said, that the question before the Committee was, that Downton stand part of schedule A.
Lord J. Russell
said, that the borough of Downton was not included within the last Bill; neither did it come within the rule applicable to boroughs which did not possess a population of 2,000; because its population, according to the census of 1821, was 3,100, though, by the same authority, it appeared to possess only nine houses paying a yearly rent of 10l. The House was now in possession of later information respecting the number of 10l. houses in the borough. In answer to a question from the Home-office, the Overseers had replied, that the borough might contain about 108 houses rented at 10l. The officer who had furnished information respecting this borough, for the recent population returns, had calculated the number of 10l. houses at about 150. The number of these houses might be taken at about 100, or very little more. It then became a question, how the number of 300 electors, renting houses rated at 10l. each was to be made up. The surrounding district was composed principally of Downs; and it would be necessary to proceed to a considerable distance, in order to obtain the requisite number of constituents. It would, indeed, be impossible to complete the number without proceeding to Fordingbridge, a town which contained a considerable number of inhabitants; but, in that case, Downton would merely have a share in the election of Fordingbridge, instead of Fordingbridge having a share in the election of Downton. On the whole, therefore, Ministers had thought it best to submit to the Committee, whether Downton ought not to be wholly disfranchised. At the same time, he must fairly confess, that the disfranchisement of Downton formed no part of the original Bill; that it did not come within the line which he had laid down relative to the amount of population; and that it was certainly in the discretion of the Committee to say, whether Ministers had acted properly or not in placing it in schedule A. The same observations applied closely to the borough of St. Germain's.
§ Mr. Croker
said, that he had all along stated his opinion, that the line relative to a population of 2,000 would not be found satisfactory in all cases. The noble Lord had, on the present occasion, said something with respect to the number of electoral houses in the borough of Downton; but in the speech with which the noble Lord introduced the Bill, he said, 176 that the test of disfranchisement should be—not the number of houses, but the amount of population. By that principle he must entreat the Committee to judge of Downton. In justice to the boroughs which were to be disfranchised, and to the electors whose rights were to be confiscated, he demanded, that the severe and stringent rule which the noble Lord had himself laid down should be impartially acted upon. With respect to population, the case of Downton was so strong, that it might almost claim to be taken out of both schedules. In 1821, the population was 3,114. The noble Lord said, that the number of electoral houses in the borough at that period was only nine. On that point, he was misinformed. The number of electoral houses was then thirty-eight, which exceeded in number the houses rated at 10l. in seven of the boroughs which were contained in schedule B. Therefore, upon the noble Lord's own showing, it appeared, that the borough of Downton had a greater population than fourteen or fifteen of the preserved boroughs, and a greater number of electoral houses than seven preserved boroughs, and yet, for no reason that he knew of, the noble Lord proposed to disfranchise it. The noble Lord admitted that, at the present moment, the borough contained 100 10l. houses. If that were the case, it ought to stand very high on the list of preserved boroughs. Out of the forty-seven boroughs contained in schedule B, thirty-three had less than 150 electoral houses each. Out of the boroughs which were to be retained, eighty-four had not 300 electoral houses each; therefore, if the Bill should pass, there would exist eighty-four boroughs requiring out-voters. They would come fresh from the hands of their maker, with an imperfection in their constituency. The noble Lord said, that he would not retain Downton, because it would be necessary to proceed to a considerable distance to make up the amount of constituency; but in the case of Morpeth he was told, that the noble Lord had proceeded fifteen miles for this purpose. He had stated facts, and they appeared to him so strong, that the noble Lord was bound to give some additional explanation on the subject. The noble Lord seemed satisfied that facts were against him, and seemed to throw the matter on the discretion of the House. He would accept the noble 177 Lord's proposition, and therefore should propose, that Downton should continue as it was left by the noble Lord's first and better resolution. He should, therefore, move as an amendment, that the borough of Downton be excluded from schedule A.
Lord J. Russell
observed, that he had made the statement on which the right hon. Gentleman founded his amendment, and he said at the time, that the only difficulty was in making up the constituency. The Government had felt that difficulty; they had considered all the circumstances, which he had already stated to the House, and they had judged it fit to place the borough in schedule A. This was entirely a case of exception. There were benefits in adhering to rules, and he should certainly vote for continuing this borough in schedule A, but there was no principle of the Bill that would be infringed by moving it into the other schedule, and he was, therefore, willing to leave the matter to the discretion of the House.
§ Mr. Croker
wished to add one important fact, which he had before forgotten. It was this, that the returns laid upon the Table yesterday, showed that the population of Downton, not only had not decreased, but had actually increased, from 3,114 to 3,961.
said, he could not agree with the noble Lord, that no principle of the Bill would be infringed should the borough of Downton be removed from schedule A. In his opinion, a most important principle of the Bill would be violated, and that was the principle that rotten boroughs should be disfranchised. It was sometimes said by the opponents of the Bill, that its provisions were too sweeping; yet, the right hon. Gentleman had just now shown, with great skill and success, that there were many other boroughs which ought to be disfranchised, and altogether swept away from the list of represented places. No man could deny that this was a rotten borough; no man could deny, that the Earl of Radnor sent Members for that borough into that House. Certainly, as far as that noble Earl was concerned, there was no man to whom such a power could more safely be intrusted; but he objected to intrusting such a power to any Peer whatever; and on principle, therefore, he should support the motion to disfranchise the borough altogether. He repeated, that it was no- 178 torious the borough was a rotten borough, and that the nominal power of election resided in the inhabitants of twenty thatched cabins. It was not merely the want of a certain number of inhabitants that constituted an offence within the provisions of this Bill; but the want of numbers was an evidence that the borough was, in all probability, a nomination or rotten borough; and the object of this Bill was, to get rid of such boroughs. The case was fully made out against this borough; it was made out, on the candid statement of the noble Earl himself; and he trusted, that all sincere Reformers would rally round the Bill, and give it their support in disfranchising this borough. There could be no doubt that the borough which formed the subject of the present discussion was a rotten borough; and he, at all events, if no one else did, would take the sense of the Committee upon it. The opposers of the disfranchisement were scarcely consistent, for while they were culling for electoral districts—they were driving the country to universal suffrage.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
observed, that the hon. member for Kerry, without much knowledge of the borough, and without examining any evidence, at once condemned it to be disfranchised. The words "nomination," and "corruption," were echoed and re-echoed, without the parties who used them knowing what were nomination boroughs. If there was any principle in the Bill, they ought to bear in mind that Downton contained more than 2,000 inhabitants. The noble Lord and his friends dwelt upon numbers; but he, and those who were on his side, dwelt upon justice. Now, he would rather go out in a minority, having justice with him, than vote with the Ministerial phalanx, which seemed to set all justice and reason at defiance. He should vote for the amendment.
could take upon himself to declare, that the noble individual under whose patronage the hon. Members were returned, was perfectly ready to abide by the decision of the Committee, whatever that might be. Downton certainly did not come within the principle of the Bill, which said, that all boroughs, containing upwards of 2,000 inhabitants, should not be totally disfranchised; but the great difficulty appeared to be, to find a fit constituency; he would suggest to the noble Lord 179 the propriety of joining the borough of Downton with that of Wilton, and placing the united boroughs in schedule B. The two boroughs, thus united, might, he conceived, with much propriety, send one Member to that House.
§ Mr. Croker
denied, that he would join with the noble Lord, or with any other person to preserve a rotten borough, with a very narrow constituency. He and his friends were anxious to do just the contrary. They knew Downton was a rotten borough, and they were going to make it a free one. When Lord Radnor offered it up on the altar of his country, he, in fact, made no offering at all, for he had very little interest left in the borough. No attempt was here made to save a rotten borough, but to free it from thraldom. Where, he would ask, was the virtuous indignation of the hon. and learned member for Kerry, when he saw Aldeburgh, in Suffolk, placed at the head of the list in schedule A, while Aldborough, in Yorkshire, was taken from that list, and placed in schedule B? He had no doubt, but that the success of this amendment would make Downton as independent as Westminster. There were in that borough 3,961 inhabitants, and, surely, acting upon the principle of the Bill, it would be most unjust to disfranchise it. His gallant friend (Colonel Sibthorp), had observed, that he would, on this question, willingly go out with a minority, having justice on his side. In his opinion, his gallant friend need feel no apprehension upon that point. He thought, his gallant friend would divide with a triumphant majority, who unquestionably would have justice on their side. For his own part, he should feel very happy to go out, for once, as he thought he was likely to do, in a majority with his Majesty's Ministers.
had not agreed to let off Aldborough, in Yorkshire, for when he had spoken on the principle of the Bill, some of his observations were founded on Aldeborough; but the accusation came with a bad grace from the right hon. Gentleman, who must remember, the time was not yet come for dealing with Aldborough. They must first deal with schedule A, as they found it, and when schedule B was before them, would be the time for talking of transferring the boroughs in it to schedule A. He would support any motion for such a purpose the hon. Gentleman would make.
said, that the present case stood upon such special grounds, that if decided against the supporters of the Bill, it would still prove no disappointment to them, for no principle would be violated. It was worthy of the attention of the Committee, that in this case there were no vested rights; they were, therefore, under no necessity of dealing with it so tenderly as with other cases, for there were only seven individuals to be deprived of the franchise, and they had always voted at the beck of a noble Lord, who was now perfectly willing to resign all interest in the borough. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had said, that he desired to make Downton as free as Westminster; but, let him take care, when he came to propose that Calne be added to schedule A, he did not recommend that which would be inconsistent with his present argument. But, not to dwell further upon that topic, he should state in a word or two, the view which the supporters of the measure took of the question: they held, that Downton was in a situation different from all the other boroughs; that it contained a sufficiently large population, if numbers alone were considered, but that it did not contain enough of electoral houses, and that there could not be found in the surrounding districts a sufficient constituency; and it was really no matter of surprise that that difficulty should have been experienced in the heart of Salisbury Plain. They could not get above thirty or forty votes, even if they went into another county. What was the taxation of the place? In 1828, it was 64l. on the borough, and 116l. on the parish; in 1830, it was 72l. upon the borough, and only 110l. upon the parish. Without desiring to influence the votes of hon. Members one way or the other, by any considerations, having reference to the general principle of the measure, he wished, as the House would see, to confine himself to what bore upon the justice of the case, considering it apart from all others; and he felt fully persuaded, that enough had been said, to show that the framers of the measure were fully justified in including it in schedule A.
Sir Robert Peel
said, that the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, put the question upon the fairest possible grounds—it was strictly a judicial question, and nothing could be more satisfactory, than to see his Majesty's Ministers 181 equally divided upon a question of that nature.
denied that there was any division amongst his right hon. friends. All he said was, that if the borough were taken out of that schedule, it would still not be violating the principle of the Bill, as Downton stood upon special and peculiar grounds.
Sir Robert Peel
resumed, observing that the parties concerned resigning their interests in the borough was a matter of no importance, for the Bill went to sweep away all such interests. After noticing the number of places in Wiltshire which the Bill would disfranchise, he went on to observe, that the wider the space over which any collection of electoral houses were spread, the more perfect and complete would be the independence of the place, and thus would the objects of the Bill be more effectually fulfilled. Not, of course, that he desired to contribute to that object for itself—nothing could be further from his wish—but he only urged that consideration as calculated to procure for his view of the question the votes of those who supported the principle of the Bill. He confessed he saw no reason upon earth why the inhabitants of Salisbury Plain, not having votes for the county, should not have votes for some town, provided they occupied houses of sufficient value. It was one of the cases in which he thought the principle of the Bill could be most safely and advantageously applied. All the members for Wiltshire would surely support the amendment of his right hon. friend—all likewise would support it who feared the growing influence of the towns, and desired to preserve the agricultural interest from being unduly depressed.
§ Mr. Cutlar Ferguson
was convinced it was absolutely necessary to lay down one fixed rule, and as that had been adopted, of excepting all boroughs with more than 2,000 inhabitants, from total disfranchisement, he should vote for transferring this borough to schedule B. He believed, also, in this case, nomination would not prevail, from there being a wide-spread constituency. It was wrong for the Ministry to break through the principle of their Bill for the sake of this borough and St. Germain's. Nothing but principle could have induced Members to vote for the disfranchisement of Appleby, for that was one of the hardest cases that had come before 182 them. He should have been glad to have saved it, had it contained more than 2,000 inhabitants, as it was the county town of Westmoreland, but as they had adhered to the strict rule in the case of Appleby, they ought to do so in every other. Downton appeared a growing borough, and might contain more 10l. houses than they had heard of. The vote he should give, in favour of the borough, would be dictated by a regard to the principle of the Bill, and from no predilection for the landed interest. He wished further to remark, that it had been asserted that the 10l. franchise approached to universal suffrage, but here they had a proof to the contrary, for out of between 3,000 and 4,000 inhabitants, and 566 inhabited houses, there were only nine rated at 10l. per year.
An Hon. Member
said, he would deliver his sentiments freely, however he might be taunted as "a delegate" seated behind Ministers, and ready to obey their call. When the Minister rose and proposed any measure, he felt that he was left to his own discretion to support or to oppose it; and he would tell the right hon. Baronet opposite, that if he brought forward any motion which, in his opinion, appeared likely to benefit the country, he would give it his feeble aid. Acting independently, he for one would most decidedly vote for the Ministers on this question, because he conceived Downton to be a nomination borough.
Sir R. Peel
said, the hon. Member had entirely misunderstood him. The noble Lord had said, that voting Downton out of schedule B would not be trenching on the principle, of the Bill, and that, therefore, Ministers would not consider it a defeat if the majority was against them. He trusted also the hon. Gentleman would do him the justice to believe he never taunted any man with voting for Government.
intended to vote with Ministers in favour of the Bill as it stood, and hoped all real Reformers would be on their guard against the address with which the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had endeavoured to sow dissension among them.
Mr. Hughes Hughes
did not feel himself limited by the principle of population. All he wanted to know was, whether or not Downton was a nomination borough? and when he found that it was, and did not possess itself, or in its immediate vicinity, 183 300 voters, who could be made independent, he scrupled not to say, it ought to be disfranchised. It was not easy to reconcile Appleby with the rules laid down, but he had no difficulty in deciding in that case, because that place was notoriously a nomination borough. He called upon all real Reformers to remember, that it appeared that nine houses only possessed the franchise in the borough of Downton. Were they, then, to continue the right of sending Members to Parliament, to a place thus situated, instead of extending it to some wealthy and populous, but unrepresented town? This was evidently a nomination borough, and ought to be disfranchised.
§ Mr. Hunt
said, he knew something of this borough, and he could safely say, that it was as rotten a borough as any in schedule A. As to throwing it open and extending its franchise, he was quite convinced that they could not get 300 10l. householders, without going a great number of miles; unless, indeed, they pleased to give the franchise to the sheep-cotes in the neighbourhood. The nearest place where voters could be found was Fording-bridge, but that was in another county. Hon. Gentlemen said, they wanted nothing but strict justice, but was it just, that Downton, with nine 10l. houses, should send two Members to Parliament, while Christ Church, Surrey, in which he lived, had 1,400 such houses, without returning any Member at all. They had been called on to unite Wilton and Downton. In that case, Lord Pembroke and Lord Radnor might toss up for the privilege of nomination, or they might agree to assume that privilege turn about. He should vote for the disfranchisement of the borough.
Mr. Henry Lytton Bulwer
approved of the principle laid down by Ministers of preserving one Member to all boroughs whose population exceeded 2,000 inhabitants, and Downton having upwards of the required number, he should vote for the amendment, for a departure from a line so wisely drawn, would tend to dissolve a measure which ought to have all the principles of stability about it. He thought Downton ought to be included in schedule B.
§ Mr. Benett
observed, that though Downton was now a nomination borough, it would cease to be so if placed in schedule B. No influence could then be exercised with respect to that borough, be- 184 yond that fair influence which property always must command. Many mistakes appeared to be made with respect to the localities of the borough. It had been spoken of as being in the midst of Salisbury Plain, but he assured the Committee no part of that Plain came within eight or nine miles of Downton. It had been spoken of as situated in an uninhabited wilderness, but the neighbourhood of Downton was populously inhabited, and was as well cultivated as the open parts of Wiltshire. There were populous villages about it containing an agricultural population of sufficient wealth and respectability to furnish a constituency without going in to Hampshire. The borough contained 3,113 inhabitants in 1821; he therefore trusted that justice would be done to Downton, and that it would be removed from schedule A, consistently with the principle of the Bill. They would not have occasion to go beyond six or seven miles from the limits of the borough to make up an adequate constituency, and that being the case, he could not see on what principle of justice they were called on to disfranchise it. He should, therefore, vote for the amendment. He did not act thus because Downton was situated in the county he represented, for he should vote in the same manner if it was in any other county; and he believed the influence of the noble Lord who had been alluded to, would entirely cease in the borough if the agricultural population of the neighbourhood was let in. He begged leave to add, that he considered the general operation of the Bill in the Representation of the county of Wiltshire would be most beneficial. That county had returned thirty-four Members, and of these only eight were persons having any connexion with the county. By the operation of this Bill, the county would return sixteen Members, and he hoped all these would be elected by the free choice of the people of Wiltshire.
§ The Committee divided, when there appeared—Ayes (for the original question) 274; Noes 244—Majority 30.
§ Downton was accordingly placed in schedule A.
§ The next question was, "That the borough of Dunwich stand part of the Clause."
§ Sir J. Brydges
congratulated the House on the division that had just taken place. It was honourable to them, and showed that a large proportion of the Members 185 were not willing hastily to sacrifice without remorse that Constitution which had been many years the envy and admiration of surrounding nations, the division proved there were Members who voted honestly and without considering from what part of the House a proposition came.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ The next question was, "That the borough of Eye stand part of schedule A."
Sir Edward Kerrison
expressed a hope that the House would bear with him whilst he said a few words in his defence, as he might fairly consider himself to be put upon his trial by the question now put from the Chair. He considered, that every Member who represented one of those boroughs which had been called rotten, would not perform his duty if he did not use his best endeavours to rescue his constituents from unjust imputations. It was for this purpose he now addressed them, and he begged leave to assure the House, that, although he had been three several times returned for the borough of Eye he had never given to any man one shilling for his vote, nor had he ever received from any man one shilling for his interest. He would say only one word as to the population, which now amounted to 2,213, as might be seen by returns which had been laid before the House. He was sure there must have been some mistake in the returns of 1821, which made the population at that time amount only to 1,824 persons, or else the population of that place must have decreased 140 between the years 1811 and 1821; and between the years 1821, and 1831, it must, have increased by 389. This showed some error, and where there was reason for doubt, it was the bounden duty of the House not to disfranchise the borough without correctly ascertaining the fact. With regard to the principle of the measure, he had from its introduction given it his most decided opposition, and his vote was as independent as that of any Member of the House. He had opposed the measure from duty to his constituents and regard to the welfare of his country, and from a conscientious opinion, that the measure was inimical to the Constitution. He feared if the Bill passed, that the country would be thrown into confusion, and he had no doubt that the people would be anxious for its repeal. He would not then enter further into the question, but only say, that he could not assent to the Motion.
§ Mr. Burge
was surprised, that the Committee should decide upon the merits of the question, without any evidence before them of the actual population of the borough. They were depriving individuals of their dearest rights on most unfounded presumptions. He begged to express his own and his constituents' decided opposition to the measure. He was aware, that it would be said, He had interested motives to oppose the Bill, as it would deprive him of his seat, by disfranchising the borough which he represented. He did not give such hon. Gentlemen as supposed him to entertain interested motives in performing his public duty, much credit for charity or justice. He must repel in the strongest possible language, the opinion that he was the Representative of a rotten borough. The persons whom he represented enjoyed their franchise under a very ancient charter; he had been long a resident amongst them, and they had returned him honestly. The only species of influence used was the good feeling which generally subsisted between a resident landlord and his tenantry. He felt no shame in acknowledging, that he owed his return to that source, and would repel the charge of rottenness which had been attempted to be fixed on the borough.
said, they had a striking exemplification of the blessings of the Constitution as it stood at present, by what had fallen from the hon. Baronet (Sir Edward Kerrison) Here was an instance of a man who had for a long series of years fought the battles of his country, and shed his blood in its defence, and as a reward for his hard services, in his later days sent into the House as a legislator. If this measure passed, such honourable rewards would be for ever stopped.
§ Sir C. Wetherell
remarked upon the eagerness with which the borough was condemned by Gentlemen who confounded "Aye" with "Eye," immediately when the borough was named. [No, no] He was sure he heard it. An objection had been made to the returns of 1831, on the ground that they might have been made up with a view to this Bill, and were, therefore, liable to the suspicion of unfairness. Now that was an objection which he by no means undervalued. But it was at the same time clear, as the returns of 1821 were not made up with any object so important, that there was some chance, nay, a high probability, that they were in 187 many cases inaccurate, and he was confirmed in that opinion, when he saw, that this borough was shown by the returns of 1831 to have 213 inhabitants beyond the fortunate number of 2,000, and that in 1821 its population was said to be 116 below that number.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ The next question was, "that the borough of Fowey stand part of schedule A."
§ Sir J. Brydges rose to move, that the Chairman should report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
would ask Gentlemen, whether they thought, that they were, as Representatives of the people, doing justice to their constituents, by refusing to sit longer than three hours upon the consideration of a question which had made so little way, and upon which the minds of the people were so intent.
§ Sir J. Brydges
could not alter his opinion in consequence of what had been said by the noble Lord. As to the house having sat only three hours, he had been present since three o'clock, and thought it now time to adjourn. They must do justice to themselves as well as the public.
Sir R. Peel
did not think, that the hour had arrived at which the Committee ought to be called on to adjourn. If the hon. Baronet, therefore, should think proper to take the sense of the Committee at that moment, he (Sir R. Peel) should feel bound to Vote against him. He could see no reason why they should not go on, until they should come to a borough upon which a question might arise involving some principle distinct from those already decided.
§ Sir J. Brydges
said, that as the opinion of the House seemed to be, that they should go on with the Committee, he would not persevere in his motion.
§ Lord Brudenell
said, that the borough of Fowey was situated in two parishes, immediately adjoining each other, the one called Fowey, the other Lancanloss. In 1821, the population of the two parishes amounted to 2,400 persons, and the voters exceeded 300. Now, his Majesty's Ministers had laid down the rule, that where a borough contained more than 2,000 inhabitants, having at the same time more than 300 voters, its franchise should not be interfered with. He was, therefore, utterly at a loss to conceive why this borough was to be disfranchised. If they had determined to act fairly, they would 188 take into their consideration the case of this borough. He had no hopes in the consideration of Ministers, as they were themselves bound together with their bound and pledged majority. This was proved by the worthy Alderman (Mr. Alderman Thompson) having been called to account by his constituents, and, if they believed what had been stated by the public Press, he had been compelled to apologize. As a further recommendation of Fowey, he would observe, that it had of late much increased in commerce, wealth, and prosperity. If such was proved to be the case, as he had no doubt it could be, Ministers were by no means justified in disfranchising the borough.
read several statements, to show, that the commerce and population of Fowey had of late years much increased, and were increasing. By reference to a memorial forwarded to the noble Lord at the head of the Home Department, it would be seen, that the voters of Fowey exceeded 300, the dwelling houses were 310; that the commercial revenue of the port had increased to a considerable extent, as he would prove. In the year 1819, the receipts amounted to 2,525l.; in 1829 to 12,155l.; The sum was paid on coasting tonnage inwards in 1819, 11,872l.; in 1829, 31,246l.; on coasting tonnage outwards, in 1819, 16,306l.; in 1829, 51,065l.; on import tonnage in 1809, 467l.; in 1829, 4,340l.; on outward tonnage, in 1809, 736l.; in 1829, 3,703l. the copper-ore exported amounted, in 1809, to 283 tons,; in 1829, 27,446 tons. The quantity of china clay exported was, in 1809, 3,093 tons; in 1829, 15,517 tons. He had mentioned these facts to shew, that his Majesty's Ministers did not practise what they preached, in considering increasing commercial prospects in their measure for disfranchising boroughs. The voters had also increased in the borough equally with its commerce. In 1809 there were but 100, in 1829 they had multiplied to 300; he, therefore, trusted that these facts would be fully considered by the House.
Lord John Russell
said, after the decision of the House respecting Appleby, he could not understand how the question of admitting adjoining parishes to a borough, to entitle it to continue its Representation, could be again raised. The point had been clearly decided. They had taken, as the basis of those schedules, 189 the population of 1821, and having adopted the rule, that boroughs having less than 2,000 inhabitants should be disfranchised, it was impossible to make Fowey an exception.
§ Mr. Croker
must complain of the noble Lord quoting Appleby against them on every occasion. When they were discussing the merits of schedule A, instead of quoting Appleby, he should take the case of Truro, and point out how that was differently situated from the place now under consideration. Why were parishes added to Truro, to entitle it to be represented, and a similar indulgence withheld from Fowey?
§ Sir C. Wetherell
objected to disfranchising Fowey, because it was a trading port. He could not believe, that Calne merited more from the House than Fowey. Its population exceeded 2,325 individuals, and its exports and imports were very considerable. Was it a more inconsiderable place than Tavistock? He did not believe it was to be disfranchised on account of its being a nomination or rotten borough. They were told, that the two parishes were divided by a river, and the population, so cut off, was not considered as belonging to the place. Fowey was therefore treated unlike any other borough. It was a place of commerce—the shipping it employed, and the customs it paid, were of considerable importance; and yet it was to lose its privileges, because a river ran through the place, part of the borough being on one side, and part on the other. It was an absurd and arbitrary rule, that on account of the ecclesiastical division of a place, it was to lose its right of returning Members to Parliament. He understood the principle laid down to be, that unless the ecclesiastical boundary and the place itself were co-extensive, it was to lose this privilege. The case of Fowey was stronger than Appleby, because they were disfranchising a thriving and commercial town, and depriving it of its Representatives, on the ridiculous pretence that part of its population was on another side of the river, and in a distinct parish.
Mr. Davies Gilbert
said, he possessed some local knowledge of Truro, which borough, it was alleged, was under similar circumstances with the one now under consideration. Such was not the case—Truro alone contained a population amply sufficient to entitle it to be represented, according to the principle laid 190 down. Truro stood in a peninsula—in a small parish called St. Mary, but it had extended itself into the adjacent parishes of Kenwyn and St. Clement's on either side. Each of these suburbs equalled the ancient town, and the whole was now completely blended together, and formed one place, and was subjected to the jurisdiction of the Corporation Magistrates by an Act of Parliament, passed forty years since. The situation of Fowey was quite different—it occupied one bank of a wide and deep river, in a parish of the same name, and with a population short of the prescribed number—on the opposite side of the fiver stood Tolmar, a small village in the parish of Forteglass. This village participated with Fowey in the elective franchise, and must be added to that town and parish: but agreeable to the determination of the Committee in former instances, the population of Forteglass, beyond the limits of Tolmar, could not be taken in aid, and without that aid the town and parish of Fowey and Tolmar could not produce the prescribed number of inhabitants. The cases of Fowey and Truro, therefore, were, not similar—but he wished, notwithstanding, that a Representative should be bestowed on the town of Fowey.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
protested against the rule which Ministers laid down for their guidance in disfranchising those boroughs, and said, that when they came to schedule B, he should take the sense of the House on the rule, and advocate the interests of another borough, which contained a population exceeding 4,000, but which was situated in several parishes, and, therefore, would be excluded from Representation, because it was not all in one parish. This was legislating upon names, and not upon things.
said, that the Ministers had included the parish of St. Michael's in Malton, and had excluded the parish of St. Michael's from Appleby. He was, therefore, happy to hear that the hon. and learned member for Boroughbridge intended again to bring the case of the latter before the House. They had acted inconsistently with Fowey; the electors on the opposite side of the river had been excluded, whilst, by this very Bill, in other instances, the contrary had been the case. They had added to the number of electors, instead of taking away a portion of them.
§ Mr. Praed
said, so much had been proved as to the situation of Fowey, that 191 if the hon. Members for that place conceived they had grounds for taking the sense of the House, he would most certainly support them, that the circumstances might be fully inquired into. The noble Lord had yesterday admitted to him, that if a borough could be found whose population in 1821 was above 2,000, and had since diminished to below that number, he would consider it a fair case for disfranchisement, and if decrease of population was to have that effect, surely increase ought to have the contrary. There was this remarkable difference between Fowey, which Ministers proposed to wholly disfranchise, and Calne, which they permitted to retain its Representatives—that the former was admitted on all hands to be daily increasing in commercial importance, while the latter was stated in the population returns to be, for the last twenty years, decaying in its manufactures and trade.
An Hon. Member
begged leave to remark, that they had added a town to the city of Rochester, which could have no connexion whatever with it.
§ Mr. Croker
said, he wished to ask the noble Lord a question relating to Truro. That town was situated in the parish of St. Mary Overy, which did not contain a sufficient population to entitle it to Representation. Part of the town, however, overflowed into two other parishes, by including which the population was so far increased, that the town was to retain its full Representation by two Members. It was not stated in the Returns what the separate population of each of these parishes was, but because the town stretched into both, the population of the two parishes was added to the town of Truro, and the consequence was, that Truro had been taken out of both schedules, and was to continue to return two Members, while Fowey was to be disfranchised, though the parishes which ought to be included were actually and truly a part of the borough. He wished his hon. friend would state where he was to find an account of that part of the population of Truro which was contained in any one of the parishes; because, if he could, then it would be necessary to specify that part of the population of Fowey which laid on opposite sides of the river. In the case of Truro, the parish was added, while in Fowey it was excluded.
Mr. Davies Gilbert
had acquired his in- 192 formation relating to Truro, from his long acquaintance with the town, and the fact was, the three divisions of the town added together, contained a sufficient population to entitle it to return Members, without, taking into consideration the extraneous population of the parishes. The hamlet on the opposite side of the river on which Fowey stood, did not contain 100 inhabitants. He had simply stated these facts, and would repeat, that he wished Fowey to retain a representative.
Lord J. Russell
said, he would merely observe, that it was difficult in many cases to divide the borough and parish, therefore they had taken them, in such cases, together, and allowed the borough to have the benefit of the augmentation. But in other cases it happened, that the borough extended into several parishes. It would then be an abuse, where a borough had one or two acres of land in four or five parishes, that they should add the whole of the population of those parishes to the borough. But their principle was, in this case, if the town itself contained more than 2,000 inhabitants, then it was not to be disfranchised. That was the case with Truro; the parishes were not added, but the most respectable testimony that proved the town itself contained upwards of 4,000 inhabitants; it was, therefore a fair case of exception, and this rule which Ministers had laid down could not, admit of an exception in the case of Fowey, the population of which was but 1,400,and, with the addition of the hamlet on the other side of the water, did not make up the prescribed number of 2,000. He regretted this on account of the trade and commerce of the place; but it bore no resemblance to Truro.
§ Mr. Attwood
said, that he had understood the noble Lord to say, that where a borough extended into several parishes, such parishes were not included. He allowed that in Fowey there was a small hamlet. Now, that was an essential part, of the borough. It had not been asserted, that Fowey was a nomination borough; it could not, therefore, be destroyed on that account; this was important, for Malton was a nomination borough. Fowey was situated in two parishes, but took its name from one; and it was excluded, because the name did not extend into the other parish. If this rule, was applied here, it ought also to be applied to all other cases.
§ Mr. Croker
said, his hon. friend (Mr. 193 Davies Gilbert) was supporting his arguments by a personal view of the case, instead of confining himself to the papers before the House. He further wished to observe, that the parish adjacent to Fowey was not very extensive, for it contained but 972 inhabitants, and it was considered as attached to Fowey, because, in the population returns, the words "by Fowey" were added. It bore a close resemblance to the case of Truro, and he would, therefore, reserve to himself the opportunity of bringing the case again forward.
§ The question "that the borough of Fowey stand part of schedule A" was then put and carried.
§ On the question "that the borough of Gatton stand part of schedule A,"
§ Mr. H. I. Hope
said, from what had already passed, it would be useless for him to stand forward as the champion of the borough of Gatton; but it having been long the object of his ambition and wishes to represent that place in Parliament, he could not refrain from expressing his great regret at its disfranchisement, and his earnest hope, that, under the new Constitution which was to be bestowed upon them, the country might enjoy as much happiness and prosperity as it had experienced under the old system, when Gatton and Old Sarum were in existence.
An Hon. Member
thought Gatton stood in a respectable situation; and he must express his surprise, that Ministers should think themselves competent to unravel in a few months, the mysteries of that Constitution which had puzzled the heads of the wisest and greatest statesmen; and their principle was most unconstitutional.
§ The motion agreed to.
§ It was next agreed, that Haslemere should stand part of schedule A; after which, the House resumed—to sit again the next day.