HC Deb 05 February 1838 vol 40 cc789-810

The Order of the Day for going into Committee upon this Bill having been read upon the motion of Lord J. Russell,

Mr. H. Hinde

rose, pursuant to notice, to move that the Bill be divided into two Bills, the first referring to the 10l. household voters, and the other referring to the freemen. It had been said by the noble Lord opposite, that, in conceding a been to the freemen of this country, it was proper that a been should also be conceded to the 10l. householders. With that part of the subject, however, he had nothing to do. But he would observe that the noble Lord having been, as he might say, compelled to grant this been to the freemen when the hon. Member for Coventry brought forward this subject last year, he had determined to grant it with the worst possible grace. For coupling it with another been to the 10l. householders, in remitting to them a portion of their taxes, he adopted the most effectual means of insuring its rejection in the other House of Parliament. Having treated this subject at considerable length before, he would content himself with expressing a hope that the House would support him in his present proposition, which was for the separation of two subjects which were totally distinct, and rested upon entirely different grounds.

Lord J. Russell

said, that he had stated upon a former occasion the grounds upon which it had been judged proper to unite these two subjects in the same Bill. He could not say, that the hon. and learned gentleman had convinced him by any of the reasons which he had advanced, that he was wrong in adopting that course. He therefore thought that the House should pass into Committee upon the Bill as it stood at present.

Colonel Sibthorp

said, that when this subject was last before the House, he had stood forward for the purpose of vindicating the honest freemen of England from the charges of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, her Majesty's Attorney-General, who had thought fit to designate them "the curse of the country." He was happy again to have the opportunity of standing forward boldly in behalf of those injured, individuals whose character he was ever ready to defend. The two points which, formed the subject of the present Bill appeared to him to be totally incongruous; and, for his part, he never would become a party to any such unjustifiable and underhanded trick. He certainly would not commit himself by giving his sanction to any Bill of this, he was going to say, nefarious description.

Sir Adolphus Dalrymple

could not sup- port the proposed separation, because he was anxious to effect both the objects of the Bill. The rate-paying clauses of the Reform Act he considered to operate merely as a help to the tax gatherers, and in many places most distressing circumstances took place in consequence of their strict enforcement. In the borough which he represented it was the custom of the overseers and collectors of taxes to sit up till twelve o'clock at night on the 20th of July to receive the taxes; and their strict payment entailed, therefore, considerable hardships on the public officers, as well as upon the rate-payers themselves. The interval between the 5th of April and the 20th of July was a period during which many persons were frequently away from home, it was inconvenient for them, therefore, to pay the taxes, and these persons on their return very frequently found themselves disfranchised. Another objection which he entertained to the system as it stood was, that it made the collector of poor-rates a political person, for he had the power on the 15th or l6th of July of going round to his political friends, telling them that their taxes must be paid before the 20th, or they would be disfranchised; he postponed his call upon his opponents, who being ignorant of what was required, lost their votes. He thought, therefore, that the Bill should pass without alteration, as he did not consider it as changing any part of the principle of the Reform Act, but only as an amendment on some of its details, which had been found to work badly.

Mr. Praed

could not see the propriety of mixing up one part of the Bill with the other, and thus making them stand or fall together. The principle involved in the two parts was entirely different. The stamp duty on the admission of freemen was imposed only for fiscal purposes, and had no reference to their right to vote; and even during the discussion on the Reform Bill not one word was said on the necessity for this payment. Up to that time the admission to the freedom was the means of acquiring several pecuniary privileges, and the right to vote was only an incidental advantage. These pecuniary privileges had since been taken away, and all that remained of the right for which they had to pay the stamp-duty was the exercise of the elective franchise, for which they ought not to be made to pay. With the ten pound householders, however, the case was different. They had a right conferred upon them by the Reform Act subject to the performance of certain conditions, and if the House altered or repealed these conditions the Reform Bill would be altered, and with many persons this circumstance alone would be a sufficient reason for rejecting the Bill. The noble Lord had said that if a been were given to one class he would give another been to the other class; both the freemen and the ten pound householders, however, disclaimed the receiving of any such boon. If it were for the public advantage let their demands be granted, but let it not be described as a boon. If, it were meant as a been to the freemen how could they expect that it would proceed from the Ministerial side of the House, on which sat the noble Lord who had already denounced the freemen, and the hon. and learned Gentleman who considered them so great an evil? He (Mr. Praed) saw no reason why the Bill should not be divided into two parts, and why the House should not decide separately on the merits of each; and he should therefore vote for the motion of the hon. Member for Newcastle.

Mr. Maclean

objected to proceeding with the Bill. If it were proposed on the ground of fraud on the part of the overseers, he could understand it, but none such was alleged, and the House was left entirely in the dark as to the reasons for proposing the measure. If it were correct to relieve the Parliamentary electors, why did they not make it more extensive and let it apply to voters under the Vestry and Corporation Acts, in both of which Acts payment of rates formed part of the qualification? He objected also to the introduction of a series of changes without the reason for them having been unfolded by the leader of that House; and unless good grounds for this measure were brought forward, he hoped that it would be rejected on the third reading.

The House divided on Mr. Hinde's motion:—Ayes 68; Noes 158: Majority 90.

List of the AYES.
Acland, T. D. Blair, J.
Arbuthnot, hon. H. Blennerhasset, A.
Attwood, W. Burr, H.
Bailey, I. Canning rt. hn. Sir S.
Baillie, Colonel Chapman, A.
Baker, E. Chute, W. L. W.
Barrington, Viscount Creswell, C.
Bateman, J. D'Israell, B.
Bell, M. Eaton, R. J.
Bentinck, Lord G. Ellis, J.
Blackstone, W. S. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Forbes, W. Milnes, R. M.
Fremantle, Sir T. Parker, T. A. W.
Freshfield, J. W. Perceval, Colonel
Gladstone, W. E. Peyton, H.
Gordon, hon. Captain Planta, right hon. J.
Gore, O. W. Plumptre, J. P.
Grimsditch, T. Praed, W. M.
Hodgson, R. Pringle, A.
Hogg, J. W. Rickford, W.
Holmes, hon. W. A. C. Round, C. G.
Hughes, W. B. Round, J.
Johnstone, H. Sandon, Viscount
Jones, T. Shaw, right hon. F.
Kemble, H. Shirley, E. J.
Knatchbull, hn. Sir R. Sibthorp, Colonel
Law, hon. C. E. Stuart, H.
Lockhart, A. M. Vere, Sir C. B.
Logan, H. Villiers, Viscount
Lowther, hon. Col. Whitmore, T. C.
Mackenzie, T. Wood, T.
Mackenzie, W. F. Wynn, right hon. C. W.
Mackinnon, W. A. TELLERS.
Marton, G. Hinde, J. H.
Maxwell, H. Maclean, D.
List of the NOES.
Adam, Sir C. Dashwood, G. H.
Aglionby, H. A. Duke, Sir J.
Aglionby, Major Duncombe, T.
Anson, hon. Colonel Dundas, C. W. D.
Anson, Sir G. Dundas, F.
Archbold, R. Dundas, hon. T.
Attwood, T. Dundas, Captain D.
Baines, E. Easthope, J.
Barnard, E. G. Ebrington, Viscount
Beamish, F. B. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Bellew, R. M. Ellice, E.
Bernal, R. Erle, W.
Bewes, T. Evans, Colonel
Blackett, C. Evans, G.
Blake, M. J. Fielden, J.
Blake, W. J. Fenton, J.
Bridgman, H. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Briscoe, J. I. Ferguson, rt. hn. R. C.
Brocklehurst, J. Finch, F.
Brodie, W. B. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Brotherton, J. French, F.
Buller, C. Gibson, J.
Buller, E. Gillon, W. D.
Busfield, W. Gordon, R.
Butler, hon. Colonel Goring, H. D.
Callaghan, D. Grattan, J.
Campbell, Sir J. Grattan, H.
Cayley, E. S. Grote, G.
Clay, W. Hall, B.
Clements, Viscount Harland, W. C.
Clive, E. B. Hawkins, J. H.
Collier, J. Heathcoat, J.
Colquhoun, Sir J. Kindley, C.
Conyngham, Lord A. Hobhouse, T. B.
Craig, W. G. Hodges, T. L.
Crawford, W. Howard, F. J.
Crompton, S. Howard, P. H.
Curry, W. Hume, J.
Dalmeny, Lord Humphery, J.
Dalrymple, Sir A. Hutton, R.
Ingham, R. Russell, Lord John
James, W. Russell, Lord G.
Jervis, S. Salwey, Colonel
Lambton, H. Sandford, E. A.
Lemon, Sir C. Scholefield, J.
Lennox, Lord G. Scrope, G. P.
Lister, E. C. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Macleod, R. Stanley, W. O.
Mactaggard, J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Maher, J. Stuart, Lord J.
Marshall, W. Stuart, V.
Marsland, H. Strangways, hon. J.
Martin, J. Strickland, Sir G.
Maule, W. H. Style, Sir C.
Melgund, Viscount Talbot, J. H.
Mildmay, P. St. J. Tancred, H. W.
Molesworth, Sir W. Thornley, T.
Morris, D. Tracy, H. H.
Murray, rt. hon. J. A. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Muskett, G. A. Turner, E.
Nagle, Sir R. Vigors, N. A.
O'Brien, W. S. Villiers, C. P.
O'Connor Don Vivian, Major C.
O'Ferrall, R. M. Wakley, T.
Parker, J. Walker, C. A.
Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H. Wallace, R.
Parrott, J. Warburton, H.
Pattison, J. Westenra, hon. H. R.
Pease, J. Westenra, hon. J. C.
Pechell, Gaptain Whalley, Sir S.
Pendarves, E. W. W. White, A.
Philips, M. Williams, W.
Philpotts, J. Wilshere, W.
Poulter, J. S. Wood, C.
Protheroe, E. Wood, Sir M.
Pryme, G. Wrightson, W. B.
Redington, T. N. Yates, J. A.
Rice, E. R.
Rice, right hon. T. S. TELLERS.
Rich, H. Stanley, E. J.
Roche, W. Rolfe, Sir R. M.

The House resolved itself into a Committee on the 1st clause.

Mr. T. Duncombe

rose to introduce an amendment, which, as he thought, would be a great benefit. He proposed to leave out the last two lines in the first clause, "except such as shall have become payable from him previously to the 11th day of October in the preceding year." The effect, if the omission which he suggested were adopted by the House, would be to enact that, after the passing of that Act, no person should be required, in order to have his name retained in the list of voters for any city, town, or borough, in England, for any year, to have paid any poor-rates or assessed taxes. This was a simple and summary mode of repealing the rate-paying clauses of the Reform form Act. It was for the House to say whether the clause should be repealed, or whether the remedy which he proposed was not preferable to the homoeopathic provisions of the Bill. Motions to the same effect had already been brought forward in the House, which for a considerable time had been generally rejected, but at the same time they were gradually more favourably received, and at length one which he had introduced to the House in the year 1837 was carried by a majority of eleven. Some, observations had fallen from an hon. Member opposite that the more respectable classes of society were those by whom the rates were more generally paid, but he was prepared to say, that this was not the case, for in the parish of St. George, Hanover-square, which was well known as the most aristocratic parish in London, containing most of the fashionable streets and squares, there were 5,144 persons rated, and who would be entitled to vote, but of whom twenty-two only had paid their rates. This at least showed that it was not always the disreputable portion of the community who were negligent in this respect. The clause completely reversed the order of things, for it not only required the electors to be taxed, but it also required that they should have paid the tax before they could vote for the representatives that were to be empowered on the principles of the constitution to impose taxes on them. He did not see why it should apply to 10l. householders, and not to tenants of the yearly value of 50l. who had votes for the counties, and he knew that many 50l. tenants had expressed their wish that the principle should apply to them, because they could then disfranchise themselves if they chose, and relieve themselves from the unpleasant situations in which they were frequently placed. When the noble Lord proposed the Reform Bill he told them that they were to have 500,000 additional men called into electoral existence in Great Britain, of which London was to have 95,000; whereas it had at present but 47,000. It was thrown out also by an hon. Member opposite that the Bill would not be well received elsewhere. He believed it would not; but if the House adopted his amendment, it would have the effect of showing to the public the opinion of the House; and he was persuaded that if the noble Lord would adopt his amendment he would have the public feeling very much in his favour in consequence. Therefore, he sincerely hoped that the noble Lord would adopt the amendment, which hew as convinced would give universal satisfaction to true Reformers. The noble Lord would then be able to send the Bill to the other House with the greatest satisfaction, and with the greatest confidence in the effect which it would produce in the public mind.

Lord John Russell

had only to say, that the proposition of the hon. Member was far wide of the alteration which he proposed—an alteration which was originally suggested by the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster. He proposed it on the ground, which he considered a just one, of punctuality in the payment of the rates year after year. It often happened that persons failed in paying those rates at the necessary time for entitling them to be placed on the register, and, therefore, said the hon. Gentleman, was it that persons to whom the Reform Bill intended to give the franchise were by this provision prevented from exercising it, although every person admitted that those were the persons for whom the Reform Bill was chiefly intended. But the hon. Member's proposition now was, that the franchise ought to be given to persons for whom the Reform Bill intended it. The Reform Bill adopted the principle established in the constitution of this country respecting scot and lot voters, that the payment of the rates should be looked upon as the criterion of their solvency. The hon. Member wished them to extend the franchise to those who did not pay taxes, and who gave no test of solvency, a proposition consequently differing from the Reform Bill, and one in which he could not therefore agree. It would be in fact, to admit that the Reform Bill, and the ancient constitution, were altogether wrong, and that insolvency and beggary were no obstacle to the exercise of the franchise.

Mr. Warburton

would ask why householders should be required at all to prove their solvency, and why a rule should be applied to persons resident in England which was not applied to electors in Scotland. He was prepared to vote for the amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury, but he would go farther than that hon. Member; and he was sure that if the hon. Member would propose a regulation for England similar to that which existed in Scotland he would succeed. He really hoped that some hon. Member would put a motion to that effect on record, in order that the opportunity of exhibiting the opinion of the House to the public might not be lost.

Mr. Clay

said, that before the passing of the Reform Act, the qualification of voters was on a far different footing from that which now existed, and the House had then adopted a pecuniary qualification; but he did not think that that should be used as a means of enforcing payment of taxes, and he thought it would be better to repeal or modify that section of the Reform Bill, which had a rather larger influence than had been originally thought. He said this because he was one of those who was disposed to take his stand on the Reform Act, and he stated distinctly that he did not think it advisable to extend the elective franchise to others besides those mentioned in it. The pecuniary test was that which it had been chosen to assume, and he believed that it had gone far enough, and he was entitled to demand that the whole of the class should have the elective franchise. Bribery and corruption, it was complained, had hitherto been practised, but he thought that the proposition of the hon. Member, if adopted, would give it one more opportunity. He concluded by declaring his intention to support the noble Lord.

Colonel Evans

said, he believed the Bill to be an extremely useful amendment of the Reform Act, and he sincerely thanked the noble Lord for the amendment which he had introduced. At the same time however, he could not but express his intention to vote for the motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury, which was only consistent with the view which he took during the passing of the Reform Bill.

Mr. Hume

was prepared to say that much mischief had hitherto proceeded from the system at present acted upon, for during the last Westminster election but one he saw some dozen persons who were prepared to vote for Mr. Leader if the committee would pay their taxes; but he had reason to believe, that their votes were eventually secured by the Conservative candidate. When the clause in the Reform Bill referring to scot and lot voters was before the House, it was predicted that this would be the result, and it was the result; and he thought that the noble Lord was bound to complain of the Reform Bill. His object in passing that measure was not to have any constituency consisting of less than 300 voters, but he must now be well aware that there were forty with less than that.

Lord J. Russell

said, that he was astonished at the statement just made by his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny. It was well known that one of the purposes of the Reform Act was to remove the species of temptation to which the elec- tors just mentioned were presumed to have been exposed. If there had not been such a provision as there was in the Reform Act, the temptation to electors to ask the committees of candidates to pay their taxes would have been great; but according to the Reform Act, before they could vote, their names must be on the registry, and before those names could get there, the parties, antecedently to a certain day in July, must have paid all the taxes due previous to the preceding 5th of April. He could not, then, conceive how electors of Westminster came to a candidate's committee asking them to pay their taxes. Not being on the register how could they expect to vote, and they could not be on the register if they had failed to pay their taxes. He was glad, then, that his hon. Friend the Member for Kilkenny had not been imposed on by persons thus pretending to be electors. His hon. Friends, the Members for Bridport and for Finsbury had complained that towns and counties were not placed, with respect to the right of voting, upon the same footing, appearing at the same time to complain of that as an instance of inconsistency in him (Lord J. Russell). To this he had but one reply to make, namely, that he had never undertaken to do any thing of the sort. In the Reform Act no general uniformity of principle was proposed in the modes of voting for counties and cities. Electors for counties were presumed to possess an estate in land, and no other test of their solvency was required. As to those who claimed to vote under the 50l. tenant-at-will clause, there might, perhaps, have been no objection to their payment of rates and taxes being required as a qualification, and, in fact, he considered that a provision for that purpose ought to have been introduced. While he was upon this part of the subject he begged to observe that his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny, had voted for that 50l. tenant-at-will clause, and that none of the Government did. His hon. Friend, the Member for Bridport, used another argument in favour of the proposed amendment, on which he wished to make an observation. His hon. Friend contended that the Scottish elector was not bound to prove the payment of rates; so far from that being the case the Scottish Reform Act provided that electors should prove the payment on or before the 20th of August in the year in which the act was passed, and on or before the 20th of July in all future years, of all rates and taxes which fell due before the 6th of April preceding. How, then, his hon. Friend could say that the Scottish Reform differed from the English Reform Act appeared to him incomprehensible. He believed that if he had thus called attention to the clause of the act to which his hon. Friend referred, it Would have been supposed that there really existed a substantial difference between the two acts.

Mr. Warburton

said, in explanation, that when the names of the electors were once on the register, it never after became necessary for them to prove the payment of rates and taxes.

Mr. Gillon

said, it had been ruled that the non-payment of rates and taxes formed no valid objection to the right of voting. He thought his hon. Friend, the Member for Bridport, had used his argument fairly enough, and was right in his facts. As to the amendment of his hon. Friend, the Member for Finsbury, it should have his cordial support.

Mr. Baines

approved of the principle of the Bill, but he contended that its operation ought to be extended. By the Bill as it at present stood, the extension of the time for the payment of rates and taxes, applied only to persons whose names were already upon the register of the past year, and not to those who claimed in virtue of their occupancy to have their names inserted upon the register for the first time. This was a distinction unknown to the Reform Act, and he hoped the noble Lord would extend the time for the payment to the 11th of October in the preceding year, as well to those names which were not in the former register as to those that were inserted in that register. He might mention, to show the importance of this alteration, that in the borough which he had the honour to represent there were upwards of a thousand names claiming to be registered in the last revising barristers' court, not one of whom could have availed himself of the benefit of this Bill if it had then been passed into a law. Nothing could be more detrimental to the Reform Act than to grant the privileges under it partially or parsimoniously.

Sir S. Whalley

supported the amendment, and referred to the opinions expressed by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, and the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Montgomeryshire, during the debates on the Reform Act. Their opinions, he had no doubt, would have more weight with the House than any thing he could urge. The former said, that the clause which the hon. Member for Finsbury sought to amend would open a wide door to bribery and corruption—that strong temptations would be held out to electors to invite candidates to pay their rates and taxes, and the result, he had no doubt, would be that purity of election must be impaired to a greater extent than before. The right hon. Member for Montgomeryshire stated, that he had long been resident in London—that he never was called on in July for the rates due in April, and he thought it would be hard if he happened to be out of town and neglected to pay his rates that that circumstance should deprive him of the right of voting. He was sure that the effect of the clause must be to disfranchise hundreds of thousands of electors. It was also material for the House to recollect, that Sir Charles Wetherell, in the same debate, had contended, that the people would not find the 10l. qualification any great boon, when it was fettered with this restriction. He hoped, then, that the noble Lord would reconsider his measure, and take the advice of the hon. Member for Finsbury.

Mr. Praed

considered that it was necessary he should correct a misapprehension into which an hon. Member had fallen with respect to what he had stated. He never said, that the rich and the reputable would pay their rates, while the poor and disreputable would not pay; he thought, on the contrary, and said, that many reputable people might not pay their rates, but he was of opinion, that the payment of a man's just and fair debts afforded a fair test of his respectability. He objected to the clause however, on grounds totally distinct from those relied on by hon. Members opposite. The opinions of right hon. Members, not now in the House, referred to by the hon. Member for Marylebone, supplied no evidence as to what they thought of the present Bill. On the opposition side of the House, they desired to abide by the Reform Act in its present state, and to take it as a whole. As to the evil arising from the non-payment of taxes, it was every year decreasing, and he really thought that, after the change in the franchise which that measure effected, it was not unreasonable to expect the continuance of such a test of solvency, of respectability, of attention to, and interest in, public affairs, as the punctual payment of rates and taxes supplied. He was resolved to oppose the amendment.

Mr. Hall

had no doubt, that if the right hon. Members referred to were in the House, they would vote against the amendment; they opposed the extension of the franchise, and now they desired to cripple its exercise as much as possible. He could name three Gentlemen, Members of that House, whose sufficiency could not be doubted, whose names had been struck off the register of voters, in consequence of not having paid their rates. In small boroughs, where parties were divided, the rate-paying clauses of the Reform Act, in addition to many other evils consequent upon them, placed the election too much in the hands of the overseers. Candidates were frequently called upon to pay the voter's taxes for him; and he had no hesitation in declaring, that some years ago, he had assisted in the payment of the rates and taxes of some persons occupying 10l. houses, in order that they might be placed upon the register of electors. In his opinion the 10l. franchise should be carried out to its full extent, and he thought, that there was no right to demand that a vote should be consequent on the payment of rates. He should, therefore, support the amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury.

Mr. J. Jervis

considered it impossible to find one argument in favour of the course followed by the noble Lord. It was a truckling and a middle course, and if this measure were taken as a sample of the policy of the Government, he was sure they would derive commendation from no party in the House, and that the people without would give them no credit, but that hon. Gentlemen opposite would be praised for spoiling the question for which they were all contending, viz., freedom of election.

Mr. Leader

said, that at his election for Westminster there were not ten or twelve, but hundreds of persons holding the 10l. franchise who were anxious to vote for him, but who could not do so, because, owing to some accident or some negligence, their names had been struck off the registry. In consequence of this rate-paying claim they could not vote. This had occurred to him not only in Westminster, but also at Bridgewater. It frequently happened that the overseers were Tories, and favourable to their own party, and they took the opportunity their offices gave them of disfranchising electors by calling on ratepayers opposed to them only once for their rates, but giving to others the convenience of their calling several times. This ought not to be the case, and the continuance of it was a great temptation to corruption. It opened a wide source for corruption at the time of registration. The hon. Member for Marylebone had declared in a very manly manner, and he wished others who had done so would avow it as candidly, that he had assisted many in being registered by the payment of their rates. This, however, he considered as almost buying their votes; it was certainly giving them something for them. He thought that the proposal of the noble Lord would ensure opposition from a large party in that House, and the rejection of it in the Upper House, but that the amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury was what the majority of electors wished for. If men were fit to vote by a 10l. qualification, they were fit without the consideration of their rates being paid or not; this ought not to have been super-added to the franchise, it was an unnecessary restriction, and he should, therefore, support the amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury.

Lord Ebrington

did not think the payment of rates the best qualification, but, as he considered that the amendment would defeat the object of the Bill, he should vote for the proposal of the noble Lord.

Colonel Sibthorp

had not the slightest political respect for either Whigs or Radicals; and since the noble Lord had been altering, patching up, and mending the measure of reform, which he had told him at the time of passing, he knew nothing about, he would ask the noble Lord why the 10l. qualification should not be extended to the county electors as well as to those of boroughs? He should like to see this power given to them. As to the rejection of this measure by the House of Lords, he hoped that House would long continue to resist the machinations of parties opposite. With respect to the noble Lord's proposal, he considered it mere trumpery; and as to that of the hon. Member for Finsbury, it was still more truckling. Unless some good measure were brought forward, he would vote for neither the one nor the other, but thought he should best perform his duty by withdrawing altogether.

Mr. C. Buller

thought, the best provision of the Reform Act was the extension of the franchise to 50l. landholders; but he had long wished to see the 10l. qualification extended to both town and country, as he considered it the only reasonable proposition for putting an end to further litigation on the subject. He owned that it was not without great regret he had heard the noble Lord express his intention of opposing the proposal of the hon. Member for Finsbury. He could not understand in what manner the noble Lord could adhere to the principle of the Reform Bill, and not go on to doing away with the rate-paying clause altogether. The noble Lord's proposition, without the amendment proposed by his hon. Friend, the Member for Finsbury, was practically a repeal of that clause, for a great number of persons who were now disfranchised would get their votes by means of this Bill, but he thought the measure would not pass the other, House. The people felt no interest in the Bill, because it enlarged their franchise in a manner they did not ask for. He wished to stand on the true intention of the Reform Bill. The rate-paying clause, however, gave great power to overseers, and many of their own party were allowed to be registered, whilst others of the opposite party were, although equally reputable persons, frequently disfranchised by their means.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

thought, it was of much greater importance to propose such measures as were likely to be carried into effect than to push principles too far and fail altogether. The Bill of his noble Friend met the case of a man who, under existing circumstances, would be deprived of his vote by an accidental omission to pay his rate, and supplied a remedy for that inconvenience, whereas the proposition of the hon. Member for Finsbury would extend the franchise to an individual who might be insolvent. He could not help observing that the practice pursued by some hon. Members on the present and other occasions was calculated to place the Ministers in a false position, for whenever an advanced step in the course of amendment was taken by them, it was misrepresented to the country by its being immediately contrasted with some more extreme measure. He begged to remind the House that when the present Bill was introduced in a former Parliament, it was received with general satisfaction by the Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House.

Sir E. Sugden

felt some surprise at the Bill proposed by the Government, support for which was demanded, not only from those who advocated the present small measure, but also from those who were in favour of a stronger measure. He recollected that the noble Lord once denounced all changes of the Reform Act, saying that it was a charter by which he would abide, and that a revolution once a year was too much for any country to bear: and yet the noble Lord now proposed to make an alteration of that charter; whereupon the hon. Member for Finsbury said, as it was natural he should say, if there is to be an alteration at all let it be an effectual one. If he were forced to choose between the two propositions, he should certainly vote for the motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury; but he was for leaving the Reform Act alone. When that Act was first introduced, the right of voting was made dependent upon the payment of rent, but in consequence of his repeated remonstrances on the inconveniences and evils which such a provision would create, that portion of the bill was not insisted on; and now that the Bill had passed into law, he was not the one who would consent to see it altered day after day. It appeared to him that the Government desired to open the rate-paying clauses, and to enlarge the franchise; but they had not the courage to make that proposition frankly, and they therefore wished, by a little grant and a little concession, to pave the way by degrees for the adoption of the hon. Member for Finsbury's motion. He repeated, he was against all changes of the Reform Act. When he last had the honour of sitting in Parliament, he remembered that if he found the least fault with the provisions of the Reform Act, he was told that the people were knocking at the doors of that House, and that they were devotedly attached to the bill—the whole bill. Well! the bill having passed into law, nobody obeyed it with greater fidelity than himself, for he took the principle of Conservatism to be, to oppose that which might be deemed bad, but when once it passed into law, to obey it. But now it was said by the other side that the oppression practised under the Reform Act was such as no man could long endure. Did the noble Lord think, that continually tampering with the constitution of England, that making some trifling alteration in it year after year, and leaving the rights of Englishmen unsettled, was a course which would be long endured by the country? He again repeated that he would oppose these eternal changes in the Reform Act, which had worked better than he had expected—a result he attributed to the right feeling and good sense of the people of England.

Lord John Russell

felt extreme astonish- ment at hearing the hon. and learned Gentleman, who had so perseveringly and bitterly opposed the Reform Bill, now say, with regard to that measure, "leave well alone." The hon. and learned Gentleman having night after night opposed the progress of that bill—having condemned it as revolutionary, and predicted that it would take the Crown off the Monarch's head, and sever Church from State, now, after an absence of some years returned to the House, and, Ut belli signum laurenti Turnus ab arce Extulit, he waged another war against the Government under other auspices; for he attacked not the Reform Act, being, indeed, only anxious to bear testimony to its beneficial operation and the utter failure of all his predictions. The spirit of Conservatism appeared to be very strong and singular in its nature, for he should certainly have expected that the hon. Gentlemen opposite, being so strong in numbers, would have come forward with a proposition to repeal a bill which they characterised as sure to work perpetual mischief. At the motion made by the hon. Member for Finsbury, he felt no surprise; because that hon. Member, and the Gentlemen who supported his views, always contended that the Reform Bill should lead to other changes. What they asked now was, in principle, that property should have nothing to do with the elective franchise. That, he thought, was implied by their proposition. For his part, he had always contended that the principle of the Reform Bill should be maintained; but he had never gone so far as to say, that there could not possibly be found any defects in that measure arising from its working, or arising from the conduct of those who had always been its enemies, and who tried to impede its working in a natural and safe manner. He should, therefore, be always ready to promote practical remedies for such defects, and he thought that if such practical amendments were introduced, they would tend to the maintenance of the Reform Bill; and that if they were refused, the consequence would be, that such propositions as that of the hon. Member for Finsbury, would meet with greater support.

Mr. C. Buller

complained of the charge made against the supporters of the motion proposed by the hon. Member for Finsbury, that they wished to have the electoral qua- lification totally unconnected with property. On what ground did the noble Lord make such a charge?

Lord J. Russell

thought, that the principle involved in the proposition was, that property should not be the basis of the qualification, for it did away with the necessity of paying rates, which might be looked upon as a test of the bonâ fide occupation of a House.

Mr. O'Connell

said, it appeared from what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that the duty of the Conservatives was to oppose a bad law before passing, and to support it after it had passed, maintaining it unchanged in its original form. It was certainly a curious sort of Conservatism for hon. Gentlemen opposite to support a law against which they had so vehemently protested, as they did against the Reform Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, and those around him, were continually crying out against every improvement, and saying, "let well alone." They would admit of no alterations in the Reform Bill, against which they had ever exerted all their energies. The right hon. Gentleman had said, he had contended against the rent-paying clauses of the Reform Bill, and been successful in having them removed, and in his (Mr. O'Connell's) opinion, it would be better to strike out the rate-paying clause also; and he should therefore vote for the amendment.

Sir E. Sugden

observed, that he had only talked of obeying the law, and had said nothing of alterations of the law. To obey the laws, he had said, was the duty of the Conservatives; but perhaps the hon. Member for Dublin did not fully understand that duty.

Mr. O'Connell

did not say whether his obedience to the laws was or was not greater than that of the right hon. Gentleman. He regretted, however, that the right hon. Gentleman should have lost his temper.

Sir E. Sugden

could assure the hon. Member for Dublin that he had not lost temper.

Mr. O'Connell

Then all I have to say is, that the right hon. Gentleman can say an uncivil thing in good humour—that's all.

The Committee divided on the question, that the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the clause:—Ayes 206; Noes 107:—Majority 99.

List of the AYES.
Acland, T. D. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Adam, Sir C. Fergusson, rt. hn. R. C.
Adare, Viscount Fitzroy, Lord C.
Anson, hon. Colonel Fitzroy, hon. H.
Arbuthnot, hon. H. Fleming, J.
Ashley, Lord Forbes, W.
Bagge, W. Fremantle, Sir T.
Bagot, hon. W. French, F.
Bailey, J. Freshfield, J. W.
Baillie, Colonel Gibson, T.
Bainbridge, E. T. Gladstone, W. E.
Baker, E. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Baring, H. B. Goddard, A.
Baring, W. B. Godson, R.
Barrington, Viscount Gordon, R.
Bateman, J. Gordon, hon. Captain
Bellew, R. M. Gore, O. J. R.
Bentinck, Lord G. Goring, H. D.
Bentinck, Lord W. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Berkeley, hon. H. Granby, Marquess of
Bewes, T. Grey, Sir G.
Blackett, C. Grimsditch, T.
Blackstone, W. S. Grimston, Viscount
Blair, James Grimston, hon. E. H.
Blennerhassett, A. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Bradshaw, J. Hale, R. B.
Briscoe, J. I. Harcourt, G. S.
Broadley, H. Hardinge, right hon. Sir H.
Broadwood, Henry
Brodie, W. B. Harland, W. C.
Brownrigg, S. Hayter, W. G.
Buller, E. Heron, Sir R.
Burr, H. Hinde, J. H.
Busfield, W. Hobhouse, right hon. Sir J.
Byng, G.
Byng, right hon. G. S. Hobhouse, T. B.
Cayley, E. S. Hodgson, F.
Christopher, R. A. Hodgson, R.
Clements, Viscount Hogg, J. W.
Clive, E. B. Holmes, hon. W. A'C.
Collier, J. Hope, G. W.
Colquhoun, Sir J. Houstoun, G.
Compton, H. C. Hughes, W. B.
Copeland, Alderman Hurst, R. H.
Corry, hon. H. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Craig, W. G. James, Sir W. C.
Crawford, W. Johnstone, H.
Crompton, S. Jones, J.
Dalmeny, Lord Jones, T.
Dalrymple, Sir A. Kemble, H.
Darby, G. Knatchbull, hn. Sir E.
D'Israeli, B. Knight, H. G.
Dottin, A. R. Knightley, Sir C.
Duff, J. Labouchere, rt. hn. H.
Duffield, T. Law, hon. C. E.
Dundas, C. W. D. Lefroy, right hon. T.
Dundas, F. Lemon, Sir C.
Dundas, hon. T. Lennox, Lord G.
Dundas, Captain Loch, J.
East, J. B. Lockhart, A M.
Eaton, R. J. Logan, H.
Ebrington, Viscount Long, W.
Elliott, hon. J. E. Lowther, hon. Colonel
Ellis, J. Lowther, J. H.
Estcourt, T. Lygon, hon. General
Mackenzie, T. Sandford, E. A.
Mackenzie, W. F. Seale, Colonel
Maidstone, Viscount Seymour, Lord
Manners, Lord C. S. Sharpe, General
Master, T. W. C. Shaw, right hon. F.
Maunsell, T. P. Shirley, E. J.
Mildmay, P. St. J. Sinclair, Sir G.
Mordaunt, Sir J. Smith, hon. R.
Murray, rt. hon. J. A. Smith, R. V.
O'Ferrall, R. M. Standish, C.
O'Neil, hon. J. B. R. Stanley, W. O.
Packe, C. W. Stuart, H.
Paget, Lord A. Stuart, Lord J.
Palmer, C. F. Strangways, hon. J.
Palmer, R. Sugden, rt. hon. Sir E.
Palmerston, Viscount Surrey, Earl of
Parker, J. Thomson, rt. hn. C. P.
Parker, T. A. W. Townley, R. G.
Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H. Trench, Sir F.
Pease, J. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Pemberton, T. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Pendarves, E. W. W. Tuffnell, H.
Perceval, Colonel Vere, Sir C. B.
Peyton, H. Verney, Sir H.
Plumptre, J. P. Villiers, Viscount
Ponsonby, C. F. A. C. Vivian, Major C.
Poulter, J. S. Vivian, rt. hn. Sir R. H.
Praed, W. M. Westenra, hon. H. R.
Pringle, A. Westenra, hon. J. C.
Rice, E. R. Whitmore, T. C.
Rice, right hon. T. S. Wilberforce, W.
Rich, R. Wilshere, W.
Richards, R. Wood, C.
Rickford, W. Wood, Sir M.
Rolfe, Sir R. M. Wood, T.
Rose, right hon. Sir G. Wrightson, W. B.
Round, C. G. Young, Sir W.
Round, J.
Rushbrooke, Colonel TELLERS.
Russell, Lord J. Stanley, E. J.
Russell, Lord C. Steuart, R.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Divett, E.
Archbold, R. Duckworth, S.
Allwood, T. Duke, Sir J.
Baines, E. Easthope, J.
Barnard, E. G. Ellice, E.
Beamish, F. B. Evans, G.
Blake, M. J. Fielden, J.
Blake, W. J. Fenton, J.
Bowes, J. Finch, F.
Brabazon, Sir W. Gillon, W. D.
Bridgeman, H. Grattan, H.
Brocklehurst, J. Grote, G.
Brotherton, J. Hall, B.
Buller, C. Harvey, D. W.
Callaghan, D. Hastie, A.
Chalmers, P. Hawkins, J. H.
Clay, W. Heathcoat, J.
Collins, W. Hindley, C.
Conyngham, Lord A. Hodges, T. L.
Currie, R. Hume, J.
Curry, W. Humphrey, J.
Dennistoun, J. Hutton, R.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. James, W.
Jervis, J. Rippon, C.
Jervis, S. Salwey, Colonel
Johnston, General Scholefield, J.
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. Somers, J. P.
Leader, J. T. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Lister, E. C. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Lushington, Dr. Stuart, V.
Lushington, C. Strickland, Sir G.
Macleod, R. Strutt, E.
Maher, J. Style, Sir C.
Marshall, W. Talbot, J. H.
Marsland, H. Tancred, H. W.
Martin, J. Thornley, T.
Maule, W. H. Tracy, H. H.
Molesworth, Sir W. Turner, E.
Morris, D. Vigors, N. A.
Muskett, G. A. Villiers, C. P.
Nagle, Sir R. Vivian, J. H.
O'Brien, W. S. Wakley, T.
O'Connell, D. Walker, C. A.
O'Connell, J. Walker, R.
O'Connell, M. J. Wallace, R.
O'Connell, M. Whalley, Sir S.
O'Conor, Don White, A.
Parrot, J. White, S.
Pattison, J. Williams, W.
Philips, M. Worsley, Lord
Phillpotts, J. Wyse, T.
Protheroe, E. Yates, J. A.
Pryme, G. TELLERS.
Ramsbotton, J. Duncombe, T.
Redington, T. N. Warburton, H.

The clause was again put to the vote.

Mr. Baines

suggested to the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, whether proof of one year's payment of taxes would not be sufficient. He did not mean to divide the House on the subject, but as the law at present stood, it was necessary, in many cases, to go back for, perhaps, twenty years, and he had seen great inconvenience resulting as the consequence to the revising barristers. He thought it would be better, if the payment of one year's rates and taxes before entering the name of the elector on the register was made sufficient. He only wished to suggest the matter to the noble Lord, and had no wish to impede the progress of the bill.

Lord J. Russell

thought, the amendment suggested by the hon. Member for Leeds, would have been better discussed on a question of registration than on the present occasion.

Mr. Maclean

said, there was one portion of the clause on which he should divide the House, unless the noble Lord opposite consented to alter it. The bill required the payment of rates and taxes to give a right to vote, but it never could have been the object of its framers to apply any other test than that of solvency to claimants for the right of exercising the franchise. Now, overseers might have prejudices and be actuated by party feelings, and therefore decline calling on and demanding payment of rates from those whom they did not wish to vote. Unless, therefore, the noble Lord consented to frame the clause so as to make a demand for payment of rates by the overseers necessary before an elector was disqualified from voting, he should take the sense of the House upon the subject.

The Committee divided on the question, that the clause stand part of the Bill:—Ayes 214; Noes 118:—Majority 96.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Sir C. Dashwood, G. H.
Aglionby, H. A. Dennistoun, J.
Aglionby, Major D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C.
Anson, hon. Colonel Divett, E.
Archbold, R. Duckworth, S.
Attwood, T. Duff, James
Bainbridge, E. T. Duke, Sir J.
Baines, E. Duncombe, T.
Barrington, Viscount Dundas, C. W. D.
Barron, H. W. Dundas, Frederick
Beamish, F. B. Dundas, hon. T.
Bellew, R. M. Dundas, Captain
Bentinck, Lord W. Easthope, J.
Berkeley, hon. G. Ebrington, Viscount
Berkeley, hon. H. Ellice, E.
Bewes, T. Elliott, hon. J. E.
Blackett, C. Evans, Colonel
Blackstone, W. S. Evans, G.
Blake, M. J. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Bowes, J. Fergusson, rt. hon. C.
Brabazon, Sir W. Finch, F.
Bridgman, H. Fitzalan, Lord
Briscoe, J. I. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Broadwood, H. French, F.
Brocklehurst, J. Gillon, W. D.
Brodie, W. B. Godson, R.
Brotherton, J. Gordon, R.
Buller, C. Grattan, H.
Busfield, W. Grey, Sir G.
Byng, G. Grote, G.
Byng, right hon. G. S. Hall, B.
Callaghan, D. Harland, W. C.
Campbell, W. F. Harvey, D. W.
Cayley, E. S. Hastie, Archibald
Chalmers, P. Hawkins, J. W.
Chapman, Sir M. L. Hayter, William G.
Clay, W. Heathcoat, J.
Clements, Viscount Heron, Sir R.
Clive, E. H. Hindley, C.
Collier, J. Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.
Collins, W.
Colquhoun, Sir J. Hobhouse, T. B.
Craig, W. G. Hodges, T. L.
Crawford, W. Howard, P. H.
Crompton, S. Hughes, W. B.
Currie, R. Hume, J.
Curry, W. Humphrey, J.
Dalmeney, Lord Hurst, R. H.
Dalrymple, Sir A. Button, R.
James, W. Salwey, Colonel
Jervis, J. Sanford, E. A.
Jervis, S. Scholefield, J.
Johnston, General Seale, Colonel
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. Seymour, Lord
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Sharpe, General
Leader, J. T. Sheil, R. L.
Lefevre, C. S. Smith, J. A.
Lemon, Sir C. Smith, hon. R.
Lennox, Lord G. Smith, R. V.
Lister, E. C. Somers, J. P.
Loch, J. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Long, W. Standish, C.
Lushington, C. Stanley, W. O.
Macleod, R. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Maher, J. Stewart, John
Marshall, W. Stuart, Lord James
Marsland, H. Stuart, V.
Martin, J. Strangways, hon. J.
Maule, W. H. Strutt, E.
Mildmay, P. St. J. Style, Sir C.
Molesworth, Sir W. Surrey, Earl of
Morris, D. Talbot, J. H.
Murray, rt. hon. J. A. Talfourd, Sergeant
Muskett, G. A. Tancred, H. W.
Nagle, Sir R. Thomson, rt. hn. C. P.
O'Brien, W. S. Thornley, T.
O'Connell, D. Townley, R. G.
O'Connell, J. Tracy, H. H.
O'Connell, M. J. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
O'Connell, M. Tufnell, H.
O'Conor, Don Turner, E.
O'Ferrall, R. M. Verney, Sir H.
Paget, Lord A. Vigors, N. A.
Paget, F. Villiers, C. P.
Palmer, C. F. Vivian, Major C.
Palmerston, Viscount Vivian, J. H.
Parker, J. Vivian, rt. hn. Sir R. H.
Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H. Wakley, T.
Parrott, J. Walker, C. A.
Pattison, J. Walker, R.
Pease, J. Wallace, R.
Pechell, Captain Warburton, Henry
Pendarves, E. W. W. Westenra, hon H. R.
Philips, M. Westenra, hon. J. C.
Phillpotts, J. Whalley, Sir S.
Ponsonby, C. F. A. C. White, A.
Poulter, J. S. White, S.
Power, J. Williams, W.
Protheroe, E. Wilshere, W.
Pryme, G. Wood, C.
Ramsbottom, J. Wood, Sir M.
Redington, T. N. Worsley, Lord
Rice, E. R. Wrightson, W. B.
Rice, right hon. T. S. Wyse, T.
Rich, H. Yates, J. A.
Rippon, C.
Rolt'e, Sir R. M. TELLERS.
Russell, Lord J. Stanley, E. J.
Russell, Lord C. Steuart, R.
List of the NOES.
Acland, T. D. Bagge, W.
Adare, Viscount Bagot, hon. W.
Arbuthnot, hon. H. Bailey, J.
Ashley, Lord Ballie, Colonel
Baker, Edward Irton, S.
Baring, H. B. James, Sir W. C.
Baring, W. B. Johnstone, H.
Bateman, J. Jones, J.
Bell, M. Jones, W.
Bentinck, Lord G. Jones, T.
Blair, J. Kemble, H.
Blennerhassett, A. Knatchbull, right hon.
Bradshaw, J. Sir E.
Broadley, H. Knight, H. G.
Brownrigg, S. Knightley, Sir C.
Burr, H. Law, hon. C. E.
Christopher, R. A. Lefroy, right hon. T.
Compton, H. C. Lockhart, A. M.
Copeland, Alderman Logan, H.
Corry, hon. H. Lowther, hon. Colonel
Courtenay, P. Lowther, J. H.
Darby, George Lygon, hon. General
De Horsey, S. H. Mackenzie, T.
D'Israeli, B. Mackenzie, W. F.
Dottin, A. R. Maidstone, Viscount
Douro, Marquess of Manners, Lord C. S.
Duffield, T. Master, T. W. C.
East, J. B. Maunsell, T. P.
Eaton, R. J. Mordaunt, Sir J.
Eliot, Lord O'Neill, hon. J. B. R.
Ellis, J. Packe, C. W.
Estcourt, T. Palmer, R.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Parker, T. A. W.
Fleming, J. Pemberton, T.
Follett, Sir W. Perceval, Colonel
Forbes, W. Peyton, H.
Forester, hon. G. Plumptre, J. P.
Fremantle, Sir T. Pringle, A.
Freshfield, J. W. Richards, R.
Gibson, T. Rickford, W.
Gladstone, W. E. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Goddard, A. Round, C. G.
Gordon, hon. Captain Round, J.
Gore, O. J. R. Rushbrooke, Colonel
Gore, O. W. Sanderson, R.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Shaw, right hon. F.
Granby, Marquess of Shirley, E. J.
Grimsditch, T. Sinclair, Sir G.
Grimston, Viscount Somerset, Lord G.
Grimston, hon. E. H. Stuart, H.
Hale, R. B. Sugden, rt. hn. Sir E.
Harcourt, G. S. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Hardinge, right hon. Sir H. Vere, Sir C. B.
Villiers, Viscount
Hinde, J. H. Whitmore, T. C.
Hodgson, F. Wilberforce, W.
Hodgson, R. Wood, T.
Hogg, J. W. Young, Sir W.
Holmes, hon. W. A'C.
Hope, G. W. TELLERS.
Houstoun, G. Maclean, D.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Praed, W. M.

The other clauses were agreed to, and the House resumed.