said, that as the present was his first opportunity of speaking upon the question of Reform, he hoped he might be allowed to state his opinion of he general measure, and as in what he 1213 had to say he should abstain from any argument already urged in the debate, he trusted it might be considered a claim to the indulgence of the House, and an earnest that he would trespass as shortly on its time as the deep importance of the question would allow him. He had ever held the same opinion of the absolute necessity of Reform, and to the full extent of the present measure, and could not express it more strongly than in the few words of the late Mr. Pitt, which he begged to quote as the text of his argument to support it:—'Without a Parliamentary Reform the nation will be plunged into new wars; without, a Parliamentary Reform you cannot be safe against bad Ministers, nor can good ones be of use to you. No honest man can, under the present system, continue Minister.' Such were the words of the late Mr. Pitt, before he came into office, and although the present state of the country was solely to be ascribed to the continuance and enormous increase of the abuses of the system under his Administration, the hon. Member firmly believed that Mr. Pitt when Minister, would have adopted Reform but for the causes which prevented it, and compelled him to abandon the attempt. The same excuse was to be made for each succeeding Government; and although he had ever opposed the system, and must have continued to do it under whatever Ministers, it was but the truth to say, that hitherto no Ministry could have carried the question of Reform; for the reason that, whatever the feeling of the Crown or the Aristocracy, the general feeling of the people was against it; but now that their eyes had at last opened to the necessity of the measure, and the public voice had called so loudly for it, the commencement of the present reign, with other fortunate events combining in its favour, had been the golden opportunity for any Government to have carried it. In the first place, what more fortunate than his Majesty's accession to the Throne at so critical a moment, being just in the nick of time to win the hearts of the people by that endearing conduct which, however natural in itself, was so unlike all precedent, that if it had happened to follow and not precede the great event at Paris, would have destroyed all its charm and all the good arising from it, in that, reciprocal attachment and sympathy of feeling between the Crown and people, 1214 the best security for the interests of both? Secondly, the glorious Revolution at Paris, which not only had done immortal honour to the moral character of the French people, but the greatest service to the present, question, by at once removing those fears which had been so long and deeply impressed in the minds of all classes in this country as to the danger of Reform, looking to the example of the former French Revolution. Thirdly, another Revolution in Belgium, not being (as in France) the immediate consequence of an act of tyranny without example, but arising out of the deep resentment of the people at the oppression of their government, which the example of Paris had occasioned to burst forth not only in Belgium, but more or less throughout the Continent; and lastly, the situation of the Holy Alliance, who, in spite of their treaties, and the sum of 2,000,000l., thrown away by this country at the peace on fortresses to maintain them, were unable to combine against France or Belgium, having more than enough upon their hands at home. For all those reasons, the opening of the late Parliament by the King's Speech had been the golden opportunity for any Minister to declare the intention of Reform, and, above all, the individual to whom the country owed the deepest obligation for the adoption of that previous measure of the same moral and political character, but of far greater difficulty—Catholic Emancipation; and it was in the firm belief that the same necessity which had determined the late Minister upon the Catholic Question, would equally have induced that Minister to have carried Reform, which had led him to look with satisfaction to his continuance in office as the surest means of obtaining it, inasmuch as he would have had, not only the Crown and people, with all the strength of Government, on his side, but the same zealous and disinterested support of the Whigs which they had given him on the Catholic Question, and which would have enabled him to carry Reform in the same triumphant manner. But, however mistaken in such belief, he hoped it was all for the best that the cause of Reform was not in the hands of those who, in carrying the Catholic Question, declared it to be against their political feelings, and solely from the necessity of the case; but of that party who had ever been the friends of civil and 1215 religious liberty, and to whose eloquence and labour in the cause of both, the public were mainly indebted for every liberal measure adopted hitherto by Government. It was, therefore, under all these circumstances, looking to the state of parties in that House, and to all which had been said, both in and out of it against the present Ministers, that he had risen as an old, warm, but still independent friend, not only to defend their Bill, but also their motives in accepting office for that glorious purpose, against the heavy but unfounded charges of their opponents. To this effect he would very shortly state the grounds on which he made the following declaration in the face of the present House of Commons and the country. From the time he first came into Parliament, twenty-three years since, there had been no question before it involving the dignity of the Crown, the honour of Parliament, or the interests of the people, wherein his hon. friends, the Whigs, had not strictly done their duty; whilst all that had tended to degrade the Crown and Parliament in the eyes of the people, and to bring the country to its present state, had been solely the acts of their opponents. In making this declaration he would only trouble the House with two cases in support of it, the subjects of which were of a painful nature, but so deeply important to the question, that he rested his whole argument of the necessity of the Reform Bill entirely upon them. The first took place in the Session of 1809, being the memorable inquiry into the conduct of the Duke of York as Commander-in-chief, upon which important question he must just observe, that this case was in itself the strongest example of the want of Reform, because it could not have happened under a Reformed Parliament, for in a Reformed Parliament no Minister would have advised that unconstitutional act of the Crown, in the appointment of one of its own branches to the command of the army; whilst under the existing system he could not oppose it; and thus it had been to the present time, that, for want of a real Representation of the people in Parliament, to enable an honest Minister to do his duty as the constitutional adviser of the Crown, he had only held his office at the joint will of the Crown and the Aristocracy, commanding the majority in that House; and he did not hesitate in saying, it was to this abandonment of the prin- 1216 ciples of the Constitution, by destroying the balance of its parts, that the whole public debt of the country was solely to be ascribed. In proof of it he would refer to the speeches of the late Lord Chatham, and of Mr. Pitt, whose words he had quoted; and in repeating them, where he says "Without Reform the nation will be plunged into new wars," he would ask the Ministers who wrote, and all who had read the King's Speech at the opening of the late Parliament, if any thing could have prevented war but public opinion against it? With respect to the whole proceedings of the inquiry to which he had alluded, which did more to degrade the Crown and the House of Commons in the eyes of the people than all the previous questions in Parliament, he would assert, that the conduct of the Whigs, in their painful situation betwixt the Crown and the people, was in strict accordance with their duty; whilst the Ministers of that day, to support the system or to keep their places, sacrificed the honour of the House of Commons to the personal feelings of the Crown, first, by making themselves parties in the cause wherein they sat as judges; and, lastly, when the truth came out, in prevailing on the House to deny it, in the face of evidence which spoke for itself to the minds of the whole country; and thus, in setting public opinion at defiance, they raised a feeling of indignation throughout the kingdom, which nothing but the retirement of the Duke from office could have removed. And here, to prove what was of more importance to the question of Reform than the character of the Ministers, viz. the character of the people, in their firm attachment to the Crown, and to shew that all the excitement of the public mind on that occasion was solely against the Ministers and House of Commons, and not the Crown in the person of the Duke of York, he must mention the extraordinary fact of the re-appointment of the Duke to office, without any expression of public feeling against it, the reason being, that the people having carried the question of truth against the Ministers and House of Commons, by the retirement of the Duke, their resentment subsided with the removal of the cause; and thus the reaction of public feeling took place, the Duke having ever been popular with all classes, from the proverbial kindness of his disposition, and the openness, sincerity, 1217 and manliness of his character; and considering how much he had suffered more than his conduct merited, the people, who did not understand the constitutional question of his appointment, were glad to see him back in office, as the only means of removing his disgrace. But for the country's sake, would that the public mind, that was now enlightened upon the subject, had been as well informed at that period, or rather at the time of the Duke's first appointment to the command of the army in Flanders, at the commencement of the war of the Allies against France; because the same public opinion which, in spite of the Ministers and the whitewashing vote of the House of Commons, drove the Duke from office, might have prevented that unfortunate appointment in the first instance, which, looking to all the political and constitutional mischief that necessarily grew out of it, he considered as one of the main causes of the present distress of the country. And now, in conclusion of this case, he must mention an instance of public virtue in the Whig Aristocracy of that House, which, in his opinion, was without a parallel in the parliamentary history of the country, namely, the conduct and speeches of the two noble Lords the Mover (Lord Milton) and Seconder (Lord Althorp) of the motion of censure against Ministers in the Session of 1811, for advising the Crown to the re-appointment of the Duke to office, wherein, looking on one hand to the trying situation in which their own elevated rank must have placed those noble Lords with respect to the Crown, and on the other to the unpopularity of their motion, both in the House and country, for the reasons he had stated, he had ever considered their conduct on that question to have established their character as the firmest and most uncompromising defenders in that House of the Constitution and the real liberties of the people; and in saying it he must add, that if he had had no other grounds for his confidence in the present Government, it would have been sufficient for him, the fact of the Chancellor of the Exchequer being one of the truly noble Lords of whom he had been speaking, the other noble Lord being, happily for Reform, and singularly under all circumstances, his colleague in the Representation of Northamptonshire. The last case was that of the equally memorable proceedings against the late Queen, 1218 wherein, upon all the important questions in the House of Commons, the conduct of the Whigs was dictated by the same constitutional feelings as in the case of the Duke of York; whilst for the other House it were unnecessary to say how much the country and the late Queen had been indebted to the powerful eloquence and support of the same party for the abandonment of that most dangerous of measures for the character of Parliament, and the honour, interest, and even safety of the Crown, the Bill of Pains and Penalties. And here, in answer to the heavy but utterly unfounded charge which in both these cases was brought against the Whigs, and which had been renewed on every occasion of their defending the cause of the people, by accusing them, as at the present moment, of endangering the safety of the Crown for the mere sake of office, he would appeal to candour and common sense, whether the noble Lord at the head of the present Government, who had distinguished himself above all others (at least of the order he belonged to) as the powerful defender of the late Queen, was it possible that the said noble Lord or others of the same place, or the present Lord Chancellor, the present Attorney General, or any of the Whig party who had stood forward as the defenders of the Queen, could, in so doing, have entertained a hope of office, not merely at the time, but during the lives of the late King, the late Duke of York, or the next in succession to the Crown? But, happily for the country, their honesty had been their best policy, and the more fortunate at the present moment, in the proof it had given to the people of the heart and head of that individual whose name he need not mention. And here, to return once more to the people, who in this case, as in the Duke of York's, were accused of disaffection to the Crown, he must beg the attention of the House, not only to the total want of truth in these charges, both against the Whigs and the people, but to the proof of their being the sole invention of the Tories, to support their system, and to prevent then, as they wished to prevent still, the only remedy for all our evils, a measure of Reform; for having proved that the Whig Aristocracy, whose own existence as an order depended on the Crown, might as well have been charged with the intention of destroying it as of getting into office by opposing it in the case of the Queen, so 1219 he would equally prove, that the people might as well have been accused of the desire of office as of disaffection to the Crown. But before he produced an evidence, so fortunate for their cause, that if he were one of those who ascribed chance to Providence, when it happened to their wish, it would tempt him to believe that Providence in this case had lent her hand. He would first ask why the people in the case of the Queen were not to be actuated by the same feelings as the Whigs, and to express the same indignation at the conduct of the Government, without being accused of that disaffection to the Crown, which, of all charges, was the most unfounded and inconsistent with the national character? And now, to set the question at rest, he would produce his evidence of their loyalty, not merely from the ranks of their accusers, but out of the mouth of the present leader of the Ultra-Tory party, being the unanswered and unanswerable speech of the hon. member for Boroughbridge against the Tory Ministers in the Session of 1821, upon the memorable question relative to the omission of the Queen's name in the Liturgy, at which time the learned Gentleman was the new and aspiring member for Oxford, being then in the prime of life, with his lungs in their full strength, and not in the dying state he had lately declared himself; and hon. Members who had only witnessed the last efforts of his eloquence might form some idea of its former character when assured that all the pelting of the storms of his abuse against the present Whigs had been like the dropping of "the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath," compared with his bitter reproaches of the Tories of that day, for what he had called their unconstitutional, illegal, radical, and revolutionary proceedings against the Queen, concluding one of the best speeches ever delivered in that House with declaring, if the Bill of Pains and Penalties had been brought down from the Lords, that he, the learned Gentleman, would have moved, as an amendment, to entitle it, "A Bill to deprive her Majesty of her just rights and privileges as Queen Consort of the Realms." And yet "within a month, or ere those shoes were old" in which he had so nobly defended her late Majesty, he walked over to the same Tory Ministry, and took his seat as Solicitor-General. The hon. Member hoped he had thus proved that the conduct of the people in 1220 the case of the Queen was dictated solely by the honesty of their hearts, and that sense of justice which led them to defend her cause with the same zeal which Ministers had betrayed against it, and to shew her all the respect in their power to console her for the treatment she had received. And here, in conclusion of this last case, he had been strongly reminded of it in the contrast betwixt the present people and those of former times, by the speech of his hon. friend, the member for Aldborough, who began his attacks upon the Bill in Committee with a comparison betwixt his own humble talent and that of preceding speakers in the debate, taken from a speech in the Play of Richard the Second which after describing the flattering reception of the usurper Bolingbroke upon his entry into London, with Richard a prisoner at his heels, proceeded to state how the citizens treated their unfortunate King; and if the House would allow him to add a quotation to the many which had been given in the debate, he would repeat, the passage which his right hon. friend had called to his recollection:—As in a Theatre the eyes of men,After a well-graced actor leaves the stage,Are idly bent on him that enters next,Thinking his prattle to be tedious;Even so, or with much more contempt, men's eyesDid scowl on Richard; no man cried God save him!No joyful tongue gave him his welcome home;But dust was thrown upon his sacred head;Which with such gentle, sorrow he shook off,His face still combating with tears and smiles,The badges of his grief and patience,That had not God for some strong purpose steeledThe hearts of men, they must perforce have melted,And barbarism itself have pitied him.Such was the reception of the unhappy Richard by the citizens of those days when unkinged by Bolingbroke; but he thanked God that the present citizens took a warmer interest in behalf of the Queen so unjustly and illegally degraded by the Ministers: and, whatever their opinion, the feelings of the people did honour to their hearts, and the worst misfortune that could happen to the Crown would be the want of them. He had thus endeavoured to do justice to the present Ministry and the people; he hoped also to have shown that the distressed state of the country was solely to be ascribed to that system which the late Mr. Pitt, with the best intentions on coming into office, was unable to control; for it was but justice to his character to state the fact to those who might not know it, that Mr. Pitt, as Minister, had arranged and would 1221 have effected that great measure of Reform, the abolition of tithes, but for the breaking out of the French Revolution, which unfortunate event defeated his intention, and compelled him to enter into the war with France, in spite of his endeavours to avoid it. And thus Reform was of necessity abandoned; for war was the steam-engine that multiplied the power of the system, and all its expense and patronage the fuel which supplied it, whilst the loans that were raised for its support, being expended in the country, increased its trade and commerce, and by giving full employment to the people, enabled them to bear the taxes to pay the interest of the debt. Thus all went smoothly for a time, and thus corruption, "as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on," continued to spread, until the whole nation became so identified with the abuses of the system, and the enormous expenditure of the Government that no Ministry could stop it; and thus the evil was left to cure itself, as it had done at last, for the want of the means to prolong it, insomuch that, it was only the general distress of the people, and their utter inability to bear longer the burthen of taxation, which, in opening their eyes at last to the necessity of Reform, had roused and combined their efforts to obtain it. And here he must tell the right hon. Baronet, in answer to all his speeches and solemn warnings of the consequences of the present measure, that it was this conduct of the people, the happy change of Ministry, and, above all, the unexampled firmness and wisdom of the Crown, which had saved the country from the calamity which the continuance of himself and colleagues in office must inevitably have produced; for if they believed in all they had said of the danger to the Crown and House of Peers from the present Bill, what must it really have been if the Crown and present Ministers instead of gaining by their conduct the hearts and affections of the people, had opposed their will and power. He had shown in both the cases he had quoted, that as to the question of Reform the people had always the power and they had at last brought, it into action. Public opinion, and the weight of the people in the scale of the Constitution, had, in spite of abuses, and in spite of all the imposture of the present Representation, effected the measure of Reform. He had proved that twenty years 1222 since, public opinion removed the Duke of York from office; and it had stopped the proceedings against the Queen. And, lastly, what but public opinion and his own declaration against it removed the late Minister? And if the public mind had been as enlightened forty years since, and had spoken out then as it had done now, he sincerely believed, without joining in the praise or censure of the late Mr. Pitt, that as Minister, with the people at his back, he would have carried the question of Reform, and thus, by controlling the power of the Aristocracy in that House, would have prevented all the increase of the public debt, and have spared England and France all the misery which the unnatural war betwixt them, as regarded the interests of the people, had produced; but as the excess of evil produced good, so both nations had become the wiser and the better for their misfortunes. And, looking to the glorious example of France, he rejoiced that England had been actuated by the same spirit, because he was convinced, that all the people asked was justice, and that, with the knowledge of their power, they were too enlightened, and knew their real interests too well, to abuse it. And here he begged to make an observation relative to the attacks which had been made upon the friends of the measure, as the pledged supporters of the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill, according to what had been called the cuckoo cry of the people. Although the worthy Aldermen so attacked had justified the pledge and defended their constituent in calling their colleagues to account, and had been ably supported by other hon. Members, yet others, the friends of the Bill, had disclaimed such pledge, and had asserted the freedom of their votes. Upon this important question he must beg to say, that in agreeing to the independence of their votes as to the Government, he must deny it totally as to their constituents, for what was the use of a Representative in that House, unless to represent the voice of the body who sent him there? And although of necessity he was mostly left to his own discretion, because occasions like the present seldom occurred, yet, when they did, public meetings might well be called a farce, if the Representatives of the people were not to be bound by their decision, but were to set up their own opinions against the declared sense 1223 of their constituents. As to the charge against the worthy Aldermen, of being slaves, the cap only fitted those who had no constituents, or none but slaves to represent, viz., the Members of the nomination boroughs, who were as much bound in honour to vote according to the politics of their patrons, or resign their seats, as he, the Representative of the Bath Corporation, would have been bound to do the like, had not his constituents sacrificed their private interests to his feelings of public duty. And, in answer to the hon. and learned Members and others, who had spoken so warmly on the subject, he would ask whether, if any one of them had been the friend of Reform, he would sit in that House for the borough he now represented? As to what they had called the cuckoo cry, he must beg their pardon for thinking there was more sense in the cry than in the epithet they had given it; and if they must have a nickname for it, they should call it the goose cry, for, as history said of Rome, it was that which saved the Capitol, so future history would say of England, it was this cuckoo cry which, in carrying Reform, had saved the Constitution. For what had been the origin of the cry? Before the Reform Bill the cry was, for short Parliaments and the Ballot, and here, in defence of the people, he must say a few words upon that subject. He had always been a friend to the ballot, without questioning the sincerity of other Reformers who were against it, and in deference to their prejudices, he hoped the present Bill might prevent its necessity; but, in his opinion, there could be no real freedom of election without it: if it were not so, why had the ballot been invented, and why was it generally adopted by every club throughout the kingdom? This disproved the assertion, that it was an un-English practice, although it might be called so with reference to the practice of the Constitution, wherein the people were represented in appearance but not in fact; but even as at present, where the people had a voice, to substitute the ballot for the poll would give the substance for the shadow; the ballot too, in his opinion, was as necessary for the elected as the elector, and like the quality of mercy, which "blesseth him that gives and him that takes," was the only real protection of the honour and independence of both; it was the only protection of the elector against the undue 1224 influence of every kind to which he was liable in the exercise of that choice, which, to be truly free, should be free as his own thought, and the only protection of the elected against the necessity of asking what he should refuse as a favour, and which placed him in that situation with his elector, that ought to be as painful to both as it was inconsistent with their relative situations in life, and every true feeling of public and private honour. Again: it was the only effectual means of preventing the expense, and all the other evils, which open election contests must produce. And again, for the same reasons, it removed all the objections to short Parliaments. Such were the reasons which, in his opinion had justified the feelings of the people in favour of the ballot, and were the proof of their moral and intellectual improvement; whilst the Reform Bill had done credit to their hearts and understandings, in at once removing all their doubts and fears, and inspiring that confidence in the Ministers which their conduct had so well deserved. And now, what had been the origin of the cry but the conduct of the opponents to the former Bill, which had compelled the Government to advise the dissolution of Parliament? when the people, thus appealed to by the Crown, most wisely and constitutionally, not only chose for their Representatives the professed friends of Reform, but, to prevent all misunderstanding by leaving loop-holes to creep through, or pins to hang a doubt on, bound them to support the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill; or, in other words, to vote for the whole measure of the Ministers, and against all the amendments of their opponents, who, in the opinion of the people, had no object but to defeat it. Such then being the cause, what had been the effect, but, simply, that the Ministers, thus supported by the country, had again brought in the very same Bill, which, however excellent in itself, would never have been carried but for the cuckoo cry of the people, who, to follow the example of the cuckoo, had turned the late Ministry out of their nest, to hatch the egg of their own real liberty in it? And although this glorious triumph of the people was not to be seen by the right hon. Baronet, it was clearly seen, and as honestly confessed, by a late Member of the House, the oldest, strongest, and most consistent Tory in it—namely, 1225 the late member for Dorsetshire, who, in a most candid speech, told his late constituents, that however deeply he lamented it, the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill, was carried; thus declaring his opinion, as plain as words could speak it, that the Bill, so carried by the voice of the people in that House, should not, would not, could not, be opposed elsewhere. With this opinion he fully agreed, and for a reason so strong and natural, that he felt no doubt upon the subject. The first resolution of the House of Commons in every new Parliament, declared it was a high infringement of its liberties and privileges for any Peer to concern himself with the election of its Members; and he could not believe, in the face of such resolution, that any one of the many fathers here referred to, would place his son in that predicament, to compel him either to impeach his father's conduct or his own. And here he must beg to ask the noble Lord on the other side, who had so warmly expressed his feelings to the last—and of whom, although he had not the honour of a personal acquaintance with the noble Lord, if he might speak as he thought, he believed him to be "honest as the skin between his brows." He would ask the noble Lord, how he could reconcile to himself to be a Member of the House, solely through the means of that interference, against which, in the name of the people, he had so strongly and solemnly protested?—and further, if allowed to say it as an old Reformer in the House whilst the noble Lord was yet at school, he was sure, that when the noble Lord's apprehensions of the danger of the present measure should subside; and when the noble Lord was again a Member of the House, as no doubt he would be if he wished it, having all the advantages of rank, property, and his own personal merits to recommend him—the noble Lord would be more satisfied with his new seat as a Representative of the people than the one he now filled. Having thus availed himself of the indulgence of the House, he would no longer detain it than to express in the fewest words his opinion of the present glorious measure; which when the noble Lord, who had so well deserved the honour of the undertaking, first unfolded to the House, gave him all the delight expressed by other hon. Members, but without the least surprise, being not jot more than he had expected from the 1226 Ministers; and which, to have been surprised at, were to have doubted their honesty, firmness, common sense, and the sincerity of their declarations on coming into office; for to have stopped short of what they had done, would have been only a half measure, that neither could have satisfied the people, nor have effected any real benefit for the country; whilst the present Bill had already paved the way for all the good to follow it, by the confidence it had inspired throughout the country in Ministers, who had sacrificed all their unconstitutional power, looking solely for their support to the good opinion of the people. As to all the charges brought against them, he thought the two noble Lords, the mover of the Bill, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, between them, had conducted it throughout, had, in all their speeches, fully acquitted Ministers of every unworthy motive; whilst all the defects of the measure were solely to be ascribed to the necessity that compelled them, in framing it, to preserve as much as possible that ancient form of the Representation, which contained all the anomaly, inconsistency, and injustice their opponents had so much complained of. These defects the Ministers must have endeavoured to remedy as far as the case would admit; but the main object of their Bill was, a real Representation of the people; and considering the difficulty of the task, in prevailing on so many different Reformers in that still unreformed House to consent to so strong a measure, it had been no less to his surprise than satisfaction to see it carried through the Committee by such large majorities. The clause for the division of counties, against which so much had been said, was, no doubt, a necessary compromise on the part of Ministers, if such it could be called; but, with all his respect for the opinions of those who had been the warmest and most powerful friends to the Bill, he could not agree with their objections to this clause, nor the danger to be apprehended from it; insomuch that the Bill had given to the people all the power they wanted to protect themselves against it; and as to supposing the present to be a final measure, no hon. Member could seriously believe it; for it would be too much to assert of any Act of Parliament, and, above all, of the present Bill—of so new and complicated a nature, consisting of so many clauses, and the effect of which, like that which the 1227 removal of old London-bridge might have upon the Thames above it, no human being could pretend to say; nor what must yet be done to prevent any evil arising out of the great good which the destruction of that old, worn-out, rotten fabric, and the old, worn-out, rotten system of the late Tory Government, must produce. To this sincere opinion of the Bill he would only add, that, next to the measure itself, he considered the Government to have deserved the greatest credit for keeping it a secret to the last moment, and for giving way to their opponents in the late Parliament, upon the question of the new writ for Evesham, to prevent the danger of betraying it in a previous debate; and wherein he thought the right hon. Baronet and his friends had been caught in their own trap—for unless to obtain their secret from the Government, he could not believe they would have moved their bill to disfranchise Evesham, upon the very eve of the Reform Bill, without waiting to see if it were wanted. But however that might be, the Ministers had shown their sincerity and good sense, for with the intention of adopting the remedy for the whole evil, it would have been worse than useless to waste the time of the House upon so small a part; whilst the conduct of the right hon. Baronet and his friends had been like that of the old lady, who, when making one hole for her cat to go through, must need make another for the kitten—for where was the use of both Bills? And how, in the face of their own small measure, could they oppose this great and glorious Act, not for the punishment, but the prevention of the crime, and not, like theirs, an act of gross injustice, in disfranchising the whole electors of a borough upon the ground of the corruption of part—thus punishing the innocent for the crime of the guilty, and reversing the maxim of the law, which declares it better that ninety-nine guilty escape, than one innocent suffer—and this too on the part of the late right hon. Secretary, whose labours in the Home Department, in the general amendment of the laws, had been the theme of praise throughout the country—and yet, upon the question of this glorious measure, which, in setting the example of virtue in the Government, had done more already to prevent corruption and to raise the moral character of the people, than the whole bundle of his amended laws together; the right hon. Gen- 1228 tleman, in the face of his Evesham Bill, fights, tooth and nail, against it; and thus in his justice, wisdom, and morality, this "wise young man," this "upright Judge," this "second Daniel," makes an example of the single case, but defends the general practice. For how, in common sense, could he prevent the corruption of open boroughs, whilst, in general, seats were openly bought and sold? What reason could he give why the Evesham or Liverpool electors should not sell their seats, whilst boroughmongers sold their seats?—or why these poor and needy offenders should be punished whilst the practice was permitted in the rich? What, but this plain common-sense view of the case could have dictated the words of their former Speaker, who, more than twenty years back, upon the question of Reform, told the House that the bare mention of the sale of seats would have made their ancestors start with indignation? And well might the Government of that day, to support the system and prevent the exposure from such a quarter, do all they could to stop the public Press; but, now that the game was up, the system being fairly worn out, and that natural causes, with most fortunate events, had combined the Crown, the Government, and the people in the same just cause, he could not but think the right hon. Baronet, notwithstanding all he had said against it, would do best, even yet, to follow his own example, and, once more, make a virtue of necessity, especially now that he was out of office, when, without a question of his motive, he might fairly pay the debt he owed the Whigs, by helping them, as they helped him, and thus, between them, carry the two great measures of civil and religious liberty.
Lord John Russell
wished to take that opportunity to reply to a very general report that had gone abroad, intimating that the Reform measure was not final, and was not intended as such by the Government. He begged to state, that he had always maintained that the measure was a final one. But when it had been argued there were certain anomalies in the Bill which would render it necessary to have recourse again to Parliament, he had answered, he did not think those anomalies would render any such application necessary, but that the measure must be judged by the effects it would produce. If it should work well for the prosperity and welfare of the country, then, of course, 1229 it would be final; but if, on the other hand, it failed of producing these effects, then it must be modified; but his full persuasion was, that the measure would fully answer the expectations of those by whom it had been introduced.
Sir John Walsh
said, that when the proper opportunity arrived, he should move an instruction to the Committee on this Bill, to consider the propriety of giving Representatives to the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and St. Andrew's, and he was quite sure, a proper and adequate constituency could be found for them in those Universities.
§ Sir George Clerk
said, I rise to point out a provision of this Bill, which, in my opinion, is most objectionable, and which, upon consideration, I trust the noble Lord will be induced to abandon. I allude to that part of the Bill which establishes in Scotland a new Court of Appeal—I mean the Court which, in disputed cases, is finally to determine the validity of qualifications to vote. Considering the high character of the Sheriffs and Magistrates, who preside over Courts from which Scotland has derived the greatest benefit, I must protest against any provision which may tend to lower and degrade them. The Sheriffs of Scotland have a very important jurisdiction; they are vested With the power of trying civil causes of very considerable amount; they are themselves members of the Faculty of Advocates—men of eminence in their profession, and far removed from any party or political feeling. Therefore, if from such persons any appeal be allowed, it should be to one of the supreme Courts of the country. But by this Bill it is provided, that a certain number of persons, whose names do not yet appear, are to be appointed as a Court of Appeal from the decision of the Sheriffs. These persons, the clause enacts, are to be either of the Faculty of Advocates, or Barristers—meaning, I suppose, English lawyers [no! no.] Then this part of the Bill must have been prepared by some English friend of the learned Lord Advocate's, who is totally ignorant of the legal phraseology of the Courts of Scotland. In that part of the kingdom we have no such thing as a Barrister. Those who plead at the bar of the Courts of Scotland, are not called Barristers, but members of the Faculty of Advocates. Therefore, if the word "Barrister" in this clause do not mean an English lawyer, 1230 it is an absurdity, and could never have been inserted by any one who knew anything of the law, or the practice, or the phraseology of the Courts of law in Scotland. The clause provides, that a certain number of Advocates or Barristers shall constitute a Court of Appeal from the decision of the Sheriffs. Now, supposing that these persons are all to be members of the Faculty of Advocates, I still ask the House, whether it would be possible to devise any measure more calculated to lower and degrade the Sheriffs, than to render their decisions subject to the reversal of a body so constituted. It is further provided, that these persons are to be named by this House—that is to say, that they are to be named by the noble Lord opposite. I have heard a rumour that it is the intention of his Majesty's Government entirely to revise the Sheriffs' Courts of Scotland, for the purpose of introducing a new order, of course of a totally different nature. If such a thing really be in contemplation, it may be well to introduce into this Bill a clause for the purpose of degrading a Court which it is intended to abolish, but which at the present time is held in the highest estimation by the people of Scotland. There is not a single person connected with Scotland, whatever his general opinion upon the merits of this Bill may be, who docs not reprobate this particular clause of it. I trust, therefore, that it will be removed. I should have supposed that it would have been a much more natural course to have appointed a numerous court or commission of lawyers as in England, and to have given an appeal from their decision to that of the Sheriff. Perhaps the best course to have pursued would have been, to have made the Sheriff of every county decide upon the qualification of the voters in that county; and, if any appeal from his decision were necessary, to give it to the Sheriffs of two or three of the adjoining counties. But of all the measures that could possibly be proposed, none, I am satisfied, could be more calculated to excite uneasiness and indignation in Scotland, than one which involves, as this does, the degradation of the Sheriffs' Courts. I have ventured, rather irregularly, perhaps, to call the noble Lord's attention to this point, previous to the Bill going into Committee, because I am sure that, upon consideration, he will perceive the propriety of abandoning so obnoxious a provision.
§ Lord Althorp
In the first place, I am obliged to the hon. Baronet for the courteous manner in which he has stated his observations upon this part of the Bill; but he is aware, or, if not, I must inform him, that the clause to which he alludes provides only for the first registration of voters, after the Bill shall have passed. The state of the case is this: it was deemed improper that the Sheriff should decide without an appeal; that appeal, it was originally intended, should be to a superior Court; but it was considered that, under the early operation of the Bill, the number of appeals, in all probability, would be very considerable; so considerable, as materially to interfere with the administration of the ordinary business of the superior Courts. Therefore it was provided, that for the first registration, and the first only, three Advocates should be appointed. With respect to the word "Barrister," I admit that it ought not to have been used. I certainly conceive that an Advocate is a Barrister—that the terms are synonymous; but as the peculiar phraseology of Scotland admits but of one, the other shall be omitted. I assure the hon. Baronet, that it never entered into our heads that English Barristers should be sent down to Scotland to determine upon the qualification of Scotch voters. I must also beg the hon. Baronet to believe, that nothing was further from our intention, in framing this clause, than to lower or degrade the Sheriffs' Court in Scotland. For my own part, I believe it to be a most valuable part of the local jurisdiction of that country, and for that reason no one would regret more than I should, the adoption of any measure which would tend to sink it in the public estimation.
§ Sir William Rae
said, it being the object of the Government to assimilate the Representative system of the two countries as nearly as possible, I do not think that this appeal should be given from the decision of the Sheriffs. If the decision of the Judges of Assize in England is to be final, I do not know why, upon the same principle, the decision of the Sheriffs of Scotland should not be final also. No doubt can be entertained as to their equal competency; and as far as impartiality is concerned, the Sheriff's of Scotland have decidedly the advantage, since they are much less likely to be biassed by political motives than the Judges of Assize in England. The cruelty of the case is this:— 1232 that you draw a comparison between the Judge of Assize and the Sheriff, by vesting them with the same powers in the first instance; but by making the decision of the former final, and that of the latter subject to a reversal by a Court constituted of a body of Advocates, you do, in fact, lower and degrade the Sheriff in a manner which the people of Scotland will not bear to see. At this time of day I certainly did hope, that we should not have had such a provision introduced into any bill relating to Scotland. There is also another provision to which I must object, as drawing an invidious distinction between the Judges of England and Scotland. In England, the Judges of the supreme Courts are allowed to exercise their franchise as electors. In the present Bill, an express provision is made to prevent the Judges of Scotland from doing so. Formerly there might be a reason for this; and even as the law at present stands, I should not be anxious, or at least I should be indifferent, as to whether they were admitted to the franchise or not; but when the whole of the Representative system is changed, and any man in this country who occupies a 10l. house is allowed to exercise the franchise, I can perceive no reason why the Judges should not be admitted to the same right.
§ Lord Althorp
replied, that as the particular clause to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman objects will come regularly under our consideration in Committee, I do not think that the present is either a convenient or proper time to discuss it. When the proper opportunity arrives, I think I shall be able to convince the right hon. and learned Gentleman that there is no ground for his objection.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
The office of Sheriff in Scotland is, in some degree, analogous to what was the ancient office of Sheriff in England. Now that such an office as that, filled by the most eminent Scotch lawyers, is to be overhauled, degraded, and dethroned, and its decision made liable to the reversal of some half dozen radical lawyers, may, perhaps, do very well for a Reforming Government, but it is quite inconsistent with the existing Constitution. That the decision of the Sheriffs of Scotland should be liable to the reversal of such an extraordinary appellant body as that proposed to be constituted under this Bill, is a proposition so contumelious and disrespectful to those 1233 learned and useful, and, I will say, eminent and able Judges, that I confess I cannot work up my mind to such a pitch of credulity as to believe that his Majesty's Ministers are serious. Is there not some smell of patronage in the appointment of these Advocates [hear, hear]? Is it the hon. member for Ripon who interrupts me by that strange ambiguous sound, which leaves the mind in doubt as to whether it be meant for a "hear! hear!" or a "no! no!?" Is he so weary that such slumberous sounds must needs escape him? or does he think that my observations are so pointless, witless, pithless, so dull, so heavy, so little bearing upon the subject, and withal so little in tune, as to be utterly unworthy of attention? Does he approve of the contumely cast upon the Sheriffs of Scotland by this Bill? Does he approve of the Scotch Judges not being permitted to vote? Does he remember who it was that adjourned an English Court to go down to Cambridge to vote at an election? But I forbear my interrogatories—the hon. member for Ripon, oppressed with his own heaviness, probably knew not the point I was discussing—I will remind him: I was contending, that it was extremely improper that the judgment of the Sheriffs of Scotland should be subject to the reversal of another Court, which I do not think likely to decide with propriety. That was the point which I was discussing; and as the hon. member for Ripon was pleased to interrupt me upon it, by what appeared to me to be a disapprobatory exclamation, I hope he will take an opportunity of informing us in a more regular manner, and in a more intelligible tone, what his opinions upon the subject really are. I should be very glad to hear from the hon. Member what argument he has to maintain the proposition, that the ancient, and well tried, and long approved, and much respected office of Sheriff in Scotland, should be lowered, degraded, and cast down, in the manner proposed in this Bill. The hon. member for Ripon never says anything—I have now said more than I intended—but that is often the case when a man who has much to say, or who has not much to say, but who still has some thing to say, is interrupted by one who has nothing to say, and who raises a cry which I will not call senseless, because that would be unparliamentary, but a cry quite destitute of all meaning.
Mr. Hayes Pettit
I trust I shall receive that indulgence from the House which is due to any of its Members who has been personally attacked, and attacked too without the slightest cause. Why the hon. and learned Gentleman should have selected me as the party who interrupted him, I really cannot tell. I was totally silent at the time—I did not interrupt him either by voice or gesture—I was silent and passive. But the attack savours of the inconsistency which distinguished the whole of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech. In the first place, he accuses me of interrupting him by a cry, the meaning of which he defies any human being to define; and, in the next place, in the very succeeding sentence, he talks of my slumberous disposition and habits of somnolency. I own that, during my attendance in this House. I have sometimes felt rather thankful that I possessed the gift of somnolency, and could indulge it without the risk of noise. If we involuntarily nod in the course of any of the hon. and learned Gentleman's lengthy orations, can it be interpreted into an interruption? I do not understand the purport of the interrogatories which the hon. and learned Gentleman was pleased to address to me. I am not gifted with any judicial power; I have no Court to adjourn. The elective franchise I certainly possess, and have often exercised, but never at the expense of any suitors, because no man can sue before me. The hon. and learned Member has called upon me to give some opinion upon the question of Reform; and has commented, in his usual vein of satire, on the silence which I have hitherto observed. I will not, as a sort of retaliation, make any observations on the many useless and unnecessary speeches which have been made by the hon. and learned Gentleman; but I must say, that, considering the length to which the discussions on the question of Reform have been carried, I think it can hardly be considered a fair ground of complaint against any individual for not prolonging them. I am aware that there are individuals who complain of those on this side of the House, not on the score of their much speaking, but of their little speaking; in fact, because they do not choose to stand up as butts, or marks, for the Opposition to shoot at. I should not have risen upon the present occasion except, perhaps, for the reason that the 1235 gentlest animal will turn when trodden upon. Having been called upon, by the observations of the hon. and learned Member, to present myself to the House, I will venture, even at the risk of being shot at, to give my opinion upon the question which has been raised. I see nothing derogatory to the Sheriff's of Scotland in the provision which it is proposed to make with respect to the final determination of the validity of qualifications to vote. Why the Sheriffs' Court is to be presumed to be an incompetent tribunal, because, upon a subject of this kind, an appeal is given from its decision to another tribunal, differently constituted, and to exist only for the first year after the Reform Bill shall have come into operation, I cannot understand. It seems to me that there is no ground for the assertion which has been raised, and therefore I shall be perfectly ready, if the necessity should arrive, to give my vote in favour of the clause as it now stands.
§ The House in a Committee.
§ The preamble of the Bill read by the Chairman.
§ Sir George Clerk
I wish to ask the noble Lord to consent to postpone the consideration of the first clause until after the other clauses have been gone through. This clause fixes the number of Representatives to be returned for Scotland: and if it were agreed to, it. would prevent several alterations being made relative to the Scottish counties, which it is intended to propose in the Committee. In the preamble to the English Reform Bill, there was not a word said as to the number of Members to be returned by the counties and burghs; but all this is premised in the present Bill. I know that it was fixed at the time of the Union, that Scotland should return forty-five Members, but there can be no objection to make an addition to that number. I certainly think that it is inexpedient that this preamble should be argued, as we may, in the course of the Committee, see reason to give additional Members to some places, and then we shall have to retrace our steps. I know that there is a very strong feeling in Scotland in favour of the proposition for giving an additional number of Members to the Scottish counties, and I entertain strong hopes that the noble Lord will be induced to consent to this proposal. I am sure—
§ Lord Althorp
I beg pardon of the hon. 1236 Baronet; but I merely wish to observe, that I am willing, if it be thought desirable, to consent to the postponement of the preamble. With respect to the proposition for increasing the number of county Members in Scotland, I will merely observe, that I have not the least doubt in my own mind, that it would be inexpedient to consent to any such addition. I make this observation with a view to prevent any expectations being formed that I could support such a proposition. I shall not now go into the reasons that induce me to think so, but shall reserve what I have to say on the subject until the motion is made. I will merely observe, in addition, that it appears to me to be extraordinary, and even inconsistent, that those opposed to Reform should be such strenuous advocates of this proposition.
§ Preamble postponed.
§ On the question, "That the Burghs of Peebles and Selkirk stand part of schedule A,"
§ Mr. Gillon
said, I rise for the purpose of proposing that the towns of Peebles and Selkirk be left out of this schedule, and that they shall continue to return a Member, as heretofore. I concur entirely in the propriety of the alterations that have been made in the Scotch Reform Bill, and I am much gratified that his Majesty's Ministers have proposed that a separate Member should be given to the great city of Perth. This place, in my opinion, is well worthy of having the choice of an independent Member. The feeling in favour of Reform is almost universal throughout Scotland; and I am sure that the persons whom it is now proposed to disfranchise would willingly abandon their privileges, if they considered that the retention of them would hazard the success of this measure. It is obvious, however, that this cannot be the case, and I do not think that anything has occurred that can justify such a course. I am not among the clamorous enemies of Reform, but have been a constant and tried friend, and I do most sincerely lament that the noble Lord should adopt so harsh a course towards these burghs. I cannot help feeling that I am bound to concur with the opponents of Reform in the view they take of the first part of schedule A, for it is in direct opposition to the principle laid down by the noble Lord; it begins with disfranchising the burghs of Peebles and Selkirk, which contain a most respectable 1237 and intelligent body of inhabitants, and would afford a constituency, both in numbers and character, against which no possible objection can be raised. I should be guilty of an act of injustice to the inhabitants of these towns, if I did not enter my protest against the disfranchisement. Since the announcement of the intention of his Majesty's Ministers on this subject, I have received a communication from the burgh of Peebles, from which I learn that there are no less than six petitions in progress against this proposal; and, in the meantime, the townspeople have requested me to enter their protests against the disfranchisement of these burghs. When Ministers abandoned their intention of uniting the counties of Selkirk and Peebles in the choice of a single Member, and permitted each of them, as heretofore, to return a Representative, there was no ground or necessity for throwing the burghs into the counties. I am convinced, that the adoption of this course will only lead to dissension and ill-will. If the burghs of Peebles and Selkirk had a Member continued to them, the householders in those towns would enjoy the suffrage; but, according to the present arrangement, they will not have it. The expectations which this most respectable class have looked forward to with so much joy, will thus be disappointed. The cup of happiness you have held up to their lips, and have now dashed it down, and deprived them of the satisfaction every man must feel in having a share in the choice of the Representatives of the people. I beg to observe, that I do not object to the town of Airdrie being added to this district of burghs; on the contrary, I am glad of it; indeed, I mentioned, in the first instance, to the noble Lord, that this would be a most proper place to be thrown into the district of burghs. We do not object to any addition that it may be thought expedient to make, but we do object to these two towns being taken out of the district. In justice, then, to the inhabitants of these burghs, and in deference to their wishes, I beg leave to move, that all the words relative to the disfranchisement of these places be left out.
Sir John Hay
Sir, I throw myself on the indulgence of this House, of which I have but lately become a Member, and shall endeavour, in a few words, to express my opinion of the clause of the Bill now brought under the consideration of the 1238 Committee. I find myself imperiously called upon to do so, by the very peculiar situation in which I am myself placed: were it not so, I believe there is no Member of this House so little likely to intrude his opinions, or occupy the valuable time of the Committee, as the humble individual who now presumes to address you. Sir, I have opposed this Reform Bill in all its stages; and no one here can doubt my sincerity in so doing, who reflects on the position in which I stand as Member of Parliament for the county of Peebles, and who has read the first clauses of the Reform Bill, applicable to Scotland. It were unreasonable to expect that I should act otherwise, and I feel it hard that I should be set down as one of those men who are opposed to all Reform, because I cannot consent to a bill, or series of bills, (were there no other reason to influence my vote), which contains a clause so hostile to the feelings of that respectable and independent body I have the honour to represent; and which clause, permit me to say, is equally unpalatable to all who may, by an extension of the elective franchise, be called on to partake of the rights which the law of the land has, from the remotest ages, restricted to the tenants in capite of the Crown. God knows, I am not the man to object to the extension of the elective franchise to all my countrymen: extend it as far and as wide as you can with safety and propriety. I am most willing, Sir, to give to all our countrymen a full and fair share of our political privileges; and I am also willing to give to them a full and fair share of the public local rates and burthens, which have hitherto been borne by the country gentlemen, who have exercised that elective franchise. For this arrangement, no provision is made in the Bill before us; and this Committee are well aware, that these burthens have never hitherto been allowed to press on the feuars, householders, or small tenantry, in any part of Scotland. Sir, I should be the last man to wish to keep up the ancient distinction of the salt on the table, and to have seats arranged above and below it. I should, for myself, invite all my countrymen to sit down together, and partake of the good things set before them by his Majesty's Ministers, "with what appetite they may," and I only trust that, before they rise from the table, they will discharge their fair share of the reckoning. Sir, having ex- 1239 pressed myself thus, I must again say, I find it hard to be perpetually taunted by the Gentlemen opposite, as one hostile to all Reform, because I have stated my uncompromising hostility to this Bill. My worthy friend, the hon. member for Lancaster, told us last night, that this Bill, which I now hold in my hand, was the true spear of Ithuriel—a touch of which was the test who were, and who were not true Reformers. This was a high flight to take, and not unworthy of his brilliant imagination; but he forgot entirely, that the spear of Ithuriel was of ethereal temper, wielded by an angel, forged by no mortal hand, and not a two-pronged fork, of vulgar fashion, and of earthly fabric. Sir, in looking at the clause now under the consideration of the Committee, I have gone back to the preamble of the Bill, and there I can find nothing which justifies the introduction of such a proposition. Indeed, I must say, that the preamble of this Scotch Reform Bill seems to have as little connection with what follows, as many an ill-written prologue to a modern play, to which it has been inconsistently appended. I am, therefore, obliged to refer to the preamble of its great precursor, the English Reform Bill: for, like a little cock-boat, we must follow in the wake of the great vessel which sails before. Now, what do I find in that preamble? It is enacted, "to deprive many inconsiderable places of the right of returning Members, to grant such privilege to large, populous, and wealthy towns, and to increase the number of Knights of the Shire." Now, Sir, how is this preamble followed out in the Scotch Reform Bill? In the last edition of it, I do not find any one inconsiderable burgh struck out; and to this, Sir, I make no objection; it is right, and acting according to justice. But was there any intention of adding to the number of our Knights of the Shire? Quite the contrary. By the Bill which was read in this House a second time, our county Members were diminished by two, while sixty-seven (indeed, including the two additional Members lately given to Yorkshire, I may say sixty-nine) Knights have been granted to the shires of England. This clause has been amended; and we are now, per favour, placed where we stood before. In that Bill, there was a clause uniting the two separate, independent counties of Peebles and Selkirk; and, had it been persisted in, I was pre- 1240 pared to shew this Committee its gross injustice, and how little consonant it was to the interests involved in these two counties. These counties, Sir, have no connection, but a juxtaposition on the map; they are separated from each other by a district of mountainous country. There is, indeed, no direct practicable carriage road uniting them; and, so little connection have they hitherto had, that there is but one individual in Peeblesshire who, possessing a small patrimonial estate in the county of Selkirk, is a freeholder there, and is enabled to attend their Courts as a Justice of the Peace, their meetings of Commissioners of Supply, and of Road Trustees. But this very obnoxious clause has been withdrawn, and is now modified in another way; and I have been invited, by some of my friends here, to be content, and express my thanks for the consideration our case has met with. This puts me in mind of an old Scotch phrase, about being thankful for small mercies; but, Sir, I will quote the answer put into the mouth of one who stood in the situation I now do, receiving as a favour a small portion of what he was entitled to consider his own—I prefer giving the literal translation to the original—Such is the tyrant's gift; he robs you not.But, Sir, could I bring myself to make an acknowledgment, I take this public opportunity—for I am not much inclined, nor likely, often to trouble this House—I take this opportunity of saying, that there is no man within the walls of this House to whom I would so soon or so willingly pay that compliment as the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer; for I have been particularly struck with the open, candid, fair, and 1 will say (however I may differ in opinion with that noble Lord), the honest manner in which he has conducted himself during these arduous discussions; and I regret, also, that the Lord Advocate is not in his place, as I regret to hear the cause of that absence; for, although I am but little personally acquainted with that learned Lord, I will say that I know, however distinguished he may be by his literary attainments, he has rendered himself even more distinguished by the anxious solicitude he has shewn— consistently, of course, with his own principles—to forward the interests, and gratify the feelings of his countrymen. But, Sir, I must most strongly object to the new proposition, made in this clause, 1241 to throw the royal burgh of Peebles into the county. This proposition, Sir, has been made, I presume, on the principle of the transfusion of blood. It is done with a view to transfuse a little fresh, warm, wholesome, democratic blood into what some choose to consider our old, worn-out aristocratic system. This is an ingenious device, but the contrivers of it forget that they drain the last drop from their healthy subject, while the unfortunate recipient feels little comfort or revival from the turbid flow in his distended veins. For, what becomes of the householders of Peebles, who are thus disfranchised? They have been strong advocates for this Reform; they wish anxiously to move with the mass of their compeers, and to continue united with those other burghs with which their destinies have been hitherto united. I leave their case, however, in the hands of the hon. Member who represents, in this House, their interests and opinions. I must further say, that I ground my objection to this amalgamation of county and burgh Representation upon the English Reform Bill; for expediency, convenience, or the will of the stronger, cannot form the groundwork of this union. If it be so, why were these reasons, if they can be called such, not set forth in the preamble to the Bill? I find, Sir, in the English Reform Bill, certain principles laid down. The line below which nomination falls, is fixed at a population of 2,000. The line above which no disfranchisement takes place, is a population of 4,000. I find Malton, with a population of 4,005, is safe, being beyond the mark. I find, further—and I beg the attention of the Committee to this fact, there being a vast difference between preserving what exists, and raising up new constituencies—that Gateshead has been constituted a burgh, and to it a Member has been given, not containing, in 1821, nearly the population of the county of Peebles. I find, further, Rutland untouched; with its 18,000 inhabitants, it retains its two Members; and upon these grounds, I claim the same consideration for the county I have the honour to represent. Peeblesshire contains nearly 11,000 inhabitants; and, Sir, I hold in my hand a list of what may be the probable constituency of the county under the new system. It was prepared by myself, when I had no hope, and, permit me to say, when I had no wish, to have the honour of a scat in this House, to 1242 which I have been called by the heavy loss we have sustained in our late worthy Member. The number of our new constituency, including the freeholders now on the roll, will exceed 450. I could wish to point out, without entering into other matters, what will shew, at once, the resources and the loyalty of our county. I hold in my hand a copy of returns made to the Home Department, between the years 1803 and 1809, which will shew the amount of the volunteer force kept embodied—a regiment of six companies of infantry, and one of sharpshooters, including staff: it amounted in all to 668, to which must be added a troop of yeomanry, making in all 726 men. In 1808, the volunteers were disbanded, and the Local Militia Act passed; since which period, an addition of another troop of yeomanry was made, doubling that constitutional force. Now, Sir, having made this statement in behalf of the county I have the honour to represent, I am the more strenuously induced to oppose this clause, nay, to divide this Committee upon the subject, that from the late hour at which this project was announced, I have had no time to consult my constituents. I have received only from one of them a short, hurried note, which states a general objection to the clause, and leaves me to do as I think best for them, relying on my honour; and were there no other ground of objection than this, I should urge my conscientious objection to this clause. I must state to this Committee—and it must always be disagreeable and painful to be obliged to state any thing which is personal to one's self—but this Committee can have no acquaintance with the position in which I personally stand. It cannot be supposed that they are much acquainted with a distant country, and a small county there, and still less with the position of the humble individual who now addresses them. But I refer to those of my countrymen present who are acquainted with me, and, in particular, to the hon. Gentleman who represents that district of burghs, whether he does not consider that I have personally a political interest in this affair. He knows, Sir, that my residence is in the vicinity of the royal burgh of Peebles—that more than half the parish belongs to me in property—that I have burgage lands and tenements in and round and adjoining to this royal burgh—that I have always been on the most intimate and 1243 friendly terms with those of that place who are likely to be called upon to enjoy the new franchise in the county—that I believe I may presume to say, that if I required it at any time, I should have well founded hopes of receiving their support. Sir, having stated thus much, for which I ought to apologize to the Committee, I must say, as a man of honour, I hold myself bound (were there no other grounds) to give this measure my decided opposition; and I put it to the candid and honourable mind of the noble Lord, whether I, as a man of honour, can act otherwise. I do therefore most earnestly entreat the noble Lord to use his most powerful influence to restore the householders of Peebles to the privileges of which they will, by this clause, be deprived; and that he will once more replace them in that class of burghs in which they have been classed since the union of the kingdoms; and, if he grants this, I shall feel, from the peculiar position in which I stand, that he is fully entitled, if I may be permitted to say so here, to my most warm, sincere, and personal gratitude.
§ Lord Althorp
After the speech of the hon. Member who has just, sat down, I feel called upon to make some observations. I cannot help saying, that the remarks which have just been made do the hon. Baronet the greatest credit, but he will allow me to add, that the whole tenor of his speech would rather be an inducement with me not to comply with his suggestion than to adopt it. I never objected to that influence which a benevolent and intelligent landlord acquires over his tenantry; on the contrary, I think it most desirable that every thing should be done, that consistently can be done, to increase rather than to diminish this indirect influence of property. With regard to this question, I am sorry to be compelled to declare, that, after the best consideration I have been able to give to the subject, I cannot consent to comply with the Amendment of the hon. Member for these burghs. According to the arrangement proposed in the original Bill, the counties of Selkirk and Peebles were for the future only to return one Member conjointly, in consequence of the smallness of their constituency. There appeared, however, to exist great objections to the adoption of this course, objections of such weight and of so strong a nature, that we did not think we could in justice proceed. 1244 We found still the constituency of these counties so small, that we were obliged to look out for means of increasing it, and the result was, that we could devise no other course that we thought we could ask the House to sanction, than that now proposed—namely, to throw those two burghs into the counties to which they severally belong. The population of the county of Peebles is 10,046, and that of the burgh of the same name 2,705—thus leaving only 7,341 for the number of inhabitants of the county, out of which we were to form its constituency. Again, the population of the county of Selkirk is 6,637, that of the town 1,728—thus leaving only 4,909 for the county population. For these reasons, it appeared desirable that these towns should have a share in the county Representation of those places in which they are situated. I do not think that any injustice would be done to the towns by this arrangement, for each of them will still have a share in the election of a Member of Parliament, and I think that the influence of these towns would be as great when combined with the county as it would if they continued to have a share in the election of the Member for the Linlithgow burghs. I think that they would rather be gainers according to the arrangement I propose, and in addition to this, the constituency of each of the counties would be much improved. For these reasons, I shall persist in my suggestion, that they have a share in the county Representation. The hon. Members objected, that, although the owners of houses will have a vote in the counties, yet that the householders will not, which they would have had, if they had voted at a burgh election. The hon. Gentleman said, that hopes were held out to the householders of the towns of Peebles and Selkirk, which it is most unfair to disappoint. I am willing to admit that expectations may have been formed, which will be disappointed under the arrangement that I now propose, but it should be recollected, that these persons will not be placed in a worse situation than they are at present, on the contrary, they will be placed in a much better situation. No doubt the householders in these towns will not have the franchise conferred upon them, neither do they possess it now, but still the towns will have a very great influence in the county elections; and I am sure that the interests of both house- 1245 holders and landholders will be protected. I think, therefore, that it is advisable that the Committee should adopt the course I now recommend. I have stated fairly the grounds upon which I have proceeded, and I trust that I shall have the support of the House.
Sir John Hay
I rise merely to observe, that the noble Lord has included the population of the whole of the parish of Peebles in the estimate that he has given of the number of inhabitants in the town. I believe the population of the town of Peebles, at the utmost does not exceed 1,800.
§ Sir George Clerk
I regret that the noble Lord has not thought it consistent with his duty to assent to the proposition of the hon. Member opposite. The noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, when he first submitted the measure of Reform to the House, said, that his Majesty's Ministers did not intend to propose that any burghs in Scotland should be disfranchised, with the exception of the small districts of the eastern Fife burghs. These, however, have been saved from impending threats that are held out, and they are, with the addition of another place, to return a Member to this House, as they have hitherto done. But now an extensive alteration has been made in the Scotch Reform Bill, arid we find that two important county towns, formerly untouched, are to be placed in schedule A, with a view to their complete disfranchisement. I should have thought that the noble Lord, for the sake of consistency, would have been anxious to abide by the principles laid down with regard to the English Bill. If this were done, both these burghs would be saved from disfranchisement. In the case of the town of Peebles, we find the burgh and parish of the same name, and it is admitted that the parish of Peebles contains 2,700, which is considerably beyond the line drawn as the boundary for disfranchisement. But in considering this case, it should be remembered, that we are to look upon them, not as returning separate Members, but as acting jointly, having a share in the election of one: we ought, therefore, not to regard the population of either of these burghs, but the population of all in the district. The noble Lord attaches great, importance to a numerous constituency; and in this case he has made a reduction in the number, in my opinion, without any adequate 1246 cause. I think, after the favour shown to the small Fife burghs, it is not too much to expect that the same treatment should be manifested to the two county towns of Peebles and Selkirk. The noble Lord said, that there would be no hardship to the householders of these towns, as they have not the right of voting at present, and that their interests would be sufficiently protected by the Representatives of the counties; but surely the noble Lord does not consider it a trifling circumstance, that the expectations of these persons have been disappointed; and I must say, that they are treated with great harshness. The noble Lord said, that after the deduction of the population of these two burghs, the county of Peebles would contain 7,000 inhabitants, and the county of Selkirk only 4,000. It should be remembered, that these are the two important grazing counties of Scotland, and I do not see why they should be excluded from sending Members to this House because their population is small. I have not yet heard any satisfactory reason assigned for the course now recommended; and I am sure, from the information that I have received on the subject, that the number of persons entitled to vote in each of these counties, will exceed 300, without throwing in the burghs. The number of proprietors of houses in these burghs, I believe, is extremely small; and in comparison with the number of persons entitled to vote from the possession of property in the county, is perfectly insignificant. The counties of Peebles and Selkirk, from the nature of their produce, peculiarly require Representatives to watch their interests in this House; and as they are more agricultural than perhaps any other counties in Scotland, it is desirable to abstain as much as possible from throwing the population of the burghs into them. I can see no ground for adopting the course now recommended by the Government with regard to these two burghs, nor can I conceive any reason why we should deprive them of the share they have hitherto enjoyed in the election of a Representative. According to the sets of these burghs, the number of electors that they supply to the district of burghs is considerable; but the number of persons who would be entitled to vote at a county election, from properly they hold in the burghs, is very inconsiderable. If the hon. member for Linlithgow presses his Motion to a division, he shall have my vote, as I 1247 think that it is an act of injustice to deprive the two prosperous towns of Peebles and Selkirk of that share in the Representation which they have hitherto enjoyed.
I cannot compliment the hon. Baronet in the course that he has taken on the present occasion, and more especially when he states, that he is completely at a loss to understand the reason that has induced his Majesty's Ministers to propose that these burghs should be disfranchised. In my opinion, the only question is, how are those burghs to be enfranchised? The hon. Baronet complains of disfranchising the householders of the towns of Peebles and Selkirk, when he surely could not have been ignorant that they have no share whatever in the choice of a Representative. No person can vote for the election of a Member of Parliament who is not a member of one of the corporations of the towns. It must be recollected that these corporations are self-elected; for when a vacancy occurs in these bodies, the remainder of the members elect a person to fill it up. The corporation of Peebles has only seventeen members, and that of Selkirk thirty-three, so that it is obvious that the householders have no great share in the franchise. In my opinion, throwing these burghs into the counties, is the only means of giving-them a chance in a free election. I deny that this can be considered as a proposition to disfranchise these towns. When counties are so extremely small, and the county constituency so confined, it is absolutely necessary to add the population of the towns to secure even a chance of independence. I think that the throwing the population of the burgh of Selkirk into that county will lessen the chance of its continuing a nomination county, and I am glad to avail myself of any thing calculated to diminish the probability of the present objectionable system continuing. I must express my regret that the noble Lord has consented to abandon his intention of uniting, for the purposes of election, the counties of Peebles and Selkirk. As, however, he has done this, I will only observe, that I should have opposed this alteration in the Bill, had it not been for the proviso, relative to the towns, which has been introduced. I am convinced that a county, with a constituency of only 300, cannot be independent; but that the Member must almost invariably be subject to the nomination of the two or 1248 three great landowners. Each of these burghs, also, will have more control in the election of a Member of Parliament, when joined with its respective county, than if it was merely a contributory burgh. If the Committee should not think proper to sanction the proposition of my noble friend, he will be bound to bring forward his first proposition respecting the union of the counties of Peebles and Selkirk for the election of a Member for this House.
Mr. Keith Douglas
I must congratulate the Committee on the discovery just made by the hon. member for Ayr, namely, that the proposition of the noble Lord does not go to the extent of disfranchising the burghs of Peebles and Selkirk, but that it ought rather to be considered as a proposition to enfranchise them. I was quite surprised to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman indulge in such observations respecting the present franchise in the burghs in Scotland. The hon. Member said, that they are now merely nomination burghs, that the franchise rests entirely in the Town Councils and Corporations, and that the people have no share in the election of the members of those bodies. All the householders in the place, however, are eligible to become members of them. The inference which the hon. Member drew from the statement he made was this; that the householders of these burghs ought to be thankful for whatever his Majesty's Ministry might think proper to give them. It must be recollected, however, that the inhabitants of all the other burghs in Scotland are to have the franchise, and therefore it is an act of injustice to deprive those who would be entitled to vote in the burghs of Selkirk and Peebles of their share in this privilege. With regard to what fell from the noble Lord, I will merely make one observation. The noble Lord said, that the constituency of neither of these counties would be sufficient without the addition of the burghs. Now, there is no doubt that both these counties are wealthy; and although their constituency is small, I cannot see the necessity of introducing a body of voters into the Scotch counties, against which the noble Lord was particularly desirous to guard in the English Bill. Particular care was taken in that Bill, now before the other House, to separate the town and county constituency: I cannot, therefore, see what ground there is to depart from this course as regards Scotland. I have 1249 heard no reason urged why these places should not retain their rights and privileges in having a share in the election of a Member of Parliament, whose peculiar province it would be to watch over the interests of these burghs. For these reasons I shall give my cordial support to the Amendment of the hon. Member opposite.
§ Lord Althorp
I think it is very desirable to increase the number of voters in small counties by taking in the constituency of the towns. This would not apply where the number of voters is large; and, therefore, I cannot admit that. I am at all inconsistent. The circumstances are very different in different cases; and the same rule does not apply to the instance before us. During this discussion, great objections have been raised to introducing the 10l. householders into the counties; but I think that householders of these two towns will be a very valuable addition to the constituency of the small counties. The hon. Member opposite has given a reason for opposing this arrangement, which would be an additional inducement with me to support it. The hon. Gentleman says, that nobody could influence the householders—that they would vote as they pleased, as nobody would be able to control them. Now, if this is to be the result, I think that they will form a most desirable addition to the county constituency. It is well known that these counties are small, and that the landed property is in a few hands; the proposition, therefore, that I now make will prevent the undue exercise of influence which might otherwise take place. I cannot agree that, by adopting the present course, we are disfranchising these towns. This is not the case; but it is proposed that their constituency, instead of having a share in the election of the Member for a district of burghs, shall vote for the county. I cannot think that these persons have any cause of complaint, as it must be remembered that, at present, they, in point of fact, have no share in the Representation.
Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
I confess I entertained a strong objection to that part of the Bill which proposed to make such a violent change in the counties of Selkirk and Peebles, and even partially to disfranchise them. I am glad that the noble Lord has consented to continue to these counties their Representatives; but I regret that he considers it necessary to throw 1250 these burghs into them. The hon. member for Ayr has said, that the present measure gives to Scotland, for the first time, a share in the Representation. I totally deny the assertion; all that this Bill does is, to make various changes in the Representation, and introduce certain improvements. To say that Scotland has no Representation in Parliament, is an utter absurdity. Scotland has, from the earliest period of her history, had a Representative assembly; and I cannot view this Bill as a boon; but I like the improvements that it will effect, looking at them as a right which the people are entitled to claim. One of the chief objects of the present Bill is to extend the suffrage; but it does not follow, because the constituency is small, that there is no Representation. Would any one say, because the number of the electors of Bath is only thirty, that, therefore, Bath has no right to Representation? But, if it be granted, that, to open the election should be considered a favour, I cannot think that the breaking up the corporation that exists in that city, and throwing- open the franchise to all, should be regarded in any other manner than as the restoring a right. I cannot agree that it is a boon, to a place containing 44,000 inhabitants, to give them a voice in the election of their Representatives. I admit that the Scotch counties and burghs have small constituencies; but be they either small or large, it is an absurdity to say that they are not the Representatives of the people. The population and wealth of Scotland have increased greatly since the time of the Union; and the people of that country have a right to look to Parliament to supply any deficiencies that may be experienced in the Representation. A measure for this purpose has now been brought forward; and we have been under the necessity of laying down principles for our guidance in the proposed changes. Among other suggestions, it was proposed by the noble Lord, that the county and burgh voters should be kept entirely distinct; and that those who voted under property in a burgh, should not vote for the county. I regret that it was thought necessary to depart from this rule. I think, that the rural population of villages ought to be represented in the counties; and the town population ought to be kept distinct. I do not object to the 10l. householders of the county having votes for it; but I do object to the counties being inundated by 1251 the town voters; for, if this be allowed, the agricultural interest of the counties will be completely destroyed. On these grounds, therefore, I shall vote for the proposition of my hon. friend, to leave the burghs of Peebles and Selkirk as they are now. I object to this departure also, because it will be the means of disfranchising a great many persons. This, I know, will be considered a great hardship; and, in addition to this, I think the change will be highly inconvenient. I am extremely loth to oppose his Majesty's Ministers in carrying their measure of Reform through this House, but I think that I should be sanctioning an act of injustice, if I did not oppose the disfranchisement of these two burghs.
I should almost think that it would be wasting the time of the House, to spend much of it in replying to the argument of the hon. member for Ayr, in favour of the disfranchisement of these burghs. It amounts to this:—That because they have not hitherto had popular election to the extent to which he would give it to them, they have never been represented; so that, by disfranchising them now, you do them no injury—you deprive them of nothing. Why, Sir, I should almost think it a sufficient answer to refer him to the stand which has this night been made by their Representative for their interest. Deprive them of the assistance of one who is so ready to plead their cause in this House, and do you deprive them of nothing? But so sufficient a reply has already been made to the sophistical reasoning of the hon. member for Ayr, by my hon. and learned friend, the member for Kirkcudbright, that I shall not weaken its force by attempting any addition. I must remark, however, on the fact, that in these burghs the actual number of constituents is not so very small as is stated by the hon. member for Ayr. In Selkirk, he has said, the electors amount to thirty-three. This is the number of the Town Council; but every year one-half of that council is chosen by the votes of all the trades in the burgh—so that those who have a voice in the election of Deacons, necessarily participate in the elective franchise. This is well known to all candidates who canvass the burgh, and especially to those who endeavour to keep up an interest there; all of whom find it necessary to secure the good will of others, besides the actual members of the Town 1252 Council. The Set of the burgh of Peebles partakes, though less extensively, of a similar constitution. By cutting off all these privileges, therefore, you affect the interests of a much greater number of individuals than may at first sight appear. One observation in the speech of the hon. member for Ayr, I feel myself specially called upon to reply to—I mean his insinuation, that the county of Selkirk is a nomination county. On the part of the respectable and independent freeholders of that county, I repel his charge with indignation. I deny that, in any sense of the term, does the county of Selkirk deserve to be called a nomination county. The roll of freeholders consists of fifty gentlemen, of whom, as I stated on a former night, the majority are possessed of considerable estates within the county, and the remainder are all either the sons or brothers of these proprietors. By this constituency no Member has at any time been sent to this House, except one of themselves, an independent country gentleman. This has been the case from the earliest times. During nearly three centuries that the freeholders of Selkirkshire have formed part of the constituency, they have never elected a man in office, never any member of a noble family, and never a stranger; and that is more than the largest counties can boast of, if it be a subject of boasting. I know well that the hon. member for Ayr alludes to the circumstance of one nobleman having a large estate within the county; but that estate does not enable him to nominate the Member, even if he were disposed to dictate to the freeholders, which he would be the last man to do. It happens, that there is not a single voter whose qualification is derived from that, estate, excepting the brother of the noble Duke; and as he is restricted by his entail from creating voters, of direct influence he has none. His influence, therefore, is of that kind which hon. Members opposite have always admitted to be the most legitimate—the indirect influence of an affluent and patriotic nobleman amongst his friends and neighbours, by whom he is beloved as he deserves to be, and as his predecessors have been before him. The country gentlemen around him are as independent as himself, and only know him as the greatest proprietor amongst them; and, as such, the most deeply interested in seeing the county of Selkirk well represented. 1253 But, instead of dictating to them, he has always studied their wishes and feelings; and hence, in that county, there has long been, even beyond the memory of man, the most uninterrupted harmony. Is this, then, the county which the hon. member for Ayr calls a nomination county? There does not exist, in the whole British empire, a more independent body of electors than those freeholders who have done me the honour to send me here as their Representative. When such a charge, unfounded as it is, is made against my constituents, I am entitled to retort; and I should certainly have expected it to have come from some other quarter rather than that from which it did. There is not any one from whom it could have been more unbecoming than from the hon. member for Ayr, who is himself returned to this House by the direct influence of another noble Duke, who lives in a different part of the kingdom. With regard to the particular question now under the consideration of the Committee, I have heard no sufficient reason alleged for the proposal of the Government to blot out these two ancient burghs from the roll of the royal burghs of Scotland. They have done nothing to deserve this; and their case would be just as hard as that of the eastern district of Fife burghs, respecting which the Ministers have been forced to retrace their steps. I see nothing consistent in the argument, that the counties require such an addition to their constituency, seeing that each of these counties will have without them, under this Bill, as numerous a constituency as has been deemed sufficient in England to give a claim for two Members. This, perhaps, may not appear from the statement of the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but he has quoted from the population returns, where the parishes are given along with the burghs; and the two parishes of Peebles and Selkirk happen both to be very extensive. In the southern counties of Scotland, there are extremely few royal burghs; and why should that small number be still further diminished? In Roxburghshire and Berwickshire, there are only two, and these are all that Ministers will leave in that extensive south-eastern district. This is not the way in which they have acted with other interests in the northern counties, and still less in some other districts; and why should the interests of these counties, 1254 which are purely agricultural, be so unfairly dealt with? We have not had time to ascertain what is the feelings in these burghs themselves, respecting the proposed arrangement, as none of us possess the advantage which the hon. member for Ayr seems to have enjoyed, of communicating before hand the intentions of the Ministry; but I cannot think that they will be disposed quietly to acquiesce in this unjust attempt to annihilate their ancient privileges. At all events, Sir, they shall not want friends to stand up for these privileges; and since the hon. Gentleman who represents them in this House, has, with an independence which does him honour, called upon the House to preserve these privileges, I, for one, shall give my hearty support to his motion.
§ Sir George Murray
I am very anxious to say a few words on the doctrine laid down by the hon. and learned Member for Ayr. On the same ground which the hon. Member has urged, for depriving Selkirk and Peebles of the franchise—namely, the not possessing a larger constituency than thirty-three and seventeen persons—Ministers might entirely deprive all the burghs in Scotland of the franchise. Does the hon. Gentleman mean to assert, that Ministers would be doing no injustice if they deprived Edinburgh of her Member, because the constituency at present contains only thirty-three Members? Perhaps the hon. Member does not consider that the withholding the right of sending Members for Scotland, should be regarded as a matter of grievous wrong. I regret that the noble Lord should consider a large constituency to be necessary, and that the independence of places cannot be preserved unless the number of voters be great. I am sent here by a comparatively small body of persons; but I know that it would be utterly impossible to form a more independent constituency. I think that a man sent here by a small number of independent and intelligent electors, is much more likely to be impartial and unbiassed in his conduct, than a man elected by a very numerous constituency.
Sir James Mackintosh
I fully agree with the right hon. Baronet, that a man sent here by a small constituency may be perfectly independent; but the question is, whether the chances of independence are not greater with a large constituency than in a small and close elective body? The object of this Bill, is to enlarge the consti- 1255 tuency, and to adopt means to make it as independent as possible. I agree with my hon. friend, that you may give an adequate compensation to the small towns, by throwing them into the counties, but thats rule will not apply as regards large town like Edinburgh. In these small burghs, the right of suffrage is not to be taken away, but it is to be transferred; so that the same individuals, in other capacities, will vote for the county. In point of fact, it is only giving all those persons an equivalent elsewhere for the vote you will take from them in the burgh. I do not think this could be done in a town with 10,000 or 20,000 inhabitants; but I see no objection to it in the case of a small town, situated in a small county. I will not now go into the question, whether a place with a small and close constituency, is represented. The hon. and learned Member has alluded to the city of Bath, as not having the franchise conferred upon it as a favour. I will not say whether this be the case or not; but I know that the Bill now sent up to the other House will confer upon the inhabitants of Bath, for the first time, a share in the election of their Representative. Can it be said, that the twenty-seven persons who elect that Member, constitute the whole of the city of Bath, and that the 40,000, inhabitants are nothing? If it be said, that the people of Scotland had any share in the Representation, I deny the assertion. Scotland has never possessed a popular Representation, and this Bill has been brought forward with a view to bestow—not to restore—a popular Representation. I have been told, that Scotland has a Representation; but I ask, a Representation of what? Certainly, it is not a Representation of the people and property in Scotland, in any sense of the word. Where-ever the people have no share in the elections, there is no Representation. No constitutional writer or lawyer, from Brae-ton or Fleta, to Blackstone and Hardwick, has at all laid down a system such as at present exists in the Representation only of certain classes. The people generally have no concern in the elections for the whole kingdom. I say a Representation, in the sense it has ever been used in England—in the sense in which it should always be considered in the House of Commons—does not exist, and I hail this as a first attempt to bestow a Representation upon Scotland.
§ Mr. Cumming Bruce
the gratification which I always derive from the eloquence of the right hon. Baronet who has just sat down, disposes me not to quarrel with him for having, with scarcely any reference to the question before the House, indulged us with a speech on the general question, already so fully discussed during the two long nights on which the House was occupied with its consideration. I shall not follow the example of the right hon. Baronet, having already occupied more of the time of the House on that question than was, in any shape, justly due to so humble an individual. But when the right hon. Baronet reiterates, for the twentieth time, his declaration, that Scotland has hitherto enjoyed no Representation at all, because it has not enjoyed a popular Representation, I must again state, what I have already asserted to the House, that such is not the fact. Though not popular, our Representation is a Representation of property, to a very great extent. The right hon. Baronet would seem to assert, that numbers—that population alone—is the element which should be considered, in forming a system of Representation. I had thought that property, also, should enter into the consideration—if for nothing else, as a standard of fitness and intelligence; and the mere fact, that a property standard of qualification has been adopted, in the general measures of Reform, proves that such also is the view of his Majesty's Government. I do not approve of the fixed qualification, in its universal application; but its adoption proves, at least, the fact, that property was thought worthy of some Representation. But I shall not follow the right hon. Baronet further. My object in rising, is to press on the noble Lord opposite, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a consideration, which should, I think, induce him, in the view of giving full effect to his own principles, to agree to the amendment proposed by the hon. Member. In every word which fell from my hon. friend, the member for Peebles (Sir John Hay), whose candid speech made so great an impression on the House, in every word of what fell from him, in praise of the fairness, and candour, and conciliatory conduct which has characterized the noble Lord, throughout the whole of these proceedings, I most fully concur; and so I am fully persuaded of the sincerity of the noble Lord's declaration, that his only 1257 motive in proposing to throw these burghs into their respective counties, is a desire to create a free and independent constituency. Sir, I sincerely believe that such has, in every instance, been the desire of the noble Lord, however much I differ from him as to the success which will follow the course he has pursued. But to attain his own object, I put it to him, after having listened to the statement made with so much manliness by my hon. friend, of the great influence which, from his large property and great and deserved influence, my hon. friend must possess in the vicinity of the town of Peebles, whether the constituency of the county is likely to be improved, as far as exemption from individual influence goes, by such an accession; to its numbers? It may be all very true, as the noble Lord said, that in the hands of my hon. friend, that influence can only be exerted in a way useful and beneficial to the community. But my hon. friend, after all, is mortal; and the same influence may fall into hands disposed to use it in a very different spirit. I therefore would press on the consideration of the noble Lord, that he will best realize his own object— the securing a county constituency, exempt from any great individual influence—by acceding to the proposal which has been so ably advocated by my hon. friend. My hon. friend opposite, the member for Ayr (Mr. Kennedy) threatens us with the resumption of the concession made to these counties, in leaving them their separate Member, if this proposal be acceded to by a majority of the House; "for," says my hon. friend, "Selkirk will become a nomination county; and I abominate all nomination." Really, the virtue of my hon. friend must have been severely mortified at the sittings of those little Cabinet Councils in Downing-street, at which the Bill in its present form was agreed to. I could really almost pity the situation of my hon. friend, when, with all his holy hatred of nomination, he found himself obliged to agree, that the county of Sutherland should retain its right of sending a Member to this House. I should almost have feared that the bare proposition would have driven my hon. friend from the fellowship in which I am consoled to see he still sits with such apparent complacency, If there be a nomination county in the wide range of Scotland, it is the county of Sutherland, Why, there is but one proprietor, I may say, in 1258 the whole county. I quarrel not with his Majesty's Government, however, for allowing it to retain its right—far from it. It is one of those rags and shreds of our old Constitution which I rejoice to see preserved. Something at least is gained, in my view of the question, when the rights given by distinct Acts of Parliament to the tenants of the family of Sutherland are preserved. But this concession to any existing right must have been very painful to the anti-nomination feeling of the member for the Ayr burghs. But, Sir, I shall not trespass longer on the time of the House. I rose merely to urge on the noble Lord the fitness of keeping out of the county of Peebles a constituency which may be subject to a preponderating individual influence.
§ Mr. Robert A. Dundas
I have no wish to trespass on the attention of the House, nor shall I follow any hon. Gentleman by entering at large into the merits of this great question. I merely wish to set the House, right with regard to an observation which was made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He stated, with reference to what fell from the hon. member for Kirkcudbright, that the arrangement which had been brought forward by his Majesty's Government with respect to Selkirk and Peebles, will merely have the effect of transferring the right of individuals from burghs to counties. Now, if the right hon. Gentleman will consider the principle of this Bill, he will find that it confers the right on a totally different description of persons; not that these individuals will not exercise the right in burghs, but it merely restricts the rights of those individuals who would otherwise exercise them if these burghs remained in the position in which my right hon. friend opposite wishes to place them, It is with that view that this Motion has been brought forward: I shall support it; not that I approve in any degree of the principle of this Bill; but inasmuch as this proposition will have the effect of preventing some disfranchisement, if the hon. Gentleman chooses to divide the House he shall have my vote.
§ Mr. Gillon
I have not the slightest wish to prolong the debate, which has already occupied a considerable time; but, at the same time, I must beg to remark, in allusion to the particular point which is now under the consideration of the Committee, that the hon. Gentleman is decidedly in error who stated that the franchise would 1259 be given to the same individuals as those who possess it at present, and that the only difference would be, that they would be made county voters instead of burgh voters. I can assure the House, that if I had entertained such an opinion, I should not have brought forward this motion; as, if that had been the case, I conceive I should have been supporting a most objectionable point in the present state of the Bill. The fact, however, is, that the right will be possessed by a very different class of individuals. I hope that his Majesty's Government and the House will be induced to comply with the Motion of which I have given notice, which has for its object the giving of Representation to the owners of property in burghs, who do not possess the right of voting in burghs, without depriving the householders in burghs of the benefit of the franchise. I will merely say further, that I shall feel it my duty to press this Motion.
§ Sir Charles Forbes
I certainly feel disposed to support the Motion of the hon. Member. But I am induced to trouble the Committee in consequence of the threat of the hon. member for Ayr, who has stated, that if this Motion be carried, the Government will again bring forward their first proposition respecting the union of the counties of Selkirk and Peebles. Now, I undoubtedly should protest against uniting the counties in Scotland while the English counties are divided. It is of the greatest importance that we should exactly understand the course which his Majesty's Government intend to pursue in respect of this part of the subject; and I trust that the noble Lord opposite, with that courtesy and kindness for which he is so eminently distinguished, will tell us how the fact really stands, and if his intention has been correctly stated by the hon. member for Ayr. One word before I sit down: I very much regret the absence of the hon. member for Preston this evening, because I think, had he been here, he would have heard a good deal said on his favourite topic—the people. I declare, that from the 1st of March down to this day, the people have been the constant theme of converastion: I never heard so much of them before. Every word of my right hon. friend's (Sir James Mackintosh) speech to-night was about the people there was not one word in it, from beginning to end, about property. Really I am quite puzzled to understand this, both 1260 here and elsewhere. I am constantly tearing of "the people and property," and "property and the people;" and the words are so often bandied about from one side of the House to the other, just as it happens to suit the argument of the parties using them, that at this moment I declare I am totally unable to tell on what principle these expressions are so continually made use of.
§ Lord Althorp
In answer to the question of the hon. Baronet, I have to state, that when we wished to depart from the proposed union of these counties, we deemed it expedient to throw the burghs into them, in order to give them a respectable constituency. If, then, this part of the arrangement should be defeated, can he expect us not to revert to our original intention regarding the counties? Undoubtedly, Sir, this is what he must look for.
I cannot suppress my surprise at what has just now fallen from the noble Lord opposite. I must entreat the indulgence of the House for a few moments, on account of the peculiar situation in which he has placed me. He has stated to the House, that if this Motion shall be carried, he means to revert to his former arrangement, and again propose to the House to unite the counties. Sir, I did not expect this from the noble Lord. When I heard such a threat from the hon. member for Ayr, it made no impression upon me whatever; and I did not think it worth my while to notice it, for I thought that I could have appealed from it to the justice of the noble Lord; but I now find I have been mistaken. When I heard him already declare, that in giving up the arrangement of uniting the counties, his Majesty's Government had been induced to do so by the representations which had been made to them, and which had changed their view of the question—when I heard him thus put it upon the grounds of expediency and justice—I never could have supposed that he would have gone back from such a declaration, and, in spite of his own acknowledgment, again call upon the House to do wrong to these counties. Does the noble Lord suppose, that by this threat he is to influence our votes upon the question immediately before the Committee? If this be his expectation, in one Member, at least, he will find he is mistaken. I am called upon to do an act of justice, and to resist the disfranchisement of these burghs, and this I shall do, re- 1261 gardless of the consequences. But I have no fear of the consequences. If this Motion be carried, and if then the noble Lord shall attempt to put his threat in execution I shall appeal from him to the justice of this House, and I feel assured that I shall not make the appeal in vain. The hon. member for Linlithgow (Mr. Gillon), has brought before us a specific motion. Of the justice of that motion I have already expressed my opinion, and from such tin opinion I can never go back. Happen what may, I shall give my support to the Motion.
§ Lord Althorp
I stated at first that these two towns were to be thrown into the counties if the intention of uniting them was to be given up. Cut I do not think I have been rightly understood by the Committee. I said, that it might be expected we should revert to the whole of the original arrangement, if this part of it were lost; but I did not mean seriously to intimate that we were resolved to do so. I certainly did not expect that what I said would have the effect of making the hon. Member opposite angry.
Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
I shall not trespass on the attention of the House many moments. ["Oh, oh! "Divide, divide!" Question, question!"] Hon. Gentlemen who cry "Question," do not understand the importance of the subject. This question certainly arises out of that which the noble Lord was pleased to decide in favour of the counties of Peebles and Selkirk. Under the impression that each of these counties were to have Representatives, I felt, in common with all the people of Scotland, grateful to the noble Lord for having acceded to our wishes. At present, however, the case is altered. The noble Lord has declared, that if this Motion should be carried against him, he will consider whether he ought not to retract that concession [no, no.!]. So, at least, I understood the noble Lord. I am glad to find I am mistaken. One hon. Member has called for the union of these two counties, according to the original plan of the noble Lord; and I am sorry to see that there are some of the Members for Scotland who are inclined, to reduce in place of augmenting, its county Representation, and who seek, upon all occasions, to degrade the character of that Representation in the eyes of this House. It has been said, that, the whole of the Representation proposed to be attached to Scotland, is a boon to 1262 that country, for that Scotland has never had any Representation. I have often said, and 1 repeat it now, that the system of the Representation of Scotland is defective, and that it ought to be amended; but I deny that Scotland has never been represented, or that Representation is now for the first time to be extended to it. Were that the case, you, Sir, from the chair must propose to alter the title of the Bill, by making it a Bill, not to amend, but to give a Representation to the people of Scotland.
§ Lord Althorp
I certainly thought that what I had before staled on this subject would have been a sufficient answer to the hon. Gentleman. I thought that the explanation I then gave was sufficient, and I as certainly did not expect to be called upon again. Undoubtedly, Sir, I understood that my hon. friend was perfectly satisfied with the proposition that had been made for placing these towns in the counties; therefore, I am surprised at the opposition which has been offered to it. If I were to allude to what is past, I must say, that I should have expected a very different result.
Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
I beg to assure the noble Lord that I was not present when any intention of offering this proposition to the House was expressed. I was not present at any meeting where such a proposition was introduced. If I had, however great my respect for the noble Lord, I should most certainly have opposed it.
§ Sir Charles Forbes
I am happy to find, as I had supposed, that the noble Lord, when he seemed to adopt the threat of the hon. member for Ayr, was not in earnest. But the joke was a very bad joke; and I cannot help thinking, Sir, that my hon. friend the member for Ayr, with those strong feelings of impetuosity which he occasionally exhibits, went a little further perhaps, in the situation of locum tenens for the Lord Advocate, than he ought to have done.
§ Sir George Clerk
Sir—[cries of "Question!] if that hon. Member who cries "question" had attended during the discussion, he might have had some right to call "question;" but as he is one of those hon. Members who have just come into the House for the purpose of voting on a question of which he has not heard one single word, he will perhaps allow me to make an observation. When I look to the quarter of the House from which 1263 those cries proceed, and see that those benches are chiefly occupied by hon. members for Ireland, I must say, considering the inconvenience to which the hon. and learned member for Kerry has put us, by moving a call of the House on Monday, in order to secure a full attendance on the Irish Bill, that they might, in return, have heard us upon the Scotch Bill. It is not possible, from my knowledge of the noble Lord's character, that I could suppose he intended to commit any deliberate act of injustice, and therefore I will only say, that I do trust, notwithstanding even the threat which he has held out on this occasion, we shall be able to save the right of voting for these two flourishing towns, against either of which I have not heard one single argument adduced which can justify their being divided, either on the ground of corruption or want of population.
§ The Committee divided on the original Question, when the numbers were: Ayes 133; Noes60—Majority 73.
§ On the question, that these words, "And that one shall always be returned by each of the shires enumerated in the schedule A, hereunto annexed, stand part of the clause,"
§ Sir George Murray
said, the Amendment I have to suggest is this—I should beg to propose that each county in Scotland having a population which, by the census of 1821, amounted to 100,000 inhabitants, shall be entitled to return two Members to this House in place of one only, as proposed by the Bill now under consideration. I found this claim upon several different grounds. I found it, in the first place, upon this ground:—I conceive that Scotland has a claim, and a well-founded claim, to a larger number of Representatives than it is proposed by this Bill to give to her. The Representation of Scotland at the period of the Union was fixed at forty-five Members, and so fixed with reference to the population of the country as compared to that of England, and to the amount of the revenue and taxation in both countries. If I can establish the fact, that the relative proportion between the two countries has very considerably altered since the period of the Union, and that Scotland has gained very much during the time that has since elapsed, both in population and in revenue, as compared to England—if I can shew this to be the case, I shall estab- 1264 lish a fair claim to a more considerable addition than is given by this Bill to the Representation of Scotland. It appears that, at the period of the Union, in 1767, the Customs of Scotland amounted to 30,000l. whilst the Customs of England amounted to 1,341,559l.; the Excise in Scotland at that period amounted to 33.500l., in England, to 947,602l. making the whole of the revenue of Scotland, under these two heads, amount to 63,500l. whilst that of England amounted to 2,289,161l. The proportion, therefore, of the total amount of the English Customs and Excise, when compared to the total amount of the same branches of the revenue in Scotland, was about thirty-six to one; that is to say, the revenue of England was thirty-six times greater than that of Scotland. The state of things, however, is now very materially altered; for, according to the returns of the year ending the 5th of January, 1830, it appears that the English Customs amounted to 17,524,138l. and the Excise to18,243,929l., making a total of 35,768,067l. The Customs of Scotland at that time amounted to 1,372,089l.; the Excise to 2,762,993l.; making altogether 4,134,082l. The result, therefore, is, that the united Customs and Excise of England exceeded the united Customs and Excise of Scotland in that year in the proportion of about eight-and-a-half to one. The Committee will see that this fact presents a very different picture of the state of Scotland at the present period from that which she exhibited at the time of the Union. With regard to population, also, Scotland has been increasing in a somewhat similar ratio, though certainly the increased proportion in this respect has not been, perhaps, so great as in the revenue. On these grounds, therefore, I think I may fairly put it to the Committee, that there is a just claim on the part of Scotland to a considerable increase in the number of her Representatives. But I would also beg leave to refer the Committee, with relation to this question, to the observations which were made by the learned Lord Advocate, on the nature and character of the Treaty of Union, These were the words of the Lord Advocate:—'At last came the union of the two kingdoms; a bargain harshly and ingeniously made by the stronger party, and assented to by the weaker, not, he believed, under the influence of the most honourable motives—a bargain by which a neighbour- 1265 ing nation, pretending to treat on terms of equality, had the face to propose to another that all the diminution in the number of Representatives should be on one side.' This opinion of the character of the Union given by the learned Lord, who has himself brought the present Bill into the House, fortifies the claim which I have to make for an increase of the number of Representatives for Scotland. But there are also other reasons why this addition should be allowed. When the English Bill passes, if it ever does pass, into a law, Scotland will possess another claim to an increase in the number of her Representatives, on the ground that, up to this moment, she has had virtually a Representation to a greater extent than would at first appear, in consequence of many individuals from that country having had the advantage of obtaining seats for English burghs. Now, the Committee will recollect, that Scotland will lose that advantage by the operation of the English Bill, for I conceive that the effect of that measure will be to localize, much more than has hitherto been the case, all political interests, and the Representation will be more immediately and directly connected with the place from whence the Representative is sent. I believe that is, indeed, one of the arguments which the supporters of this Bill bring forward to shew the advantages which will result from it. It must, however, be also clear, that the very circumstance of Representation being more localized renders it necessary that every part of the country should have its true and proper share of Representatives. The present system of Representation is not placed upon this footing; it is not now so much localized as it will be by the new Bill. And I must say, that I think the general interests of the country are more likely to be attended to, and may be advocated with a much greater probability of success now than they will be hereafter, when the Representation becomes so localized that every individual Member in this House will be bound to attend more closely, and almost exclusively, to the particular interests of the place he represents, than has heretofore been the case. Hitherto, many of those individuals who were brought in for the seats which are to be abolished by the English Bill, were not immediately connected with the local interests of the places they sat for, but they were very frequently the able advocates of 1266 general and important interests, as well within the united kingdom, as in distant parts of the empire. From this circumstance, I conceive that it is still more necessary that Scotland, in consideration of the Representation being more localized, should endeavour to obtain a greater number of Representatives than she has hitherto possessed, to advocate and support her particular claims. These are the general reasons which induce me to propose that an addition should be made to the Representation of Scotland; but I also claim it on other grounds, which have been fully established, I think, by his Majesty's Ministers, in the course of the discussions upon these Reform Bills. When the noble Lord the Paymaster General of the Forces, brought these Bills into the House, on the 1st of March, 1831, he stated, that the 'Bill for England will give two additional Members to each of the twenty-seven counties, where the number of inhabitants exceeds 150,000.' Now, here the noble Lord establishes the principle of granting an increased share of Representation to the English counties, with reference to the number of their population, and upon that principle, to twenty-seven counties, four Members each have been accordingly given, on the ground of their possessing a population of upwards of 150,000. Now, I think I may fairly claim, that the principle here laid down in so distinct a manner for England, should be extended to Scotland also. But I think this principle must obtain still further support from what was stated subsequently by the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The noble Lord said, 'In the provisions of this' Bill we have found it necessary to give Representatives to a greater number of burghs than we originally proposed. This led us to consider how we could give the agricultural interests a balancing influence. Something was requisite; for, by giving Members to such a number of towns, many of which we knew would return Members in the manufacturing interests, we feared their preponderance over the agricultural interests of the country. In this emergency it struck us, that by giving additional Members to counties, we should avoid this preponderating influence of the manufacturing interests; and, accordingly, seven counties, where it was known that the agricultural interests predominated, were 1267 were selected, and to these additional Representatives were given.' The former principle to which I have referred was that of giving Representation to counties with reference to their population; but here the noble Lord introduced the further principle of granting Representation also to counties, for the purpose of forming a balance to counteract that preponderating influence which the Bill had given to the manufacturing interests. Now, there is no man in this House more indisposed than I am, or than I have at all times expressed myself to be, to draw distinctions which would have the effect of creating a spirit of jealous rivalship, or a feeling of hostility between one interest and another in the State; but the noble Lord having, in the course of the consideration of the English Bill, admitted the propriety of giving additional Representation to seven English counties, for the purpose of bringing in agricultural Representatives, and the House having given its sanction to that principle, I conceive I have a fair claim to ask for the application of the same principle to Scotland. By a reference to the Bill for improving the Scotch Representation, it will be seen, that all the addition proposed to be made to that Representation is to be given to towns—all the eight additional Members will be the Representatives of towns. Now, Sir, I do not at all object to these towns being thus represented—quite the contrary. I put in myself a strong claim for the capital of the county which I have the honour to represent, as being a city fairly entitled in every respect to that privilege; and I am exceedingly happy to find that his Majesty's Government have been pleased, in their amended edition of the Bill, to give a Representative to the city of Perth.
What I am now desirous of establishing, and which I think is but just and fair, is, that the principle which has been laid down in the case of the English counties should be applied to the counties of Scotland, and that we should have increased agricultural Representation given to us also for the purpose of balancing and counteracting the increased influence given to another description of interests in Scotland by the proposed Bill. The motion, therefore, with which I shall 1268 hereafter mention. But, still further to strengthen my claim to this alteration, by reference to the expressed opinions of his Majesty's Ministers, I would beg leave to refer to an opinion given, or rather to an observation made, by the First Lord of the Admiralty, with reference to this very principle. That right hon. Baronet stated, in answer, I think, to some remarks made by the hon. member for Marlborough—I believe, with reference to the number of Members given to Cumberland, he having drawn a comparison between that county and Dorsetshire—that, 'Had Dorsetshire, by the population returns of 1821, contained upwards of 150,000 souls, it would, without any reference to its burgh Representation, have been admitted to the right of returning four Members to Parliament. Now this sentiment from the right hon. the First Lord of the Admiralty, confirms what I before stated relative to the principle of giving Representation to counties on account of population, and which was so clearly laid down, and acted upon, in the English Bill. And I may yet further strengthen this argument, if it be necessary, by again referring to the opinion of the noble Lord, the Paymaster-General of the Forces.
With reference to the Representation of Wales, that noble Lord said, 'His Majesty's Government have found that there are four counties in Wales distinguished as possessing a considerable population; there is the county of Glamorgan, to the Representation of which one Member has been already added: the county of Pembroke contains a population of 74,000 souls; but it has no additional Representative given to it, as it has already gained by the Bill two districts of burghs.' This statement does not at all weaken the principle, which I contend has been laid down; on the contrary, it rather confirms it; because the noble Lord assigns as a reason for not granting to Pembrokeshire an advantage similar to that given to Glamorganshire, that it has already received an increased share of Representation, by the addition of two districts of burghs. The other two Welsh counties mentioned by the noble Lord on that occasion were Carmarthenshire, and Denbighshire; the former containing a population of 96,000, and the latter a population of 76,000. To these two last counties, his Majesty's Ministers proposed to give one additional Member each. The noble Lord's observa- 1269 tions confirm the principle of increasing the county Representation, which we have already found laid down, and acted upon. It appears to me, that my proposition is again materially strengthened by the observations here made by the nobleLord, for he said, that 'As two Members more are 'thus to be added to the county Representation, his Majesty's Ministers, in conformity with the principles on which they have acted throughout the whole of this Bill, now propose to give two Representatives to two more large towns.' The towns referred to by the noble Lord, were those of Ashton-under-Lyne, and Stroud. We find, therefore, this principle laid down—that there shall be a fair balance preserved between contending interests; and we find the principle laid down and applied in the former part of the Bill, by giving Members to counties, for the purpose of preventing an undue preponderance of the manufacturing interests, by the increase of town Representation; and here again it is confirmed and strengthened, by being applied in an opposite direction; and in this instance, two additional Members are given to towns, in consequence of additional Representation having been granted to the Welsh counties. It appears to me, therefore, that the principle is confirmed in the strongest possible manner, by the mode of its being acted upon in both these cases. What I aim at is, to persuade this House, and his Majesty's Ministers, of the fairness and justice of applying the same principle to Scotland, on both the grounds which I have already stated. Let us now proceed to compare the population of the counties in England to which additional Representation is given, with the population of the Scotch counties, for which I put in my present claim. I find here, with reference to the population of those counties to which four Members have been given, that the county of Durham possesses a population of 207,000 inhabitants. Now, that county is to receive four Members, as county Representatives, and it is to have also six Members for towns; so that here is a population of 207,000 sending ten Representatives to Parliament. Then there is the county of Northumberland, possessing a population of 226,000; and that county will also send four county Representatives to Parliament; in addition to which, it will have seven burgh Representatives; making a total of eleven Representatives for a popula- 1270 tion of 226,000. With regard to Cumberland—and let me here observe, that I take those counties which are nearest to Scotland, and, therefore, the most likely to be brought into comparison with the state of Representation in that country—the county of Cumberland has, by the Bill, four county Representatives, and four burgh Representatives; making a total of eight Members for a population of 156,000. Now, taking the Scotch counties, for the purpose of comparing them with the English counties I have mentioned, I find the county which I myself have the honour to represent—the county of Perth—containing a population, by the census of 1821, of 130,050 persons; and yet that county, with a population falling very little short of that of Cumberland, which sends eight Representatives to Parliament, will only send two Members to represent its interests in this House, and one of these will be for the city of Perth, which contains about 23,000 inhabitants. Now, it happens, also, that, if we deduct from the county constituency, or, I should rather say, if we deduct from the county population, the population of the burghs, in both cases, it is singular enough, but it so happens, that if you take away the number of inhabitants contained in the towns of Cumberland, which are to send Representatives to Parliament, it reduces the population of that county to 115,000 persons, sending four Representatives to this House; and, if you take away the population of the city of Perth from that of the county of Perth, the number of the inhabitants of the county becomes exactly the same as that of Cumberland—namely, 115,000, but who are to send only one Representative to Parliament, It is quite impossible that any Member of this House can fail to perceive, that there is a considerable degree of unfairness in this system of Representation. If we advert next to the counties in England to which a Representation of three Members has been allowed (I will not trouble the House by referring to the burghs in these counties), we shall find the facts to be as I shall now state to the Committee. If we take the county of Hereford, for instance, we shall find, including the boroughs population, that it contains 103,243 inhabitants—falling, therefore, considerably below the population of many counties in Scotland, which send only one Representative to Parliament, but to each of which I propose that the 1271 Bill should grant two Members. We shall find, also, that Cambridge shire contains a population of 121,900, Hertford, 129,700, Berks, 131,977, Bucks, 134,068, Oxford, 136,971, and Dorset, 144,499. Now all these counties, if we take a general average, are pretty nearly upon a par with those counties in Scotland, in whose behalf all I ask is, that, in place of one Member, they should be allowed in future to return two. And it must be recollected that these English counties, nearly corresponding with them in amount of population, are to send three Representatives each to Parliament, independent of those Members who are returned for their burghs. I will beg leave to enumerate the population of some of the larger Scotch counties. Aberdeen, in 1821, possessed a population of 155,387; Ayr, 127,299; Mid-Lothian, 191,514; Fife, 114,556; Forfar, 113,430; Lanark, 244,387; Perth, 139,050; and Renfrew, 112,175. These counties altogether contain a population considerably larger than those English counties to which I have already referred. Why the treatment of these Scotch counties should be so extremely different from the English counties, I confess I cannot understand. I have shewn that they possess a population sufficient to entitle them to an increased share of Representation; there is also a sufficient extent; there is no deficiency in point of wealth; and I have heard it admitted, by almost every Gentleman in this House, that there is no want of intelligence among the people of Scotland, which should restrict the number of their Representatives. For my own part, I certainly cannot conceive that any objection to granting this increased Representation to Scotland can be founded on the argument of the necessity of adhering; to the Articles of the Union; for his Majesty's Government have themselves departed from the Union, in all those parts of the Bill where it has suited their own views and their own purposes to do so, without any hesitation or scruple whatever. The learned Lord told us, indeed, on opening the discussion on this Bill, that he did not mean to follow the old system, or to leave even one rag or shred of it remaining. But my interpretation of the Articles of the Union has always been this, that they were intended to guard and protect us against any thing oppressive, but not to act as a bar to our receiving our fair and proper share of a benefit which is conferred 1272 on other parts of the united kingdom. I think his Majesty's Ministers might go upon the liberal principle which is admitted, I know, in all military transactions at least; for wherever there is an article, even in a capitulation, the interpretation of which admits of any doubt, it is always decided with a leaning rather to the weaker party than the stronger, in order that the weaker party may not be oppressed. I call upon his Majesty's Ministers to apply this principle to Scotland; and I say that, although we are the weaker party, there can exist no right to debar us from the receiving a benefit which we are entitled to claim under this Bill. I think the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, in allusion to what took place at the time of the Union, stated, that the Scotch were anxious to have some deviation from the proposed plan, and to have a greater number of Representatives; but to these representations the English Commissioner; answered, "You shall have forty-five Members, and no more;" and in this" practical and sensible" manner was the Representation of Scotland settled at the time of the Union. I cannot concur with the noble Lord in his application of the words, "practical and sensible," to this conduct of the English Commissioners; and I feel much more disposed to apply to it the epithets of unjust, arrogant, and dictatorial. Authority and power have interfered to oppress the weaker party; and I should incline to believe, that nothing but those strong means of influence which the learned Lord alluded to, as extensively prevalent at that period, could have induced the Scotch to give way, and to assent to what appears, by the admission of the English Commissioners, to have been so strongly felt as an act of injustice, in rating so low the number of the Scotch Representatives. There is no ground which can possibly be stated why Scotland should continue to be so treated. It cannot be said that the country is a conquered country: if any statement of that kind were made, I should beg to ask when, and by whom, has Scotland ever been conquered? Any one aquainted with the history of Scotland must know well, that it is a country which never submitted to any conqueror. Invaded it has been—successfully invaded—but conquered it has not been, for there is no record in history of any hostile power having been enabled to maintain a permanent footing in that 1273 country. But even if it were otherwise—even if it had been conquered, I contend that the term "conquered country," ought never to be applied to any portion whatsoever of a united kingdom. In a united kingdom there is no conqueror, and no conquered; the rights of all are equal, and it is only by proceeding on such liberal and enlightened views of policy that we can produce that state of unanimity, and of harmony, the existence of which is so essentially necessary for the preservation of our internal tranquillity, and for the advancement of our common interests. I claim, therefore, on the several grounds I have stated, that a greater number of Representatives be given to Scotland; and I take the liberty of moving, that, after the words in the clause now before the Committee, which have been just read by the hon. Chairman, there be inserted these words: "Two shall always be returned by each of the following shires—namely, Aberdeen, Ayr, Edinburgh, Fife, Forfar, Lanark, Perth, and Renfrew."
§ Lord Althorp
The right hon. Gentleman has made a statement of the relative proportions of the revenue of Scotland and England, and he has very truly observed, that there is a very considerable difference between the state of these proportions, at present, and their existing relation at the time of the Union; therefore, he contends, that we ought not to place Scotland on the same footing as she was when the revenue of this country was so much larger compared with hers. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to add eight more Members to the Representation of Scotland—that is to say, he proposes that that country shall have in the whole sixty-one Members, instead of forty-five. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman stated, that the revenue of England exceeded the revenue of Scotland in the proportion of thirty to one, at the time of the Union, whereas its excess is now only about eight-and-a-half to one. Why, then, if, at the time of the Union, the number of Members to be allowed to Scotland had been calculated in this way, instead of forty-five Members, she would not have had more than between fourteen or fifteen; and, if the same proportion were to be preserved at present, instead of sixty-one Members, which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to give her, fifty-six would he the number of Representatives to which she would be entitled. It must, I think, be quite clear, 1274 Sir, that this was not the ground on which the number of Members was fixed at the Union, because the proportion of her Members then was three times as much as the proportion of her revenue, compared with what it is, on its present scale of forty-five, to the present revenue of Scotland. If we were to legislate on the same principle now, instead of fifty-six Members, Scotland ought to have the number 168, which would be three times the relative proportion it should bear to that revenue. I, therefore, must say, that I think any consideration of the amount of revenue, as bearing on the number of Members at the Union, and the number of Members that ought to be given now, should be put quite out of the question, for that never was, and is not now, the ground on which the number of Members should be fixed. The right hon. Gentleman should recollect, too, Sir, that the proportion of Scotch Members is not only increased by the number of eight, which we propose to add, but by other means; for not only will she have eight additional Representatives, but the number of English Members is also considerably diminished; and, therefore, instead of Scotland having fifty-three Members, bearing only the same proportion to the number of English Members, as her Representatives do at present, the advantage on the part of Scotland will be enhanced in the further degree, by which the now existing number of English Representatives is diminished; so that the advantage given to Scotland in proportion, is, in fact, much greater than it appears to be. But then the right hon. Gentleman says, that the population of the counties of Scotland is equal to that of the English counties, whose Representation has been increased, and on that ground, he asserts, a larger number of Members ought to be allowed them. The population of these counties has been properly stated, and the argument would have had some weight, if there were no other point to be considered; but there is another consideration of great importance to be remembered, and that is the number of electors. Now, I apprehend, that in the largest counties in Scotland, the number of electors, under this Bill, will not be equal to that in many of the smaller counties in England. I speak, of course, rather loosely, but I have seen a calculation of the probable number of electors; and it has been stated to me, that 1275 in all Lanark there are not more than between 2,500 or 2,600 voters. This calculation was shewn to me, not at all with a view to this discussion; but if I recollect right, the number of voters did not exceed that amount, notwithstanding it is one of those counties in which nearly the largest constituencies might be supposed to exist. Well, then, if this be the case in all those counties to which the right hon. Gentleman has alluded, the number of voters will be greater in the small counties of England than in the largest Scotch counties; and, therefore, when we are considering how many Representatives should be given to a country so differently situated in this respect from England, I cannot think that population, and population alone, ought to be the guide on which we are to go. For these reasons, Sir, I really do feel that this claim, in justice, does not exist in the way in which it has been put forward by the right hon. Gentleman. Then the right hon. Gentleman says, that Scotland will have the number of her town Representatives increased, but that she will not possess the same advantage with respect to her county Members. This, certainly, Sir, is very true; but the right hon. Gentleman should recollect how very inadequately the manufacturing population of Scotland has been represented: because, when we consider that such a town as Glasgow, and many other large manufacturing towns in Scotland, have had no more weight in the election of their Representatives than the smaller burghs with which they were connected, we must all admit that this branch of the Representative system in Scotland is very defective. The first thing that would naturally strike one, in looking to the state of the Representation of that country, would be, that the manufacturing interests much more required an increase of Representation, than the agricultural interests demanded the addition of county Members. For this reason, the course which has been adopted seems perfectly right, and the reasons I have stated fully justify the Representation of Scotch towns being increased in preference to that of Scotch counties. I must say, therefore, that, on the best consideration I can give the subject, it does not appear to me that the case brought forward on the part of Scotland for a larger increase in the number of her Representatives is one which is founded injustice. The amount of the consti- 1276 tuencies of Scotch counties will be very small when compared with the number of electors in the counties of England; and, as I said before, the different circumstances in which the two countries are placed in this respect, must be taken into consideration. For these reasons, I shall feel myself bound to oppose the suggestions of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I do so, not from any jealousy of Scotland, or from not wishing to see the inhabitants of that part of the kingdom adequately represented in this House, but because I think, upon the whole, that, as this Bill stands, they will be fully represented. Certainly they will be more fully, if not better, represented, than they have been hitherto, and will enjoy a larger share of influence in this House.
§ Sir George Clerk
The principal argument of the noble Lord is, that we are not to take the mere population of Scotland, but to look to the circumstances of the country. The only argument, however, in the noble Lord's speech that made any impression upon my mind was, that the number of Representatives had been increased in an adequate proportion with the number of electors. But I must confess, that I think the information he has received, as to the number of electors likely to be created under this Bill, very erroneous. He states that, from the accounts sent to him, he estimates the number of electors for the county of Lanark at 2,500. But I am certain that, before the first registers are completed, they will amount to double that number. We hear much of the great boon which this Bill will be to Scotland, in enabling the people to elect Representatives; but the value of that boon greatly depends upon your giving them Representatives to elect. And it must be admitted, that the number given her, under this Bill, will not compensate her for the loss of the advantages she used to enjoy in sending Members to this House through English boroughs. Let us look at the different principles under which Representatives might be given to Scotland. At the time of the Union, one of the first principles the English Commissioners looked to, was that of taxation; but that of Scotland not being one-fortieth of that of England, would only have given her ten Representatives, which being acknowledged to be too few, they turned their attention to the principle of population. At that time, it was calculated that the 1277 population of Scotland amounted to 2,000,000, and that of England to about 6,000,000, which would have yielded a proportion of one to three, and have given Scotland one-third of the total Representation—a much larger share than the proportion of taxes paid by her entitled her to look for. The third proposition was, that a ratio compounded of taxation and population, should be given. That was the principle adopted in fixing the proportion of the Irish Members, and was the principle also proceeded upon by Cromwell. His United Parliament was to contain thirty Members from Scotland, that is, one thirteenth; the total number being 400. The number proposed by the English Commissioners was thirty-two. The Scotch claimed much more; and this was the only question on which they had a solemn conference. Finally, the English Commissioners said, that they could not concede more than forty-five. The Scotch Commissioners thought this much too small a number; but, rather than throw any impediment in the way of the great measure of the Union, they adopted it. But if forty-five were then thought too little, surely the fifty-three proposed by this Bill cannot be thought enough! According to the noble Lord, we contribute one-eighth part of the revenue; and if we look to our population, we shall find it to be one-sixth that of England. If we take a just principle of population and taxation, we should, therefore, according to these data, be entitled to one-seventh of the Representation; and as the number of Members is reduced, by the English Bill, to 478, our share would be seventy-two. But instead of that, my right hon. friend only begs you to add eight more to what you have already given us, making our number sixty-one. I admit that, on account of the great advance Scotland has made in commerce and manufactures, it would be absurd to keep up the proportion of two county Members to one burgh Member. But if you adopt the suggestion of my right hon. friend, they will only be in the proportion of thirty-eight to twenty-three. The noble Lord stated, that it was impossible to follow the same rule in this respect in England and Scotland. But the noble Lord, for similar reasons, might have applied the same argument to the agricultural and manufacturing counties of England. Yet the object of the Bill of the noble Lord is, to 1278 preserve the proportion between the agricultural and manufacturing districts, in such a way as to give one Representative to every 25,000 inhabitants. I should be glad to have the same principle applied to Scotland, for that would give us eighty Representatives. Whether, therefore, we look to taxation, to population, to the two conjoined, or to the proportion allotted to the least favoured districts of England, Scotland is entitled to more Members than is given her under this Bill. I will not follow the line of argument before taken up by the right hon. member for Aldborough, with respect to the greater or less favour shewn to particular counties; but I am willing to compare the whole of Scotland with the least favoured agricultural districts of England. I confess, that when I consider the great importance of Scotland in an agricultural point of view, I think it but fair that it should be put upon an equal footing with the agricultural districts of England. I am unwilling to detain the Committee at any great length, after the able and unanswerable statement of my right hon. friend near me, which the noble Lord has not at all refuted. But there are one or two observations more I wish to make. The noble Lord thinks that Lanarkshire, with 300,000 inhabitants, cannot muster so great a constituency as I think it will; but there is hardly a house in Scotland, above the smallest cottage, which has not from a quarter of an acre to an acre of land attached to it, and which will not, by the proprietor, be estimated as being worth 10l. a-year to him. There cannot be the slightest doubt, therefore, that the number of electors created by the Bill, will be in a greater proportion than in any of the agricultural counties of England. Why not say at once, that all counties with above 100,000 inhabitants shall have two Members? With what justice can you say that the small county of Rutland shall have two Members, whilst Lanarkshire shall have only one? It is upon these grounds, that I give my cordial support to the proposition of my hon. friend, and hope that no objection will be taken to it by Gentlemen from other parts of the empire.
§ Mr. John Campbell
What I am about to say may not, perhaps, make me very popular in my own country, but the interests of justice require that I should candidly deliver my sentiments. It does 1279 appear to me that I, as a Scotchman, as well as the rest of my countrymen, ought to be satisfied. I acknowledge that the right hon. member for Perthshire has made out a strong case, which I do not think entirely answered by the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer). But we ought not to consider what we are strictly entitled to, but what, under all the circumstances, we may reasonably ask. It appears to me that, from the reign of Edward 1st to the present time, England never dealt with Scotland on more liberal terms. I ask the right hon. Baronet whether it could have been expected, under ordinary circumstances, that England should consent to Scotland gaining Members, whilst she herself lost many? And by whom is this proposition for increasing the number of Scottish Representatives made? Have we forgotten General Gascoyne's motion, and who voted for it? Have we forgotten, that by that proposition England was to maintain her 513 Members, and that no other part of the United Kingdom was to gain any? Could it be expected by any one who voted for General Gascoyne's motion, that England retaining 513 Members, Scotland should have seventy, or even the sixty-one now proposed? No, Sir: all who voted for General Gascoyne thereby declared that they could not expect more than forty-five for Scotland—that they would not increase the numbers of the House. Indeed, I believe it has been, on all sides, admitted, that the numbers of the House are already too great. Why, the benches are not sufficient to contain us, even as we now are; and I think the Committee sitting upon the subject will find a difficulty in accommodating us all. But I have not heard it proposed by any one that the numbers of the House should be increased; and I apprehend that if any Reform Bill had been brought in by the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, Scotland would have fared much worse than she will do under the Bill of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. By asking too much, you often miss what you are reasonably entitled to; and I rather think that it was upon the expectation that Scotland would be satisfied with these eight new additional Members that they were given to her; for what would have been the use of giving them, if she was to be as much dissatisfied as when forty-five was the number allotted to her? It does appear to me that Scot- 1280 land has no reason to be dissatisfied with the numbers given to the burghs; for although at the Union thirty were given to the counties, and fifteen to the burghs, yet, in point of fact, it is only since that her great burghs have risen into importance. All that she then had were a few miserable fishing communities, very unlike the Glasgow, the Paisley, and the Dundee, now so properly provided for.
§ Mr. Robert A. Dundas
I have no doubt that when we divide on the motion of the right hon. member for Perthshire, the word will be passed for a certain number of English Representatives to come into this House, and counterbalance the votes which, if confined to Scotchmen, would be in favour of that Motion. What answer has been given to the arguments of my right hon. and gallant friend, in favour of giving proper Representation to the Scotch counties? As all the ancient institutions of England have been subverted, and an entirely new, system of Representation framed, I think it rather hard upon Scotland, that she is not to reap her share of the benefits of that system. My right hon. friend has brought before the House the population of the different counties of Scotland, to which he proposes to give two Representatives, and in all of them it is greater than those in England to which the English Bill gives three Representatives. As to the constituency not being as large, I think that what has been stated by the hon. member for the county of Edinburgh, is a sufficient answer to that question. If the feuars are to form an independent class of voters, it is an additional reason for increasing the number of the Representatives. I have no expectation individually, that the Motion of my right hon. friend will be carried. For a certain number of persons, pledged to support the Bill, as proposed by Ministers, will come in, and without having heard one single word of the arguments of my right hon. friend answered, because they are unanswerable, vote against him; but that is no reason why we, the Representatives of Scotland, should not show that country, that, although wishing the present system to stand as it is, yet that, as a new system is to be framed for England, we cannot acquiesce in any proposition which shall deny the people of Scotland their full and fair equality in that which is to be granted to the other parts of the United Kingdom. It is under these circumstances 1281 that I feel myself bound to support the proposition of my hon. friend, the member for Perthshire.
§ Mr. Gillon
I shall trespass but a very short time on the Committee. I think it my duty as a Representative of Scotland, the right hon. Gentleman opposite having declared that the people of Scotland will not be satisfied unless it have more Members, to express my conviction that they are, as they ought to be, perfectly content with the measure proposed by his Majesty's Ministers. What Scotland wants, is not so much an increase in the number of her Representatives, as an improvement of their quality—an improvement which will inevitably take place when they are elected by a large, independent, and intelligent constituency. Notwithstanding the odium it may bring upon me in the eyes of the hon. and learned member for Kirkcudbright, I am one of those who say, that Scotland has never hitherto been represented at all. The arguments in favour of a larger Representation for Scotland come with a particularly bad grace from Gentlemen who, by voting with General Gascoyne, virtually said, that Scotland, was not to have any increase of Representation. If the number of English Members had been kept at 513, and Scotland, according to them, be entitled to one-seventh, which would be seventy-five or seventy-four, are they prepared to say that the numbers of the House should have been augmented to that extent, when it is now acknowledged, on all hands, that our numbers are at present inconveniently large?
§ Mr. Croker
If, after all that has passed in these extraordinary debates, one could be surprised at any thing, I confess that I should have been astonished at the arguments which have been just produced by the last speaker, and by the hon. member for Stafford, who spoke before. These hon. Gentlemen, in denial of the claim made by their native country for its fair share in the new system of Representation, have stated, that all must agree that the numbers of the House are inconveniently large, as if the gross numbers of the House were any answer to a question, which in fact only applies to the proportions in which the numbers are to be distributed; and this objection, futile at any time, happens to be made at a moment when we are, as we last night also were, debating the representative rights of the ancient kingdom of Scotland, now so important a 1282 portion of the empire, in the thinnest House that I believe any subject of any thing like similar importance was ever discussed in. This part of the argument, which was peculiarly urged by the last hon. Gentleman, is contradicted by the eyes of every man around him. He may think our audience inconveniently large. I say that, on the contrary, it is, on many important occasions, injuriously small. I say, that if this House were now assembled in proper number, the justice and force of the claim of Scotland must to-night achieve a victory even against the majority of Ministers. I complain that it is the inconvenient thinness of the attendance; I complain that it is the paucity of our numbers, and the want of discussion and information on the case of Scotland, that will permit the perpetration of the injustice with which she is threatened. The hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last but one (Mr. John Campbell), and who first broached this admirable argument, was particularly happy in his mode of putting the case. Scotland, he admits, ought, according to all the doctrines of statistics—according to every proportion of taxation—according to all the returns of population—according to every rule and measure of national inportance—to have more Members than the Bill allots to her; but then he has against this a conscientious objection—a constitutional objection—a philosophical objection—"we have not room!" Scotland has an immense and growing population. She demands and deserves a larger Representation, but you cannot comply with her just demand. Why? "Our benches are not large enough." Eight counties of Scotland have above 100,000 inhabitants, but you cannot give them two Representatives. For what reason? Our benches are not large enough! when the hon. Gentleman was speaking to comparatively empty benches—empty benches, which I will do him the justice to say, that for once he had not caused.
I must say, that it is the most surprising absurdity I ever heard, that the miserable details of our benches, and that the architectural formation of our seats, should be thought of in a great constitutional question, and urged as a reason why justice should not be done to the great, the permanent, and, I will add, the honourable, interests of that wealthy and important portion of the empire. The hon. and learned 1283 Gentleman (Mr. Campbell) chooses to impute to hon. Members on this side of the House, that by voting with General Gascoyne in the last Parliament, that the number of English Members should not be decreased, they implied that they were against all increase of the Representatives of Scotland. I deny that altogether, and not without authority; for I had an explanation that very night with a right hon. friend who takes a great interest in the affairs of Scotland. I told him, that I voted for General Gascoyne's motion, in the hopes of keeping the Constitution as it was—of defeating the sweeping and devastating change with which we were menaced—I reserved to myself the right of considering the Scotch Bill as a distinct subject, and protested against being supposed to give, by that night's vote, any opposition to such a reasonable increase of the Scottish Members as the interests of Scotland, and the claims of her people, might require. These were my avowed sentiments on the night of General Gascoyne's motion and these are still my sentiments on the motion of to-night. I, Sir, am not one who, like the learned Gentleman, would measure the rights of the people, or the extent of the Constitution, by the miserable carpentry of the benches upon which we sit. But if we are to condescend to notice such trifles, allow me to ask, whether it was objected to the Irish Union that there was not room to accommodate the Members that might be sent from that country? I am old enough to recollect that, on that occasion, the carpentry, which the learned Gentleman reverences so highly, was pulled to pieces, and that there was no difficulty in making room to admit the additional 100 Irish Members.
The learned Gentleman has not looked in to the works of legislators or of jurists, nor searched the texts of constitutional law; he has not referred to De Lolme, or Montesquieu, or Blackstone, but seems to have taken the Carpenter's Guide, or the Builder's Directory, as his manual of legislation; and yet I think that, had he duly studied these mechanical treatises, he might have discovered that means might, without any great difficulty, have been devised for admitting eight additional Members for the Scotch counties. If the objection is to be one of mere carpentry, I think his Majesty has cabinet-makers who ran overcome greater difficulties than this; but, seriously, I am surprised to hear an hon. 1284 Gentleman, a lawyer, and a Scotchman, addressing almost empty benches, and saying, that he could not vote for the rights of his countrymen, because they would not have room to sit. In an early part of the evening, the learned Gentleman endeavoured to extend to England some part of the benefit which his country derives from the laws respecting registration; I took the liberty, on that occasion, of applauding and encouraging his endeavours; but let him now help us in trying to extend to Scotland some more of those benefits which England expects to derive from this new extended system of Representation. Let him not have one rule for one part of the country, and another for another [hear, hear!] I understand the meaning of that cheer. It implies, that I am wrong in stating that there is one rule for one part of the country, and another for another. If my assertion be doubted, I must prove it—I am called upon to substantiate the fact—I will substantiate the fact, and will prove that a great, and flagrant, and offensive injustice is done to Scotland, while other portions of the country are fostered and favoured.
A line, imaginary in some parts, a rivulet in others—at last, a river divides the county of Cumberland from Scotland. I make no apology for this discussion, nor for the introduction of the case of Cumberland; I have been invited to it. It has, moreover, been debateable land for the last 500 years; the local, and sometimes the general interests of Scotland have been contended for on that ground, and I here renew that battle. And great, I own, will be my surprise, if, after attending to the facts which I shall state, any Scotchman shall be found to vote against the motion of my right hon. and gallant friend (Sir George Murray)—a motion founded on the strictest justice as regards the empire at large—a motion which involves the dignity and honour of Scotland as a people—a motion, finally, made by one whom Scotland admires as a patriotic Statesman, while she glories in him as a victorious and laurelled soldier. I say, Sir, I cannot believe that any true Scotchman will vote against a motion so recommended, and additionally supported by the facts which it falls to my humbler lot to be able to supply. The county of Cumberland, thus separated from Scotland by an almost invisible boundary, appears, in the population returns, to contain 156,000 in- 1285 habitants. His Majesty's Ministers have said, that certain counties in England, which contain above a certain number of inhabitants, should each return four Members. They drew their line at 150,000, and Cumberland is included within it. Although I do not see the right hon. member for Cumberland in his place, I must observe, that Cumberland is a Ministerial county; that it is represented in the Cabinet which framed this Bill, and, therefore, it is not strange that its interests should have been attended to.
The House is well aware that Cumberland has received additional burgh Representation; and every body must see that, in reckoning a county population for Representation, we ought to deduct from it the population of the towns to which the separate franchise is given. Now, deducting the population given to the burghs in Cumberland, you reduce its population for county Representation to 115,000, so that, if the principle of Ministers were to be fairly applied, it would not give to Cumberland four county Representatives. But by this political legerdemain, of reckoning the burgh population twice over, however, it is to receive four. And this is not all: it is to be divided into two equal parts; so that, in fact, 57,500 inhabitants in Cumberland are to return two county Representatives. This is all very well; but let us just step into Scotland—cross the imaginary line in the mountains—cross the brook in the valley—cross the bridge at Longtown, and what do you find? Why, that one short step has removed you into a county where 230,000 inhabitants are entitled to have only one single Member. Recross the imaginary line—recross the brook in the valley—recross the bridge at Longtown, and you are again in the favoured county where 57,000 inhabitants are gratified by two Members. I know not whether the four new Members for Cumberland will represent its interests better than two now do; but if, as his Majesty's Ministers profess, this additional Representation be a great advantage, then I say, that Lanarkshire, and Perthshire, and Aberdeenshire, and, indeed, all Scotland, are shamefully defrauded; and yet the hon. Gentleman—a Scotchman and a lawyer—tells us that he does not look upon this as an act of injustice! But, no: he does not quite say that; he hesitates—he declares that his private judgment is not convinced—that 1286 he is not satisfied with the reasoning of the noble Lord; he hums and haws, and then he looks into his brief, and finally gives us to understand, that whatever his private opinions may be, he will speak from his brief, and vote against the motion of my gallant friend.
And then the learned Gentleman supports this monstrous case—a case which in itself he cannot defend—by a proposition more monstrous still. He says that Scotland shall endure this. For why? Because she already endures it—because she has never been fairly and freely represented. What an argument! As long, indeed, as we were living under our old institutions, as long as we were inhabiting the old—inconvenient in some points, perhaps—but venerable edifice built by our ancestors, we put up with inconveniences and irregularities, because they were reconciled to us by habit, endeared to us by happy recollections, and adequate, not-withstanding local defects, to our wants and our wishes, to our present happiness, and to our future safety.
When a proposition was made, isolatedly, some years since, for an alteration in the Representation of the people of Scotland, the opponents of that proposition used against it, with great justice and propriety, precisely the same argument which the hon. Gentleman has so improperly, and he must allow me to say, so illogically used on the present occasion. They said—and Scotland acquiesced for a long period of years in the argument—"As we are not going to make a general alteration of the representative system of the whole of the empire, we think it would be inconvenient to disturb that of Scotland." The argument was good at that time—it was irresistible; and the, good sense of Scotland acquiesced in it, although no one, either here or elsewhere, denied that there were points in the Scotch system which it might be desirable to amend, if it could be done without risking the disorganization of the general system. But now, when you have disarranged, and disorganized, and destroyed every thing for the sake, as you tell us, of substituting a new and perfect system, is it not monstrous to hear Gentlemen turning round and saying that Scotland, forsooth, is still to be depressed and degraded (for the exception will operate as a degradation) by a partial adherence to the old and anathematized system? If you had left to England and to 1287 Scotland the pride, and the glory, and the security of our ancient feudal fortresses, we were content to bear the inconvenience for the counterbalancing advantages; but when you have levelled those venerable edifices with the ground, when the bastion, and the buttress, and the battlements that protected our ancestors, are destroyed, and all their defences scattered to the winds, is nothing but the dungeon to remain? Are the glory and security to be swept away, and the traces of servitude and degradation only to survive? You have abrogated all that was venerable—you have destroyed all that was ancient—you have made yourselves a clear and unencumbered space, on which your political Vauban may trace without impediment, the rectangular and rectilinear fortifications, the scarps, and counter-scarps, the horn-works, and half-moons, which you are about to substitute for the picturesque and time-honoured towers of our ancient Constitution. Why, then, is Scotland to be excluded from the general regularity; and with what reason can the learned Gentleman defend this momentous alteration, on the ground that Scotland is unfairly represented, and then vote that, although an improving change be made everywhere else, the antiquated injustice shall continue in Scotland?
When we have swept away the electoral boundaries of every county, and of every city and town in England, why are we so anxious to keep to the imaginary boundary between Cumberland and Scotland? Will any man venture to tell me that Lanarkshire is inferior to Cumberland in any of the elements of Representation? What is the superiority which is to obtain for the English county a quadruple proportion of Representatives? The learned Member answers—because it has always been so. No such thing. Cumberland had, under the old unequal system, double the number of Representatives that Lanark had, but, under the new system, it is to have four times that number, though Lanark has four times the qualifications on which Representation is professed to be given. What was the condition of these two counties at the time of the Union? Cumberland, perhaps, was nearly in the same relative state to the rest of the country as it now is; but Lanark, and all the rest of Scotland, have risen in population, in wealth, in intelligence, and in all the elements of Representation, by the industry, the talents, 1288 the good order, and the increased civilization of its inhabitants. Is this civilization, this order, this industry, this wealth, this intelligence, this increase of population—are all these considerations now to be thrown aside; and are we to be referred back to the ancient time when Lanark, as the learned Gentleman has said, was a poor and miserable county, with only a few fishing towns on its borders?—and the learned Gentleman's argument is, that you should treat it as if it were so still.
If your new principle of Representation is worth any thing, it is because you profess that it will quiet agitation; satisfy popular feeling; bestow equality of rights; and tranquillize the country. But if it is to open any hope of such advantages—which, at best, I believe to be a mere delusion—it will at least be conceded to me that it must proceed on some general principle of fairness and justice. If you attempt to build a new system on foundations which you stigmatize as rotten, your whole edifice will fall to pieces. If you attempt to connect your new-fangled doctrines with ancient and forgotten, or, at least, discarded prejudices; if you measure the Scotland of to-day by the Scotland of an hundred years ago, I tell you, your measure will be the most fatal apple of discord that was ever thrown down to be run for in the race of turbulence by national jealousy. Do you fancy that a high-minded and jealous people like the Scotch will patiently submit to such a slight? and a slight, not temporary, but permanent—to last, at least, as long as your new constitution shall last. Such an injustice dissolves the principles of the Union, and will revive and perpetuate ancient feuds. We shall again have border wars, though of a new kind. The Scotch will make inroads, not for flocks, and herds, and beeves, and sheaves, but for Representatives. The black mail, formerly paid for the protection of cattle, must hereafter be paid for the preservation of Representatives. It is a singular thing, but it does, by a strange misfortune in human affairs, so happen, that where you see the greatest propensity to plunder, you generally see, close by, the greatest incitement also. Now, there is the Prime Minister's, my Lord Grey's, own county of Northumberland, which borders Scotland on the southeast, as Cumberland does on the southwest. I assure his Majesty's Government, that, in all fairness, the northern catherans 1289 may come down and lift a Member or two from that county. For if you look at the question statistically, fiscally, politically, nay, alphabetically, or by whatever fine words the Representation of Northumberland has been justified, you will still find, that, as compared with several of the counties of Scotland, it has many Members to spare. But, if not content with the plunder of Northumberland, these depredators should extend their inroad to Durham; what a rich booty that Member-breeding county would afford them—that rich and abundant nursery of new Representatives!
We have read that the old borderers have made Newcastle tremble; but if the modern depredators, allured by the richness of the booty, should only pass the Tyne, and get to Gateshead—Good Lord, what a prize they might make! Sir, I really cannot but fancy the new burgesses for Gateshead, and Kendal, and Tynemouth, and Wearmouth, Monks and Bishops, and Shields, North and South, carried off, like Bailie Jarvie, by way of hostages for a fairer distribution between Scotland and England of the electoral right and the representative privilege. This, perhaps, is treating so grave a matter with too much levity; but the feelings of dissatisfaction and jealousy, which I have pictured by these allusions, will exist, and will display themselves with move serious features, and more lamentable results. I repeat, can you hope to build any thing solid on so rotten a foundation? Can you expect that Lanarkshire, Perthshire, Aberdeenshire, Ayrshire, and those other great Scottish counties, which have of late increased so much in population, in wealth, and in intelligence, have at the same time so scandalously decreased in moral feeling, political pride, and national courage and independence, as to submit patiently to be degraded below Cumberland, Northumberland, and Durham, because the noble Lord chooses to adhere in this particular—and this alone—to ancient arrangements, and to preserve, to the injury of Scotland, the imaginary line which divides the countries?
All is to be changed; every county is dismembered; the limits of every city and town are obliterated; every charter, however ancient, is forfeited; rights, the most sacred, confiscated; constituencies which have sent to this House the St. Johns, the Windhams, the Walpoles, the Pulteneys, 1290 the Pitts, the Foxes, the Burkes, the Pitts and Windhams again, names twice honoured in our history; the Sheridans, the Tierneys, the Percevals, and the Cannings—the constituencies, I say, which gave these men to the British senate, are all swallowed in this political earthquake; their services forgotten; their former usefulness, not only contemned as obsolete, but arraigned as criminal—all, all is to be swept away. The rule of three is to level all before it, and to expunge from the new rule of English constituency those corporate bodies, and those electoral towns which have given political birth to all those eminent statesmen who contributed, while they lived, to the prosperity of the country, and, after their death, have conferred illustration on its history. But in the general wreck of rights, privileges, and property, of natural limits and of moral connections, one single object floats—one single distinction is preserved—the imaginary line that separates the hills of Scotland from those of England is to be not merely remembered, but maintained, and marked as an effective and practical political boundary. What is the consequence? The heathy mountains, heretofore untrodden, except by the shepherd or the sportsman, will now, I suppose, be startled by the visit of a band of commissioners riding to determine the boundary between the two countries—a boundary, on one side of which there shall be provincial partiality and Ministerial favouritism, and, on the other, flagrant injustice and national degradation. How long, I must again ask, do you expect that Scotland will submit to that injurious distinction?
But I will restrain these oratorical movements and impulses. I have been betrayed into them by the natural indignation which partiality and injustice must always excite, and by the warm and brotherly affection which I feel for the interests of Scotland, which are, in my opinion, injured and endangered, not merely by this Bill, but by the principles on which the two hon. Members opposite have supported it; but I need make no apology; I feel that my warmth will be not only pardoned but approved, when I am addressing a tribunal of high-minded English Gentlemen, on a question involving, in my opinion, the political rights and the national honour of the industrious, intelligent, gallant, and generous people of Scotland.
But putting aside all rhetoric, I shall 1291 conclude by asking one plain question, and soliciting from the opposite bench a plain answer. What entitles the counties of Northumberland and Cumberland to be divided into four shires of about 59,000 inhabitants each, each returning two Members to Parliament, while Renfrew, and Fife, and Forfarshire, with 120,000 inhabitants, and Perthshire with 140,000, and Aberdeen with 160,000, and Lanarkshire with 250,000, are to have but one?
§ Mr. John Campbell
The right hon. Gentleman has made a personal allusion to me, which I feel bound to answer. I beg to state, then, that I am riot the nominee of any rotten burgh; I am not sent hereby any Peer or by any proprietor of boroughs. I spoke from no brief, nor have I received any retaining fee. There may be some nominees in this House who have received a retaining fee to do this or that; the right hon. Gentleman himself may have received a retaining fee; but let me inform him, that I stand here an independent Member of Parliament, being elected by an independent body of constituents, and that I speak the honest and independent sentiments of my own heart.
§ Mr. Croker
I beg leave to assure the hon. and learned Gentleman, that in saying he spoke from a brief, I meant no offensive allusion; I did not know how I could account, more delicately, for the learned Gentleman's saying, that he was not of the noble Lord's opinion, and yet that he meant to vote with him. To be privately of one opinion, and yet speak publicly for another, seemed to me to be very like what gentlemen are sometimes supposed to do when speaking from a brief. As to what the learned Gentleman has said about the retaining fee, I can sincerely assure him, that it never entered my head to suppose that any one would think of giving him a fee for his advocacy, either for or against the Bill.
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down seems to have taken the whole case of Scotland to himself. Instead of defending the existing system, however, and merely asking for an additional number of Representatives, it would have been quite as fair if he had expressed his determination to support a measure of justice towards Scotland—a measure which should give her the choice of her Representatives. At present she has nothing like justice, so far as regards her Representative system. I would now 1292 put this case to the House; whether individuals, employing thousands of the population of Scotland—having all sorts of property, freehold, leasehold, and copyhold, and carrying on important manufactures in many parts of the country—ought not to have a voice in the return of Representatives for it? At present they have nothing of the kind. Then, I ask, whether some sort of Reform is not necessary? By the existing system, the Members for the Scotch burghs are returned by a self-elected magistracy, the people having no voice, either in the election of Magistrate or Representative. Under such circumstances, I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have manifested his affection for Scotland much more strongly, if he had come forward to have supported something in the shape of Reform, instead of ex pressing his adherence to things as they are. Whether you regard the counties or the burghs, it cannot be said that a single man in Scotland is fairly represented under the existing system. Do the superiorities represent the landed interests? No such thing. Many of the superiority voters have not an acre of land. I will ask the hon. Baronet opposite, who is a dealer in superiorities, whether the superiority system of Scotland is not as bad, or nearly as bad, as the nomination system in England? I ask him, whether he has not many of these superiorities? whether he has not bought many of them? and I ask him, whether he, as a dealer in superiorities, can say that they represent the landed interests of Scotland? I have already said, that the self-elected bodies of Magistrates return all the Members for the Scottish burghs; the superiority voters, having themselves no interest in the land, return the county Members. These are facts which no one denies; and I venture to say, that there is not a town or a county in Scotland which does not complain of them. Yet the right hon. Gentleman professes to think that he is acting justly towards Scotland, by declaring that no change whatever in her Representation is required. I am satisfied, however, that any person who will look fairly to the state of Representation in that country, will see that it is far worse than the nomination system of England. At present the people of Scotland have no voice in the election of their Representatives. And yet the right hon. Gentleman, who professes to manifest so strong an 1293 affection for Scotland, is willing to continue the present system of election, and only asks for an additional number of Representatives. I am satisfied, that the people of Scotland would be content with the present number, provided they were admitted to the right—the just right—of electing them. If the right hon. Gentleman can manifest his affection for Scotland in no other manner than that which he has exhibited this evening, I am sure the people of that country will not thank him for it.
§ Mr. Croker
The sum of the hon. Gentleman's observations seems to be this—that, because Scotland has, heretofore, had in her Representation nothing but "superiorities," she shall hereafter have nothing but inferiority.
§ Colonel Lindsay
I must say, that the hon. Gentleman opposite has clearly and distinctly avoided answering any one of the observations of my right hon. friend below me. In no respect whatever did my right hon. friend defend the existing system in Scotland. His argument was this:—"If you are going to form a new Constitution for Great Britain and Ireland; if you are going to change the whole of the Representative system of the United Kingdom, you ought, injustice to Scotland, to give her a proportionate degree of Representation with the other parts of the empire." Upon what principle is it that the Representation of Scotland is to be changed? Is it upon the principle of population? If it be that, Scotland having a population of 2,000,000, and England having a population of 12,000,000, the Representation of Scotland should be in the proportion of one-sixth as compared with England. I will not repeat the arguments which have been so ably advanced by my right hon. friend below me; but I cannot help saying, that, under this Bill, Scotland will not have justice done her in respect of Representation; and that, for my own part, I would rather that her Representation should remain as it is. Had the noble Lord's measure of Reform been more moderate; had it gone only to a reformation of the burgh system, which I admit to be bad, no man would have supported it more sincerely than I should have done. The present system is undoubtedly a very close one; but the noble Lord's scheme for correcting it would lead to Universal Suffrage. It has been stated, that the people of Scotland 1294 will be satisfied with this Reform. If I thought that that would really be the case, it would go far with me to support the Bill; but I am of a different opinion. The hon. member for Selkirk has said, that the people are delighted and charmed with the Bill, and that they regard it as the greatest boon that could be conferred upon them. How can he judge of that fact? The people have been told of Reform, and, no doubt, are anxious for Reform, but they know nothing of this Bill. I do not know, then, upon what ground it is that hon. Gentlemen say that they will be satisfied with it. For my own part, I must repeat, that I think Scotland, under this Bill, will not be admitted to a fair and just proportion of Representation; and, for that reason, I shall support the motion of the right hon. Baronet, the member for Perthshire.
In answer to the observations of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I can only say, that the people of Scotland hailed the principle of this Bill, at the late general election, with the utmost satisfaction. Another proof of the feelings of the people upon the subject may be found in the number of petitions which are daily laid upon the Table of the House, from every part of Scotland. With these proofs before us—the most legitimate, proper, and respectful that can be offered to the House—I know not how it can be stated, with any regard to truth, that the people of Scotland do not generally approve of the measure.
I only wish to make one or two other observations, in reply to what has fallen from the right hon. Baronet opposite. He asked in the course of his speech, how Scotland is to be fully represented hereafter, when, under the operation of the English Reform Bill, there will be no chance of Scotch gentlemen coming in for counties or burghs in England? In answer to that, I will only ask, how are Middlesex, Stafford, and Norwich, represented now? Will any man tell me, that the feelings of the constituents of these places towards their present Representatives will necessarily undergo a change when the Reform Bill shall have come into operation; or that Scotchmen, by their talent and worth, will not command the suffrages of the people of England to an extent fully equal to what they do now? Much has been said about the claims of some of the larger counties of Scotland to additional Representation, on 1295 the ground of the extent of their population. When that argument is advanced, it ought not to be forgotten, that many of the counties, having but a small population, are permitted to send Members to Parliament; so that, if you take the whole population of all the counties of Scotland, and divide it by the number of county Representatives, you will find that the Representation is fairly proportioned to the extent of the population.
§ Sir Charles Forbes
The hon. member for Abingdon has expressed himself in a very warm, but, no doubt, conscientious manner, upon the subject of this Bill. He commenced with a loud complaint, that although he had built houses and manufactories, and given employment to vast numbers of the people of Scotland—for which, as a Scotchman, I am sure I return him my sincere thanks—still, under the existing system, and no doubt it is the case, he has no right to vote for any one of the Representatives of that country. But the hon. Member is no doubt aware how easily he might have qualified himself, not only to vote for county Members, but even to represent a Scotch county. He has also thought proper to complain of the Representation of Scotland, as unconnected with the land. I confess, that such a complaint rather astonishes me; because I have always understood the general objection to be, that the Members who are returned under it are too much connected with the Court. Departing from this ground of complaint, however, whether right or wrong, the hon. Gentleman suddenly turns round upon me, because I happened to cheer a part of his speech, selects me as a particular object, against whom the provisions of this Bill may be most properly applied, and charges me not only with holding a number of superiority votes, but of being an actual dealer in them. Now, I admit, that I do hold several superiorities, I wish I held more of them, whether connected or unconnected with the land; for I insist upon it, that one is as good as the other. But as to dealing in superiorities, I deny the truth of the allegation. To be a dealer in any article, I must, as the hon. Member knows by experience, sell as well as buy. Now, although I have bought superiorities, I never sold one; therefore, I hope the hon. Member will admit that I am not what he would perhaps call a superiority-monger. I regret much that the nature and cha- 1296 racter of these superiorities have not been sufficiently explained to the House and the country; and I must say, that it is not very creditable to the legal Members connected with Scotland, who are perfectly competent to deal with the subject, that they have not so explained the real nature of superiorities as to enable the House to form a correct opinion upon them. My right hon. friend, the member for Portarlington (Sir William Rae), says, that the House will not listen to so dry, and, to most Members, perhaps, so uninteresting a subject. I perfectly agree with him; for I have observed—as these empty benches indeed testify—that the House is little disposed to listen to any part of the great question of Reform, as far as it relates to Scotland. Therefore, before the rush comes—before the House fills, in anticipation of a division—before the absent arrive to molest us with their impatience, I, unlearned as I am, will endeavour to give the House some more correct idea of what these superiority votes really are. Fortunately, by mere chance, I happen to have in my pocket an able letter, written by a Scotch Lawyer, upon this very subject, which I received as far back as the month of March last; and as it contains a full and clear description of the nature of the superiority votes, I hope the Committee will allow me to read it. It is in these terms:—The subject on which I trouble you, is that which is now agitating the country, and by which I see that the vested rights of individuals are about to be sacrificed, by way of experiment at improvement in our mode of election. I feel a particular interest in the measure; for it is only twelve months since I purchased a freehold in this county, which cost me nearly 600l., and to yield it up without a word, would not be doing myself, my family, or my country, justice.Much has been said as to parchment voters, and so forth; but these are as old, and have as good a right to their property, as any in the country. Originally, the Crown gave a right to both superiority and property; but the superior has always had the right of creating vassals—that is, selling the property, dominium utile, while he retained the more noble part, the dominium directum. This is that part which gave him the right of voting in elections, while his vassal had merely the fruits of the soil. The rights of both are completely separate and distinct, the superior's estate being held immediately over that of the vassal; therefore the conveyancing of Scotland is according to the strict principles of the feudal law, the leading principle of which is, that the superior is lord 1297 of the fee, the vassal holding directly of him, as if all his rights were derived from the superior's grant.The power of superiors (with proper qualifications) voting at elections, is regulated by Statute. The Act of 1681, cap. 21, says, none shall have a power to vote in the elections of Commissioners of Shires, but those who at that time shall be publicly infeft in property or superiority of 400l. Scots, of valued rent, which rent is ascertained by the cess-books kept in each county. This Act, and others on the same subject, are supported by the Act of Union between England and Scotland; and to this Act I beg to refer you. The eighteenth article says, that no alteration shall be made in the law which concerns private rights, except for the evident utility of the subjects within Scotland. And by the twentieth article, all heritable offices, superiorities, heritable jurisdictions, &c., are reserved to the owners as rights of property, in the same manner as then enjoyed by the laws of Scotland, notwithstanding the Union. The Act, 16 George 2nd, cap. 11, defines what is a sufficient qualification—namely, lands holden of the king or prince, liable in public burthens for 400l. Scots, valued rent. No doubt, certain heritable jurisdictions were abolished by the Act, 20th George 2nd, cap. 41; but by the 6th section of that Act, reasonable satisfaction was ordered to be made to those who were affected by the abolition. There is, therefore, not the least question, that the superior of property is, by the law of Scotland, the only person who has a right to vote at elections, if possessed of the necessary qualification, although the feu-duty, payable to him from the land, may only amount to a penny; and any attempt made to deprive him of this property, is a violation of private rights, vested in him by the law of his country. An Act of Parliament is, no doubt, omnipotent; but it should be based on justice; and if the present scheme is carried, individuals may, by the same rule, be deprived of any property they have bonâ fide acquired.Supposing the Bill to pass, private rights ought, undoubtedly, to be guarded; and either of the following plans might be adopted. First, compensation should be allowed, according to the principle established at the time the heritable jurisdictions were abolished; or secondly, the vassals who are now to be benefited at the expense of the superiors, should be bound to pay for the superiority applicable to their lands, at a price to be determined by a Jury. This price may be fixed according, to a proof to be led, of the prices paid for superiorities for a certain number of years back. Either of these principles ought in justice to be adopted. If the vassal is to receive all the advantage, he ought to pay for it; but if it is thought that he ought not to pay, then Government ought to pay the value, according to the precedent already noticed.I trust that this letter will give the House a clear idea of the nature of the superiority 1298 votes of Scotland. I have read it in the hearing of many who are able to correct me, if necessary. I certainly did not think it possible, that the hon. member for Abingdon could be so completely mistaken upon a subject of this nature, as to call the owners of superiorities mere parchment voters. In many instances, the proprietor of the superiority is also the owner of the land; and most landholders, if they have not the superiority of their own estate, at least possess one over other lands; and I contend, that they are as much entitled to the privilege of voting, as the landholder is to enjoy his land. It is well known, that many of them are extensive owners of copyhold estates, to which species of property no superiorities are attached, as not holding of the Crown. Part of my own lands is of this description, holding of the Earl of Fife, from whom I certainly have been anxious to purchase the superiorities; but have been prevented doing so, from their being held by his Lordship under a strict entail.
I shall conclude, with expressing my approbation of the Motion before the House. I think that it would be beneficial to increase the number of Scotch county Members. I beg, therefore, to return my thanks to the right hon. and gallant Officer, the member for Perthshire, for having proposed the measure, and to the right hon. Gentleman near him, the member for Aldborough, for having so ably supported it. That right hon. Gentleman has advocated the interests and honour of Scotland, in a manner that ought to put some Scotsmen to the blush. I must say that I never heard so eloquent, so able, and so just a speech in favour of Scotland in my life.
I beg pardon for having taken up so much of the time of the House; but I felt called upon to make these observations, in consequence of what fell from the hon. member for Abingdon. I should be sorry to say any thing obnoxious to my hon. friend, on this, or any other subject; for he has done more for the promotion of the manufactures of Scotland, and the employment of the people, than perhaps any other individual; and I feel thankful to him accordingly; but when he designated me as a dealer in superiorities, I did feel called upon to repel the insinuation; for, although I admit that I have bought superiorities, and given them away in my family, I again say, that I never sold one,
Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
said, that he had given his cordial support to the motion of the right hon. and gallant General, the member for the county of Perth. It was a reasonable and a just proposition, which Scotland had a right to expect would be acceded to; and the question really was, whether they would give or refuse to that country the adequate proportional share of the Representation to which her population, and her contributions to the support of the State, gave her an undeniable claim. Was Scotland to be made an exception to the liberal mode of dealing which was adopted towards other parts of the kingdom? Did Scotland deserve to be treated less liberally than Wales? yet two Members were given to Welsh counties, which had not one half of the population of several of the Scotch counties, and contributed a perfect trifle to the public Treasury in comparison with them. The county of Glamorgan, with about 100,000 inhabitants, and others of less population were to have two Members each; that is, one in addition to their former number, whilst the county of Lanark, with its 240,000 inhabitants, and its immense wealth and resources available to the State, was to be satisfied with its former number, that is, one Representative. The same observation applied to the counties of Edinburgh, Ayr, Aberdeen, and others. The Bill, it was true, gave to Scotland fifty-three Representatives, whilst, by the Treaty of Union, forty-five only was the number allotted to her. But since the Union, Scotland, let it be remembered, had increased in wealth in a much greater proportion than England. At the Union, the taxes paid by Scotland were to the taxes paid by England as one to thirty-five or thirty-six; they were now as one to eight, or nearly so. And how was Scotland dealt with at the period of the Union? Two independent nations treated, or were supposed to treat, on an equal footing, with a view to a Union of the Legislature of the two kingdoms; and yet the condition on which that Union was effected was, that one of those countries was to retain the full number of her Representatives, whilst the other was to lose nearly three-fourths of hers. A Union had been more than once attempted before the reign of Queen Anne—in the reign of Charles 2nd; so late as that period, the Treaty for a Union broke off, because the Commissioners for Scotland would not even take into consideration any proposition for 1300 reducing the number of the Scottish Parliament by a single Member, whilst the number of the English Parliament remained at its full amount. But, at a later period, means were found of overcoming such objections. The measure was carried in the reign of Queen Anne, which reduced the number of Members for Scotland to forty-five, whilst it left those of England at the original full number of 513. But how was this effected? By money—by corrupt bribery of money administered to the Scottish Statesmen of those days; by money paid out of the English Treasury, and despatched to Scotland by the order of Lord Godolphin. The list is published, and stands recorded to the disgrace and dishonour, not of Scotland, or of the Scottish nation, but of the corrupt and profligate Statesmen who betrayed and sacrificed her on that occasion. He could not understand upon what principle the noble Lord proceeded in opposing the claim which was made by the gallant General on behalf of Scotland. The noble Lord had consented to leave to the county of Selkirk, with its 8,000, and the county of Peebles, with its 11,000 inhabitants, each a Member, and he would give no more than one to the county of Lanark, with its population of 240,000. He (Mr. Fergusson) did not complain certainly of the noble Lord, for having left to Peebles and Selkirk what they had always had, and which it would have been most unjust to have taken away from them; but he complained, that the noble Lord did not deal liberally towards the large counties of Scotland, as he had done towards those of England and Wales. Four Members were given to Cumberland, whilst Scotch counties exceeding it in wealth and population were to have only one. None of the English counties to whom three Members were given exceeded, he (Mr. Fergusson) believed, in population, or equalled that of the most populous counties of Scotland. Three counties of Wales were to have six Members among them, whose population was not equal to that of the county of Lanark, which was to have one, and no more than one, Representative. Wales contained little more than one-third of the population of Scotland, and had not certainly one-third of its wealth. But Wales was to have twenty-eight Representatives, more than one-half of the number which was given to Scotland by this Bill. Yet he did not complain that too much was done for Wales, but that too little was done for 1301 Scotland. He (Mr. Fergusson) trusted that full and equal justice would be dune to Scotland as well as Wales, and that the House would accede to the Motion of the gallant General, as a reasonable and just proposition. He called upon the Members for Scotland in particular, upon every feeling of patriotism, and every principle of justice, to give to it their support.
Mr. Keith Douglas
said, there is another circumstance which has not been alluded to in the course of these discussions, and which I think ought to operate as an additional inducement with the noble Lord to consent to the present proposition. Hitherto, the eldest sons of peers could not be Representatives for places in Scotland, but this Bill removes that restriction. Now, the English Reform Bill localizes, to a considerable extent, the Representation, and the sons of Scotch peers will not be able to get access to this House by means of those burghs which have hitherto served for that purpose. On looking over the list of Scotch peers, I find that there are fifteen eldest sons of peers who might be returned through the influence of their respective families for places in Scotland. I have no objection to the eldest sons of peers being elected as Members of this House for places in Scotland, but it must be recollected, that many of the gentry of the country will be thereby excluded from Parliament. This is a strong additional reason to assent to the motion of the right hon. Baronet. In making so extensive an alteration in the old system of Representation in Scotland, we ought to consider the probable working of the new machinery to be introduced: and, above all, to consider how much the influence of property will be lessened in that country.
§ Lord Althorp
It appears to me, that the arguments which have been used in support of this proposition are rather arguments ad hominem, than to the reason and principle of the proposition. It was said on a former occasion, and urged, I admit, with great truth, that the interests of Scotland had not been lost sight of in this House under the present defective system. Certainly the Members who will be returned under the proposed arrangement will not be less regardful of the interests of that country. During the course of my experience in this House, the influence of the Scotch members has not been small, though only forty-five in number, and that will not be diminished by giving to Scot- 1302 land fifty-two members. It is, however, a little extraordinary, that all these complaints should originate with those who are opposed to all Reform; and I would also beg the Committee to recollect, that when the motion of General Gascoyne was brought forward—the object of which was to declare that no alteration should be made in the proportion of members to be returned from the different parts of the United Kingdom,—no objection was offered to it by those Scotch members who now complain that Scotland is not adequately represented, as regards the number of Members. If the motion of that gallant General had been adopted, no additional Members could now be given to Scotland; and yet hon. Members who supported it turn round and charge his Majesty's Ministers with having been guilty of injustice to Scotland! We have diminished the number of English Members, and we have increased the number of Scotch Members, and yet we hear constant complaints of our not having acted fairly. Looking at England and Scotland, as distinct, with respect to population, and also regarding the different circumstances of the two countries, injustice has not been done to Scotland by its not being put on the same footing as England in regard to Representation. We looked at the two divisions of the country, and we proposed those alterations which we thought most advantageous to each, and calculated to promote the permanent interest and welfare of the whole empire. It ought not to escape recollection, that the great mass of the population of Scotland, wealthy and intelligent as it is, has at present no share in the election of Members to this House. This Bill gives Representation to the people of Scotland: it brings into the constituent body the middle classes of the population; it, therefore, does justice to, and confers a great benefit on Scotland. The hon. and learned Gentleman asks,—"When you go so far, why not go farther?" But I say, that the people of Scotland have no right to complain when so much has been done; and it would be impossible to give all that is desired without acting unfairly to the other portions of the empire. Government is treated unfairly in being charged with having acted with injustice to Scotland, when it has given a Representation to that country which it never had before. I know that the Gentlemen opposite are opposed to Reform altogether; but I must com- 1303 plain of the mode in which we have been attacked, and blamed by those who could not be ignorant that we have done all in our power to satisfy the people of Scotland. I have been told that the people of Scotland are not satisfied; but I can only say, that I regret that this is the case, for I can assure hon. Gentlemen that the Government have been as liberal to Scotland as it consistently could be. I regret that this proposition should be forced on the Government by the friends of the measure; and I must say, that I do not think that we ourselves have been fairly dealt by.
§ Sir George Warrender
said, I will very shortly reply to some of the observations that have fallen from the noble Lord. I took occasion, in the course of the last Parliament, to urge this subject on the consideration of the noble Lord; and I was in hopes that he would have been induced to assent to such an addition to the number of Scotish Members as is now proposed. I admit that it would not be difficult for the Scotch Members in this House to combine and carry a measure favourable to Scotland, but I think that such a course would be most unfair; and I trust that the Representatives of that portion of the empire would never be induced to coalesce in an object for the promotion of the advantage of one part of the community at the expense of the rest. With respect to Scotland having at present only forty-five Members, I would mention a curious circumstance, of which the noble Lord is perhaps not aware. It is a remarkable fact, that in addition to the forty-five Representatives for Scotland, there are now forty-seven Scotch gentlemen who sit in this House as Members for English places. When the Representation of England is localized, and the constituency remodelled, these will be excluded from the places they now represent. Considering, therefore, that, at present, Scotland is able to supply the deficiency in the number of its Members by means of the English boroughs, and that hereafter that means of access to the House is to be closed to her;—it appears to me that it is only a matter of justice to assent to the proposition of the right hon. Baronet. With respect to the eldest sons of peers, I agree with the observations which fell from the hon. member for Dumfries. I know more than one or two counties in which the influence of peers might be 1304 exercised in such a way as to secure the return of their sons. Taking this circumstance, therefore, into consideration, in addition to the fact that many Scotch gentlemen will be excluded from this House who now represent English places, I trust that the noble Lord will be induced to withdraw his opposition, and assent to the proposition of the right hon. and gallant Officer. At any rate, I hope that the Committee will take the same view of the case as myself, and admit that Scotland is entitled, on every claim of equity, to this addition to her Representation. I was in hopes, from what fell from the noble Lord, when he proposed that additional Members should be given to the Welsh counties, that he was prepared to make the same concession to the larger Scotch counties. I should be sorry to throw any impediment in the way of this Bill, as I think that it will make a beneficial change in the system that has hitherto existed in Scotland, and I know that the people look forward to it with the greatest anxiety. But I also know that assenting to this proposition would make the measure more satisfactory. I trust, therefore, that it will receive the sanction of the Committee.
Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
I am extremely sorry to find that I have been misunderstood. I beg to say, that I never accused the noble Lord of injustice; on the contrary, I believe he has been actuated by the best motives. I believe he has given this additional number of Members to Scotland with the very best intentions; but I must take the liberty of saying, that I think this part of his proposition will be a perfect failure. There was one part of the speech of the noble Lord which could have been intended to apply to nobody but myself. Now, I can only say, that my conduct on this occasion has been precisely of the same description as that which I have pursued during the whole of the debate, I have before stated, that I never will do any thing against the principle of the Bill, generally; but if any motion be made, of which I approve, or which I think will improve the details of the Bill, I will support it; at the same time, I am most ready to give the most efficient support in my power to the principle of the Bill. I could not, as a member for Scotland, refuse to give my assent to the proposition of the gallant Officer. I shall, therefore, give my vote in favour of the Amendment.
said, it was usual for hon. Gentlemen to begin by saying, that they do not wish to prolong the debate, and he was not desirous of trespassing on its attention; but as some observations had been made with respect to the county of Cumberland, and as neither of the Repr-presentatives of that county was present, he might be allowed to say a few words. He had never heard so radical a speech as that which has been delivered by the right hon. Gentleman, the member for Aldborough. It was not sufficient for him that Members are to be given, according to the ancient constitution, to boroughs and counties; nothing would satisfy that right hon. Gentleman unless he had district voting. Yes, he said in effect, district voting! There might be anomalies in this Bill, but the right hon. Gentleman and his friends would give the country no reform at all before this plan was proposed. If Ministers had brought forward such a proposition as that the hon. Gentleman recommends, we should never have heard the last of it.
§ Mr. Croker
begged to say, that he never made any declaration, one way or the other, on so general and vague a question as Reform. He had opposed the Ministerial schemes of Reform as dangerous in their principle, and unjust in their details. As for the other and contradictory charge which the hon. Gentleman had brought against his speech, as being "radical," the House would require no better proof of its not being so, than its having displeased the hon. Gentleman.
assured the right hon. Gentleman, that he was not displeased with his speech; and if the plan of Reform should not be carried in another place—which he hoped to God, for the safety and peace of the country, it would be, or, if it did not produce good government, in either of these cases he would vote for the right hon. Gentleman's plan of district election.
in consideration of what had been stated relative to the population of Scotland, and the comparative amount of the revenue, declared that he should vote in favour of giving additional Members to Scotland.
§ Sir George Murray
It gives me great pleasure to hear the hon. Gentleman state that he will give me his support on this occasion. I extremely regret the absence of the hon. and learned member for Kerry, be- 1306 cause I recollect, that when I gave notice of this Motion, he was good enough to say that I should have his support. My object in rising, however, is to notice one argument which was adduced by the noble Lord. He said, that we had no claim to additional Members for Scotch counties, because we should have but a small number of voters under this Bill. That is an argument in favour of Universal Suffrage; because, if we are to be deprived of additional Members in consequence of the small number of our voters, then certainly the argument would arise, that the number of voters ought to be increased for the purpose of enabling us to obtain this additional share of Representation. I cannot, however, admit the principle to any extent, that I am here merely as the Representative of those who sent me hither by their votes. I consider that I am here for the purpose of representing the interests of the population of the country, generally, to which I belong; and when I am advocating any question before this House, I consider myself not merely as the Representative of those individuals by whose votes I am sent here, but as the Representative of all the interests included in that portion of the United Kingdom for which I am a Member; and it is on that principle that I have invariably acted throughout the discussion of this Bill. If his Majesty's Government can prove to me that this measure is really for the interest of all those people whose rights I am sent here to take care of, I will give it my support. The reason I withhold that support is, because I do not think the measure will be advantageous to the people generally. If we were to be bound by the principle that we are only to consider the interests of those individuals by whom we are immediately sent here, I must say that I think it would be the worst that could possibly be introduced into the Representative system.
Lord John Russell
begged to say one word with regard to the reason given by the hon. member for Mallow (Mr. Jephson) for voting in favour of this proposition. They were not bound to compare the revenue of Scotland and England; for if he looked to the plan of his Majesty's Ministers, he would find that the principle laid down was population, and he was using an argument which might hereafter be turned against his own country. When the question of Ireland came before the House he would see that the propor- 1307 tionate amount of the revenue of that country and England, did not entitle it to more Members than it received at the time of the Union. With regard to Scotland, he thought no case was made out.
§ The House divided. on the Original Motion; Ayes 113; Noes 61—Majority 52.
§ House resumed.