HC Deb 24 August 1835 vol 30 cc942-6

The House went into Committee on the Registration of Voters' (Ireland) Bill.

Several Clauses were agreed to.

On Clause 49 being proposed, which, as we collected, declares that the right of voting shall vest in 10l. freeholders, having a beneficial interest to that amount in the produce of land,

Lord Clements

proposed, by way of Amendment, that the meaning of the words "beneficial interest" should be more clearly defined by the insertion of words to the effect, that such interest should be a beneficial interest to the value of 10l. issuing out of the land beyond the payment of rent, tithe, and other outgoings.

Mr. Randall Plunkett

thought the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord would not make the matter any better, and he moved that the Clause be expunged from the Bill.

Mr. O'Loghlen

supported the Clause.

Sir William Follett

said, that if this Bill as it stood passed into a law, not merely 10l. occupiers, or 40s. tenants, but every person who held land in Ireland would be entitled to a vote. According to the clause, the question of qualification would rest on the solution of this point—how much the party made by occupying, how much he made by his pigs, his cows, milk, and potatoes. Now the object of the Bill professed to be, that freeholders in Ireland should be bonâ fide the same as freeholders in England, but the clause prevented this. It would produce very nearly universal suffrage in Ireland. In England, a person occupying premises rented at 100l. a-year would probably make from 200l. to 300l. out of them, after paying the rent; but he had no vote as a freeholder, for he had no interest in the land. If, therefore, the Clause was not altered so as to assimilate the right of voting as freeholders in Ireland to the right as it existed in England, he should vote for the amendment of the hon. Member for Drogheda, that the Clause be wholly expunged.

Mr. O'Connell

supported the Clause, and contended that the beneficial interest intended by the Reform Bill was one of 10l. coming in to the tenant out of the land over and above what he paid for it as rent.

Vicsount Morpeth

said, that the justification of the government in proposing this clause, and the object of the Bill was this—merely a declaration what the amount of the beneficial interest arising out of land should be. He had no objection to the amendment of his noble friend (Lord Clements) to define the meaning more strictly:

Some verbal amendments were made in the Clause. On the question that the Clause stand part of the bill,

The Committee divided: Ayes 69; Noes 27; Majority 42.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Admiral Brocklehurst, J.
Attwood, J. Buckingham, J. S.
Baines, E. Callaghan, D.
Baring, F. T. Carter, J. B.
Barry, F. S. Chalmers, P.
Baldwin, Dr. Chichester, J. B. P.
Bish, T. Clements, Lord
Blake, M. J. Crawford, S.
Blamire, W. Crawford, W.
Brotherton, J. Dillwyn, L. W.
Brady, D. C. Divett, E.
Bridgman, H. Dykes, F.
Bowring, Dr. Etwall, R.
Ewart, W. Potter, R.
Ferguson, Sir R. Poulter, J. S.
Fielden, J. Pryme, G.
French, F. Rolfe, Sir R. M.
Hector, J. C. Ronayne, D.
Hindley, C. Russell, Lord J.
Hodges, T. L. Ruthven, E. S.
Hoskins, K. Scholefield, J.
Howard, P. Smith, V.
Lennox, Lord Tancred, H. W.
Lushington, Dr. Thorneley, T.
Lushington, C. Tooke, W.
Lynch, A. H. Villiers, C. P.
Macleod, R. Wallace, R.
Morpeth, Lord Warburton, H.
Mullins, F. W. Walker, C. A.
Murray, Rt. Hon. J. F. Wakley, T.
Nagle, Sir R. Williams, W.
O'Connell, D. Williams, W. A.
Ord, W. Young, G. F.
Parnell, Sir H. TELLER.
Pease, J. O'Loghlen, M.
List of the NOES.
Archdall, M. Maxwell, H.
Bonham, F. R. Perceval, Colonel
Boldero, Captain Powell, Captain
Bruen, Colonel Reid, Sir J. K.
Cole, Hon. A. Sandon, Viscount
Codrington, R. Trevor, Hon. A.
Damer, Hon. Colonel Twiss, H.
Fancourt, Major Vesey, Hon. T.
Follett, Sir W. Vere, Sir C. Bart.
Grimston, Viscount Wood, Colonel
Hamilton, Lord C. Young, J.
Jones, Captain TELLER.
Jackson, J. D. Plunket, Hon. R.
Longfield, R.
Mr. O'Loghlen

proposed a declaratory clause, giving power to adjourn the polling in case of violence.—Agreed to.

Mr. Fitzstephen French

said, he did not mean to press the first amendment of which he had given notice. The second Clause, however, by way of amendment, he felt bound to take the sense of the house upon, because he thought it of essential importance that the practice, as regarded polling places in Ireland, should be assimilated to that which prevailed in England. He had often discussed this subject before, therefore he should not now detain the house upon it; he would only say, that by reference to a Parliamentary Guide, published by Mr. Moss, a book that contained more valuable information on this subject than any he had seen, it would be found from the number of registered voters in the counties, that it would be impossible without increasing the number of polling places, to give all the voters an opportunity of exercising their franchise. The Clause he had to submit was—"And whereas it is fit and expedient that convenient places should be appointed in each county for taking the poll, so that if possible no person shall have more than fifteen miles to travel from the property in respect of which he shall claim to vote. Be it enacted that it shall and may be lawful for the Lord-lieutenant or other chief governor or governors of Ireland for the time being, on or before the 1st day of January-next, after the passing of this act, to divide such county or counties or divisions of the counties as he shall think fit, into convenient districts for polling, not exceeding in number fifteen, and in each district shall be appointed a convenient place for taking the poll at all elections of a knight or knights of the shire to serve in any future Parliament; and such districts and places, when so settled and appointed, shall be notified in the Dublin Gazette, and to the clerk of the peace in each such county, who shall forthwith give notice of such places of polling by public advertisement in some paper published or circulated in such county.

Viscount Morpeth

observed that he felt very well inclined to agree to the principle of the proposed clause, but he was not prepared to sanction its insertion in this Bill. There were a great many experiments introduced by this Act, and he considered it inexpedient to make any further changes which he was not quite sure could be effected with success. He admitted that if he found a great concurrence of opinion on the part of the Irish Members in favour of this clause, he should be disposed to waive his objection to it; but, on the contrary, if he found a great variety of opinions on this subject amongst the representatives of Irish counties and boroughs, and, if anything, a prevailing opinion against the adoption of the clause, he should resist its introduction.

Mr. O'Loghlen

felt great difficulty in agreeing to place the polling in Ireland under the control of a Sheriff's deputy, away from the presence of the Sheriff himself, which this Clause, if carried would do.

Mr. Wyse

considered that by adopting this Amendment the House would only be following out the principle of the Reform Bill. It had been tried in England where it had answered exceedingly well, and he could see no objection to the introduction of the system into Ireland.

The Committee divided on the Amend- ment; Ayes 29; Noes 60; Majority 31.

The Bill went through the Committee.

The House resumed.