HC Deb 30 June 1857 vol 146 cc634-82

said, he rose to ask leave to introduce a Bill to cause the votes of the Parliamentary electors of Great Britain and Ireland to be taken by way of ballot. He knew not how this Motion might be met to-night; he knew that the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government was absent; but he knew, likewise, that that noble Lord had said to many hon. Members, some of whom desired to bring forward measures of electoral reform, "Wait, for I have a Reform Bill. Lo, it looms in the distance! Behold, it is a great Reform Bill; and it shall, like Aaron's rod, which devoured up all the other rods, devour all your smaller measures of Reform." Hon. Members, accordingly, had waited for that event. Now, those who advocated the ballot had not the least objection to wait, but they had an objection to do so without knowing what they were to wait for. They objected to seeing Her Majesty's faithful Commons treated somewhat after a nursery fashion—to be told that "they must open their mouths and shut their eyes, and see what the noble Lord would send them." He repeated that they were willing to wait; but in order that they might know what they were waiting for he begged to propose a question to the occupants of the Treasury Bench. He saw two hon. Members opposite who were probably the noble Lord's locum tenentes this evening, so he begged to ask them this specific question, "Is it the intention of Her Majesty's Government to adopt the ballot as part of the Reform Bill next Session?" That was a very plain and straightforward question, and he trusted that he might have a plain and a straightforward answer, without any of those little flowers of diplomacy which were generally sprinkled upon Ministerial replies. If this question were answered in the affirmative he had nothing to do but to sit down, and he thought the cheer with which such an announcement would be received in that House would be echoed from every part of England. If, however, on the contrary, the answer was in the negative, then he had simply to lay his case in the best form he could before the House. He now paused for a reply—


said, If my hon. Friend is really serious in asking—but then resumed his seat.


presumed, after the little preliminary flourish of the right hon. Gentleman that the answer he had to give could not be plain "Yes," or "No." He supposed, then, that in default of such an answer from the right hon. Gentleman, he must take it for granted that silence meant dissent. It was not, he presumed, the intention of the Government to adopt the ballot in their Reform Bill of next year. He thought, then, that he was perfectly justified in bringing this important question before the House tonight, and he trusted that he should not be met with the objection of, "Why did you not wait? Why did you not do as other hon. Members have done and postpone your Motion?" He should not upon this occasion urge any additional arguments in support of his Motion, but he should content himself with taking the objections which had been last put upon record by hon. Members and he should endeavour to give some reply to them. Nothing could be more beautiful in theory than our electoral system, and nothing could be more hideous in practice. It was perverted, it was disorganized, and all that the promoters of the ballot sought to do was to re-establish it upon a proper basis. The advocates of the ballet were not now put on the proof of the failure of our electoral system, for that was plain, palpable, and indisputable. An elector was appointed to do a simple duty—to vote as be pleased, freely and indifferently; but he could not do that by voting in public, and "Therefore," said the supporters of this Motion, "let him vote in secret." That would seem to be a very simple proposition, yet it was met with the most strenuous opposition, and the governing body refused to protect people at the polling-booth from those malign influences which beset them and which gave so many seats to a favoured class in that House: they would go any length, and would assent to any measure of reform rather than that. One of the best writers on the ballot had justly said that— The aristocracy or governing classes of this country would rather yield universal suffrage, and retain the control which open voting gives them at elections, than the most moderate extension of the franchise with the ballot. He (Mr. Berkeley) believed that to be the case, and he warned the country to beware of that spurious liberality which would extend the suffrage but refuse the ballot, because he believed that the alleged desire for an extension of the suffrage was frequently only a pretence to got rid of the ballot. He had always maintained that the ballot was the alpha of all Parliamentary reform, and he asserted that if they would only give the elector protection, at the polling booth, they would soon be able to run through the entire alphabet of reform down to its omega. It was said that there was a very general agreement in favour of the extension of the suffrage. Now, he would endeavour to grapple with and to show the fallacy of the speeches of some hon. Gentlemen on the hustings who had attacked the ballot and had at the same time given in their adhesion to that extension. He had before him an extract from The Times of April last, which contained the report of a speech made by Mr. Disraeli at Aylesbury. The great talent of the right hon. Gentleman, his eloquence, his powers of reasoning, and the high position which he held in that House must render every word that he said upon that subject as important as it was interesting. Well, Mr. Disraeli started with this proposition,—"That everybody must agree that the ballot, without an extension of the suffrage, was an impossibility." Now, he (Mr. Berkeley) was an humble individual in comparison with the right hon. Gentleman, but he most peremptorily denied that proposition, and he asserted that he was backed and supported in his denial by some of the first authorities, both of the past and of the present day. Such, for example, had not been the opinion of Lord Durham, who was in favour of a very great extension of the suffrage; such had not been the opinion of Mr. Charles Buller, who was also iu favour of a great extension of the suffrage; and such had not been, and was not now, the opinion of Mr. George Grote, who also supported an extended franchise. He (Mr. Berkeley) went as far as Lord Durham did touching the extension of the franchise. He believed a very great extension to be necessary, but he was of opinion that the elector, whatever his franchise might be, had a right to demand of the Legislature which enjoined upon him the performance of a certain duty that he should have adequate and full protection afforded him in the discharge of that duty; and he contended that they had no right to impose any duty upon an individual by law without effectually guarding that individual in the performance of such duty. He next came to an equally bold, and, as he thought, equally incorrect assertion by the right hon. Gentleman, "that the vote by ballot would be an intolerable tyranny over the non-electors." In attempting to refute these fallacies, which were, of course, admirably put forward by the right hon. Gentleman, all their weak parts being carefully concealed by most excellent words, it was necessary that they should look to first principles. Now, the laws carrying out the intention of what was called the representative constitution of this country had defined the qualification of an elector; and his duty was also defined with equal clearness—it was to select and to vote for such candidate as he might think proper without fear of punishment, without hope of reward. Nobody, therefore, had a right to question his vote, or to visit him with after consequences. He (Mr. Berkeley) was strongly of opinion that they could not contravene that self-evident proposition, but if he wished to strengthen himself in the eyes of the House, he would call into court the late Sir Robert Peel, who said upon this subject:— To whom is the constituent body responsible? Is there any responsibility of any conceivable kind, except the responsibility to God, to their own consciences, and to an enlightened deliberate public opinion? That was the opinion of the late Sir Robert Peel, and upon it he (Mr. Berkeley) was prepared to take his stand. Since, then, the elector had the undoubted privilege of voting as he might think proper, for what purpose was open voting required? For what purpose did they want a record to be kept against every man of how he voted? What were they to gain by it according to the electoral principles of our constitution? Was there any conceivable thing which they could gain by open voting which was fair, honest, and above-board? Did open voting afford any test of an elector's having sold his vote or of his having been intimidated? Did it afford any means of punishing a corrupt elector which secret voting did not equally confer? He said that it did not, for he would undertake to prove that a conviction for bribery would be as attainable, if it took place, under secret voting as under open voting. Indeed, he should be very sorry to bring in a Bill for the adoption of the ballot into that House if he thought it would screen, bribery. He would define open voting as the ratification of a treaty between dishonest men; while secret voting was the prevention of the ratification of that treaty, because it compelled one scoundrel to depend upon the word of another. In open voting the poll-book was the record by which the intimidator convicted and crushed his victims. The knowledge that that record was kept against the electors induced thousands of men fully competent to be electors to refuse to be placed on the register. The knowledge of the existence of that record compelled thousands of men who were electors to refuse to go to the poll; and the knowledge of the existence of that record also compelled tens of thousands of our countrymen to go to the poll, there to falsify their consciences and to tell a lie, to the great detriment of their country, and in the face of their God; or, to use perhaps the better phraseology of that brilliantly-written paper—The Examiner—it compelled the electors to go to the poll, there to tell a lie and to send the incarnation of that lie to Parliament. Mr. Disraeli told the Buckinghamshire farmers that to allow the electors to vote in secret—and that he (Mr. Berkeley) contended was to vote without intimidation as enjoined by law—would be intolerable tyranny upon the non-electors. Now, this was assuming covertly that which no hon. Member, however audacious, dared to assume openly in that House—namely, that there was a body of men in this country under whose control the electors ought to be. It meant that or nothing. When it was said that electors would turn tyrants over the non-electors if this secret voting was given them, that might be an argument for universal suffrage, but it was no argument whatever against the ballot. It was an argument for universal suffrage, because if the non-electors were to have the power to control the electors, why make tyrants of them—why not rather give them the franchise? He did not think that that could be got out of. Mr. Disraeli, of the manor of Hughenden, in the county of Buckingham, could vote for whom he pleased—he was perfectly independent of everybody; but John Brown, of High Wycombe, was not independent enough to go against his tyrant. John Brown, therefore, naturally turned to Mr. Disraeli and said, "You are a man of great importance in the House of Commons—an ex-Minister and a Privy Councillor; assist an humble man like me, and free me from my tyrant." "Go away, John Brown, go away," the right hon. Gentleman would say; "you would become a tyrant and bully, and tyrannize over the tyrant you have, if you were allowed the only remedy against the grievance of which you complain." John Brown naturally said, "Good Heavens! what a position to place me in! You recollect, Sir, the time when you stood for High Wycombe and told us that we were Buffering under unparalleled tyranny, and were subject to little knots of tyrants, and now when I bring the facts before you you say, 'John Brown, I shall no longer assist you.'" The right hon. Gentleman, or any other hon. Gentleman, had a right to change his opinion, but he could not change facts, and could not help being a witness as to the terrorism which prevailed, and as to petty tyrants who existed, and whom he desired to put down. Consequently, however much the right hon. Gentleman might choose to change his mind, the right hon. Gentleman was a witness still on the side of those who advocated the ballot, and he thought there was no possibility of the right hon. Gentleman showing how the non-electors became tyrants by the simple fulfilment of that which the law enjoined. Now, he found that during the last Middlesex election a noble Friend of his indulged in what he considered an unconstitutional maxim. He found that Lord Robert Grosvenor said that the electors ought to be responsible for the discharge of their duty. To whom, he asked, were the electors to be responsible but to God, their own consciences, and to an intelligent deliberate public opinion? [Lord Robert GROSVENOR: Hear, hear!] He was glad to hear his noble Friend cheer him, but his noble Friend seemed to have fallen, into the delusion which the noble Lord the Member for London indulged in. It appeared that the noble Lord thought that an intelligent, deliberate public opinion could only exist under open voting. There he joined issue with the noble Lord. He maintained that it could not exist under open voting, but only under secret voting. As his noble Friend had treated him with that good-natured ironical cheer, let him ask his noble Friend to consider what effect public opinion had on the mind of a man under secret voting, and what effect it had under open voting. With the ballot the elector could carefully weigh the opinions of public men, the merits of great public measures, and the arguments in the public press, and then, after getting the best information he could, and deliberating upon it, he went to the poll and gave a conscientious vote in secret. Now, take the case of open voting. Under that system of what use was public opinion to the 500 dependents of my Lord This or That? The press might write by the yard, public men might talk by the hour; all that could make no practical impression on their minds, for when they went to the poll our great national engine, the screw, was at work, and they could not vote but as their landlords commanded! It was the same all through the country wherever men were placed in the power of others. Take the case of any set of men—the workmen at the mills, for instance. Of what use was public opinion to them? They were not called on to form their opinions by public opinion, but by the wills of their masters, and nothing could be easier than to give an illustration of this by referring to any great question of reform. Let them take the abolition of the corn laws, for instance. How long was that abolition postponed because the electors dared not carry out public opinion at the polling-booths? How long was public opinion set in for the abolition of the corn laws before it was accorded? How long did public opinion notoriously wage war against the corn laws in vain?—until at length something very like a great and powerful conspiracy was called into existence to overcome the duresse put on the electors; and that it was which was the cause of the abolition of the corn laws. Two very eminent men, acknowledged to be authorities on the question of the corn laws, Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright, had often declared that if the electors had had the ballot they would have stood by public opinion, which was with the non-electors, and the corn laws would have been abolished fully thirty years before they were. He had now attempted to answer some of the latest arguments against the ballot. The usual mode of attack had been by guesses and surmises. When Gentlemen had nothing practical to offer in defence of open voting they had recourse to guesses and surmises, prophesying that such and such things would happen if protective voting were adopted. But if the House turned to examples it would see that where the ballot existed the best results had followed. Hon. Members might take Hansard, and look through it from one end to the other, and they would find no instances in the speeches against the ballot of the failure of the ballot wherever it had been established. In England the ballot was perfectly successful. Whoever heard of the ballot failing in England? Whoever heard of it failing at the clubs? It procured safety for those who voted under it, and preserved the peace, and the election made by secret ballot was correct and true. He found the same was the case in all other countries. It was so in Holland. There the ballot acted peculiarly well; and so it did in Belgium. It might be said, perhaps, that the priests in Belgium exercised an influence over the electors. That was an evil which could not be coped with. If a body of men submitted their consciences to another body of men that could not be helped, but so long as men were enabled to vote according to their will, that was all that could be attained. In Sardinia the ballot was regarded as the keystone of liberty. Many hon. Members—and probably the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell)—might be acquainted with Signor Valerio, one of the senators of the Sardinian Chamber of Deputies, who had expressed his opinion that "without the ballot the Legislature (of Sardinia) would be returned by the aristocracy, the bishops, and the priests." This country had received a somewhat useful lesson with regard to the conduct and equipment of an army in the field from little Sardinia, and he thought that with respect to civil government it might also learn a lesson from the absence of intimidation on the part of the priests and aristocracy at the Sardinian elections. He (Mr. Berkeley) would ask the House to compare the absence of intimidation in Sardinia with the intimidation exercised by the priests and aristocracy in this country. In America the ballot was perfectly successful in all States where due attention had been paid to the secrecy of the voting. In all those States where intimidation or corruption had crept in, it was found to be the result of a loose mode of balloting, but wherever the strict secrecy of the ballot had been maintained, it had been attended with the best effects. He had on former occasions brought the case of America before the House at such length that he would not now have said anything more on the subject but for a paragraph in The Times which was very likely to be quoted, as anything which was supposed to tell against the ballot was eagerly snatched at. That paragraph appeared under the pompous heading—"An Election Contrast." Now, a residence of many years in America, and a knowledge of the national character of the people of that country, led him to doubt whether this paragraph had been written by an American. The paragraph commenced by assuring its readers that the London Times was the proper authority with regard to the English representative system, and the writer then proceeded to draw a comparison between the mode of election in England and the mode of election in America, declaring his preference for the English system. He (Mr. Berkeley) certainly thought, with regard to America, that, considering the system of centralization which prevailed there, the secret committees, the absence of the candidates from the electors, the wheels within wheels which existed, and the general complexity of the system, the ballot worked infinitely better in other countries than in the United States. He might instance Sardinia, and the Canadian and Australian colonies of Great Britain. But when he found a writer in an American paper thus asserting the superiority of the English system over the American system of ballot, he would not believe the author was an American, for he would evidently prefer a legitimate and anointed King to an elected President, and there were not ten men from Maine to Alabama who would frank such an opinion. One fact was worth any amount of speculation on a subject of this nature, and he might therefore inform the House that no State in America which had originally commenced with the ballot had ever changed it for open voting, while those States in which open voting was originally established had gone over one by one to the system of ballot, with the exception of two slave States, and one of those States (Virginia) had at the last election rendered itself infamous, for the voters who went to record their votes openly for Colonel Fremont were attacked, hunted, and obliged to fly for their lives. It happend that an American gentleman of great respectability, an advocate of New York, Mr. Compton Williams, had lately visited this country, and had very kindly given his opinions touching the American system of election to a society with which he (Mr. Berkeley) was connected, the Ballot Society. At the request of that society Mr. Williams attended a public meeting at Haverfordwest, his ancestors having been Welshmen, where he expressed opinions some of which he (Mr. Berkeley) begged permission to quote. That gentleman said that in his own country he had never heard any expression of hostility to the ballot, or of a desire to resort to such a vivâ voce system of voting as existed in England. In his own State, New York, the only mode of voting was by ballot. All the electors were furnished with slips of paper stating the number of representatives to be elected, and these slips, which were called "the ballots," were either printed or written. It was unnecessary for a voter to make a candidate an enemy by telling him he would vote against him, for the ballot afforded protection to the elector. He (Mr. Williams) expressed his surprise to find that unsuccessful attempts had been made in England for twenty-five years to obtain the ballot. The object sought to be secured in America was, that the elector should vote for himself, and not somebody else for him, and that object was effectually secured by the ballot. He regretted to be obliged to admit, however, that intimidation and bribery were not totally unknown to America. There were in that country great political combinations; there were political captains of tens, and fifties, and hundreds, who boasted that they could compel their followers to vote as they pleased; but those were mere words, for they had no power to control the votes of the electors. The votes were secret, and although electors might give promises, it could not be known whether those promises were fulfilled or not. It was, therefore, perfectly useless to extort such promises. He had heard it said that men might watch the box, and see how their tenants and employés voted; but he defied them to do so successfully. It was, for example, exceedingly important to know how the State of Maine voted, for that gave the cue to the elections generally; and last "fall," the Democrats were determined to expend their whole strength on that State, with the view to insure the return of their party. They had also made arrangements to have the news of the election in the State of Maine sent by telegraph to New York, and, on the receipt of it, 50,000 men were ready to form a procession in that city in honour of the victory; but when the telegraphic message arrived in New York, it stated that the Republicans had gained the election in the State of Maine by nearly two to one against the Democrats, and that result (Mr. Williams said) was entirely due to the ballot! He (Mr. Berkeley) would now call the most serious attention of the House to Her Majesty's Australian dominions. There the ballot was adopted as the law of the colony of Victoria. It had been tested there, and, as a necessary consequence, the result had been, that all the evils which sprang up under the system of open voting—intimidation, violence, and corruption—had received their death blow. He would crave the permission of the House just to draw a comparison. Let him lay before them a sketch of some of the proceedings at our late general election in England under open voting, and then a brief sketch of the elections in Australia with the ballot. Having done that, he would then simply ask the House to "look on this picture, and on that." The general election in 1852 was a regular old Whig and Tory fight; but the election of 1857, though less of a party struggle, presented the same appalling features of the malversation of the franchise through open voting. And first, he would speak of intimidation, which he had always said was the great malady of our electoral system. Look to the counties. There political freedom was a perfect farce. To make this plain, he would refer the House to the mode of registration. They all knew that, in the counties, their registration agents simply divided the great mass of the electors into classes, according to the political views of the landlords. On the one side the agent put A. B. on the register under the class of "yellow," because he was a tenant of Lord So-and-So, or Squire This-or-That; and, on the other he took C. D. off the register because he was a tenant of Lord T'other-thing. The feelings of the elector were never for a moment regarded. He was simply treated in the matter as the tenant of So-and-So; and it was well known that, in counties, it was thought a want of etiquette for one landlord to canvass the tenantry of another. That, in fact, had led to duels on more than one occasion in the old times: but now, when people were a little more peaceably disposed, it ended in a "cut;" and yet out came the county gentlemen at an election with a flowing placard addressed to "the free and independent electors." "Free" to do what? Not to vote as they pleased; but "free" to go to the poll, and "free" to be turned out of their farms if they did not vote at the bidding of their landlord. When Sir Henry Ward brought forward this question, he cited the case of an estate which had changed hands three times in a very few years. It first belonged to a Tory, then to a Whig, and then to a Tory again; and, at every election during that time, the tenantry upon it invariably voted in accordance with the politics of the landlord for the time being. Again, in Lanarkshire, during the life of the late Duke of Hamilton, who was a Whig, his tenantry there always voted for a Whig; but when the present Duke, who was a Tory, succeeded to the title, they turned round, and voted for the Tory candidate at every election. In Sussex, too, it was well known that the Cowderay property always returned the Member for Midhurst. He (Mr. Berkeley) had before him a specimen or two of the extent to which intimidation flourished in the counties. In The Times of the 20th of April last, there appeared a memorial addressed by the Londonderry tenantry of the Marquess of Waterford to his Lordship, in reference to the then forthcoming election for the county, together with the reply of the noble Marquess, which he would read to the House. Let the House remember that the memorialists belonged to a class of gallant men who, as the late war abundantly proved, were ready to die on the hill side, and shed the last drop of their blood for their country. The petitioners say:— That they are inclined to believe your Lordship is warmly attached to the tenantry on your Lordship's estate, and that you respect their feelings and conscientious convictions; that, acting under that belief, they respectfully approach your Lordship to request you will be graciously pleased to permit them, at the approaching general election, to record their voles according to the dictates of their consciences; and that you will give directions to your agent and representative here to protect them in the religions and faithful exercise of their electoral rights. Several landlords in this county have already done so. This favour being so reasonable a request on their part, your tenants do not anticipate a refusal, and have nominated Messrs., &c., a deputation to wait on your Lordship, and they, as in duty bound, will ever pray. What was the answer to that communication? Ashbrook, April 3. Sir—I am directed by the Marquess of Water-ford to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, together with a Memorial from some of his tenants in this county, and to say that he would wish them to vote for Mr. Clark and Sir H. Bruce at the coming election. Yours faithfully, J. B. BERESFORD. Rev. N. M. Brown. He (Mr. Berkeley) supposed that if the noble Marquess had not been pleased to be sweetly tempered they would have had a still rougher reception. He would now, by way of antithesis, present an extract from the speech of a great landlord in this country, and an hon. Member of that House, which formed a pleasing contrast to the document he had just read. Mr. Robartes, in the course of an address to his constituents of Cornwall at the last election, called on them to reflect on the position of a poor but honest voter who was compelled to vote against his political convictions; and he (Mr. Robartes) declared that, putting himself in the position of such a man, if he were asked if he desired to have the franchise, he would rather be without it if he was to hold it on the understanding that he was to vote in opposition to his conscience. He further said he should like to see the ballot to-morrow, because he should then feel more at liberty to speak to his tenants on political subjects, and to try to win them over to his own convictions. He was afraid to do so now, because if he spoke strongly there was always an idea that some unfair means would be used to compel them to vote in a particular way. He should therefore continue as before, to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Bristol. A more noble specimen of the conduct of an English gentleman was not to be found. That man need never fear the ballot. His sentiments were founded upon the sentiments of one of the finest characters ever drawn by Steele and Addison—Sir Roger de Coverley. The old knight said, "I love to enjoy my own opinion, and consequently I never constrain the opinions of those who depend upon me." In The Tablet of May 15, under the head of "Freedom of Election in Ulster," he found a statement that twenty tenants of the Marquess of Hertford had received notices to quit on account of their votes at the Lisburn election. He found in a Woolwich paper a paragraph having reference to the election preceding the last for west Kent, in which it was stated that a holy man of the Church of England who resided in Essex, but had property in Kent, having intelligence that a tenant was about to vote for Mr. Martin dispatched to him this letter— I hope in a few days to fix the time for coming down to receive the rent. The object of the present letter is the West Kent election. I hope you are, like myself, a good Conservative, and will vote for Sir Walter Riddell at the approaching election. Landlord and tenant should always vote upon the same side, and if we proceed to a new lease that will be one of my stipulations. The rev. gentleman had strange ideas of the rights of conscience. The paper stated that the "screw" would not work, and that the tenant retained his independence. Another instance of intimidation had been the subject of legal proceedings under the Corrupt Practices Act in the case of "Queen v. Barnwell," and that was a failure. The House would do him the justice to recollect that he had lifted his voice against the Corrupt Practices Act, and that he had branded it as a disgraceful specimen of insincerity. It was enacted for the benefit of candidates, and not for the interests of electors. The legal expenses were carefully cut down and the illegal expenses were left untouched. The cases which could be specified were cases which could be specified were cases of unsuccessful intimidation, and they were few in comparison with those which, being successful, passed unknown. In South Wiltshire a noble lord contested the country against the present hon. Member, and he was celebrated by a county poet in heroic verse— Without a fault, and with lots of tin, The best of the three is Lord Henry Thynne. He did not Know how such a man could fail to win an election, but tin like virtue, did not always meet with its reward, and Lord Henry Thynne did fail, and in his parting address attributed his failure to intimidation, or what was commonly called "the screw." At South Northampton-shire, Lord Althorp was charged by Mr. Carter with intimidation, and he retorted by making the same charge against the other side. In Cumberland, threats were made of publishing the pollbook, and in Bedfordshire it was actually done, in the form of a newspaper supplement. In West Sussex there was no opposition to the return of Lord March and Captain Wyndham, and both hon. Members inveighed against the ballot. The gallant Captain said that the non-electors had as much right to know how the electors voted as the electors had to know how he voted. But the non-electors had not to control, to reward, and to punish the electors, as the electors had to control, to reward, and to punish their representative. If a Member of Parliament voted in secret it destroyed the very essence of the representative principle. He left the gallant Captain to reconcile his view with that of Mr. Burke, who said, "The House of Commons never could control the functions of Government, unless the Members themselves were controlled by their constituents." Lord March took up the old song, and said the ballot was unmanly and un-English. Within a very few weeks, however, both he and his noble Father, the Duke of Richmond, gave a notable example of the difference between practice and precept. It chanced that a chief constable had to be elected. In the western division of Sussex eight out of nine members voted against the ballot. It was understood that the votes in that division for the constable were not to be taken openly. Everybody supposed that the Duke of Richmond would have appeared with the ballot-box of the Conservative Club under his arm; but his Grace, to avoid countenancing expedient. He appeared with an old hat and a pack of cards. He deposited the old hat in a corner, and dealt names of the candidate on the cards, and deposited the cards in his Grace's hat What was the difference between voting by ballot and voting in an old hat? Why should the one be called unmanly, un-English, and cowardly, and the other brave, manly, and British? He could see no difference between the two things. He called both voting by ballot; at all events the mode adopted by the Duke of Richmond carried out the principle, if not the letter, of the system of voting, which he wanted the House to sanction by its approval. So much, then, for the elections in counties. With regard to the boroughs, the Committees now sitting upstairs would show the scenes that were enacted at the last elections. Those precious disclosures the House would have an opportunity of considering, and he trusted it would lay them to heart. He had stated that in 1832 Mr. Disraeli spoke of an intolerable terrorism as then prevailing. That system produced a terror of two kinds—in the first place, a terror of ruin; and in the next, a physical terror of loss of life or mutilation. Of the latter, he had admirable example before him in the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade, and he could not help saying that it was a very hard case when candidates were compelled to look for the protection of their brains to the thickness of their skulls. The broad handkerchief of The Times was now waving in the air, still wet with tears for the right hon. Gentleman. That journal not only mourned for him, but actually embalmed his broken head in three or four leading articles. How came it, he asked, that The Times did not look to the other cases of violence that occurred during the last elections? The treatment received by the right hon. Gentleman was bad enough, and much to be deprecated; but why did not The Times direct its attention to those cases of violence that took place in Ireland? Not a word was said about them; but the right hon. Gentleman, somehow or other, enjoyed the favour of The Times, and all its sympathy was reserved for him. He thought that his noble Friend the Member for the City of London was a good deal to blame for the acts of violence and intimidation that disgraced the recent elections. In more than one part of the country the noble Lord had been cited as a great authority under whom those who committed the violence had acted. The noble Lord had told the people over and over again that the elective franchise was a trust. [Lord John RUSSELL: Hear!] He very much doubted the soundness of that proposition, because if an elector discharged his duty by voting for whom he pleased without let or hindrance, he defied the noble Lord to show him in what the breach of trust consisted. Supposing, however, that the franchise was a trust, that argument told as much in favour of the Ballot as against it. But what he wished to say was, that the noble Lord was responsible for much of the violence perpetrated at elections. Two or three Sessions ago he brought forward the case of the Cork election, at which the supporters of a gallant Friend of his, General Chatterton, were brutally used, although, he admitted that the two representatives of Cork were hon. Gentlemen of the highest respectability, who would be the first to set their faces against such violence. Nevertheless some disgraceful things were done, and, according to the evidence, they were instigated by the priests, who said to the people, "Lord John Russell tells you that the elective franchise is a trust; now, boys, all who vote for Chatterton are guilty of a breach of trust." If such arguments were addressed to ignorance or malignity there could be no mistake as to the result, for a mob was not able to discriminate between what the noble Lord really meant and what they believed him to say. He held in his hand a polling-book, got up by a society of non-electors, in Rochdale, with a view to exclusive dealing, and a more complete instrument of tyranny he never saw. The electors were designated under their various trades or crafts, the supporters of Sir Alexander Ramsay being distinguished from those of Mr. Miall, and, although there could be no doubt that the book had been got up against the former, he was sure that Mr. Miall would scout the very idea of such a publication, for a man more fond of liberty and of freedom of voting in elections did not live. Here, again, the noble Lord the Member for the City was cited as an authority for these shameful and tyrannical proceedings. "The theory of the present representative system," said the compilers of the Rochdale polling-book, "according to a great constitutional authority—Lord John Russell—is that £10 householders hold their votes in trust for the class who do not possess that property qualification, as well as in their own right, and this vindicates the practice of publishing a list of the voter's names." If the doctrine that the election franchise was a trust, bore such fruit as this, the sooner they got rid of it the better. He would not trouble the House with any more details regarding the violence and intimidation perpetrated at the last elections. The scenes that occurred at Drogheda, at Lisburne, in Galway, and in other parts of Ireland were perfectly shocking, and it was very interesting to read the truthful accounts given by the reporters of the malversation of the franchise, and compare them with the mendacious statements of interested parties. But, instead of dwelling upon the Irish elections, he would proceed to reverse the picture and direct the attention of the House to the elections which recently took place in the colony of Victoria. The establishment of the ballot in Australia was mainly due to the exertions and ability of Mr. Nicholson, the member for North Burke in that colony, and, though opposed by the same arguments as in this country, the system had operated in the most satisfactory manner. He would not quote paragraphs from the Australian newspapers which he had before him, but would merely refer to a compendium of them contained in a speech delivered by Mr. Nicholson, in which that gentleman, referring to the recent elections in that colony, showed that in no case had there been any violence or disturbance, and stated that the ballot had imposed a decided and welcome check on the noisy and turbulent demonstrations which had hitherto been inseparable from a contested election. In addition to the tranquillity with which they had been conducted, these elections had been characterized by great completeness of polls—a fact which was an answer to the objection that in this country it was not from terror, but from apathy, that persons abstained from voting. Hitherto the Australian elections had exhibited the same paucity of voters compared with the number of electors that was to be found in England; but at the last election the number of voters polled in some of the districts was within one or two of the whole number upon the register. The expenses, too, had been greatly diminished; and such had been the effect produced, that many of those who were formerly opposed to the ballot were now to be found in the ranks of its supporters. Among others, the Attorney General, who before the election was particularly hostile to the ballot, had announced his determination in future to support that mode of election. Sincerely thanking hon. Gentlemen for the attention which they had given him while he brought before them these details, without which he could not establish his case, he submitted that he had now proved to the House by facts that wherever the ballot had been tried it had been productive of none but the happiest results, and that there was nothing to be set against it except suppositions, guesses, and calculations that it would not do in England what it had done elsewhere under precisely similar circumstances. A Liberal Government never appeared to him to such disadvantage as when it opposed a Liberal measure, and was forced to seek protection under the gabardine of Toryism. That was a position in which he was sorry to see his hon. Friends, and it was matter of great regret to him that in this matter he stood against his Friends and was defeated by them. It was now, however, practically understood that the ballot was opposed by the aristocracy and landocracy, because they would not give up the power over the constituencies which was given to them by open voting. But why should not they give up that power? They lived in a loyal country—the only country in which the aristocracy was beloved by the people, and a country which was essentially anti-democratical. Then, why did they not seek to gain from the love of the people that which they now compelled by an usurped authority? Depend upon it they would stand much better with the people if they did so. It was unmanly, and showed moral cowardice to adhere to the existing state of things, not to trust to the people in whom they might confide, and rather to compel obedience from their fear than to obtain it from their love. He had ever seen that it was impossible that any Reform Bill should be final unless protected votes were one of its provisions, and he now entreated the Government, at the last moment, to adopt the conviction arrived at by their friend Sydney Smith, whom they had so often quoted, and who wrote the most brilliant pamphlet, but unsound, as it was brilliant, in favour of open voting and against the ballot. What said Sydney Smith? In a recently published letter, written in reply to a correspondent who had complimented him upon his able writing, he said with regard to the ballot, "But it will come, though I write never so wisely." He (Mr. Berkeley) told them that it must and would come, and that therefore it was infinitely better that they should give to the people that which they would at the present moment receive as a precious boon rather than wait and be compelled to surrender to them that which they would demand as a right. In conclusion he begged to move for leave to introduce a Bill to cause the Votes of the Parliamentary electors of Great Britain and Ireland to be taken by way of ballot.


said, he rose to second the Motion, but in so doing he should content himself with adding very little to the able and instructive speech of his hon. Friend. He would, however, congratulate the friends of the ballot that from the appearance of the House there was a prospect of there being at least a debate upon this important question. On the last occasion on which it was brought forward, with the exception of a speech from an hon. Gentleman opposite, there was no debate, and no one on or near the Ministerial bench addressed the House. Now, considering that this question had the support of a large portion of the Liberal party, he thought that Her Majesty's Ministers might at least have condescended to justify their conduct in refusing to entertain it. It was very difficult, on all subjects, when very little was said against you, to argue the case—but he never remembered that his hon. Friend had done so well—indeed he had outdone his former arguments. The ballot had generally been opposed on two grounds—one that it was un-English, of which his hon. Friend had disposed, and the other that it would not stop bribery and corruption. It was impossible to say what would be the result of a system until it had been tried, but for his own part, he believed that nothing could be worse than the existing state of things. Certainly, he feared that so long as there were persons in this country bad enough to offer bribes there would be found others weak enough and poor enough to take them. There was, however, one thing worse than bribery, and that was "the screw," to which his hon. Friend had referred. A bribe might enable a poor man to pay his rent, or might confer some other benefit upon him, but from the exercise of improper influence by a landlord or a customer no good could result. He represented one of the largest constituencies in this country, and so far as he knew there was no question upon which the great body of the electors felt more deeply than that of protecting the voter by the ballot. There was no doubt that from some cause or another a very small proportion of the electors recorded their votes. In Westminster he had seen ladies driving from shop to shop canvassing the tradesmen, a large number of whom were consequently compelled to make themselves practically non-electors, in order to avoid the difficulties they would otherwise be placed in. To show how the system worked, and the feelings that existed with regard to it, he would mention a case which had recently occurred. He held in his hand the particulars of a conversation between a political friend of himself and his gallant colleague and a tradesman in that borough, who had a most flourishing trade. This man, whom he would designate as C., for that was the initial of his name, had strong political opinions, and had congratulated him and his hon. and gallant colleague on having gone to the right lobby on the question of the ballot. His friend remarked that that was a question which he supposed that tradesmen wished settled, and that he did not suppose that C. split his vote. The gentleman went on to say that his business was so good that he could not afford to vote at all. He was a house decorator, and his trade lay principally with wealthy people. He had never voted against his conscience, but if he were to vote in accordance with his conscience it might be the ruin of his wife and children. He had once voted, he said, for General Evans when he stood against Captain Rous, and for his pains he lost three of his best customers; consequently he had never given himself any trouble to be on the registrar, and was, in fact a non-elector. There were hundreds and thousands of electors, he added, in Westminster who were in the same position as himself. In the debate of 1838, Mr. Grote showed, in his own admirable manner, that open election was tantamount to the disfranchisement of hundreds and thousands of electors, seeing that a considerable number of electors declined to exercise their franchise, as they would damage themselves by exercising it conscientiously, and he went on to argue that thus to deny to electors the means of voting conscientiously and safely was, in fact, to disfranchise them altogether. It would be difficult to show that the protection of the ballot would not tend to enable men to give their votes conscientiously. He (Sir J. Shelley) had made an analysis of the divisions on the ballot in the last two years, and the results shown by that analysis threw a curious light on the position of the Liberal party on the question, for he found that in 1855 there were 166 Members present who voted for the ballot, two tellers, and thirty-six pairs, making in all 204, while 218 Members present voted against it, which, with two tellers and thirty-six pairs, made 256, leaving a majority of fifty-two against the Motion or fifteen more than in the previous Session, but eight less than in 1853. This majority consisted of thirteen Members of the Government, ten Whig Members, and 233 Tories, so that the main body of the Liberal party were opposed to the Government on that occasion. But if the Liberal Members were sincerely of opinion that no Reform Bill would be of any effect without the ballot, they had only to stick close together, and, though a change of Government might be the consequence—which none would deplore more than himself—yet the evil would only be temporary, and probably a fusion of parties might be brought about which would result in the formation of a Government—including, perhaps, the right hon. Member for Bucks and the hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire, whom he saw opposite, who had both at one time been ardent supporters of this proposition—with the ballot as a fundamental and Cabinet question. In the division of 1856, 111 Members present voted aye, which with two tellers and forty-three pairs, made 156 for the Motion: while there were 151 Members present, two tellers, and forty three pairs against the Motion, leaving a majority of forty against it. Now in that majority there had been twenty-seven Liberals and Peelites, of whom thirteen had been Members of the Government; so that only fourteen independent Liberals and Peelites had opposed the Motion. He should add that among the Members of the Government who had supported the Motion were to be found some of the most able and popular men who had of late years been engaged in the Administrations of this country, such, for instance, as Lord Duncan, Sir B. Hall, Admiral Berkeley, Sir Alexander Cockburn (the late Attorney General), Sir R. Bethell (the present Attorney General), Mr. Bouverie, Mr. Villiers, Mr. Horsman, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Massey, and Mr. Osborne. The fact was, that as regarded that question the Government, instead of being a support, were an incubus to the Liberal party. In conclusion, he had to state that he felt much pleasure in seconding the Motion.


After the direct appeal which has been made to the Members of the Government, couched in catechetical form, by the hon. Member for Bristol, I should be wanting in courtesy to the House and to the hon. Gentleman if I did not take an early opportunity of expressing the views which I have formed upon this question. I regret to find that those views will not, from what I hear, coincide with, the opinions generally entertained on either side of the House. I am unable to adopt the views so clearly stated by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol. I cannot form that sanguine estimate of the beneficial effects of the ballot which the hon. Gentleman has sketched out in his address; and, on the other hand, I do not share in the alarm with which the ballot is generally regarded on the other side of the House. I hope the House will afford me the opportunity of stating as briefly as I can the grounds upon which I have formed my opinion, after the best consideration which I have been able to give to a question difficult in itself, and on which there exists such great discordance of views. When a question is brought under the consideration of the House for the first time, it often happens that the hon. Member who brings it forward argues in favour of his own opinion in a general and discursive manner, somewhat in the form of an essay, with a view of introducing the subject to the House, and showing the arguments upon which his proposal rests. Such was the state of this question when it was first brought forward in this House by my Friend Mr. Grote. No one who reads the speeches which he delivered annually in this House during a series of years will deny that it is impossible to state the arguments in favour of the ballot with greater clearness, or in language more elegant and precise. In his hands this question passed through what I may call its didactic period. From his hands it passed into those of the hon. Member for Bristol, and the stage which it reached under his auspices may, I think, without offence to him, be termed the humorous stage. He has for some years annually brought this subject under the consideration of the House with great command of facts and great play of imagination and wit, and he has made a favourable impression on his hearers by the diverting manner in which he has placed it before them. I do not undervalue the remarkable powers of my hon. Friend in agreeably illustrating this subject, but having passed through these two stages, the question of the ballot has now arrived at what I will take the liberty of calling the practical stage. Not being able to rival my hon. Friend in his powers of imagination, I am desirous of examining the question practically, and consider whether or not the ballot is adapted to the wants and circumstances of this country. In order to arrive at a practical result upon this question, the natural course is to consult history, and to see how this ballot has operated in other countries. If we look to the Continent, we find a state of things totally different from anything which exists in this country. It is difficult to profit by the experience of the Continent, where no powerful State has hitherto been able to consolidate a Parliamentary Government, and where the only States that have Parliamentary Governments are those of a second rant. But as to the operation of the ballot on the Continent, I would take the liberty of referring to the statement made by a distinguished statesman and writer on politics—who was examined by a Committee of this House, I think, in the year 1837—I mean M. de Tocqueville, the author of a work on democracy in America, as well as of another on the French Revolution. He was examined by the Committee on Bribery at Elections. Being interrogated on the subject of the ballot, he stated to the Committee that the object of secret voting in France was to protect the voter against the power of the Government—that voters on the Continent dreaded that omnipotent being, as he denominated it—namely, the Government—and that secret voting was, therefore, regarded in France as a shield against the Executive Government. He admitted that it was not difficult to ascertain any person's vote; still, he said, that was the view taken on the subject of the ballot in France. That being the case, I think I need scarcely say that the experience of France and of other continental States is of little value with respect to the working of the ballot in this country, where there is no overwhelming influence of a centralized bureaucracy to overawe the elector, and consequently the privilege of vote by ballot, or secret voting, would, in that respect, be of little avail to him. Neither do I think that the examples of this institution in some of our colonies—those new societies in which this mode of voting has lately been introduced—can be of much assistance to a country whose social and political condition is so different as that of the mother country. The country to which we must look as furnishing really important lessons upon this subject, and which I apprehend is always in the minds of those who recommend the establishment of the ballot in this country, is the United States of America. I believe that I shall not misrepresent the feeling of those who originally recommended the ballot to this country, if I say that their object was to introduce into England the mode of voting generally practised in the United States. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. H. Berkeley) in his speech this evening distinctly referred to the example of the United States. He said that the working of the Ballot there had been perfectly successful, and nearly in all cases he held up the practice of the United States as a model for our imitation. [Mr. H. BERKELEY: The principle,—not the details of the practice.] I certainly understood the hon. Gentleman to say that he recommended the United States to us as an example for our imitation. My hon. Friend now says that he does not approve the details, but merely the principle of the institution; but I really do not very well know how to distinguish between the principle and the details of an institution. I will, however, endeavour, with such lights as I possess, to ascertain what are the principles and the mode of voting established in the United States, The Motion which we have under consideration is this—that leave shall be given to bring in a Bill to cause the votes of Parliamentary electors in Great Britain and Ireland to be taken by way of ballot. This Motion assumes that we know what is the meaning of the word "ballot" as applied to elections. Ballot is not a mode of voting known to the law or constitution of this country, and I do not know that I can ascertain the meaning of the term in any more authentic manner than by inquiring in what sense it is used in the United States. I presume that that use represents the principle, and not merely the details of its working. With the permission of the House I will read the following extract from a work by a gentleman who has travelled in the United States, Mr. Tremenheere, being a work on the constitution of that country, which he states to be founded upon the best native authorities—namely, the jurists; and let me remark that they are writers of very high authority. He says:— There is another subject which requires to be noticed under this head of the elections in the United States—namely, the mode of giving the votes, which, as has been seen, is in some States appointed to be vivâ voce, in others by ballot. Now, we come to the explanation of the ballot:— It is necessary to repeat that this word never means in the United States 'secret ballot,' unless in the instances, which are rare, when the word 'secret' is expressly added to it. In this country we invariably associate with the word 'ballot' the mode of giving a secret vote by dropping a "ball" into a covered box, in the manner too well known to need to be described, but in the United States I apprehend the ballot is never taken in the same manner as we vote in our private clubs, and does not at all turn on the principle of secret voting. He goes on thus:— In the United States the word 'ballot' has, in its general acceptation, nothing to do with the word 'ball,' but means 'a piece of paper, with the names of the candidate or candidates written or printed upon it.' In the Southern and Western States generally the voting is entirely open, and usually vivâ voce. At all elections in the other States the friends of the different candidates stand round the voting places, with the written or printed voting papers (called tickets) in their hands, and as each voter approaches he takes from the hands of one of the agents of the candidate or candidates for whom he intends to vote one of these lists, openly before all the world, and delivers it, folded or unfolded as the case may be, to the persons taking the poll. The tickets are now universally, I believe, printed; and being printed upon coloured paper—the colour or some distinguishing device indicating the party to which the candidates belong—the very fact of presenting a paper thus coloured or marked, though it might be folded up, in itself at once shows which side the voter takes at the election. That I apprehend to be a correct description of the process of voting in America, and I will only say that it entirely accords with a description which I have myself heard from American gentlemen. I never heard any American gentleman with whom I conversed on the subject describe the ballot as being secret voting. They have always described it to me to be what it is described by Mr. Tremenheere to be—namely, a system of voting by ticket, which may be, as it generally is, put into a box, or whatever other receptacle may be prepared for it. The distinction, therefore, between the ballot and the mode of voting practised in this country is this—that in the one case there is an authentic register of the voters kept, whereas in the other there is no such register. No doubt, where the mode of voting by ballot prevails in the United States it is not possible to obtain an authentic printed list of the voters such as is commonly known in this country as the poll-book. Such register does not exist; but if any person would stand by the polling-booth as each voter comes upon the scene he would be able to ascertain the side on which each person votes. Lest it may be thought that I quote doubtful or partial witnesses, I am fortunately able to adduce testimony which I think my hon. Friend himself cannot challenge. In the course of his speech he referred to the Society for Promoting the Adoption of the Ballot, of which he himself is chairman. That society has issued several tracts for the purpose of recommending the ballot. I have before me two of those tracts, and, as they appear to be under the patronage of my hon. Friend, assisted by a numerous and highly respectable committee of gentlemen calling themselves "the Friends of the Ballot," I can hardly be doing wrong in quoting them as evidence of the practice of the ballot in America. The first of those tracts (of which I hold before me a second edition) is called The Ballot in America. After giving a description of its working in several States, it says— A most extraordinary system of optional secrecy obtains. In one or two States the secrecy is compulsory, but the general practice is what is called optional secrecy. The next passage is a description of the mode of voting in the important State of New York, which, as it is not long, perhaps the House will allow me to read— Where there is, on the one hand, no register of electors, and, on the other hand, a system of printed tickets, it is perfectly clear that, for some local reason, the inhabitants of the State are not really desirous to secure secrecy in voting either for themselves or others. This may be called ballot, but it is not secret voting. It ends with this summary— The result generally may be said to be this—that while in the various States above-named different forms of ballot are made use of, one great purpose has been kept in view—that of securing to every elector the option of secrecy with regard to his vote. In short, as has been well expressed by an eminent Statesman of our own country, In none of these States is any record kept against any man of the manner in which he votes.' In a country where the suffrage is almost universal, and where great inequalities of condition among those who possess it do not generally prevail, it is not surprising that many should appear individually indifferent as to the observance of secrecy in its exercise. But protection is afforded by law to all who feel its want, and choose to avail themselves of it. That is the description given in this tract, and the House will see that it accords with what I have read from the work of Mr. Tremenheere. It shows that when we speak of the ballot as a secret mode of voting, what we are to understand, so far as the American practice goes, is, that if a voter chooses to conceal his vote he has the power of doing so; but that if he does not think fit to conceal his vote he may give it openly; and that therefore secrecy is confined to those only who are desirous to obtain it. I wish the House to be fully in possession of that fact, inasmuch as I think it has an important bearing on the practical working of the system. The next tract to which I shall direct the attention of the House is one of the same series, published under the direction of my hon. Friend. It is No. 5 of that series, entitled The Test of Experience as to the Working of the Ballot in the United States, and I am the more desirous of quoting from it because it is to the practical experience of the system that I am anxious to call the attention of the House. The society for promoting the introduction of the ballot having become aware that some important transactions had taken place on this subject in the State of Massachusetts, Mr. Wickham, the hon. Secretary, wrote in April, 1855, to the hon. Amasa Walker, Secretary of State for Massachusetts, requesting from him information as to those transactions, and especially as to some recent changes of law on the subject of vote by ballot. Now, I wish particularly to direct the notice of the House to this correspondence, and to the facts disclosed in the letters and documents transmitted by Mr. Walker. He describes the state of the law in Massachusetts, where, it may be observed, vote by ballot was in existence, and where, therefore, there already was to be found that perfect security against electoral evils against which my hon. Friend says the ballot is sure to provide. Though the ballot existed there, however, it did not produce all the results that the friends of the system in this country seem to expect. It appears to have been there decided in a court of law that a printed as well as written vote was within the meaning and intent of the constitution. This decision (says Mr. Walker)— Made a great change in the character of the ballot. It destroyed a great part of its secrecy, for as soon as the legality of printed votes was admitted, each of the different parties would have something in the size or appearance of its ticket, by which it could be readily distinguished from those of other parties. One, for example, would have tickets printed on yellow paper, another on blue, another on pink, &c. Oftentimes, moreover, such tickets were ornamented with some pictorial representation, so that a man's vote could be recognized almost as far as the man himself. Hence, very soon after printed votes were introduced, complaints began to be heard from all parts of the State, especially from the large commercial and manufacturing towns, that the secrecy of the ballot was impaired, that intimidation and coercion were used at the polls, and the independence of the voter greatly lessened. This was the state of matters in one of the Northern States of the Union dealing with the ballot, preserving during the whole time the name of the institution, and therefore, so far as I understand, the principle of the ballot. The writer goes on to say— The evil had now become so great, that many people felt anxious for a change in the mode of voting, and various improvements were suggested. But the great practical difficulty seemed to be, to get a method which should be perfectly secret, and at the same time afford perfect security against fraud. Now, this difficulty occurred in 1840, at a time when vote by ballot was an established institution of the State, and embodied in the constitution. The great practical difficulty seemed to be to combine secrecy with perfect security against fraud. Mr. Walker adds, "the two objects appeared for a long time incompatible." Now, I wish the House to observe that at this time Mr. Walker thought that secret voting and security against fraud were incompatible, and that no means were known in the United States of reconciling these two things, showing that in the United States secrecy was not essentially a part of vote by ballot. Throughout the speech of my hon. Friend he assumed that secrecy is an essential part of vote by ballot. He contrasted vote by ballot with open voting, to show, as he said, that open voting was a ratification of a treaty between two dishonest men, while the ballot was a secret mode of voting by which that ratification was frustrated. So that the whole of my hon. Friend's argument falls to the ground if secrecy is not a part of the ballot. I feel quite sure that a large number of people in this country are in favour of secret voting, because they believe it has been the practice of the United States and has succeeded there, both of which things are shown by the very publications of my hon. Friend's society to be inconsistent with the fact. Mr. Walker, after saying that the difficulty was to find some means of reconciling secrecy with security against fraud, proceeds to say— While thus thinking upon the subject, it suddenly occurred to me (for I had never heard it suggested) that the true method was to enclose the ballot in an envelope, and then, having sealed the same, place it in the ballot-box. Now, it is of importance to observe that he speaks of this idea as one never heard of before, as having flashed suddenly upon his mind for the first time as a means by which secret voting could be carried into effect without fraud. The result of this sudden inspiration was that Mr. Walker prepared a Bill which he presented to the Senate; but the Bill being rejected the former mode of voting continued. In the following year, however, 1851, the Liberals (he says)— Consisting of the Democrats and Free-soilers united, came into power, and the Bill for the Better Security of the Ballot was again introduced into the Legislature, and passed by a handsome majority. For the first time, therefore, and under the influence of the Secretary of State for Massachusetts, secret voting was established in that State by law in 1851. [Mr. H. BERKELEY observed that it existed in the State of Michigan also.] Mr. Walker tells us that the mode of voting by enclosing the vote in a sealed envelope occurred to himself for the first time—that it was a new discovery—and, therefore, no similar system could have existed in any State. The law that was now passed remained till 1853. He says— In 1853 the Conservative party came again into power, and not daring directly to repeal the Ballot Law, so popular had it become, virtually destroyed its efficacy by enacting that 'any voter might use the envelope or not as he should choose. Now, this alteration of the constitution took place under the system of secret voting by means of a sealed envelope, and therefore we must suppose that the views of the electors of Massachusetts were faithfully represented, and that the wishes of a majority were carried into effect in repealing that system of secret voting. The end seems to have been that secret voting was made optional with the people, and Mr. Walker goes on to say—"This emasculated the law, as every man who voted under envelope would be presumed taken to be hostile to the dominant party." He then says that very soon after the virtual repeal of the ballot law an election took place for delegates to the Convention, called for the purpose of amending the constitution of the State. This election resulted in the return of an overwhelming majority of the Liberal party, and in the Convention which met in 1853 the sealed ballot was proposed as a part of the constitution of the State. The amended constitution was submitted to the people for their adoption in the succeeding fall, and all the amendments rejected by a small majority. By the defeat of the amended constitution the people were thrown back upon the existing law; a new party, calling itself "American," took the field, and carried the State by a triumphant majority; and Mr. Walker concludes this narrative by saying— The Legislature elected by this party is now in session. The restoration of the sealed ballot law was proposed in the popular branch, and carried by a good majority; it was, however, lost in the Senate, the more Conservative branch, by a majority of one vote. So that the law now stands that the voter may deposit his vote in a sealed envelope, or not, as he may choose. That brings the history of this law in the State of Massachusetts to a close, and it shows that the ballot there having been, in the first instance, practically an open one, in which every person exhibited his vote, if he thought fit to do so, a system of compulsory secrecy was introduced; that it remained in force for two years; that it was then repealed, and has not since been reintroduced. Therefore, as far as any inference is to be drawn from my hon. Friend's publication, it appears that there is now no State of the American Union in which the system of compulsory secrecy in voting exists. I infer this partly from Mr. Walker's narrative and partly from the Report of the Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives of Massachusetts, which is appended. They describe the evils of voting very much in the same sort of way as my hon. Friend described them in this country as existing in full vigour under a system of ballot, and then they go on to say— The use of letter envelopes, which has within a few years been introduced into this country, has, it is believed, suggested a very simple, cheap, and efficacious remedy for all the evils which have heretofore been complained of. I am afraid I have wearied the House by reading so many passages, but I was desirous of placing before them in an authentic form evidence which I think cannot be disputed, of the true nature of the working of the ballot system in America. Now, we have nothing to show that at this moment there is a single State of the American Union in which the system of compulsory secrecy exists with regard to voting. In the majority of States, undoubtedly, the system of vote by ballot exists, probably engrafted in most of the State constitutions, but the practice appears to be this:—The voter places his ticket in a box; there is no poll-clerk, no person to record his vote, and therefore no list of votes is published after the election; the votes are ascertained by counting the number of tickets deposited at the polling places, but each person is fully at liberty; to exhibit his vote if he thinks fit to do so, and the general practice is, in fact, to, exhibit them. Well, in considering what would be the effect of acceding to the Motion of my hon. Friend, we must, before we can fully understand what we are about to do, ask what the system is which he recommends. Does he recommend the sealed envelope system, or does he recommend the system of optional secrecy? Now, all his arguments are founded on the assumption that the secrecy is to be compulsory, and I would therefore, in the first place, venture to call the attention of the House to this material fact,—that the whole experience of the United States is against the system of compulsory secrecy; that that system has only been tried recently as an experiment, so far as I know, in a single State; that it there remained in operation only two years, and that it has not since been re-established. It is clear, therefore, using the language of the title-page of this tract, that if we appeal to "the test of experience," the experience of the United States is against compulsory secrecy and in favour of optional secrecy. Now, just let us consider what would be the result of an attempt to introduce compulsory secrecy into this country. At present the whole of our electoral proceedings are founded on the assumption that the opinions of the candidate are avowed, that he has certain supporters among the voters, and that they come forward and vote for him on public grounds. Perhaps they form a committee; they appear as his friends, as the advocates of the political system which he espouses; he puts forward addresses declaring his opinions; he canvasses electors on the ground that he holds certain opinions; he hopes that they will support him as entertaining similar opinions; the whole conduct and course of an English election is, in fact, a publicity of opinion on the part of the candidate as well as of the electors. Sir, no person in this House has a greater objection to intimidation at elections than myself. I fully sympathise in everything which my hon. Friend has said against this practice. I object, quite as strongly as he can do, to the illegitimate influence of landlords or others with a view to the coercion of their tenantry or their dependents at the poll. There is nothing he can say on that subject to which I am not prepared to give my assent. But, having made that statement, am I prepared to adopt his remedy, or to think that that which he proposes as a remedy would in fact prove to be such? On the contrary, my firm conviction is, that to attempt to introduce a system of compulsory secrecy in voting in this country would be an attempt to row against an irresistible current—that it would be an endeavour to force on the people of this country institutions thoroughly repugnant to their habits and their nature. If my hon. Friend were to bring in a Bill, not in the ambiguous phrases which he has chosen, but distinctly enacting the sealed envelope system, by whatever name he chose to call it, making it compulsory for an elector to conceal his vote at an election, I believe he would find that the general feeling of the country was against it. If you are to subject a man to a penalty—because to this extent you must go—for showing his vote at an election, how can you allow the system of canvassing? Will it be possible, then, to allow a candidate to visit an elector and to ask him for his vote? If no person is to be permitted to declare his vote, and if an election is to be as secret and silent as a funeral, it seems to me that it would be a gross inconsistency to promote any intercourse whatever between a candidate and the electors to permit a candidate to address the electors, or, indeed, to allow of electoral meetings at all. You must be prepared to go the whole length of prohibiting all preliminary expressions of opinion on the part of the voters, unless you allow them to express their opinions, if they think fit to do so, when they give their votes. My own belief is that my hon. Friend has been indulging in general phrases, extracts from newspapers, stories about coercion, for a series of years, without very minutely considering the details of the measure which he wishes us to adopt; and I am rather inclined to think that he never actually faced the enforcement of compulsory secrecy, but that what he has in his mind is a system of optional secrecy—that is to say; a law which should permit any person who wishes to vote secretly to give his vote in that way. If I do not misinterpret the-views commonly entertained upon the subject, my belief is that that is the kind of ballot which most persons have in their minds when they hold it forth as a panacea for all electoral evils. Suppose, then, the measure for the adoption of the ballot were embodied in such a form as I have described—namely, that of optional secrecy—allowing a person either to conceal or to exhibit his vote as he thought fit. Now, I must be permitted to express an opinion, though it may not perhaps meet with universal assent, that the great majority of the voters at one of our elections are prepared to avow their votes—that, in fact, they are desirous of doing so. My hon. Friend, in a manner derogatory, in my opinion, to the mass of the electors throughout the country, has pictured them as driven to the poll like flocks of sheep. The experience, however, of most hon. Gentlemen who have canvassed a constituency, I think, will tell them that, though the bulk of the electors may be of no very exalted station, they in general entertain decided political opinions in favour of one party or another, and that a very large number of persons on both sides are desirous of proclaiming their support of one candidate or the other. If the vote by ballot were introduced in the optional form, and if every person were permitted to display his vote, I think that the result would be that the great majority of the electors would exhibit their votes. What, then, would be the consequence of such an institution with respect to protecting voters against whom intimidation is sought to be practised? The only effect would be, that those who desired to coerce a voter would give him notice that he would be watched at the poll, and that, if he did not display his vote, it would be assumed that he had voted contrary to their wishes. The only result of such a law as could be practically worked in this country would be that, where persons were resolved upon intimidation, the mode of intimidating would be changed, while no effectual protection would be given to the dependent voter. Now, I will put a case in illustration of this. Suppose—that which I hope may never occur again in this country—a division between the different classes of society on the subject of the laws of food, and that the agricultural interest were arrayed against the rest of the community; suppose a rural parish in which resided, say a blacksmith and a wheelwright, who were small freeholders, working for the neighbouring farmers, and earning their livelihood by such employment; suppose that these neighbouring farmers meet, and that they inform the two freeholders, who are suspected of wishing to vote in opposition to them, that, unless they exhibit their votes at the polling booth, it will be assumed that they have not voted in the manner prescribed, and that their custom will be taken from them in consequence—in what respect, I ask, in such a case, would the law of optional secrecy afford any protection to those men? Clearly it would give no protection; and, in order to afford effectual protection by means of secrecy to voters, you must, by law, make secrecy compulsory. In other words, you must do that which has not been done in the United States; you must introduce a system of which you have no experience; you must change the whole character and conduct of our elections; you must alter the very habits of the people, and you must attempt to do by legislation that which I feel confident legislation in this country will be powerless to accomplish. It is for these reasons, then, Sir, that I oppose this Motion—not because I think that voting by ballot is un-English or unmanly—not because I share any of those popular objections to the vote by ballot which my hon. Friend treated with so much contempt—but because I believe that, in one form it is utterly inapplicable to, and irreconcilable with, the habits of this country, and that it is not recommended by the experience of those countries which are held up as the models which we should imitate, but which, having tried it for a short time, have rejected it. I oppose this Motion because, in the form of compulsory secrecy, I believe that it is not possible to introduce the ballot into this country; I oppose it, also, because I believe that, in the only form in which it could be introduced, that of optional secrecy, it would be perfectly ineffectual for the object in view, and because it would not afford that protection to the voter which my hon. Friend thinks it would afford, but would leave us in the state in which we now are, in which we must look to the cultivation of public opinion, to the diffusion of sounder views on the relations of electors and those who are able to control their votes, and to the gradual diminution of that most objectionable system of electoral intimidation and coercion. It is, I say, to those moral influences, and not to the influence of the law, that we must look, and look with confidence, for the amendment of our present practice. In support of the view, that public opinion tends gradually to correct all the worst descriptions of intimidation, I would appeal to the last election. With regard to bribery, I do not believe that the ballot would provide any effectual remedy, although, with regard to coercion and intimidation, no doubt, if we suppose compulsory secrecy, and everybody faithfully keeping his secret, protection might be afforded; but we are not entitled to anticipate that there will be any such alteration of the law so long as the opinions of this country remain unchanged. The other system, which is practically the one pursued in the United States, would leave us where we are at present, tending gradually, and more and more in each successive election, to the exercise of an independent judgment by the electors, such as I believe they exercised at the last general election. Judging from such means of observation as I possess, it is my firm belief that, even if the votes at the last election had been given under the shield of any form of ballot which my hon. Friend could devise, the result would have been substantially identical with that which the open voting of the country has produced.


said, that, following the example of the right hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the House, who had eschewed the didactic style, and had certainly not lingered long on the humorous, he should endeavour to attempt the region of the practical, and in the first place he would express his content that the right hon. Gentleman had rested his arguments on the results of experience, as the advocates of the Ballot were perfectly prepared to rest their case on that ground. The right hon. Gentleman had principally dwelt upon the case of the United States, and had stated that in certain parts of America compulsory secret voting was the rule, and that in other parts the voting might be secret or not, at the option of the voters. Now, he asked, was the right hon. Gentleman prepared to concede even the latter modified system? would he give optional secret voting to such constituencies as wished it, and would he give compulsory secret voting so soon as it could be shown that compulsory secret voting was practicable? If the right hon. Gentleman wished to see the details of the Bill of the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. H. Berkeley), why would he not vote for the first reading, and then argue the measure itself at a later stage? The experience of the United States was, he thought, particularly valuable to this country, inasmuch as the people were of the same habits and language as ourselves, and, therefore, better adapted for our guidance than that of continental nations. The United States, however, differed from this country in this material respect, that there secret voting was not so necessary as it was in this country, in order to arrive at the real feelings of the electors. What had been the experience of this country with regard to open voting? The principle of the constitution of this country was that every elector had a right to exercise his franchise freely and without control, but ever since the time of William III., down to the Reform Bill of 1832, he found that attempts had been continually made, but without success, to protect the voter in the exercise of his franchise. Even lately there had been an Act of Parliament passed expressly to suppress corrupt practices at elections, and yet at the recent general election it was notorious that those corrupt practices had been as rife as ever. It was because all former attempts to suppress those evils had failed that an application was now made to the new Parliament to pass a law which would have the effect of protecting electors in the exercise of their constitutional right. [Cries of "Divide!"] He called upon hon. Members who were so anxious to declare their opinions by their votes to stand up and support their votes by arguments. Many of them had extinguished popular opinion amongst the constituencies they represented; but he hoped they would not be allowed to put it down in that House. If the ballot was such a bad thing, why did hon. Gentlemen avail themselves of it in their clubs, and yet deny it to the unfortunate elector? To oppose the ballot upon the simple ground that it was secret and cowardly was sheer hypocrisy. He knew well that undue influence had been exercised in Ireland to a great extent, and in that part of the island with which he was particularly acquainted he could state that tenants, in coming forward to vote according to their convictions, but against the wishes of their landlords, exposed themselves to the very severest penalties, because they were mostly tenants at will, holding their farms at the pleasure of their landlords. He was, however, happy to assure the hon. Member for Bristol, who had referred to the correspondence between the Marquess of Waterford and his tenants, that although the letter of the tenants was not couched in quite such sturdy terms as the hon. Member appeared to desire, yet many of them had faced the trial, and had voted according to their consciences.


Sir, although I might well claim as an excuse for not addressing the House upon this subject, that I have often done so on former occasions, yet, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, considering this to be a new Parliament, has thought it necessary to make new, and, I must say, greater exertions to prove his case than ever he has done before, I will venture to trouble the House with some of the views which I entertain in opposition to his measure. It is not to be denied that the hon. Member and the Ballot Society have made considerable impression upon a large portion of the public, and therefore I have felt it my duty, carefully to consider and reconsider the various arguments which are urged for and against the ballot. It appears to me that my hon. Friend, and those who act with him, rest their case upon three assumptions of fact and of opinion, all of which I believe to be erroneous. The first assuption is, that at the present moment there prevails so much of intimidation, that it is impossible that the opinions of those, to whom the elective franchise has been intrusted, can be fairly ascertained. The next assumption is, that the voter has a right, an indefeasible right, to give his vote without reference to the opinions of any other person but himself, and without being brought before any tribunal of opinion to answer for the vote. The last assumption is, that there prevails a very general opinion throughout the country in favour of secret voting. Now, Sir, I will treat of these several assumptions in their order. The first is, as I have already said, that intimidation prevails to such an extent as to prevent the opinions of the electors from being fairly ascertained. If my hon. Friend relies upon particular instances, I will allow that no general election takes place without some particular instances of intimidation being brought forward in this House. But, when my hon. Friend passes from the proofs which on several occasions he had brought; forward of different instances of intimidation, such as that of the agent or steward of the Marquess of Waterford, which he has adduced this evening, and proceeds to say that the electors do not fairly represent the opinions of the constituent body, then I conceive him to be grievously in error. My hon. Friend referred, in support of his views, to the elections for counties. If we look at the elections for the counties, let us look at them for the last quarter of a century. I remember when I the Reform Bill was first proposed there were about eighty Members representing the counties of England and Wales, and no less than seventy-six were elected to vote in favour of the Reform Bill. I remember, too, afterwards, that when there came the question of the repeal of the Corn Laws, when protection was the banner on the one side and free trade on the other, the Liberal Members for counties, who formed so vast a majority at the time of the Reform Bill, lost their advantage and became a minority. I believe that upon both those occasions the opinions of those who elected those Members were truly represented. I believe the great majority in favour of the Reform Bill faithfully represented the opinions of the county electors in favour of the measure, and I believe no less than the majority of county Members, who resisted free trade, truly represented the opinions of the farmers and others who returned them, and that the feeling in favour of free trade did not prevail then. I must say, in contradiction to the hon. Gentleman who says, that if general opinion had been allowed to prevail at the elections, the Corn Laws would have been repealed at a much earlier period, that I remember a very particular and detailed statement of Mr. Cobden, in which he said, that when he and Mr. Bright—and there could not be two more powerful and eloquent advocates of any cause than those two gentlemen, whose loss from the House I regret every day—when they first arrived at Leeds to hold a public meeting, there was some difficulty in filling the room with the supporters of the total repeal of the Corn Laws, and, as they passed through the streets they were totally unnoticed, proving evidently that they were not much in favour with the working classes. Mr. Cobden went on to state that, in the year when the Corn Laws were repealed—namely, a short period before the famous declaration of Sir Robert Peel, was the first occasion when the working classes were in favour of the abolition of those laws, and that when he and Mr. Bright went down to Leeds, at that time, they were received with acclamation. I believe that to be a true representation of the state of things. I remember that in 1841, when Parliament was dissolved, and when the working classes were told on the one hand that the repeal of the Corn Laws would bring them cheap bread; and, on the other, that the repeal would bring lower wages, which, would more than compensate for the cheapness of bread, their minds were a good deal divided between those representations, and I believe that they were rather of the opinion that the diminution of wages would make their position worse, on the whole. At all events, there was a great division of opinion on the subject, and my belief is, that the elections at that time fairly represented the state of opinion in the country. Adverting to the question of the influence of landlords, I must say that it is my opinion that the tenants, generally speaking, prefer to vote on the same side with their landlords rather than against them. In proof of this, I will give an instance which I heard from the late Earl Spencer, then Lord Althorp, who advocated the ballot, was against the corn laws, and was a liberal landlord, so liberal, indeed, that he would never have thought of disturbing a tenant in his occupancy on account of the manner of his voting. I asked him whether his tenants in general were, like him, for the repeal of the corn laws, or whether they were for protection. He said that he believed they were generally for protection. I then asked him whether, in case of an election, they generally went with him, or voted for protection, and he replied that they generally voted on the same side as he voted on. That is a strong instance of what I believe to be the disposition of the tenantry of England to vote with their landlords, whom they respected; for he was sure they did not think that if any one, or all of them, had voted in favour of protection, there was the least chance that a man like Earl Spencer would disturb any one in his tenancy. When I am told, therefore, of tenants voting with their landlords, I admit that there are certain cases of intimidation, disgraceful to those who practise it, and very hard on the intimidated; but I deny in general that it is the truth that tenants in voting in the same way as their landlords vote otherwise than according to their own wishes. To give another instance—when the question between protection and free trade was in agitation, the counties generally sent Members to that House to represent protection, who therefore sat on the Conservative side of the House, and yet we have seen at the late election, when there was no longer a question of protection, but when we were all free traders, there was exhibited no longer the same disposition, and we have seen where contested elections have taken place, the Liberal candidates come again into the places they formerly occupied, and enjoy the same favour with the electors as they did before this question of protection arose. There, again, I do not see that the intimidation of landlords prevented the election of Liberal Members for the counties. The change took place at the late election, and I believe and hope that it will take place to a greater extent at the next election. I shall not have any fear that the electors who vote in that way will be punished by Conservative landlords in consequence of their vote. I come now to the next proposition or assumption of my hon. Friend, which is the general assumption always made, but which I must always protest against—namely, that in contradistinction to every other class in this country the electors—the freeholders, leaseholders, and £10 householders—are to be accounted infallible, without sin as without error, and therefore there is to be left in their hands the complete and despotic power of voting according to their pleasure without any control whatsoever. The right of voting is a trust and a similar trust is held by all who exercise power—from the Sovereign on the throne downwards—for the benefit of the people. Those who sit in the other House of Parliament hold their seats and the power of legislation as a trust for the public benefit. It is the same thing with the Ministers of the Crown and the Judges of the land, and with the electors, who are invested with the power of sending Members to this House to dispose of the property and maintain the liberties of the people of this country. Is that a wrong principle? Is there any class that ought to be free from this inspection and this control of public opinion? Take the case of a person in one of the highest positions in this country—the Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench. The late Lord Ellenborough, the Chief Justice, was a person of great talents and eminent learning, and exceedingly well qualified to hold that high position. We are told in a recent biography—a work calculated to delight and instruct all who read it—the Lives of the Chief Justices, by Lord Campbell—that Lord Ellenborough felt extremely hurt at the public comments made by the press and by the public in general on his conduct on the bench. Will the hon. Gentleman—will any one say that it was wrong that the public should make these comments? I believe that, highly qualified as Lord Ellenborough was, those who made the comments were right, and that his bias and inclination in favour of authority and power made him justly liable to censure; and shall I say, when a man, learned and able like him, was subjected to the censure of public opinion, when his words and acts as a Judge in a high court of justice were to be scrutinized and examined, that the freeholders and £10 householders are to be free from examination and scrutiny altogether in respect to the manner in which they exercise their power, and that they alone are to be deemed irresponsible? I will not say so, for I hold it to be contrary to the spirit and principles of the British Constitution to make such a concession. My hon. Friend might make out some case for this irresponsibility, as he seemed to imply, if he were to maintain that there should be universal suffrage, or manhood suffrage, as it is called, and that all persons of full age should have the vote. But that would be a new theory. It would be the theory, not of the British constitution, but of some other constitution. What the British constitution does is to give to certain persons with certain qualifications certain conditions of power, and then to leave the public in general to control, criticize, and check the exercise of that power. Such is the case with the power of the Judge on the bench. He is a person of a certain career and eminence at the bar, with qualifications which cause him to be placed in that high position; and then he is subject to be controlled by public opinion. The same is the case with the Ministers of the Crown. Suppose any question arises—such as the China question, the Italian question, or the present unhappy state of India. The Ministers may adopt any measure they please, for they are the executive and chosen councillors of the Crown; but they must afterwards be subject to public opinion and to the censure of this House, if in the opinion of the public and of that House they should be deemed to have acted hastily or in error. Then, with respect to the electors of this country, whose power is as important as that of the Judge on the Bench, or of the House of Lords, or of the Ministers, I am but bringing them under the control of public opinion when I say let us know how they vote, and how they exercise their power, and let them be subject to censure if they do wrong in the exercise of that power. Well, but it is said that it is impossible they can err. Now, I think I have known instances in which the voters have acted in a way which would excite the indignation and blame of any one. I think I have heard—and I believe I need go no further than the table of this House for an example—of a candidate standing for a place, and of persons in the town coming round him and expressing their willingness to form his committee and canvass the voters, and yet when the election came on all these members of his committee accepted bribes for their votes, and voted for his opponent. That is conduct which no one could approve; but then my hon. Friend says, "Do not let them be subject to any censure for it. Let them go and vote in secret." Therefore these members of the election committee might have gone to the candidate and told him that they had used every exertion in his favour, that they considered it most unfortunate that the election should have gone against him, and that they could not imagine how it happened, while every one of them had got £10 or £20 in his pocket as an inducement to vote contrary to their professions. That is the sort of change which my hon. Friend recommends. My hon. Friend states that he has a high moral authority for saying that a voter may very well give his promise to a candidate, and yet be at liberty, according to the rules of a very sound morality, to break that promise and vote another way. I suppose I must accept that as sound morality. It may be so, but I can only say that it is strange and new to me. My hon. Friend put the case of Brown, who was very much intimidated. I beg leave to bring Jones and Robinson into court, and ask them what they have to say of Brown's conduct. Brown, being a principal tenant, is asked by his landlord to canvass with him for a candidate who is going to stand for the county. The landlord says, "The election won't take place for some time, but we are going to have a dinner in favour of Conservative principles; you are, I am sure, a very good Conservative; if you will take the head of the table and give the toasts and lead the way it will be a very great advantage to us." Well, Brown says, "Oh, to be sure," because if he does not do so he will let out his secret. Now, this is not an illustration of mine. My hon. Friend will know whence I draw it. Brown presides at the dinner; he gives the wrong toast; he makes the wrong speech; he sings the wrong song; and after thus persuading his landlord and all the gentlemen at table that he is an excellent Conservative, on the day of election he goes with another ticket and votes scretly for the Liberal candidate. [Mr. ROEBUCK: Hear!] My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield would think that a very fair proceeding. [Mr. ROEBUCK: Hear!] I am not now disputing its morality, but I believe that is the sort of conduct to which people refer when they say that the ballot would be un-English. They mean that that sort of deceit, of treachery, and of promise-breaking is un-English, and they come to the conclusion that secret voting is an un-English proceeding. I do not wonder at it. I am very much inclined to be of their opinion. I next come to the assumption of my hon. Friend that this proposal of the ballot meets with very great favour in the country. Now, although there is a considerable party in favour of the ballot, although there are a great many of the electors, particularly those who feel sore after a general election that in their cases intimidation has been exercised, who urge its adoption, and who excite their neighbours on the subject, I do not believe that the general opinion of this country is in favour of secret voting. I have had occasion to address large bodies of persons, numbering, perhaps, 3,000 or 4,000, and to state my objections to the ballot, and I always found that the meeting was at least equally divided in opinion, if, indeed, the majority did not approve of my views. I entirely believe the statement which has been made with so much ability and clearness by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has gone into the details of the American elections and has shown what I have constantly heard stated by Americans—that the ballot in America is by no means synonymous with secret voting. [Mr. ROEBUCK: Hear!] But that in many cases you may know by the form or colour of the ticket a man takes in what way he votes. A man may take a blue ticket or a yellow ticket, which represents the interests of particular candidates, and then there is an end of secrecy and of security against intimidation. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, quoting the opinion of one who has written on this subject, if you provide that secrecy shall be optional, you at once give a customer, or a landlord, or whoever wishes to intimidate, the means of defeating secrecy altogether. The customer, or the steward, or the landlord may say to an elector, "If you vote secretly, and your voting paper is not in an envelope of a particular shape or colour, we shall at once conclude in what way you have voted, and we shall regard you as much an enemy as if we had heard you give your vote vivâ voce to the opposite party at the poll." This, I imagine, is perfectly clear, and the only resource is one against which the English blood of the Americans has revolted, and which is adopted in only one State—namely, the establishment of compulsory secrecy, precluding every man from divulging the manner in which he has voted, or what his disposition may be. Does any one believe that such a regulation would be tolerated in England any more than it has been in America? Does any one believe that, in the case of an election, the frank and truth-telling feeling of the people of this country would not prompt nearly every man to say, "I am anxious for the success of Mr. So-and-so, or Sir Thomas So-and-so; I shall certainly give him my vote, and I hope my neighbours will do likewise"? That is found to be the case generally. Secrecy, therefore, would be confined to a few, and being confined to a few, it would not benefit that few. It may be said, "What mischief could result from introducing a system which would not completely change the habits of the country?" Well, I think it would be mischievous to introduce a new mode of voting which, so far as it goes, would tend, as I believe, to take away something from the frank and open character of Englishmen. There would also be some mischief in introducing what appears to be a considerable innovation that is not likely to succeed. I cannot believe that the adoption of this new mode of voting would produce a complete change in the character of Englishmen; but I do think the evils it would introduce would far counterbalance the good it would effect. I do no believe that the elections in this country are generally marked by intimidation and corruption, and I cannot agree with my hon. Friend when he says that an open vote is a corrupt agreement between one rogue and another. We have gone on a long time with this imperfect, and, as it appears, corrupt mode of voting, under which we have gained great liberty, and the system of secret voting has only been proposed, or even thought of, within late years. Liberty has made greater advances in this country than in any nation of Europe, and I venture to say that there is more freedom in this country than exists even in the United States of America. Without wearying the House with details, I will only ask them to look at the triumphs of liberal measures during the last twenty-five or thirty years, all gained under a system of open voting. Parliament has been reformed, the corn laws have been abolished, corporations have been opened, and an infinite number of liberal measures of a similar nature have been adopted, all this having been accomplished under a system of voting which my hon. Friend says consists entirely in a corrupt agreement between one rogue and another. On behalf of this much maligned House, and our much maligned constitution, I must demur to the statements of my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend said, "Only consider the case of Australia; why, in the colony of Victoria you have had a most wonderful instance of the success of secret voting, and even the Attorney General has been convinced of its value." I believe the constitution of Victoria was adopted by the House of Commons at my recommendation two years ago, and when it is held up as the great object of our imitation I am reminded of the exclamation of one of the characters in that amusing play The Rover, "Glorious news! the barons have been successful. The venerated and inestimable inheritance of Britain, Magna Charta, was signed last Friday week, the 3rd of July." The veneration of my hon. Friend for the new constitution of Victoria appears to me very much of the same kind. For my own part, I should prefer waiting a few years before we follow the example of the Assembly of Victoria. It may be a very good example; but I think we, the older, and therefore the more cautious assembly of the two, may afford to wait a few years in order to see whether this triumph of secret voting proves so satisfactory as it is presumed to be at the present moment. I cannot refrain from noticing one statement of the hon. Baronet the Member for Westminster (Sir J. Shelley). He said—and he made it out well enough by figures—that the great majority of the Liberal party voted in the last Parliament in favour of the ballot, and that there were only twenty—or perhaps not more than ten or fourteen—Liberals out of office who voted against the ballot. I do not know why hon. Gentlemen who have been elected by large constituencies should be excluded from the right of voting because they have accepted office. But the hon. Gentleman proceeded to say that as the great majority of the Liberals are in favour of the ballot they have only to go to the noble Lord at the head of the Government and to tell him they will not support his Administration any longer unless he and the Cabinet carry the measure of the ballot. I think this coming from a determined adherent of my noble Friend is the most degrading proposal I ever heard. I can understand Sir Robert Peel saying at one time that the state of Ireland was such that he had been induced to abandon the views he once held with respect to Roman Catholic Emancipation. I can also understand Sir Robert Peel saying, that the course of the discussion on the corn laws, and the state of those laws were such as to lead him to think that the best course for the welfare of the country, and one which would not be injurious at the same time to Conservative institutions, would be the repeal of those laws; but, to tell hon. Gentlemen who are not convinced—to tell members of the Cabinet, that because the great majority of their supporters vote for the ballot, they are not to entertain the views which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has expressed to-night, would be a most mischievous innovation, and I must say it is a most disgraceful proposal. This, too, is the language held towards a Minister of the Crown whom the hon. Member professes to respect, a Minister of the Crown who deserves that respect, and I am sure he will show to-night that he is still more worthy the respect of this House by scornfully rejecting such a proposal. It has been said that a vote given by a tenant, or a tradesman against his conscience is a lie, and that a Member who is sent to this House in consequence of that vote is the incarnation of a lie. I should say that the Members of a Cabinet voting in favour of a Bill for the ballot, against their opinions, and against their convictions, would also be to pronounce a lie; and that, for such a measure to be passed by this House as expressing their deliberate opinion in favour of the ballot, would be but the embodiment of that lie. In using this strong language, I am but following the example, and using the language of my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend certainly deserves success for the perseverance and ability he has evinced in this matter. For my own part, I will only further say, that if Parliament should decide that the ballot is to be the law of the land, I, like others, must bow to that decision; but, until that is made the law, so long as I am permitted to give a vote on this subject, that vote will be recorded against secret voting, and in favour of the ancient mode of open and deliberate voting.


in reply, said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had assumed a false position, and argued the question upon it. But the case he assumed was not his (Mr. Berkeley's) position at all. He confessed he was greatly astonished and not a little amused at hearing papers read against the ballot, which he himself had but two years ago urged upon the House in favour of the ballot. He had never contended for a sham ballot, or said that anything like open voting was what he desired. By "ballot" its supporters meant secrecy at the polling-booth, and nothing else, and the use of open voting papers, or boxes or urns open to public inspection were, in effect, the same as vivâ voce voting. And when he quoted America, it was in support of the position that though there had been irregular elections of open voting in some States, there the votes were open, and the evils were such that the Americana were altering it, and were adopting the system he desired to see established; namely, the system of close and secret ballot. The only case where the ballot was successful was, when the voting was perfectly secret. The right hon. Gentleman set up America as that which he (Mr. Berkeley) believed to be perfection; he could only say that was not his opinion. The American was not a model system; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer had addressed himself entirely to prove that open voting in America was not successful, and he (Mr. Berkeley) made him a present of that fact. He had ignored the case of Australia and the Colonies, and so had the noble Lord, rather ungratefully, as it seemed to him, being, as he was, the parent of the constitution of that colony. But in that constitution he left out the only way which experience showed was necessary to secure free voting. Since the ballot was adopted that constitution, which failed before, had proved perfectly successful. But the noble Lord said, that in England some isolated cases of intimidation might have crept in. Had he forgotten the Committee of Mr. Grote, and the 900 pages they had on the malversations of elections? Where did he find improvement now? He must say that he was disappointed that his noble Friend did not support the ballot. Even at the last London election his language was such as to lead him to suppose that the noble Lord had no strong opinion against it. The noble Lord, had, indeed, never pledged himself to the ballot; but he had often raised the cup to the lip of its supporters, and then cashed it away; indeed, a relative of the noble Lord, a distinguished officer of that House, had publicly made such a statement as was well calculated to raise the hopes of the London constituency that the noble Lord had seen and eschewed the error of his ways. After the indulgence the House had shown him, he would not occupy further time, but he must express his astonishment at the noble Lord the Member for London again attempting to rely on the exploded fallacy that there was immorality in breaking a constrained pledge to do an improper act. Had the noble Lord forgot Paley? did he not remember the words of Milton—"Ease will retract vows made in pain as violent and void." And ought they not to be retracted? Although he confessed that his noble Friend had disappointed him, yet he never expected anything but opposition from the noble Lord at the head of the Government, nor did he think that anything would change the opinion of that House but a strong manifestation of opinion from without.


in explanation, remarked, that what he had said was, that although in America vote by ballot prevailed generally, yet that in only one State was it ever accompanied by compulsory secret and that in that State this state of things only existed two years, and that the measure enforcing it had been since repealed; so that as far as the publications of the Ballot Society went, it did not appear that in any State of the United States the vote by ballot was now accompanied by compulsory secrecy.

Motion made, and Question put, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to cause the Votes of the Parliamentary Electors of Great Britain and Ireland to be taken by way of Ballot.

The House divided:—Ayes 189; Noes 257: Majority 68.

List of the AYES.
Adair, H. E. Biggs, J.
Alcock, T. Black, A.
Anderson, Sir J. Blake, J.
Atherton, W. Bland, L. H.
Ayrton, A. S. Bonham-Carter, J.
Barnard, T. Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.
Baxter, W. E. Bowyer, G.
Beale, S. Brady, J.
Beamish, F. B. Buchanan, W.
Berkeley, F. W. F. Bury, Visct.
Bethell, Sir R. Butler, C. S.
Biddulph, R. M. Caird, J.
Calcutt, F. M. Kirk, W.
Campbell, R. J. R. Langston, J. H.
Clay, J. Langton, H. G.
Clifford, C. C. Laslett, W.
Clifford, H. M. Lindsay, W. S.
Clive, G. Locke, Jno.
Cobbett, J. M. Macarthy, A.
Cogan, W. H. F. MacEvoy, E.
Collier, R. P. M'Cullagh, W. T.
Coningham, W. Magan, W. H.
Conyngham, Lord F. Maguire, J. F.
Copeland, W. T. Mangles, R. D.
Corbally, M. E. Mangles, C. E.
Cowan, C. Marjoribanks, D. C.
Cox, W. Martin, P. W.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Martin, J.
Crawford, R. W. Massey, W. N.
Crook, J. Merry, J.
Crossley, F. Mills, T.
Dalgleish, R. Mitchell, T. A.
Dashwood, Sir G. H. Moffatt, G.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Monsell, rt. hon. W.
Deasy, R. Moore, G. H.
Denison, hon. W. H. F. Morris, D.
De Vere, S. E. Mulgrave, Earl of
Devereux, J. T. Napier, Sir C.
Dillwyn, L. L. Neate, C.
Divett, E. Nicoll, D.
Duke, Sir J. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Duncan, Visct. Norris, J. T.
Duncombe, T. O'Brien, P.
Ellice, E. (St. Andrew's) O'Brien, J.
Elton, Sir A. H. O'Connell, Capt. D.
Esmonde, J. O'Donaghoe, The
Evans, Sir De L. O'Flaherty, A.
Ewart, W. Ogilvy, Sir J.
Ewart, J. C. Osborne, R.
Fenwick, H. Paget, C.
FitzGerald, rt. hon. J. D. Paget, Lord A.
Foley, H. J. W. Paget, Lord C.
Forster, C. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Fortescue, C. S. Perry, Sir T. E.
Gilpin, C. Philips, R. N.
Glyn, G. C. Pigott, F.
Goderich, Visct. Pilkington, J.
Grace, O. D. J. Platt, J.
Greene, J. Price, W. P.
Greer, S. M'C. Ramsden, Sir J. W.
Gregson, S. Rebow, J. G.
Grenfell, C. W. Ricardo, J. L.
Greville, Col. F. Ricardo, O.
Hackblock, W. Ridley, G.
Hadfield, G. Robartes, T. J. A.
Hall, rt. hon. Sir B. Roebuck, J. A.
Hankey, T. Roupell, W.
Hanmer, Sir J. Russell, Sir W.
Hardcastle, J. A. Salisbury, E. G.
Harris, J. D. Schneider, H. W.
Hastie, Arch. Scholefield, W.
Hatchell, J. Scrope, G. P.
Henchy, D. O'C. Smith, J. A.
Hodgson, K. D. Smith, J. B.
Holland, E. Smith, A.
Horsman, rt. hon. E. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Hutt, W. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Ingram, H. Stapleton, J.
Keating, Sir H. S. Stuart, Lord J.
Kershaw, J. Stuart, Col.
King, hon. P. J. L. Sullivan, M.
Kinglake, A. W. Sykes, Col. W. H.
Kinglake, J. A. Talbot, C. R. M.
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. Tancred, H. W.
Thompson, Gen. Watkins, Col. L.
Thornely, T. Weguelin, T. M.
Tite, W. Whitbread, S.
Tollemache, hon. F. J. White, J.
Townsend, J. Willcox, B. M'G.
Trelawny, Sir J. S. Williams, W.
Tynte, Col. K. Willyams, E. W. B.
Villiers, rt. hon. C. P. Woods, H.
Vivian, H. H. Wyld, J.
Vivian, hon. J. C. W. TELLERS.
Waldron, L. Berkeley, hon. H. F.
Watkin, E. W. Shelley, Sir J. V.
List of the NOES.
Adderley, C. B. Corry, rt. hon. H. L.
Akroyd, E. Cotterell, Sir H. G.
Althorp, Visct. Damer, L. D.
Annesley, hon. H. Davison, R.
Archdall, Capt. M. Denison, E.
Baillie, H. J. Disraeli, rt. hon. B.
Ball, E. Dod, J. W.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Du Cane, C.
Baring, T. Duff, G. S.
Baring, hon. F. Dunbar, Sir W.
Bernard, T. T. Dundas, G.
Barrow, W. H. Dunlop, A. M.
Bathurst, A. A. Du Pre, C. G.
Beach, W. W. B. Dutton, hon. R. H.
Beaumont, W. B. East, Sir J. B.
Beecroft, G. S. Egerton, W. T.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Egerton, E. C.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Elcho, Lord
Blackburn, P. Ellis, hon. L. A.
Blakemore, T. W. B. Elmley, Visct.
Boldero, Col. Elphinstone, Sir J.
Booth, Sir R. G. Ennis, J.
Botfield, B. Estcourt, T. H. S.
Bovill, W. Euston, Earl of
Boyd, J. Farnham, E. B.
Bramley-Moore, J. Farquhar, Sir M.
Brown, J. Ferguson, Sir R.
Bruce, Lord E. Finlay, A. S.
Buller, Sir J. Y. FitzGerald, W. R. S.
Bunbury, W. B. M'C. Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W.
Burghley, Lord Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.
Burke, Sir T. J. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Forde, Col.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Forester, rt. hon. Col.
Cairns, H. M'C. Forster, Sir G.
Calcraft, J. H. Foster, W. O.
Carden, Sir R. W. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Carnac, Sir J. R. Gard, R. S.
Cavendish, Lord Gaskell, J. M.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Gilpin, Col.
Cavendish, hon. G. Glover, E. A.
Cayley, E. S. Glyn, G. G.
Cecil, Lord R. Goddard, A. L.
Child, S. Greaves, E.
Christy, S. Greenall, G.
Clark, J. J. Gregory, W. H.
Clinton, Lord R. Gray, Capt.
Clive, hon. R. W. Griffith, C. D.
Close, M. C. Grogan, E.
Codrington, Sir W. Grosvenor, Earl
Codrington, Gen. Gurdon, B.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Gurney, J. H.
Collins, T. Haddo, Lord
Colvile, C. R. Hamilton, Lord C.
Cooper, E. J. Hamilton, G. A.
Cowper, rt. hon. W. F. Hamilton, J. H.
Coote, Sir C. H. Handley, J.
Hayes, Sir E. Paull, H.
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Peel, Gen.
Heathcote, Sir W. Pennant, hon. Col.
Heathcote, hon. G. H. Pevensey, Visct.
Heneage, G. F. Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Powell, F. S.
Henniker, Lord Pritchard, J.
Herbert, H. A. Pugh, D.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Puller C. W.
Hildyard, R. C. Ramsay, Sir A.
Hodgson, W. N. Robertson, P. F.
Holford, R. S. Rolt, J.
Hope, A. J. B. B. Rushout, G.
Hopwood, J. T. Russell, Lord J.
Horsfall, T. B. Russell, H.
Hotham, Lord Russell, F. W.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Sandon, Visct.
Hudson, G. Sclater, G.
Hume, W. F. Scott, Capt. E.
Ingestre, Visct. Seymer, H. K.
Jermyn, Earl Sheridan, H. B.
Jervoise, Sir J. C. Sibthorp, Maj.
Johnstone, hon. H. B. Smith, M. T.
Johnstone, J. J. H. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Smith, Sir F.
Jolliffe, H. H. Smyth, Col.
Kendall, N. Smollett, A.
Kerrison, Sir E. C. Spooner, R.
King, J. K. Stafford, A.
King, E. B. Stafford, Marq. of
Knight, F. W. Stanhope, J. B.
Knightley, R. Steel, J.
Knox, hon. W. S. Steuart, A.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Stewart, Sir M. R. S.
Lennox, Lord A. F. Sturt, H. G.
Leslie, C. P. Sturt, C. N.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir G. C. Taylor, Col.
Liddell, hon. H. G. Tempest, Lord A. V.
Lincoln, Earl of Tollemache, J.
Lisburne, Earl of Tomline, G.
Lockhart, A. E. Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.
Lopes, Sir M. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Lowe, rt. hon. R. Vance, J.
Lowther, hon. Col. Vane, Lord H.
Lygon, hon. F. Vansittart, G. H.
Lytton, Sir G. E. L. B. Vansittart, W.
Macartney, G. Verner, Sir W.
Macaulay, K. Verney, Sir H.
Mackie, J. Waddington, H. S.
M'Clintock, J. Walcott, Adm.
Mainwaring, T. Walsh, Sir J.
Malins, R. Warburton, G. D.
Manners, Lord J. Warre, J. A.
Marsh, M. H. Warren, S.
Matheson, A. Welby, W. E.
Matheson, Sir J. White, H.
Miller, T. J. Whitmore, H.
Miller, S. B. Willoughby, J. P.
Mills, A. Wise, J. A.
Milton, Visct. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Morgan, O. Woodd, B. T.
Mowbray, J. R. Worsley, Lord
Naas, Lord Wrightson, W. B.
Napier, rt. hon. J. Windham, Gen.
Newark, Visct. Wyndham, Gen.
Newdegate, C. N. Wyndham, H.
Newport, Visct. Wyndham, W.
Noel, hon. G. J. Wynn, Col.
North, Col. Wynne, W. W. E.
Owen, Sir J. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Pakenham, Col. TELLERS.
Palk, L. Galway, Visct.
Palmer, R. Grey, R. W.