HC Deb 19 March 1834 vol 22 cc452-68

The House resolved itself into a Committee on the Hertford Borough Bill.

On the First Clause having been read,

Sir Robert Peel

rose to move an Amendment, the effect of which would be, if adopted by that House, to leave the Bill in this state, that the elective franchise of that portion of the constituency which had been declared corrupt by the Report of the Committee, would be forfeited, but the existing limits of the borough—the extended limits as laid down by the Boundary Bill—would be still maintained, and the elective franchise would be preserved to those constituents who had been declared by the Report of the Committee to have remained pure and untainted by the corrupt practices which disgraced others. He conceived it to be unnecessary to give an assurance that he was ready to acquiesce in any measure which should have the effect of punishing proved corruption. With great reluctance, and with great violence to his own feelings, by the last vote which he gave, he consented to forfeit the franchise of that town which was the capital of the county in which he resided. He deeply regretted it; but he thought the proof of the general corruption prevalent in Stafford was so strong, that, whatever be the reluctance with which he gave such a vote, he was bound to overcome it, and to consent to make that borough a public example. For this same reason he would consent to the passing of the first clause of the present Bill, by which the guilty would be punished. But he should maintain, on grounds which appeared to him to be immovable, that they were called upon to preserve to the remaining portion of the inhabitants of the borough, the franchise they now possessed, and which they had exercised with proved integrity. There were in this case, as in almost every question, considerations both of expediency and of justice. Of the impolicy of making a large rural district into a borough, and of giving it the privilege of returning Members to Parliament, instead of retaining that privilege to the town,—of the objections to giving, as this Bill would give, in point of fact, two additional Members to the county of Hertford—being five in the whole,—he had before spoken. He would not, on the present occasion, advert to any considerations of expediency; he addressed himself to the House sitting in its judicial rather than in its political capacity; and he felt the considerations of justice to be so powerful, that he would not consent to weaken their force by any reference to considerations of mere expediency. Founding his argument upon the Report of the Committee, and upon the preamble of the Bill, he would attempt to show, that there would remain within the existing limits of the borough of Hertford, a constituency numerous, respectable, and above all suspicion; and that the House—acting in its judicial capacity—entertaining a desire to make a just discrimination between the guilty and the innocent—prepared to inflict punishment where punishment was due—but to protect innocence from that measure of punishment which guilt only should incur,—he should attempt to show, that the House was bound to preserve to the honest possessors of the franchise their entire rights. In the preamble of this Bill, he entirely concurred; thinking that bribery and treating prevailed previously to, and during the last election of Members to serve in Parliament for the borough of Hertford, and thinking it was expedient that means should be taken to prevent the future return of Members to serve in Parliament for the said borough being influenced by corrupt and illegal practices; but he would undertake to prove, that if the House continued the privilege of voting to the 10l. constituency and the freemen, it would fulfil the object contemplated by the preamble of the Bill, and would effectually prevent the existence of corruption for the future. Out of deference to the Report of the Committee, he consented to disfranchise the old constituency. That Committee formally examined the whole case, and inquired into the manner in which the election had been conducted; and although he thought the proof of actual corruption not very strong, yet still, on a view of the whole circumstances attending the election,—the extent to which treating prevailed,—the distribution of tickets, if not amounting to bribery, were very nearly akin to it, and would afford, if the practice were unchecked, a ready means of bribery. Combining with these considerations the deference due to the Report of the Committee, which heard the whole of the evidence, he should not object to the disfranchisement of that part of the constituency which was considered by the Committee to be corrupt. The next question for the House to determine was, whether or no there would remain within the existing limits of the town of Hertford a constituency sufficiently numerous and respectable to be intrusted with the elective franchise. For proof of its respectability he relied on the Report of the Committee, of which the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Bernal) was Chairman. That Committee—having maturely examined the case,—animated by a sincere desire to administer impartial justice,—having, certainly, no leaning in favour of the borough—after hearing the evidence, and deliberating upon it,—made this remark:—'That the portion or class of the electors of the borough of Hertford, who have been affected by the corrupt practices which prevailed previously to, and at the last election, were the inhabitant householders renting houses under the annual value of 10l., who, with very few exceptions, appear to have participated in, and were connected with, such corruption.' That was the conclusion at which the Committee arrived. Let the Bill proceed upon that; let those who were guilty incur the penalty; let that penalty, as the corruption was so extensive, extend to the whole class. But the same Committee reported,—'that, on the other hand, your Committee have not been able to discover that the general body of the freemen, or of the 10l. householders, except, perhaps, in some few cases, have been at all affected by, or concerned in, any of the said practices.' Let the House observe, that the whole of this class—with the exception of some few cases, and even that exception was qualified by a "perhaps:"—the whole of this class, including the freemen and 10l. householders, notwithstanding the temptation to which they had been exposed, were acquitted by the Report or that Committee, not only of having been concerned in, but even of having been the least affected by the practices which prevailed. If the number were sufficient to constitute good constituency, considerations of strict and rigid justice would preclude the House from subjecting these men to the punishment which should be reserved for guilt. There would remain in the borough of Hertford, if his suggestion were adopted, in the first place, 124 voters, voting only as freemen. The Committee reported that there were in the town of Hertford between 430 and 440 houses or tenements of the annual value of 10l., but that some of these were in the occupation of females. On the question, what constituted a sufficiently numerous constitu- ency various opinions might be held; but he could refer to a high authority on the subject,—the Reform Bill,—on which the whole elective system of the country was founded. In most matters of this kind—necessarily in some degree arbitrary—there was no rule to control or guide individual impressions; but here he found a guide, of which those who concurred in the principles of the Reform Bill ought entirely to approve. By the Reform Bill it was declared, that every one of the ancient boroughs of this kingdom, which had a population of 4,000, should be entitled to retain its right of returning two Members to Parliament, and the instructions given by the Government to the Boundary Commissioners, for the purpose of enabling them to report whether, in any case, the limits of a borough, the franchise of which was preserved, should be extended or retained, were to ascertain whether there were 300 10l. householders within the ancient borough. Four thousand inhabitants, therefore, was the amount of population assumed by the Reform Bill, as the proper one to protect the ancient boroughs from disfranchisement, and the existence of 300 10l. householders within the borough, was assumed as a number amply sufficient to warrant the preservation of the ancient limits of the boroughs. There were, at present, however, in the town of Hertford 520 10l. houses; at the time of the Report, he believed, there were not more than 440; but so flourishing was the town, that since that period no less than eighty additional houses had been built. Hon. Gentlemen opposite smiled, by which he supposed, if a smile could insinuate anything, it was meant to be insinuated that some of these houses might have been built for election purposes; but that he positively denied. He would adopt the principle of the Reform Bill in this respect—he would disregard all individual interests. He had nothing to do with individual interests, and, by consenting at once to disfranchise the whole class of voters renting houses below the annual value of 10l., he gave a conclusive proof that individual interests, entered not into his consideration. Even supposing, that the anticipated repeal of the House-duty had had the effect of adding 100 to the constituency which existed when the Report of the Committee was made, he had as good a right to take credit for that 100 in calculating the number of persons entitled to the franchise as if it arose from any other cause. The simple question was—were there 500 10l. householders?—not how they became so? Suppose, then, that instead of 443, there were in the borough of Hertford 520 respectable householders capable of exercising the franchise with propriety, he had a right to add those 520 respectable householders, to the 120 freemen, in order to fortify and confirm the argument, that the House was not entitled to deprive this place of its privilege, or depreciate the value of that privilege by uniting this town with half a dozen others. By the Reform hill, no less than thirty boroughs were left in the possession of the right to return two Members, the number of houses in which was under 430. How many there were with less than 520, on which he founded the claim of Hertford, he had not the means of ascertaining. Of these thirty towns, twenty-six paid a less amount of assessed taxes than was paid by Hertford—another sure indication of the importance of the town. The Commissioners, in their Report, which was made in the year 1831, described the town of Hertford in a very short but emphatic sentence;—as a busy and prosperous town. He would compare the state of Hertford with that of the neighbouring town of St. Alban's, the franchise of which was untouched by the Reform Bill. He did not complain of that; it was left very properly untouched, because it was considered to have a constituency sufficiently respectable, and a population sufficiently numerous, to entitle it to retain the privileges which it possessed. The population of Hertford was 5360; of St. Alban's 5771. The amount of assessed taxes annually paid by Hertford was 2,273l.; by St. Alban's, 2,127l. The number of rate-payers in Hertford was 849; in St. Alban's 709. He said nothing whatever of Hertford being a county town. He placed no reliance on that fact, though many Gentlemen might think it aggravated the injustice to deprive a county town of its representation. He was content to waive all advantage from this argument, and to place Hertford on the same footing with every town left untouched by the Reform Bill. He claimed for Hertford only the same right which was conceded by the Reform Bill to every borough containing the same amount of population, and an equal num- ber of 10l. houses. But mark the difference between the principle of the present measure, and that of the Reform Bill; the present Bill inflicted a judicial punishment; the Reform Bill was a political measure, founded on the assumption, that a great alteration in the elective system was necessary. In that case, it was argued that, although the Legislature might regret the necessity of interfering with existing interests, yet, when the public welfare was at stake, all minor considerations of individual interest must give way. When dealing with the Reform Bill, they were not acting judicially they were acting as politicians; and, in that case, the interests of individuals might, with much less of violence and injustice, be sacrificed to the good of the whole community; but even if they were acting on mere political grounds—on exactly the same principles they acted in regard to the Reform Bill—still they would be bound by similar considerations of expediency to adopt the principle of that Bill—that principle which rescued thirty boroughs of smaller population and more limited constituencies than Hertford from disfranchisement. But as they were acting judicially, they were bound by much higher considerations not to go beyond the Reform Bill. On what principle, if St. Alban's and these thirty towns were left in possession of their franchise, could they confiscate or interfere with the rights of this constituency, which was admitted to be at least as pure as that which existed in any of the other boroughs? They had no evidence with respect to their purity or corruption—they had no proof of their having been exposed to temptation; but here the House had distinct proof, that corrupt practices did prevail, that these men were exposed to temptation, and that they honestly resisted it, and remained pure. He asked, then, would it not be utterly inconsistent with the first principles of justice to inflict any punishment whatever on them? It was of the utmost importance, in order that the example should be effectual, that they should establish a just discrimination between the innocent and the guilty. He said, forfeit the franchise of the men proved to be corrupt—nay, forfeit the franchise of that class, the vast majority of which was corrupt; but if he found other classes who, amidst corruption and temptation had remained pure, he would first, out of a regard to justice, and next, in order to make the example of the guilty effectual, respect their integrity. Was it not of great importance that examples should be made of the guilty only. They were all aware how necessary it was, that the other House of Parliament should concur in the Bill. He hoped they would; he was sure nothing could be so unfortunate as the constant postponement of legislative measures in consequence of differences of opinion. If they erred, then let them err on the safe side; and send up a Bill consistent with the principles of justice, and then they would run no chance of the necessary punishment not being inflicted; but if they sent up Bills which might be reasonably considered not in accordance with the principles of justice, there was a fair ground for resisting them, and the consequence of that resistance was, that no punishment at all would be inflicted, and the guilty persons would remain in possession of the franchise. What an appeal might be made to the House by these 10l. householders, supposing the House determined to deprive them of their franchise! They might say, "Of what avail is our integrity; it meets with no regard from you; you deal out to us precisely the same punishment which would have been our lot had we been corrupt." If he had shown, that, by the principles of the Reform Bill, this borough would have been safe with its present constituency, if he had shown, that in point of fact, it had a larger constituency than thirty boroughs which were left untouched by the Reform Bill—if adopting the Reform Bill as the test by which to determine the amount which constituted a sufficiently numerous and respectable constituency, this borough would be safe, then he implored the House, acting in its judicial capacity, to make a distinction between the guilty and the innocent, and not to permit those who had resisted temptation—who had been acquitted, even of participation in the remotest degree, with the corrupt practices which prevailed—to be involved with the guilty in one common punishment. His Amendment was, that all the remaining clauses of the Bill, after the first, be struck out.

Mr. Bernal

, in opposing the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Baronet, observed, that the right hon. Baronet had founded all his arguments upon the principles of the Reform Bill. The right hon. Baronet had argued, that as there were now forty boroughs with very restricted constituencies, there would be a constituency sufficiently numerous at Hertford if it consisted of 380 voters. He cared very little what the amount of the constituency was under the Reform Bill. In the situation which he had the honour of holding whilst the Reform Bill was under discussion, he had never had an opportunity of declaring his sentiments upon that part of the measure. He regretted much that there were such limited constituencies as the Reform Bill contemplated. It was not a beauty of the Bill, but a great misfortune of it, that it erected 300 electors into a constituency. He should be glad to see it enacted that there should not be a constituency in the country with less than 1,000 persons. He was sorry that there were such small constituencies as those to which the right hon. Baronet had alluded. The right hon. Baronet had said, that there was now a sufficient constituency at Hertford. He disputed the fact, and contended that the Reform Bill contemplated a larger constituency at Hertford than that which would exist upon the plan proposed by the right hon. Baronet. It contemplated a constituency of, at least, 700 persons. Much had been said by the right hon. Baronet about the evils which would arise from joining agricultural districts to a town constituency. He (Mr. Bernal) had great objection to swamping town voters with the population of rural districts; but he could not see how that applied to the present case, inasmuch as the parishes proposed to be annexed to the borough were not of a purely agricultural character. The principal parish was that of Ware, where a very considerable trade was carried on. It contained 989 families, of which only 109 were engaged in agriculture, 310 in manufacture, and the others in retail trades and various kinds of handicraft. It could not, therefore, be called an agricultural district. The same observation applied to the hamlets of Amwell, Hoddesdon, Stapleford, Branfield, &c., all of which were within the circuit of four or five miles of the borough to which they were proposed to be in future attached. Much had been said about measures of punishment, which the right hon. Baronet seemed most seriously to deprecate. He could not very well see what that meant, as applied to the town of Hertford, merely because, to use a word which of late years had assumed great importance, the Committee had recommended that it should be swamped by a new accession of voters from the adjoining parishes. It was proposed, no doubt, to disfranchise the old inhabitant householders, who had been always, with a very few exceptions, open to charges of bribery and corrupt practices; but how it should be construed into a punishment of the borough, that, a new infusion of 300 or 400 honest voters should be admitted, he could not understand. When so much was said of the measure being it punishment, it seemed to him as if the right of voting were held on some private footing, and for a selfish, reserved purpose. The Committee did not propose to take away altogether the franchise from the borough; but, being placed in a dilemma, it had adopted a middle course, to admit a class of 10l. householders, which, from their contiguity to the borough, and their amount in numbers, would in future prevent the recurrence of corrupt practices. The Committee having bestowed their best attention on the subject, their recommendation deserved the consideration of the House; they had acted according to the best of their judgment, in reference to the circumstances of the borough, the amount of population, and the respectability of the different surrounding parishes, and he, for one, felt himself bound conscientiously, on principle, to support the Bill in its present form.

Mr. Tennyson

entreated the Committee to remember that they were addressing themselves to this question solely in their judicial capacity. He did not stand there in the quality of a Reformer, although no one could doubt his sincerity in the cause of Reform, for he challenged any one to say, that he had ever personally flinched from making the greatest sacrifices in its cause; yet, looking at the Report of the Committee and the evidence by which it was accompanied, he was bound to say, that a case had not been made out which justified the Bill to its full extent. He did not think, that any reason had been shown for swamping the borough of Hertford. He objected on principle to the adding of large agricultural districts to the constituency of towns, which were considered by the Constitution as representing the trading interests of the common people. He saw no reason, if the Reform Bill had properly balanced the representation, for adding two additional county members, for such would be the effect of the present Bill, to Hertford. The proposed annexation of the rural districts would add largely to the influence of the landed interest; and it had yet to be shown, that that they would furnish a pure and independent class of voters. No satisfactory ground had been laid for the second clause of the Bill. The constituency, as it would remain if the 10l. householders were disfranchised by the operation of the first clause, would amount to upwards of 500 permanent voters, besides the freemen. There would be a body of 800 respectable voters. He thought, therefore, that all that was necessary to be done would be effected by the first clause, and Hertford would still have a constituency as large as was contemplated by the framers of the Reform Bill. On referring to the returns on the subject it would be seen that more than one borough, even under the constituency given by the Reform Bill, had much less than 300 voters each. He believed that Tavistock and Richmond had much less than that number. He did hot, therefore, think that it would be urged that five hundred and ten was too small a constituency for Hertford. He objected for the reasons he had stated to add a large agricultural district to Hertford. The boroughs, constitutionally speaking, were considered as representing the manufacturing and trading interests, and therefore their constituency should be confined to the inhabitants of towns. If, therefore, the constituency of such places as Hertford were to be sluiced by the admission of large bodies of agricultural voters, it would be only adding to the influence of the aristocracy in that House. He felt strong objections to the Bill as it stood, and therefore he would give his support to the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet.

Mr. Robert Steuart

admitted, that part of the constituency of the borough of Hertford had been guilty of corrupt practices, and he was very willing that the guilty should be punished; but he could not understand upon what principle of justice those against whom no ground or complaint existed should likewise be punished. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet, than the first clause of the Bill would fulfil all the ends of justice, and that all the other parts of it ought to be struck out. He contended, that the addition of several agricultural parishes to the borough of Hertford would create a small county entirely under the control of the landed interest. He believed, that he did not exaggerate when he stated, that the circumference of the borough as proposed in the Bill, would not be less than forty miles. As to the argument, that 500 was too small a constituency for the borough of Hertford, he would only appeal to the fact that several boroughs had at present constituencies of less than three hundred. On referring to the Return, he found that in Tavistock, there were 247 voters; in Chippenham, 258; in Richmond, 278; in Wycombe, 298; and in Totnes, 317. He contended that neither Ware nor Hoddesdon ought to be considered as towns. He admitted that the manufacture of malt was carried on to some extent at them, but that was altogether unconnected with agriculture.

Mr. Bernal

reminded the Committee, that the argument he urged in favour of the Bill was, that some of all classes of voters were mixed up in the corrupt proceedings at Hertford; that even some of the 10l. householders had accepted bribes, and therefore he had thought that the best means of purifying the atmosphere of the place was by pouring in a purer set of voters. He thought, that 500 was too small a number of voters considering what had taken place; he therefore was anxious to increase the constituency to 1,000. He had stated the grounds to the Committee that had induced him to bring the subject forward, and if his arguments did not induce the Committee to support him, he should rest satisfied with having done his duty.

Mr. Ward

would put it to the Committee, whether there was not sufficient from the nature of the evidence to show that corruption prevailed to a great extent among the constituency of Hertford, and to call for the disfranchisement of the old voters. There was also sufficient to show, that if the whole of the voters ought not to be disfranchised, still that, for the purpose of putting an effectual stop to bribery, an infusion of new voters must take place. In addition to the reasons already stated, he found, in the evidence taken before the Committee, several other things that ought not to be forgotten in legislating on that subject. They ought not to forget, the system of intimidation that had pre- vailed in the town, not that the town had been placed under gangs of persons, whom he knew not how to describe, and who had been ostensibly hired as preservers of the peace. The right hon. Baronet had alluded to the increase that was likely to take place in the number of the 10l. householders; but the greater portion of that class of persons in the town of Hertford held their houses on leases of fourteen days; that was, that they were obliged to quit after fourteen days' notice from the landlord. He had merely cited facts which had appeared in evidence, and he called upon hon. Members to take them into consideration before voting. It had been said, that the proposed addition to the borough would place Hertford under the influence of the agricultural interest; but he contended that it was at present as much an agricultural borough as it possibly could be, and that the proposed addition would not affect it in that respect. It had been said, that the new borough would be equal to a small county; now, he believed, at the utmost, it would not be twenty-seven miles in circumference. It was, however, the duty of the House to see that a respectable constituency was created, without looking to the extent of the circle. He was acquainted with the district, and he would venture to assert, that a more respectable constituency could not be formed than would be created under that Bill. He was sure that they would be found to be a most independent body, and would be influenced by no person, however respectable he might be. He did not believe, that the independence of the borough would be secured by restricting the provisions of the Bill to the first clause, and therefore he should vote against the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth.

Sir Henry Hardinge

said, that there were some parts of the statement made by the hon. Gentleman who had just set down which were not borne out by the facts of the case. The hon. Gentleman spoke evidently under a misapprehension with respect to the system of leases, which empowered no landlord to eject his tenant by means of a fourteen days' notice. He represented that system as having been extensively acted upon in this borough; but how stood the fact? Why, that in the whole borough only two 10l. houses were so occupied. One of these houses was tenanted by a widow woman, one of whose sons voted for Lord Ingestre and Mr. Duncombe, and the other for Lord Ingestre and Lord Mahon. So far, then, as these leases were concerned, the hon. Gentleman was clearly incorrect. He fully concurred, that they had no right whatever to indulge in speculative legislation. If such a principle were to be acted upon, no constituency would be safe. He thought it would be a monstrous rule to establish, that if only half-a-dozen electors were proved to have been bribed, the borough should be disfranchised; and all he could say was, that if they laid down such a principle, there was not a borough in the kingdom which would escape. He certainly disapproved of this part of the plan proposed to be adopted, and he maintained, that the practice hitherto had been to punish the party "treating," and not the persons treated. He opposed the Bill, not because some of the electors had been guilty of corruption, but on the ground that it was unjust to punish their delinquencies by an ex-post-facto law. He must also object to the boundaries of this borough being extended beyond the limits prescribed by the Reform Act. It would be unjust to apply a rule to Hertford, that was not to be adopted in the case of every other borough; and, therefore, unless the boundaries of all other boroughs were to be enlarged, as well as those of Hertford, it would be most unfair to disturb the present constituency of that borough. The number of 10l. houses in Hertford prior to the passing of the Reform Bill, was 414. The number now exceeded 500, so that instead of diminishing the constituency, as was the case in other places, the Reform Bill rather gave an accession of voters to this borough. Now, he begged to call the attention of the Committee to the cases of Tavistock and Richmond, the constituencies of both of which places had been diminished by the Reform Bill. The Boundary Commissioners reported, that Tavistock contained 380 10l. houses; but when the Registration took place, it was found that the Reform Bill had reduced that number to 247; and yet the limits of Tavistock were not to be disturbed, although the boundaries of Hertford, with, as he had shown, an increase of nearly 600 10l. houses, were to be enlarged to the extent of nearly one-twelfth of the whole county. The limits now proposed to be assigned to this borough would form a circuit of thirty-three miles round the town of Hertford; but was this either proper or convenient? He thought it was not; and for that reason he was determined to give this part of the Bill every possible opposition. The Committee must recollect the grounds upon which two Members were given to the town of Blackburn under the Reform Bill. The extent of the constituency of that borough was said to entitle it to a double representation. It was returned as containing 626 houses of the annual value of 10l.; but it appeared that the diminution of the registry had been such that Hertford, when left in the condition to which it was raised by the Reform Bill, would have a greater constituency than Blackburn. The borough of Kendal had been returned as containing 682 such tenements as would confer the franchise; but, by the registry, it appeared there were only 357 10l. houses. All these boroughs, however, remained unassailed, while it was contemplated to increase the borough of Hertford to a circuit of at least thirty-five miles, and thus make it constituted of one-twelfth part of the whole county. He contended, that Tavistock, Kendal, and Blackburn, ought to be interfered with, before the House could with justice interfere with or touch the constituency of the borough of Hertford. He must also add, that the Whig borough of Newry, in which a much worse case than the present had been made out, remained unmolested; and feeling it would be a gross injustice to deal with Hertford in the manner proposed, he should oppose the clause now under the consideration of the Committee.

Mr. O'Reilly

said, the borough of Newry had never returned a Whig Member. He contended, that the House was not only sitting judicially, but also in its legislative character, and was justified in legislating for the purity and independence of a borough against which bribery and corruption had been proved and established. As he could not conceive the House would recognize either bribery, or the principle of coercion practised by landlords upon their tenantry to enforce their votes; and, as he believed the Bill before the House would have the effect of protecting tenants against the threats of their landlords, and of saving the electors from the temptation of money bribes, he held, that the House might safely adopt the Bill brought in by the hon. and learned Chairman of the Select Committee by which the case had been investigated. He believed the proposed measure to be calculated to secure the independence of the borough of Hertford, and it should have his support.

Mr. O'Connell

said, that the right hon. and gallant Officer (Sir H. Hardinge) had alluded to the case of the Whig borough of Newry, where, though general evidence of bribery was as distinctly given as possible before the Committee, no further step had been deemed necessary. But surely the right hon. and gallant Officer did not expect, that this House would do justice to Ireland. In the Carrickfergus case, he would say, that it would become as excellent a close borough for a Whig, as could be desired; but most certainly, though Newry had been proved most corrupt in its method of supporting a candidate, in its inquiries as to where the most money was to be got, and in the formation of schemes of bribery, the Select Committee had been content to recommend the prosecution of certain persons who could not easily be come at. He was of opinion, that the rule ought to he general, and that when bribery had been proved against boroughs, the House ought to take care, that such boroughs should be blotted out from the list of those returning Members to serve in Parliament. Such a course would, in his judgment, be forwarding the real principles of Reform. He should vote for the clause as it stood, because it was some satisfaction, that the corruption of Hertford should be punished, if punishment the proposed measure could be called.

Mr. Walter

said, that as a discrepancy in the different decisions to which the two Committees had come, in the cases of Hertford and Newry, had been mentioned, he thought it right to remark, that some uniform practice ought to be adopted in Committees with respect to the proof of agency. Every Gentleman who had served on a Committee, knew how the lawyers always endeavoured to mystify that question. The Hertford Committee came, as he thought, to a right decision upon that point in an early stage of their proceedings; but he should not soon forget the dexterity with which it was repeatedly attempted to keep them out of the whole merits, or rather demerits, of the question. It was probably owing to this cause, that the results had been different in the two Committees.

The Committee divided on the Amendment: Ayes 43; Noes 78—Majority 35.

Clause agreed to, as were the remaining clauses, and the House resumed.

List of the AYES.
Arbuthnot, Hn. Gen. Herries, Right Hon. J. C.
Bankes, W. J.
Bentinck, Lord G. Humphery, J.
Bethell, R. Irton, S.
Blackstone, W. S. Marryat, J.
Campbell, Sir H. P. Meynell, Capt.
Castlereagh, Visct. Moreton, Hon. H.
Corry, Hon. H. L. Nicholl, J.
Ferguson, Capt. Norreys, Lord
Finch, G. Peel, Rt. Hon. Sir R.
Forrester, Hn. G. C. Sandon, Viscount
Forster, C. S. Somerset, Lord G.
Fremantle, Sir T. Stewart, E.
Gaskell, J. M. Stormont, Viscount
Gladstone, W. E. Tennyson, Rt. Hon. Charles
Gordon, Hon. Capt.
Goulburn, Rt. Hn. H. Trevor, Hon. G. R.
Grimston, Viscount Wood, Col.
Guest, J. J. Wynn, Right Hon. C. W. W.
Halcombe, J.
Halford, H. Young, J.
Hardinge, Rt. Hon. Sir H. TELLER.
Hawkes, T. Ross, C.
Henniker, Lord PAIRED OFF.
Herbert, Hon. S. Bruce, Lord Ernest