HC Deb 27 June 1839 vol 48 cc990-7
Mr. Gibson

moved the Order of the Day for the third reading of the Electors' Removal Bill.

Mr. Bagge

moved as an amendment, that the bill be read a third time that day three months, inasmuch as the proposed measure went to destroy the 10l.. clause in the Reform Bill.

Colonel Sibthorp

thought the bill extremely objectionable. It appeared to him to be merely a bill to bring in parties who had no qualification, to vote with those who had a qualification, and he should certainly oppose it. He seconded the amendment.

Mr. Ewart

hoped the House would not be led away by the eloquence of either of the hon. Members opposite to reject the bill.—[Cries of "Oh!"] If hon. Members who did him the honour to interrupt him would only attend to what he had to say, he was satisfied they would, when they collected their sober senses, find that he was right. If the House would only consider what was taking place every day in Election Committees they would be convinced that some change in the present system was necessary. It was pain- ful to any person attending the Carlow Committee now sitting to witness the interminable disputes as to residence.

Viscount Mahon

rose to order. The committee had not yet given in its report to the House. Any allusion, therefore, to its proceedings was irregular.

The Speaker

said, that no hon. Member was at liberty to refer to the proceedings of any election committee before it had reported to the House.

Mr. Ewart

contended, that if they allowed the present system to continue much longer, the public would lose all confidence in the decisions of that House. He should give his cordial support to the bill.

Mr. Blackstone

stated, that he had voted for the second reading of this bill. He had, however, a serious objection to the bill, since it admitted out-voters at borough elections. A person habitually resident on the continent might claim to vote under it. He had suggested, that a clause should be introduced into the bill to this effect—"Provided such person be a rated inhabitant of such town." If this clause were not introduced, he would vote against the third reading.

Mr. Warburton

supported the bill. It was necessary, in order to prevent voters who might change their residence, between one registration and another, from being deprived of their right to vote. He feared, that if they adopted the limitation of the hon. Member who had just sat down they would open the door to all the litigation and expense which the bill was calculated to do away with.

Viscount Sandon

remarked, that no species of bribery was more common than that of paying the expenses of out-voters coming to the poll. He was, therefore, strongly opposed to the bill.

Viscount Dungannon

considered the proposition embodied in this bill to be a perfectly monstrous one. The inconvenience of having out-voters was not to be permitted, and the expense of bringing up voters from a distance would be extremely heavy. He could not conceive any measure calculated to give rise to greater abuse. Some such measure as this, if kept within the bounds of prudence and common sense, might perhaps have been useful, but if the bill were to pass as it stood, he thought it would prove one of the most noxious measures that had been passed since the Reform Bill.

Mr. O. Gore

said, that the principle of representation, as he understood it, was this, that those who were sent to the House of Commons were sent by persons having an interest in the place for which they were sent as Members; but the interest ceased the moment that the individual left the place. He could not understand on what principle it could be asserted, that an individual who had gone to the extremity of the kingdom, after having parted with all right of property in Ipswich, or any other borough, should still retain the right of voting for that borough. It was not common sense. Again, suppose that such a man went away from a borough, his name still remained on the register, and for anything that the bill enacted, if no objection was made to him, he continued on the register, and continued to vote, and so might continue to vote in infinitum, as long as he lived, although he had no property whatever in the borough. Certainly, the House could not, without stultifying itself, agree to such a bill, repugnant as it was to the whole principle of the Reform Bill.

Mr. Brotherton

could state from experience, that in a borough constituency of 2,000, there would be 200 removals in twelve months, while very probably not more than ten of the 200 would quit the town. A person might be rated to a 10l. house, which he might afterwards quit in order to take a 20l.. house, and yet at the election he might not be a rated inhabitant of a 10l. tenement. The question really was, whether they would agree to disfranchise the 190 because ten perhaps quit the borough in the year. As to what the hon. Gentleman said about remaining on the register for life and voting all the time, it was perfectly impossible that any such, thing should occur, because the overseers made out the registry every year, and the premises would be returned either as vacant or under the name of the new occupant. He hoped the House would pass the bill, because he believed its operation would be just to both parties.

Sir G. Clerk

wished to make a few remarks on the bill, which he regarded as a measure of considerable importance. At any rate, it was deserving of some discussion, and the more so as it had hitherto passed to its very last stage without any discussion whatever; ["No, no !"] at least, then, with but a short discussion. As to the probable effects of the bill, he did not think it would act upon one party more than another; therefore, they were to look upon it in regard to its intrinsic merits, and with reference to the principles of the Reform Act. For himself, he would say at once that he was not prepared to defend the case of persons who, on removing to another tenement in the same borough, were deprived of their vote. Parliament, he thought, were bound to find some remedy for this evil. But the bill went much further than this, for it went to admit the principle that a person who removed to the further end of the kingdom should be still entitled to vote in the borough he had left. This, as had been well observed, was wholly opposed to the principle of the Reform Act. The noble Lord had said the other night in reference to that Act, that there was nothing to which he was more opposed than to a system of petty legislation on the subject of that great measure. He hoped the noble Lord would adhere to the sentiments he then expressed. At all events, he was convinced that the Government ought not to let this bill pass into a law. The learned Attorney-general had some little time back brought in a bill for the better registration of voters, the same nearly that he had brought in before, but as the Government contemplated a larger measure, which would embrace the whole subject, the learned Gentleman thought fit to withdraw his bill. Now, he did say, that when the Attorney-general of the Crown was obliged to withdraw his bill, because it was understood that the Government had in view a more comprehensive measure, it was too bad that this bill should be allowed to pass. He was aware, however, that there might be circumstances which rendered this bill more agreeable to hon. Gentlemen opposite than if it had proceeded from other hands. But there was another point: the legislation for Scotland on the subject was wholly inconsistent with this bill. The Registration Bill for Scotland took away the right of voting, except the person resided within seven miles of the place for which he claimed to vote. This bill was brought in by the Lord Advocate, the Attorney-general, and the Under Secretary of State. It excluded, too, those from voting who had removed from the borough. So that this bill was directly opposed in principle to a bill then before Parliament, and introduced under the immediate auspices of the Government. On these grounds, he did hope that the noble Lord would join with him in voting against the further progress of this measure.

Lord Ingestrie

said, the bill was one which called for a distinct expression of opinion on the part of her Majesty's Government. Hon. Members on his side did not object to any person voting in the same borough, though he had removed from one tenement to another; but what they did object to was, that a man should have a vote for the borough when he went to another part of the country. He thought this was quite contrary to the principle of the Reform Act. He thought too that the measure would have exhibited to better advantage the good taste of its author if it had come from the other side of the House. The hon. Member who was the author of it seemed to be fitly called a Conservative-Radical. For his part he thought this bill trenched upon the principle of the Reform Act, and he would oppose its further progress, though he had always considered the Reform Act as fraught with danger to the country, an opinion which time had given him no reason to alter.

The Solicitor-General

thought that this bill was the most practical bill that ever had been introduced into the House, because it was directed against an evil pressing equally on both sides of the House, and which all the constituencies in the country must wish to see removed. But the hon. Member for Stamford said, that this bill was inconsistent with the Registration (Scotland) Bill. Now, there was no analogy between the two cases. In Scotland the registration was not renewed annually. As to the objection that this measure might bring in a great number of out-voters, he was really astonished to hear it urged gravely. He did not believe that it would make more out-voters than there were at present. There were now at every election a great number of out-voters absent. The objection that under the bill a certain number of electors remaining on the registry would for the current year—for it was only for that time—have a vote who by the Reform Act were not entitled, was too minute to require notice.

Mr. Goulburn

said, this was not a party question, and ought not to be discussed as such. However, the principle of the bill was entirely opposed to the principle of the Reform Act, and his great objection was, that it removed this principle in boroughs and cities without doing so in counties. If it were just that persons without qualifications should vote in boroughs and cities, he thought that electors in counties ought to have the same privilege.

Mr. Gibson

was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say, that this was no party question, because he hoped that the noble Lord would take that remark as a gentle reproof for having said, that the author of the measure would have shown better taste had he sat on the other side of the House. Such a remark as that could only have been dictated by the spirit of party. As to the appellation of Conservative-Radical, he really did not know what it was; he could only say, that the party who supported him at his election for Ipswich had, through their leaders, most strongly requested him to bring forward this bill. The hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. O. Gore) had expressed a hope that the House would not stultify itself by passing this bill. Now, the hon. Member, as others did, spoke as if the bill were an entirely new measure. But, in fact, a similar bill was introduced a short time back, when, if he was not mistaken, the hon. Gentleman was a Member of the House, and he earnestly hoped, that he did not omit the opportunity of registering his vote in opposition to a measure to which he had just now so solemnly declared his objections. The House having entertained the former and similar bill, he hoped they would not stultify themselves by refusing to pass this bill.

The House divided on the original question—Ayes 137; Noes 122—Majority 15.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Blake, W. J.
Ainsworth, P. Bodkin, J. J.
Alcock, T. Bridgman, H.
Archbold, R. Briscoe, J. I.
Attwood, T. Brocklehurst, J.
Baines, E. Brotherton, J.
Bannerman, A. Buller, C.
Baring, F. T. Busfield, W.
Barnard, E. G. Callaghan, D.
Beamish, F. B. Cavendish, hon. C.
Berkeley, hon. H. Cayley, E. S.
Berkeley, hon. C. Clay, W.
Bernal, R. Clements, Lord
Bewes, T. Collins, W.
Blake, M. J. Dashwood, G. H.
D'Eyncourt, hn. C. T. Pigot, D. R.
Duke, Sir J. Pryme, G.
Duncombe, T. Redington, T. N.
Ellice, W. Rice, E. R.
Euston, Earl of Rice, rt. hon. T. S.
Evans, G. Roche, E. B.
Evans, W. Roche, Sir D.
Fenton, J. Rolfe, Sir R. M.
Finch, F. Rumbold, C. E.
Fleetwood, Sir H. Rundle, J.
Gillon, W. D. Russell, Lord J.
Gordon, R. Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Salwey, Colonel
Hall, Sir B. Scrope, G. P.
Hawes, B. Smith, B.
Hawkins, J. H. Standish, C.
Hayter, W. G. Stanley, E. J.
Heathcoat, J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Hector, C. J. Steuart, R.
Hobhouse, T. B. Stuart, Lord J.
Hodges, T. L. Stuart, W. V.
Hoskins, K. Stock, Dr.
Howard, P. H. Strickland, Sir G.
Howick, Lord Strutt, E.
Hume, J. Style, Sir C.
James, W. Talbol, C. R. M.
Jervis, J. Tancred, H. W.
Johnson, General Thomson, rt hn. C. P.
Lambton, H. Thornely, T.
Langdale, hon. C. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Lascelles, hon. W. Turner, E.
Lushington, C. Verney, Sir H.
Macleod, R. Vigors, N. A.
Marsland, H. Villiers, hon. C. P.
Maule, hon. F. Walker, R.
Mildmay, P. St. John Wallace, R.
Molesworth, Sir W. Warburton, H.
Moreton, A. H. Ward, H. G.
Morpeth, Lord Westenra, hon. H. R.
Morris, D. Westenra, hon. J. C.
Murray, A. White, A.
Muskett, G. A. Wilbraham, G.
O'Connell, J. Wilde, Sergeant
O'Connell, M. J. Wilkins, W.
O'Ferrall, R. M. Williams, W.
Oswald, J. Williams, W. A.
Paget, F. Wilshere, W.
Palmer, C. F. Winnington, T. E.
Parker, J. Winnington, H. J.
Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H. Wood, C.
Parrott, J. Worsley, Lord
Pease, J. Yates, J. A.
Pechell, Captain TELLERS.
Philips, M. Gibson, M.
Philips, G. R. Ewart, W.
List of the NOES.
Acland, T. D. Bethell, R.
A'Court, Captain Blackstone, W. S.
Alford, Viscount Blennerhasset, A.
Arbuthnot, hon. H. Bramston, T. W.
Attwood, W. Broadwood, H.
Baillie, Colonel Brownrigg, S.
Baker, E. Bruges, W. H. L.
Baring, F. Buck, L. W.
Baring, H. B. Burr, D. H. D.
Bentinck, Lord G. Burroughes, H. N.
Burrell, Sir C. Kemble, H.
Calcraft, J. H. Knatchbull, Sir E.
Cantilupe, Visct. Knightly, Sir C.
Clerk, Sir G. Liddell, hon. H. T.
Codrington, C. W. Lincoln, Earl of
Cole, Viscount Lowther, hn. Colonel
Cresswell, C. Lowther, J. H.
Cripps, J. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Darby, G. Mackenzie, T.
Darlington, Earl of Mackinnon, W.
De Horsey, S. H. Mahon, Lord
Douglas, Sir C. E. Manners, Lord C.
Dungannon, Viscount Maunsell, T. P.
Du Pre, G. Meynell, Captain
East, J. B. Noel, hon. W. M.
Eastnor, Viscount Norreys, Lord
Egerton, W. T. Packe, C. W.
Egerton, Sir P. Palmer, R.
Ellis, J. Palmer, G.
Estcourt, T. Parker, M.
Estcourt, T. Parker, R. T.
Farnham, E. B. Plumptre, J. P.
Fellowes, E. Polhill, F.
Fleming, J. Prinze, A.
Gordon, Captain Rae, right hon. Sir W.
Gore, O. J. R. Richards, R.
Gore, O. W. Rickford, W.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Rolleston, L.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Round, J.
Grimsditch, T. Rushbrooke, R.
Grimston, hon. E. H. Sandon, Lord
Hale, R. B. Shaw, right hon. F.
Halford, H. Sheppard, T.
Heathcote, Sir W. Shirley, E. J.
Heneage, G. W. Sinclair, Sir G.
Henniker, Lord Stanley, E.
Herbert, hon. S. Stormont, Lord
Herries, rt. hon. J. C. Teignmouth, Lord
Hillsborough, Earl of Thomas, Colonel H.
Hinde, J. H. Thompson, Alderman
Hodgson, R. Thornhill, G.
Hope, hon. C. Vere, Sir C. B.
Hope, G. W. Verner, Colonel
Hotham, Lord Vivian, J. E.
Howard, Sir R. Waddington, H.
Hughes, W. B. Welby, G. E.
Hurt, F. Wodehouse, E.
Ingestrie, Lord Wood, T.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Young, J.
Irton, S.
Irving, J. TELLERS.
James, Sir W. C. Sibthorp, Col.
Jermyn, Earl Bagge, W.

Bill read a third time and passed.