HC Deb 31 March 1859 vol 153 cc1157-263

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [21st March], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words— This House is of opinion, that it is neither just nor politic to interfere, in the manner proposed in this Bill, with the Freehold Franchise as hitherto exercised in the Counties in England and Wales; and that no re-adjustment of the Franchise will satisfy this House or the Country, which does not provide for a greater extension of the Suffrage in Cities and Boroughs than is contemplated in the present Measure, instead thereof.

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


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he thought it likely that the debate would close to-night or not? It would probably be a convenience to the House to know.


said, he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would refuse to pledge himself to close the debate tonight. The hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) made a statement which, in his opinion, was not perfectly correct, when he said that hon. Members were desirous of speaking, through the House, to their constituents; but he certainly was himself anxious to speak for a short time upon that subject.


rose to order, and wished to remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that, as the Order had been read from the Chair, he might be throwing away his opportunity if he meant to speak upon it.


—Sir, I rise "to order," as I do not wish to prejudice my right to speak on the question before the House. I hoped, Sir, the suggestion which I made on Tuesday, that the debate should terminate tonight, met the general wish of the House, and I am perfectly ready, as far as I am concerned, to fulfil my part of the agreement; but this is a matter which must be left to the general wishes of the House. In an important debate like the present, which must lead to serious consequences, I do not desire to take upon myself the responsibility of bringing it to a close against the wishes of hon. Members who think they have not had a fair and adequate opportunity of taking part in the discussion. So far, however, as the Government are concerned, they are perfectly ready to come to a division to-night if that be the general wish of the House. [Cries of "To-night."] If, on the other hand, it shall be the general wish that the debate shall proceed, I shall have great pleasure in seconding those wishes; but I hope that if it goes over to-night there will be some distinct understanding—[Loud Cries of "To-night"]—that the debate shall close to-morrow night. I must leave it to the House to decide upon the matter, and I feel sure the good sense and feeling of hon. Members will enable them to decide in accordance with the general wish. No doubt it will be for the convenience of the House to come at once to some definite understanding upon the subject.


said, he thought the matter was in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman himself, for if he would speak to-night the debate would be closed, as the House would not listen to other hon. Gentlemen.


desired to explain that he did not himself say hon. Members were speaking to their constituents; he had repeated what an hon. Member on the other side had said.

Debate resumed.


said, that in continuing a debate which would, he believed, be conspicuous in the annals of that House, not so much for the length to which it had extended as for the ability with which it had upon either side been conducted, it would indeed be an act of presumption on the part of himself, a young and inexperienced Member, if he were to say that he could hope, in the few observations he should make, to shed any new light or to throw the weight of any additional argument upon the subject which they had been so long discussing. But the position of embarrassment and difficulty in which the question was placed, and the natural wish which every Member of the House must feel to make known to his constituents not only the nature of the vote which he meant to give, but the reasons which induced him to give it, had induced him, somewhat reluctantly he should confess, to intrude himself upon the notice of the House, and to request their kind indulgence and forbearance, while he endeavoured, as briefly as he could, to state the reasons that had led him to the conclusion at which he had arrived upon that subject. He had never been one of those who thought that it was an error on the part of Her Majesty's Government to deal with that question of Parliamentary Reform. He never had thought that there was anything in Conservative principles which should prevent a Conservative Government from attempting such alterations and amendments in our representative system as the spirit of the age and the growing intelligence of the people seemed justly to demand. On the contrary, he believed that a debt of gratitude was due to her Majesty's Ministers for the manner in which, under circumstances to them of peculiar difficulty, they had endeavoured manfully to grapple with that question. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Marylebone (Mr. Edwin James) had remarked the other night that a measure of reform should be brought forward only by a strong Government. If the hon. and learned Gentleman meant by a "strong Government" a Government that sought to gain the confidence of that House, and to reflect the national opinion of the country by the wisdom, the justice, and the progress of its policy, then he for one most cordially subscribed to the hon. and learned Gentleman's definition. But if, on the other hand, the hon. and learned Gentleman meant by a "strong Government," a Government that sought to rule that House by the force alone of a blind and submissive majority, owning no other ties than those of an implicit party allegiance, then he (Mr. Du Cane) begged to say that in his humble opinion the days of such Governments and of such majorities had passed away for ever. It had been remarked as a singular feature of this debate that scarcely a Member had risen to express an unqualified approval of the measure of Her Majesty's Government. But while he admitted to a certain extent the justice of that remark, he should add that he thought that fact was in great measure owing to the very nature of the question of Parliamentary Reform, which necessarily interfered very rudely with individual fancies and individual interests; and a similar opposition would perhaps have been offered to any Reform Bill which could have been introduced. But there was another fact which had not been remarked on, and which might, he thought, justify them in hoping that they should be able to effect a settlement of the question, and that was, that while on the one hand hardly a single Member had risen to express an unqualified approval of the Government measure, on the other hand, hardly a single Member—with the exception, perhaps, of the hon. Member for Birmingham, and one or two who sat in his immediate neighbourhood—had shown that he regarded it with an unqualified disapprobation. Another fact was to be borne in mind, and that was that with the exception of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, who told the House that he only sat on the Ministerial side of the House by the courtesy of his hon. Friends near him, and not because he sympathized with their political opinions—with that illustrious exception there was not a single Member on that side of the House who had risen in support of the noble Lord's Resolution. Now, it seemed to him from the very commencement of the discussion, and notwithstanding the wide field over which they had wandered in the course of the debate, beginning last Monday week with the history of the progress of the country from the time of the Reform Bill, and winding up only two nights ago in the middle of the plains of Lombardy, that the real question they were called upon to decide was not whether the measure of the Government was the most perfect, comprehensive, and satisfactory scheme which could be laid upon the table of the House, but how they, the House of Commons could best devote their united energies towards effecting, if possible, a satisfactory settlement of the question. And to help them in their decision he thought that at all events one important fact had been elicited in the course of the debate, while on the one hand Her Majesty's Government did not call upon them to swallow "the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill," on the other hand the Government were not prepared to swallow their Bill clogged with the noble Lord's Resolution. They said they might have the Bill, or they might have the Resolution, but they could not have the Bill and the Resolution combined. He would ask how were they to settle the question now before them? Was it by accepting a Resolution which to his mind was purposely interposed at the very threshold of the discussion, to prevent some points of the discussion, and to anticipate others? Was it by accepting a Resolution, which, if carried, would inevitably put a stop to the further progress of this Bill, and retard to an indefinite period any chance of the legitimate settlement of the question? Or on the other hand, although there might be many individual differences of opinion as regarded the merits of the measure, should they allow the Bill to go into Committee, and then and their lend their united endeavours towards altering and amending what might be deemed its most objectionable features? He had not the slightest hesitation in declaring that he should vote in favour of adopting the latter of these two courses. It appeared to him that there had been two important facts elicited in the course of the debate—first, that it was the almost unanimous wish of the House that they should arrive at some settlement of the question in the course of the present Session; and the second was that any measure of reform that might ultimately receive the sanction of the House could only be passed by a system of mutual concession and mutual compromise and that no measure which was based upon any one individual set of opinions on this subject had the slightest possible chance of meeting with a successful issue. Let him (Mr. Du Cane) be allowed for a moment to glance at the various schemes of reform that had either been brought before the House, or indirectly hinted at in the course of the present debate. They had before them the scheme of Her Majesty's Government, and they knew pretty well what were the details of the scheme of the hon. Member for Birmingham, although it was not yet before the House. They were also treated the other night with an exposition of the sentiments of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, which appeared to coincide very much with those expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert) and the two right hon. Gentlemen who sat in his (Mr. Du Cane's) immediate neighbourhood (Mr. Walpole and Mr. Henley). He had heard it stated more than once in the course of the debate that if Her Majesty's Government had placed on the table of the House a measure more in accordance with the sentiments held by those two right hon. Gentlemen it would have been more generally acceptable, and have had a better chance of arriving at a successful issue. He did not for one moment mean to say that, holding as he did certain opinions with respect to uniformity of suffrage which he had previously avowed in that House, he should not have given his support to such a measure. At the same time he was well entitled to ask what security would Her Majesty's Government have had, looking to certain events that occurred last year, if they had placed upon the table of the House a measure based on such principles, that they would not have been outbid upon the question in the first instance? He ventured to ask the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, if such were his honest sentiments on the question of Parliamentary Reform, and especially as respected the county franchise, why did he and the other hon. Gentlemen near the noble Lord vote for the County Franchise Bill of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Surrey (Mr. Locke King) last year? No doubt he should be told that the preamble of that Bill did not, on its face, express any opinion as to the desirability of uniformity of suffrage; still, its principle was expressed in the manner in which the blanks were filled up, and it was abundantly plain, independently of his speeches, that the intention of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Surrey was to create a £10 county franchise. He should, perhaps, be told that the noble Lord and other hon. Gentlemen voted on that question merely in order to express their opinion that the county franchise ought to be lowered: but the House would permit him to reply, in answer to that, that the Motion he (Mr. Du Cane) moved in that House was the previous question; that voting in support of that Motion would have debarred no Member of the House from considering that subject at some future period, and that, although no definite pledge was made by Her Majesty's Government, he thought they had sufficiently intimated at that time that it was their intention, in the coming Session, to deal with the whole question of Parliamentary Reform. Let him be allowed also to add that at the time that measure was brought forward the Session was very far advanced; they were deep in the discussion of Indian affairs and in the reconstruction of the whole Government of India; there was scarcely the slightest chance of the Bill becoming the law of the land, and even if it became law there was little chance seeing that the business of the Registration courts would have been nearly finished, of its having any practical effect before the House would be engaged in the discussion of the whole question of Parliamentary Reform. He would not presume to question the motives which prompted that decision, for it would ill become him, as a young Member, to ascribe factious or interested motives to any one; but whatever might have been the motives which inspired the decision, the practical effect was that Her Majesty's Government had felt themselves to a certain extent bound by that decision; and that they had been somewhat unfairly cramped and fettered in their construction of the measure the House was now engaged in discussing. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton took credit the other night for the uniform forbearance with which he had treated Her Majesty's Government since their accession to office. Certainly, in the course of this debate he told them that he should forbid them to resign, to dissolve Parliament, or to withdraw the Bill; and declared that they should sit on the Treasury Bench as the slaves of the ring and the lamp, and do the bidding of the House. He thought, however that the noble Lord would have evinced much more magnanimity—would have pursued a far more open course towards Her Majesty's Government—if at the time this question was discussed last year he had stated openly, frankly, and fairly, what were his sentiments on the subject of the county franchise and have left Her Majesty's Government free to accept or reject the proposition of the Member for East Surrey. With respect to the Bill before the House, he could not avoid stating his opinion, and he considered it his duty to express his opinion openly, frankly, and freely, as became an independent Member. While there was much in the scheme of the Government which met with his cordial approbation—while there was much that would form and must form, part of any comprehensive measure of Reform that the House would ultimately pass—there were two prominent features in this Bill with respect of which he could not speak otherwise than in terms of disapprobation. He had no wish to enter into a long story upon the present occasion, and he would therefore say briefly, and without equivocation, that the points in this Bill to which he could not give his assent were the identity of suffrage and the disfranchisement of the freeholders. He would not detain the House by entering into any argument on the question of the freehold disfranchisement. He believed that that question and identity of suffrage were closely connected with each other, and that if they had the one they must have the other; while, on the other hand, if they got rid of the one they must or ought to get rid of the other. Still less did he feel inclined, after the able manner in which that question had been argued in the debate, to go at length into any argument either for or against identity of suffrage. He remembered that when last year he had an opportunity of stating his views upon the question of Parliamentary Reform he touched at some length upon the question of the uniformity of suffrage, and the opinions he then enunciated he maintained still. But it seemed to him that this question of identity of suffrage was a species of chameleon in the Bill, which presented itself in different hues to almost every speaker. They had been told in the course of this debate by some hon. Members that this identity of the suffrage was the main unalterable principle of the Bill; by others that it was certainly a prominent feature of the measure but not its principle; and he also heard it said that the Bill contained no identity of suffrage at all, and it had been further somewhat obscurely hinted that the Bill was no Reform Bill at all. He was somewhat oppressed with the multiplicity of opinions upon this portion of the measure, but he was himself inclined to subscribe to the second class of opinions, that identity of suffrage was a main feature of the Bill as it now stood, but that it was not its principle. He believed, however, that this identity of suffrage was a very different thing from the uniformity of suffrage, pure and simple, which would have been brought about last year by the passing of the measure of the hon. Member for East Surrey in its integrity, and he thought it was very much mitigated by the various franchises which the Bill sought to introduce. He was further inclined to believe that the principle of the Bill was that which was expressed in its title—namely, that it was a measure for the reform of the representation of the people of this country. He did not hesitate to say that if he believed the identity of suffrage was the main unalterable principle of the Bill he should not vote for its second reading; but he would ask any one who had listened to the declaration made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, any one who had listened to the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty, whether he was not by this time fully convinced that there was not a particle of this Bill, from its most prominent feature down to its minutest detail, which, if it were allowed to go into Committee, would not be open to the calm consideration and deliberation of the House. He had stated what he disapproved of in the Bill; would the House permit him, in a few words, to state the features of the Bill of which he approved? He approved, first of all, of the manner in which the Bill dealt with the redistribution of the seats; and as he happened to represent a constituency that would be in no way affected by the redistribution contemplated either by this Bill or by the scheme of the hon. Member for Birmingham, his opinion might be regarded as tolerably disinterested. He would pass over, on the present occasion, the opportunity this measure offered for effecting considerable improvements in the law of our Registration. The present state of which could not be considered satisfactory either as respected the Members or the constituencies whom they represented. He would say nothing of the opportunity which, if the House went into Committee upon this Bill, would be given for settling that which had been an annual bone of contention in that House, and which would continue to be so until a Reform Bill had been passed—namely, the question of the payment of travelling expenses for voters. If he were asked what was the chief feature in the Bill to which he gave his firm support, he would say—contrary to the opinion of the noble Lord the Member for London—it was to that portion of the measure which proposed to deal with the working classes in relation to the suffrage. It appeared to him that a franchise founded upon education and upon intelligence, and a franchise based upon an encouragement to the formation of habits of industry and frugality were both such as could not fail to be acceptable to the working classes of the country. He was not inclined to concur in those expressions of contempt which had been used with respect to what were termed the "fancy franchises" proposed by the Bill, either as regarded the numbers they were likely to admit to the franchise, the theory upon which they were based, or the feeling of the people on the subject. He believed that they had obtained from the few public meetings which had been held no real and true expression of the opinion of the working classes; and he thought that the House had received no accurate information with respect to the actual number of persons who would be admitted by the savings 'banks and lodgers' clauses. It was his firm belief, that when the House received accurate information upon that subject, the addition to the number of persons admitted to the electoral franchise would be found to exceed by several thousands the number which had been anticipated. It appeared to him that these propositions were based on the only true theory upon which they could admit the masses of the country to the franchise, and introducing as they did a means by which the working classes could easily qualify themselves to receive the franchise, and which would extend the franchise to the industrious and intelligent of the working classes, without extending it to the indiscriminate mass. The hon. and learned Member for Marylebone stated the other night in the course of his speech a fact which he (Mr. Du Cane) thought was one pregnant with warning against the danger of an indiscriminate extension of the suffrage to the industrial classes of the country. The hon. and learned Member pointed to himself as an instance of the sort of men whom the working class would choose as their representative. He (Mr. Du Cane) did not mean to say that that was the fact pregnant with warning to which he wished to allude. He was very glad to see the hon. and learned Gentleman in the House, although a few years ago he employed his great forensic eloquence to unseat him; but he bore no malice for that. But the hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say that in Marylebone, out of a constituency of 20,000, only 10,000 recorded their votes at the last election, and that these voters were comprised almost exclusively of the industrious classes of the constituency. That circumstance might, as the hon. and learned Gentleman said, be a proof of the value the industrial classes placed upon the franchise; but it seemed to him to prove also that in large constituencies, such as Finsbury and Marylebone, the industrious classes of the constituencies had already begun to neutralize the votes of the upper and middle classes; and it might be taken as a warning that if there was a general and indiscriminate extension of the suffrage the effect of it would be entirely to neutralize not only the higher classes of intelligence, but property also. In the hope that the House would consent to go into Committee, he would refrain from further remarks on the details of the measure. He thought he had stated reasons enough why, although not concurring entirely in the Bill, he should refuse to join in the Resolution which they were told was to be taken as a vote of want of confidence in the Government. He thought that during the short time they had been in office the present Ministry had, in what they had done, entitled themselves most fully to the confidence and the gratitude of this House and of the country. Although their measure might not be a perfect one, he would rather join the ranks of those who would help them to amend and improve it than those who would cut the ground altogether from beneath their feet, and retard indefinitely the settlement of this question. He wished now to say a few words upon the Resolution itself. The first part of the Resolution had already, he believed, as good as lapsed; and as to the second half, it must be a very bad Bill indeed that would induce him to assent to a proposition which might mean anything in the world, from the maintenance of the status quo down to universal suffrage. Supposing the noble Lord carried his Resolution and made himself master of the situation, what were his intentions in regard to Reform? The object of those who sat behind him was obvious enough. Whatever might be the opinion of the House upon the merits or demerits of the various Reform manifestoes which had been issued from Birmingham and elsewhere, they at least were remarkable for the candour and simplicity with which they had been unveiled. But had the noble Lord no definite intentions of his own? At the present moment he stood before the public and the House very much in the position of that ingenious speculator who, in the days of the memorable South Sea bubble, issued a prospectus, and called upon a confiding public to invest their money in an undertaking "to be of great public advantage, but nobody to know what it is." He ventured to warn the House against the course they were called upon to adopt and reject in toto the measure before them. If the question were dealt with at the present time, it would be under the banner of a Conservative Administration, and there was at least reasonable expectation that any measure which might be passed would be a fair and equitable compromise between the various shades of opinions which prevailed in this House on the subject. But let the present moment go by, and the scene wholly changed. This year the alternative might be between the Government Bill amended and improved in Committee and none at all; but next year the alternative must be between a measure emanating from Birmingham, about the details of which they knew a great deal too much, and the measure, of the details of which they knew a great deal too little, which might possibly emanate from the noble Lord. Let but a year go by, and the House would have rejected entirely the Conservative element in dealing with this question; they would find that the hour for voluntary and graceful compromise was past and gone, and that they had inaugurated instead the hour of humiliating concession and forced surrender. He was no advocate of finality in Reform, nor did he think it possible for this or any Government to produce a measure at once so comprehensive and so perfect as to preclude in all future ages any further agitation or reopening of the question. It was an hallucination to expect any such finality as that; and, theoretically speaking, he agreed with De Tocqueville, who, in his work on Democracy in America, said that when a nation once began to modify the elective franchise, sooner or later concession followed concession, and there could be no ultimate resting-place short of universal suffrage. In theory this might be so; but practically speaking, he believed that in the history of a country governed by representative institutions there could be passed from time to time such measures of amendment and alteration in those institutions as would, even while they made concession to the voice of popular opinion, tend by their judgment and moderation to post- pone the day of what he could not regard as otherwise than the consummation of a universal catastrophe. He did not assert that such a measure was now before the House; but such a measure he did assert it was in their power to construct from the materials with which they were furnished by this Bill. But to do that they must keep before their eyes the real nature of the question which was at issue in this struggle. That question was not the mere rise or fall of a Conservative or Liberal Administration, not the more claim of rival statesmen to the sweets of office; no, it was the whole system of our Government by representative institutions, the entire constitution of the country that stood arrayed in judgment before them. They might be hurried on by the desire for reckless innovation to undermine in a moment that fabric which for centuries it had been the noblest ambition of our statesmen to rear and to perfect. Or they might on the other hand adopt a hardly less pernicious course, they might keep this question dangling for years before the eyes of the people of this country; they might palter with the people in a double sense, and Keep the word of promise to the ear, But break it to the hope, until their feelings and their passions became alike aroused, and it would then be vain to try to stem the torrent or to quell the storm that they themselves had evoked. The right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham), in one of the most able, and one, also of the most dangerous speeches which he had ever heard, drew a vivid picture of the gradual approach of democratic invasion. The right hon. Gentleman warned the House that even now the enemy was preparing his forces for attack; but, said the right hon. Baronet, "though I can raise the finger to warn, I feel myself powerless to raise my hand to strike a manly blow in defence of our institutions; no! I prefer rather to imitate the example of the ancient senator, and folding my robes with classic dignity around me to await with a happy mixture of sublime indifference and stoical serenity my coming and inevitable doom," He (Mr. Du Cane) thought they might propose to themselves a nobler course, and might pursue a higher aim. They might throw aside all party feeling and all petty jealousy, and lend, as to a common cause, the united energy, the united talent, the united intellect of the greatest representative assembly the world had yet beheld to amend and improve those institutions they had so long learned to venerate and to protect. One of the greatest and wisest of their statesmen had told them that party was a body of men united for promoting by their joint endeavours the national interest upon some common principle on which they were all agreed. He could have wished that, for the ends and to accomplish the object he had endeavoured to foreshadow, the House would, even at the eleventh hour, and hastening rapidly as they were towards the closing scene of that great debate agree, to adopt Mr. Burke's definition of party. That he could have wished would have been alone the spirit that had animated this debate and regulate their decision, that spirit it was at all events that had induced him to address these few observations to the House, and to tender as far as the second reading of this Bill was con-corned, his cordial support to Her Majesty's administration.


Sir, I rise to offer a few observations on the most important subject we are now discussing; and, Sir, considering the number of Gentlemen who are still desirous of addressing the House, I think the time for lengthy speeches is wholly gone by; though I have no doubt that to any Gentleman who may desire to address the House, the House will afford their kind and courteous attention. But after this protracted discussion, after the very satisfactory manner in which I think the Bill of the Government has been debated and discussed—"dissected and disembowelled," to use the phrase of the right hon. Member for Ashton (Mr. Milner Gibson)—after the admirable and able speech of the right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham), I do not propose now to enter into a lengthy discussion of the subject, or to philosophise with the Secretary for the Colonies (Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton) on the bearing of this "middle-class" Bill. We who rise at this late period of the discussion do so under very considerable embarrassment—almost everything that can be urged has been said—all the points have been alluded to, and it is difficult to engage the attention of the House. I am not going, therefore, to ask them to discuss the letter of Lord Grey, or to offer thanksgivings with the Member for Cambridge town (Mr. K. Macaulay)—I am not going to quote Clarendon, Mackintosh, or De Tocqueville, or to read extracts from the writings of the atheistical friends of the Indian Secretary. I must say I was much surprised that the noble Lord should quote in this House the opinions of a man like Mr. Holyoak. Of course he has a right to quote whom he pleases, but the noble Lord ought to remember that it is he that goes about the country and endeavours to address people in towns against the Bible. The other day he was announced to address a meeting in Doncaster; but there was a universal feeling against it, and the Mayor, who had given his permission for the use of the Town-hall, was obliged to withdraw it. I am not going to draw the House over the ground taken up by the right hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Ellice) and the hon. Member for Marylebone (Mr. E. James), or to discuss the question of clerks being entrusted with bags of voting papers. But, Sir, if I cannot hope in the discussion of this subject to introduce fresh matter, or materials into a careful examination of the details of the Bill; at least we have the advantage of being in a position to make more direct and positive appeals. We can gain wisdom from the past. We can follow the course of the debate which has already taken place, and, following the example of the First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir John Pakington), in common with one or two others, we can inquire into and discuss the opinions and consistency of some hon. Gentlemen, and then, laying aside all the asperities of party feeling, we can discuss the subject with the honest moderation of the Solicitor General. Now, Sir, I wish to ask the House one plain and simple question—Where are we? I do not mean in what place are the six hundred palpitating Members who are so eager to vote—but where are we in the discussion of this grave and serious question? I have sat here during seven nights' debate almost without solution of continuity. I believe all of us have paid attention to the discussion, and I have sat since Monday week listening to the sentiments of hon. Gentlemen, and I must say that we within the vicinity of the gangway have been positively bewildered, not as to the votes we shall give, but by the opinions we have heard expressed. I recollect to have read that the celebrated John Wilkes in a conversation to which he was admitted with the King, being asked what really were his political opinions, replied—"As regards my own opinions, I, (Wilkes) never was a Wilkite." Many hon. Gentlemen here are much in this position. We have heard opinions expressed on that side of the House that might have come from this, and opinions uttered on this side of the House that might have been supposed to come from the other. We have heard Conservatives expressing not only Liberal but Radical opinions, and on the other hand Gentlemen on this side not only endeavouring to throw dissension among our ranks, but also holding opinions that more properly belong to the other side. Let me give some examples there are the right hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Walpole), and the right hon. Member by his side (Mr. Henley). They have withdrawn from the Government, and they have done so with a dignity which I highly appreciate. Lord Derby admits that he has lost two able and accomplished men, but he admits, at the same time, that he has lost the services of what he calls "his two late right hon. Radical colleagues." I never thought before the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire was a Radical. It must have thrown confusion into the Household of many an Oxfordshire squire when it was announced that Lord Derby took the right hon. Gentleman to be a Radical. Then we heard from the other side a cry which seldom issues from thence, although its influence may be often felt. "Who is afraid of the people?" "I am not afraid of the people," said that burly agriculturist the hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Henry Sturt) and he added, "I do not fear them because I am a Conservative." Then there is the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), and I must say I was very sorry to hear the opinions he expressed. Somebody has called him a Paladin, and I must say he did gallop most furiously through the serried ranks of this Opposition. I am rather glad to add that he got a fall and was a little bit shaken; but all danger to his constitution was removed by the very copious doses of "Dover's powders" that were administered to him. Then there was the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Oxford University (Mr. Gladstone), whose extraordinary power of debate is such that he has constituted himself the glory and ornament of this assembly. I do not say we can very frequently follow his views, or that we always adopt his conclusions; but such are his wonderful periods, such his exalted eloquence, that he is a bold man who can follow him in debate without a feeling of timidity. There, too, is the right hon. Member for Dublin University (Mr. Whiteside), whom somebody called the other night a windy orator. This debate began on Monday week, and certainly, after the speech of the noble Lord the Member for London, it was a little slow; but when the right hon. Gentleman got up to address the House, he spoke with all that torrent, tempest, and I may say, whirlwind of passion, which if it did not add much weight to his argument, at least threw a good deal of spirit and vivacity into the discussion, The hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat said he had not quite given up the opinions which he advocated last year, and I was glad to hear that, because those opinions were very strong. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is not aware of what he did say last year. He then said that he considered the existence of a uniformity of suffrage would put an end to all free and independent legislation. He went on to say that he regarded uniformity of suffrage as erroneous in theory and mischievous in practice; and he also added that "we could not look on tamely"—whatever that means—" and see uniformity of franchise established." Those were the opinions of the hon. Gentleman then; and I am glad to see that he still, to some extent, adheres to them. Well, now, with these varieties of opinion it is no wonder that some hon. Gentlemen should feel a little bewildered as to the votes they shall give, and some new Members, perhaps, may not have made up their minds which of the Resolutions, Amendments, counter-resolutions, Bills, and propositions they shall support. But may I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he thinks will be the probable fate of this Bill, or may I ask in the language of the fashionable novelist opposite, "What will he do with it?" The right hon. Member for Dublin University had likened the noble Lord the Member for London, the noble Viscount the Member for Tiverton, and a third person—a dark necromancer—to the three witches in Macbeth dancing round the cauldron; but I should rather have been inclined to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the words of Hamlet in his soliloquy as conveying a very appropriate application under existing circumstances— To be or not to be—that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler for the mind to suffer The stings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles; And by opposing, end them. To die"— No, not at all. There is no talk of dying. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton has recommended the Government to go on and take the Resolution of the noble Lord, and, if it is adopted by the House to proceed with it and incorporate it with their Bill. The First Lord of the Admiralty, indeed, has called it a very factious and offensive Resolution. I do not think he is justified in saying so. Let us consider what this Bill for amending the representation of the people really is. There have been many faults found with it, and by no one more than by the right hon. Member for Stroud, who has read the Bill more attentively than any one in this House, or at least ought to have done so before using such strong terms. He disembowelled the Bill, and for that reason he was complimented by the First Lord of the Admiralty. Now, if this Bill be adopted there will be this advantage, that it will lead almost immediately to some practical legislation upon the subject, and that may be of some moment in the eyes of hon. Gentlemen and of the country. But what would the Resolution do? That Resolution at first sight appears to be open to some objections. I say at first sight only does it bear the appearance of an abstract proposition. Hon. Gentlemen may say, We can't determine whether we will vote for the Resolution, because we do not know what is the extent of the noble Lord's opinions. But the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Solicitor General are quite indignant, and they say this Resolution is most irregular and unparliamentary, an opinion which they assert to be based upon the highest authority—out of doors. But we know, Sir, from you that it is quite regular and Parliamentary. But what said that right hon. Gentleman the ex-Commissioner Imperial? He thought there was no precedent for a Resolution being moved, upon the second reading of a Bill which selected one important point specially for objection. The Solicitor General, too, sitting by the side of my gallant relative the Minister of War, said that such a course was unprecedented. But what is the fact? Why, in 1844, upon the second reading of what is called Peel's Bank Charter Act, an Amendment was moved by Mr. Hawes, (the then Member for Lambeth), upon some particular portion of that measure. The House) divided—Ayes 185; Noes 30—and upon that unprecedented occasion, that quite unparliamentary proceeding, voted the right hon. Gentle- man the Member for Oxford University and the present Minister for War; whilst the highest authority out of doors, hinted at by the First Lord of the Admiralty as concurring in the opinion that the present Resolution of the noble Lord was irregular and unparliamentary, was Speaker of the House of Commons on that occasion. But it is said hon. Gentlemen do not know what are the intentions of the noble Lord. Upon that subject I think there is little need for uneasiness as to what will be the proceeding for the noble Lord: for such is the growing desire in this country to have this great question of Parliamentary Reform thoroughly considered and satisfactorily settled, that it is clear that if the Government be defeated on this occasion, and shall think it their duty to relinquish office, the noble Lord will, without delay, proceed to lay on the table a Bill bearing on the representation of the country. And more than that; I think the noble Lord, in the event of the House sanctioning his Resolution, will be prepared to avail himself of the earliest opportunity of making a formal statement on the subject. [Lord J. RUSSELL: Hear!] That cheer from the noble Lord confirms me in the impression I entertain on that point, and that he is determined to act in this matter as becomes a Statesman. But the Resolution of the noble Lord involves a serious issue. If this Resolution be adopted, we are told by some right hon. Gentlemen opposite that it will be considered as tantamount to a vote of want of confidence in Government. Now, I for one must say that I see no very great inconvenience in that contingency. This, Sir, is not the first time that we have seen an obstructive and a weak Government removed from their places by a vote of the House, and obliged to give way to men more competent and representing better the feelings of the people. But, as regards the question of Reform, what serious inconvenience can arise if, the present Government being unable to effect a satisfactory settlement of it, it should be necessary to adjourn the solution of it, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashton and the hon. Member for Birmingham wished, for one or two years longer? [An hon. MEMBER: Five years.] Did the right hon. Gentleman say for five years? Well, that is rather a long time, I confess. Let us say for two or three years, if you please, for argument's sake. But even if we allow this question to stand adjourned for five years, I main- tain, Sir, that a little healthy agitation on the question might take place without any evil arising there from. I, for one, think that a full and fair discussion of the great principles involved cannot prove otherwise than for the public advantage, and must tend to exercise a wholesome and use-full influence on the deliberations of this House. But the noble Lord has been made the subject of some special observations from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General. It is quite true, that on Friday the hon. and learned Gentleman thought proper to come down to the House and to express his regret for the intemperate language he had used. The Solicitor General taunted the noble Lord, and pressed him to give some explanation of his intentions. He thought, indeed, he had found a vulnerable point in the noble Lord when he armed himself with some old extracts from public papers with which he felt he could annihilate him for ever. But what, after all, did they amount to? The Solicitor General proceeded to read about something, which somebody had heard from somebody, that the noble Lord had said. The hon. and learned Gentleman, having urged the noble Lord to make some explanation, had the bad taste to impute to him unworthy motives of private advantage. [Cries of "No, no!"] I say, yes; the Solicitor General indulged at the time I have referred to in those imputations towards the noble Lord. ["No, no!"] But the noble Lord treated the imputations of the hon. and learned Gentleman with such kindness and consideration that I will not presume to make any further reference to the matter. I may observe, however, I think that the Solicitor General, with his acknowledged ability, should not have permitted himself to be led away into such an objectionable train of observation. The hon. and learned Gentleman should recollect that those who live in glass houses—["Oh, oh!"]—yes, I say that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Sir, when I hear the noble Lord, a high-minded Gentleman and statesman, whose conduct we all approve of, attacked in this House in so unbecoming a manner, I think I shall perhaps be acting better by saying no more upon the subject, but leave it to the noble Lord himself to reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman in such a manner as will heap coals of fire upon his head. The Solicitor General sought to injure the public character of the noble Lord whose Resolution he characterized as a "dodge." The attack did not succeed. The blow intended for the noble Lord has recoiled upon the hon. and learned Gentleman himself, and he has felt compelled to come down to the House and to apologize. I now leave the hon. and learned Gentleman to discuss with his right hon. Colleague the Secretary of State for the Colonies the objects and merits of this "middle-class Bill." I confess I was surprised, Sir, to hear the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Colonies say that the mainspring and back-bone of this Bill was to confirm to the middle classes that political power which they had exercised for upwards of twenty years. Well, but the whole of this Bill has been disembowelled to the back-bone by many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, including the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), who was, however, highly complimented by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies for the manly and statesmanlike views he had given expression to in the course of this discussion. But the right hon. Baronet went on to say— I grant the Bill is not one which Gentlemen below the gangway would give if it were their task to make one; but, so far as the Government is concerned, I ask those very Gentlemen, as men of honour, if Lord Derby's Government had passed a Bill according to your models, though you would have accepted the Bill, would you not have despised its authors? Should we not have been traitors to those we represent? We should have come into your camp, not as now, with a fair flag of truce and overtures of mutual compromise, but with standards trailed in the dust, and offering up the keys of every fortress which the loyalty of our partizans had confided to our charge. No! If a Reform Bill such as you desire must be carried, it is for you to propose it; it is not for us. But before you raise the scythe to mow us down, look again at the hour-glass! What is to be the next Government? Can it last if the Member for Birmingham and the noble Viscount, if the hon. Member for Sheffield and the Member for London, do not sit on the same Treasury bench? Now, it is quite true that this indeed would be a very singular combination; but we have seen equally extraordinary combinations before this come to pass. It is only necessary for hon. Members to look at the back of this Bill to see, in my mind, as curious a combination—namely, the names of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of War associated together as the authors of this extraordinary measure. Now, what tines this Bill aim at? It proposes, for- sooth, to amend the laws relating to the representation of the people. Why, it excites the most general dissatisfaction throughout the country, it unsettles existing arrangements, and it does not admit any portion of the industrious classes to the rights to which they are entitled. It admits, no doubt, a new class of county voters into boroughs, and deprives a number of borough freeholders of their ancient rights to a vote. It maintains too all the small boroughs, and enacts a new system of voting—namely by voting papers. Now, I think that there can be no more objectional system than that of voting by means of those papers. A Return has been moved for lately of the number of those who had really voted in the metropolis during the last election. An hon. Member quoting this Return said, look what an advantage the system of voting papers would be to Marylebone, for example, where it appeared that only 10,000 voted out of 20,000 electors at the last election. Now, it is quite true that such was the proportion of those who voted at the last election for Marylebone; but the House would recollect that there were only two candidates at the time, and those two gentlemen belonged to the liberal side of politics. This fact is sufficient to account for the circumstance of so many of the electors having abstained from voting for the important borough of Marylebone. Sir, I consider this provision for voting papers most objectionable. I believe the system will lead to great mistrust, and, as it has already done in the election of poor-law-guardians, it will lead to gross and notorious frauds. I do not know whether the right hon. Member for Leeds is here; but no man knows better than that hon. Gentleman that this system in respect to the election of Guardians for the poor has led to serious and gross frauds in the borough of Leeds. In the words of a Petition presented to this House by the corporation, and others resident in that borough, I must say, Sir, that I am for one inclined to adhere to the principles so ably laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham). I do not want to see any displacement of the present system for such as is proposed in the measure of the Government. I am not for electoral districts nor for universal suffrage. I adhere to the policy enunciated by the right hon. Baronet, particularly when he said, My belief is at this moment, that the Bill should take as the common point of its departure the £10 franchise; that it should lower the borough franchise; that it should prohibit the payment of travelling expenses, and should multiply the number of polling places; that it should disfranchise the very small boroughs, and that the measure generally should be so framed that the proper influences in the larger cities should command the support of the majority of the electors. Now, to such an electoral system as that I for one would be disposed to give my cordial assent. But above all things, in common with, I believe, every Member of the House, I desire to see the principles involved in this serious question treated in such a manner as would lead to a satisfactory settlement of it. I desire to see it treated in some effectual manner—whether it be in this year, or the next year—such as will lead to some settlement of the matter. Now, I do not think that any such settlement can be expected from this crude and undigested measure. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge said it was a crude and undigested Bill. I consider that the House of Commons, speaking through its members generally, has said so also; although at the same time they have universally expressed the opinion that it was desirable to take the question into their consideration, with a view to the framing of an efficient measure of Reform. But I contend that the House has already virtually condemned this Bill. I think, Sir, that the House of Commons has acted wisely in this respect. I believe that it has faithfully represented the state of public opinion out of doors, and has thus given an echo to the sentiments which have been expressed upon the platform at every meeting where this question has been discussed. The House of Commons, I repeat, has acted wisely and justly in this respect. Sir, it is impossible we can conceal from ourselves the fact that there is in this House, as well as in the country generally, a growing desire to see the electoral rights extended to the industrious classes who possess intelligence, and who, by their social position, are justly entitled to enjoy those rights and privileges. I trust, then, that the House will not listen to the appeal that has been made to them from the Ministerial side of the House, to adopt that bastard system of legislation which has been proposed to you. I consider the system recommended to us by the Government as a most injurious and pernicious one. If the House wants the question to be boldly and efficiently treated, they must confine the task of framing a measure to those more capable of dealing with it—to abler and better hands. We must look to the noble Lord himself, who has hereditary claims upon the House and the country in relation to this great subject, or to the hon. Member for Birmingham, whose zeal in the cause, as well as great abilities, are generally acknowledged, whose influence out of doors is considerable, and who can give weight and authority to the opinions which he holds upon this question. Now, it has been said that the noble Lord is actuated by party motives; it has been also said that this Amendment has been brought forward as a subtle contrivance to displace the Government. Sir, I for one can safely say I support the Resolution not from any party motives, certainly not from any factious motives, but purely upon public grounds. I can see no such motives as those imputed to the supporters of the noble Lord's Resolution; I believe that the Amendment contains a distinct and definite principle not to be found in the Bill of the Government, and one which Members on both sides of the House—certainly a large majority on this—are prepared to adopt. I should, Sir, be ashamed of myself if, while giving my vote in favour of the Resolution, I did not think that the noble Lord was actuated by the purest motives. I think I am justified in saying so, because some allusions have been made to the debate of last year. I think, in referring to that particular discussion, I can show clearly that I, at all events, was not prepared to give up entirely to that particular party with which I had been heretofore connected, the free exercise of an independent judgment; and on two great occasions I may say I think that individually, I, as much as any one, contributed to place and maintain the present Government in those places which they now occupy. I felt, Sir, the deepest regret, on those occasions, at being obliged to separate myself from a man for whom I have generally felt the warmest political sympathies and the deepest personal attachment. But on this occasion I rejoice to say there is no difference of opinion between us. It has been told us as a taunt that we are divided into three sections. Whatever may be alleged as to the past, never let it be said that at a moment of great national crisis we are divided; but on the contrary that upon an emergency of such an importance, we can merge our differences and become united when we think that such a union will tend to promote the public good. I think, Sir, that that union is now complete, and that we shall, with the exception of one or two desertions, all be found to stand faithfully to those principles which have made the great Liberal party of this country the recognized organ of public opinion. Let us remain true to our colours, not only on the hustings but in this House; and if we are true to the pledges we have given out of this House, we may look forward with confidence to the ultimate decision of this question, we may look forward with hope to the conclusion of this debate, and in the triumphant majority that shall welcome the Resolution of the noble Lord, the people of this country will gratefully recognize the wisdom and the justice of the House of Commons.


said, he did not rise to follow the hon. Baronet who had last spoken (Sir Robert Peel) through the discursive speech which he had just delivered, but to state as shortly and clearly as he could the grounds upon which his own vote would be given. If he had had the good fortune to concur in opinion either with Her Majesty's Government upon the one side, or with the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell) upon the other, he should have been perfectly satisfied to give a silent vote, and to leave the discussion in the hands of those who were more accustomed than he was to take part in their debates. But there were occasions on which it was almost a duty upon the part of independent Members of Parliament, in justice to their constituents, and in justice to their own convictions, to come forward and avow the sentiments they entertained upon questions of great public interest. There were many provisions in this Bill to which he (Mr. Gaskell) was altogether unable to assent, while at the same time he could not vote for the Resolution which had been moved by the noble Lord. It appeared to him that a false issue was raised by that Resolution, and that this was not the time or the manner in which the propositions contained in it could be most advantageously discussed. He repeated, however, that there were many provisions in the Bill to which he was not able to assent. He could not bring himself to approve the uniformity of suffrage, of which they had heard so much; he had always been of opinion that that House should contain the representation of varied interests, and that they should find their way to it by a great variety of rights of election: he did not believe that uniformity of suffrage would produce a just representation of those interests, and he should regret the success of any scheme which went to substitute—in however modified a form—the representation of numbers for the representation of classes. He was glad that Her Majesty's Government had agreed to alter, and he trusted that in the event of their going into Committee they would consent to abandon that portion of the Bill which affected the franchise of the county freeholders in boroughs. In his (Mr. Gaskell's) opinion, the security to be derived from such a measure would be wholly illusory; he believed that it would have the effect of estranging and of irritating a respectable and loyal body of men, and that no countervailing benefit would be obtained. He doubted the policy of establishing a non-residential suffrage in towns, and distrusted the system of voting papers which it was intended to introduce; he could not help concurring in opinion with the right hon. Baronet who sat near him, the Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham), that this last proposal contained the germ of secret voting at elections, and to secret voting at elections he was firmly and irreconcilably opposed. For himself, he did not hesitate to say that he would rather vote for universal suffrage to-morrow than for the adoption of vote by ballot; he would rather face what he believed to be a great public danger than acquiesce in what he should feel to be a great national degradation. Those, however, were matters that could be discussed hereafter; the questions now before the House were these—was an abstract Resolution the most convenient and most fitting mode of testing the opinion of the House of Commons with reference to this Bill, and was it or was it not desirable that they should make at least an attempt to legislate upon this subject during the present Session? Now he, (Mr. Gaskell), was ready to admit that he was one of those—of what he believed to be a very numerous class out of doors, whatever it might be in that House—who regretted that under the present circumstances of the country Her Majesty's Government had brought this question forward. The regret he felt was not founded upon any distrust of the loyalty or of the intelligence of the people; it was not founded upon a disbelief in their fitness to exercise the elective franchise; it was founded upon the state of public opinion, upon the state of parties, and upon the state of Europe. In the first place he (Mr. Gaskell) did not believe that there was at present such an agreement of opinion among moderate and reflecting men on the subject of Parliamentary Reform as afforded the prospect of satisfactory legislation. He did not believe that there was any general desire in this country for extensive organic changes in the Constitution. He believed that the agitation upon this question was more a factitious than a real one: he believed that there was little sympathy with those who desired to see that House usurping all the powers of the State, and who sought the undisguised and unrestrained predominance of democracy in the institutions of the country. In the next place he was of opinion—and nothing which he had heard in the course of this debate had tended to change or weaken it—that no Government ought to undertake the settlement of such a question unless it was strong in Parliamentary support as well as in public confidence, and in his (Mr. Gaskell's) opinion, the first of these conditions did not sufficiently exist in the case of Her Majesty's present Administration. He owned too that in the present state of Europe—with the various complications that still existed—with the war of opinion that might not impossibly be impending, he thought it would have been a wiser course on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers resolutely to decline acceptance of the engagements to which the noble Viscount (Viscount Palmerston) had referred, and the consequent responsibility of aggravating the difficulties with which the Parliament and the Government had to deal. He believed that the people of this country would have been content to wait for a measure of Reform till it could be introduced by an Administration that was not only disposed to satisfy reasonable claims upon the one hand, but strong enough to resist the too rapid and too rash advance of democratic influence upon the other. He believed that the haste to legislate had arisen more from inconsiderate pledges than from any real necessity—more from the supposed convenience of rival politicians than from any deepseated or any deliberate wish, either upon their part or upon the part of the people of this country, to tamper with the existing constitution. But the subject having been mooted, it was no longer a question of what was wise only, but of what was possible, and unhappily they were in a position in which it was alike difficult either to advance or to recede without discredit and without risk. Whatever might be the immediate result of the division upon this question, it was his earnest hope that the majority of that House would be found to act in a spirit of fairness and moderation, and with the sincere and single object of endeavouring to promote the public welfare. If this Amendment should be successful, he trusted that his right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry (Mr. Ellice) and other gentlemen who sat above the gangway upon the benches opposite, and who, in his conscience, he believed, disliked the Resolution as much as they disliked the Bill, might never have cause, in their better judgment, to look back with regret upon the vote which they were about to give. If, on the other hand, the Amendment should be rejected, its rejection would not be without its value to the House and to the country: it would give time to men of moderate opinions, by whatever party nickname they might choose to call themselves, to form a juster estimate of the responsibilities of their position, and to sacrifice more of personal predilection to the paramount requirements of the public good. If the House should be of opinion that this Bill was susceptible of amendment, let them endeavour to amend it—if they were of opinion that it was incurably defective, let them vote with the Member for Exeter (Mr. Divett) for rejecting it—if they thought that the time had come for the formation of a stronger Government—if they believed that the materials existed for the formation of such a Government—or rather, if they believed that practically there was the power to form it,—let them try that issue: but in any case let them decline to adopt the Resolution of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell)—let them refuse to hamper themselves by vague and unnecessary pledges—let them decline to embark upon a course which it might be impossible to retrace, as well as dangerous to pursue—let them decline to infuse new elements of hazard and confusion into a state of public affairs which already teemed with difficulty—let them pause before they incurred the smallest risk of doing that which had been denounced by the noble Viscount (Viscount Palmerston) in such eloquent and such emphatic terms—the risk of flinging the constitution of their country to be fought and scrambled for on the hustings at a general election—before they took part in the responsibility which must attach to those who referred the gravest and dearest interests of England to the very worst tribunal for statesmanlike and temperate adjudication.


said, he would venture for a few moments to address himself to the Bill and to the Resolution. The Bill had been much condemned on his side of the House; but for himself, he must say in its favour, that it for the first time developed the principle of giving votes for personal property. He thought that was a most valuable principle, and one which should not be lost sight of in any Bill which might be passed by that House. Another valuable provision in the Bill was, that which would give a franchise to lodgers and to professional persons. They owed a debt of gratitude to the Government for having lowered the franchise in counties, but he regretted that they should have inserted the clause about the borough freeholders, and that they had not been persuaded by their right hon. Colleagues who had seceded from them, to make some diminution in the borough franchise. While the population of counties since the last Reform Bill had increased 10 per cent every ten years, the population of towns had increased 30 per cent every ten years, and it was admitted by every one that the franchise in boroughs ought to be lowered. On this ground he felt bound to vote for the Resolution; but he earnestly hoped that the Government would accede to the views of the majority on the two points to which that Resolution referred, and carry through a Bill which would meet with the concurrence of the great body of moderate men in the House. The improved conduct and increased education of the inhabitants of towns entitled them to some concession, and almost every speaker on the Ministerial side had expressed willingness to assent to it. He did not speak as a party man. He had always voted with the Opposition side of the House; but, having voted for enfranchising Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds, and subsequently for every clause in the last Reform Bill, it was only consistent that he should vote for a fair and safe extension of the franchise to an intelligent portion of the community who did not now enjoy that privilege. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) had said, that the Liberal party was broken and disjointed; but the reason was, that every measure which for thirty years they had advocated, and the advocacy of which bound them together, had been gained. He rejoiced to find that liberality of sentiments had spread to right hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial benches, and he thought that the absence of any broad line of demarcation was of great advantage to the country.


wished to state in a few words the reasons which would induce him to vote against the Resolution of the noble Lord. He had had considerable difficulty in making up his mind; but his desire to see the question settled had outweighed his objection to the Bill, and he had decided to vote against the Amendment. The necessity for Reform had been admitted on all hands; and, from the moderation of the views expressed by the various speakers on both sides of the House, he inferred that if a measure had been proposed by the Government which did not contain any innovations, and which extended the franchise in the right direction, both in counties and in boroughs, it would have met with general support. As regarded the Bill before the House, he regretted to say that, although there was in his opinion much good in it, there were also many parts to which he could not give his adhesion. He regretted that it had been proposed to disfranchise a large number of freeholders. He believed that the class of persons affected by that proposal had as a body exercised the suffrage in an honest and independent manner, and there was something that looked like retaliation in the proposal of the Government to transfer their franchise from counties to boroughs. Another thing which he thought very objectionable was the proposal to give nonresident persons the right of voting. What had weighed most with him in considering how he should vote was the necessity of some speedy settlement of this great question. Parliamentary Reform had been alluded to in more than one Speech from the Throne; it had been dangled before the country for five or six years, and the hearts of the people were beginning to sink within them on account of its having been so long made a handle of for political parties. It was for these reasons that he should vote against the Resolution. He would have been glad to see the franchise extended with a more liberal hand to the inhabitants of boroughs, believing that the time had come when many of them who did not possess it ought to do. The spread of education and intelligence among the working classes since the Reform Bill of 1832, and the interest which numbers of them manifested in the cause of social improvement, entitled them to the franchise, and afforded a guarantee that it would, on the whole, be safely exercised. To illustrate the improved feeling which prevailed among the working classes, he might refer to their recent conduct in the borough which he represented (Macclesfield). In that borough there was during the last winter almost the greatest amount of commercial distress that ever had been known there. Through the failure of the silk trade, thousands of operatives usually in the receipt of good wages subsisted on private charity, yet hardly a murmur or complaint was heard. Let hon. Gentlemen compare this state of things with that which existed a few years back, when under circumstances like those which he had described people who were subject to distress cried for "blood or bread." There could, then, be no better time for settling this question than the present, and he trusted, therefore, that the Government would reconsider their decision and would not abandon the Bill, even if the Resolution should be carried. They had a duty to perform, and they should not be insensible to the honour of settling this important question.


said, it was his intention to vote in favour of the second reading, mainly because by tailing that course the House would be enabled to get at that work on which they were all desirous of entering, and because the carrying the Amendment would lead to infinite delay. He did not approve of the Bill—the whole Bill. There were many of its details of which he disapproved; but he approved of one great feature in it, and that was that it opened the whole question of Reform in its full scope. It opened widely the question of a new Reform Bill, and it brought under the consideration of that House the regulations with regard to the manner of recording votes for Members of Parliament; it contained a variety of new franchises; and it opened many other points which had been discussed for some years by persons interested in Reform, but which had not found a place in any scheme of Reform which had been introduced since the Act of 1832. Why not, then, go into Committee on the Bill, where they would have the opinion of the House pronounced on all the details of the franchise after they should have been fully discussed? This course would end discussion on these points; and this appeared to him to be so great an advantage, after so many years' agitation of them, that of itself that would be an inducement to him to vote for the second reading. The Bill was so wide in its scope that it would give room in Committee for discussing even the question of voting by ballot, as the registry of votes was opened by the very title of the Bill; so that the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. H. Berkeley) could, in Committee on the Bill, move his Resolution for the ballot. And so with regard to many other points in which Reformers took an interest. That was another reason for voting for the second reading. He would not now go much into detail, because he believed that could be done better in Committee; but there was one point on which he wished to say something, because he believed he was singular in his opinions on it—he believed, indeed, that he agreed with those only who had framed the Bill—he alluded to what was called the disfranchising of the 40s. freeholders in boroughs. So far was he from thinking that the proposition that the Government with respect to these freeholders was a violation of the constitution, that he believed that it was strictly in conformity with the constitution. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London had said something about hon. Members going to the hustings with the Bill in their hands, and denouncing it as a violation of constitutional rights. All he (Mr. Cobbett) could say as to that point was, that he was of opinion that any such denunciation would be a misrepresentation of what our constitution really was. The statutes 7 & 10 of Henry VII., limited the franchise in counties to freeholders residing on freeholds of the value of 40s. by the year at least. But they must be resident freeholders. The right of voting in towns and counties was quite distinct, and the aim of the statutes of Henry VII. was to secure for counties a resident body of voters. The franchise in boroughs was the occupation of a burgage tenement. The town and the county were then totally distinct, and, in his opinion, if they were totally distinct now it would be very much to the advantage of the representative system. At the time of Henry VI. Members of Parliament received wages. The knight of the shire received his wages from the shire itself, from the county rate; the burgesses and the citizens sent to Parliament, received their wages from the borough rate or the city rate. But could it be argued, could it be supposed for a moment, that there could have been a voter in a borough voting for a knight of the shire, and that that borough could be called on to contribute one farthing to the wages of the knight of the shire? This appeared to be evidence so strong that the town and county were separate, and that there was no intercommoning, as it were, in voting between town and county that he could not help thinking that if they passed this Bill as it was, and disfranchised every freeholder in cities and boroughs, they would not disfranchise a man who, according to the old constitution of the country, had a right to a vote for the county. This was a most interesting and important point; and, if for no other reason, he would vote for the second reading of the Bill, in order that the question might be fully discussed. The right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham) and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) approved of the present system of voting in counties for borough freeholds; and the right hon. Baronet said this was the salt that savoured the county constituency. It would be more correct to say that they swamped the county constituency. He was himself one of that class for which so much sympathy had been expressed. He was a freeholder in the borough of Brighton, not occupying his freehold; he had a vote for East Sussex. Well, at the last election for East Sussex the county was swamped by the freeholders from Brighton. Out of 6,000 voters, no less than 2,500 came out of Brighton alone, and of course exercised a great influence in the county election. Now, he did not call that a "savouring." If the right hon. Baronet's dairy superintendent brought him a pat of butter for his breakfast consisting of one-half of salt, he would not say it was a well-savoured pat. And surely it was more proper to say that the constituency of the eastern division of the county of Sussex were swamped by Brighton, than to say it was "savoured." He was attracted by the part of the Bill relating to this matter when it was laid on the table. It appeared to him to embody the just principle of representation—that the counties should have the power of expressing their own opinion apart from the opinion of the boroughs, and vice versa. This was in accordance with the spirit of the constitution, and the present system was not, and ought to be got rid of as soon as possible. He was disappointed that there was no clause in the Bill giving to the labouring classes in cities and boroughs a greater extension of the suffrage than they now possessed or would possess under the Bill. On that point he should be with the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, he dared to say; but that noble Lord did not allow him to decide, for he stated nothing. The Bill in that respect was bad enough; but the Amendment appeared to him to be equally bad. A Gentleman who had been, he believed since 1819, an active Reformer, who had mooted Reform more than any other man, who had studied the constitution of the country so thoroughly as even to have written a book on the subject, surely must have made up his mind as to the extent to which he would go in giving the borough franchise. But it was worse than this. The noble Lord, in 1826, on the 27th of April in that year clearly laid down the principle which should obtain in the borough franchise. The noble Lord at that time was moving on the subject of the Reform Bill, and he said— It was the original practice to have all the inhabitants included in the class called burgesses, and equally entitled to vote at the election of a Member of Parliament. There was an authority, which he would now quote from—an authority which hon. Members opposite would be little disposed to question, and which, in no quarter, would be disputed as to its legal value—ho meant that of the Lord Chancellor. That noble and learned Lord, at a hearing before the Privy Council, had stopped an advocate for the purpose of giving his opinion, which was to the effect that anciently all the inhabitants of boroughs, both in Scotland and in England, were entitled to vote. He would, therefore, take it for granted that, in point of law, this right was fully established, and that the original principle of our constitution was—first, that the knights of the shire were elected to serve in Parliament by all the freeholders of each county; secondly, that the citizens were sent from the cities by the inhabitants at large; and, thirdly, that the boroughs possessed the same privileges."—[2 Hansard, xv. 654.] This was in 1826; and since that time there had been no variation in the law; he hoped there had been no variation in the opinion of the noble Lord. Some persons were afraid of the admission of the many to the franchise; but hon. Members were day by day becoming less afraid. The noble Lord gave strong reasons for not being afraid on the same occasion. He stated that the constitution itself had been modified by the House of Commons, elected under such a franchise, and that to this was to be attributed the advance in liberty which England had made. He said— And what had been the result of this species of Government, which had prevailed in the times of our ancestors? He felt no hesitation in saving that it was to this that we owed the establishment of those principles on which our liberties were founded. A right hon. Gentleman had said that he knew nothing of these early Parliaments, but that they met for a fortnight, voted subsidies, and then departed to their respective homes; but he begged leave to say that it was the constant practice of those Parliaments, before they voted subsidies, to see that grievances were redressed, and that the rights of the people were not infringed upon. It was under such Houses of Commons that the great principles of public liberty were asserted and confirmed."—[Ibid.] He was disappointed that the noble Lord who thus thought in 1826, and had laid down in that solemn manner his own views and the law with regard to the rights of the people, gave nothing more than the Amendment that the Bill did not provide for a greater extension of the suffrage in cities and boroughs. This question was of such great importance that the sooner they considered it in a business-like manner the better; and his opinion was, that by going at once into Committee they would the sooner arrive at a termination which would satisfy the demands of the people. It was no slight disadvantage to keep up perpetual agitation. His practice was to go among the people and ascertain from them of what they complained, and then to tell their grievance as well as he could to the House. From long habit and from instructions given to him in his early days—he did not call himself a man of the people or anything of the kind—but he had a strong desire to see those who laboured, whether at the loom or upon the land, in a better condition than he now found them. He knew that there were those who suffered greatly both at the loom and upon the land. He thought the utmost attention ought to be given to them; and his firm conviction was, that if increased attention were so directed, it would be found that changes were not required, which some called organic; that they would not be found so anxious for changes—some of them fanciful, others just—but that they would be found satisfied with the efforts which the House of Commons made in their behalf, less liable to be deluded by those who wished to delude them, and that they would be better represented than they were represented at present. He did trust that the House would read the Bill a second time, and then discuss it in Committee.


said, that no one could doubt that whatever was the avowed object of the Resolution, its real intention was, not to amend the Bill, but to destroy the Ministry. He was not, however, of those who were inclined to throw odium on the noble Lord for the course he had taken in moving the Resolution. If the noble Lord believed that it was for the welfare of the country that a transfer of the power of the country should take place from those who held it to those who sat on the opposite benches, and if he believed that his Resolution embodied an abstract truth, the noble Lord was justified by the practice of the House. He (Mr. Collins) was in the House in 1852. He recollected the noble Lord the Member for the city of London at the head of the Government, and the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton sitting on the benches below the gangway. The noble Lord the Member for London brought into the House a Bill to amend the laws relating to the Militia, and the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton not only objected to the form of the Bill, but he said that although he would prefer his own Bill, if the House thought differently he would give way. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London was at the head of the Whig Government. He had in the previous year written that letter to the Bishop of Durham which would ever leave a tarnish on his name as a statesman of prudence. He had, in a lofty spirit, denounced the religion of 7,000,000 of his countrymen as "mummery and superstition." Well, on a Motion of this sort the Government of the noble Lord fell. Years rolled on and the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton managed to become the leader of the great Liberal party. In the spring of last year a Resolution was moved by the right hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Milner Gibson). The first reading of the Conspiracy Bill was objected to by the noble Lord the Member for London, who was unwilling to share in the shame and humiliation which the then head of the Government was endeavouring to inflict on the country, and he took advantage of the adroitly-worded Resolution of) the right hon. Member for Ashton to upset the Government of the noble Lord. Therefore he (Mr. Collins) thought the noble Lord the Member for the City of London was justified in the course he had taken by these two remarkable passages in our history. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London had commended the legislation which had been effected since 1832; but he (Mr. Collins) doubted whether such great measures as the Reform Bill, the repeal of the Test Act. and the Bill for the emancipation of our Roman Catho- lic fellow-subjects, would have passed so easily in the reformed as they did in the unreformed House of Commons. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London brought forward, as matter of complaint, the disfranchisement of the borough-freeholders; but he did not, at the same time, remind the House that he himself in 1832 introduced a measure which disfranchised sixty boroughs, and partly disfranchised many more, or state what was probably the fact, that at this moment his pocket contained a new Reform Bill, framed for the purpose of disfranchising several or many others. In the West Riding there was a rural population consisting of upwards of 700,000 people, who were represented by two Members, and in the same portion of the country there were ten boroughs, containing 400,000 people, who were represented by sixteen Members. He thought it was not just that the boroughs should not only have a specific representation of their own, but should to a great extent determine that of the rural districts also. This state of things evidently required alteration, and he thought the Government Bill would provide for the necessary change. There was no force in the arguments against the introduction of non-resident electors into boroughs. The owners of property in a borough, no matter where they resided, were fully as much interested in its welfare as the temporary occupants of its houses. He did not object to the principle of identity of suffrage; at all events, nobody could seriously propose, after what the House had done to fix the county franchise at £20 instead of £10. Most of the objections that had been made to the Bill were, he thought, groundless; while those for which there was any foundation might safely be dealt with in Committee. The Bill evidently provided a means of enfranchising an immense number of people, and as a proof of the benefit it would confer by that clause which gave the suffrage to those, possessing borough leaseholds, he would read an extract from a letter he had received from a Friend at Manchester. It was as follows:— The Bill will enfranchise several thousand leaseholders who never could vote before in boroughs. At the lowest computation there are at least 2,500 such leaseholders in Manchester, and out of these there are only 317 on the register having county votes in respect of their property, There were, besides the clause just mentioned, other provisions in the Bill which would greatly extend the suffrage; but the portions of the measure he liked the most were those providing for the extension to borough leaseholders, copyholders, and possessors of funds in savings' banks. He did not like the Bill altogether, for it did not make what he thought an adequate provision for the representation of the lower classes. It was desirable to provide for as many suffrages as possible; but the great difficulty in extending the suffrage to a very numerous class was to find those who should fairly represent it without making the whole class the dominant class. He thought the best way would be by restoring the old "scot and lot" voting that formerly existed in boroughs, and which had been abolished by the Reform Act of 1832. As to the extension of the suffrage in boroughs and cities proposed by the second part of the Resolution, no method was suggested by which that extension should be made. The question was, whether by passing that Resolution the great and principal object—that of obtaining substantial reform—was likely to be effected. He thought it was not possible that such a result would follow. It was wrong, then, to fix such a stigma upon the Government as that involved in the imputations so freely levelled against it by those who had spoken in opposition to the measure. It was all very well for the noble Lords, the Members for the City of London and for Tiverton, to recommend the Government to take the course they had suggested; but would either of the noble Lords, if they were in office, follow such recommendations? They knew they would not. The question of Reform was too large to be treated on party grounds; the Bill of the Government contained the basis of a large and generous extension of the suffrage; it was no doubt capable of great improvement in Committee, and he thought the House should go into Committee and effect such improvements as inquiry should show to be advisable.


said, at the present stage of this lengthened debate it would ill-become me to occupy the time of the House, by entering into those wide constitutional principles which, though directly involved in the question before us, have already been so effectively discussed. But before recording my vote for the noble Lord's Resolution, I am anxious to justify the course I shall take, by a very few words, confined to a single point which is itself raised by a single portion of that Resolution. I allude to the transfer of the county freeholds to boroughs. I object, Sir, to that transfer, not merely because, for the most part, the freeholders proposed to be transferred already possess borough votes, so that in their case the transfer is merely nominal, and is in fact an injurious diminution of the popular voice in county constituencies. But I would quite as emphatically protest against the operation of the clause where it really operates as a transfer, and does give the freeholders in question borough votes which they did not before possess. The mischief, Sir, is that in such cases the new borough electors will nearly all of them be found to be nonresident. It has been argued that individually they would be benefited by the transfer, that their votes would be more valuable when exercised in a borough than a county, because, forsooth, the value of a vote is to be taken as being in an inverse ratio to the size of the constituency. But, Sir, in the first place, it seems, in my humble judgment, a very rash proceeding to meddle with the foundation of the constitution for the sake of conferring upon individuals a benefit which they themselves do not desire or demand. If this is the been you describe it, where are the petitions in its favour? But, in the next place, the question of benefit to the voter is surely quite subordinate to the real issue which cannot thus be narrowed. What, I would ask, is the effect of the transfer on the boroughs themselves? Why should these constituencies with their special local interests, be inundated by non-residents, comparative strangers it may be to those interests,—and who, if the system of voting papers were adopted, need not ever approach the borough, even on the occasion of an election? The hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Hope) has urged the other night that the transfer is absolutely needed to prevent an undue proportion of the "town element" in counties; an evil, he Bays, which might otherwise be apprehended from giving county votes to £10 householders. But what is this but to take for granted that the freeholders thus transferred must necessarily be townspeople, because they have 40s. freeholds in a borough? Why, Sir, I venture to submit that such an assumption involves a complete confusion between the terms of "town and borough;" and to illustrate what I mean, perhaps I may be allowed to glance for a moment only at the constituency which I have the honour to represent. The borough of Maldon extends seven miles all round the town of Maldon. Need I remark that it would be a very wild assumption indeed to say that everybody who resides in that area, with its diameter of fourteen miles, was a townsman either by habitation or interests? So that it follows, that if you made residence within the borough a condition of the transfer, you could not be sure you were only importing urban voters. You could not be sure in short you were not depriving the county of voters, rural to all intents and purposes, in order to import them into a borough, to whose interests they were comparative strangers. But that is not all, for the Bill does not even insist on residence within the borough area. The transferred voters may be living in the remotest corner of the county, or possibly in some other county altogether. I must, therefore, confess my inability to conceive the force of the argument founded on the necessity of withdrawing from the counties an excess of urban voters, were it true, even in point of fact, that there is any risk of such an excess, which I take it has yet to be proved. Sir, I will not trespass further on the kind indulgence of the House. There are other obnoxious clauses in the Bill, which it will be my duty to object to, should it ever go into Committee; at present I need only say, that I shall support the Resolution: first, because I think the particular provision to which I have confined my remarks, where it merely destroys second votes, would be detrimental to the popular voice in counties, and be so far a retrograde step; next, because where it actually creates new votes, it would be injurious to the boroughs by introducing into them a foreign element; and, lastly, because I fully accede to the noble Lord's proposition, that the borough franchise is at present too high, and may safely be extended.


said, he rarely occupied the time of the House, but this was a question in which every constituency of the empire was more or less interested: the House would, therefore, bear with him while he made one or two observations, and gave the reasons on which he should vote against the Resolution of the noble Lord. He had listened to the debate with considerable attention, and had heard some eloquent speeches delivered; but he could not but think that the House had not treated Her Majesty's Government with the candour and fairness it deserved at its hands. There had been several futile attempts to settle this question of Reform; in 1852 the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) endeavoured to settle it, but was obliged to abandon his measure; in 1854 he again introduced a Bill on this subject, and again he was compelled to withdraw it. He, therefore, thought that when Her Majesty's Government introduced a Bill of such a nature as the present it ought to have been treated in a manner very different from that proposed by the Resolution of the noble Lord. He did not mean to say that he did not entertain objections to the present measure, but he entertained no objections that might not be removed in Committee. He concurred in the opinion that identity of franchise in counties and boroughs was not desirable in this country. The ancient franchise in counties was based on property, and the electors might either be resident or non-resident in the counties for which they voted. On the other hand, the different franchises which prevailed in boroughs from an early period—burgage tenure, scot and lot, frank tenure, and the potwallopers—always implied residence, and the freemen were obliged to be members of the Guild in the City where they were entitled to vote, and where they were originally presumed to reside. It was evident that the voting for counties and for boroughs was based upon a different principle. But the objection to the identity of franchise proposed by the Bill might be got rid of in Committee on the Bill, either by raising the proposed county occupation franchise to £20, or lowering the borough franchise to £8. Either of those propositions he would be ready to support if the Bill went into Committee. As respected the savings' banks clause, he should be prepared to reduce the amount from £60 to £40, which was about the sum for which a man could now obtain a freehold vote for the county. He should be also ready to lower the lodging-house franchise from 8s. to 6s., or 5s. a week. There was another sort of franchise not in the Bill, which he thought might be safely adopted—a franchise which would include all the highest class of artisans in the towns of England. He should say that if a man could prove that in the year previous to the registration he had, by his ability and industry, been enabled to clear £100, that man might safely be intrusted with the suffrage. From his experience of the working men among his constituents, who earned their bread by the sweat of their brow, he was decidedly of opinion that the franchise might be safely extended to a large number of that class. Hon. Members were all in favour of enlarging the franchise, and the only difficulty was to know where to stop, so as to exclude the idle and dissolute, while they endeavoured to enfranchise the intelligent and educated working men. He was a good deal surprised to hear the eulogium pronounced by the noble Lord the Member for London on the 40s. freeholders. His own experience did not induce him to attribute to them in the exercise of the franchise the same independence as the noble Lord had done. The mere 40s. freeholder was generally a dependent on the neighbouring squire or farmer who employed him, and at whose disposal his vote was placed; or he was under the influence of a neighbouring attorney, who held his title-deeds. He had another objection to that kind of vote—namely, that it was easily manufactured. He knew a house in the city of Carlisle in respect of which there were no less than twenty-four freehold votes, and in another case there were sixteen. He thought that a kind of vote which could be manufactured like that, and then used to swamp the voice of the legitimate constituency of the county did not deserve the eulogium the noble Lord had passed upon it. This practice would be stopped under the present Bill. From what fell the other night from his right hon. Colleague in the representation of Carlisle, it might be inferred that the ballot was making great progress in that city; but he had since received a communication from some of the most educated, intelligent, and respectable persons among the constituency assuring him that, on the contrary, the ballot had made no progress there, and that, in fact, the feeling for it had rather diminished than otherwise. It was true that lately a resolution was passed at a meeting calling on the Members for Carlisle to vote for the ballot, but that meeting did not by any means represent the constituency of that important place. He had been surprised to hear hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition benches advising the Government on the course they should pursue, and recommending them to withdraw the Bill. He did not join in any such advice. He thought that the Bill contained much that was good, and he thought that if it were allowed to go into Committee, this great Reform question, which had been so long agitated, might be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. The hon. Gentleman who advised the Government what they should do did not suggest to the noble Lord the Member for London what course he ought to pursue. Now, he (Mr. Hodgson) would advise the noble Lord to withdraw his Resolution, and allow the House to pass to the consideration of the important measure before the House, which, he believed, the great body of the people desired to see read a second time. He should therefore, give his vote against the Resolution, and in favour of the second reading of the Bill.


said, he was anxious that the question of Parliamentary Reform should be settled, and believed that this Bill might be amended in Committee in such a manner as to render it a valuable measure. He also believed that if the Bill were rejected, it was impossible that any measure of Parliamentary Reform could be passed during the present Session. Was the House prepared, then, to allow this opportunity of progress and amendment to pass by, and did hon. Gentlemen deem it advisable to wait until agitation and excitement brought to bear upon the House a pressure, the weight of which it was impossible to foresee? Did the noble Member for the City, or the noble Viscount the Member for Tiverton, anticipate that if this Bill were rejected, and they introduced a prudent measure of Reform, there was any prospect that it could be carried this Session? Did they rely upon the support of Gentlemen opposite (the Ministerial side) or on that of the hon. Member for Birmingham, who had declared that the House was not prepared to pass any Reform Bill suited to the demands of the people? If, on the contrary, they proposed any large and comprehensive scheme, he was confident it would be rejected in that House by a large majority. he would therefore give his vote for the second reading of the Bill.


thought that no sincere Reformer would pursue the course taken by the noble Lord, for the proposal of such a Resolution as he had submitted to the House was fraught with the greatest inconvenience, and placed hon. Members in a disagreeable and painful position. He (Mr. Hudson) had stated to his constituents, without giving any pledge on the subject, that he was quite ready to consider any measure of Reform that might be submitted to the House, and he would not fulfil that promise if he voted for the noble Lord's Resolution. If that Resolution were adopted the necessary consequence would be the withdrawal of the Bill, and he believed the feeling of the country would be that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had endeavoured to entrap unsuspecting Members, and to gain their assistance in a mere scramble for place, while the question of Reform was entirely disregarded. The noble Lord relied upon the kindly feeling of the country, and seemed to think that out-of-doors they did not comprehend the course he was pursuing. On only one occasion had he given a vote which had assisted to displace a Government. He (Mr. Hudson) did not vote with the right hon. Member for Ashton (Mr. M. Gibson) when he brought forward his Resolution; but there was one vote into which he was ashamed to confess he was led by the noble Lord. In 1846 he went out into the lobby with the noble Lord and voted against the Irish Coercion Bill brought in by the late Sir Robert Peel, and his (Mr. Hudson's) only excuse for his own conduct on that occasion was that he was a young Member of the House, unversed in the ways of the House. He afterwards found with regret that the noble Lord had made use of him (Mr. Hudson) to lift himself into power, and not long afterwards he passed a Coercion Bill much more severe than that which he had assisted him in rejecting. His hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. West-head) the other night had indulged the House with an historic account of the Reform Bill, and said he regretted it. He (Mr. Hudson) regretted it also. He had some reasons to recollect that Bill—he recollected that it was carried with enthusiasm. He also recollected that he made one of his first political speeches on that Bill in favour of the House of Lords, and had his windows broken for it the same evening; but he believed he enjoyed the confidence of Members of that distinguished House in consequence. What, however, was the popular feeling with regard to that Bill? Why, every servant maid and man believed that when that Bill passed they should cease from work, and never know any more trouble or sorrow, misery or grief. Some people supposed that it would ensure to the country future prosperity and peace. Those delusions had, however, been dispelled, and he believed that the Reform Act had received credit for far more good than it had really effected. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle would remember the fright he was in in 1842. Then again in 1848 there was such a commotion in London as almost made the "Iron Duke" quail. His hon. Friend the Member for York said that the freeholders of York were of a liberal character, and liberal he (Mr. Hudson) believed they were, but not in the sense intended by the hon. Member. He thought that instead of Liberal they would be found highly Conservative, and therefore the idea that the object of the Government was to eliminate the Liberal element from the county was not correct, so far as York was concerned. He concluded that it was most unjust to make the imputation that the present Government were actuated by any other than pure motives, and an anxious wish to bring in a Bill which would be acceptable to the House and the country. Many hon. Members had borne testimony to the manner in which the affairs of the country had been carried on under their management. They were about then to part with this Government, to whom they acknowledged themselves indebted, for the mere purpose of a party triumph, forgetful of all the great interests of the country. The hon. Member for Sheffield said that the time for the introduction of this Bill was not opportune; but that was not the feeling of the House, or of the country. The hon. Member for Halifax had spoken on behalf of the working classes, but the Resolution said nothing at all about them. The noble Lord the Member for London complained of the Bill because, as he said, it would destroy ancient rights; but who in 1832 was a more wholesale destroyer of ancient rights than the noble Lord? There could be no doubt that if he had the power he would again begin the work of destruction. Several hon. Members had said, "You voted for a Resolution last year when the second reading of the Conspiracy Bill was moved, and why may not a similar course be adopted on this Bill?" But they should bear in mind that the Resolution of the noble Lord was very unlike that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashton. Had the Resolution been drawn by the right hon. Member for Ashton it would probably have raised some distinct issue. Why did not the noble Lord make his Resolution read thus:—" That this House cannot but regret that Her Majesty's Government, before they placed the Bill for reforming the representation of the people on the table, did not consult the noble Lord the Member for the City of London and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle?"—for the House had been told that they were the concoctors of the Resolution. The House would then have been able to come to a clear decision upon the question. But as the Resolution failed to raise any distinct issue and was, moreover, opposed to the best interests of the country, he (Mr. Hudson) should vote for the second reading of the Bill, in order that it might pass into Committee, according to the ancient usage of the House of Commons.


said, that he was too well aware of the value of time at that period of the debate to trespass long on the attention of the House;but inasmuch as he entertained on this subject opinions somewhat different from those which had been expressed on his side of the House—or, at all events, as he had arrived at conclusions somewhat different from those arrived at by those who had spoken on that side, he trusted the House would allow him to state very briefly the reasons for the vote he intended to give. The House had been invited to choose between a Bill which was, he thought, well described by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wilts (Mr. S. Herbert) as a Bill that required to be gutted in order to make it passable, and a Resolution which had, with equal justice, been described by the hon. and learned Solicitor General as one which committed nobody, and which meant nothing precise. A more disagreeable alternative he could hardly conceive; and, with the permission of the House, he would state very briefly the reasons which had induced him to determine both to vote against the second reading of the Bill, and also to abstain from voting in favour of the Resolution. It appeared to him that the discussion of this Bill might be somewhat illustrated by the position in which a gentleman found himself when he was in search of a house. He might be in very great want of such accommodation, and might see a house which at first sight presented a very picturesque appearance, but which, like the political edifice which Her Majesty's Government had raised, however picturesque it might look on the outside, he did not altogether approve, and which would hardly give satisfaction if he once entered into possession. The foundation of that political edifice was what was called identity of suffrage. Its timbers might be described as a £10 qualification, its buttresses and gables were fancy franchises, and its roof might be described as voting papers; but he was afraid, if he were to draw a conclusion from the opinions he had heard expressed in that House, if it were accepted it would soon be found that the roof let in water, that the timbers had the dry rot, and that the foun- dations had no stability. He could not agree with the hon. Member for Essex (Mr. Du Cane) who opened the Debate, as to the necessity which lay upon Her Majesty's Government to propose a measure on this subject. He had always been of opinion that, considering the circumstances under which Lord Derby came into power, the feeble minority in which he found himself, and, what was of still more importance in his (Mr. Walter's) eyes, the traditional, and, he might almost say, the constitutional functions of the party of the noble Lord, he might very well have declined—and the country generally, he believed, would have respected his decision—to have undertaken any such task as he had undertaken. He believed the truth to be that the noble Lord like many others in a similar position, when he acceded to office, found himself sadly in want of political stock, and, like many other people under such circumstances, he rashly accepted a Bill without considering how he would be able to meet it when it became due. But he thought it might have occurred to the noble Lord, as he believed it did to everybody else, that, let him bring in what measure of Reform he pleased, it would certainly not be palatable to his party, or, at all events, would be met, by an opposition too strong to be resisted, unless he was prepared, like Sir Robert Peel, in 1846, to sacrifice himself and his party at the shrine of the popular movement, certain that the time would arrive when means would be found of tripping him up at the last moment, and of robbing him of his greatest honours. Let the noble Lord well consider whether the character of this Bill did not, to a great extent, justify these remarks. What was the distinctive principle in the Bill—that principle which had occasioned loss of place and office to two of the most eminent Members of Her Majesty's Cabinet—that principle which his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, although he had subsequently to his speech on introducing the Bill, made some explanations upon it, had not expressed his intention of conceding in Committee? Why, that principle was undoubtedly identification of freehold and occupation franchises. There was a great distinction, and that he thought had not been sufficiently attended to in this debate, between identity and equality. The two ideas were totally distinct. He understood by equality of suffrage such a measure as that introduced by the hon. Member for Surrey (Mr. Locke King). It was a question of degree. If you determined what should be the particular property or occupation which should confer a vote in a city, and then applied that throughout the country, that was what he would call equality of suffrage; but that had nothing, whatever to do with the principal foundation of this Bill, which was not equality of degree, but a confusion of kind—their identity of suffrage was in fact confusion of the freehold and occupation franchises. He for one had no objection whatever to an equality of franchise. Indeed, he thought that one fault of the noble Lord's Resolution was that it drew an unnecessary and un-meaning distinction between the borough and county franchises. But with regard to uniformity, he was of opinion that there could scarcely be too great a variety of franchises, and he concurred, therefore, with those provisions of the Bill which introduced a great number of new franchises, and thus gave votes to many persons who could not he brought within any one precise category. The question of the identification of the freehold and occupation franchises had been fairly raised by the Solicitor General, by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge, and, with great force and ability, by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Cobbett) and he must do the last named hon. Gentleman the justice to say that he had done for the Government that which no Member on their own side had done with success—he had undertaken to defend them on that particular point on which almost all their own friends had deserted them. The Solicitor General had also referred to the abolition of certain borough freeholds which took place under the Reform Act of 1832, and he argued that that afforded a sufficient precedent for a similar operation being performed by the present Bill. But what were the circumstances of that Act? Why in the Reform Act of 1832 the borough freeholds which were above £10 in value simply became merged in the occupation franchise, and persons who lived in those houses became ipso facto entitled to vote for the boroughs in which they resided: and the same result would follow in any lowering of the franchise now below the present qualification value. But this was not the first time that the subject had been fully discussed in that House; for in the course of the debates upon the Bill of 1832 a clause of a precisely similar nature was proposed under the sanction of Sir Robert Peel; but it was rejected by a majority of two to one, and it had never since, he believed, been brought forward. The argument upon which it was rejected was, that any measure of the kind would raise too great a barrier between the towns and the counties, and would create a dangerous diversity of interests. He thought that this alone should deter the Government from resting upon that, at all events, as the basis of any future measure which they might introduce. He would not trouble the House by going into details; but with regard to what were called the "fancy franchises" he thought that some of them were entitled to considerable respect. He had always been of opinion, for example, that the position of the clergy was an extremely improper one. Who was entitled to vote for the place in which he resided if the clergyman was not? And on what ground were they to exclude that body, and to tell them that they must buy a trumpery 40s. freehold or occupy a £10 house in order to have a vote? Three clergymen who resided in his neighbourhood—the curates of their respective parishes—were not entitled to vote by virtue of any property they held either for the county or the borough. This was an injustice which ought to be remedied, and he therefore entirely agreed with the Government in this and similar extremely useful reforms. The renting clause, however, appeared to stand on a different footing. He could not understand what machinery could be applied to lodgers in tenements which should decide, without the certainty of collusion and of great fraud, what amount of rent a man paid his landlord so as to entitle him to vote—he did not see how they were to determine whether a man paid 8s. a week, or 7s., or 6s.; without the adoption of an inquisitorial machinery which would not be submitted to. Then with regard to the £10 occupation in counties; that had been pretty clearly shown not to be what it professed to be. It professed to be the adoption of Mr. Locke King's proposition; but in reality, instead of letting in a class of resident voters who lived in £10 houses, it would, in effect, enable a proprietor to split up a field into a number of small qualifications and placing them in the hands of his dependants; and so facilitate the manufacture of fictitious votes; and he was sure that in that form the clause would never pass the House. But it appeared that the Government were prepared, if the Bill only went into Committee, to waive all these points, and to devolve upon the House the duty of making a Reform Bill. He had a great desire to see a Reform Bill carried, and, with every wish that the Government should, if possible, be the agents to pass it, he could not think that that was the proper way of accomplishing the object. It might be a very chivalrous proceeding to pursne in Committee, but, like other chivalrous proceedings, it might be attended with very serious consequences. It reminded him of what was reported to have been said by a French general when he witnessed that gallant charge of the Light Cavalry at Balaclava.—"C'est bien magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre." So he (Mr. Walter) said of the course the Government were pursuing—it might be very accommodating and convenient, but it was not business. He was bound to say that he could conceive nothing more vague or ambiguous than the Resolution of the noble Lord—assuredly it was not the basis of a Reform Bill. He should prefer rather the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) to draw certain Resolutions which might be the foundation of a Bill. The noble Lord's Resolution formed no such basis, and he objected to it, moreover, because it created an invidious distinction between counties and boroughs which, after the House had twice affirmed the principle of Mr. Locke King's measure, could not be consistently maintained. If the noble Lord would leave out the words "cities and boroughs" he might possibly vote with him, or if he would admit the word "counties" he might go with him; but the Resolution as it now stood, by condemning the application of the same franchise to counties and boroughs in effect cast a slur upon the previous decision of the House of Commons. It seemed to him that there were two distinct modes of effecting the object which was so much desired—the extension of the franchise. It might be done in a wholesale manner by introducing the occupiers of much humbler tenements than at present; or it might be clone by a process of selection somewhat similar in character, though different in detail to the present proposition of the Government. There could be no doubt that there wore many thousands of persons occupying houses below £10 who were quite as well qualified to exercise the franchise as those who lived in £10 houses. At the same time, he did not deny—he rather maintained—that there were probably a great many more thousands who were not quali- fied; and the question was whether, in order to adopt a uniform principle, they should lower the suffrage so as to include the great mass of the people, or whether they should not rather try to raise the mass of the people to the dignity of the suffrage. They had the choice of placing the suffrage within the reach of every working man, if he would only take the trouble to raise himself to the position in which he ought to exercise it; or they might throw it into his lap and say, "There's the suffrage; take it; do what you like with it; only give us no more trouble about it." This last was what he called the "wholesale way" of extending the franchise; but it was between these alternatives that they had to choose. He would say no more upon this now; but when the question of the suffrage came to be discussed, he hoped that it would be argued in a more statesmanlike and businesslike manner than it had been hitherto treated. It was a very serious and difficult question, and it was not to be decided in an off-hand or accidental discussion. For his own part he did not see upon what grounds, if they went below the present £10 franchise and adopted the wholesale system, they were to stop short of household suffrage. He did not see upon what principle they could stop at £9, or £8, or £7, or £6; and below that there were very few houses in boroughs at all; so that a £6 or a £5 franchise would be equivalent to household suffrage. If therefore it was proposed to extend the franchise by establishing a house occupation franchise, he hoped hon. Gentlemen would well consider the consequences. If, on the other hand, the House adopted the principle which he should rather be inclined to recommend—although he did not profess to give a decided opinion upon it—the principle, he meant, of placing the suffrage within the reach of every man, accompanied by some test of his willingness and fitness to exercise it, he thought that that would be a wiser course to pursue; and, in this respect, he looked upon the clauses suggested in the Bill of the Government as well worthy of consideration. But he did not stand there either to advocate or to deprecate any system for the extension of the franchise. He would not pledge himself to any particular course with regard to it; but what he would pledge himself to was this, that whatever measure of extension the noble Lord proposed for cities and boroughs he should move that the same should be applied to counties also. There was already in counties a franchisé so low as to make it a perfect sham. Of all the shams which had been talked of in the course of the debate he knew of none that was more obvious and absurd than the so-much-vaunted 40s. freeholds. He had labourers in his own employment to whom it was a charity to give 10s. a week, and who were intellectually wholly unfitted for the exercise of the elective franchise, but who possessing 40s. freeholds were on the list of county voters; and he had others worth more than double that sum—educated and skilled labourers it might be—who had no vote. Where was the justice of excluding these latter from the franchise which was enjoyed by some ignorant, stupid fellow, because his father had stolen a bit of land off the common? Whenever this question was brought under the consideration of the House he should strongly advocate that the franchise should be extended to counties and to boroughs upon terms of perfect equality. With respect to what was to happen in the event of this Bill being rejected, it appeared to him either that the Government must resign—which he should be sorry to see, because he believed that a course of that kind, always inconvenient, would be particularly so in the present instance; or they might—and he saw no reason why they should not—withdraw the present Bill and bring in another, founded either upon the experience they had gained in the course of the debate, or upon some such Resolutions as had been suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. The worst course of all, the most mischievous, the most reckless, the most suicidal, would be a dissolution. He could conceive nothing more likely to create a dangerous agitation than for a Conservative Government to go to the country upon the question of a Reform Bill. They might, probably, gain an addition to their strength by an appeal to the constituencies, although he doubted it. It was not for him to say what the result would be; but it was certain that they would throw this Bill into the great political arena of the country to be quarrelled over by every section and party, each of whom would urge its peculiar views in the most reckless and unscrupulous manner; and upon the head of the Government would rest the responsibility for all the mischief which would ensue.


said, he could never give his consent to any Bill which would deprive the 40s. freeholders of county votes, or which would not extend the franchise to a large portion of the industrious classes. But after muck consideration he had come to the conviction that he should not be adopting the beat means for the promotion of the objects which he wished to see attained if he were to support the Resolution of the noble Lord the Member for London, and he should therefore vote against that Amendment. He confessed that he was very much influenced in the course he had determined on taking upon the subject by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone). If the noble Lord should carry his Resolution, even by a small majority, he would destroy a large and useful measure: whereas if the second reading were agreed to, they could easily introduce in Committee all the Amendments which he was anxious to see made in the Bill, and he was therefore prepared to vote in favour of the second reading.


said, that concurring in the general desire to bring the debate to a conclusion, he would very briefly state his reasons for the vote he intended to give. He should vote for the Resolution of the noble Lord upon the same principle, if for none other, that the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) declared he was bound to vote for the Motion of the right hon. Member for Ashton (Mr. Milner Gibson) last year—that he could not say no to a Resolution that was as true as Gospel. He objected to going into Committee upon the Bill, which would have the practical effect of negativing the Resolution, because he could not call it a Reform Bill at all. If he were put to his choice of that Bill or none, he would unhesitatingly prefer none at all. They were told that the Bill might be made whatever the House pleased in Committee, but they had no assurance that when the House had turned it into a Bill which they approved, the Government would use its influence to pass it in "another place." He, however, did not mean to express by his vote a general want of confidence in the Government. Like the hon. Member for Halifax, he did not want to see a change of Government at the present moment, or to witness again the humiliating spectacle, in the present divided state of the Liberal, party, of the nominal head of that party being placed in power, and within a fortnight afterwards calling upon Gentlemen opposite for aid against his own so-called supporters. The hon. Member for Northumberland (Mr. Beaumont), had in touching terms deplored the neces- sity he was under in voting against the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, and had appealed to the late Secretary to the Treasury to bear witness to the consistent support he had given to the noble Lord for some years. He (Mr. Gilpin) did not think that Members were sent to that House to follow blindly any leader, but rather truly and conscientiously to represent the people who returned them to Parliament. The hon. Member had referred to what he called the failure of the hon. Member for Birmingham in his progress through the country; but let the hon. Gentleman only try to get up an anti-Reform meeting in any place, and he would find how completely he would fail. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) had made a speech in which he began by deprecating all personal allusions, and immediately afterwards referred to an hon. and learned Gentleman, who had previously spoken, as "the future Solicitor General" in the next Government of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. The same noble Lord also said the legislative machine worked well at present; and so, indeed, it did for Lords, but not so well for the people. In 1832 there was an extension of the franchise which admitted the middle class, and, to some extent, the working class. There appeared to be in some quarters a great dread of what was called the progress of democracy, and the right hon. Member for Wilts (Mr. S. Herbert) said he was not a democratic reformer. Now as he (Mr. Gil-pin) understood the word, democracy only meant power existing in the whole body of the people. It was formerly a standing Whig motto, "The people, the legitimate source of all political power," and he could see no reason why the Whigs of the present day should he ashamed of their ancient motto. Then came the question, who were the people? It was said, not the mob. He would not discuss what was meant by the mob, but he would remark, although he did not approve of war, and believed in his conscience that the vast majority of wars had been needless, entailing an incalculable amount of unnecessary suffering that when strong arms were needed, it was from the working classes they were obtained, and surely if they could be trusted with muskets, they might be trusted with votes. Then, again, it was said, if the franchise were lowered, all political power would be given to one class, which would swamp all others. The progress which the working men had made in intelligence and education since 1832, and their uniform loyal and peaceable conduct, entitled them to a larger share of political rights than that Bill gave them. Nothing could be more absurd than that argument. It was obvious that those who used it supposed that the working classes would always vote together; but there could not be a greater mistake. There was as much diversity of opinion amongst workmen as amongst any other class of the community, and they would be as much swayed by their individual feelings in exercising their political right. When the question was, should the working classes be entrusted with the electoral franchise, the proposition was resisted because it was feared that they would exercise it to the injury of the rest of the community; but when the country was in danger they did not fear to place muskets in their hands, and to trust to them for the defence of our institutions. The way to make those classes all they desired to see them was, to give them the same political rights as other classes enjoyed, and to make them feel that they had a real and personal interest in the good government of the country.


—Sir, under ordinary circumstances, considering the long time the debate has lasted, I should not have thought it necessary to trouble the House with a single observation upon the question which we are now discussing. But circumstances have arisen in the progress of the debate which have brought it into so peculiar a state as to make it very difficult for any man who has taken a part in public affairs to abstain from entering into an explanation of the vote which he means to give. It is well known that I and my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Walpole) were unable to give our assent to the leading provisions of this measure. I have listened with the greatest attention to the whole of this debate, and if I had heard anything that had in any degree shaken the opinion I had formed upon the subject, I should have felt no hesitation in acknowledging the fact. I think that this Bill has been somewhat underrated. In my opinion, it is a very large measure—large, not only in what it does, but still larger in the principles which it contains. What does it do? Upon the most moderate computation it increases the constituent body of the country by one-half. A measure that docs that cannot be called a small measure. But then the question arises—in what way does it do that, and does it do it in the way that is most likely to give contentment, and to give it safely? I cannot say that I think it does so in either of those ways. I come now to some of the reasons that have been put forward in favour of the main extension of the franchise proposed by the Bill—the extension which must arise out of the equalization of the borough and the county occupation franchises. The noble Lord the Secretary for India made a sort of defence, and showed how impossible it was, if a street was partly in a town and partly in the county, to justify giving a vote to a man on one side of the street and to refuse it to a man on the other. It may be very well to say that such an anomaly ought not to stand. That would be all very well if other anomalies still larger and greater were not to be created by the very measure which is intended to relieve this anomaly; moreover, the effect of the Boundary Commission in the Act would at once get rid of that anomaly. The Under Secretary of State for the Home Department justified this measure by what seems to me to be an extraordinary mode of reasoning. He said, "You cannot say it is any change of principle, because the occupation franchise in counties being let in by the Reform Bill of 1832, you are only extending the principle." That, as a strict principle, may not be untrue; but how does the principle apply? No man can say that the application of the occupation franchise of 1832 at all affected the position of property being the basis of the franchise in counties. It let in perhaps a fifth or sixth of the number of the county voters—that, taking England all through, would be the very outside—and they could not have over-ridden, the substantial nature of the occupation being taken into account, the weight which property is always presumed to have in the representation of counties, But what does the present Bill do? The county voters, in round numbers, are about 500,000 in number. This Bill, according to the statement of the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Stafford Northcote) proposes to let in 300,000 occupation voters. I believe that number is pretty accurate; but what does it do besides that? As if that was not enough to interfere with the property element in counties, for some purpose, which it is not very easy to understand, you take away from the county voters 100,000 and put them into towns; the result will be that property is sure to be overridden. You introduce 300,000 upon 400,000; 100,000 of those 400,000 being probably occupying voters before. Therefore you put something like 400,000 occupying voters against 300,000 who vote for property, and you take 100,000 voters by property from the counties and put thorn into the boroughs, where they will have to come in contact with an occupation constituency, who will neutralize those property voters from the county, In that way the whole electoral power of the country will be thrown into the hands of an occupation class. That is the plain result of the figures. I am not saying one word as to whether £10 is a proper or an improper limit, but a vast numerical majority of the voters will be of that class, and the power will be in their hands. A great deal has been said on this side of the House, that if you go below £10 in boroughs you will swamp the whole constituencies: but I have not heard from any hon. Gentleman who has spoken why it is so extremely dangerous if you have a limited number of persons let in the boroughs—and why it is perfectly safe to have the whole of the constituency of the boroughs and counties of one class? Most of those who have spoken from the Government benches have drawn a vivid picture of the mischief of letting in what they call democracy, which they assume must be the result if there is any lowering of the borough franchise at all; and yet they have not touched in the slightest degree upon the effect on the country of having all the power in counties and boroughs in the hands of the £10 occupiers without any countervailing balance. The next point that strikes one in reference to this subject is what was stated by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Macaulay). He said, speaking on this question, "this is a Reform Bill of great extent. What does it do? It deals with that with which you never dealt before. You have in the counties a population of upwards of 10,000,000, and you are going vastly to enlarge the constituencies." No doubt it is quite true that you are going vastly to enlarge the constituencies, but it seems to me that he has overlooked one not unimportant matter in considering this question; and that is, that although you have 10,000,000 people in the counties, YOU have also between 7,000,000 and 8,000,000 in the boroughs; but when he talked of enlarging the constituencies he did not touch on the numbers of the voters in the boroughs and counties respectively. Now, the 10,000,000 people in the counties have 500,000 voters; and the 7,000,000 odd people in the boroughs have about 430,000 voters. The proposal is to add 300,000 to the counties; but to take away 100,000 of the existing voters and place them in the boroughs. At present I am not touching on what have been termed "the fancy franchises." That would leave the whole constituency about 530,000 in the borough and 700,000 in the counties. The franchises are equal—but what will be the effect with regard to Members? You are going to add in this extraordinary manner to the county voters, making them much larger in proportion to the towns than before; but you are going to leave them without any additional Members—for the re-distribution of seven or eight Members cannot affect the question in any perceptible degree. A great many persons have given the Bill much praise, because there is to be no redistribution of seats to any extent. But can any man suppose that if you are going to add 300,000 voters to the counties, making every county, as far as its constituency goes, according to the plan of the Bill, a great borough—do you suppose they will remain long content without a re-distribution of seats? Why it is an absolute impossibility to suppose that if these constituencies are to be of the same quality, upwards of 10,000,000 of the population are to be represented by 160 Members, while the 7,000,000 are to have 350. I think that would be such a strange state of things that it could not exist for one moment. Suppose I am met on the Treasury benches by some such argument as this—You must not complain, you know the counties have always had a less number of representatives than the boroughs, and this is an old state of things. I am not complaining; but if that answer is good, what becomes of the question of equality—of the £10 county votes? There was, always, a difference between the county franchise and the borough franchise; and, therefore, if you put the counties in so anomalous a position, and are obliged to make an equality in respect to votes, it will be impossible to keep off long the re-distribution of seats and to give to counties more than what some persons would consider their just share in the representation of the people. What said the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India? He said, "one great merit of the Bill is to smooth down objections to disfranchise small boroughs." If that is so, why do the parties so much averse to the re-distribution of seats think this measure so very good? What will be the case with respect to the existing voters in counties? No man can tell how it will cut politically. I do not pretend to give any opinion on that subject, nor do I believe that any one can tell how it will cut, either the one side or the other; but of this I am quite sure, that the present county constituencies will be in danger of being swamped. There is no doubt about that if you bring in at once an amount of new voters nearly equal in number to that which before existed, for it is quite clear that the 400,000, at present voters in the counties, will stand in a different position than they do at the present moment; and this is a question which all those who have votes in counties would do well to consider. I now come to the question of the extension of the suffrage in boroughs. That question has been argued on this side of the House, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cambridge gave a distinct definition of what he meant when he said we shall no longer have any of those rough and clumsy modes of letting in people. The old-fashioned system of letting in people by the gross will no longer exist, and he says it will be done principally by selection. Well, but he gave a curious illustration of that. He said, when you come to deal with any question such as that of trying men for their lives—juries may try men for trumpery matters or they may try them for their lives, or what affects them even more than their lives, their character—all these things he says a jury of twelve men, with a qualification of equal money value, is considered sufficient; but that when you come to the more responsible matter of electing Members of Parliament—that is to say, when you want a man to have the 19,000th part in the election of a Member for Marylebone or the 30,000 part in the election of one for the Tower Hamlets,—you can trust only to the principle of selection. What is that principle of selection? He says it is contained in these new franchises, that by them you take the best of the working classes. Now let us examine these new franchises and see how we shall get them. It will not be presumed, I suppose, that the men who are admitted to the franchise by them will be working classes of a humbler station than those who live in £10 houses. It cannot for a moment be contended that a franchise which is to affect doctors and lawyers, clergymen and schoolmasters, will affect the working classes, for they, I suppose, may be taken to be the gems of the collec- tion. The next large class we come to are the lodgers. I do not apprehend that the men who pay 8s. a week for furnished lodgings, or probably 5s. or 6s. a week for unfurnished lodgings, are likely, as a class, to be below those who occupy £10 houses. The only thing that remains, therefore, is the savings' bank franchise. We are told that we could not remain at £10 because it would be an anomaly. I want to know if there is not as great an anomaly in the other case? How can you reconcile the giving of a man with £300 in Consols a vote with the giving a vote to another who has £60 in the savings' bank? I confess that, inasmuch as the basis is money in both instances, and that the money in each is vested in Government securities, it passes my comprehension how you can establish a case of equality. Nor am I prepared to admit that the deposit of £60 or any other sum, in a savings' bank is a fair test; for how you can say that a man who does not possess that amount among the working classes is not as respectable and trustworthy as a man who does. I think myself that it is no measure at all. I am ready to admit that a man who does possess £60 in the savings' bank may be, and probably is a respectable man; but what are the circumstances which enable one man to have it and another not to have it, because that is the real point which we have to consider. You say that you want it as a measure of a man's prudence and self-respect, and that it is a security. But it makes all the difference whether a man is married or single; it makes all the difference whether a man has a large or a small family. I myself happen to be a man who has a large family; and a man may be as trustworthy and as respectable as another, and yet he may not be able, if he has a large family and belongs to the working classes, to put money into the savings' bank. There is also such a thing as putting children to school in this country in the humbler as well as in the higher and middle classes, and if a man who is bound on making money has three or four children running about the streets instead of going to school, and has his wife working in a factory, I do not consider, although he might have £60 in the savings' bank, that he would be so respectable a man as he who put his children to school and kept his wife at home to attend to her household and domestic duties, although he might have no money in the savings' bank. For that reason I do not think that the simple fact that a man has money in the savings' bank is so strong a proof of respectability that it ought to entitle him to possess a vote as against another who has it not. You say you want some criterion. There may be sickness in one family, or a thousand other things that may prevent a man who is as prudent and self-denying as his neighbour from getting that capital which another man has been able to acquire. So I do not admit that this savings' bank clause, standing alone, affords that fair opening for the extension of the franchise to the working classes as is claimed for it by its admirers. I wish to say a word or two as to what was said by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Colonies with respect to the danger of extending the franchise in the direction of a rating suffrage. My right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Walpole) named a £6 rating. A £6 rating suffrage, it is said, would increase the number of voters by 100,000 at the outside; and I do not believe it would add one more than that. Would the addition of 100,000 to the borough franchise make an alteration equal to that which is now proposed by extending the county franchise by 300,000, and transferring the 100,000 from the county to the borough constituencies? I do not believe it would. I believe that this addition to the borough voters might have been very safely made. Well, then, we have before us the Amendment of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) which would influence more or less the votes of hon. Members. I agree with my hon. Friend who has told us that we have not got this issue fairly before us. It is not a question of the second reading of a Bill simply. We have got into a complicated state or position. On the one hand there is the Amendment of the noble Lord, and on the other there are the important declarations which have been made by the Government. I shall have occasion to notice both. What does the noble Lord's Amendment secure to us? That is the first question. It secures us certainly against the proposed transfer of the county freeholders to the boroughs. But that has been already done by the clauses somewhat irregularly put before the House by the Government, and there can be no mistake upon that. But with respect to the latter portion of the Amendment it is as vague as anything possibly can be. It is so vague that no human being can assign any definite meaning to it. If the Government, for instance, were to reduce the lodger franchise from 8s. to 7s. 6d. it would satisfy the noble Lord's Amendment. Is it worth while to meet such a measure as this with such an Amendment? I have asked myself why it is done, and it seems to me that it can have but one object. I am not one of those who deal with men's motives; we have nothing at all to do with them, and I think we are better without them. But I think it can only have one object; a great number of hon. Members in this House are not willing to vote against the second reading of the Reform Bill because there is a good deal in it which they are willing to discuss, and if it was a question of rejecting the second reading altogether they would vote in favour of its being read a second time; but it is a means of keeping the Bill out without that inconvenience. Well, Sir, I for one cannot join in that process. Now I come to what is quite as much a matter of consequence to me, differing as I do from many of the principles or main features of the Bill. I must consider what the Government has said. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated, not hastily, but deliberately, in answer to Questions of which notice had been given—and my right hon. Friend will correct me if I have misunderstood his language—that there was no provision in this Bill which might not be beneficially considered in Committee; and he followed that up by saying that the House would take into consideration the circumstances under which the Government came into office. I will not allude to the speech of my lion. Friend the Secretary of the Treasury (Sir Stafford Northcote), because, although he spoke with the authority of a member of the Government that is not the same thing as a member of the Cabinet. But my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty also said that we might consider in Committee every provision of the Bill, and that if the House made important changes it would then be for the Government to consider what course they the Government would adopt. I must say these two declarations relieve every man of the difficulties he may have in voting on the second reading of this Bill. I think the Government have said as much as it was possible for us to expect that any Government could say. I do not think you could expect them to say beforehand that they would accept this, that, or the other particular change which may be proposed in Committee. But I understand them from their speeches distinctly to say that they do nut declare be- forehand that they will not accept any change in this, that, or the other provision in the Bill. Therefore, if I may use the expression, both parties stand fair, they stand upon equal grounds; and if there be any changes made in Committee which the Government consider they ought not to accept, both parties will still stand fair; so that there need be no difficulty in our determining how we shall vote on the second reading of the Bill. If I have in any way misinterpreted the views of the Government, my right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli), who will probably speak to-night, will put me right, and I shall then know what to do on the division. The question has been raised in an odd sort of way by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, as to what the Government ought to do. I think with regard to all these things that we had much better leave them alone till the time comes. I do not like prophecies—they are rather inconvenient things. The noble Lord was at one time not very easy to understand. He says the Government—or rather the noble Earl at its head—took the Government with its engagements. I know nothing either good or evil of this term; but I fancy it is a turf phrase. But the noble Earl to whom it was applied does know something about the turf; and he was very particular in consequence of that, no doubt, in defining what he thought those engagements were. The engagement went no further than this—that in the course of the recess he would take a look over his stable and see if he could find a horse that he thought he could train and bring to the post. He went no further than that. But the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Palmerston) though he made engagements, never did anything at all. He brought no horse to the post, and he did not pay forfeit. So that at all events the noble Earl at the head of the Government stands in a better position than the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. But the noble Lord, not content with this, went on in what seemed to me an odd sort of way. He said, "It is very true you have got a horse ready to run, but I do not mean that he should run fair. I have got a partner, and he has got acquainted, confidentially with a clever young fellow, and we mean to put our saddle upon your horse and you shall run him with our saddle." Now, I am not surprised at the First Lord of the Admiralty saying, "we will not have your saddle;" the thing is quite natural. It would be very surprising, indeed, if they would let their horse run with another man's saddle and bridle. But the noble Lord says, "You shall run; we are determined we won't let you win, but still you shall run." I think the Government are perfectly right in rejecting a proposition like that. Still, I think the question is one which it is very desirable should be settled this year. The only thing I gather from the debate is this—or rather two things—first, that a considerable number of the House, if not a majority, are anxious that the thing should be settled this year. The other thing is that a still larger number are disposed to say that in its present shape the Government Bill will not settle it. With this understanding I am ready to go into Committee on this Bill. I hope when we get there that the deliberate decisions of this House will have their full weight with the Government, and will induce them, if possible, to get the measure into such a shape that it will give a reasonable ground of satisfaction to all moderately disposed people. It is out of the question to suppose that you will ever satisfy all people, do what you will. You will not get that. I agree with those who say that it does not matter a farthing what the Government proposed. I believe it would have been pulled to pieces and torn to pieces, and that party combinations would have been formed against it, just as much as against this Bill. It is very natural that it should be so upon a subject attended with such enormous difficulty, on which no two people hardly who converse together can be found to agree, and in respect to a Government who have not what is called a majority in the House. It was a tempting opportunity for Gentlemen opposite—it is done in the exercise of that which is their fair right—to attempt to tear it in pieces. Nay, I will go further, and say that I do not know but it was their duty to tear it in pieces if it was capable of being torn, because in that way they get a better measure. But I venture to say to the Government, that, considering the position they are in and the circumstances under which they took office, having to bring in a Bill surrounded with such known and vast difficulties, that this House will not place them in the same position by making changes and alterations in their Bill as they would if they had had a majority of this House at their back, but had been deserted by their friends upon this question. I venture with all humility to throw this out, because I think it is important that they should consider this matter, and that they should take into their consideration, either at the termination of this discussion—or if we get into Committee, then in Committee—the changes and alterations which have been proposed. Their situation is a peculiar one, and they must be judged according to their peculiar circumstances. We must not apply the same rules to them which we would probably to another Government which had had a majority at their back, but who, in a question of this kind, were left in a minority by the desertion of their own friends. I have taken up much of the time of the House; I have stated frankly my objections to the measure. I have stated with equal frankness why I cannot support the Resolution of the noble Lord opposite, which seems to me to do no good except to hang up the whole subject for this year, and perhaps for another, and to afford more opportunity for agitation to parties who would only be too glad to create it. This is not mere imagination, because even with the pledge of a Reform Bill an hon. Member has sought to raise an agitation; and now that we have a Reform Bill, of whoso provisions he does not approve, we have been told with great frankness by that hon. Member, that we may look for a winter of agitation. I have no desire for that state of feeling, for all that can arise from it will be exasperation of feeling, the setting of one class against another, instead of a fair comparing of queries and notes to endeavour to come to a common understanding. That is the only thing that is likely to come out of agitation, and, therefore I, for one, wish to have the question settled. It is most important that a measure of this kind should be settled. The course now to be taken, what ever it be, will have a great effect upon the future of this country. Many of those Gentlemen who have spoken to-night and on other occasions have said, "If you go one step along with us, you must go the last; there is no resting place between." These are strong expressions, but I doubt their truth. I do not think that the people of this country are unreasonable. I believe that they are willing to go by steps—I believe they think it safer to go by steps—and my objection to this Bill is, that it prevents our going by steps, because the establishment of an equality of franchise through the length and breadth of the land effectually prevents it. For this reason equality in the franchise is a dangerous thing in my opinion. Two examples have been quoted—France and America; and we have been attempted to be frightened by both. For my part, I do not wish cither—I want our own mixed constitution—I want some of all classes of people to have the franchise; but I do not want any one to override all the others, because that would not be a mixed constitution; but I want them all fairly represented. France had an equal electoral body—a very high one; America has also got a very large constituency, whether household or universal suffrage I do not know, but it is pretty nearly universal. The institutions of America have stood firm; since they were established about eighty years ago. France adopted equality of suffrage in 1814 or 1815, and she has achieved great things with it. She has kicked out two kings and two dynasties. She has set up a Republic, and she has got rid of it again. She has kicked out Liberty altogether. She has now got an Emperor; and those are results that I must say I do not want. I do not want the American Republic, which stands fast; I do not want liberty kicked out, and I do not want an Emperor; and, therefore, I, for one, am favourable to a state of the franchise which lets in some of all the different classes of the people, but will not let any one class swamp all the others. I believe that individuals, as well as classes of people, are selfish. I am afraid the history of the world teaches us this with regard to classes of people, and our own experience teaches it with regard to individuals; for, after all, classes are made up of individuals. If you give any one class—I do not care whether they are the £50, or the £20, or the £1 class—a preponderance—if they get the whole power into their hands they will use it for selfish purposes. If, on the other hand, the different classes are so mixed together that each class feels there is no chance of getting power into their own hands, exclusively people become good because they cannot be evil. More generous sentiments spring up when people find that they cannot make a bad use of their power. Our constitution, with all its anomalies, with all its ins and its outs, with all that you say is absurd, yet has stood fast for more hundreds of years than all the other constitutions you can show in the world. I think the great historian of the present day (Lord Macaulay) has told as that it stands fast because the people of this country, when they want alterations, do not look about for any new- fangled fashions, but they look back to see what has been handed down to them by those who went before, and they endeavour to stand upon the old ways of the constitution. This is said by my Lord Macaulay to be the great reason why the constitution of this country stands unchanged and unshaken. I believe that it is a constitution under which the people have enjoyed more of liberty, more security of life, and property for a greater number of years than under any other constitution in the world. I do not want to alter or destroy it. I want, if I can, to mend it; but to mend and help it by extending its base, and using the experience of former years. My objection to the Government Bill is, that it proceeds in a different direction. Some philosophic minds have been at work upon it who have been busying themselves in making a new constitution instead of mending the old one. My idea of a Reform Bill is one which shall improve what we at present possess, and I hope when we get into Committee, we shall get back into the old ways which our ancestors have marked out for us.


Sir, no one estimates more highly than I do the importance of the subject we are now discussing. During the many years that I have been in Parliament no such great subject has ever occupied its attention. Other matters may have had a momentary importance, but they have been circumscribed in point of time and by the limited extent of their operation. The alteration which we are seeking to make is an alteration of the constitution of this country. The acts of this House influence the destinies of the whole world, and therefore the subject we are now considering is one which affects the happiness of mankind. I wish, if possible, not to put an end to this question, for an end to it we cannot put, but to go onward. My object is to obtain what reforms I can, and the question I have to ask myself is, in what wav can I best obtain these reforms? There is one matter before the House, and it involves a two-fold consideration. What is it we are about? To reform the Reform Act. Then we have two inquiries to make—what is it in that Act which requires reform, and in what way can we best attain the end we desire? I will confine myself to these two points. The House of Commons, from the very day of its establishment, has been in a state of constant fluctuation and change. Now, it has changed as regards its own influence in the State; now is regards the persons by whom it is elected. For many years the House of Commons was the humble handmaid of the House of Lords, until the House of Lords betook themselves to the pastime of cutting one another's throats. When the Tudor line reigned, the result of all the proceedings of these kings was to put down the power of the great nobles. When the Stuarts came in, James I., weak and imbecile though he was, had wit enough to see what a great change had taken place, and when waited on by certain Members of the House of Commons he ordered so many chairs to be set for them, "because," said he, "I am about to meet so many kings." When the great dispute took place between the House of Commons and Charles I., the result, as it then appeared, was the complete victory of what is called democracy. But the reign of the Saints was a very sour reign; the people got tired of it, they reverted to the old dominion, and they called for a king again. However, they shortly got rid of the Stuarts, and from the time of the Revolution down to 1831 there was a constant increase in the landed power of this country. At that time—in 1831—this country was ruled by an aristocracy as completely as ever was any country in the world. The noble Lord near me then proposed his celebrated Reform Bill. What did that Bill do? Not what the right hon. Member for Carlisle said it did—transfer power from the aristocracy to the middle classes—but it shared political power between the aristocracy and the middle classes. And what we seek now to do is, not to transfer political power to any one class whatsoever, but to give a share of political power to that class which I say was wholly omitted from the Act of 1832—the working classes. I have put my finger on one great blemish of the noble Lord's Reform Act—the exclusion of the working classes from power. From that time to this these working classes have been going on increasing in intelligence. They have throughout manifested in their conduct, not only intelligence, but virtue, thereby showing that they are worthy to be, what I say they will be, and I hope in my time, participators in political power. The next great blemish of the Reform Act was that, although it went a great way in the right direction, it did not go all the way. It left in the electoral bodies a greater degree of inequality than ought to exist. Therefore, I say that the two great objects we ought to have in view are to extend the suffrage to the working classes, and to regulate the distribution of electoral bodies. That ought to be the object of any Bill which attempts to reform the Act of the noble Lord. Now, I have to inquire whether the Bill before us attains either of these two ends. I should waste the time of the House if I were to try to argue that this Bill docs nothing. The proposal to give a £10 occupancy franchise in counties is a great thing, but there it stops. I, who represent a great body of the working classes, who represent a large constituency living among the working classes, and picked out of them by the noble Lord's Act, should be deceiving the House if I were to say that this Bill will give anything like satisfaction to the working classes. From the beginning to the end of this debate I have heard this argument—if you grant power to the working classes you swamp every other class in the country. But is this true? People who use this argument do not make this important distinction—the majority of a country can have no interest inimical to the interests of the country. If you give power to a minority, that minority may have interests at variance with the interests of the country; but the majority cannot—if they understand their own interests [Ministerial cheers.] That cheer shows the utter want of perspicacity on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I say the majority have no interest in opposition to that of the whole country. It is supposed that the working classes, if they were endowed with power, would swamp all other classes. Now, I will take one single thing which is believed to be in the minds of the great body of the working classes—namely, a minimum of wages. A minimum of wages would be the most powerful means of preventing the accumulation of capital; and the prevention of the accumulation of capital would be more mischievous to the working classes than to any other section of the community. Then I say that the interests of the working classes are not in antagonism to those of the rest of the country. True, they may not see their own interest. I have not come to that point yet. They may be misled, as I have often seen this House misled; but their interest, quâ interest, is the same as that of the entire community. Then observe the difference. We have lived in times when the political power of this country was in the hands of a small class. That class had a distinct interest opposed to that of the community. How did they employ it? By making bread dear throughout the whole country; and it has only been since you extended political power to the middle classes that you have been able to beat down the aristocractic monopoly. Then, I say, this great leading point must never be left out of consideration—namely, that if power is given to the majority of the country the majority have no interest in misusing it; while power conferred on the minority will be misused, because the minority have an interest in misusing it. But are we to be told that the working classes will not follow the intelligent and guiding minds of this country? I want to know what it is that has covered every sea with your ships, that has filled every mart with your productions, that has made England what she is? Why, the virtue and intelligence of the great body of your people. Those millions whom you have excluded from political power have made you what you arc. Give them power, make them what they ought to be, and they will exalt, and not depress you. You will be greater than ever. And that is the reason why I wish to see them invested with political power. Not that I believe you would thereby see any great alteration in the composition of this House, but because you would take away from the working classes all cause of discontent, all belief that they are unjustly treated, and you would have a more contented, far happier, and more virtuous people. Well, this being the end, I have next to consider the means. And herein, Sir, I am about to differ from many of my friends, and more especially from my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham. He believes that from this Bill you can get no good. I believe, if the Government be wise, we can get good from it. And I would throw out this hint to my hon. Friend, which has not perhaps yet suggested itself to his mind, that he has not a monopoly cither of political intelligence or of political virtue. No man can have a higher esteem for the wonderful ability of my hon. Friend than I have. He is a great orator—I was going to say the greatest orator I have ever seen. But I do not regard him as a great statesman. If he had combined the two characters, he might have ruled the country. But the gift of speech which my hon. Friend possesses in so eminent a measure is not seconded and guided by that political wisdom which alone can give power over this nation. Then I have to ask, how can the present Bill be rendered most serviceable in attaining the end I have in view—namely, that of conferring political power on the great body of my countrymen? Can it be left in the hands of hon. Gentlemen opposite? Shall we be thrown upon the tender mercies of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, or upon the assistance of the noble Lord the Member for London? With regard to the first of these noble Lords, I must say that I do not look upon him as a Reformer. Some years ago, Sir, I had a much higher opinion of the noble Viscount's ability to do good than I have now; and the reason why my opinion has changed is, that when he was not in power I thought he manifested the most liberal intentions; but when in power he became as great a monopolist as I ever saw governing this country in my time. He would have been thought worthy of power if he had never attained it; but, having attained power, he has exercised dominion in a manner which, in my judgment, has unfitted him from ever regaining it. Then I come to the noble Lord the Member for London, who reminds me of a Chinese lady's foot, which has been so swathed and bound that, although it is to the owner's eye fair and beautiful to look upon, it does not help her onwards. The noble Lord's mind, Sir, has been so swathed and bound by party considerations that it is unfit for the task of ruling this great country. I gather from the noble Lord's career this conclusion, that he believes England is an appanage for Whig politicians—that he believes the good government of this country cannot be expected from any class but the Whigs; and he hopes—I think I don't here unfairly represent him—he hopes that within our time the power of England may be replaced in his hands. That, Sir, is a very laudable ambition; but I certainly do not favour it, because I believe just what I have said—namely, that though great advances have been made by the noble Lord, and more particularly in 1831–2, yet under present circumstances, we can get a better Government than can be formed either by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, or by the noble Lord the Member for London. And, Sir, until we are in a position to bring together the united forces of the great Liberal party, I would rather have weakness on that (the Ministerial) bench. Weakness is there now. I am speaking of political weakness, and of nothing else. I say I would rather have their weakness than I would have the noble Viscount back with all the arrogance and insolence which attended him before. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle told us that great advantage had been derived from the Reform Act, and more particularly in the years which immediately succeeded its passing. Now, I differ with the right hon. Baronet thus far, that while I think great benefits have been obtained from the Reform Act, yet I believe that during the years immediately following the adoption of that measure the old habits of this country, and the constant deference to aristocratic political dominion, rendered the classes newly admitted to power unfit to govern themselves. Day by day, and year by year, however, our middle classes are beginning to feel themselves independent, and the very House of Commons in which we now are is a proof of the great improvement which has taken place since 1831–2; for of all the Houses of Commons in which I have had the honour of sitting, this is the most thoroughly independent. This I attribute to the great change which was made by the noble Lord. I don't know whether the noble Lord foresaw that consequence from his Act I have no doubt he sees it now. But the result is, that our middle classes are commencing to perceive that they have aright to a great share of political power, and they are educating themselves up to the point required for the governors of a country like this. Allow the working classes to come in, and you will bring the mind of the hard-handed and hard-headed men of England, with all their intelligence, patient industry, and persevering virtue, to bear upon the conduct of public affairs. You will break down more and more—and this, I own, is one great object that I have in view—aristocratic predominance in this country. The people will govern themselves, and they will be better governed. Well, then, what have I to do? To the Chancellor of the Exchequer I would put these questions in the most definite form, because I expect from him a definite answer:—I want to know, if this Bill passes a second reading, and we are allowed to go into Committee, and if in Committee this House should enact that the borough franchise should be fixed at £6, and the county franchise at £10, with no transfer of votes according to the present Bill, whether the Government would think that a cause or reason for their resignation. If they answer "Aye," then I say I shall vote against the second reading, because I think it more humane to put them out of their agony at once, than to allow them to go into Committee, and then find out that we are still as far from our object as ever. But if the right hon. Gentleman tells me that such an alteration will lead to no such result—that the Administration are quite ready to receive such an alteration of their Bill—then I say I will vote for the second reading. And I ask the noble Lord the Member for London why under these circumstances he should not also vote for it. I have no doubt that noble Lord wants a Reform Bill. Does he believe himself able to carry one? ["Hear, hear!"] You say "hear, hear," but there are two Houses of Parliament, and I saw in 1831–2, as did also the noble Lord, that this country was on the brink of a revolution because we could not otherwise force the House of Lords to pass a Reform Bill. Are we now in a position to coerce the House of Lords? Does the noble Lord believe that with his Reform Bill suited to the taste of this House he will ever pass its second reading in the House of Lords? Therefore I say, that if Gentlemen opposite will accept a Reform Bill such as I have faintly shadowed forth, they are much more likely to be able to carry it through the House of Lords than the noble Lord. If I get the answer which I have mentioned, I am ready, I am anxious to vote for the second reading of this Bill, because I believe that in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman the cause of Reform is more likely to be advanced that great step, than it is in other hands that are in this House. I have told the House that I would be brief. I would entreat them for a moment to put by party considerations. I would ask them to look this matter steadfastly in the face. The noble Lord tells me, as he has said in public, that Gentlemen opposite cannot accept the alteration of the Bill which I now propose; but if they do accept it, why should not he accept it too? If the Gentlemen opposite are prepared so to alter their Bill as to gain all the noble Lord intends, except the transference of political power, I ask him why he will not accept their Bill? No doubt, Sir, the noble Lord thinks he can govern this country better than Gentlemen opposite. I have no doubt that is his feeling. It is a very natural one, and I dare say that the noble Lord might retort upon me, that I believe that I could govern the country better. I at once acknowledge that I do believe it. I have no doubt that I shall never be tried, and therefore my estimation of myself in that particular will never be falsified. But I would entreat the House is Reformers, as persons representing the great body of the people, so to conduct themselves that they may bring this great question to an issue now, that they may advance the great question of Reform one stop at least; and by so doing they will bring about that which I believe is now within their power, a better Government for the people of England.


—Mr. Speaker, after seven nights' debate, conducted with a vigour and variety which have sustained the reputation of this House, it is now my duty to examine how far that measure which, rive weeks ago, I had the honour to introduce on the part of the Government, has been affected by this discussion, and to indicate the course which Her Majesty's Government think it their duty to recommend to the House this night to adopt with respect to it. Sir, it is some ten years since, or nearly so, that the Prime Minister of this country, then the leader of this House, occupying the very seat which I now fill, and being one of the principal promoters and projectors of the Reform Act of 1832, announced the deliberate opinion of himself and of his Cabinet to be that the famous settlement of 1832 was, in their judgment, no longer satisfactory and sufficient. And, Sir, from that period unto the present, with successive Ministries formed from different parties, the same opinion has been held, the same advice to Parliament has been given. The Crown has been pledged—the Parliament has been pledged—the Ministry has been pledged—to attempt to amend the representation of the people; but this is the first occasion on which a Bill with that object has been offered to this House for the second reading; and how am I met under these circumstances?

Now, Sir, what is this Bill which I have introduced? It is founded on three great principles. And we have had so much discussion about principles and about details that the House will permit me to remind it what those three great principles are. The first principle is, that the constituent body of this country shall be increased by the introduction to it of a large number of persons, and of a vast variety of the population, who shall in future possess the suffrage. Under this Bill, in pursuance of that principle, I believe as great an addition would be made to the constituent body as was made by the Reform Act of 1832. By the Reform Act of 1832 I believe 400,000 persons were added to the constituency. By the Bill which I introduced to the House five weeks ago I believe that a number certainly not less than that will be added to the present electoral body. The second principle on which this Bill is founded is that those large communities whose wealth and population, and distinctive character have been developed since the Act of 1832 shall be summoned to direct representation in this House. That is the second great principle. The third principle is that this Bill maintains generally the present borough system of representation in this country, on the ground that no efficient substitute has yet been offered for it; and on the ground also that it is the only means by which you can obtain an adequate representation of the various interests and classes of the country; and that all other proposed changes would only lead to the predominance of a numerical majority of the population. Now, Sir, these are the three great principles upon which this Bill is founded. All the rest, however important—all the rest is matter of detail, which ought to be, and can only be sufficiently discussed in Committee. The hon. and learned Member who has just addressed us (Mr. Roebuck), put to me a question, and called upon me frankly to reply to it. Sir, I will frankly reply to it. I say that every proposition in that Bill irrespective of the three great principles upon which it is founded, is a matter of detail; that the Committee is the proper stage in which to discuss those propositions and that to the discussion of those propositions in Committee I and the rest of the Government will give a candid consideration. But whether the point be a great one or a small one,—whatever view the hon. and learned Gentleman may take of it—I decline to pledge myself before the discussion takes place, and to say that I will defer to any determination that the Committee may arrive at. Sir, that appears to me to be a demand alike unreasonable and unparliamentary.

Sir, I have reminded the House what are the three principles upon which this measure is founded; and I may be permitted to say that I believe a majority, and a large majority, of this House is in favour of those three principles. Now, if this be the case, I should naturally have felt surprise at receiving a very fierce opposition to the second reading of the Bill. With the conviction I have that a majority of the House is in favour of the principles on which this Bill is founded, I had a right to count on success on the second reading. But we are not permitted to bring the question to that issue. With a majority of this House in favour of the principles upon which this Bill is founded, this measure is not to be tried upon its principles; but a Resolution is thrust, Sir, into your hands, which asks the House to commit itself on two points, which are, after all points of detail [Oh, oh!] which are, unquestionably, as I will show, points of detail, and which ought to be considered in Committee. What are the two objections to which the Amendment of the noble Lord refers? I will touch upon one, certainly of the least importance, with regard to what the noble Lord calls the disfranchisement of freeholders. Now, I cannot agree that any freeholder is disfranchised by this Bill. I think I might, with equal justice, say that the Bill provides for the enfranchisement of freeholders; but for the sake of discussion I will take the statement of the noble Lord. But is this the first Bill to amend the representation of the people in which there has been a measure of disfranchisement? The noble Lord has had great experience in Reform Bills; will he refer me to any Bill with which he was ever connected in which there was not a large measure of disfranchisement. Why, Sir, in the Bill of 1831 and 1832 the whole constituent body of the cities and boroughs of England, amounting in number to nearly 100,000 persons, was partially or completely disfranchised. Why, Sir, the noble Lord was not content on that occasion to propose the disfranchisement of the whole constituencies of all the cities and towns of the kingdom, but he carried on that occasion to a great extent the disfranchisement of the freeholders in the counties. Every freeholder who lived in one of the great towns that then was first summoned to Parliament, found, to use the language of the noble Lord, that the Bill disfranchised him as a freeholder of the county, and he became afterwards a voter for the borough in which he resided only in right of occupation. Sir, I received this morning a letter from a gentleman which is really excessively germane to this point. It will be recollected that some hon. Members who followed the noble Lord, like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, in solemn accents warned us of the unconstitutional character of our proposition to allow the freeholders to vote for boroughs. Now, the gentleman to whom I am referring, writing to me this morning, states that he lives in Bristol. This is a city, and, as you know, a county also, like several other great towns in England. The freeholders of Bristol vote for the city by virtue of a statute, nearly the oldest on our books. This gentleman, I say, informs me that he is a freeholder, and votes for the city. He is, however, not a freeholder by virtue of the ancient statute some 500 years old; but it so happened that when the Reform Bill passed in 1832 the boundaries of Bristol were greatly enlarged, and many county freeholders were brought within the liberties of the city. My friend and correspondent was one of those; and, according to the noble Lord's interpretation, and through the noble Lord's arrangement he was disfranchised as a freeholder and became merely an elector for the city of Bristol. But I am bound in fairness to tell the noble Lord that my correspondent is peculiarly pleased with that arrangement. He assures me that nothing was more pleasing to those freeholders who in a large county were nobodies, to find themselves changed into important persons in a city. The information received from other parts of the country similarly circumstanced is in accordance with that sentiment. Will the noble Lord deny that in all his Bills of 1831 and 1832 disfranchisement, as he calls it, was absolutely carried out on no very small scale? But what would the noble Lord have thought if, when he brought forward his great measure involving such important interests, and dealing with such large questions, he had been met by the Opposition of that day by a Resolution that the disfranchisement of the freeholders was such an unconstitutional course that it was impossible for the House to consider the question of the improvement of the representation of the people? What has been the conduct of the noble Lord in his subsequent Bills? Has not the noble Lord himself proposed the disfranchisement altogether of the existing freemen of the country to the number, I believe, of nearly 50,000? Has not the noble Lord brought in a measure, to ensure, as he alleged, the repre- sentation of minorities in Parliament, which would have the effect of depriving many of the county electors of their third votes? Some hon. Members might have considered those proposals—some did consider them—as rather objectionable arrangements; but, at all events, they were looked upon as matters of detail; nobody then met the noble Lord by a Resolution such as he has now brought forward, in order to carry away the attention of the House from the great principles involved, by asking the House, by way of censure upon the general scheme, to commit itself to mere points of detail.

Let me now, Sir, touch upon the much more important portion of the Resolution. But though it is the more important portion of the Resolution, let me remind the House it has been elicited in the course of our debates that it formed no part of the original instrument when it was first concocted in order to embarrass the Government.

But before I consider the subject of the amount of the borough franchise, it is absolutely necessary for me to place before the House, for the vindication of the Government, the particulars of the course they have taken. In doing so, it is requisite for me to touch for a moment upon the question of the county franchise. Now, there have been, no doubt, in the course of this prolonged debate, frequent expressions of opinion, and from persons of authority, in favour of the county franchise being fixed at the amount of £20. I believe, Sir, I am only fairly stating the case when I say that amongst us all there is no question between a £50 franchise and one of any other amount; but the real question is between an occupation franchise for the county of £20 and one of £10. I admit there have been frequent declarations of opinions by persons who ought to exercise, from their experience and ability, great influence in this House, in favour of a £20 occupation franchise for counties. Now, let us for a moment consider what the House has already done on this subject, and what has taken place in respect to it in the course of late years. In 1851 the noble Lord was Prime Minister of this country. An hon. Gentleman, a Member for a county (Mr. Locke King) had for some time previously brought under the consideration of the House the county franchise. It was then commencing to be a Parliamentary question of importance. In 1851 that hon. Gentle- man brought forward a Motion for leave to introduce a Bill which would have reduced the occupation franchise in counties to the amount of £10. The noble Lord at the head of the Government resisted that Motion. The Motion was, however, carried by no inconsiderable majority, and the noble Lord resigned in consequence. It is very true that, from circumstances not anticipated, the noble Lord again returned to office in the same year. But the noble Lord when he returned to power, having acknowledged that it was in consequence of the adverse majority in respect to the question of the county franchise that he had resigned office, then announced that he and his colleagues had resolved to take the whole question of the representation of the people into their consideration; the noble Lord intimated his intention of introducing a Bill into the House as a general and comprehensive measure on the subject; and upon that undertaking, and that undertaking alone, the followers of the noble Lord no longer pressed the question, upon which they had already obtained a majority. In 1852, the noble Lord, in fulfilment of that pledge, after taking a whole year to consider the question with his colleagues, introduced his comprehensive measure of Parliamentary reform, in which every point was well weighed, and among the rest that of the county franchise. But the noble Lord on that occasion still resisted the policy advocated by the Motion of the hon. Member for East Surrey, and proposed a £20 occupation franchise for counties. The measure obtained no favour when it was introduced, and shortly after its introduction the Government of the noble Lord was broken up. Now the House will recollect that in 1851 the noble Lord's Government was destroyed by an adverse vote on this subject of the county franchise; and that in 1852 he gave no adhesion to the principle, and his re-constructed Administration did not exist more than a fortnight after the introduction of his measure. I think, Sir, it was in 1853 that another Government was formed. The country then appeared to be tired of Whig Governments—they were tired of Governments that did not possess the confidence of a majority of the House. No one could say how the question could be solved how a working majority could be obtained; and after the defeat of the noble Lord's Government and the defeat of Lord Derby's Government, it was resolved that means should be taken to establish a Government which, not only by the commanding talents of its Members, but by the general consent of the House, should conduct the affairs of the country with an administrative ability not hitherto experienced, and should settle all great public questions by the exercise of those qualities of the intellect which statesmen of the highest class could alone possess. "Well, Sir, that Cabinet was formed, and it counted amongst its Members the most distinguished men, some of whom were the companions of the late Earl Grey and were Members of his Cabinet when he constructed the original Reform Act. There were also in this Cabinet some of the favourite and most favoured friends of the late Sir Robert Peel. There were others greatly distinguished also. There was in this Cabinet of which I am now speaking unquestionably a combination of ability that had seldom been brought together in one Council chamber. So great was the confidence of the country and this House in this Coalition Cabinet that, although at the moment they acceded to office they announced that their attention would be given to the question of reform with the hope and intention of settling it,—I will not say finally and for ever—but in a manner which would satisfy this and perhaps the succeeding generation—the confidence, I say, of the country and of Parliament was so great in his Cabinet that they accorded to them a period of time not less than twelve months, in order that they might not be hurried in their deliberations, and that they might be better enabled to offer to the House the matured results of their wisdom, of their experience, and of their investigation. Well, then, what did they do? These distinguished men having devoted all their genius, and intellect, and time to this great question, did come forward in due season with a large and comprehensive measure of Parliamentary reform. They met almost every question that was really and practically involved in that theme. They proposed a very considerable redistribution of seats, and a disfranchisement of small constituencies; they also proposed a reduction of the borough franchise. And what was the result at which they arrived in respect to the county franchise? With respect to the county franchise, after deliberating upon the question for a year, this Cabinet of eminent men, presided over by a statesman of European fame, but of Tory education, arrived at this result; they recommended to Parliament to establish in the counties a £10 occupation francise. Now, who were the men who recommended in 1854 this principle of a £10 occupation franchise r Why, Sir, among these councillors were many of the most distinguished Members of this House. The noble Lord was, of course, there, and was the organ of the Government by whom the measure was brought forward. There was the right hon. baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham). There was also the noble Viscount the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston). There were, also, as Members of that Cabinet the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wiltshire (Mr. Sydney Herbert) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University for Oxford (Mr. Gladstone). Are we, Sir, to suppose—considering all the circumstances under which these distinguished Members of the Cabinet acted—that they were trifling with this important subject? Can we, Sir, believe for a moment that they would have given their assent to that proposition unless they had bestowed their most serious attention to the subject, with a due sense of the responsibility they had undertaken? We know, Sir, now—for the matter is no secret, I can refer to it without difficulty—we know, I say, that there was discord and dissension in the Cabinet upon this subject of reform. That Cabinet was also so unfortunate upon it, as to lose a colleague, though more fortunate than ours, that colleague returned to them. The retirement of the noble Viscount the Member for Tiverton, in the autumn, proved that the decision at which the Cabinet had arrived was not hastily formed, but that it was a question which they had considered with much pains, and with the fullest sense of their duty. Now, I ask, did the noble Viscount quit the Cabinet on account of the £10 franchise? If so, he must, by his returning back to the Cabinet have been fully convinced by the arguments of his colleagues. If the noble Viscount quitted the Cabinet on account of the £10 franchise proposed, why did not his distinguished colleagues who shared his opinions follow his example? Yet, Sir, to my surprise, it is from the lips of those Gentlemen I now hear that the solution of all these difficulties is to be found in the proposition, acceptable, they say, to the majority of a £20 franchise for counties. Surely after the Government of 1853, on a full and de- liberate consideration of their responsible situation, had given in their adhesion and approbation to the £10 franchise, they must have felt how far they had by so doing advanced public opinion to sanction a proposition, which before that time had been supported only by the sympathies of the hon. Member for Surrey's followers in the House of Commons. And now, Sir, on this subject we are told that the counsels given by our lute colleagues are the counsels which would be acceptable to the present House of Commons. I very much esteem the eloquence and abilities of my two right hon. Friends, whose assistance I have lost in this emergency; but I fear they might have spoken frequently and and at much length without producing the effect they have under present circumstances, if, remaining Members of Lord Derby's Cabinet, they had at this time supported a proposition for a £20 franchise in counties. But, Sir, I must pursue the history—for it is an instructive one—of this £20 franchise. The Bill of the Cabinet of Lord Aberdeen containing the £10 franchise for counties, was withdrawn in consequence of the war then impending, and which shortly afterwards broke out. That war for the moment diverted and distracted all men's minds from the consideration of this subject. There was a change of Government and there was a new Prime Minister; and when peace returned and all the joys of peace accompanied it, the £10 occupation franchise in counties was again a Parliamentary question. Well, it had been said that when the Government of 1851 was upset by that very Motion, the vote was not a fair expression of the opinion of the House of Commons. It was said that the division had been taken on it unexpectedly, and that the Minister had been surprised. No doubt, had these been the real circumstances, the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, who knows the House of Commons as well as any man, would not have felt it his duty to resign. The noble Lord knew well that the subject was one upon which his party were divided: he looked for no warm support on our side; and therefore he knew it was impossible to resist the question. But that was not the position of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton when he became First Minister. Then came out what had been suspected, but not known, that the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, though he had given his adhesion to the proposition of Lord Aberdeen's Cabinet, was in heart a supporter of the higher franchise; and when he became First Minister, and the question was again mooted, he declared that all the resources and energy of his Government should be employed to defeat the proposition for the reduction to £10. The noble Lord knew that from our side he would receive a generous and hearty support. I must remind the House that in the meantime there had been a dissolution of the House on the Chinese question, which had considerably reduced the Conservative ranks; but the noble Lord knew well we would support him. We did so. Every effort was made to support him. With pairs, 230 or 240 Gentlemen sitting on this side supported him; and in a very full House the Motion of the hon. Member for Surrey was defeated by a majority of 13. And when the next morning I revised the division list for my own instruction I found that the aid which the noble Lord with all his efforts and energy had brought to that division might be described by the figures which denoted the majority. There is yet one stage more in this eventful history. The time came when we sat last year on these benches, and the hon. Member for Surrey again brought forward his Motion; and when he did so, I moved the Previous Question on the ground that the Government of Lord Derby was about to consider the whole question. But the same courtesy was not accorded to me as, under similar circumstances, we accorded to the noble Lord. Subsequently, on the second reading of the Bill, at a period of the evening favourable to the assembly of hon. Members, every effort was made to resist the Motion. My hon. Friends near me looked with the greatest anxiety to the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. They had an idea that with his aid we should have been saved. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton gave them no encouragement. Several of my hon. Friends upbraided the noble Lord as if he had ill-treated them in the hour of need. I did not sanction that. I knew the position of the noble Lord. A division was called for, and the Motion was carried by a large majority. The noble Lord himself voted for it; but, Sir, I was informed, on the highest authority,—and, indeed, it was no secret—that had the noble Lord accompanied us into the same lobby he would have been followed by only four Members of his party. Sir, I mention these facts to show the impracticability of proposing a £20 franchise to this Parliament. I do not pretend to say that that was what influenced us. I believe the proposition would be impolitic. But when, night after night we have been asked why we did not propose a £20 franchise, and that by statesmen who, in the responsible position of Ministers of the Crown, had counselled the House to adopt a suffrage of a different character, I am obliged to show the House how—irrespective of its impolicy—how impracticable such a proposition would be. What would be our position if we had proposed a £20 franchise? I can tell you in a moment what it would be. The struggle that is now taking place would have taken place on that point, and I think with much greater advantage to the noble Lord, because then he would have been the champion of the House of Commons, whose deliberate and recorded opinions would have been outraged by our proposition; and no doubt the noble Lord would have carried his views against the Government. What would be our position had we followed the noble Lord's present advice, so contrary to his former policy, and now even smiled at with demureness by the hon. Member for Birmingham? Our position would have been this—had we proposed a £20 franchise for counties and a £6 for boroughs, we should have been obliged to commence our labours in Committee—had we ever got there—with a £10 franchise for counties and a £6 for boroughs.

That leads me to the very question of the borough franchise. Had we acted in accordance with the advice that is now so liberally given to us by those who never practised it themselves we should have been offering a measure to Parliament proposing a £20 franchise for counties and £6 for boroughs. I must now inquire whether we could with our view of what was our duty, have made a proposition of that character. Let us consider such an extension of the borough franchise as that recommended by the noble Lord. We have on this subject had in the present debate the opinions of several very eminent statesmen, including men of different schools of politics. There was my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge. He is in favour of a £20 franchise for counties, and would like at the same time a £10 franchise for boroughs; but feeling that something must be done he says that he has no objection to consider the question of a £6 rating franchise for boroughs. Then we come to the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. He is still steady in his affection for a £20 franchise in counties; and he does not conceal his complete respect for a £10 franchise in boroughs; but he says the noble Lord the Member for the City got him in a corner, and showed him his Resolution. He tells us that, having looked at it, he said, "We can act together; there is nothing in your Resolution that I cannot support." I quite concur with the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. So far as the Resolution is concerned, by entering into this combination he makes no engagement which, as regards the borough franchise, will at all embarrass him. I am perfectly aware of all the tricks of management by which you can deal with the borough franchise: how you can manage to be doing a very liberal act, and yet keep out of the franchise the very class for which so many persons express so much sympathy. I have all these plans in my pigeon-holes, and could have availed myself of them with perfect impunity. An £8 rating franchise, which some fancy, would disfranchise half the constituency: a £7 rating franchise would do better than a £10 value; and even a £6 rating franchise, well doctored, might do your business. The noble Lord is not pledged to any of these by what was shown him in the Resolution. The simple alteration of any of what he calls our "fancy franchises," most of which he proposed himself, would have entirely redeemed the pledge of the noble Lord. I do not know any one who could reduce the borough franchise in a truer Conservative spirit than the noble Lord. But Sir, I will describe fairly and fully the propositions and the policy of my right hon. Friend and the noble Lord. I will take them as representing the school of politicians who support the scale of £20 in the county and £6 in the borough. That is called, and may be called by courtesy, the Conservative policy. I think, Sir, it is a feeble and dangerous policy, and because it is feeble and dangerous, I think it also a foolish policy; but still it is a Conservative policy, and it is supported by my right hon. Friend and the noble Lord. But, now let us advance to the propositions of other statesmen on this point, and see how they agree; because it is of great importance that we should understand what harmony on this point exists among those various critics of the measure of the Government. I will not be so unjust to the noble Lord the Member for the City as to estimate his policy by his Resolution. His Resolution is a party Resolution, drawn up in the spirit of party. I do not blame him for that. He draws up a Resolution in terms which will allow as many men as possible to support him; but the noble Lord as a statesman, must have a policy. He would not play and trifle with the Parliament of this country; and therefore I of course assume that he has a policy. I think he fairly describes that policy in his speech—so far as one can get at a precise declaration of a policy from a speech—as one which would admit to the franchise the great body of the working classes. Well, Sir, I think there is some system in that policy; but I wish we had something more of the detail; that we could have obtained from the noble Lord an idea of the means by which the great body of the working classes should be admitted. That omission I regret. But Sir, what we wanted was soon supplied by a very explicit and remarkable speech, which was delivered some time after that of the noble Lord—I mean the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham.) I must say that, that right hon. Gentleman addressed the House on this subject with great precision, and furnished the House with a programme sufficiently distinct, and one which I think the country will understand. Well, Sir, the disfranchisement of small boroughs, the extensive redistribution of seats, is the first article in the efficient programme of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle. Then, not maintaining the phrase "an extension of the franchise," the right hon. Gentleman proposed a "reduction" of the franchise—not an inconsiderable reduction of the franchise—not less, as I collected from the right hon. Gentleman, than that very municipal franchise, at the least, into the very enormities of which a Committee of the other House is at this moment inquiring. Last, but certainly not least, with some courteous reluctance—adopted, I suppose, out of compliment to the House—the doctrine was introduced with prescient approbation of the election of Members of Parliament by ballot. I was not so astonished by the programme of the right hon. Gentleman as some were, for I remember a speech delivered on the hustings of Carlisle some years ago, from which we clearly under- stood—though it appeared afterwards that we were mistaken—that the right hon. Baronet had already adopted those opinions. I wonder whether the vision of the hustings of Carlisle has come across him today. But there is a programme distinct and clear, and no man, however liberal his opinions or independent his position, but must say, at last he has found a leader, and one who will forward a measure he will conscientiously support. But, then, there was in this speech of the right hon. Gentleman an admission not less important than the political programme, which in my opinion may exercise a considerable effect on the political fortunes of parties in this country. And what was the admission? Why, that he was one of the parents of the Resolution of the noble Lord the Member for the City. Quoting metaphors from the turf is now the fashion, and therefore I may say without offence, and without being misunderstood, that the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord are clearly confederates in this matter, for it appears that the Resolution was contrived by them together; and what is the irresistible, the inevitable inference, but that the noble Lord is pledged to the programme of the right hon. Baronet? Well, then, we have now a leader—or we have leaders—with a definite programme—large disfranchisement of small boroughs, extensive redistribution of seats, great reduction of borough franchise, municipal suffrage at the least, and vote by ballot more than probable. This then is the programme of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle and the noble Lord the Member for the City. Practically speaking, I do not see what is the difference between their political system and that of the hon. Member for Birmingham. The Member for Birmingham has stated out of doors—and colouring this statement more highly than we are in the habit of doing in this assembly, and confessing as he always does with the frankness of his nature—that he would take less than he asks, and asks sometimes less than he wishes on some points not easy to recollect, which may exceed the programme of the confederates. But I have no doubt that the hon. Member for Birmingham, as a practical man, has no objection whatever, on these conditions and fur the purpose of obtaining these results, to act with the noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet in any manner and in any place. Then, as for what are called the ulterior views of the hon. Member for Birmingham, the Throne may not always have been spoken of perhaps by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham with that reverence which I believe all Englishmen feel; the House of Lords may, by chance, have been denounced as a nuisance to the country; the Ecclesiastical establishments of the country may not have altogether received his approbation. But although the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman may not yet be so advanced, or if so advanced may not yet choose to announce their opinion, we know that in all Cabinets there may be open questions; and practically speaking, on this programme I think there is no reason why the hon. Member for Birmingham may not act as the trusty and honoured colleague of the right hon. Baronet and the noble Lord. We see then, there is an advantage in a Parliamentary debate; we see that we have arrived in this discussion at great results; we know something more of the opinions of individuals; we see somewhat more clearly the future of parties in the country; but what surprises me most is the combination of eminent men, with such opposite opinions and such opposite projects, againsts Her Majesty's Government. What I cannot reconcile is the mild Conservative policy of £20 in. the counties, and some slight extension of the franchise in boroughs, advocated by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton by my right hon. Friends and the distinguished colleagues of my Lord Aberdeen—I say I cannot reconcile that with the avowed, the determined, almost the flagrant, policy of the confederates and the hon. Member for Birmingham.

And now, Sir, how are we met upon this question? An hon. Gentleman, a friend of mine, who made a speech on the first night of this debate, the Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Sturt), of whoso talents I have so good an opinion that I believe he would not have made that speech on the last night of the debate, says that he is not afraid of the people of England; whereupon there is great cheering from hon. Gentleman opposite; and I doubt not that if the sentiment had been uttered so well and so forcibly at any of the minor theatres it would have been received with applause still more enthusiastic. My hon. Friend might have stopped and made two inquiries. He might have asked, What are the people? and, Why should I fear? Why, Sir, I have no apprehension myself that if you had manhood suffrage tomorrow the honest, brave, and good-natured people of England would resort to pillage, incendiarism, and massacre. "Who expects that? But—though I would do as much justice to the qualities of our countrymen as any Gentleman in this House—though I may not indulge in high-flown and far-fetched expressions with respect to them like those we have listened to, for the people may have their parasites as well as monarchs and aristocracies—yet I have no doubt that whatever may be their high qualities, our countrymen are subject to the same political laws that affect the condition of all other communities and nations. If you establish a democracy you must in due season reap the fruits of a democracy, You will in due season have great impatience of the public burdens combined in due season with great increase of the public expenditure. You will in due season reap the fruits of such united influence. You will in due season have wars entered into from passion and not from reason; and you will in due season submit to peace ignominiously sought and ignominiously obtained, which will diminish your authority and perhaps endanger your independence. You will, in due season, with a democracy find that your property is less valuable and that your freedom is less complete. I doubt not when there has been realized a sufficient quantity of disaffection and dismay the good sense of this country will come to the rally, and that you will obtain some remedy for your grievances, and some redress for your wrongs, by the process through which alone it can be obtained—by that process which may render your property more secure, but which will not render your liberty more eminent. I know that I shall be told that these are old-fashioned notions. The hon. Member for Birmingham has said the same on the platform, which he is always praising and certainly adorns; he will point to the instance of the United States of America, and say, "This shows how completely erroneous are the notions entertained in Europe of democracy." But I say, between Europe and the United States there is no sort of analogy. I say the United States of America are colonies; for a country though independent does not cease to be a colony; and they are not only colonies, but they are absolutely colonizing, and none of the conditions obtain in them which regulate the social system of the ancient communities of this quarter of the globe. That being my opinion, I cannot look upon what is called reduction of the franchise in boroughs but with alarm; and I have never yet met any argument which fairly encounters the objections that are urged to it. You cannot encounter it by sentimental assertions of the good qualities of the working classes. The greater their good qualities the greater the danger. If you lay down as a principle that they are to enter the constituent body, not as individuals, but as a multitude, they must be the predominant class from their number, and if you dwell on their intelligence, you only increase the power they will exercise. I am taking the sentiments of the hon. Gentleman opposite as admissions for the sake of argument. I am not myself giving an opinion with regard to their intelligence. Now, Sir, we had to consider this question when we settled the point of the county franchise. We laid down for ourselves this as an object which we in our mixed Government ought to obtain with respect to a constituency. I made the observation when I first addressed the House on this subject; and I only make it again, because the hon. Member for Dovor (Mr. B. Osborne), who was not present, I believe, when I spoke, misconceived my statement, and ascribed what I said to only a borough constituency. I spoke of the great national constituency when I said, that "it ought to be numerous enough to be independent, and select enough to be responsible." Now, how is that to be obtained? We thought we could obtain that result by the introduction of a variety of franchises which should introduce numerous classes into the constituency with different pursuits and with different interests, and we felt that by the establishment of the same occupation-franchise in counties and in boroughs we should prevent the introduction of the mere multitude, which, if once we began the reduction of the borough franchise, would ultimately and speedily be accomplished, and at the same time supply means by which the most intelligent and the most meritorious of the working classes could enter into the great national constituent body. And was the policy not sound? Was it not a wise and effective policy. It requires no argument from me to establish that position or to enforce that rule Why, the admission of the hon. Member for Birmingham the other night is conclusive on that point. What was his objection to this miscalled identity? He said, "if you have the same franchise in counties and towns, I see but very little chance of your ever reducing the suffrage in towns." Why, that was the very object we wished to attain, and it is something to have such an admission from the hon. Member for Birmingham himself.


I said, "more difficult."


It is a great deal to have such an admission. When he tells us that there is "more" difficulty, it shows that he sees in its establishment a barrier and a bulwark to the promotion of his plans, and he of course would object to the establishment of a very large constituency, homogeneous, united, no longer with jealousy existing between its different classes, but at the same time a body so elastic and so expansive from the variety of its franchises, from the different kinds of property introduced, that it would be always increasing with the increasing prosperity of the country, and no man of common industry and intelligence would be shut out from the electoral privileges.

But to this policy three objections have been urged in this debate. The noble Lord objects to it, because he is against what he calls "uniformity of franchise"—a phrase that never escaped my lips. And he has used that phrase with respect to a measure containing the greatest variety of franchises that ever was included in a Reform Bill. Personal property, for the first time is completely admitted as a qualification for the electoral privilege. There is scarcely a class and scarcely a species of property which is not considered in this unprecedented variety of franchises; and yet the noble Lord rises to say, "I oppose the Bill because I object to a uniformity of franchise." Then, Sir, the noble Lord is against uniformity of franchise in counties and boroughs. But how has the noble Lord dealt with this matter? He has spoken throughout this debate as if it was an innovation unknown and unprecedented in our political annals. "It is unconstitutional; it is noxious; it is pernicious; it is unjust;" and for this reason he opposes our Bill in his speeches—and yet he never refers to the point in his Resolution. There is nothing in his Resolution against the uniformity or identity of franchise; because you may reduce or extend the franchise and yet may preserve uniformity; but in his speeches the noble Lord is extremely vehement against this unheard- of, this unconstitutional system, which according to the right hon. Member for the city of Oxford (Mr. Cardwell), would be the destruction of our constitution. What has the noble Lord himself done on this subject? What was the course pursued by the noble Lord the Advocate of Parliamentary Reform? The noble Lord, as a Member of Lord Aberdeen's Government, as the principal organ of the Government by whom that mature plan of Reform was introduced, proposed on that occasion five new franchises, with the consent of the right hon. Members for Wiltshire, Carlisle, and the "University of Oxford, and also with the consent of the noble Viscount the Member for Tiverton. He proposed five new franchises, and at the same time that they should be alike extended to counties and boroughs. So much for identity and uniformity. The noble Lord failed for the moment in his praiseworthy attempt; but that was a policy which announced that the noble Lord was in favour of identity of suffrage in county and town; in favour of a great variety of franchises, and that they should be enjoyed equally by borough and by county. The noble Lord was extremely disappointed by the failure of his second Bill for Parliamentary Reform, and he made an announcement in this House which I well recollect—that he was convinced the time had gone by when, on subjects of reform, what are called general and comprehensive measures could be passed; and he therefore intended to devote himself in future to the support of the measure introduced by the hon. Member for Surrey. The noble Lord acted consistently with that declaration, for he has voted invariably in favour of that Motion, which establishes an identity between the borough and the county suffrage. So, therefore, in the proposal for five franchises, which by accident failed, and in the systematic policy that he has pursued since, the noble Lord has exhibited a consistent determination to support that very principle of identity or uniformity (as he erroneously calls it) of suffrage which now he denounces as an unheard-of innovation.

Then, Sir, the second objection to this Bill is, that under the policy which we recommend, the working classes are not considered. I have already incidentally touched upon that objection. I say that the working classes are admitted under the system that we propose in a man- ner which would be satisfactory to them when brought into operation, and in a manner consistent with the principles of our constitution. Hon. Gentlemen have talked as if the working classes at this moment had nothing to do with the suffrage; but from information that reaches me I find that a great portion of those who live in £10 houses, especially in the north, are working men. There are still 50,000 freemen who are working men, notwithstanding the kind intentions of the noble Lord. When hon. Gentlemen are talking so constantly of the progress of the country, of its increased wealth, of its advance in all the arts that contribute to the enjoyment of life, with cheap provisions, with high wages, and with other innumerable advantages arising from increased commerce, they shut their eyes to what is the fact if they believe that the working classes have not proportionately advanced, and that a mechanic who twenty-five years ago could not live in a £10 house does now and very frequently live in one. Sir, no inconsiderable portion of the constituency is composed of the working classes. I calculate that if you take our existing constituency at 900,000, certainly, even now, more than a ninth consists of working-men. But, Sir, the proposition that we make, and which, if we go into Committee, may, I have no doubt, be developed with great advantage, would add very much to that proportion; because by this Bill we propose that the 40s. freeholder shall; according to the old custom of England, again be found in a borough. We propose that the possessor of money in the savings' banks shall be a voter—a qualification that has been sneered at, but which I believe would at once bring 50,000 or 60,000 persons into the constituency, and which, by some alteration, might be made still more efficacious. We propose to open all these avenues to the constituents, and I believe that the result would be that the working classes would find their entrance into the constituent body greatly facilitated.

Sir, I will not touch upon the third objection to the Bill at any length, for it appears to be one of the most trivial description. I allude to the alarm expressed by the noble Lord and others, that if our propositions were entertained, electoral districts must be the inevitable consequence. When I am told that a difference between £10 and £20 is our only security against electoral districts I confess I feel some alarm. I had an idea that the traditionary feelings of the English people, their love of ancient landmarks, and that strong spell of local association that so greatly influences them, would make them love so much their counties and their boroughs that they would certainly never be induced to agree to an equal division of the soil for any electoral purposes. But admitting all the arguments that have been urged upon that topic they appear to me to be equally applicable to the existing system. If a large county with two Members, because you have a uniformity of franchise, is to complain of a borough with a much less population being equally represented, would not the same objection apply as between a small and large county, or a small and large borough The whole of the arguments might be urged against the existing system, but they may be encountered by arguments which on other occasions I have offered to this House, and which I will not, therefore, intrude upon them, but which are perfectly irresistible in their application.

Sir, in thus noticing the two aims of the resolution of the noble Lord, I have incidentally offered arguments which really touched at the same time on the principal features of the Bill. I have shown to the House that that measure is founded upon three great principles, none of which, let me remind the House, have been impugned in this debate, but of all of which I believe a majority of this House approves. I believe a majority of this House approves of a large extension of the constituent body. I believe a majority of this House approves of calling into direct representation those communities that have grown into importance since the Reform Act was passed. I believe that a large majority of this House is against any great redistribution of seats or disfranchising extensively the small constituencies; and these are the great principles of this measure. Sir, I have told you also that although, if all the principles of this measure are approved of by this House, the necessary consequence of that approbation should be that the Bill should be read a second time, we are diverted from that issue by an Amendment of the noble Lord, which touches only two parts, and those of detail. I have shown the House that had we been in favour of a £20 franchise for counties, it was utterly impracticable to propose it. I have shown the House the reasons for the policy of adopting a £10 qualification for coun- ties, and that it was the best security for preventing that reduction of the borough franchise, which cannot, in oar opinion, be dealt with slightly and gingerly, and which if you enter upon again, you will be forced, not only to adopt the municipal suffrage, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle proposes, but at once to go down to household suffrage, and introduce democratic elements, the consequences of which I have slightly traced. And I have shown the House finally that under these circumstances we have proposed the construction of a constituent body which would have been numerous and at the same time elastic, and so formed as to have afforded an opening to all worthy of the suffrage. Now, Sir, how have we been met? What is the argument of the noble Lord the leader of the Opposition (Viscount Palmerston) on this subject? The noble Lord approves of the principle of this measure. He has announced that he is in favour of the second reading, but at the same time that he will vote for the Resolution, which we have declared is fatal to the Bill. I must say that I was astonished at the mode in which the noble Lord addressed us. I must express my surprise at the manner in which the Opposition has been conducted. I remember when party spirit in this House ran very high—which fortunately is not the case now—I remember when parties were nearly equally balanced, when the struggle for power was very hot, and when the excitement of the public mind out of doors from 1837 to 1841 was such as all must deplore. Between those dates no less than three votes of want of confidence in the Ministry were moved in this House; but I never heard of a contingent vote of want of confidence being brought forward. That was left to the present discussion, and to a near relative of a Member of the late Cabinet (Mr. O. Stanley). And I never heard in this House the leader of the Opposition, and one who has been in those high posts of confidence which the noble Lord has enjoyed, actually tell his opponents that if they counselled their Sovereign to exercise Her prerogative he would stop the supplies. This is so different from what one might have expected from the genial nature of the noble Lord, that, coupled with the announcement of the withdrawal of the vote of want of confidence, I must really treat the whole affair as a jest.

Sir, I must now say one word in re- ference to the noble proposer of this Amendment. "We have heard a great deal about motives, and, Sir, I thought very unnecessarily, for motives are not imputed in Parliament; and if anybody supposes that they are it must be some new Member not sufficiently experienced in our manners. But I was astonished that it should for a moment have been supposed that a Gentleman like the Solicitor General should make use of expressions imputing unworthy motives to any one, least of all to the noble Lord. I am sure that it is quite impossible for any Gentleman upon second thoughts to suppose that he could have so intended; and the Solicitor General has this evening expressed what he did mean so clearly, and the noble Lord has received what he said so gracefully, that it is unnecessary to dwell longer upon that. I have no wish, no intention—from the bottom of my heart I say it—to impute any motives to the noble Lord unworthy his character or his position. The noble Lord may remember that when in 1854, at a moment of great personal distress, he withdrew, not without emotion, his Reform Bill, and some reproaches and some jeers were not spared him from his own side, I offered to him the unaffected tribute of the personal respect of the Gentlemen who then sat opposite to him. I do not think that there is a man who has sat long in this House but must honour the character of the noble Lord. I admire that character. I admire his great Parliamentary talents. I admire his ambition. Sir, it is not wise in this House to scrutinize with too much severity every act and every word of those who are intrusted with the conduct of parties in this House. In the fierce struggle of public life, and in the intense competition of this scene, one on whom devolves the lead of a party is called on for such constant action and such prompt decision that he must indeed be a wise and favoured being who can look back to everything that he has done without regret, and who may not have used words over which memory may mourn. But I am persuaded that neither the noble Lord nor any of his friends would desire that in this House there should be any diminution of that free and frank criticism upon the conduct of public men which has always been a part, and not the least valuable part of our Parliamentary life and manners. Therefore, I am sure that the noble Lord will not feel offended with me if I tell him that I think there is one quality in his character which has rather marred than made his fortunes. It is a restlessness which will not brook that delay and that patience needed in our constitutional government for the conduct of public affairs. The moment that the noble Lord is not in power he appears to me to live in an atmosphere of coalitions, combinations, coups d'êtât, and cunning Resolutions. An Appropriation Clause may happen to every man once in his life. But there is only one man living of whom it can be said that in 1835 he overthrew the Government of Sir Robert Peel upon an impracticable pretext; that in 1852 he overthrew the Government of Lord Derby with an objectless coalition; that in 1855 he overthrew the Government of Lord Aberdeen by a personal coup d'êtât; and that in 1857 he overthrew the Government of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton by a Parliamentary manœuvre. Now, Sir, I beg the noble Lord at this moment to throw the vision of his memory for an instant back to the year 1852. He sat before me then, the head of a mighty host. He drew the fatal arrow that was to destroy our Government. He succeeded. He destroyed in breathless haste the Government of Lord Derby; but did he destroy nothing else? Did he not destroy also the position of a great statesman? Did he not destroy almost the great historic party of which he was once the proud and honoured chief? The noble Lord does not sit opposite me now; but had he not hurried the catastrophe of 1852, and had he 'bided his time according to the periodic habit of our constitution, he would have returned to these benches the head of that great party of which he was once the chief and greatest ornament. What has the noble Lord done now; and what is the moment that he has chosen for this party attack—an attack which was not necessary to the vindication of his policy, or for the assertion of those principles which I believe he sincerely holds? I brought forward on the part of the Government a measure, founded on approved principles, for which fair play and custom would have insured a second reading. The discussion on the questions which the noble Lord has thrust, as it were, into the Speaker's hand would, in the due course of Parliamentary routine, have been postponed yet for some time. But what is the moment which the noble Lord has chosen to precipitate this struggle. A moment the most critical in the affairs of this country, and of Europe for many years past? The noble Lord well knows that some weeks ago I came down to the Table of this House, and informed the House that important negotiations were going on. The noble Lord has other means of information besides those supplied to this House. The noble Lord, I doubt not, is well informed of the present state of public affairs, and he could not have been unmindful of them in the introductory address to his Resolution, although that Resolution related only to a domestic subject, for the noble Lord could even that night think fit to cast a sneer at the Minister to whom is entrusted at this moment the most awful responsibility that ever fell to the lot of any Minister. At a moment when it was of vital importance that the authority of the Government should not be interfered with or embarrassed—at a moment, too, of all others and of all men when the Minister for foreign affairs should not be held up to public scorn—the noble Lord chooses that moment for a party attack and for a personal sneer. I should not be acting with frankness and fairness to the House if I concealed the fact that the conduct of the noble Lord has been most embarrassing to the Government. I declare it on my responsibility as a Minister, that the con-duct of the noble Lord has produced injurious effects on the public service. But Sir, I have such confidence in the integrity of our allies, I have such confidence in the energy and resources of that Colleague against whom the noble Lord directed this sneer; I have such confidence above all in the patriotism of the House of Commons, that I believe the division of to-night will confound the calculations and the combinations of the noble Lord, and will assist and perhaps insure the peace of Europe. The noble Lord, who, on these occasions is always in the habit of introducing the question of dissolution, told me the other night that he was ready for the hustings, and that he should brandish upon them the Bill that I had introduced. In the office over which it is my honour to preside, I have often an opportunity of meeting some of the principal constituents of the noble Lord, great merchants and eminent bankers of this metropolis—men of different opinions, agreeing in nothing else but in their readiness at all times to assist the Administration of this country. I am indebted as much as my predecessors undoubtedly were, to their wise counsel and their zealous aid; but I can tell the noble Lord that when they come to my office it is not Parliamentary Reform that they speak about, it is not financial interests that most concern them, but what they say is, "Peace! Let the Government give us peace; it is the only thing that we require. Our energies are depressed, our commerce circumscribed, and our enterprise crippled; but let the Government secure for us peace, and then they will be entitled to the gratitude and confidence of their country." I thought, Sir, we had secured peace. I thought the time had arrived when I might have come down to this House and tell them that the dark disquietude that for three months has overshadowed Europe had passed away, had been succeeded by serenity and repose; but for this untoward, this unhappy Motion of the noble Lord that might have been. And I tell the noble Lord that when he goes to the hustings, of which he talks, and brandishes this Bill, he will find the minds of his constituents full of another matter, and that they will demand from him the reasons for the course he has adopted.

Sir, it is something more than a year ago that Her Majesty summoned Lord Derby to Her councils. Lord Derby then, as on all other occasions, expressed to Her Majesty his readiness, as a last resource, to serve his Sovereign: but he also felt it his duty then to explain to the Queen that his position in the House of Commons had been much weakened by the last general election, and that he could not count in the following of his friends, on more, probably, than one-third of the Members of this House; and, Sir, under these circumstances, Lord Derby humbly submitted to Her Majesty his wish that Her Majesty would reconsider her intention and deign to pause before Her Majesty commanded him to undertake so difficult a task. The Queen was graciously pleased to act on that suggestion, and Her Majesty did reconsider her intention. Her Majesty surveyed the condition of her kingdom and of her empire with that comprehensive and perfectly impartial spirit which all who have served Her Majesty know that she ever exercises. And it was under these circumstances, having reconsidered the position of affairs, that Her Majesty deigned to signify to Lord Derby that she deemed it was his duty to undertake the manage of public affairs. Sir, we have endeavoured, in pursuance of the command of our Sovereign, to admnister the affairs of this mighty empire. That we have done so sedulously I presume to say; that we have conducted them not altogether without success I venture to believe. I know, Sir, that when we acceded to office there was a great fear in the public mind that this country was not defended as became England; but we now know, Sir, that the name of England carries due authority abroad, and that she can add to negotiation all that influence that results from the consciousness of power. I know that when we acceded to office there was great distress and depression in men's minds; a fear of increased taxation impending and disappointment from the suspicion that engagements for the reduction of taxation would not be fulfilled. But, Sir, the burdens on the public have not been increased, and the promises of reduction have been realized; and the state of our revenue is, in every sense, highly satisfactory. With regard to the more important branch of foreign affairs, I can say truly that although in that respect we had an inheritance of trouble, and probably during the period of our official existence we have had as many difficulties to deal with as could well fall to the lot of any Ministry, although during the last three months the question of peace or war has sometimes appeared to tremble in the balance, and to be only a matter of a moment, still we have so managed affairs that all immediate dangers appear to have vanished. There is now a prospect of arrangement, which, if concluded, will lead to the establishment of undoubted and enduring peace. I touch, Sir, on principal topics: doubtless there are others, and of importance, but I will not dilate on them now. We have, I think, introduced measures calculated to make law reform not merely a mockery and a by-word. If we are indebted for the pacification of India to the wisdom of our rulers and the valour of our chiefs, at least it must be acknowledged that this Administration did support and promote the success and heroism of those men by sending out to them, under great stress and difficulties, those supplies of valiant soldiers and those munitions that led to the triumphs they achieved. The noble Lord has talked, as he always talks, of a dissolution of the present Parliament. These are words that cannot escape my lips, and I must, with the permission of the House, refrain from touching upon that theme; but I may be allowed to say, in answer to the noble Lord, that if in the course of time the present servants of the Queen find themselves upon the hustings before their constituents, I for one have that confidence in a great and generous nation that I believe that in that eventful hour they will not forget the difficulties under which we undertook the administration of affairs; nor perhaps, Sir, be altogether unmindful of what, under those difficulties, we have accomplished for their welfare. It is the conviction we entertain of the justice of the people of England—it is because we believe in the power of public opinion, that we have been sustained in this House during our long and anxious struggle, and are still sustained, even at this moment, amid all the manœuvres of Parliamentary intrigue, and all the machinations of party warfare.

Question put:—The House divided: Ayes 291; Noes 330: Majority 39.

List of the AYES.
Adams, W. H. Carden, Sir R. W.
Adderley, rt. hon. C. B. Carnac, Sir J. R.
Alexander, J. Cartwright, Col.
Annesley, hon. H. Cayley, E. S.
Arbuthnott, hon. Gen. Cecil, Lord R.
Archdall, Capt. M. Charlesworth, J. C. D.
Bailey, C. Child, S.
Baillie, C. Christy, S.
Baillie, H. J. Churchill, Lord A. S.
Ball, E. Clark, J. J.
Baring, A. H. Clive, hon. R. W.
Baring, T. Close, M. C.
Bernard, T. T. Cobbett, J. M.
Bernard, hon. Col. Cobbold, J. C.
Barrow, W. H. Codrington, Sir W.
Bathurst, A. A. Cole, hon. H. A.
Beach, W. W. B. Cole, hon. J. L.
Beaumont, W. B. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Bective, Earl of Collins, T.
Beecroft, G. S. Conolly, T.
Bennet, P. Coote, Sir C. H.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Copeland, W. T.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Corbally, M. E.
Blackburn, P. Corry, rt. hon. H. L.
Blake, J. Crook, J.
Boldero, Col. Cross, R. A.
Booth, Sir R. G. Cubitt, Mr. Ald.
Botfield, B. Curzon, Visct.
Bovill, W. Dalkeith, Earl of
Bowyer, G. Damer, L. D.
Boyd, J. Davison, R.
Brady, J. Deedes, W.
Bramley-Moore, J. Denison, E.
Bramston, T. W. Disraeli, rt. hon. B.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Dobbs, W. C.
Brocklehurst, J. Dod, J. W.
Bruce, Major C. Drummond, H.
Bruen, H. Du Cane, C.
Bunbury, W. B. M'C. Duncombe, hon. A.
Burghley, Lord Duncombe, hon. Col.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Du Pre, C. G.
Cairns, Sir Hugh M'C. Dutton, hon. R. H.
East, Sir J. B. Jones, D.
Edwards, H. Kekewich, S. T.
Egerton, Sir P. G. Kelly, Sir F.
Egerton, E. C. Kendall, N.
Egerton, W. Kerrison, Sir E. C.
Elcho, Lord King, J. K.
Elmley, Visct. Knatchbull, W. F.
Elphinstone, Sir J. Knight, F. W.
Elton, Sir A. H. Knightley, R.
Emlyn, Visct. Knox, Col.
Estcourt, rt. hn. T. H. S. Knox, hon. W. S.
Euston, Earl of Langton, W. G.
Farnham, E. B. Laurie, J.
Farquhar, Sir M. Lefroy, A.
Fellowes, E. Legh, G. C.
Ferguson, Sir R. Lennox, Lord A. F.
Finley, A. S. Lennox, Lord H. G.
FitzGerald, W. R. S. Leslie, C. P.
Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W. Lever, J. O.
Forde, Col. Liddell, hon. H. G.
Forester, rt. hon. Col. Lincoln, Earl of
Forster, Sir G. Lisburne, Earl of
Franklyn, G. W. Locke, Joseph
Eraser, Sir W. A. Lockhart, A. E.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Long, W.
Galway, Visct. Lopes, Sir M.
Gard, R. S. Lovaine, Lord
Garnett, W. J. Lowther, hon. Col.
Gaskell, J. M. Lowther, Capt.
Gilpin, Col. Lyall, G.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. Lygon, hon. F.
Goddard, A. L. Lytton, rt. hon. Sir G. E. L. B.
Gore, W. R. O.
Graham, Lord W. Macartney, G.
Greaves, E. Macauley, K.
Greenall, G. MacEvoy, E.
Gregory, W. H. McClintock, J.
Griffith, C. D. Maguire, J. F.
Grogan, E. Mainwaring, T.
Gurney, J. H. Malins, R.
Haddo, Lord Manners, Lord J.
Hall, Gen. March, Earl of
Hamilton, Lord C. Maxwell, hon. Col.
Hamilton, J. H. Miles, W.
Hanbury, hon. Capt. Miller, T. J.
Hankey, T. Miller, S. B.
Hardy, G. Mills, A.
Hardy, J. Montgomery, Sir G.
Hassard, M. Moody, C. A.
Hayes, Sir E. Morgan, O.
Heard, J. I. Morgan, Major
Heathcote, hon. G. H. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Naas, Lord
Henniker, Lord Neeld, J.
Hervey, Lord A. Newark, Visct.
Hill, Lord E. Newdegate, C. N.
Hill, hon. R. C. Newport, Visct.
Hodgson, W. N. Nisbet, R. P.
Holdford, R. S. Noel, hon. G. J.
Hope, A. J. B. B. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Hopwood, J. T. North, Col.
Hornby, W. H. Northcote, Sir S. H.
Horsfall, T. B. Ossulston, Lord
Horsman, rt. hon. E. Packe, C. W.
Hudson, G. Pakenham, Col.
Hughes, W. B. Pakington, rt, hn. Sir J
Hume, W. W. F. Palke, L.
Hunt, G. W. Palmer, R.
Ingestre, Visct. Palmer, R. W.
Jervis, Capt. Patten, Col. W.
Johnstone, hon. H. B. Paull, H.
Johnstone, J. J. H. Peel, rt. hon. Gen.
Jolliffe, H. H. Pennant, hon. Col.
Percy, hon. J. W. Sturt, N.
Pevensey, Visct. Tempest, Lord A. V.
Philipps, J. H. Tollemache, J.
Powell, F. S. Tottenham, C.
Pritchard, J. Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.
Pugh, D., Carmerthen C. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Pugh, D., Montgomery Vance, J.
Ramsay, Sir A. Vansittart, G. H.
Repton, G. W. J. Vansittart, W.
Richardson, J. Verner, Sir W.
Robertson, P. F. Waddington, H. S.
Rolt, J. Walcott, Adm.
Rust, J. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Sclater-Booth, G. Walsh, Sir J.
Scott, hon. F. Welby, W. E.
Scott, Major Whiteside, rt. hon. J.
Seymer, H. K. Whitmore, H.
Shirley, E. P. Williams, Col.
Sibthorp, Major Willoughby, Sir H.
Smith, M. T. Wilson, A.
Smith, Sir F. Woodd, B. T.
Smyth, Col. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Smollett, A. Wyndham, Gen.
Somerset, Col. Wyndham, H.
Spaight, J. Wynn, Col.
Spooner, R. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Stanhope, J. B. Wynne, W. W. E.
Stanley, Lord Wyvill, M.
Stephenson, R. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Stirling, W.
Steuart, A. TELLERS.
Stewart, Sir M. R. S. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Sturt, H. G. Taylor, Col.
List of the NOES.
Adair, H. E. Bruce, H. A.
Adeane, H. J. Buchanan, W.
Agar-Ellis, hn. L. G. F. Buckley, Gen.
Agnew, Sir A. Bulkeley, Sir R.
Akroyd, E. Buller, J. W.
Alcock, T. Burk, Sir T. J.
Anderson, Sir J. Bury, Visct.
Antrobus, E. Butler, C. S.
Ashley, Lord Butt, I.
Ayrton, A. S. Buxton, C.
Bagshaw, R. J. Byng, hon. G.
Bagwell, J. Caird, J.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Calcraft, J. H.
Baker, R. W. Calcutt, F. M.
Baring, H. B. Calthorpe, hon. F. H. W. G.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.
Baring, T. G. Campbell, R. J. R.
Barnard, Tho. Cardwell, rt. hon. E.
Bass, M. T. Castlerosse, Visct.
Baxter, W. E. Cavendish, hon. W.
Bazley, T. Cavendish, Lord G.
Beale, S. Cheetham, J.
Beamish, F. B. Cholmeley, Sir M. J.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Clay, J.
Berkeley, F. W. F. Clifford, C. C.
Bethell, Sir R. Clifford, Col.
Biddulph, R. M. Clinton, Lord R.
Biggs, J. Clive, G.
Black, A. Codrington, Gen.
Bland, L. H. Cogan, W. H. F.
Bonham-Carter, J. Coke, hon. W. C. W.
Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P. Collier, R. P.
Bouverie, hon. P. P. Colvile, C. R.
Bright, J. Coningham, W.
Briscoe, J. I. Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.
Brown, J. Cotterell, Sir H. G.
Browne, Lord J. T. Cowan, C.
Bruce, Lord E. Cox, W.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Hamilton, Capt.
Crawford, R. W. Hanbury, R.
Crossley, F. Handley, J.
Dalglish, R. Hanmer, Sir J.
Dashwood, Sir G. H. Harcourt, G. G.
Davey, R. Hardcastle, J. A.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Harris, J. D.
Deasy, R. Hartington, Marq.
Denison, hn. W. H. F. Hatchell, J.
Dent, J. D. Hay, Lord J.
De Vere, S. E. Hayter, rt. hon. Sir W. G.
Devereux, J. T.
Dillwyn, L. L. Headlam, T. E.
Divett, E. Henchy, D. O'Connor
Dodson, J. G. Heneage, G. F.
Duff, M. E. G. Herbert, rt. hon. H. A.
Duff, Major L. D. G. Herbert, rt hon. S.
Duke, Sir J. Hodgson, K. D.
Dunbar, Sir W. Holland, E.
Duncan, Visct. Hotham, Lord
Dundas, F. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Dunkellin, Lord Hutt, W.
Dunlop, A. M. Ingham, R.
Dunne, M. Ingram, H.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Jackson, W.
Ellice, E. James, E. J.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Jervoise, Sir J. C.
Ennis, J. Johnstone, Sir J.
Esmonde, J. Keating, Sir H. S.
Evans, Sir De L. Ker, R.
Evans, T. W. Kershaw, J.
Ewart, W. King, hon. P. J. L.
Ewart, J. C. King, E. B.
Ewing, H. E. C. Kinglake, A. W.
Fagan, W. Kinglake, J. A.
Fenwick, H. Kingscote, R. N. F.
Fergus, J. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Ferguson, Col. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
FitzGerald, rt. hon. J. D. Langston, J. H.
FitzRoy, rt. hon. H. Langton, H. G.
Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. W. Laslett, W.
Levinge, Sir R.
Foley, J. H. Lewis, rt. hon. Sir G. C.
Foley, H. W. Lindsay, W. S.
Foljambe, F. J. S. Locke, John
Forster, C. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Foster, W. O. Luce, T.
Fortescue, hon. F. D. Macarthy, A.
Fortescue, C. S. M'Cann, J.
Fox, W. J. Mackie, J.
Freestun, Col. Mackinnon, Wm, Alex. (Lymington)
French, Col.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Mackinnon, Wm. Alex. (Rye)
Gilpin, C.
Glyn, G. C. Magan, W. H.
Glyn, Geo. G. Mangles, C. E.
Grace, O. D. J. Marjoribanks, D. C.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Marsh, M. H.
Greene, J. Marshall, W.
Greenwood, J. Martin, C. W.
Greer, S. M'Curdy Martin, P. W.
Gregson, S. Martin, J.
Grenfell, C. P. Massey, W. N.
Grenfell, C. W. Matheson, A.
Greville, Col. F. Matheson, Sir J.
Gray, Capt. Melgund, Visct.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Mellor, J.
Grey, R. W. Mills, T.
Grosvenor, Earl Milnes, R. M.
Gurdon, B. Moffatt, G.
Gurney, S. Moncreiff, J.
Hadfield, G. Monsell, rt. hon. W.
Hall, rt. hon. Sir B. Monson, hon. W. J.
Morris, D. Smith, A.
Napier, Sir C. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W. M.
Nicoll, D.
Norris, J. T. Stafford, Marquess of
North, F. Stanley, hon. W. O.
O'Brien, P. Stapleton, J.
O'Connell, Capt. D. Steel, J.
O'Donoghoe, The Stuart, Lord J.
Ogilvy, Sir J. Stuart, Col.
Onslow, G. Sullivan, M.
Osborne, R. Sykes, Col. W. H.
Owen, Sir J. Talbot, C. R. M.
Paget, C. Taylor, S. W.
Paget, Lord A. Thompson, Gen.
Paget, Lord C. Thornely, T.
Palmerston, Visct. Thornhill, W. P.
Paxton, Sir J. Tite, W.
Pease, H. Tollemache, hn. F. J.
Pechell, Sir G. B. Tomline, G.
Peel, Sir R. Traill, G.
Perry, Sir T. E. Trelawny, Sir J. S.
Philips, R. N. Trueman, C.
Pigott, F. Turner, J. A.
Pilkington, J. Tynte, Col. K.
Pinney, Col. Vane, Lord H.
Portman, hon. W. H. B. Verney, Sir H.
Price, W. P. Vliliers, rt. hon. C. P.
Pryse, E. L. Vivian, H. H.
Proby, Lord Vivian, hon. J. C. W.
Puller, C. W. G. Waldron, L.
Ramsden, Sir J. W. Walter, J.
Raynham, Visct. Warre, J. A.
Rebow, J. G. Watkins, Col. L.
Ricardo, O. Weguelin, T. M.
Rich, H. Western, S.
Ridley, G. Westhead, J. P. B.
Robartes, T. J. A. Whatman, J.
Roebuck, J. A. Whitbread, S.
Rothschild, Baron L. de White, J.
Rothschild, Baron M. de Wickham, H. W.
Roupell, W. Willcox, B. M'G.
Russell, Lord J. Williams, W.
Russell, H. Williams, Sir W. F.
Russell, A. Willyams, E. W. P
Russell, F. W. Wilson, J.
Saint Aubyn, J. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Salisbury, E. G. Wise, J. A.
Salomons, Aid. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Samuelson, B. Wood, W.
Schneider, H. W. Woods, H.
Scholefield, W. Worsley, Lord
Scrope, G. P. Wrightson, W. B.
Shafto, R. D. Wyld, J.
Shelley, Sir J. V. Young, A. W.
Sheridan, H. B.
Sheridan, R, B. TELLERS.
Slaney, R. A. Brand, H. B. W.
Smith, J. A. Knatchbull-Hugessen E. H.
Smith, J. B.
Smith, rt. hn. R. V.

Question proposed, "That the proposed words be there added."


—Iwish to add an Amendment. ["Oh, oh!"] It is, "That at any election of a Member or Members to serve in Parliament, the votes shall be taken by ballot." I am sure, after the protracted debate which has just been brought to a termination, I shall best con- sult the convenience of the House by not entering into the general question involved in my Amendment. ["Hear, hear!" "Divide!" and laughter.] I shall, therefore, at once move that the words I have read be added to the Resolution. [Cries of "Withdraw!" and "Divide."]

Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, by adding at the end thereof the words "and that at any Election of a Member or Members to serve in Parliament, the Votes shall be taken by Ballot."


—Sir, as this is a question which I have taken a prominent part in advocating for many years past, I trust to the courtesy of hon. Members to allow me to address a few observations to the House. First, I would request my hon. Friend (Mr. Wyld) not to press his Motion. Sir,—["Divide!" "Go on!"], I have always consulted those hon. Gentlemen who have done me the honour to place mo in the front of the battle in this question as to the mode in which it should be brought forward; and I find it is the general opinion of the leading men of that particular party that it will be detrimental to the ballot to introduce it to the House in this manner. It is not, however, in deference to any man or any set of men that I have come to the conclusion that this is not the time or the occasion for propounding it. I do not think a man is called on to support any question, however important, if he be of opinion that it is brought forward in an improper manner. ["Divide!"] If my hon. Friend will give notice of a substantive Motion on this question, it shall have my cordial support. ["Divide!"] But if he persists in dividing now, I will certainly not go into the same lobby with him. I will not vote against the ballot, but I will certainly withdraw from the House. I entreat the hon. Gentleman not to place this question in this disadvantgeous position. [Loud cries of "Divide!" and laughter.]


—Sir, it appears to me that to commence the discussion of such an important question at such a moment as this would be perfectly unprecedented. ["Oh;" and interruption.] I am in favour of the ballot—["Divide, divide!"],—but I respectfully submit to my hon. Friend that the best mode of submitting the question of the ballot to the House will be to give notice—[Interruption, "Divide!"] If he wants to take an unfair division upon the ballot—if he wants to obtain the least possible support, he will go to a division now. ["Divide!"] As a friend of the ballot I trust he will not call for a division. If he does, I for one will not go into the lobby with him.


rose amid loud cries of "Divide!" All that could be made out was that the hon. Member moved the adjournment of the debate. [" Divide, divide."]


next rose, but being received with cries of "Oh," and "Divide!" sat down.


then addressed the House, but not one word could be distinguished.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put, and negatived.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The House divided:—Ayes 98; Noes 328: Majority 230.

List of the AYES.
Adair, H. E. Ingham, R.
Alcock, T. James, E. J.
Bazley, T. Keating, Sir H. S.
Beale, S. Kershaw, J.
Biggs, J. Kinglake, A. W.
Blake, J. Kinglake, J. A.
Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Bowyer, G. Laslett, W.
Brady, J. M'Cann, J.
Brocklehurst, J. MacEvoy, E.
Butler, C. S. Magan, W. H.
Buxton, C. Maguire, J. F.
Caird, J. Mangles, C. E.
Campbell, R. J. R. Martin, P. W.
Clifford, C. C. Martin, J.
Collier, R. P. Massey, W. N.
Copeland, W. T. Monson, hon. W. J.
Corbally, M. E. Morris, D.
Cox, W. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Crook, J. O'Brien, P.
Crossley, F. O'Donoghoe, The
Dalglish, R. Ogilvy, Sir J.
Devereux, J. T. Onslow, G.
Dillwyn, L. L. Pease, H.
Divett, E. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Duke, Sir J. Philips, R. N.
Dunne, M. Pigott, F.
Ellice, E. Pilkington, J.
Ewing, H. E. C. Price, W. P.
Fergus, J. Pryse, E. L.
Ferguson, Col. Ramsden, Sir J. W.
Foley, H. W. Ridley, G.
Freestun, Col. Robartes, T. J. A.
Greene, J. Roebuck, J. A.
Greer, S M. Rothschild, Baron L. de
Hadfield, G. Rothschild, Baron M. de
Hall, rt. hon. Sir B. Roupell, W.
Hankey, T. Schneider, H. W.
Hanmer, Sir J. Sheridan, H. B.
Henchy, D. O'Connor Smith, J. A.
Horsman, rt. hon. E. Smith, A.
Hume, W. W. F. Stuart, Lord J.
Stuart, Col. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Sullivan, M. Vivian, H. H.
Talbot, C. R. M. Westhead, J. P. B.
Thompson, Gen. White, J.
Tite, W. Willyams, E. W. B.
Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Trelawny, Sir J. S. TELLERS.
Trueman, C. Wyld, J.
Tynte, Col. K. Nicoll, D.

Question, "That the words of the proposed Amendment be there added, put, and agreed to.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House is of opinion, that it is neither just nor politic to interfere, in the manner proposed in this Bill, with the Freehold Franchise as hitherto exercised in the Counties in England and Wales; and that no re-adjustment of the Franchise will satisfy this House or the Country, which does not provide for a greater extension of the Suffrage in Cities and Boroughs than is contemplated in the present Measure.


—It will, perhaps, be convenient to the House to know that I shall propose that this House at its rising adjourn until Monday.

House at rising to adjourn till Mondaynext.

House adjourned at Two o'clock, till Monday next.