HC Deb 29 April 1841 vol 57 cc1252-89

House in Committee on the Parliamentary Voters (Ireland) Bill.

On the question, that clause 2, as amended, stand part of the bill,

Viscount Morpeth

said, that often and thoroughly as this subject had been under discussion—often as all its main details had been brought under their consideration—yet feeling the present critical position of this measure—and after the determined and mortal opposition which had been announced—mortal, so far as intention was concerned, to the clause now in the hands of the chairman—a clause, he at once admitted, involving the vital principle of the measure—he did feel himself warranted in endeavouring (though happily he should not feel it necessary to do so at any great length) to draw the attention of the House to the position in which this question was at present placed. What he conceived the House to have decided by the assent it had given to the second reading of the bill, not by any overwhelming weight of numbers certainly—but still by a distinct vote, after a most full and minute discussion, was, that the right to the elective franchise in Ireland should be ascertained and tested by reference to a fixed amount of payment, as in the instance before the House, in accordance with the Poor-law valuations. In the earlier part of the discussions on this subject, some attempts were made to impugn the trustworthiness of those valuations, but the more they had been examined into, the more they were brought to light—the more reason there seemed to admit their general fidelity and conformity of construction one with another. He did not, of course, mean to stand up for their entire accuracy, and uniform accordance with the strict letter of the Poor Relief Act. They all seemed in a very nearly equal degree to be pitched at a rather lower standard than the precise wording of the act might require. But still, he thought, as it had been well observed by his hon. Friend, the Member for Halifax, they did not recede farther from uniformity and accuracy than would be found to be the case with almost every valuation of a similar nature, such as that drawn up for the purposes of poor relief in this country. They would gradually approach to greater accuracy and uniformity in proportion as the Poor-law proceeded and gained ground in Ireland. He would read to the House some observations of Mr. Nicholls from a paper which had been laid on the Table, and were much to the point on this part of the subject. Speaking generally, and on the information I have obtained from time to time, as the work proceeded in the several unions, I consider the valuations hitherto made as being, on the whole, satisfactory. I do not mean to say, that in any instance they are perfect—that was not to be expected, and can, I believe, only be attained after repeated revisions and corrections; but considering all circumstances, they are, I think, as nearly so as we could reasonably look for; and, whatever inaccuracies or defects there may be, will, I am persuaded, be gradually corrected by the respective boards of guardians, with or without the advice and admonitions of the commissioners, or else by direct intervention, under the provisions of the 66th section of the Poor Relief Act. The boards of guardians have, I am convinced, in general acted with perfect good faith, and have endeavoured to select and appoint competent valuators, and to obtain a fair valuation of the rateable property in their respective unions. They have, in some instances, been led to form erroneous notions of what the law, in strictness, requires in this respect, and perhaps in a majority of cases, have been influenced by kindly feelings, or by other motives, to promote an under valuation of the property; but this has, I believe, in the main, been all bonâ fide, however erroneous, and has often yielded to the personal representations of the assistant commissioners, or to the written admonitions addressed to them from Dublin. Strictly speaking, the valuation is only applicable to one rate, and is constantly open to revision and correction, as the value of property changes, or as circumstances require it; so that, even supposing the valuations to be generally inaccurate at present, ample provision is made for their successive revision, and it can scarcely be doubted that in the course of a year or two, after a few rates shall have been levied, they will approximate very closely to the condition contemplated by the act, and will also be kept in that state, by the self-corrective principle with which they are imbued. Upon this point he must remind the House, and especially he must remind the great party opposite, of whom the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, and the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, were the leaders, that although doubts about the propriety of applying the test of the Poor-law valuation, were expressed in the course of the discussion on the bill, yet no such doubts or hesitation existed when it was insisted not only before the conclusion, but even before the commencement of the valuation, that it should be applied to test the municipal franchise in cities and boroughs in Ireland. There must have been a very shrewd suspicion indeed, that the tendency of that valuation, or of any valuation for the purpose of assessment, must have been below the real average value. Yet these misgivings had no weight in deterring the party from adopting it as the basis of the municipal franchise, when the certain consequence would be to raise and restrict the franchise, and it was only now that scruples and misgivings were manifested when the result would be to facilitate and simplify the admission to an important public privilege. He should have conceived that the contrary course would have teen both more reasonable and more generous—that there should have been more doubt and hesitation when the result was restriction, and less when it was facility and simplification. But apart from these matters of recrimination, what he wanted to put to the honest unbiassed verdict of every person in the House and the country was, whether the Poor-law valuations, admitting all drawbacks and inaccuracies, were not, from their very nature as presenting upon the face a certain amount of payment, uniform over large contiguous districts, not departing far from uniformity in their principles of construction throughout the country, assessed for an object entirely distinct from the franchise, and supplying in themselves a check in a contrary direction to the desire of acquiring the franchise,—whether they did not in all respects furnish an incalculably better mode of ascertaining the franchise than any that existed at present,—and, therefore, whether their adoption as a test would not be a great improvement on the whole system of registration in Ireland. In fact, he need not labour to prove that point, because it was not denied by any single person that had addressed the House. Many of those who spoke expressed doubts and difference of opinion as to the mode in which the test should be applied, but none doubted that it would be a great improvement to rest the franchise on some fixed, some impartial and self-evidencing basis, instead of leaving it, as it was at present, matter of opinion to be settled according to the views, and interests and oaths of adverse competing parties. He would not again quote the opinion of the hon. Member for Monaghan, who had a virtuous horror of anything complimentary being said to him from that side of the House, but he could not avoid once more laying before the House the opinions of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, expressed in the discussion on the Irish Cor- poration Bill, in May, 1888. He had referred to them before, but not when he had the satisfaction of seeing the right hon. Baronet in his place. The right hon. Baronet said, I will not consent to any franchise which may produce the uncertainty which has arisen under the act for the constitution for the elective franchise for Members of Parliament. I will not consent to increase the necessity for appointing a committee of inquiry, to ascertain how far the carrying out of this bill depends on fictitious votes. I will leave it to the committee, however, and I will say, that it is incumbent on Parliament to define what the franchise shall be. I find that the present test is unsatisfactory, and I would depend on no test which involves the mere principle of valuation. I think that that must be a bad principle which holds out the temptation to take false oaths. That is entirely unsatisfactory, and I must say, that I expect the concurrence of the greater proportion of this House in the opinion, that whatever franchise is granted, ought to be a bonâ fide one. We ought to know what is the franchise intended to be given; and it is necessary to adopt such a one as that no temptation shall be held out to commit fraud in respect of it, as well for the sake of the morality as of the prosperity of the people; and I must repeat, that such a franchise must be determined upon as will not even afford the excuse for fraud. For my own part, I conceive, that by far the most effectual franchise is that which in itself will act as a check upon the constituents, and that which is adopted under the Poor-law is the best which could be determined upon; because the House must agree, that persons who are included in the franchise under that law, are prevented from demanding an entail of it, to which they are not entitled, by their power of voting being proportionate only to their rental; and persons who are rated at a rental larger than they actually pay, are at all times desirous of getting their rates lowered, in preference to enjoying any extended right of voting. In that system, then, there is a constant check upon the voters; and although it is possible that it could not be applied strictly according to the same rule in this case, yet a corresponding principle might be acted upon. In the course of the present and of the last Session of Parliament, they had heard a great deal of the abuses which were alleged to attach to the present system of registration in Ireland, and distinct charges of fraud, personation, and perjury, were brought forward, as connected with that system. He thought that the ardour of complaint on those topics had been materially damped, since the Government brought forward a bill which would so effectually remove those evils. If, how-ever, the evils existed to so great an extent, where chiefly were they likely to develope themselves? Why, in petitions complaining of undue returns of Members to that House, and before election committees appointed to try those petitions. Now, from the passing of the Irish Reform Act, to the beginning of the present year, forty-two election petitions had been heard and determined. Now, he believed that in no one of these cases had the charges of personation, fraud, and perjury, been substantiated by the evidence; on the contrary, the decisions of the committees had almost uniformly turned on questions of disputed value—those very questions which the bill now on the Table would at once settle and determine, but which the bill of the noble Lord opposite would leave unsettled, undetermined, and as much afloat as ever. If he wanted corroboration of these views, he might quote ample testimonies of persons holding Conservative opinions, and especially he might refer to the recent proceedings at the registers in the Queen's county; but he should not refer to them at present, as they were likely to hear a great deal more on that point. What he contended for was—and it was a principle which had not been controverted by any one in the course of the discussion—that it would, in itself, be advisable to take the franchise out of the province of opinion, to which it was now confined, and to ascertain it by some fixed and independent standard of value. But then they had to determine how the test was to be applied. The test might be very good in theory, but the mode in which it was to be applied was, what they were now called on practically to determine. In what mode, then, was it to be applied? They might apply the test of rating above rent—that was to say, the test of profit appearing on the rate above rent and charges. That was the measure which was brought under discussion the other evening by the amendment of his noble Friend the Member for Northumberland; but he flattered himself he had demonstrated—and if the position were disputed, he would again lay down the irrefragable proofs that the test of rating above rent and charges would not only effectually disfranchise almost the whole bulk of the existing constituency of Ireland, but go far to prevent the possibility of forming any future constituency. But if they did not take the test of rate above rent, they had another option by taking a certain amount of rating without reference to profit, and without reference to the existence of any lease or tenure. He would not enter into the discussion which occupied them last night, as to whether it would be expedient in any country, and especially in a country situated like Ireland, to dispense altogether with the necessity of a lease, with a tenure of some period or other, with some right of estate on the part of the voter. But his noble Friend, the Member for Halifax, stated, last night, that the effect of the conjoint proposition which his noble Friend, the Member for Northumberland, brought forward, would not effectually disfranchise any of those whom this bill would enfranchise. But what would become of the number of those rated between 8l. and 20l., for 20l., he believed, was the amount which his noble Friend intended to propose. In ten unions, containing 1,794 voters, it appeared that the 8l. rating, as proposed by the Government, would exclude 138. What would be the effect of the franchise of 8l., 9l., or 10l., in the rate above the amount of rent in these cases? It would not have saved one out of the whole number of 1,794. What would be the effect of 5l. of rating above rent? It would have saved just three. What would be the effect of making a rating of 20l. the qualification, as his noble Friend proposed? It would have excluded 768, and the conjoint operations of the two franchises proposed by his noble Friend would have excluded 665 of the present electors in the ten unions, while the Government measure would only exclude 138. Having adverted to the mode of applying the test of the Poor-law valuation on the principle of an amount of rate above rent, and of a higher amount of rate, without reference to tenure, he should now refer to the plan they had proposed. It appeared to them that the only thing which remained to them was to preserve, in a somewhat relaxed form, the present amount of tenure required by the Irish Reform Act, and to test the competency and condition of the voter by a moderate amount of net annual value as fixed by rating. The amount was proposed in the clause on which the opinion of the House was now to be taken. They had been subject to some remark and some imputation for having—while they saw no good reason to question the propriety of their original proposition to fix the amount of rating at 5l.—altered that amount to 8l. He must say, this imputation of changing one's mind always seemed, in a certain degree, to tell in that House; but he thought it was the very last charge that any one need much mind who wished to deal practically with important questions. Preceding Governments, and all who had taken a prominent part in politics, never shrunk from adapting their measures to circumstances, when they did not involve a material deviation from principle. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, after strong opposition, found it reconcileable with his duty to carry into effect the bill for abolishing the Test and Corporation Act. The noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, found it reconcileable with his duty to change his proposal of a loan of fifteen millions to the West India colonies, into a grant of twenty millions. The information which reached her Majesty's Government certainly led them to think that they were justified in proposing a 5l. rating. In twenty-four unions which had been examined, no less than 200 10l. electors would have been disfranchised, by fixing the qualification at that amount. They received information with respect to the union of Cashel, for instance, which showed that a rating of 5l. under the Poor-law was proof of the existence of a beneficial interest of 10l., that was to say, of the qualification contemplated by the ReformBill:— The beneficial interest (using that term to denote the clear annual profit actually accrueing to the occupier after paying all expenses of rent, taxes, and labour, every expense necessary to turn the produce into money) is thus stated by the different guardians:—Mr. Long, chairman of the Board, states (and Mr. Cooper, ex-officio guardian, concurred in the opinion stated by him) that the profit of the general class of tenements rated at 5l., charging the farm with the expense of management and repairs, rent, and all the cost of production, and selling all the produce, would be about 12l. per annum on an average. Mr. Matthias Laffan, a practical farmer, stated the clear profit to be 12l. to 15l., with the ordinary cultivation of the district, and had no doubt that, with superior cultivation, the profit would be 20l. Similar information had been received with respect to Roscrea, and where it thus appeared that a rating of 5l. proved a beneficial interest of 12l. or 20l, per annum. There was nothing, therefore, unconscionable or preposterous in the original proposing of a 5l. rating. At the same time they thought that within the limits of what was admissible on principle, and so far as justice to the Irish people permitted, whose rights were in question, and on behalf of whom they were legislating, they ought to pay regard to the scruples of some for whom they felt such deference was due, and also, he would frankly state, to the chance that existed, slender as it might seem, of passing any measure through that House on the subject. In conformity with this feeling they had raised the amount from 5l. to 8l. hoping to remove the objection of those who, while they were friendly to the principle of giving an adequate constituency to the Irish people, and to the principle of testing it by the Poor-law valuation, nevertheless apprehended from the original proposal, too great an extension of the electoral body, and were especially anxious to guard against giving a greater encouragement to a more minute subdivision of property which they considered extremely prejudicial to the economical condition of the people. Therefore it was that the proposition was placed in the hands of the Chairman for an 8l. annual rate. Now, he found that amongst the fourteen unions, where he had been able to ascertain the matter, that of the number of persons valued from 8l., to 9l., which, of course, was the class of persons admitted under this bill, that the average number of acreable holdings in their possession was as follows: Lurgan, 7A. 3R. 22P. each person; Parsonstown 10A. 1R. 10P.; Longford, 8A. 0R. 18P.; Cashel, 12A. 3R. 26P.; Banbridge, 14A. 1R. 4P.; Lisburn, 11A. 1R. 34P; Newtown Limavady, 71A. 1R. 14P.; Scariff, 18A. 3R. 2P.; Naas, 13A. 3R. 13P. Listowall, 29A. 2R. 8P.; Sligo, 19A. 2R. 1P.; Sligo, 11A. 2R. 4P.; Londonderry, 14A. 2R. 9P.; Cootehill, 11A. 0R. 10P.; Rathkeale, 11A. 1R. 38P.; Gorey, 17A. 0R. 1P.; Kilkeel, 14A. 1R. 11P. It was therefore plain, from this, that the voters that would be constituted under this bill, would not be of that sordid and destitute description that had been described. He admitted, that taking the amount at an 8l. rating would disfranchise a considerable number of 10l. electors; but, on the other hand, the loss would be counterbalanced by the additional number that would be placed on the register; but still more by the facilities it would give to deal with the whole system of registration. This was the main recommendation of the proposal, to those who were admissible under the qualification, be it more or less restrictive, be they more or fewer, it afforded a certain distinct mode of easily getting, and of safely keeping, the privilege to which the elector would have been declared entitled. Its merits on the one hand were these, while, on the other, it would put an end to all the evil practices that prevailed—to the browbeating and the chicanery—the evasions—the contradictory statements—and the contradictory swearing which were said to attach to the present system of registration, and that in his opinion must attach to every system of registration, that did not refer to some impartial test of value, but left the decision of that question to the adverse testimony of conflicting parties. The point, therefore, to which he was endeavouring to call the attention of the House was, that the circumstances connected with the state of the franchise, and the state of the registration now established in Ireland, did most powerfully recommend the adoption of some settled, impartial, and extrinsic standard of value, and that no standard could be more proper or suited to the purpose than the valuation under the Poor-law, and that this could be settled in no mode so effectual to retain the same class that enjoyed the constituency at present, and to keep up an adequate number, as the mode proposed in the clause then in the hands of their Chairman. To leave the franchise of the people of Ireland in the state in which it now stood was the object of that precious statesmanship which at the same time did not scruple to arraign the mode of dealing with the franchise adopted by the Government as disentitling them to the confidence of Parliament and of the public. I certainly, said the noble Lord, in conclusion, have heard with disappointment, and I own, with regret, in the course of the discussions that have taken place since the recess, that the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, has thrown himself, without reserve, into that impetuous course which has been chalked out for him by his noble associate. It is, most certainly, only in one respect that I could venture to put myself on a footing of equality with the right hon. Baronet, and that, is in my knowledge of the country with which our immediate official connection has lasted exactly about the same period of time. I hope, then, that I say it without presumption; I am sure I say it without any wish that my foreboding should be realised; yet I cannot refrain from stating that, whatever may be the temporary triumph that attends the course in which he has embarked, I certainly do anticipate that no very long period will elapse before he regrets that he has afforded his sanction to its adoption. Or if I, Sir, do look forward to the future with any feelings of satisfaction, it is to that day when I shall hear him, (and such things have been heard before, not only without dishonour to the right hon. Baronet, but greatly to his credit) when he will come forward to propose the adoption of some such proceeding, and the sanction of some such principle as that which has now encountered his condemnation.

Lord Stanley

said, that although he had originally given notice of his intention to take the sense of the House on the present clause, on which at last they were called to decide—although he had since taken no part in the discussion in which the essential principle of the bill contained in the clause now under consideration had been thoroughly stated and discussed; still he would have been content to observe silence, had it not been for the speech of the noble Lord who had just sat down—had it not been for the manner in which the noble Lord had misrepresented the course pursued by him, and the objections urged against the principles asserted on his side in preference to those exhibited in the bill now under discussion, and in spite of the sneers of the noble Lord—notwithstanding the sneers of the noble Lord on what he was pleased to call the precious statesmanship which left altogether untouched the present evils and uncertainty of the Irish franchise, he ventured to tell the noble Lord that he, in common he believed with the great majority of the people of England, in common common with all on his side of the House, and in common with many on the other side, who from a powerful attachment to the Government and from political sympathy supported the noble Lord in his present course—he repeated, in the opinion of the vast majority of both sides of the House, and of an incalculable majority out of doors—the course which the Government, under the influence of the noble Lord, had pursued, in reference to the question of the Irish franchise, had been characterised by a spirit of recklessness and want of statesmanship, which did most certainly disentitle them to the confidence of the House, and which had shaken one of the very few and last remaining holds which they retained on the tolerance of the country. The noble Lord had misrepresented both the principle which the House had affirmed, and the objections, taken by his side of the House to the bill of the noble Lord. The noble Lord stated that the House, by the second reading of the bill, affirmed the principle of defining the franchise according to the test of the Poor-law valuation. The House, in affirming the principle of the bill, affirmed merely that they would permit the Government to submit to them to discuss in detail a measure of which it was supposed they had, as was the duty of every Government before submitting a measure to the House, maturely considered the details and calculated the effect, and were prepared to stand by the provisions they recommended. On his side of the House no opposition was offered to the Government in seeking a better, more safe, and less disputable test of value than the oaths of interested parties. On the contrary, in every discussion which had taken place on the subject it had been maintained more forcibly by the hon. Member for Mallow, on the other side of the House, than by his hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan, whose consistency had been so unfairly impugned by the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies last night, that it was most desirable to provide a real, stringent, and effectual test which should be applied to the value of property other than the oath of the party himself or than evidence on oath; and it had been affirmed, moreover, on his side of the House that the best and safest test of the amount of value would be found in the principle of rating, which imposed a tax at the same time that it affirmed a franchise. But the noble Lord had found it convenient to omit altogether this principle in his bill, to which, apart from the details, his Friends objected. He was willing to take valuation for the purpose of rating as a test of the value of the property, but he was not willing to take the value of the properly apart from the charges and incumbrances on it as the amount of qualification. And that was the principle of the noble Lord's bill—that value of a certain amount, tested by rates, should be the qualification entitling the possessor to vote, on which principle he might be disposed to agree with the noble Lord; "but then that," says the noble Lord, "shall be a test, not of the value of the property, but of the qualification for voting." On his side it was admitted to be the best test of the value of property, but then it was contended that the right to the franchise must depend on the balance between the value estimated by rating and the amount of incumbrances by which that property was burdened. The noble Lord assumed that that was the point of difference between them. That was, in principle, the point of difference between them. That was the point which was broadly and plainly stated to the House on Monday night; that was the point on which the House of Commons affirmed the beneficial interest against the no-beneficial interest contended for by the noble Lord, and that was the point for which they again stood up in opposition to Her Majesty's Government. He stated, moreover and would frankly repeat, that in the present condition of the Poor-law valuation, he could not look upon it with any degree of confidence. The very evidence produced by the noble Lord, which had come forth successively, paper by paper, week after week, and month after month, but all after the bill had been prepared, submitted to Parliament, and discussed—that very evidence told them that the valuators of the property had gone upon no fixed, stable, or uniform system whatever. In one thing, and one thing only, had they been uniform—namely, in disregarding the provisions of the act of Parliament. But how far they had done so, how much they were below the real value, whether uniformly or in certain proportions, whether only 5 per cent in one case, and 30, 40, and 50 per cent. in another, could not be ascertained. Such was the account which the Government's own commissioners gave them of their own evidence; and yet that was the evidence upon which the noble Lord asked the House to affirm that the Poor-law rating should form, not a primâ facie case, but conclusive evidence of the real and actual value of the premises, of which value the commissioners told them it was no real or proximate evidence, but varying in proportion to the deficiency and errors of every different union, in every different part of Ireland. He therefore declined to take the Poor-law valuation in its present state, and upon the evidence before them, as the basis or even as the first element, of the value of the property, exclusive of the amount of burden charged upon that property. He did not mean to say that the rating might not be so corrected, that practically it might not be made so much more perfect as ultimately to approximate so nearly to the real value, or, at all events, to approximate to so uniform a deviation from the real value, that they might not be fairly entitled and enabled to assume it, not as a test of franchise, but of the valuation of the property out of which parties claimed to vote. But upon the evidence before them, he could not take it as a test either of the franchise or the value. One word as to the manner in which the Government had dealt with the question. The House, he thought, ought not to overlook the mode in which this evidence had been furnished, the sources from which it came, and the means by which it had been obtained. It had always been usual, and it was a right and a wise practice, that when the Government furnished information on which Parliament was to act, that information should be furnished in one of two ways—it should either be presented by the command of the Crown, or furnished upon an address or motion adopted by one or other of the Houses of Parliament, and should come before them with some official evidence of its character, and of the manner in which it had been obtained. But in what manner had this evidence been received? Day after day certain papers printed by the Queen's stationer, were laid before them, and that was all the House knew officially of the evidence upon which they were now called to act. They were told that certain verbal instructions were given by the right hon. Gentleman, the Attorney-General for Ireland, to some personal friends of his to go down through the country, and acquire for him certain information—he did not tell the House what—to report that information to him, and enable him to lay a portion, or the whole of it, before the House; but the House had a right to require that this should be in fulfilment of instructions, that the commissioners should be called upon to inquire into certain definite points, and to these give answers, and not be allowed to go through the country, and collect such information upon particular points (those points varying in each union) as they might think it necessary to give to the Government for the purpose of being laid before Parliament. That evidence, whether coming from two, six, or twelve Gentlemen, should not be laid before Parliament, without any authority, to be legislated upon as the basis of this great measure. He would complain further, and say, that he objected to the clause of the bill then under consideration, because, at the present moment, the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, could not tell in the slightest degree—could not approximate to what would be its effect upon the constituency of Ireland—could not say either how far it woud increase or diminish that constituency—points upon which the noble Lord did not pretend to be able to give the least information or hint. The noble Lord had told them, that in certain unions it would strike off ten registered electors of 10l., in others 20, and in others 30; but he must be permitted to ask the noble Lord, how many qualifying tenements in Ireland, or approximating to the number, he would constitute by his 8l. rating? The noble Lord's own returns gave forty-nine unions in Ireland as a fair sample of the whole, which was 135, and consequently there were eighty-six unions of which the noble Lord gave no information at all. But how many qualifying tenements at the 8l. rating did the House suppose would be created by this bill of the noble Lord, which was to increase undoubtedly, but gradually, and not materially, the county franchise of Ireland? In these forty-nine unions, as appeared by the return of the noble Lord himself, there were 163,929 qualifying tenements; and, supposing the the noble Lord to be correct in stating that these forty-nine were a fair sample of the remaining unions in Ireland, the number of qualifying tenements which would be created by the bill for Ireland generally was 450,805; and yet this measure, said the noble Lord, was slowly and gradually, but not materially, to increase the county franchise. He admitted that from this must be taken out the tenements of the towns. He was, therefore only stating it as the nearest approximation which the noble Lord's own figures enabled him to give of the number of the qualifying tenements which, under his proposition, would exist in Ireland. Now, the constituency of 40s. freeholders only amounted to 196,000, and allowing the noble Lord to make what deductions he pleased, as for the towns or the number of tenements occupied by females and minors, would the noble Lord venture to tell the House, that he would not still be giving a number of qualifying tenements, infinitely larger than the number possessed by the 40s. freeholders of Ireland? He supposed the noble Lord would tell him there was a restriction in the leasing clause. There was a restriction, but would the noble Lord tell him when he made this large increase, and then made his deduction, what would be the effect of that increase and deduction? The main objection which he(Lord Stanley) made to the noble Lord's proposal was, that while he gave an ostensibly enormous increase in the qualifying tenements, and said that the present evils were mainly occasioned by the unwillingness of the landlords to grant leases, the sine qua non of the noble Lord was, that that unwillingness should not be checked, and that the cause of disfranchisement should continue to operate extensively. The noble Lord could not tell how extensively, but as far as it would, he did not check it by the present bill, and he knew neither the extent of franchise he was giving, nor the amount of limitation he was putting to the arbitrary power of the landlords of Ireland. He had no wish to enter upon the important question of leases, as they affected a small class of tenants; but he must observe that the existence of a lease in no degree augmented, though it certainly did not diminish, the independence of that description of tenant. He did believe, that if the vast bulk of the small class of tenants were to exercise their franchise according to the amount at which they were rated, and not according to the beneficial interest they possessed under their leases, and who consequently might be overrented, and in the power of their landlords, by getting into arrears of rent, he did believe, that persons so circumstanced, occupying under a lease, and being in arrears of rent, would be subject to a more stringent and a more ready dependence upon the will of their landlords than the same persons holding under the same landlords as tenants at will. He would no longer trespass on the committee in the discussion of a question which had been already so fully discussed, and the merits of which were fully before the country. He would merely add, that he opposed this clause because he objected to the principle of the beneficial interest being abandoned; because they had no certain evidence of the rate being a fair test at this moment of the valuation of the property; because the noble Lord and her Majesty's Government could not give them the slightest idea what the practical effect of this measure would be (and of their inability to do so, he need not say, had given the most conclusive proof); because they bad in the first instance come down with a proposition for a 5l. rating, which they afterwards nearly doubled by the substitution of a rating of 8l.; and because they introduced this bill with a degree of haste and rashness, and want of information, which he thought most censurable; and in declaring his opposition to the principle of this clause, the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, being a better judge than he could be of how fatal or mortal an opposition to it might be, or in how critical a situation that opposition might place the bill—he spoke only of the bill—in declaring his intention to oppose this clause, containing as it did, the vital principle of the measure, and conceiving that the Government, with whom it properly rested to introduce the question, had done so with culpable negligence and want of information, he had only to say that he opposed it for the purpose of defeating the bill.

Mr. C. Wood

, in answer to the allegation of his noble Friend (Lord Morpeth), that the proposition of his noble Friend near him (Lord Howick) was one of extensive disfranchisement, referred to the returns furnished by the Government, to show, that judging from six unions which he had named on Monday, about one-third of the present 10l. voters had a rated value of 5l. above rent; and whatever number was deficient would be made up by the occupation franchise. His noble Friend had not fixed any amount of rating for that franchise; but 20l. had been mentioned by him, and referred to again by the Member for Lambeth. Referring to the returns from thirty-one unions, containing no boroughs sending Members to Parliament, and with one-fifth of the population of Ireland, and taking the number for all Ireland in the same proportion; there would be 180,000 tenements rated at 20l. and upwards in the Irish counties, and by deducting from that, as had been suggested to be necessary, one-fourth for the occupation by women and for double holdings, a clear county constituency would be obtained of 135,000 voters; while the present number only amounted to 57,000. If, then, there was any faith to be placed upon the figures contained in the returns produced by the Government, such would be the result of a rating of 20l. and upwards. He objected to the present clause on account of the restriction of leases. To remove that restriction was the object of his noble Friend's second amendment, and of the motion of the Member for Kilkenny yesterday. Having voted for that motion, he could not consistently support a clause containing the same restriction. The Vice President of the Board of Trade censured the Member for Kilkenny, his noble Friend, and himself, for their ignorance of Ireland in preferring an occupation franchise to a lease. Looking at the Irish Members who had voted for the motion of the Member for Kilkenny, he was content to submit to a censure in which they must be included, to whom such ignorance could not be imputed, or any want of attachment to their country. He was aware that rejecting this clause would lead to the abandonment of the bill, and he did not regret it. It was clear that without the assent of the Gentlemen opposite the bill could not pass into a law, and he could conceive nothing more mischievous than those angry discussions leading to no practical result, of which they had had a specimen that evening, more particularly when they related to Ireland. For the same reason he anxiously hoped, that the bill of the noble Lord opposite would also be withdrawn. It professed to deal only with the question of registration; but it was now very evident, from the papers before the House, that the evils complained of arose not from the state of the registry, but from the state of the franchise. It was most desirable that the whole question should be settled in a future Session; and it certainly was not worth the while, for the sake of removing the evils connected with the system of registration alone, which were slight contrasted with those arising out of the state of the franchise, to revive those angry feelings in Ireland which would prevent the future amicable settlement of the question. He was sanguine enough to hope, that in a future Session a bill would be introduced based upon the principle of retaining as much as possible the existing franchise, adding a new franchise to a considerable extent, without the restriction of leases, but bated upon occupation and rating, and that such bill would be passed into a law in perfect conformity with the principles of the Reform Act, while it would secure to Ireland an adequate and independent body of electors.

Mr. Hume

said, that after the speech of the hon. Member for Halifax he thought he should have seen the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, use in his place to repel the insinuation which had been made against him by that hon. Member. The insinuation was, that no measure for Ireland could pass without the sanction and approbation of the right hon. Baronet. The Irish people would now know that all legislation for the benefit of Ireland was impeded by the right hon. Baronet. The hon. Member for Halifax observed, that he included all the hon. Gentlemen opposite. Then it appeared to him a very serious charge indeed against those Gentlemen, that they were an impediment to all useful legislation. The right hon. Baronet and his Friends had acted with great inconsistency in having voted for a leasehold qualification, and for the 8l. rating; they then turned round and said they would vote against the clause, without assigning any reason. The right hon. Baronet admitted, that the present state of the franchise was imperfect; he rejected this bill, which went to remedy the evil, and yet he proposed nothing better in its stead. He was, therefore, correct in saying that the right hon. Baronet and his party were impeding all useful legislation. Five hundred Members of that House had declared that the franchise was a right which ought not to be conferred upon the people by the Parliament, but that it should be dependant upon the will of those who were in possession of the land; and only forty-seven Members had ventured to declare a different opinion. He would like it to be shown why, after having unsuccessfully endeavoured to amend the clause, they ought to abandon it altogether. Upon what principle ought he to refuse a moderate amount of benefit, because be could not get all that he wished? Although the clause was not a good one, he should vote for it upon the ground that he would get what he could. Those who wished to add to the grievances of Ireland would vote with those who were the opposers of everything intended to do good to that country. But he would address a word to the Treasury Bench. He had yesterday charged them with improper conduct in having altered the amount of the rateable value without assigning any reason for doing so. The noble Lord who bad charge of the Government bill, had candidly avowed his opinion that it should not be altered, and that the 5l. franchise was the proper franchise; but in order to meet with as much support as possible, and to carry some portion of a good measure, he thought he did right to submit to the alteration, and he (Mr. Hume) entirely agreed with him. The noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, took the same view of the matter, not agreeing to the 8l. qualification by choice, but of necessity, and being disposed to give the 5l. franchise if he could. But the noble Lord had declared, that as long as he was in that House he should feel bound to have regard to its general feeling. He would, however, advise the noble Lord to act up to his opinions in a bold and conscientious manner, which would be much more becoming than his present conduct. Let him set at nought the whole Opposition. He need not fear anything from an Opposition which was bound together to deprive Ireland of her rights. That, at least, was his opinion. If that was regarded as a harsh allegation, he could only say, that they seemed to him to oppose all measures which were likely to be beneficial to Ireland. If he might counsel the noble Lord, he would tell him to act fearlessly, and not care one pin about the noble Lord and his phalanx who had come down to defeat him. Let him take such a course as would clearly explain to the country who were the real friends of Ireland, and who those were who resisted the progress of reform. But let not these changes take place in secret and silence. He thought the noble Lord could not stand acquitted with regard to the alterations which had been made in the course promised to be taken by the Government. It would be much safer for him to pursue a straightforward course. He understood that the noble Lord was to be defeated. Well, let him be defeated. What was the consequence? No doubt the hon. Gentlemen opposite were all cock-a-hoop upon that. But he hoped there would be no more fool's play. He should support the clause.

Mr. O'Connell

would trespass upon the House with only a few sentences. The hon. Member for Halifax had said, that it was wrong to continue the irritation which prevailed in Ireland. He believed they were all of one opinion upon that point. The hon. Member had said, that the irritation would be continued by unnecessary discussions in that House upon questions interesting to that country. But the irritation would be much more increased if the people of Ireland were permitted to have any reason for thinking that they had no party in that House upon whom they could depend as their friends and the advocates of their legitimate claims to those rights and privileges of which they were unjustly deprived. Those who called themselves the friends of Ireland had now an opportunity of showing their sincerity, and ought not to fritter it away by standing out upon crotchetty notions against those who were disposed to do for Ireland what good they could. It was quite clear, he thought, that the bill could not pass. But still it would do the Ministry much good in Ireland. It would show that they had made an attempt to procure a measure of justice for Ireland, upon which her friends ought to insist until it should be gained. They had made an attempt fairly and boldly and honourably to increase that constituency, which he thought no man would be hardy enough to assert was at all proportionate to the population of Ireland, or the comparative population, representation, and revenue of England and Ireland. But it would not satisfy Ireland. He would not say that it would disturb the tranquillity of that country—that tranquillity which had been maintained by a course of administrative impartiality in Ireland on the part of a Government disposed to do what they could for Ireland, by keeping the violent partizan from power, and the more violent bigot from wreaking his vengeance upon the people under the form of law, and by protecting the population from the sting of a faction which had been the curse, the misery, and the ruin of the country. But, for the present, the attempt would fail. The noble Lord, at the head of the phalanx opposite, had talents which were useful to his friends; but he also had a talent which was of service to his enemies. The noble Lord—to whom he would not impute misrepresentation, but mistake—had miscalculated the Irish franchise. But that very mistake would teach the people of Ireland that his bill was a better bill than they thought it was. It would give them greater confidence in the Government; and he trusted that this defeat would lead the Government to prepare a perfect bill for the next occasion to give the people of Ireland the franchise they ought to have. Let them extend the English constituency still more, and give to the Irish constituency an adequate power to represent theri real opinions in that House. All he asked for the people of Ireland was an equality with the people of England. That was the whole extent of his prayer. They could not be deluded by words against the evidence of deeds. If the House would support the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, in crushing a franchise already limited and miserably diminished, let them use as fine language as they pleased, the people of Ireland were too shrewd not to detect the mockery, and the House would only procure their contempt and disgust. Equality, then, was what he demanded. Let Ireland be identified with England in rights and privileges. Let them no longer keep up a reckless and almost expiring faction in Ireland, a faction now ready to be re-animated into scorpion life and mischief. He ought not to have used that word. He had not intended to do so. Let them do justice to Ireland.

Mr. Grattan

spoke amidst loud calls of divide. It had been said that this division would decide the fate of the bill; if so, he believed it would decide the fate of Ireland. He wished to know if the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, intended to bring forward his bill, because if he did, those angry discussions which had been so much deprecated, would certainly take place. He verily believed—though he wished not for separation—that if they would preserve Ireland, they must yield to the people of that country equal rights and equal privileges with the people of England. Whatever might be the result of their proceedings, he hoped they would do justice to their own character.

Mr. Fielden

said, that he had given his vote for the 5l. franchise on the previous evening, and therefore he felt bound in honesty to vote against the clause as it stood. He complained that the Government, notwithstanding all their professions of liberality and just principles, took especial rare never to bring forward any practicable measure. They were continually proposing measures which they knew could not be carried.

Lord Stanley

rose for the purpose of preventing any possible future misrepresentation of his views on a point on which, since he had sat down, he had heard, that he had so expressed himself as to be open to misconstruction. He had been under- stood to have argued in favour of a county qualification exclusively founded on beneficial interest. What he had contended against was the principle involved in the Government bill of excluding beneficial interest from the county franchise; bathe repeated what he had stated on a former night, that if the operation of a rating lest were found to be so stringent as unduly to narrow the county constituency, he should be prepared favourably to consider any proposition emanating from the Government for introducing an additional franchise founded on the principle contended for by his noble Friend the Member for Northumberland.

Lord J. Russell

said, that having beard the noble Lord, he found himself unable, at the close of the discussion, to understand the grounds on which the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman were about to proceed to a division and vote against the clause. The noble Lord had declared that he would consent to no adjustment of the franchise which should not include a beneficial interest, and yet the noble Lord had also expressed his assent to that proposition of the noble Lord for conferring a franchise not founded on any beneficial interest, but on a holding rated at a certain amount. The noble Lord and right hon. Gentleman had given very few reasons against the clause, and he found himself completely in doubt and darkness as to the reasons that influenced the vote which they were about to give.

The House divided on the question that the clause stand part of the bill:—Ayes 289; Noes 300: Majority 11.

List of the AYES.
Abercromby, hn. G. R. Bewes, T.
Acheson, Viscount Blackett, C.
Adam, Admiral Blake, M. J.
Aglionby, H. A. Blake, W. J.
Alston, R. Blake, M.
Andover, Viscount Blewitt, R. J.
Anson, hon. Colonel Bodkin, J. J.
Anson, Sir G. Bowes, J.
Archbold, R. Brabazon, Lord
Armstrong, A. Bridgeman, H.
Bainbridge, R. T. Briscoe, J. I.
Baines, E. Brocklehurst, J.
Bannerman, A. Brodie, W. B.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Brotherton, J.
Barnard, E. G. Browne, R. D.
Barry, G. S. Bryan, G.
Beamish, F. B. Buller, C.
Bellew, R. M. Buller, E.
Berkeley, hon. H. Bulwer, Sir L,
Berkeley, hon. G. Busfield, W.
Butter, hon. Colonel Greenaway, C.
Byng, G. Greg, R. H.
Callaghan, D. Greig, D.
Campbell, W. F. Grey, rt. hon. Sir C.
Carew, hon. R. S. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Cavendish, hon. C. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Cayley, E.S. Grote, G.
Chalmers, P. Guest, Sir J.
Chetwynd, Major Hall, Sir B.
Childers, J. W. Handley, H.
Clay, W. Harland, W.C.
Clayton, Sir W. R. Hastie, A.
Clements, Viscount Hawes, B.
Clive, E. B. Hawkins, J. H.
Collier, J. Hayter, W. G.
Collins, W. Heathcoat, J.
Colquhoun, Sir J. Hector, C. J.
Corbally, M. E. Heneage, E.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Heron, Sir R.
Craig, W. G. Hill, Lord A. M. C.
Crawford, W. Hindley, C.
Crompton, Sir S. Hobhouse,rt.hon.SirJ.
Currie, R. Hobhouse, T. B.
Dalmeny, Lord Hodges, T. L.
Dashwood, G. H. Hollond, R.
Denison, W. J. Horsrnan, E.
Dennistoun, J. Hoskins, K.
D'Eyncourt, right hon. C. T. Howard, hon. E.G.G.
Howard, F. J.
Divett, E. Howard, P. H.
Duff, J. Howard, Sir R.
Duncan, Viscount Howard, hn. C.W.G
Duncombe, T. Hume, J.
Dundas, C. W. D. Humphrey, J.
Dundas, F. Hutchins, E. J.
Dundas, hon. J. C. Hntt, W.
Dundas, Sir R. Hutton, R.
Dundas, D. James, W.
Easthope, J. Jervis, J.
Edwards, Sir J. Johnson, General
Elliot, hon. J. E. Labouchere, rt. hn.H
Ellice, Captain Alex. Lambton, H.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Langdale, hon. C.
Ellice, E. Leader, J. T.
Ellis, W. Lemon, Sir C.
Erle, W. Lennox, Lord G.
Euston, Earl of Lister, E. C.
Evans, Sir De L. Listowel, Earl of
Evans, G. Loch, J.
Evans, W. Lushington, C.
Ewart, W. Lushington, rt. hon. S
Fazakerley, J. N. Lynch, A. H.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Mataulay. rt. hn. T.B
Ferguson, Colonel Macnamara Major
Fitzalan, Lord M'Taggart, J.
Fitzpatrick, J. W. Marshall, W.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Marsland, H.
Filzwilliam, hn. G.W. Martin, J.
Fleetwood, Sir P. H. Martin, T. B.
Fort, J. Maule, hon. F.
Fortescue, T. Melgund, Lord Vise.
French, F. Mildmay, P. St. J.
Gillon, W. D. Milton, Viscount
Gisborne, T. Molesworth, Sir W.
Gordon, R. Moreton, hon. A. H.
Grattan, J. Morpeth, Viscount
Grattan, Hi Morris, D.
Morison, J. Smith, J. A.
Muntz, G. F. Smith, B.
Murray, Alex. Smith, G. R.
Muskett, G. A. Smith, R. V.
Nagle, Sir R. Somers, J. P.
Noel, hon. C. G. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Norreys, Sir D. Standish, C.
O'Brien, C. Stanley, M.
O'Brien, W. S. Stansfield, W. R. C.
D'Callaghan, hon. C. Staunton, Sir G. T.
O'Connell, Dan. Steuart, R.
O'Connell, J. Stewart, J.
O'Connell, M. J. Stock, Mr. Sergeant
O'Connell, M. Strangways, hon. J.
O'Ferrall, R. M. Strickland, Sir G.
Ord, W. Strutt, E.
Oswald, J. Stuart, Lord J.
Paget, Lord A. Stuart, W. V.
Paget, Colonel Style, Sir C.
Palmer, C. F. Surrey, Earl of
Palmerston, Viscount Talbot, C. R. M.
Parker, J. Talbot, J. H.
Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H. Talfourd, Mr. Serg.
Pattison, J. Tavistock, Marq. of
Pease, J. Thornely, T.
Pechell, Captain Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Pendarves, E. W. W. Turner, E.
Philips, Sir R. Verney, Sir H.
Philips, M. Villiers, hon. C. P.
Philips, G. R. Vivian, J. H.
Phillpotts, J. Vivian, rt. hn. Sir R.H.
Pigot, rt. hon. D. Walker, R.
Pinney, W. Wall, C. B.
Ponsonby, C. F. A. C. Wallace, R.
Ponsonby, hon. J. Warburton, H.
Power, J. Ward, H. G.
Price, Sir R. Wemyss, Captain
Protheroe, E. Westenra, hon. H. R.
Pryse, P. Westenra, hon. J. C.
Ramsbottom, J. White, A.
Rawdon, Colonel J. D. White, H.
Redington, T. N. White, L.
Rice, E. R. White, S.
Rich, H. Wilbraham, G.
Rippon, C. Wilde, Sir T.
Roche, E. B. Williams, W.
Roche, W. Wilshere, W.
Rumbold, C. E. Winnington, Sir T. E
Rundle, J. Winnington, H. J.
Russell, Lord J. Wood, Sir M.
Russell, Lord C. Wood, G. W.
Rutherfurd, rt.hon. A. Wood, B.
Salwey, Colonel Worsley, Lord
Sandford, E. A. Wrightson, W. B.
Scrope, G. P. Wyse, T.
Seale, Sir J. H. Yates, J. A.
Seymour, Lord
Sharpe, General TELLERS.
Sheil, right hon. R. L. Stanley, E. J.
Slaney, R. A. Tufnell, H.
List of the NOES.
A'Conrt, Captain Alford, Viscount
Adare, Viscount Antrobus, E.
Ainsworlh, P. Arbuthnott, hon. H.
Alexander, N. Archdall, M.
Ashley, Lord Darlington, Earl of
Attwood, W. De Horsey, S. H.
Attwood, M. D'Israeli, B.
Bagot, hon. W. Dottin, A. R.
Bailey, J. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Bailey, J. jun. Douro, Marquess of
Baillie, Colonel Dowdeswell, W.
Balllie, H.J. Drummond, H. H.
Baker, E. Duffield, T.
Baldwin, C. B. Dugdale, W. S.
Baring, hon. F. Dunbar, G.
Baring, hon. W. B. Duncombe, hon. W.
Barneby, J. Duncombe, hon. A.
Barrington, Viscount Dungannon, Viscount
Bateson, Sir R. Du Pre, G.
Bell, M. East, J. B.
Bentinck, Lord G. Eastnor, Viscount
Bethell, R. Eaton, R. J.
Blackburne, I. Egerton, W. T.
Blackstone, W.S. Egerton, Sir P.
Blair, J. Egerton, Lord F
Blakemore, R. Eliot, Lord
Blennerhassett, A Ellis, J.
Boldero, H. G. Estcourt, T.
Bolling, W. Farnham, E. B.
Botfield, B. Farrand, R.
Bradshaw, J. Feilden, W.
Bramston, T. W. Fector, J. M.
Broadley, H. Fellowes, E.
Broad wood, H. Fielden, J.
Brooke, Sir A. B, Filmer, Sir E.
Brownrigg, S. Fitzroy, hon. H
Bruce, Lord E. Fleming, J.
Bruce, C. L. C. Foley, E.T.
Bruen, Colonel Follett, Sir W.
Bruges, W.H.L. Forester, hon. G
Bud, L. W. Fox, S. L.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Freshfield, J. W.
Burr, H. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Burrell, Sir C. Gladstone, J. N.
Burroughes, H. N. Gladstone, W. E.
Calcraft, J. H. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Campbell, Sir H. Godson, R.
Canning, rt. hn. Sir S. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Cantilupe, Viscount Gore, O. J. R.
Cartwright, W. R. Gore, O. W.
Castlereagh, Viscount Goring, H. D.
Cholmondeley, hn. H. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Christopher, R. H. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Chute, W. L. W. Granby, Marquess of
Clements, H. J. Grant, Sir A. C.
Clerk, Sir G. Greene, T.
Clive, hon. R. H. Grimsditch, T.
Cochrane, Sir T. J. Grimston, Viscount
Codrington, C. W. Hale, R. B.
Cole, hon. A. Halford, H.
Compton, H. C. Hamilton, C. J. B.
Conolly, E. Hamilton, Lord C.
Cooper, E. J. Harcourt, G. G.
Coote, Sir C. Harcourt, G. S.
Courtenay, P. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H
Cresswell, C. Hawkes. T.
Crewe, Sir G. Hayes, Sir E.
Cripps, J. Heathcote, Sir W.
Dalrymple, Sir A. Heneage, G. W.
Damer, hon. D. Henniker, Lord
Darby, G. Hepburn, Sir T B
Herbert, hon. S. Morgan, O.
Herries, rt. hon. J. C. Neeld, J.
Hill, Sir R. Neeld, J.
Hillsborough, Earl of Nicholl, J.
Hinde, J. H. Norreys, Lord
Hodgson, F. Northland, Lord
Hodgson, R. Ossulston, Lord
Hogg, J. W. Owen, Sir J.
Holmes, hon. W. A'C. Packe, C. W.
Holmes, W. Pakington, J. S.
Mope, hon. C. Palmer, R.
Mope, H. T. Palmer, G.
Hope, G. W. Parker, M.
Hotham, Lord Parker, R. T.
Hustoun, G Parker, T. A. W.
Howick, Viscount Patten, J. W
Hughes, W B. Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.
Hurt, F. Perceval, Colonel
Ingestre, Viscount Pigot, R.
Ingham, R. Planta, rt. hon. J.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Plumptre, J. P.
Irton, S. Polhill, F.
Irving, J. Pollen, Sir J. W.
Jackson, Mr. Sergeant Pollock, Sir F.
James, Sir W. Powell, Colonel
Jermyn, Earl Powerscourt, Vise.
Johnstone, H. Praed, W. T.
Jones, J. Price, R.
Jones, Captain Pringle, Alex.
Kemble, H. Pusey, P.
Kerrison, Sir E. Rae, rt. hn. Sir W.
Kelburne, Viscount Reid, Sir J. R.
Kirk, P. Richards, R.
Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E. Rickford, W.
Rolleston, L.
Knight, H. G. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Knightley, Sir C. Round, C. G.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Round, J.
Law, hon. C. E. Rushbrooke, Colonel
Lefroy, rt. hon. T. Rushout, G.
Lennox, Lord A. St. Paul, Sir H.
Lincoln, Earl of Sanderson, R.
Litton, E. Sandon, Viscount
Lockhart, A, M, Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Long, W. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Lowther, hon. Colonel Sheppard, T.
Lowther, Viscount Shirley, E. J.
Lowther, J. H. Sibthorp, Colonel
Lucas, E. Sinclair, Sir G.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Smith, A.
Mackenzie, T. Smyth, Sir G. H.
Mackenzie, W. F. Smythe, hon. G.
Mackinnon, W. A. Somerset, Lord G.
Maclean, Donald Sotheron, T. E.
Mahon, Viscount Spry, Sir S. T.
Manners, Lord, C. S. Stanley, E.
Marsland, T. Stanley, Lord
Marton, G. Stewart, J.
Master, T. W. C. Sturt, H. C.
Mathew, G. B. Sugden, rt. hn. Sir E.
Maunsell, T. P. Teignmouth, Lord
Meynell, Captain Tennent, J. E.
Miles, P. W. S. Thesiger, F.
Miller. W. H. Thomas, Colonel H.
Milnes, R. M. Thompson, Alderman
Mordaunt, Sir J. Thornhill, G.
Morgan, C. M. Tollemache, F. J.
Tomline, G. Wilbraham, hon. B.
Trench, Sir F. Williams, R.
Trevor, hon. G. R. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Trotter, J. Wodehouse, E.
Tyrell, Sir J. T. Wood, C.
Vere, Sir C. B. Wood, Colonel
Verner, Colonel Wood, Colonel T.
Villiers, Viscount Wyndham, W.
Vivian, J. E. Yorke, hon. E.T.
Waddington, H. S. Young, J.
Walsh, Sir J. Young, Sir W.
Walter, J. TELLERS.
Welby, G. E. Fremantle, Sir T.
Whitmore, T. C. Baring, H.
Paired off.
Byng, hon. G. S. Maidstone, Lord
Campbell, Sir J. Wynn, C. W.
Cave, O. Burdett, Sir F.
Chapman, Sir M. L. Colquhoun, J. C.
Cavendish, G. H. Ashley, hon. H.
Chichester, J. P. B. Copeland, W.
Crawley, S. Davenport, J.
Davies, Colonel Acland, T. D.
Duke, Sir J. Dick, Q.
Etwall, R. Peel, Colonel J.
Fenton, J. Houldsworth, T.
Hurst, R. H. Acland, Sir T. D.
O'Connor, Don Jenkins, Sir R.
Pryme, G. Pemberton, T.
Roche, Sir D. Corry, right hon. H.
Spencer, hon. F. Vernon, G.
Shelburne, Earl of Jones, W.
Stanley, hon. W. Liddell, H. T.
Tancred, H.W. Kelly, F.
Townley, R. G. Bagge, W.
Vivian, Major C. Williams, T. P.
Walker, C. A. Kerr, D.
Barron, H. W. Heathcote, G. J.
Basset, J. Jervis, S.
Benett, J. Langton, Colonel G.
Berkeley, hon. C. Maher, J.
Chapman, A. Miles, W.
Donkin, Sir R. Monypenny, T. G.
Fitzgibbon, hon. R. Scholefield, J.
Goddard, A. Turner, W.
Hallyburton, Lord D Wakley, T.
Heathcote, Sir G.
Lord John Russell

said—I think the House cannot be at a loss as to the course I mean to pursue after the vote which has just been come to by the Committee. We have always stated, that the clause which has now been negatived by the House was the principal clause of the bill, and the foundation on which the superstructure of the bill was built. But, Sir, before I put any motion into your hands, I may perhaps be permitted by the committee to make a very few observations as to the course which has been pursued on this occasion, and the grounds which has been alleged for the rejection of this clause. And let me say, in the first place, that I should not be at all surprised, that I should feel no cause of complaint that this clause, containing a different test of franchise from that established by the settlement of 1829, on the subject of the privileges of the Roman Catholics, and by the settlement of 1832, with regard to Parliamentary representation, that, upon the first proposal of such alteration, the House should be unwilling to adopt it. But, what does occur to be be some ground of complaint is that which I stated just previously to the division, that I cannot think the grounds on which this clause has been rejected by the right hon. Gentleman, by the noble Lord, and by the party who sit opposite, have been made intelligible either to the Government or to the people. I could understand their saying, "we stand on the principle of the beneficial interest;" I could understand their saying, "we stand on the interpretation of the Acts of 1829 and 1832, and we will admit no departure from that principle;" or I could understand their saying, "we do not agree with the leasehold tenure which is contained in your clause, and we prefer an occupation franchise." But so far as I can understand hon. Gentlemen opposite, they attempt to do that which appears to me inconsistent and incompatible they take both of these lines of argument, and say they will not depart from the principles of the Acts now in force for requiring a profit, for requiring a beneficial interest; and yet in the same breath, in the same voice they say, they are ready to admit of changes, so to be made in the franchise as to require no beneficial interest—no profit—no adherence to the principles of their acts. So far, therefore, and so far only, I have reason to be surprised, not at the division which has been come to but at the grounds stated for that division. Sir, in speaking further of those who oppose the bill, on the grounds alleged by hon. Gentlemen opposite, allow me to say to them, "If you are not now prepared in any degree to modify the franchise—if you think the mode in which the Government proposed to modify that franchise objectionable, and if you think that no other mode yet proposed to the House can, till the state of circumstances in Ireland be more fully known, be adopted; if you think that no satisfactory arrangement of the franchise can yet be suggested; if such be your principle, on the other hand, you are bound to stand by those provisions in the Acts of 1829 and 1832, which were favourable to the people of Ireland. By the Act of 1829, which was introduced at a time of great ferment—great political disturbance in Ireland—at a time when three-fourths of the King's troops, the infantry at least, were employed in preventing collision in Ireland—by that bill, introduced at such a time, you gave a very restricted franchise—a franchise of a very high amount, but at the same time you proclaimed that there should be an easy admission to that franchise. Next, that the right of voting, once admitted, it should for the future be secure; that if the right of voting were refused the claimant, and only when the right was refused, he should have the power of appeal to a jury on a question of fact, and to a Judge on a question of law. You provided likewise that if, on the first trial, a vote were admitted, or if rejected on the first trial it should be admitted on appeal, that vole should remain on the register. What I wish to say is this, the House having rejected a change or innovation which we thought justified by the occasion, and which we thought justified for reasons which on us, less impressed, perhaps, with dangers of innovation, were more likely to prevail, than upon those who held it more indispensable to adhere to the established law; if, after adhering to that principle, you do not also adhere to those provisions of law which are favourable to the people of Ireland, and which you yourselves established—which you established at an important period, when everything was in jeopardy and danger—if you do not adhere to those principles, but act against the people, I ask you, will you not give them just cause of complaint, and incur a danger which you should seek to avoid? In saying this I do not wish to refer to any future debates. I only wish to take a ground which I think I am justified in maintaining. Sir, there were others who took a very different line. My noble Friend, the Member for Northumberland, and my hon. Friend, the Member for Halifax, especially, who complained of the formation of the nature of the franchise, and differed much from the mode in which the clause was framed. My noble Friend, the Member for Northumberland, in the last speech which he made on this subject, imputed considerable blame to the Government, because, as it appeared to him, we had not sufficiently conceded—because we had not shown sufficiently a disposition to conciliate, and stated, that had such a disposition been shewn some arrangement might have been come to by which we might have arrived at a fair settlement, and have tranquillized the minds of the people on the subject. Others, for instance the hon. Member for Kilkenny and the hon. Member for Finsbury said, that we were of too vacillating a disposition—that we had not adhered to what we had proposed, and that we should have shown more firmness. Now, Sir, when I hear discussions of this kind, I cannot help being reminded of a scene in the comedy of The Rivals, where Falkland, who, being of a rather jealous and hasty temperament, having just driven his mistress from the room,—calls her back—fancies he hears her coming, and exultingly exclaims, "How changeable, how vacillating are women! What! coming back again—was ever woman known so fickle and easy?" then, finding she did not come, exclaiming in a different mood, "What! she's not coming back after all; was ever anything so proud, obstinate, and perverse? Such seems to be the position these hon. Friends of ours place us in—the one party thinking we have not been sufficiently yielding and conciliatory towards our opponents—the other complaining of us for the slightest departure from what we originally proposed. Of course, I need not refer again to the arguments between us and those hon. Friends who differed from us. But I hare one word to state on the real question between us and my noble Friend, the Member for Northumberland, namely, the question whether leases should be introduced or not. I think it most desirable to state, that the Government formed their opinions from the opinions of those connected with the executive Government of Ireland. For that purpose I have had private and official consultations with the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, with the Chief-secretary for Ireland, and with the Attorney-general for Ireland. Their separate and deliberate opinion on the question of the admission of the lease—the opinion of these high persons, the two first connected with Ireland by office, and the third, the Attorney-general, not only by offic, but as the country to which he belongs, and in which he has chiefly lived—was unanimous that the introduction of the lease was necessary. I put it, then, to my noble Friend, the Member for Northumberland, whether the Government would have been justified, with such opinions, in placing the franchise on the basis of occupation? Sir, I shall only further refer to what fell from the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for the city of Dublin. I have often had occasion unfortunately to differ from that hon. and learned Gentleman as to the allegations which he has made with regard to the disposition of the people of England towards the people of Ireland, and I have not concealed that difference from the House. But I was glad to hear him state to-day, that it would be a great consolation to the people of Ireland, and a great security also, if they could always consider there was a large party in this House attached to their interests, and anxious to promote them. I was glad to hear that statement from the hon. and learned Gentleman, and, on my part, I sincerely believe, that there docs exist in this House that party, and that it is a great and a numerous party. Nor, Sir, is it a new thing in the history of this House, because the part which the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland has taken with regard to this bill cannot but remind me that when the noble Earl to whom he is so nearly related was at the head of the party to which we belong, they were content in 1807 to abandon office and retire, because they had proposed additional privileges to the Roman Catholics, and in 1817 were contented to see those privileges granted by the hands of their opponents. In 1812 they were contented to forego office, because they thought the recognition of the privileges of the Roman Catholics essential to the welfare of the State, and to gladly and actively co-operate in carrying that great measure of emancipation when it was afterwards proposed by their political opponents. I had but little part in these transactions, having nothing but the honour to belong to that party; still I do think I am justified in saying, that the people of Ireland ought not to be told there is not a party willing to be the advocates of their interest, and to endeavour to advance their liberties, when there is upon the record of history such a proof of the determination of a party to promote those interests and to make sacrifices for their good. Sir, the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, that it has been the practice of the present Government to endeavour to defend the people of Ireland from oppression; that it has been the endeavour of the Government of Ireland to steer with justice in these respects between all parties; to do what was necessary for the protection of the people of Ire land; to do what was just towards that people; and considering that they had long been the victims of an unjust system of Government, to enable them to carry further and to a greater extent that active improvement which commenced under a former Administration. Sir, I have nothing further to address to the House with respect to this subject. It may happen at some future time that, weighing all the circumstances of Ireland, the various parties in this House will be more disposed to agree in some measure which will fix the franchise of Ireland, and at the same time improve the registration. I am satisfied that no bill will prove really effectual, and cure all the evils which now exist in Ireland, unless it be based on a definite franchise. I shall consider any further discussion on the danger of this bill entirely fruitless. I consider that a prolongation of the discussion would rather tend to prevent than to promote that which I hope will ultimately be the case, viz., such an agreement of parties that the people of Ireland will have no right to say their interests are neglected, or their just requests refused and on the other hand, that anything that may be granted or established by vote of Parliament may be consonant with the maintenance of that constitution with the continuance and permanence of those institutions to which the Government and the great majority of this House are, as I believe, unalterably attached. Sir, I beg leave to move, that you do now leave the Chair.

Sir R. Peel

was sure he should only state that which would be in conformity with the prevailing feeling of the House, when he gave his opinion that there would be no public advantage obtained from a prolonged discussion upon the motion which had just been made by the noble Lord opposite; and for his own part, he should have abstained altogether from any remarks upon the present occasion, if the noble Lord had not commenced his speech by preferring a complaint against himself and those with whom he was in the habit of acting, for their conduct in reference to this bill. The observations, however, which he should make, he could assure the House, should not be in a different tone and temper to those of the noble Lord. The complaint made by the noble Lord was, that he and his party had not distinctly expressed their objections to the clause of the noble Lord. He thought at least that the noble Lord could have no ground to complain of the Parliamentary course taken by himself and his friends on this occasion; for they had endeavoured from the first to have a fair division on the merits of the question at issue, and to avoid any species of act which should retard or interfere with that result. And was not this, after all, he would ask, the manly and straightforward course to pursue? The noble Lord had undertaken to introduce a measure to define the franchise and amend the registration of Ireland. In preparing himself for this task the noble Lord had every opportunity of consulting all the various documents which at all bore upon the subject, and having consulted all these authorities, ho came forward with a deliberate proposal to make a leasehold occupancy, combined with rating, the material of a franchise for a county elector. But the noble Lord had rejected altogether the beneficial interest as an ingredient in the qualification for the franchise, and therefore, he and his friends had refused to agree to the noble Lord's proposal. The noble Lord then complained that he could not understand what he and his friends meant to propose instead of that which they had rejected. Why this was matter of detail, and none but a Government could deal with details of this kind, none but a Government could undertake a measure amounting to a new Reform Bill, and state all its details at length; but he thought, nevertheless, that enough had been said on his side of the House, to define the course which they should pursue on this subject in case the Government measure were defeated. The noble Lord said, he could not understand a principle of beneficial interest combined with occupancy. Why, that principle was well understood, and in operation in England; and if the noble Lord insisted upon an analogy between the institutions of the two countries, why should he resist this principle in reference to Ireland? He thought, therefore, that the noble Lord's complaint of concealment was entirely without foundation. The noble Lord had referred with some asperity—with an asperity unusual to him—to these subjects of complaint. He was sure that after what he had felt last night, when he contemplated the position in which the noble Lord was placed, he could readily make some little allowance for asperity, when speaking on such an occasion. When he heard the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, and the hon. Member for Kilkenny, and others of the noble Lord's supporters, indulging in mutual recrimination with respect to the policy of the Government in this affair, he confessed that he could not help thinking that the noble Lord must have felt a little annoyed when he looked across the Table from his seat, and contemplated the contrast which the unanimity prevailing on his side of the House afforded. The noble Lord complained of his (Sir R. Peel's) recklessness in following in the steps of his noble Friend, the Member for North Lancashire, whilst, on the other hand, on Monday he was taunted with having departed from his noble Friend's principles on this subject. He was accused at one time of having endeavoured to outstrip his noble Friend in popularity by professions of much larger liberality, and another time he was taunted with following his noble Friend with servile submission. He could only say, that he bore all these charges with great indifference. He was perfectly satisfied with the union and mutual confidence which happily prevailed between him and those with whom he acted; and at the same time he could not help feeling sincere sympathy and regret for the position in which he saw the noble Lord placed. When he saw the noble Lord, having to contend with all sides of the House, finding the lovers whom he had intended to court making such ungracious return to his advances, the only lover indeed whom the noble Lord had succeeded in gaining over being the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, and in conciliating whom he found he had forfeited the favour of the hon. Member for Oldham, to say, nothing of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, and others—when he recollected all these things, he certainly would not allow himself to be provoked to make any attempt at retaliation, nor to use any harsh expression towards the noble Lord. But when the noble Lord argued that, in order to obtain a great political result, it was right to endeavour by conciliation to gain over the opponents of the measure to a more favourable consideration of it: whilst he admitted the propriety of this observation, he at the same time thought it was a very different matter alter having taken six or eight months to digest all the facts and bearings of the question, and then having deliberately re termined upon a 5l. franchise, an amount which they thought consistent with reason and justice, and which ought to satisfy the reasonable expectations of the people of Ireland, and produce only that gradual and moderate increase of the franchise which was unfavourable to the growing population of the country, and then after gravely and deliberately taking up this position, for the Government, without an opinion having been expressed by the House on the subject, but merely to gratify one or two individual Members of it to come down and propose to raise the franchise from 5l. to 8l.; this was a course which he said was perfectly different from that of making rational concessions to hostile parties whom it was impossible successfully to resist; and such concessions, uncalled for by the House, and made apparently without any sufficient prevailing reason, must in his opinion destroy all confidence in a Government's adhering even to its own propositions. To show the sweeping effect which this one alteration would have upon the constituency of Ireland, the 5l. franchise originally proposed by the noble Lord would give a constituency of 113,548 souls; and then without one word being said by the House against that proposition, but merely from something which had been said to him by one or two individual Members, the noble Lord had come down with a proposal to substitute an 8l. franchise, which would give a constituency of only 76,400, being a diminution of nearly 40,000. Now what if, when the noble Lord proposed his 5l. franchise, he had proposed an 8l. franchise instead? Should he not have been told that he was an enemy to Ireland?—should he not have heard contrasted the number of electors which a 5l. franchise would give, with that which they would be reduced to by a franchise of 8l., Would he not have been told that he had thus struck off 40,000 voters, and had thus gone far towards preventing the people of Ireland from having that full and fair representation which they deserved to enjoy? Why, was not this the very question in dispute on the Municipal Corporations Bill, a question between an 8l., and a 10l. franchise? In the amendment which they then moved on this side of the House, he and his colleagues were met with all the opposition of the noble Lord and his friends; but now the noble Lord was brought to think that it mattered very little between a 5l. and an 8l. franchise for Parliamentary electors; still professing, however, the same regard for popular rights and constitutional privileges, and still denouncing the Opposition as the enemies of the people.

Viscount Howick

was understood to say, that his complaint against the Government on this question was that they had not paid sufficient attention to the real state of the case, and the nature of the difficulties with which they would have to contend in disposing of it; that they had not proposed such a measure as, according to their own showing, would meet the evil they wished to remedy, nor had founded it upon such a statement of facts as should induce the house to adopt it. When the noble Lord told him, with regard to the leasehold qualification, that he had the authority of three persons very high in the Government of Ireland in favour of that feature, and appeared to think he ought to bow at once to such a weight of authority, he begged to say that, although he had a very high respect for the noble Lord, the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and the other two noble and learned persons mentioned by his noble Friend, still he must not allow himself to forget his duty as a Member of Parliament, which required that he should look at the facts and reasonings on which the proposition was grounded, before he gave his adherence to it. When, therefore, he was told that one of the chief evils in the Irish registration arose out of the indisposition of the landlords of that country to grant leases, he could not, in common sense, come to any other conclusion than that the best way of guarding against that evil was by adopting a franchise upon occupancy. He could not shut his eyes to the fact which the commissioners appointed by ths Government itself laid before him. Several hon. Members had taken the same view of the points to which his noble Friend had adverted that he had done; and he must be permitted to say, that the vote which he had given did not by any means tend to show that he did not belong to the number of those who held, and always had held, tha ta conciliatory policy ought to be adopted towards Ireland. By his nearest connexions he had been educated in those principles under the guidance of which, he had, when in office, co-operated with his noble Friend, and now, when he regarded the results of those principles as matters of history, he felt that he and his Friends could look back upon them with pride. He had been educated in the wisdom and justice of adopting a liberal policy towards Ireland; of placing confidence in the people, of relying upon their loyalty and good sense, and of treating them generally with conciliation. To those principles he still adhered. He was anxious; to see the questions which now disturbed Ireland settled in a manner satisfactory to the people of that country, and therefore advantageously to England. Acting, then, upon these principles, he claimed the right; of exercising his own judgment as to the modes in which they were to be carried out.

Mr. Slaney

said, the right hon. Baronet opposite was mistaken if he thought him the only Member on that (the Ministerial) side of the House who was unfavourable to a 5l. franchise. Several hon. Members thought it too low. He said, he was willing to give a franchise equivalent to a liberal construction of the Reform Bill, and he considered an 8l. franchise to be founded on that principle. He should on no account wish to dissent from it.

The Chairman

then put the question that he do leave the Chair. Agreed to. The House resumed.

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