HC Deb 07 May 1852 vol 121 cc414-7

Order for First Reading read.


moved that this Bill be read a First Time.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the First Time."


moved the adjournment of the House. His objection was to having a Bill of that kind discussed at that hour of the night [ten minutes before One o'clock].


seconded the Motion for adjournment. This Bill had been introduced under peculiar circumstances. He thought he should be neglecting his duty to the electors of the West Riding if he did not oppose this Bill, which he considered as gross an insult as had ever been offered to the large county constituencies of this country. It said to them that once in seven years they should have half-a-crown given to them at an election. In a word, it was an offer to pauperise the freeholders of the country; and he was only astonished that an hon. Gentleman who was standing as a candidate for South Essex on the Liberal interest, should he found introducing a measure authorising corruption. He (Mr. Cobden) would ask if any man thought the refreshment to the county elector would be limited to the half-a-crown ticket? No; the men who had a large balance at their bankers would be found giving their supporters champagne, venison, and turtle to dinner. He repeated, he was astonished at the quarter from whence such a measure had come; and he hoped the hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Buxton) would rise in his place and express his shame and regret for having asked leave of the House to introduce such a Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."


said, the hon. Member (Mr. Cobden) had really almost perverted the facts having reference to this matter. The Bill was merely to prevent lavish expenditure at county elections, and, so far from giving occasion for bribery, he firmly believed it would tend to prevent it. To believe the contrary, could only enter into the head of the hon. Member for the West Biding. It was but proper that persons coming from a distance to vote should have some refreshment; and if that refreshment was limited to half-a-crown a piece, no great expenditure would be incurred in that way.


said, it was stated that those persons ought to receive something for coming from a distance to vote. The question was—did they perform a public duty, or did they not? If they performed a public duty, let the public pay for it. If this Bill were carried, he would propose that the expense that might be incurred under it should be put upon the county rates, instead of being borne by candidates.


was convinced that the effect of this Bill would be to legalise bribery, and he must protest against a measure which would have a tendency to corrupt a large body of the electors throughout the Kingdom.


said, at present no county Member's seat was safe. He believed, if the machinery of an election was conducted by a committee, and if any member of that committee happened to give to any of his own tenants or labourers refreshment at that election, the Member's seat, by that act of ordinary kindness, might afterwards be rendered vacant. He thought that was a state of things deserving the consideration of the House.


said, the effect of the Bill could be to stop litigation, and lessen the general expenses of elections.


said; be had had some experience in contested elections, and he thought there should be a clear understanding about giving refreshments. The last time he stood for Essex there was a serious opinion among the Liberal party that he and his Colleague should be unhorsed, because of this refreshment, which had been arranged with the opposite committee. It would be desirable if the House decided the question. He (Sir J. Tyrell) had no experience of a dry election; and he was afraid, although the Bill came from the Liberal party—["No, no!"]—he always thought the hon. Member was a Member of the Liberal party. The Bill laid down a self-paying principle, and the Manchester school always looked to that point. As a matter of self-interest, he (Sir J. Tyrell) might support the Bill; but he did it, besides, because human nature was unchanged. The hon. Member who introduced the Bill should, above all others, be the last to countenance a dry election.


said, that one of his reasons for bringing in this Bill was, that according to the present system no man could positively declare that his election had been conducted in a perfectly pure way, owing, to the number of those who acted as his agents, and for whose acts he was responsible. He believed it to be the fact that in the West Riding there had always been an agreement between the parties; these refreshment tickets had been issued, and this had been done illegally which he desired to do legally. The same practice, he understood, prevailed in Lancashire, and there were very few counties where contests took place in which agreements of this kind were not come to. The necessity for these agreements arose from the impossibility of keeping so many persons in different parts of the country within the law, for, if a member of an election committee saw a tenant or labourer of his after the election, and gave him a glass of ale, agency might be proved, and the candidate be unseated. The poorer class of freeholders in many cases refused to come to the poll unless they were allowed some refreshment. He did not think it reasonable that the same punishment should be inflicted upon the candidate who gave a famished freeholder a glass of ale and a bit of bread and cheese, and the man who gave 20l. to every voter.


said, he knew a borough where the influence of the half-crown was all powerful. A candidate who had refused to give it was denounced in the most unmeasured terms of vituperation. To pass such a Bill as that before the House, would be to sanction direct bribery.


begged to offer his thanks to the hon. Baronet for the Bill. His constituency, many thousands in number, had to come from a distant mountainous country, and it would be cruelty to prevent them from obtaining refreshments. There would be no purity of election until Members made a solemn declaration to that effect at the bar of the House.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put.

The House divided:-—Ayes 61; Noes 77: Majority 16.

List of the AYES.
Adderley, C. B. Hamilton, G. A.
Archdall, Capt. M. Hamilton, Lord C.
Bagge, W. Henley, rt. hon. J. W.
Baird, J. Hill, Lord E.
Baldock, E. H. Hope, Sir J.
Bateson, T. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Bennet, P. Hudson, G.
Bcresford, rt. hon. W. Lewisham, Visct.
Booker, T. W. Mackenzie, W. F.
Booth, Sir R. G. Manners, Lord J.
Bramston, T. AY. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Bremridge, R. Morgan, O.
Broadwood, H. Napier, rt. hon. J.
Christopher, rt. hon. R. Pakington, rt. hn.Sir J.
Christy, S. Scott, hon. F.
Cobbold, J. C. Sibthorp, Col.
Codrington, Sir W. Spooner, R.
Cotton, hon. W. H. S. Sturt, H. G.
Dawson, hon. T. Y. Taylor, Col.
Dodd,G. Tennent, Sir J. E.
Egerton, Sir P. Thesiger, Sir F.
Egerton, W. T. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Farrer, J. Tyrell, Sir J.T.
Fellowes, E. Verner, Sir W.
Forbes, W. Vesey, hon. T.
Forester, rt. hon. Col. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Frewen, C. H. Worcester, Marq. of
Galway, Visct. Wynn, H. W. W.
Granby, Marq. of Yorke, hon. E. T.
Hall, Col. Buxton, Sir E.
Halsey, T. P. Seymer, H. K.
List of the NOES.
Adair, H. E. Campbell, Sir A. I.
Alcock, T. Carter, S.
Baillie, H. J. Chandos, Marq. of
Bass, M. T. Cobden, R.
Bethell, R. Cowan, C.
Boyle, hon. Col. Crawford, W. S.
Bright, J. Crowder, R. B.
Brocklehurst, J. D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C.
Brown, W. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Duncan, G.
Banbury, E. II. Duncombe, hon. A.
Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D. Mowatt, F.
East, Sir J. B. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Ellis, J. Pilkington, J.
Evans, J. Ricardo, O.
Ewart, W. Rice, E. R.
Freestun, Col. Romilly, Col.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Romilly, Sir J.
Gore, W. R. O. Russell, F. C. H.
Greene, J. Salwey, Col.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Scobell, Capt.
Hall, Sir B. Smith, J. A.
Hastie, A. Smollett, A.
Hastie, A. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Headlam, T. E. Stanford, J. F.
Heywood, J. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Heyworth, L. Stewart, Adm.
Hindley, C. Stuart, Lord D.
Hobhouse, T. B. Stuart, Lord J.
Hume, J. Thompson, Col.
Hutchins, E. J. Thornely, T.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Villiers, hon. C.
Kershaw, J. Wakley, T.
King, hon. P. J. L. Williams, W.
Locke, J, Wood, Sir W. P.
M'Cullagh, W. T. Wyld, J.
Manners, Lord G.
Melgund, Vist. TELLERS.
Milligan, R. Roebuck, J. A.
Moffatt, G. Duncan, Visct.

The House adjourned at a quarter before Two o'clock till Monday next.