HC Deb 30 June 1831 vol 4 cc499-501
Col. Lindsay

presented a Petition from the Corporation of Cupar, complaining of the arrangement with regard to Scotch boroughs in the late Reform Bill, and praying, that in the classification of the Scotch boroughs in the new Bill, Cupar might be united to the eastern boroughs of Fife rather than to Perth, which city contained a population of 21,000 inhabitants, and would have 561 voters, whilst the boroughs of Cupar and St. Andrew's united, would possess only 363, the consequence would be, that by this arrangement the, power of sending Members would be thrown entirely into the hands of Perth, they therefore recommended, that the city of Perth should receive a Member of its own. In this prayer he entirely concurred, for he thought that Perth, with its manufacturing and commercial importance, had a just claim to have a Representative for itself. He also thought it injudicious if not unjust, to disfranchise the eastern boroughs of Fife. His principal objection to this proceeding was, that it would be an infringement of the Articles of Union between the two countries. Probably, the Ministers thought, that in the sweeping changes they were about to make in the empire these boroughs were of little importance, but he objected to such a doc- trine on their own principles. These boroughs had a population of between 6,000 and 7,000 inhabitants; now by the English Reform Bill, boroughs, the population of which was not less than 2,000, were to send one Representative, and those with not less than 4,000 were to send two. A gross mistake prevailed with regard to the number of voters in these boroughs. According to the returns, they would appear to be only thirty-three, but by the new system of qualification proposed to be established they would really amount to 322. This was one of the numerous discrepancies with which the proposed Bill abounded. Another objection to the disfranchisement of these boroughs was, that they would be thrown into a district containing seven or eight considerable towns which would have a predominant influence in the return of Members. Thus, instead of such members being returned by the agricultural they would be returned by the manufacturing interests.

Mr. Stuart Wortley

gave notice, that in the Committee, he would enforce the claim of Perth as well as he was able. He wished to know what the Lord Advocate intended to do upon the details of the Bill?

The Lord Advocate

could not at present give any distinct promise or pledge on the subject.

Mr. Johnston

said, that it had been reported in some of the newspapers, that this district of burghs had elected a Member favourable to the Ministerial plan of Reform, solely from a fear that if they did not do so, they should be completely disfranchised. He took this opportunity of distinctly contradicting that assertion which was quite destitute of foundation. The electors were so anxious for a Reform candidate, that they actually advertised for one.

Mr. Keith Douglas

hoped, that in bringing in the Bill to-morrow, the Lord Advocate would fully explain the principle and details of the measure. Such an explanation was looked for with great anxiety in Scotland, where the subject had probably excited more attention than in any other part of the country. It was therefore particularly desirable, that a full explanation as to the classification of boroughs under the proposed open system-should be given. The Representation of Scotland up to the present time, had uniformly been close, it was therefore neces- sary, that the proposed changes should be fully explained.

Petition to be printed.

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