Lord John Russell
said, that in rising to move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair, he felt it necessary to occupy the time of the House for five minutes upon a subject on which, he had already 1070 given notice of a Motion, though he had not thought proper to renew it, from a feeling that he could make the statement, which, he wished to make respecting the ratepayers in the metropolis on the present occasion. The right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Robert Peel,) in the course of his speech the other night, had referred to a return relative to the number of rate-payers and houses in the metropolis, which, had astonished him (Lord John Russell) exceedingly at the time, and which, he could not help considering as founded in some inaccuracy; for he could not conceive how it could happen, that the number of voters should be so much greater than the number of houses in the metropolis, when the right of voting was confined to the occupiers of 10l. houses. He was, therefore, certain that the calculation of the right hon. Baronet must have been taken from some returns with which he (Lord J. Russell) was unacquainted. Upon inquiry he found that the calculation of the right hon. Baronet was founded partly upon the report of the Commissioners upon the boundaries of the metropolitan districts, and partly upon documents derived from other sources; and he trusted that he should be able to explain to the House how the right hon. Baronet came to his very extraordinary result, by referring to the sources from which the right hon. Baronet had derived it. The statement of the right hon. Baronet was, that there being in certain parishes of the metropolis a certain number of houses, the voters under the Reform Bill in those parishes would exceed the number of houses: for instance, the right hon. Baronet said, that in the parish of St. George and St. Giles, the number of houses was 4,450, and that, deducting from it the uninhabited houses, there remained only 4,025 occupied houses in the parish, while there were 4,280 voters, as might be seen by the return of actual rate-payers then on the Table of the House. Now the present number of houses in those parishes was not as yet in any authentic shape before the House. But he (Lord John Russell) found that the census of 1821 gave the total number of occupied houses in that parish at 4,456. If, therefore, instead of deducting the empty houses from the total number of houses above 10l. they deducted the empty houses from the total number of occupied houses, they would come to the right hon. Baronet's remainder of 4,025. But it was 1071 quite evident that that sum could not be made applicable to the number of voters created by this Bill. For there was one error committed in deducting the number of empty houses, not from the total number of houses, but, from the total number of occupied houses, and there was another committed in taking the total number of houses, occupied and empty, from the census of 1821. Without considering the vast increase which had taken place in the last ten years in the metropolis, if that was allowed for and taken into the account there was nothing strange in the circumstance that the number of voters now should exceed the number of houses which were then in existence. By the census of 1831, it appeared that the number of occupied houses in the same parish was 4,713, and of unoccupied houses 230, making a total, exclusive of those building, of 4,943, being an increase upon the census of 1821, upon which, the right hon. Baronet appeared to found his calculation of 487 houses. Again, in the parish of Paddington, the right hon. Baronet had said, that by the population return, the number of houses was 1,126, and that the number of rate-payers was 1,389. To this statement the answer was equally easy. By the census of 1821, the number of occupied houses was 1,139. From this number the right hon. Baronet had deducted the unoccupied, being thirteen, which left the number which he used namely, 1,126. But by the census of 1831, it appeared, that the number of occupied houses was 1,933, and of unoccupied houses 104, making a total, exclusive of ninety-three building, of 2,037. Again, in the parish of St. Pancras, the right hon. Baronet had said, that the number of inhabited houses was 8,425, and that the number of voters was 8,502. To this statement he must give the same answer as before. By the census of 1821, the number of occupied houses was 8,824. From these the right hon. Baronet deducted the unoccupied 400, which left the number which the right hon. Baronet used, 8,424. But, by the census of 1831, it appeared that the number of occupied houses was 12,369, and of unoccupied was 787, making a total, exclusive of those building, of 13,156. The Commissioners, however, proposed to exclude from the borough part of the parish north of the Regent's Canal, which was estimated to contain about 1,200 houses. This sum deducted 1072 from 13,166, would leave 11,956 houses, which was considerably larger than 8,502, the number of rate-payers. From these facts, it was evident the right hon. Baronet's mistake originated in his taking the census of 1821 instead of that of 1831. From the statement which he had now made to the House, hon. Gentlemen would perceive that the number of houses had increased so much during the last ten years, that no conclusion could be drawn as to the number of electors to be created by the Reform Bill from the returns of the number of houses in 1821. Indeed they might as well think of ascertaining the number of voters from the number of houses in those parishes in 1811 or in 1801; since which time the number had doubled and trebled, if it had not quadrupled. He thought, that he had now said sufficient to show that the calculation of the right hon. Baronet was radically founded in error. With regard to the precise number of voters to be created in the metropolitan districts, it was impossible to state anything accurately. He believed, that it would be best ascertained by reference to the returns to the House duties. Still it ought to be recollected, that among the rate-payers would be many who would have resided less than a-year, others who would be excused the rates, and others who had made default in paying them. He thought that when the number of these three classes of persons were added together, they would reduce the gross number of voters by one-third. He would not intrude further upon the House at present; but as the statement of the right hon. Baronet appeared to him to have made a great impression upon the House, he thought it right to make this counter-statement to remove that impression, by showing the error on which the calculations were founded.
Sir Robert Peel
said, that he was obliged to the noble Lord for the courtesy with which he had endeavoured to set him right as to the error which he supposed him to have committed. He begged, however, that hon. Members would recollect, that the discussion which the noble Lord had just re-opened was not a discussion of his (Sir R. Peel's) seeking, but of the noble Lord's. He wished, that he could impress upon the House the same sense of the importance of this question which he felt himself, and thereby establish the necessity of giving further time 1073 for the consideration of the character of the new constituency which the Reform Bill would create in the metropolis. In the calculations which he had made, he had always referred to the latest documents on the Table, and the latest document which he could find relative to the number of houses was the census of 1821. The House must be aware, that the number of families was larger than the number of houses in the metropolis. In the Tower division, for instance, there were 47,176 houses, and 69,337 families; and in Christ Church, Spitalfields, 2,300 houses, and 4,752 families. As this Bill permitted two or more occupiers to vote for the same house, provided they each paid a 10l. rent, it was clear that as there was a large excess in the number of families above the number of houses, there might also be a large excess in the number of voters above the number of houses in each parish. He would exemplify his meaning, by referring to the parish of Mile-end Old town. He did not know what number of houses that parish contained by the census of 1831, but, by the census of 1821, it contained 4,284. According to the report of the Commissioners, how many voters were there in that parish? There were 3,017 occupiers of houses rated above 10l.; there were 119 occupiers rated above 10l. excused payment of taxes; there were fifty-two compounded for above 10l., making a total of 3,188 occupiers above 10l. But, if the noble Lord would only take the trouble of looking at the last column, he would see that the number of houses rated under 10l., but worth more, was 2,307; and observe, that by this Bill, it was the real value of the house, and not the rate, which established the right of voting. In this parish, then, of Mile-end, there were 2,307 houses rated under 10l., but worth more; but, the occupiers of these houses would be entitled to vote, because their real value was above 10l. Add, then, to the 3,188 occupiers of houses rated above 10l. the 2,307 occupiers of houses worth 10l. a-year, and you would have 5,485 voters in that single parish, and yet, by the census of 1821, that parish did not contain more than 4,284 houses. By a statement in page 18 of the census it appeared, that the total number of houses in the parish of St. Pancras in 1831 was 13,673. But the House was not about to take the whole parish of St. Pancras into the Marylebone borough, 1074 for the northern part of it was more of a rural than a town character. The Commissioners had, therefore, recommended that the Regent's Canal should form the northern boundary of the borough in that direction, especially as there were no legal boundaries of which they could avail themselves, and the Canal formed a very eligible artificial one. The total number of houses in the whole parish, as he had before stated, was 13,673. How many were excluded by this artificial division he could not tell. There were, however, in the parish of St. Pancras, south of the Regent's Canal, 7,998 occupiers of houses rated above 10l.; 1,021 occupiers excused payment of taxes; 124 rated as landlords, and 465 houses compounded for. Besides these, there were 504 houses rated under 10l., but worth more. Add these together, and you will find that you have 10,122 voters in this part of the parish alone. So far was the noble Lord from having removed the impression which these calculations had made upon his (Sir R. Peel's) mind, by the speech which he had just delivered, that it had actually increased the anxiety and apprehension with which he had previously contemplated the numerous constituency established by this Bill in the metropolitan districts. But, he begged to ask, did the House know what the right of voting would be in the metropolitan districts? The substance of the enactments of the Reform Bill, stripped of technicalities, was as follows:—In every borough, every male person occupying as owner or tenant, any house or shop, of the clear yearly value of not less than 10l., shall be entitled to vote, if duly registered. But no person shall be registered in any future year, unless he shall have occupied the premises one year before the last day of July, nor unless he shall have been rated to the relief of the poor during his occupation; nor unless he shall have paid before the 20th of July, all the Poor-rates and assessed taxes which shall have become payable from him previously to the 6th of April. Joint occupiers may vote, if, where there are three occupiers, the yearly value of the House is 30l. Every occupier may claim to be rated whether the landlord be liable to be rated or not, and upon paying the amount then due of the rates, if any be due, his name shall be put upon the rate. If the landlord is liable to the rate, and if the tenant, after claiming to be rated, shall make de- 1075 fault, the payment of the rate by the landlord shall still remain due. Here, he would pause, in order to call the attention of the House to the different manner in which the occupiers of 10l. houses were treated by this, Bill and by the general law of the land. The general law of the land looked upon their solvency with a suspicious eye, for it held the landlords of all such tenements responsible for the rates and taxes accruing for them; and in the metropolis, the rates of such tenements were generally compounded for by their owners with the parish; and yet it was to persons placed thus pointedly under suspicion by the law, that this Bill was going to intrust the elective franchise. But, to proceed, The voter must occupy premises within the parish of the clear yearly value of not less than 10l., and it was further provided, that the premises must be rated for the payment of the Poor's-rate during the period of his occupation. In this respect the 29th clause of the Bill was most material, from the provisions of which he supposed that whether the landlord of the premises be liable to be rated or not, the occupier might claim to be rated, and on the tender of the amount due up to the 6th of April, might have a claim and be entitled to vote. The clause did not say one word as to the rate which had been actually paid by either the tenant or the landlord. He called upon the noble Lord opposite to consult some of the local Acts, and compare their provisions with regard to the regulations and qualifications for the right to vote on parochial concerns, and for the election of vestries. He would refer the noble Lord in particular to the Act which regulated parochial elections in the parish of St. Giles, and compare in that Act the right of voting for parochial officers compared with the right provided by this Bill in voting on the choice of Members of Parliament. By the Act to which he had referred the House, no man in the parish of St. Giles was entitled to vote for vestrymen, who occupied any house, shop, or premises, and was rated at less than 25l. per annum, and none had a right to vote if the rates had been compounded. On the contrary, the House of Commons, in the present Bill, enacted, that they might compound for the rates either by themselves or their landlords, and be entitled to vote for a Member to serve in Parliament, on a qualification, not of 25l., but of 10l. The Act which regulated the election 1076 of vestries in St. Giles's, and which probably was founded on accurate local knowledge, studiously excluded from the right of voting all persons whose solvency was at all doubtful. The right to vote in parish affairs was denied to those who paid their rents more frequently than quarterly, but, by the provisions of the present Bill, if the occupier was a weekly tenant, and if his landlord had compounded for the rates, he had only to tender the rates due on the 6th of April, and he would be entitled to vote for a Member to serve in Parliament. These facts were established by the report of the Commissioners, every line of which was important. The Commissioners in their report said, that the landlord of property below a certain value compounded with the parochial authorities for the several rates to which his property might be liable, the parish consenting to receive a sum considerably less than that which could otherwise legally be levied on the same property. It was thus manifest, that the amount of rate was a most uncertain means of ascertaining the number of votes. The Commissioners went on to state, that the composition so made might bear to the real value of the property compounded for, a proportion varying from one-half to four-fifths; so that it appeared a house might be compounded for at the rate of 51., and would still entitle the occupier to vote, being really of the value of 10l. When he saw that, by the provisions of this Bill many persons occupying the same premises might be entitled to vote, he could not feel surprised that the number of voters should exceed the number of houses. He could not think such a system would be advantageous to the districts of the great metropolis of the country, a system which established qualifications to vote for a Member to represent the inhabitants, which very qualifications had been rejected with scorn by the parishes themselves in regard to their parochial affairs. He was borne out in his statement by the report of the Commissioners appointed by the Government for the purposes of this Bill—a document which the more he considered the more was he convinced that it was proposed to commit an important trust into the hands of those in whom it could not safely be reposed; and he felt satisfied that, when the House of Commons was about to give to one constituency twenty Members, they ought to consider well the qualification of that constituency. That 1077 the noble Lord had convicted him of any misunderstanding or misrepresentation as to the nature of the constituency he begged most decidedly and firmly to deny.
§ Lord Althorp
would not follow the right hon. Baronet through his statement, nor would he enter into the question relating to quality of the metropolitan constituency, but he would confine himself to saying, that he thought the right hon. Baronet was mistaken in the effect of the two clauses of the Bill the 27th and the 29th, to which he had referred. The two clauses he conceived to be explicit and distinct; the 27th enacting, that, in every borough returning Members to serve in Parliament, every occupier, as owner or tenant of any premises within such borough, of the clear yearly value of 10l., should, if duly registered for twelve calendar months, be entitled to vote in the election of a Representative in Parliament, provided that he be rated for the relief of the poor. The 29th section was a provision for the right of the occupier allowing him to claim to pay the rates himself, notwithstanding that the landlord might be liable to the rates on the same property, or otherwise. On the effect and intention of these two clauses there could exist no doubt.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
said, there could be no doubt that the provisions of this clause would greatly increase the right of voting, and extend it to a very disreputable class of persons. He concurred in the view of the question taken by his right hon. friend (Sir Robert Peel), and he felt strongly impressed with the opinion, that nobody could read the Report of the Metropolitan Commissioners without being struck with the observations it contained. It was manifest that twenty-two Members were given to the metropolitan districts (including the two members for Middlesex, whose election was mainly affected by the town constituency), and this number of Members was granted to a constituency created by this measure, occupying houses of the lowest description, possessing no weight of property or stake in the country. The House ought to hesitate before it put so great a power in such hands. He gave the noble Lord credit for not having will-lingly introduced that clause, which fixed the qualification of the householders so low; it was a clause altogether owing to the influence of the noble Lord's friends out of doors. His first intention, as the 1078 House perfectly well knew, was to limit the householders' qualification to persons paying their rents half-yearly; then, as he said, owing to the pressure of the influence out of doors, it was extended to persons paying quarterly, and now it was brought down to weekly tenants, giving them full permission to pay their rates at any period,
Mr. C. W. Wynn
conceived that the 10l. qualification would be calculated to increase bribery and corruption at future elections, and he thought it was well worth the attention of the noble Lord opposite, to consider how far it was possible to introduce some measure for its prevention. He hoped the noble Lord would bring in a Bill for that purpose as soon as possible, as it would be advantageous that it should be brought forward during the discussions on the present Bill.
Lord John Russell
thought, that the Bill now before the House was as likely to prevent bribery and corruption as any which had ever come before Parliament. It was, however, his intention to bring forward such a measure as that alluded to by his right hon. friend: indeed the Bill was at present under revision.
Mr. Evelyn Denison
thought, the present Bill would overthrow the provisions under the Local Acts for the regulation of rates. He begged to ask the noble Lord if any alteration would be made in the amount of the qualification.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that it was not the intention of the Government to make any alteration in the qualification clause, and he should not now discuss it. If his hon. friend had any wish to bring that question before the House again, the proper time for discussing it would be on the bringing up of the Report, or any subsequent stage of the Bill.
§ The House went into a Committee.
§ The Chairman put the question "that Finsbury, in the county of Middlesex, do stand part of schedule C," agreed to. Marylebone, (Middlesex,) Lambeth (Surrey), and Great and Little Bolton (Lancashire), were also ordered to stand part of schedule C, without a comment.
§ On the question, that Bradford (Yorkshire), stand part of schedule C,
§ Lord Granville Somerset
said, he would not oppose certain towns receiving two Representatives; but he would ask the noble Lord, upon what ground this town was to have two Members, when there were 1079 several other places more deserving than either Bradford, Blackburn, or Oldham, of this distinction, which were to have but one Member each? Bradford had only 1,100 voters, and paid only 2,444l. to the assessed taxes; Blackburn had but 600 voters, and paid only 2,300l.; Oldham had 1,100 voters, and paid in assessed taxes 2,200l. If these were compared with some of the towns in schedule D, which were to receive only one Member each, the difference would be very much against them; for instance, there was Cheltenham, with 2,100 voters, and paying 20,000l. to the assessed taxes. It might be said, that Cheltenham was not a manufacturing town, and, therefore, had no need of two Members. There were two towns in schedule D, the importance of which, in a manufacturing and commercial point of view, could not be doubted. Tynemouth had 3,500 houses, 1,150 voters, and paid 2,800l. in assessed taxes. Huddersfield had 4,000 houses, 1,100 voters, and paid 3,900l. to the assessed taxes. It appeared, therefore, that Tynemouth paid upwards of 400l. more in assessed taxes than Bradford, and had a greater number of voters: that Huddersfield had as many voters, and paid 1,500l. in assessed taxes; and yet the two superior towns were to return only one Member each, while the two inferior towns were to return two each. The noble Lord might possibly say, that Huddersfield was placed in peculiar circumstances, from the property possessed by one individual in and about that town, that that individual would return two Members, if two were assigned to it. He acknowledged that was a good reason for not giving it two; but he apprehended the noble Lord would not acknowledge that to be his reason—no doubt some other reason would be stated—for giving Bradford this preference. He had stated every particular which could entitle a town to have Representatives, excepting population; and if he was told that population was the groundwork proceeded upon, in the scheme of giving Bradford two Members and Tynemouth one, he must admit that the superiority of population was with Bradford, for it had 2,000 inhabitants more than Tynemouth; but to take the principle that an extra population of 2,000 was alone to entitle a place to a second Member, was going a great way in favour of population. All he desired, was, to see all 1080 the parts of Reform worked upon the same principle; and until the noble Lord stated why the three towns he had named were to have two Members, and Huddersfield and Tynemouth only one, he must think the distribution had arisen from caprice, and was not founded upon constitutional principle.
Lord John Russell
said, that isolated comparisons like those taken by the noble Lord, gave no idea of the comparative value and importance of a town; but with reference to the number of 10l. houses, which, however, was only one of the tests of enfranchisement, Bradford had the superiority over Tynemouth and Huddersfield. With respect to the noble Lord's second observation on the propriety of taking the assessed taxes as the ground of Representation, that criterion would be found not to be available for that purpose. The amount of assessed taxes by itself would not form any criterion of the importance of great manufacturing towns—of those towns to which Representation ought to be given. Very wealthy, enterprising, and intelligent persons resided in those towns—but still they were not of that class who swelled the amount of assessed taxes. To prove the correctness of this principle, he would direct the attention of the noble Lord to two places. There was Birmingham, a place which it was allowed on all hands ought to be represented, but it paid only 28,350l. assessed taxes, whilst Brighton, against granting any Representative to which strong objections had been started, paid assessed taxes to the amount of 31,800l., being a difference in favour of the latter place of upwards of 3,000l. The noble Lord would see from these data the inconsistency, if instead of Leeds, Manchester, and Birmingham, Ministers had selected Brighton and Cheltenham for double Representation. Besides, it could not be overlooked that population was generally the great test of the wealth and importance of manufacturing towns.
§ Lord Granville Somerset
said, if the noble Lord rested on the principle of population principally, with regard to the manufacturing towns, there was no reason why Tynemouth and Huddersfield should not be placed on a footing with Bradford.
wished to know, if population was to be the basis of Representation, why Ministers had not taken into consideration Aberdeen with a population of 1081 58,000, Dundee 42,000, and Paisley 37,000? Surely the noble Lord, after the principle he had just laid down, could not refuse the claim of those places
Lord John Russell
answered, that the rule was not founded on the strict principle of population alone, other circumstances were necessarily taken into consideration; if they were guided by population alone, they must have given another Member to Salford. As to the remark made by the hon. Member relating to the large towns of Scotland, he should be prepared to give an answer to that when the Scotch Reform Bill was under consideration.
§ Sir George Clerk
agreed with the noble Lord, that when the Scotch Bill was before the House, these matters must be discussed. But if they now filled up all the vacancies that had been made by the disfranchising clauses, what chance would there be hereafter to urge the claims of Scotland with effect? If the noble Lord would promise that this filling up should not deprive Scotland of her claims, provided those claims were fairly made out, he was content to proceed forthwith with the schedules. But if they were to understand that the present number, 658, of that House was to be inviolable, then it became necessary for those who thought Scotland's share of Representation too small, to endeavour to make out the right of that country to additional Representation. The noble Lord said, that population was not the sole criterion of enfranchisement. But he was ready to meet him on those terms, and say, whether they looked to the population of Scotland, or its contribution to the revenue of the empire, an equally just claim could be made out for a considerable increase of Representation. Nor could it be said, that to give further Representation to that country would be disturbing the relative proportions of the three divisions of the empire; for the principle of those who supported the Reform Bill was, that the small close boroughs, instead of an advantage, had been a disadvantage to the people of England. When, therefore, those 140 Members were taken away, it was quite clear, upon that argument, that the people would be more fully represented than they were before, even though those 140 franchises were not distributed among populous places. The House ought therefore, before the 140 Members were 1082 disposed of, to take into consideration the various parts of the empire. It might seem an awkward situation for those who had always opposed this Bill, now to demand Representation for any district or place on the score of taxation or population, especially when they ran the risk of being taunted by the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, with being more violent Reformers than Ministers themselves, and after they had heard even the hon. member for Kirkcudbright, who had been a steady supporter of the Bill, accused of ingratitude, and of not being sufficiently thankful to Ministers for the favours they had vouchsafed to his country. But what he meant to assert was, that the principle on which the Bill was said to be founded, had been totally disregarded in working out the details. They were required to assume that the principle was correct, and see whether Scotland had a better claim than Ireland for an addition to the number of its Representatives, on the ground of the Union with Scotland having been settled 120 years ago, there was more probability of a change having since taken place in the relative position of that country, than in Ireland since the period of the Union with the latter; that was probably the best and simplest point of view to look at the case, and what would be the result? According to the disfranchising clauses, as he had already observed, there were 140 seats to be disposed of. Scotland had a fair claim to a larger share of those 140 than the Government had allotted it. By the last census, the population of Scotland amounted to 2,300,000, which was one-sixth of the whole population of England and Wales—and the taxation of Scotland was about one-eighth of England and Wales; so that, upon this shewing, Scotland was entitled to one-seventh of these 140 Members—or, in other words, to twenty of the 140. But Government only proposed to give eight, raising the number of Scotch Members from forty-five to fifty-three; when, in fact, that country was entitled to sixty-five, or (taking the proportion at only one-eighth) to at least sixty-two Members. In this case the number of English Members would be only 488, or 490, instead of 500; so that Members, who thought other parts of the kingdom had claims, were bound to take care that they did not vote away the whole 500, in which case the claim of Scotland could not be supported, so long as the rule was esta- 1083 blished that the gross number of 658 was not to be infringed. But if the Government insisted that England should retain its 500 Members, and would agree that Scotland should be dealt with in the same proportion, he would not object to such an arrangement. All that he insisted on was, that justice ought to be done to Scotland and Ireland. Under these circumstances he trusted, that a statement would be made to the Committee as to what were the intentions of Government on that point, in order that hon. Gentlemen might thoroughly understand on what grounds they were to proceed.
rose to make the same claim for Ireland which the right hon. Baronet had just made for Scotland. In the first place, be must protest against the sentiments of the hop. member for Louth, as stated in the House on the night of the debate on the metropolitan districts, being received as the general sentiments of the Irish Members. He himself had wished to have stated his feelings on that question, but circumstances had prevented him. He would, however, even now say this much —that he differed altogether from the principle on which the Government had acted; but since it had been determined that the Ministerial principle was to be adopted, at least let them take care that it was fairly and impartially administered, and that an equal meed of justice be dealt out to all: indeed, he was sure (whatever discrepancy of feeling there might be) that all the Irish and Scotch Members would join in claiming for those two portions of the empire those rights which were so palpably denied. They ought to make common cause for the purpose of asserting the rights of their respective countries. This should be an "imperial measure" doing-justice to all sides, and not proceeding on a principle of partiality, as had been done with regard to the metropolis, on which twenty-two Members had been wantonly squandered.
Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
denied that the Members which had been given to the metropolitan districts had been squandered away; for, in his opinion, the whole principle of the Bill would have been lost, if the noble Marquis's Motion had succeeded. It was upon the very principle which gave these Members to the metropolis that he supported the claims of Scotland for more Members, and it was with these feelings that he thought that this discus- 1084 sion was not altogether irrelevant, and that he hoped the House would view it with indulgence. If Ministers declared it to be their intention to adhere to the proposed distribution of 658 Members, it would, from that moment, become the duty of the Scotch and Irish Members to make their stand, in order to prevent Representation from being given to places that did not deserve it, while it was refused to others where it was most needed. Ministers themselves admitted that they had continued Representation to places that did not deserve to be represented. Why might not that Representation be extended to great and populous places in Scotland or Ireland? The Government, be it observed, was now in this predicament, that a part of the Representation was to be preserved which, by the former Bill, was declared to be useless. Four of those boroughs which were in the original schedule A, had now found their way to schedule B; by which means, it might be said, that four Members were actually taken away from Scotland and from Ireland; and four boroughs were taken out of schedule B, altogether; so that there were eight Members (all that Scotland required), to say the least of it, thrown away. According to the Returns, it appeared that in four boroughs that were to return eight Members there was but 13,000 souls; and after this, he thought he might fairly ask, why Representation was refused to those parts of the empire where wealth, intelligence, and population were now so great, and were so largely on the increase? If there was any hon. Gentleman in that House who would get up in his place, and say, that he thought that Scotland was adequately represented, he (Mr. Cutlar Fergusson) would be content to give up the whole question. But no one had ventured to deny that the population of Scotland was as one to five and a-half, compared with that of England, and her contribution in assessed taxes was as one to eight; consequently her Representation ought to be one-seventh at least of that of England. But that was not asked for Scotland; all that was demanded was, that an additional Member should be granted to each of her counties which contained a population of above 100,000. In apian of general Reform, where they were removing some old Representations, and creating new, he contended that no distinction ought to be made, either with 1085 respect to England, Scotland, or Ireland. To each justice ought to be done, and he would never cease to declare that, under the Bill as it at present stood, justice would not be administered to Scotland.
did not wish to prolong this discussion; but when he heard inconsistent and incorrect allegations made, he could not avoid saying a few words. He was very glad to find that converts were coming over to his opinion. He thought that the fairest course of proceeding would be to divide the country into "electoral districts," and if such a proposition were made, he hoped that he should have his hon. friend (Mr. C. Fergusson) with him. They were told that Scotland was not sufficiently represented, and that the metropolis had too many Representatives. Now the population of Scotland was 2,300,000, and it was proposed to give her fifty-three Members; and the metropolis, which contained a population of 1,500,000, was to have sixteen Members. Was it not evident, then, that Scotland was more fully and numerously represented than the metropolis? Look to the amount of population, taxation, and property, according to Lieutenant Drummond's returns, and it would be found that the district of the Tower Hamlets was able to buy fifty, nay 100 of the boroughs, about which, night after night, there had been so much useless debate. It was monstrous to have the time of the House taken up in going through a discussion as to whether a troop of Yeomanry ought or ought not to be rated to Helston, or whether the few paltry pounds being the different amount of taxation paid by that troop ought to be taken into consideration. Such things were a disgraceful waste of the time of the House, when they had so many more important concerns to attend to. The Bill did not, he confessed, entirely please him; but he would support it rather than go on as they had done. He must say, that the whole Bill was an anomaly. Ay, but was the Representation of the people never an anomaly before? Certainly the Bill was an anomaly, but they might, perhaps, make it a little better. In his opinion, if Ministers had had reasonable men to deal with, they would have produced a much better measure, but they had had a most difficult game to play, and those who supported Reform generally, should make great allowances on that account. This much he would say for them, that they had proposed as 1086 much as they would be able to carry; and for himself, he frankly avowed that he would take more if he could get it; but that, not being able to get it, he saw no reason for refusing that which was offered, and which constituted a part of the whole. At the same time, he was ready to admit that Scotland ought to be better represented, considering what had been done for Wales; but still he could not help bearing in mind that the object of Ministers was to make the best bargain they could; they seemed to him to have acted up to that object; and he was, therefore, prepared to be content with half a loaf, for the very reason—that he would have been more content if he could have got the whole one.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
said, he must accuse the hon. member for Middlesex of having turned his back on the Scotch borough that he had formerly represented, when he had condemned borough Representation by wholesale. He seemed, also, to have given up all sympathy with Scotch feeling, when he contrasted the number of the Representatives from the metropolis with those of Scotland, but with regard to the discussion which had been entered into, he could not see why, if the Representation of London was to be increased, the Representation of Dublin and Edinburgh, was not also to be enlarged. The hon. member for Donegal had, in his opinion, well stated, that if the old Constitution was to be broken up, the new system ought to be an imperial measure, dealing out equal justice to all. But the noble Lord, the other night, had abstained from telling the Committee his reason for declining to give additional Members to those two cities, though he had been courted to it. His opinion was, that if they looked to the compact of the two Unions, the principle of that bargain was a religious principle, which ought to be inviolably preserved: under which circumstances, no increase of the number of Scotch and Irish Members ought to be permitted. But when those who introduced a change laid down a new principle, what he wanted was to have that principle clearly worked out. This had not been done with regard to the sister countries, and, therefore, the Scotch and Irish Members had good ground for complaint that. justice had not been impartially dealt out to them.
Mr. Alderman Waithman
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had deviated 1087 altogether from the question immediately before the House, which had nothing to do with Scotland or Ireland. It would be impossible to carry the Reform Bill, if it had omitted to give Members to the great, populous, and wealthy districts, of the metropolis of the empire. Did hon. Members remember that London and its suburbs contained a population of a million and a-half, that it paid 600,000l. in assessed taxes, and when the property tax existed, it was rated at 5,500,000l. One fact would suffice to demonstrate the justice of its claims to additional Representatives, and that fact was this—that the greatest number of voters that had ever polled at any general election for all the boroughs in schedules A and B did not amount to the number that had polled at the last contested election for the City of London.
§ Mr. Cumming Bruce
said, the hon. and worthy Alderman who had just sat down had lectured the House for not adhering to the question, and then had confined himself to enforcing the claims of the metropolitan districts to an increased Representation, which had nothing whatever to do with the matter now in debate; however, he should not be deterred by what had fallen from the worthy Alderman, from urging the claims of his country to increased Representation, since this discussion had been originated, as probably this was the last occasion when there was a hope of being heard to any purpose on her behalf. He perfectly agreed with his right hon. friend, the member for Perth-shire, that now, during the discussion of the English Bill, was the only chance they had of being heard in her defence, and he spoke from experience; for he well remembered that he had the mortifying duty to perform of resisting the second reading of the Reform Bill for Scotland last Session to empty benches, and the gratification usually reserved for Members on this side of the House, of seeing the truths they had demonstrated overborne by the rush of a Ministerial majority who had not been present to hear one word of the discussion, but who were prepared to vote that black was white, or any other such self-evident proposition, rather than risk the stability of his Majesty's Government, by putting in jeopardy the success of the Bill, the whole Bill, or anything but the Bill, on which, not without reason, they conceived the existence of the Mi- 1088 nistry depended. But before he proceeded to urge the claims of his country, he must refer to what had fallen from the worthy Alderman, and from the hon. member for Middlesex, on the subject of the metropolitan districts. He perfectly agreed with both those hon. Members that, looking to the principles of this Bill, those districts were entitled even to a greater number of Representatives than had been assigned to them, unless there were circumstances which rendered it expedient and wise to withdraw them from the operation of those principles. But it seemed to him that those circumstances did exist, and he would endeavour shortly to state them, as the reasons which had induced him to give the vote he had given, when that matter was before the House. Nothing which he had since heard—no consideration which he had been enabled to give to the subject, had in any degree reconciled him to its adoption. He could not forget the unconstitutional dictation once assumed by the constituency of the metropolis over one at least of its Members, and the ready acquiescence with which that dictation was submitted to; and as such dictation appeared to him hostile to the very essence of the faculty of free deliberation, he could not consent to exposing an increased number of the Members of that House to its influence. That, generally speaking, the wishes of their constituents should influence the conduct of Members in this House, he readily admitted; but so long as they continued to sit as the Representatives, and not as the delegates, of the people, it did appear to him that the account which at intervals might be called for, and must be rendered, to popular constituencies at the hustings, was amply sufficient for every purpose of beneficial control. Yet such was the fascination of popularity on the one hand, and such the charm of the direct exercise of power on the other, that they would show themselves very ignorant of human nature, if they could suppose that, where the facilities of direct and immediate superintendence were so great, the Representatives on the one hand, or the constituents on the other, should be able to refer to a period more distant than the morrow, either the claim to approbation, or the right to censure. In seasons of excitement, when it was most important that this House should exercise a calm deliberation, it were vain to expect such 1089 philosophy under circumstances of constant, and daily, and hourly contact, as must exist between the Members for the metropolis and their constituents. Under the present arrangements, the words "we are seven," were said to have operated with something of an overbearing influence on the Minister of the Crown. What, then, must be expected from the much more potent insinuation, "we are twenty," strengthened, as it would be, by the power of immediate communication, and of watching, at the beginning or at the end of a Session, the opportunities of thin benches and diminished attendance? Under such circumstances, the Mayor of London would soon become the Mayor of the Palace, and the City Treasurer would assume the functions of Chancellor of the Exchequer. All these reasons should prevent the House from giving to this metropolis such an enormous increase of Representation as was proposed by the Bill, and the more so, as large and important portions of the empire had loudly and justly complained of not being properly provided with Representatives. The claims of his country had been so fully and ably advocated by his hon. friends, that he would not detain the Committee by repeating their arguments, but nothing should deter him from urging the claims of Scotland, as long as there was a chance of doing any good. When the numbers of that House were to be diminished, Scotland had, perhaps, less ground of dissatisfaction; but now that Government had adopted the spirit, and determined to act up to the letter of General Gascoyne's Amendment, the case was totally altered. Before disposing of the stock of Members which was thus placed at their disposal, they were bound, on every principle, whether of population or taxation, of their own measure, to provide for the just claims of Scotland; not only the great counties, but some of the more important towns were, in common fairness, entitled to such consideration. He would instance one of the towns which he had the honour to represent—Inverness, which, on every account, and especially as being the only town in an immensely extended district, comprising, at least, five different counties, was as much entitled to the distinction of sending a separate Member to this House as any, after Glasgow and Aberdeen, in Scotland. But the case of injustice done to Scotland did not rest even here; it was 1090 unjust to refuse that country, under this entire new modelling of the Constitution, her fair share of Representatives even where they were not before enjoyed; it was doubly unjust to deprive some of the more populous counties of that right to a separate Representation which they always had and did actually enjoy. This was the case, in particular, with the counties of Elgin and Ross. The first contained a population of 34,000 souls, the other of 54,000; it was not pretended they had done anything to forfeit their rights; or that they were incapable of furnishing an adequate constituency under any modification of the elective franchise; but they were to be deprived of their rights simply because Ministers thought fit to squander away Members on schedules C and D, after which they said they had no more to bestow. Could Ministers imagine Scotland would rest satisfied with such injustice as this. The claims of the larger counties to additional Representation were strong, but the claims of the counties he had mentioned to retain that which they at present possessed were still stronger. Ministers, therefore, before forcing through the schedules now under consideration, ought to give some pledge that these claims should be considered; they must not suppose that the people of these counties were satisfied with this arrangement, for they had already petitioned against it. They would do so again if they believed that any petition, not having for its object to support every proposal of the Government, would be of any avail in this House. He had heard but one statement having the shadow of an argument, advanced by the few Scotchmen who were willing to sacrifice the just claims of their common country on the shrine of Ministerial favour. It was this—Scotland had, in fact, at present, no Representation. The proposed Reform would give her fifty-three Representatives: she had then, every reason to be satisfied with this immense boon. He would admit the statement for the sake of argument, though he was far from admitting it in fact, because it was notorious that, under the existing system, the landed interest was, to a very great extent, represented. But granting for a moment that such was the fact, would it be any answer to the county of Lincoln, for example—provided, in compliment to the gallant Colonel, the member for Lincoln, his Majesty's Government had 1091 thought fit not to increase the number of its Representatives, while those of the other great and middlesized counties of England and Wales were increased— would it be any answer to the county of Lincoln to say, "Hold your tongue; murmur not at the good fortune of your neighbours, the 10l. clause will confer a right of voting on a great mass of your population who did not hitherto enjoy it— you have gained a great deal and so keep yourselves quiet? Would the people of Lincolnshire be satisfied with such an answer? And yet this was precisely the answer given by hon. Gentlemen opposite to the people of Scotland: they all maintained that Scotchmen should be satisfied with an answer which Englishmen would indignantly throw in the teeth of those who made it. He trusted they would reconsider their opinions. If Government really desired this measure should be final, they would remedy this injustice. They could not suppose, that having conferred a right of voting, and excited a passion for the exercise of that right, the population of Scotland would be satisfied without such a share in that right as they had themselves taught them to consider the fair and just proportion. The Italian proverb said, "l'appetito vien mangiando,"—if true in a physical, it was doubly true in a political sense; and if these vast changes were to be introduced, they ought, at least, to have them in such a way, that discontent might not be added to the uncertainties and dangers of untried innovations.
§ Sir George Murray
observed, that he should not say a word about the metropolitan districts, as that matter had been already sufficiently discussed. He begged to say, that he agreed entirely with the hon. member for Kirkcudbright, in thinking that if his Majesty's Ministers intended to persist in their determination of keeping the numbers of the House exactly as they were at present, now was the time for the members from Scotland and Ireland to urge the claims of their respective countries to a larger proportion of Members, and that if they did not do so, they would neglect their duty towards those whom they represented. They had heard tonight from the hon. member for Middlesex, who was not a light authority on the Subject, for though not precisely the author of the Bill, he was one of its most strenuous supporters, as indeed they had heard 1092 before on a former occasion from the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that this would not be a final measure.
§ Sir George Murray
could not recollect, at that moment, the exact date of the debate, but had it distinctly in his recollection having heard the noble Lord say, that this was as far as his Majesty's Ministers then deemed it expedient to go. The expression made a strong impression both upon the House and upon him (Sir George Murray) at the time; and he was perfectly convinced that it would turn out to be the case. The measure was obviously too strong for Ministers; they could not restrain it, and it would inevitably go far beyond the limits within which they wished to confine it. He quite concurred with the hon. member for Middlesex, in the opinion, that this measure of Reform was but a stepping-stone to other measures of that description, which he had not the least doubt would follow in succession after it had been passed; indeed the hon. Member had hinted that seats had been given for the purpose of obtaining support for the measure, and not with any reference to the just claims of places. If such an opinion prevailed in a Reform Parliament, as it was most likely to do, it must be evident there must be further and immediate changes. He declared, and was prepared to prove, that the principle of enfranchisement upon which this Bill proceeded, as regarded England, was that of population, but that the noble Lord opposite, when more Members were asked for Scotland and Ireland on the same grounds, most inconsistently resisted the application, and asserted that it was not on account of population, that additional Members were given. He (Sir George Murray) would maintain, that the same principle should be exactly applied to England, Ireland, and Scotland, and that no unfair distinction of this description should be made, therefore, he should be glad to hear on what ground the noble Lord made Ireland and Scotland an exception to the principle of the English Bill. The Bill, as it was now framed, must leave the seeds of discontent both in Ireland and Scotland. He was much afraid that in Scotland discontent would extend very considerably. Considering that this stage of the Bill was the proper time to make a claim for Scotland, he must, as one of the Members for that 1093 country, contend for the propriety of now urging those claims.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that he was not going to give any opinion respecting the Scotch Representation, but only to express his surprise that the right hon. and gallant Member should have stated that he had declared this was not a final measure, when the right hon. Member must know, that he could not have made such a statement. In the hurry of the debate he might have said, "under present circumstances." [Cries of "You said for the present."] He now remembered that he said "at present." He did not believe that there was a single Gentleman in the House that could think he meant to say it would not be a final measure. The right hon. Gentleman said that he did not mean to say he entertained such an idea, and he complained of imputing to him such words.
§ Sir George Murray
undoubtedly did not mean to impute to the noble Lord any such idea or intention, but the noble Lord entertained some peculiar opinions on the question of Reform, such as in favour of the vote by ballot, though he acquitted him of any wish to introduce his own private opinions into this measure. At the same time, the noble Lord had expressed himself to the effect, that "at present he could not go further."
said, he must take that opportunity to declare that Scotland was perfectly satisfied with the amount of Representation allotted to her by the present Bill; he had had an opportunity of ascertaining the sentiments of a large number of persons, and, he could assert that their feelings were in unison with the supporters of the measure.
§ Colonel Lindsay
was surprised at the observations of the hon. and gallant Admiral, when he asserted that Scotland was in general satisfied with the additional number of eight Representatives to be allotted to her; he, on the contrary, must declare that the feelings of the persons with whom he had come in contact were quite the reverse; they considered that the principles of the Bill as they applied to England ought to be extended to Scotland, and that all the elements of Representation which that country contained, ought to be taken fully into the account, in which case her claims would extend to sixteen additional Members instead of eight. With this glaring absurdity in the face of the Bill, to assert that it would be 1094 final was absurd, for its foundations were not bottomed in justice.
§ Sir Ronald Ferguson
observed, that those persons who now declaimed against the small number of Members allotted for Scotland under the provisions of the Bill, were the very persons who had said that country was properly represented under the present system, and that it had grown up to its present flourishing state under its existing state of Representation. The country would know how to appreciate these objections, the intention of which was to prevent the English Bill from being carried forward rapidly, and to afford an opportunity of making long desultory speeches.
§ Mr. Kearsley
said, that the noble Lord had declared that he was incapable of making such an observation as had been imputed to him by the right hon. Gentleman, the member for Perthshire; but he (Mr. Kearsley) conceived that the Gentlemen opposite were capable of making any assertion. One said one thing, and one said another. They were ready to bolt the whole Bill, and to vote black was white. They were dealers in jobs, and ready to take any parliamentary course that was pointed out to them.
declared, that his only motive for supporting Ministers was their conduct in bringing forward this Bill, which he thought a great benefit.
§ Mr. Croker
said, that the hon. Admiral seemed to be content to vote for a Bill which he could not have read. He would state the way in which the debate on Bradford had arisen. Bradford had now two Representatives; in the former Bill it had but one. Some Gentlemen thought, that according to the scale of Representation originally adopted, it should have but one, and that if the present opportunity passed, and the House sanctioned the removal of Bradford and other places from schedule B to schedule C, they would be completely blocked out, and would not be able to add a single Member to Scotland or Ireland. This question was not raised unadvisedly, nor improperly; for there would be no other opportunity for such Gentlemen to express their sentiments: this was the only time in which it was open to them to enter on this discussion with reference to the interests of Ireland and Scotland. It was impossible that the rule of the noble Lord could be satisfactory to the country. 1095 Blackburn, with a population of 27,000 with 4,800 houses, 600 10l. houses, and 2,300l. assessed taxes, was to have two Members; whilst Salford, which this Bill considered a totally distinct place from Manchester, with 50,000 inhabitants, 9,500 houses, 1,300 10l. houses, and 9,000l. assessed taxes, was to have but one Member. Blackburn, Bradford, Macclesfield, and Oldham, with 123,000 inhabitants, 3,900 10l. houses, and 9,244l. assessed taxes, were to have eight Members, whilst Cheltenham, Salford, Rochdale, and Tynemouth, with 118,000 people, 5,550 10l. houses, and 35,900l. assessed taxes, were to have but four. It was impossible that anomalies like these in the Bill could be satisfactory to the country. The principle ought to be clear and intelligible, and it was impossible for the noble Lord to show that there was a principle of any kind. In the former Bill there was a principle, but now they were all at sea, and towns of 19,000 souls were placed on an equality with towns of 180,000 souls. If the noble Lord believed that Liverpool would be content with the same number of Members as were given to Bradford, he would be deceived.
Sir John Johnstone
was satisfied with the number of Members given to Scotland, and the people of Scotland were grateful to the Ministers for the Bill. There might be some minor points in the Scotch Bill which ought to be amended in the Committee, but in general the people were satisfied with it.
An Hon. Member
said, that the Scotch Members took a curious way to show their satisfaction, by continually contending against the Bill.
Lord John Russell
said, that as the members for Scotland who had now laid claim to additional Representatives for that country, had been satisfied hitherto with the existing system, and thought forty-five Members, with three thousand constituents, and paper superiorities, were the perfection of Representation, it was scarcely consistent for them to raise an objection to the additional number of eight now given. If Scottish Members chose to take up the question of Scotland and not that of Bradford, he had no objection; but he did object to their doing so without some notice, and wearing out the night with unprofitable discussion. The right hon. Gentleman, (Mr. Croker) had taken a peculiar mode of getting at 1096 his result, by combining various places which were under peculiar circumstances. Salford was desirous of being considered a separate borough, and from its proximity to Manchester it was not considered expedient to give it more than one Member. He had before said that population was not the sole principle of the measure.
§ Sir George Clerk
disclaimed any wish to create a delay by now discussing the question of the Scotch Bill, the question had not been raised for the purpose of unnecessary debate. It was thought convenient, when the question of the whole number of Members of which the House was to consist was to be decided, that the number of Scotch and Irish Members should be considered at the same time. There was no part of the empire which needed so many additional Representatives as Scotland, but the course pursued by the Government with repect to the total number of Representatives which they resolved to limit to 658, alloting different portions to each part of the empire, and, while as he and others thought the number given to Scotland was inadequate to her claims, had rendered it necessary for the Members of Scotland and Ireland—which country was also similarly circumstanced—to raise a question on the right of every borough to which it was proposed to give Representatives, and to inquire how far each separate place might be entitled to enfranchisement, as compared with the counties and towns of their respective countries, which were not to have an increase. It was on these grounds that they proceeded, and not to create delay.
fully agreed with the hon. Baronet that justice had not been done to Scotland by this Bill, and he was surprised to hear any Members for that country express themselves satisfied with so small a proportion of additional Members.
could not understand why the advocates for additional Representatives to Scotland should take a position in Bradford. In his opinion, the proper time for putting forward their pretensions would have been when he (Mr. Sheil) moved that Petersfield and four other boroughs should be placed in schedule B. That, in his opinion, would have been the time for an exhibition of Caledonian patriotism much more gratifying than the present. It should have been exhibited when schedules A and B were under discussion. In 1097 the last Reform Bill, the number of boroughs in schedule B was forty-one; in the present only thirty; and those Gentlemen who called themselves the friends of Scotland and Ireland would have taken a better opportunity of showing their regard to those countries, if, instead of attempting to deprive the large town of Bradford of Representation, they had moved that eleven insignificant boroughs, which had been omitted, should be again inserted in the present schedule B.
differed from the hon. and learned Gentleman. He thought that the present was the fittest opportunity which had yet been afforded for discussing the claims of Scotland. He was a Representative of one of the eleven boroughs which were excluded from schedule B of the present Bill, and he begged to remind the hon. and learned Gentleman who talked so much of the five boroughs, that there was a material difference between disfranchising a county town, and enfranchising, for the first time, a place such as Bradford, merely because it had a certain amount of population.
§ Sir George Clerk
thought that the Scotch Members, when it became necessary for them to put forth their patriotism, would do well to follow a more consistent leader than the hon. and learned member for Louth. The learned Gentleman had alluded to the debate on the five boroughs as the fitting time for putting forward the claims of Scotland. What had the learned Gentlemen done on that occasion? After a very able and eloquent speech, so eloquent that it half converted the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to his views, the learned Gentleman at last withdrew his motion, "because," as he said, "it might embarrass the Government!" So, if the Scotch Members were to rely on the support of the learned Gentleman in their efforts to procure Representatives for some of the rich and flourishing towns and counties of Scotland, instead of giving them to the small towns of England, the learned Gentleman would probably abandon them, lest he should embarrass the Government.
admitted, that he had, perhaps, been inconsistent on one peculiar point, but he had been so because he wished to preserve his consistency with respect to the permanent question of Reform. The right hon. Gentleman should recollect, too, that the Gentlemen on his 1098 (Sir George Clerk's) side of the House, when the question was under consideration, gave pretty sufficient indications that they preferred their party to their country.
§ The question carried, that Bradford, Yorkshire, stand part of schedule C.
§ Blackburn, Lancashire; Brighton, Sussex; Halifax, Yorkshire; Macclesfield, Cheshire; Oldham, Lancashire; Stockport, Cheshire; Stoke-upon-Trent, Staffordshire; Stroud, Gloucestershire; were also severally placed in the same schedule.
Lord John Russell
proposed, that the Committee should now return to the postponed case of the borough of Dartmouth. He, therefore, moved, that that borough stand part of schedule B.
§ Sir Henry Willoughby
asked the noble Lord, whether the Government were satisfied with respect to the accuracy of the Returns in the case of Dartmouth, and whether they had made any new calculation with respect to that borough.
Lord John Russell
said, the only doubtful point in the case of Dartmouth arose out of the Returns of the assessed taxes. It was found, however, that the difference arose out of a fraudulent collection made in 1829, when a sum of between two and three hundred pounds was raised by the collector over and above the Returns made to the Tax Office. A fraud had undoubtedly been committed by the collector upon the inhabitants, but the importance of the borough had been calculated from the assessment which it was legally bound to pay. If it could be proved that the assessment on which the calculation was made was not the proper assessment, there would then undoubtedly exist some ground for removing the borough from the place it now occupied; but, as the case stood, Ministers could not, though Dartmouth might appear to suffer some hardship, break through the general rule laid down for all boroughs, which they had hitherto endeavoured most impartially to apply.
§ Sir Henry Willoughby
said, he must maintain that Dartmouth ought to be taken out of schedule B. There were 1099 evident mistakes in the papers on the Table respecting this borough. By Lieutenant Drummond's Return, then umber of houses was stated to be 632; the returning officer made them amount to 634, and the borough had been accordingly placed in schedule B. But if the calculation had been made on the actual number of houses, which was 767, the borough would have escaped altogether from disfranchisement. He contended that, upon the principle of the Bill, Dartmouth ought to be allowed to retain its Members. He had taken some trouble to ascertain the number of 10l. houses, and he found that it was 411. With respect to the case of the assessed taxes, and the fraud committed by the collector, the noble Lord had completely misunderstood the real state of the case which was as follows:—The collector had tendered fraudulent returns to the Commissioners in 1829 and 1831. The subject accordingly came under their consideration, and they declared they had discovered 103 cases of false charges made, and they had no doubt more would be found out. The inspector appointed to investigate the matter had reported that a system of fraud had been practised for a long time by the collector. By this system the revenue had been defrauded, but not the inhabitants of Dartmouth. They paid the taxes which they were by law bound to pay, but the collector made a false return of the amount to the Treasury. It was true that a person had been appointed by the Stamp Office to take a fresh survey of Dartmouth, and, therefore, he had moved for some papers from the Tax Office, hoping by them to prove that Dartmouth was entitled to two Members; but he now understood that the person who was sent, staid only one day, and, consequently, could not possibly make a fresh survey. This accounted for his (Sir Henry Willoughby) not being able to elicit any thing from the papers favourable to the right of Dartmouth to retain its two Members, which, he was confident, he should be able to do, if the case was investigated properly. Under these circumstances, he relied on the justice of the noble Lord for not depriving this borough of its rights without a more satisfactory investigation.
Lord John Russell
allowed that he had once felt some doubt as to the propriety of placing Dartmouth in schedule B. In consequence of the 1100 representations made respecting the deception which had been practised with regard to the assessed taxes. To set the matter at rest, a fresh survey was directed to be taken, to ascertain the precise value of those taxes which the borough ought to pay; by this it was clearly established that fraud was practised by the last collector. The object of the hon. Baronet was, to make it appear that the consequence of this fraud had been the fixing the assessment of Dartmouth at too low an amount, and that, if a fair assessment were made, Dartmouth would pay more taxes than it did at present. It, however, turned out, upon examination, that, by a new assessment, the borough would not pay more in 1832 than it did according to the assessment made by the fraudulent collector. The fraud did not consist in the amount of assessment returned, but in the mode of collecting it. The fraud was practised on the inhabitants, and not on the revenue. The hon. Baronet had alluded to the number of houses, and said, that it had been stated too low by the returning officer. He was inclined to place reliance in the statement of the returning officer, as it was founded on the census of 1831, which was the best authority.
§ Mr. Holdsworth
felt some delicacy, as it might be supposed, on this occasion, he was influenced by private motives, being an inhabitant of Dartmouth, therefore he wished to clear himself from this imputation, by stating to the Committee, that, whatever their decision was upon this question, it would not in the least affect him with respect to property; for though a resident in the borough, he did not possess more than one 10l. house. Whether the borough was to have hereafter one Member or two, was to him individually a matter of no moment. He would not, however, pretend that he did not feel an interest in maintaining the importance of the town in which his family had resided for more than two centuries. As the question had been mooted by the hon. Baronet, he would endeavour to lay before the House a true statement of the case. The returns presented to the House, in pursuance of a motion made by the hon. Baronet, should be his authority. The proposition advanced by the hon. Baronet was, that the amount of assessed taxes paid by the inhabitants of Dartmouth had been underrated, in consequence of the 1101 fraudulent and deceptious conduct of the collector. The noble Lord admitted the fact of the fraud, but said, that it was practised on the inhabitants of the borough, and not upon the revenue, inconsequence of the collector obtaining from the former, not only more than he actually returned to Government, but more than he ought to have returned. The papers upon the Table led him (Mr. Holdsworth) to a different conclusion, and he begged leave to state the grounds of that conclusion to the House. The Commissioners of Taxes were called on to investigate this case, and they reported "that the collector had been guilty of fraud, in the preceding year, to the extent of 200l. and upwards; that there was reason to believe that the system had been going on for many years; and that the revenue had been defrauded to a large amount." In a subsequent letter from the Tax-office, the amount of the assessment drawn from the inhabitants of Dartmouth by the fraudulent collector was recognised as that which should in future be raised; for the collectors were directed to found their future assessments upon his. Thus the whole question hinged on the amount of assessed taxes. Ought, or ought not, the sum which the fraudulent collector pocketed, to have been paid by the inhabitants of Dartmouth? He believed that the sum was properly levied; because, if it had been otherwise, the inhabitants would have appealed against it. The noble Lord said, that a person had been sent down to Dartmouth to make a new estimate of the amount of assessed taxes which ought to be paid by that place: he had reason to believe that person had performed his duty very imperfectly. He understood people were afraid to produce their receipts, from an apprehension that they might be called upon to pay more money. He was sure the noble Lord did not wish to place Dartmouth in a worse situation than other boroughs similarly circumstanced; but, on the best consideration he had been able to give the subject, he was fully of opinion that, upon the principle laid down by the noble Lord, Dartmouth ought to be allowed to retain its Members.
§ Captain Bastard
said, it appeared quite evident that the inhabitants of Dartmouth paid no more than their proper proportion of assessed taxes, otherwise they would have appealed against the assessment. It, therefore, followed, that that borough ought to be removed from the schedule in 1102 which it was placed. It would, therefore, be exceedingly hard and unjust to disfranchise this borough merely on account of the misconduct of a tax-collector.
§ Mr. Croker
said, the noble Lord affirmed the fraud committed by the collector was against the inhabitants, and not against the revenue. In contradiction of that statement, there was the assertion of the Commissioners of Taxes, that "the revenue had been defrauded to a large amount." He asked the Committee whether they could believe that the inhabitants of Dartmouth had submitted for a couple of years to pay more than they were legally liable to pay for servants, houses, windows, and horses? It might be contended, that the collecting officer, in some cases, had the power of overcharging, where the party paying the tax had not the means of detecting the imposition; but could it be pretended that a man did not know how many windows, servants, horses, and dogs, he had to pay for. The assessment was properly made, but the collector returned a smaller amount to the Treasury than he ought to have done, and, therefore, the Treasury was defrauded—not the inhabitants of Dartmouth. They paid neither more nor less than they ought to have paid. The statements which had been made with respect to the number of houses in Dartmouth also presented a case of discrepancy. The hon. Baronet made the total number of houses amount to 767, while, according to Lieutenant Drummond, they amounted to only 634. He was inclined to believe the statement of the hon. Baronet rather than that of Lieutenant Drummond, and the returning officer; because the relative population of the borough more nearly accorded with that amount, in comparison with the cases of other boroughs. Dartmouth contained 4,566 inhabitants; and, according to Lieutenant Drummond, 634 houses; but, according to the hon. Baronet, 767. In Dorchester the population was 4,900, and the number of houses 750. This was very near the proportion stated by the hon. Baronet. Harwich was another case almost exactly in point. Like Dartmouth, it was a sea-port, and it contained 4,561 inhabitants (within five of Dartmouth), and 743 houses. Calne contained 3,300 inhabitants, and 670 houses, being more than Lieutenant Drummond assigned to Dartmouth, which had a considerably greater population. There was 1103 another case very much in point; that was Windsor. That borough had 4,100 inhabitants, and 795 houses. In general it would be found, that whenever the number of inhabitants exceeded 4,000, the number of houses was something more than 700. In a case of doubtful testimony they should decide on the ground of probabilities; and the statement of the hon. Baronet was more probable than that of Lieutenant Drummond.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that, upon further consideration, and after weighing all the arguments which had been advanced on the subject, he could not consent to exclude Dartmouth from the schedule.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 205; Noes 106;—Majority 99.
§ Dartmouth placed in schedule B.
§ Question put, that the borough of Tot-ness stand part of schedule B.
complained that a number of hon. Members voted in the last division who had not heard the debate. He had voted in the minority on that occasion, because, according to the principle of the Bill, Dartmouth ought to have been preserved. No doubt his name would appear in certain prints as "of those Members who usually supported Ministers," but had, on this occasion, voted against them. Ministers were acting inconsistently in allowing Totness to retain its Members, when it did not contain nearly as many 10l. houses as Dartmouth; but he had heard it whispered, that Totness was to be made a close borough.
§ Lord Althorp
expressed his surprise that the hon. Member should indulge in such insinuations. The hon. Member ought to have known that he and his colleagues were incapable of acting from unworthy motives.
§ Question negatived.
§ House resumed. Committee to sit again.