HC Deb 23 July 1833 vol 19 cc1107-53
Mr. Tennyson

rose to move for leave to bring in a Bill for shortening the duration of Parliaments. In doing so, he said, he was aware of the great difficulty he imposed on himself, and could not but feel that he had undertaken an arduous task, in rising to attempt to persuade the House to come to a conclusion that must have considerable effect on the legislation and Constitution of the country. He owed some explanation to the House of the reasons which had induced him to originate such a Motion. It would be recollected, that when the noble Lord opposite brought forward the Reform Bill in 1831, he staled, it was not the intention of his Majesty's Government to originate any Motion on the subject of the duration of Parliaments. The noble Lord alluded to the questions of Vote by Ballot and of shortening parliaments, and stated, that having considered those subjects, Government had come to the resolution not to touch either of them, and, therefore, the noble Lord left it to some other hon. Member to bring the question forward, should it be thought expedient to do so. The noble Lord added, that should any Member think lit to bring it forward, he should be ready to deliver his opinions upon it, and he (Mr. Tennyson) was certainly very anxious to hear what those opinions were. It would be found, by referring to what the noble Lord said on that occasion, that he did not shut the door against the Repeal of the Septennial Act. On the contrary, he said, that he thought it a subject well deserving attention, and that the only difficulty was, what ought to be substituted in place of Septennial Parliaments. It was most desirable that the House should not regard this as a party question, but as a question of strict constitutional importance; and he (Mr. Tennyson) entreated the House and his Majesty's Government to come to the consideration of the subject with that calmness which ought to regulate their conduct in the disposal of every important question. He was not influenced either by popular feeling in favour of his proposition, or by the prejudices which existed in many quarters against it. He looked neither to the right nor to the left, but would do that which appeared to him to be right. It was well known, that since the passing of the Septennial Act in 1716 an opinion had prevailed that a general corruption had taken place, both within the walls of that House, and in the community at large. And he would venture to say, that it was now the general, if not the universal conviction among all classes, that the term of seven years was too long for the duration of a Parliament. In the course of the 117 years which had elapsed since the passing of the Septennial Act, there had been twenty-two parliaments; being an average duration of rather more than five years for each. Fifteen, however of those parliaments had occupied ninety-one years; thus averaging above six years each. Before the time of Henry 8th Parliaments seldom lasted for more than one year; and after that period, with a few exceptions of long Parliaments, which exceptions had occasioned the Triennial Bill of 1694, Parliaments had been of short duration. He was by no means disposed to contend that the liberties of the people of England were altogether dependent on the duration of Parliaments. But he was prepared to maintain, that the people of this country had a right to a good Government; and that if the Septennial Act was injurious to good government, it ought to be repealed. During a period of six years (which he took as the fair duration of a Parliament under the Septennial Act) the whole circumstances of the country might undergo an extensive alteration, so that any understanding which might have existed at the commencement of that term between a representative and his constituents would become perfectly useless. A shorter term, therefore, ought to be fixed, in older that the Representative might be sooner sent back to ascertain the wishes of his constituents, and to answer to them for his conduct. He was not prepared to say, that the peculiar state of the country in 1716 did not justify the passing of the Septennial Act. His quarrel with it was, that being passed for a particular purpose, it was extended to all future parliaments. It was the opinion of the late Mr. Fox, and of the present Lord Chancellor (in which opinion he completely concurred), that the circumstances of the time had rendered the Septennial Act necessary. There had just been a rebellion, and the parties to that rebellion were watching to see how, by money or otherwise, they could so operate upon an approaching election, as to forward their object. That was the reason stated by the Duke of Devonshire, in the House of Lords, when he introduced the Bill. The preamble of the Bill distinctly referred to the circumstances which had rendered it necessary. The words were: That at this juncture, when a restless and Popish faction are designing and endeavouring to renew the rebellion within this kingdom, &c." Such a reason might be valid in 1716, but it was no longer of any force. He admitted, however, the difficulty of fixing upon the term of duration which would he most advisable. It appeared to hull to be a principle that Parliament should be short enough to permit the Representatives to recollect the wants, wishes, and necessities of their constituents, and the professions which they had themselves made; and also to recollect that they must soon render up an account of their conduct. At the same time he admitted, that it was an equally important principle that the term should be long enough to enable the Members of the House to pursue a steady and consistent course; but not so long as to extend the period beyond which it would he morally and physically impossible for the constituents of that House to foresee what might be the state of public affairs before its termination. There was, on the Records of Parliament, a most extra ordinary protest, that of thirty noble peers, in 1716, against the Septennial Act, which powerfully depicted all the evils which that Act tended to inflict on the country. To that protest he would refer hon. Members. After the experience of three Septennial Parliaments, in 1731 a Motion was made in that House for the Repeal of the Act; and one of the most interesting debates followed that ever took place within the walls of Parliament. The result was, that the Motion was negatived by a Majority of only sixty-three. Sir John St. Aubyn, who seconded that Motion, described very effectively the evils which had resulted from Septennial Parliaments subsequent to that time there were numerous Motions for Annual Parliaments, down to the Motion on that subject of an hon. Baronet in 1818. At length the corruption both of the House and of the people became so extreme, that some attempt at remedy could no longer be delayed; and happily, under the auspices of the noble Lord opposite, the great object of Reforming the parliament was accomplished, to the public satisfaction and joy. But the work was only half done. In the declaration of the Friends of the People in 1792 signed by Mr. Grey (and he had not the slightest intention to state this invidiously), and other distinguished individuals of that period, it was declared, that that association had been formed for the purpose of promoting the two following constitutional objects:—First, to restore the freedom of election and a more equal representation of the people; secondly, to secure to the people a more frequent exercise of the right of electing their representatives. A petition to that effect was presented from the same body in 1792, to the House of Commons. Let the suffrage he most extensive, and the exercise of it most pure, yet such was the frailty of human nature, that, when a man found himself seated in that House for seven years, his sense of responsibility became considerably weakened, and he was left accessible to all the various attacks of corruption. It was in consequence of its being apparent that long Parliaments were bad Parliaments, and that short Parliaments were good Parliaments, that the Triennial Bill was passed in 1693. From the passing of the Septennial Act the public debt had been increased from fifty to 800 millions. In the Administration of Sir Robert Walpole, which speedily followed, was laid the foundation of that debasement and corruption which had ever since disgraced the House. He would not pursue the inquiry through the subsequent periods, being unwilling to offend any party or any individual; but it was well known, that both the great political parties in the State had availed themselves of the corruption which he had described, and had governed by what was called Parliamentary influence. The Septennial Act held out temptations to corruption which few men could withstand. Even the interests of the Monarch suffered by it. The prerogatives of the Crown would be safer with short Parliaments than with long ones; for long Parliaments were calculated to produce disunion between the Sovereign and his people. This was especially pointed out in the Triennial Act, drawn up by Lord Somers and other great men. The preamble stated, "that frequent and new Parliaments tend very much to the happy union and good agreement of the King and the people." He now came to consider what would be the most advisable duration of Parliaments. Some thought five, others four years. His hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, who would second his Motion, thought that three years would be the best term. For himself, he could only say, that he should be happy to receive any suggestions on that point. If he were left to his own judgment, he should certainly concur with what appeared to be the general sense of the people; and he adverted particularly to the petition which had that day been presented by a worthy Alderman, in favour of Triennial Parliaments But he kept his judgment open to conviction on that subject. The Bill for which he should move was simply to shorten the duration of Parliaments. It would consist of two parts; the one repealing the Septennial Act—the other assigning the terra to which the existence of Parliaments should henceforward be restricted the blank for which term, however, would be left to be filled up in the Committee on the Bill. If they wished to admit the people to a fair and full participation in the Government, they would at once accede to his proposition. If they desired to give a full effect to the great principles of the Reform Bill, they would support him on that occasion. Satisfied was he, that if in this and some other points the Government would only, considerately and wisely, yield to the people, there was no country under the face of the sun where greater sacrifices for the national honour and the national weal, not only as regarded property but as regarded life itself, would be more cheerfully made. Most heartily did he agree in the observation which had been made on a previous occasion by the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that there was in England a sound and strong feeling of attachment to the Law and the Constitution. No man during the last twelvemonth could boast more intercourse, and, consequently, more experience amongst his countrymen than he could—an intercourse metropolitan as well as rural—agricultural as well as commercial—and he felt satisfied, that there was amongst them not merely a strong but an irrevocable attachment to a monarchical form of Government, and a disposition to pay to the ancient Aristocracy of the country every deference and respect, so long as they showed themselves anxious to uphold the just rights and the acknowledged privileges of the people. There were, however, some points still left which the people were most anxious to achieve, and this was one; for it went to restore one of those clear and much-prized rights which the wisdom and firmness of their forefathers had left to them. It had been sought for under the old Parliament, and if it failed of a favourable consideration in this, disappointment would be deep and universal indeed. He would conclude by moving for leave to bring in a Bill to shorten the duration of Parliaments.

Mr. Hume

seconded the Motion. He thought that Ministers had displayed a sound discretion in not connecting the question of short Parliaments with that of a reform in the representation; but he had expected that they would have taken the first opportunity of introducing; this subject to the notice of the Reformed parliament. He was convinced that if they had taken up the matter they would have placed themselves in a most enviable situation, and produced the greatest satisfaction throughout the country. He admitted the expediency of the enactment of the Septennial Act in 1716, but he thought that it ought not to have been permitted to outlive that expediency. He had no hesitation in saying, that he was in favour of Triennial Parliaments; and he regretted, that his hon. friend had not fixed in his Bill three years as the period for the existence of Parliament. In doing so, his hon. friend would have acted in accordance with the feelings of the people, and every measure which was intended to have a beneficial effect ought to be in consonance with the public opinion. He was one who did not think that change was desirable, unless it was accompanied by some advantage; but he believed that the shortening of the duration of Parliaments would be attended with the most happy results, by waking the representatives of the people more sensible of their responsibility, and, consequently, more intent on the discharge of their duties. Besides, it could not be denied that the people were desirous of obtaining short Parliaments; indeed, it was a fact, that the mischiefs produced by the Septennial Act had made the people, in their desire to avoid one extreme, fall into another, and demand a return to annual Parliaments. In America the Parliaments lasted for two years only, and the consequence was, that a good understanding always existed between the representatives and the people. This never could be the case if the duration of Parliament was extended to seven years; for, before the expiration of that period, the representatives would begin to lose sight of the interests of their constituents, preferring to pay obedience to the dictates of the Minister of the day, rather than to act in accordance with the wishes of the people. Hence arose all those abuses which had crept into every institution of the State, civil, military, and clerical, and which would continue unreformed, so long as the Members of that House were released by the long tenure of their seats from the control of their constituents. Whatever might be thought within that House, the people out of doors were most anxious to see the reform already effected carried still further; and it became the Members of a Reformed Parliament not to show themselves regardless of public opinion. The noble Lord opposite, on accepting office, declared, that the Administration were determined no longer to carry on the Government by means of patronage and influence, but to act in accordance with the wishes of the people. He questioned whether the noble Lord felt himself to be so well backed by public opinion at the present moment as at the period when he made that declaration. Pie had no intention to east any reflections on the noble Lord, or upon the Administration of which he was a Member. They no doubt had many difficulties to surmount, but he believed that the majority of the nation, having narrowly watched the proceedings of the present Session, were of opinion, that the reformed Parliament had not answered its purposes. Under these circumstances, it would be unjust towards the people not to give them an opportunity of expressing an opinion on the conduct of their representatives until the expiration of six years from the present time. He thought it was an unfortunate thing that Ministers should have a yielding House of Commons rather than one which would judge and decide for itself, and this he regretted to say was the fault of the present House. In order to remedy this defect the most effectual means would be by short Parliaments, and in this respect he thought the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman worthy of the most serious consideration of the House, as regarded the House itself, as regarded the great body of their constituents, and more especially as regarded the good government of the country at large. There could not be a more effectual control over the proceedings of their House than by short Parliaments, without which the measure of reform would be incomplete. He would not now enter upon the question of the ballot, on which Parliament had already decided; but he could not but think that its introduction into our system of elections would be most beneficial to the country. The Ministers might for a time continue to hold their places, but unless they promoted the measures which were called for by the wants and wishes of the people, they could not expect to occupy for any length of time their present situations which the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) himself had once declared they could fill only with the view of carrying measures of Reform.

Lord Althorp

said, it was certainly true, that his noble friend (Lord John Russell) in introducing the subject of a Reform in Parliament, had entirely separated from it the question of the duration of Parliaments; and, therefore, he was not about to argue as if any gentleman, by what took place at the period he referred to, was pledged or precluded from discussing, freely and fully, the Motion then before the House. Nor did he intend, though it was his duty to state his own views, to call for the opinion of the House directly upon the subject, but rather to beg their attention simply to this question was it desirable to enter on the consideration of such a subject—one which he might term a second edition of the Reform Bill—on the 23rd of July This he really thought would be sufficient reason for every Gentleman, whatever might be his opinions, reserving himself at the present time. For no one, whatever his opinions or wishes might be, could be sanguine enough to hope to have such a measure as this carried without experiencing a great and determined opposition—such a one, indeed, as would preclude the chance, under the best auspices, of its being passed in the present Session. Therefore he thought it would be a great inconvenience to all parties to enter upon such a discussion at that period of time. He had said, and he thought it his duty to state it, for he had no wish to conceal his opinions, that he supported a proposition for shortening the duration of parliaments, and that support he should now give if the Parliament was at this time in the same state in which it was when he made the declaration. He thought at that time that the influence of the people in that House was below what it ought to be. That too was the ground on which he had supported Parliamentary Reform. He thought then, and he thought still, that the proper Constitution of that House required that it should truly represent the feelings of its constituents; and when the circumstances of the House were such that a large proportion of the; Members represented only themselves, it was proper that by the shortened duration of Parliaments, the constituency should exercise a greater influence over them than they then did. But at the present moment, from all he knew of the feelings of Members of that House, and all he knew from his own feelings, from having represented large bodies of constituents for many years, he was convinced that such Members did feel most sensibly the influence of their constituents. He appealed to any Gentleman in that situation, to say if it was not so. 'The right hon. Gentleman had taken a most extraordinary mode of getting at the average duration of Parliaments. He had taken all the long Parliaments, and leaving out all the short ones, because there was something peculiar in the reasons for their dissolution, he found that the average was between five and six years. If he had taken all the Parliaments together, he would have found the average to be between three and four years. He was ready to admit, that the Parliament did not then represent the feelings of the people as it ought. He knew that the hon. member for Middlesex said, it did not do so now. He believed, that Gentlemen on that side were much given to think that the opinions they entertained were exclusively the opinions of the people. He did not think they were quite right in that belief, and on such a subject it would suffice to ascertain whether the people were on the whole satisfied with the conduct of Parliament. Now he believed, that the conduct of Parliament had been satisfactory to the people, notwithstanding it had not in every instance come up to the unlimited expectations of the first Reformed House of Commons. Indeed the expectations thus formed were in many cases such as circumstances rendered it impossible to gratify. He did not think that the shortening the duration of Parliaments, as recommended by the hon. member for Middlesex, and the right hon. Gentleman would, if adopted, be advantageous to the people. It was perfectly true, that great reliance ought to be placed on the honest feelings of the people, when they had time to consider any subject, yet there were periods at which they were carried away, and when, if the duration of Parliaments were much shortened, they would have a frequent and inconvenient opportunity of indulging their own feelings to their subsequent regret. He did not think, that the effect of the alteration from seven to five years would be much, and that, such a change would, in fact, be for change sake. On these grounds he should object to the Motion. He did not think that the pro posed change would have the effect of diminishing the expense of the elections, or lessening the spirit of the contest. The election of 1818, though according to every human probability the life of George 3rd could not last through the whole seven years was as expensive and as hotly contested as my other. The same was the case with the election of 1831, although it was known that the Parliament would not last more than a few months; hut he should not insist on that instance, because there were very particular circumstances attending that election. The period of three years would he too short—it would derange the fixed and steady march, of public affairs. For that reason he could not advocate the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman. He would not, however, call on the House to come to a decision that might, out to reserve its opinion till a future time. They might postpone it to another Session of Parliament, when they would have more time and better opportunity to consider it. If the measure were brought forward in the ensuing Session, and then agreed to, it would have the same effect as if agreed to now. If the Motion was pressed at the present moment, it would lead to no satisfactory result, und for these reasons he would sit down by moving the previous question.

Mr. Cobbett

did not agree with the noble Lord as to the propriety of delay, if it were necessary that the thing should be done, the sooner it was done the better; and he thought there were good reasons why it should be done now. The country was not too well satisfied either with that House or with his Majesty's Ministers. If this Motion were carried, it might go far to restore the confidence of the people in that Mouse, and, if possible, reconcile the people to his Majesty's Ministers. The noble Lord said, that his opinions had once been in favour of shortening the duration of Parliaments, but that the Reform Bill had altered the case why should that alter the case? In the petition of Lord Grey, in 1793, after proposing more Reforms than had now been granted, Lord Grey said, that even those Reforms would not do, without shortening the duration of Parliaments, and quoted the preamble of the Triennial Bill in favour of the argument. Again, in 1796, Lord Grey made a Motion for Parliamentary Reform, and proposed such a Reform as had now been granted; but he did not neglect at the same time to insist on the necessity of shortening the duration of Parliaments. when the present Reform Act was brought in, the question was left open. Why should it not now be determined. "Did they recollect that, but a few weeks ago. the noble Lord, the member for Devonshire told them that he was restrained from introducing measures that he considered essential to the welfare of the people and to their happiness from a fear of a collision with the Lords. He (Mr. Cobbett) had never said anything so bad of the Lords as that. But they need not dread any collision in this matter, for here the people and the Lords were on one side; and that House on the other. Let that House but carry up to the Lords such a Bill as that now proposed, and he would venture to say there would be no collision there would be a bidding between the two Houses to see which should be forwardest. There were two points on which he did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman. 'I he first was, that the right hon. Gentleman would be content with Triennial Parliaments. He could not be contented with anything less than returning; to the old English custom of having a Parliament every year. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Colonies seemed to think that an argument against granting the change to Parliaments of three years. He could not help it; he thought it better to say what he meant. He was sure they should not get this change now; but he knew that "bread thrown upon the waters would return after many days;" and he thought that, if the people wished to have it, the sooner they made a demand for it the better. He agreed with the noble Lord that seven years were just as good as five; if they went beyond three years they went much too far, and he thought they were going too far if they went beyond one year. He differed from the right hon. Gentleman as to the origin of the Septennial Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said, that it was brought in with a view to take care of the liberties of the people—that they were afraid of another rebellion—that they were afraid of giving Popery a handle, to put an end to the glorious revolution then lately effected it was no such thing; it was done; with a view to keep the plunder they had got—the plunder of the Church; they were, afraid that plunder would he taken away from them, for It was too near the time when they got it for them to feet safe in possession of the plunder. He would not characterise the acts which had been done in that House; he was afraid to do so while he was within its walls and under its roof. The most infamous thing—the base apostacy itself—changing three times between Catholic and Protestant, was not equal to the turpitude of this Bill. The law was positive that the Members should only sit there for three years, and yet they had dared to give themselves authority to sit for four years longer. The present Parliament might, with the same justice, enact that they would sit for seven years, or for the natural life of any Member amongst them. The Parliaments had been usurpers from that day to this, and they, as inheritors of that usurpation, were usurpers themselves. He would not give much for the lawyer who could not prove, as clear as day-light, that the laws they passed under that usurped power, were as void as those of Cromwell and the Long Parliament. To say that they should carry this Motion, was what he did not believe, but he should vote in favour of it. He would wish the Motion carried further, but though it went no further, it should have his support.

Sir Edward Codrington

said, that he should support the Motion. He was well satisfied to get rid of the Septennial Act upon any reason whatever. When they came to consider the other part of the Motion—namely, the time at which they intended to fix the duration of Parliaments—he should prefer five years; first, because he thought that the sense of the country was in favour of that Motion; and next, because that Motion was more likely than any other to be carried. As to the proposition for Annual Parliaments, he was convinced that the majority of the people were against such a change; and that throughout the country the hon. Member opposite would find himself in a minority on that point. He trusted that the first part of this Motion would be carried, and when it was, and when the Bill was introduced, and they came to consider the time at which the duration of Parliament should be fixed, he should propose five years.

Sir Samuel Whalley

would vote for the Motion as essential to render the Reform Bill complete. That the Septennial Act should be repealed, he thought nobody could entertain any doubt; and the next question, therefore, for them to determine was, what was the period to which Parliament should in future be allowed to extend. He could not agree with the hon. and gallant Member who had just taken his seat as to the sense of the country being in favour of the term of five years; but upon the subject of Annual Parliaments, he thought there was some misapprehension arising necessarily from the doubtful light thrown upon this matter by the old records. He did not know that it was established that there were Annual Parliaments in the present sense of that expression, but he believed that, according to the ancient practice. Parliaments were elected for each particular occasion; and as it not unfrequently happened, a Parliament sat only one year, when it was dissolved, and on the next occasion another Parliament was summoned, sat, and was dissolved in the same manner. That frequent Parliaments were necessary, no one who had read the history of his country, and had become acquainted with their profligacy in past times, could doubt. He need not, however, speak of their profligacy in past times, for it was hut recently that they had seen a Parliament—this very Parliament—lavishly voting away millions of the public money. They had voted it away as lavishly as a ruined debtor who was in despair as to his ability to pay. The hon. Member quoted the opinions of several writers who had declared the Septennial Act a breach of trust, and then went into a historical detail of the various changes introduced by Statute into the duration and mode of convening Parliaments in this Kingdom. He afterwards observed, that when the Triennial Bill was introduced, it had been passed pari passu with the Bills for granting the supplies for that year—a circumstance which warranted him in saying that it was a compact between the people and the Court Party, by means of which they settled their long-existing differences as to the duration of Parliament. But even that Bill itself admitted the necessity and expediency of short Parliaments, the people having found that for their advantage not only should Parliaments sit often, but new Parliaments should frequently be convened. The preamble stated that "the frequent meeting of new Parliaments (it was that to which he wished to call their attention) tended much to promote harmony between the King and the people." The hon. Member then quoted the sentiments of Sir W. Wyndham, who argued in favour of short Parliaments, in order that the sentiments of the people might prevail, fools be turned out, and knaves hanged. There being no longer any competitor for the Throne, and the present dynasty being seated firmly thereon, a more favourable opportunity could not be afforded for the change proposed in the Motion. He agreed that Annual Elections would be so frequent as to teach the constituency of the country to regard them with apathy, but Triennial Parliaments he thought the precise medium which ought to be adopted. Adverting to the last election and its result, supposing the system of direct pledges to be bad, he presumed that no man would insist that the electors ought to make no inquiry into the characters and sentiments of the candidates; but the great topics of Catholic Emancipation and Parliamentary Reform having been settled, the only question now was, as to the extent of the measures, financial or remedial, that should be adopted. He did not well see where the line of inquiry, on the part of the constituency, was to be drawn. Any Member, after his election, might find good and conscientious reasons for changing his opinions; and in such a case the electors ought to have a speedy opportunity, if they thought fit, of changing their Representatives. When the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, (Sir Robert Peel) brought forward the Catholic Relief Bill, he estimated the opinion of the country on that question according to the votes given by the Members for counties and large towns. Where the two Representatives of a large constituency voted for the measure, he called upon the House to infer that the population which those Members represented were favourable—if the two Members voted against the Catholic claims, he concluded that their constituents were unfavourable to the measure, and when one of the Members voted for, and the other against, the measure, the right hon. Baronet's inference was, that the constituency of those Members had no opinion on the question. Now, to apply this method of calculation to more recent events, he believed the House, and more especially the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), would agree with him that there was no grievance with respect to which the inhabitants of the metropolitan boroughs were so united—which they considered so oppressive, and which they were so anxious to get rid of, as the Assessed Taxes. Yet, according to the estimate of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) on the Catholic question, the inhabitants of the metropolitan boroughs had no opinion at all as to the repeal of the Assessed Taxes. As regarded the Members for four of the metropolitan boroughs, and also for the borough of South wark, on the Motion for the repeal of the Assessed Taxes, half voted one way and half the other, though he did not think he took upon himself too much when he asserted that a vast and overwhelming majority of the population of those places were most anxious for the repeal of those taxes. That House was the great inquest of the nation, and if it turned a deaf ear to the complaints and prayers of the people, it would produce the greatest of national evils, for it would lose the confidence of the public. It was impossible, he thought, for any man not to feel that the House had already greatly sunk in the opinion of the people. It had frittered away the confidence of the people, and showed that it more respected party feelings than national interests; and nothing could so much tend to restore confidence as the adoption of the Resolution, which would show, that the Members were ready to give an account of the talent committed to their charge, It would show Europe that the commons of England sought only to promote national happiness, to advance the cause of civilization, and to render this country not only the emporium of universal commerce, but the temple of universal liberty.

Mr. James Kennedy

could not agree with the noble Lord that there was nothing in the present state of affairs which urged upon the House the necessity of agreeing to this Resolution. He asserted, that if there was any question deserving the attention of the House, it was this; for on it every other question depended. If this Motion were passed, it would have an influence upon every other question which came before parliament for hon. Gentlemen would then be influenced by a strong feeling of what they owed to the interests of their constituents. He should consider it as one of the worst omens for the future fate of the country, if the House should agree to the Amendment of the noble Lord. That House had fallen of late considerably in public esteem. When he offered himself in December last to his constituents, he had done so in the hope that he should be able to support those Ministers who had stepped out of the ranks of the aristocracy to give to the people that Reform, which, though it was but a measure of justice to which they had a right, was considered by them in the nature of a boon. No one was at that time more friendly to his Majesty's Ministers than he was; but when he heard the address proposed to the Throne, and when he saw the subsequent measures, he felt it to be his duty to fall into the ranks of the Opposition, and he believed that on the second occasion on which he had been obliged to recur to his constituents he had been returned to Parliament under the express understanding that he should be found in the minority. When the people asked the present House of Commons what it had done for their benefit, what answer could it give in reply? He could not conceive what answer hon. Gentlemen might be inclined to make, but he thought that the people would say to them, "you have done nothing but what your Tory predecessors did before you; your opposition to their measures was but a factious opposition, for you have adopted the principles of all of them. Your Reform Bill is nothing but a robbery and a delusion—a robbery on those who had converted a public trust into a property, and a fraud upon those who wished to convert that property again into a trust." Looking at the little which the House had done either for the financial relief of the country, or for improving the administration of justice, or for ameliorating the condition of the poor—looking also at one or two of the measures which the House had passed to the injury of its character—he was most anxious that it should support this measure, in order that it might regain the vantage-ground which it had lost. He knew that the House had been accused of talking too much, and doing too little; but he should have cried shame on the House, if it allowed many of the measures of Government to pass without opposition, and shame on the Irish Members, if they had permitted the Coercive Bill to pass in silence. He was afraid, that though this Parliament might be called the first Parliament of the Reform Bill, it could not be called the first reformed Parliament. He contended that Ministers would not do their duty if they did not consider the effect which would be produced, not upon that House, but upon the country at large, by their having a majority on this question this evening. Whigs as they were, he thought they durst not follow the example of their predecessors of the last century—they would not dare to prolong the existence of the present Parliament, and when-ever this Parliament was dissolved, he was certain that the people would take warning by the past, and would no longer place their confidence in men who had deceived them.

Lord John Russell

felt himself compelled to address the House upon this occasion. The right hon. Gentleman had called upon him to state his opinions upon this subject, averring that he (Lord John Russell) had carefully avoided explaining his sentiments upon it during the discussion on the Reform Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had placed him in a situation of some difficulty with respect to this question; for if the right hon. Gentleman had made a distinct proposition that there should be either annual, or triennial, or quinquennial Parliaments, he should then have had that which he had not at present—a definite proposition, to which he could have addressed himself. He could fairly meet such a proposition; but when the right hon. Gentleman proposed that the duration of Parliaments should he for a blank number of years—when he proposed to send the House to sea with sealed orders, which were not to be opened till the House got into Committee—and when lie further proposed that some Gentleman should then propose to us what the future duration of Parliament should be—the right hon. Gentleman laid a difficulty on the House in dealing in any way with his vague and indefinite proposition. He knew how to deal with the proposition of the hon. member for Oldham, who had declared himself so strongly in favour of annual Parliaments. He would say at once distinctly, that as much as the hon. member for Oldham was in favour of annual Parliaments, so much was he against them. They could not coexist with our mixed monarchy. He held annual Parliaments and our mixed monarchy to be incompatible with each other, and holding that they could only exist with a democratic republic, he must oppose them with all his ability. Let the House, however, examine the propositions which had been made to it by other him. Gentlemen in the course of the debate. The hon. member for Marylebone had told them, that at one period of our history, Parliaments did not exist for more than one year. That he believed to be an historical error, notwithstanding the authorities which the hon. Member had quoted in support of it. The authors of the Triennial Bill were not, however, so bold as the hon. Member; for they merely stated that new and frequent Parliaments were beneficial to the commonweal. The hon. Member had heaped abuse upon the Ministers of George 1st, alleging that they were the worst Ministers noticed in our annals. To suppose that the most distinguished Whigs, who had acted under Queen June, in the most glorious period of our history, and who bad hitherto been considered as the best and wisest of our statesmen—to suppose, he said, that those Ministers, hitherto considered among the best, ought now to be classed among the worst of British Ministers, was to make a supposition, which, if it was a truth, was a truth which had not yet been discovered by the world at large. The hon. Member, in support of his opinion, bad quoted the works of Archdeacon Coxe. Now, though Archdeacon Coxe was a man of research, he (Lord John Russell) had yet to learn that as an historian he was a man of great authority. He might make the same remark with regard to another of the hon. Member's authorities he meant Belsham. Last of all, the hon. Member had quoted as a great authority Dr. Smollett, who found fault with the Septennial Act, for that which had hitherto been considered its chief merit—namely, its retaining the race of Brunswick on the throne. Nobody could be surprised that. Smollett, whose Jacobite stanzas on the state of Scotland after the rebellion of 1745 were worth all his history, should have given such an opinion as the hon. Member had quoted; but that was no reason why his opinion, when quoted to those who were not Jacobites, should be entitled to any peculiar weight. But, said the hon. Member, the Parliament which passed the Septennial Act was guilty of a great wrong, when it continued its own existence for more than three years." As that Parliament was chosen for three years, it might be a question as to their right to extend their existence. It was, however, a question which, under the circumstances, he was inclined to decide in their favour. They lengthened the duration of their own existence as an extraordinary act, and they justified it upon tire ground that it was absolutely necessary to support the Protestant succession, and the liberty of the country. Whatever doubt, however, there might be as to their right to prolong their own existence, no doubt could exist as to their having authority to fix the duration of all parliaments to come after them. 'The very Motion which the House was then discussing, proved that they had a right to entertain the question how long a Parliament should be permitted to exist. As to the general question of the duration of Parliaments, though the right hon. Gentleman had not told them what his opinion was, still he had no hesitation in stating the grounds on which he thought that the long duration of Parliament was to be preferred to a short duration. It was the constitution of this country, that the House of Commons should have in its hands the purse of the country, and thus should have in its power the control of the supplies. It was consequent upon that power, that it should have in its hands the whole power of the country. Now, what was the power of the Crown as opposed to the power of the I louse of Commons? The power of the Crown consisted in that part of its prerogative which enabled it to dissolve Parliament at its pleasure. Now, if after a dissolution the same House of Commons should be returned as before, there was no further check on the power of the House; it became supreme; and thus the people, by selecting two Houses of Commons with the same feelings and opinion.;, became the supreme Directors of the State. There being, then, this enormous power in the people, it was necessary that the Crown should have some power to counterbalance it. If triennial Parliaments were established, that is, in point of fact, of two years' duration, the Crown would not have the power left to it of choosing the lime of dissolution. There must then, be dissolutions of parliament from time to time, and you would thus get, not the deliberate and consistent opinion of the country—which he thought ought in all cases to be supreme—but an opinion formed under the chance of misapprehension, and error, and passion, and delusion, and you would thus place the Constitution in a state of jeopardy, without any balance by which it could be protected. That was a constitutional reason why the Crown, as a balance to the power of the democracy, should have the power of choosing the time of dissolution, and of saying that, as the opinions of the people appear to be firm and settled, such and such a time was a fit period for coming to a new election. Now, if you have a Parliament with a fixed term of duration, you give the Crown the power of making such a choice; but if you reduce the term of its duration to two or three years, you take away such choice altogether from the Crown. He was now "leaking as one who wished to preserve the Constitution as it existed at present in King, Lords, and Commons. He did not wish one of the estates to overwhelm the other, but he wished that the Crown, as trustee for the people—the House of Lords, as trustees for the people—and the House of Commons, as the representatives of the people, should all conduct themselves harmoniously together. That was the result of his deliberations for many years on this subject, and therefore it was, he thought, that the alteration of our present system to triennial Parliaments would be complete destruction of the mixed constitution of this country. With respect to limiting the duration of Parliament to five years, he admitted, that there were some advantages in that plan. If he had to frame an abstract Constitution, as had recently been the case in France, he should certainly prefer the term of five to that of seven years. Living, however, as he did, under a Constitution which was already formed, he did not see any advantage likely to result from altering the duration of Parliament from seven years to five, which would he equal to the inconvenience of making the change. He complained that the hon. member for Oldham had misrepresented what had fallen from him on a former occasion. 'The hon. Member had quoted an extract, not from an authorised version of his Speech, but from a report of it which had appeared in the public journals. Now, he begged the hon. member for Oldham, whenever he did him the honour to quote, either in his speeches or in his writings, any opinions or words of his (Lord John Russell's to take pains previously to ascertain whether those opinions and those words were opinions and words which he had actually uttered; he begged the hon. Member also, as he had the opportunity of hearing, and, therefore, of knowing what he Lord John Russell) did say, not to take the representations of the daily journals as the words actually spoken. he had not spoken of measures that were "essential," but of measures which would be "useful" to the people, when he had made the statement that certain measures had not been introduced for fear of a collision with the House of Lords, and he had to complain that those words, which were not mere shades of expression, had not been taken down. He never had been the advocate of triennial Parliaments; and, therefore, there was nothing inconsistent in his now expressing it to be his opinion, that the change from septennial to triennial Parliaments, would make Members of Parliament so dependent, not on the settled opinion of the people of England (which he believed to be in general a wise and enlightened opinion), hut on their transient and temporary impulses, and would render them so liable to misapprehensions, and false representations and unfounded colourings of their motives and votes, that he believed that a House of commons living in perpetual dread of such misapprehensions and such misrepresentations, which men would not be wanting to create, could not coexist with the monarchy. He knew that in republican States it had been laid down as a rule that no man should hold office for more than four years; but then it was the principle of a republican government to distrust public men. Such was not the principle either of the English Government or the English Constitution. As he felt himself bound to maintain the Constitution of this country, he felt himself bound to resist this Motion for a change to triennial Parliaments, which he conceived to be incompatible with the existence of that Constitution. The noble Lord concluded by making a brief recapitulation of his former arguments.

Mr. Sheil

could not help thinking that the commencement of the speech of the noble Lord was strangely at variance with its conclusion; for he commenced by stating that the Motion of the right him. Gentleman was too vague for him to grapple with, and he concluded by being himself as definite as man could be, by avowing himself the staunch supporter of the Septennial Act. The noble Lord had told them, that in his opinion short Parliaments were incompatible with the Monarchy. Now, he was sure that the noble Lord, with all his historical recollections fresh upon him, could not have forgotten that it was by a long Parliament that the Monarchy was once overthrown; and that, as to short Parliaments being the destruction of the Constitution, we had Triennial Parliaments from the year 1694 down to the year 1716, when the Septennial Act was passed. During all that time no attempt was made to establish a democracy in this country. The questions which agitated the nation were about the family which was to succeed to the Throne, and had not the slightest tendency to subvert the Throne itself, The noble Lord was also afraid of a dissolution during times of excitement, and wished elections to take place when the minds of the people were fixed and settled. Did not that argument come well from the noble Lord and his colleagues in the Ministry "Had the noble Lord so soon forgotten the tenure by which they held their places, and the measure by which the people obtained the Reform Bill." Did the noble Lord mean to say, that on questions of great public interest the intervention of the people ought to be of no avail? If such were the noble Lord's meaning now, against the oratory of the noble Lord he would put the conduct of his Administration—against his words he would array his deeds; for if he (Mr. Sheil) recollected rightly, the noble Lord was the same individual who had once deliberately declared it to be his opinion that the whisper of a faction must be unavailing against the voice of a nation. He recollected also that the noble Lord, on bringing forward the question of Reform, had declared that he left the duration of Parliaments an open question; but surely if the noble Lord could then consent to leave it as an open question he could not have considered it, as he now appeared to consider it, as a question filled with danger to the Constitution. The project of Reform which the noble Lord had introduced into Parliament was, in all its leading features, the same with that which Earl Grey had proposed in the year 1793 When he presented the petition from the "friends of the People." That petition contained a clause praying that the duration of Parliaments might be abridged. The prayer of that petition, which was sanctioned by Earl Grey, was upon the duration of Parliaments as vague as the Motion of his right hon. friend. It did not call either for Triennial or Quinquennial Parliaments, and, in alluding to it. Earl Grey said, that he would not discuss the question of their duration; for until the Parliament itself was reformed, he cared not a straw about the length of its existence; for an unreformed Parliament would only be sent back to the patricians who nominated it, and no advantage could be derived from making them more frequently appoint their nominees. The case was, however, widely different at present, and this Parliament, this Reformed Parliament, would be sent back to a people who had a right to receive from its Representatives a large and frequent account of what they had done during their stewardship. The Reform which the noble Lord had proposed was founded on theory, and unsustained by precedent; the Reform which his right hon. friend now sought was not a mere theory, but was a system which was founded on the practice of the proudest periods of our history, and was sanctioned by the best principles of the Constitution. It rested upon the Bill of Rights, in which it was declared, "that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening, and preserving of the laws. Parliaments ought to be holden frequently." It rested also on the Preamble to the 6th of William and Mary, in which it was recited, that "frequent and new Parliaments encourage goodwill between the sovereign and the people. The noble Lord appeared to think that they would encourage the opposite effect; in that opinion he contradicted his own illustrious ancestors—in that opinion he stood a strong antithesis to the great Lord Somers. Now, he would ask the House, was the declaration in the Bill of Rights, was the Preamble to the 6th of William and Mary, true? "NO!" says the noble Lord, "the great men who effected the Revolution of 1688 were all mistaken; the Bill of Rights must be set aside, and the Triennial Bill must be considered as an error in legislation." They had heard, too, of the Preamble to the Septennial Act: it recited, first, that elections were conducted with great expense; next, that they were conducted with great heats and animosities; and, last of all, it assigned the rebellion which had recently taken place; and us a remedy for these inconveniences, the enactment of the Septennial Act followed. Now, would the noble Lord deny, that the last of these causes was the chief inducement for passing the Septennial Act? It was alleged to be the case, as he had before stated in the preamble to the act; and in the debates upon it, that point was fully admitted by the Duke of Devonshire, who introduced it in the House of Lords. He would ask the noble Lord whether there was now any rebellion in the country to justify the continuance of the Septennial Act? If the inquiries which had been instituted during the present Session were properly followed up, the great expense of elections would in future be diminished; and us to the heats which elections generated, he thought that they were likely to operate more prejudicially upon the members of a long Parliament than upon the members of a short one; for, if it were true that elections produced excitement among the people, then. Parliament must also partake of that excitement, being the representative of the people. The feelings of the people might however, soon pass away: but the member of Parliament was likely to continue still a partisan. Hence, a great evil might arise from the Parliament thinking one way, whilst the people were thinking another; and out of that, another evil might arise, greater even than a contest between the people and the King—he meant a contest between the people and the Parliament. He therefore contended, that if new and frequent parliaments were necessary to Control the Ministers, new elections were necessary for the people to control the Parliaments. He agreed with the noble Lord, that the power of the House of Commons was now great, and that it had been doubled by the passing of the Reform Bill; but did it follow, that because it was great it was therefore to be of long duration? The noble Lord said—"its power is great, therefore it must last seven years." He (Mr. Sheil) said—"Its power is great, therefore let it be short-lived." The noble Lord said "the trust is vast," and he (Mr. Sheil) "let the trustee, then, go the more frequently to the cestui que trust, and let him the more speedily pass his accounts. It had been said," Let us give this Reformed Parliament a trial before we venture to prefer a charge on its constitution." He maintained that it had had a trial, and that it had done enough to warrant a judgment. They were not to judge merely by the number of days it was in duration, but by the number and magnitude of its proceedings. It was a common observation, that men were now better able to form an opinion on the merits of men and measures than they could have been formerly in a much longer space of time, so rapid and crowded was the course of events—so multiplied the number of experiences which enabled them to arrive at a sound conclusion. Let them judge that House by this test—what had they done this Session. Had they not run through the whole cyclopædia of legislation, beginning with their Coercion Bill, and their East and West India Bills, and their Bank Charter, and their Church Bill, and their Local Courts' Bill, not to say any thing of their other important measures, each of which would have hitherto occupied the attention of Parliament one Session. Were not these legislative achievements in themselves enough to warrant their going before their constituents to obtain their verdict on their usefulness." In fact, their whole career was one of portentous velocity—a kind of thirty-statute speed on a rail-road of legislation; and was it not right that the people who enabled them to thus outstrip their predecessors in haste, if not in usefulness, should be also permitted to avail themselves of the improved machinery of time and economy? He called therefore upon the House to do its duty to the country by adopting the present Motion.

Lord Howick

would vote for the Amendment of the noble Chancellor of the Exchequer. In doing so, he did not feel that he thereby prejudged the principle of the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Tennyson's) Motion. The question actually before them, namely, the Amendment of his noble friend, was not a question between Septennial and Triennial Parliaments, but a question of the practical inexpediency of their embarrassing the progress of the several important measures now before the House, by bringing forward, at that late period of the Session, the very complex and difficult, and constitutional question of the duration of Parliaments. He certainly should feel embarrassed if his noble friend's Amendment had the effect of deciding, that seven years should be the period of the existence of Parliament; but as it could not have that effect, he would vote for it. The arguments of the learned Gentleman opposite, if good for anything, went the length of supporting Annual Parliaments—an extremity which he was sure that House would not sanction. The right hon. Gentleman's Motion was most ill-timed and inexpedient. He maintained that they could not too cautiously, and he would say, could not interpose too much delay, in adopting any measure which tended to alter the organization of that House [laughter]. He understood that sneer; it implied that this opinion was not consistent with his support of the Reform Bill. He maintained he was perfectly consistent; for the Reform Bill went merely to remedy the rotten borough abuses of a century's growth, and restore the representative system of the country to its ancient character, and that Reform Bill was the result of the most careful and long-weighed consideration on the part of its framers and Parliament. But could that be predicated of the present Motion? Certainly not; it being evidently brought forward without any previous examination whether the Reform Bill had answered its expectations, or otherwise,—whether it had solved the problem of a faithful representation of the wants and interests of the people. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman's case was founded on the conduct of unreformed Parliaments, and therefore was not fairly applicable to that Reformed House of commons. What object did the right hon. Gentleman hope to attain by bringing it forward at that most ill-judged period? He feared it was the result of restless and irritable desire to bring himself before the public—to have himself talked of by his constituents. He would not, however, impute such motives to the right hon. Gentleman, though he was at a loss to imagine what, except some such desire, could have induced the right hon. Gentleman to bring forward the Motion at that period of the Session.

General Palmer

said, that no Member of the House could feel more strongly, or acknowledge with more sincerity than he did, the obligation of the country to his Majesty's Ministers, for their great measure of Reform. But it was obvious, at the time the struggle for that measure was going on, that the true essence and real value of it was the recognition that Reform was not Revolution; that it was within the constitution; that time could not sanctify wrong; and that it was consistent with the powers of the Legislature to rectify abuse, and restore the rights although the right had been long lost sight of it was this healing and saving principle in the Constitution that made the Reform Bill valuable; that obtained for it many of its supporters in that House, and the general voice of the people without it was, nevertheless, seen, that the details of the Bill were far from being perfect, and putting its opponents out of the question, it had not satisfied its friends; being considered by some too democratic, and by others too aristocratic, and there was still the same honest difference of opinion. It was, therefore, clear, that the measure was defective, and, to speak the truth, it was a mass of expedients unconnected in themselves, and unsupported by any general principle. The true principle on which representation ought to be founded, and which, us he had slated on the Reform Bill, must eventually be adopted, was contribution for, without repeating his arguments, he must repeat his assertion—that every contributor to the taxes, however humble his station, ought to have a vote in the election of the person intrusted with the serious and important duty of imposing burthens on his fellow-subjects; and not only should he have a vote, but he enabled to give that vote according to the dictates of his own understanding, uninfluenced by favour, and unassailed by corruption. 'Jo effect that object, he had voted for the Ballot, although, in justice to its opponents, he admitted the honest prejudices of real Reformers against it, and that the majority of its friends considered the Ballot an evil only to be resorted to as the remedy for a greater evil, but for which it was not the true remedy. The true remedy for the evil, which, in his humble opinion, could not wait for the Ballot and Triennial Parliaments to cure it, was a total change in the system of taxation—by the repeal of all taxes affecting all articles used or consumed by the productive industry of the country, and substituting in their place a tax on property alone—for in this ease, property alone would be entitled to a vote in the elections of Members to that House, and industry being thus relieved from the burthens that oppressed her, would no longer seek to interfere in them; but so long as that House persisted, and most unwisely, as he thought, in the present system of revenue, the voice of industry must be heard, and heard she would and ought to be, uninfluenced by favour, and undeterred by fear. For these reasons, and to compel the Government to a Property-tax, which, in relieving the labouring classes from taxation, would be the only honest means of preventing Universal Suffrage, he had voted for the Ballot, and must now vote for the present question. He held in his hand, and a copy of the same work was, he believed, in the hands of every hon. Member, a recent publication of Mr. Heathfield's, which, with that Gentleman's previous works on the subject had fully convinced him that it was not only just, practicable, and easy to relieve the nation from the burthen of the Public Debt without destroying any of the great interests of the country, but that this relief might be given greatly to the benefit of every description of properly, by the adoption of Mr. Heathfield's plan. He, therefore, most humbly, but earnestly, appealed to the Aristocracy, comprising the great majority in that House, who, notwithstanding all the fears and predictions of the consequences of the Reform Bill by its opponents in the late Parliament, were still the Representatives of the people, to read Mr. Heathfield's publication, and adopt his plan. Adverting lo the circumstances which had caused (he present government to decline in popularity, he General Palmer) observed that nothing had been so unfortunate as the appointment of a right hon. Baronet to the situation of Secretary at War. Accustomed lo that right hon. Baronet's ultra-radical speeches, the people naturally expected extensive measures of Reform from his Majesty's Government, alter the right hon. Baronet had joined them. But what was the result. The right hon. Baronet, on taking office, forgot not only his own principles, but even those of the Whigs; and in the case of the Bath election, the circumstances of which, in justice to himself, he begged shortly to state—

Mr. Secretary Stanley

spoke to order. When his right hon. friend, the late Secretary at War, was in that House, and when notice was given of a Motion respecting an alleged unconstitutional interference in the election at Bath, his right hon. friend declared himself ready to meet any charge which might be brought on that subject. An hon. Gentleman opposite, who had presented a petition complaining of the circumstances, was, he (Mr. Stanley) believe satisfied, that there was no foundation for the charge and after his right hon. friend had declared his readiness to meet, the charge it was with drawn under these circumstances, he put it to the gallant General whether, his right hon. friend not being now in the House, and the subject of the Bath election being quite irrelevant to the question under discussion, it would not be more in conformity with what he was sure would be the gallant General's deliberate determination on such a subject, not to proceed.

General Palmer

said, that after what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, he certainly would not proceed, although, if he were to go on, he thought he could show, that the case in question was not so irrelevant to the subject under discussion as the right hon. Gentleman supposed.

Mr. Robinson

observed, that the noble Lord objected to vote, on the ground that he did not feel called upon at present to give an opinion on the subject, but that he might do so hereafter. Now he begged to ask the noble Lord, if the Motion were rejected that night, whether the rejection would not have a most baneful effect with respect to his Majesty's Government on the Constitution of another parliament. "The noble Paymaster of the Forces opposed the Motion on another ground. That noble Lord opposed it on the ground, that its adoption would be tantamount to a subversion of the Constitution. He had never heard a speech in that House so contrary to all the previously expressed opinions of the speaker, as the speech which had that night been delivered by the noble Paymaster of the Forces. Did the noble Lord recollect, that when it was urged by the enemies of the Reform measure, that it was an innovation upon the Constitution, he and his colleagues had maintained, that it was a restoration of the Constitution, and not an innovation upon it? So it was with respect to Triennial Parliaments. Their adoption would be a restoration of the Constitution, and not an innovation upon it. All that the right hon. Mover contended for was, that the House should pronounce an opinion that Septennial Parliaments were too long; leaving the question of the preferable duration to be afterwards determined. In the present state of the country, when, he believed, there was no set of men prepared to take the reins of government if his Majesty's present Ministers were to quit office, he was sorry to sec them pursue a course of conduct which, coupled with the declaration made by the noble Paymaster of the Forces, he was sure would greatly depreciate them in the eyes of the country. He had not heard a single sound objection to shortening the duration of Parliaments. As to the term to which they ought to be limited, he was for making it three years, because that was a restoration of the Constitution, and, therefore, less liable perhaps to objection than any other term. But let not the House, let not his Majesty's Ministers deceive themselves. The opinion of the country on the proceedings of that night would be, not that the question was whether Parliaments should be triennial or of any other diminished length, but that the course pursued by the noble Lord, coupled with the speech of the noble Paymaster of the Forces, was a declaration made by his Majesty's Government in favour of Septennial Parliaments.

Lord John Russell,

in explanation, said, that the hon. Gentleman had imputed to him that he had said, that Triennial Parliaments would be subversive of the Constitution. "Now" continued the noble Lord, "I beg to say, that I did not intend to say any such thing, and I believe I did not say so. What I said, or meant to say, was, that the establishing by law, that Parliaments should have but three years' duration, which practically would be two years, was incompatible with the maintenance of the mixed constitution of this country. This is my fixed and maturely considered opinion, and as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Tennyson) has pressed mc to speak my mind, I will not attempt to conceal it." It was his opinion as an individual member of that House, at the same time he thought it right to say, that if the question was merely one as to the abstract superiority of five or seven years' duration of Parliament, he would vote for a five years' duration; but that was not the Motion before the House, which he had therefore resisted upon the grounds he had stated.

Mr. Milnes Gaskell

contended, that the great men who had passed the Septennial Act in the reign of George 1st, were far better qualified than the hon. member for Oldham (Mr. Cobbett) could be, to judge of the necessity of that measure. There could be no doubt, that the original passing of the Septennial Bill was a great stretch of legislative power, but that did not affect the right of framing a prospective Act, and as far as related to the duration of all future Parliaments, the Parliament of that day had as undoubted a right to extend their duration as the present one had to shorten it. If they had not, it would follow, that not the Septennial Act only, but the Triennial Bill itself, to which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Tennyson) invited them to recur, was also an unconstitutional measure. It had been said, that the Septennial Act was only intended to meet a great national emergency, and that, when that emergency had ceased, the Septennial Act should have ceased too; but at the time in which they were called upon to discuss this question, it was, in his opinion, comparatively unimportant, whether it was a temporary measure forced upon its framers by mere temporary exigences, or a great constitutional measure which they meant to have a permanent existence. The question they now had to solve, had reference only to its practical effects, and if those effects were beneficial, it would be most unwise in that House to repeal it. It had been contended, that the people were entitled to frequent Parliaments upon the score of ancient usage, but nothing had been said to show, that the phrase, frequency of Parliaments, referred so much to the frequency of their being chosen as to the frequency of their being summoned together. It was true, indeed, that Acts bad been passed to prevent their long intermission, and that, the 4th and 36th Edward. 3rd, as well as the 16th, both of Charles 1st and Charles 2nd, recited, that Parliaments were to be often held, but they nowhere recognized the principle of frequent elections, which, he believed, was not laid down before the passing of the Triennial Act in the 6th year of william and Mary. The complaints that were made against the Stuarts were not, that they continued the same Parliaments too long, but that they summoned no Parliaments at all, which no doubt was a great practical grievance, but it was one which could not be charged upon the Sovereigns of later times. He thought, too, that before the right hon. Gentleman called upon them to abandon the present system, he was bound to point out some benefit which had been derived from short Parliaments during the time they were in operation, but he could scarcely refer for that purpose to the disgraceful Treaty of Utrecht, or to the corruption which had prevailed to so great an extent throughout the reign of Queen Anne. He did not understand the argument, that Triennial Elections would operate as a check upon bribery, because, unless they could divest electors of the disposition to be bribed, it would surely be a most unwise course to place increased facilities in their way. There was another species, however", of bribery, which was still more demoralising in its effects, and against which it was still more incumbent upon the House to guard—he meant, the giving pledges at elections; therefore, the argument that Septennial Parliaments tended to weaken the dependence of Members upon their constituents, could only be addressed to those who held, that the interests of the people were best consulted by a blind subserviency to their wishes. It could not be addressed to those who thought, that the honour of the constituent body was inseparably interwoven with the honour of the representative one, and that the perfect independence of Parliament was absolutely essential to its deliberative usefulness. The effect which he anticipated from this change was, that it would oppose an insurmountable barrier to the despatch of public business, and would unhinge the whole fabric of government. He apprehended also, that it would prevent that mature consideration which intricate and important questions demanded, and that it would put an end to that spirit of mutual confidence between the different branches of the Legislature, which at all times, but more especially in times like these, it was so essential to the mixed constitution of this country to uphold. It bad been truly said, he believed by Sir Robert Walpole, "that far greater good could be effected in a long Parliament than in a short one, whilst evil could be as well effected in a short one, because evil was by nature quick of growth, but that schemes of good ripened only by slow degrees, and required time to bring them to maturity." The present system had been found to combine the respective benefits of each simple form of government, and to blend the utmost extent of popular freedom which was compatible with the maintenance of public order. He trusted, therefore, that the House would not rashly depart from it—he trusted, that it would not consent upon light or insufficient grounds to uproot an act of national settlement, which Lord Somers bad pronounced to be the great bulwark of the Constitution; and to the repeal of which Sir Robert Walpole was opposed. He had no doubt this question would be mooted Session after Session [Hear hear], He understood that cheer. If the question were so mooted, he trusted, that it would continue to be met by a firm and a well principled resistance upon the part of those who thought with him, that they had had enough of encroachment upon the King's prerogatives, but not enough of firmness in repressing it, and who felt, that in surrendering the Septennial Act to the tender mercies; of the right hon. Gentleman and his supporters, they would be surrendering the surest safeguard that was left to them against the entire and unrestrained predominance of democracy in their institutions. By conceding this question, they would only whet the appetite of a party bent upon change, and there were many omens abroad to warn them of the fatal consequences which would ensue from attempting to conciliate that party. The hon. Member concluded by calling upon the House to discard all considerations of a mere personal nature in the vote to which they were about to come, and by saying, that it unpopularity should attach to their opposition, they would at least be consoled by the reflection, that they had faithfully discharged their public duty, and fearlessly consulted the real interests of the people.

Colonel Evans

said, that he would not remark upon that part of the hon. Member's observations who last spoke which related to the unpopularity likely to accrue to the opposers of this Motion, as he conceived, that it could not affect the question; but the circumstances and situation of this country during the lime when Triennial Parliaments were in existence had been alluded to, and if it had been proved that the country was then in a state far from prosperous, or that its affairs were in a better condition during the operation of the Septennial Act, then the arguments which had been adduced on that head would have been of consequence. He would remind the House of a period when long Parliaments were in existence—namely, during the time of the American war, and would ask it to compare the state of the country at that time with its stale in the reign of Queen Anne. In his opinion, the latter would be found to have the advantage. All the arguments of the noble paymaster were as strong in favour of the continuance of Parliaments for ten or twenty years as for seven, and if there were any weight in the argument, that long or Septennial Parliaments were of advantage because the Crown could at some period of these seven years select a moment of political calm, and when the people were in a sound state of mind to determine on a proper choice of their Representatives, then this object would be best secured by making the period of Parliament's duration indefinite, so as to give the Sovereign the more extended facility and opportunity of dissolving them at a crisis the most favourable fur the re-election of Members best adapted for the interests of the Crown.

Mr. Hawkins

expressed his surprise at the declaration of the noble Lord, that it would he better to postpone the decision of the question until next Session; and maintained, that the present was the moment at which it ought to be determined. It ought to be determined before they went back to their constituents, which might shortly happen; that they might know for what period they were again to require their confidence. He entirely dissented from the opinions of the noble Paymaster of the Forces; for he thought, that the carrying: of the Reform Bill had rendered the present proposition more than ever necessary. Hon. Members complained of the practice of requiring pledges. What measure could be more likely to increase the demand for pledges than the continuance of Septennial Parliaments? If constituents had little confidence in their Representatives, what measure could be more likely to increase that confidence than to shorten the duration of Parliaments? One word respecting the term to which it was adviseable the duration of a Parliament should he restricted he would say at once, three years. He was an advocate for Triennial Parliaments, not because they were formerly established by law; but because he thought, that, upon the whole, they would be the most beneficial for the public. Four years might, perhaps, not be too long; and on the other hand, in the present state of public opinion, he should entertain no apprehensions if the term were limited to two years; nay, he should not dread a revolution even if it were limited to one year. But on a view of all the circumstances of the case, he thought the term of three years was the beat that could be adopted. He was indeed surprised at the argument, that short Parliaments were inimical to the true interests of the kingdom, when the great stalking horse of those who opposed them was, that we had them practically already. Supposing, for argument sake, that a Parliament never sat for more than three years, would the result be the same as if it sat by law only during that period? It would be totally different. They would, at least, lose the advantage which might otherwise be counted on, of superseding the necessity of pledges. There would be another difference. Under the present system the Crown always appeared against the people. The time for a dissolution was never chosen so as to favour the people, but so as to be convenient and agreeable to the Crown. Whenever Ministers thought they had got, the people at a disadvantage, then came a dissolution. When, he would ask, was the Parliament ever dissolved because it suited the convenience of the people? He should certainly give the Motion his support, as being, next to the Ballot, the most urgent of all Reforms that could be brought under the consideration of that House.

Lord Sandon

considered, that the supporters of the Motion were bound to show some particular reason for viewing, at the present time, with greater jealousy the conduct of that House. Was it when a greater weight had been given to the popular feeling that such an increased jealousy and distrust was to be indulged in? According to his view, they would better discharge their parts, as wise men, by waiting to see the effect of the great change they had already effected, than by proposing fresh alterations. What was it that had brought that House into so much discredit with the country. "Simply, that they had wasted their time, exerted their energies to no good end. Instead of attending to practical legislation, they had squandered hours on hours in debating abstract principles. He had told his constituents on the hustings, that after adjusting the machine, they should note its operations, and not try new experiments on its construction. He had promised them not to embark in new experiments, but attend honestly and sincerely to the consideration of great practical questions, and the promotion of great practical improvements—and that promise he would not depart from.

Dr. Lushington

supported the Motion, and thought Triennial parliaments would be most salutary in enforcing the due attendance of Members to the duties required of them by their constituents. Such scenes as had occurred in the old unreformed Parliaments could not under this new provision be repeated with success. Members could not then leave the House with empty benches (as had been done) Until nearly the close of the long Parliament, when, in the anticipation of a dissolution, those benches would suddenly become crowded with Members, all anxious to appear to be doing their duty to their constituents by attending assiduously to the public business. He did not see, that the fact of this being a Reformed Parliament could be taken as affording grounds for supposing that its proceedings would, unless under some check, be different for he thought, that while the same dispositions and propensities remained, the same results would naturally be produced; and it was idle to reject the conclusions of sound understanding and common sense by supposing, that the public business would be attended to with a better spirit. To put the present question in a right point of view, he would ask, if any man would, without check, and without control, confide, even to the chosen friend of his bosom, the comfort, respectability, and substance of his family for such a period as seven years? if, then, they would not do it in private life, why should they be required to do it in public, where so many interests were involved? He could not agree with his noble friend, that there was no difference between Parliaments of five and of seven years' duration. He held, that the Representatives should be returned every three years to their constituencies, who would determine whether they had honestly and diligently executed the trust which had been reposed in them. Then it was said, that a man might be sent back in a moment of popular excitement for a vote which he might have given on a particular question, and would not be able to obtain that hearing which he ought to command. But in three years the constituents would be able to form an opinion of their Representative. What honest man would not say to his constituents, "I come not here as your delegate; but if I have erred honestly, take not one or two instances in which I have differed with you, but mark the whole tenor of my parliamentary life." Were the people of England so altered as not to listen to the statement of an honest man? He had been taunted as having voted in opposition to the opinion of his constituency. Whether he had done so or not he would still say he was right if his conscience prompted him to do so. He could not deny the awkwardness of the time at which the Motion was brought forward; but he had the choice of two evils, and he should select the lesser, by voting with the right hon. member for Lambeth, because he believed his proposition had the sanction of experience He cared not what they called it, either in theory or in practice; but what he should maintain was, that the people of this country were entitled to the blessings and protection of the best constitution which human wisdom could devise.

Mr. Secretary Stanley

said, he was more disposed than other hon. Members to give the right hon. member for Lambeth credit for his exertions, and to congratulate him on the scientific mode in which he had managed, at such a juncture, to bring forward the present Motion. The right hon. Gentleman, he had no doubt, had more important views than, they could pierce through for bringing forward an impracticable question. He had no hesitation, however, in saying, that he should give his vote against the Motion for shortening the duration of Parliaments. He had, on the hustings at Lancaster, made a statement, from which he was not disposed to depart, that the Government having carried a large, sweeping, and extensive Reform, they were justified in looking upon it as final; and that whenever the subject of the Ballot, or Triennial Parliaments, might be brought forward, he should assuredly vote against them. He knew not what were the indications they had; for he saw none of the extreme unpopularity of that House, or that Government. What test was there which could be applied to their conduct, and which, being applied, would show that they had neglected their duty—that they had shrunk from their responsibility—that they had violated their pledges—that they had failed to fulfil the expectations they had raised." He knew not where to find these tests, nor where to look for the proof that this question was one on which the public mind was bent with any degree of earnestness. On the low ground of gaining popularity—on the miserable pretext of a man more easily winning an election; on these alone he saw no proof that the change now proposed was one which was desired by the people at large. When, too, he looked at the number of petitions that had been presented on this subject, he saw no ground for entertaining the belief that such was the opinion of the people. If the desire for this change was general—if it proceeded in a strong and steady current, as public opinion had proceeded on other great questions, they would have seen their table covered with petitions, pressing upon them this wish, and demanding attention to the rights of the people. But how was the fact." He did not know how many petitions had been presented on one great question that really had interested the public mind; he meant upon the subject of Negro Slavery. On that question the number of signatures was 1,400,000. But when he looked at this supposed important question, he found, that up to the 6th of July nineteen petitions in all had been presented; and this, he believed, was all up to the present time, unless the hon. Gentleman had presented one or two since which had increased the number. Upon such facts as these, had the hon. Member a right to assume that it would be an unpopular vole to say, that no ground had been made out at this moment for shortening the duration of Parliaments? He did not believe that it would be unpopular. We did not live in a country in which one branch of the Legislature monopolized all the importance and all the powers of the government of the State. That it was a most important branch of the Government he was most ready to admit—that the people ought to have a fair influence over their Representatives in that House he was also ready to admit. But the question now was, whether this was the time, and whether it was absolutely certain that it was necessary for the best interests of the country, that they should place the Members composing that House under the immediate control of those persons from whom, in such an event, they would come, not as Representatives, but as Delegates. Was this a time when the popular institutions of the country were in danger—when the voice of public opinion was weak—when the influence of the Crown was overwhelming, and when, in consequence of all these things, it was necessary that an additional weight should be thrown into the scale, to make up the balance of the Constitution. Had they not altered the balance of the Constitution? Yes, they had altered it—altered it, as he believed, beneficially; and was it not safe, and wise, and prudent, that they should wait to see what was the effect of these alterations, and whether any additional weight was still required to be thrown into the scale of popular influence. His noble friend, the Paymaster of the Forces, had said, and in his opinion most truly, that Biennial Parliaments would he most unsafe at the present time, and under the present order of things. He was surprised at the answer given to that observation by the hon. member for Tipperary, who had asked this question—what was it that destroyed the power of the Crown in former times? and he had answered by saying, that that power was destroyed, not by a short but by a long Parliament? He repeated, that he could not but feel surprise at this answer, and must express his astonishment that the hon. and learned Member should have given utterance to such a quibble on words—to such a miserable perversion of terms—in thus speaking of any event with the history of which it was impossible he should not be well acquainted. Other hon. Members had gone into the merits of the Septennial Act, but it seemed to him, that that was not the question which they had now to discuss, for the onus of proof was not on them to show that seven years was the best terra that could be adopted for the duration of Parliaments; but the other side were bound to show, that this Motion was in accordance with popular demand, that its adoption would be beneficial to public interests, and that injury would result from not adopting it. As to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman near him, he must say, that he was somewhat surprised at it. There was not one argument in the speech of that hon. and learned Member which did not apply to annual as well as to triennial Parliaments. The hon. and learned Gentleman had asked them whether, if any of them had to employ the services of a trustee, they would not wish to possess a control over him? His answer to that question was, that it would depend upon the character of the trustee. At all events, he should not wish to remove his trustee every week or every fortnight, to leave the successor to take up the unfinished designs of his predecessor, and to be obliged to resign the completion of them again to a person who had not before considered the subject on which he was to act, or at least, not having been acquainted with the lie-ginning of that work which it thus became his task to finish. The hon. and learned Member had observed upon the effect of approaching elections in the conduct of Members. Surely it was not meant to be made a subject of complaint, that the Members of this Parliament had not had industry enough. If there was any complaint to be made, it was that they had been too ready to introduce popular topics of discussion, often to the hindrance of the public business. He did not complain of this, but he thought that the last charge to be made against the Members of this Parliament was a want of industry. Indeed, it was quite enough to afford labour, not merely to one but to two Governments. There were twenty-four notices on the paper of the day. He had had occasion the other day to look into the Order-book, and he had then taken the trouble to see how many different Bills were then in different stages of progress through that House, and he found, in addition to the twenty-four notices for each day, which was now frequently the case, no less than fifty-six Bills, some of which had not even proceeded further than a second reading. Now, fifty-six; Bills for the end of the Session, and twenty-four notices, day by day, so long as the Session might last, were no contemptible proof of the zeal with which Members desired to exert themselves for the advantage of their constituents. He had never seen a Parliament which had met with a more honest and determined decision to do its duty—to labour, without regard to time, in the discharge of the trust it had undertaken. He had never seen a Parliament which had listened more attentively to the arguments brought forward on any question, and the general bearings of it. He hoped, and believed, that the right hon. Gentleman had no reason to complain on that point. He stood there to vindicate that Parliament from unjust aspersions—he thought it had done all that could be expected from a Parliament to obtain the confidence of the people. If they did not mean that the Crown should be a cipher, they would not wish to place that House in such a situation, that not its general conduct, but some individual vote, should be made the test of its fitness as a representative body. They would, on the contrary, allow the public mind time to cool and deliberate—they would not keep it in a continual fever of excitement—they would not seek to deprive the Crown of that legitimate influence which it did, and should, and must exercise, by the power of selecting the time when the Members of that House should be sent to their constituents. The hon. and learned member for Tipperary had quoted the preamble to the Septennial Act, but he had omitted to quote just that part of it, which, speaking of Triennial Parliaments, declared them to have been the causes of heats and contentions, which that Act had been passed to cure. It was his (Mr. Stanley's) wish, and such had been the object of the Reform Bill, to substitute for the unsteady, unstable influence, now exercised over Members by their constituents at the approach of an election, that steady and stable influence which they must exercise, if they had fairly and freely the means of sending into Parliament men of tried character, whom they knew and respected, whose principles coincided with their own, and who were sent in to act in conformity with those general principles; but, on particular occasions, to be guided by their own judgments. Having given to the people this steady control, he thought they ought to wait till they had time to sec how the Reform Hill acted, and whether the people to whom this power was now given, ought to have the means bestowed on them, of making the House of Commons an assembly of dele- gates, and to do away with the authority of the Crown, which was essential to the balance of the Constitution. The question lay in a narrow compass. It was not a choice between seven, five, four, or three years, although the Motion had been ingeniously contrived, so as to make the supporters of all these separate questions vote for it; but it was, in fact, a question of Annual Parliaments, for the hon. member for Oldham had honestly and frankly admitted, that he should vote for this Motion, as he hoped it would lead to his favourite plan of Annual Parliaments, without which he should not be contented. He (Mr. Stanley) did not mean to say, that seven years was the best time that could he fixed on, although he was prepared to have given the Motion a direct negative; yet, as he thought his noble friend had exercised a sound judgment in moving the previous question, he should have great pleasure in supporting that Amendment.

Mr. O'Connell

was glad that this question had been brought on. It would try their souls. The question lay in a narrow compass, and the country could easily judge of it. It would afford one more specimen of the conduct of a reformed Parliament. He was sorry the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, did not meet this question fairly and openly. It was not a subject from which Ministers should shrink, but one about which reforming Ministers at least, should have made up their minds. The right hon. Secretary, had made up his mind, certainly; but the Government at large, if it thought the Motion a bad one, should have negatived it at once, and not have sheltered themselves behind the previous question. The Tories were consistent in opposing this most important branch of reform. He had heard more than one sentence that night, which indicated that the Whigs repented of having given the people so much Reform, and were determined not to let Reform go one jot further. The right hon. Gentleman, who brought forward the Motion, received no cheers from those constituents, suppose them to be reformers. The only ground upon which the right hon. Secretary put his argument was a total fallacy. He said, that this Motion was not called for by the people—that there were no petitions for Triennial Parliaments; but did the right hon. Gentleman forget, that most of the petitions presented to Parliament in favour of Reform, contained a prayer for shortening the duration of Parliaments? Perhaps that prayer was omitted in petitions presented during the pro- gress of the Reform Bill; but nearly all the petitions presented before the Reform Bill was brought in—that long catalogue produced and relied upon by his Majesty's Ministers—was filled with prayers for shortening the duration of Parliaments. The country could, however, now know how to express itself; and he did not hazard much in prophesying, that before next Session we should have plenty of petitions upon the subject. The question was, whether seven years were not too long. It was said, that by taking three years as the duration of Parliament, the dissolution might take place when the public mind was excited; but under the present system the Ministry might dissolve Parliament when there was a torpor in the public mind. It was true that the Parliament of 1806, which added five or ten per cent. to the income tax, and declared Hanover to be as dear to England as Kent, was a short Parliament, and was elected under excitement; but the present Parliament was also elected under the excitement of gratitude to the present Ministry for Reform. Many hon. Members were sent to this House, simply because they were supporters of the Ministry. The right hon. Gentleman had pronounced an eulogium on the present Parliament. It had done wonders, certainly. It spent three months on Ireland, and no single Tory Parliament, in so short a period, ever violated so many Constitutional principles. The right hon. Gentleman talked of low popularity, as if to court the electors of this country were courting low popularity, and as if they ought to be denied a control over their Representatives. Such sentiments spoke a foregone conclusion, but were inapplicable to the present state of the representation. Short Parliaments, it was said, were not consistent with monarchical government. That was, certainly, not a discreet declaration, for if it were necessary for the people to have short Parliaments, short Parliaments they must have, and it was not wise in the noble Lord to put monarchy in the scale against their wants. Such an argument might be suitable at Windsor, but not in that House. The right hon. Gentleman talked of the overhearing control of the Constituency. But why complain of that, if they did not wish to make themselves the masters, instead of the servants of the people." It was said, that the proposition would increase democratic power; but that was an argument in its favour.

Major Beauclerk

said, that the present Parliament had greatly disappointed the wishes of the people. They had passed a severe coercive measure against the people of Ireland, but they had omitted to retrench expenses, or to remove the pressure of taxation. It was necessary, therefore, to have Triennial Parliaments, in order to have an effectual check by the people on their Representatives. In as far as that might be the result of the present Motion, it had his cordial support. He had never heard any debate where all the argument and all the eloquence were so completely on one side of the question. In fact, there had been nothing; which could call for a reply said against the Motion. It proved that a bad cause could not command a convincing advocate. This was peculiarly shown in the speech of the right hon. the Secretary for the colonies, who had made decidedly the worst speech that he had heard for a long time. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman must be convinced himself that his speech was a dead failure. The Motion was one which greatly interested the people, and he was sure they would at length have their rights.

Mr. Gisbrone

said, that he came down to that House with the intention of opposing the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman, but he owned that he had been almost talked out of' that intention by the speeches that had been delivered in support of it, and also by the Sentiments of some of those who opposed it. If, however, he should oppose the Motion, it was not from any concurrence in those high down monarchical principles which had been urged against it, but from his conviction that its rejection would be for the good of the people and the convenience of the House.

Sir Ronal Ferguson

stated, that in voting in favour of the right hon. Gentleman's Motion, he should do so from a principle of consistency, and not from a belief that it could in this Session be attended with any practical result. He looked upon it as brought forward for the sake of a popularity which he had no doubt would he ephemeral.

Mr. Tennyson

disclaimed any desire to gain popularity by this Motion. The objection, however, came badly from those who made it, for it was an admission that the question was a popular one with the nation. It was objected that his Motion was vague, in not stating the term to which he intended the duration of Parliaments should be limited. He had made it so for the purpose of avoiding the objections of some who might agree as to the principle that the duration of Parliaments ought to be shortened, but who might feel themselves justified in opposing his Motion on account of the term he might have fixed. He had fairly stated his own opinion, that a recurrence to Triennial Parliaments would be best for the country, but he was anxious to hear the sentiments of the Representatives of the people before he fixed any particular period. In this he differed widely from the course pursued by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley), who had not waited to hear the sentiments of the people or their Representatives, but had beforehand pledged himself (and yet the right hon. Gentleman ridiculed the notion of pledges)—and not only himself but all his colleagues. He had before him a published report of one of the right hon. Gentleman's speeches to his constituents in Lancashire, and if there was any thing in that report which did not fairly represent what he said, the right hon. Gentleman had now an opportunity of disavowing it, and of setting himself right; for the speech had gone forth to the world. The right hon. Gentleman here read the passage, which was to the effect, that if any Member should bring forward any Motion for diminishing the. duration of parliaments, or of extending the franchise! beyond the terms of the Reform Bill, or for vote by Ballot, they (the Ministers) stood pledged, as individuals and as Members of Government, to give a decided opposition, and the right hon. Gentleman talked of Members being pledged! What was this but a solemn pledge,—and a pledge, too, not to attend to what might be the opinions of the people on this subject? What did the right hon. Gentleman mean by objecting to pledges? He (Mr. Tennyson) had never given any pledge, and he was not the less confidently trusted by his constituents, and was not the less opposed to some of the right hon. Gentleman's principles, for be believed that the more he differed from those principles the better he should stand with the public. In conclusion, the right him. Gentleman explained the terms of his Motion, and disclaimed any personal feeling against the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies.

The House divided on the Motion—Ayes 164.; Noes 213; Majority 49

List of the AYES.
ENGLAND. Bainbridge, F. T.
Aglionby, H. A. Barnard, F. G.
Attwood, T. Barnett, C. J.
Baillie, J. E. Beauclerk, Major
Bewes, T. Marjoribanks, S.
Biddulph, R. Marshall, J.
Bish, I. Marsland, T.
Blamire, W. Marlin, J.
Blount, Sir C. R. Morrison, J.
Bouverie, Captain Ord, W. H.
Briggs, R. Palmer, General
Briscoe, J. Parker, Sir H.
Brocklehurst, J. Parrott, J.
Brotherton, J. Pendarves, E. W.
Buckingham, J. S. Penleaze, T. S.
Bulwer, H. L. Phillips, M.
Chichester, J. P. B. Phillipps, C. M.
Clay, W. Philpotts, J.
Cobbett, W. Potter, R.
Codrington, Sir E. Pryme, G.
Collier, J. Rider, T.
Cornish, J. Rippon, C.
Dashwood, G. H. Robinson, G. R.
Davenport, J. Romilly, J.
Dawson, E. Romilly, E.
Divett, E. Russell, Lord
Dundas, Captain Sanford, E. A.
Dykes, F. L. B. Scholefield, J.
Ellis, W. Scrope, P.
Etwall, M. Seale, Colonel
Ewart, W. Shawe, R. N.
Faithfull, G. Simeon, Sir R. G.
Fellowes, Hon. N. Stanley, E. J.
Fellowes, H. G. W. Stanley, Hon. H. T.
Fenton, Captain Strickland, G.
Fenton, J. Strutt, E.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Tancred, H. W.
Fielden, J. Tayleure, W.
Fryer, R. Thicknesse, R.
Gaskell, D. Tooke, W.
Grote, G. Torrens, Colonel
Gully, J. Trelawney, W. L. S.
Hall, B. Turner, W.
Halse, J. Tynte, C. J. K.
Handley, Major Vincent, Sir F.
Handley, H. Vivian, J. H.
Hardy, J. Walker, R.
Harvey, D. W. Walter, J.
Hawes, B. Wason, Rigby
Hawkins, J. H. Watkins, T. L.
Hodges, T. L. Whalley, Sir S.
Hughes, H. Wigney, J. N.
Humphery, J. Wilks, J.
Hurst, R. H. Williams, Colonel
Hutt, W. Winnington, H. J.
Ingham, R. Wood, Alderman
Ingilby, Sir W. Yelverton, Hon. W. H.
Kemp, T. R. Dunlop, Captain
Kennedy, J. Ewing, J.
Key, Sir J. Ferguson, R.
Lamont, N. Gillon, W. D.
Langdale, Hon. C. Johnston, A.
Langton, G. Marjoribanks, C.
Leech, J. Maxwell, Sir J.
Lefevre, C. S. Murray, J. A.
Lennox, Lord W. Oliphant, L.
Lester, B. L. Oswald, R. A.
Lister, C. Oswald, J.
Locke, W. Parnell, Rt. Hon. Sir H.
Lushington, Dr. Pringle, R.
Sharpe, General Vigors, N. A.
Stewart, Sir M. S. Wallace, T.
Wallace, R. TELLERS.
IRELAND. Tennyson, Rt. Hn. C.
Baldwin, Dr. Hume, J.
Barrow, W. PAIRED OFF.
Barry, G. S. Buller, C.
Bellew, R. M. Bulwer, E. L.
Blake, M. Chaytor, Sir W. L.
Chapman, M. L. Edwards, Colonel
Dobbin, L. Fitzsimon, C.
Evans, G. Fleming, Admiral
Finn, W. F. Godson, R.
Fitzgerald, T. Guest, J. J.
Lynch, J. H. Hay, Colonel L.
Martin, J. Maxwell, J.
Mullins, F. W. Methuen, P.
O'Connell, D. O'Connell, M.
O'Connell, M. O'Connor, Don
O'Connell, J. Parker, J.
O'Dwyer, A. C. Richards, J.
Perrin, Serjeant Roche, W.
Ruthven, E. S. Sinclair, G.
Ruthven, E. Todd, R.
Sheil, R. L. Warburton, H.
Abercromby, Rt Hon. J.
List of the NOES.
ENGLAND. Dare, W. H.
Althorp, Viscount Darlington, Earl of
Anson, Hon. G. Denison, W. J.
Ashley, Lord Denison, J. E.
Astley, Sir J. Dick, Q.
Atherley, A. Dilwyn, L. W.
Baring, F. Donkin, Sir R. S.
Bentinck, Lord G. Duncannon, Viscount
Berkeley, Hon. C. F. Dundas, Hon. Sir R. L.
Bernal, R. Dundas, Hon. J. C.
Bolling, W. Eastnor, Visconnt
Brodie, W. B. Ebrington, Viscount
Brougham, W. Ellice, Right Hon. E.
Brougham, J. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Bruce, Lord E. Evans, W.
Buller, J. W. Evans, Col. De Lacey*
Buller, E. Fancourt, Major
Bulteel, J. C. Fazakerly, J. N.
Burrell, Sir C. Fielden, W.
Byng, G. Finch, G.
Byng, Sir J. Fitzroy, Lord J.
Calley, T. Fordwich, Viscount
Calvert, N. Forster, C. L.
Campbell, Sir J. Fox, Lieut.-Colonel
Carter, J. B. Frankland, Sir R.
Cavendish, Hon. Col. Fremantle, Sir T.
Cayley, Sir G. Gaskell, J. M.
Chaplin, Colonel T. Gisborne, T.
Chetwynd, Capt. W. F. Gladstone, W. E.
Childers, J. W. Gordon, R.
Clive, E. B. Goring, H. D.
Clive, Viscount Graham, Rt. Hn. Sir J.
Cockerell, Sir C. Grant, Right Hon. R.
Cooper, Hon. A. H. Greene, T. G.
Crawley, S. Grey, Hon. Colonel

* Colonel Evans was by accident locked in the House when the Ayes were sent forth, and he was numbered, against his intention, amongst the Noes.

Grey, Sir G. Scott, Sir E. D.
Grimstone, Viscount Shepherd, T.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Smith, J. A.
Halcombe, J. Smith, R. V.
Hanmer, Colonel H. Somerset, Lord G.
Harcourt, G. V. Stanley, Rt. Hn. E. G. S.
Hardinge, Sir H. Staunton, Sir G. T. B.
Harland, W. C. Stavely, T. K.
Henniker, Lord Stewart, J.
Hope, H. T. Stewart, P. M.
Horne, Sir W. Stormont, Viscount
Houldsworth, T. Talbot, C. R. M.
Howard, Hon. F. G. Throckmorton, R. G.
Howick, Viscount Tower, C. T.
Hudson, T. Townley, R. G.
Hyett, W. H. Townshend, Lord C.
Inglis, Sir R. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Jermyn, Earl Verney, Sir H.
Jerningham, Hon. H. Vyvyan, Sir R.
Johnstone, Sir J. V. Wall, C. B.
Knatchbull, Sir H. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Labouchere, H. Ward, H. G.
Langston, J. H. Warre, J. A.
Lee, J. L. Waterpark, Lord
Lemon, Sir C. Watson, Hon. R.
Lennox, Lord A. Wedgwood, J.
Lowther, Viscount Whitbread, W. H.
Lumley, Viscount Whitmore, W. W.
Lygon, Hon. Colonel Wilbraham, George
Lyall, G. Williamson, Sir H.
Maberley, Colonel Willoughby, Sir H.
Macaulay, T. B. Wood, G. W.
Mangles, J. Wood, Colonel T.
Manners, Lord R. Wood, C.
Mills, J. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Molyneux, Lord Wynn, Rt. Hon. C.
Moreton, Hon. A. H. Young, G. F.
Morpeth, Viscount SCOTLAND.
Mosley, Sir O. Adam, Admiral
Mostyn, Hon. E. M. L. Agnew, Sir A.
Newark, Viscount Bruce, C. L. C.
Norreys, Lord Callander, J. H.
Ossulston, Lord Dalmeny, Lord
Paget, Frederick Elliott, Hon. Capt. G.
Palmer, C. F. Grant, Rt. Hon. C.
Palmer, Robert Hallyburton, Hn. D. G.
Palmerston, Viscount Jeffrey, Rt. Hon. F.
Pease, Joseph Mackenzie, J. A. S.
Peel, Rt. Hon. Sir R. Macleod, R.
Pelham, Hon. C. A. G. Ross, H.
Pepys, Charles Steuart, R.
Peter, William Stuart, Captain C.
Phillips, Sir R. Traill, G.
Pinney, W. Wemyss, Capt. J.
Frice, Sir R. IRELAND.
Reid, Sir J. R. Acheson, Viscount
Rickford, William Browne, D.
Ridley, Sir M. W. Chichester, Lord A.
Robarts, A. W. Christmas, J. N.
Rolfe, R. M. Cole, Hon. A.
Rooper, J. B. Coote, Sir C.
Ross, Charles Corry, Hon. H. L.
Russell, Rt. Hn. Ld. J. Gladstone, T.
Russell, Lord C. Grattan, J.
Russell, C. Hill, Lord M.
Sanderson, R. Howard, R.
Sandon, Viscount Lefroy, Dr. T.
Macnamara, F. Grant, Hon. Colonel
O'Callaghan, Hon. C. Hoskins, K.
Oxmantown, Lord Johnstone, J. J. H.
Perceval, Colonel Kerry, Earl of
Stawell, Colonel Milton, Lord Visct.
Verner, Colonel W. North, F.
White, Luke Stanley, E.
PAIRED OFF. Stuart, Lord D.
Burdett, Sir F. Thomson, Rt. Hn. C. P.
Cavendish, Lord Tracy, C. H.
Cole, Lord TELLERS.
Cooper, E. J. Kennedy, T. E.
Ferguson, Captain Rice, Hon. T. S.