SIR MINTO FARQUHAR
wished to put a question to the noble Lord which had reference to the boroughs proposed to be partially disfranchised. The House was aware that in 1831 the Government took the test of population for their disfranchising clauses; but that test was objected to and abandoned, and they resolved in the Reform Bill, which became law in 1832, to adopt the test of the number of houses 1806 and of the amount of direct taxation in considering the question of disfranchisement. Lord Melbourne at that time directed Lieutenant Drummond to make such a return on this principle as would show the relative importance of the boroughs, and on that return the Government of the day proceeded in their disqualifications. He wished to know whether, seeing the present Government had reverted to the test of 1831, instead of taking that of 1832, they would direct a Return to be made, on the same principle as that made by order of Lord Melbourne, of all boroughs returning two Members to Parliament, and containing less than 10,000 inhabitants? Such a Return would be of the greatest possible interest, as showing the relative importance of the various boroughs.
§ MR. DEEDES
suggested that the Reform Bill should be postponed until after the next Census, which would be taken next year. They could then take the Reform Bill with more justice to all parties. He wished to know what business would be taken immediately after they met again? He understood the noble Lord to say that on the 16th the Naval Estimates would be taken. Upon referring to the Notice-book in the Library, the first Order of the Day for the 16th was the second reading of the Ecclesiastical Commission Bill, and the third Order was the second reading of the Highways Bill. As these measures were immediately in the hands of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, it would be a matter of convenience to Gentlemen interested in both those measures if the right hon. Gentleman would state when he thought it would be in his power to proceed with those measures.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that neither of these Bills would be proceeded with in the first week after Easter.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
was understood to assent to the inquiry suggested by the hon. Member for Roscommon. With respect to the Return referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last, it was very difficult for the Government to call for Returns at the suggestion of other persons. If any hon. Member chose to move for a Return which was likely to throw useful light on any subject that would come under the discussion of the House, the Government would, of course, offer no objection to its production.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House, at rising, to adjourn till Monday, 16th April.