, on presenting Petitions from Marylebone and other places, complaining that from the late period at which the Reform Bill had passed, a great number of voters would be disfranchised by the non-payment of the rates at the time specified in the Bill, said, he wished the noble Lord would inform the House whether any remedy could be provided for this mischief.
§ Lord Althorp
had heard of the cases mentioned by his hon. friend, and had received several communications respecting it. He must observe, that this was a question which had not passed, sub silentio, in the House; but, on the contrary, it was one which had been much discussed, and therefore he did not think that any parties could be justified in stating that they had been taken by surprise. His right hon. friend, the member for Montgomeryshire, 355 had specifically mentioned that this clause might deprive many of the exercise of this franchise, and this he (Lord Althorp) mentioned, to show that the question had undergone discussion. The question had, in fact, been much mooted, and the provision that every rate-payer must have paid the rates due and payable up to the 6th of April, on or before the 20th of July, was as well and fully known as any other provision in the Bill. The only portion of the Bill which his Majesty had authority to alter, was that relative to the periods for making out the lists, and serving the requisite notices, and this had been done by the Order in Council. The only answer he could then give to his hon. friend was, that he should much regret if any voters were disappointed; but it was out of the power either of his Majesty, or even Parliament, to make any alteration in this respect, as there was no clause to enable the Bill to be amended during the present Session of Parliament. He must also add, that he did not believe that the inconvenience would at all be to the extent which had been stated; for it would be recollected that there was at least an interval of three weeks between the giving of the Royal Assent to the Bill and the period up to which the rate might be paid.