§ MR. HUME
said, that when he brought forward his Motion for Parliamentary Reform last Session, he was met by an objection on the part of several Members who pretended to be friends of reform, that there was nothing definite in his proposition, and that they could not vote on an abstract question. Some declared that they were in favour of the ballot, but that they were opposed to an extension of the suffrage, whilst others said they would support an extension of the suffrage without the ballot, but they could not vote for the ballot together with an extension of the suffrage. In order that he might not be met with similar objections this year, he had embodied his Motion on a definite plan. That plan contemplated in particular an extension of the suffrage, combined with the protection of the ballot. He thought the latter was absolutely necessary to protect the voter from undue influence in the exercise of the franchise. If the fear of such undue influence was merely visionary, it would not be necessary to ask for the ballot; but he had seen over and over again the painful consequences which had arisen in consequence of an open and independent exercise of the franchise on the part of the poor voter. He did not believe, indeed, that it was possible to have anything like a fair representation of the people in that House without the protection of the ballot. The proposal he had to make with regard to the right to vote was twofold. He proposed to extend the right of voting—for he maintained it was a right, and not a privilege—to every man of full age, and not mentally or legally disabled, who had occupied a house for twelve months, and was rated to the poor. It was also important that it should not be left with the voter himself to register his vote, because there were many persons who, although they were willing and anxious to register, 87 were unable to do so from want of time, or from some other circumstance. His plan, therefore, provided that it should be the duty of a public officer to look to the registration of every person residing in a house, or in a portion of a house, who was rated or liable to be rated to the poor; this would include lodgers; for he believed that some of the most valuable men in the country, those who contributed most to its wealth, occupied lodgings. He, therefore, proposed that lodgers who had occupied apartments for twelve months, and were rated to the poor, or liable to assessment, should be entitled to the suffrage. He could not conceive what objection could be made to this, at least by those who called themselves reformers. His plan also proposed the limitation of the duration of Parliaments to three years. He thought this was necessary, in order to give to the electors that check and control over the elected which they ought to possess. He could not help observing, throughout the many Parliaments he had been a Member, the difference in the manner in which Members of Parliament acted at the end of a Parliament and at its commencement, when they had, or thought they had, a seven years' lease; and this showed how desirable it was that the electors should have a more frequent and efficient control over their representatives. Instead, therefore, of a flexible term of seven years, he held that there ought to be a fixed rule that no Parliament should exceed three years. Such were the objects he had in view in the Motion he had now brought before the House. It was two years since he had had an opportunity of discussing this question, as last year he refrained in consequence of the pledge held out by the late Government that they would bring forward some plan of reform which, if not extending so far as he could wish, would yet give satisfaction to the country. He must say he had been much disappointed. Instead of the promise held out to him being fulfilled, he was sorry to say that the late Government seemed disposed to recede from their professions. He was, however, the more resolved on that account to press his Motion that night to a division. He did not find that Motions without divisions made any impression either on that House or the country; and he would therefore take the sense of the House on the proposal he had now to submit to them. It would be for those who were opposed to his Motion to state their reasons, and also he hoped they would hear the arguments 88 of those who intended to vote in its avour. As regarded the late Administration, lie did not know what their intentions might be. Part of their plan would no doubt have carried out one object he had in view—an extension of the suffrage—hut without the ballot no measure could be satisfactory. He had seen communications from every part of the country, and there had been deputations in London from 145 places, and he could state positively that the feeling of the country and of every one of those places was in favour of the ballot, and also of a more equal distribution of Members. He was anxious that that House should pass an opinion on the subject of reform, and enlighten the country as to its intentions on this important subject, especially after the declaration of the noble Earl now at the head of the Government. He could not but regret the course taken by that noble Earl. He recollected him as an excellent Reformer, who concurred in almost all reforms, not only as regarded the State, but who was one of the best Church reformers he ever met with; for with one fell swoop he levelled ten bishoprics—an earnest, as he (Mr. Hume) thought, of his being a perfect Radical reformer. That was all gone and past, and now, after nineteen years, he was not only receding from his former principles, but actually abusing those who stood steadfast and had not changed theirs. He did not like to call names, and did not himself like to be called names, though he did not care much about them. But when he found a man, either in or out of the House, have recourse to abuse, it weakened his belief in his intellect or his honesty. The noble Earl had done him great injustice in coupling his name with demagogues. The term "demagogue" meant "a ringleader of the rabble," as he found from Johnson. He threw hack with contempt any such allegation as directed against him. He had been oftener at the head of large bodies of his fellow-countrymen than any man in this country, and he never led a rabble. He never would do so, but he would do everything in his power to pacify men who met in large numbers under a sense of injustice to demand their rights. He had been a peacemaker, and never was open to such a charge. His friends from Manchester, perhaps, considered themselves involved in the charge, and no doubt they would speak for themselves. He considered it unworthy of the noble Earl to make any such accusation in connexion with the meeting at 89 Chesham-place, or with any other transaction that he had ever been engaged in, and he threw back the imputation, he would not say with contempt, but as wholly unworthy of the noble Earl's position. The noble Lord now at the head of the Government said in the House of Lords—Will you support a Government which is exerting itself to protect the country against any hostile attack, to maintain the peace of the world, to maintain and uphold the Protestant institutions of the country, to give, to the utmost of its power, religious and moral education throughout the land; and which will exert itself, moreover, I don't hesitate to say, to stem with some opposition, to supply some barrier, against the current of that continually increasing and encroaching democratic influence in this nation, which is bent on throwing the whole power and authority of the Government nominally into the hands of the masses, but practically and really into those of demagogues and republicans, who exercise an influence over those unthinking masses—will you, I say, support a Government which is determined to resist that noxious and dangerous influence, and to preserve inviolate the prerogatives of the Crown, the rights of your Lordships' House, and the liberties of a freely elected and freely represented House of Commons?"—[3 Hansard, cxix. 1012–13.]How any man of common sense could say that the House of Commons was freely elected, and that it fairly represented the country, he (Mr. Hume) could not imagine. The noble Lord further said—These, my Lords, are the questions on which, when I go to the country, I make my appeal, on behalf of myself and of my Colleagues; and in the words which are placed in the mouths of the meanest felons that stand in the prisoners' dock, but which are not unworthy of the mouth of the First Minister of the first country in the world, I say, 'I elect that we shall be tried by God and our country.'"—[Ibid.]To that he would say, Amen! He would tell the noble Lord that he did not wish to see the institutions of the country pulled down; all that he desired was to see abuses removed, and the institutions strengthened. It might appear superflous, but he could not help saying that he knew of no country whose institutions, fairly carried out, were so likely to promote that which should be the object of all Governments—the greatest happiness of the greatest number, and the prosperity of all, as far as it could be secured. There was the Queen at the head of the Executive Government; and there was the House of Lords, with its privileges, standing between the impetuosity of the people and the tyranny of the Crown. Let each of the three estates maintain its own position, alike independent in its circumstances, and in its powers. He did not want to take from 90 the House of Peers one iota of their privileges. He acknowledged that they were wisely constituted a harrier against ill-considered legislation, whether arising from popular agitation, or from any other cause; and let it not be supposed, therefore, that he wished to infringe on their just privileges. The noble Earl at the head of the Government would find him a ready, aye, and a zealous supporter of their just rights, over ready to defend them when assailed. But he wished to see the influence of the Peers confined to its legitimate sphere; he objected to their interfering with the tried branch of the Legislature which represented the people. But he would ask if there was any man in that House who thought that the House of Commons was now a full and fair representation of the mass of the community? If any hon. Member thought so, let him by and by stand forth and declare his opinion to the country; and, on the other hand, if no one was prepared to do that, then was the system evidently condemned; and though hon. Members might not agree with him as to the means of regeneration, they ought to do their best to secure a useful alteration. It was a principle of the tribunals of this country that every man should be tried by his fellows, and on that principle were founded all their proceedings. A different principle, however, prevailed with regard to Members of Parliament. The electors were not allowed to choose for their representatives any persons not connected with the landed interest; there was a professed qualification of 300l. for a representative for a borough, and 600l. for counties; and what made the injustice more palpable was the circumstance, that for the Members for the English Universities, and for the whole of the Members for Scotland there was no property qualification whatever required. Could anything be more absurd than to suppose that the Scotch Members were more honest and more to be depended upon than the English? He was glad that the Members of the late Government were prepared to get rid of the property qualification for Members. His object was to support the institutions *f the country, and only to deal with, the abuses; and the abuses he complained of were, that men of wealth and Peers interfered with elections to the House of Commons, and that the mass of the community were not represented. He appealed to the House to remove the anomalies and abuses which existed, and thus to take away from 91 the people grounds of great discontent and dissatisfaction. At the present moment, when nearly every one was employed, they might hear little to alarm them. Still, let any hon. Member go to a popular assembly in which the question was mooted how far that House was a faithful representation of the country, and he would soon find that men of all classes desired that the anomalies should be removed. A wise man ought to aim at effecting that object in times of quietude and peace. They should prepare for the storm in time, not knowing when it would come. Should a state of things again arise similar to that which existed in 1842 or 1843, when a million artisans were out of employment, who could say what would be the result? The people would fall back on what they knew to be unjust, and the most serious consequences might ensue. If these opinions were new, there might be some ground for objecting to them. He found, however, that very many years ago, on the 25th of May, 1792, a petition was presented by Lord Grey—not the present Lord Grey, but the late Lord Grey—from the Society of the Friends of the People, amongst whom were, he believed, Charles James Fox, and some of the first Peers of the day. The Petitioners asked, amongst other things, for an extension of the suffrage, to the extent of at least household suffrage, and the limitation of the duration of Parliaments to three years, and for an alteration of the qualification. From this petition he would read the following extract:—Security and happiness are to be looked for in the introduction of a third estate, distinct from, and a check upon, the other two branches of the Legislature, created by representing, and responsible to the people themselves. That at the present day the House of Commons does not fully and fairly represent the people of England, which, consistently with what your petitioners conceive to be the principles of the constitution, they consider as a grievance, and therefore, with all becoming respect, lay their complaints before your honourable House. Tour petitioners complain that the elective franchise is so partially and unequally distributed, and is in so many instances committed to bodies of men of such very limited numbers, that the majority of your honourable House is elected by less than 15,000 electors, which, even if the male adults in the kingdom be estimated at so low a number as 3,000,000, is not more than the hundredth part of the people to be represented. Your petitioners complain that the exercise of the elective franchise is only renewed once in seven years. The second complaint of your petitioners is founded on the unequal proportions in which the elective franchise is distributed.Now, those were the complaints made in 92 that day; and if hon. Members referred to the debates of that period, they would find it observed in reply that that was not a time when reform ought to be broached; that the disturbances in France ought to operate as a warning to the British Legislature not to yield to popular demands. The very same objection was now made by many Members of that House; and for this reason he wished to show what were the opinions of the Duke of Richmond and other leading men in that day who, whatever he (Mr. Hume) might be termed, could not have been regarded as demagogues. The Duke of Richmond said—It is from the people at large that I expect any good; and I am convinced that the only way to make them feel that they are really concerned in the business is to contend for their full, clear, and indisputable rights of representation. The subject of a Parliamentary reform is that which of all others, in my opinion, most deserves the attention of the public, as I conceive it would include every other advantage which a nation can wish.Now that opinion, given by the Duke of Richmond, might be referred to, whenever he (Mr. Hume) and others were attacked with regard to their intentions. Mr. Lambton, the father of the late Lord Durham, on the 11th of April, 1792, used these words:—The example and situation of another kingdom are held out to deter us from innovations of any kind. We say that the reforms we have in view are not innovations. Our intention is not to change, but to restore; not to displace but to reinstate the constitution upon its true principles and original ground.He (Mr. Hume) had often expressed himself to the same effect, and by that declaration he was willing to abide. Several other eminent men expressed themselves in the same manner, and spoke in harmony with the declaration of Lord Chatham on the 27th of January, 1770, that, "by the reform which he proposed, he meant to infuse a portion of new health into the constitution." Now, these opinions were all in favour of the reform which he (Mr. Hume) now advocated; and it was by such means alone that this country could be enabled to bear the competition which would ere long come upon it; the mass of the country having then become interested in the preservation of order. The noble Lord late at the head of the Government (Lord John Russell) made use of an expression the other night which he extremely regretted to hear, when he said he was ready to vote for an extension of 93 the suffrage to all who were worthy to receive it. His answer to that was, that he would not accept the suffrage as a favour, as it was the right of every Englishman to be represented; and his proposal only drew the line where it could be drawn with safety. The noble Lord also very candidly, and greatly to his credit, said, in reference to some observations that had fallen from the Earl of Derby, that he did not see the march of democracy had in any way interfered with the rights of the Crown, or the prerogatives of the Peers; but on the contrary, the noble Lord said, with great truth, every reform that had taken place, especially that great reform of 1832, had proved of the utmost advantage during all the violent changes that had taken place on the Continent. The extension of the suffrage so far had tended to check what was termed "the lawless democracy." If there were any danger in this democracy, it could only be when it was lawless. As to the "march of the democracy," he must say that the democracy had as much right to march to the support of their own rights as any class of their fellow subjects; and he repeated, that to concede their just rights was the most likely way to preserve the rights of the Crown, of the House of Peers, and of the whole community. He might quote many authorities in favour of his views. Judge Blackstone declared, that "upon the true theory and genuine principles of liberty, every member of the community, however poor, should have a vote in electing those delegates to whose charge is committed the disposal of his property, his liberty, and his life;" and that "in a free State every man, who is supposed a free agent, ought to be, in some measure, his own governor; and therefore a branch at least of the legislative power should reside in the whole body of the people," meaning the Commons (1 Black stone, 171, 158). If there were any doubt upon the point, he might also refer to the opinion of Sir Thomas Smith, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, which was quoted on the same occasion, the substance of which was that the people had a right to be represented. Now, he had prepared with great care an analysis of the state of that House in 1846. From an analysis of the constituency of the United Kingdom at that period, it appeared that 331 Members, a majority of the House of Commons, were elected by 151,492 electors, being on the average 457 electors for every Member, 94 and being themselves one-fifth of the whole number of registered voters. Thus one-fifth of the whole number of electors, 956,272, might return a majority of the House of Commons; and this fifth constituted one-fortieth of the whole male population of twenty years and upwards, 6,148,468 persons, and one hundred and sixtieth of the gross population of 25,500,000. Could it be said, in the face of such facts as these, that that House constituted a full and fair representation of the people? The inequality, the absurdity, and the injustice of the present system were so great, that he entreated hon. Members who were desirous to preserve the institutions of the country, and to remove the impediments to their security which now existed, to join with him in promoting the passing of this measure. There was scarcely any part of this country which was not vying with other parts in efforts to obtain the best machinery for manufacturing purposes. Everything was in progress but the House of Commons. That House was the taxing machinery of the country, by means of which every man's pockets were emptied; and in order that that object should be wisely and honestly conducted, they ought to have the best possible machine that could be obtained. The utmost should he done to remove inequalities, to place everything in due proportion, and to place the mass of the community in a position to choose the wisest and most suitable men as their representatives. He had heard it objected that if the people had the power which he demanded for them, they would not exercise it properly. It was very easy to offer such an objection. Let them have an opportunity, and he had no hesitation in saying they would avail themselves of it—let them be protected in their rights, and he had no doubt they would take care of themselves. At present the mass of the community were literally nothing in the representation: the many were taxed by the few; and the consequence was, that the taxation was most unequal and unjust, and numbers had to bear a far greater proportion than they ought to do. How could the system of taxation be reformed, unless the people were honestly represented? He called upon the House, then, to do its duty to the third estate of the realm, and to give satisfaction to the people by allowing them their due share in the Legislature by electing honest and independent Members. Let the House remember the disclosures 95 with regard to St. Albans, in reference to which an hon. Member had declared in his place that he felt himself to have been illegally elected, and that had he sat upon the inquiry he would have voted against himself. Knowing as they did that the same system existed in ninety other boroughs in this country, he could not conceive how the House, with the least pretensions to reform, could refuse to support a Motion which would do away with such a state of things. On all these grounds, looking at the importance and necessity of such a measure as that which he sought to introduce, whatever might he the result of the division that night, he felt satisfied that many of the younger Members of that House would live to see the day when a decided measure of justice would be conceded to the people. As a friend to the Crown, as a friend to the Peers, as a friend to the Commons, as one who was desirous of seeing all classes participate in the benefits of a just reform of the representation, he besought the House to give its best attention to the subject. The hon. Member then read the following extract from a petition from certain inhabitants in Norwich, complaining of bribery and corruption in the municipal elections:—That we believe that the municipal system properly carried out would confer incalculable benefit on the community by training the people to self-government, and affording opportunities to the citizens of uniting and co-operating in the local assembly for the promotion of the general good; but, whilst we admire the theory, we can but grieve over the actual results of that system shown in the corruption and demoralisation arising out of the municipal contests. It is notorious that in this city the relative position of political parties in the town council entirely depends on the suffrages of some hundreds of corrupt burgesses, who, without any attempt at concealment, will vote for those candidates (regardless of their personal fitness or political opinions) who will give them the most money. These reckless, profligate men, decide who shall be the guardians of the peace and morality of the city; and the most virtuous and talented of the citizens has not the slightest chance of their support if opposed by a corrupt partisan, however depraved or ignorant he may be, who will dole out bribes amongst them. That the prevalence of this evil is an admitted fact, and that in the last municipal elections which took place for this city on the 1st of November, the system of bribery was carried on in the most open and unblushing manner; and in one ward, comprising 400 burgesses, it is said that the votes of more than 120 electors were directly purchased by money bribes; and in many of the wards it is beyond doubt that the only way to succeed is by corruption. The effect of all this on the morality of the city we believe to be disastrous in the extreme; but we do not charge this offence upon any one party exclusively. We fear there 96 are but few active politicians innocent in this matter. We would first beg the attention of your honourable House to the fact that the municipal franchise is much more limited even than the Parliamentary; the number of registered burgesses for the city being 2,831, whilst the number of Parliamentary electors is more than 5,000. We would respectfully suggest to your hon. House, that if the provisions of an Act passed in the last Session, entitled 'An Act to amend the Law for the Registration of certain Persons commonly known as Compound Householders, and to facilitate the Exercise by such Persons of their Right to Vote in the Election of Borough Members to serve in Parliament,' were extended to municipal elections, it would go far to remedy the evil complained of, and would give a reasonable and just extension of the franchise, from which we confidently anticipate many moral advantages would accrue. That the ballot, though it would not altogether prevent bribery, would render it more difficult, by depriving the briber in most, cases of any assurance that the corrupted voter would fulfil his promise; and, moreover, by concealing the actual numbers polled till after the poll had finally closed, it would prevent the corruption which usually occurs in the excitement of the last hour or two before the closing of the poll. We therefore pray your hon. House to pass an Act, enabling Her Majesty to appoint Commissioners (as in the case of St. Albans) to inquire into the bribery prevalent in the municipal elections of this city; and then, if the allegations of this petition are proved, to adopt the remedies which your petitioners have herein respectively suggested—namely, the extension of the right of voting, and the adoption of secret ballot as the mode of exercising the suffrage; or such other measures as your hon. House shall deem expedient.The hon. Member concluded by moving for leave to bring in a Bill to Amend the National Representation, and for taking the Votes by Ballot.
§ SIR JOSHUA WALMSLEY
said: I second the Motion of my hon. Friend, and would tender to him my warm acknowledgments for the zeal and perseverance he has displayed in the advancement of this important question. It cannot be otherwise than a source of satisfaction and encouragement to know that not only out of doors, but in this House, the question has, been making steady and continuous progress; and notwithstanding all the obstacles and difficulties which have been thrown, in the way, it has already received the support of 120 Members of this House. I feel assured that number will this night, be augmented by other converts. I look upon success as a mere question of time. Indeed, Sir, the unequal and corrupt, state of our representation has been so frequently the subject of discussion in this House, and so little urged in its palliation, that it ought to be unnecessary to utter a word in support of a measure calculated to 97 amend or even to mitigate the evils of so demoralising a system. But the course hitherto pursued in reference to this question, and the limited character of the measure recently introduced, constrain me to offer a few remarks on what I believe to be the reforms earnestly desired by a large majority of the people of this country. These remarks shall be brief and strictly applicable to the question. When the noble Lord the late Minister of the Crown introduced the measure to which I have referred, I took occasion to declare my conviction that the proposition was not only unworthy of the antecedents of the noble Lord, but could not give satisfaction to the country. Subsequent events have, I think, shown those views to be correct; and I was well pleased to learn that the noble Lord himself had so far concurred in them as to intimate his willingness to reconsider and reconstruct the whole measure. I would take this opportunity of assuring the noble Lord and the House, that any measure which retained the nomination boroughs, or that did not include the protection of the ballot, would be very lightly esteemed. My first objection to the letter of the Bill proposed by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, is the disparity between the borough and the county franchise. I see no reason why the franchise should be five pounds in the one case, and twenty pounds in the other; and unless the country Gentlemen are prepared to admit that the inhabitants of the rural districts have been less cared for, and are consequently less fitted for the exercise of political rights, I hope they will support an equal measure of justice for the agricultural as for the manufacturing districts; and, in justice to those whom they more immediately represent, advocate a measure to secure the independent exercise of the franchise. The proposition to enfranchise by the payment of forty shillings direct taxation was a step in the right direction, recognising taxation as the basis of representation. But I look upon the retention of the ratepaying clause as an unmixed evil, rendering that which should be a simple debt a penal measure, and keeping up a fruitful source of litigation, chicanery, and fraud. It may not be desirable to multiply Members for towns already represented; but I am at a loss to understand how the noble Lord can justify the retention of two Members to small constituencies, and refuse one to large, important, and populous districts. To attempt to 98 justify such injustice by raising up some fancied balance of interests, is to revive fallacies long exploded. Like the doctrine of divine right, or the unexplainable balance of power, it is a mere attempt to mystify the real object. The country has been long convinced that the interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures are indivisible; and upon this view should representation be based. I do not look upon this as a mere party question of Whigs or Tories, but as intimately connected with the wellbeing of the people. It is to me a small matter which party is in office. I can promise that whichever will promote that cause which will eventuate in the elevation of the people to their constitutional rights, shall have my humble support. On a former occasion I referred to the numerous and unceasing demands for enfranchisement. I pointed to the acknowledged loyalty and intelligence of the unenfranchised as evidence of their fitness for the exercise of political power—to their patience and forbearance under the degrading exclusion—to the inconsistency of refusing to our fellow-subjects at home—rights which we freely confer upon them in the colonies—and to the folly of denying to justice that which we almost invariably yield to pressure—I had almost said to fear. The opportunities I have since had of ascertaining the requirements of the producing classes, have confirmed those views, and convinced me that sound policy combines with justice in requiring a thorough revision of our electoral system. So far from perceiving any cause of apprehension by extending the rights of the Constitution, I am persuaded it is the only effectual means to remove the existing causes of discontent, and the only way permanently to secure the confidence of the country, Twenty years have elapsed since the noble Lord the Member for the City of London introduced into this House the Bill under the provisions of which we are now assembled. With all its defects, there can be no doubt of the value of that Bill as a salutary measure. It corrected many flagrant abuses, and rendered more popular the election of Members to this House. The real friends of reform in every part of the country accord to the noble Lord and his then Colleagues their full meed of praise for such an improvement on our then representative system, and admit that to the Reform Act they are mainly indebted for the passing of many of those subsequent measures the 99 adoption of which will ever shed lustre on the annals of our country. Whilst, however, we freely admit the benefits, we cannot shut our eyes to the defects. We know that the Bill introduced by the noble Lord was shorn of some of its fairest proportions, and came forth a compromise as it were of a first intent, and to some extent an abandonment of the declared principles upon which it was framed. The evils of rotten boroughs were only partially removed. It is true that fifty-six nomination boroughs were placed in Schedule A; but nearly as large a number were retained, and remain until this day a scandal to the system; and the territorial influence was augmented by the addition of fifty-four country Members. A glance at Dod's Parliamentary Companion will fully justify the assertion, that it was one of the most aristocratic measures ever offered to the nation. The effects of the Chandos Clause, the political serfdom and change of tenures in which it would involve the occupiers and cultivators of the soil, were clearly foretold; and a recent return shows that there are in England and Wales 350,000 houses assessed at between ten pounds and fifty pounds' annual value, whose occupants, under the provisions of the Reform Bill, are entirely excluded from a voice in the choice of their representatives. Surely then it cannot be so unreasonable to ask the revision of a system of representation, which, after a twenty years' test, has been found inadequate to its declared purposes, and which is generally admitted to be a censure on the intelligence of the age. In all respects save one the nation has pursued a career of progress and improvement. Compared with twenty years ago, our population is vastly augmented; and with the increase in numbers, there has been a more than corresponding increase in intelligence, in the knowledge of public affairs, and in the desire for participation in political power. Compared with twenty years ago, our commerce has assumed a gigantic form. Conquest and colonisation have either preceded or gone hand in hand with commerce; and whilst new realms have been brought under British rule, our sons have found new paths for industrial enterprise, are extending our language and our laws, are founding institutions still more liberal than our own, and are enforcing the recognition of those institutions from the Imperial Legislature. The records of our literature during the same period show an unexampled diffusion 100 of every description of knowledge. Each day affords illustrations of advance in the arts, in science, in commerce, in manufactures, in fact, in all that can distinguish a civilised, industrious, and growing people. But, Sir, in broad contrast to all this stands the fact, that there has been no advance or improvement in our representation. Five-sixths of our adult male population remain excluded from any voice in framing the laws by which they are governed, or in the distribution of the funds to which they contribute so large a proportion. A paper laid upon the table of this House gives the number of votes in the United Kingdom as 1,050,187, being one in thirty of the population, or one in six of the adult males. The division of this number amongst 656 Members who have seats in this House, shows about 1,600 votes to each. I say "votes" rather than electors, because many persons have double, triple, and quadruple votes. There is no return of the number of persons holding these votes, but it is estimated that they do not exceed three quarters of a million. These statements appear to me to involve one of two propositions: either we have between five and six millions of adult males so debased by ignorance, vice, or other moral disqualifications, as to be totally unfitted for the exercise of political rights, or there is a gross monopoly of those rights, to the grievous wrong of a vast majority of the taxpayers of this country. Hon. Gentlemen will not, I am sure, cast the stigma upon the great body of the producing classes involved in the first of these propositions; they must, therefore, become the advocates of justice to men who, unsurpassed in industry or social virtue, are nevertheless so stigmatised by the very act of exclusion, I have stated that the gross number of votes by which this House is called together give an average of 1,600 to each Member; but there are 329 Gentlemen in this House, or a clear majority, who represent only 141,372 votes, or 430 each, whilst the minority, or 327 Members, represent 908,815 votes, or 2,779 each. These facts sufficiently indicate the glaring inequalities in our various constituencies; but with the permission of the House I will submit one or two others. The constituencies in the United Kingdom are 373, the gross number of votes, as before stated, 1,050,187, giving an average of 2,816 to each constituency. 290 of these constituencies are greatly below this average, 83 as greatly above it, The 290 con- 101 sist of the most inconsiderable portions of the Kingdom, and return 433 Members. The 83, embracing most of the great seats of industry, wealth, and population, return only 223. The average number of votes to each of the 433 Members is 606; the average of the 223 Members is 3,534. In fact, our electoral system might have been invented to set reason and equity at defiance, and to afford a premium for every corrupt and unconstitutional method of determining the elections. The extension of the franchise to many of our large towns, by the Act of 1832, has been rendered almost nugatory by the power bestowed elsewhere. If I am shown the wealthy and populous borough of Salford with one Member, I turn to the nomination borough of Calne with a Member also; the one a free constituency with 2,400 electors, the other a proprietary borough with 159. If shown Manchester with 12,000, or Marylebone with 18,000, I point to Thetford with 210, and to Knaresborough with 230; the two smaller boroughs with 440 electors, equalling in representation the two larger ones with 29,900 electors. These facts sufficiently demonstrate the possibility of neutralising the efforts of all the large constituencies by marshalling the power of the smaller ones against them. For example, take a group of boroughs and place them against one constituency: there are in this House 106 Gentlemen representing 62 constituencies, in which the gross number of electors is only 21,131—about the same number as is contained in one metropolitan borough sending only two Members. These 106 Gentlemen, with 21,131 electors, may neutralise the votes of 106 other Members returned by constituencies with an aggregate of 534,900 electors. Again, the last-named 106 Members, representing more than one-half the electoral body in the United Kingdom, stand in the relative position, as compared with the whole House, of 106 to 550. Incredible as these statements may appear, they are sustained by the papers laid upon the table of the House. The figures are equally startling whether we compare boroughs with boroughs, or counties with counties. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with that sagacity for which he is remarkable, took occasion, a few evenings ago, to point out the inequalities in some of the county constituencies, and showed, by reference to North Cheshire, that they were not represented, even as far as numbers were concerned, compared with 102 some of the manufacturing districts and boroughs. It is these inequalities of which we complain, and which we are desirous to remove. We seek not to give a preponderating influence to any one class, but to base representation on some sound principle. Doubtless, when examining these inequalities, it did not escape the right hon. Gentleman's attention that there are in this House 12 county Members representing an average of 273 electors each; 12 others with 581; 12 with 786; 12 with 1,595; 12 with 2,786; and 12 with an average of 6,810 each. Of these 72 county constituencies, 60 have 106,669 electors, whilst the 12 number 163,452. The 60 send 90 Members, the 12 only 24 Members to this House. I have said, there has been no advance or improvement in our representation for a certain period. I apprehend it will be found there has been retrogression. Taking the numbers as shown by the return of the hon. Member for Bristol, and comparing the electors in each constituency in 1850 with the numbers at various periods since 1832, I find 184 of the constituencies with a less number of electors now than they had in former years. If told the gross number of electors has increased, I reply, the increase has been in counties where extraordinary exertions have been used for special objects, or in boroughs that have within or around them the elements of rapid progression. Thus the West Riding of Yorkshire has increased from 18,000 to 36,000; South Lancashire from 10,000 to 21,000; Marylebone from 9,000 to 18,000; and the Tower Hamlets from 11,000 to 22,000. Notwithstanding the large additions made by active exertions to such constituencies as North and South Lancashire, North and South Cheshire, and the West Riding of Yorkshire, the registers of the English counties for 1846–47, compared with those for 1849–50, show a positive decrease from the latter period of 13,600 electors. Had the counties referred to remained stationary, as respects numbers, the decrease would have been 42,800. In Ireland the retrogression has been so great as to compel a partial remedy to save the constituencies from extinction. And upon this point I would take leave to observe, that I can see no good reason for a different franchise for Ireland than for England. They should be identical. Until we have equal laws for the two countries, we shall fail to obtain the confidence of the Irish people, or, I would venture to say, to deserve it. It is sometimes urged that to 103 base electoral power on mere numbers would be unjust to property. The answer to such a fallacy is, that in this country at least numbers and property are coexistent and coextensive, and that whether we test the present electoral system by numbers or by property, or by the two combined, it will be found equally anomalous and unjustifiable. The statistics given by Alexander Mackay, in his pamphlet on Electoral Reform, have frequently been quoted in this House, and never been controverted. He gave the property assessed to the poor's rate for 1841 at eighty-five millions, and of this sum states seven millions are represented in this House by 330 Members, and 78,000,000, by 326 Members. He gives the assessment of the borough of Honiton at 8,000l. to 9,000l., whilst it sends the same number of Members as Liverpool, assessed at 1,500,000l. Seven other boroughs, with an aggregate assessment of 85,000l. a year, return as many men to Parliament as Middlesex, with a rateable value of more than 7,000,000l. I will not pursue these illustrations further; sufficient has been said to show that the present mode of returning Members to this House is neither based on numbers nor property; neither is it based on reason, honesty, nor the principles of our Constitution. The tendency of the system is to render this assembly subservient to the Upper House, and thus to place in the hands of the Peers a power alike dangerous to the liberties of the people and the just privileges of the Sovereign. By reason of the numerous nomination boroughs, the influence of their territorial power, and the Chandos Clause of the Reform Act, the Peers are enabled to send into this House a sufficient number of their relatives and supporters to dictate terms to every Administration. Nor is this the only evil: the Government themselves are chosen from this class, and placemen and place-seekers enter through boroughs where Government patronage is all powerful, or where money and influence are omnipotent. Intimidation, corruption, and various modes of demoralisation, are the consequence; and the House of Commons, instead of being a real representation of the whole people, is virtually the representation of the Peers, the Army, the Navy, the Church, and the Government. The effects of the system on the taxation and expenditure of the country are an unequal and oppressive mode of raising the public revenue, by which the trade and commerce of the country are restricted, and the health 104 and morals of the people deteriorated. The burdens are made to press in the inverse ratio of the power to sustain them; those are touched lightly whose means are the largest, and those pressed to the earth whose poverty might plead exemption. In the distribution of the funds so raised, less regard is had for the interests of the public service than for the conciliation of those who can command large Parliamentary influence: hence each barren rock or unwholesome swamp is made the seat of a petty but costly settlement, in which governors, lieutenant governors, and a host of officials, may find patronage and pay; useless but expensive diplomatic missions are sent to various parts of the world; pensions and sinecures are distributed with an unsparing hand; and a system of Church patronage rigorously maintained, as injurious to religion as it is offensive to the consciences of a large portion of our fellow subjects. These things are the natural fruits of such a system, and must be endured until the people obtain their just share of political power. It is to remedy the evils of this system morally, politically, and financially, that we seek to widen the basis of representation, arid to confer the right upon every adult male who shall have occupied a house, or part of a house, for twelve months, irrespective of the payment of rates. It is because I believe the plan of Reform proposed by my hon. Friend would amend the evils I have enumerated, and because I believe it to be practical, safe, and constitutional, that I give him my humble but earnest support. There may be those who apprehend dangers or difficulties in a plan which would augment four or fivefold the number of electors in the United Kingdom. I believe such apprehensions to be fallacious; the danger, if any, would arise from a very different cause—the refusal to act justly towards men who not only know their rights, but their power to enforce them. Any reform in Parliament which shall not recognise the constitutional rights of the wealth-producing classes, will fail to allay the present discontent, and create a spirit of hostility to the governing body which it will hereafter be very difficult to allay. It will not have escaped attention, that whilst differences of opinion have arisen as to the extent to which enfranchisement should be carried, there is a very general feeling in favour of the ballot. Employers of labour, equally with the employed, agree that the extension of the 105 franchise without the ballot would be little better than mockery. I speak under correction, but I believe the Motion of my hon. Friend asks no more than the Constitution guarantees to those who bear the burdens and fight the battles of the State. I believe it asks no more than is warranted by the loyalty and intelligence of the people. I believe it asks no more than is necessary for the correction of those abuses which time and a vicious system have introduced. The present period of comparative prosperity and domestic tranquillity is eminently adapted for the peaceful settlement of this important question. The only sounds we now hear against the exclusion under which the people labour, are those of calm remonstrance and enlightened reason; but none may venture to predict the consequences under other and less favourable circumstances. The burdens which are now heavy may then become insupportable. The evils now tolerated may then assume an aspect which may excite the masses to desperation, and they may then approach this House in an attitude which all would deprecate, but none be able to resist. Should such a time arrive, which I trust the wisdom of the House will avert, then should we see the folly of treating with contumely the reasonable demands of millions of irritated and despised subjects. Timely concessions to their prayers would, on the contrary, be met by gratitude and affection; and the elevation of the people to their just rank in the Constitution would be better than a wall of brass against our enemies. Then should we witness a ready contribution to funds known to be expended for the benefit of all, and a willing observance of laws made with the consent of the whole people. I beg to thank the House for the attention it has paid to the imperfect observations I have submitted on this great question, and to assure hon. Members that whatever may be the present result, I am certain the time is not distant when they will rightly appreciate the great interests at stake, and yield to the justice of our demands. I conclude with expressing the hope that whatever differences of opinion may exist, nothing that I have said will be conceived as of a personal nature, but called forth by an earnest desire to promote that which I believe essential to the pence, happiness, and contentment of the people.
Motion made and Question proposed—
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to
amend the National Representation, by extending the Elective Franchise in England and Wales, so that every man of full age, and not subject to any mental or legal disability, who shall have been the resident occupier of a house, or of part of a house as a lodger, for twelve months, and shall have been duly rated to the poor of that parish for that time, shall be registered as an Elector, and be entitled to vote for a Representative in Parliament.
Also, by enacting that votes shall be taken by ballot, that the duration of Parliaments shall not exceed three years, and that the proportion of Representatives be made more consistent with the amount of population and property.
MR. HENRY DRUMMOND
, who, from the low tone in which he spoke, and the continual coughing in the House, was very imperfectly heard in the gallery, was understood to commence by observing that the excuse which had been made by hon. Gentlemen who were so anxious for a dissolution of Parliament for bringing on this Motion at this particular time, that it was a time of comparative tranquillity, would justify a vast number of other Motions on all sorts of subjects. Still, there were some circumstances which placed the question before them in a peculiar light. For instance, there were not less than six Gentlemen who had had the kindness to give notice of no less than eight measures now on the notice paper of the House for the improvement of the representative system, and this certainly forced the question upon the consideration of the Government in a way in which it had probably never been pressed before. He trusted, however, that under these circumstances the present Government would avoid the errors of former Governments, and would not, by refusing to entertain the measure, give occasion to others, as they had done on a former occasion, to take advantage of the impatience of the country, and bring forward a measure really revolutionary for the purpose of advancing the interests of their own faction. Now, before entering into the principle of the Bill, he would refer to something which appeared to him to have an adventitious importance attached to it—he meant the ballot. That appeared to him to be a question in which they, the representatives, had no concern; for what could it signify to them how the electors voted for them, whether secretly or openly—whether standing upon one leg or upon two? It seemed to him to be a question fairly left to the electors themselves. He had certain reasons for preferring the ballot, but he was not going into that question now, as there was to be a distinct discussion with reference to it. The main objec- 107 tion, among others, to the old Reform Bill was, that it contained no principle in it; neither was there any principle in the one which the noble Lord at the head of the late Government had recently proposed. The right of voting, for example, was connected with 10l. But there was no more connexion between the right of voting and 10l. than between that right and 9l. 19s. 6d. The same thing might be said with regard to a 5l. franchise, for there was no more connexion between 5l. and the right of voting, than between 4l. 19s. 6d. and that right. It was altogether a want of principle. Now, with respect to the elective franchise, he laid this down as the true principle, namely, that the right of exercising the elective franchise was coextensive with direct service to the State. He used those words advisedly, because not only did he mean by this expression to include those into whose pockets the Chancellor of the Exchequer directly put his hands, but all those from whom a rate collector of any kind obtained contributions; but he went further, and he said that where men were too poor to have anything in their pockets to tempt the collector, but had yet rendered their own personal service to the State as soldiers or militiamen, they should, after their discharge, be entitled also to the exercise of the franchise. You may call this household suffrage, or universal suffrage, or by any other name you please. I am contending for things not for names. It might easily be shown that what you call universal suffrage, was really, originally, the practice of our ancestors. The question was not between 40s. and 39s., but 40s. was the lowest amount of property possessed by any freeman. He had stated broadly the extent to which he thought the number of electors should be increased; but he confessed that in this, as in all political things, there were two sides to the question. When they added to the number of electors, they did not add similar things to similar things. It was not a mere addition of electors of the same kind, but of electors of a very different kind; and it was exceedingly difficult to form an opinion of the number of poof voters that there would be in comparison with the rich. As a very slight illustration upon this point, yet one so slight that he scarcely ventured to apply it, he would take the Case of the contributors to savings banks, and he found that out of 1,000,000 of such contributors there were but 2,000 possessed of 200l. and up- 108 wards, while there were no fewer than 677,000 possessed of less than 20l. It is clear, therefore, that in extending the Suffrage, you not only increase it numerically, that is, you not only add to it the number of those who have nothing, but the numbers of those who have nothing so far exceed the numbers of those that have something, that for all practical purposes the power of election will be altogether in the hands of paupers in the proportion of 677 to 2. Taking that as some guide to the other question, they would, when they had extended the franchise to the extent he had already named, be representing the poverty of the country, and the wealth would be left unrepresented. One said that there was no danger to be apprehended from this, because the people were exceedingly loyal and well disposed; and another talked of the spread and influence of educations but there was no connexion between voting and reading, writing, and arithmetic, of between voting and "skilled labour." as it was called. The argument showed, however, that those who used it had perceived the danger arising from extending the franchise so widely, and that they were trying by insufficient means to correct that evil. It was an evil which ought to be corrected, but it was not to be corrected by limiting the franchise to 5l., nor by connecting it with education of any kind. Now he came to the next principle involved, which was that of property qualification in Members. What was meant by the good old times of the Constitution, of which they heard and read so much in the writings of the noble Lord, he knew not; but this he knew, that no persons ever could go into that House who were not possessed of property. Property at that time, of course, consisted of land, because trade was originally confined, first to the Jews, and then to the Lombards, and afterwards to the Flemings, and these were foreigners, Now, however, things had totally changed. The essential was property; the accident had been land. It did not signify what the property was, but they must keep up that property qualification. When hon. Gentlemen introduced Motions for the abolition of that qualification, they gave as a reason that the House d4d not mind its own rules—that persons swore they were worth so much, but that they knew that they were not. That was a bad argument. It ruled too much through our whole system. We encouraged jurors to break their oaths, and find a matt not guilty when they 109 knew that he was, because they had taken it into their heads that the punishment of death ought not to be inflicted. The only way was for them to do their duty, and leave to others the consequences of neglecting theirs; and, if they wished men not to perjure themselves in that House, why not appoint a permanent Commission, such as had been sent down to St. Albans? Property and power must be in the same hands, or property cannot exist, for an equality of power was an equality of goods. Wherever there were two animals, and one had got something to eat, and the other had not, unless the one that had the something to eat were stronger than the other, depend upon it there would be a battle between them. So, if there were two men alongside each other, one rich and the other poor, and the rich man had not something or other wherewith to defend his riches, which the poor man did not possess, there would be a free trade between them pretty quickly. Property and power must go together, for civilised society was alone constituted to preserve acquired property. It was a very grave question to what extent this reform ought to go; for what they were to provide against was, not the peaceable times in which we were living, but difficult times which might arise. A ship was not worth a farthing that would only sail in smooth water; and we must have a constitution that would weather a storm. Passions will ever carry everything before them, and no education will teach men to starve contentedly. Times had been, and would come again, when there must be masses of starving people: the greatest mental anguish that it is possible for human nature to endure, is for a man to see his children perishing for lack of food, which he sees all around him, and yet is unable to procure for them; and we might rest assured that the sufferings of an Ugolino were equally keen, whether occasioned by a constitutional government, or by a Florentine tyrant. The noble Lord had said, that his object in adding the small boroughs to each other, was in order to keep up the balance between the agricultural and commercial interests. But this cannot be so done; because the boroughs are not in the possession of the landed interests; and if he could, it would only be to perpetuate the contention between the classes. The thing is totally impossible. The amalgamation was becoming greater and greater every day, 110 and he hoped it would continue to do so. He wanted to see the great estates more subdivided, and the numbers of landed proprietors continually increased; not by forcible means as in France, and in other countries, but by the safe and gradual operation of natural causes. It is for this object that I have laboured for a Registration Bill; I want to see the conveyance of land easy, the title secure, and the expense small. There will, however, always be great difference between the conduct of persons holding transitory and permanent property. The labourer, for example, looks no further than the end of the week, and whether he spends 5s. or 5l. he consumes it all. The manufacturer looks no further than the end of the year, and if he has bought his raw material at such a price, so that he has gained by the manufacture and sale he is content: but the proprietor of land is always labouring upon its permanent improvement. He does not limit his views to the end of the week, nor to the end of the year; and therefore it is that he has a permanent attachment to the honour and interest of the country, which is nowhere to be found but in the owners and cultivators of the soil. The rest of the community are mere Jews, and Lombards, or Flemings, under the appearance of Englishmen, but with the feelings of foreigners. There was a good annexed to the old rotten boroughs. Many of them had been originally given with the intention of conferring power upon the owners of them; and the advantage was, that they were enabled to insure the return to that House of persons whom they thought it desirable to have there. You have destroyed this means without providing an equivalent, and the consequence has been that the noble Lord at the head of the late Government had been continually reproached on account of the narrowness of the basis of his Administration. He granted there was something in that; but until some hon. Gentlemen had to try the difficulty of forming an Administration, they would not know that it was not always so easy to put men into the places that they ought to hold, for they would have to consider not only who was the best men, but whether some enlightened constituency might not prefer an empty chatterer to the wisest and best statesman that ever lived. He did not want to recur to the rotten boroughs, nor did he think that the noble Lord mended the matter in the least by his manœuvre of annexing small 111 towns to them; but what Parliament might do was this—they might make the Ministers, as their servants, whoever they were, and to whichever House they belonged, come into the House whenever they wanted to interrogate them about the way in which they were conducting the business of their departments. If they did that, they would immediately emancipate the hands of Government, would gain the possibility of forming an Administration upon a much larger basis, and would invariably get much better servants. If ever he should turn a reformer, that which he should like to reform would be the House of Lords. It was the weakest part of our Constitution, and that which required most to be strengthened. The power of the House of Commons had increased, and was increasing. It ought to be diminished, and he wanted the strength of the House of Lords to withstand that House. There was one practice which ought certainly to be put an end to, which was that of voting by proxy; it is quite indefensible, and no man and no class can afford wantonly to incur merited odium. Another evil, which had been before referred to, was that of pauper noblemen who were unable to support the dignity of their station. Sir William Temple long ago foresaw this evil, and endeavoured to provide for it. There could be no greater misfortune befall any country than that it should be brought to the state in which France was immediately before the, revolution. Power ought also to be given to the Crown of naming Peers for life, because there were many persons who in that sphere might be of considerable advantage, and might render real service to the country, without having the means of transmitting to their posterity that which was necessary to enable them to uphold the dignity, of the Peerage.
§ SIR WILLIAM PAGE WOOD
said, that the hon. Member for West Surrey had commenced by stating that he thought the hon. Member for Montrose had pursued a somewhat singular course in wasting, as he had been pleased to call it, the time of the House in a discussion upon this subject, while, on the, other hand, he was impressing on the Government the extreme necessity of a dissolution, of Parliament. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer bad indeed adopted the suggestion which had been thrown out by the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) of availing himself of the Thursday nights for carry- 112 ing on the affairs of the Government, and expediting the business of the Session; then there might have been some foundation for the charge that they were wasting time in a discussion that might be postponed until the more serious business of the House had been carried through. But he apprehended, as that was not the case, that, next to the supplies and the defences of the country, there was really hardly any discussion more important than the one in which they were engaged. He did not say thot the result could be very serious of a Motion of this kind introduced at this period, but the discussion itself was one of a highly important character. He thought they were more particularly called upon to enter into a discussion of this character at the present time, in consequence of those principles of government which had been laid down by the Earl of Derby; for he understood the noble Earl distinctly to have said, not merely that he was opposed to proceeding any further with the Bill which had been introduced by the noble Lord the Member for London for the amendment of the representative system, but he had declared, in unequivocal terms, that the principle of his Government would be to oppose what he was pleased to call the proceedings of demagogues, and to uphold the monarchy against democracy. The noble Earl, in. using the word "democracy," no doubt thought of the tale of giving a dog a bad name and hanging him. "Democracy" might be a very good or a very bad word according to the sense in which the noble Earl used it; but what did the noble Earl mean by it when he contrasted his principles of government with those of the Government which he had succeeded? Had the Government which the noble Earl had succeeded in any way advanced democracy in its bad sense? In its bad sense it meant no doubt insurrection. In its bad sense we had enough, and more than enough, perhaps, to dissatisfy us with it on the Continent. In its bad sense two feeble attempts had been made to wield democracy on the part of two feeble democrats, whom he would not more particularly indicate, within the time of the late Government. Those attempts had not been in any way advanced by the Government of the noble Lord; but they had been most signally put down, in one case by the energy and ability of Lord Clarendon, and in the other by the energy and ability of the then Secretary of State for the Home Department, sustained as he 113 had been by the good sense and feeling of the large mass of the people of England. But democracy was a very pliable word—like Protection. Democracy might mean the total exclusion of the monarchical principle, or it might mean only justice to the people at large. Let the House look at the Governments of Europe at this moment, consider what they were, the principles on which they were carried on, and see if those were prospering from which the democratic element was entirely excluded. There were on the Continent of Europe only two principles of government observed—he omitted altogether what were called "military occupations," which now prevailed in some parts of the Continent, because he considered them no Governments at all. There was the high monarchical principle which might be found in Austria and Russia, where it was developed in its most favourable light, where it was conceived that they best secured order by having an hereditary Sovereign (as we had in this country), and that the cause of order and good government was to be preserved by investing that sovereign with an imaginary perfection, not given to any earthly power, which would enable him, with the assistance of a small council of his own nobility, with a paternal and fostering hand, to provide for the happiness and welfare of his people. The notion was that which had been expressed sometimes by persons of very strong principles of the old school of this country, that the people had nothing to do with the laws but to obey them; and, accordingly, in those countries that principle was carried ant to the full extent. But what was the result of it? If we could have really a perfect sovereign—perfect in all kingly virtues and abilities—if we could have a human being endowed with that supereminent wisdom that he would be able to provide for the welfare of a whole community of his own autocratic wisdom, then, indeed, the dream of the poet might be realised—Nunquam libertas gratior extatQuam sub rege pio.But the thing had never been seen, and the result of trusting any men with that species of power had been to corrupt them Cm the one side, and to make them arbitrary and capricious; while, on the other hand, it had reduced the people politically to the condition of children, never arriving at the dignity of thought, nor exercising the powers of an enlightened manhood. The result realised the wish of the Em- 114 peror Francis, who once told certain professors it was not learned men he wanted, but good subjects. So this class of monarchs did not want to educate the people; they did not want to instruct them; they did not want to help them to aid themselves, because, if they did, they would soon find out the monstrous imposture of their system of government, and the whole would fall to pieces. The result was, that if any degree of enlightenment or any advance of education did take place among the people, and they sought for any political enfranchisement, their remedy was to put them down, either by means of spies, or by the mockery of their tribunals; and if those would not do, then to put them down by means of an armed force. There was an opposite principle of carrying on the Government—the principle which had been adopted in this country, and which, though it had not been carried out to the same perfection as with us, had been also adopted in some other countries of Europe. It was this: We had an hereditary Sovereign; and he thought we had secured good order by such a course. We had, besides, a council composed of persons who, at all events, by their property and station, had the means of acquiring, and might be presumed to have acquired—for in politics we must always deal with large generalities—a certain degree of information to fit them for forming an upper chamber of legislation. There was a second chamber composed of the representatives of the people. According to this system, the people, instead of being repressed, instead of being prevented from thinking for themselves, and made the objects of an absurd paternal care, were invited to look to their own interests, and to govern themselves. They were regularly trained by means of municipalities and otherwise to manage their own local affairs in the way which they thought best calculated to secure their own happiness and comfort; and, being possessed of this political education, the Government were not afraid to intrust them with the further power of choosing those persons whom they thought best fitted to represent their opinions in the Commons' House of Parliament; and this was the democratic principle which existed in the institutions of this country—a principle which gave to a large proportion of the people the just right which, they had, and which he trusted they would always maintain, not of being governed on 115 the notion of their being in their infancy and childhood, but of being governed as free men, and as members of a free State. Now, he called the former of these principles the principle of fear, and the latter the principle of confidence; and on the principle of confidence he had always proceeded when he maintained that there ought to be a liberal extension of the franchise. He believed it would very soon be found by all nations that there was no safe basis on which government could rest except the secure principle of the confidence and affection of the people—but not on affection alone, for that might be the subject of impulse, and that was too slight a foundation on which to rest: it was equally necessary that the people should be politically educated, so as to enable them to act for themselves, to exercise their minds and their judgment, and to appreciate the high moral and intellectual qualities which fitted men to take a share in the representation of the country. If that were so, he asked if the noble Earl who spoke of acting on the monarchical, and deprecated the democratic principle, was prepared to propose any change in our institutions—he meant in a retrograde sense? Was he prepared to limit that confidence which had hitherto been reposed in the people of England? If he was not prepared to limit that confidence, on what grounds did he bring forward the claim to which he had just referred as a supereminent qualification of the members of his Administration, as compared with their predecessors, to the government of the country? Was the noble Lord prepared to say that the franchise should never be extended? If he was prepared to say that he would never extend it, there was an end of the principle of confidence, and all that we should then have would he the monstrosity of an oligarchical democracy. To confine the representative power to 1,000,000 out of 4,000,000 or 4,500,000 of the male population—to act upon the deadening principle of want of confidence, would be fatal to the life and energy of the nation, and would be destructive of any system of government. He would say at once, with reference to the noble Earl's declaration, that the noble Earl might say what he would, but no Government could ever stand many months in this country, certainly not for years, which should commit the fatal error which one of the greatest of our public men committed when in 116 power, of declaring that there should be no reform in the representation of the people. Surely our whole life in this country was one of progress; and why should we stand still in the reform of our representation more than in anything else? The hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) had advanced the most singular doctrines upon this subject that he had ever heard. The hon. Member said, "You admit that there is danger in extending the suffrage, but you tell us to rely upon the affections of the well-disposed and enlightened portion of the people. But suppose all these good dispositions should go off, where will you be?" He (Sir W. P. Wood) would ask the hon. Member whether, if they brought those large numbers to which he had referred within the pale of the constitution, they would be more dangerous there than they would he without the pale? Their numbers were the same without as within the pale, and their power was just as great. The hon. Member had used the curious illustration of a pair of wild animals—the one starving and the other with a portion of food in his possession, and he had said that the starving animal would soon possess himself of the food if he were the stronger of the two. Now, this illustration might have been a very formidable one during the existence of a corn law; it might have been so, for instance, when the common people were starving in 1817–18, and when there was an unreformed Parliament, whom the people believed to be the authors of the calamity. But, happily, we had obtained a reformed Parliament, and as a matter of course, the monstrous abuse of the corn laws had been swept away; and when he was first thrown into contact with a Parliamentary constituency during the disastrous year 1847—when the loaf, instead of 5d., as now, was selling at 11½d., he was happy to be able to tell them that that high price was owing not to the hand of man, but of God—that the scarcity was a dispensation of Providence, and not a dearth made by human legislation—and that it became them to be patient. Now, he could not have said that during the existence of the corn laws. Then, again, the hon. Member asked what had the House to do with the ballot—it is a great question for our constituents. Now, he was going to follow his good example, and not enter into the discussion of that question then. He had voted upon it last Session, and he should probably have an 117 opportunity of voting upon it again this Session; but he could not allow the observation to which he had just alluded to pass unnoticed. He (Sir W. P. Wood) admitted that the ballot was a question for the constituencies; but unfortunately the constituencies could do nothing in it without the help of Parliament. He believed that most of the large constituencies wished so to vote; he knew that his own did. The House was constantly told on Motions of this kind to regard them with great alarm, for here was the progress of democracy; and they were told to take care, and look at France. Well, he had looked a great deal at France, and he had come to the conclusion that, if they wished to save this country from the calamities of France, they should avoid the enormous errors which had occasioned them. They all knew that up to the time of the first Revolution, France was under the species of government which he had before described; in other words, the central power was everything, and the people nothing. The people never had any political education whatever. A small portion of political education was to be found in one profession, namely, the law, in consequence of the existence of the local Parliaments; but as to education to fit the people for the management of the affairs of Government, there was none. The people were, besides, enormously oppressed. The result of the paternal Government was, that the large body of the nobles, and those who had influence at court, were exempt from taxation, while the mass of the people were heavily burdened. The people at length became exasperated, and rose up in a fearful and tremendous revolution, the like of which, he trusted, from our better system of government, we should never experience in this country. The consequence had been, that the people had continued in a perpetual state of confusion ever since—unable to settle down to any fixed system of government—grasping every now and then with childlike feeling at anything new which they saw in the constitutions of other countries, and trying to engraft it on their own, but never attempting anything original for themselves, in accordance with the genius of their own system. No person who had ever presided over that country—not even Louis Philippe, who, he admitted, had much prudence and much thought—had ever attempted to rule upon 118 the only true system of government, namely, that of confidence and reliance upon the people, which would have induced him, if he wished to imitate anything in our system of government at all, to have commenced by training the people in the exercise of municipal and local self-government, and so to have prepared them for the exercise of the higher functions of government. Instead of that, however, everything was managed in Paris, and orders sent down to the Prefects on every occasion, without exhibiting the slightest confidence in the people; so that when, at length, it was declared that universal suffrage should prevail, not one of the people knew how to exercise the great and important trust that had been reposed in them. One remarkable feature in the last portentous revolution in France was, that when the President declared from (he had almost said) the throne, that there was to be universal Suffrage, there was a very general voting, but not one public meeting was held. Only conceive such a state of things in England! Why, if there had been a change of one-tenth part of the magnitude of that which had lately taken place in France, we should have had meetings assembled in every borough, county, and parish, to express their views upon it, with a chairman to preside over each of them, with resolutions put in proper form, and with a decision by a majority, to which the minority would have bowed. The French people had never known what it was to bow to the opinion of a majority, and to be guided by public meetings; in fact no meetings were had except in the case of a few clubs in Paris; and when the people found themselves in a minority they immediately concluded that the only thing to be done Was to have recourse to arms. This was the example which was put before them to frighten them from enlarging the franchise and extending political education. For his part he would urge their state of things as a warning why they should do it—why they should not allow a large mass of the people to be excluded from the franchise until they were driven at last to admit them by fear and panic. The hon. Member for West Surrey had told them he did not know what the noble Earl meant by the constitution of England—that he had never had been able to find it. He (Sir W. P. Wood) was certain the hon. Member never had—for he had told them that it was a 119 part of our constitution to retain the small boroughs, for the purpose of admitting into Parliament men of talent and intelligence who might otherwise be unable to gain admittance. He (Sir W. P. Wood) admitted that the small boroughs had had that advantage, but it was no intentional one; it was a mere accident; it was no part of the constitution. It was at once time considered by constituencies to be a burden to send representatives to Parliament; and they were therefore only given to large towns; and there was no such intention with regard to small boroughs as was stated by the hon. Member. The real fact was, that at the time of their Reform Bill, that was one of the abuses of the representative system, which if it had not been remedied, and the small boroughs swept away by Parliament, would have destroyed the constitution. He would tell the hon. Member what his notion of the constitution of England was: It was like the common law of England. The common law was not to be found in any book, but in the long-settled habits and practices of our ancient kingdom, which had become interwoven with, and formed part and parcel of our judicial system; and so of the constitution. They must not expect to find the constitution written down in Blackstone or in any other author, or even in the Statute-book; but they would find it in the system of Parliamentary practice which had grown up in the course of ages, and which he would take the liberty of calling the constitutional path of government in this country. Now, this constitution just made the difference between the French and other foreign systems of government, which adopted abstract views into their dead systems; whereas ours was a living system; it had grown with our growth, and was in a constant process of development, and did not borrow from other systems that which did not assimilate with the institutions and genius of the country. Our system had been carried onward by the Reform Bill, and not a moment too soon: and now the hon. Member for Surrey has asked why the noble Lord the Member for London should have brought forward a new Reform Bill at a time when all was quiet, easy, and peaceable. He (Sir W. P. Wood) maintained that this was just the time in which such a matter ought to be brought forward. It was the most fatal error that ever happened to withhold relief from the Roman Catholics until those who then wielded the 120 Government were obliged to declare, that it could no longer be withheld, because, although they retained their original opinions against it, there would be a civil war in Ireland if the relief was not conceded. Anything more fatal to the constitution and good government, he could not conceive. We were near the same pass at the time of the Reform Bill. He admitted that there was considerable danger, and an inroad on the ordinary course of our procedure, in the political unions which then existed; but happily the Government were wise enough to take warning. He held that it was of great importance that that measure had been brought forward by a noble Lord (Lord John Russell) in whom the people had great confidence, because on that subject he had always retained the same opinion; he had brought forward similar Motions from time to time, and could therefore honestly say that he had brought it forward, not in consequence of intimidation, but because he wished to carry out the principles which he had always upheld. Take the case of the corn laws, which were repealed only just in time. Suppose that the famine in 1847, and the outbreak in France in 1848, had occurred while the corn laws remained unrepealed, what a fearful position we should have been in! He maintained that such reforms should be made in peaceful times, and that we should always prepare for emergencies. He had stated that it was a part of the principle of the constitution that it should always go on expanding itself. He remembered seeing a beautiful illustration in a speech which he had read. The speaker said that there must always be progress in life; that if they cut a certain number of trees in a forest in a given shape during the winter they would be all uniform and regular, but by the summer it would only be the dead trees that retained this uniformity—all that had life and energy ill them would have lost their uniformity of shape. So it was with systems of government. The noble Earl at the head of the Government had said that the country did not want continual changing and tampering with the constitution. Now, he (Sir W. P. Wood) would say in reply to that, that if we had a living principle in our system of government, we must expect to see alterations made in it every now and then. During the last 20 years we had bad remarkable developments in everything else. Commerce and manufactures had expan- 121 ded, and new towns had sprung up. In the Reform Bill of the late Government it was proposed to transfer the franchise of St. Albans to Birkenhead, a town that bad no existence at the time the Reform Bill was passed, and yet it had now grown so large as to be selected for the transfer of the vacant franchise. This was a fact which spoke volumes on the subject. Railroads had also sprung up since then, and large towns were everywhere arising near the railroads. Nor were the changes confined to physical development. There had been great progress made in educational development within the same period. The National School Society had in that time raised the number of their pupils from 400,000 to upwards of 1,000,000. The Dissenters had also been educating their people. Then look to the savings banks and benefit societies, and it would be found that the people had greatly advanced as regarded habits of frugality and providence, as well as in educational intelligence. If in such things the people were advancing at this rate of improvement, why should all else stand still, and those who had become more frugal, more educated, more intelligent members of the community, be excluded from the enjoyment of the franchise? And if the present franchise was retained, a very large number of them would be excluded. He had stated to the House before, that on the celebrated 10th of April, 1848, when there was so much anxiety felt for the peace of the country, there were between 200 and 300 workmen employed on the Houses of Parliament, who declined to be sworn in as special constables, not from any bad feeling, for they said they had no objection to guard the property, but, they would not be sworn in to go against "their order." And yet the hon. Member for West Surrey saw no danger in refusing to admit that class of people within the pale of the constitution. His (Sir W. P. Wood's) notion was, that if they included them among the other classes in a community of right, they would hear no more of these people considering themselves "an order." The hon. Member for West Surrey said, that there was no principle in the Bill lately introduced by his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell). It was true that there was no principle involved in the difference between a 10l. and a 5l. qualification; the principle was, that it was a test of intelligence and an interest in the affairs of the country, which might be gathered from a 122 man continuing to reside in a particular spot, and occupying a house, and being perhaps the father of a family. The hon. Gentleman might as well say that there was no principle in the qualification of a 40s. freehold, which was a franchise as old as Parliament itself; and it was adopted as a test, though no doubt a rude one. He (Sir W. P. Wood) would so extend the franchise that he would not refuse the tests which were mentioned by the hon. Member for West Surrey; but he thought there ought to be some test which was coupled with the fact of residence, which was most t important. At the same time he (Sir W. P. Wood) at once admitted and proceeded on the principle of there being no abstract right. He never for a moment had admitted the abstract right of anybody to anything in this country or in any other. He did not know anything about abstract rights. The hon. Gentleman who seconded this Motion had said something about his not understanding upon what principle such and such things had found their way into our constitution. Why, we had not got a cut-and-dried constitution. That had not been the case in England at all. They lived in a society as units of that vast corporation which formed the whole nation. That corporation was a living thing. They found certain means and appliances by which they could legitimately accomplish such changes as might be necessary, and every man set to work to effect those improvements and reforms to the best of his ability without occasioning any disturbance whatever. That he apprehended to be the principle upon which they could proceed, and not upon any principle of abstract right. But they must have general principles, though not abstract rights, and he said the right principle was to confide and trust in the people. They might be obliged to make exceptions, because it might be said, "We think education has not been sufficiently diffused to this part of the community," or, "We don't think another portion of the community, from its local and shifting character, should be intrusted with the franchise." They had a right to lay down all these limitations for argument and discussion; but he did say it was a monstrous thing to assert that in this country, intelligent as the masses had become, there were only 1,000,000 of people qualified to exercise the elective franchise. That was a principle to which he was not now prepared, and to which he never had been prepared, to accede. He 123 believed that they possessed two immense advantages in the population of this country. He had said that there were other Governments—unfortunately, not many—in Europe which adopted our principles. One of the most distinguished (not as to its size, but as to its prosperity) was Belgium. Why had the representative system thriven there? Because the Government could have confidence in the people, who had been educated for ages in municipal government. The great municipalities of Ghent and Bruges and other towns, had given the people habits of political education and thought; and in that country, better than in any other on the Continent, had the representative system succeeded. The Belgian people had also another quality, which he believed had been singularly favourable to this country. The English people were a strongly religious people—a people deeply imbued with religious faith. He had a deep confidence and trust in those principles, that they were the best security of order at all times, under any Government. Now, the same thing existed remarkably in Belgium. He was glad to make the admission that the people of that country were a deeply religious people, professing as they did the Roman Catholic religion, because during the last Session he had shown that he was not disposed to favour any encroachments on the part of that faith. He believed these circumstances had been to them a great security; and sure he was that it would be a vast security to this country in any reform or extension of the franchise. He had now only a few words to say with respect to the course he would take upon the present Motion. That Motion had, he thought, been most valuable in eliciting discussion, and he considered it most important that the subject should be discussed at this time. That any Bill on the subject should now be passed, was entirely out of the question. He had supported the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) on three successive occasions, and had said that he wished to see such a measure carried; but he had said, and he would repeat, that he was not—and he believed many hon. Gentlemen who had voted with that hon. Member were not—bigoted to this particular Motion. They desired to force, not this particular plan, but the principles of reform upon the consideration of the Government. He had before said, that he believed this matter to be so serious, so all-important to the welfare of the country, 124 that as long as the Government maintained silence on the subject, and would not engage to undertake an extension of the franchise, he would continue to vote fur this Motion, and for every other which might lead to such an extension, provided he thought they did pot go beyond what he considered to be safe and proper limits. At the same time he had said that he very much wished the Government, instead of telling the House what they did not like, would tell them what they did like, and would bring in some measure of their own, because their measure would be carried, while that now before the House could not. He voted in the last Session in favour of Mr. Locke King's Motion for Reform, and on that occasion the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) made a declaration of his desire for an extension of the franchise, He was delighted to hear that declaration, because he believed that if pressed in earnest by the noble Lord, such an extension would be adopted, before it was probable that any catastrophe could occur in consequence of the continued folly, as it appeared to him, of resisting an extension of the franchise. But not only was that declaration made by the noble Member for the City of London, but in the Queen's Speech from the Throne, at the commencement of the present Session, they had a declaration that the state of the representation was not satisfactory. He conceived, therefore, it was impossible for any Government long to exist which opposed itself to this absolutely essential measure; he believed that whatever Government might succeed a Government antagonistic to this measure, would, if it were not even desirous and willing, be compelled and obliged to bring in a measure of reform. He did not quite despair of receiving it from hon. Gentlemen opposite. Why, if the people at the next general election pronounced upon this question, might they not have such a measure? They did not yet know what was to be done with Maynooth; they did not yet know what was to be done with Protection; they did not yet know what was to be done with Reform; but he believed the people of England would pronounce themselves for reform, and therefore he did not despair of receiving it from the hon. Gentlemen opposite. Sure he was, however, that if the people did not receive it from their hands, they must obtain it from any succeeding Government, be it what it might. That being the case, he did not see the advantage of binding any number of hon. Mem- 125 bers to any specific plan which was not likely to be carried as a whole, before agape plan was laid before the House which was lively to be carried and to become the law of the land. The Motion included a variety of measures, of which he expressed no disapprobation; but he wished to have an opportunity of calmly considering any measure which might hereafter be proposed, and to keep himself free as to the vote he might give upon any measure so brought forward, Certainly on one point he agreed with the hon. Member for Montrose—he would vote for the ballot whenever it might be proposed; but in the meanwhile seeing no probability of the Bill for which the hon. Gentleman moved being passed, even if they carried the first reading to-night, although he would not vote against the Motion, he would take no further part with reference to it beyond stating his opinions and views.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, that in much that had fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, he entirely concurred; but he was afraid that if some of the principles he had advanced were strictly followed out, they must, in the end, lead to universal suffrage. Since he had had the honour of a seat in that House, he had had many opportunities of hearing this question discussed, and he had had the pleasure and advantage of hearing from the noble Lord the Member for London those sound constitutional expositions which induced him to vote against the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, and others who brought forward similar Motions. The hon. and learned Member had drawn a picture of certain despotic Governments on the Continent; and he (Mr. Napier) abhorred despotism, and the licentiousness and anarchy which had taken root in other countries, as much as the hon. and learned Member did. But while the hon. and learned Member pointed to one class of despotic Governments, and to another class of unrestrained democracy, he pointed also to the peculiarity of the constitution of England, which, not dealing with any supposed perfection, either in the monarchy or in the people, dealt with human nature as it found it, and gave us a constitution, which had not grown up in a moment, but gradually and slowly, and thus possessed all the elements of stability; and he (Mr. Napier) fully acquiesced in the praise he bestowed on the British constitution for the admirable manner in which it adapts itself to the imperfection of mankind. But, if 126 it were so admirable, why change it? The question was not about extending the franchise; for he thought there were several modes in which they might usefully extend the franchise, other than by that which would work so essential a change in the constitution of the country, which is new asked for; and he would ask whether this one mode of extending the franchise, by lowering the property qualification, would give stability, consistency, and maintenance, either to the monarchy or to the House of Peers? Now, no doubt that was a difficult question to deal with. He did not agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman, who assumed that, if the standard of franchise was to be left fixed at 10l., that would cheek the number of electors, and keep them at their present amount. On the contrary he believed that, having by the Reform Act fixed a moderate property qualification as the standard for the suffrage, they thereby enabled every man who chose, by the exercise of honest industry, and frugality, to reach that position which would confer upon him the franchise. An argument was used, that so much corruption had crept into the constitution as it now stood, that it could only be got rid of by lowering the franchise and by the ballot. Now he could understand the principle of endeavouring by education and other means to make the constituencies of the country more moral and more alive to the responsibilities of their position; but he feared that the present was only one of a class of efforts to correct by legislation the infirmities and vices of human nature, which could only be met by education and the appliance of moral agencies, not by the shifts and tricks of the ballot-box. Secrecy was not congenial to the English character. Take the case of a landlord and his tenant. By the arrangement of the ballot box the tenant was to vote in secret, and then tell his landlord that he had not voted, as in point of fact he had done. How would that improve the morality of the tenant? Then it was remarkable that this provision of the ballot-box was always connected with a lowering of the franchise. Why was this? Plainly because it was suspected that in lowering the franchise they would not get into a purer atmosphere—because they were giving the franchise to those who had less education, and over whom bad habits had more power; you tampered with the bad passions of the people; and if that were so, what became of the appeal to their con- 127 science? The example of municipalities had been appealed to; but on what were those municipalities founded? On the commercial principle, on the exercise of habits of honest industry and frugality on the part of the municipal communities. He admitted that there were persons who, though they did not occupy 10l. houses, yet were members of the liberal professions, and men who had invested money in savings banks and in the funds—all tests, he admitted, by which they would get persons who would exercise the franchise consistently with the principles of the constitution. But the abstract question before them was not whether they ought to extend the suffrage, or whether it ought to be largely enjoyed; for he maintained that it would be largely enjoyed as persons, by patience and perseverance in honest and industrious habits, reached that moderate property qualification which had been fixed as the standard of the franchise. That some limitation was necessary was evident from the question that had so often been asked, why ladies should be excluded from the possession of the franchise. His own opinion was, that if they lowered the franchise, they would only extend the facilities for designing persons to lead away its uneducated and ill-trained possessors, thus opening the sources of still more extended corruption, and that the ballot would not correct that evil. He would, therefore, warn the House not, by lowering the qualification, to let in democracy. They did not give intelligence its fair position when it was swamped by mere numbers. If they extended the suffrage to men who, by want of intelligence and want of education, were disqualified for its proper exercise, they would break down the just rights of the people, the House of Peers—which was the balance of the constitution—and the Monarchy, which was bound up, and he hoped ever would be bound up, with the peace and prosperity of the country.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
Sir, I am anxious to express, as briefly as I can, my opinion on the proposition of the hon. Member for Montrose; and all the more because I am not pleased with the conclusion of the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the late Solicitor General (Sir W. P. Wood). I agree with my hon. and learned Friend in all his premises—in almost every thing he said as to the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose. I agree with him as to the conclusions he has drawn, but not as to the result to which he has come. He 128 agrees with all that my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose proposes—he agrees as to the propriety of the Motion, the time at which it was proposed, and the extent to which it is carried; but, nevertheless, he is not prepared to vote for it. Sir, I could select a reason for that conclusion, which, however, I shall not puzzle my brains at this time to discover. I accept his reasons, I take all his propositions, but I will not take the motive which suggested his conclusion. I want to know why the proposition now before the House should not be entertained? A proposition to reform the constitution of this country was proposed by the noble Lord the Member for London in the year 1831, and that reform was perfected by an Act of Parliament passed in the year 1832. Twenty years have passed since that time—twenty years of experience of the changes which were then proposed—and the noble Lord himself proposed, in this year of 1852, another reform of his Reform Bill. Previous to the Reform Bill, this country was governed by an oligarchy. It was by a small body of the proprietors of land that the great majority of the House of Commons was returned; and as by the Revolution of 1688 the House of Commons was rendered the dominant party in this country, this small party of the proprietors of land in England were the rulers of England. But by the Reform Bill of 1832, what was then an aristocratic and narrow oligarchy was prostrated, and the landlord interest was no longer predominant in this country: there was then introduced, as there now exists, a large portion of the wealth of this country known as the manufacturing interest—that manufacturing interest is now represented in this House. But we see—as I suppose the noble Lord saw—else why a new Reform Bill?—that this was not enough. It was not enough to take away the oligarchical rule of the landed interest, and to substitute in its place the manufacturing interest of this country; because there are thousands and millions in this country who have neither land nor that species of power which is derived from the possession of wealth; but who have intelligence, who have morality, and, with the two combined, have opinions which deserve to be represented in this House. Now, what do we want in this House? We want a body of men to represent, first the intelligence, and next the good feeling of this country. How are we to get these two things? Will any one say that the intelligence of the country is re- 129 presented by the persons who possess land? I think I hear the noble Lord once talk of the "clay intellect" of this country. Is it or is it not true that the persons possessing land do represent the clay intellect of this country?
§ MR. ROEBUCK
I am sure that interruption must have come from a person representing land. I go further, and say that it is not by the possessors of land that the interests of this country are represented. Is it by the persons who possess wealth? Not at all. There is a large mass of intelligence in the country which is represented neither by the possessors of land nor by the possessors of wealth in any shape. Therefore, if you want this intelligence represented, you must get other means of doing it than by the interests of land and wealth. If that is the case with respect to intelligence merely, assuredly the same holds true with respect to what I will call the good feeling of the country. I shall take the one particular class, and I ask the House to listen to me while I describe it. I take the class who are the mere producers of wealth by what is called manual as compared with intellectual labour; I take that class who are called instructed artisans. Here I have a body of men, numerous in this country, who are neither the possessors of land nor of accumulated wealth; but they are intelligent, well trained, possessing instructed minds and instructed hands: they are men who, from day to day, by the produce of their instructed labour, obtain the means of honourable subsistence for themselves and their families. They are men who, in their lives, set an example to all the other classes of society. They possess everything which a good citizen ought to possess. Those men, instructed, intelligent, and moral—those men are by law excluded from all voice in the government of this country. And why? I will take the case of a lodger in the city of London. A man by his daily intelligent labour earns for himself an honest subsistence; but he lives in lodgings. By the Reform Bill of the noble Lord—I do not impute it to him as an intention, but per incuriam—such men, thus deserving, capable of suggesting every thing worthy of a statesman to hear—such men are specially excluded by the Reform Bill from the suffrage. Now what says my hon. and learned Friend the late Solicitor 130 General on this point? And here let me take the opportunity of saying that, so far as he propounded the doctrine of "abstract right," I entirely agree with him. As to "abstract rights," I honestly confess I don't understand the term. I don't know what it means to say that a man has an abstract right to be represented. I don't understand the term at all; but I do understand this, that if you do not get the honest and industrious classes represented, you cannot have good government. That is all I ask. I bring before you educated and moral men, and all I ask is, why, by the constitution of your law, you should exclude these men from the suffrage? I don't ground their demand upon any abstract or constitutional right; but I say, for the good government of the country, these persons ought to be included in the constituency. As I am about to show, these men are instructed and moral, and I want to know why you should exclude them? I am talking now of the instructed artisan—a man who does not live in a 10l. house, but happens to live in a lodging in London, and many of whom are excluded. I want him to be a constituent, not because he agrees with me—ten chances to one he may not—but because he is a man who by honest industry earns his own subsistence. Next, he is an instructed man; and, thirdly, he is a moral man. Possessing these three qualities—independence obtained by individual exertion; intellect to guide him in the judgment he ought to form respecting the government of the country; and morality—that man ought to be a portion of the constituency of the country. I place him on a level with any class in the community on these grounds, and I say that man, as I have described him, is as worthy to be a constituent, and to vote for the election of Members of this House, as any hon. Gentleman sitting on that bench. I may be told that these Gentlemen are men possessing thousands of acres; but I ask those men, will they presume to say that it is they who possess all that distinguishes England from the other nations of the earth? Who contributes thereto? The artisans. And shall they be excluded? Those Gentlemen are the representatives of land, indeed; but is not that to be found also in other countries? They are the representatives of wealth; but is not that, too, to be found in other countries? But that which is not to be found in other countries is a body of men trained to labour and obedient to the law, with all the power 131 in their hands of mischief, yet understanding what the law is, and so submissive to it that they obey it by its word, and nothing more. I say, these are the persons I select and place before you, and I ask you to tell me whether they ought not to be represented in this House. They distinguish England from all other countries—one other only excepted, namely, America; yet those are the persons who, according to the present law, are excluded from having a voice in the representation. And the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose is, that they should be included amongst those by whom the representatives of the country are elected. I know there is great talk of the dangers of democracy, and I heard the noble Lord the Member for London the other night answer a statement made by the noble Earl at the head of the Government with respect to democracy in this country. I very much sympathise with the noble Lord, but there were certain phrases in his speech that created suspicion in my mind. Democracy, as I understand it, is equivalent, if I may use the Latin phrase, to populus as opposed to plebs, I do not want either the aristocracy, or the plebs, or any class, to govern the country. The class I mean to point out by the word populus is described better by the word "the nation," than anything else. I want "the nation" to govern itself. When the noble Earl at the head of the Government says that he is opposed to democracy, what does he mean? Does he mean to say that in this country there are what are called Communist notions? Does any person believe that the artisan in this country has any notion of what are called Communist principles? Not at all. The moment a man gains anything by his own labour, that is a man, you may depend upon it, to defend the sacredness of property: he is the first man to come forward and say, "This is mine—it is the result of my own honest labour and of my own intellect—I am not going to have it destroyed." You will find that no communist principles will really be received amongst the artisans of this country. As to our including the agricultural labourers, I do riot know what to say; because they are not educated—their education hitherto has not been much taken care of; but of this I am sure, that go into the large manufacturing towns of this country, and you will find that the artisan who is the manufacturer of his own fortune will be the first to oppose himself to anything 132 like communist doctrines, and is the man that could be depended upon for the maintenance of what is called the sacredness of property. And if this be so, where is the objection to this man? I ask those Gentlemen who sit on the opposite benches, as well as the Gentlemen who sit here, and are as much opposed to the proposition as the Gentlemen opposite, what is it they fear? I can well understand a sort of personal antipathy on their part—a sort of fear of coming into nearer contact with persons who hitherto have not possessed power; but when you come to discuss fairly what it is you want in the constituent body, I wish to know what there is in the proposition of the hon. Member for Montrose that can excite alarm; as for the ballot and the other points, they are as dust in the balance compared with this. My hon. Friend proposes that every man of twenty-one years of age who shall be resident occupier of a house or a part of a house for twelve months, and shall be duly rated to the poor of the parish for that time, shall be registered as an elector, and thereby be entitled to vote for representatives in Parliament. I ask what there is in that description that should excite your alarm? Make out that a constituency so composed would lead to mischief, and I will say you have proved your case. If you tell me there is a vagrant population in every community, I acknowledge it; but they are not included in the proposition of my hon. Friend. If you tell me there is a great population of mere labourers, who live by the labour of their hands, and go about day by day to different houses, I acknowledge it; but they are not included in my hon. Friend's proposition. All we say is this: here is a body of men who live one whole year in the same houses, who pay the poor-rates for these houses; and where is the danger of allowing these men to vote? Oh, it is said, that is not sufficient, the voter must have a 10l. house; but the noble Lord's Reform Bill brought it down to 5l.; and there are very few houses in this country that are under 5l. My own farm labourers, at 9s. a week, pay 5l. a year. In London, and various towns, there are persons who are lodgers; and I ask the noble Lord if his own experience does not teach him that the lodgers of the country are some of the most educated men thereof? It is said, and I believe it, that this House represents all the feelings of this country; but that is not enough— 133 we want, not only that it should represent the feelings of the country, but at the same time that it should not excite any feelings of jealousy, or complaints of injustice; and when you will look through the educated classes of the community, and when you look to the artisans, you will find there is a strong feeling of injustice, because of the peculiar mark you have made to enable a man to be a constituent in this country. In the country, and in London throughout, from one end to another, you will find thousands—I was going to say millions—who by being lodgers are excluded from the registry. There is not a parish in which you will not find persons as lodgers, living with those who are entitled to vote, in every possible degree of higher qualifications of mind and morality, and everything else, than the persons who possess the votes for the houses in which they live. I want to know whether that is to continue. I will not go into the question of the ballot—I was surprised to hear the lion, and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Napier) propounding such fallacies concerning it—I thought such notions had passed away. It is not worthy of him, or of this House, to say that the ballot is un-English. Has he ever voted by ballot in his club? and, if he has, I want to know why he should object to it when voting for Members of Parliament? There is some person in society whom he may think a bore, and therefore wishes to exclude from his club; and if for that mere personal consideration he has accepted the ballot, will he not allow it to a man who is called upon to vote for his country? Will he not allow to a man who acts under the coercion of a landlord, or of a person who deals with him?—will he not allow that man to have his independent opinion, but rest upon the wretched argument that the ballot is what he calls un-English? I beg to ask why the right hon. Gentleman himself ever voted in this way—why he did not say he would not vote in this un-English manner? Did he ever, when asked to vote at his club by ballot, say, "I don't like it—it is not bold or open. I shall tell Mr. A., whom I think a bore, that I shall not vote for him—that I shall exclude him from my club; I will not submit to the degradation of secret voting; I will do it by open vote." I will be bound the hon. and learned Gentleman never did any such thing. He wants the influence over the elector that open voting will 134 give him. Let him say so, and I will acknowledge the argument at once, and grapple with it; but let him not attempt to deal with it by sham, and say it is un-English, and try to persuade me that I am wrong. If the tenant does not now vote as the landlord pleases, he knows the consequences. It is the influence of the landlord over the tenant. Now, what is that influence? Is it one proceeding from respect? Is it the influence of a highly instructed over a less instructed mind? No; it is the mere influence of a dominant will over the will of another man. The landlord does not in such a case come to the tenant, and say, "I think you will find that Mr. So-and-So is not a good representative, because of his opinions;" but he sends his agent, who has this message: "Tell the tenant that this is my will; if he does not vote as I please, he must take the consequence." The hon. and learned Gentleman must believe one of two things: either he must wish to retain, by means of open voting, the sort of influence just described, or he must suppose that the elector will become demoralised by voting in a manner contrary to his expressed intention. Now this, I suppose, is what is meant by un-English; the tenant, it is feared, will promise his landlord one thing, and do another. But why does the landlord ask him at all? Nobody asks the hon. and learned Gentleman how he is going to vote at his club, because, in the first place, it is considered that no one has a right to put such a question; and because, in the next place, he would not answer the question if it were put. Take the case of a voter in a county. A Member is put up. Suppose I am the tenant, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the landlord, than whom nobody can be more opposed in politics. Give me the ballot, and I vote as I like—I vote against the Member proposed by my right hon. Friend; but take away the ballot, and let me stand exposed to all the influences which the landlord can bring to bear, and what am I expected to do? Why, to sacrifice the independent feeling of my mind. This it is which is un-English—that I should be coerced against my will, and be compelled to vote against my conscience. I now come to the last proposition of my hon. Friend (Mr. Hume), by which he proposes that there should be a proportion of representatives more consistent with the amount of population and property. When I recollect that there are small boroughs in this country, of which I 135 can find a dozen, I may say fifty, that hardly has the population of one other borough which yet is not better represented than each of them; then I say the alteration should be made, and you should make the representation more proportionate to population and wealth. And I cannot help here referring to the proposition of the noble Lord the Member for London. And certainly, of all the mischievous proposals ever propounded to this House, that proposing to combine various small boroughs into one, in order that they should be represented by a Member in this House, and conducing in every way to immorality and improper representation in the country, was the proposal. What would be the immediate consequence? Why, that every so-called borough would be like a small county. You would have in every borough an attorney, a committee, and a canvassing body; and if the combined boroughs happened to be five, you would have five attorneys, five committees, and five canvassing bodies. You would have five separate establishments—there would be five centres of corruption, and of expense, and of un-English coercion. If on the other hand the noble Lord had proposed to cast the small boroughs into counties, and disfranchise them as boroughs, and give the representatives to large towns, then I think his proposition would have been more satisfactory; but I say that any attempt to combine anything like a section of boroughs, and thus resuscitate the measure by destroying which the noble Lord obtained his great renown, is a most mischievous measure. I am inclined to believe that it is of advantage to have the minority of opinion as well as the majority represented in this House, and you cannot well have that if you cut the country into squares. What I think is, that we must have another sweeping Schedule A. If you would give us a large expansion of the constituent body of this country, and if you would give us the ballot as a protection, I would be perfectly satisfied to do away with small boroughs, without including anything like an equalisation of property and population. I want to know how the Government will oppose a measure that will bring on the political stage a body of men for whom I find in their individual capacity they are always expressing the most extraordinary concern. I want to know how it is that those men are to be excluded from the representation of this country for any length of time; and I will 136 finish with one remark. It is this: that many—months, I was going to say—certainly not years, cannot pass over before some Minister of the Crown, more prescient than the rest, shall perceive that the peace of this country will be best secured by giving the intelligent artisan of this country a voice in this House; and that we shall find those artisans represented here by some proposed Reform Bill, either on the part of the noble Lord representing his section of politicians in the country, or by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in order, no donbt, not only fairly to strengthen his own position, but also to give that constitutional security that can only be obtained by the intelligence and morality of the country being adequately represented in this House.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, although the subject does not appear to be so interesting to the House as one might have supposed, I cannot allow the present opportunity to pass without trespassing for a few moments upon its attention. And, Sir, I shall endeavour to do that which, so far as I have been able to observe, has not yet been done by any Gentleman who has preceded me—not even by the hon. Member himself who brought forward this Motion—for I will address myself to the Motion before the House. We have had from the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just addressed you (Mr. Roebuck) one of those dissertations which no one can make more interesting on subjects of an abstract character; and we have had several speeches from other Gentlemen, certainly, on the subject of Parliamentary Reform. But it appeared to me that those speeches were mainly addressed, not to the Motion upon the paper, but rather to that more celebrated, though evanescent, proposition, which for a moment excited so much interest, but to which, with a due regard to the feelings of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell), I think hon. Members opposite should have had the delicacy not to allude. Sir, among those who have addressed the House is the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the city of Oxford (Sir W. P. Wood), who delivered himself of a very elaborate speech, which was evidently prepared to support a Ministerial proposition; and one consequence of the train of his argument, was, with somewhat of inconsistency, a determination to vote against a proposition which for three successive years he had always sup- 137 ported. [Sir W. P. WOOD: I said I should not vote at all.] Well, of not voting at all on a measure which for three years he had supported—a still more interesting dilemma. Now, Sir, when I look at the Motion before the House, I see four propositions contained in it. With a view to place them succinctly before the House, I will recapitulate them. We have a proposal to bring in a Bill which is to extend the franchise; which is to insure that that franchise, when it is exercised, should be taken by means of the ballot; which is to secure a triennial election of Parliaments; and which is to change materially the distribution of representatives, so that they shall be made more proportionate to the amount of population and property. These are the four leading principles involved in the measure offered for our adoption. I understand from the speech of the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion (Sir J. Walmsley), that the distribution of representatives which would be deemed more consistent with the amount of population and of property is, to use the language of that hon. Gentleman, a redistribution which will diminish what he calls the territorial influence. ["Hear!"] I am glad I am stating fairly the question before our consideration; and I will commence the few observations I shall venture to make by referring first to this fourth proposition, because it is a more novel topic, and one exciting perhaps the most interest. Well, Sir, I deny the position which is assumed by hon. Gentlemen opposite upon this point. I deny that the proportion of representatives is unfairly arranged in favour of that territorial interest. I deny all the positions assumed in that pamphlet which has been freely circulated, and which has been before the subject of Parliamentary criticism. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion referred to some observations I made on a preceding night. When we had been frequently told that it was a monstrous anomaly that a large town should return only two Members, and that a small rural borough should be represented by the same number of Members, I reminded the House on that occasion of the fact that there were agricultural, or, if the hon. Gentleman prefers the word, territorial constituencies, which, contrasted with the constituencies of large towns, experienced equal injustice, if that distribution of the representation which hon. Gentlemen impugn, which they impugn because of their peculiar interest in towns, 138 and which they propose to rectify by their redistribution, be an injustice. I put the case fairly. The case instanced by me on a previous night was one which, as it is a brief one, I will refer to again, though I have others to which I am also desirous of calling the attention of the House. Mind, I am giving no opinion now upon the particular circumstances before us; I am confining myself entirely to the endeavour of laying the case fairly before the House. You say that the proportion of representatives is so arranged by the present system, that the town populations are not fairly represented in our Constitution and in this House. I deny the accuracy of that statement. I give no opinion at present upon the expediency of any preponderance being given to country or to town in the Legislature, but confine myself now to mere statements of fact. Let me call the attention of the House to the case of North Cheshire; and I invite hon. Members, while I do so, to bear in mind the most advantageous instances which have been brought before our notice on the other side of the question—to bear in mind, for example, if they please, the contrasted cases of Manchester and Thetford. In North Cheshire we have only two towns, and both of great manufacturing importance—Macclesfield and Stockport. The total population of the county is 249,000; the total population of the two towns I have just named is 93,000. There remains, therefore, as the difference between the two, 156,000 for the numbers of the rural population. But while the two towns, with a population of 93,000, return four Members to Parliament, the rural constituency, with a population of 156,000, return no more than two Members. Take the case of South Cheshire, in which there is only one town of note, that of Chester. The population of the county is 206,000, and the population of the town of Chester 28,000, leaving 178,000 of the population of that county who are not represented except by the county Members. The town of Chester, with its population of 28,000, returns two Members to this House, while the rural constituency of 178,000 returns only the same number. I will take other instances of great manufacturing counties. I will take the case of South Derbyshire, where there is only one considerable town. The population of South Derbyshire is 166,000, and that of the town of Derby a little exceeds 40,000, leaving 125,000 of rural population. That population of 40,000 returns 139 two Members, and the rural population of 125,000 returns only the same number. I will now take North Durham. That district of the county contains the important towns of Durham, Gateshead, South Shields, and Sunderland. The entire population of North Durham is 272,000, including both the town population and the county population, and it presents this interesting fact, that while the population of the towns is exactly the same as the county population, yet the 136,000 of the great commercial and manufacturing towns I have named are represented by six Members, while the purely agricultural population of 136,000—the other moiety of North Durham—are only represented by two Members. I might still pursue this. I will take the important county of Kent. West Kent has a population of 400,000. It contains four great towns—Chatham, Greenwich, Maidstone, and Rochester, one of these towns having a population of 100,000. The population of the towns is 169,000, and the remaining rural population is 228,000; yet the urban population of 169,000 returns seven Members to Parliament, while the 228,000 only return the two Members for West Kent. Yes, but year after year we have been told of the monstrous injustice of the distribution of the present electoral system—that our representative system is favourable to territorial influences, and that artificial means have been devised of giving preponderance to the landed interest. But we never heard a single word of these remarkable circumstances which I have just adduced. We have been furnished with many striking contrasts between the number of representatives returned by the great manufacturing towns in South Lancashire, and the smaller boroughs in the south of England; but no Parliamentary reformer has yet condescended to favour the House with the results of a more extended research, which would at least have allowed us to bring to the discussion of this subject more extensive views, and perhaps a more temperate spirit. I will now refer to that favoured region, any mention of which is so favourably received in this House, and whose fortunes, commercial, financial, Parliamentary, and political, are not only the subject of so many discussions in the House of Commons, but are themselves the source of so many local leagues, confederacies, and associations. The people of this part of our country are celebrated for their powers of statistical analysis. 140 They publish tracts, they circulate myriads of pamphlets, they inquire into everything, even as to the profits that colonels of regiments gain by clothing their soldiers. The most minute details are not beneath their careful investigation, and yet it is somewhat strange they have never called the attention of the people to some facts which I am now about to lay before the House. Here is the case of North Lancashire. There are four considerable towns in North Lancashire—Blackburn, Clitheroe, Lancaster, and Preston. The population of North Lancashire is upwards of 460,000. These four towns out of that only take 143,000, leaving for the rural constituencies a population of 316,000. The four towns return seven Members, and the rural constituenencies return only two Members. I will now take the case of South Lancashire. It has a population of 1,500,000 under the new census. I will take all the towns, the noblest seats of manufacturing and commercial industry—Ashton, Bolton, Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Warrington, Wigan. The population of these boroughs is 1,000,000, being two-thirds of the whole population of the county, and the remaining third consists of the rural population. Yet the million of manufacturing and commercial population in this proud county of South Lancashire are represented in this territorial House of Commons by fifteen Members; while the rural population, which is half as great, is represented by only two Members. I am sure the House having heard such long, frequent, and repeated complaints of the injustice done to the population of the towns, and of the improper preponderance given to the agricultural interest, will not feel I am abusing their patience by these details. I will therefore take next the county of East Norfolk, in which there are two great towns. East Norfolk has a population of 250,000. Norwich and Yarmouth have a population of less than 100,000. Yet the 99,000 persons of the manufacturing town and the seaport are represented by four Members, while the agricultural population of East Norfolk, nearly double in amount, are only represented by two Members. I now approach Yorkshire, and that is the last county I will quote. I will first begin with East Yorkshire. The East Riding has a population of 220,000, and contains two towns, one, Hull, a port of great importance. The town population of the East Riding is 94,000, represented by 141 four Members. The rural population, 126,000, are represented by only half that amount. The West Riding remains; and if I were to seek an instance to show that the distribution of the representation of the people is not made with any desire to promote or retain the preponderance of the landed interest, I should seek it in that West Riding which is so frequently referred to in our discussions. There are nine considerable towns in the West Riding—Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield, and others. The entire population of the West Riding is 1,300,000. The town population is about 500,000, and the rural population 800,000. The town population are represented by sixteen Members, although they are only 500,000 in number, while the rural population of 800,000 are represented, not by sixteen Members, but by two. This is the result of what I have just stated. In South Lancashire, among the town population, every 70,000 persons have a representative, and every 257,000 of the rural population have a representative. In the West Riding of Yorkshire every 32,000 of the population of the towns have a Member, and every 400,000 of the agricultural population have a similar advantage. I know it may be said—and if I do not answer the objection by anticipation, I know it will be said—"You have made out a very good colourable case in favour of your views; but you have selected five or six important but partial instances." Sir, I have anticipated that objection, and I have tested this important matter in another manner, which, I think, must be admitted to be a fair mode. Here I have a catalogue of every town in England which has a population of not less than 20,000. There are 77 towns in this list, beginning with Ashton-under-Lyne, and ending with York, with a population, many of them, of course, much exceeding 20,000. They are almost all of them seats of commerce and manufacturing industry, and they include a population of 6,266,000, who are represented by 138 Members. But there are several towns which do not possess populations of 20,000, but which are considerable places as seats of commerce, and which ought to be inserted in any list of the kind, such as Gloucester, Lynn Regis, Kidderminster, and Rochester. I have added about 30 of these boroughs to the 77 towns, all of which have a population of 20,000, and some of them a popula- 142 tion infinitely greater. The population of these 107 towns is more than 6,660,000, represented by 187 Members. If we divide the remaining portion of the community among the remaining Members of Parliament, the result will be just this: that the population of these towns have 35,000 persons to every representative in this House, and that the population of the rest of England, the rural population, have 36,000 for every representative. So that, taking this complete and comprehensive view, when you come to a fair distribution of the representation between the country and the town population, the advantage, though not very considerable, is absolutely on the side of the towns; and in both instances, in the case of the urban and the rural population, you have a less number of persons represented by each Member than has been laid down, as perfect representation, in the pamphlet quoted by the seconder of the hon. Gentleman's Motion. Whether you look to the town or country population, they are absolutely more amply represented in this House than is enforced in the pamphlet that has been alluded to as the proper and perfect exemplar and type of representation. Having examined this subject so far, I must confess I have arrived at a different conclusion from that of my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose. I think that his statistics, and the statistics of his school, are founded upon partial instances, and supported by fantastic combinations, which are calculated to convey to the country erroneous impressions—impressions not at all justified even by his own data. All the data upon which he has relied appear to me illusory; and as the facts to which I have appealed are open to all, and may be found in the books in the library of this House, and in other equally accessible and authentic documents, I shall be surprised indeed to find my hon. Friend maintaining his position, that in the distribution of the representation the town population, as contradistinguished from and compared with that of the country, has not been fairly and justly treated in our present electoral system. It appears to me, Sir, that this is a position that can no longer be supported. Passing, then, to the next proposition, my hon. Friend asks us to sanction the principle, that the duration of Parliament ought not to exceed three years. Sir, I have no inveterate prejudice to shorter Parliaments. I have often said in this House that triennial 143 Parliaments were always supported by the Tory party. That statement has been received with scoffing by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who do not condescend to pay much regard to any other portion of history than that in which they perform such distinguished parts. But there is no doubt that the change in our manners which has taken place since the period when triennial Parliaments prevailed, and which has increased the business transacted in the House of Commons, is an element that must be taken into consideration when you wish to ascertain the proper duration of Parliaments. But, remembering what has happened here during the last fortnight, and remembering their language during the present Session, I am filled with astonishment to hear Reformers and Liberals come forward in favour of triennial Parliaments. What have they told us this year? One Member of the present Government is very anxious to bring forward a measure which he and others, my Colleagues, consider of the utmost importance for the security and good government of the realm with as little delay as possible. We are, moreover, desirous of bringing in other measures, which we consider to be almost equally urgent, and which we are, therefore, desirous should pass into law without loss of time. But what are we told by these liberal and reforming Gentlemen? "Why, you are bringing forward a measure in the last year of a Parliament! You would legislate in a condemned Parliament! It can't be heard of. You ought to counsel the Sovereign to prorogue and dissolve the Parliament as soon as possible, and to call a new one: to legislate or attempt to legislate in the last year of a Parliament is so much time lost." But if the last year of a Parliament is thus condemned, we should have practically, if my hon. Friend's proposition were adopted, biennial Parliaments; and if the old and favourite scheme of annual Parliaments were again put forward and adopted, we should commence with condemned Parliaments, and the Commons of England could never presume to legislate, because they would cease to exist in the very year they met. The third proposition of my hon. Friend is the recommendation of the vote by ballot. Now, Sir, I have always been of opinion that the manner of taking the vote can never be considered abstractedly; it must always be considered in relation to the nature of the vote you have to take. If you have to take a very large 144 number of votes, or if you have, on the contrary, to take a very small number, the method by which they are taken, though the same, may assume in either instance a very different character. I believe, that with a limited constituency, the ballot may be a very conservative measure; but are hon. Gentlemen prepared to accept the ballot on this condition? Well, I will assume that they are not prepared so to accept it, and that they would not recommend, vote by ballot with the present constituency. ["No!"] You are not? [Cries of "Yes!" from an Opposition Member.] You are, then? I have heard to-night something about an oligarchy; but I never heard of a more cunning device to establish an oligarchy of the most oppressive character than to invest a limited number of persons with the suffrage, and then to guard them in its exercise from inspection, from criticism, and control on the part of the unenfranchised millions about whom we have heard so much to-night, and on so many other occasions. No, I do not believe, from the speeches of my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, and his Friends on that side of the House—I will not do them the injustice of believing—that they sincerely desire to invest what they style the present limited constituencies of the Kingdom with the irresponsibility conferred by voting by ballot. They have always argued that the extension of the franchise is a preliminary to the adoption of the ballot, and I am sure they do not intend to gainsay that opinion now. But the line must be drawn somewhere, unless that extension of the franchise be universal. Where shall it be drawn? If you say, "I do not want to draw a line anywhere"—if you tell us, as my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose told the House he did last Session—namely, submitted to modify his own views in deference to those of other persons, with the purpose of obtaining their assistance—if you adopt what is called in common parlance universal suffrage—without which, so far as political justice is concerned, I do not see how you can establish the ballot, because, if you have the ballot with a limited constituency, you commit a greater injustice upon the unenfranchised classes; but if you have universal suffrage you come to a new constitution, a constitution commonly called the Sovereignty of the People; you come to that constitution, in short, so much spoken of, so often panegyrised by the reforming 145 and liberal Members of this House—the constitution of America. But the Sovereignty of the People is not the constitution of England; for wisely modified as that monarchy may be, the constitution of England is the Sovereignty of Queen Victoria. But, then, it is said by the hon. Member for Montrose, you must terminate the bribery and corruption which prevail among the constituencies, and all your fine-spun arguments will not do unless you effect this object. Now, I beg the attention of the House, and my hon. Friend in particular, to some extracts from a correspondence which I have this moment received. There is an authority that he will respect, because it is a transatlantic authority, and proceeds from a country where the people enjoy universal suffrage and vote by ballot. It is a Message from the Governor of the State of New York, in North America, to the Legislature of that State; it illustrates the operation of the vote by ballot and universal suffrage: "Gentlemen," the Message says, "an alarming increase of bribery has taken place in the popular elections for this State—" This, be it remembered, is the Address of the Chief of the State of New York to the Legislature of that State, in a country which has been set up by my hon. Friend as a precedent for us—a country where universal suffrage prevails, and that which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield calls self-government; and here is the manner in which the chief of the self-governed addresses the Legislature of no less a State than New York, when it last assembled: "An alarming increase of bribery has taken place in the popular elections for this State, which demands the serious attention of the Legislature." We find, therefore, that in New York, where the ballot is in full force, that the Head of the State calls on the Legislature to interfere for the suppression of bribery, stating that it demands, moreover, their most serious attention. I will quote some further extracts from the same letter from which I have read this passage. I will not mention the name of the writer, because I am about to quote only facts, not opinions. He was once a Member of this House, and has since filled the most important posts in the service of our Sovereign. Were I to state his name, it would, I am sure, be received by Gentlemen on both sides with universal respect. You now know that bribery is not prevented by the ballot, and you will find 146 that it does not prevent something else. This is the way persons were treated at the last election:—Individuals were not merely beaten from the polls, but they were knocked down, beaten, and stabbed when proceeding about their ordinary occupations in open day in distant parts of the city. The police appeared to have been utterly inefficient, and the 100,000 citizen soldiers, of whom the New York papers boasted so much, were content to remain at home while a few gangs of ruffians commanded all the approaches to the polling-booths, and in one instance—destroyed the ballot-box.I find no fault with my hon. Friend and others for recommending the adoption of a new mode of voting in this country. This is the land of free discussion, and every one is at liberty to recommend what he thinks best; but what I do say is this, that it is remarkable that in dealing with the instance of the ballot, as in dealing with the instance of the proposed new distribution of electoral power, the facts on one side only are stated by hon. Gentlemen—only a one-sided view is brought before us, and only one class of considerations is urged upon our attention. I resume the narrative from the destruction of the ballot-box.This last outrage upon the freedom of election has very naturally caused extreme irritation, and the Courier and Enquirer says, that brutes must be met by brute force; while the Tribune is still more plain spoken. He says "that the soundrels who thus trampled upon the highest privilege that a free man can enjoy, should have been shot like dogs by the freemen whom their hireling souls thus villanously insulted.Now, I beg my hon. Friend to observe that while, by the confession of no less a personage than the Governor of the great State of New York, the ballot does not prevent bribery and corruption at elections, it appears likewise perfectly inefficient for the prevention of scenes of horrible intimidation, such as we cannot even conceive in this country, men being beaten and stabbed at the polling booth. My correspondent, for whom I know my hon. Friend entertains personally the highest consideration, gives some further information respecting the influence of the ballot—and I must confess that what I am about to quote is really humiliating. "We understand that the Whig Committee of the 8th Ward"—I ought in justice to remind the House of what it is no doubt already aware, that the Whig party in America is not identical with the party in this country of which the noble Lord opposite is the distinguished chief and the hereditary ornament:— 147We understand that the Whig Committee of the 8th Ward and other Wards have offered 100 dollars to every man who can secure 20 democratic votes for the Whig tickets on election day. This money has been partially raised by the most shameful extortions from the office-holders of the Whig party. It is said that every policeman in the Whig districts has been taxed 15 dollars towards defraying the expenses of the election. By this means the Whigs seek to crash every independent feeling in the voter, and to make him the mere tool of party. With the money procured in this manner, political hacks are sent to buy up the votes of the poorer and yet more dependent classes in those wards.This system of bribery is of course intolerable to all rightminded men, and I only mention it now that my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose may exercise his great and deserved influence on the other side the Atlantic, to repress the infamous conduct of those who would bribe democratic votes to the Whig ticket. All this iniquity is practised under the operation of that very system which my hon. Friend says is the only means of preventing bribery, and which the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. F. H. Berkeley) would persuade us to adopt as an infallible mode of suppressing intimidation. I must quote one paragraph more, because it proceeds from legislative authority. My hon. Friend the Member for Montrose and the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield have told the House that the ballot is the only mode for preventing bribery. In the experience of New York, at least, the ballot has been proved inefficient for the purpose of preventing bribery at elections; and the following preamble and resolution have just been presented to the Assembly:—Whereas the use of money at elections, for the purpose of influencing and corrupting electors, is an increasing and dangerous evil, and the bestowment or offer, promise or reception of money, or compensation in any form, should be made good and sufficient grounds for the challenge and rejection of a vote; but, whereas doubts exist as to the constitutionality of a law disfranchising an elector, therefore, resolved, 'That the Committee on the Judiciary Acts be and are hereby requested to examine and report whether, in their opinion, a law conformable to the foregoing preamble would be a violation of any provision of the constitution at law of this State.'
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
A proposition made to the Legislature of New York to take the increase of bribery in the elections for that State into consideration, in order to repress it by 148 law. I mention this to prove that the corruption at elections in the United States—at least in the State of New York, where the vote by ballot prevails—is regarded as an intolerable grievance. On the eve of a general election, when we are called upon to pass a law to repress bribery, which has too long prevailed, do not let the country at large run away with the idea that this corruption is a consequence of the old method of giving our votes. I believe it is a growing conviction among Englishmen that corruption is the consequence, not of one form of voting or of another, but of men being properly or improperly brought up. You may pass laws ostensibly to prevent corruption in countries where voting is secret, as well as in countries where voting is open; but corruption cannot be stopped by Acts of Parliament; it can only be stopped by elevating the tone of the community, and making men ashamed of the thing itself. You must seek for an antidote to corruption in that direction, and not in newfangled systems of election. I say, further, that the tone of the community in which we live has become more elevated in this respect. Every successive quarter of a century shows an improvement. No man who knows anything of the tone of public life a hundred years ago, can hesitate to admit that corruption then ascended much higher in society than it does at present. You have driven corruption from the higher classes. In proportion as education and opinion extended among the gentry, men became purer; and when the same influences come into equal operation among the humbler classes, it will be recognised that it is for the interest of all classes that bribery should disappear. There is one point more to which I will, with the permission of the House, briefly allude. I have noticed what I conceive to be my hon. Friend's total failure to prove his proposition, that the distribution of representatives is not consistent with the different classes of population. I think I have shown that nothing can be more erroneous than the opinion so prevalent in a portion of this House and the country, that the landed interest possesses an undue preponderance in this House. I think I have also shown, by reference to figures bearing official sanction, and which are open to everybody, that it is almost impossible to distribute the electoral power more justly than is done at present between the two great classes which represent the town 149 and country. I also venture to think that I have offered my hon. Friend some reasons for doubting whether as much corruption and intimidation may not prevail under a system of secret voting as we have ever experienced under the system which exists in this country. I have further given some reasons for supposing that my hon. Friend and those about him may hesitate, with their present constitutional doctrines, to recommend short Parliaments. There is yet one of his propositions which I ought to notice, and that is the general proposition that the franchise ought to be very much extended; and on this I have one observation to make. Viewing this question, and viewing it I trust with perfect impartiality, I have been much struck by the great exaggeration which pervades the statements made by the hon. Gentleman and his friends. I remember towards the close of the last Session to have heard a distinguished Member of this House—one who, on subjects of this kind especially, is in the habit of addressing it with great ability, and with sufficient confidence in his cause and himself—I mean the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright)—I remember having heard him ask this question—"Is the system to be endured in which only one in seven of the adult population of this country enjoys the franchise?" I remember also the tumultuous cheering which immediately followed that indignant exclamation. ["Hear!"] Ay; I say so. You cheered the sentiment then, and you cheer it now. Is it true that only one adult male in seven of the population of this country enjoys the franchise? Here are the figures, let us examine them. This paper is prepared from the Census of 1841, because the analysis of classes under the new Census is not yet published. I have compared the population of 1841 with the electoral return of 1842–3, and there is no reason to believe that there is any material difference between the proportions of the existing constituency and the adult male population of the last Census, the gross amount of which we know. The return is confined to Great Britain. The electors for Great Britain, in 1842–3, were 941,782, and the number of the adult male population was, in 1841, 4,961,045, which gives, instead of one voter in seven, one voter in five, omitting fractions. But from the 4,961,045 adult males some deductions must be made, which the hon. Member himself would make. For the 150 Army and Navy abroad and in Ireland, and for the navy and merchant seamen afloat—for I have never heard that the hon. Gentleman proposed to give them a vote—I deduct 169,650, which leaves the adult male population at 4,791,395. Then I deduct 35,000 for the army at home, 111,699 for the navy and merchant seamen ashore, 74,149 for alms-people, pensioners, paupers, lunatics and prisoners, and 164,384 for domestic servants, who are always excepted from any scheme of reform I ever heard in this House. Then I must deduct the residue of the population who have no homes at all, to the number of 276,526; and that will reduce the adult population on whose behalf any claim to the franchise can be urged, to little more than 4,129,566. Thus, instead of one in seven, it is, by the figures on our table in official returns, actually one in four. But I must go further. These bold statements of—I will not call them demagogues, after the complaint to-night of the hon. Member for Montrose—but the bold statements of hon. Gentlemen having dwindled down to this, that I have got an adult population of 4,129,566, which, as regards the electoral body, gives one in four—I ask what am I to do with the agricultural and urban labourers? I have not yet heard that the hon. Gentleman and his friends, while they complain that only one in seven have the exercise of the franchise, have any wish, under any system, to give a vote to the 1,435,412 peasantry and artisans spread over this country. I never heard one bold assertion of that kind. Well, then, if I deduct these labourers from 4,129,566, I have remaining only an adult male population of 2,694,154, which, as regards the electoral body, is one in two and a fraction of 86, or nearly one in three. But what a difference from the statements we have always heard on this subject! What a difference from the statements made at Manchester and at Leeds! From those of reform associations at Liverpool or anywhere else! What a difference from the statements made in pamphlets! What a difference from the statements of those erratic orators who, during the recess, have astonished the world! Why, instead of one in seven, it is absolutely little more than half what you say, even including 1,500,000 of labourers, whom not one of you have unequivocally proposed to enfranchise. It appears to me, then, that the propositions before the 151 House are crude, that they do not bring with them proof of investigation, are not in accordance with facts, and do not indicate that degree of research which the House has a right to expect in all matters of this kind, and more especially from Gentlemen who have devoted a long life to such subjects. It appears to me that they are based on statistical errors more flagrant than their political blunders, and that we cannot, whatever may be our opinion of the policy recommended, approve of it, founded as it is on such erroneous and imperfect data. I am not one of those who think, that because I disapprove of a proposition brought forward in this immature manner, I am bound to oppose every proposition brought forward to remedy grievances connected with the representation of the people. There has been very free criticism on the other side by the new supporters of the noble Lord the Member for London, of the measure which he proposed when he was First Minister of the Crown. I think a sense of decency, if nothing else, should have led those Gentlemen to abstain from that unfriendly course. Why they should for three or four hours have so severely criticised the withdrawn—I will not say the abandoned—proposition of the late Minister, I do not pretend to understand. Sitting on the same side of the House, meeting under the same roof, combining and counselling together for the same object, I should have thought that all these considerations would have prevented the slightest allusion to the subject, and that they would have brought forward their own proposition without obtruding their reflections on the measure of the noble Lord, with regard to which we, on this side, have always shown the most respectful silence. I should have thought that Gentlemen opposite would have considered the privilege they enjoy in being led by a high constitutional statesman on the one hand, and the privilege they have on the other of bringing forward revolutionary recommendations and plans, and that they would not have deemed it their duty to enter during the whole evening, into a criticism of the late Government measure. We have had some allusions made to a declaration on the subject of Parliamentary reform, said to have emanated from a noble Earl, the present head of the Government; but I protest against conclusions drawn from mere anonymous paragraphs in newspapers. I say at once 152 for myself and my Colleagues that we do not consider an extension of the franchise to be synonymous with the extension of democratic power. That much-abused Reform Bill, which no one has so much loaded with praise, to which no one once testified so much devotion, as the hon. Member for Montrose—where would that Bill have been, I ask, but for the spirit and energy of a Stanley? When I am told that we are opposed to all reform, I cannot but remember that the noble Lord who preceded me in the Parliamentary seat I now hold (the Marquess of Chandos)—that it was that individual who proposed a measure which added one-ninth to the constituency of Great Britain. I therefore entirely repudiate this convenient assertion of the hon. Gentleman and his friends, that we are a party opposed to all reform unless we listen to the propositions of the kind now before us. I will tell the hon. Gentleman what we are opposed to—we are adverse to all crude and unnecessary proposals founded on such erroneous calculations as the present. I tell him that if any project on this or any other subject is brought forward, I hope it will be founded on more accurate data than the one before us. What we are opposed to is tampering with the depositary of political power—to constant shifting and changing of the depositary of political power as the most injurious thing to a country that can be conceived. You may talk of tampering with the currency, and there are few things worse; but that which is worse is, tampering with the constituency of England. If there is to be a change, let it be a change called, for by clear necessity, and one which is calculated to give general—I will not say final—but general and permanent satisfaction. I ask, is the proposition of the hon. Member for Montrose—the whole foundation of which I have shown to be utterly fallacious—is that a proposition calculated to give general and permanent satisfaction? The proposition of the noble Lord the head of the late Government, was that one calculated to give general and permanent satisfaction? The noble Lord is too candid a man not to confess that, whatever be its merits, it was not calculated to give that general and permanent satisfaction. The sense of the country and the House alike called upon him to withdraw it; and I am sure that there is not one who will say that if that proposition had been brought 153 fairly under discussion, it would have received the concurrence of the House. We cannot sanction the proposition of the hon. Gentleman or his friends. And may we not flatter ourselves that after the debate of this night, he will reconsider these things—that he will investigate them—that he will calmly consider the important information from the other side of the Atlantic which I have given him—and that next year, with a health, spirit, and energy which I hope he will long enjoy, we may find him coming forward more temperate in his views, and more careful in his statements? Till we have propositions of a different character brought forward, I shall stand by the settlement made in 1831; not because it was a settlement made for our party interests—for, on the contrary, it was levelled against those supposed interests; but the good sense of the country has exercised a remedial influence over the devices of rival factions, and under that settlement of 1831 the country has on the whole, in my opinion, been well governed. At any rate, it is not what is styled the Liberal party which should dispute that position. There is not a great question, which during the last twenty years has enlisted a preponderating amount of popular sympathy out of doors, which this House has not adopted and carried; and though I may think that in more than one instance great subjects have thus been dealt with in an unwise and precipitate spirit, that should be no cause of censure with hon. Gentlemen opposite. Until, therefore, they can succeed in showing that this country has of late years been generally misgoverned—and that would be a condemnation of their whole course—and until they are prepared to substitute for the existing House of Commons a far more clear and coherent scheme than any they have yet offered, I must uphold an arrangement, which, though conceived in no friendly spirit to the Tory party, is one which has not proved hostile to the national institutions—institutions which, I believe, to be necessary not only to the greatness of the country, but to the freedom of the people.
§ MR. F. H. BERKELEY
wished to reply to the question put by the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer)—would they give to the constituencies as they are at present the advantage of the ballot? He undoubtedly said he would, and he would confine his reasons simply to 154 this: because he believed they could not make the small constituencies worse than they were, and the ballot would be perfectly efficacious against intimidation as regarded the large constituencies. As he had a Motion on the subject of the ballot, which was to come on on Monday, he was sure the House would permit him to reserve himself for that occasion—more particularly as he objected to argue the ballot mixed up with any question whatever. He considered the ballot as the abstract right of the voter. He considered that the question of reform proposed by the hon. Member for Montrose might stand together; but if the propositions were taken separately, they could not hold together; for instance, he was satisfied that triennial Parliaments without the ballot would be mischievous, and against the interests of the country. As a whole he supported his hon. Friend's proposition; but with regard to the question of the ballot, he should express his opinions upon another opportunity. One word in conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) mentioned a disturbance in New York, and quoted very triumphantly the ballot box being broken open. He begged him to carry away another instance, taken from America. In the southern or aristocratic States of the Union, they were trying to get rid of the ballot, because the friends of the abolition of slavery took protection under the ballot, and the enemies of abolition had no means of detecting their votes.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
congratulated the House, and, through them, the country, on this, that whatever evasions or mystifications might have gone forth during the last week, upon one point the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been sufficiently explicit. Treading in the footsteps of the most illustrious Warrior of the age, the right hon. Gentleman, after much circumlocution, had formally declared the intention of the Government to abide by the Reform Act of 1831. He had announced that Her Majesty's Government did not intend to move on with the spirit of the age; that they looked upon the Reform Bill as a final measure—that the old "finality" dodge was to be renewed—and that come what might the Government would give no reform in Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman said he would certainly give the country no reform in this Parliament nor in the Parliament to come. 155 [Cries of "No, no!"] He knew it was the intention of those ardent Reformers who cried "No" to give the country a further measure of reform; but unfortunately they were not in the Cabinet. Let there be no mistake on this point, that the present Cabinet was satisfied with the settlement of 1831, and that they would be no party to give reform a further trial. The right hon. Gentleman had commenced his speech by attacking the speech of the hon. Member for the University of Oxford—[" No, no!" and a laugh]—he begged the hon. Gentleman's pardon—he (Sir W. P. Wood) had not descended to that yet—he was the Member of a popular constituency—the Member for the city of Oxford, and the right hon. Gentleman said it was a speech intended to be made upon the Resolution to be moved by the noble Lord (Lord John Russell); but he (Mr. B. Osborne) would leave it to the House, if the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not also directed to that very Motion. He would not weary the House by wading through the dreary mass of confused statistics which the right hon. Gentleman had thought it his duty as Chancellor of the Exchequer to bring before them, in order to show that the agricultural constituencies were not fairly represented, while boroughs and towns had a greater proportion of representatives; but he told the right hon. Gentleman, that, on his own showing, he was bound to bring in a Reform Bill to remove the injustice done to what he called the territorial interest. But he had no such design; he had omitted, too, all mention of Ireland; and he (Mr. B. Osborne) feared that he was going to legislate for that country on very different principles. Without being enamoured of the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, to map this country into districts, he was so far dissatisfied with the Bill of 1831, which Her Majesty's Government had pronounced to be final, that he would vote for it—particularly for the latter part of the proposition, "that the proportion of representatives be made more consistent with the amount of population and property." The right hon. Gentleman said he would make a colourable case against the ballot, and had referred to the riots in New York. He did not object to the right hon. Gentleman taking the case of America, but he wished he would not select the American tariff, but take what was good in the constitution of that country. Was the Chan- 156 cellor of the Exchequer content with the way elections were carried on in this country? Did he remember the case of Harwich, the borough for which the Solicitor General (Sir F. Kelly) was a candidate, when the proceedings were vitiated because the electors carried away the hustings as their perquisites; and was it not notorious that riots happened in all parts of England during an election? Why, when the right hon. Gentleman talked of bribery at New York, and congratulated the House upon the great improvement which had taken place in this country within the last hundred years, he should have remembered the state of things disclosed in the report of the Select Committee on Bribery appointed on the Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield so late as the year 1842. That Committee had reported in strong terms as to the existence of bribery and corruption in the country, and recommended that the mischievous and dangerous tendency, as they termed it, of the present system should be dealt with by legislative enactment as speedily as possible. Yet nothing had been done from that time to the present, as the system as it existed at present was absolutely shocking. But he could tell the right hon. Gentleman that the people were determined to have the ballot. Both sides were equally in blame in this respect; and he confessed that he believed, if this system of bribery were to be traced back to its source, it would be found to begin with the Whig party in the time of Walpole, who were obliged to resort to it as the only means of opposing the influences bearing against them. The fact was, neither party was sincere in the desire of putting down bribery; for if they had been sincere they would have adopted vote by ballot to protect the people not only from bribery and corruption but from intimidation, which was more rife than those; for he believed that for one who was bribed, there were twenty who were intimidated. The hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier) made the old stereotyped objection to this Motion, that it would endanger the Monarchy. What had endangered the monarchy in France? Was it not that a nation of 30,000,000 had only 230,00 electors? And here he must express his surprise to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer define the sovereignty of the country to be in Queen Victoria; and had the right hon. 157 Gentleman been sitting on that (the Opposition) side of the House, he would no doubt have defined the sovereignty as consisting in Queen, Lords, and Commons. The right hon. Gentleman had objected to the secrecy of the ballot. He ought to have been the last man in the House to have done so, considering he was a Member of a Government which was shrouded in secrecy. The Maynooth cry was to be used as a claptrap to go to the hustings, and Her Majesty's Government would not speak their minds upon it; but he could tell them it would become a very serious question for them. The hon. Member for Dublin University knew nothing of the efficacy of the ballot—he had no poor men to deal with who might be swayed by some attorney, or by some one who could put the screw on him; but the representatives of popular constituencies knew what those influences were. Why, had they not seen it stated in all the papers that at a late election the agents wrote to say that if the tenants did not vote for Mr. Frewen, the Protectionist candidate, they would take it for granted that the tenants were satisfied with the prospects of the agricultural interest, and that they therefore did not want their rents lowered? He could have wished the Motion had been put in a better form; but he would vote for it now, as he had voted for similar Motions before, in order to show his dissatisfaction with the present system, and that he did not consider the Reform Act of 1831 to be a final measure. If the noble Earl and his party, who said they took office as barriers to democracy, instead of talking of themselves as barriers—which were sometimes swept away by the waves of democracy—would join hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House in making a channel for the democratic wave, very sure was he that, so far from weakening Queen, Lords, and Commons, the noble Earl, if he properly treated and properly trusted the people, would be strengthening both this and the other House of Parliament.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, I have so often addressed you on the subject of the Motion now before the House, that I shall not think it necessary, neither would it be agreeable to the House, to go at any length into the several propositions which my hon. Friend has introduced. It appears to me, Sir, the simple question is, whether the adoption of a Bill founded on the principles contained in my hon. Friend's propositions would conduce to the good 158 government of the country; and on that proposition I have come most clearly to the opinion that it would not conduce to the good government of the country. I believe that if you had a different distribution of the representation, such as into electoral districts—which, however, has not been chalked out by my hon. Friend—but such a distribution as would disfranchise a very considerable number of boroughs, and leave the counties and large towns with representatives—that if you give the franchise not only to every house-holder, but to every lodger who might by fraud or collusion be placed on the ratebook without paying rates, and made him an elector—that if to this plan you added the vote by ballot, and that you had the representatives thus elected assembled for three years—which would, however, be in most cases not for more than two years—my opinion is, that you would not obtain a House of Commons which would, either with regard to the Executive, to the other parts of the Constitution, or to calm and deliberate legislation, be as efficient a body as that which has assembled according to the present system. Therefore, Sir, if I were to choose between the proposition of my hon. Friend and the existing state of the law, I certainly would prefer the latter. It appears to me that is a sufficient reason for voting against the proposition of my hon. Friend. But I confess I think there are some parts of this proposition which contain not only the elements of a worse House of Commons than we at present possess, but the elements of future danger to the constitution of the country. I cannot but see that if beside householders you add lodgers, unless the provisions of the Bill are exceedingly stringent, and if you merely provide that they shall be rated and resident for a certain period, you would approach very nearly to that state of the franchise which, though the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) does not consider it so, is, in fact, universal suffrage. Then I say, Sir, you would not have a body of electors possessing that independence, intelligence, and integrity, which it ought to be your aim to secure in the electoral body. With respect to the vote by ballot, in reference to which my hon. Friend who has just sat down (Mr. B. Osborne) said the people of this country have made up their minds that they will have it, I cannot deny the present popularity of that proposition. I repeat that I cannot deny the popularity of that mea- 159 sure; but I do think that many of those who have adopted that proposition as one which ought to be carried into operation by Act of Parliament as the representation at present stands, have not considered all the consequences of the adoption of such a plan. My hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) says, as I believe very truly, that intimidation is not only exercised from above on those below, but that it is exercised from below on those above. Many of the working classes of this country exercise some species of intimidation against the 10l. electors. It is very wrong that they should exercise that intimidation; but, at the same time, you must consider what would be the consequence if the working classes found that their opinions had no effect on the voters, and that elections took place with the result of which they were totally dissatisfied, while they were not aware who the parties were who gave the votes on the different sides. I must say that I believe that their dissatisfaction would be much greater than it now is; and they would either ask that open voting should be resorted to again, or, what is more probable, they would demand that the suffrage should be extended to every person, and that every person, together with the ballot, should have the right of voting. Now, I must say, that if you come to a suffrage so general as that, and with it were joined a Parliament for three years, though I can understand that such a Parliament so chosen might exist under another constitution, yet I must confess—to whatever blame such an opinion may expose me—I do not think that a Parliament thus elected—by universal suffrage, with vote by ballot, and for a short period—would long consist with other parts of our constitution, namely, the monarchy and the hereditary branch of the Legislature. With respect to the question of the limitation of Parliament to three years, the right hon. Gentleman says that that used to be the favourite project of the Tory party in former years. But the Parliament of Great Britain solemnly repealed the Triennial Act on the ground of the inconveniences felt to arise from it, on the ground of the increased expense, and because greater heats and animosities had been known in England under it than had ever been known under any other system of law; and they placed a record to this effect for the benefit of posterity in the preamble of the repealing Act. And I can readily believe 160 it. I can readily believe that if instead of going to an election at the end of every five or six years, we were to say that every two years we would have an election, and that every two years all the great interests of the country should be driven to the hustings, that party heats and animosities would be such that the people of this country would not bear a state of things of that kind. Therefore with respect to the proposition before the House, I have no other choice but to vote, as I have on several occasions already voted, against the Motion now made. But the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer who, I must say, has gone through those various propositions with very great ability, has thought proper to refer to a Bill which I introduced, being then a Minister of the Crown, and has likewise declared the policy of the present Government with respect to reform. Now, Sir, on these subjects I wish to say a word or two. I did not withdraw that Bill because I was convinced that it did not give satisfaction; for if I had remained a Minister, I should have thought it right to have proposed the second reading of the Bill, and to have asked the House to go into Committee and discuss each separate provision. I should have done so in the conviction that there are, without touching on the particular provisions of that Bill at the present moment, two questions with respect to the representation of the people which do require the consideration of the House. One is, that it appears to me that by the right of voting fixed by the Reform Act—and so fixed, I think, with very great caution, in order that in adjusting the franchise we might not at first fix a rate lower than would be safe—the franchise, in my opinion, is too exclusively confined to the middle classes of this country. My own opinion agrees entirely, as a general opinion, with the statement made by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), that there are numerous artisans in this country—men, earning by their labour and skill competent wages, who have intelligence and integrity fully entitling them to possess the elective franchise; and my belief is, that if you go on for several years more, leaving the franchise as it is at present, there cannot fail to grow up a feeling of dissatisfaction among these working classes; whereas they would be conciliated towards the maintenance of the Constitution, and would be made more attached to the institutions of 161 their country, if they were admitted to the enjoyment of the franchise in a greater degree than at present. I believe that they are fully qualified to have the franchise; I believe that they are at present attached to the constitution of the country; but I believe that it is the business of Parliament, and the business of statesmen pretending to rule in this country, to foresee in some degree what may be the state of this country some years hence in process of time, and also what may be the state of the country in a very short time, supposing circumstances to be adverse, and supposing distress, or any reverse in trade, should induce men to consider what is their position as regards the Constitution. There is another matter in reference to the smaller boroughs to which I think the attention of Parliament should be given. It is not the existence of those smaller boroughs to which I allude, because I think their existence as a part of the representation can be fully and adequately defended. I think you would not have a sufficient representation of all the classes of the country without having some of those boroughs with a smaller number of electors. But I think there are several of those boroughs which have so small a number of electors that they cannot be permanently maintained as they are. I stated, in bringing in the Reform Bill, that the object of the Government was, that no borough should be left with less than 300 voters. I think that number a low and restricted number; and yet I believe that no less than fourteen of the present boroughs have a smaller number of electors. That is a circumstance which must, before long, engage the attention of Government. I will not enter into the modes by which we endeavoured to remedy the inconvenience; but I must say a word with respect to the policy of the present Government, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I own I cannot say that that policy is founded in wisdom, or that it is a policy that can be maintained. The right hon. Gentleman says, "I will not make any change in the Act of 1832 without a clear necessity." Now, we all know what "a clear necessity" is. We all know that "a clear necessity" does not mean the general opinion of sober and dispassionate men; it does not mean the examination of your existing legislation, and a determination to amend defects; but "a clear necessity" means that de- 162 gree of discontent and disaffection which would render it unsafe to govern without making a change. We all recollect what has been the case with respect to the party opposite in regard to great measures. We all know that the just requests of the Roman Catholics of Ireland were denied until "a clear necessity" arose in the shape of impending civil war. We all know that Parliamentary reform was constantly denied until the agitation of the people arose to such a height that reform could no longer be resisted. We all know with respect to other measures of an economical nature, it was not until associations were formed and spread throughout the country that the Legislature agreed to change the laws on the subject. I own I think that the House of Commons would take a position the reverse of dignified, and hardly safe, if it were to be declared by a Minister of the Crown, and echoed by a majority in that House, that until a clear case of general discontent arose—[Cries of "No, No!] Well, if I am misinterpreting the right hon. Gentleman, I should like to know what those words "clear necessity" mean? I can understand that there could be a clear question of policy—of wisdom—of foresight; but a question of necessity seems to me a question in respect to which you have no option, and that you must either yield to demands made, or no longer continue to govern in safety. That I understand to be "clear necessity;" and then, indeed, we are to have measures to give general and permanent satisfaction—yes, that sort of satisfaction which arises from agitation, and from a belief that agitation, nothing but agitation, would move the House of Commons. But is agitation alone to be the power that is to give an impetus to the House of Commons? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer says, further, that although the Reform Bill was passed against what he conceives to have been the interests of his party, yet he is ready to admit that since its enactment the country has been well governed. It is to me a triumphant satisfaction to hear it admitted that under an Act which I introduced some twenty years ago the country has been well governed; that it was a measure of liberal policy, and that it has had a tendency to further the good government of England. I never expected an admission that a measure under which the country has been well governed, is against the interests 163 of a party who now govern the country. For the reasons I have stated, I must vote against the proposition contained in the present Motion; but I do trust that Her Majesty's Government will renounce the course they have indicated to-night, and will consider well the step they take. I trust they will not wait till a necessity arises, but that they will take an early opportunity of maturely considering the present state of the representation, with a view to an extension of the franchise; and that, above all, they will deem it incumbent on them to extend that franchise to a greater number of the working classes than are now in the enjoyment of it, so that by timely reforms they may make those institutions of the country permanent, to which I believe the people are at present steadily and firmly attached.
§ MR. WALPOLE
Sir, it is entirely unnecessary for me to enter at any length into the subject of the debate which has arisen on the Motion of the hon. Gentleman opposite. I think so for two reasons: first of all, because every thing that can be said upon the specific proposition which he has brought forward, has been, to my mind, completely answered by the observations of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and, secondly, because the observations made by my right hon. Friend have been amply supported by the able remarks and arguments of the noble Lord in the first part of his speech. My only object in rising now is to correct an expression made use of by the noble Lord, that it may not go forth to the country that my right hon. Friend adverted to the case of "clear necessity," in which Reform might reasonably be conceded, as synonymous with the case of "clear discontent." The observations of the noble Lord, illustrated as they were by allusions to the Reform Act, and the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, could not be mistaken. When my right hon. Friend made use of the expression "clear necessity," as justifying an additional extension of the franchise, or further improvement in the constitution of this House, he coupled it with the observation that any alteration which might be made should give permanent and general satisfaction to the country. What I understood my right hon. Friend to say was this: "You passed a Reform Bill in 1832, which you intended to be a permanent and final adjustment of a very great question, and it is not desirable to disturb that question, because the advantages to be gained by that disturbance 164 are not sufficient to compensate for the inconveniences which must necessarily be occasioned by the renewed agitation of a question like this." But my right hon. Friend did not intend to say, as it has been assumed by the hon. Member for Sheffield, that all those persons who by their industry have possessed themselves of considerable sums of money in the savings banks—or that all those persons whose education entitled them to consideration—or that all those persons who came under the denomination of skilled artisans, might not, as the time advances with the progress of opinion, have the franchise fairly and properly conferred upon them. But the meaning of my right hon. Friend was simply this, that before you make any great constitutional change in the State, after that which you made in 1832, there are two things incumbent upon you. The first is, to see that some change is practically necessary; and then, that the change which you do propose should be practically expedient and practically satisfactory to the great body of the people. Now, without entering into the first of these considerations, because I conceive that a practical necessity for any such change has not been proved, I will content myself for the present with observing that the specific proposition introduced by the hon. Member for Middlesex has been shown in the course of the debate to be one of those changes which would not be satisfactory to the country at large; and since the real object of the hon. Member appears to have been completely answered, by giving hon. Members an opportunity of delivering those speeches on the subject of Parliamentary reform which were intended for the country when the noble Lord the Member for the City of London proposed the second reading of his own Bill; and since there is now no specific plan before the House, which can be considered as practically beneficial, he (Mr. Walpole) did not then feel it incumbent on him to give any opinion upon the general subject of Parliamentary Reform. Whenever any specific change in the present system should be proposed, he should then be prepared to take it into consideration; but then he must add, that if any change should be deemed necessary, it would be his duty to see that it was one that would prove, in the end, both practically expedient and practically satisfactory to the great body of the community.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS moved that the debate be adjourned.165
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
regretted that he should feel it his duty to oppose the wishes of his hon. Friend; but, representing as he (Mr. W. Williams) did one of the largest constituencies in the country, he was anxious to have an opportunity of expressing his opinion upon a question which he considered to be one of the greatest importance. Whenever any proposition was made to adjourn a debate from mere party purposes, he felt no disposition to aid such a course; but this was a question in which the people of England took a great interest. [Cries of "Go on!"] No; at that late hour he could not expect to receive the attention of the House, and there were several other Members anxious to express their opinions: he therefore thought, in common fairness, the debate ought to be adjourned. [Cries of "Go on!"]
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
thought the course taken by the hon. Gentleman was hardly fair towards the hon. Member for Middlesex. Whatever difference of opinion might exist between him (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) and the hon. Gentleman, he had always entertained towards him the greatest respect. That hon. Gentleman had brought forward the present question several times, and he had done so on this occasion, no doubt, without the slightest idea of a pending election. He would have brought it forward under any other circumstances, for the purpose of eliciting a bonâ fide discussion. The question had, accordingly, been fairly discussed by almost every Member who was in the habit of speaking on the subject. But now the hon. Member for Lambeth got up, under the idea that the Motion was brought forward for the purpose of giving hon. Members an opportunity of making electioneering speeches. Nothing, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was sure, was more contrary to the intention of the hon. Member for Middlesex, and he considered that the debate might now be fairly brought to a close to-night. He hoped, therefore, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. W, Williams) would continue his speech, which would no doubt be listened to with the utmost attention.
§ MR. BRIGHT
did not often agree with 166 the right hon. Gentleman who had last spoken, but on this occasion he was disposed to do so. There was at present no really practical question before the House: he did not know how long it might be before there would be. He certainly was of opinion that many hon. Members were wrong in their opinions upon the subject of Parliamentary Reform. However, be hoped his hon. Friend (Mr. W. Williams) would on the present occasion allow the House to go to a division. It was necessary that they should go on with the business of the Session. He had himself declined taking any part in the present discussion, although he felt a deep interest in it, because he considered it desirable that they should not protract the business of the House.
MR. F. PIGOTT
said, he should have had no hesitation in voting for the introduction of the Bill of the hon. Member for Montrose, but he wished to guard himself against being considered as pledged to the details of the measure. He thought, however, that the hon. Gentleman had not selected the most opportune time for bringing it forward. The House was in a different position from that in which it was placed at the commencement of the Session, when the noble Lord the Member for London proposed his measure of Parliamentary Reform; but he hoped that if the noble Lord should again be in a situation to propose such a measure, those who now sat on the Opposition side of the House would support him without being divided among themselves. With respect to the present Motion, he thought that after the discussion that had taken place, it was of little consequence whether there was a division or not. He should support the Motion for the adjournment.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, the reason for an adjournment was less now than on former occasions; as it might be taken that the Motion of his hon. Friend was rather for discussion than to tend to any practical result. He trusted, therefore, that the public business would not be delayed for the sake of Gentlemen making election speeches.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
expressed his hope that the hon. Member for Lambeth would not press the adjournment of the debate. He stood in the same situation as the hon. Member as to representing a very large constituency. He had endeavoured five or six times to address the House; but as he had not been fortunate 167 enough to catch the Speaker's eye, he was quite willing, as it was the wish of his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, and of the House, that the debate should be closed that evening, however desirous he was of addressing the House, to forego doing so, feeling assured that his constituents had every confidence in him, and knew that he would support the measure of his hon. Friend.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
then said, he would not persevere with his Motion, especially after the reasons given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. HUME
replied. The House would feel that he had been placed in no very favourable position. With his opponents he was prepared to deal; but what could he say to his friends around him? One hon. Member told him that the present was not an opportune moment for bringing it forward; but the hon. Gentleman must have forgotten that he (Mr. Hume) gave notice last Session of this Motion; and if, after the change that had taken place, he had not brought it forward, it would have appeared that he was afraid to face hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House. Another hon. Gentleman said the discussion would lead to no practical result; but he (Mr. Hume) was perfectly satisfied, for it was only by discussion that the question could be fairly and properly understood, and therefore every man who wished to see a great question carried, should again and again urge it on the House until it was settled. The speech of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) was in favour of one part of his proposition—and he considered it of vast importance—that Members of the learned professions and men of intelligence should he entitled to the franchise; and with the Chancellor of the Exchequer he had very little difficulty, for he could show that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman had not been directed to anything he (Mr. Hume) had said, and that as to everything he did say the right hon. Gentleman was entirely wrong. The right hon. Gentleman had talked of a territorial representation; but he (Mr. Hume) had never made use of the term; so that the observations of the right hon. Gentleman were quite superfluous—he had raised a lion merely for the purpose of killing him. In order to set the right hon. Gentleman right in his view, he (Mr. Hume) would mention one of the anomalies that existed under the present system. 168 If they compared county with county, and borough with borough, they would find that the grossest inequality existed in the representation. The three counties of Huntingdon, Rutland, and Westmoreland, as compared with Middlesex, Lancashire, and Yorkshire, presented a flagrant instance of this inequality. Again, he could point to six boroughs, with a population of 29,000, returning six Members, and to another six boroughs returning the same number of Members with a population of 1,304,000. Now, he was for having the distribution more equal, both in the counties and in the boroughs. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with respect to the number of voters, was also incorrect; the real proportion of the voters to the population showed that the voters were as one to five of the male population. With regard to the ballot, the right hon. Gentleman ought to know that New York was in a different position with regard to elections, from any other of the States of the American Union. There was no other place where so much rioting and disturbance took place at elections; and the reason was, that there was no register at New York. He (Mr. Hume) admitted that the ballot would not altogether prevent bribery, but he did not wish to see the ballot introduced into small constituencies, where there was the greatest opportunity for bribery. There was not one statement made by the right hon. Gentleman to which he was not prepared to give a direct negative; and if exceptions were taken to the plan of reform which he had brought forward, let those who objected propose a better. He hoped to live and see that plan carried out, though the right hon. Gentleman had now thrown, down the gauntlet, declaring that he was not prepared to effect any reform, and that he was prepared to stand by the results, of the contest in 1832. To these results the party of the right hon. Gentleman were then opposed. He did not know whether it was to be taken for granted that the Tory party was resuscitated, for he thought it had expired; but if it were resuscitated, it was against that Tory party that he hoped to carry the reform he had proposed. That plan bad been sanctioned by many hon. Members of that House, and he yet hoped to live long enough to see it carried into effect.
§ Main Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 89; Noes 244: Majority 155.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adair, H. E.||Keogh, W.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Kershaw, J.|
|Alcock, T.||King, hon. J. P. L.|
|Anderson, A.||M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||M'Gregor, J.|
|Bass, M. T.||Meagher, T.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Marshall, J. G.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Milligan, R.|
|Bernal, R.||Moffatt, G.|
|Bright, J.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Brotherton, J.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Clay, J.||Murphy, F. S.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Cobden, R.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Cogan, W. H. F.||Osborne, R.|
|Collins, W.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Cowan, C.||Peto, S. M.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Pigot, F.|
|Dashwood, Sir G. H.||Pilkington, J.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Reynolds, J.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C.T.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Salwey, Col.|
|Duncan, G.||Scholefield, W.|
|Duncombe, T.||Scobell, Capt.|
|Ellis, J.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Evans, Sir De L.||Scully, F.|
|Ewart, W.||Smith, J. B.|
|Fox, R. M.||Somers, J. P.|
|Fox, W. J.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Geach, C.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Granger, T. C.||Sullivan, M.|
|Greene, J.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Tennent, R. J.|
|Hastie, A.||Thompson, Col.|
|Henry, A.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Heywood, J.||Wakley, T.|
|Heyworth, L.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Hindley, C.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Williams, J.|
|Hollond, R.||Williams, W.|
|Horsman, E.||Wyld, J.|
|Hutchins, E. J.||Hume, J.|
|Keating, R.||Walmsley, Sir.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Bramston, T. W.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Bremridge, R.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Bridges, Sir B. W.|
|Arkwright, G.||Brisco, M.|
|Bagot, hon. W.||Broadwood, H.|
|Bailey, J.||Brooke, Sir A.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Bruce, C. L. C.|
|Baird, J.||Buck, L. W.|
|Baldwin, C. B.||Buller, Sir J. Y.|
|Bankes, rt. hon. G.||Bunbury, W. M.|
|Baring, H. B.||Burghley, Lord|
|Baring, T.||Cabbell, B. B.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Campbell, hon. W.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Campbell, Sir A. I.|
|Beckett, W.||Carew, W. H. P.|
|Bennet, P.||Castlereagh, Visct.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Cayley, E. S.|
|Beresford, rt. hon. W.||Chandos, Marq. of|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Chaplin, W. J.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Charteris, hon. F.|
|Booker, T. W.||Chichester, Lord J. L.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Child, S.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Christopher, rt. hn. R.A.|
|Christy, S.||Hardinge, hon. C. S.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Harris, hon. Capt.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Hatchell, rt. hon. J.|
|Clive, H. B.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.|
|Cochrane, A.D.R. W.B.||Henley, rt. hon. J. W.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Colville, C. R.||Herries, rt. hon. J. C.|
|Conolly, T.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Hildyard, R. C.|
|Cotton, hon. W. H. S.||Hildyard, T. B. T.|
|Cubitt, Ald.||Hill, Lord E.|
|Currie, H.||Hodgson, W. N.|
|Damer, hon. Col.||Hope, Sir J.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Hotham, Lord|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Howard, P. H.|
|Deedes, W.||Howard, Sir R.|
|Denison, J. E.||Hudson, G.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Dod, J. W.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Dodd, G||Jennyn, Earl|
|Drax, J. S. W. S. E.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Drummond, H. H.||Johnstone, J.|
|Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Duff, J.||Jones, Capt.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Knight, F. W.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Knox, Col.|
|Duncombe, hon. W. E.||Langton, W. H. P. G.|
|Dunne, Col.||Lascelles, hon. E.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Legh, G. C.|
|East, Sir J. B.||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Leslie, C. P.|
|Edwards, H.||Lindsay, hon. Col.|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Littleton, hon. E. R.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Evelyn, W. J.||Lockhart, W.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Long, W.|
|Farrer, J.||Lopes, Sir R.|
|Fellowes, E.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Mackie, J.|
|Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.||Macnaghten, Sir E.|
|Floyer, J.||Mahon, Visct.|
|Forbes, W.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Manners, Lord G.|
|Forester, hon. G. C. W.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Fox, S. W. L.||March, Earl of|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Martin, C. W.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Matheson, Col.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Gallwey, Sir W. P.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Galway, Visct.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Meux, Sir H.|
|Gilpin, Col.||Miles, P. W. S.|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W.E.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Moncreiff, J.|
|Goold, W.||Morgan, O.|
|Gore, W. O.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Mundy, W.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Napier, J.|
|Granby, Marq. of||Neeld, J.|
|Greene, T.||Neeld, J.|
|Grogan, E.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Grosvenor, Earl||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Guernsey, Lord||O'Brien, Sir L.|
|Gwyn, H.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Hale, R. B.||Packe, C. W.|
|Halford, Sir H.||Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Hall, Col.||Palmer, R.|
|Hallewell, E. G.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Patten, J. W.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Peel, Col.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Peel, F.|
|Pigot, Sir R.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Portal, M.||Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Powlett, Lord W.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|Ronton, J. C.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Richards, R.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Villiers, Visct.|
|St George, C.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Sandars, G.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Scott, hon. F.||Walter, J.|
|Seymour, Lord||Wegg-Prosser, F. R.|
|Shelburne, Earl of||Welby, G. E.|
|Sibthorp, Col.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Smollett, A.||Whiteside, J.|
|Somerton, Visct.||Wigram, L. T.|
|Spooner, R.||Williams, T. P.|
|Stafford, A,||Wodehouse, E.|
|Stanley, E.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Stevenson, R.||Worcester, Marq. of|
|Stuart, H.||Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.|
|Stuart, J.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Sturt, H. G.||Wynn, H. W. W.|
|Tennent, Sir J. E.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Thesiger, Sir F.||Young, Sir J.|
|Townley, R. G.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Townshend, Capt.||Bateson, T.|
§ The House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock.