§ Mr. Croker,
on presenting a Petition from the Corporation of Helstone, praying that that borough might be struck out of schedule B in the Reform Bill, thought it his duty to call the attention of the House to the state of its information on the subject. The allegations contained in the petition had reference to the probable effects of the present Reform Bill, both with respect to that and to other boroughs. He would take on himself to say, that the results at which the petitioners had arrived, appeared to him to be in all respects correct. They complained of the absurd mode in which Lieutenant Drummond had proceeded in his calculations. He would not enter on that subject at present, but would defer his remarks until the motion was put for the Speaker's leaving the Chair. He must, however, now be permitted to say, that the scale on which his Majesty's Ministers were about to proceed, was the most complicated and absurd that could be imagined, and they were pursuing their course in the absence of all authentic information. On the last night of their sitting, when the noble Lord moved the adjournment of the House, he (Mr. Croker), feeling no desire for any considerable delay, had expressed his conviction, that it would be impossible for the necessary information to be laid before the House in sufficient time to enable them to meet on the present day, in a condition to enter on the consideration of the details of this measure. The noble Lord had immediately said, that he saw his way clearly through that objection, and that there would be no difficulty whatever in producing the necessary information in time; and both the noble Lords were good enough to state to him, privately, that there would be no want of information, as 400 sets of the explanatory documents would be ready for delivery on the ensuing Thursday, and the remainder on the Monday following: in other words, that the first delivery would take place on Thursday, the 22nd, and the second on Monday, the 26th, of December last. Satisfied with these assurances, he had made no objection to that course; but he certainly had reason to complain that, up to the present hour, the information thus promised had not been produced; indeed, so far from the promises made by the noble Lords having been fulfilled, the papers which might have been produced three weeks ago, were not all yet before the House; and although they were now coming to the discussion of one of the 565 most complicated schemes that ever was devised, they were still without the information which the noble Lords had assured him should be placed in their hands without delay. Since that time two papers had been produced, marked Nos. 5 and 8; the one marked No. 5 was delivered in a few days after the House met, in the beginning of the Session. Now, he was sure that the noble Lords would not willingly mystify or insult the House, by withholding information which it was in their power to produce. He was sure that they would be as much surprised as he was, when he informed them of what seemed like a most studious concealment of the information sought for. In this paper marked No. 5, which is the appendix to Lieutenant Drummond's scale, and which was delivered to Members on the 16th December, 1831, he found an observation to the effect, that there was an error in another return respecting the borough of Malton, which was therein stated to pay taxes to the amount of 1,300l., whereas the figures ought to be 1,030l., and that, therefore, the borough was placed in a wrong position on the list. He (Mr. Croker) was struck by this extrordinary error, and, on examining both the papers closely he found, that the one, No. 8, which was referred to as containing the error, was not produced until the 17th of January, whereas it must have been actually in print on the 16th of December; or rather, it must have been in print some days before that date, as the typographical error which it contains was mentioned and corrected in the paper No. 5, which was produced on that day; therefore, some person or other must have withheld from the House for a whole month, information which had been ordered, and which was actually in print, and ought to have been produced, on the 16th of December. If only one error had been committed—if only one document had been kept back—he should attribute the mistake, or the delay, to haste, to accident, and the novelty and difficulty of the calculations; but, when he saw all the information so withheld, he was forced to suspect, that there was some one connected with the preparation of the papers, who desired to keep back from the House, as much as possible, the information which had been called for. But that was not all. One of the clauses of the Bill provided that certain counties, containing more than 150,000 inhabitants, should be divided into two parts, and return four Members; and his Majesty's Ministers had very properly undertaken 566 to furnish the House with correct information as to the population of those counties; but what would the House think when he showed, that the accounts respecting them were made up so artfully, that no man could ascertain from them the amount of the population of those counties, without making arithmetical calculations, of which surely the Home might have been spared the trouble? The total population of no one county was given; indeed, there was no total whatever given. The various divisions of the several counties had been taken, and the population of each local division, such as hundreds, wapentakes, &c., given, and all still in separate items, although assuredly the professed purpose of the Returns was, to show the total amount of the population in each county, and the total amounts which were to be allotted to each division. What had been laid before the House looked like information, but was in fact the very reverse.
He, therefore, submitted to the House the necessity of not going into Committee upon the Bill, until sufficient time should have been allowed for the examination of the accounts, which had not yet been completed, and which were indispensable for a full understanding of the Bill. He thought that a week or two, at least, would be necessary for that purpose; particularly as it had been previously promised by the noble Lords, that the documents should be distributed full three weeks before the committal of the Bill; but he had heard that it was still intended to go into Committee on Friday night. He hoped, however, that that intention would not be persevered in. He had spent many anxious hours in the consideration of the papers which had been already furnished, and he was desirous of a little further time to elucidate them, for, from what he could observe, he was convinced that the details of the new Bill were extremely complicated, and the principle involved in them was of greater importance than it appeared at the first glance. In the meantime, he trusted the noble Lords opposite would hasten the production of the remaining papers. He concluded by presenting a petition from the inhabitants of Helstone, Cornwall, praying that that borough might be taken out of the schedule in which it stands in the new Reform Bill.
Lord John Russell
said, he had observed, when the former Bill was under consideration, that though something might be gained by proceeding on the new population 567 Returns, they would nevertheless lead to long and difficult calculations. He was not, therefore, surprised, when they came to specify parishes and boroughs, and the towns belonging to them, that the inquiry should be attended with considerable difficulty, and that some of the calculations should be erroneous. But though that difficulty or inconvenience was foreseen, still it was deemed better for Parliament to assemble before Christmas, than to delay the measure entirely, while the necessary corrections were in progress. If Gentlemen would look to Lieutenant Drummond's reports, they would find in that list, that there were certain places yet under consideration, and that there was some incorrectness in the papers already given. He had, however, hoped that a number of correct copies of the Returns, relative to the boroughs inserted in the schedules, would have been ready in the week after Parliament had adjourned. He had unfortunately been disappointed; and he was sure that all those who were concerned in the production of those documents, regretted that they could not be got ready so soon as had been expected. Some of the tables were then under consideration, and others had been laid before Parliament previous to the recess. It was, however, considered useless to produce a number of papers, some of which, it appeared on examination, would have to be corrected by others. Therefore, when Lieutenant Drummond told him that it would be necessary to make corrections in some of the papers, he at once said, that it would be better to keep back the documents, in order that the corrections should be properly made. The papers were now ready, and would, in the course of the week, be placed in the hands of Members. As to the Returns which the right hon. Gentleman had referred to, respecting the population of certain counties, they were not prepared for the purpose of showing the population of the counties at large, because that had been already ascertained in other Returns before the House, but with a view to the division of the counties. The object was, that the House, by having the population of the hundreds severally before it, might be better able to make an equal division. There had been no unnecessary delay in producing the information required by the House; and, as he had already said, sufficient time would be given for the examination of the documents. He could not consider that any reasons had been advanced for the postponement of the Committee; 568 but he thought that, as the papers were voluminous, and required attention to particular places, it was desirable they should be some time in the hands of the Members; and if it were deemed advisable, those parts of the Bill, respecting boroughs to which the papers particularly referred, might be postponed, whilst other portions of the Bill were proceeded with. By adopting this course, sufficient time would be afforded to Gentlemen for the examination of those documents. He and his noble friend were perfectly ready to make any arrangement for that purpose which might accommodate hon. Members opposite. He might take that opportunity of reminding the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Croker) that he had pledged himself to prove the ignorance of Lieutenant Drummond, and to show that the same results as to the relative value of the boroughs set down in the schedules, could be obtained by the simple addition of the population and the taxes, as had been arrived at by Mr. Drummond's more elaborate calculation. Now he (Lord J. Russell) thought, that if the right hon. Gentleman would not incur the imputation of ignorance which he cast upon Mr. Drummond—an imputation which might be thought not a little presumptuous, especially as that gentleman was known only for his great learning in that particular department of science—if the right hon. Gentleman could not make good his charges he would certainly seem liable himself to his own imputation of ignorance.
§ The petition was read. On the Motion that it be laid on the Table,
§ Mr. Croker rose to answer the challenge of the noble Lord. He would first remind the House of what passed on the occasion referred to; he had in his hands only the letter of Lieutenant Drummond to the Secretary of State, explanatory of the principle on which he had formed a certain list of boroughs, but he had neither that list itself, nor the amounts of population and taxes on which it professed to be calculated; and undoubtedly, from that explanatory letter he was induced to say, what he now, on the same evidence, repeated, that taking Lieutenant Drummond's principles from that letter, and judging of them by the examples therein given, that gentleman, had made the most complicated and absurd calculations which had ever fallen under his notice, and that the simple addition of the numbers would have produced the same results exactly as Lieutenant Drummond had arrived at by a long combination of 569 decimal fractions. His authority for that assertion was the statement of Mr. Drummond himself, who acknowledging, in that same letter to Lord Melbourne, that the calculation was somewhat complicated, thought it right to lay before the noble Secretary examples of the manner in which he had proceeded. For this purpose he took five boroughs, calling them A, B, C, D, E, and setting down to each whatever numbers he chose, he exhibited his mode of calculation, and it so happened, that, in all the five instances thus selected by Mr. Drummond himself as examples, the results given by his operose calculations were precisely the same as would be produced by the simple addition of the original numbers: for, upon adding them, although the numbers so produced differed in amount from those produced in the more complicated operation of Mr. Drummond, yet they were precisely the same in order, and the relative value of the places was similarly ascertained. The noble Lord, indeed, might say, that although it was the same when five boroughs were taken, it would not be so when there were 120 boroughs in the calculation. But that was no answer to him (Mr. Croker). He spoke from the document in his hands, and from the information as it stood when he addressed the House; but did not the noble Lord also know, that if the number was increased to 200, the difference occurring in the former case might be removed? for, by a slight difference in the proportion of the houses to the taxation in the different boroughs, which might be obtained by increasing the number of the boroughs taken into the calculation, the inequality might be redressed. But the House would bear in mind, that when he spoke upon the subject, he knew only of the five boroughs given in Mr. Drummond's illustration; and in that example there was no difference in the results of the simple addition and his complicated fractional process. But since the delivery of the list itself, he found that it was liable to still more serious objections. It was formed on arbitrary assumptions, and liable to be seriously affected by the caprice or partiality of the calculator: for example, by the addition of the ten boroughs at the top of the list, the returns relative to which Lieutenant Drummond had chosen to exclude—Lord knows why—from his calculations, and by that of the ten others at the bottom, equally, and without any assigned reason, excluded also, it might be found that a great difference was made in 570 the relative positions of the intermediate boroughs. That would depend alone on the proportion which might be made to appear between the number of houses and the amount of the taxation in the whole of the selected boroughs. All this looked very like unfairness, and he could not but complain that the noble Lord had not been so good as to forward him the amount of population and taxes on these ten excluded boroughs, as he had requested by a note written several weeks since, which the noble Lord, though he had had the courtesy to promise, had not yet, agreeably to that promise, performed. He had a strong feeling that the House ought to be put in possession of the cases of these ten boroughs, for he had bestowed much attention on the principles of Lieutenant Drummond's plan, and he believed that he should be able to show the House, that a less satisfactory means of obtaining the desired result could not well have been resorted to. Until he had the whole information, however, before him, and knew the respective cases fully, he could not tell how differently the two different modes of calculation might affect the list, as the whole relation might be altered by the additional boroughs taken into the account.
Lord John Russell
said, that the reason assigned by Lieutenant Drummond for omiting those boroughs out of the list upon which his calculations had been founded, was, that they were so insignificant and so exceedingly various—some having few houses and paying a considerable portion of assessed taxes, while others had a great many houses and paid but a small proportion of taxes—that their omission from that list would make no material alteration in the calculations founded upon it. He was sorry that he was not at present able to furnish the right hon. Gentleman with the information as to those ten boroughs which he asked for. He had spoken to Lieutenant Drummond on the subject; but he had been so engaged that he was not able to produce it. However, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman, that he should have it forthwith. With regard to one of those boroughs—namely, Old Sarum—there had been no answer returned; but if the right hon. Gentleman thought that there were any houses in that borough, or that it had paid any taxes, it was open to him to move for a return on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman had laboured to show that the addition of those ten boroughs would alter the principle on 571 which the calculations of Lieutenant Drummond were founded, and in doing so the right hon. Gentleman had reminded him of those Turkish mathematicians who, when asked how many right angles there were in a triangle, replied, that that would depent upon the size of the triangle. The fact was, as he understood it from Lieutenanl Drummond, that the including those smaller boroughs in the list would make little or no difference in the calculations which he had made out.
said, the rule on which the right hon. Gentleman made his calculations was erroneous, inasmuch as he considered that the numerators of portions might be added together, although the denominators were different: thus the right hon. Gentleman added the numerators of two fractions, one of which had a denominator of 432, and the other a denominator of 545. Nothing could be more simple than the arithmetic of Lieutenant Drummond, and nothing could be more complicated than that of the right hon. Gentleman. They had both to add a number of fractions having different denominators, and the right hon. Gentleman was content with adding the numerators only, leaving the denominators as he found them; whilst Mr. Drummond took the much more simple and rational method—reducing all his fractions to others having a common denominator. He believed, that if the right hon. Gentleman would only refresh his memory a little, by looking into "Cocker," or any other of the vulgar Treatises on Arithmetic for the use of children, he would find the method which Lieutenant Drummond had followed, was there set forth and exemplified, but no mention was made of the process which the right hon. Gentleman preferred.
§ Mr. Croker
had thought that the question was complicated, but certainly not so much so as he now suspected that it must be, as the ingenious Gentleman who had just sat down clearly showed that he did not understand it. In his (Mr. Croker's) proposition, there was no question about numerators or denominators, nor was it a question of fractions, vulgar or decimal: he asserted, that the simple addition of the original numbers would, in the five instances given by Lieutenant Drummond as examples, produce the same result as his complicated calculation; that was what he said, and that was undeniably true; so true that the hon. Gentleman himself had, in private conversation after the former debate, admitted to him, that as 572 far as regarded Lieutenant Drummond's letter, and Lieutenant Drummond's examples, he (Mr. Croker) was clearly in the right. He would now further observe, that if instead of 100 boroughs, the Ministers had taken either eighty-six, the whole number in both schedules, or sixty, the number which were placed in peril of schedule A, the last eleven of those sixty would quite alter their position in relation to the others. And he need not remind the House, that the numbers from fifty to sixty contained the critical part of the list—that part through which the line of disfranchisement was to pass; and what he complained of was, that the calculation was so planned, that the fatal line might fall just where the calculator, by the arbitrary addition or exclusion of boroughs, might choose. But then the noble Lord said, that the first ten boroughs on the list were comparatively unimportant, as regarded both the number of houses, and the amount of assessed taxes. The same objection might apply to the twenty boroughs that occurred afterwards in the list. It was not, however, for the noble Lord or Lieutenant Drummond to determine whether they were unimportant places or not, but the greatest attention ought to have been paid to have the whole calculations made with the utmost fairness and accuracy. He, therefore, thought the figures which applied to these boroughs ought to be furnished without delay, for he was at a loss to discover on what principle they had been omitted in the calculation.
Lord John Russell
would not say whether, in the case supposed by the right hon. Gentleman, the list would be so affected or not. But he had already explained, that Mr. Drummond was of opinion, that if those boroughs had been added, the list would not be so fair as it was by leaving them out.
§ Petition to be laid on the Table. On the motion that it be printed,
observed, that the great difference between the calculations of Lieutenant Drummond and those of the right hon. Gentleman were, that the right hon. Gentleman founded an universal rule upon five boroughs, while Lieutenant Drummond founded his upon the whole, or at least a great majority of the boroughs. He would admit, that in the case put by the right hon. Gentleman, the result would be the same as regarded the order in which the boroughs in question were placed. His objection to the 573 assumption of the right hon. Gentleman was, that his calculation only applied to a particular case, and could not be regarded as a general rule.
said, that his right hon. friend was fully justified in applying the language he had used on a previous occasion, in reference to the cases of the five boroughs as given by Lieutenant Drummond. At that time the whole of the list had not been seen by his right hon. friend, and the natural inference was, that the whole would have shared the same result that a portion did, if a fair specimen of the rule had been given; but, leaving these minor details for the present, the great question to be considered was, whether the House was to go into the Committee on the Bill on Friday next, without having the necessary information to proceed upon. It was impossible for them to go into Committee on the Bill until they had laid before them information as to the limits of the several boroughs upon which the amount of their houses and taxes had been calculated. He trusted that the noble Lord would feel no difficulty in postponing the Committee on the Bill for a few days, in order to give them an opportunity of having that information in their possession.
§ Lord Althorp
remarked, that on going into Committee, it would not be necessary to take the discussion on either of the schedules in the commencement, and therefore, that there would be no reason for postponing the Committee on the Bill altogether until the information with regard to the boroughs was before them. He need not remind the right hon. Gentleman of the length of time which the other parts of the Bill took in Committee on a former occasion; and as it appeared to him that all the enacting parts of the Bill would be as well discussed in Committee without the information in question, he could not consent to a postponement of the Committee on the Bill from Friday next.
§ Mr. Croker
begged to remind the noble Lord, that the noble Secretary of State for the Home Department, in a communication to Lieutenant Drummond, stated to him, that his Majesty's Government were determined to found the Reform Bill "upon a new basis." Were they, he would ask, to go into Committee on the Bill without having that basis before them?
maintained, that they could not be properly guided as to the propriety of going into Committee on the 574 Bill, without having the basis upon which it was founded before them.
§ Petition to be printed.