HC Deb 16 February 1853 vol 124 cc153-9

Order for Third Reading read.

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


said, he had not the honour of being a county Member, but he felt strongly for those persons whom this Bill must affect. He considered the measure to be a democratic, radical, and dangerous one, that would disfranchise a number of persons, and interfere to prevent those who had property in various counties from exercising their right of voting. He had no hope, however, of its being rejected by that House; but he would rely on another place, where due consideration was given to the liberty—the right, not the radical liberty—of the subject, where he hoped that there would be a proper sense of what was due to the aristocracy of the country, and that this Bill would consequently be thrown out. He had himself given proof of his regard for all classes, but he had no hesitation in saying that if this measure were passed it would endanger the Church and the aristocracy of the country, and even the Throne itself, which they all wished to preserve. He begged to move that this Bill be read a third time that day six months.


seconded the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."


said, that as the House had already expressed itself decidedly in favour of the Bill, he could not think it advisable that his hon. and gallant Friend should take a division upon that occasion. He had to add, however, that he himself still continued to disapprove of the measure; and he would put it to the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord R. Grosvenor) whether it was not desirable that he should postpone its further progress. The noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs had stated the other day that he felt most anxious that some step should be taken for preventing the recurrence of those scenes of bribery and corruption which had recently disgraced so many of the returns to that House; and in that anxiety he (Mr. Deedes) entirely participated. He believed that the attention of those who would in a future Session have to bring the great subject of parliamentary reform before the House, should be earnestly directed to the best means of putting an end to that great evil. It appeared to him that an important step might be taken towards the accomplishment of that object by altering the manner in which votes were taken at county elections. One of the alleged causes of bribery at those elections was, that the candidates considered it necessary to provide refreshments and modes of conveyance for electors who came to the polling places from considerable distances. Now, that source of corruption could be removed by bringing polling places close to every man's doors. He believed that that point should form part of any measure of reform which the Government might hereafter introduce, and until that great question could be submitted to Parliament in all its details, he would submit to the noble Lord whether it was not unadvisable that they should proceed with it piecemeal, as they would be doing by adopting the measure now under the consideration of the House.


said, he regretted that he could not accede to the proposition of his hon. Friend. Although he had not the least doubt that the Government would bring in a Bill for Parliamentary reform, still this small measure, as it had been termed, having received the approbation of the majority of that House, he did not feel justified in withdrawing it. He should hardly be doing justice to those whose interests were placed in his hands if he were to do so.


said, if his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lincoln divided the House, he should certainly divide with him, because he believed that the Bill would not effect the object which the noble Lord sought to accomplish. So far from its causing a saving of expense, his experience, confirmed by all the inquiries he had been able to make, led him to believe that the expense would be considerably increased. Many more polling-places must be provided. The hon. Member for East Kent (Mr. Deedes) had stated that one reason for not now legislating on the subject was, that the Government would early next Session, in all probability, bring in a Bill to prevent bribery and corruption. Now, there was another object equally deserving the attention of the Government—namely, the prevention of intimidation. By enacting that the election should take place in one day, and that the poll should be kept open till 5 o'clock, great facilities would be afforded for using intimidation towards the voters. In the summer time such an arrangement might work very well, but in the short days of winter great opportunities would be given for riots and disturbance.


said, he was surprised to hear the objections which had been urged by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) as to the practicability of polling all the votes of a county election in one day. In the West Biding of Yorkshire there were 37,000 voters, and in South Lancashire there were 20,000 voters; he had made inquiries in all directions, and it was the universal opinion that the elections for those places could be completed in one day with the utmost possible facility, and that it would be the means of saving expense and loss of time to a vast extent.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 129; Noes 28: Majority 101.

List of the AYES.
A'Court, C. H. W. Beaumont, W. B.
Alcock, T. Bell, J.
Anderson, Sir J. Berkeley, C. L. G.
Armstrong, R. B. Blackett, J. F. B.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Booker, T. W.
Barnes, T. Bouverie, hon. E. P.
Barrow, W. H. Boyle, hon. Col.
Brotherton, J. Kirk, W.
Brown, W. Langton, H. G.
Burke, Sir T. J. Layard, A. H.
Butler, C. S. Legh, G. C.
Byng, hon. G. H. C. Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F.
Carter, S. Liddell, H. G.
Chamhers, T. Loveden, P.
Charteris, hon. F. Lowe, R.
Cheetham, J. Mackinnon, W. A.
Child, S. MacGregor, J.
Clay, J. Massey, W. N.
Clay, Sir W. Meagher, T.
Clifford, H. M. Miall, E.
Cobden, R. Miles, W.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Milligan, R.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Mills, T.
Crook, J. Morris, D.
Crossley, F. Mure, Col.
Cubitt, Ald. Oliveira, B.
Currie, R. Osborne, R.
Diyett, E. Otway, A. J.
Drummond, H. Pollard-Urquhart, W.
Duke, Sir J. Price, W. P.
Duncan, G. Robartes, T. J. A.
Duncombe, T. Russell, F. W.
Eccles, W. Sawle, C. B. G.
Ewart, W. Scholefield, W.
Fagan, W. Scobell, Capt.
Fergus, J. Seymour, Lord
Ferguson, Sir R. Seymour, H. D.
Ferguson, J. Seymour, W. D.
Fitzgerald, J. D. Shee, W.
Fitzgerald, Sir J. F. Shelley, Sir J. V.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Smith, J. B.
Forster, C. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
French, F. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Geach, C. Stanley, Lord
Goderich, Visct. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Goold, W. Stapleton, J.
Greene, J. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Gregson, S. Swift, R.
Greville, Col. F. Thicknesse, R. A.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Thornely, T.
Hadfield, G. Tufnell, rt. hon. H.
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Vernon, G. E. H.
Headlam, T. E. Warner, E.
Heathcote, Sir G. J. Wells, W.
Heathcote, G. H. Whitbread, S.
Henchy, D. O. Wilkinson, W. A.
Hervey, Lord A. Williams, W.
Heywood, J. Wilson, M.
Hindley, C. Wise, J. A.
Hutt, W. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Ingham, R. Wrightson, W. B.
Jermyn, Earl Wyvill, M.
Kennedy, T. Young, rt. hon. Sir J.
Kershaw, J. TELLERS.
King, hon. P. J. L. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. Elliot, J. E.
List of the NOES.
Arbuthnott, hon. Gen. Knatchbull, W. F.
Arkwright, G. Lovaine, Lord
Butt, G. M. Maddock, Sir T. H.
Clinton, Lord C. P. Miller, T. J.
Deedes, W. Mills, A.
Forester, rt. hon. Col. Mundy, W.
Fraser, Sir W. A. Palmer, R.
Graham, Lord M. W. Parker, R. T.
Gwyn, H. Repton, G. W. J.
Hawkins, W. W. Smijth, Sir W.
Hotham, Lord Smith, W. M.
Stanhope, J. B. Willoughby, Sir H.
Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Tyler, Sir G. TELLERS.
Vansittart, G. H. Sibthorp, Col.
Waddington, H. S. Spooner, R.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 3°.

CAPTAIN SCOBELL moved to add the Clause of which he had given notice. He said, there were numerous instances where much injury had accrued to persons in consequence of the polling taking place at public-houses.

Clause—"No Poll shall be taken in any licensed public-house or beerhouse, nor on the premises thereof, or in any room or booth connected therewith"—Brought up, and read 1°.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Clause be now read a Second Time."


said, he did not like to offer any opposition to the clause; at the same time he had some hesitation about it, because of the words "nor upon the premises thereof." At the last election for Middlesex a great hall was used as a polling place, and which hall was connected with a large hotel, and if he adopted this clause he would be prohibiting the use of that hall for election purposes. As another Bill was about to be brought in by the hon. and learned Member for Weymouth (Mr. G. M. Butt) on this subject, he would suggest to the hon. and gallant Gentleman to attach his clause to that Bill.


said, he must decline acceding to the suggestion of the noble Lord.


said, that for himself he had no objection to the principle of the clause, but he did not understand what interpretation was to be put upon the words, "nor upon the premises thereof." It would be most convenient, on bringing up a clause to any Bill, that it should be expressed in such clear and definite words as to admit of their afterwards arriving at a satisfactory opinion upon it. Looking at the words he had quoted, they did not appear to him to carry the clause further than what the previous words expressed—namely,"any licensed public-house or beerhouse," and the addition of those words to the clause would only have the effect of introducing ambiguity, and of rendering it exceedingly difficult to construe the clause. He would therefore submit to the hon. and gallant Member that he should at least re- consider the clause, and probably he would see reason to strike out those words.


said, he concurred in the opinion just expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Weymouth. It did happen that in the county of Berks the town-hall at Maidenhead, which was used for election purposes, had a public-house beneath it; it would be impossible, if this clause was agreed to, to use that hall for any such purpose in future if the words "nor upon the premises thereof" were adopted. He thought it desirable that those words at least should be left out of the clause.


said, he did not object to the principle contained in the clause, but thought it doubtful whether it was desirable that a Bill, having a perfectly different object, should have such a clause inserted in it.


thought the clause did not strictly come within the title of the Bill.


said, that unless the clause was drawn with great care, it would raise endless questions as to the legality of elections. He would recommend to the hon. and gallant Member to withdraw his proposition for the present.


I withdraw the clause, with the view of introducing it into the forthcoming Bill of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. G. Butt).

Motion, by leave, withdrawn:—Clause withdrawn


then proposed an alteration in the Bill, with the view of providing that the declaration of the result of the poll should be made on the day after the polling, instead of on the day but one after, as at present.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 15, to leave out the words "day next but one," in order to insert the words "following day," instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."


said, he must object to the noble Lord's patchwork.


thought the interval of a quiet day between the close of the poll and the declaration had a salutary effect in allowing party spirit, which often ran high at elections, to subside. Besides, it would be impossible, in the case of many counties, for the returns from the different polling places to be all brought from a distance to a common centre, and there to be satisfactorily scrutinised before the result was declared, unless an interval of one day was given for that purpose.


said, he would withdraw the proposition.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn. Bill passed.

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