HC Deb 10 May 1837 vol 38 cc790-3

Mr. Warburton moved an instruction to the Committee on the Freemen's Admission Bill to the following effect—"That they have the power to make provision for the amendment of the Reform of Parliament Act, in so far as it requires the payment of rates and taxes as a qualification of householders to vote in the election of Members to serve in Parliament."

The Speaker

intimated a doubt whether this Motion was regular. He doubted whether it was not carrying the principle of instruction too far.

Mr. Warburton

said, it was because the Committee had not the power to insert this provision without an instruction that it was necessary.

Mr. Williams Wynn

said, that this was a course of proceeding which got rid of the Second Reading; it was difficult to draw a line; the act of settlement might in this way be got rid of by an instruction to a Committee on a turnpike Bill.

Lord John Russell

thought it inexpedient to introduce an instruction to the Committee to insert a clause in this Bill foreign to the object of it. His intention was, in conformity with what he had stated when the Bill was before the House on a former occasion, to make a provision for a relaxation of the time for the payment of taxes; and for that purpose he had prepared a Bill to regulate the payment of taxes, and to abolish the stamp duty on the admission of freemen. He proposed to leave the Act as it stood in respect to the payment of taxes for the first year up to the 5th of April, and in the subsequent years to the 1st of October supposing the name remained on the register, and he thought there would be sufficient time between the 1st. of October and the 29th of June to pay the rates and taxes. He hoped, therefore, that the hon. Member for Coventry would not press his Bill till the measure he had just alluded to were brought in.

Mr. Williams

said, he saw no necessity for delaying his Bill. There was a Bill before the House, the Registration of Voters Bill, into which the provisions of the noble Lord might be introduced. What he proposed by his Bill to get rid of was a source of corruption in all our towns. He should move that the House resolve itself into a Committee on the Bill.

Viscount Sandon

seconded this Motion, and hoped the hon. Member would not consent to postpone the Bill, especially as it was proposed to connect it with another Bill with which it had no connexion. A freeman's franchise had nothing to do with property; it represented the reward of industry, and not a money qualification.

Lord John Russell

said, that as the hon. Member had declined to defer his Motion, he should move for leave to bring in his Bill. Whether the charges brought against the freemen were just or not, his object in the present instance was to improve, as far as possible, the condition in which they were placed in regard to the elective franchise. He would, therefore, move as an amendment for leave to bring in a Bill for altering and amending the rate-paying clauses of the Reform Act.

Mr. Williams Wynn

objected to the course pursued by the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), as in his opinion it was quite contrary to the usual practice of the House to move for leave to introduce a Bill of which no previous notice had been given as an amendment to an Order of the Day.

The Speaker

said, it did occur to him, that according to the usual practice of the House such an Amendment could not be moved as a matter of abstract right. It was, however, for the House to consider whether, for the sake of convenience, the course which had been proposed should not be allowed in the present case.

Lord John Russell

would not, after what had fallen from the Chair, persist in his Motion. He would, therefore, beg leave to withdraw it, and to move in its stead, that the House go into Committee on the Freemen's Admission Bill on the 21st of June.

The Speaker

wished it to be understood that in the remarks he had made he did not mean to speak so much to the right as to the expediency of the course which had been proposed.

Colonel Sibthorp

hoped the hon. Member for Coventry would take the sense of the House upon his Motion he had made. He considered the course which had been pursued by the noble Lord as an attempt to get rid of a Bill for improving the condition of the freemen by a side wind. Such a course was quite in keeping with the general policy of Gentlemen on his (Lord J. Russell's) side of the. House in regard to that important body; for he (Colonel Sibthorp) could perfectly recollect having heard his Majesty's Attorney-General denominate the freemen the curse of the country. He would cordially join in supporting any measure which would tend to improve the condition of the freemen.

Mr. Trevor

hoped that the hon. Member for Coventry would persist in his motion. He was astonished that hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, who were always talking of corruption, should refuse to support a measure which tended to make the electors more independent, and he hoped the country would accept the conduct of the noble Lord as a proof of the sincerity of his intentions to improve the condition of the people.

Mr. Maclean

saw no good reason why the noble Lord should refuse to the freemen a boon of such importance as an admission to the rights which they possessed free of all expense. It was, however, in perfect keeping with the course which had always been pursued in regard to the freemen by the noble Lord and hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House. The freemen had been treated by the Government and its supporters as if they had been the scum of society, and he had heard them called by an hon. Member on the Ministerial Benches the plague-spots of the Constitution. If the noble Lord really wished to confer a benefit on the freemen it would have been more consonant with such a desire to allow the hon. Member for Coventry to proceed with his Bill in the usual course, and to have introduced his own Bill as a separate measure.

Mr. Philip Howard

thought, the hon. Member for Coventry had exercised a sound discretion in refusing to consent to postponement. It was not a party measure, but one which only did justice to the freemen, and as such he would give it all the support in his power.

Mr. Aglionby

regretted the hon. Member for Coventry had not consented to postponement; and for the sake of his own measure it would have been better to consent to the course proposed by the noble Lord, as it would have had a much greater chance of passing when adopted by the Government. For his own part, however, he would say, that he could not consider the freemen as persons who could safely be trusted with the exercise of the franchise, and he would oppose the measure unless it was coupled with one for the extension of the suffrage.

Mr. Williams

was placed in a situation of some difficulty, as his constituents were anxious that the bill should pass; and if it were to pass that House, he believed it would become law, which he doubted the noble Lord's measure would do.

The House divided on the motion to go then into a Committee:—Ayes 45; Noes 82: Majority 37.

List of the AYES.
Alsager, Captain Lowther, J. H.
Bailey, J. Maclean, D.
Baring, T. Nicholl, J.
Blackburne, I. Praed, W. M.
Chisholm, A. W. Price, S. G.
Dundas, J. C. Rushbrooke, R.
Elley, Sir J. Sandon, Visct.
Fector, J. M. Scarlet, hon. R.
Fielden, J. Sheppard, T.
Forbes, W. Sibthorp, Colonel
Freshfield, J. W. Stormont, Viscount
Gaskell, J. Milnes Talfourd, Sergeant
Gladstone, W. E. Thompson, Alderman
Goulburn, H. Thompson, Colonel
Goulburn, Sergeant Twiss, H.
Hamilton, Lord C. Vere, Sir C. B.
Harcourt, G. S. Wason, R.
Hector, C. J. Weyland, Major
Henniker, Lord Wortley, J. S.
Howard, P. H. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Hughes, W. H. Yorke, E. T.
Lewis, D. Williams, W.
Lincoln, Earl of Trevor, A.
List of the NOES.
Adam, Sir C. Forster, C. S.
Aglionby, H. A. Fort, J.
Baines, E. French, F.
Baring, F. T. Gordon, R.
Bellew, R. M. Hall, B.
Bentinck, Lord Halse, J.
Blake, M. J. Hastie, A.
Bodkin, J. J. Heathcoat, J.
Bowes, J. Heron, Sir R.
Bridgeman, H. Hindley, C.
Brocklehurst, J. Hobhouse, Sir J.
Brotherton, J. Holland, E.
Callaghan, D. Hume, J.
Chalmers, P. Hutt, W.
Clive, E. B. Ingham, R.
Codrington, Admiral Jervis, J.
Cookes, T. H. Lefevre, C. S.
D'Eyncourt, T. Lushington, C.
Dillwyn, L. W. Macleod, R,
Duncombe, T. Marsland, H.
Dundas, hon. T. Maule, F.
Dundas, J. D. Morpeth, Viscount
Etwall, R. Murray, J. A.
Ewart, W. O'Connell, J.
Ferguson, R. C. O'Connell, M. J.
O'Connell, M. Steuart, R.
O'Ferrall, R. M. Thornley, T.
Palmer, Colonel Tulk, C. A.
Parry, Sir L. Verney, Sir H.
Pattison, J. Vivian, J. H.
Pease, J. Wakley, T.
Pechell, Captain Warburton, H.
Philips, M. Westenra, J. C.
Phillips, G. R. Whalley, Sir S.
Power, J. White, S.
Price, Sir R. Wilbraham, G.
Pryme, G. Williams, Sir J.
Pusey, P. Worsley, Lord
Russell, Lord J. Young, G. F.
Ruthven, E
Scholefield, J. TELLERS,
Seymour, Lord Hay, Sir A. L.
Stanley, E. J. Parker, J.

Committee postponed.