§ On the question that the Order of the Day for the House resolving itself into Committee on this Bill,
§ Sir Frederick Trench
rose to direct the attention of the House to certain observations attributed to an hon. Member whom he saw opposite (Mr. Cayley), and which if really uttered by that hon. Member, amounted in his (Sir F. Trench's) estimation, to an abuse of the privilege of speech allowed to all Members of the House within the walls of the House. The observations to which he alluded were made about a week since, and had reference to the borough of Scarborough, of which he (Sir F. Trench) had the honour to be the representative. They were couched in these terms: "Before going into Committee on the Municipal Reform Bill, he (Mr. Cayley) begged to call the attention of his noble Friend below him to the circumstance of the existing Corporations having, since the introduction of this Bill, entered upon the practice of letting out Corporate lands, and other property, on long leases; of course on advantageous terms, and for which, one day or another, they would have an equivalent, at the expense of the interests of their trust. 644 One instance of this kind he had heard of as taking place in his own constituency, namely, the borough of Scarborough, where he understood that they had never been in the habit of leasing out the Corporate property. He had heard this on very good authority; and if it were true, it demanded the immediate interposition of the House, in order to render null and void any bargains of this nature. It appeared to him a gross contempt of the proceedings of this House, and he hoped his noble Friend would not fail to institute a remedy." Now he was prepared to assert that the whole of that statement was utterly and entirely unfounded; and if the hon. Gentleman to whom it was attributed had taken the trouble, which every man who ventured to make such a statement was bound to take of first ascertaining the accuracy of the information upon which his observations were founded, he would have seen.—[The Speaker intimated that the hon. Member was out of order.] He was always ready to bow with deference to the suggestions or decisions of the Chair. He would not say another word on the point to which the Speaker had referred; but in justice to the body which he had the honour of representing, he must beg to be allowed to make a short quotation from the Report of the Corporation Commissioners. Speaking of the Corporation of Scarborough they said "upon an examination of all the circumstances, it appears to us that the transaction was not to be impeached;" and yet, in the face of that declaration on the part of the Commissioners, the hon. Gentleman opposite presumed to make use of language stigmatising a body of honourable men who were as incapable of improperly applying public funds intrusted to their charge as the hon. Gentleman himself. He maintained that no Member of Parliament ought to presume to abuse his privilege of speech in that House in order to throw out utterly unfounded insinuations against individuals. The hon. Gentleman before he brought the subject forward, ought to have read the Report of the Commissioners, and ought to have made inquiries of certain parties before he presumed to pronounce what he (Sir F. Trench) considered a libel in that House. He had thus expressed boldly and freely, he hoped not discourteously, the opinions which he entertained upon the subject. He left it to the hon. Gentleman to refute them if he could.
§ Mr. Cayley
rose and said, he certainly was under some misapprehension when he made 645 the statement to which the hon. Gentleman had referred, for he had since understood, from the best authority, that instead of one case of the kind he had described having taken place, a great many instances of a similar character had occurred.
§ Mr. William Duncombe
thought that hon. Gentlemen should be very careful how they made statements upon the representation of defeated, and consequently, disappointed parties. It appeared to him that his hon. Colleague (Mr. Cayley) ought in common fairness, before he read extracts from a private letter, which for aught the House knew might be anonymous, to explain the grounds on which he made his statement. He thought that his gallant Friend (Sir F. Trench) had expressed only a natural warmth at the manner in which his constituents had been attacked; and from all he had heard upon the subject he very much doubted whether it would be in the power of his hon. Colleague (Mr. Cayley)to prove the charges he had brought forward. At all events the House ought to pause before it lent its attention to such ex parte statements.
§ Mr. Cayley
begged to state that the letter he had received was from an association composed of part of the electors of Scarborough.
§ Mr. William Duncombe
If that association had any think to lay before Parliament it ought to have been in the form of a petition.
§ Order of the Day read.
§ Lord John Russell
said, that in moving that the Bill be then recommitted, it was not his intention to go into any of the details of it. All that he wished to state was, that the recommittal of the Bill would afford a more convenient opportunity of introducing the Amendments of which notice had been given, than could possibly occur in the bringing up of the Report. He trusted, therefore, that those hon. Gentlemen who had given notice of Motions on the bringing up the Report would bring them forward in Committee; or, if not prepared to take that course, would allow the Report to be received and bring them forward on the third reading. Upon that understanding he would move that the Bill be recommitted.
The House resolved itself into a Committee.
In the 6th Clause, which enacts that occupiers of houses and shops rated for three years to the relief of the poor shall be entitled to be enrolled as burgesses, if resident householders within seven miles; 646 but to which this proviso is attached, "provided that no person shall be so enrolled in any year who, within twelve calendar months next before the said last day of August, shall have received parochial relief or other alms, or other pension or charitable allowance from any fund intrusted to the charitable trustees of such borough."
§ Mr. Hughes
proposed to insert certain words to prevent the extension of the disqualification to persons who might have received money from charitable funds by way of loan. It was not just that persons who might receive assistance in that way should be regarded as paupers.
§ The Attorney-General
did not think the insertion of the words proposed by the hon. Member at all necessary, because, as the Clause then stood, a loan of money would not be considered in the nature of a charitable allowance.
§ Amendment negatived without a division and Clause agreed to.
§ Mr. Borthwick
said he had been anticipated by the hon. Member for Oxford; for it had been his intention to move an Amendment on the 6th Clause. ["Go on, go on!"] He begged to move then, that from line one in Clause 6 the word "male" be omitted. The House would see that his object was to qualify the ladies to vote for members of the Town Council. In Bath for instance, ladies who were householders had the right of voting in vestry. The Commissioners who appointed the police were nominated by the vestry. The Clause, therefore, as it now stood, would deprive those ladies of the right they had hitherto exercised. He hoped the noble Lord would, as a point of gallantry, agree to the Amendment.
§ The Committee divided on the Amendment, Ayes 69; Noes 135; Majority 66.
§ On the 11th Clause, which provides that no new burgesses be admitted, who are not qualified under this Act,
§ Mr. Praed
rose, to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice, relative to the continuance to the present freemen of their Parliamentary rights. Since the last occasion on which he had brought forward this Question, he had thought that it would be highly desirable to divest the Question of the difficulties arising from the technical manner in which he proposed to carry the principle into practice, and to lay before the House, in order that they might come to a direct vote upon the subject, the broad and important 647 proposition, whether or not they would diminish the constituency of the country, and take away from any body of individuals those rights which all had conceived to he granted and secured to them by the result of the discussions on the Reform Act. When in the Committee upon this Bill he found that the Amendment he proposed was so strongly objected to, on the score of technical difficulties, he regretted that he had inserted in his Amendment anything beyond the simple principle he had just referred to; and he now trusted that, if the manner in which he proposed to obviate the difficulties which had been started should appear inconvenient or ineffectual, such a circumstance would not weigh with any hon. Member whose opinion it was that the rights which by the Reform Bill were granted to certain bodies should be continued to them, notwithstanding this alteration in Municipal Corporations, and that it was not desirable to diminish the constituency of the country, or, at all events, if it were desirable to diminish the constituency, that it was not desirable to strike off from that constituency the whole of the poorer classes. The noble Lord on the opposite bench had, indeed told them, that although he had agreed to leave these rights untouched by the Reform Act, yet he by no means pledged himself to make no alteration of such rights or privileges in consequence of a change in the constitution of Municipal Corporations; but the argument on which hon. Gentlemen on his (Mr. Praed's) side of the House rested their case was, that, by the Reform Act, a right of voting for Members was given to the freemen and their successors in Corporate towns, and that it was neither just nor expedient to take away that right, and thus indirectly to set aside a most important principle. If it should be said, "Oh, but this is only a personal right," his reply was, "You cannot defend such an abstraction of the right of these freemen, because that right is founded upon the principle freely admitted during the discussions on the Reform Act, viz., that rights of this nature should be preserved in perpetuity, and that it was desirable not to confine the Parliamentary suffrage to one class of voters, but to extend it to different classes—to the 10l. householders—to others as a personal right—and to certain persons who were taken from ranks poorer than those which the Reform Act contemplated as fit to exercise the right of voting. It was now proposed not merely to meddle 648 with any provision of the Reform Act in letter, but altogether to change a very prominent principle of that Act. There was now, however, a very urgent call among the people, for an extension of the Parliamentary constituency, and for taking the qualification at a much lower amount. And in such a time, he asked, would they, in a Bill having no reference whatever to the constituency of the country, instead of extending, insert a provision to diminish that constituency, and, instead of taking a lower qualification, insert a provision which, in point of fact established a qualification much higher than that laid down by the Reform Act? If they did that, who would be hardy enough to deny that the Reform Act in its practical operation would be materially affected, and who would not remember that by all his Majesty's Ministers, in various discussions, such a result had been most earnestly deprecated? He called upon the noble Lord fairly and openly to inform the House, for what reason he wanted them to make so important a change in the constituency of the country. In the preamble there was a general accusation, but he submitted that it was not fair nor becoming the Legislature to throw out against the freemen and their morality vague and general charges, unsupported by any evidence whatever. Was it just to make charges in such a manner that the freemen were not called upon to defend their character, but only to protect and preserve their rights? In the first place, they were told, that there were difficulties of machinery which rendered it inexpedient to preserve these rights. What were these difficulties? Why, it was urged that there was to be only one burgess roll for all municipal purposes, and that if these rights were continued there would then be this insuperable difficulty—there must be another burgess roll. But, really, was the practical difficulty so great as represented—was it really impossible to vest the registration of these rights in the same hands in which by the Reform Bill it was vested? In a matter of such expediency, and such indisputable justice, was the difficulty so enormous that the great legal capacity which the Government had on the Treasury bench was incapable of grappling with it. But, in point of fact, were there not at present two burgess rolls? His proposal was that they should give to the Mayor, the Town Clerk, and the Council of the Corporations, to be established by this Bill, the power of doing that which might be 649 done at present by the Mayor of a Corporation with a view to the continuance or bestowal of the right of voting for Members of Parliament to which individuals were already entitled as burgesses, or to which they would, under the provisions of the Reform Act, become entitled on being qualified and enrolled as burgesses. But, passing over all technical difficulties, he now laid before the House the simple proposition, whether the freemen and their successors in perpetuity should be disfranchised merely because some freemen had abused that privilege, and because one of his Majesty's legal advisers had thought fit to assert, that the freemen had been the curse of the Constitution? This was high and learned authority; but upon that alone would the House determine to take from so numerous a body of individuals a privilege so prized and so important? Certainly it would have been more becoming on the part of his Majesty's Attorney-General if he had been equally bold to make such an assertion in that House when the noble Lord in whose hands the Reform Bill was placed, stated his intention to perpetuate the rights of these freemen. It would have been more satisfactory to the country, if that high authority had then stood up and proclaimed, that to perpetuate the rights of such men was to perpetuate the rights of those who had been a curse to their country. But as the hon. and learned Gentleman did not then make that declaration, he should call upon him to bring forward the new grounds, and the facts recently brought under his notice, which induced him to call for the disfranchisement of those whose rights had been preserved by the Reform Act. He (Mr. Praed) was not aware of any new case, except that of the borough of Stafford. In the Report of the Committee upon the Stafford election he found some comparison between the relative purity of the class of voters established by the Reform Bill and that class which the Reform Bill did not establish—he meant the 10l. householders, and the old freemen. The latter class, it should be recollected, was lower in point of qualification, and, therefore, more open to corruption, than the 10l. householders. Now, what were the facts which the Committee who investigated the circumstances attending the Stafford election presented to the consideration of the House? Why, that out of 1,049 voters, 852 were paid. Out of the 1,049 voters, there were only 166 burgesses, all the others being 10l. 650 householders; and out of these 166 burgesses, 109 were paid, forty-two were no paid, and fifteen did not vote at all. The constituency thus exhibited in the comparison with the freemen was the creation of the Reform Act, and the election at which they thus early displayed their facility of corruption was the very first which took place after the passing of that Act. This was the only new case which had happened since the Reform Act was passed, and it must be admitted that the comparison between the householders and the freemen was by no means advantageous for the former. Where, then, must they collect the facts to justify the disqualification of the freemen? The learned Attorney-General might still refer to the case of Stafford, but if he did he hoped the memorable answer of his own agent would not slip from his memory. "Are there, in your opinion, 200 voters free from any suspicion of corruption?" was the question; and the ready answer of the hon. and learned Gentleman's agent was, "There may be, but it would be difficult to pick them out. I judge in this way: 556 voters polled for us, and I paid 551." The Attorney-General might, indeed, argue upon this, that his voters were all pure and honourable men, and then add, as a demonstrative proof, that they were paid 31. a head. But, after such a case, was it not a mockery to make a preference of the 10l. householders to the freemen? The householders might not be as poor, and therefore not so directly exposed to temptation as the freemen, but still they might be as corrupt, having self-interested motives, although of a different kind, and requiring bribes, although of a much larger amount. There was one observation, in regard to the difference between the two qualifications, which in his opinion was well entitled to attention. They had Committees then sitting to consider the best means of preventing bribery and intimidation at elections, and he thought they might take into consideration that, while both householders and freemen were exposed to bribery, they were not equally exposed to intimidation. The householder, if he displeased his landlord, might be turned out of his House and thereby be deprived of his vote, while the freeman, if he displeased his employer, might certainly be deprived of his employment, but could not be deprived of his vote, which attached to his person. Therefore the householder was not safe either against intimidation or bribery, whilst the 651 freemen, though exposed to the latter, was secure against the former. With regard to the operation of this unjust disqualification, he would rest that part of the question on the effect it would have upon the constituency of London. There were many individuals who in a year's time would he qualified to exercise the privilege of voting, and by this Bill they would have snatched from them the right to which they might be anxiously looking forward. There were many persons whose rights were not only inchoate but complete—persons who had served the appointed time, and were waiting only to be formally enrolled. Look at the mariners engaged in the India and South American trade, and in the South-Sea fisheries. Was it just to men who had thus served out their time, and from whom the Common-law could not withhold the right, to deprive them of that right because they happened not to be enrolled before a certain period? This was a fair illustration of the cases of hardship which this disqualifying provision would cause. But he would put the question on far higher grounds—on the injury to the constituency of the country, and the dissatisfaction of the public. There was a strong and growing feeling among the poorer classes that their rights were not by the Legislature properly attended to. For himself, he was sure that the House did not intentionally neglect their interests, nor could it be fairly accused of any want of feeling for the humbler ranks of society; but he was also sure that many things were done by that House which to the lower classes appeared, as against them, harsh and unjust. Such being their feeling, was it desirable to pass a sweeping enactment which deprived the poorer classes of the important privilege now vested in them? These were the considerations on which he called upon the House to vote for a principle which was founded upon manifest justice and obvious expediency. The hon. Member concluded by moving the insertion of the following proviso:—"Provided always, and be it enacted, that in every borough, whether the same be a county of itself or not, where the right to vote in the election of Members or a Member to serve in Parliament for such borough is, according to the laws now in force, enjoyed by persons entitled to vote in virtue of some Corporate right, nothing whatsoever in this Act contained, shall in anywise hinder or prevent any person or persons who now enjoy, or who hereafter, according 652 to the laws now in force, might have acquired such Corporate right, from enjoying or acquiring such Corporate right for the purpose of voting in such elections."
supported the Motion. He could shew by the speeches of Earl Grey and Lord Althorp that it was intended by them to preserve in perpetuity the Parliamentary rights of the then freemen and their successors. He must allude to the grants of enormous Ecclesiastical property, which in the reign of Henry the 8th were made to the family of the noble Lord opposite. When he looked to those grants, and recollected that, by them, men originally of obscure and a humble walk in life had risen to the highest stations in the State, when he knew that to those grants the noble Lord himself was chiefly indebted for his present commanding station, and when he looked to those grants which had originally been made to humble individuals and which were now possessed by individuals as humble—he meant the grants of freedom and the concomitant privileges—he could hardly bring himself to credit that a member of a family raised to wealth and eminence by the robbery of Ecclesiastical property could dare to propose the abolition of grants possessed by his less fortunate fellow-subjects, and originally given for meritorious acts of service. Reasonable, indeed, would be the upbraidings of the rich by the poor if the poor man was thus to be robbed of his little grant by the rich man, who held his own grant in safety from all invasion, however less entitled to protection. He felt it his bounden duty to support the Amendment.
§ Mr. Robinson
said, the question appeared to him to be this—whether or not, for the purpose of improving the Municipal Corporations of the country, it was necessary to deprive of the Parliamentary franchise men in whom it was continued by the Reform Act} Such was the question, but he begged to ask the noble Lord how it was, that in a Committee upon the Municipal Corporations Bill they were discussing the provisions of the Reform Act? What had the present Bill to do with the Parliamentary franchise. On Motions for the vote by Ballot and Triennial Parliaments Ministers had invariably said, "We can agree to no new proposition, for this reason—the Reform Act was final." And yet the noble Lord advocated so extensive an alteration of the Reform Act as was contained in this Municipal Bill. In supporting the interests of the freemen he had no personal 653 interest to serve, the freemen in his town being uncorrupted, and having, without either bribe or intimidation, supported or opposed him. He was ready to grant that there was a class of freemen under the old system who were accessible to corruption; but as that could not be the case under the new system, when the voter was obliged to exercise his franchise under the eyes of his fellow-townsmen, he submitted that the proposition of the noble Lord's Bill was an unjust one. For his part he could not see any necessity for depriving the freemen of the Parliamentary franchise, and he called upon his Majesty's Attorney-General, upon the noble Lord, and upon every Member of the King's Government to explain to the House what it was that had caused the change which had taken place in their opinions in this respect since the passing of the Reform Act. In 1832, the hon. and learned Gentleman, the noble Lord, and several other hon. Members opposite, who at that time held office under the Crown, were in favour of retaining the Parliamentary franchise, so far, at least, as the rights of freemen were concerned; and what was it, he should like to know, that had caused so extraordinary a change in their sentiments. Was it that they found it convenient at that time to make a compromise to facilitate the passing of the Reform Bill, which they intended to depart from the instant, he might almost say, that measure had become a law? He should like to know whether the noble Lord would now say, that the taking away a right, which he had not only guaranteed, but induced parties to believe was to be permanently secured to them, was either consistent, fitting, becoming, or even decent? How could the noble Lord defend anything so apparently destitute of all honesty as the conduct of the Government in the present instance seemed to be? They concealed their real intentions while they had an object to gain, but the moment they had got all they wanted, what did they do?—why, they turned round upon those who confided in them, and sought to take from freemen rights which they assured them should be protected and continued. Now, he must say, that he hoped, for the sake of public consistency, for the sake of the character of that House, for the sake of those men who had been thus deluded, that the Committee would deal as tenderly with the privileges of the poor as they would do where the rights of the superior classes were concerned. As to himself, he must say, that 654 the propositition of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Yarmouth should have his hearty support.
§ Lord John Russell
would not enter at length into the subject of the Amendment, having on a former occasion stated his reasons for refusing his assent to the proposition. He would state drily and simply what he took to be the natural consequences of the plan, without any attempt at that kind of beautiful declamation and pretended sympathy for the rights of the poor which had been tonight poured forth with a degree of gratuitous kindness as singular as it was unnecessary. Those who thought that the poor did not possess sufficient influence in the election of Members of that House, should support the Motion of the hon. Member for Southwark (of which he was far from approving) for household suffrage, because then, with all the advantages of conferring the franchise upon the humbler classes, we should not have the constituencies so liable to bribery and corruption as when the right of voting was given to small and separate bodies of the poor. The hon. Member for Worcester asked "Why interfere with the Parliamentary franchise in a Bill for Corporate Reform? His answer was, that they did not interfere with it by any such provision as the hon. Member supposed. Ministers brought in a Bill to establish good Municipal Government, and with that view, instead of the rights of freedom now arising out of birth, apprenticeship, &c, they proposed to establish a new and different right, in consequence of which, after a certain time, freemen, according to the old system, would no longer exist, and there would be no persons so qualified to exercise the privilege which those freemen had enjoyed. There were three modes of adjusting the question—first, (that which had been adopted), by saying there should be one right of voting for corporate bodies under the present Bill, and another and a different right in conformity with another act, by which persons were qualified to vote for Members of Parliament. By adopting this method, we established a good body of electors for corporate purposes, and also obtained a good body of voters for Members of Parliament. There was another mode of proceeding on the principle, that the new burgesses created by the present Bill should also have a right of voting in elections of Members of Parliament concurrently with the 10l. householders. He did not deny that this would be a logical and 655 consistent proposition, and his only way of meeting it would be by declaring that he did not think it would be advisable, as a matter of policy and expediency, to give the right of electing Members of Parliament to the new burgesses, which would be to merge the 10l. franchise in that right. Then came the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Great Yarmouth, which was at variance with all notions of policy and simplicity. The hon. and learned Gentleman did not say that the new burgesses should elect Members of Parliament concurrently with the 10l. householders; but he said that he would create and perpetuate a third body, singularly constructed and most anomalously retained, which in its nature and functions should be partly Municipal and partly Parliamentary, its Members not being persons in whose hands alone we could think it right to place the Parliamentary franchise, and whom by the present Bill we considered it necessary to deprive of the corporate franchise. These men were to enjoy corporate rights—why? In order that they might vote for Members of Parliament. Nothing could be more anomalous than this proposition—nothing more inconsistent with general right and the principles of constitutional law; but supposing the objection arising out of the anomalous nature of the proposition abandoned, the question arose—was there any thing so peculiar in the nature of those bodies of freemen, or in the rights which they possessed, as to induce the House to retain and perpetuate them? He knew of nothing of the kind. If this had been simply a question of altering the constituency fixed by the Reform Bill, though he thought the freemen as a body more liable to corruption than other classes of voters, he would have been for retaining them; but now that they were constructing a new corporate right, with a view to the better Government of towns, it was necessary to remodel the body. He supported the Clause as it stood, which enacted nothing as respected elections of Members of Parliament, and he must vote against any special provision on that subject, as being exceedingly unadvisable in the present Bill, and wholly unjustified by the dictates of public policy and expediency.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, that the noble Lord having commenced his speech by promising to argue the question, not only briefly, but drily, he thought the noble Lord meant not to draw upon his imagination, but to adhere to facts. However, 656 when he found the noble Lord asserting that this measure did not alter the Reform let, and that it had nothing to do with he election of Members of Parliament, he thought the noble Lord was not proceeding quite so drily as he promised, but that he had drawn largely upon his fancy, and been guilty of as great a sophism as was ever committed. What he complained of was, that the noble Lord did not undertake to alter the Reform Act explicitly and avowedly, as, if he believed it to require alteration, he ought to have done, but the noble Lord proceeded indirectly to effect his purpose. If the noble Lord believed that bribery existed generally among the lower class of freemen, and could support his opinion by proof, let him come forward, and on that ground manfully and avowedly deprive the freemen of their right of voting for members of Parliament. But the noble Lord did not take that course, though in the course which he pursued he covertly interfered with the provisions of an act which the country had been taught by the noble Lord himself to consider a final settlement. The noble Lord admitted that he did make use of that expression when he consented to "perpetuate" the rights of the freemen, a phrase which dropped from the noble Lord in the unsuspecting candour of his nature. A fine notion of perpetuity! Since this final measure a period of three years had elapsed, and now the noble Lord came forward to destroy the right which he admitted he intended to perpetuate. Just see in what manner the right of freemen to vote for Members of Parliament was finally confirmed by the Reform Bill. But first, in reference to the statement that this was a compromise, a step of submission taken to induce the Lords to agree to the measure, and one which therefore ought not to be persisted in; he must say that this was a bad, not to say dishonest, argument. If the House of Commons did procure the consent of the other House of Parliament to the Reform Bill by preserving the rights of freemen, to recede from that stipulation was not the way to procure the consent of the Lords a second time within three years. He knew that there was nothing in the Reform Act to fetter the Legislature, but he contended that it was the duty of the Government, if they ultimately intended to alter the right of voting possessed by freemen, to avow that they did not mean to "perpetuate" that privilege, but to propose an alteration in it on introducing 657 a bill for the regulation of Municipal Corporations. "You did not take this course—you left the House of Lords, the country, and the entire body of freemen, under the impression that this was an acknowledgement and perpetuation of their right, which had received a new sanction and greater force from that Reform Act of which you boasted as the second charter of our liberties." What were the expressions posted up in every village—"The Reform Bill, the whole bill, and nothing but the bill." How was this announcement adhered to? He had always prophesied at the moment when his friends professed their desire to accept the Reform Bill as our constitutional charter, and not only to accept, but abide by it, that any proposal for its modification was much more likely to come from the authors of the measure than from its opponents; and that the first provision to be modified would be one supposed peculiarly to affect the interests of the party in power. Look at the progress of the Reform Bill and its enactments as they regarded the privileges of the freemen. At first, the only right protected was that of freemen having an existing right to vote in elections of Members of Parliament at the passing of the Bill. The Bill, as amended, provided that the children of freemen living at that period, and apprentices who were then bound, should acquire and retain the right of voting during their lives. See how the bill went on, without any hostile attack on the original Clause, improving in this respect, as if by the growing goodwill of the Government towards the freemen, first admitting existing rights, and then including in its provisions inchoate rights. This was not all; the Bill was further altered in committee, the noble Lord exhibiting that degree of deference to the fair sex in the alteration which he feared both the noble Lord and himself might be charged with neglecting in consequence of their vote of tonight. In the third edition of the Reform Bill of 1831 the noble Lord gave the franchise to persons who might marry the widows or daughters of freemen. The Bill, thus amended, was sent up to the Lords by whom it was rejected on the second reading. A new Reform Bill was introduced by the noble Lord on the 12th of December, 1831, the first having been rejected in the House of Peers, as he before said, on the second reading, on the general principle, and not with any special reference to its mode of dealing with the rights of freemen. A clause was volunta- 658 rily introduced in the new Bill on which the noble Lord congratulated himself exceedingly. By this Clause the rights of freemen were preserved in perpetuity, subject to one or two exceptions, such as that no honorary freeman should have the right of voting, &c. The words of the Clause were as follow:—"That every person who would have been entitled to vote in the election of a Member or Members to serve in any future Parliament for any city or borough not included in the schedule marked (A) to this act annexed, either as a burgess or freeman, or in the city of London as a freeman and liveryman, if this Act had not been passed, shall be entitled to vote in such election, provided such person shall be duly registered according to the provisions hereinafter contained. Provided always, that no person who shall have been elected, made, or admitted a burgess or freeman since the 1st day of March, 1831, otherwise than in respect of birth or servitude, or who shall hereafter be elected, made, or admitted a burgess or freeman, otherwise than in respect of birth or servitude, shall be entitled to vote as such in any such election for any city or borough as aforesaid, or to be so registered as aforesaid; provided also, that no person shall be so entitled as a burgess or freeman in respect of birth unless his right be originally derived from or through some person who was a burgess or freeman, or entitled to be admitted a burgess or freeman, previously to the 1st day of March in the year 1831, or from or through some person who since that time shall have become or shall hereafter become a burgess or freeman in respect of servitude." Did not the whole of this proceeding—the gradual admission and extension of the privileges of freemen—nay, the very exceptions and exclusions adopted, give an appearance of finality and permanence to the measure? If the arrangement had been merely temporary, why did the noble Lord except honorary freemen, or those who might acquire a right of freedom subsequently to March 1st, 1831? Did not those exceptions show that the noble Lord intended the Bill to be a final measure, and that by connecting the right of voting with residence and registration he had taken security against bribery and corruption among non-resident freemen, who were thought most liable to suspicion, and who, having no local interest in boroughs where they did not live, made elections a sort of holyday, or prolonged 659 Saturnalia—a practice leading to indefinite expense, which it was thought right to limit? Did not the fact of these exceptions and securities, he asked, prove that the arrangement finally proposed by the noble Lord was not meant as a temporary or provisional arrangement. These rights being so confirmed to the freeman by the Reform Act, it did tend to destroy all confidence in that "final settlement" when the House found the noble Lord proceeding, not by a direct and open attack but by sap and mine, to assail and take away privileges which had existed by long prescription, and which were confirmed by the recent enactment of 1831. It shook his confidence in the permanency of our second charter when within three years, he saw so important a branch as this lopped off under the pretence of Municipal Reform. The noble Lord talked of hearing eloquent declamations and great pretensions of false sympathy for the rights of the poor on the Opposition side of the House. For his part he pretended to no false sympathy for the poor, and did not mean to offer any declamation in favour of extending the franchise to the humbler classes, for if it were proposed to enlarge the right of voting for Members of Parliament by taking in the municipal voters created under this Bill, he would oppose it. But let the noble Lord recollect that the House was not now inquiring on theoretical and speculative principles, as to what might constitute a good right of voting, but it was dealing with a franchise which it found existing by long prescription, and solemnly confirmed by the noble Lord's final measure and conclusive settlement of the Reform Act. If therefore he now attempted to continue that right, it did not arise from any desire to indulge in vain declamations about the privileges of the poor but from a wish to maintain that good faith which he thought pledged to the "perpetuation" of the franchise. If the House proceeded against the freemen on the ground of bribery and corruption, in justice to those men it ought first to establish the existence of corruption before attempting to punish them. It was not fair, on a general and vague presumption of bad repute, to destroy their rights. He admitted cases had been proved of freemen abusing their franchise and taking bribes, but if the argument built on that ground were good for destroying the rights of freemen, it was also good for destroying elective rights much more extensively. The case of 660 Stafford had been referred to, and if in that or any other instance it Was proved that the practice of bribery was inveterate, and the voters irreclaimable, he would be willing to punish them. But were no other parties liable to the charge of corruption except the freemen? Was it not notorious that the 10l. householders of the borough of Stafford were subject to the imputation of bribery? He could add another case in which proof of bribery was clearly brought home to the electors. He referred to the election at Liverpool in 1830. It might be said that in this case it was the freemen of Liverpool who were bribed. They were—but was the bribery confined to freemen who were not also 10l. householders? and who bribed them? Here was the evidence of Mr. W. Miers, a merchant of Liverpool, who acted as president on Mr. Ewart's side, assisted by Mr. Thornely and Mr. Harvey. That gentleman stated, that he paid away large sums in bank-notes to voters—of what class?—poor freemen? no; but persons in respectable situations in life. The witness gave the names and occupations of some of those parties. 50l. was the highest price paid for a vote—it was given to a retired brewer. A captain of militia received 30l. or 35l., witness was not sure which, but he recollected giving this voter a certain sum, and that, discontented with the amount, the captain returned and obliged him to give 10l. more. Three brothers, named Howard, "very respectable men," got 101. a-piece. A ship-carpenter, with whom the witness frequently had dealings, and who was also "a respectable man," got 12l., but he came early in the day. He was worth 8,000l. or 10,000l.—"a very respectable gentleman." When asked whether the higher or lower class of voters received most in bribes, the witness replied that he thought the middling class got the most, because they kept off. Witness could not specify the total expense of the contest of 1830; he did not know what other individuals might have paid, he could only say what he had disbursed himself, and he thought that about 34,000l. had passed through his hands. Now, he (Sir R. Peel) dared to say, that in the distribution of this 34,000l. the lower class of voters did participate, but it was equally clear that the higher class, 10l. householders and persons occupying premises of considerably greater value, did also share in the bribery, and their crime was infinitely greater. Such cases as those of the man of substance who accepted 12l. and the cap- 661 tain who came back for an additional 10l. were of a much more aggravated nature than any corruption among the humbler voters. He had a right to say, without any attempt at eloquent declamation, that poverty was not in itself a conclusive proof of a disposition to be bribed, and therefore that you ought not to act on a general assumption of the guilt of the humbler class of voters, but should have proofs of corruption before you inflicted upon them such a penalty as the present. One word as to the general principle: he said at once and explicitly, that he was averse to extending the elective franchise, on the ground stated on the other side of the house, because to introduce constant changes in the franchise and mode of electing members of Parliament, was to unsettle the minds of the people for no good end. On that ground Lord Althorp refused to vote for the ballot when the question was brought forward by the hon, Member for London. The noble Lord said he had been a party to what he considered a great constitutional settlement, which had not as yet been sufficiently tried, and that on that ground, although his opinion was in favour of the ballot, and had been so expressed, he felt bound to reject the proposition, because the Reform Bill had not received a fair trial. If that was a good argument against the introduction of the ballot, how much more strongly could it be urged against any alteration in the elective franchise. Now a word as to the general policy of the measure. He would not consent to make the electoral franchise co-extensive with the burgess franchise; but finding the electoral franchise of freemen in existence, he would maintain it because, for one reason, he thought it an advantage not to have one uniform dead level of franchise prevailing throughout the country. He would not extend the electoral franchise of freemen beyond its present limits; indeed, he would willingly admit that he did not think the franchise good in itself, or that, arguing à priori, he would propose to establish it for the first time; but finding it established and confirmed under the Reform Act, he would not consent to abolish it. Nor did he hesitate to avow, notwithstanding the taunts which the noble Lord had thought it becoming to indulge in, that he was not sorry to see some modified connexion between the working classes and the constitution of the House of Commons. He was not sorry to see those who did not happen 662 to be householders possess to a certain extent a voice in the choice of representatives. He was not indisposed to think that the right of voting acquired by persons who served an apprenticeship of seven years was equally entitled to protection with that which a man acquired by living three years in a town and paying the burgh rates. As if, however, to aggravate the disappointment and mortification of the freemen, the old franchise was destroyed by the same Act which created the new one. The noble Lord was not content with the 10l. franchise in this new Act. He assumed that that qualification was not necessary for the exercise of the municipal franchise. Under the provisions of the Bill a person who had no connexion with a borough, whose rates might be paid by his landlord, who might live in a different part of the country, was assumed to have such an interest in the municipal government of the town as entitled him to vote for Members of the Council, whilst it was held that a person who had acquired his freedom by servitude could have no such interest. It appeared to him that a servitude for the period of seven years was as good a test of character as a residence of three years in a town, and as the capital of a man in that condition of life consisted not in money, but in acquired skill, it supplied also, he thought, as good a test of solvency as the payment of rates for three years. He disregarded the anomaly of having the Parliamentary franchise different from the corporate franchise; but at all events, the noble Lord was not entitled to urge that as a reason for passing the present Clause, because he himself had created it. On the grounds which he had stated, wishing to preserve the existing modified connexion between the working classes and that House, being at the same time prepared to punish the freemen if a case of guilt could be established against them; but above all, because Parliament and the country bad been taught to believe that the Reform Bill was a final settlement of a great constitutional question, he could not consent to make the important alteration which the noble Lord proposed, and therefore he would give his vote against the mutilation of the Reform Act.
Captain Grantley Berkely
felt it would be presumptuous in him to detain the House after the eloquent address of the right hon. Baronet; but as he had been alluded to he would take the liberty of saying a few words in favour of those by whom he was 663 returned. Until some case had been made out against them he did not think it fair to deprive the freemen of a right which they had so long enjoyed, and which had been so recently confirmed to them by the Reform Act. Expediency had been made the argument; but in the Irish Church Bill, though the same principle of expediency was acknowledged, they only proceeded to the extent of equalising the duties to be performed. Now, they had no more right on the plea of expediency to meddle with the rights of freemen than they had to interfere with those of the clergy. It was made a matter of complaint that freemen were easily bribed, and that they were instruments in the hands of corporate bodies for political purposes. Now, it was not the poor freemen but the gentry of the surrounding districts who were available as political partisans. For himself he was consistent in his conduct as regarded both Bills, for in the discussion on both he had advocated the rights of freemen, and he had since seen no reason to alter his opinions.
§ Mr. Arthur Trevor
then rose amidst loud cries of "Question," frequently repeated. The hon. Gentleman assured the House that he was not to be put down by clamour, and proceeded to say, that he could not congratulate the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) on his answer to the able speech of the hon. Member for Yarmouth. It would go forth to the country that the reason for declaring the preservation of the rights of freemen in perpetuity by the Reform Bill was for the purpose of facilitating the passing of that Bill in another place. This certainly could not be looked upon as a fair and statesmanlike reason for such a proceeding. The Attorney-General said that the freemen were three-fourths of their time in gaol. There was a period when the hon. and learned Gentleman would have hesitated before he made such an assertion on the hustings at Stafford. He appealed to his gallant Friend below him, to whom he had succeeded in the representation of Durham, to say whether he had not found the freemen of that place steady and true to principle, and whether he had ever given them a bribe? If, as the Attorney-General had said, the freemen were three-fourths of their time in gaol, were they the instruments which a Government should make use of to obtain a political object? And when that object was effected, was it fair to endeavour to get rid of the instrument—not by open, constitutional, and statesmanlike means, 664 but by a side wind, disgraceful to a British Minister? He knew enough of public men not to be much surprised at their proceedings, but he confessed he was not prepared to find a Government professing to defend the civil rights of the community proceeding with a measure more arbitrary, more unjust, and more uncalled for than any other in Parliamentary annals. Why not, as the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth suggested—why not, if they deemed the Reform Bill defective, openly and fairly propose a measure of amendment, and not thus come in with a side wind at once unstatesmanlike and unmanly. How could a Government which proceeded thus hope to conciliate the good opinion of the country? If the public sanctioned this gross breach of faith, England must be much altered.
§ Mr. Poulett Thomson
said, that since the question was last debated he had heard no new arguments adduced against the proposition contained in the Resolution before the Committee, for although the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had that night come into the field he must own that there was nothing in his speech. The right hon. Baronet had accused his noble Friend the Member for Stroud, with having dealt in sophistry; but the right hon. Baronet himself had, in his (Mr. Thomson's) opinion, proved himself a master of that art. The right hon. Baronet had carefully abstained from touching upon the real merits of the case, In the course of his speech the right hon. Baronet dwelt much upon what he considered to be the sanction which the Reform Act gave to the rights of the freemen; but upon that point it was unnecessary for him to interfere with the right hon. Baronet. He said it was unnecessary to do so, because if he were to concede the right hon. Baronet's argument to the full extent, upon that point it did not touch the case. The right hon. Baronet consumed a considerable portion of time in discussing the question whether freemen had exercised their privileges honourably or otherwise—whether or not they had been exposed to open corruption. In his view of the case, even if he were inclined to concur in the right hon. Baronet's opinion in that respect, it would not bear upon the point under consideration. Upon both the points, however, to which he had adverted, he differed from the right hon. Baronet. He thought that Parliament was at liberty to remedy defects in the Reform Act. He thought it was at 665 liberty to impose penalties where penalties were required. But he denied that the Clause imposed any penalty. The case stood upon other grounds altogether, and if the right hon. Baronet were right upon those points, that would have nothing to do with the real merits of the case. The right hon. Baronet touched but lightly upon what he called the general policy of the proposition, and said in effect that the Government was depriving the freemen of their rights by a side wind. He would tell the right hon. Baronet that if the Amendment were carried, it would establish a new right of voting, and one hitherto unknown. Freemen had hitherto voted under their corporate rights; they enjoyed the elective franchise in common with all other corporate rights. The Bill before the Committee proposed to destroy existing corporate rights and to create new ones in their place, and the right hon. Baronet's proposition was this, that the persons who by the Bill were declared to be unfit to vote for Common-councillors should have the privilege of voting for Members of Parliament, which was left to them by the Reform Act, in consequence of their being possessed of corporate rights, of which the present Bill would deprive them. There was absurdity on the face of such a proposition. Suppose the proposition were a new one, would the House, if called upon to do so, declare that persons whom it considered unfit to vote for the election of Mayors and Common-councilmen, or to have any influence in the direction of the local affairs of their respective boroughs, should nevertheless exercise the higher privilege of voting for Members of Parliament? The right hon. Baronet felt the difficulty of this part of the question, when he said that if the thing were to be done now for the first time he would not establish such a right of voting as that which freemen possessed. The right hon. Baronet said that he would maintain the right because he found it existing; but it was not existing, and in fact a new class of voters would be created if the Amendment should be adopted. For the reasons which he had stated he would vote in favour of the original Clause.
§ Lord Francis Egerton
said, that as he had not hitherto expressed his opinion on this subject, he would take the liberty of following the right hon. Gentleman. He had no hesitation in saying that the noble Lord's speech was a train of sophistry which was utterly unworthy of any leader of a party in that House. He held this opin- 666 ion, and he must also say, that he had found but little relief in the speech of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Poulett Thomson), the only member of the Government who had thought proper to support the noble Lord. He would not stop to ask the question, whether this was a deprivation of the privileges of a certain portion of his Majesty's subjects, and whether this came under the same category as giving a new right to another portion of the people. The noble Lord mixed up the two questions together. He was glad that the noble Lord had not pursued the course of obloquy which was pursued by the Attorney-General on a former occasion. The noble Lord said that he was only pursuing the course which the exigency of the case required. The vehicle, however, which he was driving, must necessarily go over the heads of the freemen. The hon. and learned Attorney-General had said that the freemen were unworthy to exercise the franchise, and yet the noble Lord had preserved to them that right under the Reform Bill. They were now to be deprived of the right of voting in Corporations, although that was a less valuable right than that for Members of Parliament. He could not conceive what difficulty or anomaly would occur if they preserved the municipal rights to those persons who exercised the franchise under the Reform Bill. He was not a Member of the House when the Reform Bill was under discussion, and therefore could not be fully aware of all the circumstances attending it; but at the time he did not agree with his right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth, that the authors of that measure would soon find it necessary to alter it. When the Reform Bill was first introduced, his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) said that it went to the extent that he was prepared to concede, and that so far he would go, and no farther. They now saw, however, that Members of the Government who had introduced the Reform Bill were determined by a side wind to destroy privileges they had formerly pledged themselves to preserve. He thought that it would be a gross violation of consistency if the House and the Government did not maintain the rights of freemen.
§ Mr. Ward
observed that the monotony of the argument resorted to on the other side of the House was exceedingly singular. He regretted the necessity for interfering with the rights of any class of freemen, but he was afraid that the necessity for so doing did exist in the present case. Let 667 hon. Members refer to the Reports on the Corporations of Ipswich, of Norwich, of Cambridge, and others, which he had not time to enumerate, and they would find there the most convincing arguments to induce them to discontinue the use of the elective franchise to a certain class of freemen, who it was proved had suffered gross demoralization through its exercise. He would ask whether hon. Members had read the Reports he referred to, and if so, whether they did not consider this bearing? ["No!"] "But I do," continued the hon. Member. He maintained that those Reports exhibited a most complete system of corruption and demoralization. But that was not the only argument. They were not to take away their franchise without giving something in exchange. He maintained that expediency was the only thing they had to do with. It was upon that principle that the 40s. freeholders of Ireland had been disfranchised by the Emancipation Act.
§ Mr. Hughes Hughes
rose amidst violent expressions of impatience. We understood him to refer, first, to the case of Ipswich, in which he maintained that, so far from a gross system of demoralisation having existed, only six cases of corruption had been proved before the late Committee. The inconsistency of hon. Members opposite was not confined to isolated instances. Many of those hon. Gentlemen came into the House upon their reputation for liberal opinions, and their avowals in favour of Universal Suffrage; yet those were the very Gentlemen who now came forward to disfranchise a large part of the constituency which already existed. He would now refer to the title of the Bill. What was it but "for the better regulation of Municipal Corporations;" that said not a word of the robbery of franchise. Then let them look at the preamble, it only provided for the local government of the Corporations, nothing was said in that about the wholesale annihilation of freemen's rights, which, in the city of Oxford, for instance, would reduce one-half of the freemen constituency.
§ Mr. Poulter
observed, that the hon. Member for Oxford was the last person in the House who should have so strongly advocated the preservation of the rights of the freemen; because it did so happen that the evidence in the Report found that the corruption in that city, on the occasion both of the municipal as well as Parliamentary elections, was more flagrant than in any 668 other place in the kingdom. It appeared by that evidence, that on every such election the deputy town-clerk gave a regular order to open forty-three public-houses—that a certain sum was allotted to each—that the whole amount so spent was afterwards defrayed by the successful candidates. The labourer in such cases ceased to work. The amount of his small means went in aid of the general treat, and his wife and family were left to the parish. When it was considered that this process was repeated at no less than five elections of the civic officers annually, besides the Parliamentary and other elections, it would at once be seen how large a portion of the year was devoted to immorality and debauchery, and how large a portion of the voters were assigned to the purposes of corruption. It was therefore most singular, indeed, that the hon. Member for Oxford should appeal to the purity of his constituents. He could not conceive that the provisions of the Reform Bill ever meant to bind the Legislature against any mode of Corporate Reform which it should thereafter think best for the national interests. It was by no means clear that the best mode of that reform would not have been to do away with Corporations altogether, and to adopt an entirely different plan of local government. Now, in this event, the class of freemen must have ceased altogether. The Legislature has not proceeded in this way. But it has introduced a totally new kind of machinery, and one wholly inconsistent with the old. Then is it not a refinement, is it not a sophistry, to contend that you are bound to keep up the old machinery with the new, to unite the living with the dead? He contended that no appeal could be made to the institution of charters—he admired that institution as popular and national; but not its perversion. But for this the present measure would have been unnecessary. The charters never contemplated the creation of such a class as modern freemen. The House had made a great though very proper concession as to the rights of property. But this concession had not been made to the intention of the original grantors, but to long and ancient usage under the practice of our general laws. There was a wide distinction between beneficial rights of property, and the political franchise. It was quite true, that in some cases, as at Liverpool and Stafford, persons in considerable stations had been guilty of corruption. But was it not the grand truth 669 that the greatest instances of corruption had occurred amongst the class whose rights were now sought to be preserved. Where charitable funds had been grossly perverted; where jurymen had been found to be corrupt; where immorality had most prevailed, had not these evils been chiefly found among the freemen. On all these accounts he was decidedly adverse to the preservation of these rights.
§ The Committee divided on the original Clause: Ayes 262; Noes 234—Majority 28.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acheson, Lord||Callaghan, D.|
|Adam, Admiral||Cayley, E. P.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Chalmers, P.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Chapman, M. L.|
|Alston Rowland||Chichester, J. P. B.|
|Angerstein, J.||Clay, W.|
|Astley, Sir J.||Clements, Viscount|
|Attwood, T.||Clive E. B.|
|Baldwin, Dr.||Cockerell, Sir C. Bt.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Codrington, Sir E.|
|Baines, E.||Colborne, N. W. R.|
|Bainbridge, E. T.||Cookes, T. H.|
|Bannerman, Alex.||Cowper, Hon. W. F.|
|Barclay, D.||Crawford, W.|
|Barham, John||Crawford, W. S.|
|Baring, F. T.||Crawley, P.|
|Barnard, Edward G.||Crompton, S.|
|Barron, W.||Curteis, H. B.|
|Barry, S.||Dalmeny, Lord|
|Beauclerk, Major||Denison, J. E.|
|Bellew, Sir P.||Denison, W.|
|Bellew, R.||Denistoun, A.|
|Biddulph, Robert||Divett, E.|
|Bish, T.||Dobbin, L.|
|Blackburne, John||Dunlop, C.|
|Blake, Martin Jos.||Dunlop, J|
|Blamire, W(||Donkin, Sir R. S.|
|Blount Sir C.||Duncombe, T. S.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Dundas, Hon. J.|
|Bowes, John||Dundas, Hon. T.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Dykes, F. L. B.|
|Brabazon, Sir W. J.||Ebrington, Viscount|
|Brady, D. C.||Edwards, Colonel J.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Elphinstone, H.|
|Brodie, W. B.||Etwall, R.|
|Browne, D.||Euston, Lord|
|Brotherton, J.||Evans, G.|
|Buckingham, J. S.||Ewart, Wm.|
|Buller, E.||Fazakerley, J. N.|
|Buller, Charles||Fergus, John|
|Burdett, Sir F.||Ferguson, R.|
|Burdon, W.||Ferguson, Sir R. C.|
|Burton, H.||Fergusson, Right Hon. R. C|
|Butler, hon. Pierce|
|Byng, George||Fielden, J.|
|Byng, Hon. G.||Finn, W. F.|
|Campbell, W. F.||Fitzgibbon, Hon. R.|
|Campbell, Sir J.||Fitzroy, Lord C.|
|Carter, J.B.||Fitzsimon, C.|
|Cavendish, Hon, C.C.||Fitzsimon, N.|
|Folkes, SirW.J.H.B.||Mosley; Sir O,|
|Fort, J.||Murray, J. A.|
|French, F.||Morrison, J.|
|Gaskell, Daniel||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Gillon, W. D.||O'Brien, C.|
|Gisborne, F.||O'Connor, Don|
|Gordon, R.||O'Connell, D.|
|Goring, H. D.||O'Connell, M.|
|Grattan, J.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Grattan, H.||O'Connell, J.|
|Grey, Sir G.||O'Connell, M.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Grote, G.||Oliphant, L.|
|Guest, J. J.||Ord, W. H.|
|Gully, J.||O'Loghlen, M.|
|Hall, Benjamin||Palmer, General|
|Hallyburton, Hon. D.||Parker, J.|
|Harland, W. C.||Palmerston, Viscount|
|Harvey, D. W.||Parnell, Sir H.|
|Hay, Colonel L.||Parrott, J.|
|Hawes, B.||Pattison, J.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Pease, J.|
|Heathcoat, John||Pechell, Captain|
|Heathcote, R. E.||Pelham, Hon. C. A.|
|Heneage, Edward||Pendarves, E. W.|
|Hindley, C.||Perrin, L.|
|Hobhouse, Right Hn. Sir J.||Philips, M.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Ponsonby, Hon. W.|
|Hodges, T.||Ponsonby, Hon. J.|
|Holland, E.||Potter, R.|
|Hoskins, K.||Poulter, J. S.|
|Howard, Philip H.||Power, P.|
|Howick, Viscount||Price, Sir R.|
|Hume, J.||Pryme, G.|
|Humphrey, J.||Ramsbottom, J.|
|Hurst, R. H.||Rice, Right Hon. T.S.|
|Hutt, W.||Rippon, C.|
|Jephson, C. D. O.||Robarts, A. W.|
|Jones, T.||Roche, W.|
|Kerry, Earl of||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Labouchere, Henry||Rolfe, Sir R. M.|
|Leader, J. T.||Ronayne, D.|
|Lefevre, C. S.||Rundle, J.|
|Lemon, Sir C.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Lister, E. C.||Russell, Lord C.F.|
|Loch, J.||Russell, Lord|
|Long, W.||Raphael, A.|
|Lushington, Dr.||Ruthven, E,|
|Lushington, C.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Lynch, A. H.||Sanford, E. A.|
|Mackenzie, J. S.||Scholefield, J.|
|M'Leod, R.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Macnamara, Major||Seale, Colonel|
|M'Cance, J.||Seymour, Lord|
|M'Taggart, J.||Sharpe, General M.|
|Maher, J.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Mangles, James||Simeon, Sir R.|
|Marjoribanks, Stuart||Smith, B.|
|Marshall, W.||Smith, R. V.|
|Marsland, H.||Spiers, A.|
|Martin, J. B.||Spiers, A. G.|
|Maule, Hon. F.||Steuart, R.|
|Methuen, P.||Strutt, Ed.|
|Milton, Lord||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Molesworth, Sir W.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Talbot, J. H.||Wallace, R.|
|Tancred, W. H.||Warburton, H.|
|Thomson, Right Hon. C.P.||Wason, R.|
|Thompson C. Beilby||Westenra, Hon. H. R.|
|Thornley, T.||Westenra, Hon. Col. J.|
|Tooke, W.||Whalley, Sir S.|
|Townley, R. G.||Wilde, Sergeant|
|Tracy, C. H.||Wilks, J.|
|Trelawney, Sir W.||Williams, W. A.|
|Troubridge, Sir T.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Tulke, C. A.||Winnington, H. J.|
|Turner, W.||Wood, M.|
|Tynte, J. K. K.||Wood, C.|
|Villiers, C.||Wrottesley, Sir J.|
|Vivian, Major G.||Wyse, T.|
|Vigors, N. A.||Stanley, E. J.|
|List of theNOES.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Clive, Hon. Rt. H.|
|Alford, Lord||Codrington, C. W.|
|Alsager, Captain||Cole, Lord|
|Arbuthnot, Hon. H.||Cole, Hon. A.|
|Archdall, M.||Compton, H. C.|
|Ashley, Lord||Chisholm, A.|
|Ashley, Hon. H.||Conyngham, Lord A.|
|Bailey, J.||Cooper, E. J.|
|Balfour, T.||Coote, Sir P.|
|Barclay, C.||Corbett, T.|
|Baring, H.||Corry, Hon. H. T. L.|
|Baring, T.||Crewe, Sir G.|
|Baring, F.||Dalbiac, Sir C.|
|Baring, W. B.||Damer, Hon. D.|
|Barneby, J.||Dare, R. W. H.|
|Beckett, Sir J.||Darlington, Earl of|
|Bell, M.||Davenport, J.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Dick, Quintin|
|Beresford, Sir J.||Dowdeswell, William|
|Berkeley, Hon. F.||Duffield, T.|
|Berkeley, C.||Dugdale, W.|
|Berkeley, G.||Duncombe, Hon. W.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Durham, Sir P. C.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Eastnor, Lord|
|Boldero, Capt. H. G.||Eaton, R. J.|
|Bolling, W.||Egerton, Lord F.|
|Bonham, F. R.||Egerton, Sir F.|
|Borthwick, P.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Bradshaw, J.||Elley, Sir J.|
|Bramston, J.||Elwes, J.|
|Brownrigg, J. S.||Fancourt, Major|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Fector, J. M.|
|Brudenell, Lord||Ferguson, Captain|
|Bruen, F.||Ferguson, Sir R. A.|
|Buller, Sir J.||Finch, G.|
|Calcraft, J.||Fleming, J.|
|Campbell, Sir H. H.||Foley, E. T.|
|Canning, Sir S.||Follett, Sir W.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Forbes, W.|
|Chandos, Marquess of,||Forrester, Hon. C.|
|Chapman, A.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|Charlton, L.||Freshfield, J. W.|
|Chetwynd, Captain||Gaskell, J. Milnes|
|Chichester, A.||Gladstone, P.|
|Clive, Viscount||Gladstone, W. E.|
|Glynne, Sir S.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Goodricke, Sir F.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Gordon, Hon. W.||Palmer, R.|
|Gore, W. G.||Parker, M. E. N.|
|Goulburn,Rt. Hn.H.||Patten, J. W.|
|Graham, Sir J.||Peel, Sir Robert|
|Gresley, Sir R.||Peel, E.|
|Greville, Sir C.||Peel, Colonel J.|
|Grimston, Viscount||Pemberton, T.|
|Grimstone, Hon. E.||Perceval, Colonel|
|Halford, H.||Pigott, R.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Hanmer, Colonel||Pollen, Sir J.|
|Harcourt, G. V.||Pollington, Viscount|
|Hardinge, Sir H.||Praed, W. M.|
|Hardy, J.||Praed, J. B.|
|Hawkes, T.||Price, S. G.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Price, R.|
|Henniker, Lord||Pringle, A.|
|Herbert, Rt.Hn.J.C.||Pusey, P.|
|Herries, Rt.Hn.J.C.||Plunkett, Hon. R.|
|Hogg, J. W.||Reid, Sir J.|
|Hope, Hon. J.||Rae, Sir W.|
|Hope, H. T.||Richards, J.|
|Hotham, Lord||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Houldsworth, T.||Robinson, G. R.|
|Hoy, J. B.||Ross, C.|
|Hughes, H.||Rushbrooke, R.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Russell, E.|
|Irton, S.||Ryle, J.|
|Jackson, J. D.||Saunderson, R.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Sandon, Viscount|
|Johnstone, J. H.||Scarlett, Sir J.|
|Jones, W.||Scott, Sir E. D.|
|Kearsley, J. H.||Scourfield, W. H.|
|Kerrison, Sir E.||Sibthorp, Colonel|
|Kirk, P.||Sinclair, G.|
|Knightley, Sir C.||Smith, A.|
|Lawson, A.||Smyth, Sir G.|
|Lefroy, Rt. Hon. T.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Law, Hon. C. E.||Somerset, Lord E.|
|Lushington, Rt. Hn.S.||Stormont, Viscount|
|Lennard, T. B.||Sturt, H.|
|Lennox, Lord G.||Tennent, J. E.|
|Lewis, W.||Thomas, Colonel|
|Lewis, D.||Thompson, W,|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Thompson, Colonel P.|
|Lowther, Lord||Tollemache, Hn. A.G.|
|Lowther, Hon. H.||Trench, Sir F.|
|Lowther, J. H.||Trevor, Hon. A.|
|Lucas, E.||Trevor, Hon. R.|
|Longfield, R.||Twiss, H.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Tyrell, Sir J.|
|Maclean, D.||Vere, Sir E.|
|Mahon, Lord||Verner, Colonel|
|Marsland, T.||Vernon, G. H. V.|
|Maxwell, H.||Vesey, Hon. T.|
|Maxwell, J.||Vyvyan, Sir R.|
|Meynell, H.||Wakley, T.|
|Miles, P. J.||Wall, C. B.|
|Miles, W.||Walpole, Lord|
|Miller, W. H.||Welby, G. E.|
|Moreton, A.||Weyland, Major|
|Mordaunt, Sir J.||Whitmore, T. E.|
|Neeld, J.||Williams, W.|
|Nicholl, J.||Williams, R.|
|Norreys, Lord||Williams, T. P.|
|Wodehouse, E.||Young, J.|
|Wood, T.||Young, G.|
|Wortley, Hon. J.||young, Sir W.|
|Wynn, Sir W.||Sir G. Clerke.|
|Wynn, Right Hon. C.|
§ Mr. John G. Ponsonby
moved, pursuant to notice, as a proviso, "that the children of all freemen born before the 5th of June, 1835, and also all apprentices in boroughs, shall have and enjoy all the rights and privileges to which they would have been entitled but for this Bill, excepting the right to vote for Members of Parliament." The few observations of the hon. Member in support of his motion, were inaudible in the gallery.
§ Lord John Russell
opposed the Amendment, on the same grounds as he had opposed the previous Amendment of Mr. Praed.
§ Mr. Philip Howard
rose to second the Amendment just moved by his hon. Friend, the Member for Derby. In doing so, he was desirous to state the grounds which urged him to take that course. Believing the elective franchise to be a trust which might be granted or revoked by the Legislature, and that the extension of the franchise to freemen in perpetuity, could not be reconciled with enlarged principles of legislation, he had opposed the motion of the hon. Member for Yarmouth. The freemen now voted as corporators. At the same time, it was very desirable in a popular measure like the present, to avoid even the appearance of needless severity. Those persons who had entered on their apprenticeship had, in many instances, paid a valuable compensation, and looked forward with eagerness to the distinction which the elective franchise conferred. They had contributed their labour, which is a poor man's capital. It would be difficult to draw a broad line of distinction between them and the freemen by birth about to participate in the franchise; although he admitted their claims were not quite so strong as that of the apprentice. The attainment of a uniform system would not be very long delayed by the proposed amendment, whilst anything like an interference with a vested right would be avoided.
§ Lord Sandon
looked upon the Clause in the Bill to which these amendments referred as an anomaly. It was not consistent with either the principle or general provisions of the Bill; and when, therefore, the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) 674 talked of not going out of his way to favour the class of freemen, in order to be true to his own doctrine lie ought to agree to the amendment proposed, the effect of which would be, to confine the measure strictly within its own limits, instead of permitting a departure from its objects, in an attack upon the rights of the freemen. The noble Lord, by this particular provision of his Bill, went out of his way to make an alteration in the Reform Bill. This had been so fully argued, that he need not again go over the ground. The class of apprentices had inchoate rights, which, he contended, that House was bound to respect and uphold; and he sincerely hoped that his noble Friend, although he had negatived the previous amendment of the hon. Member for Yarmouth, would accede to the alteration proposed by one of his own supporters.
§ Lord John Russell
maintained that the interference with the privileges of freemen referred to by his noble Friend who had just sat down, was strictly in accordance with the principles of the Municipal Reform Bill. The Clause in question was necessary to secure the due working of that measure, and it could not therefore be said with justice, that an insertion was a departure from the principle of it.
§ Mr. Aglionby
said, that he could not allow his hon. Friends on that side of the House, nor the noble Lord on the other (Lord Sandon) to stand alone before the country as champions of freemen's rights and privileges. Let them but show him that the class to whom this Clause referred, possessed any just rights, any rights that they had exercised for the benefit of the people, for whom alone such rights were conferred, and he for one, would be quite as ready to step forward in their defence, as either of his hon. Friends or the noble Lord. They had utterly failed, however, in making out any such case. They had not pointed out one right enjoyed by the freemen in the exercise of which it could be said the public benefit had been consulted. He was afraid that his name might not appear in that black and red list which he saw in the hands of hon. Gentlemen, and which he presumed, was for publication tomorrow morning. He thought there would be a publication—he had seen symptoms of separation for something of the kind; and fearing that his name might not he in the black list, he came forward to claim his share of the unpopularity of the vote just given with his Majesty's Govern- 675 ment. He honoured the Government for their whole conduct with reference to this Bill. He would not, therefore, leave them to be held up by their opponents to the whole country as the enemies of poor men's privileges, which he well knew to he the object of the parties whom he had observed so busy with the red and black list. The hon. Gentleman proceeded to read from a paper which appeared to be one of the lists he had adverted to, the following passage:—"The freemen of England and Wales are to be robbed of their rights by a majority of Scotch and Irish Members." Now, he denied that there was a majority of Scotch and Irish Members in that House; but so long as Scotland and Ireland sent Members prepared to advocate such a measure as the present, he cared not what their numbers might be. He had given the House a specimen of the efforts making to bring his Majesty's Government, and the supporters of this measure, into disgrace with the country. He had not, however, read all the incitements put forth upon the occasion. He would not state from what part of the country the following came, further than that it was where freemen prevailed; but it was of a piece with what he had already read. The hon. Gentleman read as follows:—"Brother freemen! The real object of this is to deprive us of our rights, and assist the Government to carry those Clauses in the Corporation Reform Bill, by which our children are to be robbed of their birthrights." [Opposition cheers.] He was not surprised that these sentiments should meet with the applause of the benches opposite; but he should feel obliged to any of those hon. Gentlemen who joined in the cheer to tell him what were the birthright of freemen here spoken of. If they consisted of any thing granted or held for the good of the people at large, he should be as ready as any one to give his vote in favour of the freemen and their children. But if, as he believed was the case, the rights in question were exercised for the perpetuation of abuses, by which, so far from the people benefitting, the people were actually ground down to the dust. If they were forthcoming for the support of every corrupt Government, and actively employed against every species of Reform in particular, then he must say, that he should be for depriving parties so using powers intrusted to them for the general good, of all such rights and privileges, under whatever name 676 it might be the pleasure of individuals to recognize them. He would next read to the House a paper containing similar sentiments, and coming from the same place. He did not think he need name the place; but, at all events, he would read first. What he was about to read, came from a town for the representation of which there were a Whig and a Tory candidate, and was stuck up as a placard upon the most conspicuous places. It was to the following effect:—"Brother Electors! Can you believe it possible that the Whig faction in this City have determined to rob you of every right and privilege which you and your ancestors have always enjoyed? Can you, I say, believe it, that our worthy Whig Candidate will not be at the expense of a chair; no, he will not even allow you to see his face after the election! The usual attendance of constables, band of music, chairmen, chairmakers, &c. &c, will not therefore be required. Brother electors! will you, can you, sit down quietly and witness every feeling of decency to be outraged. If these are the blessings to be bestowed upon us by the hacknied and misapplied names of reform and purity, then away with them! and let us at once arouse from the delusive slumber, and have a man who will not profess one thing and mean another; not a man who, under the beautiful garb of purity, takes from us the birth-right of Britons." The city of York was the quarter from whence the paper came which he had read. In conclusion, the hon. Member observed, that he should support his Majesty's Government in their opposition to the attempted alteration in the Clause relating to freemen, whether his name figured in a red or black list.
Sir Matthew While Ridley
protested in the name of the whole body of freemen of this country against the sweeping denunciation, pronounced against them by the hon. Member who had just sat down. There had been, undoubtedly, many cases of delinquency on the part of the freemen, for which they deserved individually to be punished; but it was most unjust to ascribe collectively to the class the corruptions of a few. The birthrights and privileges of the freemen had descended to them from their forefathers—they had been earned and paid for by their labour, and ought to he preserved.
Mr. Thomas Dundas
said, he was the Member alluded to in the placard read by his hon. Friend. He begged to explain, that since the passing of the Reform Act, 677 he had thought it his duty to promote the purity of election as much as possible. He had therefore resolved to dispense with the ceremony of chairing, which he looked upon as a means merely of engaging a certain portion of influence in his favour. He had, however, given, for better purposes, to the town, the full amount of the expenses of chairing.
thought the House ought not to attach too much importance to documents of the nature read by the hon. Member for Cockermouth. Such a document ought not to affect the general character of the freemen of this country.
§ Mr. Hughes Hughes
thought the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), looking at the last division, and seeing that there was a defection in his camp, ought not to oppose the proposed amendment.
Mr. Grove Price
complained of the interruption offered to hon. Members who rose to deliver their sentiments on this important Bill, and said he should move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Mr. Hardy
supported the amendment. He contended, that the privileges of the freemen were of great value to them, as well in a pecuniary point of view as for the honour attached to the possession of them. He could not consent, without any evidence of the necessity of the case, to the spoliation of these persons.
§ The Committee divided on Mr. Ponsonby's Amendment Ayes 203; Noes 234; Majority 31.
§ The Committee also divided on the Motion, "that the Clause stand part of the Bill." Ayes 234; Noes 165: Majority 69.
§ Mr. Lennard,
after some prefatory observations, which were rendered wholly inaudible by the general confusion and noise, moved the addition to the 12th Clause of the following words:—"or who shall espouse the daughter of any freeman of any borough, such daughter having been born before the 5th day of June."
was averse to proceeding further with the Bill at that late hour; and moved that the Chairman report progress.
§ Lord John Russell
remonstrated against the proposition. The hon. and gallant Member must be aware that the state of the public business was such as to render it highly expedient to get through this Bill with as little delay as possible.
was as tired of the Bill as the noble Lord could possibly be; but still it ought to be discussed at proper seasons.
withdrew his Motion, and the Committee divided on Mr. Lennard's Amendment. Ayes 50; Noes 163; Majority 113. It was then moved "that the Chairman report progress, and ask leave to sit again," upon which the Committee again divided. Ayes 10; Noes 167 Majority 157.
|List of the AYES.|
|Alsager, Captain||Rushbrook, R.|
|Brotherton, J.||Sibthorpe, Colonel|
|Cole, Lord||Trevor, R.|
|Miller, W. H.||Windham, W.|
|Plumtre, J. P.||Charlton, L.|
§ The Clauses up to 48 were agreed to.
§ On Clause 49 relative to the appointment of Town-clerk, Treasurer, and other Officers,
§ Mr. Borthwick,
in moving his Amendment said, that he knew many instances, (as he had stated on a former occasion) in which the Clerk had discharged the duties of Assistant Clerk for as many as thirty years, and of Clerk for twenty more: he knew one who realized by the office 1,000l. a year, who had a right not merely by succession from his predecessors, but by charter. There were many other instances in which a man had given up all his professional avocations, and all the advantages he might derive from the free exercise of all his employments as a lawyer, in order that he might in consideration of such security, discharge the duties of the office as secured it him by the Charter. In many of the instances which he (Mr. Borthwick) had in his mind's eye, the Town-Clerk, who had been guilty of no offence, and had discharged the duties of his office to entire satisfaction, would be deprived by the Bill of that which, by the Charter was secured to him to the day of his death. It might be said, that if he discharged his duties to the satisfaction of the town, that he would be re-elected; but that would not always follow. Without any disrespect whatever to the new constituency, he might affirm that where parties ran high, it would not always be the man of superior character who would secure his re-election. Besides the new constituents might be the very persons to whom he might have rendered himself politically obnoxious through the proper discharge of his duties. Without detaining 679 the Committee, therefore, at any greater length upon the expediency of retaining an officer of long experience in the management of such great varieties of property consigned to his care by the Bill, (though it would be seen by the House that no man could enter upon his office with such efficiency for the discharge of its duties as would belong to the old and experienced officer) he hoped the noble Lord would see that no part of the real efficiency of the Bill would be impaired, nor any great principle violated, by giving those individuals who hold under charters, in all cases where no misconduct had been proved, exemption from the provisions of the Bill. On that account, he therefore moved the following proviso to the Clause. "Provided always, that nothing herein contained, shall authorize or empower the Town-Council in the Borough to remove or displace any Town-Clerk who shall have been appointed, or at the time of his appointment under this Act shall hold his authority under any charter or authority for life: provided that he conduct himself well and properly in his office. But that such officer shall hold his office, with such fees and emoluments as he would have received before the passing of this Act."
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause agreed to.