If, then, there be no right, no abstract right, in the people to Representation at all, and still less, to exclusive Representation in this House, the question, whether this or that portion of the people have more or less Representatives in this House than it ought to have, (all sent alike in obedience to the King's writs, which writs were, in their origin, discretional), cannot rest on the ground on which it is placed by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The denial or the granting of the franchise—that is, the being called upon, according to the old form, to send persons to advise with the King—cannot be a matter of complaint on the one hand, or of inherent right on the other. What we have to decide is this—whether the system so established have, or have not, worked well—whether its effects have, or have not been beneficial. Will those who bring forward this measure condescend to point out the evils which we have endured, and above all, how their proposal is likely to remedy those evils? I do not mean (for I can see by the Bill) how the towns of the kingdom are put into schedules, and the people into classes, but I mean a statesmanlike view of the probable effect of this Bill; for if Ministers do not make this expostition, and sustain it by proof, I, for one, shall contend that they have not discharged their duty, either to the House or to the country, in agitating such an empire as this, with such a question, at this or at any other time. The noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) stated last night, that we were now all Reformers; and the same assertion was made, in the last session, by an hon. Gentleman, whose speech will be more remembered on account of the answer given to it by my right hon. friend, the member for Tamworth, than for any intrinsic merit of its own; that hon. Gentleman being pleased to assume, that the only question among us on this side was, what the 438 amount of Reform which each might admit, should be. The noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, in like manner told us, in the Summer, that now "every Anti-Reformer has a pigeon-hole for a constitution of his own." Now, I beg leave to say for myself, that I have no constitution to tender to the noble Lord; I am content with the Constitution as it exists. I have always contended that the actual frame of our Constitution has produced more blessings to this country than have ever been enjoyed by any other kingdom, in any other age, under any other form of government whatever. I have heard it asked—indeed the question was repeated last night—whether the Constitution of England under the Tudors be fit to be the Constitution of England in the year 1831; and my hon. and learned friend (the member for Calne), stated, that, improved as the administration of affairs had been, in the time of Charles 1st compared with that of Henry 8th, yet that such improvement had not been so great as the growth of public opinion then required it to be. He did not deny the ameliorations which had successively, since that time, taken place: he admitted them all; but he argued, that, considerable as they were, they were not commensurate with the requirements of the age. My hon. and learned friend contended, in continuation, that exactly in proportion as the first members of the House of Hanover were unable to act on the principles of the Stuarts, so was the House of Hanover in the nineteenth century unable to act upon the principles of the House of Hanover in the eighteenth century. He argued that none but bigots would contend that the old institutions are fitted to the new condition of the country. Now, I will admit myself as complete a bigot as he could desire, to answer, if I cannot prove, that the Constitution, as it exists now, although in name the same, is, in point of fact, very different from what it was under the Tudors. Let us take the amount of the elective franchise, for instance, as it was under the Tudors and the Stuarts, and as it is under the House of Hanover. It remains now, and has in every age remained, nominally the same as it was even before the Tudors, in the time of Henry 6th; but can any one fail to perceive, that, whilst the nominal amount is unaltered, the practical effect is very different? By the change in the value of money, that which was rather a high qualification four centuries ago, has become almost nominal. I hardly know in 439 what proportion, since the time of Henry 6th the constituency has been increased from this cause alone; but, considering, in addition to that cause, the division of property, and the increase of cultivation, it cannot be less than fifty-fold at the lowest. This change has been accomplished gradually, without danger, by one of those elastic principles in the Constitution, which enable it to accommodate itself to the wants of the times. A change similar to that which has taken place in the constituency, may also be observed in the Representatives of the people. Will any one say, that the Representatives of England are not a very different class of persons from that which sat in this House two centuries ago? It was stated last night, although I dare say it was sufficiently familiar to the House before, that the new member for Worcestershire was quite unconnected with that county, by birth, or by property, or by residence; and the hon. Baronet (Sir John Sebright), who stated the fact, argued from it, that the county of Worcester was decidedly favourable to Reform, because it preferred a gentleman so circumstanced with Reform, to their old Member against Reform. But does he not see the use which may be made of that fact on the other side of the argument? Does not the fact itself prove the non-need of Reform, for that the people have, and exercise, under the present system, the power of selecting from all England, those whom they may think most fit to represent them? That is a power which was given to them by the change of circumstances, and is one which they never could have possessed, and, indeed, did not wish to possess, two centuries ago. Look at Middlesex again; a perfect stranger in family and in estate, has fallen into the Representation of it. Look at Yorkshire. An hon. Gentleman, formerly a member of this House, of most respectable private station, five or six years ago, utterly unconnected as he was with the landed aristocracy of that county, and connected only with its manufacturing interests, was, without a contest, selected to fill the seat once occupied by Sir George Saville. We all know that last year another hon. and learned person, a stranger in every thing but in reputation, was, by the same county, placed in the Representation of the tenth part of England. I suppose that it will not be denied, on the Ministerial benches, that the House of Commons, elected six months ago, does, by its majority, on their side, at 440 this moment, represent fully the mind and will of the people of England. If this be not so, why taunt us with the cry, that your majorities on this Bill are the organs of the determination of the people, that "the Bill shall pass?"—if it be so, have you not already got a full proof, that, even under the old and reviled system, there are powers inherent in the Constitution, by which the strongest infusion of popular excitement can be communicated instantly and irresistibly to this House? While, however, there is this immediate reflection here of the popular feeling on this subject, there are still left amongst us some guards and checks to its extremest violence; and in them there may still be some security for the preservation of other interests. But the noble Lord opposite has not attempted to state, that the constituency which he proposes to create, will send Representatives who, carrying into this House the mind of the people, will also have any interest in preserving the other institutions of the country, but it has been stated, that "the people are dissatisfied, and require the change." Now, my hon. and learned friend (the member for Calne) last night stated most happily, in the course of one of the most splendid speeches which even he had ever made in this House, that the Government was made for the people, and not the people for the Government. In that observation I perfectly concur; but I contend, that before we assume the people to be dissatisfied with this government, we want something far different from the exhibition which has been made to prove it to us. I do not ask upon what grounds, or in what way they are dissatisfied, but I ask the opposite side to prove that such is the fact. Will any man tell me that the current of public opinion has run long and steadily, and, therefore, increasingly, against the old system, and in favour of the new system? Will it be said, that the result of the last election conclusively proves it? Let me ask, how can we distinguish between a mountain torrent and a perennial stream? Is it not by watching whether, after a time, there be not a subsidence in its waters? Taking that test, can it be said that the people now hold the same language, and shew the same eagerness respecting the progress of the Bill, that they did six months ago? I will not say whether there have been, in the technical sense of the word, a re-action; but there has certainly been a considerable subsidence of opinion on this subject. I am willing to 441 admit, that a Constitution—to work well—must, in all cases, be suited to the people who were to live under it. The English Constitution was thrown away in Corsica; and, on the other hand, the absolutism of the government of Spain and of Portugal is cherished as their heart's blood by the people of the Peninsula. If it be argued that the petitions of the people in this country prove their determination to have this Bill, and nothing but this Bill, I ask the noble Lord opposite, whether he always thought the petitions of the people equally conclusive; and whether there have not been occasions in which as great numbers of the people have expressed a decided opinion, as they have done in this case? But I contend, that even if it were proved, that the whole existing race of Englishmen were eager and determined to possess this Bill, we should be bound to consider, that the people have only a life-interest in the Constitution; that we are their trustees; that we must not allow them to commit waste on the property, but must ourselves endeavour to preserve it for their and our children. We must not, for the sake of temporary popularity, or even to avoid some great evil, supposing any likely to arise from resistance to this demand, which I deny—but supposing, I say, that it is likely to arise, we must not, to avoid it, run into the certain evil of sacrificing their permanent welfare and interest. But, I will ask, does the intelligence of the country demand this change? I deny that it does. Look to the manner in which the two Universities have pronounced their opinion. Will the noble Lord deny, that a very large proportion of the individuals composing them are opposed to the present measure? I speak now of those, who, by law, constitute the corporate body in both Universities. But can he deny, that at least as large a proportion, also, of the rising talent of the country, now in those Universities, and hereafter to constitute in succession those corporate bodies, will be found, at this instant, arrayed against him and his Bill? I might state the same—I believe, with equal confidence—in respect to the majority both of the Clergy and of the Magistracy, spread over the whole kingdom. A minor point, if any thing connected with justice can be considered minor, has not been brought before the House. It is a point which seems to have been totally overlooked by both the noble Lords opposite, in this their sweeping measure, although they were bound to take it into considera- 442 tion, both by principle and precedent—I allude to the justice (in abolishing so many existing rights) of giving adequate compensation to those who are to suffer by their measure. Unpopular as, in this House, may be the doctrine of giving compensation to those whose rights are swept away by schedule A, can any man deny, particularly after the convincing speech of my hon. and learned friend (Sir Charles Wetherell) near me, last Session, that these boroughs, and the rights belonging to them, are both, in the strictest sense of the word, property? The Legislature has allowed these burgage-tenures to be bought and sold, all parties knowing that the elective franchise entered into the calculation of their value. After having suffered this, can we turn round and take that which we have thus allowed to be sold, away from those who have bought it, without giving compensation to them? But, as I said before, this is not merely a question of justice and principle, but of direct precedent. Was not 1,250,000l. awarded at the time of the Irish Union to those whose interest in certain boroughs was annihilated by that measure? And is it not recorded by the papers on our own Table, that this sum was apportioned, not to the voters, but to the proprietors? Let it not be forgotten, also, that these boroughs so confiscated were, without exception, corporation boroughs, and not boroughs in which the burgage-tenure prevailed, in which last the property evidently becomes more tangible, and of course the argument for compensation more irresistible. I follow the greatest modern lawyers, in holding that that is property, the denial of which is the subject of an action. If, therefore, the denial of the right of voting be, as Lord Holt has decided, a subject of action, whether that right rest upon a corporation charter, or upon burgage-tenure, I am justified in contending, that some compensation is due to those whose rights are to be extinguished by the Bill of the noble Lord. What, after all, Sir, is the end of good governmen? Throughout these discussions it has been assumed that the end of good government is equality of Representation; but I say, that this is to confound the end with the means. The civil end of all government ought to be the freedom of the person, and the security of the property of the subject. Is not this end attained under the existing system? If so, the noble Lord has no right to derange it for the sake of a theory, whether true or false in the abstract. I consider the onus lies with his Majesty's 443 Ministers to prove, that the great ends of government have failed; and not only that, but that this measure will attain those ends, that it will satisfy the people, and secure for us blessings which the old system has not secured. Now, what does the hon. member for Preston tell us with regard to the satisfaction of the people? Does he not say, that those whose Representative he claims to be in this House, are not satisfied with it? Does not the noble Lord opposite know that certain meetings have taken place in the north, at Macclesfield, Stockport, Leeds, &c., in which, without a single exception, the Whigs have been driven from the field by the disciples of the hon. member for Preston? Have not the majorities, on those occasions, told us "that they will not be delivered, bound hand and foot, into the hands of a "101. oligarchy;" or, to use the expression of my noble friend the member for Wootton Bassett, (Lord Mahon) to "an aristocracy of shopkeepers?" In any case I should not like the Bill, but certainly it would be more tolerable if any one could state, in this House, that he believes it to be a final measure; I mean final as far as the word can be applied to human institutions, meaning, perhaps, a generation. But does the noble Lord pretend to state that the new Representation which he proposes to introduce into this House, will not, year after year, bring forward measures which will agitate the country far more than even this? Does he believe that any thing which we can now do, short of offering actual resistance to this Bill, can prevent the continued agitation of the subject? Perhaps, indeed, neither granting nor resisting this measure will prevent the question being again agitated. But the difference between the two cases is this: by resisting now, we may effectually prevent the necessity of still further and more dangerous concessions; whereas, by now yielding, we prepare the way for all future concessions, and give up the very arms with which we might defend ourselves, into the hands of those who will use them to enforce their further demands. I have already quoted the opinion of the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that much the same Members would be elected into a Reformed Parliament, as are now elected into an unreformed: I might well ask, then, if that be so, why change the system? But, then, I have also been told, that they will be sent here with different objects. Now, in reverting to this subject, which I noticed slightly when I first rose, 444 I cannot but urge the hon. Gentlemen opposite, considering that this point is practically the most important in their Bill—to state at once what those objects are, and what it is, which will produce a change in the Members of a future House in respect to those objects? If a clear and permanent majority of this House be to be more under the influence of popular will than they are at this moment, can any body doubt what will be the consequences? Is it not evident, that at the present moment the popular will in some places—at least, in some meetings—is for the abolition of several institutions which appear to be as dear to the noble Lord as to myself, and which ought to be far more dear to him than to me? Does he believe that the interests of property will be as secure, when you have in this House the Representatives of those who declare that the law of primogeniture ought to be done away with, and that the distinctions "of rank are unnatural, and" (though the hon. Baronet, the member for Westminster (Sir Francis Burdett) did not add the concluding part of the Resolution, the other night, I will finish the quotation for him)—"ought to be abolished." Do the noble Lords think that the rights of their "order" will be more secure, when Members are introduced into this House such as you may expect to be the Representatives of a constituency holding opinions like these? Do they not know, that the ultimate objects of those who agitate this Question on the other side of these walls, are the remission of all taxes, the confiscation of Church and funded property, and the abolition of the House of Peers? Have not the latter body, as was stated by my right hon. friend, the member for Aldeburgh, yesterday, been designated as an assembly of 199 individuals, and their corporate capacity, and their legislative functions destroyed, so far as the will of those who hold that doctrine is concerned? Under these circumstances, I can feel no confidence in the stability, even, of the Constitution about to be established; and so far as all the great existing interests of the country are concerned, I see no security to any one, and I see danger gathering round almost all. I see danger, indeed, on every side. I admit to the noble Lord, that there is danger in resistance; but I contend, that the danger of concession is infinitely greater. I believe, that under the existing system, greater happiness has been enjoyed by the people of this country, than ever was bestowed upon any people in any age, or in 445 any country. Admitting, and feeling, I hope, greatly for the existence of much individual distress, and distress even in large masses—I say, that such civilization, such wealth, such comfort, such freedom, such wide-spread enjoyment, never before, I believe, was known in any country of the world. Our national wealth and resources, exhausted as they now appear to many to be, under the pressure of tremendous wars, and an expenditure of above 1,000,000,000l., in the course of thirty years, are yet greater, I believe, than those of any five other European States. No man who has travelled, will venture to say, that there is any country of Europe bearing evidences of such an extension of civilization and comfort as have been possessed by England under our despised and reviled Constitution. Looking to the history of the last thirty years, there is no shore which is not tributary to our commerce; there is no sea which has not been a witness of our victories; our sword has not been drawn except to conquer—has not been sheathed except to spare; and in all things, among all the nations of the earth, Providence has preeminently prospered us. What have we rendered to God for these His blessings? What we have been as individuals, I will not say. I desire to judge no man except myself: and this is a subject too delicate to justify more than the most passing allusion:—but, as a nation, we have not employed our wealth, our resources, and our influence, as we ought; we have not been sufficiently humble—we have not been sufficiently thankful for the blessings which we have enjoyed. I most conscientiously and solemnly believe, that if this Bill of Reform shall pass, carrying with it the hazard, and, at no very distant day, the destruction of all that security of social comforts which we have hitherto enjoyed, the overthrow of all our institutions, and the unspeakable and immeasurable misery which must attend and follow that crisis;—I say, I most conscientiously and solemnly believe it will be, because we have been at once the most favoured and the most ungrateful of nations.
Mr. Stuart Wortley
was anxious to address the House upon the present question, and if the observations which he had to make were not considered by hon. Gentlemen important as to the measure under review—and he was not so vain as to suppose he could throw much new light upon the subject—still they were important to himself, if the House would indulge him 446 in listening for a short time to what he proposed to press upon its attention. His great desire was, to show that the motives which induced him to resolve upon the vote he was about to give should be fully and clearly understood. When the last Bill was brought in, he thought it his duty to give it a decided opposition in all its stages. He did so because he thought that it was unnecessary, and was originated at a most unseasonable time, when they had not the means to legislate with safety to promote the end in view, and because it must be such as there were no means of calculating. He was of opinion that the course which his Majesty's Ministers had pursued was in all respects pregnant with danger; and he had therefore been desirous that the people should have a second opportunity of giving the question a calm consideration. After that measure had been disposed of, and after its principles had been so ably explained as they had been in the discussions which took place in that House and elsewhere, he entertained some hope that his Majesty's Ministers would have thought better of the subject, and would have introduced a new Bill in consequence, more likely to conciliate their opponents than that now before the House; and that he and others, who had taken a mitigated view of the opposition which ought to be given to Reform in the present state of the country, would be able to give it their support. He need not add, that he was painfully disappointed. He had looked at the Bill with a full desire to find it such as he could approve, and he admitted that he had found in it many points which were essentially practical improvements. He must observe, that his Majesty's Ministers had, in his opinion, abandoned one most objectionable feature which had been found in the former Bill, and which would have led to future danger and confusion— namely, the assuming the amount of population as the basis of Representation. He greatly preferred the taking even the arbitrary number of boroughs in the schedule A, or the combined calculation of the population and assessed taxes, to the taking a certain amount of population, and disfranchising all the boroughs which were found to contain a less number of inhabitants than the amount fixed upon. In schedule B there was also, he was willing to admit, a great improvement, inasmuch as two Members were restored to a great proportion of those boroughs which, by the former Bill, were to have been de- 447 prived of one. But, what was of greater importance than all these changes, was the abandonment of that application of the rule of three in estimating the claims of the large towns, and in adapting their Representation to that rule. The principle had been abandoned, which enabled a person to say if a town with 4,000 inhabitants was to have two representatives, how many ought a town of 10,000 to have? He was also rejoiced to find in this new Bill, that the plan of effecting the divisions of counties by means of Commissioners was abandoned, and that the House itself was to carry that division into effect, for the House only was, in his opinion, the proper tribunal to adjust those divisions. Another great improvement was the return to the double Representative system, which was proposed in this Bill, by the increased number of enfranchised towns inserted in schedule C. That usage of the Constitution was a salutary one, as had been most fully shown in the discussion on the last Bill; but at the same time, by applying it to the towns in schedule C, which were each to have two Members, he was greatly in doubt whether the advantages which were gained thereby were not counterbalanced by the preponderance which would be given to the manufacturing over the agricultural interest. He approved of the apparent intention that was entertained of giving charters to such places as were to be enfranchised. This was according to the ancient custom of the country, and he hoped another advantage would be found, should it be adopted. It would create objects of local ambition, and one great objection he entertained to the Bill was, that by it many local politicians would be transferred from remote districts to the general field of politics, which the granting of charters would, he hoped, in some degree restrain. He had much rather see those persons who were intimately versed in the local politics of their respective places of residence, aspire to some of the local objects of ambition, than to see them enter the arena of that House. There was, he regretted to perceive, a great and increasing error amongst men, in the constant attacks which were daily made upon the municipal institutions of the country. He was, therefore, extremely glad to find that the violation of corporate privileges, and the deprivation of corporate rights, which was contemplated in the former Bill, was not to be effected by the present, but that the freemen of corporations and their 448 successors, were to retain their franchises and immunities. These alterations, he was willing to confess, were great improvements on the former Bill; but he could go no further than express his approbation of those alterations; for having still the same objection to the principles upon which the Bill was founded, to the manner in which it was introduced, and to the reasons which induced Ministers to bring it forward, he must decline to take on himself the heavy responsibility of giving any support to the measure. He could not vote in its favour in the present stage, though he owned he should have been glad if the measure had been such as that he might consistently have voted in its favour. But though much improved in several parts, he did not see such an essential alteration of the principle of the measure as would justify him to vote for the second reading. Let it at the same time be understood, that he was one of those who were sincerely desirous, if the thing could be brought about, of seeing some arrangement between the two sides of the House on the subject, which, allowing a fair share to public feeling, and to public excitement might concede something to those who had strong objections to many parts of the Bill. He would assert, that if they had gained nothing by the rejection of the late measure beyond those improvements to which he had referred in the present, even these would be enough to justify the House of Lords in throwing out the former Bill. There certainly never was a political step upon the propriety of which less doubt existed in his mind, and he thought that many, even amongt the supporters of Government, would in a short time consider that if they gained nothing more by the rejection of the late Bill than the introduction of the improvements in the present, they had gained that which fully justified the Lords in their decision. But while he was convinced that the Lords were fully justified, let him at the same time add, that after the great excitement which existed on this subject in the public mind—after the strong expression of that opinion in many parts of the country—after the passage of one Bill through this House for Reform—after the vote which the House had come to on the rejection of that Bill by the House of Lords—after being called toge-gether at this very early period, so soon after the close of a most protracted and fatiguing session—and after having the early consideration of the question of Re- 449 form recommended to them from the Throne as a matter involving the best interests of the country, he did think that they had arrived at a point at which it became every man to look practically at the question, and to see if the evils of further suspense in the public mind on this subject might not be avoided. Indeed, from some things which had dropped from some hon. Members on the Ministerial side, he was in hope that many at that side, who had supported the former Bill, might be not indisposed to admit of further improvements in the Bill in the Committee, so as to remove some of the objections of those who were opposed to the late measure. According to the admission of the supporters of the Bill, the three great principles on which it was founded were disfranchisement, enfranchisement, and the extension of the suffrage. As disfranchisement was the point on which public feeling was most strong, it was also that on which he thought most ought to be conceded. He would not then enter into the question of nomination boroughs, nor would he defend the principle of them, but there were reasons in favour of their continuance which it was difficult to make the public understand and appreciate. Feeling as he did on this subject, and satisfied that, in principle and in some of the details, this Bill was dangerous, yet, taking all the circumstances of the state of public feeling into consideration, he would say, that if many hon. Members on the other side would come forward, and declare that they were prepared to admit of amendments which would remove many objections to parts of the Bill, he should not be indisposed to give up the point of disfranchisement to a considerable extent, that being, as he considered, the point on which popular feeling was most strongly excited: he was disposed to concede that, provided that, on the other hand, concessions were made of parts of the Bill on which the public did not feel so strongly. But it might, perhaps, be asked, why, as he was disposed to disfranchise to a considerable extent—as he was prepared to adopt schedule A under particular circumstances—as he admitted the principle of enfranchisement, and was quite ready to say that it must be carried to a considerable extent—as he admitted, too, the propriety of some extension of the suffrage, and acknowledged that many improvements were made in the present Bill—why not vote for going into the Committee? His reasons were, that he objected, partly to the manner, and partly to the extent of 450 the plan proposed; and he believed both these objections might be obviated without creating more than local discontent. But he wished to be distinctly understood, that if he did make those concessions on the conditions he had mentioned, it was not because his opinions on any of those points had become changed since the late Bill, but because he felt the pressure of the times, and because he thought that concession should be made to circumstances. If Government would persist in forcing this measure upon the Legislature, and certainly one half of the intelligent public, without admitting of modifications, he should most deeply lament the circumstance. If those who supported the Bill as a whole—although they differed as to many parts of it even among themselves—should continue to refuse concessions, he hoped that those who opposed it upon principle, would maintain that front which would enable the respectable part of the community to keep their ground, in defence of the Constitution, against the infliction of an ill-advised and injudicious measure.
§ Mr. Godson
was happy to be able to give his support to the Bill. After having carefully examined the alterations that had been made, he considered them, on the whole, to be improvements, and he would therefore continue his best support to it, because he felt fully convinced the amendments which had been introduced did not affect the main principles on which the Bill was founded. These were the disfranchising, totally or partially, such boroughs as were likely to be under a corrupt influence, the enfranchising of the large towns, and the conferring the right of voting on 10l. resident householders. Provided these great improvements were kept in view, it was of little consequence whether the Bill was based on population, assessed taxes, or the number of houses. He was convinced the foundations on which it rested were conformable to the present state of things, and adapted to the existing state of society. He supported it on those grounds, without thinking it very material, whether a certain or fixed number of boroughs were contained in schedule A or schedule B. He believed that the alteration with respect to the 101. clause, which he held to be the main one, only made that part of the Bill more conformable to the spirit and intention of the old common law of the country; for, in the absence of any specific directions, if a writ was directed to any Sheriff, it would certainly be his duty to obtain the suffrages of 451 the householders generally, those paying scot-and-lot, or as, it was determined by this Bill, those paying parochial rates and assessed taxes. He did not intend to indulge in any remarks which could make this great measure be considered a party question; and he did hope, as it seemed to be generally admitted that Reform was necessary, although hon. Gentlemen differed as to the degree, that hon. Members would cordially resolve, by timely concessions, to save the country from continued agitation. The objections made by the opponents of the Bill seemed principally to consist of objections to its details. If that were so, then let them not oppose the second reading of the Bill, but consent to its going into Committee, and there debate the objections which they thought ought to be urged, and propose the amendments that appeared to them desirable to be adopted. So far as he was concerned, he was wedded to no party, and had no other object than to satisfy the public, by improving the institutions of the country, and allaying excitement. He should be most willing and ready, to listen to all suggestions offered, without caring by whom they were proposed, and, if he considered them improvements, they should have his best support. He came to that House for the purpose of endeavouring to suit the Constitution under which he lived, and which he considered had been impaired by time, and not fully adapted to the various interests which had gradually been produced by the progress of society—to the existing wants of the community; and, with that object in view, he should vote for or against the measure, as he saw it likely to attain or not to attain that object. He would suppose that the Bill was altered in its progress towards maturity in consequence of the objections that were urged to it; he would suppose that the House of Lords reduced schedule A to some forty-five boroughs, and schedule B to ten boroughs, that they struck out the whole of the metropolitan Representation, and that, with these alterations, the House of Lords passed the Bill, and it became a law, what would be the consequence? Why, a dissolution would take place, and the country be called on to express its opinion on the new constitution of Parliament. The opinion might be well anticipated. The great families that were well beloved in their districts, would still return some portion of their Members to represent the agricultural community; the principal alter- 452 ation would be in the different sort of Members returned for the manufacturing towns to what were now returned for the nomination boroughs. In this view of the case, although there was much said about the injury the agricultural interest would sustain, he must confess he saw no such danger, even supposing the large towns were to have what it was said this Bill would give them—a preponderating weight, by the number of their Members. Still he could not see, that the agricultural interest would be endangered; for it was not seriously to be imagined that the large towns would choose for their Members men who desired to destroy, or even to injure, any of the great interests of the country. The opposite assertion proceeded on the assumption that none but men of noble birth understood the true interests of the country, or had them really at heart. He denied the assertion altogether. There were in the towns many men of humble birth, but of good sense, and of extensive acquirements—men who had acquired wealth by their skill and industry, and who were as much respected for the honour and integrity of their characters as if they had been ennobled from the Conquest. It was such men as these that would be chosen as the Representatives of the large towns; and was it to be supposed that they would do any thing to injure the interests of the country? It had been asserted, that, by the disfranchisement of small boroughs, the schools for the formation of statesmen would be broken up; but, to counterbalance this supposed evil, they would have the practical knowledge of merchants, who, instead of looking after family alliances, would be looking after commercial treaties. But if they extended their view, and looked to the numbers who were anxiously expecting the passing of this Bill, could they believe that it was nothing that the people would be contented? If they perceived evils in the present system, and hoped to find remedies in Reform, that alone was a great argument to forward the Bill. If people were asked, what they expected to gain by it, their answer was ready. They hoped their voice would have some weight in that House—that there would be a more economical expenditure of the public money—a better system of taxation—that the grievous monopolies which now afflicted the country would be abated—that the great questions of peace and war would be more fully weighed, and that if, after all, they should fail to reap any advantages from these 453 alterations, they would have the satisfaction of knowing they could not obtain them by the hands of their own Representatives.
agreed with those hon. Members who considered the present Bill as materially better than the last, and therefore, he thought it better to admit at once, that the alterations which had been introduced were really amendments, rather than to take the view of the hon. member for the University of Oxford, and deny that character to the alterations. He received the concessions in the spirit with which they had been tendered, and in the hopes, that by receiving them as such, they would be able to effect still further improvements. He could have no difficulty as to the vote he should give on the question before the House. He had voted for the second reading of the last Bill, and he had done so in the hope, that in the Committee that Bill would receive such amendments as would enable him to assist in passing it into a law. He had, however, been disappointed, for the Government, by the assistance of considerable majorities had rejected improvements, and the measure had, in consequence been lost. If the Government had pursued a different course he really believed that the measure would have passed. The present Bill, although he admitted it was materially amended, was still clogged with such complicated details, that he feared they would very much impede its progress. He would, therefore, shortly state, what he considered improvements, and what he thought there was still objectionable in the Bill. He approved of retaining the present number of Members, but disapproved of altering the proportions given to each country. He thought the three parts of England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, ought to retain their relative numbers. It was true that the proportions were not to be greatly altered, but, as they were to be altered, a dangerous precedent would be afforded. It must be remembered, these proportions had been settled on most important occasions, viz. the unions between the respective countries. An hon. Member last night had given notice of a motion, to increase the number of Representatives for Ireland; he could hardly see on what grounds. The constituency under the Bill was to be founded upon taxation and property, and, following those principles, he did not see why the proportions ought to be altered, especially with respect to Ireland. England and Scotland paid taxation to the 454 amount of 40,000,000l. and upwards, while Ireland did not pay to the amount of 5,000,000l. and, therefore, he could not understand how, in concurrence with the professed principles of the Bill it could give to that country an increase of Representation. With respect to schedule A, he could not but observe, that the number of places contained in it, fifty-six, was still retained, although the same places did not make up that number. The schedules were stated by the noble Lord to be drawn up upon statements and calculations furnished by Lieutenant Drummond, and certainly the plan upon which the Government had gone in the present Bill, was far better than that pursued with respect to the schedules A and B in the last Bill. Whether these calculations were accurate or not he had not the means of judging, but they would be hereafter scrutinized. He did not, indeed, see what particular virtue was attached to the number fifty-six. He knew the noble Lord who had introduced the Bills had said, that an arbitrary line must be drawn somewhere; but why was there to be an arbitrary number? The conduct of the Government reminded him of "heads I win, tails you lose;" for no sooner were particular places shown not to come within the arbitrary line, than new places were picked up, merely for the purpose, as it appeared, of keeping up the number of fifty-six. Besides, the number fifty-six was now introduced in the first page of the Bill, but he hoped it would not be proposed, that the House should adopt that number at once, and so determine, that fifty-six boroughs should be disfranchised without reference to the merits of the particular cases. If they so acted, he was sure they would commit great injustice. He could only account for the retention of the number fifty-six by looking to the declaration of the noble Earl at the head of the Government, which was, that he would be no party to a Bill not fully as efficient as the last, surely that declaration was not to be understood as pledging the Government to the disfranchisement of fifty-six boroughs. He had understood the noble Earl's declaration to mean, that he would be no party to a measure, that did not equally enfranchise the large towns, equally disfranchise the weak and nomination boroughs, and equally open all boroughs to a respectable constituency, but not that he would disfranchise fifty-six boroughs. He trusted, therefore, that the number fifty-six would not be considered in Committee as unalterable. He thought 455 a great many difficulties had been made by commencing with disfranchisement, and that it would have been far better if the motion of the hon. member for Montgomery shire, for the postponement of schedule A till the enfranchising part of the Bill had been completed had been adopted. He thought still that schedule A ought to be postponed, and he hoped hon. Gentlemen opposite would listen to the suggestion. In his opinion, they ought to first settle the number of places to be enfranchised, and then disfranchise as many small boroughs, using the scale that was now before the House, according to Lieutenant Drummond's report. With regard to schedule B, he objected to it altogether. There ought to be no such thing. If the boroughs in schedule B were nomination boroughs, they ought to be placed in schedule A, and if they were not nomination boroughs they ought to continue, in accordance with the old and regular system of Representation, to return two Members. By such a regulation the whole construction and constitution of Parliament was altered, and a beginning made with innovation, that might carry them whither no man could foresee. There were no instances but in Wales of one Member being sent and it was generally necessary to have two, because most places were divided by parties. On the subject of enfranchisement he must say, that he thought the proposed metropolitan districts exceedingly objectionable. The 10l. house as a criterion of the franchise, would amount almost to universal house suffrage, for it was impossible to suppose, that any houses in the metropolis were of less value than 101. a-year. If that should be the operation of the clause, it was all that had been contended for, even by the hon. member for Preston. He could find no safety in such an arrangement for the metropolitan districts. He would then pass from the points of the Bill of which he disapproved to those variations from the old measure which he regarded as improvements. He was gratified by the restoration of the rights of freemen, but still he thought that the concession had been sparingly made, and with a bad grace. Why were not all freemen, those by creation as well as by servitude and birth, reinstated in their privileges? That ought to be done for the maintenance of corporate privileges and for the good of the lower classes; and therefore, when the Bill went into Committee, he trusted the concession would be rendered full and satisfactory. 456 But there were other rights by which the lowest class was represented, and those rights were abolished. The potwalloppers, and the inferior class of scot-and-lot voters, were no longer to exist; and that he considered a most unjust and impolitic curtailment of the rights of the lowest class. He was for Universal Suffrage somewhere, that he might not have it everywhere. The Bill created Universal Suffrage at the doors of Parliament, while it abolished that suffrage at distant places, where it was harmless. He could not help even then noticing one inconsistency in the Bill. All the places which were to be enfranchised were to be erected into boroughs, and yet old corporate rights were to be invaded. He approved very much of erecting the enfranchised places into boroughs, but he should like to see the Bill consistent. He trusted that the new places would not merely be made boroughs for the purposes of the Bill, but that the Ministers would advise his Majesty to exercise his prerogative, and grant them charters. He also hoped that a Bill would be introduced to enable those places which were made boroughs to take up their charters with the least possible expense. With respect to the right of voting in places which were cities and counties in themselves, if he had read the Bill right, it required alteration, as well as with regard to voting in boroughs in general. Was it not monstrous that a 10l. freeholder should be entitled to vote for the place in which he lived, and that the 40s. freeholder should be compelled to go fifteen miles to give his vote? And further, that the 10l. freeholder should, by the proposed arrangement, in some instances have a vote for only one Member, while the 40s. freeholder, resident in the same place, should have a vote for two Members? This he trusted would be amended by letting all freeholders vote for the place in which they lived. He hoped also that the rights of copyholders would be placed precisely on the same footing as those of freeholders, and that the 40s. copyholder in common with the 40s. freeholder, would be allowed the same privileges as the 10l. copyholder and the 10l. freeholder. Now with respect to that clause in the Bill which had been attended throughout with the most difference of opinion, he meant the 10l. franchise clause, that he thought materially improved; but there was an imperfection in it which must be corrected in Committee if the Bill was to be rendered satisfactory. By the Bill as it at present stood, it was merely necessary 457 that a person should inhabit a house of the value of 101. for one year, and be rated to the poor-rates. Such an enactment would give rise to endless litigation and abuse. The question depended entirely upon value which would vary in the proportion of the number of persons consulted. Was not the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) and hon. Members opposite aware that the same test had been the criterion upon which a parish settlement was tried? Such was the fact, and it had given rise to so much difficulty, to such endless and overwhelming disputes, that the Legislature had been obliged to interfere and to establish a more reasonable and precise test. If the clause were preserved in its present shape all the Surveyors would be sure to differ. One would value a house at 9l. and another at 11l., and there would be the most perplexing and endless difficulties. He should therefore suggest that a house ought to be rated to the poor for the amount of 101. to give its occupier a vote. That alteration would not only avoid a multitude of difficulties, but would render registration and all the involved and complicated machinery belonging to it unnecessary. The poor-rate would speak for itself. He might be told, that there would be collusion, but he replied that there would be no collusion compared to that, to which the test of value would give rise. Let the poor-rates be taken, and let the freeholder show, that his freehold was rated to them to the value of 40s. and the householder show that he was rated to them to the value of 10l., and there would be an end of all question of right of voting, without travelling Barristers and all the machinery of registration. He threw out this suggestion to the noble Lord, and entreated him to consider it. If the noble Lord still felt attached to registration, let him throw it into a separate bill. Let it not clog and confuse the Reform Bill, but stand upon its own merits. He felt very strongly on the subject, but he would much rather see his suggestion adopted by the Government than make any distinct motion on the subject. He hoped that when the House met again, they would find the Bill divided into two, and that registration would stand alone; but if he were disappointed, he should feel it his duty to take the sense of the Committee upon the plan he had proposed. In conclusion, he had only to say, that he should vote for the second reading of the Bill, and he should do so with an earnest hope that it would receive such amendments in the 458 Committee as would render it a safe and desirable measure, and ensure to it the concurrence of the whole of the Legislature. Concessions were necessary; but he trusted that all would feel, that concession could not be on one side only. Each must give up some points, and endeavour to allay the angry feelings that at present were so prevalent, and thereby enable themselves speedily to pass the Bill, and devote their attention to all the great and important objects which now pressed upon their consideration, and were of such vital consesequence to the State. In that hope he should vote for the second reading of the Bill.
§ Sir Henry Willoughby
said, that agreeing in much which had fallen from the hon. and learned member for St. Alban's, as to the conduct to be pursued by each Member when in Committee on the Bill, yet, as they were not arrived at that stage, he conceived it to be his duty to discuss the principles of the Bill. That he should do as briefly as he could. Generally, he supported the Bill, because he considered, the sooner a measure of Reform obtained a legislative sanction, the better it would be for the peace and welfare of the empire. In one observation he agreed with the hon. Baronet, the member for the University of Oxford, viz., that the elective franchise, as a right, belonged to no class of the people. Those who would thus argue, were speedily involved in difficulty—whence did such right originate? Where was the limit? It was no principle of the Constitution; nor was it sanctioned by either statute or common law. But it was the bounden, and most sacred duty of the Legislature, from time to time, to limit or to extend, to enlarge or to control, the possession of the elective franchise, as the interests of society and the welfare of the empire demanded. That duty had been neglected for a long series of years. Mr. Locke had pointed out, in a passage most correctly describing the present state of this country, how necessary it was to observe the constant flux of things in this world—how people, riches, trade, and power, changed their stations—how flourishing cities came to ruin, and unfrequented places grew into populous countries; and he added, that under any Constitution of which Representation was a leading principle, the task of correcting such inequalities was, not to create a new, but to restore the old Legislature. The necessity of Reform depended on the historical fact, that since the Revolution of 1688, the 459 constituency of that House had been suffered to fall into decay: so far from having been extended according to the growing wealth and intelligence of the country, it had gradually become more narrow and contracted. He was prepared to contend, that the constituency, in many respects, was open to less objection in 1688 than at the present time. He would take, for instance, the class of close Corporations, eighty-five in number, of which, at least sixty, were closed by decisions between 1689, and 1739, as appeared from the Journals. He was aware, that many of these decisions were founded more on party feelings than on justice. It was also true, that the cases of Shoreham, Cricklade, and Aylesbury, and the more recent cases of Penryn, Grampound, and East Retford, testified the anxiety of that House to punish malpractices; but as a real amendment of the constituency, these cases did nothing—perhaps worse than nothing. The discussions relating to those places caused a belief to be spread through the country, that the House was infinitely more corrupt than it was, and that it was, on that account, unworthy of the confidence of the people. Leaving to more able and to more eloquent Members to expatiate on the numerous advantages that would arise from the introduction of the towns in schedules C and D to the privileges of direct Representation—leaving to others to point out how the characteristic principles of the Constitution worked together and concentrated around themselves all the elements of political power, as these gradually arose, and moulded such elements to the great purpose of providing for the strength and security of the empire, he should only observe, that the introduction of the Representatives of such towns into Parliament was strictly constitutional. From Edward 1st to 1688, all flourishing towns appeared to have been summoned to send Representatives to Parliament. In early times there was no exception, he believed. Halifax had been mentioned as one: but in the reign of Henry 6th, Halifax had but fourteen houses; in Philip and Mary, but 140 houses; subsequently, on taking up the woollen manufacture, it became prosperous, but it would owe a tardy act of grace and favour, from receiving Representatives, to a Parliament of 1832. From Henry 8th to 1676, 215 Members had been added to that House. Even Calais had Members during the time it was in the temporary possession of our Kings; and if so, why not the great 460 towns placed in the midst of the country, and in the heart of the empire? He regretted that the introduction had not been gradual. This, however, was no fault of the Government, or of the Bill, but was the neglect of a century, and made a great alteration now inevitable. As to disfranchisement, he supported schedule A, from a conviction, that it was an absolute and well-considered necessity, from no abstract love of the principle, though he had no doubt as to the competency of the Legislature. The clear distinction between property and trust could not be denied, and he believed, so far as the practice of the Constitution was concerned, in early times there were precedents. In very early periods, disfranchisement of poor and decayed boroughs appeared to have been common: the Sheriffs omitted and summoned at their pleasure—an undue power, which was at length restrained by Statute. The Burgesses of St. Alban's complained, that the Sheriff had deprived them of the right of Representation in order to gratify an Abbot. The Burgesses of Torrington complained, that the Sheriff had summoned them to Parliament through malice, malitiosè, though it was a poor and decayed place. At least seventy boroughs which once sent Members now sent none. Farnham and Greenwich were the latest instances; but he wished to call the attention of the House to the first Parliament of James 1st. In his Proclamation he ordered the Sheriff not to summon Members from any ancient borough, "soe utterly ruyned that there are not sufficient resyants to make such choice, and of whome, lawfull election may be made."* Seventeen boroughs were omitted in the list of that Parliament, being considered as small and decayed places, and many of which were now in schedule A. We find also the King, under his own prerogative, summoned, for the first time, Members from the two Universities and several boroughs. He would say nothing of the prerogative, whether it was good or bad. It was clear no such prerogative now existed, and that the Legislature alone could enfranchise, or disfranchise, if reasons of State policy required it. It had been argued, that the right of a borough to return Members was indefeasible, and reliance was placed on the cases of Wendover, Amersham and Marlow, towns restored to the privilege of Representation, after a lapse of 340 years. No such inference*See Hansard's Parl, Hist, vol. i. p. 969.461 could be drawn from those cases. Mr. Haslewell searched the Tower and found early Writs for those places, he carried those Writs before the Standing Committee of Privileges, and on the proof of a previous return, the House of Commons directed their Speaker to issue his Warrant for Writs to these places. This was clearly an act of usurpation on the part of the House. At that period the Crown exercised the prerogative of issuing Writs, and at any rate the House of Commons had no right whatever to exercise that power, which, if it did not appertain to the Crown, required an Act of Parliament. It was one of those acts of arbitrary power called forth by the contests between the privileges of that House and the prerogative of the Crown. In 1640 the two similar cases of Northallerton and Malton occurred, but no inferences of indefeasible right could be drawn from any of those cases. Undoubtedly, as the hon. Baronet, the member for the University of Oxford said, there had been small boroughs from the earliest times. One class were boroughs in ancient demesne, and once paid a higher rate of taxation; and another class summoned by the Tudor Princes to give the Crown a positive influence in that. House. If it was right the Crown should have such influence, these boroughs now served no such purpose, as this species of influence was now in other hands. These boroughs, however, were never popular in this country. Lord Shaftesbury called them poor rural animals, easily beguiled by courtiers. In late times also several great men had denounced them. Lord Chatham called them the rotten parts of the Constitution. He added, they could not last a century—if they did not drop, they must be amputated. He did not purpose to press on the attention of the House any of the trite topics on close boroughs or the nomination system. He thought that the fate of the small boroughs was decided by a general expression of public opinion. The notoriety of the sale and transfer of seats—the fact that that species of influence had accumulated in a few hands, had produced a deep-rooted feeling of dislike. When it was stated by the noble Lord who had introduced the measure before them, that seven Peers influenced sixty-three Members, and that fact was circulated through the country by a vigilant and able Press, the fate of these boroughs was practically decided. So long as this influence was in many hands—so long as the sale and transfer were 462 not generally known, they might escape, if not the notice, at least the hatred, of the public; but when it was once clearly made out and understood, that a few individuals possessed a large proportion of the legislative power of the kingdom, that influence was practically at an end, being contrary to the feelings of a proud and high-spirited people. It was in vain to say, that it worked well—that it sent clever men there: the cleverness of the advocates of a bad system was an objection, and not an advantage. It was contended, however, that it was dangerous to disfranchise these boroughs, because they were a necessary link between this House and another. He doubted this. The nomination boroughs formed a divided power: on a late occasion twenty-six peers connected with borough influence were on one side, and twenty-three peers on the other. It was clear that it was not a power to be relied on by the Aristocracy, as it was probable it might be wholly used on one side of a question affecting their supposed interests; but be it so or not, it was a power against the law of the land, against the law of Parliament, and against the standing orders of that House. If a demagogue sought to abuse the Aristocracy, he found in the nomination system his most effective weapon of attack; it was therefore no real support in times of danger and of difficulty. It was said, however, close boroughs were necessary for Ministers of State. Under a Reform there would not be that necessity for vacating seats that now existed. It was admitted that it was desirable that the chief Ministers of the Crown, and their legal advisers, should be in that House. Under the present practice, if a Member was called by the Crown to a high office, and sat for a close borough, there was no difficulty in the return; but if it should please the Crown to call to office a Member of that House who had gained the favour of a numerous constituency, at the moment he should attend to the duties of his office, he might be sent to the most distant part of the empire, to canvass a numerous constituency. He thought, then, the actual system was not perfect. Perhaps, during the sittings of reformed Parliaments there would be no occasion for vacating the seat, and if on a dissolution the Ministers of the Crown, backed by all the influence of station and of office, could not enter this House, instead of being a disadvantage, it might operate as a useful hint, in proving to such Ministers that their parliamentary conduct 463 had not been in conformity with the wishes of the great mass of the wealth and intelligence of the country. He wished to say a few words on the 10l. constituency. It might be too low for the districts in and about the metropolis—he was inclined to that opinion; but that was a subject for the Committee. On that principle he thought they were entitled to the support of the Members on the other side of the House, on their own argument. A constituency of householders was the old principle of the English Constitution: here there was restoration, there was that which had been declared by the hon. member for the University of Oxford to be essential to restoration—pre-existence. In all the towns and boroughs of this country, he excepted any peculiarity arising from burgage tenure, the parties entitled to the elective franchise were the resident and substantial householders. The man who resided in the town—who used its trade, and was entitled to its liberties—who was assessed to the wages of the Member, that man possessed the elective franchise. Burthen and privilege were reciprocal—a maxim as generous as it was sound. The whole fabric of corporate rights was erected on this constituency, and he was afraid it might be shown they too often had overburthened and destroyed it. On the subject of corporations, he heard strange doctrines—Magna Charta was made to apply to corporate rights. Excepting the city of London, he believed, at the time of Magna Charta there were no corporations in this country—charters of privileges there were many, charters of corporation none. The first charter of corporation dated, he believed, from 1440, and was granted by Henry 6th. The first charter mixing up the elective franchise was to the burgesses of Wenlock, in 1478, under the reign of Edward 4th. The uniting of corporate and parliamentary rights was generally a practice of much later date, under the Tudors and the Stuarts. Take the case of Bath, where now the franchise was in a select body of some forty persons. The corporate right in that city bore date the 27th Elizabeth; the city of Bath returned Members 250 years before that period. Who made those returns? He would say, in the language of the writs, the "Cives Bathonis." There was no trace that any close right existed until the appearance of the corporation. This was the history of many towns in this empire, and he agreed in what had fallen, on the subject of corporations, from the 464 hon. member for Bossiney. This, however, was an inconvenient moment to discuss that question as it deserved. He was aware of the use, and protested only against the abuse, of corporations. Rightly managed, he knew their value, as the engine of municipal government; but, converted into monopolies, they became the fertile source of oppression and misgovernment. Before he sat down, he wished to say a few words on the advantages to be derived from any Reform Bill. If he had not a distinct view of those advantages, he should not support a Bill introducing an extensive change in the corporation of that House. By concentrating within that House the Representatives of the mass of the wealth and intelligence of the country, they could obtain an effective organ of the public sentiments. If difficulties assailed the empire, the House could act with more energy and effect: if laws were to be imposed, such laws would carry with them more of a general consent, and obtain a more implicit obedience; for it was perfectly true, as was affirmed by his noble friend, the member for Wootton Bassett, though with a different meaning, that laws were of themselves but ink and parchment. If unions and associations were dreaded, here was a remedy, as they would remove the fuel of a great and acknowledged grievance; and if the Press was tyrannical and licentious, they would curb any undue authority, by making this House a more effective organ of public sentiment. It was unnecessary to suppose trade would be more brisk, or that the wages of labour would be increased by that Bill. It would not clothe the naked, feed the hungry, nor pay the national debt, to use the words of a noble Lord; but it would have a tendency to produce that which was wanted to the correct working of the Legislature—confidence. He thought, however, one specific grievance would be remedied. The history of this country since 1688 proved that all governments, whether Whig or Tory, had been too lavish with the resources of the empire. There had been economy for the last fifteen years, but he was afraid it was the economy, not so much of reason and reflection as of necessity, produced by the penury and destitution of the public purse. He did not contend that better or wiser men would come there, but that whoever should come would be checked by a fair constituency. If a Member neglected his duty, or betrayed his trust, the remedy would be found; there would be still 465 power, but that power would be controlled by responsibility. He would give his vote for the second reading.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
could not bring it to his mind, upon a question of such vital importance to the King, Lords, and people of this country, to give a silent vote. He had listened attentively to the debate on this new Bill, as it was called, but when he looked at this improved edition of the emendation or correction of the constitution of the House, he could not perceive that either the care or the consideration had been given to it which was recommended in the Speech of his Majesty, and which its importance demanded. Ministers must be aware, that there were some things in it so little capable of standing the test of investigation, that the more quickly they were passed over, the better, although there undoubtedly were some improvements in it, compared to the measure of last Session. But, as they had been introduced in consequence of the opposition that Bill had met with, he had no doubt, when this came to be thoroughly examined, very considerable improvements might also be made in it. He denied that the people could be satisfied with this Bill. He would ask, even presuming that the people of England were favourable to the Bill, whether it would prove equally satisfactory to the people of Scotland, or, if satisfactory to both, would it be satisfactory to Ireland? It was necessary to proceed with the utmost caution, in order to prevent all unnecessary excitement in the country. He believed it possible that a measure could be brought forward, founded on the basis of justice, but bearing no resemblance to the present, which might satisfy the people on the one hand, and prevent such violent changes on the other, as this Bill would occasion. It had been stated, that so strong was the general feeling in favour of the Bill of last Session, that no Anti-Reformer could dare to show his face in a populous place. He represented a place which had been ransacked for the purpose of throwing him out; but though he had avowed his determination to oppose the Bill, his public services were so much approved of, that he was again returned, by a larger majority than ever before. He did, however, acknowledge the necessity for some Reform, as well in that House as out of it; but still, until he saw such measures recommended as were calculated to render Reform salutary and safe of execution, he should fearlessly oppose it; for he was convinced 466 it would be the means of sacrificing the best interests of the country, and would involve the whole nation in distress. If it did not succeed, as he feared it could not, it would be impossible for the House to retrace its steps. A measure of this sort ought to be permanent, and not calculated by any of its provisions to produce periodical excitement. In this Bill there were thrown in allspice, pepper, and salt, to suit some palates, and sugar and honey to please others; but none of these ingredients could he swallow—he should choke in the attempt. He would proceed to show, however, where his objections particularly laid, and first, he conceived the 10l. clause to be at once unjust and dangerous, unequal in its operation, and not founded on grounds of security to the State, or even on the ground of expediency, to meet the pressure of the times. In many places it would disfranchise some persons, and bestow their rights upon others not half so well qualified to exercise them. It would give a vote to labouring men who earned a guinea a week, and took the right from many respectable persons in the smaller boroughs. Again, if a house had three floors, and one was let for 15l., another for 12l., and the third for 10l., each of the persons who hired such a floor would be entitled to vote. Much had been said of the changes in schedules A and B, which was what he might call, change sides and back again. But still there was the same sweeping clause of disfranchisement as in the Bill originally presented to the House. He never could agree to the disfranchisement of the boroughs in schedule A. It was condemning them to an untimely death, without judge or jury, on the pretence that undue influence was exercised in them. Never was there, in his opinion, a more arbitrary and unjust measure introduced. He certainly agreed with those hon. Members who thought it would have been better to have left schedule B out of the Bill altogether; but no, exclaimed both of the noble Lords opposite, at the same time, that would be too great a cut upon our Bill; but he did yet hope to see it again cut up altogether. The next point he should allude to was, the division of counties. He was glad the hon. member for Derbyshire had given notice that he intended to propose this clause should be struck out. Although he was somewhat surprised that one of the most ardent supporters of the Bill wanted to get rid of that part of it, the hon. Member should have his support. With respect to continuing the right of voting to free- 467 men during their lives, his Majesty's Ministers were not to be thanked for that concession. To have deprived them of that right would have been the greatest and most impudent robbery ever perpetrated by the Legislature. The next part of the Bill he should notice was that relating to towns, which were also counties in themselves. Was it proposed the freeholders in such places were to have votes for the counties in which such places were situated? He observed several places having that character had been omitted in the present Bill. These were points he should require distinct information on hereafter. He was glad to find it was determined at length, that the notion was abandoned, of reducing the number of Members, for, with the present number, it had been his lot often to sit in that House, when the most important measures had been passed, at a time when there was not more than from fifteen to thirty Members present. When he said this, he felt bound to add, that he thought Scotland and Ireland ought to have an increase of Members. It had been said, that when the Catholic Relief Bill had been passed, two years ago, that it would pacify Ireland; but, as he had predicted at the time, it had wholly failed, and that would also be the fate of this Bill. He must further say, he considered the plan of registration a very objectionable part of the Bill. He knew what sort of persons Overseers of parishes generally were: they would do nothing without eating and drinking, and the poor and county rates, already so heavy, would be beautifully whipped up in consequence. Again, he would declare, that there had been a most unfair distribution of Members by the Bill. Lincoln, with double the extent and population, was only to have one Member more than Durham; and Great Grimsby, which was at present larger than Tavistock, and was daily increasing, was to be shorn of one of its Members, while Tavistock, which was decaying, was to retain its two Members. He objected to the very principle, and every part of the Bill. It was, in his opinion, most unjust and partial. He also objected to the Bill, as giving too great an influence to democrats; the landed interest was not protected as it ought to be, and he should feel it his duty to give his vote against the Bill going into Committee. He was one of those who had learnt wisdom from the history of former times, and nothing like clamour should put him down. He trusted that the whole House was ani- 468 mated by the same spirit and a sense of duty to the country would induce it not to pass so ruinous a measure.
thought that, if ever there was a time at which it was necessary to approach the question of Reform with calmness and moderation, it was the present. The whole country was looking with intense anxiety to the proceedings of that House. It became their duty, then, in legislating upon the most important subject that could be brought under their consideration, not to suffer themselves to be betrayed into the manifestation of too much warmth—still less to be biassed by any party animosity. For his own part he was leagued with no party, was under the influence of no party, but he supported the Bill, then under the consideration of the House, from an honest conviction, after the best consideration that he had been able to bestow upon the subject, that it was a measure calculated to promote the welfare, and increase the happiness of the country. Having, as he had just stated, given every consideration in his power to the subject of Reform, and, in the main, highly approving of the measure which had been proposed, he still thought that some further approximation towards conciliation might be made between the extreme points upon which the friends and opponents of Reform differed. Ministers had set the example of concession. He thought that the hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, if they had really the good of their country at heart—as he had no doubt they had—would do well to follow that example. Government, in the present Bill, had conceded something of what was objectionable in the last. He thought, that that should be a pledge to the opponents of the measure that, if good cause could be shown, more would be conceded in Committee. He regarded the alterations which had been made, as a pledge from the Ministers that they would be ready, in Committee, to make such further changes as might be recommended by reason, and be calculated to render the Bill more useful. He doubted not, but that if any just and legitimate claim to alteration could be made, it would be taken into due consideration by the Government. Every one, even the opponents of the measure, must be anxious for the settlement of the question of Reform. That, he conceived, after the experience of the last twelve months, could only be satisfactorily attained by mutual concession. He begged to remind the House, that that was not the 469 proper time to debate the measure in detail. They were not then assembled to consider particular clauses of the Bill, but to say whether or not, in this kingdom, there was not wanting an extensive and efficient Reform? Every one who voted that night against the proposition of the Government, would, in point of fact, be opposing that which the great body of the people, through their Representatives in that House, had declared to be necessary for the welfare of the kingdom. It had been said by the opponents of the measure, that nothing had been made out which could justify so great a change. If the House would bear with him, he would state a few simple facts, which he thought could not fail to rouse the attention of hon. Members, and which, if they could not contradict them, ought, he conceived, to carry with them a conviction, that an extensive alteration in the representative system was necessary. About seventy years ago, the population of the manufacturing districts of the country, bore a proportion to that of the agricultural districts, as of one to two. About thirty years since, it had increased so as to become equal. In 1821 the manufacturing population very considerably out-numbered the agricultural; and, at the present moment, the population of the manufacturing districts, more particularly of the great unrepresented towns, had increased to such an extent, as to stand in the proportion of two to one to the agricultural population throughout England and Scotland, having completely reversed the relative proportions. Reform was called for, therefore, in consequence of the great change which had taken place in the relative numbers of the people, and it was neither practicable nor expedient, to exclude from their full share of Representation, that class which out-numbered the other in the proportion of two to one. He thought that population, although not the only one, was still the most important criterion which could be adopted, for deciding where Representation should he established. He had alluded to the populousness of the manufacturing districts—he had stated, that they stood in the proportion of two to one, as compared with the represented and agricultural classes. But, if the manufacturing districts had thus increased in population, could any man deny that they had increased in a still greater proportion in wealth and intelligence? As a proof of their wealth, he need only allude to the immense amount of taxes which they contributed to the reve- 470 nue of the country. If the House would allow him, he would just compare the amount of taxation annually paid by some of the towns which at present enjoyed the elective franchise, with that of some others which had not yet been admitted to that privilege. Taking thirty-eight of the boroughs in schedule A, it would be found that the amount of their contribution to the national coffers, in the shape of taxes, was only about 100l. a-year each. But, in looking at thirty-eight of the boroughs which by this Bill would be enfranchised, it would be found that the amount of their contribution was not 100l. or 200l., but 26,000l. a-year each. Thus the amount of taxes paid to the State was 260 times larger in the towns to be enfranchised, than in the same number of boroughs which were to be disfranchised: and this statement, therefore, deprived hon. Gentlemen of the arguments they had urged last Session, that the Representation was not, as it ought to be, apportioned to those towns which contributed most to the State, but was given to population, without reference to wealth. Those towns had not only increased in population, but also in property; and it would be satisfactory to every benevolent mind to know, that, as the population had increased, the average duration of human life had also increased to the extent of five years, since the period when the agricultural population was twice as numerous as the population of the manufacturing districts. That was a fact which must be satisfactory to every benevolent mind, and it must also be satisfactory to know, that, though the amount of property among the manufacturing classes was not great for each individual, it was pretty equally divided, and the great body of the manufacturing population accordingly lived comfortably, and were distinguished for good conduct and intelligence. He would next mention another point. Having stated that the thirty-eight new boroughs paid taxes to the amount of 26,000l. a-year each, and thirty-eight of those to be disfranchised only 100l. a-year each, he would ask, how stood the constituency of the two classes? Why, the nomination boroughs, at an average, had only twelve constituents each, while the other had between 2,000 and 3,000 each. He would ask, therefore, whether it was not natural that men remarkable for their intelligence, activity, and energy, should desire to have the greatest privilege of freemen—the right of voting for those who made their laws? Looking, therefore, at 471 all the circumstances which entitled any class to have a right to such a privilege—looking at their numbers, their property, and their intelligence—it could not be denied that such places had a fair claim to enfranchisement. But it was said they were virtually, though not directly, represented by the members for Gatton, Old Sarum, and Aldborough. He would not stop to argue the question whether Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds, were virtually represented by the members for Gatton, Old Sarum, and Aldborough, but merely ask, whether the inhabitants of such places could be satisfied with such Representation? Would not the intelligent mechanics of Birmingham or Manchester reject with derision such an answer to their just demands? But, in addition to these reasons, there were still others. The occupation in which these men were engaged, was, from its nature, exposed to great fluctuation at different periods—at one time employment was abundant, at another time it was contracted, and consequently many, by such a change, were reduced to great suffering and want. The causes of the change were not always well known, and it was, therefore, necessary for the peace of the country, that the people in those districts should have direct Representatives in that House, to inquire into the causes of the change, to endeavour to provide a remedy when it could be had, and, when that remedy was not to be had, to convince the people that the disease was beyond the control of Government. He would mention an instance. It was well known that the glove-trade of Worcester was at present in a most distressed state. He would not stop to inquire into the cause, but merely ask, whether it was not a great satisfaction to the operatives of that place to know, that they had a Member who not only could represent their sufferings to the Government, but could get a Committee appointed to inquire into the cause of their distress, and thus ascertain if their disease admitted of legislative remedy? Let the House apply the case to Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds, and ask, if it would not be a matter of the first importance to the country, for these places to have Representatives who could make their wants known to the Legislature, although it might be beyond the power of the Legislature to give them any relief. Though the Representatives could not remove the wants, they could explain and demonstrate to the people, that they did not arise from any fault 472 of the Government, or from any particular Administration, but from causes which no Government could control. What was at present the consequence in these districts when distress arose? The mechanics had no Representative in Parliament, and advantage was taken of their distress by mischievous persons to excite them against the Government, and the best institutions of the country. They had no Representative of their own, and they, consequently, had recourse to demagogues. Were this defect removed—were Representation given to every town of considerable size—he had no doubt that one great cause of discontent would be removed. The members for Gatton and Old Sarum, he would not deny, were men of integrity and talents, but if they were to speak with the tongues of angels, they would not convince the people, because they had no constituents, and they were unknown. What was the result? In times of distress, mischievous persons were found who attributed that to Government, and the people were excited and led astray by their passions. Authorized Representatives would possess the confidence of their constituents, and their advice would be attended to. The disturbances which now occasionally happened in these districts, would, by these means, be mitigated. To him it appeared most extraordinary, that any hon. Member who watched the signs of the times, could object to enfranchise the large manufacturing towns. Did they conceive dissatisfaction could continue without great danger? Had the advantage of the cotton-trade to the country been lost sight of by hon. Members? Were hon. Gentlemen aware that this branch of manufacture alone, employed nearly 1,000,000 persons, and that it produced 30,000,000l. per year to the country? As the necessity of Reform was generally admitted, he did entreat hon. Members to allow the Bill to go to a Committee, where its details could be altered and improved. Some persons objected to, and had contended there was an undue proportion of Members given to the manufacturing interests. It was obvious that part of the Bill could not be amended or altered in its present stage, but with reference to this, he would ask hon. Gentlemen if they had duly considered the propositions which they called in question? About thirty Members were to be given to these interests, which might be said to be totally unrepresented now. Eight were to be given to the cotton- 473 trade, three to the trade in metals, carried on at Birmingham, Wolverhampton, &c., three to the woollen-trade, which formerly was the chief, though now only the second manufacture in the country; one to the Potteries, the trade of which had been created by the ingenuity of a single family, and which now exported property to the amount of a million a-year; one to the carpet manufacture, three to the shipping interest, and a certain number to those places which might be considered as the repositories of accumulated wealth. Whatever else the House might do, he was sure there never would be peace or tranquillity until those great marts of wealth and intelligence were represented, and the nomination boroughs disfranchised. They might abolish taxes, and reduce expenditure, but until the people received a full share of Representation, and a direct interest in making the laws by which they were to be governed, it was in vain to expect tranquillity. He knew there were men of the most honourable character opposed to the Bill, and he was the last man to cast any imputation upon their supposed motives, or the causes that influenced them. He was glad to see the conciliatory tone displayed by both sides, on the first night of the Session; he hoped it would be followed in the future stages of the Bill, the fate of which was anxiously watched, not only by the people of the United Kingdom, but by the whole civilized world; and he sincerely prayed that the question might be speedily settled, otherwise the character and feelings of the people would be changed, and instead of each man peacefully following his occupation, a state of the most alarming excitement would prevail, property would be rendered insecure, and the country thereby be reduced to such a state, that it would never recover from the evils which might be inflicted. He therefore earnestly prayed that the Bill might pass.
§ Mr. Edward Cust
said, as one of the members for Lostwithiel, he felt called upon to apply to the noble Lords opposite, to ascertain how it was, that place now appeared in schedule A, when, from the speech of the noble Paymaster of the Forces, he understood it was to be inserted in schedule B; he requested information on this point hereafter, and would forthwith proceed to make one or two observations on other parts of the Bill. He was one of those who thought there was no material alteration in the principles of it 474 from that of last Session, nor did he imagine there could be, when he remembered the steady support Ministers received from hon. Gentlemen opposite. As he entertained this opinion, and had opposed the former Bill, he still continued determined to oppose the present one. He considered it calculated to make a dangerous inroad into the Constitution, which had hitherto been the means of giving wealth and happiness to this country. At the same time he felt gratified that the rights of the freemen were to be spared, and that several other minor improvements had been made in the Bill, but he yet saw no provision for the Representation of the colonies. It was also ridiculous to suppose, that the franchise which had been proposed, would represent the wealth and intelligence of the country, and more particularly in the large manufacturing towns, and the metropolitan districts. So far from the present edition of the Bill being an improvement, on the whole, he considered it more democratic in its tendency than the last. The present was, indeed, a troublesome season, and there was, he feared, but one step between the changes that were now proposed, if they were granted, and the destruction of the country; he hoped, therefore, that House would not accede to the second reading of the Bill. He had expected some nearer approach to a more satisfactory adjustment of the Reform question; and, if a measure founded on such principles had been brought in by the Government, it should have had his support; but Ministers, from the commencement, had proceeded too fast, and too incautiously; they had acted like unskilful navigators, who, having found a vessel stranded, and having, through means of an accidental current, got her under weigh, they flung overboard justice, discretion, and foresight, and, delighted with the popular breeze, they set all canvass, heedless or unconscious of the shipwreck which must inevitably follow. The changes which they attempted were too great and too violent, and such as he could not countenance by his vote.
Sir John Bourke
was happy to be able to assent to the opinions of those who had pronounced the present Bill much better than the last; and, notwithstanding all the taunts and sneers of Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, he would contend, that its provisions were as favourable to popular interests, as the most ardent admirer of the first Bill could possibly desire. Certain it was, that the present Bill had 475 lost none of the supporters of the former Bill, and he believed it would be found that it had gained the votes of some of the opponents of the former measure. While, however, he expressed his determination to sapport the provisons of the present Bill, he must take leave to express his dissent from the course which the Government had thought proper to pursue with respect to the Representation of Ireland. As one of the members for an Irish county, he felt bound to say, that the people of that country required a much larger number of Representatives, than it appeared was to be allotted to them; and, therefore, he now gave notice that it was his intention to move, that the Scotch and Irish Bills be brought in and read a first and second time, before they went into any Committee on the English Reform Bill. By that means they would be able to ascertain what number of Members could be obtained for increasing and improving the Irish Representation, and at the same time have an opportunity of taking them from the metropolitan districts, or the great manufacturing districts of England, if the original number of Members was still to be preserved. He should, at the proper time, be prepared to shew, that whether considered according to population, wealth, or extent, Ireland had a fair claim for a considerable increase of Members. He confessed, he had yet to learn what was the principle adopted by the Government with respect to Irish Reform. There could be no question that its population was very inadequately represented, for the province of Connaught, by far the largest and most populous division of the kingdom, had only twelve Representatives. He thought that the members for Ireland were bound, on this occasion to state boldly their dissatisfaction, and to offer the Government this fair bargain, that if it was disposed to deal justly with Ireland, they would give all their assistance in securing the passing of the English Reform Bill, but not otherwise.
§ Mr. Baring Wall
had been an opponent of the last Bill from conviction, and he must, from the same circumstance, continue to oppose the present Bill, because, in all essential points it was the same. There was no person who felt more strongly than he did, the awful situation in which the country was placed, and who felt more deeply than he did, the absolute necessity that something in the way of conciliation should be done. He thought it most important to state, that this Bill was the Bill 476 belonging to Government alone, which must take the whole credit and responsibility of it. He and his hon. friends had nothing to do with the responsibility of it, and he could not allow the members of the present Government to say they had made alterations, and that those alterations were concessions to the opponents of the Bill. They were not concessions to them—they were concessions to reason and justice. He was, however, ready to admit, that most of the alterations of this Bill might be considered as amendments. The schedule A had been taken upon a new basis. Little time had been given for hon. Members to reflect, whether that basis was one on which it would be expedient to ground a schedule of disfranchisement, should a disfranchising schedule be agreed to at all, but he thought the House ought to have time to consider before they were called upon to approve or disapprove of that schedule. He thought many circumstances had occurred which ought to have induced the Government to make more concessions, and more alterations than they had made in the measure which they had brought forward. He could not but call upon his Majesty's Ministers to recollect, that since Parliament had last met, the voice of the House of Lords had been expressed against them. He was sure the members of his Majesty's Government would be the last persons in the world to assert, that there was no property, no talent, no rights in the House of Lords to be regarded, upon a great and important question like the present. He called upon the Ministers to recollect, that not only had the House of Lords declared against them, but that the Church had declared against them. And he would say, when he had heard arguments raised concerning the interestedness of that great and learned body, that the House ought never to forget the important truth, that the Church owed almost the whole of the patronage it enjoyed to the Lord Chancellor and the Government. He thought likewise, that the very circumstance of his Majesty's Ministers having proposed amendments in this Bill, proved to the House that the measure which they had before proposed was not perfect. This was a reason why they should not now come forward, and again say, they would stand by "the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill." He rejoiced in the altered tone of the supporters of the Bill, though he could not admit, there was any alteration in the lan- 477 guage used by the Ministers. The hon. member for Shrewsbury had begged the House to recollect that this was no party measure. He entirely concurred with the hon. Member in that sentiment, and in his recommendation to the House not to discuss this great question with personal or party feelings. The hon. member for Liverpool had said, that the House was not a talisman of truth, but that Members sometimes said one thing in it, and sometimes another. That evil, if it existed at present, must, he feared, be increased, when Members would, under the new Constitution, have to depend more upon the middling classes of society for their return, than they ever had done before. For his own part, he must say, a speech less calculated to support the provisions of the Bill now under consideration, than that of the hon. member for St. Alban's, he had never heard delivered; and he had no doubt that that hon. Member would be found voting on the Opposition side of the House. He inferred from that hon. Member's speech (spoken as it was from near the Treasury bench), that the clause for creating metropolitan Members was not to be sustained. With regard to the nomination boroughs, he would say, that public opinion having been so strongly declared against them, he should not oppose a measure for abolishing them; but if they were to be given up at all, they ought to be given up all together, and not partially or by halves. He, therefore, was prepared to support the disfranchising schedule, to the extent to which Government proposed to carry that schedule, provided, upon examination, it was found to be a fair and real one. He was glad to hear what an hon. and gallant friend had observed, respecting the borough of Lostwithiel. He thought it a piece of gross negligence on the part of the Ministers, that they should come down and state, that the borough of Lostwithiel was in schedule B, and that on the very night after that statement was made, the Bill itself should inform the House, that Lostwithiel was in schedule A. Were people's feelings, or were their just rights and privileges to be trifled with in this way? Down went the post to Lostwithiel on the night on which the measure was brought in, and informed the inhabitants, that the borough of Lostwithiel was safe; the Reform Bill was immediately popular there, and in all probability, the healths of his Majesty's Ministers were freely drank on that night. Next day's post took them the tidings 478 that Lostwithiel was placed in schedule A. Then what would be the case? Probably the Members of his Majesty's Ministry were burnt in effigy, and he was not sure that the Yeomanry might not very soon have to be called out to quell disturbances in that part of Cornwall. With respect to schedule B, that schedule was not only inexpedient but unpopular. He believed that the only part of the Bill which was popular throughout the country was, the extinction of the nomination boroughs, and the extension of the elective franchise. To schedule A, he had, certainly, become a convert. A convert he could hardly call himself, for his opinions remained the same, but a convert to that schedule, on account of the alarming state of the country. It was the fashion, on the Government side of the House, to claim attachment to the people; but he begged to observe, that he was as much attached to the rights and privileges of the people, as well as to the privileges of the Crown, as any man in that House. What he disliked were, the noisy factious demagogues, who excited and aggravated the country. He must observe, that he saw a borough with which he had been long connected, removed from schedule A to schedule B; but for this he would not give any credit to Government, nor consider it a concession. If they were to have concessions from Ministers, such concessions should be dated from that evening, because the Bill on the Table was the Bill to which Government now stood pledged, and the House had nothing to do with any former measure. With regard to the relative state of Representation, he was unwilling to hazard an opinion; but if the adjustment of the balance was right in the former Bill, that of the present Bill must be wrong. On this point he should like to hear some explanation from Ministers or their supporters, in order that they might be pinned down to their own opinions. It was most important to know what was to be the relative number of town and county Members, and what the proportions of those of the several parts of the United Kingdom. The result of the deliberations of the House upon this point was looked to with deep interest from all parts of the country. He knew not whether he spoke the opinion of his constituents when he said, that he thought Government were perfectly right in not giving any more Representatives to Ireland, but he believed he did, and that he also spoke the sentiments of the majority 479 of the people of England. Indeed, he thought it a positive evil, that any alteration at all should be made in the Representation of that country. There might be reasons why Members should be given to large towns, and other great interests which had arisen in England, but he saw no such reasons for giving more Representatives to Ireland. No large towns had sprung up there, no new interest had been created, nor did any of the arguments upon which new Members were created in England, justify or apply to the creation of additional Irish Members. He would beg to ask the hon. member for Galway, whether any of these reasons would apply to Ireland: that hon. Member said, in substance, "look to the number of inhabitants that are unrepresented." After the Repeal of the Union, if ever that event took place, it might be very well to bring that question forward, but up to that time the interests of the two countries were identified, and he should as soon think of inquiring whether the population of Dorsetshire or Cornwall were equal, as of inquiring into the relative population of England and Ireland. As to that part of the last Bill which approved of the appointment of Commissioners, he must say, that useful results were likely to follow from it; and this was owing to the conduct of the Commissioners themselves, to whom he offered the tribute of his admiration. He knew not which most to admire, their zeal, or the amazing expedition with which they despatched their business. He certainly thought the House would derive quite as much information from their topographical researches, as they had received from the anonymous tourist of last year. He did not know who that person might be, but there was one part of his information at least new, and that was, that the town of Poole was a very opulent and delightful place. Allusions had been made to the period of the Commonwealth, and the rebellion which had preceded it; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in adverting to Clarendon's History, drew an analogy between those periods and the present; and he (Mr. Wall) would also refer to that History, as presenting scenes not unlike what were passing at present. In one part, the writer said, that at the time of the rebellion, there were men of great parts and great acquirements, and he said, in another part, that the Government was in the hands of persons interested only in doing good for themselves, and who cared nothing 480 for the good of the people. The historian further said, that with respect to the people, there existed the same restless disposition as at the present day, the same tone of innovation, the same calling for dissolution of Parliament, the same feeling against the Church, and the same cry of "down with the Bishops," resembling, in every particular, what was going on at present. The analogy was sustained to the most trivial points; the Lords could not go down to their House, without meeting with the grossest insults—without being followed by the mob, crying out "rotten-hearted Lords;" and, what was still more extraordinary, they had at that period their "Lords' Lists," but whether black or red, he (Mr. Wall) could not tell. These lists, however, were hawked about in every street and alley, and posted on every wall of the metropolis. The state of Ireland at that time bore a wonderful similarity to her present condition; it was then said of her, that she was a gulf to swallow, and a sponge to suck. The remarks of the historian upon what followed, also afforded us a striking and useful lesson. Clarendon said, that after the attainder and settlement of Parliament, the public mind became marvellously calm and composed, but to that succeeded the dreadful re-action which was inevitable upon this disappointment. The Peerage was abolished, the Church was destroyed, and the King was assassinated. He (Mr. Wall) had no doubt but that for some time after the passing of the Reform Bill, the public mind would become "marvellously calm and composed." But, then, was he not at present justified in anticipating disappointment and reaction? This was a view of the question, at which he looked with much alarm, and he envied not the feelings of that individual, who, having read the history of the former period, could come to the discussion of the present question, without fear and trembling. Who were the parties, he would ask, that were to be benefitted by this Reform measure? Certainly not, those who were so loud in clamouring for the passing of the Bill, and he would venture to assure those now in power, that the passing of the Reform Bill, would be their own overthrow. He wished the Whigs would listen to the voice of reason, and adopt those modifications suggested by the Opposition; then would their power be increased, they would gather strength, and be enabled to preserve the institutions and the tranquillity of the country.
§ Mr. Cresset Pelham
concurred entirely with the sentiments of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and as he conscientiously believed, that the Bill would not be attended with those beneficial results which were anticipated, he should vote against its second reading, and he should do so, because he thought it destructive of those institutions which were framed by the wisdom of our ancestors, and which saved this country.
§ Lord William Lennox
There is one peculiarity in the reasonings upon this question, for it is the invariable practice of the opponents of the Bill, and one which the hon. member for Weymouth fell into, of arriving at their own conclusions, and deducing from causes effects that can only be found in their own apprehensions. Beginning, then, by stating what will be the result of this measure, and their statements resting upon no other foundation than their own data, they denounce the promoters of it with all the fervour of their own very peculiar creed; then, as their fancy rises, they see the surges of revolution breaking high against their own castle walls. In the confusion that follows, anarchy prevails—democracy triumphs—the Church crumbles—good government is trampled under foot—the crown falls from the monarch's head—a political chaos ensues, for nothing is too monstrous, too miraculous for their distempered imaginations. But have they paused to ask themselves a few practical questions? for, in the common mode of argument, by establishing premises we may arrive at conclusions not so very dissimilar. I will suppose then, that no man can be found to think otherwise, than that he is placed in society for the purpose of promoting the welfare of the many—that laws are framed and administered for the benefit of the State in general—that political liberty should be filled to the exact measure that may give an interest to every individual in the State, without endangering the welfare of the whole—and that, if the laws are adapted to the characters and customs of the people, they must possess a power of elasticity to suit them to any changes that may take place in those customs or that character. Now there is nothing herein that can be controverted, except by those who place their reliance only upon vested rights, which vested rights over the conscience of a man, is very like the vested right of a West-Indian planter over the body of his slave; for I see no distinction between a mental and 482 corporeal enthralment. But in a rational debate I acknowledge no such adversary. Supposing, then, our purposes, either as men or legislators, to be admitted, and these are, the welfare of our fellow-man either in his individual capacity or his general interest in the community at large—why, I would ask, is the whole order of things to be reversed because existing laws are found to be incompatible with those interests? In what political vocabulary does the endowment of an acknowledged right mean revolution? Or who is he who would stigmatize the conscientious legislator who accords it, as a restless anarch? In what moral code does he who withholds deserve better than he who bestows? Let the community arbitrate between us as to which party are sowing the dragon's teeth, to spring up in discord and confusion. The proposition before us is simply this—the people of England think themselves inadequately represented, and petition us to amend what they deem a grievance; and here I must acknowledge, that their opinions as to their own Representation are worthy of attention. They claim this as a right, and look upon the withholding of it as an act of the grossest injustice—an injustice in which they see, or fancy they see, corruption, self-interest, and many of the worst passions of man, militating against them, and which, if persevered in, must drive them to desperation. Who, then, will have caused the confusion? who will have sown the seeds of anarchy? The people have found out that the many were not placed here solely for the advantage of the few, and when the former know their power, the latter may find themselves in jeopardy. Our opponents threaten us with all sorts of ills. I fear none. The people of England love a monarchical government when divested of its abuses. A Reform in Parliament will reduce to practice what the Constitution is in theory. The House of Commons is the safety-valve through which the grievances of the people should find vent: by enlarging it, explosion is prevented. I support the Bill, improved as I think it is in many respects, because I believe the tranquillity of the country depends upon it, and I look upon its rejection by the House of Lords as the cause of all the ills that have lately accrued to the commercial, financial, and political interests of the country.
§ Mr. Praed
said, he had waited with much anxiety all through the debate to hear something in the shape of argument, to which it would be worth a reasonable 483 man's while to attend; but he had heard nothing of argument. Even the speech of his hon. friend (Mr. Macaulay) did not contain any argument, nor were any explanations given of the many changes made by Ministers in the Bill. And here he must acquit his hon. and learned friend, of the charge of inconsistency with respect to the ballot, which had been made against him, he knew, from a long and intimate acquaintance, that his hon. and learned friend had never been favourable to that principle. He could not but complain of the charges made against hon. Members on his side of the House. They had been charged with causing the long-protracted discussion on this Bill. It was not unnatural, that those who had originated important amendments, introduced into the noble Lord's measure, should claim some merit and acknowledgement of those services. His Majesty's Ministers had certainly admitted the value of their suggestions; but the hon. member for Calne said, they ought not to claim any merit for those changes which had followed their suggestions, because it would have been better had the Bill passed in its first state. He would, however, ask his hon. friend, whether the Bill in the form it then wore, would not have been more likely to meet with a better reception in the Lords? What were the important changes made in compliance with the objections of those who had opposed the Bill? The test of population was abandoned. Was not that occasioned by the arguments on his side of the House? And, again, the census of 1831 had been taken in consequence of the cogent arguments of the opposers of the Bill. They had contended, upon indisputable grounds, that it was better to legislate upon data of the present day than data of ten years back. Now all these changes had been introduced by his Majesty's Government, in direct opposition to the documents they themselves had laid on the Table of the House, and which had been found more amusing than instructive. The noble Lord informed the House, that the Bill had been formed upon a new basis. Population was no longer the test of Representation, and it was presumed the Bill had been much improved. But his Majesty's Ministers had gained little by discussion on the last Bill, and really he did not see how the House could come to a more favourable conclusion on the new Bill. The basis of the intended Constitution was altogether erroneous. It was impossible to make an estimate by figures of 484 what ought to be borough Representation. His Majesty's Ministers might as well entertain the country with any other extravagant calculation—And tell exactly the time of day The clock would strike by Algebra.The circumstances of two boroughs, each containing the same number of inhabitants, might nevertheless be essentially different, and might demand a different amount of Representation. Where two boroughs were situated near each other, and a small borough was placed at some distance from them, he would, in many cases, prefer disfranchising one of the larger boroughs to disfranchising the small borough. But there were more important changes made in the Bill—not in the principle of the measure, he wished that had been changed—but in the details. The noble Lord now told them, that there was no mistake, no injustice, nothing wrong, no unequal operation, because they had adopted a different rule; but did not the noble Lord recollect, that when they had protested against the operation of the former rule, they had also protested against the rule itself; they had complained and proved that rule was wholly unfair and its operation partial. His hon. and learned friend, the member for Calne, had contrasted the conduct of himself and his hon. friends, with that pursued by the friends of the Bill, on the occasion of the Catholic Relief Bill, and had said, that when the then Ministry turned round, and advocated these doctrines to which they had been opposed previously, their opponents had assisted their efforts, instead of taunting them with the change in their opinions: but his hon. and learned friend omitted to mention the most material feature of the change. The then Ministers had all the unpopularity of the measure, while the Whigs engrossed a pretty large share of the fame and profit. There were other changes in the Bill, and he should have paid a grievous compliment to his Majesty's Ministers if he had allowed the changes in the Bill to be the work of those Ministers. The best changes had been produced by its opponents. In the regular course of reasoning it might be said, that all the parts of this subject had been sifted, yet, not long after the struggle of last Session was over, there came into the field a masked combatant. He spoke of an anonymous pamphleteer. The writer was no friend to those who opposed the Bill—no soldier belonging to the camp of the authors. It was edited and 485 published by G. Berger, of Holywell-street, Strand. It was entitled "Whig Fraud and English Folly?" being a letter to the people, showing them that they are betrayed by these Whig Ministers, who, under pretence of increasing the power of the people, are robbing them of the power they now possess." A part of the letter he had alluded to, was appropriated to discuss what had been done and attempted by Ministers, with a view to alter or modify the 10l. clause. That clause, in the first Bill, required that all persons must have occupied a house six months to have a right to vote. When it was under discussion last Session, the opposition was principally against the system of registration. In the second Bill, instead of six months, the term of occupation was to be twelve months. The change had been resorted to by his Majesty's Ministers for the purpose of improving the respectability of voters, but this was a rat which had been ferreted out, as he would prove to the House. It had been asserted, that it was a perfidious juggle for the purpose of disfranchising three-fourths of the citizens of England. Instead of making any of his own remarks on the effects of that clause, he begged leave to cite the following passage from Mr. Berger's letter—A view of the case soon satisfied me that it was not to save expense that the system of registration was introduced; and I accordingly, to use a vulgar proverb, began to smell a rat—and a rat sure enough I found, skulking from the light of day as artfully and craftily as ever rat was discovered. To drop metaphors and to use plain language, I found that the object of this system of registration was not to save expense—not to simplify matters—no such thing—I found it was a mountebank's trick to engage the eye, while the sleight of hand was performed—that it was a perfidious Whig juggle, to acquire, indirectly, such a length of occupation as they did not for a moment dare directly to propose. I will proceed to state distinctly my ground for this charge. The following are the regulations of the Bill.On the last day of August in every year, the Overseers are to make out a list of persons entitled to vote under the provisions of this Bill; and in order to get first upon it, amongst other things it is necessary that the party should have been in occupation of the same premises for twelve months at least. This list undergoes correction and revision; and when so corrected and revised, it is entered into a book, and that book is the register of electors to vote at any election which may take place between the first day of December following, and the first day of December in the ensuing year. The four usual 486 periods of entering upon new premises are, as you of course know, Michaelmas, Christmas, Lady-day, and Midsummer. I will consider the operation of this system upon the vote of a person entering at each of these periods, and then I think you will be able to apply my reasoning to every other case.Suppose, then, mine is a Michaelmas take—and as the day of registration for the present year is uncertain, for the sake of simplicity let me be supposed to enter at Michaelmas, 1832. On the last day of August, 1833, a list will be made out; on that list my name cannot appear, because I shall have been only eleven months in occupation; I must wait then till the list of the last day of August, 1834; that is to say, I must be in occupation twenty-three months before my name can be put on the list. After I get on the list I must wait till the 1st of December, 1834, before I can by possibility vote; therefore the shortest possible occupation required of me before I can vote will be twenty-six months; and if, instead of supposing the election to happen on the earliest possible day, we take the middle of the year as the average period of its occurrence, six months more must be added. Thus is an occupation of thirty-two months substituted by the system of registration for the six months now required by the common law of the land. This is the rat I ferreted out from his concealment. Here is something more congenial to the principles of a Whig than a diminution of expense: this is the perfidious juggle I spoke of, by which the disfranchisement of three-fourths of the artisans of England is effected, without one of them suspecting a word about the matter. This is the Whig sleight of hand, by which that has been accomplished secretly, clandestinely, and surreptitiously, which, if openly proposed, would have long ago decided the fate of the Bill, and of those by whom it was proposed.We will now consider the case of a person who enters at Christmas 1832. As before, it will be August, 1834, before he gets on the list, and consequently, by just the same reasoning as I employed in the last case, the average occupation required of him before he votes will be twenty-nine months. So the average occupation required of a person entering at Lady-day will be twenty-six months, and of one who enters at Midsummer twenty-three months.By the same reasoning it appears, that no man by any possibility can vote without fifteen months' occupation of the same premises, viz. twelve months previous to the last day of August, and three months previous to the first day of December following; and, then, supposing, as before, the election on an average to come on in the middle of the year, six months more must be added, making twenty-one months essential in the most favourable case. Thus, my friends, have these wily Whigs, by their system of registration, substituted for the six months' occupation required 487 by the common law an occupation varying in duration from twenty-one to thirty-two months.But now to judge of the effects of that pamphlet, how stood that clause in the edition of the Bill then before them. It distinctly enacted, that the voter should not be required to occupy the "same" premises for twelve months; this, of course, was a concession made to the anonymous writer, and took away at once all the security they had in the former Bill, to limit the number of voters, and to judge of their respectability. In the next place, he came to the alterations made in the allowing the franchise to be retained by freemen in perpetuity. He was as great an advocate as any man to preserve existing rights and privileges, but this provision, taken in connection with the extension of the franchise, only proved the certainty that there would be an enormous addition to the numbers of the lower class of voters. He had moved for returns to show the number of this class of freemen at present, but in the absence of authentic information, from the best inquiries he could make, he supposed there were about 200,000 such persons, who would possess the right of voting, in addition to those expressly created by the Bill. In the first Bill, the existing rights of freemen were preserved; in the second, these words were introduced, "So long as they shall continue to be entitled to vote:" these words, implying the continuation of the right, almost defeated the effect of the first Bill. But, further than this, according to the first Bill, the voter, on coming up to the poll, was to swear that he was the person whose name appeared on the register. But the provisions of the second Bill rendered it necessary that the right of voting should have been continued without intermission. The present Bill altered the case altogether, and he would refer to the same writer he had before alluded to, in order to explain the motives of the Ministers for making the alteration.As the clause reserving existing rights drew near at hand, the tempter seems to have suggested to the mind of one of these Whig lawgivers, a mode of extirpating scot-and-lot voters, pot-walloppers, &c. so subtle and refined that no human being could be reasonably expected to detect it. What was to be done? The Bill had been printed and committed before this happy idea presented itself: to attempt to introduce it as an amendment would be to draw attention to the tender part. Nevertheless, the idea was too good to be lost; so the whole clause was remodelled, and printed on 488 a fly-leaf, and was huddled through a deserted House of Commons, assembled on a Saturday, on which day out of tender regard to the impatience of the people, the House had been compelled by Ministers to meet. This clause, then, so smuggled into the Bill, and huddled through the House, runs as follows—Having saved the right of freemen, it proceeds:—Provided also that every person now having a right to vote in the election for any city or borough (except those enumerated in the said schedule A) in virtue of any qualification, other than those hereinbefore mentioned and reserved, shall retain such right of voting, so long only as he shall continue to be qualified as an elector, according to the usages and customs of such city or borough, or any law now in force, and such person shall be entitled to vote in the election for such city or borough, if duly registered according to the provisions hereinafter contained; but that no such person shall be so registered in the next or any succeeding year, unless such person shall, on the 1st day of February in the next year, and on the last day of August, in each succeeding year, continue to be qualified as such elector in such manner as would entitle him then to vote if such days were respectively the days of election, and this Act had not been passed,' &c.Now the change is this: one word is wholly omitted, and the word "and" is substituted for "a." It was hardly possible that Ministers could have intended to effect so great a change by such simple means; but certain it was that they had done so, and this change, with others of the same description, was through the whole of the Bill. But he would dwell no longer on these alterations. Another great fault of the present Bill was, that sufficient attention was not paid to the landed interest; it might be all very well to give Members to the large manufacturing towns, but would they protect the landed interest? Would Blackburn and Manchester protect the interests of Bridport and Dorchester? No! and why? Because they were diametrically opposed to them. He had not been surprised to hear his hon. and learned friend, the member for Calne, say that he was not disposed to go into the contents of this Bill; he could account for this by simply observing, that its principles were so involved and contradictory, that it was better for the advocates of the measure not to enter into a discussion of them. He regretted this the more, because his hon. and learned friend, in the course of all the speeches with which he had favoured the House, had never gone at any length into the details or principles of the Bill, although he had pointed out many evils which he supposed to exist, and which 489 he attributed to the state of the present system of Representation. With what success he had done this, and how his arguments had been met, were fresh in the memory of the House; but neither when the borough which he represented found favour in the eyes of Ministers, nor at this present time, when it was an object of their severity, had he endeavoured to point out how this measure was calculated to remedy the evils of which he complained. He had never heard a more magnificent relation of the gradual progress of society, than that which was made by the hon. and learned Gentleman; he never had the pleasure of hearing a more beautiful analogy drawn between the progress of nature and that of people and nations in general; but had there been one single word in that speech which might not have been spoken during the three days at Paris, at the Congress of Vienna, or which might not have been uttered by Massaniello in the market-place of Naples? The hon. and learned Gentleman, indeed, told the House, that, in future, Manchester might be contested for less than the market-price of Old Sarum: but this was not all that was required. He ought, at the same time, to have proved, that a contested election at Manchester would be as cheap to the young, well-informed man, coming up from the University with no patrimony but his talents and acquirements, as was the opportunity of coming in for a nomination borough. His hon. and learned friend had told them, that the same men would have opportunities of entering that House, but they would not be returned for the same places; and he said that a man's spirit was broken by doing the work of his patron—that he presented a more piteous spectacle than the light and beautiful Ariel doing the work of Sycorax. No one would charge his hon. and learned friend with being more debased or broken in spirit at the present moment, while sitting for the borough of Calne, than when, some time hence, he would sit as the Representative of the great town of Leeds. Suppose, by the way of illustration and argument, it was imagined that this country had recently shaken off the yoke of a foreign despot, and that we had offered to us a new Constitution, on which we were about to decide, so far as he was concerned, he would say, that after serious and deliberate consideration, not being blind to the difficulties or danger of the vote he was giving, he was disposed to reject the offered Constitution, because he saw no reason to 490 hope that that Constitution would secure a good or stable government. He should say they were establishing three estates in the kingdom, all perfectly independent of, and removed from each other. If the 10l. householders were to have the same right of voting as those who were far above them in society or station, property was not made the basis of the system of Representation. If it were asserted the principle was founded on taxation, that was overturned when all below the 10l. householder paid nearly, or quite the same amount of taxes. There was no other support for such a Constitution but Universal Suffrage. The present House of Commons represented the universality of the country, but the one to be elected by the new measure would possess prerogatives without power, and privileges without daring to exercise them. Sovereignty would be an empty name—good order and Government, and an organized state of society, unmeaning sounds. It might appear absurd and ridiculous to make such prophecies as these, but it was unfortunate that predictions were seldom believed until they were realized by the event. If any man had made use of such predictions in the French Chamber, he would have been treated with ridicule, but they all knew the result. He prayed to God that his predictions might not turn out well-founded.
§ Colonel Lindsay
said, that there were parts of the Bill of which he approved, and other parts of which he greatly disapproved. One of his great objections to the measure was, that it tended to destroy the fair balance between the agricultural and the manufacturing interest in that House. The former, he had no doubt, would be crushed in the conflict which must ensue. With respect to the 10l. clause, he considered that the alterations which had been introduced, made that measure more practicable than before; and he also approved of the amendment, whereby freemen were to retain and transmit their franchise to their descendants; but he feared it would not ultimately become a part of the Bill, for the sovereignty of the Press had already denounced it as a clause that ought not to be passed. The Bill, notwithstanding some little alterations in the details, was essentially the same in principle, as that which was thrown out by the House of Peers; it had not been modified, as there was reason to hope it would have been, to meet, in some degree, the opinions of those who were the friends of the Constitution. Persons were somewhat startled, when the 491 words "new Constitution" first met their ears, but now the expression was received and used without hesitation, and it was quite a common question, whether we preferred the old Constitution or the new one. Before such a change was effected, Ministers were bound to show that the old Constitution was not adequate to all the purposes of the State. They were bound to shew the practical evils which required remedy. They were bound to shew that the influence of the Peers in the House of Commons was injuriously preponderant, or that there was a waste of the public money, or that the House itself was unfit for the duties that devolved upon it. No such proof existed in the present House of Commons. Until some practical evils of the Constitution were pointed out, he should certainly adhere to it. If change were necessary, he would join the Government in changing the Constitution, but, looking at the blossoms of the Reform Bill, there was no appearance of good fruit. It was somewhat difficult to judge of the nature of anything which had not been tried—it was, therefore, not easy to compare the workings of the present Constitution with that which was proposed to be substituted for it. But they had some means of judging by tracing what had happened, under nearly similar circumstances, at the commencement of the French Revolution. Philosophers brought theories from their closets—they were promulgated, and the minds of most persons became enamoured of them—the powers of Government were curtailed—and Clubs, Secret Societies, and Political Unions, were formed. The Press attacked on the one hand the higher orders of society and the Church, and on the other lauded the Monarch, and applauded his popularity. It delighted to deck with garlands the victim to be sacrificed. Was there not a most striking parallel between such symptoms, and those which now appeared so rife among us. Physicians were led to judge of a disease by the symptoms, and those which now prevailed were too plain to be mistaken. The best way to overcome them was to stand by the existing institutions of the country. As that was his decided opinion, he was prepared to vote for the Amendment—at the same time he was prepared to say, he was most anxious to see all abuses which had crept into the Constitution, from time or other circumstances, removed; but he would never consent to the adoption of a new, or theoretical form of government, in this great empire.
* Lord John Russell
As the time for our discussion this night is limited, and it is desirable, on many accounts, not to adjourn the debate, I rise, Sir, at this early hour, to place the House in possession of such explanation as I can afford, of the general principles, and leading provisions of the Bill which is now under our consideration. Before I enter upon that discussion, however, I must say a few words as to the time in which the measure is brought forward. We are accused of raising this question at a period of extraordinary excitement in the public mind. Sir, if it be a misfortune to have delayed this discussion till the calmness requisite for deliberation is interrupted by clamour, and disturbed by the fervour of impatience—of that misfortune I am not the author. On the 15th of December, 1819, just twelve years ago, I proposed to the House of Commons to give two Members to Leeds. That proposition was assented to in the Commons, but entirely disfigured in the House of Lords. From that time to this, I have scarcely ever ceased to urge this question, in one shape or other, diluting and diminishing my propositions, even to the minimum of Reform, with the hope of inducing the moderate to feel their way to an improvement in our representative system, and to obtain, by experience, a guide for any future changes. But I was always met by the reply—"Everything is quiet; no one demands this change; leave well alone—quieta non movete;" and all the common places of the adherents of things as they are. What is the consequence? You are now asked to make a change so great, that there is, undoubtedly, some risk in the operation, but an infinitely greater risk in refusing to proceed. If this be a calamity, I repeat, let those answer for it, who would not entertain the question when it might be entertained in perfect temper, and who, having dammed up the river, come now to complain of an inundation. Let us, however, go somewhat further into this history; for, since we are accused, we have a right to our defence. In 1827, the right hon. Gentleman opposite, as the organ of a great party in this House, and in the country, declared there were three measures to which he should give his decided opposition; namely, to the Repeal of the Test Act—Catholic Emancipation—and Parliamentary Reform. In the following* Printed, by authority, from the corrected Report published by Ridgway.493 year, 1828, being defeated on a division in this House, he gave way on the repeal of the Test Act. Did we taunt him with this? On the contrary, we allowed the Duke of Wellington to carry off the fame of this great concession to the spirit of religious liberty. In the year following, 1829, the Duke of Wellington, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite, proposed the total repeal of the Roman Catholic disabilities. What was our conduct? We sung no song of triumph; we prided not ourselves on our past efforts; and when a Gentleman, now no more, spoke with some scorn of new conversions, I, as a humble member of a great party, said, that we would not look back to former contentions; that it was enough for us, the Ministry were then, as we thought, in the path of true policy, and that we should give them our earnest support. It is notorious, indeed, that we carried this so far, that rather than injure a Government engaged in so great a measure, we concurred in votes opposed, if not to our principles, to our feelings, and our wishes, and our opinions: by this conduct the Government were retained in power, and carried their question. Parliamentary Reform remained behind. The elections of 1830 clearly showed that a settlement of this question, like the others, could no longer be resisted. I impute no blame to the late Ministers for the course they chose to pursue. Had they been willing to concede upon this measure likewise, so far from reproaching, I should have given them the best support I was able, although their propositions had fallen short of my own conceptions of what was required. They did not think it consistent with their public duty to make any concession; they were at liberty to judge on this point what best became their own character, and their own principles. But what I do complain of is, that having abandoned, or rather, I should say, declined this great task, they now bitterly reproach us, because, in conformity with our principles—in accordance with our character as public men—we endeavour to make a settlement which may satisfy the just expectations of the people, and, at the same time, preserve the ancient institutions of the State. In questions of this kind, every thing depends on the fitness of the time for the measure proposed. An hon. friend of mine, member for the University of Oxford, has quoted to-night, for the hundredth time, and for the hundredth time to misinterpret it, the saying of a great orator of our day, that "history is no bet- 494 ter than an old almanack." Nothing could be further from the intention of Lord Plunkett than to lay down such a proposition in the abstract. But what he said was, speaking of those who attended to the letter, and neglected the spirit, of history, "that history, in such hands, was no better than an old almanack." A person of great wit, who lived in our own time, used to say, that "it was not every man who was to be trusted with a memory." So, likewise, it is not every man who is to be trusted with history. For instance, if my hon. friends reads, that in 1688 the Roman Catholics were excluded, and the close boroughs preserved, is he, therefore, to conclude that the same thing is to be done now? Rightly did our ancestors judge for their day; and we, judging in the same spirit, and adapting our institutions to our times, as they did their institutions to their's, may wisely, and justly, and seasonably, admit where they excluded, and abolish what they preserved. A right hon. Gentleman, who has alluded to history only to misuse it, has spoken of the late revolution of France, and adverted, in terms of some scorn, to the loss of popularity which has attended the authors of that revolution. Why, who looks upon a revolution otherwise than as a calamity, which necessity only can justify? But let those who blame the authors of the Revolution of 1830, ask themselves, if a proclamation were to appear to-morrow, abolishing the liberty of the Press, and suppressing legal rights, is there a Member of this House who would think himself bound to obey such a proclamation? Why, then, resistance was necessary. But what, after all, has been the result? M. Perier, one of the wisest, but, at the same time, one of the most moderate of the authors of that Revolution, has been able to stop a popular movement in its course, and rallied the friends of order and good government round the new dynasty; while M. Guizot, of whom the right hon. Gentleman spoke so slightingly, concurs with that majority of the Chamber of Deputies, by whom the present Administration is upheld, himself respected for his talents and integrity. But our concern is with the present Bill. The first of its leading provisions is that which abolishes for ever fifty-six of the smaller boroughs. Our right to do this, however disputed in the commencement of these discussions, is now no longer questioned. But ought we to use this undoubted power? Upon what principle does this main clause rest? Why 495 do we propose so extensive an amputation? Simply because we contend that the House of Commons ought to represent the people. This proposition, which would have been considered a truism a hundred years ago, is now spoken of as a new and startling heresy. But what says the Constitution? Search where you will, the Constitution declares that this House ought to be the Representative of the people. To quote but one passage from the celebrated Reports of Sergeant Glanville's Committee:—"It is a service," say they, "for the King and Commonwealth, and not for the lord of the borough, who, by reason of his interest in the borough, hath nothing to do in the matter of such election." When, then, we find that the lord of the borough hath, on the contrary, every thing to do in the matter of election, we deprive the borough of this abused trust, and transfer it to hands who will use it "for the King and Commonwealth." "Aye, but," says the hon. member for Thetford, "such is the Constitution in theory, but it has not been so in practice. The practical constition of this House is not a Representation of the people." If this be so, then the constitution of this House, not being founded on law, or acknowledged principle, depends only on the consent and concurrence of the people; and that consent and concurrence failing, as it now avowedly does, there remains only the naked, unsupported abuse, having no foundation in law, and no sanction from opinion. The hour of reformation is arrived. I have touched this point lightly, because it is one upon which men's opinions may be said to be made up. Let us now go to the consideration of the question most important for us duly to weigh, and well decide upon, namely, what is to be the future construction of this House? I will not adopt all the distinctions which a noble Lord on the other side has made, but I will discuss it in the spirit in which he has discussed it, and inquire, as he has done, whether the new House of Commons, while it represents the wishes and interests of the people, is likely to maintain our ancient institutions. The first part of the reformed House of Commons to which our attention should be turned, is the representation of the counties. No one will say, surely, that the addition of sixty-six to our county Members, or the admission of copyholders of 10l. a year, or the division of large counties, or the partial exclusion of town voters, or, lastly, the tenant right of voting, introduced by the 496 noble Lord opposite, take away any thing from the solid and permanent character of our county Members. We have here 158 Members of this House, of a class to which no Anti-reformer can object. We have, next, about 140 Members from places under 10,000 inhabitants, and having from 300 to 500 constituents under the 10l. franchise. Surely no one will contend that these places, being, in fact, country towns connected with landed proprietors, are likely to send to Parliament wild and revolutionary Members. We may add to these, eight Members from the reformed boroughs of Cricklade, Shoreham, Aylesbury, and Retford. We have, therefore, full 300 Members out of 500, to whom none of these general declamations, concerning the danger of great popular constituencies driving on their Representative to measures of plunder and revolution, can in any way be attributed. There remain about 200 Members to be chosen by large town constituencies. But can any man say, that even these will be generally animated by a spirit destructive of our institutions? It is always assumed, that the Members for places in the schedules, are of what is called, in the new language, a conservative character. But I know several of these guardian boroughs, where the electors would sooner take twenty guineas from the wildest democrat, than ten guineas from the most conservative candidate that ever appeared upon a hustings. Why are Canterbury, Norwich, Maidstone, and the rest, to be reckoned inferior to Wallingford or Sudbury, in care and reverence for the Constitution? After all, there are but few—it is astonishing how few—of these boroughs that will have very large constituent bodies. The London districts, indeed, may have 18,000 or 20,000, but, altogether, I do not believe there are twenty places that will have more than 5,000 voters. By far the most important clause of the Bill, however, is that which we are now to consider; I mean the clause which gives the right of voting to persons occupying houses, counting-houses, or warehouses, of the value of 10l. a-year. That an extension of suffrage must be an element of any plan of Reform, you will not deny; the only matter here to consider is, to whom you will extend it. The main object is, to have Representatives chosen by the people, who will act for the interest of the people. For this purpose, the electors should, as far as legislation can attain such an object, be intelligent, incorrupt and independent. 497 In other words, they should have the capacity to make a choice, the wish to make a good choice, and the power to carry that wish into effect. For instance, if you place the suffrage with a few rich, educated persons, they will have the capacity to choose, but the blight of monopoly will lead them to exercise their choice for private and not for public good. Again, if you place your suffrage too low, your electors, having no capacity to choose, will have no wish one way or another, and will thus be open to bribery; or they will be dependent, and subject to control. An election, by a single rich man, may be an excellent choice; and so may au election by a multitude of needy men; but the chances are against them, and a legislator will not trust to either. Mr. Fox, when speaking on Lord Grey's Reform motion of 1797, said, 'My opinion is, that the best plan of Representation is that which shall bring into activity the greatest number of independent votes; and that that plan is defective which would bring forward those whose situation and condition take from them the power of deliberation; I can have no conception of that being a good plan of election, which should enable individuals to bring regiments to the poll.
That I take to be the most perfect system which shall include the greatest number of independent electors, and exclude the greatest number of those who are necessarily, by their condition, dependent."* I was much found fault with the other night because I spoke of the intelligence of the new electors. But I am confident the want of intelligence, and consequently of all interest in public questions, leads to half the abuses in our popular elections. The extreme Anti-reformers, and the extreme Reformers, meeting, as extremes often do, contend for a very low franchise. The one party hopes to swindle the poor and ignorant out of their votes by beer and bribery; the other party counts upon leading them, by false representations of public abuses, and by promising remedies which neither this nor any other Reform can ever give. It is therefore desirable to fix upon a class of persons, who shall partake largely of the popular spirit, and yet not constitute a body hostile to property, or debased by ignorance. In order to effect this, it will be advisable to bring into action the more intelligent of the working class in the large* Hansard's Parl. Hist. vol. xxxiii, p. 726–7.498 towns, and the more respectable of the middle class in the small boroughs. With this light to guide us, let us examine the elector for cities and boroughs—that creature of this Bill, who has been described alternately as the monster of Frankenstein, and the shade of Robespierre. In order to vote for cities and boroughs, it is necessary to be a householder, or the occupier of a warehouse, counting-house, or shop. The yearly rent, or the value of the premises occupied, must be not less than 10l. The time of occupation must have been, in the whole, not less than fifteen months. The assessed taxes and poor-rates due for the first half of this time must have been paid. This condition is rendered further restrictive by requiring that such payment must be made, not as at present, previously to polling, but previously to insertion in the register of voters for the ensuing year. So that, instead of several hundred voters marching to the hustings, whose rates had been paid the day before by the candidate, some security is taken, as far as security can be had, that the voters will pay their own rates and taxes. Thus we obtain, as an elector—first, a householder; secondly, a man who is answerable for property of a certain value; thirdly, a resident of the town, permanently dwelling therein; fourthly, a man who is able to contribute, and does contribute, to the rates and taxes of his borough. The result of the inquiries made by order of Government, show that the proportion of 10l. householders, in different towns, varies from one-sixth to one-half, but it may be stated to be generally one-third, or from one-third to one-fourth of the whole number of householders. At Norwich, with 60,000 inhabitants, the electors would be about 4,000; at Birmingham, about 5,000; at Leeds, rather more than 5,000; at Sheffield, under 5,000. And this is the right of voting which has been compared to universal suffrage!* The* The following instances are taken at random, from the Inquiries of the Commissioners, and the new returns for the census:—
499 town of Leeds has been regularly canvassed for the purposes of election, by twenty or thirty gentlemen, of respectable station and known character, in that chief seat of our woollen manufacture. The result of their canvass has been, that, in the quarters of the town chiefly inhabited by the working classes, not more than one in every fifty householders will have a vote under the 10l. clause. In the principal streets for shops, almost every male householder will have a vote. In the parts of the town occupied by dwelling houses, the number occupied by females makes a very material deduction from the number of votes. The working classes in Leeds, almost all live in houses of from 5l. to 8l. rent; out of 140 householders, heads of families (including several overlookers) employed in the mill of Messrs. Marshall and Co., not more than two will have votes; out of 160 householders in the mill of Messrs. C. Willans and Sons, Holbeck (including fifteen overlookers) many earning 25s. to 30s. a-week, not one will have a vote; out of 100 householders in the works of Messrs. Taylor and Words worth, machine makers, only one, even of this high class of mechanics, will have a vote; out of 11,000 inhabitants of the township of Holbeck, chiefly occupied by the working classes, but also containing mills, dye-houses, public-houses, and some respectable dwellings, there would be only 150 voters. The township of Wortley has nearly 6,000 individuals, and 130 voters. Armley, with 5,000 inhabitants, will have only 150 votes. Upon the whole, the unanimous opinion of the canvassers was, that the 10l. qualification does not admit any person who may not safely be intrusted with the elective franchise; and that, were the qualification raised to 15l., the extent of exclusion would be intolerable. In Manchester the case is somewhat different. From personal examination, it appeared that, in a manufactory, where 702 persons were employed, 108 were householders, thirty-one of whom pay a rent of 10l. and upwards. In another, where 530 persons were employed, seventeen stated that they pay a rent of 10l. and
Houses. 10l. Houses. Cambridge 4,009 1,600 Chichester 1,650 696 Colchester 3,362 1,200 Coventry 5,887 1,500 Derby 5,218 1,684 Durham 1,323 668 Lichfield 1,319 450 Lynn 2,914 652 Newark 2,094 510 Northampton 3,239 1,087 Norwich 14,028 4,100
Oxford 3,541 2,180 Plymouth 8,729 2,100 St. Alban's 836 540 Wigan 4,162 568Making 19,435 10l. houses in 62,401, or not one-third of the whole number. And when we make the proper deductions, it is not likely that the voters will exceed a fourth of the householders.500 upwards. This examination shows the impolicy of proportioning the franchise to the amount of population. Leeds and Manchester would, in this respect, come under the same class; and yet the result of the operation would be entirely different. In Leeds, you would exclude the whole of the working classes; in Manchester, only a portion of them. I could name two towns (Reading and Wigan) with nearly the same number of houses, where the number of 10l. houses in one will be nearly double that of the other. Situation, elections, industry, speculation, and other circumstances, besides population, contribute to determine the amount of house-rent in a town. I do not say, certainly, that the working classes will be excluded, generally, in large towns, to the same extent as in Leeds. I should be sorry to think that such would be the case. The operation of time, and the growth of our manufactures, has produced that anomaly in our Constitution—a mass of industrious, intelligent, prosperous men, without any direct tie binding them to our Government. I say, an anomaly in our Constitution, because Blackstone has said, what he thought, no doubt, the truth in his time, that there was hardly a free agent in the kingdom who had not a vote in some place or other. The fact being now so widely different, it is an object with every sound Reformer, to reclaim this powerful tribe from the political desert to which they have been confined; to recal them from wild prospects and hostile schemes, in order to bind them to our institutions; to make them a part of the great family of the Constitution, partaking in all its privileges, and defending it in all its dangers. Such, then, are the leading provisions of the plan of Representation which we submit to Parliament. Granting that a Reform was necessary, we maintain that this is a Reform both effectual and safe. It destroys the system of nomination to seats in this House; gives their due weight to large unrepresented towns; extends the right of voting to those who are capable of exercising it with advantage to the State. Those who contend that any change is unnecessary, charge us with having produced the opinion, which is the parent of this measure. If, in this respect, we are in any way guilty, we are guilty with Locke and Blackstone, Chatham and Fox, and many others of the most illustrious, both of our practical Statesmen and our constitutional writers. To all these authorities, I am now about to add that of 501 one who sat for more than thirty years in that Chair; one who, living in the time of Walpole, those days of job and joviality, could not shut his eyes to the corruption that was going on around him, and had the virtue to condemn what he had not the power to resist. In a note in Burnet's history, he thus speaks of the plan of Representation adopted in the time of the Commonwealth—"What I mean was, the taking away elections from the small decayed boroughs, and enlarging the number of Representatives for counties, and city of London." (He was not afraid even of the metropolitan Members:) "but even this was unequally done. It was, however, a Constitution I heartily wish had been continued. This would be the most effectual cure of corruption in elections, &c. It is a sad mark of Courts or times when corruption is deemed necessary for Government. How glorious and popular would a Prince be who should suppress it! everything would be just and great!" There is now a Prince on the Throne who is worthy to attain this glory; and happy are those who serve him, in being the humble instruments of so great a design. Speaker Onslow speaks likewise of the difficulty of such a task, and says, that only "upon great emergencies and revolutions, it may, perhaps, by a great spirit of government, be done with safety." We are now not, happily, in revolution, but we are in a great emergency, If Parliament shall accede to this measure, I see every prospect of our riding safely through the gale; if, on the contrary, the same successful resistance is made, which has been once made before, I can only put up my prayers and hopes———Sit cæca futuri, Mens hominum fati, liccat sperare timenti.We may, perchance, escape the dreadful evils which attend and follow civil dissension: but, for my own part, looking at all which passes around us, from day to day, and from hour to hour, I confess I shall not be sanguine of the result.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
said, that, as far as the noble Lord was concerned who had introduced the question of Reform, he was willing to admit, that the noble Lord had always stated his opinions upon the subject freely and distinctly; and if he charged any class of Reformers with concealing or disguising their sentiments, certainly the noble Lord was not among them. On that occasion, as on all former occasions, the noble Lord assured them, that Reform was not intended to subvert the Throne, 502 the Church, the Aristocracy, and the whole system by which the country had hitherto been regulated and governed. He gave the noble Lord full credit for a conscientious sincerity in the expression of those opinions, as well as a desire to maintain and preserve the institutions of the country. He, as was well known, entertained a very different persuasion from the noble Lord, and he claimed credit for avowing it with the same sincerity and good faith which he had been ready to admit in a political opponent. In entering upon the question, he begged to say, in the first place, that he considered it to be highly inexpedient to agitate it at the present period of unexampled excitement—excitement chiefly to be attributed to Ministers themselves, and which had been created for the express purpose of carrying the Bill. He would ask the noble Lord, why he had not brought forward his bill of 1819, the utmost limit of which was, to give a few new Members to some of the large towns? Had Ministers only made partial and necessary changes, without changing the constitution of every town, and borough, and corporation in England, they might then have reasonably demanded of their opponents why they blamed them for introducing a measure of this description. It might be proper to give Members to Leeds, Manchester, and other wealthy and populous towns; but the Bill went far beyond this, and introduced a uniform rate of franchise, based upon the worst order of householders throughout the kingdom. The real question was simply this; was not this excitement occasioned by the Ministers, who brought forward a measure of Reform for which there was no exigency? Why did not the Ministers, when they made Parliamentary Reform one of the main principles on which they accepted office, proceed according to the ordinary course of the Constitution? Why, he would ask, had they proceeded against it? Why did they not proceed with that gradual pace which had been kept in all former changes of the construction of the House of Commons? Why did they proceed at once to this unbounded measure of Reform, when one of their own number, now a member of the Cabinet, had moved a resolution only some few years ago, which proved that he thought that the people would and ought to be contented with much less? He was not surprised that the noble Lord should complain of the responsibility which now rested upon his shoulders. He envied not the noble Lord 503 that responsibility, but he could not help asking, why had the noble Lord incurred it? Why had the noble Lord, who avowed his opinion to be, that a gradual course of Reform was the right course—why had the noble Lord—why, indeed, had his right hon. colleagues in the Administration, abandoned that course for this unexpected measure of universal change in the Constitution? But the conduct of Ministers was, in all its bearings, most extraordinary and most incomprehensible. "Oh," say they, "it is necessary to propose something. We give you this Reform—reject it if you dare; for the responsibility for the consequences shall not rest upon us who propose it, but upon you who reject it?" Could any thing be more monstrous? Could any thing be more unjust? He would not object to this language on the part of Ministers; on the contrary, he would agree to it, if their plan of Reform was reasonable; but, if it were unreasonable, as he maintained it was, then the responsibility of the rejection fell, not upon those who rejected, but upon those who proposed it. The noble Lord had said, that a great change was necessary. That might be true; and yet his plan of Reform might not be necessary. He denied, and ever would deny, totis viribus, that the spirit of the times required the degree and measure of Reform which the noble Lord had brought forward. It might be true that it was right and fitting that the great towns of Manchester, and Birmingham, and Leeds, should have conferred upon them the right of returning Representatives to Parliament; but he would do credit to the former arguments of the noble Lord, and would say, that it was quite another thing to advance, that because certain new towns which had risen from insignificance into wealth and importance ought to be represented in the House of Commons, therefore you ought to overturn the right to representation which had belonged for centuries to all the boroughs in schedule A, and, after such wholesale and sweeping devastation, should proceed next to a partial destruction of the boroughs in schedule B, and should then conclude by overturning the existing right of franchise in all the other towns of the country now sending Members to Parliament. The noble Lord had told them, that though the public mention of these wide and sweeping changes had created great excitement, that excitement was not to be attributed to Ministers. If not to Ministers, to whom 504 was it to be attributed? He maintained that it ought to be attributed to them, and to them alone. Even if they had not generated it, according to their own showing, most assuredly it had been fed and amazingly increased by their measures. The noble Lord, to justify his plan of Reform, had told them that there had been a large Reform in France, that property there was safe, and that M. Perier was still minister. True, he was so; but in the unsettled state of men's minds in France—a state produced by the barricade revolution of July—no man could be sure how long M. Perier would continue minister. The noble Lord had told them that they need not even be afraid of a large revolution, for though there had been an overthrow of the dynasty of the Bourbons, one of the chief movers in that revolution—now only a moderate Reformer—was still the existing minister of France. True, he was so; but he was afraid that he would not be minister so long as was necessary to give stability to the new institutions of the French people. But then, said the noble Lord, "look at Polignac; it was necessary to have a revolution in France, because Polignac endeavoured to impose a censorship on the Press." He (Sir C. Wetherell) deprecated as much as any man any attempt to fix a censorship on the Press, but let us take care that we have no Polignac Press. No man could conceal from himself this fact—that the Press, the Polignac Press, of this country, had contributed largely to the excitement of the public feelings: it was one of those causes, which, acting in unison with the Ministry, had ably and largely contributed to that state of the public mind which all in common joined in deprecating. An attempt had been made, by the terrorism of the Press, to carry the measure of Reform against the wishes of those who had always been attached to the Constitution. That attempt was manifest to all who had witnessed the manner in which the Press had endeavoured to excite the Radical Reformers against every member of the Conservative party. To what limits Ministers intended to let the Press go before they arrested it in its progress, Gentlemen on his side of the House could not know; but this he would maintain, that at no period in the history of either England or France, or the Roman empire, or, indeed, in the history of any State, either ancient or modern, which had ever laboured under a censorship, had there been exercised such a tyranny over men's minds, as was now exercised 505 under the Radical, and Polignac, and tyrannical Press of England. The noble Lord had assumed the proposition that the existence of nomination boroughs was incompatible with the popular feelings, and had said, that all those who admitted the necessity for Parliamentary Reform, concurred in the opinion that such a change in the Representative system as the destruction of these boroughs, must be conceded forthwith, and that nothing less would satisfy the public mind. How the noble Lord could demonstrate this he knew not, and therefore all he should say upon the subject would be, that he did not believe such to be the fact. He would now call the attention of the House to the calculations of the noble Lord, by which he endeavoured to explain to them the number of persons who would be entitled to vote in each of the new boroughs. The noble Lord said, that in those new boroughs only one-third of the adult male population would have the right to vote. These voters had been called an aristocracy of shopkeepers—a term which had gained great currency, and which expressed in apt terms the sentiment which was generally entertained. A third of the adult male population in these boroughs were to vote, and they were to be composed of 10l. householders. So that this Bill, which was to be at once final and satisfactory to the people at large, came to this—that every man who had not a 10l. house had no vote. He stated this as a problem, and asserted, that the popular feeling would be more irritated and less gained by the establishment of this exclusive right of voting than it was by the present system of franchise. He asserted that this new right of suffrage was a nomination, which would be far more odious to the public feelings than any nomination which the country knew at present. He contended that the new caste, which this Bill would create in the country, was not compatible with the march of the age. In the religion of Brahma it was a strict rule, that no man should pass from one caste to another, and that a man whose father was of one profession could not migrate into any other. But was such a rule to be introduced now, in the 19th century, into so enlightened a country as Great Britain? This system of Indian castes was not compatible with British feeling, and he was certain that a bill which established it, and which, by establishing it, broke the people into classes and subdivisions hitherto unknown to the British Constitution, and created a local aristocracy 506 of shop-keepers, never would be a favourite with the lieges of this country. But this Bill not content with creating a new right of suffrage, absolutely destroyed the old, for it got rid of the old scot-and-lot right of voting, by introducing, not a plebeian but an aristocratical principle, by which two-thirds of the male population of England were disfranchised. The noble Lord had left completely untouched the objections which had been raised against his plan, of giving so many additional Members to the metropolis and its vicinity. He had slurred those objections over, as if he thought them unworthy of notice, and did not require any answer. As the noble Lord had again alluded to the French Revolution in connexion with this subject, he hoped that he might be permitted to allude to it also. The hon. and learned member for Calne would not allow them to look at foreign history. But the noble Lord had gone to France, and thither he would beg leave to follow him. Let it be recollected, that the Revolution in France was brought to its conclusion by the influence of the elections which took place at Paris. He who, knowing that circumstance, gave eight additional Members to the population of London, must wish to render London as much England, as Paris was said to be France. He would ask the noble Lord a question. When was it that he deemed it fitting to give additional Members to London? In the year 1819 he said nothing of the necessity of having Saffron-hill, with all its delicate Ariels, to vote. If the noble Lord be himself an Ariel, he thought he would not very much approve of canvassing the Sycoraxes of Saffron-hill, of Tower-hill, or of Wapping. There were a few more topics in the noble Lord's speech to which he must now allude. The noble Lord had entered into an enumeration of the number of Members which he had given to the different interests of the country. He had told the House, that as a security for the landed interest, the Bill would give an additional number of Members to the county Representation; and he had further said, that the Representation of the smaller towns would become part of the conservative body, by being generally composed of Gentlemen connected with the landed interest. The noble Lord had alluded to Cromwell's plan of Reform. If the noble Lord were at all acquainted with that plan, he must know that the landed interest had there a proportion of two to one compared 507 with any other. Would the noble Lord give it that proportion at present? The division of counties under the proposed Bill, instead of strengthening, would weaken the landed interest; for, as the inhabitants of boroughs were to be entitled to vote in county elections for the same property which gave them a right of voting in borough elections, there were many counties in which a division of the county must inevitably throw the power of returning the Members of their choice into the hands of the manufacturing towns. The noble Lord, however, persisted in saying, that the landed interest would be benefitted by the Bill. He thought that the noble Lord's calculation was quicker than his facts. He maintained, that a caste of electors, such as this Bill established, would produce a caste of the elected, not indiscriminately returned by a mass of blended electors—some Members would represent the shipping interest, others representing the manufacturing interest, and amongst all these the landed interest would be found in a grievous minority. The preservation of the balance of all the interests of the country in that House was a vital point, on which the harmony and well-being of the whole depended. This was an old constitutional doctrine; but now, like many other constitutional doctrines, it was to be discarded for ever, to make room for new-fangled theories. When he was told, that this Bill would satisfy the country, he could not help asking whom would it satisfy? Would it satisfy the Aristocracy? Certainly not. Would it satisfy the Radical Reformers? Let them hear the answer of the hon. and consistent member for Preston to that question. Would it satisfy the Unions? Would it satisfy the Union of Birmingham? Would it satisfy the Union of Bristol? Would it satisfy the Union of Manchester and other places? The noble Lord had here tripped up the heels of his own theory, for the noble Lord knew that in some of those places an artizan of industry and respectability might live in a room for which he paid, not 10l. but 8l. a-year. "We have found," said the noble Lord, "a windfall—we have got an evpnka; we have found out a mathematical formula, which will satisfy the inhabitants of every borough in the country. And what was it? It was not equal employment, it was not equal character, it was not equal education, it was not equal earnings, which entitled these inhabitants to become electors; but if one man lived in East-street, where a house 508 let only for 9l., he has no vote; but if he lived in West-street, where a house of no better quality let for 10l., then he had a vote. Oh, unfortunate East-street! Oh, happy West-street! There it is, that these moral geometricians had found a balm for all the discontent and dissatisfaction of the country. But he would contain himself, otherwise he should have said, a more senseless proposition, a more irrational plan, a more insulting enactment, was never sought to be imposed upon an intelligent and hitherto free community. Then let the House consider who was to settle the value of these 10l. houses? Who was to appoint the Surveyors? Were the builders, carpenters, and joiners, who were to value these houses, to be appointed by the Lord Chancellor? Was it necessary that his scanty patronage should be increased, not only by the appointment of the new Judges in Bankruptcy, not only by the appointment of the riding Commissioners—no, he begged pardon, they had got rid of them—not only by the appointment of the Barristers to superintend the registration created by this Bill, but also by the appointment of all the valuations of this 10l. franchise? It was a great satisfaction to him to find, that many of the alterations proposed by that side of the House had been adopted: but much as had been said of the change in the 10l. qualification, he saw that in principle it was still the same as that in the last Bill. There had now been several editions, he did not know how many, of the Bill, each different from the other, so that he might with justice apply to them the lines of Ovid,Facies non omnibus una,Nec diversa tamen, qualem decet esse sororum.He begged also to call the attention of the House to a matter of dates. The instructions to the State engineer—to the man of science, who was employed to construct a new Constitution, or entirely to remodel the old one—were dated the 24th of November, 1831, only ten days before the meeting of Parliament, so that no longer period was allowed for the formation of the Bill. Instead of postponing the meeting of Parliament until January, the two Houses were required to meet on the 6th December, and within a very few days afterwards was produced that great effort of skill and genius, the new and equally efficient measure of Reform, accompanied by a fasciculus of documents, extending from No. 1. to No. 5; but in which Nos. 3 and 4 were even yet wanting, and which 509 contained, he presumed, a vast mass of this important information unsupplied. The noble Lord had undoubtedly kept his promise of bringing in an equally efficient measure as the last, but when people came to observe the facility with which boroughs were transferred from one schedule to another, they might be apt to compare these rapid changes to something like a game at nine pins, which were set up to be knocked down by children and then set up again. This, although a very pleasant game, ought not to be followed in an affair of such great importance as remodelling the Constitution of the country. He should have felt some surprise at the precipitation of Ministers with the Bill, but for the explanation of the hon. member for Calne, who informed the House, that former Administrations were so slow in respect of Reform, that the present Ministers were obliged to run for it. His hon. and learned friend, the member for Calne, had a style of eloquence so rich and copious, his language was so apposite and forcible, that it was impossible to add any thing to it; but if he (Sir C. Wetherell) were to attempt to improve that part of it winch described this race of Ministers towards Reform, he would venture to suggest this addition—that if they had not brought forward this measure of Reform, they must have "cut and run." Undoubtedly they had run for it, and if they had not introduced the Bill, their masters of the Political Unions would have told them that they must cut and run. But in the haste with which their Bill had been concocted, it was found exceedingly defective, and indeed they had been called upon to pronounce upon it before it was ready. The hon. and learned member for Calne had told them, that they should not go to the histories of Florence or of Venice for examples of resistance to public feeling—that they might find it in their own; and he referred them to the period of Charles 1st, in which the Radical party had overturned the government. That was the fact, and he (Sir C. Wetherell) would say, that if this Bill passed, it would have the effect of overturning the government. The hon. and learned Gentleman had told them not to resist excitement, for that resistance to popular excitement had, in the days of Charles 1st, overturned the Church, the Aristocracy, and the Throne; but the hon. Member would permit him to ask, had any circumstances calculated to produce excitement occurred since the accession of the House of Brunswick to the throne of this 510 country, parallel to those of the period of Charles 1st. Was there such a thing as a Star Chamber—had there been any attempt to raise Ship-money? but he would go with the hon. and learned member for Calne to the period of Charles 1st, and if that hon. and learned Member found any thing parallel to the circumstances of the present day, he hoped the hon. Member would learn a lesson of wisdom from it. He would not quote from history, or add any thing from that source to what had been cited by his right hon. friend (Mr. Croker) to shew the feeling of that day against the Aristocracy and the Church. His right hon. friend, in addition to what he had quoted, might have added, that the common term for the Bishops was "malignants," and the Peers were named "individuals." The same cry was set up in the present day. Instead of quoting history, he would quote two lines of a poet—of Butler,—who thus described the cry then raised against the Church: he said,When oyster women locked their fish up,And trudged away to cry 'no bishop.'In the same spirit it happened, that at a meeting not long ago, in a place which he would not name, a flag was held up with the figure of a bishop and a mitre—the bishop lying prostrate. Was he surprised at these things? No; they were a very natural consequence of circumstances which had preceded them. He had heard a political prophet in a certain place give, he would not call it a good-natured warning of some such events as had since occurred—but he had certainly given the Bishops a notice to "put their house in order." He believed that in the days of Charles 1st, amongst the malignants, or crops, or Radicals, of that day, there had not been said any thing worse than that of this political prophet, who, when putting forth his balm to soothe the public mind, had given this ominous warning. He gravely told the Bishops to "put their house in order," and in one month from that time the palace of one Bishop was in flames. He did not see the hon. and learned Member—the Ariel of Calne—in his place, or he would remind him of what he had said of the danger of resisting excitement, and ask him, whether he could be surprised at excitement existing in the public mind, when it flowed from a political source from which no drop of excitement ought to issue, from which no spark ought to fall? Talk not to him of excitement amongst the people, if, in the place to which he had alluded, such 511 an expression should have been used: blame not the people; blame not those whose untutored minds were easily influenced—blame them not for excitement, when those by whom they were excited filled such places, and used such language. If any Gentleman opposite should say, "blame not us for excitement, we act in a torrent which we cannot resist, and by which we are borne along," he would answer them by asking, "who had opened the flood-gates through which the torrent poured? He would say to them, "Do not deny the fact, or complain of the excitement which you have raised to carry your own Bill—you made the circumstances which created a necessity for the Bill, and then you meanly skulk under that necessity which you created, to justify your own conduct. The hon. member for Calne had talked of a physical movement being abroad, but who, he would ask, was it that set that physical force in motion? who was it that sought to extort a legislative measure, not by reason, but by intimidation? Several remarks had been made relating to episcopacy, and he did not blame those who were opposed to it, but he thought, that the protection of episcopacy was necessary for the preservation of the national religion. He thought with Pope:—Ev'n in a Bishop I can spy desert;and take away the props of religion, religion itself must fall. Reference had been made to the late French Revolution. He begged to ask, whether it was yet finished? the question had, at least, been raised, whether the ancient formula of public worship on the Sabbath should not be abolished. It was a gross error to suppose that the people of this country were not devotedly attached to their religion; and that any attempt to degrade the rank, or assault the property, of the ministers of religion, would not be considered as a personal insult to every Protestant in the country. He did not blame the ignorant man, or the man of impetuous passions, who was hurried on to an erroneous conclusion on these subjects; but he did blame the example set in that quarter from which should come the wish, and the effort, to secure persons and property throughout the country. The very excitement consequent and growing out of such a great change as was contemplated by this Bill, must necessarily tend to create so much fluctuation in trade, that it would be followed by distress to the working classes. It was a folly to tell the people that the 512 Reform Bill would give cheap government, a stimulus to trade, employment to the poor, and every comfort from one end of the kingdom to the other. All this, he contended, was a complete delusion. Look at France; she had her revolution, and her reform, to an extent as great as any Frenchman could wish—she had changed her dynasty, placed a citizen king on the throne, abolished hereditary nobility, and destroyed the right of primogeniture; but had these things produced an enlarged trade, or a greater stimulus to industry, or increased the comforts of the poor? Ask the people of Lyons, and let their conduct be a comment on the delusive hopes held out by the friends of Reform—those hosles humani generis who raised those hopes to forward their own political views. He would contend, that all these delusive hopes tended only to aggravate the distress which those who raised them pretended to relieve. He would admit, that Ministers had redeemed their pledge of introducing a Bill equally effective with the last; but when hon. Members opposite took this as complimentary, he wished to explain in what sense he considered it equally effective. Jacobinism was the principle of the late Bill, and Jacobinism was still the principle of the present Bill. When he said Jacobinism was the principle of the Bill, he meant, that principle which superseded all existing privileged classes, which destroyed the balance between the different orders of the State, which constituted a purely and ultra democratic House of Commons—a House of Commons that must trench upon, and ultimately usurp, the independence of the other branch of the Legislature, and which would, therefore, annihilate and sweep away the Constitution, and with it the institutions of the country. The amendments exhibited in the Bill had been spoken of, but he must say, that notwithstanding the alterations it contained, the Government had contrived to transfuse into it, most fully and most successfully, the destructive, radical spirit which pervaded the old Bill. He was not fond of complimenting his political opponents, but he could not resume his seat without offering a compliment to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, upon the very adroit and ingenious manner in which he had contrived to avoid the arguments adduced in depreciation, or rather utter extinction, of the Bill, by his hon. and learned friend, the member for St. Mawe's, and his right 513 hon. friend, the member for Aldborough. The noble Lord rose to reply to those admirable speeches, and, with the exception of the noble Paymaster of the Forces, was the only Minister who had condescended to essay an answer to the arguments against the measure. The noble Lord's mode of dealing with those speeches was most potent, clever, and adroit. To his hon. and learned friend (Sir Edward Sugden), the noble Lord said, "Oh, your speech is too minute; it goes so much into detail, that it is fit to be answered only in Committee." And to his right hon. friend (Mr. Croker), the noble Lord said, "To your speech I can have nothing to say, for it is by far too general; it travels too much abroad; accustomed to deal with foreign affairs, from having been Secretary to the Admiralty, you cruise too far from home."—So that the noble Lord, from thinking that his hon. and learned friend cruised too much in the chops of the Channel, and his right hon. and learned friend cruised too much on a foreign station, gave no one answer to any of the arguments advanced and sustained in the admirable dissertations which those hon. Members had addressed to the House. That was certainly a clever mode of dismissing opponents, but the example, astute as it was, had not quite been followed by the Paymaster of the Forces. The noble Paymaster had, undoubtedly, attempted to refute some arguments, and to explain some of the many objectionable passages of the Bill, but his attempts had been exceedingly partial, and his success had emulated a similar character. However, what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not done at all, and what the Paymaster of the Forces had very imperfectly effected, might yet be achieved by some other Minister of the Crown; but he asserted, and would maintain, that up to the present time, the principles, and probable consequences, of the Reform Bill, were utterly unexplained, undefended, and unjustified.
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Praed) who had that evening informed them that he had been patiently waiting to hear something worthy of an answer, and that he had failed in finding, in the speeches of those who sat on that side of the House, any thing that merited a reply, had yet, after such a pompous introduction, when he attempted to answer one of the most able, brilliant, and convincing speeches that had ever been delivered in that House 514 —when he undertook to reply to the speech of the hon. and learned member for Calne, for at the beginning and at the close of his harangue the name of that hon. Member was to be heard—from his commencement to the end of the observations which he had addressed to the House, partly from himself, and partly from a nameless pamphlet, not a single syllable had he adduced in answer, or in an attempt to answer, the arguments and reasoning of the hon. member for Calne. In rising at that late hour to reply to some observations which had fallen from the late right hon. Secretary to the Admiralty, he should certainly not imitate the example of the hon. and learned Member to whom he had just referred. That hon. and learned Gentleman might, at all events, rest assured, that whatever responsibility devolved upon his Majesty's Ministers for the course which they had pursued, there was one case in which he had done them a great injustice. He begged to assure that hon. and learned Gentleman, on the part of himself, and he believed he might add, on the part of all his colleagues, with the exception perhaps of his noble friend, the Paymaster of the Forces, that the pamphlet to which he had alluded, entitled "Whig Fraud and Popular Friendship," so far from being the tempter, the Satan by whose amusing devices his Majesty's Ministers had been allured into the adoption of the changes which they had made in the Bill, had never reached the eyes of any single one of them. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had paid a somewhat doubtful compliment to his (Mr. Stanley's) noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer for not answering what he denominated two of the ablest speeches that had ever been delivered in that House: but such an equivocal compliment—one of those which that hon. Gentleman was in the habit of bestowing—was far better deserved by himself; for throughout his long speech the hon. and learned Gentleman had in no respect replied to the arguments of his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and those who supported the Bill on that side of the House.
In the course of the observations which he was about to address to the House, he should feel it his duty, as he had already intimated, to notice some points in the speech which had been last night delivered by the late right hon. Secretary to the Admiralty—a speech which, however it might be distinguished for eloquent lan- 515 guage and powerful declamation, the last compliment that he thought could possibly be paid to it was that bestowed upon it by the hon. and learned member for Boroughbridge—namely, to praise it for its extreme accuracy. In noticing that speech, and some of the arguments which had been urged in it, he should not go into those details which in no way bore upon the question of Reform, and which, nevertheless, took up more than an hour and a quarter out of the two hours and ten minutes that the right hon. gentleman had occupied in his address to the House. That right hon. Gentleman had taken occasion to attack his Majesty's Ministers, in a manner of which they had reason to complain, upon a variety of topics wholly unconnected with the question of Reform. Of the tone and temper of that speech he would say nothing beyond this—that amongst those Political Unions which the right hon. Gentleman had denounced, or of those radical meetings which he had so vehemently condemned,—that in none of those assemblies which he appeared to hold in so much abhorrence, had more vituperative language ever been used than that in which the right hon. Gentleman had himself indulged. With regard to the conduct of his Majesty's Ministers, in their endeavour to maintain the peace and tranquillity of the country, if the right hon. Gentleman had any charges to prefer against them upon that score, why did he not bring them manfully forward in that House in the shape of a specific motion of condemnation upon the conduct of his Majesty's Government? or, if the right hon. Gentleman should say that in that House, he could have no chance of obtaining justice from a pledged majority, then he would tell the right hon. Gentleman to call upon some of his noble friends to step forward as their accuser in the other branch of the Legislature. Let the right hon. Gentleman pursue such a course as that, and either in that House, or in the other House of Parliament, have an open and distinct accusation preferred against them, instead of confining himself to secret insinuations and unworthy taunts, which it was not possible to answer or to repel. Let the right hon. Gentleman do that, and in that House, or in any other place, his Majesty's Ministers would be ready to meet his charges with an open and an honest answer. He knew not what right the hon. Gentleman had to arraign the conduct of his Majesty's Ministers in the manner that he had done; still less, what right he had to take upon 516 himself to accuse the Members of that House of being "the tame mutes of a despotic Government"—of a Government which, according to him, besides being despotic, were not their own masters. He would acknowledge, that he never felt a deeper indignation, and that he never had a greater inclination to call upon that right hon. Gentleman to retract the words which he had thus employed, than he felt at the moment when the right hon. Gentleman so slandered the Government to which he was attached.
To turn, however, from the unfounded and uncalled for aspersions to the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman, he would venture to allude to one or two of the topics which he had touched upon. When the right hon. Gentleman had referred in a triumphant manner to the principles of Reform, which had in former years been advocated by his noble friend the Paymaster of the Forces, and had charged his Majesty's Ministers with being the authors of the present excitement, by bringing forward a measure which he described as ruinous to the best interests of the country, and when he asked why they had not pursued the course which that noble Lord had recommended in 1819, his (Mr. Stanley's) answer to that question was, that this was 1831, and not 1819. He would tell him, that had the motion of his noble friend been acceded to in that year, it was probable that by slower means they might have attained, a little later, the objects of the present Bill. Were his Majesty's present Ministers to be taunted with being the authors of the excitement now prevailing throughout the country, because his noble friend (Lord John Russell) had been for the last twelve years struggling to force the question of Reform upon a reluctant Government, the members of which over and over again asserted, that the country cared nothing about Reform; who, so far from being favourable to any degree of Reform, refused to accede to his motion for leave to bring in a bill to give Members to Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham—nay more, who, when that noble Lord moved the resolution about three years ago, that it was expedient that the Representation of the people should be placed upon a more extensive basis, met that proposition with a direct negative? Was it fair, under such circumstances, and after such conduct on the part of the late Government, for the right hon. Gentleman, echoing the sentiments which had been already expressed by 517 the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, to lay at the door of his Majesty's present Ministers the excitement that existed throughout the country? What! were they to be charged with that excitement? Were they to be taunted with the state of the country? Were they to be told that the metropolis was not safe? What! were such charges to be preferred against them, when hardly one year had gone by since that fatal declaration came forth from the head of the King's Government, that all the people's hope should be met, not by any delusive gratification, but by one decided negative, and that they should have no Reform? Did that declaration produce no excitement? Was not a state of things then produced so alarming, that his Majesty was told by the first Minister of the Crown, that he durst not trust his person in the city of London? Were his Majesty's present Ministers to be taunted with having caused that excitement? Were they to be told that, forsooth, they had disturbed the tranquillity of the metropolis of the country? Well, then, suppose the hon. Gentlemen opposite, who, whether they would give any Reform, or a little Reform, or no Reform, it was impossible to foretell from their declarations—suppose they should succeed in throwing out this Bill, and in overturning the Government, he would ask them boldly, what were they prepared to do? Were they prepared with a measure of Reform themselves, or would they abide by the negative? Let the country understand their answer to that question, let the country know it, and let them have the benefit of it, whatever that might be. Did they mean to say that there should be no Reform now? Why, the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just addressed the House, had that night admitted, that he began to see reason for some Reform. He really felt for his hon. and consistent friend the member for the University of Oxford, whose horror he well remembered witnessing when he heard, in another place, the head of the Church of England admit, that some Reform might be necessary. That was the "unkindest cut of all," and coming too from a Prelate—nay, from an Archbishop. He really felt, he repeated, for his hon. and consistent friend, but what must now be his sensations of horror and astonishment at finding his hon. and learned friend beside him turning round upon him with the timid and—in his eyes—most dangerous admission, that there might be some change 518 necessary? He greatly pitied the distressing situation of the hon. Baronet, thus abandoned and left alone in his desperate fidelity to the cause of Anti-reform. He would ask the hon. Gentlemen opposite, would they give no Reform, or were they ready to play over again the game which they had played before on another great question, and after having continued to fight against this measure to the last, were they ready to take the places of those whom, should they succeed in defeating in that measure, they expected to be called upon to supersede, und would they then adopt it to the full extent? Let the country know whether they were prepared to do that? But he would tell them, that if they did so, and if they even carried their measure to the full extent of the present one, neither they nor their measure would obtain or deserve the confidence of the country.
But his Majesty's Ministers were told by their opponents, that instead of proposing the present measure of Reform, they should have proceeded gradually, and have given Members to the large towns by disfranchising such boroughs as should be proved to be corrupt and delinquent. If they had proceeded in that way, it was possible that, somewhere about the year 1890, Leeds, Birmingham, and Manchester would have had Representatives bestowed upon them. It might be that some years ago a gradual Reform of that description might, at least for the time, have satisfied the public, but it was not a Reform suited to the present period; and if his Majesty's Ministers had brought in a Bill less extensive than the present one, they might have conciliated some of their present opponents, but they would not have obtained for such a measure the support of the country.
The Ministers were also told, that they had not explained the principle of this Bill. They had not gone, it was true, into that question largely now, because they did not consider it necessary to do so, and notwithstanding the complaint of the hon. and learned member for Boroughbridge on that point, he should not go at large into the principle of the Bill; because he considered that that had been fully determined already by two votes of that House in separate Sessions of Parliament, and by the opinion of the country, and because he looked upon the general question as settled beyond all discussion—nay, to the loathing of discussion—that "a Reform of Parliament the Commons of England would and must have." The hon. and learned Gen- 519 tleman has said, that the present Bill was of the same family as the former one, though they were not completely alike, applying to them the lines of Ovid—Facies non omnibus una,Nec diversa tamen qualem debet esse sororum;but of them he begged to say,Matre pulchrâ filia pulchrior.Whatever alterations had been made in the Bill, were improvements in accordance with the general principle of the late Bill. It was curious to observe the various objections which were urged against the details of the present Bill. Some hon. Members complained that it was more democratic than the last Bill, while others said that it was just the same. The fact was, that Ministers had introduced some alterations into the Bill in order to meet the objections which had been made to some of the details in the former Bill, but in no respect had they deviated from the great leading principle and the important features of that Bill. The extent of disfranchisement in schedule A was still the same; for though they had made some alterations with regard to the boroughs in that schedule, they had carefully maintained the principle of the former Bill, by swelling that schedule, through the substitution of other boroughs, precisely to the same extent. Then as to the principle of enfranchisement; the enfranchisement of great towns was carried to a greater extent, and the 10l. franchise remained inviolable. They were now told, that they had taken no intelligible rule to guide them as to the disfranchisement of the boroughs in schedule A. It had been over and over again imputed to them in the discussion on the late Bill, that in their choice of the boroughs to be disfranchised they had been influenced by private motives, looking to individual interests. In the present instance they had been exposed to a different attack. They had been charged with producing at the meeting of Parliament the papers that were to be laid before the House, and that they were not then prepared to say what number of boroughs were to be disfranchised according to the calculations to be founded on those returns. Now that matter stood thus. In the former Bill, population had been taken on the readiest and the best test for ascertaining the relative importance of boroughs. It having, however, been objected to that test, and with some degree of reason, that it was an insufficient one, and that it introduced a principle which it 520 would be dangerous to follow up to its full extent, they abandoned that test, and they adopted a different test, and a different census, which were not liable to the same objections, to guide them in the disfranchisement of the boroughs in schedule A. Now, what was the result of the application of the new test of combined rateage and population?—that fifty-one out of the fifty-six boroughs formerly in schedule A were still there, and notwithstanding all that had been said last Session as to the injustice done to Saltash, that borough, tried by the combined tests of the population in 1831, the taxes which it paid, and the number of 10l. houses in it, was still found worthy of a place in schedule A.
There was another objection which they had endeavoured to remedy in this Bill, without departing from the principle of the measure. It had been said, with regard to schedule B in the former Bill, that it was not desirable to extend the principle of single Representation, and objections had been also taken to the reduction of the number of Members in that House. Now what did Ministers do? So far as it was necessary to enfranchise the great towns and populous districts, they yielded to that objection, and they filled up the numbers of the House, so as to maintain a fair balance between the boroughs in schedule B, and the towns to be enfranchised; thus meeting the objection as to single Representation, and doing away with it in twenty-two places. As to the 10l. franchise, that was not the time for discussing it, as it would be more conveniently and fitly discussed in the Committee; but he would say this of it, that of all the parts of the Bill which had been altered, it had been most improved. It extended in its present shape, as far as it could be extended consistent with the safety of the country, the right of Representation to the lowest class of property; and, without going as far as the hon. member for Westminster, who maintained that it was the natural right of all to be represented, he (Mr. Stanley) would say, that it was the duty of every Representative government to extend the right of Representation to as low a scale of property as would be consistent with the safety of the State. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite said, that this part of the Bill would not satisfy the Unions in Birmingham and Leeds; and he made the statement, he said, upon information which he had received. He (Mr. Stanley) would like to know whence the hon. and learned 521 Gentleman had derived his information? [Sir Charles Wetherell: From correspondents.] Oh! no doubt the hon. and learned Gentleman's correspondents at Boroughbridge would be exceedingly dissatisfied with it. The objections which had been urged by hon. Gentlemen opposite to this part of the Bill were so different, and so self-contradictory, that he did not well know what arguments to employ in refuting them. It had been described by one as a 10l. aristocracy—by another, as an oligarchy of shopkeepers—by a third it had been characterised as an unrestrained democracy—while a fourth said that it led at once to Universal Suffrage; and the crowning climax of the whole was, the objection taken to it by the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken, and who had said that it was a system of nomination. Good God! a system of nomination, in which every man holding a 10l. house was to have a vote! A system of nomination on the one hand, and universal suffrage on the other! Such were the characteristics, according to hon. Gentlemen opposite, of the 10l. franchise. Was it possible for absurdity to go further? In fact, in their arguments against this clause, hon. Members opposite had fallen quite foul of each other, until it came to the hon. and learned Gentleman's turn, and he must say that he had fallen foul of himself.
The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Croker), in his speech last night, adverting to the haste in which he said this Bill had been brought in, said, that it required but ten days to frame the British Constitution. Now the real fact was, that the whole of the information on which they were to act having been obtained by the Government, and the tables of returns being before them, ten days were considered sufficient to be given to Lieutenant Drummond to cast up the tables and to make those numerical calculations, upon which the principle of the clause disfranchising the boroughs would entirely depend. So much for that point of the right hon. Gentleman's speech.
"The late right hon. Secretary to the Admiralty," continued the right hon. Gentleman, "in his attempt to refute the convincing arguments of my hon. and learned friend, the member for Calne, had, from the beginning to the end of his speech, misrepresented and misquoted history, and travelled through a variety of things to which it was impossible at the moment to give an extempore answer. In the course of his extraordinary misrepresentation of the his- 522 tory of the country, he has given us events for causes, and causes for events, and the fact is, that that which he has described as the consequence has actually preceded what he has represented as the cause. He appealed, in a tone of no moderate triumph and exultation, to the period of 1640, and he said, 'Look to what the first instance of concession led to then, when Charles 1st for the first time yielded to the wishes of his Parliament—when he offered them for the first time triennial Parliaments, which was the first step in that bloody progress of Reform which was in the next year followed by the impeachment of Strafford, and by the assembling of that Parliament to which the name of the Long Parliament was given.' Now I must say, that from a Gentleman who has examined Hume on this subject—and the right hon. Gentleman took care to tell us that he had done so—from one who had come down to this House to answer the hon. and learned member for Calne, with his quotations ready and his facts extracted—from one that had done that, I must say, that a more singular instance of a misrepresentation of history has never been heard in this House; and when I add to that, that the whole of the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman were founded on facts so quoted and so misrepresented, I should feel myself inexcusable if I did not, even at this late hour, advert to them. Does not the right hon. Gentleman know, or knowing does he not shrink from stating it, that when, in 1640, Charles called his Parliament, it was the first meeting of a Parliament for eleven years, the longest period that has occurred in British history without Parliament having been assembled, during which time that monarch had violated the fundamental laws of the country, by creating oppressive monopolies in defiance of Acts of Parliament—by levying Stamp-duties and Ship-money—by carrying further than ever they had been stretched in any former reign the high prerogatives of the Crown, and, as the hon. member for Calne had truly said, by thinking that a prince of the House of Stuart ought to act like a prince of the House of Tudor? At length, when he endeavoured to force episcopacy upon Scotland—when he had ruined the finances of the country—when extortion could go no further—when he found himself baffled in all his schemes by the spirit of that people whom he could no longer oppress, and when he had reduced his Exchequer to beggary, as a last resource he was compelled 523 to call together that Parliament which he had for so many years endeavoured to dispense with, and which he had trampled upon and spurned, while ever he had the power to do so. When he called them together——for obliged to call them together he was—what did he do? He made lavish use of soft words and vague professions; but they knew him too well to put any trust in him. When they spoke of grievances to be redressed, he spoke only of subsidies to be supplied! and when they properly refused them, without better security than promises the insincerity of which they were convinced of, he had recourse to a prompt and abrupt dissolution, and thus added wanton insult to continued injury. He was soon again compelled to call them together; again he thought to temporize, and again he met the same resistance; and his tyranny ended, as I hope tyranny ever will end—in base, and timid, and degrading concession." This was the Long Parliament, and it was this—not the first short Parliament, as the right hon. Gentleman wished the House to believe—that passed the Triennial Act; and the right hon. Gentleman, in showing how exact his parallel was, had read an extract to show how these concessions had been made, and with what spirit on the part of the King.
But the right hon. Gentleman omitted the passage in Hume which immediately preceded his extract, and which was in these words—"During long intermissions of Parliament, grievances and abuses, as was found by recent experience, would naturally creep in; and it would even become necessary for the King and Council to exert a great discretionary authority, and by Acts of State to supply, in every emergence, the legislative power, whose meeting was so uncertain and precarious." Then the right hon. Gentleman had gone on to show what Charles had conceded, and what had afterwards become so fatal. But how did he follow this up? By reading a passage from another bill which did not pass till twelve or thirteen months later. But then the right hon. Gentleman had also said, that this Bill had met with great opposition from the Lords, who considered it as violating and trampling on their privileges. What, however, was the fact? and what had both Hume and Clarendon said upon it? Why, "that the Bill passed rapidly through both Houses, but had met with difficulties on the part of the King"—difficulties, no doubt, easily to be explained by the doctrines of the right hon. 524 Gentleman. It was true that as time went on, when the people found oppressions multiplied, and that their Monarch was only cajoling them, while all the wrongs they complained of were still continued, then true it was, that the House of Commons had broken out into excesses which no man could justify, and which God forbid should ever be renewed. But when was that? Not until the King had intrigued and procured the army to subscribe a declaration that they would come and protect him; that they would guard him against the Parliament—that is, that they would overawe that House; and not, too, until five Members of the House had been actually seized: nay, more, until the rights and privileges of the House had been grossly violated by the King himself. When these things had been done, could any one wonder at what had afterwards occurred? He was of opinion that nobody could be surprised at what took place, and whenever the Monarch ceased to respect the privileges, and dared to violate the sanctity, of the House of Commons, was there any man in England who could suppose that the prerogatives of the Crown would not be attacked?
Now for the completion of the right hon. Gentleman's parallel. There was one passage which he wished to trouble the House with, before he concluded with the marvellous exposition of our history, given by the right hon. Gentleman. The parallel of the right hon. Gentleman, which was about as flattering as that which he drew between the state of this country and that of France, when he had said the people possessed a free Constitution, a liberal and Reforming Ministry, adding, with a sneer, a patriot King. He did not know what the right hon. Gentleman might mean by this, but it was just as true as the comparison he had attempted to draw between the state of things and the feelings of the people in 1640, and what was passing in the present times; but whatever the right hon. Gentleman might have meant, he had clearly shown that it was the same with inaccurate reading as with a little learning—a dangerous thing. But why, he would ask, were we to have parallels if not for the purpose of natural and rational deductions, and where was the use of reading were it only to be directed to institute parallels, which must be incorrect if not made between periods somewhat similar? If such were the object, then they ought not to be confined to the period between 1640 and 525 1645 alone; but if an exact comparison was desired, it should have been taken from 1627 to 1640, and then compare that period, and the events growing out of it, with the delay that had taken place between 1819 and 1831; and what was the deduction to be drawn from the history of this country upon these points? That the concessions which time, and reason, and justice, and the progress of the spirit of the age required, ought to have been granted, for although they might have been violations of the supposed prerogatives of the Crown, they were also the best securities for the liberty of the subject, and the happiness of the people. At the period to which he referred for an example, the Monarch endeavoured to crush the rights of the people. His concessions had only been forced from him by the iron hand of necessity; and when he had been compelled to concede, it was by basely truckling to the power he had in vain endeavoured to destroy. The passage he was about to read was one which, although unwilling longer to trespass on the House, he felt it necessary to detain them with, inasmuch as it bore out the deduction he drew from his reading—namely, that there was great danger in delay, and much wisdom in timely concession. After the dissolution of the first Parliament, and when the King had been again obliged to summon a new one, Clarendon said, "There was observed a marvellous change in the countenance of many of the Members since they before met together in the House; the same men who, six months before, were observed to be of very moderate tempers, and to wish that gentle remedies might be applied, without opening the wound too wide, and exposing it to the air, and rather to cure what was amiss, than too strictly to make inquisition into the causes and original of the malady, talked now in another dialect, both of things and persons, and said, that they must now be of another temper than they were the last Parliament; that they must not only sweep the House clean below, but must pull down all the cobwebs which hung in the top and corners, that they might not breed dust, and so make a foul House hereafter." A lesson this, which we in our days might read if we chose to profit by that which had been written for our learning. There was no man, whatever his opinion of the danger to result from this Bill might be, who would say that this danger was one which would not be aggravated much by a delay of one, two, or three years, and that it would be 526 possible to carry on the Government, persevering in that delay, without using compulsion, which no reasonable Administration would venture to employ. He thought that his hon. and learned friend (the member for Calne) had been hardly treated by the right hon. Gentleman, who had condemned him for making use of the argument, no less eloquent than true, that as society went on, and the march of intelligence proceeded, and excelled that of centuries gone by, so governments must conform themselves to the times in which they lived; and that the temper of these times, and the wishes of the people, rich, intelligent, and active as they were, were not to be considered as the movements of an engine which they could stop. He was, however, far from saying that this machine was one which moved with resistless force, and that those who were to guide it must yield to its onward motion, or be carried away with it. But what did the right hon. Gentleman say? That they who wished to forward this machine were only the creatures of the mob, hurried forward by a force which they could not resist, and of which they were but the passive instruments. He utterly denied the fact, while he, at the same time, could not agree that the passions of the mob were the proper criterion of either principle or necessity. His hon. and learned friend (Mr. Macaulay) had truly said, that it would be as dangerous for the House of Hanover now to govern on the principles of the first of their line, as it was for Charles 1st to suppose that the men of the age in which he lived, were to be swayed by the same rules of action and of thought which had prevailed in the days of the House of Tudor. He agreed in the assertion, for the change of times made all the difference, and, "God forbid," said the right hon. Gentleman, "that we should not have sufficient prudence to go forward, not with the mob, but with the country; to remedy evils and complaints which, as they are not to be suppressed, and cannot be concealed, so must they finally prevail. For who is there of opinion that a change is not demanded? Who is there that can doubt but that delay must be dangerous? Who is there that does not clearly see that we have now the option, whether this change, so necessary, and so demanded, shall be effected in a peaceful and quiet state, or whether it shall occur amid scenes which I shall not venture to depict, and which God forbid any one here should ever live to witness."
Sir Robert Peel
said, that at that late hour of the night, and in that stage of the debate, when so short a time was left for discussion, unless that discussion were (contrary to the usual practice) protracted into the morning of Sunday, he should have desired at once to address himself to those arguments in favour of this measure which remained unanswered, without referring to any matters of a private or personal nature. But the speech of the learned member for Calne—who, for the fourth time, had thought it desirable to introduce topics unconnected with the merits of the question, and who had addressed himself in a manner purely personal to him—compelled him to adopt a different course; for he should be unworthy of the situation which he held in that House, if he permitted the debate to close without reference to those topics. He thought, that the learned Gentleman, having already, in the three speeches he had made in favour of Reform, taunted him on the subject of the Catholic Question, might have left that subject at rest. But the learned Gentleman again returned to the charge, bursting with all the "sweltering venom" which had been collecting during the days and nights that had passed since the last attack.
The hon. Member had charged him with having been guilty of ingratitude towards the present Ministry in the course he had been pursuing. The hon. Gentleman said, "When you proposed the Catholic Question, they who had before brought it forward, handsomely gave you their cordial support; and when they bring forward the Reform Bill, why do not you return the compliment, and support Reform?" What exalted notions of public duty the learned Gentleman must have! He makes it a matter of courtesy and civility; a sort of interchange of compliments. But the learned Gentleman overlooked the essential difference in the two cases. The Gentlemen opposite supported the Roman Catholic Relief Bill when brought forward by him (Sir R. Peel) because they had always supported it. Had he supported Reform? No, never; and yet the learned Gentleman contended that he ought to support it now, not from conviction but from gratitude.
The learned Gentleman's charge amounted to a charge of gross and corrupt apostacy. He accused him (Sir R. Peel) of having brought forward, first, the Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, and secondly, the Roman Catholic Relief Bill—not from a sense of public duty, but from the mere 528 love of the power or emoluments of office, and the desire to appropriate to himself the credit which was due to others. He had long been silent under these charges—in the first place, because he did not think that the time had come when he could properly make the necessary disclosures, and in the second place, because he was conscious of having acted from pure motives, and because he felt assured that the time must come when those motives would be justly appreciated.
Now to begin with the first of these charges. He met it with a positive denial of the fact. He had not undertaken, as a Minister, the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. As a Minister of the Crown he had opposed it, and he was beaten. When the noble Lord (Lord.J. Russell) had brought forward the question, the Ministers had been left in a minority, and having been so left, he had not made any attempt to deprive the noble Lord of the honour due to his success; but convinced, after what had occurred, that something must be done towards the settlement of the question, he had privately and unostentatiously laboured all in his power to effect an amicable settlement. "But," said the hon. and learned Gentleman, "why, having opposed this while in office, did you not resign when you found your opposition unavailing?" The hon. Member, with his usual discretion, seemed to wield a two-edged sword, which equally wounded friends and foes. Was it a matter of inevitable necessity that Ministers should resign when they could not carry into effect a measure to which they were favourable? If it was so, then why did not the present Ministers resign when the House of Lords rejected the Reform Bill? He made no charge against them for not resigning; on the contrary, he contended, that it was not fair to infer improper conduct, because Ministers did not at once resign when they were defeated in their attempt to oppose or to carry a particular measure.
What were the circumstances under which he, having failed in his opposition to the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, continued in office? On the 9th of January, 1828, he was called on to form part of the Ministry. There had been three recent changes of the Government; the last, the Administration of Lord Goderich, having existed eight weeks only. There were three parties in the State; the Tories, the Whigs, and the friends of Mr. Canning. In the government of Lord 529 Goderich, two of these parties had been united, and yet that Government came to an untimely end, from its own intrinsic weakness, before a blow was struck—before even Parliament was assembled. In the month of January, the Duke of Wellington was called on to form an Administration. The Duke and himself were obliged to postpone the meeting of Parliament till the 29th of January, and on the 26th of February, one month after his noble friend and he had taken office, the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) brought the subject of the Test and Corporation Acts forward, and Ministers were beaten on the question. Was there any Gentleman who would have had them abandon the King, one month after a signal proof that no other party, nay, no combination of other parties, could make a permanent, or even a decent Government? This he considered a sufficient answer to the charge that, having failed in resisting a certain measure, he had not forthwith resigned office.
He now came to the heavier charge, to that connected with the Catholic Question. For several years he had taken an active part in resisting concession to the Roman Catholics. He had taken that part from a serious doubt, whether, viewing the state of property in Ireland—the state of the Protestant Church—the state of society in a country wherein the religion of the great majority was not, and could not be, the established religion of that country, the concession of equal political power to the Roman Catholics would extinguish its religious discord, and lay the foundation of ultimate repose. But a combination of circumstances had concurred to convince him that exclusion was no longer maintainable—that there was greater risk to the peace of Ireland, and to the security of the Protestant establishment and Protestant interests, in attempting to prolong that exclusion, than in the removal of every existing disability under which the Roman Catholic laboured. When he had declared that his opinions were unchanged on the Catholic Question, what did he mean? Simply this—that his apprehension of the consequences of concession—his fears that it would not produce satisfaction and harmony, remained the same; but still there was a certain, and impending evil, which could only be averted by incurring the remoter hazards of concession, an evil which would, after desolating Ireland, leave the question of concession where it found it, or rather, 530 with a diminished prospect of any satisfactory settlement.
Into some of the reasons for entertaining these opinions he could not then enter; but the events of the Clare election shewed that matters could no longer rest where they then were—that there must be either a settlement of the Catholic Question, or the elective franchise must be modified. But in a House of Commons recently elected, the Roman Catholics had an actual majority. There was, in truth, so large a mass of Protestant influence, and Protestant opinion ranged on the side of the Roman Catholics, encouraging their vehemence, and defeating the efforts to restrain it, that further opposition to a settlement of the Catholic Question became, in his opinion, equally mischievous and impracticable. With that opinion, what course was he bound to pursue? Was it his duty to consult his own personal interests, to maintain his own personal consistency, by continuing and encouraging resistance—or to say, as he had said, to the King of whom he was the Minister—"On the balance of public evils there is, in my opinion, less of hazard in concession than in continued and fruitless resistance, and therefore I advise concession?"—The Question, so far as any charge could be justly preferred against him, was this. In giving that advice to the King, was he influenced, as the learned Gentleman insinuated, by any desire of office, any wish to usurp honour or credit due to others, or by any base and interested motive of any kind?
He trusted he should be able now to vindicate himself for all time to come from any charge, or any suspicion, on that head.
After the discussions in the two Houses of Parliament on the Catholic Question, in the Session of 1828—frequent communication took place between himself and the Duke of Wellington respecting the position of that Question—and each of them had come to the conclusion, that it could not safely be left in the position in which it had stood for so many years—the members of the King's Government having no opinion in common upon it, and the two Houses of Parliament coming to opposite decisions.
He left town shortly after the close of the Session, and the communication to which he referred was continued with the Duke of Wellington, in a confidential and most unreserved correspondence, from which he should quote those passages which would explain his own personal views and wishes in regard to the mode of settling 531 the Catholic Question. In the Month of August, 1828, he wrote a letter to the Duke of Wellington, which, after entering fully into the general policy of attempting a final adjustment of the Question, proceeds in these terms:—
'I have thus written to you without reserve upon the first, and great Question of all; the policy of seriously considering this long-agitated question, with a view to its adjustment. I have proved to you, I trust, that no false delicacy in respect to past declarations of opinion—no fear of the imputation of inconsistency will prevent me from taking that part, which present dangers, and a new position of affairs, may require. I am ready, at the hazard of any sacrifice, to maintain the opinions which I now deliberately give—that there is upon the whole less of evil in making a decided effort to settle the Catholic Question than in leaving it as it has been left—an open Question, the Government being undecided with respect to it, and paralyzed in consequence of that indecision upon many occasions peculiarly requiring promptitude and energy of action.
I must at the same time express a very strong opinion that it would not conduce to the satisfactory adjustment of the Question, that the charge of it in the House of Commons should be committed to my hands.
I put all personal feelings out of the question. They are, or ought to be, very subordinate considerations in matters of such moment, and I give the best proof that I disregard them, by avowing that I am quite ready to commit myself to the support of the principle of a measure of ample Concession and Relief, and to use every effort to promote the final arrangement of it.
But my support will be more useful, if I give it with the cordiality with which it shall be given, out of office. Any authority which I may possess, as tending to reconcile the Protestants to the measure, would be increased by my retirement. I have been too deeply committed on the Question—have expressed too strong opinions in respect to it—too much jealousy and distrust of the Roman Catholics—too much apprehension as to the immediate and remote consequences of yielding to their claims—to make it advantageous to the King's service that I should be the individual to originate the measure.'
The letter from which he was quoting 532 concludes thus: 'Consider these things well. If the question is to be taken up, there is clearly no safe alternative but the settlement of it. Every consideration of private feelings and individual interests must be disregarded.
From a strong sense of what is best for the success of the measure, I relieve you from all difficulties with respect to myself. I do not merely volunteer my retirement at whatever may be the most convenient time—I do not merely give you the promise, that I will, out of office (be the sacrifices that I foresee, private and public, what they may) cordially co-operate with you in the settlement of this question, and cordially support your Government; but I add to this, my decided and deliberate opinion—that it will tend to the satisfactory adjustment of the Question, if the originating of it in the House of Commons, and the general superintendence of its progress, be committed to other hands than mine.'
He trusted that he had thus shewn, that, when he originally concurred in the course which was afterwards adopted, he had not been swayed by any considerations but those of public duty. He remained until the month of January, 1829, retaining a decided opinion that the Government ought to bring forward the Roman Catholic Relief Bill without delay, but in the earnest hope and belief, that his support to that measure would be given by him in a private capacity. But in the course of that month it was proved to him to demonstration, that his retirement from office would aggravate the difficulties with which the Duke of Wellington had already to contend to such a degree as to make them insuperable. He had, therefore, written to the Duke of Wellington a letter, which bore date the 12th January. He repeated, in that letter, that his retirement from office was the only step which he could take which would be at all satisfactory to his own feelings; he deprecated, in the most earnest manner, the necessity that he should be the person to bring forward the Question in the House of Commons; but he concluded that letter by the following declaration:—'But I will have no reserve with you. I know all the difficulties of your situation. I know how those difficulties have been recently increased, as well by the communications which have taken place with the Bishops, as by the necessary recall of Lord Anglesey.
You will do justice to the motives of 533 the declaration which I am about to make, and you will take no advantage of it unless it be absolutely necessary.
If my retirement should prove, in your opinion, after the communications which you may have with the King, and with those whom it may be necessary for you to consult—an insuperable obstacle to the adoption of the course which I believe to be unavoidable; in that case you shall command every service that I can render in any capacity.'
On this letter of the 12th January he found the following endorsement, written at the time:—'When I wrote this letter, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, and the Bishop of Durham, had had an interview with the Duke of Wellington, and had declared to him that they were finally resolved to give their decided opposition to the proposed measure for the relief of the Roman Catholics.'*
The circumstance referred to in that memorandum, and the earnest appeal made to him by the King, not to shrink from proposing a measure which, as a Minister, he advised the King to adopt, left him no alternative, consistent with honour and public duty, but to make the bitter sacrifice of every personal feeling, and himself to originate the measure of Roman Catholic Relief. Could he, when the King thus appealed to him, when the King referred to his own scruples—to his own uniform opposition to the measure in question—When he said, "You advise this measure—you see no escape from it—you ask me to make the sacrifice of opinion and of consistency—will you not make the same sacrifice," what answer could he return to his sovereign but the one he did return, viz. that he would make that sacrifice, and would bear his full share of the responsibility and unpopularity of the measure he advised? So much for the part he had taken on the Catholic Question, and the motives by which he had been swayed.
While he totally abjured the doctrine of the learned Gentleman, that he was bound to support Reform because the advocates of Reform had supported the Catholic Question, he would never retract the opinions he had expressed with regard to those who, being politically opposed to him, had supported most zealously the Roman Catholic Relief Bill. He must repeat now what he had before said, that the conduct of those Gen-* The above are faithful copies of the Letters referred to, and are here published correctly for the first time.—H.534 tlemen who had given him their support on the Catholic Question, was dictated by the purest and most honourable motives, and entitled that party to his respect and gratitude. He said so at the time; but did the hon. and learned Member, therefore, think that with "bated breath and whispering humbleness," he should shrink from offering opposition to this Bill? Was he not at liberty boldly to say, that he thought the King's Ministers were in error, if he thought them so? If he considered he was disqualified from taking the most decided part on Reform, he would abdicate his functions, and not stand there to offer weak opposition to the measure. He would assert, however, that he was at liberty to offer this opposition, and without any compromise of principle, or rendering himself liable to any charge of ingratitude or inconsistency, to resist to the utmost of his power the extensive measure of Reform proposed by the Ministers.
A great part of the speech of the hon. Gentleman turned upon the question, not whether this measure was for the permanent advantage of the country, but who were the parties that caused the present excitement. The assumption was, that to the pressure of external force we must give way, and that we had no alternative but that of satisfying the craving of the people. The hon. Gentleman had said, "How is it that we can have eyes and not see, ears and not hear, legs and not walk; how is it that all our senses do not convince us that Reform must be conceded?" Would he ask the same question of the Marquis of Lansdown, who had eyes, and ears, and legs; but who had neither seen, nor heard, nor walked, having for years opposed Parliamentary Reform? The hon. Gentleman was very severe on all doubt and indecision in matters of public concern. How was it then that the hon. and learned Gentleman was himself still undecided on that important point, the ballot? How did it happen that, like a certain animal (to which he meant by no means to compare him) between two bundles of hay, the hon. and learned Gentleman remained still balancing, and unable to decide, between two series of arguments? He had been accused of obstinately resisting the popular demand for Reform, and he felt that from many, the majority, of the members of the present Reform Government, such an accusation fell with a particularly ill grace. Had hon. Members forgotten the events of the year 1827? 535 Did they recollect, that in that year the Marquis of Lansdown, Lord Palmerston, and the two Mr. Grants, and other hon. Gentlemen opposite, took office under Mr. Canning?—Mr. Canning, the uncompromising foe of all Reform; and who emphatically declared in that House (and that, too, be it remembered, after these noble and right hon. Gentlemen had joined his Administration), that he would oppose Reform to the last hour of his life. Perhaps it might be said, that though these were Mr. Canning's personal feelings with respect to this particular question of Reform, it, like the Catholic Question, might be open to every member of the Government to speak and vote as he pleased without affecting its integrity. His noble and right hon. friends had not this resource; for Mr. Stapylton's recent "Life of Mr. Canning" placed the fact beyond doubt, "that Mr. Canning was not only determined to resist Reform himself, but that he would not acquiesce in any member of his Government supporting that question. According to Mr. Stapylton, there was a written record of the principles on which Mr. Canning's Government was formed, in which were these words—"That the inconvenience of having one open question in the Cabinet, made it more necessary to agree that there should be no other; that all the then acting members of the Cabinet were united in opposing the question of Parliamentary Reform, and could not acquiesce in its being brought forward and supported by any member of the Government." Thus it appeared that public men, differing upon other questions—actuated by no dishonourable motives—taking what are supposed to be enlarged and comprehensive views of the interests of this country, did dread the agitation of that question of Parliamentary Reform. Why did he state these facts? Not, be assured, for the purpose of condemning the inconsistency of his noble and right hon. friends, who had joined with Mr. Canning, and were now Reformers, but to inculcate this lesson—that if so recently as 1827 these eminent, noble, and right honourable Gentlemen saw no reason against their joining an Administration pledged to the death against Reform, he, who then as now was opposed to all such schemes of Reform as the present, might see reasons—other than mere party obstinacy—for persisting in the same course in the year 1831. If his noble and right hon. friends shrunk from opening the question in 1827, surely it was 536 not so very remarkable but that he might remain impressed with the same feelings of apprehension a few years longer? Why censure him for not being immediately convinced of the necessity of Reform, when Lord Lansdown and the other members of Mr. Canning's Cabinet—those very persons by whom it was now advocated in both Houses of Parliament—had, up to this time, remained unconvinced? They knew the decided opinions of Mr. Canning upon the question, for in 1827 he refused to transfer the franchise of Grampound to Leeds, and yet he believed that Mr. Tierney was the only member of Mr. Canning's Cabinet who stipulated for liberty to support the question of Reform. The learned Gentleman said, that pertinacious resistance to moderate Reform was the cause and the justification of the present measure. Could he be surprised at resistance to the principle of Reform, however moderate the shape it might first assume? Did he recollect the triumph of the noble Lord, the author of this Bill? Did he recollect his address to the most moderate of all Reformers? Said the noble Lord, "You have conceded the whole principle, when you agreed to transfer the franchise of Grampound to Manchester. How, then, can you stop there? To you who admit the principle, but refuse to go its lengths, I say, in the words of Cromwell, 'the Lord has delivered you into my hands.' "If, then, to make the slightest concession be a "delivering into his hands," what resource had the opponents of extensive Reform, but to oppose the principle altogether? He had been complimented by the learned Gentleman for having, on the first night of this discussion, sung his palinode——
§ Mr. Macaulay
I did not mention you; the term was directed to the right hon. ex-secretary of the Admiralty. All that was meant was, that the right hon. Baronet's party took the whole credit to themselves of measures for the improvement of our systems of jurisprudence, commercial laws, and foreign policy, which had been forced on their reluctant conviction by the party now in office.
Sir Robert Peel
True, the hon. Gentleman did not mention him by name, but the sarcasm was not the less pointed on account of the omission of the name. In introducing improvements into the commercial jurisprudence of the country, he had never arrogated to himself the praise that belonged to Sir Samuel Romilly; but what was to prevent him from effecting 537 substantial reforms, supposing such reforms though contemplated by others remained unexecuted? The learned Gentleman represented him as having taunted the Government on the evening in which the present Bill was introduced. So far from taunting Ministers with their amendments of some of the details of the Bill, as so many adoptions of the principles advocated on the Opposition side of the House, as so many concessions to the wisdom of their opponents' policy, he staled, that he did not regard the alterations in the light of concessions, for that the essential principles of the measure remained wholly unchanged, and, therefore, equally objectionable. He added, at the same time, that he thought the country was in a better situation now for a deliberate consideration of the Bill than when that of last Session was under their notice—and therefore that the House and the country ought to feel grateful to the House of Lords for that decision, which afforded them an opportunity of reconsidering the fatal consequences of the former Bill. He, for one, heartily rejoiced at that decision. He was confident that it would tend to the permanent advantage of the country. It was necessary to that calmness and deliberation fitting the Legislature, and essential to the satisfactory discussion of the great question at issue, that the excitement which prevailed throughout the country with respect to the Ministerial plan of Reform should abate—that the public mind should be cooled somewhat from the fervour into which it had been artfully thrown—that some short time should be afforded——"requiem spatiumque furori,and that opportunity, and that interval, and that requies, were furnished them by the decision of the House of Lords. Indeed, no persons should feel better pleased with that decision than Ministers themselves, inasmuch as it had enabled them to lick somewhat into comeliness and grace another bantling of the same family. The right hon. Secretary for Ireland seemed quite enamoured with this new offspring, vaunting much of the symmetry of its features, telling them, in the well knownO matre pulchrâ filia pulchrior,that the daughter far exceeded in beauty her lovely parent. Without presuming to offer an opinion on the delicate question of female beauty, while he complimented the right hon. Gentleman's gallantry and good taste in embracing the daughter in prefer- 538 ence to the mother, he wished he could contemplate with any satisfaction the future progeny of Reform. He wished that it might not prove degenerate in itself, and, in the words of the same Horace,——"mox datura Progeniem vitiosiorem.After what they had heard in the course of this debate, it was but fair to presume, that they should no longer hear this Bill defended on the ground of the Constitution. The noble Paymaster appeared to dissent from this; but had he not himself said that evening, that if it had been his fortune to have lived at the period of the Revolution, he would have voted for the exclusion of Catholics from political power, and also for the maintenance and continuance of the small boroughs? But surely, if these small boroughs were now contrary to the first principles of the Constitution, they were equally so at the time of the Revolution. The noble Lord had, in the course of the Debates, cited that part of the Bill of Rights which declared that "elections should be free." Now, it would not become him to question the historical and constitutional knowledge of the noble Lord; but when he quoted these words as an argument in favour of the present Bill, particularly that part of it which disfranchised the small boroughs, it became necessary to remind the House of the true meaning of the words "elections shall be free," and of the intention with which they were inserted in the Bill of Rights. Those words were introduced into the preamble of the Bill of Rights to meet a particular specific grievance, which had no connexion whatever with small boroughs or the reduced number of electors. The grievance to be redressed was, the direct and repeated interference of James 2nd in the election of Members of Parliament. That monarch was then deeply engaged in his design of restoring the Catholic worship to its pristine supremacy; and, for that purpose, he had issued orders to the several Sheriffs to make out lists of electors and candidates who would vote for the repeal of the Test Act—the barrier against the admission of the Catholics into Parliament and public office. Without entering into a minute history of James's proceedings, he would cite one anecdote in point: it was told by Sir John Reresby, in his Memoirs.* It appeared that the King requested the writer to stand for York. "If your* Published by Jeffery and Son, Pall Mall.539 Majesty so please it," replied Sir John, "I will, but it can only be on one condition." "Name it," "Simply, that your Majesty will so order it that none of the Corporation shall vote but those I may choose." The King gave the order, and Sir John was returned. And it was to meet this, and similar gross violations of corporate rights, that it was declared in the Bill of Rights, that "elections shall be free," evidently showing, that there was not the remotest connexion whatever between that declaration, and the disfranchisement of small boroughs.
One word with respect to what had fallen last night from the hon. member for Calne; if, indeed, it was not something worse than superfluous, to offer any additional observations, after the unanswerable and matchless speech of his right hon. friend (Mr. Croker) beside him. The hon. Member dwelt much on the necessity of the Legislature evincing, what he called an animus, for adapting its enactments to the growing wants, and intelligence, and spirit, of the age. He was ready to admit, that if there did not exist an elastic spirit in the Constitution, expanding itself to meet the temper of the times, that there was something imperfect, something that required alteration; and he would further admit, that if the boroughs were made of such iron stuff, that they would not yield to the impression of improvement, that their doom ought to be from that moment sealed. But would any one, after looking at the acts of the Legislature, and of late years in particular, say, that the animus of this House lagged behind the improvement of the times? Was it not rather in advance of the spirit of the times in what it did on the Catholic Question, and on that of free trade? In what instance, during the last five years, would the hon. Member point out, that that House had not kept pace with the growing improvement of public opinion? or, if the hon. Gentleman preferred the phrase, with the "spirit of the age?" If the hon. Gentleman could not point out any; it was most unwise to attempt, by precipitate means, and rushing on blindly in the dark, to effect a change which was silently and gradually in operation, and which violent interference on our part could only obstruct and retard. Had hon. Members duly considered the effect of the proposed change in our Constitution, upon our immense colonial possessions? If it were said, that the population of India was of so low a grade 540 of intellect, as not to understand the nature of good government, he thought that was an additional reason for caution in unsettling a dominion which had its foundation in the feelings, in the habits and prejudices connected with established usage, and the prescriptive exercise of authority? Then, to look nearer home, let them consider the effect which their freely and cavalierly destroying the smaller boroughs must inevitably have upon the minds of the people. If there was any feeling which, more than another, should be cherished in this country, it was that of regard—scrupulous regard—for the interests of property, and for the preservation of those political rights which were the birthright of freemen. Was the feeling cherished, by destroying small but honourable boroughs, merely because they were small?—for no effort was made by Ministers, to distinguish merely the small from the nomination boroughs, though the distinction was as practicable as it was just. It might be very well to say, that the nomination boroughs must be got rid of, but why not destroy the principle of nomination, by extending the constituency, and reserve the elective right to the borough? This was the very course pursued in the case of some boroughs. Take Midhurst for example—the mound Midhurst; they had been told, over and over again, that the Representation of that place belonged to a hole in a wall; but, after all, that very hole in the wall was to retain its right. It was true that the constituency was enlarged, and why not apply the same principle to other boroughs, at least equally admitting of its application? The noble Lord confessed that this great and immediate change in the Constitution could not be made without peril, and his noble colleague, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, added, if he thought it would have the effect of injuring the landed interests, he would, instead of forwarding the measure, oppose it. This remark of the noble Lord seemed to imply some latent doubt as to its working, but the noble Paymaster had not distinctly described the nature of the peril he anticipated. Was it to be found in the great extension of the franchise? The noble Lord said, that by giving a vote to 10l. householders, it would be conferred on a class of persons of intelligence, who could not be easily led astray by those whose interest or whose wish it might be to deceive them—a class of persons who could not be deceived into a belief, as the 541 electors of Preston had been, that the Civil List for the exclusive use of the Sovereign, and for his individual purposes, amounted to 1,000,000l. a year, He could not concur with the noble Lord in opinion that 10l. householders were a class qualified to draw profound conclusions on the intricate questions of commerce and legislation, or exempt from the bias of party violence, or deaf to the delusions and exaggerations by which they would be assailed. He had been favoured with the copy of a manifesto, addressed by the Walsall Political Union to the new constituency of that embryo borough; and if that manifesto contained the appeals and arguments best suited to their taste and capacity, he could not consent to any compliment paid to them at the expense of the electors of Preston. The House, however, might judge for themselves, for he would read an extract from this document:—" The reign of oppression is nearly at an end; the fiat of the people of England has gone forth, and the decree has been confirmed by our patriot King, that might shall no longer triumph over right. The Bill of Reform must pass; and our future destinies will be placed in the hands of upwards of a million of Englishmen, whose true interests are identically the same with those of the still greater body of their unrepresented fellow-countrymen. You, fellow-townsmen, will have an important trust to perform in the great work of national regeneration. Reform in Parliament will matter little to us, if we do not send men there who will do the business of the people; we entreat—we implore you, then, in the name of our common country, to look well to the character and political principles of the men who may offer themselves as candidates for your suffrage. Do not vote for any man who will not pledge himself to insist upon the most rigid economy in the expenditure of the public money, as well as to vote for the repeal of all taxes which press with peculiar weight upon the poverty and the industry of the nation; especially the iniquitous corn-laws, the assessed taxes, and all acts imposing taxes or restrictions upon the circulation of political knowledge—those odious and oppressive imposts whose only effects are, by inducing ignorance, to lead to the commission of crime, and to hide from the public gaze the open profligacy and the insidious workings of corrupt and tyrannical governments. The abolition of the monopoly of the East-India Company—the instant and utter extinction of that 542 abominable traffic in human flesh and blood, denominated negro-slavery—an earnest endeavour to procure for the honest electors of Great Britain, the protecting shield of the Ballot—and the limitation and duration of Parliaments to a period not exceeding three years—on each and all of these important questions, the man who desires to be your Representative ought to give distinct and positive pledges that he will act in accordance with your opinion and feelings; or, if his own opinion shall come into collision with these, that he should then resign the trust which you shall have delegated to him, and thus afford you an opportunity of choosing some other person whose political opinions shall be more congenial with your own." He did not mean for a moment to question the right of the workmen of Walsall to urge their opinions on these difficult and most complicated questions, nor did he mean to say, that all which they did was not very honestly intended; but what he was afraid of was, that when the country got a popular Parliament, it would jump to conclusions—conclusions that might be right abstractedly, but which, from the great variety of interests they embraced, required the nicest caution and consideration in their management. In the same way with respect to property: he had no fear of its destruction by confiscation; but he was afraid that some popularity-seeking Chancellor of the Exchequer might be forced by a democratic assembly to propose the repeal of taxes, and to adopt steps the ultimate tendency of which would be, to shake the confidence of the country in the security of property; and that confidence once shaken, there would be an end to the chief stimulus to productive industry, the foundation of all our wealth, power, and eminence. Let them look to the present state of France. France, after her glorious revolution—France, relieved from the load of an hereditary peerage, and an established religion—France, with her popular king, whose only occupation it would seem was to run about seeking the vive le roi of his enthusiastically devoted subjects. And what was the state of this favoured country, which had so far outstripped us in the race of Reform, notwithstanding the zealous efforts of our Reform Ministers? Let hon. Members, anxious for the solution of the question, read the foreign correspondence of The Times, a journal above all exception as a witness in this case, being an advocate for Reform, and distinguished for the ability of its foreign 543 correspondents—what is their account of the state of France in respect to the employment and happiness of the industrious classes, whose especial benefit is to be promoted by Reform—"Every post" says the French correspondent of The Times, "brings fresh intelligence to Paris from all those departments where any considerable portion of the inhabitants depend for their support on the prosperity of their trade or commerce, of the extreme state of misery and depression to which they are reduced; as an instance, you may take that portion of the French territory which is nearest to the shores of England. The towns of Arras, Bethune, and Hesdin, including the whole line of coast from Calais to Etaples, are described to be in a state of privation bordering on famine." This was the condition of a country with a decreasing revenue, a declining commerce, and a daily increasing army. Was it to be inferred from his stating these facts, that he thought that the French were not justified in resisting the illegal exercise of power? No such thing. But he said, that the effect of all such rash and precipitate changes in government was, to suspend commerce, to derange industry, to put a stop to credit, and injure almost to death the manufacturing and labouring classes. His object was, to show that any violent change in the constitution of a country, exposed to hazard its dearest interests, and that no such change could be advisable, unless under the pressure of a necessity, the existence of which in this country he utterly denied. "I oppose the Bill," said the right hon. Baronet in conclusion, "not that I expect to be successful here in my opposition, but because I will enter my solemn protest against incurring the responsibility of making one of the greatest and most precipitate changes in a Constitution, which was the very best that ever existed in the annals of history. You should well consider the ultimate effects of the change you are about to accomplish on the three parts of the empire. You are about to disturb those proportions which were settled at the respective periods of the Union, and to add to the already existing causes of discontent and excitement in Ireland, new sources of jealousy and complaint which it is wholly unnecessary to open. It is not in the spirit of hostility, but from the common interest which I take with the Ministers in the welfare of the country, that I implore the Government not to suffer this House to separate for the Recess, without publicly 544 proclaiming the course they mean to pursue with respect to the proportions of Representation for the different parts of the empire, particularly Ireland. If you are determined upon not adding to the number of the Irish Representatives, say so; but if you are not so determined, and feel that you must ultimately concede, I say give way at once, and by doing it graciously and in time, make the merit and favour your own. I offer no opinion on the justice or expediency of the concession, but call upon Ministers to at once avow their intentions. Do you, or do you not, mean to yield to the demands of the Irish Members? I repeat, Sir, my opinions are decidedly opposed to the Bill. I expected that the present Ministers would bring in a Reform Bill on their acceptance of office; but I believe, in my conscience, that the concessions made by them to the popular demands have been far more extensive than was at all necessary. I was not prepared for so extravagant a measure, still less could I have thought that they would have ventured to bring in so large a measure of Reform within three months after they had taken office, and while the country was yet agitated by the events of the French Revolution. No issue of this discussion can be satisfactory, for, decide as we may, there must be much irreparable evil. I may be obliged to submit by necessity to a plan of Reform which I cannot successfully oppose, but believing, as I do, that the people of this country are grossly deceived, grossly deluded, in their expectations of the practical benefits they will derive from Reform, I shall not be precluded from declaring my opinion, and opposing that Reform as long as I can. My opinions being thus wholly opposed to Ministers on the question of Reform, I am precluded from taking any part whatever in the settlement of the question. I am satisfied with the Constitution under which I have lived hitherto, which I believe is adapted to the wants and habits of the people. I deplore a disposition which seems too prevalent, to innovate unnecessarily upon all the institutions of the country. I admit, that to serve the Sovereign and the public in an office of honour and dignity, is an object of honourable ambition, but I am ready to sacrifice that object, rather than incur the responsibility of advocating measures which, I believe on my conscience, will tend to the destruction of the best interests of the country. I will continue my opposition to the last, believing, as I do, that this is the first step, not directly to revolution, but to 545 a series of changes which will affect the property, and totally change the character of the mixed Constitution of this country. I will oppose it to the last, convinced, that though my opposition will be unavailing, it will not be fruitless, because the opposition now made will oppose a bar to further concessions hereafter. If the whole of the House were now to join in giving way, it will have less power to resist future changes. On this ground I take my stand, not opposed to a well-considered Reform of any of our institutions which need reform, but opposed to this Reform in our Constitution, because it tends to root up the feelings of respect, the feelings of habitual reverence and attachment, which are the only sure foundations of Government. I will oppose to the last the undue encroachments of that democratic spirit to which we are advised to yield without resistance. We may make it supreme—we may establish a republic full of energy—splendid in talent—but in my conscience I believe fatal to our liberty, our security, and our peace.
§ Mr. Hunt
said, he rose to defend himself against a charge of having told a meeting of the working classes in Lancashire which he addressed, that a million a year was given on the Civil List for the King's personal expenses: he had never made any assertion of the kind. The meeting he addressed did not deserve the character of rabble, as the noble Lord the Paymaster of 546 the Forces had represented them to be. There was scarcely a man in it but was as clean and well looking and intelligent as any man in that House, and there were very few present whose clothes were not as well made and as good as those of the dandy First Lord of the Admiralty. The people of England would not and ought not to be satisfied with the present Bill. Notwithstanding the noble Lord had said, it would give a share of the Representation to a large proportion of the people, he would contend that the words "Representation of the people "ought not to be used in connexion with this Bill, for only those who occupied 10l. houses, and all above that value would be represented by it. The great majority of the working classes would be excluded. As the hon. and learned member for Calne expected to represent Leeds when the Bill had passed, he would tell him that he did not know the feeling of the people in that town. There was one factory in which 130 men were employed, only three of whom would have a vote, and in another not one of the operatives would be entitled to the franchise. In point of fact, the great body of manufacturers and artizans would be excluded; he therefore told the House in plain and distinct terms, this Bill would not satisfy the working classes.
§ The House divided on the question that the Bill be read a second time. Ayes 324; Noes l62;—Majority 162.
§ Bill read a second time.—Adjourned till January 17th.
|LIST OF THE DIVISION.|
|ADEANE, Henry John||Cambridgeshire|
|ANSON, sir George||Lichfield|
|ANSON, hon. George||Yarmouth|
|ASTLEY, sir J. Dugdale, bt||Wiltshire|
|BAILLIE, John Evan||Bristol|
|BARING, sir T. B., bt.||Wycombe|
|BARING, F. T.||Portsmouth|
|BARNET, Charles J.||Maidstone|
|BAYNTUN, S. A.||York|
|BEAUMONT, Thomas W.||Northumberland|
|BENTINCK, lord George||King's Lynn|
|BLAKE, sir Francis, bt.||Berwick|
|BLUNT, sir R. Charles, bt.||Lewes|
|BOUVERIE, hon. P. P.||Downton|
|BOUVERIE, hon. Dunc. P.||New Sarum|
|BRISCOE, John I.||Surrey|
|BUCK, Lewis W.||Exeter|
|BULLER, James W.||Exeter|
|BULWER, E. L.||St. Ives|
|BULWER, Henry L.||Coventry|
|BUNBURY, sir Henry E.||Suffolk|
|BURDETT, sir F., bt.||Westminster|
|BURRELL, sir C. M., bt.||New Shoreham|
|BUXTON, Thos. Fowell||Weymouth|
|BYNG, captain||Milborne Port|
|BYNG, sir J.||Poole|
|CALCRAFT, Granby H.||Wareham|
|CARTER, J. B.||Portsmouth|
|CAVENDISH, Chas. C||Yarmouth, I. of W.|
|CAVENDISH, Henry F. C.||Derby|
|CHAYTOR, W. R. C.||Durham|
|CHICHESTER, John P. B.||Barnstaple|
|CLIVE, Edward B.||Hereford|
|COCKERELL, sir C., bt.||Evesham|
|COKE, Thomas Wm.||Norfolk|
|COLBORNE, Nich. W. R.||Horsham|
|CRAMPTON, P. C.||Milborne Port|
|CURTEIS, Herbert B.||Sussex|
|DAVIES, T. H. H.||Worcester|
|DENISON, J. E.||Nottinghamshire|
|DENISON, Wm. Joseph||Surrey|
|DENMAN, sir Thomas||Nottingham|
|DUNDAS, hon. Thomas||York|
|DUNDAS, sir R. L., bt.||Richmond|
|DUNDAS, hon. John C.||Richmond|
|EVANS, de Lacy||Rye|
|EVANS, William B.||Leominster|
|FAZAKERLEY, J. N.||Peterborough|
|FELLOWES, H. A. W.||Andover|
|FERGUSON, sir R. C.||Nottingham|
|FITZROY, C. A.||Bury St. Edmund's|
|FITZROY, lord James||Thetford|
|FOLEY, John H. H.||Droitwich|
|FOLEY, hon. Thomas H.||Worcestershire|
|FOLKES, sir W. J. H. B., bt.||Norfolk|
|GODSON, Richard||St. Alban's|
|GRAHAM, rt. hon. sir J. R. G.||Cumberland|
|GRAHAM, sir Sanford||Ludgershall|
|GRANT, rt. hon. Robert||Norwich|
|GREENE, T. G.||Lancaster|
|GROSVENOR, lord Robt.||Chester|
|GUISE, sir B. W. bt.||Gloucestershire|
|GURNEY, Richard H.||Norwich|
|HANDLEY, W. F.||Newark|
|HARCOURT, G. G. V.||Oxfordshire|
|HARVEY, Daniel W.||Colchester|
|HAWKINS, J. H.||Tavistock|
|HEATHCOTE, sir G., bt.||Rutlandshire|
|HEATHCOTE, Gilbert J.||Boston|
|HENEAGE, George F.||Lincoln|
|HOBHOUSE, sir John Cam.||Westminster|
|HODGES, Thomas L.||Kent|
|HORNE, sir W.||Newtown|
|HOWARD, Philip Henry||Carlisle|
|HUGHES, William H.||Oxford|
|INGILBY, sir W. A., bt.||Lincolnshire|
|JERNINGHAM, hon. Hen. V.||Pontefract|
|JOHNSTONE, sir J. V. B.||Yorkshire|
|KEMP, Thos. Read||Lewes|
|KING, Edward B.||Warwick|
|KNIGHT, Henry G.||Malton|
|LANGSTON, James H.||Oxford|
|LANGTON, W. Gore||Somersetshire|
|LEIGH, T. C.||Wallingford|
|LEFEVRE, Charles S.||Hampshire|
|LEMON, sir Charles||Cornwall|
|LENNARD, Thomas B.||Maldon|
|LENNOX, lord William P.||King's Lynn|
|LENNOX, lord Arthur||Chichester|
|LESTER, Benjamin Lester||Poole|
|LITTLETON, Edward John||Staffordshire|
|LUMLEY, John S.||Nottinghamshire|
|MABERLY, W. L.||Shaftesbury|
|MACAULAY, Thomas B.||Calne|
|MACDONALD, sir James, bt.||Hampshire|
|MACKINTOSH, sir J.||Knaresborough|
|MILDMAY, Paulet St. John||Winchester|
|MORETON,hon. H. F. G.||Gloucestershire|
|MOSTYN, Edward M. L.||Flintshire|
|NEWARK, lord||East Retford|
|NOEL, sir Gerard N., bt.||Rutlandshire|
|NORTON, hon. Charles F.||Guildford|
|OFFLEY, Foster C.||Chester|
|OWEN, sir John, bt.||Pembrokeshire|
|OWEN, Hugh O.||Pembroke|
|PAGET, sir Charles||Caernarvon|
|PALMER, C. F.||Reading|
|PAINE, sir Peter, bt.||Bedfordshire|
|PENDARVIS, Edw. W. W.||Cornwall|
|PENLEAZE, John S.||Southampton|
|PEPYS, C. C.||Malton|
|PETIT, Louis H.||Ripon|
|PETRE, hon. Edward R.||Ilchester|
|PHILLIPPS, sir R. P., bt.||Haverfordwest|
|PHILIPS, George Richard||Steyning|
|PHILLIPS, Charles M.||Leicestershire|
|PONSONBY, hon. J. B.||Higham Ferrars|
|POWELL, W. E.||Cardiganshire|
|POYNTZ, W. S.||Ashburton|
|PRICE, sir Robert, bt.||Herefordshire|
|ROBARTS, Abraham W.||Maidstone|
|ROBINSON, sir George, bt.||Northampton|
|ROBINSON, George R.||Worcester|
|ROOPER, John B.||Huntingdonshire|
|RUMBOLD, Charles E.||Yarmouth|
|RUSSELL, lord John||Devonshire|
|RUSSELL, Robert G.||Thirsk|
|RUSSELL, William||Durham County|
|SANFORD, E. A.||Somersetshire|
|SCOTT, sir Edward D.||Lichfield|
|SEBRIGHT, sir J. S., bt.||Hertfordshire|
|SKIPWITH, sir Gray||Warwickshire|
|SLANEY, Robert A.||Shrewsbury|
|SMITH, John Abel||Chichester|
|SMITH, hon. Robert J.||Wycombe|
|SMITH, George R.||Midhurst|
|SMITH, Martin T.||Midhurst|
|SPENCER, hon. F.||Worcestershire|
|STANHOPE, R. H.||Dover|
|STANLEY, hon. Edw. G. S.||Windsor|
|STEPHENSON, H, F.||Westbury|
|STEWART, P. M.||Lancaster|
|STUART, ld. Pat. J. H. C.||Cardiff|
|STUART, lord Dudley C.||Arundel|
|SURREY, earl of||Horsham|
|TALBOT, Christ. R. M.||Glamorganshire|
|TAVISTOCK, marquis of||Bedfordshire|
|THOMSON, rt. hon. Charles P.||Dover|
|TOWNLEY, R. G.||Cambridgeshire|
|TOWNSHEND, lord C. V. F.||Tamworth|
|TROUBRIDGE, sir E. bt.||Sandwich|
|TUFTON, hon. H.||Appleby|
|TYNTE, Chas. K. K.||Bridgewater|
|UXBRIDGE, earl of||Anglesey|
|VERE, Jas. J. Hope||Newport, I. of W.|
|VERNON, hon. George J.||Derbyshire|
|VILLIERS, T. H.||Bletchingly|
|VINCENT, sir Francis, bt.||St. Alban's|
|WARRE, John A.||Hastings|
|WATSON, hon. Richard||Canterbury|
|WELLESLEY, hon. Will. P.T. L.||Essex|
|WESTERN, Charles Callis||Essex|
|WEYLAND, major R.||Oxfordshire|
|WHITBREAD, Wm. Henry||Bedford|
|WHITMORE, Will. Wolr.||Bridgenorth|
|WILDE, Mr. Serjeant||Newark|
|WILLIAMS, William A||Monmouthshire|
|WILLIAMS, sir Jas. bt||Carmarthenshire|
|WILLIAMSON, sir Hedw.||Durham|
|WILLOUGHBY, sir H||Yarmouth, I. of W.|
|WINNINGTON, sir T. E., bt.||Droitwich|
|WRIGHTSON, W. B.||Hull|
|WROTTESLEY, sir J., bt.||Staffordshire|
|WARRENDER, sir G.||Honiton|
|ADAM, admiral||Kinross, &c.|
|AGNEW, sir Andrew, bt.||Wigtonshire|
|CAMPBELL, Walter F.||Argyleshire|
|FERGUSON, Rob. C.||Kirkcudbright|
|GRANT, rt. hon. C.||Inverness-shire|
|JEFFREY, rt. hon. F.||Forfar|
|JOHNSTONE, John J. H.||Dumfries-shire|
|MACKENZIE, J. A. S.||Ross-shire|
|STEWART, sir Mich. S. bt.||Renfrewsh.|
|BELFAST, earl of||Antrimshire|
|BELLEW, sir P.||Louthshire|
|BODKIN, John J.||Galway|
|BOYLE, hon. John||Cork|
|BROWNE, J. D.||Mayo|
|BURKE, sir John, bt.||Galwayshire|
|CLIFFORD, sir A.||Bandon Bridge|
|DOYLE, sir J. M.||Carlowshire|
|HILL, lord Arthur||Downshire|
|HILL, lord George A.||Carrickfergus|
|HORT, sir J. W., bt.||Kildare|
|HUTCHINSON, John H.||Tipperary|
|KING, hon. Robert||Corkshire|
|LAMB, hon. George||Dungarvon|
|LEADER, Nicholas P.||Kilkenny|
|MUSGRAVE, sir Richard.||Waterfordshire|
|PARNELL, sir H. B., bt.||Queen's County|
|PONSONBY, hon. George||Youghall|
|SHEIL, R. L.||Louthshire|
|WALKER, Charles A.||Wexford|
|WESTENRA, hon. H. R.||Monaghansh.|
|DUNCANNON, visc.||Kilkenny Co.|
|RICE, rt. hon. T. S.||Limerick|
|BAINBRIDGE, Edward T.||Taunton|
|BERNARD, Thomas||King's County|
|FITZ-GIBBON, hon. Rd.||Limerickshire|
|GILLON, William D.||Lanark|
|JEPHSON, C. D. O.||Mallow|
|KENNEDY, Thomas Francis||Ayr|
|A'COURT, Edw. Henry||Heytesbury|
|ALEXANDER, J. Dupré||Old Sarum|
|ANTROBUS, Gibbs Crawf.||Plympton|
|ASHLEY, hon. John.||Gatton|
|BANKES, William John||Marlborough|
|BARING, Henry B.||Callington|
|BECKETT, sir John bt.||Haslemere|
|BEST, hon. William S.||St. Michael|
|BOLDERO, H. G.||Chippenham|
|BUXTON, John Jacob||Bedwyn|
|CHANDOS, marquis of.||Buckinghamshire|
|CHOLMONDELEY, lord H.||Castle Rising|
|CLINTON, Clinton J. F.||Aldborough|
|COCKBURN, sir G.||Plymouth|
|COOKE, sir Henry F.||Orford|
|COOPER, hon. A. A.||Dorchester|
|COURTENAY, rt. hon. T. P.||Totness|
|CROKER, rt. hon. J. W.||Aldeburgh|
|CURZON, hon. Robert||Clitheroe|
|CUST, hon. Edward||Lostwithiel|
|CUST, hon. Peregrine F.||Clitheroe|
|DAWSON, rt. hon. G. R.||Harwich|
|DOURO, marquis of||Aldeburgh|
|DOWDESWELL, John Edm.||Tewkesbury|
|DRAKE, Thomas T.||Agmondesham|
|EAST, James B.||Winchester|
|LOPEZ, sir R. F., bt.||Westbury|
|MACNAMARA, William N.||Clare|
|O'FERRALL, Richard M.||Kildareshire|
|O'NEIL, hon. J. Rd. B.||Antrimshire|
|OSSORY, earl of||Kilkennyshire|
|OXMANTOWN, lord||King's County|
|PELHAM, hon. C. A. W.||Lincolnshire|
|PORTMAN, Edw. Berkeley.||Dorsetshire|
|THOMPSON, Paul B.||Wenlock|
|VERNON, hon. G. H.||East Retford|
|ESTCOURT, Thos. G. B.||Oxford Univ.|
|FANE, colonel||Lyme Regis|
|FANE, hon. Henry S.||Lyme Regis|
|FITZROY, hon. H||Great Grimsby|
|FORBES, sir Chas., bt.||Malmesbury|
|FORESTER, hon. G. C. W.||Wenlock|
|Fox, Sackville L.||Helleston|
|FREEMANTLE, sir Thos., bt.||Buckingham|
|FRESHFIELD, James W.||Penryn|
|GOULBURN, rt. hon. H.||Cambridge Univ.|
|GRAHAM, marquis of||Cambridge|
|GRANT, sir Colq.||Queenborough|
|GRIMSTONE, visct.||Newport, Cornwall|
|HARDINGE, sir H.||Newport, Cornw.|
|HERBERT, hon. Edw. C. H.||Callington|
|HERRIES, rt. hon. John C.||Harwich|
|HOPE, Henry T.||East Looe|
|HOPE, John T.||Okehampton|
|INGLIS, sir R. H. bt.||Oxford Univers.|
|JERMYN, earl||Bury St. Edmund's|
|JOLLIFFE, sir William G. H.||Pelersfield|
|JOLLIFFE, H. J||Petersfield|
|KEARSLEY, J. H.||Wigan|
|KENYON, hon. Lloyd||St. Michael|
|KERRISON, sir Edward, bt.||Eye|
|KILDERBEE, Spenser H.||Orford|
|KNIGHT, James L.||Bishop's-castle|
|LOUGHBOROUGH, lord||Great Grimsby|
|LOWTHER, John Henry||Cockermouth|
|LOWTHER, hon. Henry C.||Westmorland|
|LUTTRELL, John Fownes||Minehead|
|MACKINNON, William A.||Lymington|
|MAHON, visct.||Wootton Basset|
|MALCOLM, sir J.||Launceston|
|MILLER, W. H.||Newcastle-under-Line|
|MOUNT, William||Newport, I. of W.|
|NICHOLL, sir John||Great Bedwyn|
|PEACH, Nathaniel Will.||Truro|
|PEEL, right hon. sir Robt.||Tamworth|
|PEEL, William Yates||Cambridge Univ.|
|PELHAM, John Cresset||Shropshire|
|PHIPPS, hon. Edmund||Scarborough|
|PIGOTT, George G. W.||St. Mawes|
|PORCHESTER, lord||Wootton Basset|
|PRAED, W. M.||St. Germain's|
|ROSE, rt. hon. sir Geo. H.||Christchurch|
|ROSE, George P.||Christchurch|
|RYDER, hon. G. D.||Tiverton|
|SADLER, Michael T.||Aldborough|
|ST. PAUL, sir H.||Bridport|
|SCARLETT, sir J.||Cockermouth|
|SIBTHORP, C. D. L.||Lincoln|
|SUGDEN, sir Edward B.||St. Mawes|
|TAYLOR, George Watson||Devizes|
|THYNNE, lord John||Bath|
|THYNNE, lord Henry F.||Weobly|
|TOWNSMEND, hon. G. P.||Whitchurch|
|TRENCH, Fred. William||Cambridge|
|VAUGHAN, John E.||Wells|
|VYVYAN, sir R. R.||Okehampton|
|WALSH, sir John||Sudbury|
|WETHERELL, sir Chas.||Boroughbridge|
|WILLIAMS, Thomas Peers||Marlow|
|WORCESTER, marquis of||Manmouth|
|WORTLEY, hon. John S.||Bossiney|
|WRANGHAM, Digby C.||Sudbury|
|WYNDHAM, Wadham||New Sarum|
|YORKE, C. P.||Reigate|
|ARBUTHNOT, hon. H.||Kincardineshire|
|DALRYMPLE, sir A.||Jedburgh|
|DOUGLAS, Wm. R. K.||Dumfries, &c.|
|GORDON, hon. William||Aberdeenshire|
|GRANT, hon. Francis W.||Elginshire|
|MAITLAND, hon. Anthony.||Berwickshire|
|MURRAY, rt. hon. sir Geo.||Perthshire|
|OGILVY, hon. D.||Forfarshire|
|SCOTT, Henry F.||Roxburghshire|
|BRYDGES, sir J. W. H., bt.||Armagh|
|CLEMENTS, John M.||Leitrimshire|
|CORRY, hon. Henry T. L.||Tyroneshire|
|GORDON, James E.||Dundalk|
|RAE, sir William, bt.||Portarlington|
|CLERK, sir Geo., bt.||Edinburghshire|
|Ross, Charles||St. Germain's|
|ALEXANDER, Josias||Old Sarum|
|BATESON, sir Robert||Londonderryshire|
|BERESFORD, sir J. P. bt.||Northallerton|
|COLE, hon. Arthur H.||Enniskillen|
|DERING, sir E. C. bt.||Romney|
|DUGDALE, William S.||Bramber|
|HOPE, hon. sir Alex.||Linlithgowshire|
|KEMMIS, Thomas A.||East Looe|
|LASCELLES, hon. W. S.||Northallerton|
|LEFROY, T.||Dublin University|
|PENRUDDOCK, John H.||Wilton|
|RAMSAY, William R.||Stirlingshire|
|SEVERN, John C.||Fowey|
|SEYMOUR, Horace B.||Bodmyn|
|TREVOR, hon. Arthur||Durham|