Mr. Davies Gilbert
would take that opportunity to say, that he was not by any means opposed to all Reform, though he certainly could not approve of the extent to which the present Bill went. He would recommend, however, to the opponents of the Bill no longer to oppose the principle of it, but to seek to amend its details. It appeared to him that the great object of the Bill should be to extend the franchise, as far as possible, to all persons of intelligence and property, so as to combine them against the friends of anarchy and confusion. He thought that the 10l. householders' clause, as it now stood, would give the franchise to persons of no property, and who were not entitled to it. In London, and in other large towns, he understood that houses of that description were in the possession of a very low and poor description of persons, who made their livelihood by letting them out in lodgings. He would, therefore, when they came to that clause, propose, as an amendment, that in London and other large towns, they should deduct from the value of houses rated at 10l. whatever the proprietors of them derived from occupancy, so as to exclude the tenants of mere low lodging-houses from the elective franchise.
Lord John Russell
said, that any suggestion coming from the hon. Gentleman should meet with every attention from him in the Committee, though he was ready to admit that at present he could not see how this amendment could be applied to the clause in question, or if it were so applied, what good it would effect. He had himself two alterations to propose in Committee, which were—1st, that as the occupier of a warehouse in Leeds, though resident in London, might vote for that town as the Bill at present stood, it was 1101 deemed right to put such occupiers on the fooling of freemen, and therefore he should propose, that, to entitle them to vote, they must reside within seven-miles from the town, in respect to occupancy, in which they were to vote. The other amendment was, that as freeholders for life were not to be allowed to vote in right of any such freehold when of less value than 10l. a-year, and as the counties of cities had been assimilated to other counties in certain respects, he should move the insertion of words to give equal rights to the voters of all counties of cities.
Sir Robert Peel
said, that as the noble Lord had now stated it to be the intention of Ministers to limit the right of the proprietors of warehouses to vote for any particular place to such only as were resident within seven miles of the spot, he begged to suggest to the noble Lord the propriety of limiting, in the like manner, the right of another class of voters. He alluded to the fictitious annuitant freeholders, who were created for electioneering purposes in many counties of cities and towns. It was highly expedient, he thought, that none of this class of voters should be allowed to exercise the elective franchise, except such as were resident within seven miles. He knew of one place in which twenty freeholders had been created out of a freehold of seven acres.
Lord John Russell
it is the intention of Ministers to require that the class of voters to whom the right hon. Baronet has alluded should be resident within seven miles.
§ The House in Committee.
then read the first part of the 16th clause as follows, viz:—"And be it enacted that the Isle of Wight in the county of Southampton, shall, for the purposes of this Act, be a county of itself, separate and apart from the county of Southampton and shall return Knights of the Shire in every future Parliament." It was proposed that the blank should be filled up with the word "one," by which it is proposed that the Isle of Wight should be considered for the purposes of this Bill, as a separate county, and should have the right of returning one Member.
§ Mr. Croker
said, that, in the Committee on the former Bill, he had strongly objected to the addition of this Member to the Isle of Wight, upon the ground that, by other provisions of the Bill, the county of Hants, to which the island belonged, 1102 and which in the whole contained only 270,000 inhabitants, would have the right of returning five Members to Parliament. He confessed that he still felt many of the objections which he had urged when the clause was last under their consideration, but at the present moment he was willing to waive them because, the Isle of Wight was to lose four of its borough Representatives, and it was not unreasonable to let it have one county Member in return. The question, however, would require to be more fully considered hereafter, because he could not make up his mind to the inconsistency of giving live Members to such a county as Hampshire, and a less number to other counties of infinitely greater size and importance.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
said, as the Isle of Wight was still an integral part of the county of Hants, he thought the clause ought to be postponed until the whole case of the county came before them.
§ Lord Althorp
saw no necessity to postpone the clause, as there appeared no objection to the Isle of Wight having a Member.
§ Sir Thomas Baring
trusted hon. Gentlemen would recollect that the Isle of Wight lost four borough Members by the operation of the Bill, he, therefore, thought it but reasonable that it should have one county Member in return.
Mr. stuart Wortley
said, the hon. Baronet seemed to think that, because Hampshire was to lose borough Members, it was but fair to give that county an accession, of Knights of the Shire in their place. If that principle was fair with regard to the county of Hants, he hoped that there would be no objection to apply it to other places.
Lord John Russell
said, it was natural for hon. Members connected with the county to put forward the loss of borough Members as a reason for an increase of county Members, but the hon. Member knew that the Ministers did not assign that as a reason for proposing to give the Isle of Wight a separate Member. The case had been most fully discussed last Session, and there was no necessity now to repeat all the arguments in its favour.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
said, he had not yet discovered why the Isle of Wight was to have a Member, except that it was said to be an island; he, therefore, hoped it would be allowed to float in the opon sea of the Bill until they had heard, as they 1103 possibly might when the county clause came under discussion, some reason why Hampshire ought to have five Members.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause seventeen postponed.
§ The first part of the 18th Clause having been read,
Lord John Russell
proposed to insert as an amendment the words "or in any election for any city or town, being a county of itself."
said, if the House agreed to the clause as it stood the smaller proprietors would look upon the House as not considering their rights so much as those of wealthier persons. If a man with 10,000l. a-year, which he had only for life, had a vote, he saw no reason why smaller proprietors should be excluded. The clause did not meet the case made out last Session by the hon. member for Bodmin (Mr. Davies Gilbert). He complained, and justly, that it was a frequent practice for large proprietors to make grants of freeholds to particular individuals without making them freeholds of inheritance. However desirous a person might be to possess influence in county elections in order to obtain it, he would never go so far as to grant freeholds in fee without a valuable consideration. The fictitious freeholds were usually granted to aged individuals, and soon returned to the grantor. But if such votes were objectionable, and no doubt they were, there were no more desireable voters than small proprietors. This clause operated against such persons, as would appear by stating the following case: Suppose a person acquired by industry a cottage with a small portion of land worth perhaps, 61. or 71. a-year, and at his decease he willed it to a son for life, with the remainder to a grandson. In such a case the son would be excluded from voting, and by such an operation one of the inducements to industry was closed up, and many persons might be deprived of the pleasure of founding a family. He saw no reason why the humbler classes of society should be prevented from doing that which they themselves were most desirous to do. He trusted, therefore, that his noble friend would make such an alteration of the clause as would permit persons in the situation he had described from being confounded with the fictitious voters which it was the object of the hon. member for Bodmin's amendment to exclude from voting.
§ Sir Richard Vyvyan
said, it was a frequent practice in some parts of the West of England to grant landed property for three lives. This conferred a vote under the existing law and he thought the practice should be continued, but with respect to the principles involved in the amendment which went to exclude fictitious voters introduced to overwhelm the real constituency of counties, it had his most cordial approbation.
§ Lord Althorp
admitted the hardship of the case described by his noble friend, but he apprehended if any exception was made to meet his noble friend's view, the door would be open to fraud, though the number of freeholders to which the exception would apply was but few. If the words "or unless such estate for life be created by devise or settlement," were introduced he would make no objection to them. He was aware, however, that the clause then before them was one of the most difficult in the whole Bill to draw up satisfactorily, and he felt apprehensive that words suddenly suggested might if adopted interfere with other parts of the Bill.
doubted if the words suggested by the noble Lord would answer the purpose of excluding fictitious freeholders only, but he thought that object might be attained if the clause was drawn up so as to give a vote to the tenant for life, where the remainder was in the first or other sons. What was wanted was, to prevent occasional votes manufactured for a purpose, and the clause in the Irish Bill having that object in view, might be judiciously introduced into the Bill before them.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
observed, that in his opinion the working of the clause might be improved; he was, therefore, obliged to the noble Lord for his suggestion, and thought it would add to the advantage of the measure if it was adopted according to the clause as it now stood. Life interest was not to confer a vote unless it was equal to 10l. value, and it was the object of the noble Lord (Milton) to give a vote to the holder of a property under that value, if he held under a settlement, a devise or in any other way which prevented him from being a fabricated freeholder. He agreed with the noble Lord in thinking that bonâ fide small freeholders for life ought by no means to be excluded, for certainly such persons were on a par, in point of respectability 1105 with the 101. householders on whom it was the main object of the Bill to confer the franchise. He must allow, however, that there would be considerable difficulty in meeting the case so as to exclude improper voters, and he doubted whether the words suggested by the noble Lord would remedy the evil. They had not heard from the noble Lord, however, the exact extent of property which he proposed should confer a vote, but if the 40s. possessor of the corpus of land was to vote, he saw no reason why the 40s. holder of the value of the land was to be deprived of that right. But then it was said, a devise might be fraudulently made; no doubt it might, and there would be great difficulty in distinguishing the fraudulent from the real transaction. If, however, by postponement the clause could be amended to meet the case, he should be happy to assist in attaining the object.
Mr. Davies Gilbert
was of opinion that the cases of hardship cited by the noble Lord would be very few, and the alteration he proposed would lead to great complication and fraud. In illustration of the manner in which it might operate, he would state a case that had occurred:—In Weymouth, where a devise constituted a vote, half a house was given to an old woman; of this half house she again made a devise, dividing it between 300 persons, every one of whom had thereby a vote. In Bristol also such practices were common. The hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last had observed that he had heard no reason why the exact sum of 10l. should be fixed upon, but the reason was that this sum was to confer the right of voting upon copyholders, and he thought freeholders for life ought to be placed in a similar situation.
said, the clause was not so worded as to exclude fictitious freeholders only, as was the case in the Bill of last Session. In that there were some words which allowed fee-simple 40s. freeholders to vote, and he apprehended the effect of the present clause would be to exclude all such persons hereafter.
§ Lord Althorp
assured the hon. and gallant Member that the words of the clause did not in any way whatever apply to the real 40s. freeholder.
Mr. James L. Knight
had no doubt there were many cases such as had been described by the hon. Member, but a very few words would meet the difficulty, he would, therefore, propose, that the words "except in the right of any benefice," be added to the clause.
§ The words ordered to stand part of the clause.
begged leave to move a further amendment. He saw no reason why parish clerks were not to have votes. His objection to the clause was, that it was one of disfranchisement, for no good purposes; he wished the words "or office" to be added after the word "benefice."
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
said, the word 'office,' comprehended many other persons besides parish clerks, and with regard to these, any person who recollected the famous Middlesex election, knew what use was then made of the holders of such offices, humble as they were; but as such offices could not, be acquired by fraud, he saw no reason why either parish clerks, sextons, or bell-ringers were to be ex-eluded; if, therefore, the noble Lord would include the words "of office, place, or employment," he would vote with him, if he pressed the amendment to a division.
Lord John Russell
objected to the amendment, for the reasons assigned by the hon. and learned Gentleman—that it would admit many more persons than the noble Lord intended; such hurried amendments were by no means desirable
saw no reason why some selection of offices might not be made; he, however, would not press his amendment.
§ Two of the blanks were then filled up with the words "ten pounds," and "forty shillings," after the word "statutes or uses," were inserted.
§ On the question that the words "election" be omitted, and that in lieu thereof, the words "respective elections" be inserted,
said, he had already suggested that the registry clauses should be separated from the other parts of the measure, and brought forward by themselves when the debate could be taken 1107 upon them without interfering with the other parts of the Bill.
§ Lord Althorp
had wished to adopt the proposal made by the hon. Member when he had first proposed it, but he was unable to find any satisfactory manner in which it could be carried into execution, and therefore he was compelled to give up his intention.
said, it would probably be necessary to take the opinion of the Committee on the propriety of establishing a registry at all.
§ The insertion of the words "respective elections," was then agreed to.
§ On the question that the clause as amended, stand part of the Bill,
§ Mr. Gisborne
wished to know exactly how the measure would operate with regard to the clergy. He thought the word "ecclesiastical" ought to be put before "benefice."
Mr. James L. Knight
said, the single word "benefice" was frequently used in Acts of Parliament, and it was understood fully to express "ecclesiastical benefices." There was, therefore, no occasion for the adoption of any other than the single word "benefice."
§ Clause as amended agreed to.
§ The 19th Clause, extending the right of voting in counties to 10l. copyholders, was read.
§ Lord Althorp
said, the words of the clause as they stood at present had been objected to. The words "customary tenure" were thought to include what were called "superior tenants," who were, in point of fact, freeholders. There were two classes of tenants of ancient demesne—common tenants, and superior tenants. It was intended that this clause should embrace the former only, and not the latter, who was considered in point of law, as belonging to the class of freeholders. He, therefore, begged leave to move, that the words "any other tenure whatever, except freehold," be inserted.
§ Agreed to.
§ On its being proposed to fill up the blank with the words "ten pounds,"
thought, that the right of voting ought to be extended to 40s. copyholders as well as to the 10l. copyholders. He saw no difference between copyholders and freeholders, but as his opinion had been overruled last Session, he would not again press it, although he desired to have this opportunity to say, 1108 that his sentiments remained unchanged.
§ The Clause, was agreed to.
§ The 20th Clause, extending the right of voting in counties to 10l. leaseholders for a term of sixty years, to 50l. leaseholders for a term of twenty years, and to 50l. tenants-at-will, was next read.
Mr. Fresh field
objected to this clause, because it gave parties the power of creating three votes for one property. The freeholder of course would have his vote. The leaseholder, if he holds to a certain amount, and for a certain length of time, would have a second vote, and by a proviso at the end of the clause, the sub-leaseholder was also to have a third vote, if he was in actual possession of the property. There was no limitation as to the term of the lease remaining, which was to confer this third right, and the holder of it might not have the lease for all the term that the first lessee held it. The Poor-rates, which formed so prominent a criterion in the last Bill, had been given up, because they involved the question of value, and on that account would prove a most fertile source of litigation, and yet in the present case, the question of value was again raised. In the first instance, the Overseer must determine what was the value of the leasehold; it must then be referred to the Barrister. Besides this, there were other objections. By the provisions of the clause a sixty years' lease (whether determinable or not on a life or lives) of property of the annual value of 10l. gave the right of voting; there was nothing, therefore, to prevent persons from manufacturing votes, by giving sixty years leases on very old lives, which would consequently determine in a short time after. This was a provision which he considered operated against the landed interest, because he did not think the landed proprietors would be the persons to manufacture votes in that way.
Lord John Russell
thought, that the objection of the hon. Gentleman would be completely met by a provision that was to be introduced into the Bill, viz., that the sub-lessee should be the holder of the original lease, and that he should not have a vote unless he was in actual possession of the premises. He did not see that it would be more difficult to ascertain the value of this leasehold property than of a 40s. freehold, and he thought that very few persons would be inclined to make use of leaseholds of the value of 10l. 1109 a-year for a long term merely for the purpose of manufacturing votes.
§ Lord Althorp
said, he wished to propose as an amendment, that the words "copyhold or customary" be left out, and that the words "or of any other tenure whatever," be inserted.
Mr. James L. Knight
said, the alteration was right in the former clause, but he saw no reason for the amendment in the present one, there were no other tenures that he was aware of than freehold, copyhold, or customary.
§ The Solicitor General
observed, that the object of the clause was to create a new right of voting, and then to divide that right into two classes, the first having reference to the orginal leaseholder, and the second to the sub-leaseholder, provided the latter was in actual possession.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
feared the arrangement would create the difficulty of calling in the Barrister to decide on the validity of leases: this was a very great objection.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that if the title was disputed the leases would not confer a vote either on the original lessee or his sub-lessee.
Mr. James L. Knight
observed, that the word "hold" which was introduced into this clause in the last Bill, indicated an actual or virtual possession, and it would be well, therefore, to retain that word in the present clause.
§ Lord Althorp
believed, that an opinion prevailed that an original leaseholder would have the power of creating smaller voters by way of sub-lease, but that could not be done under this clause. As to whether particular leases were good or not, that of course might be open to depute in the same manner as freehold or any other property.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
said, that the original leaseholder would be able to divide his lease. Suppose he held one for 30l. a-year for sixty years, might he not divide it among three sub-leaseholders of 10l. each, and create three votes out of one property. There would be great difficulty under any circumstances of detecting fictitious leaseholders. Unless their votes were objected to when a registry took place, there was no subsequent opportunity of appealing against their votes but by petition to that House, which would involve a most serious expense, 1110 and by that means do away with the benefit that was expected to result from the Bill in diminishing the expense of elections. It, would be bad policy for any Gentleman to interfere and object to the registry of votes, for he could not know how they would be given, whether for or against his own interest. For these reasons he thought it would be much more simple, and be attended with better effects, to give but one vote to leaseholds, and to confine that to the person in actual possession of the premises leased.
§ Lord Althorp
said, the first objection of his right hon. friend was obviated by conferring the franchise on the original leaseholders, and on the person actually in possession. He was ready to admit, that it would be the particular business of no person to object to doubtful votes being placed on the registry, but as the registration would be conducted in ordinary times, and without the excitement consequent upon an immediate election, the chances were, that there would be small inducement for unqualified persons desiring to have their names placed on the List.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
wished to be tolerably certain of the operation of the clause; and he, therefore, desired to know if a person had a valuable lease for sixty years, and underlet fifty portions at 10l. a-year each, did he not create as many votes?
Mr. Cutlar Ferqusson
thought, as he read the clause, that a person might possess the right of voting by being the holder of an original lease of the annual value of 100l., although he was not in actual possession of the property, and three other persons might be qualified by him to vote under the same lease as his under-tenants, on being in possession of parts of the property amounting to 10l. a-year each. This splitting of estates was, in his opinion, giving too great a latitude to creating votes.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
suppose a man having possession of a lease of competent value, assigned it to a company of 100 shareholders, and that those persons divided the property among them into 10l. shares or upwards, would not each of those persons have a vote, and if so, might not a multiplicity of votes be created particularly in mining districts?
Mr. James L. Knight
said, no doubt could exist, as the clause stood at present, but that if a lease of property of 120l. a 1111 year was granted to a man, and he assigned to twelve persons, each having a share equal to 10l. annual value, that they would also each obtain a vote.
§ Lord Althorp
said, the clause was intended to operate in the manner mentioned by the hon. and learned Gentleman. If a person entered into possession of freehold property worth 100l. per annum, the effect would be the same if he divided it by sale into smaller parcels.
could not understand the difficulty which had been raised. As he read the clause, the party holding the original lease was to have the right of voting, but if he assigned it for only a part of his original term (which was common as assigning the whole term, carried with it all the liability of the original lessee), he created no vote, but if he assigned the whole term, and his sub-lessee was in actual possession, then that person would have the right of voting.
§ Lord Althorp's amendment was agreed to.
§ The next part of the clause, "or who shall occupy as tenant any lands or tenements for which he shall be bonâ fide liable to a yearly rent of not less than shall be entitled to vote."
§ Lord Althorp moved that the blank be filled up with the words "fifty pounds."
Sir Robert Heron
had hitherto refrained from addressing the House, from a desire to avoid delaying the progress of the Bill, but a strong sense of duty induced him on the present occasion to depart from the line of conduct which he had prescribed to himself. If he differed from Ministers, it was some consolation to him to know that he had not deserted the fundamental principles of the Bill. His object was, to have the clause before them reconsidered, and he hoped hon. Members would vote according to their real opinion of the bearing of the clause, and not act on the principle of carrying the Bill with this defect, rather than endanger other parts of it. The noble Marquis who had introduced the clause which conferred upon tenants-at-will the right of voting in counties, had acted like an able General. He had inflicted a serious wound on the Bill, which could not be hereafter healed, if not corrected by a vote that night, except by the Ballot. He therefore hoped that all hon. Members who were opposed to the Ballot would support the Motion with which he meant to conclude. It appeared 1112 to him to be impossible that tenants-at-will generally could give independent votes. The chief object of the Bill was to get rid of nomination influence; but the effect of the clause under consideration, would be to convert small counties, or the division of counties, into a species of nomination boroughs. The number of votes created by the clause would be immense. He had good reason to believe also, that tenants-at-will throughout the country were by no means desirous of having the franchise conferred upon them. They knew that it would expose them to the tyranny of their landlords. For these reasons he would move the omission of all the words which proposed to confer the franchise on tenants-at-will, as follows:—"Or who shall occupy as tenants any lands or tenements for which he shall be bonâ fide liable to a yearly rent of not less than 50l."
§ Colonel Sibthorp
was very much surprised by the amendment proposed by the hon. Baronet. He certainly, to say the least of it, was very inconsistent in his opinions; for he recollected perfectly that the hon. Baronet had addressed himself to those very individuals whom he now supposed incapable of giving an independent vote. No longer ago than the 18th of November last, the hon. Baronet had cried out, "Ho for Lincoln and Reform!" To whom was that cry addressed, but to the farmers of Lincoln? Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis. The hon. Baronet said, that these tenants would not be independent, but would be subject to the influence of their landlords. This was hardly fair of him, for he had courted the support of those very persons when he had looked forward to represent the county of Lincoln, and he now stigmatized them as being dependent. Why, the hon. Baronet was so ready to enfranchise certain other classes of dependent persons—he alluded to the 10l. householders, who certainly bore no comparison in point of respectability to the 50l. tenants-at-will—he left the hon. Baronet to tell the House. But the hon. Baronet ought to know that they must be independent; for in the present times landlords were too wise to turn away good tenants because they differed in politics. He would assert that there was not a more respectable body of people than the class now proposed to be made voters, and he saw no reason for refusing the franchise to them, When the 1113 new Bill was to have that influx of people from the small boroughs, those multifarious classes of voters out of the Cholera Morbus places—when they were to have such people, why was the right of voting to be refused to the healthy country farmers?
Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
said, that he did not think the class of tenants-at-will in the country could form an independent class of voters. The amount of capital they had expended on their farms would make them fear to incur the risk of being turned out of possession at a short notice. It was not so with the voters in large towns, who, if compelled to quit one street, might remove into the adjoining street with comparatively little trouble, and with no injury to their interests. He thought that the clause was against the wishes and the interests of the farmers themselves, and he was convinced, that if the House really desired that the yearly tenants should be independent, they must afford those persons the protection of the Ballot. He had not himself made up his mind in favour of that measure, but he should at once declare, that if, from experiment, it should be found that any large body of men were not capable of voting independently, the Ballot must be accorded them for protection. With respect to the unwillingness of landlords to turn out good tenants, he should only observe, that in election matters, passion and party views would often overpower feelings of interest.
§ Mr. Trevor
opposed the amendment. He could not admit that the person paying 10l. rent in a town was more independent than a farmer who rented 100, or, perhaps, 500 acres of land. That, however, was the conclusion which the hon. Baronet desired the House to arrive at, and his amendment went to declare, that the great majority of the yeomanry of England were servile and dependent, and not fit to be trusted with the elective franchise. But, independent of this reason, there was another which had much weight with him. He considered the agricultural interests were neglected by the Bill, and this provision in some degree protected them. He fully believed there would be found but few instances of a landlord attempting to eject a good tenant from his land, who had given no other cause of offence than voting against his wishes.
§ Mr. Benett
thought, that the hon. member for Kircudbright was mistaken 1114 in supposing that the landlords of houses in towns could not influence their tenants as much as landlords in the country, when it was well known that many houses in boroughs were let under their value upon those very conditions; and that number would be increased by the operation of the present Bill, which conferred the right of voting upon all houses of a certain value. He did not know what was the state of the landed interest in Scotland; but he knew that in this country an obligation was conferred on the landlord by a good tenant taking his land, and that a landlord would be most anxious to retain such a tenant. He did not think the clause would give to the landed interest the great influence that was supposed; but he was sure that it would give the farmers throughout the country the greatest satisfaction if it were adopted.
Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
had never meant to assert, that a landlord who possessed many houses and let them under their value, would not possess more influence over his tenants than a landed proprietor would over his farmers, although they were tenants-at-will. But he objected to voters of both these descriptions, and wished to confine the franchise to independent leaseholders, particularly as respected leases on land. A tenant of that description calculated upon his capital being returned to him during his occupancy of the land, and was, therefore, independent of his landlord; but the case was very different with regard to the tenant who was liable to be ousted at a very short notice.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that the clause in question had not been introduced into the original Bill; but, as he now had proposed it in the present Bill in consequence of the decision of the large majority of that House, to which he bowed, he thought it was his duty to support it. He did not feel that he should be acting as an honest man, if, after having thus introduced it, he was not to vote for it. He believed that the number of votes that would be added by the operation of this clause was not very considerable, for most of those persons who held land as tenants-at-will for 50l., had other qualifications to entitle them to a vote; and he agreed with the hon. Member who had just spoken, that it would give great, satisfaction to the farmers throughout the country. He should, therefore, vote against the amendment.
§ Mr. Abel Smith
said, he was convinced 1115 the yearly tenantry of the class proposed by this clause to receive the right of voting would be found to be an independent body of men. They were, in fact, as independent of their landlords as any other class of men; for it was usual now, and one condition of their holdings was, that if they were suddenly ejected by their landlord, he must pay them a rateable proportion of the capital they had expended on the land. He knew that the persons forming this class of tenantry were most anxious to enjoy the right of voting, and knew that many of them had purchased a 40s. freehold to entitle them to that right. Surely persons who were competent to do that were better entitled to the franchise than 10l. householders, many of whom were not worth a farthing in the world.
The Marquis of Chandos
thanked the noble Lord opposite (Lord Althorp) for the frank and manly manner in which he had adopted the clause in question. He was sure it would give great satisfaction to the farmers, and he begged leave to tell the hon. Baronet, who would exclude them from the right of voting, that they were an independent body of men. The hon. Baronet had unjustly traduced the whole tenantry of the country, and he was sure that he would not stand upon the hustings of Lincoln, and tell the occupiers of land in that county, that they were servile persons, and incapable of giving an honest and independent vote. If the hon. Baronet did not know the fact he could point out to him many cases where the tenantry had voted against the wishes of their landlords. Further, he was quite sure that, they wished in general to have the elective franchise extended to them. They would receive it with gratitude, and exercise it for the benefit and advantage of the community.
viewed the clause with much apprehension. He conceived that its principle was opposed to that of the Bill, which was said to be intended to increase the numbers of the independent and uncontrolled electors of England. He would not embark in angry discussion, neither had he any desire to incur the ill-will of the persons whose pretentious to vote he felt it his duty to oppose. Without any personal views, but acting solely from what he considered the best interests of the community, he must declare, that when they were selecting new trustees for 1116 the people of England, when one of the complaints was, that the elective franchise was, in effect, in the power of a few individuals, this clause would go to increase that power, by the authority it would vest in landlords. After much consideration, he had arrived at the conclusion that the clause was calculated to mar the general beneficial tendencies of the measure, of which it was at present a part, inasmuch as the class of electors it went to create must, in the nature of things, be more or less dependent on their landlords, and so far incapacitated from exercising an untrammelled voice in the election of their Representative. With respect to an opinion that had been given in the course of the debate by an hon. Member (Mr. Smith), that the tenants-at-will had generally an agreement with their landlords, by which, if they were hastily ejected, they had a right to claim a compensation for the capital laid out upon the land, he was convinced such a regulation was local. He bad never before heard of it, and he suspected its real consequence was, to increase the dependence of the weaker party. The effect of the clause would be, as it appeared to him, to place the election of at least half the Members of the counties, indeed, of all the counties exclusively agricultural, not in the hands of individuals, but of an oligarchy chiefly composed of the members of the Bench of Quarter Sessions. No person, he believed, however large might be his property—not even the noble Lord, who, it was said by those who, by a strange inconsistency, advocated this clause, could not influence the election of Members for one portion of the county of Lincoln, would be able to return the Member by himself. The oligarchy would effect their purpose of confining the county Representation to themselves by making the general tenure of these lands, a tenant-at-will tenure. Their freehold and leasehold leases, as they fell in, would be converted into tenures-at-will, so as to give the landlord a control over the tenantry. By multiplying their votes they would effectually overpower the voices of the smaller freeholders. In doing this, they would only be acting in obedience to the ordinary principles of human action, which lead men to promote what they conceived their own interests and aggrandizement. They had an instance of the mischievous workings of these principles in Ireland, where landlords, in order to secure an undue influence 1117 at elections, created a horde of 40s. freeholders on their estates, who, till lately, were as shackled in the exercise of their franchise rights as the veriest lover of the nomination system could desire. What the Irish landlords did in Ireland with respect to the 40s. freeholders, he feared the English landlords would, under the Bill, do with respect to the tenure-at-will franchise. How far this would operate against the improvement of the cultivation of the country, was a question he did not stop to inquire into at the present moment, but his view of the case brought him to the question, whether it, was desirable there should be any powerful interest enjoyed by the landlord in reference to the qualification of his tenant to vote at, elections, which was not concurrent with the interest he had as owner of the estate. He thought there should be no such conflicting interests, and therefore, he had objected to granting the franchise to the leaseholder; but, of course, his objections were much stronger when applied to the tenants-at-will. He should, therefore, vote for the amendment proposed by the hon. Baronet, because the clause would create a class of voters who, most undoubtedly, would depend on another. He held it to be quite impossible that, any half dozen of the Members of that House could meet in a private manner and not admit that the tenants-at-will were a dependent set of men; if that was the case, the effects produced by this clause would be to convert a large majority of the counties of England into mere oligarchies, so far as Representation was concerned.
Sir Robert Peel
was confirmed, by the noble Lord's statement, in his opinion of the excellence of the present clause; for, he was sure that if any valid objections to it could be adduced, they would have been urged by the noble Lord. In his opinion, however, the noble Lord had utterly failed to make out a case for the amendment. The noble Lord said, that the effect of the clause would be, to convert the present usual leasehold tenures of land into tenures held by the will of the landlord; and, by such means, invest, him with an undue influence in the election of county Representatives. The noble Lord had cited, as a case in point, the breaking up of farms in Ireland into nominal 40s. freeholds, the owners of which were debarred of all freedom of voice at the hustings. In reply to this argument, he would beg to ask the 1118 noble Lord, whether it was to be credited that a gentleman possessing an estate, say, of 600l. a-year, let out to six solvent tenants, would divide that estate among twelve 50l. tenants-at-will, in order to have an influence over six additional voters? To enable him to have which, he must build six new farm houses, with all the outbuildings necessary. As to the Irish 40s. freeholds, all he could say was, abuses of equal magnitude might and would exist under every form of tenure, so long as landlords violated the best feelings of humanity for their own sordid purposes. The noble Lord said that the principle of the clause was opposed to that of the Bill. He denied the statement; and would, on the contrary, maintain, that not to adopt it would be acting in opposition, not only to the principle of the Bill, but to the dictates of common sense and consistency. The Bill would create a numerous class of electors in towns, by the 10l. household clause; and surely it could not be said that the 10l. voters would be more respectable and independent, and better entitled to a voice in the election of their Representatives, than the 50l. tenant-at-will farmers. Independent of this consideration, however, he was surprised that the noble Lord had overlooked the fact, that many of this class of persons would, by the Bill of last Session, have had votes in the boroughs which were to have certain districts attached to them, in order to make up 300 10l. householders. Any tenant-at-will occupying a 10l. house, in such district, would, of course, have been entitled to a vote. He would not argue the clause upon consistency, but whether the principles contained in it were consonant to common sense and reason. He wished he had the power to compare the amount of fiscal burthens borne by the landed occupier to those borne by the 10l. householder. Such a return would most assuredly set the question at rest as to which of them had the best right of voting, if property, contributions to the State, and intelligence, constituted the foundations on which the franchise was to rest. For these reasons he had given his consent to the proposition of his noble friend (the Marquis of Chandos) and he begged to thank the noble Lord opposite (Lord Althorp) for the handsome manner in which he had acceded to the wishes of the House.
§ Mr. Adeane
supported the clause—not 1119 because he considered tenants-at-will were not liable to influence, but because he considered that persons of that class were not more likely to be influenced than others to whom the qualification was extended under this Bill. He denied that the 50l. tenants-at-will were so dependent as had been said. Such persons, it must be understood, required six months' notice to remove them at least, and such a precarious tenure would prevent any considerable outlay of capital by the tenant. Every landlord, therefore, who desired to have his land well managed, would be cautious of giving such notices, for a few capricious warnings of that kind would effectually prevent any respectable tenant from hiring his land, greatly to his loss, if his land was run out by needy occupiers in succession. For these reasons such persons, particularly at the present day, were not more liable to be influenced than the 10l. householders, or the 40s. freeholders; and upon that ground, he should oppose their exclusion, and vote against the amendment.
§ Mr. Hunt
thought the hon. Gentleman who spoke last had put the question fairly before the House. It would be stretching credulity somewhat too far to say, that 50l. tenants-at-will were not under the influence of their landlords; but they were not more under the control of their landlords than the leaseholders for seven years, and other classes, who would be called upon to exercise the franchise under this Bill. All tenants were more or less under the influence of their landlords; and he understood this had been proved pretty distinctly at some recent elections. Every one knew that there was recently a very severe election for the county of Dorset, and he wished to ask any Gentleman connected with that county, whether he knew of a single instance in which the tenant of a Whig landlord in that county had voted for the Tory candidate, or the tenant of a Tory landlord for the Whig candidate? He understood that no such instance had occurred during the whole election; and what stronger proof could there be of the influence possessed and exercised by the landlords? It was true, the landlords did not go with a whip, and drive their tenants to vote for their favourite candidate; but the tenants knew that if they voted against their landlords they were liable to be turned out of their farms.
Sir Robert Peel
reminded the hon. 1120 Member that tenants-at-will had not voted at the Dorset election.
§ Mr. Hunt
It was very true that tenants-at-will had no right to vote hitherto as tenants-at-will; but every one knew that throughout the country persons exercised the right of voting as small freeholders, who, at the same time, held large farms as tenants-at-will. It was only by Universal Suffrage and Vote by Ballot that the influence of landlords could be controlled; and if those measures were adopted, he contended that property and principle would have their legitimate influence, and that the same Members would be returned as at present. That elections should be free, they must resort to the Ballot. Every man who paid taxes, in his opinion, ought to be entitled to vote; and it was upon this principle he had given several votes last Session, for he could not make up his mind to disfranchise any electors, however corrupt; but what he wanted was, to put it out of the power of opulent Peers to influence the electors, by introducing the Vote by Ballot.
§ Mr. Hodges
could not undertake to say how it was in Dorset, but he knew many instances in which farmers had voted independent of the influence of their landlords in the county he represented. He gave his hearty support to this clause, because he was favourable to the extension of the franchise amongst the various classes which made up the landed interest—an interest which bore so large a portion of the burthens of the country.
stated, that he had a brother residing in Dorsetshire, who had always been a thorough Whig; and, though his brother expressed a wish that his tenants should vote for Mr. Ponson by at the last election, many of those tenants had voted for Lord Ashley; and he might, add that the tenants who had thus voted were still in the enjoyment of their farms. So much for the correctness of the hon. Member for Preston's information as to the influence exercised in Dorsetshire.
§ Mr. Curteis
supported the clause, which he knew had increased the popularity of the Bill among the Yeomanry of the country. He therefore, returned his best thanks to the noble Marquis (Chandos) for having suggested it.
Sir Robert Heron
hoped to be allowed to trespass on the Committee for a moment before the division. He complained that the observations of the noble Marquis 1121 (Chandos), in reference to him, were uncalled for, and unfounded. He must deny, in the most distinct terms, that he had calumniated the farmers of Lincolnshire, or of any part of England, as had been insinuated. Nothing was further from his intention; and he defied any Gentleman to produce a landlord who lived on better terms with his tenants than he did. There was one observation made by the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) which he felt it necessary to notice. That right hon. Gentleman had said, no landlord would subdivide his estate to make votes; but there might be such a practice as letting a farm nominally to a whole family for this purpose, while one member of it only was the responsible tenant. As to the motives attributed to him, they were such as he was not ashamed of, and he was sure that the House would not consider that his conduct required any defence.
§ The Committee divided on the amendment.
§ Ayes 32; Noes 272—Majority 240.
|List of theMINORITY.|
|Atherley, A.||Howard, P. H.|
|Buller, J. W.||Hawkins, J. H.|
|Blackney, W.||Hey wood, B.|
|Blamire, W.||Marshall, W.|
|Cradock, Colonel||Milton, Viscount|
|Dundas, Hon. T.||Paget, T.|
|Dundas, Hon. J. C.||Pepys, C.|
|Duncombe, T. S.||Ramsden, J. C.|
|Dixon, J.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Ellis, W.||Strutt, E.|
|Evans, W.||Thicknesse, R.|
|Evans, W. B.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Ewart, W.||Williams, W. A.|
|Fazakerley, J. N.||Wyse, T.|
|Fergusson, R. C.||Whitmore, W. W.|
|Foley, Hon. T. H||TELLER.|
|Grattan, H.||Heron, Sir R.|
§ On the question that the clause as amended stand part of the Bill,
§ Mr. Baring
hoped that as this clause related to the qualification for county electors, he might be allowed to take this opportunity of stating his views on the county constituency established by this Bill. A more complicated and absurd system, in his opinion, had never been devised by the wit of man. The best mode of legislation was that which attained its end by simple and direct means, and which could dispense with complicated machinery, and unnecessary expense. The measure now proposed was not calculated to effect those objects; but, on the contrary, it would evidently, in his mind, tend to aggravate 1122 the difficulties which already existed. With respect to the expense and vexation attending county elections, if they should be increased, ought not they to consider whether some other and more efficacious means might not be devised? As to that principle upon which a large proportion of the country had set their hearts—namely, the destruction of borough nomination—surely it would be practicable to satisfy them on that point without forming, at the same time, such a complicated and anomalous system of county Representation as would increase, instead of diminishing, the present evils. Let the House consider that they could not be every year recasting and remodelling the Representation, and, therefore, this was the time to ascertain whether the system of county Representation to be established by this Bill was such as gave the best hope of its attaining so desirable an object as that of lessening the expenses of elections. If it could be shewn that the plan would not work well, there could be no doubt that the country would support the House in making such fundamental alterations as would be necessary to adapt a better system to be applied to the improvement of the constituent body. What was the present right of county Representation? First, there were the old 40s. freeholders. Every man who had any knowledge of county elections would say, that the 40s. franchise was as complicated, as full of intricacies and legal difficulties, as any that it was possible to devise. What was the case of the late election in the county of Dorset, which had been so often referred to? After the county was entirely polled out, the election having lasted the whole fifteen days, the Assessor, a gentleman of high legal character, and of unquestioned impartiality; a man, too, who was intimately conversant with all the details affecting the right of voting in that county, was obliged to leave 400 votes undecided. Such was the intricacy of the freehold right of voting already existing, and that right was to remain the same under this Bill, with the exception of some unimportant modifications. To that intricate right of voting were now to be added copyholders, leaseholders of different amounts, and for different tenures; and then came tenants at will, with different other rights, which would add immensely to the complication and intricacy of the elective rights. He said that, when the House had the power 1123 of establishing a county Representation upon whatever basis it pleased, it was almost impossible for him to conceive that a reasoning assembly of gentlemen should adopt the anomalous mass of incongruities which appeared before them, than which, he would defy human ingenuity to contrive a more absurd and complicated collection of clashing privileges and rights. If a Committee had been appointed expressly to discover the most puzzling system of Representation, they would in vain endeavour to surpass the present Bill in that particular. Amongst its other provisions, an Assistant-Barrister was to be sent down to ascertain the qualifications of voters. Now he took upon him to say, that in some counties that practice would be entirely neglected, or would be a mere farce; while in counties like Dorsetshire, which were likely to be frequently contested, it would be necessary in order to have justice done, that a scrutiny should take place every year. The Assistant-Barrister must remain for a considerable time, and the parties who should happen to be placed in the situation of Lord Ashley, and Mr. Ponsonby at the late election, would be under the necessity of having their agents and witnesses in attendance for the purpose of protesting, or defending, or rebutting objections; so that we should be in this predicament—either the duty of the Assistant-Barrister would be neglected, or there would be a sort of county election every year accompanied by all its heart burnings. Even if the actual expenses at the county election were diminished, yet the annual expenses to prepare for it would be greatly increased. Could not some gentleman devise a more simple plan of voting in counties, which would be divested of all these difficulties, and would not leave the county at the mercy of every attorney—a plan which should be well understood, and calculated to give counties the means of choosing men of character and substance. He would beg leave to suggest, whether the system of voting by rating, would not be much simpler and better than by the present plan, and by that they would get rid of all the lumber of tenure with which the Bill was now encumbered. It would take in every class, and would at once also get rid of the encumbrance and expense of Barristers; for no Barristers would be necessary. If the present absurd, complicated, expensive, and extravagant plan were adopted, he was sine it would 1124 not answer the noble Lord's object—namely, that of diminishing expense, and enabling counties to choose men of intelligence, and possessing a stake in the country, to represent them. There was another suggestion which he would beg to offer, which appeared to him infinitely better than the present plan, and even preferable to fixing a rate as the qualification of voting; it was to take a proportion of the population who paid the highest rates; for instance, Dorsetshire had polled at the late election 4,000 voters—say 5,000. Let the 5,000 persons who where highest rated be entitled to the elective franchise. There was a difficulty in fixing any money scale of voting to embrace a certain proportion of the inhabitants which was this: that it would in some counties, include those rated at 10l. and in others those rated at 50l. Moreover money itself was subject to fluctuation. A Bank restriction Act, a severe pressure, or a sudden panic, would affect the value of money, and render any standard fixed on as conferring the right of voting uncertain and precarious. An alteration in the corn laws, too, affecting the value of agricultural property, might, have a similar effect. On the whole, however, he preferred fixing a right of voting, say any certain number or given proportion of those persons paying county rates. If for example, the number fixed on for Dorset were, 5000, that would give at once an intelligent and respectable constituency, embracing all classes. Either of the plans he had hinted at would simplify the matter very much, and would be likely to give more permanent satisfaction than the system proposed by the Bill. He should not detain the Committee longer, but he could not suffer the clause to pass without offering these observations.
Lord John Russell
said, it was quite right that, when hon. Members went into Committee upon the Reform Bill, they should be ready to agree to some reform; but the hon. Gentleman opposite, in adopting that spirit, had gone further than was necessary, and had proposed a more radical Reform than he should deem advisable. He certainly had not expected to hear, from an hon. Member who was so much an enemy to disfranchisement of any kind, a plan for doing away with all the freeholders of England, under the rather cavalier title of getting rid of the lumber of tenure. He must say, that throwing overboard the 40s. freeholders of England was the 1125 boldest and most radical proposition of reform that had ever been made in that House by any Member; and when he considered that it came from one who was so strongly opposed to every species of disfranchisement, it certainly produced in his mind no small degree of astonishment, The hon. Gentleman in proposing his changes, objected, as he well might, to the expense of county elections. But he imagined the plan of the hon. Gentleman would be found to be attended with the same evils as that which he wished to remedy. The proposition of taking the 5,000 highest-rated inhabitants, in Dorsetshire, for instance, would prove as complicated, as difficult of execution, and as hard to be brought to bear with any degree of accuracy, as any system of franchise, no matter how complicated. The framers of the Reform Bill set out on the principle not of wholly reconstructing the constituency upon any theory of their own, but of taking such parts of the present system as they conceived likely to furnish an independent Representation, and they considered the 40s. freeholders a body most useful to be intrusted with the franchise, as being capable of exercising it with honesty and independence, and being attached to the right, on which account they merited to be the more regarded in any change which was made. They had added to them possessors of copyhold tenures, making them, however, of higher value, as also leasehold tenants, and by the vote of to-night 50l. tenants at will. These were undoubtedly classes connected with tenure; but they were also directly connected with the property of the country, and there was not one class amongst them, to whom, in his judgment, a reasonable objection could be made. As to the objections which the hon. Gentleman had made on the ground of the intricacy of the machinery, they related more particularly to the system of registry, and the discussion ought to be reserved until that part of the Bill came on. He would only say, at present, that, he was not prepared to go so far as the hon. Gentleman opposite, and to destroy at once the whole body of the freeholders of England.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
said, that the noble Lord, by his own Bill, destroyed the rights of the 40s. freeholders, which he now professed himself so anxious to protect. Many of them who had life interests would be disfranchised, and the remainder would be 1126 overwhelmed by the multitude of new voters introduced. The registry proposed would cause a perpetual contest; each party would be desirous of knowing the number on both sides, and the right of being registered would be openly disputed, so that there would be a small annual election from one end of the kingdom to the other, and he feared it would engender bitter feelings, for the contests would be local, and the parties arraigning each other's rights would be generally neighbours. By this means political feuds would be carried into every hamlet and every house in the country.
§ Clause to stand part of the Bill.
§ The 21st Clause agreed to.
§ The Chairman put the question on the 22nd Clause, which provides that county voters need not be assessed to the Land Tax.
suggested that the certificate of qualification, which each voter would become entitled to, had much better be granted on production of the receipt for the payment of the Poor-rate, on an estate of the value of 40s. than by the 10l. certificate of the register; for one was an easy and simple process, whereas the mode proposed to be adopted by the clause, as it now stood, was altogether complicated.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ The 23rd clause read, viz., "And be it enacted, that no person shall be allowed to have any vote in the election of a Knight or Knights of the Shire for or by reason of any trust estate, or mortgage, unless such trustee or mortgagee be in actual possession or receipt of the rents and profits of the same estate; but that the mortgager or the cestuique trust in possession shall and may vote for the same estate, notwithstanding such mortgage or trust."
§ Sir Edward Sugden
observed, that the clause as it now stood, gave a right of voting to individuals whom his Majesty's Ministers, he supposed, could not have contemplated. He conceived that a trustee in possession for another, and having no beneficial interest himself in the estate, ought not to acquire a right of voting, but he apprehended this clause conferred that right upon such a person.
§ The Solicitor General
was of opinion, that a trustee in the receipt of rents of a property, ought to possess the right of voting, as he must be considered the holder in the place of the beneficial proprietor.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
observed, if a trustee 1127 had a beneficial interest in a property, he would be entitled to vote independent of the clause.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
believed, according to the existing law, trustees could not legally vote, whether in possession or not. The clause, however, ought not to pass without the bearings of it being fully considered.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
knew many cases in which trustees executed their powers in the manner described by the clause, but who had no beneficial interest in the property, and it would be absurd to give such persons the right of voting.
§ Lord Althorp
said, he knew the general practice was in perfect conformity to the Clause. If, however, alterations were deemed necessary, it would be better to introduce them at a subsequent stage.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
begged to ask the noble Lord, whether an actual trustee, receiving rents and profits, but having no beneficial interest, was to be allowed to vote?
§ Lord Althorp
understood, that in a variety of cases the Courts of Law had allowed that individuals, thus situated had a right to vote.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
said, that if the clause was so interpreted, the trustee was invested with the power of voting contrary to the feeling of the individual on whose behalf he held the trust, which was a complete anomaly, and he, therefore, called upon his hon. and learned friend to strike out the part of the clause which related to trustees.
Lord John Russell
said, the words had been copied from an Act of William 3rd and the principle which they involved had long been recognized as law. He certainly had no intention to alter the clause in any respect.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ The 24th Clause read:—"And be it enacted, that notwithstanding any thing hereinbefore contained, no person shall be entitled to vote in the election of a Knight or Knights of the Shire to serve in any future Parliament in respect of his estate or interest as a freeholder in any house, warehouse, counting-house, or shop, occupied by himself, or in any land occupied by himself, together with any house, warehouse, counting-house, or shop, if, by reason of the occupation thereof respectively, he might acquire a right to vote in the election of a Member or Members for any city or borough, whether he shall or shall 1128 not have actually acquired the right to vote for such city or borough in respect thereof."
§ Mr. Praed rose to offer an objection to entering on the discussion of the clause at so late an hour. He had given notice of his intention to move an amendment on this part of the Bill; and as that amendment had, during the progress of the last Bill, been debated no less than three times, he really did not consider it possible to give it that full attention, at that late hour, to which its importance entitled it. Feeling, also, that he was not able to urge his arguments with all the force to which he thought they might be applied in favour of this amendment, he had felt it to be his duty to request the aid of the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge; and he had received a note in reply from that hon. Member on Tuesday morning, saying, that he was quite willing to bring forward the amendment, but that, as the Belgian question, and the discussion of the glove trade would probably occupy the whole of the evening, he should not be in his place. The unexpected manner in which the Reform Bill had been brought before the House after other business, prevented the hon. Member from being in attendance that evening; and he trusted that, combining the circumstances of the late hour at which this clause was now brought forward, with the unexpected progress of the Bill on that day, and also the importance of the discussion, the noble Lord opposite would consent to its postponement until the right hon. member for the University of Cambridge could attend to give the amendment his support.
§ Lord Althorp
saw no reason whatever in the statement of the hon. Member, for postponing the immediate consideration of the clause.
§ Mr. Praed
then said, that he must demand credit for his assertion when he assured the House he was not actuated by any factious motives in pressing forward his amendment, but that he was impelled solely by the desire which he felt to ameliorate, as far as possible, the condition of that class of persons whose interests would be affected by this clause. He could not refrain from expressing his deep regret that the amendment which had been suggested during the progress of the Bill in the last Session had not been made a part of the present Bill, for it was so perfectly consistent, as well with the old Constitution 1129 as with the new Constitution about to be established by the Bill, and was also in such strict conformity to the principles of truth, reason, and justice, that he could in no wise account to himself for the reasons by which the House had been guided in its rejection, not being able to find them in the arguments which had been urged on its discussion during the last Session. He was disposed to press the adoption of the amendment with which he should have the honour to conclude upon the attention of the Committee, because he was of opinion that the agricultural interest, to which it was meant to give additional strength, had been unfairly treated by the Ministers in framing this Bill; and, in proof of this assertion, he must beg to recall to the recollection of the House the fact that the Bill proposed, in schedule A, to disfranchise fifty-six boroughs, and in schedule B, thirty, taking away from those places 142 Members, which it was impossible for the supporters of the Bill to deny, chiefly represented the agricultural interests. On the other hand, in schedule C, it was proposed to establish twenty-two new boroughs, and in schedule D, nineteen, giving in all sixty-three new Representatives to the commercial and manufacturing interests—a change which, it was also impossible to deny, would greatly affect the agricultural interests. By the combined operation of these causes they would find themselves placed under the new Constitution, in a much weaker position than that they now held. He would not go into very lengthened details to prove this, but he must refer to one or two counties from the returns on the Table to illustrate his meaning. In the county of York, the population, exclusive of the boroughs, amounted to 850,000, the amount of assessed taxes was 127,000l., and the number of Representatives six; the boroughs of that county, however, contained only 322,000 inhabitants, the taxation was 90,000, and yet they were to return thirty Representatives. In Lancashire, the county population, exclusive of the boroughs was 570,000, and that of the boroughs, 482,000; the taxation of the county was 80,000l., and that of the boroughs 140,000l., the number of county Representatives was to be five, but the boroughs were to return eighteen. Again in the county of Stafford, the county population was 217,000, and that of the boroughs 124,000, the taxation for the former was 43,000l., and that of the 1130 alter 17,000l., but the county was to return only four Members while the boroughs were to return eleven. If the Committee would take the trouble to compare the whole of the counties in the same manner it would become manifest that the agriculturists were to have a much smaller proportion of Members by the new Constitution than they had by the existing one in relation to their numbers and the amount of taxes paid by them. Indeed this Bill was, in some respects, worse than the former, and he thought by a very simple statement he should make that position evident to the House. There was to be an increase of Members in two classes of manufacturing, and commercial boroughs, while those in schedule B, which were likely to return agricultural Members, were to be reduced; the natural consequence would be, that one interest was exalted, and the other depressed. He implored the attention of hon. Members connected with agriculture to this statement, as they well knew that the agricultural interests did not return more Members at present than were necessary to their own adequate protection. If the present clause, however, was carried, a new class of voters would be introduced, whose inclinations would lead them to use every exertion to prevent the return of Members for the counties connected with the agriculture; and thus a greater preponderance would be given to that interest which he had already shewn was extending its influence. He professed himself contented with the present Constitution, but if they were to have a new one, he desired to have it as similar to the existing one as he could obtain it. With that feeling, he was of opinion, that every man ought to vote for that place in which his property was situated. The Knights of the Shire were those who were supposed to represent the agriculturists, and therefore their return ought not to be influenced by those who had no direct connection with that interest; on the other hand, the cities and towns ought to return individuals to represent the manufacturing and commercial interests. This doctrine was clearly recognized by Blackstone. That distinguished author said, "The Knights of the Shire are the Representatives of the landholders, or landed interest of the kingdom; their electors must, therefore, have estates in lands or tenements within the country represented." Again, "As for the election of citizens and burgesses, 1131 these are supposed to be the mercantile part or trading interest of this kingdom." Again, Whitelocke, in his Memorials, says, "The gentlemen who are Knights of the Shire, are more especially the Representatives of the country interests, and the Yeomanry; while the merchants and traders chiefly elect the Representatives for the cities and boroughs; and thus it is, that all the various interests are represented in the Parliament of England." Each class—the agricultural interest and the commercial interest—had its proper Representatives; the former elected by the landholders, for the counties; the latter by the citizens and burgesses, for cities; and it was just and right that it should be so. It was to preserve this fair balance that he meant to propose his amendment. It appeared to him that in the course of these discussions he had heard his Majesty's Ministers give their sanction to the same principle. He had heard the noble Lord who introduced the Bill say, that he desired the towns to have their proper share of Representation, but he did not wish them to interfere with the county Representation; and, on the 17th of last August, he was present when the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, declared, that, one of the objects of Government was to diminish the influence of towns on county elections. But he had a still higher authority on this subject, namely, that of a noble and learned Lord in another place; who had said, in reference to his having been formerly elected Knight of the Shire for the county of York—"I can assure your Lordships, when I was put in nomination as a candidate to represent the county of York, I did not canvas the country gentlemen and the squires of the county; for, although I was personally acquainted with a large portion of them, yet I knew that they were opposed to me; but I went to the manufacturers, and to the merchants of Sheffield, and Leeds, and Huddersfield, for I knew that it was upon them that the result of the election would mainly depend." If, therefore, under the old Constitution, such a result was to be expected, was there anything in the new one to prevent the same class of persons obtaining equal influence in the counties? It appeared that formerly the freeholders of Leeds and Sheffield, and the other large towns, were able to influence the return of 1132 at least one of the Representatives of the county of York, and what was there in the present Bill to prevent the exercise of a similar influence? Indeed, was it not probable that the freeholders of these large towns would be able to exercise almost a complete control in the West Riding of Yorkshire? This was formerly one of the great causes of complaint under the present system, and the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, in bringing forward his Motion to give Representatives to Leeds, Manchester, and Birmingham, particularly dwelt upon it. The noble Lord then said, that it was, rendering the county Members rather the Representatives of the great towns, than of the landed interest; and went on to suppose that a collision of interests might arise between the manufacturing interest of the county and the agricultural interest; and very pointedly asked, in that case, how it could be expected that the Representative, whatever course he might pursue could give satisfaction to his constituents? Under such circumstances, he would call upon the noble Lord to avoid a state of things which he himself so much deprecated. It was formerly admitted by all Reformers, that the class of town freeholders prevented the county Representation being what it was originally intended to be, namely, the Representative of the landed interest. He said, then, if they were a bad class of voters for the counties, the objections formerly urged against them could be obviated, by letting them have votes in the towns with which they were connected, and with which they had common interests, instead of sending them into the county to vote, from which they had separate and distinct interests. He was confident the course the noble Lord recommended would lead to a result all were most anxious to avoid. He was perfectly well aware, that, on all great points, the interests of all classes were identical, and that that which tended to the injury of one class would also injure all other classes. But, at the same time, questions arose in which the interests of the agriculturists and the manufacturers were in some degree opposed to each other; and he was satisfied that throwing large bodies of town voters into the counties would tend to generate feelings of animosity. Hon. Members would recollect that, in the old Statutes respecting elections, there was nothing to compel residence, 1133 and this was to continue to be the case with regard to the votes for counties; and by this means a class of non-resident town freeholders would be created. The nonresident freeman might have some interest in the corporation of which he was a Member, but, the interest of the 40s. town freeholder in the county where his freehold was situated could not be very great. It. was urged such a person ought not to vote for the town, because his interest in it was not great, and yet he was to be allowed to vote for the Representation of the county, with which he had no common interest whatever. It appeared to him that Ministers had been guilty of a great anomaly, when they permitted the occupier of a 10l. house, from which he might be turned out at a short, notice, to have a vote for the house because he had an interest, in the town, and at the same time they refused a vote in the town to the 40s. town freeholder, who must at any rate be equally zealous for its prosperity. It was said, that this regulation had been introduced as a counterbalance to the 50l. a-year tenants at-will, but he was persuaded that class of persons were fully as intelligent and independent, as the 10l. householder, or the 40s. freeholder, in the towns. By adopting the present course, an invidious distinction was made, which ought never to exist, and which it was the duty of the House to exert it self to prevent. He was satisfied that the feeling of dissatisfaction at the adoption of this principle, was daily gaining ground; and if the Bill should pass into a law, and an election should follow, the complaints it would cause would compel an alteration, which it, would be difficult, if not impossible, to carry into effect, as the town interest would have a preponderating influence in that House. He contended, moreover, that this principle was entirely new to the Constitution, and at total variance with the spirit of our representative system. At present there were several thousand freeholders in the town of Leeds, who had a common interest with the town, but were to have no votes for it, and they would be enabled, from their number, to influence the return of Members for that riding of the county in which they resided. He was anxious to promote the interests of the manufacturing and commercial classes, but he should be sorry to do that at the expense of the landed interests; at any rate, he desired to prevent anything like a feeling of jealousy 1134 growing up between them He, was confident that the clause now under consideration would lead to nothing but confusion. A fair balance ought to be struck between the agricultural and the commercial interests, and whatever number of Representatives was given to the agricultural interest, should be given to that alone. He did not submit this proposition in any spirit of hostility to the Bill, but as a means of improving it, and he had drawn it up after a similar clause in the Scotch Bill. He trusted that he should on that account have the support of the learned Lord Advocate and his friends, for, if the principle be good in one case, it must be also good in the other. He should conclude by moving, that, in the 24th clause, all the words be omitted after the words "to serve in any future Parliament," for the purpose of inserting words to the effect, "that no title to vote for the election of a Knight of the Shire should be conferred by any property situate within the limits of a borough, which should, by the provision of this Bill, or otherwise, return a Member or Members to serve in Parliament; and that every man seized of freehold lands and tenements of the clear yearly value to him of 40s. above all rents and charges, situate within the limits of a borough, returning a Member or Members to Parliament, should have the right to vote in the election of Members for such borough."
Lord John Russell
while he rose to oppose this amendment, admitted, that it was one which might be fairly proposed in the spirit of making a change in the Representation of the country, and that it was a fair point for discussion when they were considering that subject. The hon. and learned Member, in proposing this amendment, seemed to proceed on the notion, which had the sanction indeed of such authorities as Blackstone, Whitelocke, and other writers on our Representative system, but which was not borne out by the practical constitution of that House, that the boroughs represented the trade and commerce, and the counties the agricultural interests of the country. If they were to proceed on that notion, they should confine the Members of which that House would be constituted to those large cities and towns only which were the seats of trade and commerce, and to the counties. But they pursued a different course, and it was probable that they might attain the 1135 same end by different means. While the agricultural interest would be represented by the Members for the agricultural counties, it would also have the Members for all the boroughs situate in those counties whose population had been made up by the addition of the surrounding districts, and which boroughs would be likely to send no Members to that House but such as were friendly to the agricultural interest. He thought, therefore, that the hon. Member might very fairly be said to reason in a false assumption, when he took the county Members as the sole Representatives of the agricultural interest, and the borough. Members as alone representing the manufacturing and commercial interests. For instance, if they looked at a town near them, Guildford, which was surrounded by an agricultural district, and which did not contain any manufactories, they might very reasonably assume that the landed interest would have great weight there. He thought, therefore, that, as the Bill stood at present, the agricultural interest had no cause for complaint. The proposition of the hon. and learned Member would have the effect of deteriorating and injuring the borough constituencies. It would also tend to create a division and a feeling of jealousy between the agricultural and manufacturing interests, the union and combination of which alone should be the object of the Legislature. In the end also, the effect of it would be to produce too great a preponderance of the landed interests in that House. Again, in a city or borough where the constituency was not very large, it would introduce a system of splitting land into small freeholds for the purpose of promoting particular interests. It was not probable that a man who had property in a county, would divide it for the purpose of making votes, as the number of votes would be so great as to prevent any number he could create from having any material effect on an election. The very reverse, however, would be the case in towns, and the smaller they were, the greater effect it would, of course, have. These were some of the evils he apprehended if the hon. and learned Member's Motion was carried; and, besides, he feared that the further effect of it would be ultimately to divide the agricultural from the manufacturing interests, which the hon. and learned Gentleman himself was so anxious to avoid. The hon. and learned 1136 Member had alluded to an opinion which he (Lord John Russell) had formerly given. He was now, however, ready to admit, that he thought Members for a county were totally inadequate to represent the complicated interests of both town and country; but, as it was proposed that the large towns were to have Members of their own, and there was to be a class of small boroughs in which both interests might be blended, he was anxious that the county Representation should not be exclusively confined to an agricultural constituency. He apprehended that this union of interests was one of the most desirable objects to be obtained, so that Members in that House should not consider themselves as attached wholly to one particular class of constituents. If it was determined that the county Members were to represent a rural constituency alone, and that they were to be opposed to the Members for the manufacturing and commercial classes, it was impossible that a legislative assembly, so constituted, could act with harmony, or pursue a consistent and straight forward course, calculated to advance the permanent interests of the country. The adoption of the amendment, so far from increasing the influence of the landed interest, would, he verily believed, lead to quite a contrary result, for the endeavour to make its Representatives prominent held them up to the jealousy of all other classes, who would consider it as their joint interest to reduce this comparative importance. On these grounds, he felt it his duty to resist the amendment proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman.
supported the amendment. He had already given his opinions for pursuing that course, and would not repeat them. It was very true that the agricultural and manufacturing interests should not be placed in a state of warfare; but if this amendment was agreed to, he did not apprehend it would produce any such effect. He had heard with considerable surprise one of the arguments made use of by the noble Lord. The noble Lord said, that if the votes of freeholders of the towns were confined to such places, it would give much influence to particular individuals, by dividing property for the purpose of creating votes; but this imaginary danger could not take place if he understood the 18th clause, for by it any life interest to be created must be of the amount of 10l, The noble Lord 1137 further said, he wished that the county Members should not exclusively represent the agricultural community, although he inferred that the town Members were exclusively to represent the manufacturing and commercial interests. But did the noble Lord forget, that all the smaller freeholders of the towns were to vote for the counties; and would not the same danger arise from creating freeholders in the town for that purpose, as for voting in the towns themselves? would not that increase the influence of towns, in an undue degree, over the return of county Members? This evil, too, be it remembered, would be increased by the division of counties. It had been affirmed in the House, that the Members for one of the divisions of Warwick, and one also of Chester would be returned by the town interest almost exclusively. For these reasons, and for those he had before given, he should support the amendment.
said, the object of the amendment would go to disfranchise all the town voters in England, so far as regarded their votes for the counties. If such a proposition was carried either in that House, or in another place, the Bill had better be wholly given up. It was bad enough as it stood with respect to the 101. franchise, and he entreated the Ministers not to listen to this proposition. He hoped they would not suffer themselves to be entrapped, for if this amendment was adopted it would still further tend to narrow the franchise. He was not surprised at this proposition, coming, as it did, from the hon. and learned Gentleman, but he was perfectly astonished to hear a Reformer like his hon. and gallant friend the member for Worcester support it. He would do all he could to resist the proposed amendment.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
said, that the amendment now proposed was not one of disfranchisement towards any class of voters, as it had been so mistakenly described by the hon. member for Middlesex, whose general observations displayed a total want of knowledge of the original clause, or of the amendment which had this evening been proposed by his hon. and learned friend. The amendment involved no insidious proposition; it was one taken out of the noble Lord's (Lord John Russell's) own book in a former edition of the Reform Bill; but it now appeared as if the hon. member for Middlesex considered that every thing which at any time fell from 1138 that noble Lord ought to have his support, while a similar proposition from that side of the House would meet with the marked and warm disapprobation of the hon. Member. The hon. Member cried out with a loud voice for the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill; and yet when the noble authors of the Bill thought proper to change it, the hon. Member was equally loud in applauding that change. The whole of the grounds taken by the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) in answer to the observations of the learned Gentleman who proposed the amendment, were erroneous. His hon. and learned friend (Mr. Praed) only contended that town freeholders should be permitted to vote for the towns or boroughs in which they lived, and not for the counties in which these towns might be situated, inasmuch as such permission would tend to deluge the agricultural interests with voters in the manufacturing interest. It would, in fact, give the Representation of the counties in some instances into the hands of the town population. But one of the chief answers of the noble Lord to that plain proposition was, that to accede to the amendment would be to produce a separation between the agricultural and commercial voters. By his own Bill the noble Lord was taking rural populations of some miles in extent to make up the requisite number of voters in boroughs or towns now to have a new constituency. The severance of the agricultural from the manufacturing interest in the manner proposed by his hon. and learned friend was objected to by the noble Lord for the most extraordinary of all reasons, namely, because it was now too late for investigation. Because it was too late, was that House to give a very inadequate consideration to such an important subject? It was, however, driven on to it, because it was the will and pleasure of the Government, and their supporters in that House, that on they must go at all hazards. Why not give to the agricultural interest its fair share in the Representation of the country, and why deluge it with voters from the towns? The noble Lords at the other side said at one time, that, with a view not to separate the manufacturing from the agricultural interest, we must give to town voters a right of voting for the counties in which such towns might be situated; but if that principle were good for anything why not apply it generally? Why separate and divide 1139 counties to the exclusion of towns, and, by the very same Bill, mix up the Representation of both together? It was said by the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), that if the manufacturing voters in boroughs or towns were divided from the agricultural voters there would be a splitting, and collision of interests; but why did the noble Lord take away the right of the 40s. freeholders, and thus preclude the right of occasional freeholds? Why should existing rights be cut down by a legislation which was inapt for its purpose, and which could in no degree effect the object of the noble Lord? The noble Lord the Paymaster of the Forces, and the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had used opposite arguments as to the right to be conferred upon towns to vote in the county Representation; the former contending that it would avoid a severance of interests in the large manufacturing and agricultural towns, and the latter that the exclusion of town voters from a franchise in counties would be a great boon to the agricultural interest. These opinions were now, however, inverted in a certain degree, no doubt, with a view to answer a very different purpose. The object evidently was, to do something at the expense of the agricultural interest, for it was quite clear that the two noble Lords, who knew so much of the public meetings, could not receive graces and compliments, and write letters to the chairmen of such meetings, if they were not aware of what they said, which could only mean, in his opinion, the abandonment of the agricultural for the manufacturing interest. If justice were intended to be done, why give an undue preponderance to the towns and boroughs over the county constituency, or act e contra? He (Sir E. Sugden) would never consent to cut down any one 40s. freehold right, unless, indeed, the so doing would confer an aggregate benefit upon the people at large. But it was said by the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, in justification of his views, only look at the many commercial towns not sending nor to send Members to Parliament under this Bill, and would you exclude them from a share in the county Representation? Why, that very argument would completely cut the ground from under the noble Lord, and prove the necessity of adopting the proposed amendment. If commercial towns were to have Representatives, let the constituency be 1140 limited to the towns; but why should they be permitted to interfere with the counties? The inhabitants being freeholders of commercial towns not having separate Representatives had a right to vote for counties; but, in the name of common sense, let that not be made an argument for deluging the county with the town Representation. Take Brighton, a town with which most hon. Members were acquainted, as an example. While Brighton had no distinct Representatives he never objected to the great body of its freeholders having votes for the county. But now that Brighton was to have its own Representatives, why should the voters have a double privilege for the town and county. It really appeared, however, as if whatever changes were proposed by his Majesty's Government in the various editions of their Bill must be right, while every suggestion which came from their opponents was to be received with distrust and disapprobation. In the Reform Bill first proposed by the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, the amendment now under consideration formed a part of it and was stated by the noble Lord to have been intended as a great boon to the agricultural interest. Why then the sudden and unaccountable alteration? The noble Lords had another purpose to answer, as he had already stated, and no change could they propose which which would not meet with the approbation and obtain the vote of the hon. member for Middlesex. If the Government wished to cut down the 40s. freeholders, let them at least bring in a proper clause to effect their object, but as the whole Bill now stood, it must work the most decided injury to the counties. Under such circumstances, he would not at that late hour detain the House longer than by declaring his entire concurrence in the amendment of his hon. and learned friend.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that this question had been fully debated on previous occasions, and was fully decided upon by large majorities. The object of the clause as it now stood was not to deluge counties with town constituencies, for the law as it existed at present gave the right of voting to freeholders in towns for the counties in which they were situated. In fact, taking part of these rights away, they diminished the influence of towns in the return of county Members in proportion to the number of freeholders, who by right of occupancy would vote for the town, and not 1141 for the county. The Ministers did not intend proposing any clause, neither had they ever done so, which would deprive a man possessed of property of the right of voting in virtue of that, property wherever it might be situated; the very contrary was their decided object. He had frequently said, and he said so now, that the object, of this clause in the Bill was pro tanto to give an advantage to the agricultural interest, but not an undue advantage as against any other in the state. He contended that the very clause they were now discussing would increase the agricultural voters; but that could be no reason why Gentlemen opposite should complain of the increased number of voters in towns. If in every case the towns were to be excluded from voting (in right of freehold property) for counties, then he felt, convinced that considerable injury would be inflicted upon them. Upon these grounds he supported the clause as it stood. He hoped the House would not now change their opinions on the subject, and, therefore, he trusted, they would reject the amendment.
Sir Robert Peel
said, he would support the amendment if it were only because it simplified the right of voting, and would prevent boroughs from interfering in and influencing the returns for counties. He wished that whoever had a right of voting for property situated in a town or borough should exercise his franchise in such town or borough, and let a similar right be exercised by county voters for the counties only. The hon. member for Middlesex expressed a great alarm that the amendment was wholly to exclude town voters from voting in the county, and it appeared as if that very alarm had taken away his power of reasoning upon this subject. If the hon. Member had read the clauses which regulated the right of voting he would have found that they took away all the right of voting for counties, for all freeholds situated in towns except those under 10l. value, and the non-resident freeholders. Oh, but the hon. Member, though a county Representative never deigned to ask the yeomen, the country gentlemen, or squires, for their votes; no, no, he depended upon the town voters, and was exactly "the great sublime" he drew of a county Representative. On the other hand, however, those Gentlemen who sat on the Opposition side of the House considered the hon. Member to be rather a 1142 mockery of a county Representative; and therefore they objected to deluging the counties with town constituencies. The simple argument used by the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), in justification of the clause as it now stood, was, it would prevent the severance of the agricultural and, manufacturing interests, and that by blending them both together they would be consulting the interest of all. But that was a proposition to which he could not accede, for it was directly opposed to the common sense and justice of the case, as well as to the view of it which had been so often stated by the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He must say, in illustration of his view upon this point, as well as in support of the amendment of his hon. and learned friend (Mr. Praed), give to the man of property in Leeds a right of voting for Leeds, but do not by way of a most extraordinary amalgamation, give him also a right of voting for the county of York. The neat and clear speech just now made by his hon. and learned friend (.Sir E. Sugden) left him indeed nothing to add, and he would not weaken its force by any further observations.
§ Mr. Ramsden
opposed the amendment, because in his view, it would tend to sever the agricultural from the manufacturing interest, to which he would never be a party.
§ Mr. Praed
said, the hon. member for Middlesex was altogether mistaken in either thinking or stating that the object of his amendment was to disfranchise any portion of the people. On the contrary, he was willing to extend enfranchisement where it might be just and necessary to do so, and if towns of consequence were not represented, he would gladly assist them in obtaining Representatives; and he apprehended his amendment would facilitate that object, by laying it down as a principle that towns were to have Representatives exclusively to themselves. He perfectly understood the appeal which had been made to the sense of the country; and he could assure the hon. Member (Mr. Hume) that he had taken considerable pains to make himself acquainted with the state of public feeling, and he had found it to be exactly as he had represented it.
contended that the amendment would tend to the disfranchisement of certain voters which he should wish to find increased rather than diminished. He said disfranchisement, because it was often 1143 considered that a vote for the county was more valuable than a vote for the town or borough. Besides that, all the freeholders in the old boroughs had a right to vote for the counties, by virtue of their freeholds, independent of their rights as burgesses or citizens. These votes such persons would entirely lose under certain circumstances of residence and value. If, indeed, the amendment were confined to the new boroughs, he did not think it would be so objectionable as it appeared to him in its present form.
§ Sir George Clerk
could not bring himself to believe that any injury would be done to any party by acceding to the amendment of his hon. and learned friend. There was evidently a total discrepancy, a total variation of principle, between the English and Scotch Bills as to the borough Representation; for while it was sought in England to throw the town constituency into the counties, it was to be limited in Scotland to the voters in the towns, who were to have nothing to do with the county Representation. The learned Lord Advocate had expressly stated that when he introduced the Scotch Reform Bill, and therefore, would to-night claim the honour of the learned Lord's vote for the amendment, in order to maintain the consistency of the learned Lord.
The Lord Advocate
denied that he should be guilty of any inconsistency in voting for this clause of the English Bill, and voting for confining the town voters in Scotland to the towns, because at present the borough voters in Scotland had no right to vote for county Members, but the freeholders in the English boroughs always possessed that right. There was therefore, no analogy between the right of voting either for towns or counties in England and Scotland, besides in England no right of voting by "a superiority" existed as it did in the county Representation of Scotland.
§ Sir George Clerk
said, that the learned Lord's right of voting for him for the county of Edinburgh was entirely owing to "a superiority" which he had in a street of Edinburgh.
The Lord Advocate
denied that his right of voting was owing to any such "superiority," and on a future occasion he hoped he should be able to prove it to the satisfaction of the hon. Baronet.
Sir Robert Peel
was led to believe, from the observations which he had just heard, 1144 that there was a sort of compromise in this affair, and that the learned Lord Advocate was only shadowing out the image of what the new Representation in Scotland would be when the new Reform Bill should become the law of the land.
§ The House divided on the Amendment, Ayes 90; Noes 181—Majority 91.