HC Deb 05 June 1849 vol 105 cc1156-233

said, that, in addressing himself to this important subject, he must beg the indulgence of the House, as he did not feel altogether in a situation to introduce the question in the manner that he could desire. As an old reformer, addressing a reformed House of Parliament, he could declare from experience how unsatisfactory it had generally been to address Parliament on the subject of reform. He had scarcely ever known an exception, except when the question had been made a party one, and there had been a struggle between the two great political bodies in the country. Then, indeed, the question had brought a full House; but on other occasions, when private Members had introduced the subject, it had been treated as one inopportune in point of time, and unfit for consideration. He had taken his full share in the reforms effected in 1831 and 1832, and no man had been more happy than he had been to see those reforms carried out. He looked back with satisfaction to the great reform effected at that period on the proposal of men who were anxious to promote the welfare of the country; and he believed that the effect had been to place this country in the enviable situation in which she now was as compared with the rest of the world. It was not that he undervalued what was done by the first Reform Parliament. He was not one of those who said that the reform effected at that period was a fallacy. It did not, indeed, lead to all that he and others, who were anxious on the subject, had been sanguine enough to expect, apt, as they were, perhaps hastily, to imagine that society would be immediately moulded by their own opinions; but it had, at any rate, put an end to the disgraceful borough-mongering which previously existed; and he believed that the opinion now prevailed very generally amongst those who were once opposed to reform, that it had been productive of great good to society, and had prevented many unhappy collisions. It was because he saw that reform had not been carried out to the extent that he had anticipated, and because he saw danger in refusing that which he considered a right belonging to the mass of the community—on these grounds it was that he then presented himself, most unwillingly, to the House. He had stated last Session, when the Motion which he brought forward was rejected, that so long as he remained in that House, no Session should pass without witnessing his humble individual efforts to persuade the House to adopt further reforms. It might be thought improper in any individual to appear to dictate such changes as he contemplated in his Motion; but unless some one would come forward and propose what he believed would prove beneficial to the country, no amelioration could take place. The House was generally slow in all its proceedings, and, of course, he would not deny that it was better to be slow and sure, than, through being rapid and inconsiderate, to run the risk of having to retreat. With regard to what he proposed, however, he must say that he had a full conviction of its justice. He was prepared to submit what, instead of being attended with danger, was, he believed, calculated to remove danger, by removing discontent and dissatisfaction. They were all interested in having good government—a system of government which would promote the happiness of the empire—and it was in view of that fact that he proposed to make certain alterations. They stood that year in very peculiar circumstances. He was anxious that they should avail themselves of the experience of past years, and that they should take a lesson from the past, and endeavour to prevent the occurrence in this country of any such collision or dissatisfaction as had been witnessed elsewhere. He was well aware that Parliament had, for a long period, been used in this country, not as an engine to promote the welfare of the community, but as an engine to extract from the community a larger amount of taxation than could be obtained by any other means; but he hoped that Parliament would go along with him in carrying out such measures as were essential to the national welfare. He felt bound to say that experience had forced upon him the conviction that the reformed Parliament was not in the situation that some former Parliaments had been. It was no longer in the power of any aristocracy, any oligarchy, or any class, as it formerly was, to dictate to the Sovereign, and compel the Sovereign to do whatever they desired. It was no longer in the power of individuals possessing seven, eight, or nine boroughs, to send men to that House, not to carry out measures for the good of the whole community, but to pass measures for their own benefit. Up to the passing of the Reform Bill, the Sovereigns of this country were in the leading-strings of the aristocracy, and the revenue and expenditure of the country were managed with a view to individual interests, or the interests of a class, instead of those of society at large. He maintained, that unless Parliament could do in that respect what it purported to do, the whole representation of the country was defective; and though he did not say that the adoption of any proposition of his own would make Parliament perfect, yet he must say that if injustice and inequality could be removed, they should not be perpetuated. Ministers had taken an oath that they would promote and support measures which would conduce to the welfare of the community. He would leave it to them, if they ever reflected when they laid their heads on their pillows, to say whether Parliament was in a condition which admitted of no improvement. He loft it to them to say whether or not they were acting as honest and faithful counsellors of the Crown in allowing a state of discontent to continue, which was so great that at times it threatened, as, for example, on a recent occasion, the most alarming consequences. He recollected that on an occasion when a Motion for reform was brought forward by one of the then members for Westminster, Mr. Canning stood forward boldly and said— I take my stand against all reforms; I am for rotten boroughs; I wish to maintain them, because this country has enjoyed greater prosperity during their existence than the Continental countries. But," he added, "I go further. I have ever been ready to meet the circumstances of the times, and to adapt the laws and ordinances of the country to the requirements of the period, though, so long as I see reason to do so, I will defend Gatton and Old Sarum. Gatton and Old Sarum were, however, now removed, and the country was, it must be admitted, in a novel position. At the period when the representation was most defective, the country stood at the top of the ladder in comparison with other countries, and no Continental nation could say that it had at that time a more popular representation than existed in England. The times were changed, however, elsewhere, and they should now consider whether they ought not, in the words of Mr. Canning, to adapt themselves to the changes which had taken place. What had been done of late by the noble Lord at the head of the Government? When his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury proposed to repeal the taxpaying clauses, he believed in the year 1847, the noble Lord read him a lecture on the danger of interfering with the Reform Bill, declaring that he wished for a little more experience of the working of that Bill, and that he was in favour of progressive reform. But what had been the "progressive reform" of the noble Lord since the period in question? The noble Lord had actually given notice of a Bill to repeal the taxpaying clauses of the Reform Bill, so far as the assessed taxes were concerned. But what became of the measure? Why, it was kept on from month till month, until at last it perished in one of the "annual massacres of the innocents." Then the Secretary for Ireland had brought in a Bill for the improvement of the system of registration in that country. There was no reform more needed; and yet the noble Lord and his Colleagues—all, by their own showing, ardent reformers—allowed this Bill also to drop through. He believed, therefore, that all the professions of Government, so far as they regarded reform, were delusive; and he had come to the conclusion that the noble Lord meant to Stand fast and do nothing. The question, then, was whether they were to remain in their present situation. He had just stated that, in former years, they were at the top of the ladder as regarded representative government. Where were they now? At the very bottom of the ladder; and that which had been supposed to be dangerous in England had been conceded in France, and in almost every Continental country. [Lord J. RUSSELL: Hear, hear!] He heard that "Hear, hear!" and he gathered from it the question, "What has been the result?" The result had been that no injury had arisen from the introduction of universal suffrage; that it, on the contrary, had returned a conservative party by a large majority. [Cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen cheered, and the noble Lord was the first to cheer. But what had he to cheer? If he looked to Russia and Vienna, he would find their darling Sovereigns, who had pledged their sacred words on the altar of their country, denying the very obligations they had entered into. Those were the parties the noble Lord ought to find fault with, and not the people of this country. It had been said that it was unsafe to entrust the people of this country with power; but he thought it would be much more unsafe to withhold it; and in order to withhold it, they felt it necessary to maintain a great military force in the country. He regretted that the time had passed when the Sovereign of the country could trust her people, and when no military were employed to keep them in subjection. See what was the difference. Then about 25,000, sometimes less, formed the whole military establishment of the united kingdom. The noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Foreign Department had declared that he wanted no military aid for the internal protection of the country—that he only wanted an establishment in this country as a nursery from which to supply colonies. But the Government of the country, instead of reposing in the love and affection of the masses of the people, refused them their constitutional rights, and coerced them to bear the injury by means of military force. In 1792, when Mr. Pitt was Minister, the pressure on the country was such that economy became the order of the day, and he so reduced the establishment that our military force altogether was only about 25,000 men; the whole expense of our barracks was limited to 12,000l. or 13,000l. a year, while last year we spent no less than 100,000l. to build barracks near Preston. Now, instead of a few, we had the country literally starred with barracks, and bearing a military aspect, as if we were preparing for the enemy abroad. We now had 20 batteries of cannon for the one we had before. He would ask those who were the protectors of the commonweal, and who desired to maintain the crown to the Sovereign and preserve the public peace, if that was a state in which this country ought to continue, or with which the people could rest satisfied? Was it right, after a 30 years' peace, that England should present the appearance of a garrison, with bayonets bristling and artillery planted at every point? And why was it so? It all arose from the fear of reform. He admitted that there were ardent and wild reformers, as there were ardent and wild men in every other capacity; but that was no reason why they should not take into consideration calmly and quietly whether the cause which led to the keeping up of this great military establishment, which was weighing down the country, might not now be prudently removed. In 1792 the whole taxation of the country was only 16,000,000l, 9,000,000l. of which paid the interest of the national debt, 6,000,000l. the expenses of our military establishment, and 1,000,000l. formed the sinking fund. Then 16,000,000l. paid for what was now costing us near 60,000,000l., so that we were now subjected to almost quadruple the amount of taxation we paid in 1792. He did not blame any living individual for the enormous addition which had been made to the national debt since that period. He blamed only that oligarchical system which drove the country into an aggressive proceeding against France, and which was still preying upon the vitals of this country. Surely it was time to check that system which had involved us in such an extravagant expenditure. He was aware that many thought it was enough to demand financial reform, saying that they would rather not mix themselves up with political matters; but the finances of the country formed one of its most important political subjects. It was idle, therefore, to abstain from urging other measures because of their political character. Those who wished for financial reform must first try and bring the Members of that House to their proper level, so that the influence of their respective constituencies may be felt in it. He addressed himself particularly to those Members who represented the south, where the labourer was so badly paid, and consequently so discontented, and he asked them how they could expect allegiance to the State or respect for property from men so circumstanced? When he found that in many agricultural districts in this country, labourers and their families were subsisting on 7s. and 8s. a week, he felt bound to move in this question, in the conviction that such a state of things could not continue. In a spirit of conservatism, and desiring to guard against those evils which he saw impending, he desired to attempt a remedy. He would tell them what he proposed. He was sorry he was not in the House when the miscellaneous estimates were before it, involving as they did an expenditure of nearly 4,000,000l. If he had been present he would have called upon them to look back to the causes of the immense charges of the present establishment, and asked them to address Her Majesty on the subject, stating that having voted Her the civil list, they would not touch it so long as they had a shilling to pay it, but that they would analyse it and see whether they could not set an example at the fountain-head, by beginning there the work of reduction. He wished then to tell Her Majesty that the civil list, when She ascended the throne, was that of the most extravagant and wasteful reign of George IV. In the reign: of William IV. it was slightly reduced, and it was now 385,000l.; but it was due to Her Majesty to say, that out of that sum She had only at Her disposal 60,000l., the rest being spent by the Lord Chamberlain, the Master of the Horse, and other officers and servants of the palace. If analysed, that civil list would be found to contain scores of lords and ladies with 300l. to 600l. or 800l. a year, who had only some slight duty to perform once a month or so, and for which the country was saddled with this large sum. He found no one out of that House to defend that establishment, and he was sure if properly represented to Her Majesty that She would be the first to sanction its revision. When they looked at the poor-law unions of the country, and found there 4,000,000 of the population in a state of destitution and dependence, he thought the extravagance of distributing 325,000l. of the public money became too apparent to require a further elucidation of it. For his part, he should desire to see the simplicity and plainness of the Windsor blue substituted for the tawdry, useless, and costly display which marked the character of the British Court, as if in imitation of Napoleon. He thought it would tend more to the honour of the country and the Sovereign if simplicity and not tawdry display were the characteristic of the Court. He dined recently at the Lord Mayor's, and met there the English Ambassador appointed to the United States, and he really could not touch his cloth owing to the quantity of gold lace upon it. Then look at your Ministers—look at the tawdry manner in which they presented themselves at Court. Was it right that their fellow-countrymen should be dying of starvation in scores, and the public money applied to such useless and gewgaw extravagance? He was for calling on Her Majesty to put an end to a large portion of it; that being done he would apply himself to the other establishments, in which money was also frittered away as if there was no such thing as distress in the country, but plainly showing that the country was not in a healthy state. What they wanted, therefore, in the first instance, was a House of Commons having courage to address Her Majesty on the subject, and by that means force the Government to retrench, beginning with the establishment of the Sovereign, who, he was sure, would readily consent to a reduction. When a feeling of dissatisfaction displayed itself in Belgium, the Government immediately extended the franchise, while the Crown, he believed, and every public officer, reduced their salaries one-third. When the Duke of Wurtemburg succeeded his father, who was over head and ears in debt, he immediately reduced every establishment one half, and brought the whole within that compass which the inhabitants could easily maintain—thus securing at once the love and admiration of his subjects. England must do the same, and with that view he asked the House to do justice to the people by giving them a fair representation. The House of Commons might be seized with occasional fits of economy, and then, perhaps, effect reductions which would do injury to the public service; but until they changed the nature of the House of Commons, so that the influence of the popular voice might be felt in it, they could not expect that steady and general reduction in the establishments of the country which the state of the country itself demanded, and which alone offered a prospect of permanent relief. He wished to see the military force of the country reduced to the necessities of the country, and all ground of their presence removed by giving to the people their just rights; so that if Her Majesty were asked where was Her military force, She might be able to say, as Queen Elizabeth did when asked where were her troops, that the people were her troops, and to them she looked for protection wherever she went. It would not be difficult to show that Parliament, as at present constituted, did not represent the communities having the privilege of electing Members of it. He believed it would be difficult to find, even amongst his own friends, those who agreed as to the exact mode in which they ought to proceed. It was the privilege of Englishmen to differ—difference of opinion arose from popular discussion; and out of those discordant opinions they sometimes arrived at a good conclusion. Every measure was more or less a compromise. If the House would permit him to bring in a Bill, he would do his best to meet the general wish—that was to say, he would place his views before them, to be modified as the House should think right. Last year it was said he was asking too much. But if they were to have reform, it ought to be effectual, and such as was likely to produce content in the country. First, then, they must extend the suffrage to every man who had a house over his head. He would point out the limits in his Bill, if permitted to introduce it. He thought he was the best friend to the constitution, in seeking to bring within its pale those who were made discontented by exclusion. He proposed that there should be vote by ballot, on which the House already had had an able discussion. In like manner, he wished to see the duration of Parliaments shortened. As the House had recently expressed an opinion on that point, in which he entirely acquiesced, thinking three years a very proper period, he would confine his observations to the inequality of the franchise, and the inequality of its distribution. It was quite true that scarcely two reformers agreed on these measures; but on what questions did men agree without some little shades of difference? Hence, the taunt from the other side was uncalled for. He admitted he was one who, in 1831, raised the cry of "the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill," being anxious to secure all that those then in power were willing to grant. The noble Lord at the head of the Government then stated that, by the constitution, every man was considered as represented in the House of Commons, as having a share in the election of those who were to make laws affecting his rights and property; and on that ground he recommended an extension of the franchise—the same ground on which he (Mr. Hume) now contended for a further extension. What was the present situation of the country? The evil arising from the large proportion of persons unrepresented was not stationary, but was increasing every year. Materials were now collecting which must explode, and caution itself recommended a change. The population of Great Britain might he taken in round numbers at twenty millions; and by the census of 1841 the number of adult males was about eight millions. There were 3,500,000 inhabited houses; and if the plan he advocated were adopted, there would be as great a number of voters. But instead of that, the number of registered electors at this moment did not exceed 820,000. In this calculation he did not include Ireland, for he was sorry to say that country had no representation at all. [Mr. W. PAGAN: There are about 40,000 voters to the eight millions of population.] He did not think there were so many. Most undoubtedly there were more bailiffs than electors. The only official report which the House possessed of the population of each borough and county, and the number of electors, was furnished in 1836, by what was called the Elections Expenses Committee, when an attempt was made by him to put an end to all election expenses; and the proportion of electors to non-electors was then 1 to 5½. It was now nearly 1 to 10; for there had been a great increase in the population, especially in the manufacturing districts, at the rate of from 11 to 34 per cent, while the increase in the agricultural districts was not more than 7 per cent. The consequence was, that the increased discrepancy between the number of electors and of non-electors was almost entirely in the manufacturing districts, where, too, the population were more intelligent, and more fitted to exercise political rights. Men more capable of exercising the elective franchise could nowhere be found; they had been accustomed to live under free elective institutions, and were not likely to fall into the mistake committed by many persons abroad when they enjoyed freedom for the first time. Every year the disproportion between electors and non-electors increased, and fastest in the manufacturing districts. While schools, churches, and associations of all kinds were established for the benefit of the working classes, they were refused that which would benefit them most of all; and it was most singular that the class in the country which was interested more than any other in the preservation of peace and quietness, should oppose the granting of this right. He would repeat, in the face of the world, that the working classes of this country had never shown any disposition to create disturbance, or to plunder or appropriate the property of their superiors. There had been numerous examples of the contrary. Would the Legislature then refuse to these men what had been granted without dispute to the very lazzaroni of Rome? In pointing out wherein consisted the inequality in the distribution of the franchise, he would limit himself to an example under each head. He had instituted a comparison between the great and small constituencies. He had taken 16 boroughs, containing a population of 2,917,000, being one-half of the whole borough population in England, including the boroughs of Birmingham, Bristol, Einsbury, Greenwich, Lambeth, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Marylebone, Salford, Sheffield, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Westminster, and Wolverhampton; these boroughs only returned 33 Members out of 323 borough representatives. He had compared these with 22 small boroughs, returning 42 Members, which possessed an aggregate population of only about 100,000. Hence, the great towns containing half the borough population, only returned one Member for every 88,000 inhabitants, whilst the small towns returned a Member for every 10,000. Could any man say that that was a fair distribution of the elective franchise? In Scotland, 23 boroughs, containing two-thirds of the borough population, returned nine Members; the other one-third sent all the remaining Members, 14 in number. In Ireland, four boroughs, containing half the population, only sent one-fifth of the borough Members. What could be more unjust? Would any honest man consent to remain quietly in the situation of these persons, or cease to demand his constitutional rights? For these a struggle was constantly going on, and hence Chartism, and the consequent alarm amongst the ruling classes, and the hasty addition of some 5,000 or 10,000 to the troops. It was high time to alter this state of things, which indeed could not be much longer continued. Another evil was the perplexity, the expense, and the loss of time occasioned by the various kinds of qualification. At this moment there were 85 different kinds of franchise in the country—from potwallopers up to ten-pounders. This necessarily led to enormous trouble, expense, and complication; it was an absurdity which no other assembly than the English House of Commons would tolerate. Another comparison showed that 28 English boroughs, returning two Members each, had each less than 500 registered electors; while 15 others, also returning two Members each, had each above 5,000 registered electors. London had four Members, and 20,000 electors; while Calne, Reigate, and Andover, returned the same number of Members, though they had only an aggregate of 606 electors. Let the intelligent Members of the aristocracy sit down quietly and look at these facts, and then, if they had the courage, rise and defend such a state of things. With such facts before them, who would be bold enough to say there needed no further reform? Another important point was the working of the system. The majority of the House of Commons represented less than one-eighth of the people; for, of 658 Members, 330 represented 3,127,000, whilst 328 represented 23,873,000 persons; the majority giving one Member for less than 9,500 of the population, the minority one for every 73,000. In this division the majority included all the third-class towns and small boroughs under landlord influence; the minority included the counties and all the great cities. And this was what was called the people's House—the Commons' House of Parliament. Would any one dare to say that it was anything more than a fallacy and a delusion? The aristocracy had one House of their own; they ought not to have both; but under the present system they had both, as it were, at their nod. Looking at the march of inquiry and democratical principles throughout the world, who would be so blind as to suppose that that march was to be stopped by an injustice of this kind? With so large a portion of the population excluded from the franchise, who could imagine that matters would rest as they were? One in eight only was within the pale of the constitution. All the rest were deemed unworthy to be admitted. And who were the men so excluded? A certain party in that House took credit for being particularly attentive to the interests of the labouring classes, and on every occasion put themselves forward to advocate measures for their benefit, improvements in their dwellings, and so on; and yet that very class almost to a man refused to the labouring population that which would most raise them in their own estimation, most familiarise them with the habits of social life, and which was worth ten times more than all the rest. Let it be proposed to give the working men an extension of their political rights, and the power of putting down bribery and corruption, and immediately these parties cried out, "No, no; we won't have that;" but any gewgaw thrown out to amuse the people, or anything likely to add to their own popularity, they would advocate. Recently, at Exeter Hall, a meeting had been held for the distribution of prizes to working men for essays on the observance of the Sabbath—a most proper object. Lord Ashley, who presided, in responding to the vote of thanks, had said— He had heard doubts thrown out whether these essays were the productions of the working classes. He had now, for the last eighteen years, been brought into such close contact—he might Bay in such close intimacy—with many of the working classes, that his experience enabled him to establish this, that many of the working men were intellectually, morally, and spiritually, capable of producing those admirable—he would not hesitate to say, marvellous—productions. Whilst in other countries thrones and aristocracies were crumbling, and the foundations of society itself were shaken, this was a most happy circumstance in the history of this country, and it led him to believe that this Protestant country was yet reserved by God for higher purposes of mercy in the history of mankind. It filled him with consolation and gave him comfort in many dark moments of life, when he saw so many of the working classes of this country who represented still larger masses, coming forward with zeal, love, knowledge, and fervour, in the assertion of this high and holy purpose. He was sure that both Her Majesty and Prince Albert recognised this great truth—that whilst all things were subordinate to the divine will, it would be found that piety and the fear of God were the glory and stability of empires. Such was his Lordship's testimony as to the extraordinary talent and extraordinary good conduct of the working classes of this country. He attributed the stability of the Throne to the steadiness, piety, and intelligence of these men; and yet he would not give them the elective franchise, though it would raise them in the scale of society, enlarge their talents and zeal, and lead them to consider themselves as free men instead of slaves. What possible reason could be assigned for this refusal? To do justice to these men, to give them a share of the elective franchise, to bring them within the pale of that constitution which they defended so ably—this was what any one would naturally expect from a party so ready to recognise the merits of the working classes, if there was any sincerity in what they said. With every disposition to approve and admire the efforts of these gentlemen, he could not but entertain doubts as to their sincerity in this refusal of political rights. Many of their benevolent efforts, though not generally successful, would doubtless tend to improve society in a great degree, and as such he was anxious to support them; but he wished that their promoters would be consistent, and render an act of simple justice to the class whom they professed so great a desire to benefit. Having shown the inequality which existed, having shown the right of the working men to be represented, and having shown, also, that the welfare and stability of the country would be promoted by an extension of the suffrage, he now came to the consideration of the means by which it could be extended. On this subject he found great difference of opinion to exist. Some advocated the principle of population as that on which the suffrage should be based; others, again, assumed the principle of property, whilst others advocated a particular tenure of property, the payment of taxes, or a certain degree of education, as the proper foundation for the right to vote. In short, the greatest variety of opinion prevailed on the subject. Mr. Mackay had written a pamphlet on the present state of the representation of the country, which he should recommend every Member of that House to read, as it showed the inequality and injustice of the present system in every point of view. Those who advocated the principle of property as the basis of the franchise, would do well to recollect that very nearly the same disproportion which existed between the population and the franchise, existed also between property and the franchise. The population of England, Wales, and Scotland was, in round numbers, 20,000,000. The number of representatives was 553, or one for every 36,166 persons. The real property of Great Britain assessed to the poor was, in round numbers, 71,500,000l., which would give one Member for every 129,294l. Taking population as the basis, the distribution would be as follows:—

England 16,500,000 would have 455 Members
Scotland 2,700,000 would have 76 Members
Wales 1,000,000 would have 22 Members
Total as at present 553

Taking property as the basis, the distribution would be as under:—

England £59,685,000 would have 460 Members
Scotland 9,329,000 would have 71 Members
Wales 2,850,000 would have 22 Members
Total 553

The same results would appear if the counties were taken instead of the kingdom. Thus it appeared that property and population were so equally distributed, that as regarded numbers one offered as fair a basis as the other upon which to found representation, and that the extension of the suffrage would do no injustice to property. That appeared to him to be a matter of great importance, because many Gentlemen might be doubtful as to the safety of his proposition. As, however, population was a much easier basis to work upon, he proposed to take it as the foundation of the alteration he proposed. As to the apportionment of representation, many Gentlemen seemed afraid of cutting up England into electoral districts, composed of squares and triangles. He had no hesitation in saying, that if he had to construct the representation anew, he would do what had been done elsewhere; but, as he was desirous of bringing about the result he had in view with as little change as possible, he would be prepared to show how he would group the different towns together, so as to give each district of boroughs the same number of representatives. He proposed to do the same thing with regard to England which was done in Scotland, where several towns were grouped together, as for instance, the district which he himself represented, which contained five boroughs. He hoped to dispel any alarm which existed on this subject by assuring the House that this could be done without producing any of the evil consequences which some persons anticipated, whilst at the same time it would place the representation on just and proper grounds. France, and other countries, exhibited examples of equal electoral divisions. But he did not propose to follow their example, but would take the precedent which existed in Scotland. Having made these statements; having shown, first, the necessity of an extension of the suffrage; secondly, that they must give voters the protection of the ballot; and having also shown that these two measures would be incomplete and ineffectual without more equal electoral districts, he now put forward the demand of a moderate, proper, and sound reform, which he affirmed every man must desire to see who wished for the peace and prosperity of his country. He thought this should be done as an act of justice, and that it was the self-interest of every man to listen to the proposition which he now made. He might be asked, as the noble Lord at the head of the Government was asked, with respect to the navigation laws, "Where are your petitions?" He might give the answer which the noble Lord had given, that petitions were not necessary where it was a clear duty to grant what had been asked. But, when he told them that in the numerous places where meetings had been held in favour of reform, the people said they would not condescend to petition the House of Commons any longer, in consequence of former petitions from them being totally neglected—when men became unwilling to press their grievances from a belief that no attention would be paid to them in that House, it was a symptom that should not be disregarded. He, therefore, pressed on the noble Lord this proposition as a sound and rational reform, and would leave to the noble Lord and his Government the responsibility of rejecting it. As Parliament was the only means of ensuring good government in this country, it was most important that Parliament should be in accordance with the feelings of the great mass of the community. Did that House represent the people now? He said no, and he challenged any man to say yes. It only represented certain classes. He did not complain so much of that, because it arose from the system which had been adopted in former days, when merchants were elected to represent boroughs, knights to represent shires, and the members of universities to represent scholars. But these days were gone by: the late Reform Bill placed all on a footing of equality, and no man had a right to say to so many others that they were to be excluded from the suffrage. Was it just to create discontent by shutting out so many from a right which, before God and man, they possessed? It was on these grounds that he implored the House to accede to the proposition he had made. The time had come when they must adopt means for placing the country in greater security. Let them allow him to put his plan before them. Let them curtail it if they thought it dangerous; let them supply and amend it where they thought it deficient; but let them show to the people that they were desirous of listening to their complaints, and redressing their grievances.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the National Representation, by extending the Elective Franchise so as to include all householders, by enacting that votes shall be taken by ballot; that the duration of Parliaments shall not exceed three years; and that the appointment of Representatives be rendered more equal to the population.


, in rising to second the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, which he did with much pleasure, remarked that his hon. Friend had been received with a very self-satisfied, but ironical, cheer from hon. Gentlemen opposite, when he had made the frank admission that considerable difference of opinion had existed among reformers as to the points of reform contained in his Motion. For himself, during his political career, he was happy to say that he had no votes to swallow, no opinions to recant, and on this occasion he had no difference at all with his hon. Friend as to the merits of any of the points of reform contained in his proposition. He had voted for triennial Parliaments; he had ever had a strong opinion that the suffrage should be extended; of small constituencies he had expressed his opinion; and he had selected the ballot for advocacy as that particular reform which was the leading step to all others, whether Parliamentary or financial. He did not believe that so much difference existed as to the merits of the reforms embraced by this Motion, as there did as to the prudence of attempting to gain them all at once. Now, he had ever considered the ballot, which was a component part of the present proposition, as that measure which they should endeavour first to obtain, for this reason—it was the most popular one. In that House, the last division showed that, while eighty-seven, inclusive of tellers, voted, there were forty pairs; and had they not been tricked into an early division by the silence of the Treasury bench, he calculated upon a division of 120 or 130; for those experienced in such matters had assured him that there were 150 Members in that House who desired protected voting. He believed that if the ballot were obtained, that the effect would be to unbind the arms of a vast electoral body, who would be the very first to aid reformers in carrying other and equally necessary measures for the people's welfare. He must say that he considered the noble Lord the Member for London's conduct on the late discussion of the ballot question, most disrespectful—disrespectful to the people, disrespectful to the numerous advocates of the measure in that House, and injurious to the noble Lord himself. Why, the ballot was the question considered at one time so important by the noble Lord, that he contemplated its adoption in the Reform Bill. He trusted that the course pursued by the noble Lord would not be persisted in on that occasion, and that the noble Lord would not seek to carry by votes that which he could not defend by argument. But if the noble Lord's conduct was strange on that occasion, what should he say of that of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department? In 1842 he voted for the ballot; in 1849, against the ballot. In 1842, he voted white; in 1849, he voted black. Surely an explanation was due on that occasion to his constituents, to that House, to his own consistency; but no, he followed his leader in silence to the fullest lobby. Now, he (Mr. H. Berkeley) thought an apology due for one vote or the other; one must he wrong, and he wished to hear that evening which the right hon. Gentleman wished to give up. Why, let him ask, was intimidation dead? Had corruption ceased to exist in 1849? Or were their constituents less fitted to he entrusted with their votes now than in 1842, when the right hon. Gentleman was ready to accord them protection? It would be base ingratitude in the right hon. Gentleman to attempt such an excuse, after the glorious specimen he had of the loyalty, love of order, and trustworthiness of the people in 1848, and which had materially lightened the arduous duties which the Home Secretary had to fulfil on that occasion. He denied the possibility of an explanation, and called on the right hon. Gentleman for an apology. But where was the Master of the Mint on that occasion? Why, he had the brilliant speech of that right hon. Gentleman, made in 1842, still tingling in his ears; the soundest reasoning on behalf of protected voting urged with "words that burn." Where was he? Would the House believe that the Treasury bench had made such an alteration in his sentiments, that when he (Mr. H. Berkeley) acquainted the right hon. Gentleman that on such a night the ballot would be before the House, the reply he received was, that the right hon. Gentleman did not think he should attend; the people did not seem so excited on the subject as formerly. So, then, in that House they were to wait for excitement, and not decide on the intrinsic merits of a case. Strange language from the Treasury bench! Now he (Mr. H. Berkeley) had always supported the abolition of the corn laws, though he had never belonged to the League; but he remembered the time when that League was termed by Her Majesty's present Government a great moneyed conspiracy, the excitement caused by which was greatly to be deprecated. Now, then, all measures of reform were to be discarded, unless pressure from without forced them into consideration. He (Mr. H. Berkeley) had been returned to that House as a partisan of Her Majesty's present Government; he adopted the word and stood by it, as long as they merited the appellation of a Liberal Government: he was sent there to assist them to carry out measures of reform when and where needed; but he frankly told the noble Lord that there was a strong opinion prevailing that the noble Lord never was ready to give the people measures remedial of grievances unless upon compulsion, and that the people began to look to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth as more likely to assist them. Indeed, it was with pain that he viewed the minorities in which Government had been left as regarded the ballot and triennial Parliaments. When hon. Gentlemen opposite were pleased to walk out of the House, or to absent themselves, and left the noble Lord to his own party, those to whom he ought to look for support, straightway he was in a minority. Depend upon it, the people disliked to behold a Liberal Ministry rely upon Tories for support against liberal measures. He did trust that the Government would not, on that occasion, pursue their late disreputable course—he need not say he meant politically disreputable—and that they would season that majority which the Tories were sure to give them by some attempt at argument.


was rather surprised that the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion should have expressed himself with any uncertainty as to the course the Government would take on the present occasion; for the hon. Gentleman must recollect that this identical Motion—identical in substance, if not in terms—was brought forward in the last Session of Parliament by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose—that it was debated at great length, and with great ability, during two nights of the Session—that his noble Friend at the head of the Government did then argue the question—and that the arguments he addressed to the House, in common with other hon. Gentlemen, ended in the result, that, on the division, the House, by a large majority, refused to entertain the Motion of the hon. Gentleman. And even if his noble Friend did not on this occasion express his opinion on the subject, no one could forget the arguments which he had used when the question was previously before the House. They were, he admitted, somewhat differently situated this year. The hon. Gentlemen the Member for Montrose had alluded to the special circumstances under which he now brought forward the question. He had alluded to the absence of any petitions in support of the Motion; whereas last year he had introduced his Motion by referring to a number of petitions, which he claimed to be in support of his Motion, but which might more properly be claimed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nottingham, not in support of the four points of the Charter, but in support of the six points of the Charter. A year had since passed over, and they had now an additional twelve months' experience; and he (Sir G. Grey) was ready to take issue as to whether the question should be entertained or not, on the ground on which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose had put it—namely, the state of this kingdom—its internal state—and its condition as contrasted with those countries on the continent of Europe, with which the hon. Gentleman had invited them to compare it. He (Sir G. Grey) was not going to say a word against the measures taken in various States of the Continent, to obtain that liberty that too long had been denied to them. They might wish them success in their struggles for constitutional liberty; but when the hon. Gentleman told them that they ought to look to those countries and envy them the political rights they enjoy, the first feeling they must entertain on entering into that comparison was a feeling of unfeigned thankfulness for that constitution, the value of which had been tested in adverse times. The hon. Gentleman stated, that the great object at which he wanted to arrive was the absence of all military force for internal purposes. He desired that any army kept by them, they should keep for the defence of their colonial empire, or to protect them against external foes. He (Sir G. Grey) wished the time might come when they might dispense with an army even as a defence against foreign aggression, and that the period might arrive when, in accordance with the wish of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding of York, the sword might be turned into a ploughshare, and when they should cultivate the arts of peace, instead of the arts of war; but without any disparagement of those countries to which reference had been made, he (Sir G. Grey) would say that he was again willing, with regard to this point, to appeal to facts and experience. He asked, was the hon. Gentleman willing to take universal suffrage with the accompaniment that now exists in Paris, and which in every other country had been recently found to be the invariable accompaniment of great and sudden political changes? It was perfectly astonishing to hear the hon. Member laud the existing state of things in France, and speak of the admirable manner in which the legislative proceedings of that country were carried on, when he must know that it was solely owing to the maintenance of an overwhelming military force in Paris, aided by the firmness of the Government, that any order and tranquillity was secured, and the deliberations of the Assembly suffered to proceed. Let the hon. Gentleman look to America, where universal suffrage was established, and he would find that circumstances might occur even in one of the cities of the United States, that might make it necessary for armed troops to appear in the streets, and that their exertions in the maintenance of public order, which the Government were bound to maintain, were attended by the loss of life to an extent which, thank God, had not been known to occur for years in this country. [Mr. HUME: There were not soldiers there.] Not soldiers there? He could only say, there were armed men there, and that deaths had been occasioned by gunshot wounds. They relied there upon armed men to keep the peace: he was speaking of armed men as distinct from the civil force. There were circumstances, quite irrespective of the constitution they might enjoy, which might render it necessary to appeal to armed men to maintain the peace; and it was a delusion to hold out the idea that the absence of all military in support of the civil power would be one of the results of entering into the series of changes which the hon. Gentleman proposed to adopt. The inefficiency of the police in many parts of the country rendered necessary a larger military force than would otherwise be required; but when the hon. Gentleman spoke of the people being kept down by military force, he spoke of a state of things that did not exist. The hon. Gentleman had stated that his maxim was "slow and sure;" and he (Sir G. Grey) consequently presumed that he merely asked for the consent of the House to this Motion as an instalment towards further reform. Suppose this Motion was carried, and that a Bill founded on the resolution should be carried, when they came to the Motion No. 4 on the Paper of the day, what course would the hon. Member take? Did he intend to oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for Nottingham, who asked for two points more of the Charter? Or would he say that this Motion being carried, finality would be his doctrine? He (Sir G. Grey) thought it was advisable that they should have some explanation on this point; for what he principally objected to was, that the Motion was extremely vague and indefinite. The hon. Gentleman had told them that as to one part of the Motion—that relating to the extension of the suffrage—he could not find two men to agree. He said it was the privilege of Englishmen to differ, and he asked them to agree to the principle of a Bill founded on a Motion framed in general terms. He said they might agree to what they should think to be most effective in Committee, and was willing that the opinion of the majority should be adopted; but he (Sir G. Grey) thought that before they consented to give up the constitution they now enjoyed, they ought at least to know where he invited them to proceed to, what he proposed to them to agree to, and where he suggested they should stop. The points stated by the hon. Gentleman in his Motion were—first, extension of suffrage; secondly, the ballot; thirdly, triennial Parliaments; and, fourthly, a remedy for the inequalities of the franchise. With regard to the extension of the suffrage, the hon. Gentleman, after referring to the general disagreement that existed as to what the suffrage should be, stated that household suffrage should be adopted. He (Sir G. Grey) would remind the House of the appeal made by the hon. and learned Member for Reading last year, on the discussion of the Motion of the hon. Gentleman opposite. When the proposition was made, the hon. Gentleman said, it means, not the man that is a householder, but the man that a house holds. Why, then, exclude the gipsy, who may be a more independent voter than many a man who has a house? To show there was a necessity for something more explicit than the hon. Gentleman had stated, he (Sir G. Grey) must refer to the opinions of gentlemen who professed to advocate the opinions of the hon. Gentleman. At a meeting held at Cardiff last year, professedly to support the question of the hon. Gentleman, a— Mr. Williams explained why he preferred universal suffrage. There were large numbers of intelligent men who by household suffrage would be excluded from a participation in political privileges, He alluded to half-pay officers, clerks, tradesmen, and all who were lodgers, who, whatever their position in society might be, would not have the right of voting, simply because they were not householders, and for no other reason. If household suffrage were adopted, then all who were not householders would have no votes; whereas the occupier of a house, however humble, would have the power of voting. This, he conceived, would be unfair. However, Mr. Hume's Motion extended no further than household suffrage; and as it was better to receive part of a loaf than no bread at all, and as household suffrage was only a stepping-stone to a more comprehensive system of voting, he would support the present object of the meeting. If he (Sir G. Grey) understood the hon. Gentleman correctly, he proposed to meet the objection by agreeing, not to limit the suffrage to householders, but to extend it to every man whether having a house to cover his head or not. If that were the extent to which the hon. Gentleman intended to go, why shrink from adopting the terms of the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nottingham, and ask the House to agree to universal suffrage? He did not understand the hon. Gentleman opposite by universal suffrage to include persons underage, or females; and if the hon. Gentleman stopped short of those classes, he did not see much difference between him and his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose; and it was for his hon. Friend to say why he stopped short of the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nottingham. He begged to refer to the opinion of Mr. Jones, another of the supporters of the hon. Gentleman at the same meeting. After referring generally to the movement for reform which was now taking place in numerous parts, he said, with reference to the object of the meeting, that— He preferred taking a portion of the debt that was duo to the people, rather than to be without any part of it at all. The question of the suffrage was founded on the rights of man, and not on the accident of his being a householder. In the present state of parties, the mode of action intended to be adopted by the meeting was, probably, the shortest cut they could make in order to restore the full enjoyment of the rights of mankind. To him (Mr. Jones) it appeared quite unintelligible why it was possible to deny any man the suffrage if you granted him liberty; because he believed the suffrage was a necessary accompaniment of liberty. If a fellow-being was granted his liberty, how could that liberty be complete unless he was given the right of showing by his voice whether he consented to the measures and to the system under which and by which he was governed? Now, if these were the real opinions of the advocates of his hon. Friend, they were not called upon to decide between the existing limitation of the suffrage and some other limitation, but between it and universal suffrage. The hon. Gentleman had spoken of 8,000,000 of adult male population; but he would remind him that according to the late census, he should only have spoken of 4,000,000. The hon. Gentleman referred to a speech made by Lord Ashley, on the distribution of prizes for certain essays; and he (Sir G. Grey) hoped he did not intend to disparage the efforts of the noble Lord the Member for Bath for the good of his country—efforts that could not be too highly praised. But when the hon. Gentleman quoted the opinion of Lord Ashley with reference to the intelligence and excellent qualities of the working classes, he could not ask the House to infer from that, that the whole question was decided, and that universal suffrage should be adopted, because amongst the ablest and best written of the essays were those written by women in humble life; and if the opinion of Lord Ashley could at all be quoted by the hon. Gentleman in support of his proposition, it was equally applicable to women. With respect to the doctrine of finality, he (Sir G. Grey) thought they were not bound to say that no alteration should be made now or at any future time. He never held that Parliament at any time could have the power of fettering the discretion of future Parliaments in matters affecting the interests of the country. They should deal with those questions as members of a deliberative assembly. Let them make those alterations that reason and their own judgment recommended to them; but let them not be driven into an undefined course, giving up blessings they had learned to appreciate, without knowing where they were to be led by the hon. Gentleman, when he asked them to adopt a proposition so vague and undefined as that which he had made. As to the extension of the suffrage, the hon. Gentleman had said it was difficult to know on what principle it should be extended. It might, it was said, be extended with respect to property, population, taxpaying, or education. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose asked them not only to agree to universal suffrage, but also to agree to electoral districts; and though the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose shrunk from proposing equal electoral districts, all his arguments went to support them. The hon. Gentleman disclaimed any desire for equal electoral districts; but why then did he reject property as an element of qualification—why did he refer simply to the population, thus taking a test that must necessarily lead him to equal electoral districts? However, he (Sir G. Grey) would not go into any argument on the subject of equal electoral districts, as the hon. Gentleman had disclaimed them. He (Sir G. Grey) was not saying that the present state of things was perfect. There might be occasion from time to time to correct anomalies in certain cases; but at the same time they should not adopt a proposition that would involve them in changes without the advantages to result from such changes being apparent. There were two other points referred to by the hon. Gentleman—one was the ballot, the other the question of triennial Parliaments. With regard to the ballot, the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion spoke evidently with some degree of soreness of the result of the Motion he had brought forward on the subject the other night. He complained of being treated in a disrespectful manner, because the sense of the House had been expressed on the subject without a protracted discussion. Seven years had elapsed since a Motion on the subject had been previously brought forward; and in the absence of any recent expression of opinion from the people of the country that it should be brought forward, he (Sir G. Grey) felt it was not necessary to follow the hon. Gentleman, and thought it was not expedient to vote for his proposition. The hon. Gentleman had said that in the year 1842 he (Sir G. Grey) had voted for a Motion of the same kind. He said he had voted white on one day, and black another day. Such a charge applied rather to a question of fact, than to an opinion on a question of political expediency. Did the hon. Gentleman mean to say that the opinion he entertained at one period, was the opinion which must be entertained at every future period? He (Sir G. Grey) did support a resolution that the votes for Members of Parliament should be taken by ballot. He then represented a constituency where he saw influences used that induced him to declare, that though he had been an opponent of the ballot, if no other means were used to check those influences, he would not oppose the ballot. He reluctantly supported the ballot, and stated at the time the circumstances under which he did so. However, he believed that public opinion had been since expressed with regard to intimidation, to which principally he adverted, in a manner which had produced a great effect; and now without any desire on the subject being expressed on the part of the country, he did not feel himself bound to support the hon. Gentleman who had brought forward the question, without any occasion existing for it at the present time. Nor could he disregard the strong reasons given by the hon. Member for Oldham against the ballot taken by itself. He was ready to submit to the reproach of the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion, whose life was no doubt one of unblemished consistency, and who had expressed so much anxiety for that reputation which he thought Ministers were indifferent to. He (Sir G. Grey) had acted in accordance with his conviction of what he thought at the time was right; and when the hon. Gentleman spoke of the influence of the Treasury bench, he could tell him that the first vote he gave for the ballot, having voted twice on the question, was given, not as a Member of the Opposition, but as a subordinate Member of the Government, sitting on the Treasury bench. With regard to triennial Parliaments, the opinion of the House on a future occasion would be expressed with respect to it, on the second reading of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lambeth. As the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose had postponed that part of the subject, he (Sir G. Grey) was unwilling to introduce any discussion regarding it, until that Bill came before the House. The hon. Gentleman had concluded his speech by asking, "Does this House represent the nation?" That was a vague and undefined question, and might be equally asked of any one who stopped short of universal suffrage. Might not the same question be asked of him at any future time? Might not the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nottingham be also prepared to say, even though this Motion were carried, "Does this House represent the nation?" He (Sir G. Grey) thought that the House did represent the general feeling and opinion of the nation, They had seen the opinions of the people expressed repeatedly and most influentially in that House since the passing of the Reform Act. They had seen great measures passed, and other measures defeated, because public opinion had acted upon the House. He thought that we now enjoyed great and inestimable benefits, and that great danger was to be apprehended from entering upon the course proposed by the hon. Gentleman; and he hoped, therefore, that the House, by a majority like that which marked its decision last year, would refuse the Motion of the hon. Gentleman.


said, that if it had not been for the allusion which had been made to him by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, it was not his intention to have spoken upon this subject. He believed that if to-morrow the working classes of this country had conferred upon them the franchise, and those powers which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose had advocated, they would not be led into any physical revolution, because they were prepared to use them properly the moment they were conceded; but when France was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman as a reason for withholding further concessions to the English people, he would ask, whether that country was ever more tranquil than at this moment, and whether any election had ever taken place here more peaceably than the recent elections there? But the right hon. Gentleman had asked him whether he was for female suffrage, and to what extent his suffrage would go? His answer was, that the suffrage should be given to every man of 21 years of age, unblemished by crime, and at large—and he might be permitted to use an argument of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, to show that that would be the first step in the right direction towards Parliamentary reform. The hon. Gentleman had shown that at present there were 8,000,000 of adult males in this country; but even by the plan the hon. Gentleman himself proposed, the franchise would be conferred upon only 3,500,000. Although the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had changed his opinion upon the ballot between 1842 and 1849, he (Mr. O'Connor) still entertained his opinion in favour of it. If, indeed, it were considered as a single measure, he should vote against it; but when it came to a question whether or no the constituencies of the country were to be circumscribed within the narrow limits in which money had a powerful influence over the electors, and popular opinion none, then, he said, give them vote by ballot with an extension of the suffrage. But he thought the noble Lord at the head of the Government would discover that, while other countries were in turmoil and revolution in consequence of not making those concessions which the English people were better prepared to use, he would be obliged to make an onward instead of a retrograde march. The right hon. Gentleman the Homo Secretary had alluded to the circumstance of no petitions having been presented on this subject in the present Session. He thought the reason could be given. He had determined, so long as he had anything to do with popular agitation, and that would be so long as he had strength to go on, that he would not throw any obstacle in the way of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, so as to give the noble Lord any advantage. He (Mr. O'Connor) had shown the people out of that House, that by the Emancipation Bill, by the Reform Bill, and by free trade, they had been juggled, and it was only by catering for political power on the presumption and promise that those measures would lead to social benefit, that the working classes were ever enlisted in that onward march. And let them not taunt the Chartists of this country with violence; they never burned Bristol or Nottingham Castle, or carried about the figure of a king, and threatened to cut off his head if reform were not granted. And he defied any man, however they might he abused, to say that the Chartists ever fostered or cherished revolution in this country. It was because he believed that what had been done by physical force in other countries could be done here by moral force, that he should advocate the Charter. But the right hon. Gentleman, in referring to the hon. Member for Montrose not having presented any petitions on this subject, had furnished him (Mr. O'Connor) with the strongest reason for not proceeding with his own Motion that evening. He had presented no petitions upon the question, but he had received applications from nearly every town in England to postpone his Motion until they could send up petitions to that House, in order to show that they were still determined to persevere. They certainly would not have a monster petition like last year; but the several Members of the boroughs and cities who presented the petitions would have to vouch for the signatures attached to them. There was a mind in this country looking to progress, and he would tell the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord not to hug themselves with the belief that, because foreign countries had made an evil use of the powers that had been conferred upon them, that would be a justification for refusing to grant such powers in England. He should vote most cordially for the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, assuring him, in his own words, that it was but the beginning of the end, and that, even if the Motion were carried, it would not prevent him (Mr. O'Connor) from supporting the principles of the Charter, or bringing forward his Motion on that subject.


said, the hon. Member for Nottingham, and some on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, must see whether they could not obtain more unity of action than had lately been the case; the reason being, that whenever any proposal was made which did not go the whole length of the proposal of the hon. Member for Nottingham, it was met without further consideration, by the argument that they might just as well go "the whole animal" with him. He was ready to admit that the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose was not brought before the House in altogether the most happy and fortunate manner; it did not appear to him a course of proceeding calculated to bring over to their side any great quantity of Ministerial support; and therefore he should be highly gratified, if on further consideration some signs should be given, that the men who were in truth the representatives of the authors of the greatest revolution that had ever taken place in the history of the world, were prepared to make some concessions, and to take the lead they ought to take in advancing the interests of this country, along with those of Europe in general. Every country, and particularly England, was seriously interested in the general success and extension of liberal principles in Europe; and it was sad and sorrowful that those whom nature had made to be the leaders, should not be found taking the place for which they were designed.


pointed to the weak and wretched equivocation of the Member for Montrose and his supporters, as to the mode in which their proposition was related to the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Nottingham. Would this reform, if granted, avert or precipitate the Charter, was a question which the House had a clear right to put to them, and to which they shrunk from giving any kind of satisfactory reply. Silence, however, upon such a point was affirmation, and it might be properly observed of them on this point—Dum tacent clament. If they conscientiously believed that such a project as they advocated would drive Chartism to a greater distance than it was at present, they would not be slow in their professions of that conviction. It was, therefore, as a measure to accelerate the introduction of the Charter, he (Mr. Campbell) would feel entitled to regard this new Reform Bill. It was under these circumstances proper to consider to what the Charter would amount, and a very short train of reasoning would suffice to prove that the Charter in its application to the British constitution would amount to pure, absolute, and unlimited democracy. He would grant as an hypothesis that pure and unlimited democracy was well adapted to the interests of mankind in general, and the welfare of the British empire in particular. He granted that an aristocracy was likely to draw improvement from a system which excluded it from public business—a middle order from a system which put an end to its political ascendancy—and a lower class from a dominion which robbed industry under the pretence of raising it, and perpetuated pauperism under the pretence of abrogating poverty. In return for this concession, he would ask it to be granted to him, that a Reform Bill which the public mind had been brought to identify with Chartism, and, through Chartism, with Democracy, would be resisted by a large section, if not by the whole, of the middle classes and the aristocracy; that if the House, by allowing it to advance some stages, gave the country any prospect of its speedy consummation, immense excitement would prevail; other topics would succumb, other interests would vanish. When the great measure for transferring the formation of the House of Commons from the aristocracy to the middle classes was propounded, every particle of legislative talent and political excitement was drawn into that controversy. It was not presumptuous to infer that when a change far more violent was impending, or thought to he impending, there would be the same absorption of the public mind, the same neglect of other topics, the same incapacity for the settlement of other questions, until a question so vast and so tremendous was decided. If, therefore, he could establish that any class of questions required immediate consideration, and could not be postponed until this new Reform Bill was accepted, without a grievous sacrifice of public interests, he should give the House sufficient reason for denying the leave to bring it in, which the Member for Montrose solicited. He then contended seriatim that the state of Ireland, the condition of the colonies, the financial situation of the country, and the claims of the working classes on the Legislature, each as an individual class of questions, constituted a well-defined and not to be mistaken path of duty to the present House of Commons; while considered in their aggregate, they furnished a great and an overpowering vocation to its energies. To desert that path of duty and set that vocation at defiance, for the purpose of accomplishing organic changes, could only be justified if those organic changes were recommended by great men, constructed upon sound principles, and essential to the public safety—suppositions against which he (Mr. Campbell) most emphatically and unreservedly protested. He denied that they were recommended by great men, inasmuch as great men, from their very nature, were incapable of treating with derision or contempt the most enlightened thinkers and the most accomplished writers on the very subject-matter upon which they proposed to legislate; and that such was the inclination of the hon. Member for Montrose and his supporters, the hon. Gentleman endeavoured to prove, by referring to the greatest ancient and the greatest modern name connected with political philosophy. He denied that the proposed changes were constructed on a sound principle, inasmuch as the principle on which they were constructed—namely, that supreme power ought to be consigned to a numerical majority—had been condemned as false, degrading, and destructive, by all who had fairly recognised and candidly confronted it; and it could only be justified in such a state of moral, of intellectual, and of social equality, as no community presented, or ever could present. He denied that these changes were essential to the public safety; inasmuch as the opinion of the people, on the substantial justice of our present representation, had been unanswerably shown by the ardour and enthusiasm with which they prepared to defend the House of Commons against a profligate attempt to overawe it on the 10th of April, 1848—a day upon the moral lustre and political magnificence of which, it did not become obscure and silent Members like himself—but was rather the work of orators or poets—to expatiate. The hon. Gentleman next laboured to show that no identity existed between the principle of the Reform Bill and the principle of this new scheme—that the latter was immediately subversive of the former—and that whoever was disposed to accept and eulogise the one, must be disposed in the same proportion to reject and stigmatise the other. The object and effect of the Reform Bill was to give power to a class, as to whom the effect of this Bill, by indefinitely extending the elective body, would be to overwhelm and to disfranchise. Democracy might be a benefit; but democracy could not in its nature be reconciled with that ascendancy of the middle orders which the Reform Bill had called into existence. As the Member for Montrose and his supporters were in the habit of taunting the noble Lord and his supporters with a reluctance to argue upon these questions, he (Mr. Campbell) would only say, that he was prepared to consider the results of a democratic system on the different branches of the constitution, and the different classes of the nation. He confined himself to the position that democracy was the worst foe to whom the interests and hopes of the working masses could be handed over; that such was the instinctive creed of all philanthropists; that the history of the world and the state of Europe supported it by cogent proof and lively illustration. Some attempt, however, was made to justify the monstrous proposition which the hon. Member for Montrose had started as a protest against finality; and some abhorring it with all their hearts were inclined in this respect to consider it with favour and indulgence. He (Mr. Campbell) distinguished between finality in principles and finality in details. If by finality was meant adherence to the details of the Reform Bill in all times and all circumstances, no one had espoused, and no one was required to repudiate it. If by finality was meant, that under no conceivable conditions, and under no imaginable circumstances, the system of the hon. Member for Montrose, and the results which were involved in it, would become the reverse of disgraceful to the English name, and intolerable to the English people, he (Mr. Campbell) was a disciple of finality. It had also been attempted to support these proposals by adverting to the democratic tendencies of Europe. To exult over the confusion which democracy had poured upon the Continent, would not be wise or patriotic. Europe might be justified in the risks it had incurred, and the disasters it had courted. In Europe there might not be any intermediate region between despotism and democracy. To fly one form of tyranny, it might be necessary to embrace another. The condition of a perfect constitution, viz., a large, an opulent and energetic middling order, might be wanting to the German and Italian kingdoms. In England it was not wanting: would it not be mad and suicidal to sacrifice our privilege, to trample on our pre-eminence, and to cast away the blessing we possessed, because Europe was not even gifted with the primary condition of attaining it? The hon. Gentleman, then in the form of a personal appeal to Mr. Cobden as the leader of the democratic party, inquired whether it was worth while to give up Ireland, the colonies, finance and the lower orders, to neglect, confusion and despair, for the purpose of precipitating a system of which the positive effects would be as far from beneficial to the public as those which he had traced to unlimited democracy, and concluded almost as follows:—Since, therefore, it appears to me that this Motion has no foundation in truth, and derives no colour from expediency; since, if designed as an impeachment of the existing House of Commons it is unsupported and calumnious; if as an incentive of its energies it condemns and contradicts itself; since without any prospect of equivalent or practical advantages, it invites you to subvert the constitution as established at the Revolution, the Septennial Act, and the Reform Bill; since in the place of that unparalleled, however far from perfect, organisation, it proposes to erect a system which the course of history does not recommend to us—which no political philosopher has vindicated—which Europe, having placed its lips upon the cup, recedes in terror and convulsion from its bitterness; a system which has not worked well for men of cultivation and refinements—which never led to satisfactory results for the classes who depend on capital for their revenue, but which you cannot fairly represent or adequately stigmatise, except by pointing out that it is fraught with the seeds of a demoralising ruin for the lowest and the largest order of society: since the tendencies of this Motion are such as I have briefly recapitulated, it would be my duty to the constituents I represent, and to the community in general, even if it gained the sanction of the noble Lord himself, to meet it with a firm, a final, and emphatic negative.


said, that in the course of the comprehensive and somewhat hypothetical speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down, he had expressed not only his own opinions, but, judging from the place (the Treasury bench) from which he had delivered them, the opinions of Her Majesty's Government. He doubted, however, very much whether he had expressed the opinions of the inhabitants of the borough which he represented, unless they were considerably altered from what he (Mr. L. King) recollected them to be. Some surprise was felt that in the present state of public feeling the subject now before them had not been taken up in good earnest by the responsible advisers of the Crown. It excited no small degree of surprise that they had not taken up that which must henceforward be an annual Motion. He felt the more surprise that this subject had not been taken up by the Government, when he reflected upon the satisfaction with which the noble Lord at the head of that Government must look back at the part that he had taken in passing the Reform Bill—that Act which had so greatly contributed to the preservation of the peace of this country throughout the last year. Having been concerned in passing a Bill of such vast value and importance, he could not help feeling some surprise that the noble Lord did not introduce another and a further Reform Bill. It was well known that many persons who were strongly opposed to those measures of reform which the noble Lord was concerned in passing, had expressed their warm approbation of the Reform Act in the course of the month of April, 1848. They resisted Parliamentary reform when it was a question; but when the public peace was in danger, they rejoiced that the measure had been passed. They must all feel that the political state of the country might again be in a very troubled condition; and of this the House might rest fully assured, that a refusal of the concession now demanded at their hands, could not fail to augment the evils and difficulties of any period of political disturbance. Those who opposed the present proposition could scarcely conceal from themselves this truth, that they assumed a very great share of the responsibility which must attach to those who at the close of the present year were instrumental in preventing England being further in advance than she was of the nations of Europe. If England wished to be amongst the elder sisters of the free nations of the world—if she found that the Bill of 1832 had proved eminently conservative—he ventured to affirm that they would not be long before they discovered that another measure of a like kind would be useful and necessary. At present there was no political excitement; the Charter was dormant. [Mr. O'CONNOR: No, no!] Well, at least there was a lull, and they would do well to put down, or rather prevent agitation, by acceding to the reasonable requests of the people. Let them beware lest they should delay a measure of this kind too long. History abounded with cases that ought to be regarded by them as warnings. If they had agreed in time to some measure of reform before the Bill of 1832 was forced upon them, they might have escaped with the disfranchisement of a few rotten boroughs, and the enfranchisement of a few large towns. The corn question presented a similar case; for if they had made early concessions respecting the corn laws, they might have retained what they were now endeavouring to obtain, namely, a small fixed duty. He sincerely rejoiced in these two instances of delay. In the one case they obtained the Reform Bill, imperfect as it was, and in the other the total abolition of those obnoxious laws—the corn laws. But here he confessed he must stop. He wished for no further delay in the present case, although he did not desire a more extended measure of reform than that proposed by the hon. Member for Montrose. He was not going to provoke an Irish debate; but if they wished for instances of the ill effects of delay they had only to look to Ireland, which afforded a sufficient and memorable instance, for that unfortunate country baffled the wisdom of the wisest of our statesmen. It might be asked, what were the peculiar grievances of the people of England? They complained that the principle of the Reform Bill was not carried out; that they paid taxes while they were not represented. They complained, moreover, that small boroughs were represented while large towns remained unrepresented. He would take a chance case, occurring in his own county. The borough of Reigate, with a population a little over 4,000, had a constituency, not amounting to 200, and returned one Member; and the borough of Guildford, with a population not amounting to 6,000, had a constituency under 500, and returned two Members. These two boroughs, with a population below 11,000, returned three Members to that House, while, in the division of the county which he had the honour to represent, the town of Croydon, with a population double that of the two boroughs he had mentioned together, did not return any Member at all. He had had some conversation with the 10l. householders of Reigate and Guildford, and, with the greatest respect for them, he must say he had been unable to discover that they were superior in intelligence to the householders of Croydon. He believed, then, that so long as that House allowed these anomalies to exist—so long as the wealth and population of the country continued to increase—and so long as Parliament continued to contend against common sense—they would provoke agitation and irritation in the minds of a people who had shown that they were as fit to he trusted with political rights as any other people on the face of the earth. Hon. Gentlemen might boast that the people of this kingdom were attached to the ancient constitution of the country. He (Mr. King) rejoiced at this, and he might also boast that the people were now able to obtain the necessaries and luxuries of life more readily than at any previous period; but what the people desired was, to preserve all that was valuable in that ancient constitution, and to secure that cheapness which they had provided for themselves with so much difficulty. They felt that this could alone be done by an extension of the suffrage, and they felt that sooner or later there must be another Reform Bill; and that whenever it came it would produce great good. It would do so by the enfranchisement and elevation of a vast number of men to the rank and dignity of citizens; and by making them free and complete members of the political community, tens of thousands of persons would become devoted to the constitution, and what were now looked upon as the odious privileges of the 50l. tenants in the counties, and of the 10l. voters in boroughs, would then be regarded as their just rights. The country would thus derive additional strength by recruiting the legions of her citizens, and by drawing to their ranks honest, industrious, and intelligent men, who now only felt dissatisfied because they felt the injustice of being denied the rights of free citizens.


could not help being struck with the difference of opinion which existed on this subject on the other side of the House. The hon. Member for East Surrey was prepared to go to an extent which might be half far enough for the hon. Member for the West Riding, but a great deal too far for the hon. Member for Cambridge, with whom he (Mr. Newdegate) entertained some fellow-feeling, when he deplored that the time of the House should be wasted in this discussion. He (Mr. Newdegate) regretted that the hon. Member for Montrose should think it worth while to try his own health—which every one in the House must regret had not been good of late—and the patience of the House by the introduction of this Motion, which the hon. Member must feel was, so far as he was concerned, a useless formality; for the hon. Member for Montrose could not conceal from himself or from the House, that, although he called upon the House to undertake the reconstruction of the constituencies, he had, in point of fact, taken, with the assistance of some others, that duty upon himself, and proposed that the reconstruction should take place, not in that House, but in a house situate in St. James's-square, namely, the Free Trade Club. He wished to call the attention of the House to some circumstances connected with the persons who were now taking the lead in this movement, who formerly composed the Anti-Corn Law League—the title of the association was changed, but the personnel was the same. He would do so for the purpose of showing what they meant by Parliamentary reform. In 1845 those gentlemen, who appeared now so anxious to enlarge the franchise, sent in three days, through the post-office, at Manchester alone, no less than 23,000 notices of objection. This was a pretty wholesale attempt at systematic disfranchisement! The attempt was supported by professional ability, and by unscrupulous perjury in the registration courts. His (Mr. Newdegate's) constituents were among the objects of attack; but it appeared that the failure of the objectors in North Warwickshire, and in other districts, rather disheartened the League. Out of 700 objections which they served in one parish in North Warwickshire, they sustained but 12, and they at last withdrew their objector, because he had been proved to be perjured; so they changed their tactics, and, instead of attempting to disfranchise, were now determined, as it appeared, to swamp the constituency, he (Mr. Newdegate) represented, by the creation of freeholders and faggot votes. In the years 1845 and 1846, the funds at their disposal enabled them to carry on this system to an enormous extent. It was in evidence that 98,000l. passed through the office of Messrs. Sale and Worthington, for the purpose of creating votes in South Lancashire and Cheshire alone. They purchased buildings, which they divided, severally, among persons whom they desired to enfranchise. Out of one building alone, in the West Riding, forty-seven persons were qualified, not one of whom had any connexion whatever with the locality. Buildings thus used were named after the prime movers in the undertaking—they went by such names as Cobden-row and Bright's-buildings. In the town of Honley, in the West Riding, was one of the principal scenes of this practice, to which the hon. Member for the West Riding, in great measure, if not entirely, owed his seat. The result of their proceedings was given in the most compendious manner at one of the latest meetings of the Anti-Corn Law League, by Mr. George Wilson, the chairman of the League, one of its most active members, and a very able man. He (Mr. Newdegate) heard that gentleman examined before the Committee, on votes of electors. He was at first rather unwilling to acknowledge the authorship of a speech which had appeared in the League newspapers, although he afterwards fully and candidly admitted it. Mr. Wilson said— We never should have advised the second attack upon the counties, unless, by past experience, we had felt justified in the policy of it; and, in order that you may judge of the success of that policy, I shall detain you four or five minutes longer, that you may know the results of our registration movements in the revision courts last October. The first county to which I shall refer is one over which the monopolists have sung their songs in triumph, as having defeated the League therein—North Warwickshire. Owing to casualties over which we can have no control, certain unfavourable results in some portions of the country attended the efforts of the League. All that can be said is, that the monopolists have had a narrow escape. The total county constituency of England is 445,630; the numbers of those attacked are 143,731, so that we have dealt with nearly one-third of the entire county constituency of England. These, then, are the labours which have occupied our attention during the last year, and I am persuaded that it is but a mere beginning. He (Mr. Newdegate) alluded to this speech in order to show the extent to which these operations were carried in 1845, and at the beginning of 1846. He thought it a very serious matter to find such operations renewed; and they were now renewed and avowed by the very same gentlemen. The system of attack now directed against the counties, was intended to exceed in extent that of 1845. But the efforts of those parties were not confined to the counties. He had the authority of the hon. Member for Manchester for saying that the new association which had sprung from the Anti-Corn Law League, was about to introduce the same system of interference into the boroughs of Lancashire. The hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire, in the most emphatic manner, assured the House in 1846, that if the corn laws were repealed, the League would be dissolved. Instead of doing so, however, the same organisation, under another name, was carrying on a most wholesale system of corruption—a system far more corrupt than that which prevailed in the old rotten boroughs. He was aware that there was some difference between the former tactics and those now pursued by those gentlemen; but the end was the same. The former plan of importing strangers, suddenly erected into faggot voters, wholesale into the county constituencies, was rather glaring, and exposed them to the animadversions of that House; and therefore it was now proposed to facilitate the purchase of freehold lands in the counties—not in the honest and straightforward manner in which that was done by the hon. Member for Nottingham. No, those hon. Gentlemen who affected to be such purists—who pretended to he such great advocates for the purity of election—were promoting the purchase of freeholds in a manner that would have the effect of swamping the constituencies, while the parties whom they would enfranchise would have no liberty with respect to the manner in which they were to exercise their electoral rights. He was indignant, on the part of his own constituents, to find such measures resorted to. He believed that that constituency was as honestly represented as any in that House; and he felt that he should be wanting in his duty to his constituents if he did not warn the House and the public against the corrupt practices by which they were assailed. The purchases were effected by subscriptions and sums of money advanced to persons desirous of obtaining the franchise; but it rested with the managers of the Association whom they would enfranchise. If a subscriber was not able to pay what was considered the full value of the freehold—and few of the working classes could do so—then the money was taken in instalments. But if the Association felt safe of their man—if they were assured he would vote as they wished or bid him—then they advanced the difference between what he could pay at first, and the price of the 40s. freehold to him: he gave them security by bond or note of hand; but the security was not given upon the freehold, for if a mortgage were proved, that would be a fatal objection in the registration courts. The security was by a bond of personal liability. Now, what was the position of a man so circumstanced? Why, he had his earnings, or his little property in the first instance, and had to pay up by instalments the residue of the sum which had been advanced to him, to effect the purchase of the 40s. freehold; and until he had paid up the whole of those instalments he was positively at the mercy of those who advanced the money, and if at any time he should vote against their wishes they would demand payment. To meet such a demand, he must mortgage the freehold, and then, at the next revision, they would object, and he would lose his vote. Therefore, the parties subscribing to this freehold scheme, unless they paid in full, which few could, must cither vote for the promoters of it, or have no vote at all. Under those circumstances, he hoped the hon. Member for Montrose would forgive him for saying, that when he urged these great changes upon the House, on the plea of effecting purity of election, while he was associated with a party which, under the guidance of a small section of Members, conspired to corrupt and pervert the constituencies of this kingdom, he must not be surprised if his proposal was viewed with some suspicion. He must say that he looted with suspicion on the circumstance of the hon. Member for Montrose not defining the electoral divisions to be adopted. It was quite clear, that by apportioning the electoral divisions so as to include particular properties only, or particular portions of towns, or populous places which were under the influence of particular persons or classes, a corrupt constituency might be created; and he could not believe in the real honesty of this part of the proposition until he saw the demarcation of the electoral divisions clearly set forth. He never could concur in the proposition for the adoption of the vote by ballot. He had been in America during the election for a President; and trader that system he could, if he had chosen, have voted, and a number of Irish labourers in the employment of a gas company had voted pretty nearly all round the Union. Were the ballot adopted in this country, it would be impossible to toll who might not vote, since it was impossible to connect the vote with the individual. He meant no disrespect to the hon. Member for Montrose; but he must say, that he did not think the Association with which he was connected, was such as to give the House confidence in his proposition with respect to Parliamentary reform.


said: I consider myself fortunate. Sir, in having the opportunity of rising immediately after the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, as I am personally acquainted with some of the facts which he has detailed, and can bear testimony to how far his statements are correct. There is one mistake which the hon. Gentleman has made, and, considering the great attention he has evidently paid to the subject, I must say that I am somewhat surprised at it. The hon. Member said, that the new mode of enfranchising the people to which he adverted, had sprung from Manchester, and was presided over by my excellent friend, Mr. George Wilson. Now, that is not precisely correct. It is true that the Manchester people did originally begin a system of qualifying voters for the purpose of carrying the repeal of the corn laws. But the present system is different, and has its origin in Birmingham, not Manchester. And a gentleman residing in Birmingham, with whom, if I mistake not, the hon. Gentleman has had some correspondence—Mr. J. Taylor—[Mr. NEWDEGATE: No!]—I judged from the newspapers that he had had some correspondence with that gentleman. [Mr. NEWDEGATE: I have never had any correspondence with any gentleman of that name, except a banker.] Well, be that as it may, that is the name of the gentleman who has the honour of being the discoverer of the system which has so raised the hon. Gentleman's wrath. He proposed that instead of sending fruitless petitions to this House, and asking Parliament to discuss what the House has already made up its mind upon, it would be desirable that as many as possible of the middle and labouring classes should be encouraged to save a portion of their earnings, and unite together in investing it in the purchase of land to such an extent as should qualify them to vote for the counties by becoming possessed of 40s. freeholds. It is to this gentleman that the honour belongs; it never belonged to the League—in fact, Mr. Taylor, I believe, was never a member of the League. I wish he had, for I believe we should have made more progress in the midland districts than we did if we had had the benefit of his co-operation. But whoever has the honour of this discovery, it is, I think, most fortunate for the country that the plan has been discovered and put in force. For if we are to have speeches from the Treasury bench, such as that we heard from the noble Lord the Member for London last year, and that we have heard from the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary to-night—it is, I think, fortunate for the House, and I will add for the cause of order in this country, that there is a mode by which the industrious, peaceable, and intelligent portions of the working classes can grapple with the evil, and through it, even though with difficulty, thrust themselves within the pale of the constitution. If I am rightly informed, I understand that the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire and his Colleague have already had a distinct intimation given to them that they must soon look out for another constituency. The hon. Gentleman says, he represents a majority of his constituents fairly. I do not deny that. I do not know that he does so, or that he does not; but if he represents the population of the county, the addition of these new voters to the roll of the constituency which will result from the plan alluded to, will not displace him. But when the number on the register shall be doubled or trebled, by the introduction of a large number whom now the hon. Gentleman persists in excluding, it will be seen whether his principles and policy are really in accordance with the honest sentiments of the people of that county. And I may here take leave to tell him honestly, that it is my firm conviction unless he changes those opinions and that policy greatly, he will not long continue to represent them. But, to come to the question before us, we cannot conceal from ourselves that this subject which has been introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose is one of great and growing importance. It is impossible to look at what is passing around us at home or abroad without discovering that in all civilised countries there is a great and powerful movement amongst the people, tending to a departure from the old ways of absolutism and irresponsible government, to a government more in accordance with the views and admitted interests of the people at large. Now, my hon. Friend's proposition comes before the House, as far as I can judge of it, under very high sanction. What is that proposition? My hon. Friend merely proposes that you should adopt in practice that which no one will deny is recognised by the theory of the constitution. We have the monarchical institution, with which we have found no fault. We live under, perhaps, the mildest monarchy in the world. We find that monarchy in the possession of privileges and prerogatives, which we have no wish to overturn or to interfere with. We have a House of Peers, which is another recognised portion of the constitutional system. That also has its privileges and prerogatives—and we find no fault with them. We admit that the monarchy is right as it is, according to the admitted principle of the constitution; and that the House of Peers is right, it being also in accordance with the same standard. But we maintain that that constitution recognises another element—a popular, and, if you choose, a democratic, clement—and we who stand here, and those we represent—the common people of England—have as great and as undoubted a right to he solo and absolute in this House, as the monarch on the throne, or the Peers in the other chamber of the Legislature. But the system under which we sit in this House is by no means in accordance with this theory of the constitution, nor with the true interests of the nation. We have first of all—purposely, and by Act of Parliament—almost declared in words a system of exclusion, by which at least five out of six of all the grown men in the united kingdom are excluded from any direct exercise of political power; and you have beyond this an arrangement of our representation, so far as the middle classes are concerned, which, if not amounting to absolute exclusion, is a mere pretence of representing them, and, to a large extent, but a sham and a fraud. There has been an attempt to make it appear that the Reform Bill was the Bill of the middle classes, and gives an honest representation of those classes. But no man believes this in this House, and no man out of the House suspects it. And it appears to me that those have done much mischief who have endeavoured to persuade the working people that the present system of representation is a middle-class representation, and that the middle class have purposely excluded the working class. If the middle classes were fairly represented, such is the intimate connexion between the two classes, and so closely are the interests of the two classes bound up, that the representation would even now be much the same as if the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose were carried, and the system it seeks to introduce were established. But can the middle classes of Manchester be said to be fairly represented, while two Members on the other side sit for Stamford elected by the Marquess of Exeter? If you put the middle classes of Manchester and Stamford together, you will probably find them concurring in opinion; and the Manchester Members, therefore, may be said to represent the whole; but if their votes are to be neutralised by the votes of those who who would not be here but for influences which the constitution does not recognise, it is a fraud and an insult to say that the middle classes of Manchester are fairly represented. But I come to the reasons for the exclusion of those five-sixths of the whole adult male population. I do not insist at all on the plea of natural right; I believe our natural rights to be equal, but I speak of constitutional rights, and of the rights which common sense and common justice require should be given to these classes. The answer to me when I ask that they should be admitted to these rights, will, no doubt, be, that they are too ignorant to exercise the franchise judiciously, or that they are so vicious—a large proportion of them—that they would be likely to turn political power to purposes destructive of the interests of the country. I am not one of those who believe that it requires much school learning to enable a man to choose a Member of Parliament. Look at the Members who have sat in this House for many years past for the various universities of Dublin, Oxford, and Cambridge, and you will find that almost invariably they have opposed all those measures which the opinion of the country has demanded, and which the good sense of Parliament has at length conceded. The doctrine "that scholastic learning is necessary to enable men to choose Members of Parliament, most assuredly derives no confirmation from what we have seen of the Members for the three universities. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth himself was obliged to leave one of these universities bo-cause he had determined to adopt the course which he then felt to be necessary, and which, every day of his life since, he has found more and more reason to know was necessary, for the public safety; the right hon. Gentleman who now represents the University of Cambridge is supposed to sit in a very precarious position, not because he has neglected his duty here, but because he has been endeavouring to banish from his mind certain prejudices, certain antiquated notions of former days, and has applied himself to the consideration of those questions which the pressing necessities of the country demand should be listened to in this House. The working classes of this country have made great progress of late years. There is abundant proof of this on every hand. Look at the circulation of newspapers among them—of newspapers most ably written, and most moral and excellent in their tone. Look at the circulation of cheap literature of every kind among them, at the efforts they are making—I speak particularly of the north of England, with which I am better acquainted—to educate their children, and, as adults, to educate themselves. There can be no doubt whatever that the artisan of this country in 1849 is a different being from the artisan of 1832; and in 1832 his help was not disdained by the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman near him, who called upon them to assemble, and petition and cry to Parliament for the passing of the Reform Bill. Look at the schools which every sect is establishing throughout the country; there is not a class of the population which is not growing in intelligence, and in the knowledge of those things which are most essential to enable men to perform their social and political duties aright. Is it said that the working classes are so vicious that they cannot be safely admitted to the franchise? No man here will dare to libel his countrymen by such a statement. If I were not afraid of wearying the House, I could quote some striking proofs that the working classes—that, especially the manufacturing population, of which certain parties here are always most afraid—are not those whose qualities, whose ignorance, whose vicious character, justifies that they should be excluded from a fair share of political power. I have already twice quoted in this House a statement made by the commissioners sent down by the Government of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, in 1842, to Stockport, a town entirely manufacturing, the population of which is almost wholly engaged in the cotton manufacture. That commission published a report, which I lose no opportunity here, or elsewhere, of referring to, and the last paragraph of which gives most striking testimony as to the character of that population—for what was true of them then is no less true of them now. If I should weary the House for a moment, it is in pleading the cause of the population among whom I live, and whose character I am familiarly acquainted with, and of five millions of men who cannot appear at this bar, and who have commissioned us, who hold these views, to state here that they do not believe they are properly excluded from the franchise, and to demand for them that they be restored to what they consider their just rights. The last paragraph of the report to which I refer runs thus:— We find, in connexion with the large earnings of this class, industrious habits of no common stamp, regulated and secured in great measure by the peculiar nature of their employment; and a degree of intelligence, already much in advance of other classes of the working people, and still growing with the general growth of popular education. It appears, also, that when in the enjoyment of prosperity, they avail themselves to a great extent of the advantages of provident institutions, and that partly through this, and partly through other circumstances, equally creditable to their character as a working people, they avoid almost altogether dependence upon poor-rates. On the occurrence of general distress, we find them neither a pauperised mass, nor readily admitting pauperism among them; but struggling against adversity, beating far and wide for employment, and in many cases leaving their country for foreign climates, rather than depend upon any other resources for subsistence than those of their own industry and skill. Those among them who have not been able or willing to leave a place where at present their labour is of little or no value, have been found enduring distress with patience, and abstaining, sometimes to the injury of health, from making any application for relief; while others, who have been driven reluctantly to that extremity, we have seen receiving a degree of relief sufficient only to support life, often with thankfulness and gratitude, and generally without murmur and complaint. There is another document which I will beg leave to quote in relation to Stockport, and I quote it because Stockport may be considered an epitome of the whole manufacturing population. Mr. Sadler, the chief constable of that borough, in a report, dated May, 1848, says— It is almost unnecessary for me to observe that we are perfectly peaceable, and that, in my opinion, no apprehension need be felt of future disturbances in this neighbourhood. I believe the working classes of these districts are too far advanced in knowledge and moral culture, and possess too clear a sense of what is really necessary to improve their condition, than to be made the dupes of Utopian dreamers, but, especially, to be drawn into any insane project or measure of the physical force kind. I think the observations here made are fully justified by the past and present praiseworthy forbearance of this suffering community, for so long a period, who have not only evinced fortitude to endure privations for which there was no remedy, but have also had the courage to resist all attempts to draw them into any act of insubordination and mischief. You are aware, Sir, that during the most critical period of the agitated state of these districts, latterly, my confidence in the integrity of the workpeople never forsook me. Indeed, I never doubted but that the good feeling which generally prevailed would so far preponderate over any inclination to break the peace here, that we were perfectly secure, unless from some great and unexpected pressure from without. That coercion, however, was not exercised, and we have remained at peace; and, now that better times are anticipated, I am sure you will congratulate the working classes on their improved prospects, while their conduct in distress may be safely pointed out as a model which, in future, will be looked up to with admiration and applause. It will not be denied, I think, that the character here given to the people of Stockport is, to a great extent, the true character of the whole working population; if further proof were needed, I would apply for it to the Treasury benches. I need only go back to about this time last year, when the right hon. the Home Secretary made what I may fairly call his inflammatory speeches about the state of the country—since all the real excitement of the period seemed to be in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman, and when the noble Lord near him, echoing the right hon. Gentleman said that the Queen's Throne was not supported by the Horse Guards, but by the opinion of the people—by their respect for the laws, by their love of order. Well, all this is precisely what we say. We say, because we know, that the population have no feelings, no designs directed against the monarchy, against the constitution of the country. But they have designs against the system which places a ban upon them, and, whatever their intelligence, whatever their excellence, whatever their industry, whatever their ingenuity, shuts them out from a participation in the just privileges and rights which the citizens of a free State may naturally be expected to claim. Hon. Gentlemen seem to have some vague notions of danger, should the suffrage be greatly extended. I will not discuss the question whether you fear that were the suffrage extended, some of you would have to take a different course from what you now pursue; but I will take the supposition that your views and mine, and theirs, are the same; that we all alike want Parliament to be a reflex of the nation, in order that the virtue and the intelligence of the nation may be brought to bear on the Government, so as to render the institutions and administration of the country as perfect as possible. But you have vague notions of danger: you look at the labourer in the fields and the workman in the factories, and you think these men would make sorry legislators; you fancy the smockfrocks if let into this House—yet don't fancy, I beg, that if admitted they would sit on the protectionist side—would set about some most impracticable, impossible, perhaps dangerous things. I admit fully that there are such persons as you contemplate in every class—men who understand very little, and who venture very much. But such persons are now, I believe, greatly in the minority, and if they came to vote for Members of Parliament, it would be a very different thing, and the motives influencing them would be very different from those which influence the men who sit in this House. Let any one of us turn to his own neighbourhood, and ask himself what the population among whom he lives would be likely to do if they had the franchise—what motive would most influence their choice. I honestly believe, that except in cases of extreme irritation, of fierce passions, not likely to be of frequent occurrence, and least of all likely when their rights were distinctly recognised—I honestly believe that these men would look around in their neighbourhood for him whom they believed most intelligent, most virtuous, most benevolent and useful among his neighbours; that in fact they would be anxious to send to Parliament precisely that man, and that man only, whom they would consult in their private concerns—they would select their Members of Parliament on the same rule by which they now so carefully select their poor-law guardians, their municipal officers; from the class from which, where the franchise is sufficiently extended, constituencies which are free now select their Parliamentary representatives. The noble Lord at the head of the Government last year used an argument which did not serve him much. He said that the present system worked well, and that it was not yet time, that there was, in fact, no reason at all, to disturb it; and he pointed to the many good measures passed since the Reform Bill itself, in proof of his argument. I do not deny that the Reform Bill was a great advance—that, under the circumstances, it was a large and valuable measure; but the noble Lord's argument was just as good against the Reform Bill itself, as against subsequent measures for completing that act. Sir Charles Wether-all, who was a great opponet of the Reform Bill, might with equal effect have replied to the noble Lord, "Why do you want the Reform Bill? There were plenty of good measures passed before the Reform Bill became law. There was, in 1828, the repeal of the Test Acts, and there was in 1829 the Act which admitted seven or eight millions of the population to their political rights. "As to economy, it might have been shown that for two or three years before the Reform Bill, great economy had been introduced into the public expenditure, and these arguments would have been quite as conclusive against the Reform Bill as the noble Lord's against its extension. The very boroughmongering House which passed the Reform Bill was itself, on the noble Lord's principle, not requiring reform. No doubt there had been good measures passed since the Reform Bill; but what had in reality effected the enactment of those measures? What had passed the Reform Bill itself, for example; what had passed the Roman Catholic Relief Bill; but the same opinion which the noble Lord admitted had given, amid recent convulsions elsewhere, safety to the Crown and institutions of the country?—and the progress which has been made of late years has been in accordance with the popular and democratic element of the constitution, and not in a contrary direction. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth passed the Roman Catholic Relief Bill; the noble Lord the Member for London, the Reform Bill, the Municipal Reform Bill, the Abolition of Slavery Bill; the right hon. Baronet his great reform of the tariff, and that greatest and best of all measures, the repeal of the corn laws; but how were all these measures passed? An illustrious Member of the right hon. Baronet's Government declared in 1829, that the sole alternative of Catholic Emancipation was civil war, and to avert civil war, emancipation was granted: surely it was not a wise constitution which allowed things to grow to such a pass. The noble Lord's Reform Bill was passed in a hurricane of popular feeling, without which it would not have passed at all. The constitution was helped on by brickbats, the carriages of the noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen who opposed the measure being smashed over and over again, in many towns and villages of the country; surely it was not a perfect constitution that required the fillip of brickbats. Mr. Dickens has a story of a Captain Cuttle, who, in making a boy a present of a very large watch, tells him that if he only puts it on a quarter of an hour every morning at breakfast, and half an hour every day at dinner, it will do him credit; but whatever the case with Captain Cuttle's watch, the constitution which needs such vehement jerks to keep it moving, is scarcely one of a very creditable description. What brought about the emancipation of the slaves in our colonies? The expectation of a slave insurrection in Jamaica—not until it was found that the slaves in our colonies would no longer be kept as slaves, was our boasted constitution able to grapple with this great question. Again, as to the corn laws, what effected their repeal? The agitation of the Anti-Corn Law League was not an agitation of force. ["Oh!"] It was an agitation of conviction—[" Oh, oh!"]—it was an agitation which not so much conquered our opponents, as converted them; and having once converted them, we have no apprehension that they will ever again be found in arms against us. Yet the right hon. Baronet, strong as his conviction had become in 1845, was not able to propose any change in those laws till he saw coming on in Ireland a calamity which must overpower all further resistance to his contemplated measures; and, aided by this, he carried the repeal of the corn laws. Famine, then, was the terrible agent which compelled our boasted constitution to permit the people of this great country to purchase their bread freely at the world's market price. Take the question of economy. The Member for the West Riding troubled the House—for no doubt it was considered troubling them—with the proposition to go back to the expenditure of 1835; this was considered a sort of harmless hallucination on the part of my hon. Friend. The hon. Member for Montrose then proposed reductions of a less sweeping nature. During the discussion of the various estimates, we proposed some trifling economies; but all our proposals had the same result. The House legislates on this subject of expenditure precisely as though there was no British nation, and as though taxation was unknown and unfelt within the limits of the united kingdom; whereas my belief is, that if the House of Commons truly represented the people, there is no question which would advance so effectually, or which would be deemed of greater importance, than this question of taxation, which presses so heavily upon the country. There is another great question, the question of Ireland. I take upon myself to say that the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman have both been aware for years that the laws relating to the land in Ireland were in a most defective and mischievous state. I myself, for three or four years past, have never spoken on the subject of Ireland without going into that question; and on many occasions Members on both sides of the House have expressed their entire concurrence in my views; and yet it has not been in the power of the Government to propose the change recently introduced, until the occurrence of calamities which overruled all the objections of the cavillers. It needed that half a million of our fellow-countrymen should perish of starvation, in order that the Government should be in a position to propose a simple remedy for a long-crying grievance. I can have no respect for a constitution or a system of representation or legislation which requires the menace of civil war ere it will grant Catholic emancipation—which must call in the aid of brickbats to enable it to give the Reform Bill—and which must be driven into the Sale of Incumbered Estates Bill by the starvation of half a million of the people of Ireland. The noble Lord probably thinks that the system at all events works well out of doors. Since 1836, when the working people saw they were cheated out of the promised admission by the Reform Bill, to the present moment, there has been an incessant movement throughout Great Britain in favour of an extension of the suffrage; out of that movement has arisen the frightful thing which men call Chartism—frightful, not in its demand that every grown man shall exercise the franchise; not from its six points; but because, during its discussion, passions have been stirred up, false principles inculcated, and animosities engendered, mischievous, when created in the minds of masses who conceive themselves excluded from their just rights, and which the men of property in this House, and those whom they represent, would do well to take good heed to. If the noble Lord doubts the reality of this, I will refer him to the Judges of the land for confirmation; I will refer him to the Attorney General, and to the Attorney General's predecessors, who will tell him that our prisons have been crowded with men who, however foolish or wicked their conduct, have enjoyed popular sympathy as assertors of popular rights. I will refer him to his right hon. Colleague near him, who, about the 10th April of last year, was dreadfully alarmed, or, if not really alarmed, assumed an hypocritical aspect of alarm, at the manifestations of political discontent throughout the country. The noble Lord said, last year, that nobody out of doors wanted more reform; yet in the course of last summer no fewer than a hundred meetings, in all parts of the country, were held in favour of a measure similar to that now proposed, and infinite petitions were laid on the table of the House to the same effect. If no petitions on the subject have been presented this year, it is simply because the people, seeing the futility of petitions, have resolved to effect their object in another way, equally constitutional. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire has referred to that new plan of operations, and I am obliged to him for doing so; his mention of it will operate as an excellent advertisement. I will add to the information he has given: from a report of a meeting just held at Birmingham I will quote the following passages:— It may be worth while to state, that, stimulated by the example and aided with the assistance of the Birmingham society, institutions of a similar kind have sprung up all over the country. In Wolverhampton, the society has 700 members; Dudley, 150; Stourbridge, 300; Coventry, 450; Worcester, 80; Stafford, 100; Derby, TOO; New-castle-on-Tyne, 450; Bradford, 140; Cheltenham, 200; Sheffield, 300; Shields, 200; and London, about 5,000. In Birmingham, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Stourbridge, and Coventry, 1,636 allotments will very speedily be made. Altogether there has been called into existence a body of between 10,000 and 11,000 men, who, by prudence and economy, have worked out their own political enfranchisement. With regard to the Birmingham society, it now numbers 1,500 members, subscribing for 2,000 shares. It has already given allotments to 215 members in North Staffordshire, on the estates the directors purchased at Hands-worth and Perry Barr; and having recently made another purchase at Bloomsbury, in North Warwickshire, they resolved to take advantage of these holiday times, walk in procession to the land, and place the members in formal possession. This estate is very pleasantly situated, commanding an extensive prospect, contains about thirteen acres, and has been divided into 231 allotments. Each allotment will thus contain about 300 square yards, with a frontage of from eighteen to twenty feet. The hon. Gentleman denounces the undertaking as a conspiracy, and says that the votes are such as, under a proper interpretation of the constitution, ought not to be created. The hon. Gentleman, no doubt, respects the memory of the late Chief Justice Tindal. The report I have read from has those further passages:— We recommend this motto to every other town throughout the kingdom, from the lips of Lord Chief Justice Tindal, one of their great constitutional Judges, to the effect that 'the object of increasing the number of freeholders at a county election is not an object in itself against law, or morality, or sound policy. There is nothing injurious to the community in one man selling and another buying land for the direct purpose of giving or acquiring such qualifications. On the contrary, the increasing the number of persons enjoying the elective franchise, certainly appears to have been the essential object of the Reform Act.' That was the opinion of Chief Justice Tindal—a man who, so far as he was a politician, did not generally agree with us, but who was far too excellent a Judge to allow any such motive to influence him in the expression of his opinion. I am prepared to maintain that that is a system of which we ought to approve. I believe that every man who saves his money to get a vote, is socially and morally improving himself in so doing, and that his admission within the pale of the constitution will be a blessing to the country. But I would tell the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and hon. Gentlemen opposite, that there are circumstances in connexion with this matter which are not favourable, and which I could wish could be avoided. These men do not come forward to purchase these votes until they have a strong unchangeable conviction that it is their right to possess the franchise, and that they are unjustly shut out from its exercise. During the agitation of this question many speeches may be made which are by no means complimentary to this House, and some evils may be incurred in the pursuit of the object, which are, under the circumstances, natural and inevitable. When these men do come within the pale of the constitution in sufficient number to speak authoritatively in this House, they may come in as victors and you as vanquished. It would be far better that now, when the public mind is quiet—when these men are not exasperated—when they have not allowed irritation to find a place in their minds against you, and against the institutions of the country—it would be far better that you should now, in this hour of calm, consider this question, and prove to the great body of the people that the old system of having to compel you to do anything is gone by, and that at last experience has made you both wiser and more just. It is no answer to the claims of these unenfranchised men to say that a few of them can thus purchase qualifications. Some of the best of them are not able to buy them. Men with large families who do not happen to be engaged in those occupations which are well paid, are not able to purchase qualifications; and I hope the noble Lord will not make it a reason for opposing the Motion, that I have pointed out that many of them—not a large number—are opening for themselves a way of coming within the pale of the constitution. Now look at the great features of this case. You have a population of 30,000,000, of whom 6,000,000 at least are adult men. Amongst these there are less than 1,000,000 of electors. The 5,000,000 are not slaves; they are not a class who do not see what we are doing—they are not a class who are ignorant of the effects of government on their material condition—they are not a class—a, very large portion of them at least—who are much below ourselves in information on the most important subjects. Here are these 5,000,000, who have presented petitions year after year, and who stand about at elections—you have seen them about the hustings, looking up to the voters and the candidates, and ardently longing in their hearts to be in reality what the constitution of this country contemplated that they should be—men whose votes at least should influence this House. I have shown, Sir, I think conclusively, that this House, as now constituted, is incapable of making those changes which are necessary, until danger is imminent, or has overtaken us, as it has recently done in the case of Ireland. The noble Lord said the other night, in speaking of triennial Parliaments, that the country had sufficient influence in this House. If, by "the country," the noble Lord means his own order, what he said was true; but if he means what we intend by that expression, that is, all below the titled classes, it was not true. Look at the composition of the Cabinet. If this House represented the nation, is it likely that the Members of the Government would be all chosen strictly, and most exclusively, from one class? To show that the Cabinet is aristocratic, and not popular, I will observe that it comprises Lord Cottenham, Lord Lansdowne, Lord Minto, Lord Grey, Lord Campbell, Lord Clanricarde, and Lord Carlisle. Of fourteen Members of the Cabinet, seven are Peers. Then there are Lord John Russell and Lord Palmerston, who are not, indeed. Peers, but are precisely of the same class and order. Then there are five other Gentlemen, four of whom are Baronets, and one is not a Baronet. Of these, I find that one is the son-in-law and brother-in-law of a Peer; another is the son-in-law of a Peer; another is the nephew of a Peer; another is the grandson of a Peer, and the nephew of a Peer by marriage; and the last is the son-in-law of a Peer. Now you have been accustomed to this from childhood, and no doubt you think it right. The winning side always thinks what exists is right; but there is another side which may win some day, and which is beginning to find out that this is wrong. There is not a man in this House who objects less than I do to any of the noble Lords who hold positions in the Government. It is quite possible that you could not find in this House an equal number of men against whom so little objection could be raised. I might say the same of the Government which preceded them; but then I say frankly to them both—and I am sure they will not understand me as speaking disparagingly of them—that if this House were a fit representation even of the middle classes of this country, to say nothing of the working classes—still more, if it were a representation of five-sixths or of the whole six-sixths of the entire grown-up population of the country, it is quite impossible that you could have a Cabinet uniformly chosen out of one particular, privileged class of the community. It is because this House is aristocratic and not popular, that the Cabinet is aristocratic and not popular. And it is for this reason that these changes which public opinion demands, and will, if necessary, ultimately enforce, should be conceded. Now, before I sit down, I wish to ask one question. It is this: whether the five-sixths of the adult male population now excluded—I speak within compass—comprises a body of men for whom you have no respect, and in whom you have no confidence? What would be your country—what its greatness—what its history—what its past—what its future—if these five-sixths were all as entirely excluded from everything else as they are from the possession of political power in this House? I say that all virtue, all industry, all ingenuity, all morality, all religion, in the united kingdom, is not to be found amongst the one-sixth whom you choose to have represented in this House, Are your schools to go for nothing, your chapels for nothing, your churches for nothing? Is that great mass of the people which is between pauperism at the bottom and privilege at the top, to be considered nothing? And can you conceive that your constitution is good, or that your institutions are worth preserving, if you are afraid that this class, if once admitted, would overturn them? I am not the friend of disorder or of violence, at any time or in any cause. I believe in my conscience that we who advocate the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, are truly the conservative party in this House. I am satisfied that whatever is valuable in your institutions would be consolidated by the passing of the measure which he proposes for your adoption. Do not think that I am unmindful of the liberty we enjoy. I honour the memory and revere the character of those who have gone before us, and who gained for us the personal and political liberty which we possess. But, in proportion as I honour them, am I anxious that we should not leave the world without having done something to repair and to amend the institutions which have been left to us; and I vote for the measure of my hon. Friend on this ground, that I believe that if it become the law of the land we should leave to our children and our posterity the priceless heritage of a renovated and enduring constitution.


Sir, whatever I may think of the Motion before the House, yet I cannot enter upon the discussion of it without paying a tribute to the moderation and fairness, to the total absence of bitterness of language, which marked the speech of the hon. Member for Montrose in introducing it. For my part, I am happy to see him again amongst us in renovated health; and, although I differ in opinion from him, I can have no doubt that nothing but the most patriotic motives has induced him to bring the Motion under the consideration of the House, with a view to improve the representation and correct the defects of our institutions. But with respect to that Motion, I must say that if there was much doubt and obscurity both in the past year and in the present year in the views of the hon. Member for Montrose—if he came before the House telling us that he meant to give the franchise to all householders, but that who he meant by householders he was unable to tell us; and that the old understanding of the word "householder" as a man who held a house was not his definition of the word—if, I say, there was some obscurity about the proposal of the hon. Member for Montrose, the speech of the hon. Member for Manchester has cleared it of all ambiguity, and I think must have shown the House, that, whatever might be the wishes of the hon. Member for Montrose himself, whatever might be his respect for the ancient constitution of this House, and however he might reverence those forms which have enabled him to act no undistinguished part, and to confer no small benefit upon his country; those who aid him, and in aiding overpower him, have no limitation in their designs—that, to use the words of the hon. Member for Manchester, they have no respect for the constitution; that they do not propose to stop short of admitting every adult male to the enjoyment of the franchise; and that, although this would not be obtained by the Motion of to-night—although it would not be effectual in carrying the six points of the Charter—yet that is the end to which the hon. Member for Manchester is directing his efforts. In considering this proposition, I must refer to what fell from the hon. Members for Bradford and East Surrey. Those hon. Members having said they wished they had seen me, as the author of the Reform Bill, taking a lead in this movement, I must refer a little to the considerations which actuated those who framed that Reform Bill. I should rather say, to some of the considerations, because I do not intend to weary the House by referring to them all. It so happened, that in the year 1821 I brought forward an enlarged plan of reform in this House, and that in 1831, as the organ of the Government, I proposed a Bill which was carried, and the main provisions of which became the law of the land. In framing that measure, our view was to found it upon the ancient constitution of the country, to consider what were the defects in the representation of the people in this House, and to amend those defects in the spirit in which the constitution was originally framed. Our object, likewise, was to amend it so as that our amendments should agree with the various parts of our ancient, free, and glorious constitution. We were not among those who professed no respect for that constitution. We held that it was essential that those who had the franchise should be possessed of independence and intelligence. If there was no independence in the persons who exercised the franchise, you could have no expression of the public will. If they had no independence, you could not obtain that which is the object of representation—the good government of the country. I was happy to hear the hon. Member for Montrose assert to-night that which I asserted last year—that the object of representation should be to obtain, not mere conformity to abstract rights, but the welfare of the community at large; and that therefore that system of representation which contributes most to the good government of the country, is superior to any theoretical plan of perfection which may be devised for the purpose by persons who are mere speculators. Such, then, being the object of obtaining independence and intelligence in the electoral body, let us consider for a moment in what condition we found the representation of the country in both these respects. We found in the counties a 40s. franchise, which, as we thought it secured as much independence as it was possible to secure, we retained. With respect to the towns, we found the ancient household franchise in existence; but, as in modern days it had become anything but an improvement upon the class of ancient burgesses—the men of property and intelligence who formerly composed this class—we thought that this kind of franchise required to be modified in order to enable us to obtain the object we had in view. And let me here observe, that much of the corruption which prevailed in the constituent body in the time of the unreformed Parliament, arose from the want of intelligence which is necessary in a constituent body. For instance, take the question of the corn laws. If a man were eager for the maintenance of the corn laws, or if he were eager for their abolition, he would, of course, vote for the candidate who was most favourable to his particular views, whatever they were; but if a man had never even heard the question stated, and was entirely ignorant of its merits, and if one of the candidates before him was ready to bribe him, that man, being totally indifferent to higher political considerations, would necessarily be easily affected by the bribe, and would give his vote, not because he was convinced of the merits of the candidate, but simply because he had been bribed by him. I say, therefore, that I think intelligence is essentially necessary in a body of electors. Then next with respect to the arrangement of the representation. We found that in this respect there were very great defects—those defects being chiefly of two kinds. A large number of the boroughs of the country were in the possession of individual proprietors, and the persons sent here were directly nominated by those proprietors, and represented only those individuals. This was of course inconsistent with any notions of popular representation. We found also that some of the great seats of manufacture and commerce had no representatives at all; that Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, and other large towns, were entirely without representatives in this House. We proposed to correct those defects by cutting off more than 100 Members from the smaller boroughs, and supplying their places by conferring the representation upon the larger counties, the seats of manufacture, and the populous towns of the country. But while we considered that those defects required to be amended, there was another part of the constitution which did not seem to us to be so defective as the hon. Member for Montrose stated it to be at the time—I mean that part of it which comprised the sending of representatives to this House by constituent bodies of various kinds—by large counties and populous cities, and at the same time by smaller boroughs which are not affected by the passions and excitement which usually take place in large boroughs. Now, for my part, considering the varied character of the people of this country—considering their varied occupations—considering how many men there are of great intelligence who take little part ordinarily in political conflicts—considering how many men there are who give their labours to the world in the shape of works on political science, it may be, or who are conversant with commerce, but who do not enter into the agitations relating to the immediate political questions of the day—I certainly am of opinion that the country, taken as a whole, is far better represented by the varied kind of representation I have just mentioned, than it would be if we had nothing but two large divisions—the counties sending agricultural Members, and the large cities commercial Members, or representatives of the manufacturing interest. My belief was, and I still retain that belief, that, if instead of the present scheme of representation you were to divide the whole country into equal electoral districts, and to give fifty Members to the metropolis, and twenty-five Members to Manchester; and, if, in order to balance these, you were to give a similar number of representatives to the counties of Devon, and Sussex, and Norfolk, so far from your having a more complete representation of the country, you would have a much less complete and less perfect representation. You would, indeed, have a great number of persons representing the interests of Manchester, but you would have, on the other hand, a greater number of persons representing the agricultural interest; and you would have few men not closely connected either with the one or the other, but who from their great attainments are well qualified to sit in this House; whose opinions would have great weight in it—whose talents would add a lustre to the representation, and at the same time be most useful to the country. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last alluded to the representatives for Stamford, and the influence which the Marquess of Exeter is supposed to have in that borough. I confess myself, that seeing the borough of Stamford has sent here a right hon. Gentleman whose long experience of public life, and whose knowledge of financial and commercial subjects are generally acknowledged, I do not think such a man out of his place in this House. It does not follow that I agree with that right hon. Gentleman. [An interruption.] I was not saying that the Members for Stamford were the representatives of the Marquess of Exeter. My belief is, that if the hon. Member for Manchester wishes to destroy all aristocratic influence, he must go further than he has yet proposed. It may be quite true that the Marquess of Exeter possesses influence in Stamford; but show me a county where there is a man of great landed property, and tell me if that man does not possess influence in that county also? Do hon. Gentlemen mean to destroy all such influence in counties? for until I hear some such declaration, I shall maintain that it is far better that we should have a varied representation—that small boroughs as well as large cities should be represented—than that we should have only two sets of men representing the antagonistic classes of opinions. In saying this, I have stated the grounds upon which I think the general alterations of the Re-form Bill were founded; and if I have stated them correctly, it will be seen that they differ so entirely from the proposition of to-night, that it is quite impossible for me, or for any of those who took a part in framing the Reform Bill, and who still retain their opinions, to adopt any such measure as that which the hon. Member for Montrose has to-night proposed for our consideration. There is another very difficult question with which we are not called upon to deal to-night, but to which I may in passing allude. I mean the question, whether in conformity with the general principle of the Reform Act, which I believe to be a just principle, there might not be a greater number of persons possessing the suffrage than at present; whether, in fact, the working classes should not be admitted more generally to hold the suffrage; and whether, in the great towns, in the counties, and in the boroughs, there should not be another kind of franchise introduced, to enable them to vote for the representatives of such places. I stated last year my opinion in favour of such an extension. I stated various modes in which it might be done; but the hon. Gentleman who makes the present proposition, and his friends, have always protested against any extension of that kind. Ever since I started the proposition, I have seen it treated with ridicule by those who hold the opinions of the hon. Gentleman as a change which would not be at all satisfactory, and which ought to be derided, and not adopted. But the hon. Member for Manchester, who says that the working classes are entirely excluded from the elective franchise, showed, in answer to the hon. Member for Warwickshire, that this is not precisely the case, because, seeing that the possession of a forty-shilling freehold gives persons a right to vote, he stated that many of that class were now accumulating their industrial savings to buy freeholds; and he read an opinion by the late Lord Chief Justice Tindal, showing that such a project was in strict conformity with the policy of the Parliament of this country. If that is the case, then no class is excluded. When a working man has saved a sufficient sum to enable him to buy a freehold in his native county, there is no person in this House who will not say he is glad to see him enjoying the benefit of his industry and frugality. The hon. Gentleman, indeed, in arguing on this subject, said, that he thought this a perfectly fair means of acquiring the suffrage; but he did not answer the hon. Member for Warwickshire, who complained not of the practice of working men buying freeholds, but of other parties lending them the money; and thus, while putting them nominally in possession of a vote, depriving them of all free will to exercise it. Therefore, I can only say again upon this subject, not considering this as the topic of to-night, and therefore not wishing to dwell further upon it, that there is nothing in the Reform Act, and nothing in any opinion I have ever held, or in any opinion I hold now, which would debar me from seeing with satisfaction any plan by which the admission of the working classes could be still further extended, and the basis widened upon which the representation rests. The hon. Member for Montrose, in replying to my speech of last year, said that there had not been any great reform carried except at the risk of civil war, and the danger of convulsions among the people. Now, whatever truth there may he in this statement with respect to Parliament as it stood before the Reform Aet, I do not think the hon. Gentleman quoted a single instance since the Reform Act in which there was any such danger before a reform was carried. He referred to the danger of a rising among the blacks of Jamaica, but that is a question entirely unconnected with the representation in this House—this House having never represented, or being supposed to represent, the negroes of the West India Islands. Therefore the only instance he quoted since the Reform Act was singularly inapplicable to the purpose. But I cannot concur with him in the opinion that he gave, that this House has been slow to adopt reforms and changes which have been sanctioned by public opinion. Whether the changes we adopted were salutary or injurious, no one can deny that during the seventeen years we have acted under the Reform Act, there have been great changes made in a variety of subjects. Take the questions with respect to the Church. There has been a settlement of the tithe question—a great restriction and limitation placed upon pluralities—the translation of bishops almost put an end to, and the holding of livings by bishops in commendam entirely abolished. Next, with regard to the Dissenters. They complained they could not marry except in accordance with the rites of the Established Church—that they could not procure registration for their children except by going to a clergyman of the same establishment. That grievance has been remedied. Then take the question of trade. How many changes have been made with respect to it? In the first instance, the China trade, which was a monopoly of the East India Company, has been thrown open to merchants in general. Then take the changes in the Customs, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth was in office. The corn laws, which had subsisted for so long a time, entirely abolished; the law relating to the prohibition of foreign sugar entirely altered; other measures as to trade adopted, and but the other day the navigation laws, which have been boasted of from the time of Cromwell to the present day, repealed by a vote of the present House of Commons. I say, then, that whether these changes were wise or not, they do show that the House has not been slow to adopt alterations in our policy which were required by public opinion. But then the hon. Gentleman says, public opinion has gone before the House with respect to those measures. Now, I wish he would look to the election of 1841, and to those in Lancashire particularly. Let him look to several of the towns in Lancashire sending Members to vote against any alteration in the corn laws. That this should have been so, shows that up to this time public opinion was not prepared for the change which the House, in 1846, adopted. My belief is, though I do not assent to the wisdom of the course the House took in so long delaying this change, that it was not behind public opinion in the course it took on that subject. With respect to many subjects in relation to religious liberty, as to the Roman Catholics particularly, does any one believe that universal suffrage would produce less feeling of religious bitterness and animosity than existed among Members of this House? My belief is, that Members of this House are far more liberal than the community in general are disposed to be. The hon. Gentleman says the liberal and democratic elements of the country do not exist in the House, more especially in the Cabinet, and that the feeling of the aristocracy entirely governs the formation of the Ministry. With respect to this subject, though I am afraid the hon. Gentleman will think I am labouring under some strange delusion, my belief is that the people—that the humblest people, that the poorest people of this country, have no indisposition to the aristocracy. My belief is that the aristocracy is not and could not be forced upon them, but that the aristocracy having, from the time it became a free country, most happily for its liberty, and most fortunately for themselves, felt a sympathy with popular liberty—having even entertained popular prejudices when the people were prejudiced, and having stood up for popular rights when those rights were attacked—my belief is, I say, that the aristocracy of this country has a strong hold on the opinions and affections of the people. And, Sir, when we talk of the aristocracy, and of the Members of different Administrations, let it he recollected that many of the aristocracy of this day were the democracy of fifty years ago. It was said by a very clever person, whose opinions I have heard quoted in the House, Madame de Stael, when she came to this country and studied our manners and constitution a little— I see now what is the difference between your aristocracy and the ancient noblesse of France. In that country the aristocracy was the despair of talent—in this country it is the hope of talent. These few words very well express in my mind the difference between one of those constitutional aristocracies which never admitted new persons into its ranks, and never gained now members; and the aristocracy of England, which contains in many instances persons the sons and grandsons of those who were themselves the democracy of the country, whose fortune was of the very smallest and most insignificant, but whose talents, we find, by the credit which they obtained for the exercise of them, raised those persons to a place among the aristocracy. And are we to be told the very next day, as it were, that those persons are to be put under ban, and excluded from all share in the government of the country—that they are not to enjoy any of the social distinctions of life? What I have to find fault for with the hon. Member for Manchester, and those who agree with him, is, that they are so exceedingly narrow-minded. Get them upon the subjects with which they are particularly conversant, and I listen with great admiration to their extensive knowledge and acute ability; but when we come to discuss large questions, such as concern the fortune of our empire, then I see that they have intellect and understanding bound up in such a narrow round that it is quite impossible to get them to understand those great principles on which our ancestors founded the constitution of this country, and which we, their successors, humbly admire and endeavour to follow. The hon. Member for Montrose spoke, too, of economy, and told us that nothing could be done in this House to obtain it—that Motions for economy were refused and rejected—and that even the smallest reduction was not sanctioned by a majority. But, Sir, I think in this respect the House and the country have very much come to the opinion, if there is a strong disposition for retrenchment in the public mind, that the Government is likely to listen to that opinion, and that having listened to it they are more likely to carry such retrenchment into effect in the manner which is conducive to the efficiency of the public service, than by votes and discussions debated in the course of some half-hour upon the estimates. The fact is, that since the estimates of last year were introduced, the Navy Estimates have been reduced nearly 400,000l., and there have been various other reductions. Therefore, though there have been no direct votes of the House cutting down the estimates, yet the influence of public opinion has been brought to bear upon them, and they are now made more in conformity with public opinion than, as I must confess, they were when we presented them at the beginning of last year. But if this be the case, the hon. Gentleman has no reason to complain of the want of economy which exists. The hon. Gentleman, indeed, speaks always as if we were adding to the taxation of this country, and as if the people were borne down by an additional weight of taxation which it was impossible for them to bear. He always argues in this way—we paid 50,000,000l. ten years ago; we pay 52,000,000l. now. There is, therefore, an additional taxation of 2,000,000l. But when he does so, he really uses a computation which is unworthy of the knowledge we know the hon. Member must possess on the subject. The real matter to be inquired into is, whether the same taxation is kept up, if there has been any addition to it, or if the taxes have been reduced. In looking to this subject I beg to refer the hon. Gentleman to a paper of the taxes imposed, and of the taxes reduced, within the last twenty years—namely, from 1829 to 1847. I find the sum total is, that while 6,000,000l. of taxation has been imposed, upwards of 17,000,000l. has been reduced, making a balance of excess of taxes repealed over taxes imposed of 11,266,000l. And, be it observed, in the course of these twenty years the population has been increasing, the means and property of the country have been increasing, and, therefore, with 11,000,000l. less of taxation, that which remains is imposed on a greater amount of population and property. There have been of late great complaints that taxes imposed on articles of consumption of the people were maintained, and it was said there should be direct taxation instead. Now, let us examine this question. I find that of the sum total of taxes taken off, 7,500,000l. was taken off the Excise, and 9,500,000l. off the Customs, while 800,000l. had been imposed on the Excise, and 2,000,000l. on the Customs, leaving a balance of 7,500,000l. in excess of duties repealed in the latter, and of 6,700,000l. in the former in the last twenty years. So far is it from being true, therefore, that the country is burdened and weighed down by an additional amount in taxation, that this House, for the last twenty years, having been employed in the same way for twelve years before, has been employed in taking off the load of taxation, and in diminishing the burdens of the people. But let me consider the state of those taxes which are on the necessaries of life at the present period, and compare them with what they were formerly. I will take a speech delivered in this House 112 years ago. We have had since that time many wars, and more especially the last great revolutionary war, which caused this country to incur debt to an enormous extent, and, therefore, it may be supposed the taxes on the necessaries of life would be greatly increased. Here is an extract frem a speech delivered at the period I mention:— For my part, I do not know any one necessary of life upon which we have not some tax or another except water; and we can put no ingredient I know of into water, in order to make it palatable and cheerful, without paying a tax. We pay a tax for air, and for the light and heat of the sun in the daytime, by means of our tax upon windows; and for light and heat in the nighttime by means of our duties upon coals and candles; we pay a tax upon bread, meat, roots, and herbs of all kinds by means of our salt duty; we pay a tax upon small beer by means of the malt tax, and a heavy additional tax upon strong beer by way of excise. Nay, we cannot have any clean thing to put upon our backs, either of woollen or of linen, without paying a tax by means of the duty on soap, &c. Now, with respect to all those taxes, it is to be observed, that the duties on coals, candles, and most of the taxes here mentioned, no longer exist. Adam Smith, writing some 20 years after, said there were four articles, necessaries of life, taxed in this country—leather, salt, candles, and soap. Of all these there is now only one which bears any tax. I think these things are worth mentioning, because we hear it continually repeated that there are great taxes on the necessaries of life, which our ancestors had not to bear, and that the people are now suffering under an additional weight of taxation. That two such great wars—the American and revolutionary wars—both of which I must confess appear to me to have been unnecessary, should have rendered necessary a great load of taxation, is what I am compelled to admit; but it is what I am sure the hon. Gentleman would not wish to alter, if the alteration required any breach of faith, or any attack on public credit. And yet let him not be sure the plan he proposes would not have a great effect on that credit. I cannot forget, when one of those great petitions, signed, I believe, by some 3,000,000 or 4,000,000, was presented by the hon. Member for Finsbury, the petitioners especially declaimed against the national debt, and asked the House to abolish it, on the ground that we were directly forced to incur and pay the interest upon it. Therefore, Sir, I don't think it so exceedingly safe, if this Motion should be carried, that many of those admitted to the suffrage would not in their ignorance think they would be benefited by the reduction of those taxes required to pay the national debt. With respect to the gist of this Motion, and as to its main purpose of admitting every male of full age to vote, I must say, frankly, that I do object to giving every person a vote for Members of the House of Commons, in the belief that they would, many of them, be easily affected by misrepresentations and delusions, and that they have not sufficient political information to enable them to make a right choice of Members. The hon. Member asks me if I do not believe in their virtue and integrity. I entirely give credit to the great body of the working classes of this country for their virtue and integrity. I believe, from time to time, you may enlarge the suffrage—that they will become more and more worthy of the franchise; but, as far as I can see and observe, I say that if you were at the present time to divide the whole country into districts, and give every man a vote, as the hon. Gentleman proposes, the people would be liable to be misled by artful and designing demagogues, and that the representation of this House, so formed, would not conduce to the welfare and good government of the people. The hon. Member asked us to imitate that which is now going on in countries abroad; and on this subject I must speak in the same spirit as that in which it was adverted to by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department. I by no means wish, as the hon. Member for Montrose seems to suppose, to defend or eulogise those kings who have long withheld from their subjects constitutional liberty; on the contrary, I have said in this House that my belief was, if they began after 1815 to admit their people to the enjoyment of constitutional liberty—if they bad framed those laws with respect to the press which would have enabled their subjects to understand and discuss political matters, instead of being driven to speculative works and wild theories as their models of government, that they would have taken the wise course, and that we should not have seen the convulsions and tumults of the last and of the present years. But it is quite different to hold that opinion, and to say I am anxious to imitate the present course of things on the Continent. Nor do I think those nations mean to proceed in that advance which they were once so ready to profess. I see that with respect to the Prussian constitution of last year, for instance, universal suffrage was to be the established rule. We were left behind. Prussia had got to the top of the tree, and we were at the bottom, in darkness and ignorance. The hon. Member said we should have followed. "Don't let us be behind Prussia," said he, "there they have got universal suffrage. Don't let England follow at such a distance in her wake." But what have we seen in the present year? By the constitution which is now adopted, the electors are divided into three classes—the richest and smallest class, who pay most; another more numerous, paying smaller taxes; and a third very numerous class paying the smallest amount of taxes of all. Are they all to have an equal right of suffrage? By no means. The 500 of the first class are to choose as many representatives to the Chamber at Berlin as the third class of 5,000 persons. What is that but another way of escaping from the evils of universal suffrage? Such a system would be totally new in this country. For my own part, I would rather obtain this full representation by the old and prescriptive mode of the constitution. We have to see yet whether this scheme will succeed. While we see such a course of changes and transmutations in other countries, don't let us have the weakness, and childishness, and folly to imitate them, till they have, at least, fixed on something really good and legitimate. The hon. Gentleman wishes us to imitate the nations of the Continent. I see, in the course of these changes, almost every great capital has been, for a certain time, in a state of siege. Paris, Vienna, Berlin, and Milan, have all been in that condition. And what is the case in a state of siege? No security for liberty, the press entirely crushed, according to the will of some general commanding in the town. If any newspaper appears hostile to the ruling power, or displeasing to the general in command, he goes off" with some thousand or two of men able to enforce his orders, and says, "The town is in a state of siege; this newspaper shall not appear." Now, is that a state of things we should envy or ought to imitate? Well, we enjoy some freedom of the press; we, who have each man every morning, according to his desire, the opinions he chooses duly set before him. One newspaper tells him the whole country is ruined by free trade; another tells the reader the country is ruined because we have not adopted universal suffrage. So long as each man has this luxury to read what paper he chooses; all of them agreeing that the country is ruined, in the first instance, and then having different opinions from which he may please himself as to the cause of that ruin, and to have his newspaper presented to him at breakfast table: don't let us have this state of siege, of which we have heard so much; and don't let us have some general at the Horse Guards depriving every man of his newspaper. I would not have any imitation of those nations on the Continent which are at present undergoing those transformations. I trust that a rational and temperate liberty may be the result of all their struggles. I am sorry to see their efforts beset by so many difficulties, and accompanied by so much bloodshed. But, so far as I see, there are but three great countries which appear to stand, each according to its constitution, in a firm and unmoved position—the one, where there is a complete democracy, namely, the United States, where none of the people wish to change their constitution—where it is evidently suited to them: another in the opposite pole, the empire of Russia, where the law is fixed by the sole will of the monarch, but where order is preserved, and general security for life and property afforded, under the strict means adopted by the supreme authority: the third is the constitutional monarchy of Great Britain; and, so far as I can see, the people of this country are as much attached to the constitutional monarchy as the people of any country have ever been attached to the constitution of their own State. My belief is, that it is the form of government suited to this people. My belief is, that not a balance of forces, but a combination of powers brought about by monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy acting together, produces as much of liberty and happiness—as great a development of talent—as great encouragement in the practice of religious and moral duties, as any constitution the world ever exhibited has produced. My belief is, that if you adopted the scheme of the hon. Member for Montrose, as it is explained by the hon. Member for Manchester, you would risk all these blessings. I do not think that you, the House of Commons, chosen by universal suffrage in equal, or nearly equal, districts, would long have peace in this House; and if you had peace in this House, by an overwhelming majority carrying measures of a democratic nature, you could not keep harmony with the other two powers of the State. In framing and proposing the Reform Bill, as I stated at the commencement, what we wished was to adapt the representation of this House to the other powers of the State, and keep it in harmony with the constitution. That object, I think, after seventeen years' trial, we have attained. We have obtained a gradual progress of measures of reform without convulsion, without fear, or risk of bloodshed. If you go on in the same course, other measures will be adopted by Parliament—other measures which, being in harmony with the opinions of the people, will pass into law in a constitutional manner, and without interruption to that constitution. I pray you, therefore, in the name of that constitution, not to adopt the measure now before the House, but to give it a decided negative. I believe you will be consulting the interests, and I am firmly convinced you will also be consulting the wishes and opinions, of the people.


said, he did not think it could have escaped the observation of hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House, and he was certain it would not escape the observation of the people of this great country, that the opposition to this Motion arose not—with a single exception—that it proceeded not from the hereditary enemies of all reform—but that it proceeded from hon. Gentlemen on their own side of the House, and from Gentlemen who had seats on the Ministerial and Treasury benches. He thought it was a most extraordinary thing that the opposition to the measure proceeded from men who had climbed into power on the shoulders of the hon. Member for Montrose, and other hon. Members, who were characterised as men of narrow and confined minds. He thought that it was a most remarkable fact, that the noble Lord, having made his own use of them, was now prepared to throw them over—to violate all the pledges he had given during his period of opposition. Perhaps the most remarkable speech of the evening was that of the hon. Gentleman who, from his vicinity to the red box, seemed to be qualified for the Treasury bench—he meant the hon. Member for Cambridge. That speech, however, was not the speech of a statesman, but the speech of a special constable; for the whole of its argument consisted in allusions to the glorious 10th of April, which he had thought, like the other cry of the great and glorious revolution, had been so often used that it was now used up. He had adduced Aristotle as a conservative; but the hon. and classical Member seemed to have forgotten that Aristotle was persecuted by the conservatives of his day, and was forced to leave Athens in consequence of the intrigues put in force against the sect of the Peripatetics, of which he was the head. In fact, from the variety of the topics embraced, the speech was more fitted for a debate on the miscellaneous estimates than for the present Motion. He would now leave that speech, which he hoped would go forth to the country as the sort of opposition which the Motion had to encounter. He next came to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department; and he must say that, since the days of Julian the Apostate, there was no conversion equal to his in history. What did the right hon. Gentleman say with reference to the ballot? True, he said, in 1842, I voted for the ballot, but I was suddenly converted the other night by a speech made by the hon. Member for Oldham. The argument is unanswerable to me, and, therefore, I am against the ballot. This was exactly the case of Julian, who first pretended to be a convert, till he had attained supreme power, the treasury bench of his desires, and he then became a persecutor. The last speech which they had just heard was indeed a melancholy exhibition. The hon. and gallant Member for Bradford had been taunted with stating that the aristocracy were those whom heaven and nature had designed to lead the people in the cause of reform; but he believed the hon. and gallant Member for Bradford would not say that the Members of the Cabinet were men of whom it would be said that either heaven or nature designed them for leaders. The noble Lord appealed to the conservative fears of the old women of the country. Not content with referring to the revolutions on the Continent, he hinted that the national debt was also to be attacked, though he was as sure that his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose was as inimical to meddling with the national debt as the noble Lord himself, and, therefore, that objection fell to the ground. The noble Lord, in his Essay on the English Constitution, had not always held the same opinion about the inviolability of the national debt that he did now. Then the noble Lord turned round to the hon. Member for Manchester, and told him that he was narrow-minded, because he had ventured to criticise the composition of the noble Lord's Cabinet. Why, it was notorious from history that the Whigs were always more aristocratic than their Tory opponents—that they were always greater enemies to liberty at heart. Then he told the House that many members of the aristocracy of the present day bad lately sprung from the people. That was true, but then, in the language of Swift, they Forget the dunghills where they grew, And think themselves the Lord knows who. The noble Lord summed up his speech by reminding them that half the nations of the Continent were in a state of siege, and that the people could not enjoy their newspapers. But, was the noble Lord so satisfied with the results of his own Government that he could point to Ireland, and say that Ireland was not in a state of siege. The noble Lord had not only suspended the Habeas Corpus Act, but he had renewed the Alien Act—he kept more soldiers in Ireland than there were voters—he had instituted four prosecutions against one newspaper, though his Attorney General could not get a verdict on any of them. The noble Lord complained that the plans of the hon. Member for Montrose were vague. He would ask him what were his own? They were not only vague in themselves, but he receded from them—he shrunk from committing himself when pressed; and, therefore, they despaired of obtaining a plan from the noble Lord. If he were to presume to offer a piece of advice to these men of narrow minds, the traders of the country who had had this taunt thrown upon them by the Prime Minister of the country, he would say to them, let the country see you are in earnest; separate yourselves at once from a party which has all along been the real incubus on the energies of the country, and take up that position in the House which your merits and your abilities demand. If you do so, you will be supported by the feelings of the country; and while the noble Lord is left to declaim on the merits of the constitution to empty benches, you will be carried into power on the shoulders of the people.


said, he was glad that the Government considered this as a question worthy of discussion, for it excited considerable interest among a large portion of the people. He was glad the Government had respectfully treated the opinions of several millions of the population, whose existence, whether they petitioned the House or not, could not well be ignored; and had thought proper to discuss this important question calmly, temperately, and ably. It was very remarkable that nobody who had yet addressed the House in opposition to the Motion, had attempted to grapple with any one of its propositions. The artifice had been to represent this Motion as being identical with the Motion of the hon. Member for Nottingham; and the noble Lord at the head of the Government and the Secretary of State for the Home Department had severally assumed that every point of the hon. Member for Montrose's Motion was merely a point of the "People's Charter." Now, as he understood the two Motions, they were diametrically opposed to each other, and the very principles on which he would vote for the hon. Member for Montrose's Motion, would induce him to give his most decided opposition to the proposition of the hon. Member for Nottingham. The noble Lord had also attempted to distort the opinions of the hon. Member for Manchester, so as to have made them appear the same as those of the hon. Member for Nottingham; and had represented the hon. Member for Manchester as saying that he had no respect for the constitution of this country. Now what the hon. Member really did say, although he might have chosen better phraseology, was this—that he admired the constitution as composed of the Sovereign, the Peers, and the common people; but if they called that the constitution which enabled them to effect reforms only by violent jerks, threatening the destruc-of the whole machine, then he did not think very much of it. So that the two statements were entirely different; and the same language as the hon. Member for Manchester had used, was employed by Fox in supporting the Triennial Bill, in 1782. Mr. Fox used this expression— It was the fatality of this country that it would never move towards reformation until it was brought to the very brink of destruction, and feared that every man would take up a musket. This was an allusion to the attitude assumed by the Irish Volunteers, and it gave a very faithful view of what appeared from the past history of this country. It was not fair to tell them that there were no petitions in favour of this Motion, and therefore the people were indifferent about it; and then, when the petitions were abundant, to say that they were the result of excitement, and, being got up by a forced process, it would not do to yield to agitation. He (Mr. Wood) never had approved of itinerant agitation—he thought it was a departure from a man's legitimate sphere, and an attempt to instruct other districts, which persons in their own neighbourhood perhaps were competent to instruct. But he must say that if he did not approve of such agitation, the conduct that the Government itself had pursued in this country had not been wanting in a tendency to convert him to such principles. He had refused to join the political unions at the time of the Reform Bill movement; but that measure had been carried as the result of the efforts of these associations. The Catholic Emancipation Bill, too, had been passed, as the Government had admitted, because there would have been a civil war if it had been resisted. The Government itself had been the encourager of agitation, and was to blame for not having put something like a stop to the political unions that threatened to involve the country in a civil war. And were the people now to be told that, as they were reasonable and quiet, they should have nothing; and when there was agitation, that they were excited, and must not have anything either? In a time of peace and quiet at home, and when they had had recent demonstrations of the fidelity and loyalty of the great mass of the people, but when nevertheless they saw lowering clouds abroad, and did not know when they might burst; while, too, they had large quantities of inflammable matter in the country, notwithstanding the general loyalty of the people, and knew not when a spark might kindle the combustibles—at such a period like the present, he said that they ought to be "wise in time," and not to wait for agitation, but to look about them, and have all their reforms carried out and completed under peace and tranquillity. The noble Lord had admitted that some reform was necessary, and that there ought to be some extension of the suffrage. He had said he was prepared to produce a measure—why, then, did he not produce it now, for he could never select a better time? What had secured tranquillity on the 10th of April, that had been so much alluded to? If the Reform Bill had not been passed, was it likely there would have been no disturbance; and had not the adoption of corn-law repeal been mainly conducive to the preservation of public tranquillity? And if so, was there still no danger? Had we nothing left to fear now? What took place last year? It was quite true that order triumphed; but were there not some who, although on the side of order themselves, had yet sympathised with the turbulent? It was a well-known fact that many hundreds of workmen, friends of order, in that immediate neighbourhood, told their masters they would protect their property, but would not consent to be sworn in as special constables, to act against their own class; and considerable anxiety was excited in the neighbourhood on the Saturday preceding the Monday when the disturbances were apprehended, on account of the course taken by these workmen. He (Mr. Wood) had taken these things seriously to heart, and they had strongly influenced his mind. He wished not to vote in support of, but against, the views of the hon. Member for Nottingham, and was anxious to diminish that hon. Member's influence over the people; and how was that to be done? Why, naturally, by admitting them within the pale of the constitution; by saying to them, "Do not assemble to thwart and obstruct Parliament, but to elect Members. Assemble legitimately, not to overawe Parliament, and show your contempt of the Government, but meet as a constituent portion of the great constituent body of the empire, to elect your representatives, and assist us in the maintenance of order, and for—because I admit there can be no real order without it—the assertion of your just rights." He maintained that the Motion before the House was in accordance with the constitution, whereas the Charter was diametrically opposed to the constitution. What were they to understand by the constitution? An institution that had the power of expansion inherent within it—that had the means of extending itself attached to its own nature, without requiring the aid of any foreign or adventitious auxiliaries. And the main reason why the events abroad that had been alluded to had occurred was, because those countries had attempted to imitate the institutions of this country, by engrafting them upon a system destitute of those foundations which existed in this country in its old established modes of self-government, its municipal institutions, and all that had made this country what it is. The nations of the Continent, not possessing these, had committed many mistakes. It had astonished him to hear the noble Lord object that this Motion was not constitutional, and say at the same time that the Reform Bill was constitutional, when in point of fact this Motion had the advantage of the Reform Bill in its accordance with the constitution. The Reform Bill had introduced a totally new principle—the 10l. franchise, which was wholly unknown before. It was a mere arbitrary selection, and as such had signally failed. But as he understood the principle of household suffrage proposed by this Motion, it was the old Saxon principle of scot and lot, under which every man in a parish bearing his scot and paying his lot, became an integral part of the community. And thus it was that the old parish arrangement might be regarded as the unit of our whole political system. It had been objected that the Motion was vague and indefinite; but it was clear that it laid down the broad basis of a rating qualification. And it then proceeded to provide that every lodger should be rated for the portion of the house which he occupied, and at the end of twelve months should be entitled to the franchise, if he remained in occupation. Now, there was nothing outrageous in that proposition. In fact, the principle was already in operation; for it had been decided by the Judges, that if the landlord did not sleep in the House, then the lodgers became entitled to the franchise. He would ask them to look to their English constitution alone, and not to be frightened by what took place elsewhere. He considered all that had been said on the subject of foreign revolutions mere oratorical display. The right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary and the noble Lord had both availed themselves of that feeling; but it was a feeling that was common to both sides of the House. They all regretted alike what was taking place on the Continent; and it was only a diversion from the real subject in debate, to bring forward such matters at all. The question to be decided was, would the course proposed by the hon. Member for Montrose better secure the blessings of the constitution, about which they were all agreed, than remaining as they were? The working classes had already, he was afraid, lost confidence in that House. The very fact relied upon as an argument against the Motion, that no petitions had been presented in its favour, was, he thought, one of the most formidable symptoms that they had to deal with. It showed that the people took no interest in that House, and was a sign that they were more likely to be led away by sinister influences. The people of this country were already trained for this privilege. They had the beginning of it in their vestries and in their municipalities, in being constantly called upon to serve on juries, and in other remnants of their old Saxon institutions; and he would remind the House that there was not the slightest ground for supposing that if they—he would not say conceded, for he did not like the term—but if they allowed the constitution to expand, so as to bring in the larger portion of the community within its pale, there was not the slightest ground for dreading in this country a recurrence of the proceedings that had taken place on the Continent. It had been truly stated by the noble Lord, that the Reform Bill had been intended to diminish the number of small boroughs, and also to extend the suffrage to a certain extent, and to diminish the abuses at elections. But after this admission, it was rather remarkable that the noble Lord should travel over the old ground again in referring to the case of Stamford, and make use of the argument of virtual representation, the very argument in favour of continuing the present system of election in that borough, that had been over and over again made use of on behalf of all the old rotten boroughs. What the people of England wanted was that the whole system of nomination boroughs should be utterly destroyed, and a true system of representation adopted. The hon. Member for Montrose proposed that different small constituencies should be united, as was done in the case of the Welch and Scotch boroughs; but this proposition was most unfairly confounded with the system of electoral districts advocated by the hon. Member for Nottingham, which was of a totally different character, and involved a principle that was entirely new to the constitution. On these grounds he felt that he could give his entire support to the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose. He had been told that in doing so he was joining with those who wished to overturn the constitution; but he could not forget that in times past the same allegation had been used to members of his family, who afterwards saw all the reforms that they advocated carried into law. He did not "bate one jot of heart or hope," with regard to this Motion, for whatever might be done now, he was satisfied that these or some similar measures of reform would hereafter be carried.


said, he would not, at that late hour, refer to the arguments that had been used against his Motion, as they had been already ably answered, and he would freely leave the question upon its merits to the decision of the House.

Question put. The House divided:—Ayes 82; Noes 268: Majority 186.

List of the AYES.
Adair, H. E. Lushington, C.
Adair, R. A. S. M'Gregor, J.
Aglionby, H. A. Marshall, W.
Alcock, T. Martin, S.
Anderson, A. Milner, W. M. E.
Armstrong, R. B. Moffatt, G.
Bass, M. T. Molesworth, Sir W.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Mowatt, F.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Muutz, G. F.
Bright, J. O'Connell, J.
Brotherton, J. O'Connell, M.
Callaghan, D. O'Connell, M. J.
Clay, J. O'Connor, F.
Clay, Sir W. Osborne, R.
Cobden, R. Pearson, C.
Cockburn, A. J. E. Pechell, Capt.
Collins, W. Pilkington, J.
Currie, R. Reynolds, J.
Dashwood, G. H. Salwey, Col.
Devereux, J. T. Scholefield, W.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T. Smith, J. B.
Duke, Sir J. Smyth, hon. G.
Duncan, G. Somers, J. P.
Ellis, J. Strickland, Sir G.
Evans, Sir De L. Stuart, Lord D.
Ewart, W. Tancred, H. W.
Fagan, W. Thompson, Col.
Fox, W. J. Thompson, G.
Freestun, Col. Thornely, T.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Trelawny, J. S.
Granger, T. C. Villiers, hon. C.
Greene, J. Walmsley, Sir J.
Hardcastle, J. A. Wawn, J. T.
Harris, R. Westhead, J. P.
Headlam, T. E. Willcox, B. M.
Henry, A. Williams, J.
Heyworth, L. Willyams, H.
Hodges, T. L. Wilson, M.
Humphery, Ald. Wood, W. P.
Jackson, W.
Keogh, W. TELLERS.
Kershaw, J. Hume, J.
King, hon. P. J. L. Berkeley, H.
List of the NOES.
Adare, Visct. Denison, J. E.
Anstey, T. C. Dick, Q.
Archdall, Capt. M. Disraeli, B.
Arkwright, G. Dod, J. W.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Douglas, Sir C. E.
Drumlanrig, Visct.
Bailey, J. Duff, G. S.
Bailey, J. jun. Duff, J.
Baines, M. T. Dundas, Adm.
Baldock, E. H. Dundas, G.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Dunne, F. P.
Baring, T. Du Pre, C. G.
Barrington, Visct. East, Sir J. B.
Bellew, R. M. Ebrington, Visct.
Benett, J. Edwards, H.
Bennet, P. Egerton, W. T.
Bentinck, Lord H. Estcourt, J. B. B.
Beresford, W. Evans, W.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Farnham, E. B.
Birch, Sir T. B. Farrer, J.
Blackall, S. W. Fergus, J.
Blair, S. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Blakemore, R. Filmer, Sir E.
Blandford, Marq. of FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W.
Boyle, hon. Col. Floyer, J.
Bramston, T. W. Fordyce, A. D.
Bremridge, R. French, F.
Broadley, H. Frewen, C. H.
Bromley, R. Galway, Visct.
Brooke, Lord Gaskell, J. M.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.
Bruce, C. L. C. Gordon, Adm.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Bunbury, E. H. Grace, O. D. J.
Burke, Sir T. J. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Granby, Marq. of
Burroughes, H. N. Greenall, G.
Busfeild, W. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Grey, R. W.
Campbell, hon. W. F. Grogan, E.
Cardwell, E. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Castlereagh, Visct. Guest, Sir J.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Hale, R. B.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Halford, Sir H.
Cayley, E. S. Hallyburton, Lord J. F.
Chaplin, W. J. Hamilton, G. A.
Charteris, hon. F. Harcourt, G. G.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Harris, hon. Capt.
Childers, J. W. Hawes, B.
Christy, S. Hay, Lord J.
Clements, hon. C. S. Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Heald, J.
Clive, hon. R. B. Heathcote, G. J.
Clive, H. B. Heneage, G. H. W.
Cobbold, J. C. Heneage, E.
Cocks, T. S. Henley, J. W.
Codrington, Sir W. Herbert, rt, hon. S.
Coles, H. B. Hervey, Lord A.
Compton, H. C. Hildyard, R. C.
Conolly, T. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Corbally, M. E. Hill, Lord E.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.
Craig, W. G. Hood, Sir A.
Crowder, R. B. Hope, A.
Cubitt, W. Hornby, J.
Currie, H. Hotham, Lord
Dalrymple, Capt. Howard, Lord E.
Davies, D. A. S. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Howard, Sir R.
Deedes, W. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Denison, E. Jermyn, Earl
Jervis, Sir J. Powlett, Lord W.
Johnstone, Sir J. Price, Sir R.
Jones, Capt. Pugh, D.
Keppel, hon. G. T. Reid, Col.
Kerrison, Sir E. Repton, G. W. J.
Knox, Col. Rice, E. R.
Laboucherc, rt. hon. H. Rich, H.
Lacy, H. C. Richards, R.
Langston, J. H. Robartes, T. J. A.
Law, hon. C. E. Romilly, Sir J.
Legh, G. C. Rushout, Capt.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F. Russell, Lord J.
Lewis, G. C. Russell, hon. E. S.
Lewisham, Visct. Rutherfurd, A.
Lincoln, Earl of Sandars, G.
Littleton, hon. E. E. Sandars, J.
Loch, J. Seymour, Sir H.
Lockhart, A. E. Seymour, Lord
Lockhart, W. Shell, rt. hon. R. L.
Long, W. Simeon, J.
Lopes, Sir R. Slanoy, R. A.
Lowther, hon. Col. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Smith, J. A.
Macnaghten, Sir E. Smith, M. T.
Magan, W. H. Smyth, J. G.
Mahon, Visct. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.
Maitland, T. Spooner, R.
Manners, Lord C. S. Stanley, E.
Masterman, J. Stanley, hon. E. H.
Matheson, J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Matheson, Col. Stanton, W. H.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Stuart, Lord J.
Maxwell, hon. J. P. Stuart, J.
Melgund, Visct. Sutton, J. H. M.
Manx, Sir H. Talbot, C. R. M.
Miles, P. W. S. Talfourd, Serj.
Miles, W. Taylor, T. E.
Monsell, W. Thesiger, Sir F.
Moody, C. A. Thompson, Ald.
Morgan, O. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Morison, Sir W. Tollemache, J.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Towneley, J.
Mulgrave, Earl of Townley, R. G.
Mullings, J. R. Turner, G. J.
Mundy, W. Vane, Lord H.
Mure, Col. Verner, Sir W.
Napier, J. Verney, Sir H.
Neeld, J. Vesey, hon. T.
Newdegate, C. N. Villiers, Visct.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Villiers, hon. F. W. C.
Ogle, S. C. H. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Oswald, A. Waddington, H. S.
Owen, Sir J. Walpole, H. S.
Paget, Lord A. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Paget, Lord O. Wolby, G. E.
Pakington, Sir J. Wellesley, Lord C.
Palmerston, Visct. Williams, T. P.
Parker, J. Williamson, Sir H.
Patten, J. W. Wilson, J.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Peel, F. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Pennant, hon. Col. Wrightson, W. B.
Plowden, W. H. C. TELLERS.
Plumptre, J. P. Tufnell, H.
Portal, M. Hill, Lord M.

The House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.

Back to