HC Deb 24 January 1832 vol 9 cc810-25

Lord John Russell moved the Order of the Day for the House going into Committee on the Reform Bill.

Colonel Sibthorp

said, he was still as much opposed to the Bill as ever. It was going down very fast in the opinion of the country. The greatest apathy was felt about it in the county of Lincoln. He heard it reported, that the supporters of the Bill were determined to remain silent, and let those on his side have all the talk to themselves. Let them do so; let them but pay attention, and he did not fear that they would be able to unsay all that had been said in favour of it. Much was said about the support of high personages. He believed the very highest was not so favourable to it as some persons wished to persuade themselves. He heard so at Brighton. He again asserted, that there was a great and comfortable re-action. He heard some of the farmers say, that they expected no good from the present Administration. He never saw a more raw, unsightly, unfinish- ed set of Ministers. They never could come to any maturity. He rose, however, to ask if the Ministers intended to retain in the Bill the clause giving the franchise to tenants at will renting a farm of 50l. a-year; to that clause he laid some claim as his own, though it was fathered by the noble Marquis (the Marquis of Chandos), and feeling much interested in its fate, he felt it necessary to ask this question, particularly as the hon. Baronet, the member for Peterborough—for Whiggish Peterborough—had given notice of a motion to erase it from the Bill.

Mr. Hume

wished to know whether the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), intended that the Committee on the Reform Bill should sit on Wednesdays?

Lord Althorp,

in answer to his hon. friend's question, could only then say, that Ministers saw no reason for taking the Committee on Wednesdays. They intended that the Committee should sit on four days in each week, hoping that the same courteous understanding which obtained last Session—namely, of hon. Members giving way to Ministers on those four days when their motions were not of urgent necessity or immediate interest—would be acted on during the present Session. He did not expect, that it would be at all necessary to take the Committee on Wednesdays. Indeed, that day was now so universally understood to be devoted to motions not likely to give rise to protracted discussion, and the attendance was, consequently, so invariably thin on that day, that it would be almost hopeless to expect to make any progress in the Bill by adding Wednesday to the Committee days. He, therefore, would that evening move the adjournment of the Committee over to Thursday, taking his chance for being able to make some progress after the motion which stood for that day should have been disposed of.

House went into Committee.

Lord Althorp,

on moving that clause 7th stand part of the Bill, said, that he would take it upon himself to have the Amendment proposed on a former day by the hon. and learned member for Bishop's Castle—namely, that the present Bill shall not operate as law till the bill for defining the boundaries of the boroughs and towns mentioned in it should have previously received the sanction of the Legislature, carried into effect.

Mr. James L. Knight

would, on that understanding, willingly leave the matter in the hands of the noble Lord.

The blanks in the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th clauses were then filled up, and the clauses agreed to.

The 11th clause read as follows;— "And be it enacted, that the persons respectively described in the said schedules C and D, shall be the returning-officers at all elections of a Member or Members to serve in Parliament for the boroughs in conjunction with which such persons are respectively mentioned in the said schedules C and D, and that for those boroughs for which no persons are mentioned in such schedules as returning-officers, the Sheriff for the time being of the county in which such boroughs are respectively situated, shall, within 'two months' after the 'passing of this Act,' and in every succeeding respective year, in the month of 'March,' by writing under his hand, nominate and appoint for each of such boroughs, a fit person, being resident therein, to be, and such person so nominated and appointed shall accordingly be, the returning-officer for, &c."

Mr. James L. Knight

said, he found no provision made for identifying the nomination, which might remain a private document in the custody of the Sheriff, incapable of identification; this ought not to be the case. The amendment which he intended to propose to remedy this defect was a very slight one, and he trusted, therefore, that the noble Lord opposite would not object to its introduction. It was, that after the word "had," in the eighteenth line of the clause, there should be inserted these words—"to be delivered to the Clerk of the Peace of the county within one week, and to be by him filed and preserved in the register of the county."

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Goulburn

called the attention of the House to that part of the clause by which it was enacted, that "for those boroughs for which no persons are mentioned in such schedules as returning-officers, the Sheriff for the time being of the county in which such boroughs are respectively situate, shall, by writing under his hand, nominate and appoint for each of such boroughs a fit person to be the returning-officer." He objected most decidedly to such an enactment, which would give the Sheriff a power such as was given to no other person in the country. If the Sheriff was inclined to do so, he might abuse the power thus put into his hands, by appointing as returning-officer any person whom he wished to prevent from being a candidate.

Lord Althorp

admitted, that there were some objections to the clause, but there were still some difficulties in making other arrangements. It was not intended that the plan now proposed should be permanent, as it was the intention of the Government to grant charters to the new boroughs, when the returning-officers would be provided in another way.

Mr. Goulburn

observed, that in framing a new Constitution, it was to be expected that the Ministers would fall into a great many difficulties and anomalies. He did not mean to deny, that the naming of the returning-officer would be a matter of difficulty. The Sheriff might abuse his power to prevent a man becoming a candidate; therefore, the mode of appointing the returning-officer, as it was provided for in the clause, was, in his opinion, most objectionable. If the returning-officer was appointed by the Crown, there would be some check upon him, as the Government would think it below their character to act in such a manner; but individual cases of a different line of conduct might easily be anticipated. Again, the Sheriff was not responsible, but the Government would be responsible for the manner in winch the deputy exercised the duties of the office.

Lord Althorp

said, that the objections of the right hon. Gentleman would apply as much to the giving of Representatives to large towns as to the making of what he called a new Constitution; it would apply as strongly where the right of election was given to a few places as to the enfranchisement of whole districts. Whoever attempted a Reform in Parliament, would have to contend against this difficulty, and, on the whole, he and his colleagues thought that it would be better to vest this appointment in the Sheriff, for the present, than in the Crown.

Sir Charles Wetherell

complained, that it was a complete innovation to allow the Sheriff to appoint the returning officer in the boroughs with in his bailiwick. No Sheriff of England had ever such a power bestowed upon him before; and when this was pointed out to the noble Lord, all the answer he gave was—"It is a matter of great difficulty." It by no means followed that the Sheriff would appoint men whose local knowledge fitted them for this situation—such men as, under the present plan, exercised the duties of returning officers. The persons appointed to the office must be residents within the borough, but no time was specified as to the term of their resid- ence. They might be domiciled in the place for the express purpose, by the connivance of the Sheriff. It was forbidden that the Churchwarden or Overseer should be appointed to the office, although those persons were the best qualified, from their local knowledge, to execute its duties, and generally had the confidence of their townsmen. He should prefer seeing the returning officer appointed by any other person rather than the Sheriff. The Ministers of the Crown, too, would have an influence over the election; for, as they appointed the Sheriffs, they would exercise an influence over them, and, through their means, over the returning officers, and might then appoint their partizans to the office, and in that manner influence the elections. It appeared, however, from what the noble Lord said, that this was to be only an ad interim Constitution, and that the new boroughs were to get charters, which would remove the difficulty. He should not be surprised to see the new boroughs before long deprived of their charters as easily as the old. This Bill, in fact, would not be complete and final in any one of its parts. He, therefore, begged to ask the noble Lord, or some of his supporters, why the Corporations for these newly created boroughs could not be manufactured at the same time with the Bill which went to create them?

Mr. O'Connell

said, the existing returning officers were not of so very superior a character as to make it adviseable to advocate the mode of appointment that was now practised. Until something better was proposed he should support the present clause. According to the principle of the present constitution, the Sheriff was bound to execute, by himself or his deputy all writs that were directed to him as Sheriff. For that purpose he appointed officers to preside at the election, and he appointed, too, the Assessor, who determined on the votes. As to the influence of the officers, it was folly to talk of their influencing the election, for that House would know how to deal with either of them who abused the power intrusted to them. The Bill now before the House proposed only to do that which would enforce the Common Law, and compel the Sheriff to do what, by the present duties of his office, he was always called on to perform.

Sir Charles Wetherell

never heard a lawyer assert a proposition more in the teeth of the Constitution, and of the statutes of Parliament, than that which had been pronounced by the hon. and learned member for Kerry. When a parliamentary writ was sent to the Sheriff of a county, he had no option but to issue his precepts to the several Corporations and recognized authorities in his bailiwick, and in no case was he invested with the authority of selecting the returning officer. The Sheriff never appointed the deputy to whom the execution of writs for the election of Members for a borough was intrusted. Such a practice would be as contrary to various Acts of Parliament as it was to many decisions of that House. It was not, therefore, true, that the present Bill was a following up of the old Constitution; on the contrary, it was a direct and positive breach of that Constitution. If the hon. and learned Member had candidly admitted, as the noble Lord had done, the difficulties that had induced such a course to be adopted, there could be no objection to him, but when he spoke on a legal point, he should do so logically, accurately, and legally. He believed there was not, in the whole country, another lawyer, but the hon. and learned Member, who would venture to state such a proposition as he had submitted to the House.

Mr. O'Connell

said, he had only affirmed that the general duty of the Sheriff was to execute all writs directed to the county over which he presided. He was quite aware that within those counties there were separate and particular jurisdictions over which the Sheriff had no direct authority; but the constitutional doctrine was, that the Sheriff was responsible for all writs that were not specially directed to persons within his county who were appointed by other high authority.

Sir James Scarlett

admitted, that as a general rule, the Sheriff executed all the writs that were sent to him to be executed in his bailiwick, but he did not execute all the writs for elections of Representatives for boroughs situated within his bailiwick. The Sheriff did not appoint, and could not appoint, a deputy to execute a precept for an election within the borough. He must say, that he thought the appointment of the returning officers by the Sheriff was more objectionable than by the Crown itself. Another course might surely be pursued: why could not the Government ascertain who were the superior civil officers of the boroughs to which they were about to give Members, and then appoint those officers the returning officers of those boroughs? He did not object to the principle of giving these large towns Represent- atives, though he must say, that the Government was, in his opinion, now carrying that principle too far; but he thought that at least care should be taken to give the power of a returning officer to such persons in the new boroughs as exercised it in those already in existence. He recommended the Government to make these new boroughs corporations for the sole purpose of electing Members of Parliament; for to make them Corporations in other respects, was the right of the Crown, on which he should say nothing at present. If they were made Corporations for the purpose of electing Members, there would be these advantages—first, that the new boroughs would be thus assimilated to those already in existence; next, that the returning officer would be appointed in the usual way, and the difficulty which they were now discussing would be got over; and lastly, the registration of the voters would be rendered unnecessary, for the officers of boroughs always kept a list of the freemen of their respective boroughs. Under these circumstances, he thought it would be desirable for the further consideration of this question to be postponed for a couple of days, till the Government could have time to inquire who were now the superior civil officers of the boroughs about to be enfranchised, and could ascertain whether such officers could not advantageously be appointed returning officers, and whether these boroughs could not be made Corporations for the sole purposes of this Act. He thought that a short clause for making them Corporations for the purposes of this Act might very easily be drawn without in any manner prejudicing the rights of the Crown to make them Corporations for other purposes.

Mr. Hunt

wondered that the hon. and learned Gentleman, who had just now so ably treated the subject under discussion, had not gone a step further, and said how the returning officers were to be appointed in the new Corporations. He merely said, they were to be appointed in the usual way. That usual way meant, he supposed, that they were to be elected by the people, of course, as they were now appointed by the freemen of London, Bristol, and other places.

Lord Althorp

observed, that if the hon. and learned Gentleman were to endeavour to draw a short clause, making the newly-enfranchised towns Corporations for the purposes of this Act, he would find that he had undertaken a task of no very slight difficulty. Another hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken as if he thought the appointment of Sheriffs was a favour conferred upon the persons appointed, and as if the Sheriffs, when appointed, were under the influence of the Crown. In both cases he was much mistaken. In making that supposition, they were paying but a poor compliment to the gentlemen of the country who served the office of Sheriff. The hon. member for Preston was much mistaken when he supposed that the returning officers in the large proportion of boroughs in the country were elected by the people; and if the Government had recommended the adoption of such a mode of electing the returning officers, they would only have involved themselves in difficulties. A number of difficulties had occurred to the Government on this point, and the Sheriffs naturally suggested themselves as the persons to whom most properly the duty of appointing returning officers could be intrusted: and there was the less objection to the plan, as it was not intended to be permanent.

Mr. Goulburn

said, the simple question before them was, what necessity existed for vesting the Sheriff with the power of compelling an individual to accept the situation of a returning officer. This Bill proposed, that the Sheriff must find a person to undertake the duties of his deputy at different places during a county election, but for borough elections he could compel any individual to accept the office. The noble Lord, seeing the difficulties and consequences likely to result from the compulsory system, excluded that class of men who were best calculated to discharge the duties of the office fairly and impartially, by providing that no man should act as returning officer, who possessed more than 3001. a-year landed property. Did the noble Lord think, that he would find many individuals willing to undertake an office which exposed them in case of misconduct to a penalty of 500l., and to actions on the part of the voters? Whoever undertook so onerous an office would expect remuneration either by influence or money, and therefore the question resolved itself into this—was it proper to confide this power to the Sheriff?

Mr. Serjeant Wilde

said, that the plan recommended by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Sir James Scarlett), was not a new plan, for it had been recommended six or seven years ago by Mr. Serjeant Merewether, who had ever since been endeavouring to gain over advocates for it. With respect to the observations made upon the statement of the hon. and learned member for Kerry, he would only beg leave to say, that that hon. and learned Member never had asserted that the Sheriff executed, by himself or his deputy, all the writs or precepts which were issued for the election of Members in the boroughs within his bailiwick, or that he appointed the returning officer for those boroughs. But how had the returning officers become so in many instances? How, but by the habit of the Sheriff to send writs to those officers to be executed within those boroughs? That habit, arising from the fact that they were originally supposed to be the Sheriff's deputies in the boroughs for the execution of writs there, had, at length, confirmed them in the office, and made them the persons to whom the execution of parliamentary precepts was intrusted. The habit had at length been converted into a right. In many of the boroughs in schedule C, the returning officer was especially pointed out, as in the case of Manchester, where the duty belonged to the Boroughreeve. The Sheriff would have the power of selecting the proper individuals, and the law would cast upon them the necessity of discharging the office, even at their own personal inconvenience.

Sir James Scarlett

denied, that, by the ancient law of England, the Sheriff had the right or power of selecting the returning officer. By the form of the writ, as long ago as the reign of Edward 1st., the Sheriff was required to return two Knights for the county, and to send his precept to boroughs for the election of Burgesses; but he did not, therefore, appoint the returning officers in boroughs.

Sir Charles Wetherell

contended, that the proposition of the learned Serjeant (Wilde) was in the teeth of all law and all history; for the Sheriff never had possessed the power of naming the returning officer in boroughs, not even in those of comparatively recent creation, such as Banbury, which was created in the reign of James 1st.

The Attorney General

concurred in the spirit of the observation which had been made by the hon. and learned member for Newark, and which he thought had not been fairly represented. He understood the hon. and learned Member to say, not that the Sheriff had the power to nominate returning officers in existing boroughs, but that, when new boroughs were to be created, and the writs were sent to the Sheriff, he must perform the duty of returning officer by himself or deputy. With respect to the Sheriff, he considered that that officer was naturally the person to whom the power of conducting the election in new boroughs should be given. It had been objected that the Crown might exercise an influence over the conduct of the returning officers, through the means of the Sheriff, who was appointed by its favour. It was, however, ridiculous to suppose, that the Crown could make a job of the creation of Sheriffs. It was no favour to country gentlemen to nominate them Sheriffs, for that appointment was almost the highest penalty which could be inflicted on them. If, however, the power of selecting the returning officers for the new boroughs had been reserved to the Crown, he was quite sure, that that would have been even more strongly objected to than the present proposition. He did not think that the suggestion thrown out by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir James Scarlett), with respect to the incorporating the new boroughs for the purposes of the Bill, would have been any improvement. He begged further to be permitted to remark, that he hoped they would not fall into the practice of last Session, and waste the time of the House in frivolous discussion, on matters which it was evident had been arranged in the most unexceptionable manner.

Mr. C. W. Wynn

concurred in the greater part of the observations which had fallen from the learned Attorney General; and, under all circumstances, he was of opinion that the Sheriff was the fittest person to have the power of appointing the returning officers: but he objected to the present clause, because the appointment of the Sheriff was made compulsory. He thought it would be an improvement, if, in certain cases, an appeal could be had from an appointment made by the Sheriff to the King in Council.

Mr. Cresset Pelham

expressed his disapprobation of the clause. It had been said by some learned Gentlemen that the Sheriff had the power, according to the common-law, but that was denied by others, but certainly not a single case had been shown where that authority had been exercised, although the contrary had been shown. The principle must therefore be considered as wholly applying to the future.

Sir Edward Sugden

must be permitted to say a few words upon the mooted point, whether the Sheriff was the fit and constitutional person to have the selection of returning officers. He was fully of opinion, that both the hon. member for Kerry (Mr. O'Connell), and the learned Serjeant (Serjeant Wilde), had laid down, a mistaken and unsupported proposition. Without arguing the particulars of what the law was or is at present, supposing Sheriffs had the power which the learned Gentlemen affirmed they possessed, but which he denied, still he was prepared to contend, it ought not to be exercised without limitation. For instance, in a county like Middlesex, the clause would give the Sheriff too great power, as his deputies would be returning officers for the districts of the Tower, Finsbury, and Marylebone. Within the memory of man, and, indeed, for many centuries, Sheriffs had not had the selection of returning officers in any boroughs. It was inexpedient to select an individual merely that he might be returning officer, and he ought, for the sake of greater responsibility on the part of the Sheriff, to hold some recognized appointment—such as Head-borough, or High Constable. He was persuaded that, as the clause at present stood, it would become a job in the hands of the Sheriffs and their Under-sheriffs, who were almost invariably attornies, and well knew how to avail themselves of advantageous opportunities.

Mr. Hunt

said, he did not rise to oppose the clause, but to protest against the language of the Attorney General, who had said the object of certain hon. Members appeared to be, to waste the time of the House in frivolous discussion. That might be a clap-trap for the Press, but it never should deter him from doing his duty with respect to this Bill.

Sir Charles Wetherell

said, Lord Holland, or the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, for the time being, had the power of nominating the Sheriff of Lancashire, who would appoint no less than six returning officers. There would be six Under-sheriffs in the new boroughs; so that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster might be called the greatest boroughmonger in the land. This was a power he could not consent to delegate, and he should be strongly disposed to take Lancashire out of the operation of the Act. His hope was, that the noble Lord would see the inconsistency he had pointed out, and propose the remedy required.

Lord Althorp

said, if the hon. and learned Gentleman would inquire, he would find the Shrievalty of Lancashire was not considered a very desirable office at present, and he did not believe the power of appointing returning officers to the newly-created boroughs would make it much more popular. At all events, he did not apprehend that the effect of the appointment of returning officers by the Sheriffs would produce the dissatisfaction described.

The clause as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The 12th clause, respecting the elections for the county of York, read.

Lord Althorp

said, the great object of the clause was, to appoint places where it would be most convenient for the electors to assemble. With that view he should move, that the Court for the election of Members for the North Riding of the county of York should be held in the city of York, for the West Riding at Wakefield, and for the East Riding at Beverley. He believed these towns were, on the whole, best adapted for the purpose.

Mr. Strickland

thought, that Beverley was not well calculated for the purpose—it was very inconveniently situated.

An Hon. Member

approved of Beverley. It possessed every facility for holding elections. The Quarter Sessions were held there, and it was a large and well-built town.

Lord Milton

was of opinion, that the ancient division of the county should not be departed from. He could see no reason why Ainstey should be separated from the North Riding.

Mr. Stuart Wortley,

though he thought it more reasonable that Ainstey should be annexed to the East than to the North Riding, as the former was the least extensive in population, still conceived it better not to alter the division of the county.

Lord Morpeth

was in favour of the city of York having a share in the elections, and was of opinion that Ainstey should remain as it was.

Mr. Wrangham

said, as the county was to be divided into three separate districts or counties, the best course to pursue for the convenience of the electors was, to select those places which were most centrical. Northallerton was best adapted, therefore, for the place of election for the North Riding.

Mr. Lascelles

was of the same opinion with the hon. Member; if the elections were held at York for the North Riding, many of the voters would be more than forty miles from the place of election, and, in the East Riding, the same would be the case if Beverley were selected.

The clause agreed to.

Clause 13th was read to this effect:—"And be it enacted, that in all future Parliaments there shall be Knights of the Shire, instead of two, to serve for the county of Lincoln, (that is to say) for the parts of Lindsey, in the said county, and for the parts of Kesteven and Holland, in the same county; and that Knights shall be chosen in the same manner, and by the same classes and descriptions of voters, and in respect of the same several rights of voting, as if the said parts of Lindsey were a separate county, and the said parts of Kesteven and Holland together were also a separate county; and that the Court for the election of Knights of the Shire for the parts of Lindsey, in the said county, shall be holden at, and the Court for the election of Knights of the Shire for the parts of Kesteven and Holland, in the said county, shall be holden at."

Lord Althorp

said, he begged leave to move, that the first blank of the clause be filled up with the word "four," and with respect to the places best adapted for the elections to take place, he begged to move, that the election of two Members for the division of Lindsey, be fixed to take place at Lincoln, and of the two others, for Kesteven and Holland, at Sleaford.

Colonel Sibthorp

must again object most strongly to any division of the county of Lincoln, the only effect of which would be, to throw it into two close boroughs, one of which, including the hundred of Lindsey, would be under the control of a noble Baron, whose name he had no hesitation in mentioning—Lord Yarborough, whose property was situated in that part of the county. He would move, that all the words after the word Lincoln, be omitted.

The Chairman

said, the question was, that the first blank be filled up with the word four.

Mr. Wilks

said, his surprise and disappointment were great, now that he found that the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had deviated from the course that on the former occasion he pursued. The noble Lord had then consented to postpone the question of the division of Lincolnshire, till the clause relating to the division of counties had obtained the sanction from the House. Now, he precipitated the local question, in which little interest would be generally felt, and thereby gained an ad- vantage over those who continued to defend the ancient unity of Lincolnshire, and who deprecated the innovation, unfavourable to its independence and honour, which this clause would effect. Since, however, the noble Lord would so exercise his authority, he must again protest against any division of counties, and especially against a division of one of the fairest, wealthiest, and most populous counties, and to which peculiar objections existed. As to the division of counties generally, nothing had been discovered to obviate or diminish the objections which a large party of tried and staunch friends to Reform irresistibly urged, in which the enlightened and independent Press of England universally concurred—and which the lovers of freedom throughout the country felt and approved. Who, that dared to think for himself, did not retain his opinion, that the tendency of the measure was, to create landed instead of borough nomination; and to give to the Aristocracy that preponderating power in the Commons House of Parliament, which it was the professed object of Reform to uproot and destroy? Indeed, the noble Lord conceded on the former occasion that such was the expected result; as he expressed his hope that the Opposition in the other House would be propitiated by the arrangement—as they would be gratified by a discovery, that they would retain a supremacy which, for their personal advantage or the power of their order, though to the prejudice of the people, they had already exercised too long. But, in that case, the noble Lord might have been taught that principle ought to be preferred to expediency; and that great objects were more likely to be gained by manly bearing and resolute adherence to right, than by a subserviency that encouraged denial and awakened contempt. In this matter he yielded, and sacrificed county independence to lordly power. But were the Peers propitiated? No! And yet, untaught by experience, the noble Lord attempted now to renew the compromise which the Aristocracy had disdained and the people had condemned. For this division of counties, no adequate reasons could be given. By the existing system, the freeholders of extensive counties were compelled to assemble in their county towns—the distance was inconvenient—the trouble great—the expense oppressive; but, as one of the great objects of the Bill was, that the poll should be taken in various places in divided counties, the shadow of an excuse for the division of them was swept away; as, even for the largest counties, the elections might be conducted without any of the objections for the removal of which alone division could be endured. If such were the objections to the general division of counties, they applied to Lincolnshire with peculiar force. It could not be denied, that by the division proposed, the interest of the noble Lord mentioned by the gallant Colonel, would, in the division of Lindsey, completely prevail; and that any effort by an independent candidate to resist his nomination would be vain. Two Members out of the four for the county, therefore, one Peer would return. He believed that aristocratic influence would have great weight in the return of the remaining two, and would only be controlled by a number of small independent yeomen, who existed in those parts of the county. He was fully persuaded the county of Lincoln, from its importance, deserved four Representatives; he, therefore, trusted, if the gallant Colonel proposed to divide the House upon the clause, that he would allow him to suggest, that he should not object to that part of it which allotted four Representatives to the county, but should object to the remainder of the clause by which the division was decreed, and the places appointed at which the elections for these broken and dissevered portions were to be held. On that subject, also, he must express his dissent and regret. The noble Lord and the House were aware that he had always contended that, should the division be made, Boston was the town where the elections for that division of the county in which it was situated ought to take place. Its importance and situation deserved that distinction, as the returns which would have been presented to the House, in consequence of his motion to that effect, would have proved, had the noble Lord condescended to wait for them. But it appeared that he must have yielded to some local influence, and had recommended Sleaford. In the county, that selection would produce disappointment and surprise, and he was determined to resist it if the question was carried to a division.

Sir Robert Heron

said, that if Lincoln had been the only county to suffer division, he should have been sorry to see its consequence lessened by such an operation, though he must confess that his opinion was, that it afforded the fittest occasion for division of any of the counties after that of Yorkshire. He must also take that opportunity of denying altogether the allegation of the hon. and gallant Member, with respect to the county of Lincoln becoming two close county boroughs after this division was carried into effect, for no such consequence would result from it, unless tenants at will were to be allowed to vote, in which case, a very considerable influence would be obtained by certain parties. He had long been acquainted with the county, and he was firmly of opinion that the freeholders were perfectly free from any domination.

Mr. Hunt

observed, that if the discussion were persisted in, he must beg to move that the Chairman do report progress.

Lord Althorp

expressed a hope, that the hon. Member would not persist in his motion.

Mr. Hunt

said, that it had already been settled, that the Committee should not proceed after twelve o'clock, and he observed an Order of the Day which would require some discussion.

The question of filling up the blank with "four" was again put from the Chair; when

Colonel Sibthorp

said, that he was determined to take the sense of the House on the question.

Mr. Robinson

asked the hon. and gallant Member, if he objected to the addition of the number to the county Members, as that was the question before the House?

Colonel Sibthorp

withdrew his amendment.

The blank filled up with the number "four."

The Chairman

said, the next question was, that the other blank be filled up with the word "two."

Colonel Sibthorp moved an Amendment, that all the words after the word "Lincoln," in line three of the clause, be omitted.

The House divided on the Original Motion: Ayes 195; Noes 64—Majority 131.

Clause agreed to, and ordered to stand part of the Bill.—The House resumed.