HC Deb 03 May 1860 vol 158 cc564-652

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [19th March], "That the Bill be now read a second time."

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.


said, he had been referred to in the course of the debate as the only Member who had supported the Bill of the late Government, and it was, perhaps, thought that he should be inclined to be guilty of a similar eccentricity with regard to the measure now before the House; but he could assure the hon. and learned Gentleman, Mr. Denman, that he had no such intention. The topic which had chiefly engaged the attention of the House during the present debate was the borough franchise, and to that he should confine his observations. If he understood the noble Lord who introduced the Bill, it was not on the ground of an imaginary compact at the time of the passing of the Reform Bill, that if the labouring classes would assist the middle classes in passing that Bill, the middle classes would by-and-by support the working classes in their endeavours to obtain the franchise also; but in order to remedy the newly-discovered defects in the former Act, that the present measure was introduced. For a number of years the noble Lord was not sensible of these defects. He believed that the noble Lord was not aware that the Act of 1832 was opposed to the spirit of our ancient representative system. It was laid down as a principle by Sir James Macintosh that "the distinguishing characteristic of English representation is variety of franchise. A uniform qualification must either be so high as to exclude truly popular election, or so low as to let in a greater portion of the evils attending on universal suffrage." The intention of the Reform Bill, no doubt, was to introduce a franchise which would include the higher and middle classes, just touching also the stratum beneath. The evil of the Reform Bill was that it did not admit the working classes; and the great and cardinal difference between the two sides of the House was upon what principle that defect was to be cured. The noble Lord, in introducing his present Bill, had said that the representation of boroughs where there was no special charter or franchise was in the hands of the payers of scot-and-lot being resident householders; but it should be understood that scot-and-lot voters and resident householders were totally different things in ancient times and now. In ancient times the presumption of the law was that the payer of scot-and-lot was the owner in fee simple of the house he occupied; and the fact corresponded in a great degree with that presumption. But the term "householder" at the present day expresses no such thing. In fixing the borough franchise at £10 in 1832, the intention was to adapt the old franchise to the altered circumstances of the times. Before the Reform Act there was a great variety of franchises, which had disappeared under the auspices of the noble Lord. There were boroughs with close corporations representing the wealthier middle classes; there were populous boroughs with numerous constituencies of householders; there were boroughs with constituencies of freemen; there were boroughs with burgage tenures; there were boroughs with freehold constituencies; and there were nomination boroughs. The result was a reflection in the House of the whole of the feelings and interests of the country; and the change contemplated by the Reform Bill was to change the indirect for the direct system of representation. It was never intended that the power should be transferred from one class to another; but only that direct should take the place of indirect representation. It had been said that the £10 qualification did not adequately represent those below the class of small shopkeepers; but it had been untruly, that was inaccurately, stated that it did not represent the working classes at all. He was of opinion, founded on his knowledge of a populous town, that, as a matter of fact, among the occupiers of £10 tenements there were large numbers of persons living on weekly and monthly wages. In his own constituency, Cambridge, consisting of 1,800 voters, there were several hundreds of that class. Unhappily, it might also be said that in most populous constituencies there were a considerable number of persons who were extremely poor. Many hon. Gentlemen knew that the receipt of parochial relief operated as a disqualification for the franchise; and that there were about the country political clubs who subscribed funds in order to prevent their partizans, on the one side or the other, from going to the parish and so becoming disqualified. Yet it was said that a constituency with the £10 qualification was a too aristocratic body. Asserting, as he did, that labour and also poverty were represented in the £10 franchise, he was prepared to admit, and he did admit, that below the £10 occupation we were likely to find a class or a stratum of persons who were not only as respectable, but even more respectable, than those who occupied the £10 houses. But how to get at that class was a local question to be decided in the different constituencies, and according to the character and the circumstances of each town. It ought, therefore, to be the object of any Reform Bill to give a separate charter or franchise to each town that was affected by it; and he was at a loss to understand why all the boroughs in England should be constituted upon a charter which continued the same monotonous uniformity of franchise. The noble Lord proposed by his Bill to remedy this admitted defect by lowering the franchise from £10 to £6; but his (Mr. Macaulay's) belief was that such a step would only have the effect of making the Bill obnoxious to the same objection, only in a much more aggravated form than in the Reform Bill of 1832. The noble Lord had based his Bill on two foundations. The first was the argument that the persons he proposed to qualify were all industrious, thrifty, and independent. The second was those rather questionable statistics which were sub judice in "another placed." He altogether disapproved of the argument ad invidiam which had fallen from a Gentleman whose knowledge of Parliamentary rules must have told him that he had no right to hold such language in presenting a set of petitions. He supposed the object was to damage hon. Members in the eyes of the constituencies before whom many of them would shortly have to present themselves for reelection. But he would tell the hon. Gentleman that his experience of those who would hoot and pelt them on the hustings, according to the whim of the moment, was that when one got them into a room there was nothing they liked so well as plain speaking, from men who would tell them to their faces that they doubted their capacity to make laws for the country. He (Mr. Macaulay) did not fear the loyalty of the working classes, but he did fear for that country which was to be influenced by those who had given the House special reasons why we should not fear the working classes. The most convincing argument that had been produced why the working classes might be trusted with the franchise was brought forward by an hon. Gentleman opposite, who said that when Her Majesty went to Leeds there was an enormous crowd of working men, and that not a disorderly or disloyal word was uttered on the occasion. Why, asked the hon. Gentleman, were they afraid that such men would dethrone a Queen? Thirty years ago he heard a Gen- tleman express a fear that the £10-pound-ers would break into his bank, and some were like him in the present day. Nobody doubted the good feeling and the loyalty of the working classes; but clearly that was not the question. If it was out of the power of the Government to enter into the particular circumstances of each town, it was at least within their competency to make certain broad and general distinctions between certain classes of constituencies; for it was now at last determined that there should be divers classes of constituencies, if not divers franchises in the same constituency. He was in favour of a multiform franchise with respect to the character of the constituencies; he was also in favour of a multiform qualification with respect to the constituency itself. The great difference which arose in this question of the borough franchise was whether the class which was sought by the noble Lord in respect of their personal attributes, personal abilities, and personal fitness, were to be found by this test of a £6 occupation. Now, the principle of the Bill of the late Government was the principle of selection, whilst the principle of the present measure was that of indiscriminate admission; and he confessed that he did not understand the ground for supposing they could settle the question by fixing a rental of £6, or comprehend the difference for this purpose between £6 and £10 a year. In fact, he believed that if they attempted to settle it on the principle of this Bill they would be simply laying ground for a new inquiry and a fresh agitation next year. He had heard with great pleasure the vigorous speech of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) the other night; but in the notice which he took of the Bill he must say that he disagreed with the hon. Member. The hon. Member said "We all want the same thing. We want the industrious, the capable, and the independent artisan and workman;" and he added, "but whether he is to be admitted by lowering the renting qualification or by fancy franchises is a matter of detail not of principle." Now, it was because he (Mr. Macaulay) thought that it was a matter of principle, and not of detail, that he preferred it to the principle of this Bill, which was the principle of indiscriminate admission. The measure of the late Government, however, whilst it contained that principle, did not contain details enough, either in point of number or liberality, to effect that object. Nevertheless, it did contain the principle, and he only regretted that it did not go into Committee, in order that the principle might be fully, fairly, and freely discussed. It was possible, he thought, to have hung the two principles together, and that the introduction of a class of persons renting at a lower value might have been accompanied by the introduction of others possessing those personal qualifications which he thought so desirable to obtain. What he wanted was a test by which to ascertain the character of the man. Instead of bringing the qualification down to the man, he would hold it up as something which a man was to rise to and to attain. That he thought was one of the most effective means of securing a high personal qualification; and the application of the principle of personal qualification was but reverting to the principle upon which the most popular qualification of olden times was based. The principle of the qualification of freemen was actually in practice in Coventry, and so impressed was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for that city (Mr. Ellice) with its excellence that rarely did the right hon. Gentleman rise in this House to speak upon any subject whatever but they heard of the freemen of Coventry. What was that franchise? Why, that the man who had served a seven years' apprenticeship with one master in that town, and received a certificate of conduct and character from; that master as a good and true man, was at once admitted a freeman; and he could only be deprived of this franchise by some laches or misconduct of his own. Now, to such a franchise as that—so to be attained, and so only to be lost—he (Mr. Macaulay) was perfectly willing to give his assent and support. Again, there was the qualification which the noble Lord himself proposed in his Bill of 1854, arising from residence I and the receipt of annual wages. Why had the noble Lord dropped that provision? Why was all legislation on this subject to be for those who were in receipt of weekly wages? Why did he not renew his former proposal to qualify persons I resident in boroughs and in the receipt of £100 a year? At that time, too, the noble Lord proposed a qualification for borough residents in the receipt of £10 a year from the public stocks. Why had this not been reproduced? He further inserted a qualification for the payment of direct taxes. This, also, had been omitted from the present Bill. It could not be denied, moreover, that that measure, of which Mr. Bright was so decided a supporter, did not come up to, but was rather in contravention of the theories and principles which had been expounded in that hon. Gentleman's speeches. He was almost ashamed to refer to the hon. Member for Birmingham, whose name had been so often brought before the House in the course of the debate; but the hon. Gentleman had stated in public that a £6 qualification, without giving equal elective power to each voter, and in the absence of the Ballot, would be worthless. He had propounded a parochial franchise, which he seemed to like for the sake of its uniformity, its antiquity, and its constitutional character. What, said the hon. Member, is more laudable than a parish-rating franchise? He did not appear to remember that the parish franchise was one that would yield to the voter an influence proportionate to the value of the property which he occupied. Now, if this question of extending the franchise would receive a quietus by every rated occupier having the right to vote for Members of Parliament, was the hon. Gentleman prepared to give the man the same amount of influence at a Parliamentary election that he now exercised in an election for guardians of the poor? There was plainly no other test in his case than that of paying a certain rental and the accompanying taxes. Now, in that view of the case, why should not the power of voting rise according to the increased wealth, and the increased influence of the voter? It was quite certain that the country would not tolerate, and that the noble Lord was not about to carry a measure that would simply and crudely add 200,000 or 300,000 persons of a particular class to the present list of voters, and at the same time perpetuate all the inequality and unfairness of the Reform Bill. The first recommendation of any measure of Reform should be that it held out a fair and reasonable hope of permanence by reason of its containing within itself the elements of stability. But if he were not greatly misinformed, a considerable party in this House, without whose support it would be impossible for the noble Lord to persist in his Bill for a single day, accepted the measure grudgingly, and with the avowal that this Bill was for them but the commencement of a new agitation. Was that so or was it not? He wished to have the question answered. He did not put it offensively. The hon. Member for Birmingham had already spoken in this de- bate; he was, therefore, precluded from addressing the House again; but some hon. Friend of his might answer the question for him. Had not the hon. Member said this:—"I will be content with a rating suffrage, but do not let me prejudice the case of those of you who would have manhood or universal suffrage. Go with me for what I think it advisable to ask, and I will go with you as far as it is reasonable or possible to go in the extension of the suffrage?" The hon. Member shook his head; if he had expected that he would have brought down the pamphlet containing the hon. Member's own words, and which he had been reading not more than an hour ago. But he certainly did state it at Bradford or some other place, where he was obviously surrounded by an audience of manhood suffrage or universal suffrage people; and in order to render his advocacy of a rating franchise palatable to them, he told them, "If you back me up in this, it is without prejudice to my going with you to the full extent; for no suffrage can be too large for me." [Mr. BRIGHT again dissented.] Well, were the hon. Gentleman and his friends prepared to open or to go along with a new agitation next year for a still further extension of the suffrage? Were not their political interests, in fact, bound up with those of the parties who were in favour of manhood or universal suffrage? He judged by the nature and number of the petitions which had been presented to the House. The other day the hon. Member flaunted in their faces the petitions upon the table for the total and immediate abolition of church rates, though he did not say how they had been got up. He stated that there were 500,000 or 600,000 signatures to those petitions—he would not stand for a hundred thousand or two either way. Would the hon. Gentleman refer to the Report of the Committee on Petitions, and inform the House what proportion the petitions in favour of this Bill bore to the petitions in favour of manhood suffrage, vote by ballot, and equal electoral districts? He very much doubted if the hon. Member would find more than a half dozen altogether, including that from the immaculate corporation of Norwich, in favour of the Bill; whilst popular support given to the Bill out of doors was derived from those societies which favoured political views that a few men only were found to encourage in this House. The other night the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said, "If you do not approve of this measure, why not move an Amendment, and divide the House on the second reading of the Bill." But Amendments of that sort were only moved at the beginning of a debate, and after due notice had been given. ["Move!"] Of course an Amendment could be moved at any time; but that was not the usual practice. If, however, it had been given notice of, he should have felt it to be his duty, and he should have performed it with alacrity, to vote, though doubtless in a minority, in its favour. But the course which the debate had taken to his mind vindicated most amply the foresight of those who had determined to prefer a free discussion to a division on a party Amendment. The House had experience in 1859 of what was the effect of moving a party Amendment on a measure of this sort, and of putting in issue the existence of a Ministry instead of the merits of a measure of reform. Why, one-half the Gentlemen who formed the majority in the last Parliament, would gladly have seen the Bill of Lord Derby's Government considered in Committee of the Whole House; but the issue then raised was one upon which it was impossible to obtain either a verdict, or even a full and free expression of opinion, upon the merits of the measure itself. Now, supposing a similar course had been taken by my hon. Friends on this occasion, what would have happened? Suppose the second reading had been opposed—would the House have had an opportunity of hearing the instructive arguments of the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Black) the vigorous invective of the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Marsh), or even the speech of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter). He thought not; indeed, he was sure not. The House would have lost those valuable speeches; whilst the Opposition would not have gained their votes. Again, there was the hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Massey). Why, the merest feeling of etiquette—not to say attachment to his party—would have compelled him to suppress a speech that was absolutely conclusive, and which was followed by a notice that was intended to be destructive of the Bill. There was also the hon. and learned Member for Marylebone (Mr. Edwin James); if this had been made a party question the House would have heard nothing of those alarming statistics which he had produced to discredit a measure to which, with admirable consistency he nevertheless continued to give his firm and ardent support; but stern duty and a love of truth had compelled the hon. and learned Member to bring forward those facts, although they did tend materially to the discredit of the Bill. The present debate had disclosed this fact, that the opposition to the Bill was not the growth of that (the Conservative) side of the House. And he hoped that when next a Minister rose to put the question, "Why not move an Amendment?" he would address it, not to Members of the Opposition, but to the Gentlemen immediately behind him. Was it to be doubled that those hon. Gentlemen who had spoken in a sense that was adverse to the main details of the measure, also spoke the voices of their own constituencies? Was it to be doubted that that which was proved to be the clear and unanimous feeling of moderate men on both sides of the House was also clearly shown to be the foiling and convictions of the country? Would any Gentleman rise and quote in this House the name of any considerable Statesman who gave even an ostensible countenance to the Bill? Would he cite the name of any distinguished person, be he writer, thinker, or public man, who regarded it with the least favour? On the contrary, he (Mr. Macaulay) ventured to, say that in private society, as well as in the purlieus of this House, the measure was talked of with universal dislike and suspicion. He invited Her Majesty's Ministers, then, to reconsider this question in the interest of the measure itself, and in the interest of the nation, as well as in the interest of their own credit and reputation. If they had ascertained that the mature and instructed mind of that House was opposed to the measure let it be withdrawn. Neither the noble Lord nor his colleagues would thereby incur discredit or peril, for the House had taken upon itself the duty of relieving them of the embarrassment into which they had fallen. He hoped and trusted that that course would be followed. That the Bill could be carried with a high hand through Parliament was not to be supposed for a moment. Twice before the noble Lord had given a pledge on this question, and had redeemed his pledge by the introduction of a Bill which he had afterwards withdrawn. But it was not the fault of the noble Lord that he had not been able to persuade his colleagues and his party to give him that cordial support which would alone enable him to carry such a measure with satisfaction. The noble Lord had a strong personal attachment to this subject, and, as the sole author of the Bill, it was but natural he should take a peculiar interest in its career. Indeed, his affection for the measure had been not been inaptly compared to that which parents often lavish on deformed offspring. The opinion of the House and of the country had been fully expressed on this question, further information of an important character was likely to be obtained, and he submitted to the noble Lord that the measure might very fairly be allowed to stand over for the consideration of Parliament to another occasion. He thought it would be well that the same House which had so recently sanctioned the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer should sustain the labour, responsibility, and glory of dealing with that deficit of 1861 which had been so gratuitously made. He held that the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman was mainly indefensible on that ground that, while it enacted the destructive part of a financial revolution, he did not invite the same Parliament to share the responsibility of carrying out the reconstructive portion of that revolution. It was on no light grounds, therefore, that he called on the Government to employ the present Parliament on that task, and not to intrust it to those who would be elected under such a Bill as this.


Sir, I shall follow the example of almost every one who has addressed the House, and avow that I accept with a feeling of resignation, rather than with thankfulness, the second reading of a Bill for which not ten Members out of every 100 in this House have any inclination, and upon which I am fully confident that forty out of every fifty look, in their hearts, with disapprobation and alarm. One of the causes of what I may call the dissatisfied assent which tolerates the second reading of the Bill, arises from the feeling among hon. Members that there ought to be a settlement of the Reform Question—that we ought to have, if not finality, at all events, some quiescence on the subject of Reform for twenty or thirty years to come. I acknowledge that if I could look upon this measure in that view, I should range myself among the supporters of the Bill; but when I remember the Resolutions that were passed at that Manchester meeting, of which so much has been said, the closing part of the speech of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), in which he said he accepted this measure as only an instalment, and a very small instalment, of what is to come. I can- not indulge in the expectation that we shall, by adopting it, put an end, for any considerable period, to the renewed discussion of this question. When, moreover, I remember the language of the hon. Gentleman who sits below me (Mr. Bright), when he tried to assure hon. Members opposite of the moderate changes which were likely to take place in the borough constituencies, I cannot resist the conviction that the anomalies which will be established by this Bill will be greater than the anomalies complained of in the present system; that the disproportion between small and large constituencies will be aggravated; and that the advocate of equal electoral divisions in the next Parliament will be furnished with arguments ten times stronger than any he can use at present. My first objection to the Bill, then, is, that it involves no principle of permanent satisfaction whatever. My next objection is, that it will have the effect of recruiting the numbers who are to be added to the constituency all from one, and that the lower, stratum of society. My hon. Friend, the Member for the Tower Hamlets, has shown us that every working man, not in receipt of parochial relief, who pays 2s. 6d. a week for his house, may become possessed of the franchise. My hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Marylebone, also has pointed out that the number to be added to the electoral roll will be very much larger than is contemplated by the author of the Bill. It has been stated in more than one quarter, and I have never heard the statement contradicted, that in thirty boroughs the number of the constituencies will be augmented from 100 to 300 per cent: and it has been shown, further, that the great proportion of the new electors will be chosen from the £6 and £8 householders—the lowest class of voters. I am aware that the noble Lord, the Member for the City, has described the calculations of my hon. and learned Friend as simply ludicrous; but I am given to understand that evidence has been brought forward in "another place" which tends very much to corroborate them. But, even if he be incorrect in his statement, it is at least perfectly clear that the numbers who are to be added to the electoral roll will belong to that class of voters who are the poorest, the most deficient in education, and the most exposed to corruption and pernicious influences. The noble Lord, however, intimates that he attaches little weight to that objection, and tells us that though the masses may be bad judges of political questions, they are still good judges of political men. Well, if the masses are such good judges of political men, I want to know why you stop short at £6? Every word uttered by the noble Lord on that head is as applicable to universal suffrage as it is to the admission of the six pounders; and when the noble Lord refers to the election of Mr. Huskisson at Liverpool as an instance of the excellent choice made by the masses, it is, after all, only a repetition of the old argument in favour of rotten boroughs. In 1832 these were called the nurseries of rising Statesmen, and attention was drawn to the great men who had been returned as representatives by Gatton and Old Sarum. It is the same argument which has been used to defend every abuse in the army, in the navy, in all public departments. Because you have got a great General, or a great Admiral, or a great public administrator, under a particular system, you are asked to believe it is because of, and not in spite, of it. I do not agree with my hon. Friend, the Member for East Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), in understanding that the noble Lord, when he spoke the other evening of the scenes that preceded the Reform Bill of 1832, of the riots at Nottingham and at Bristol, meant in any way to intimidate the House; but I think that the noble Lord, in order to make us anticipate the probability of these occurrences happening again, ought to have gone further, and to have shown us that the state of the country in 1860, is identical with what it was in 1832. He ought to have shown us abuses existing in every department, favouritism triumphant, pensions conferred on women for naughty things they had done, and on men for good things they had left undone. Again, when the noble Lord told us, with a feeling of exultation, of the many valuable measures which the Parliament had passed since the period of the Reform Bill of 1832—such as the reform of the Irish Church and of the Municipal Corporations—he ought, if he wished to give completeness to his argument, to have gone further, and have shown that the oligarchical and unpopular character of Parliament, as at present constituted, has prevented the passing of other measures of great public utility. But I do not think that measures to abolish the House of Lords, to do away with the Church Establishment in England, and to base the whole taxation of the country on accumulated capital, are likely to receive the sanction of the House, and, as those are the only measures which will he obtained by a complete change of our constitutional system, the parallel which the noble Lord has attempted to draw between the good things which followed the Act of 1832 and the good things which will follow the passing of this Bill wholly fails. To go back to the subject of the class from which we are to recruit the electoral body. At the commencement of this debate the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham made a remark in order to satisfy the House of the capability of the working classes to receive the franchise. He told us he was taken through the exhibition rooms of Messrs. Watts, at Manchester, and was there pointed out all the beautiful productions of manufacturing industry. True to his instinct and the one idea over ruling his thoughts, he tells us, he said, "Can it he possible that the men who made these things have not the franchise?" [Mr. BRIGHT: I said that not one in fifty had the franchise.] But though the reflection may have been characteristic of the hon. Member it would not have been the reflection of another champion, and with all due respect a more deeply reasoning champion, of democracy. If the hon. Gentleman had read a memorable chapter of M. de Tocqueville's book on America he would have seen that a far different train of thought would have suggested itself to him. He would have seen that what was exhibited at Messrs. Watts' was no proof of the capability for the franchise of those who made such things. M. de Tocqueville in his speculations whether an aristocracy can ever rise in America, arrives at the conclusion that it may, and that not in the agricultural States, nor in the south, but in proportion as the manufacturing communities increase. It is the very dexterity, the perfection of finish which the hon. Gentleman admires that fills him with alarm, because it is derived from division of labour. The passage is so much in point that I will read it to the House:— When a workman is unceasingly and exclusively engaged in the fabrication of one article, he ultimately does his work with singular facility, but at the same time he loses the general faculty of applying his mind to the direction of the work. What can be expected of a man who has spent twenty years of his life in making heads for pins? and to what can that mighty human intelligence which has so often stirred the world be applied in him, except it be to investigate the best method of making pins' heads? When a workman has spent a considerable portion of his existence in this manner his thoughts are for ever set upon the object of his daily toil; his body has contracted certain fixed habits which it can never shake off—in a word he no longer belongs to himself, but to the calling which he has chosen. It is in vain that laws and manners have been at the pains to level all careers round such a man and to open to him on every side a thousand paths to fortune—a theory of manufactures more powerful than manners and laws binds him to a craft, and frequently to a spot which he cannot leave; it assigns to him a certain place in society, beyond which he cannot go; in the midst of universal movement it has rendered him stationary; in proportion as the principle of the division of labour is more extensively applied the workman becomès more weak, more narrow-minded, and more dependent. The art advances, the artisan recedes. M. de Tocqueville goes on to say,— That a territorial aristocracy"— [And he is no advocate of aristocracy]— was either bound by law, or thought itself bound by usage to come to the relief of its serving men and to succour their distresses. But the manufacturing aristocracy of our age first impoverishes and debases the men who serve it, and then abandons them to be supported by the charity of the public. This is a natural consequence. I am of opinion (says he) upon the whole, that the manufacturing aristocracy which is growing up under our eyes is one of the harshest that ever existed in the world. The friends of democracy should keep their eyes anxiously fixed in this direction, for if ever a permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy again penetrate into the world, it may be predicted that this is the channel by which it will enter. In reading this passage I wish to guard myself against endorsing any of the latter sentiments as in the slightest degree applicable to the manufacturers of England. I have the most perfect confidence in their intelligence, in their benevolence, and in their anxious desire to educate, to elevate, and to protect their workmen. I only read that passage to enforce my argument. Although exclusively connected with land myself, as an Irishman I must look on the manufacturing districts with the greatest anxiety, because our prosperity advances in exact proportion with the manufacturing prosperity of England. Their well-doing is our well-doing; their depression is our depression. If I thought that twenty-five years hence the manufacturing districts would be represented by the same class of hon. Gentlemen, whose intelligence and probity have gained them the confidence of their fellow citizens, I should be perfectly satisfied; but my apprehensions are, that the power they expect to derive from this Bill will be a power exerted against them; that although it may not at once transfer the direction of public affairs from the employer to the operative, from the master to the workmen, from wealth, intelligence, and education, to mere numbers; yet most confident am I that this is but the beginning of the end, and that so great are the anomalies and increased inconsistencies arising from this Bill, that as the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Massey), observed, it will be impossible to avoid or resist the fresh Reform Bills that will arise one after another, until we arrive, aye, and before many years, at universal suffrage. In forming, by anticipation, an opinion of what is likely to be the consequence of the increase of democratic principles, of the transference of power from the middle classes to the masses, we are not left to mere conjecture or to abstract reasoning. We have on the other side of the Atlantic one of the greatest nations of the earth— identical with our own in family, in language, and I may almost say, judging from the resemblance of the different sects, in religion. Different political institutions, and unbounded territory constitute almost the only differences. If, therefore, we are to assimilate our political system to that of America, I think we ought to examine, not only how that system works under the most favourable circumstances that can be conceived for its developement, but also into the changes which are springing up from day to day in the American Constitution, and to ascertain whether those changes redound to the credit and happiness of the country, or the reverse. We fortunately are not left to feel our way in the dark, or to be guided by mere hearsay. We have one of the most intelligent guides who ever directed an inquiry of this kind—a man whose attainments and impartiality are universally acknowledged, whose intimate acquaintance with the inner springs of American democracy is a marvel, even to Americans themselves, and who is admitted to be the apostle of democracy. I mean M. de Tocqueville. If, therefore, we find that during the period of twenty-five years, since M. de Tocqueville visited America, great changes have taken place, that many of those changes were predicted by him, and that many changes have occurred, not for the benefit or credit of the country, which he predicted as possible but not likely to occur—then I think we shall not incur the imputation of running counter to Liberal opinions by endeavouring to save England from steering on shoals upon which beacons have already been erected, and which ought to serve, if they do not serve, as a warning. During the last five months, I have been in the United States, and as did not go there merely to race over an immense tract of country, but to endeavour to ascertain, as honestly as I could, the working of American institutions, to find out what was worthy of imitation—and I am bound to say there is much worthy of imitation, such as their mode of dealing with religious questions—and also to find out what warnings their system conveyed, I may venture to detail some of the observations I made, and the truth of my deductions I shall corroborate by American authority. My hon. Friend (Mr. Caird) the other night deprecated speaking of American institutions lest we should give offence. I can assure the House that I have received too great kindness in that country to make use of a single expression which can possibly give offence in America. As a general rule, Americans are well educated in politics, and this Reform Bill was canvassed in almost every house and excited a deep and painful interest in America. We are too much accustomed in England to believe that there is a hostile feeling in America towards us, and that impression is strengthened by the ebullitions of certain newspapers. But, so far as my experience goes, there exists a most warm and kindly feeling towards the old country in America; and it is that feeling which induced so many in America to beg of me to tell what I had seen in that country, without the slightest fear of causing any pain to them. When I was at Washington during the past winter I had the honour of the society and friendship of many Members of both Houses of Legislature, and I was naturally asked respecting my political opinions; when I stated that I sat on the Liberal side of the House that remark was very well received, for Americans like the word liberality; but when I added that my liberality induced me to vote for a very considerable extension of the franchise, and take, as it is called, the working classes into the confidence of the House, then I am bound to say the opinions of my friends underwent, as it appeared to me, somewhat of a revulsion, and a suspicion seemed to be entertained either as regards my honesty or intelligence — I trust it was with respect to the latter. "You have travelled," they said to me, "from north to south and from east to west in this country, have you closed your eyes and shut your ear3 to everything that is going on? Are you so wedded to theory that nothing can convey a warning. Have you seen the destinies of this young and vigorous nation guided by men of education, intellect, and character; or, on the contrary, have you not seen all of those cast aside, and our Legislature reduced to the dull level of the dullest mediocrity? Have you perceived a purity in our municipalities and Legislature, which you cannot hope to reach at home under your present system, and which requires universal suffrage to establish among you, or have you found the most wide-spread venality and corruption? Have you seen in every department of the State frugality and retrenchment, or an anxious desire for the most lavish expenditure? Do you consider the course of justice purer here than in England; and do you think to improve the authority and reverence due to the judicial bench by making your Judges elected for a short period and by universal suffrage? Have you found that you are so oppressed by the Throne and the aristocracy in England that it is necessary for you to adopt our social equality to enable every man to do as he likes and to say the thing that seemeth him best, or have you seen here that the iron will of the majority fetters the thoughts and paralyses the utterance and enchains the actions of men in this land of liberty and universal suffrage." To all this I could only answer in the language of Æneas," Infandum jubes renovate dolorem;" or, to use words more appropriate in the case of America, I felt bound to explain the "fix" in which we find ourselves in England. I told my friends that a great statesman, the hero of the first Reform Bill, conscious of the success of that measure, and animated with a wish for future triumph, thought right to initiate a fresh movement, and I added that it was, as some said, with a view to regain his somewhat worn-out popularity. I said that these were ill-natured persons, who most probably mistook the motives which actuated that statesman. I next stated that the great Conservative party afterwards came into office, and they also sanctioned the movement for Reform. I said that the same ill-natured class of censurers contended that that party preferred to risk the Constitution to risking their tenure of office; from which censure I, of course, observed I entirely dissented. Then I explained that an hon. Gentleman had been in the habit of bringing forward Motions for the reduction of the county franchise from £50 to £10, and a great number of Gentlemen had voted with him; and ill-natured people said, I remarked, that they did so under the impression that they might by their votes obtain a cheap popularity without any practical consequence being likely to follow. I was obliged to admit that the ill-natured people on this occasion were, perhaps, not altogether mistaken. The result was that, though I might have satisfied my American friends of the admirable manner in which we maintain our consistency, I did not satisfy them of our wisdom; and they furnished me with different documents and statements, with some of which I shall venture to trouble the House. Now, let me call the attention of the House to one of the first results that was pointed out as arising from universal suffrage, namely, the nullity of public men. We know there are men in America of the highest intellectual capacity, eloquent, and well informed. Do we meet them in public life? M. de Tocqueville's remarks on this point are worthy recording:— Many people in Europe are apt to believe, without considering it, or to say it without believing it, that one of the great advantages of universal suffrage is, that it intrusts the direction of public affairs to men who are worthy of the public confidence. They admit that the people is unable to govern for itself, but they aver that it is always sincerely disposed to promote the welfare of the State, and that it instinctively designates those persons who are animated by the same good wishes, and who are most fit to wield the supreme authority. I confess that the observations I made in America by no means coincide with those opinions. I was surprised to find so much distinguished talent among the subjects, and so little among the heads of the Government. It is a well authenticated fact that at the present day the most talented men of the United States are very rarely placed at the head of affairs, and it must be acknowledged that such has been the result, in proportion as democracy has outstripped all its former limits. The race of American statesmen has evidently dwindled most remarkably in the course of the last fifty years. …. The people has neither the time nor the means which are essential to investigation; its conclusions are hastily formed from a superficial inspection of the more prominent features of a question. Hence it often assents to the clamour of a mountebank, who knows the secret of stimulating its tastes, while its truest friends frequently fail in their exertions. Moreover, the democracy is not only deficient in that soundness of judgment which is necessary to select men really deserving of its confidence, but it has neither the desire nor the inclination to find them out. It cannot be denied that democratic institutions have a very strong tendency to promote the feeling of envy in the human heart; whatever transcends the limits of the lower orders appears to be an obstacle to their desires, and there is no kind of superiority, however legitimate it may be, which is not irksome in their sight. In the United States the people is not disposed to hate the superior classes, but it is not very favourably inclined to them, and it carefully excludes them from the exercise of authority. While the natural propensities of democracy induce the people to reject the most distinguished citizens as its rulers, these individuals are no less apt to retire from a political career in which it is almost impossible to retain their independence or to advance without degrading themselves. These words were written while such men as Webster, and Clay, and Calhoun, were, if not in the Government, at all events exercising their influence on it, and they were acknowledged to be true by almost every American I met. But the practical test to apply is this: — While hon. Gentlemen probably remember the names of fifty eminent Americans, do they remember the name of a single Member now in either House of the American Legislature? I except, of course, the two persons who are at present prominent as candidates for the Presidency. Do not show me your great buildings alone, said I, at Washington, but show me your great men, and the answer was, "We have none to show." Yet, in spite of all this, which is acknowledged by Americans themselves, I see in a journal, The Morning Star, professing to be the organ of the extreme party in this country, a passage in which, speaking of American statesmen, it is said:— To do them (the American statesmen) justice, they for the most part, seem fully alive to the importance of the work before them. The spirit of liberty, the intellectual activity inseparable from the play of free institutions, the arduous problems of government, and the constant conflict of domestic with federal laws, have combined to produce in the United States of America a class of statesmen who are second to none in the old world in comprehensiveness of political knowledge and statesmanlike ability. I can only say that if that article was written in ignorance the writer's ignorance must he great indeed; while if written to deceive and impose upon the credulity of his readers, he then incurs a still graver imputation. But do not confine your views to America alone. Turn to your Colonies, and see what is going on there. We are told to go to Australia for the purpose of learning political wisdom and the use of the ballot-box. Yet it is perfectly clear that those principles of the British Constitution which used hitherto to be considered as necessary for the amelioration of the whole human race are every day becoming more inapplicable to those Colonies. The bare, bald mediocrity of public men has at this moment dissociated, as it wore, the Executive from the Legislature. Ministers are now formed there not to give effect to a policy, but to advance private ambitions. Men do not get into office in order to carry out great principles, but to obtain place and power; Ministry after Ministry is upset in order to make way for other people; and the end of all this will be that if you wish to obtain permanence for your Executive you will have to resort to the American system, and give it a legal permanence which it cannot hope to find in the harmony of the Chambers. If Canada and Australia have arrived at this state, we must be most self-sufficient people to suppose that the same results are not likely to ensue here from the same predisposing causes. Well, then, are we likely to arrive at greater purity by advancing towards democratic principles? Why, you cannot take up a single American paper, or speak to a single American without being furnished with proof after proof of the venality and bribery which exist in every department in that country, and which are unbridled, unchecked, and in fact encouraged. In November last, when I was at New York, the election of the mayor of that great commercial city took place. There were three candidates. One, representing the Republican party, was a man of the highest probity and intelligence— his name was Mr. Opdyke. Another, Mr. Havemeyer, represented the Democratic party. He also was a man of the highest position in the mercantile world, and was supported by almost all the great mercantile influence of New York. The "platforms"—to use an American phrf.se—of these two gentlemen were based upon Reform and retrenchment of the lavish and scandalous expenditure existing in the City under the former municipality. But a third candidate arose, of whom I shall merely say that accusations were made against him based upon a judicial decision, which would have rendered him at all events ineligible for any civic office in this country. His "platform" was openly and avowedly stated to be an enormously increased expenditure, exceeding even that of the last year, which was acknowledged to be prodigious; and he carried the day over the two other candidates by an immense majority. I had the pleasure of meeting in the flush of triumph on the evening of the election one of his chief supporters, and in the exuberant joy of the moment he told me that they had spent 100,000 dollars upon the election, and that it was cheap at the money, for they would make rarely by the transaction. How was this election managed? It was notoriously managed, by promising lavish contracts to contractors, who thereupon drove up their workmen in bodies to the ballot-box, telling them that their bread depended upon their vote. That was the way in which the successful candidate obtained his election. M. De Tocqueville points out very clearly that, if you have a Government of the middle classes, you will have a frugal Government, because taxation comes home to them; that an aristocratic Government will be a comparatively extravagant Government, because they do not feel where the shoe pinches; but that of all Governments the most extravagant is a democratic Government, inasmuch as it appears, however erroneously, to a vast number of the masses that the money spent by the State is spent for their advantage, and because the masses form the only power which imposes taxes and which at the same time escapes the payment of them. I have given the House an instance of venality drawn from an American municipality. I now hold in my hand a very curious book given me by a Member of Congress, and called Reports on the Alleged Corruption of Members of Congress. In this book, which is published by authority in Washington, I perceive that in 1857 four Gentlemen were expelled from the House of Representatives for being bribed and corrupted in their capacity as Representatives. I have never heard that in the course of my life any Member has ever been expelled this House upon such a charge. But some papers which I have been lately reading have sought to convey the impression that these delinquencies in America are perpetrated not by the real democracy but by the aristocracy of the Southern States. In reply to that, I can only say that, although we have heard the representatives of those States accused of a rash and violent demeanour, I never heard an imputation that they were guilty of any act of corruption. The persons expelled the House in 1857 were three Members from the State of New York, and another from the State of Connecticut, two of the oldest, the most settled and most populous States in the Union. This state of things tallies again with what M. de Tocqueville says. I quote him because he is universally recognized as an authority in America, and I have also invariably heard him quoted as an apostle of democracy in Europe. He says:— In democracies statesmen are poor, and they have their fortunes to make. The consequence is that in aristocratic States the rulers are rarely accessible to corruption, and have very little craving for money, while the reverse is the case with democratic nations. That principle is certainly quite upset if it be true, as the Member for Birmingham asserts, that the great expenditure of this country is intended to provide snug berths for scions of the aristocracy. But I will give you two other instances. Hon. Members have heard of certain statements respecting the public printing department in America. When I was at Washington the question who should be the public printer perhaps excited as much interest as the election of the President. For a long time I could not understand why everybody was talking about it; but at last I was informed that it was a great thing to obtain this printership. The public printer is not a professional man, but he hands over the printing to a professional man. The amount allowed him is 200,000 dollars, of which he makes a clear gain of 100,000. But out of that there are slight deductions. A newspaper—an organ—has to be bought and paid. Certain sums have to be paid in certain constituencies, and certain individuals who have influence in certain constituencies have also to be "considered." So gross and so general is the corruption existing in America that the Report of the Committee of Congress states that these cases are known, encouraged, and sanctioned by the President of the United States himself. It was only the other day, in looking over the papers sent to me by my democratic friends in America, I found a passage bearing upon this point. The New York Times, which is known to be one of the most moderate and best written papers in America, referring to a Bill for a City railway, said to be worth £200,000, levelled charges of the most wholesale corruption against all who were concerned in the affair. It says:— Most of the American people are stolidly indifferent to the proofs of corruption on the part of their representatives. It seems to be taken for granted, and to whatever extent it may be carried, it excites no astonishment, and arouses no special indignation. I could go on furnishing example, giving names, date and proof of the corruption of men in authority in America, recognized and as it were sanctioned by those who have placed them in situations of confidence; but if I were to mention other cases I must also mention the names of individuals, which it would be ungenerous to do. I only wish I could call one witness into court to substantiate all I have said upon this subject, and that witness would be the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden). I now come to another point. How stands the reputation of public justice in America? And here we find one of the inroads which has been making way since the days of De Tocqueville, who speaks in these prophetic words— By some of the constitutions of the States, the members of the tribunal are elected, and they are even subjected to frequent re-elections. I venture to predict that these innovations will sooner or later be attended with fatal consequences, and that it will be found out at some future period that the attack which is made on the judicial power has affected the republic itself. I say these fatal consequences have occurred; that the fountain of public justice is polluted at its source. The decisions from the judicial bench in America are too often based, not upon the law or the equity of the case, but upon that view which will give the greatest amount of popularity to the Judge and which is best calculated to ensure his re-election. I know nothing more likely to shake the whole fabric of a nation's morality than this prostitution of the judgment-seat. To whom are you to look for righteousness and truth if not to those who are constituted by the nation as the dispensers of justice, and to be, in the case of America, the Judges of the constitution itself. But Americans themselves confess with shame that they have not that standard to set up. A very remarkable case occurred some years ago, which I will mention; but as I have not the papers with me I may possibly be in error in some minute details, but upon the main facts I am quite clear. Mr. Van Ransellaer, the "patroon" of Albany, one of the old Dutch settlers, was a man of immense territorial possessions. He let out a large portion of his lands to settlers at mere nominal rents, and frequently allowed those rents to remain uncollected. At his death his son succeeded to his property, and naturally endeavoured to obtain that which was his due. Immediately anti-rent associations were formed, great disturbances arose, resistance was organized, and matters went so far that the Judges about to be elected in Albany were made to give pledges that, in case of their election, they would give judgment against the claims of Mr. Van Ransellaer. They were elected, the cases came before them, and the decisions were against Mr. Van Ransellaer. But all those decisions were afterwards set aside on appeal, and he obtained his rights. [Mr. BRIGHT: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member cheers that statement; but he must remember that the decisions were not set aside by Judges elected by universal suffrage, but by Judges appointed by the Senate of the United States. The case afterwards assumed a somewhat amusing aspect, for some persons, not contented with passive resistance to payment of rent, chose to disguise themselves as Indians and to commit various outrages. They were taken up and put in prison. Great pressure was brought to bear upon the Governor, Mr. Silas Wright, to pardon them; but he being in office was inflexible. At the next election for Governor the test for the candidates was "Will you pardon and release these men if you are elected?" The pledge was given—whether the election proceeded on that ground or no, it is, of course, impossible for me to say; but the pledge was required of the successful candidate, he gave it, and shortly after his election the culprits were liberated. I will now mention a case which happened a few days before my arrival in Baltimore in the early part of this year. A religious meeting had been held a little distance from the city down the river. In the evening, as those who had attended it were returning home, a number of men got on board the steamer, put out all the lights, robbed and illtreated the men, while the women experienced a worse fate. The perpetrators of these outrages were all well known; they were the "rowdy" population of Baltimore—the most influential electors of the city. The Judge who tried the offenders, Judge Stump, owed his election to these identical persons. When the case was brought before him the offences were proved, and the offenders clearly identified; and he inflicted upon them fines of fifty cents, or 2s. 1d. each, while he read the captain of the steamer a severe lesson for allowing the rioters to break into his vessel. Others of the offenders who were caught in the country and were tried before Judges who were not elected by the same class of constituents, experienced a different fate, for they were sentenced to three years' imprisonment; but the Baltimore Judge was afraid to punish. He could not afford to be severe on those persons who directed the rowdyism of Baltimore, of which rowdyism he is the notorious representative. You will hear similar instances quoted in almost every State where the Judges are elected by universal suffrage. I may be told that the statements I have made are mere second-hand histories; but here is American authority, and moreover official authority. The following is the first presentment of the grand jury of the city and county of New York, in October, 1859:— The grand inquest in and for the city and county of New York do not feel justified in closing their labours without presenting as a grave evil, and one calling for the earliest correcting, the practice too generally prevailing in our lower tribunals of criminal jurisprudence. After devoting as much time as the grand inquest could control to the examination of the police records, evidences of irresistible character had been furnished to show that, after the police has faithfully discharged its duty in detecting and arresting the evildoers, their laudable labours and assiduity have been 'waste labour' by the proceedings thereon by police justices and aldermen, without any formal trial. In many (far too many) cases the evildoer after detection and arrest by the police has, without justifiable cause, been discharged and permitted to go at large by these functionaries, and numerous cases exist showing a peculiar lenity that furnishes strong ground for suspicion that justice to the community is blinded, however clear-sighted it may be to some other interest which does not as clearly appear on record. A grave evil exists here of infinitely more interest and of more practical importance to this community than a casual view of it would furnish, and, while an active interest is kept awake as to who shall be President or who shall be Governor, a far weightier matter is ignored or overlooked which comes nearer home to the pockets and security of the community. By the present lamentable system of the ballot-box to decide who shall fill office for judiciary purposes, we trace the evil we now complain of and present as an evil. When the ballot-box is an index of national choice, or the choice of a large portion of our people, the cost or evil of a bad choice is measurably met and felt by a large constituency; but, when the same system is applied to small communities, such as wards of a city like ours, it may be in some cases of most serious consequences, for in some cases the evildoers may by combined efforts elect their own judiciary, and this judiciary in turn, by extraordinary lenity, reward the electors, and thus in our midst is created and sustained a combination of reciprocal elements of the most dangerous character, and which, if not timely checked, will soon put at nought all power to arrest the progress of crime. That presentment shows distinctly the existence of the evil which I have described. Some hon. Gentlemen by their out-door speeches seem to suppose that we have not got enough social liberty at home, and that we must go to the United Slates to seek for it under democratic institutions; but I am confident it will be universally acknowledged by every man who has travelled through the United States that there is a despotism of public opinion there more grinding, more prevalent, and more tremendous when aroused than ever was the despotism of one man. Let any one, for instance, go "down South," and venture in conversation to disapprove of "the domestic institution," even in the mildest terms; or let any clergyman in the South get up and condemn practices connected with that domestic institution, which the most enlightened Southern Americans do not scruple themselves in private conversation to condemn, and you know what will be the consequences. Would anybody believe that the tyranny of opinion was exercised to such an extent in America that books, newspapers, and other publications were not allowed to pass into a State if they contained anything contrary to the popular doctrines held by the great mass of the people? Will you believe that at this moment no newspaper or publication can pass through Virginia "down South" without being stopped by the local postmasters; and that not only the postmasters may and do constitute themselves censors of what is sound doctrine, but are justified in the assumption of that extraordinary faculty by the Postmaster General himself? I hold in my hand a correspondence which will show the state of affairs in that respect. The first letter is addressed by the postmaster at Lynchburg, Virginia, to Mr. Horace Greeley, Editor of The New York Tribune, under date of the 2nd of December last, and is as follows: —

"Mr. Horace Greeley.—Sir,—I hereby inform you that I shall not, in future, deliver from this office the copies of The Tribune which come here, because I believe them to be of that incendiary character which are forbidden circulation alike by the laws of the land and a proper regard for the safety of society. You will, therefore, discontinue them.


"R. H. GLASS, P.M.,"

To that missive Mr. Horace Greeley replied, after his usual characteristic and amusing manner, in these terms:—

"Mr. Postmaster of Lynchburg, Va. Sir,—I take leave to assure you that I shall do nothing of the sort. The subscribers to The Tribune in Lynchburg have paid for their papers; we have taken their money, and shall fairly and fully earn it, according to contract. If they direct us to send their papers to some other post office, we shall obey the request; otherwise, we shall send them as originally ordered. If you or your masters choose to steal or destroy them, that is your affair—at all events, not ours; and if there is no law in Virginia to punish the larceny, so much the worse for her and our plundered subscribers. If the Federal Administration, whereof you are the tool, after monopolizing the business of mail carrying, sees fit to become the accomplice and patron of mail robbery, I suppose the outrage muse be borne until more honest and less servile rulers can be put into high places at Washington, or till the people can recover their natural right to carry each other's letters and printed matter, asking no odds of the Government. Go ahead in your own base way; I shall stand steadfast for human liberty and the protection of all natural rights.

"Yours, stiffly,


"New York, December 9, 1859."

Now, I ask, what would have been said in England if, some years ago, when articles used to appear in The Times, written with great severity, of Irish landlords, Irish priests, and Irishmen, and Irish things in general, the postmaster of some town in Ireland had written to the proprietor of that journal, and desired him to discontinue sending his paper there, inasmuch as it disseminated doctrines of what he on his own authority pronounced to be of "an incendiary character, forbidden alike by the laws of the land and a proper regard for the safety of society?" Yet that conduct would be a perfectly fair exemplification of the state of things recognized and allowed in America. Now, M. de Tocqueville whom I must quote again, says:— In the principles of equality I very clearly perceive two tendencies— the one leading the mind of every man to untried thoughts, the other inclined to prohibit him from thinking at all. There is, and I cannot repeat it too often—there is in this matter for profound reflection for those who look on freedom as a holy thing, and who hate not only the despot but despotism. For myself, when I feel the hand of power he heavily on my brow, I care but little to know who oppresses me, and I am not the more disposed to fall beneath the yoke because it is held out to me by the arms of a million of men.

As a general résumé I shall read only one passage more. It is not, however, from M. de Tocqueville, nor from any other foreigner; but it is one which corroborates every statement I have made, that the changes that have taken place in the democratic system of government in America have not been for the honour or welfare of the country. The authority I shall quote is Judge Pierrepoint, a living witness, and an eminent man in New York, "who, at a meeting of the Bar of that city, held on the 13th of December last, to commemorate the death of one of the most distinguished American lawyers, said—referring to the progress of democracy in the United States:— Twenty-five years ago, De Tocqueville passed through this country, and he wrote a book upon democracy. He passed from one end of this land to the other, and he records that he found nowhere, however many faults he saw in this government—he found nobody to complain of them— that no man wished them changed—that all were satisfied with their government, even with its faults. I ask you, Mr. Chairman, if he or any other philosopher shall come through this land today, and pass from Maine to Georgia, will he leave that record? I ask you, if you do not find in this land this day the rich dissatisfied that they are governed by the ignorant and poor?—the poor dissatisfied that they are not rich?—those who are labourers dissatisfied that they are not in office, and working and seeking for it?—those who are in office dissatisfied that they cannot plunder more than they do. I ask if you do not find the North dissatisfied with their federal relations to the South— the South dissatisfied with all her relations to the North?—if you do not find in this land universal general discontent and rising passions, and moving even some States to arms?—that free citizens cannot pass without being arrested, their business inquired into, and their progress stayed? Do you, Mr. Chairman, say that this means nothing? I ask those of you whom we have elevated on the plane of intellect and above the common mind, and who are gifted with a keen vision which can look into the future, if in the distant horizon in this land you see dawning a clear day, or do you see it filled with portents of thick clouds and dangers which are to come?

Judge Pierrepoint is a bold man, but he is a true man. Twenty-five years ago M. de Tocqueville saw the democracy of America in a brave and goodly garb; but if he had been permitted to revisit that country, what would he have said now; or rather how much would he have unsaid? What would Washington and Hamilton have said, even if they had seen democracy as M. de Tocqueville witnessed it. Twenty-five years are a short period in the life of nations, but a long interval in the life of man. And remember that Macaulay speaks of the rapidity 6f these democratic changes. These things have occurred in America in spite of every circumstance that you can imagine calculated to promote the growth of the conservative element in that commonwealth—where every man of character and industry has the power of acquiring land and of having a stake in the country. And if, in spite of this conservative element, and of an extent of education unknown in England; if, in spite of the versatility, self-reliance, and independence of the American character, these things have occurred—if they have occurred in "the green tree," what will be done in "the dry?" What will be the case in an old and artificial state of society, among millions of men cooped up together in your hives of industry, unable from the small size of the island to obtain land; who are dependent on wages, subject to the fluctuations and depressions of trade, whose bodies are "cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd" by your laws of irremovability and settlement, as their minds are by the division of labour? I confess I dread the prospect. A year ago I never should have made the speech I have made to-night, because a year ago I had not arrived at these convictions from the experience I have since had; but I should be unworthy a seat in this House if, having arrived at these convictions, I should remain silent from any fear of consequences. The result of these convictions cornea to this, that by democratising your institutions, you do not get "a better article" of public men, you do not secure economy and retrenchment, you do not improve political purity, you do not maintain unsullied the fountain of justice, you may increase licence but certainly not liberty. I warn the House, and more especially the manufacturers of England, that political doctrines are now showing themselves on the surface of society, which, if this Bill pass into a law as it now stands, will spring up and cover them with a deadly shade. I warn them, from the language of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, that there are great questions of taxation still to be decided, and that to leave the future fiscal condition of the country unsettled, in order that the unrepresented masses, as he calls them, the non-tax paying classes as I call them, may decide on the future mode of raising the revenue of the State: I therefore think we ought to take care that those who are to be the arbiters of taxation should be as far as possible persons of intelligence and character. I can only say that, so far as I am concerned, I am in no way adverse to reform. I should be glad to see the working men represented in this House, because I believe that it would be infinitely better for them and for us that they should have their own advocates, and that their own questions should be argued by themselves in this House instead of out of doors. But I see the difficulty which the hon. and learned Gentleman who last spoke has endeavoured to provide for, of securing an equipoise of intelligence and property for the increased numbers you propose to enfranchise, though I trust that may be done in some manner when we go into Committee. As regards myself, I object to the Bill, because its inevitable tendency is to necessitate fresh changes, and that forthwith, and to create dissatisfaction instead of to satisfy. I would infinitely prefer to see increased disfranchisement of boroughs with a higher scale of franchise than disproportions rendered still more disproportionate, illogical, and intolerable. I do not wish to see, constituted as they will be under this Bill, huge unwieldy constituencies, to be handed over, as in America, to the management of caucuses, combinations, and associations, which are themselves swayed and directed by a few political intriguers. I do not wish to see, as in America, men of eminence driven into private life. I do not wish to see talent, eloquence, and administrative ability set aside to make way for mediocrities. I do not wish to see forced from the helm of public affairs men to whose superiority you can look up without envy and without cavil, whose lofty position places them above the suspicion of aught that is mean and sordid. As England's statesmen have been great so has England's history been famous; and rely on it, the time is not far off, but is even now at hand, when the destinies of English and European liberty will have to be decided not by average capacities, but by England's greatest men.


said, that if his object had been to make a speech which would go forth to the country with any effect, he must confess that that object must be disappointed when he rose to address them after the great speech to which they had just listened. His hon. Friend the Member for Galway had strikingly portrayed the state of society as it existed on the other side of the Atlantic under a system such as that to which they would themselves approach if this Bill became law. He had shown the seat of justice polluted, freedom of thought and opinion fettered, and all things bought and sold in the market except virtue. Although the speech of his hon. Friend left nothing to be desired, still it might be useful if the House would permit an Irish Member representing a small constituency which could not possibly be affected by any change in England, to give them his views and opinions of what the result of this measure would be as regarded England and English constituencies. Though, however, he was, as an Irishman unaffected directly by this Bill, yet next to the land of his birth he boasted most of that to which his country was joined, and he was sure that Ireland could not flourish if England decayed; for how could the branches be vigorous if the trunk were falling away? In his opinion if this Bill passed the constituencies in England would be wholly altered, and he believed in the most destructive manner. Two hon. Members on the other side of the House, one an Irishman and the other a Scotchman, bad had the courage to speak of what would be the effect of letting in the working classes to the constituencies in such large numbers. He had not failed to observe the civility with which Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House had spoken of the classes that were to be enfranchised under the Bill; and that flattery was one of the worst symptoms that this measure had produced. He believed that those classes had great intelligence, but a great deal more than that was wanted to induce him to think that it was prudent to transfer power at once to them. He had not heard from a single Member that this measure was necessary or expedient; and, indeed, it was only the hon. and learned Member for Tiverton (Mr. Denman) who had endeavoured to show that it was a safe measure. They had heard much of the beneficial measures passed since the Reform Bill of 1832; and then the common logical blunder was committed of arguing from thence that the degradation of the franchise would produce still greater benefits. The benefits, however, that had come after the Reform Bill were by no means produced by it, but had sprung from the state of public feeling, and a peculiar working of the human mind. It had been said that a further reform would improve that House; but the thing that struck him was the marvellous capacity of that House for legislation. On every subject that was started there was some hon. Member who could afford most valuable information; and, to his mind the only defect in that House was— not that it did not represent the working classes, or that it had not the faculty of legislation—but rather that it possessed too much talent; though he believed if they passed this Bill that this defect would no longer exist. Admitting that the Bill was a necessity, the question necessarily arose, what was the mode in which this reform, or rather revolution, was to be carried out. He would, in the course of his speech, avoid all allusion to the hon. Member for Birmingham, and also to the Returns which had been laid "before the House, but would endeavour to show, as far as he could gather it from the scanty information which was at hand, who the classes were to whom power was sought to be transferred. It was not necessary merely to ascertain the number of the £6 householders, though that was not unimportant, because great numbers added to the constituencies would in themselves be a great evil. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the numbers given were correct, this result followed, that in thirty boroughs the £6 householders would form an active and actual majority, in six a preponderating majority, in fifty they would form one-half or more of the constituency. Thus they had 150 seats which would be altogether disposed of by these £6 householders. In many cases the class enfranchised would be a mere mob of unreflecting citizens. Sir James Macintosh, in his Vindiciœ Gallicœ, said that it had been well remarked that a multitude, even if composed of New tons, must be a mob, and he would show the House that these £6 householders were Newtons in nothing. The noble Lord, in answer to some gentlemen from Guildford, said that the only true basis of representation was population; and with that he (Mr. Longfield) perfectly agreed. Sir James Macintosh said that territorial or financial representation was a monstrous result of ancient prejudices; land or money could not be represented, and population alone should regulate the number of representatives. When, however, they came to the application of this principle, they found that the Bill of the noble Lord was singularly deficient, inasmuch as the only test which he applied of the fitness of the elector was that he possessed a £6 house. There should be something more than numbers arbitrarily selected, there should be inquiries into the state of education and of religion; there should be something to show their capacity to govern themselves before they were appointed to govern others. Such inquiries as they would make before taking a servant they should make, and much more, before they made these classes their masters. Above all, in a case like this, which involved the welfare of a majestic empire, surely they should be superior to petty deeds, and should consider calmly whether the classes to which the noble Lord proposed to transfer power were fit to be entrusted with it? The information which was vital to proper legislation had not been laid before the House; the statistics which in a year or two would have enabled them to legislate with proper information on this subject they had not; and this Measure was pressed on, though next year the Census would be taken, and that would have afforded them much information necessary for the consideration of this subject. He would, however, attempt to consider the habits of the class in question under the aspects of intelligence and education, crime, and habits of religion. It was remarked, in a very sensible article in The Times, that it was not enough that an elector should pay so much rent, or stand at such a figure in the rate-book, but that he ought to possess patriotism, courage, self-command, justice, straight' forwardness, honesty, and all that was usually called "English." But could it be said that these £6 voters were possessed of education or self-command sufficient to enable them to exercise the franchise properly? He thought not. As to education the noble Lord opposite had asserted that education had advanced since the passing of the Reform Bill—connecting the two matters together as cause and effect, though it appeared to him (Mr. Longfield) that the connection between the two was on a parallel with the old assertion of Tenterden steeple being the cause of the Goodwin Sands. In the Educational Report of 1851 it was stated that after 1811 education rapidly advanced, Lord Brougham being the zealous champion of the cause of popular education; 1 in 17 of the population attending the day schools in 1818, 1 in 24 the Sunday schools. Fifteen years elapsed, and the attendance in day schools had, doubled, that in Sunday schools had increased four-fold. The population between 1818 and 1833 had increased nearly 24 per cent; but during the same period the attendance in day schools had increased 89, that in Sunday schools 225 per cent. It was idle, then, to say that education was caused by the Reform Bill, for in truth it had not increased since then in the same degree as formerly. The Report of the Registrar-General on the subject of Marriages contained some curious information on this point. It showed the large number of men and women in this country who were ignorant of the first elements of education; and it was significant to find that in the great manufacturing districts ignorance was most dense. In Bedfordshire 51 women out of 100 did not sign the marriage register; in Staffordshire, 45 in 100; in Cheshire, 50; in Lancashire still deeper darkness prevailed, for the women who could write were only 44 in 100. The men as a body were even more ignorant. There was then no ground for saying that the extension of the franchise was justified by the standard of education among the working classes. There was also painful evidence that the parties to whom it was now sought to entrust the vast power of participating in the legislation of the country were utterly incapable of governing themselves. Murders and manslaughter prevailed in the towns; and in the town which the noble Lord proposed to enfranchise six murders were committed in the year 1858. Of the whole crime of the country 76 per cent was attributable to the working classes; and of that 76 per cent 22 per cent was furnished by the artisans and skilled labourers. And it was to these that the franchise was proposed to be extended —the very class, too, which proved so ungovernable in their passions that the Legislature had to pass a law to restrain their brutality. In 1858 there was an increase in the number of cases of manslaughter. Offences against the person had been gradually increasing. So also cases of maliciously wounding. In Liverpool there had been committed 5,012 offences; in Manchester, 6,091; in Birmingham, 2,669; in Leeds, 1,053. Now, were these crimes committed by those who possessed the franchise? Were they not rather committed by those to whom the political power was about to be transferred from those who now held it? Then, as to the state of the country with regard to religion. Mr. Horace Mann, in his valuable Report, dwelt on the influence of religion in promoting the morality, and social order and quietness of the country.

Notice taken that Forty Members were not present. House counted, and Forty Members being found present—


proceeded. If the House had been counted out he would not have regretted it. He frankly admitted that such a result would have been a sorry compliment to himself, but it would have been a tribute to the good sense of the House. In his remarks on religion he did not in the slightest degree wish to excite religious animosity, nor was he disposed to make national or sectional reflections. He admitted the value of English education and religion. He was not going to quote from an American work; he was not appealing to hostile authority. He took an English authority on which all would place reliance. A Committee had been appointed in another House, and before it Mr. Mann was examined. He said there was a population in 73 towns possessing the franchise amounting to 6,000,000. He (Mr. Longfield) would not give the numbers belonging to the different sects. He would consider Dissenters, Roman Catholics, and English Protestants as alike worthy to be entrusted with the franchise. Well, 45 per cent of the 6,000,000 of these 73 towns belonged to no religious persuasion. The Church and the Dissenters took care of the highest and the lowest classes; but the intermediate class, forming 75 percent of the whole, had no religious opinions whatever: yet it was this class upon whom it was now proposed to confer the fran- chise. Without wearying the House with the whole of the details, he might state that in Sheffield there were 62 per cent irreligious; in Leeds 40 per cent; in Southwark 68 per cent; in Birmingham, which had 1 in 40 criminals, 54 per cent; in Westminster 50 per cent; in Lambeth 61½ per cent. Of the aggravated assaults on women 84 out of the 401 in return were committed in Lambeth. Lambeth enjoyed an enviable superiority in irreligion, in brutal assaults, and in being represented by a thorough economist. In Manchester there were 51 per cent irreligious, in Finsbury 53 per cent, and in Liverpool 40 per cent. If it were possible to succeed, he should wish to move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months. There were two ways of gaining battles. There was the policy of the Spanish General, who avoided fighting when success was hopeless. There was the Fabian policy, which was equally successful, of winning influence over the thoughts and opinions of the country. In that way they were proceeding, and in that way he trusted they would be successful.


said, he was glad the hon. Member had relieved his soul by admitting that he had entered into a conspiracy——


The hon. Member must not misrepresent me. I said no such thing. The course which I have taken has been without concert. It is my policy, and I disclaim it for any one else.


said, the hon. Member, a few moments ago, expressed great satisfaction at the prospect of the House being counted out, and before he resumed his seat he expressed his approbation of the adoption of the Fabian policy. It was not, therefore, an unsupported or illogical conclusion to accept the statement as an admission that the party who surrounded the hon. Gentleman, not having the boldness, or, he might say, the political honesty, to fight the Bill upon its merits, and to move a direct negative, were endeavouring, by long speeches and inuendoes, and personal attacks upon hon. Gentlemen at that side of the House, to protract the debate, hoping that they might have some opportunity of throwing delays in the way of the noble Lord, whom they knew they had it not in their power to defeat. The House had been, therefore, delighted by the introduction of dissertations upon subjects altogether foreign from the hacknied topic of reform. On the one side they had had a lecture on America from the hon. Member for Galway, and on the other a lecture on social science and criminal statistics from the hon. Member for Mallow. The one had drawn on Horace Greeley for his wit, and the other on Horace Mann for his figures; but how either one or the other had thrown the slightest light upon the subject before the House, he (Mr. Seymour) was obtuse enough not to perceive. The hon. Member for Mallow had not attempted to show how his criminal statistics applied to the particular class proposed to be influenced by the Bill. Since 1850 there had been a great decrease in the cost of pauperism. Between 1856 and 1858, there had been a falling off of something like 2,000 in convicted criminals, and a great increase in the amount of education among the children of the working classes. The deposits in savings banks showed a large increase since 1836. The deposits of 1858–9 were almost double the amount lodged in 1832. The arguments addressed to the House, in reference to America, came with a peculiarly bad grace from the hon. Member for Galway. A hon. Member who, having received, as he admitted a most hospitable reception on the shores of a distant country, picked out some trivial matters to place the political institutions of that country in the darkest light, was not in a position creditable to his good taste or his gratitude. The philosophising Frenchman, M. de Tocqueville, upon whom he relied so strongly, said that as art and mechanism had progressed in America the artisans and the men had receded. Could that apply to England? Had not every improvement in mechanism and industrial science in England been attended by a contemporaneous development of the artisan class? M. de Tocqueville had drawn his illustrations from the southern States, which afforded no argument bearing on the present question, and where the source of the evils admitted of a ready explanation. In the instances referred to, of the Judges who had lent themselves to such unfortunate compromises, it should be remembered that there was a Supreme Court at Washington which overruled the decisions, and that, therefore, there was a corrective remedy even in the Constitution of America. But the House should recollect that it was not legislating for America, or upon the basis of universal or manhood suffrage, but for the people of England, who, whatever might be the opinion of the hon. Member for Mallow and his small constituency, were in favour of the proposed reform, and if the House of Commons thought otherwise, it would not be what Burke had said it ought to be "the express image of the feelings of the nation." The House of Commons was not designed to be a control upon the people, but a control for the people. What better proof could there be that the House did not contain at present an "express image of the feelings of the people" than the fact that hon. Members so often denied the existence of any feeling out of doors in favour of the Bill? He appealed to all Members who were acquainted with large constituencies in seaport or inland towns, whether there was not a demand for it. The fact that there existed more of that excitement in favour of Reform, which hon. Members seemed to regard as the sole proof of earnestness in the cause arose, in his opinion, from the conviction of the people in the justness of their cause and their faith in the sincerity of those by whom it had been espoused. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir Bulwer Lytton) had said that the wise legislator, the profound lawyer, the able naval or military officer returned to that House, was each a virtual representative of the working classes. But if they represented the working classes, they represented the landed interests too; and looking to the benches opposite, did they see none but wise legislators, profound lawyers, and able commanders? Was there no instance of that class of representatives sent by large constituencies to that House? Was not the City of London represented by the noble Lord? and did they suppose that if the £6 householders were added to the constituency, that he was likely to lose his seat? Was not Southwark represented by one of the most brilliant naval officers of the day? Was not Wolverhampton another large constituency, represented by the Attorney General, and was he in danger of being ostracised if the constituency of Wolverhampton was enlarged? But such arguments were only redug up from the buried fossils of the past. What was the position of the House upon the question? According to hon. Gentlemen opposite, they ought not to legislate at all. They said Reform was not called for; it was dangerous; there would be menace to the constitution if the £6 householders were admitted. What was the logical conclusion from all this? That they should have no Reform Bill. But were hon. Gentlemen forgetful that four times from Her Majesty's lips pledges of reform had been given, and that, not by a Liberal Government merely; but hon. Members who had denounced this Bill, who had declared it dangerous to the constitution—how could they reconcile their conduct now with their conduct not two years ago, when they called on the Queen to hold out to her loyal people the unfettered promise of a change in the representation? That was a matter which they would one day have to explain to their constituents. It was agreed that there should be Reform; upon what principles, then, was the statesman to proceed who should pen a Reform Bill? There wore but two alternatives — either to plan a new machinery, or to take that which was already constructed, and by re-adjustment to adapt it to altered times, and to the change in public opinion. That the noble Lord had done; he sought to adapt the constitution of 1832 to 1860. But hon. Gentlemen opposite said that this Bill struck at the root of all that was sacred in their estimation; but he would call attention to authorities for afar wider extension than that proposed by the noble Lord. Such authorities as Hallam, Lord Campbell, and Lord Brougham were in favour of even a wider suffrage than the £6 qualification. They stated that the right of voting was inherent in the resident householders paying scot-and-lot. It was said that the returns of the noble Lord were erroneous, but before those returns were obtained, others had been obtained by Mr. Smith in 1849, and afterwards by Mr. Tite. Taking the 34 towns to which the returns of Mr. Smith referred, a fair average of the effect of a £6 franchise might be arrived at. There bad been six estimates; by the first the numbers were 195,495; by the second, 202,516; by the third, 203,717; by the fourth, 192,470; by the fifth, 208,233; and by the last, 168,000—giving a mean average of 184,240. It appeared to him that those figures did remarkably corroborate the results as given by the noble Lord. But when a Reform Bill was brought in by the Government of Lord Derby where were the returns? If they had no returns how could they reconcile with their conduct that they sat down to legislate on a Reform Bill, and yet had no returns on which to base their conclusions? Either then they had been neglectful of their duty in procuring returns, or else they bad such returns as led them to a similar conclusion with the noble Lord. He regretted very much that the noble Lord's Bill was not only exposed to the open fire of hon. Members opposite, but also to masked batteries on that (the Ministerial) side; but in spite of that he believed the Bill would give satisfaction to the country, and would be hailed by the working classes as a great and seasonable boon. Hon. Members opposite said "Let us get something like finality;" but it was impossible to produce finality, or to anticipate the requirements of future times. With regard to the question of redistribution of seats, he was not so satisfied with that as with the preceding part of the Bill. He hoped, however, that when the Bill went into Committee, there would be no difficulty in carrying out the principle of redistribution in a manner more consistent with the wants of the country. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden) ten years ago said that any measure of reform not accompanied by a proper measure of redistribution would have no practical effect. He believed it would be found that a majority of that House was returned by 1–13tb, and the rest by 12–13ths of the property of the country. He believed upon calculations which could not be called in question, that a majority of the Members of that House represented a minority of the capital of the country; and, therefore, upon the grounds of hon. Gentlemen opposite, be maintained that a better redistribution of seats was necessary He for one thanked the noble Lord for the Bill. He believed it would tend to consolidate the Constitution, that the Throne would not be overthrown by it, that the Church would not suffer, that the House of Lords would not suffer, but that the result would be to strengthen the basis of the Church, of the Throne, and of the House of Lords in the hearts of a confiding people. With regard to the attempts made by hon. Members opposite to count out, it might be well to try it once, perhaps twice; but when they tried a third time, they only showed that they were not Reformers—that they were content as they were—and although they had made the Queen pledge herself to reform, still that they held to their own antiquated prejudices, and that they were not equal to the progress and enlightenment of the times. He trusted the noble Lord would find a compact body around him to support the measure should any emergency arise. The Bill might require to be somewhat shaped in Committee, but in the main he believed it was satisfactory to the country and to a large majority of that House.


said, it was not to be charged on Gentlemen at the Conservative side if hon. Members on the Liberal benches rose in succession to speak against the Bill. He had been anxious on a former occasion to protest against an assertion by the hon. Member for Newark as to "the almost singular unanimity" which Members of the Conservative party had displayed in supporting the Reform Bill of last year. He likewise denied that they were now precluded from objecting to a £10 county franchise. Many Members, like himself, had listened in silent sorrow to that portion of the Bill, but they withheld their remonstrances till they could hope to make them with more effect when the House went into Committee: the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), however, by the ingenious course which be had taken in introducing his Resolution, deprived them of any such opportunity of expressing their sentiments, and the result was that a great deal of misapprehension prevailed with respect to the opinions entertained by many Members of the Conservative party in respect to its provisions. So far as his own constituency went, without one exception, he had never heard any man express a desire for this Bill; and this was the case, too, with all other counties of which he had any knowledge. The noble Lord the Member for London was almost the only advocate for the Bill on the other side, and his chief argument was that the House should accept this Bill in order to stave off something more disagreeable and dangerous still which might be offered by-and-by if it were rejected. He repeated his old simile of the "majestic river and the overwhelming torrent," the river, of course being this Bill, and the torrent possibly the Bill which might be offered in a little while by the hon. Member for Birmingham. By this time the House must be pretty nearly as tired of any reference to that hon. Member as of the Bill itself; but it was impossible to discuss the Bill without constant reference to him. In fact he might almost be called "the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill," except for the close connection he kept up with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Foreign Office. Some time ago the hon. Gentleman's influence was assuming rather an awkward aspect; but he himself had destroyed all his power for evil. As long as he confined himself to haranguing the people at great meetings on their grievances, to flattering them on their power, and exciting them to use it for the acquisition of what he called their rights, he possessed influence and was a cause of anxiety; but when he began to play a double part, to be one man out of the House and another man in it, his occupation was gone. It would not do for any man to bespatter the aristocracy with all kinds of abuse out of the House, to talk of limited Monarchy as a thing merely to be tolerated, and in the House to be almost the slavish admirer of the most absolute autocrat of these or ancient times. To preserve his influence a man must be consistent. The hon. Gentleman might still continue to draw largo audiences wherever he was announced to speak; but it was mere curiosity, not anxious sympathy, or any other deep feeling, which took them there. There was a certain amount of resemblance between this Bill and the Church Rate Bill which passed through the House a few days back. Some time ago there was a general disposition to make concessions on the church-rate question, in order to conciliate; but when it was found, from evidence given in "another place," that the concession of church rates was merely to be used as a lever to remove Church property of every description, the supporters of the Church aroused them from their lethargy, and the first effort was seen in the division of Friday last. So in regard to reform. Most people were ready to make concessions until the hon. Member for Birmingham announced authoritatively that if this Bill were passed it would be followed by demands for further reform. Then everybody began to be anxious to find some mode of escape. How that mode of escape would present itself was not very clear at present. In the present imperfect state of information as to the exact effects of this Bill it was most unsafe to legislate; and, as Her Majesty's Ministers must be pretty well satisfied by this time of the inaccuracy of the data on which they had proceeded, he hoped they would consent to withdraw the Bill. It was certainly a measure of unmitigated danger, but he was bound to admit that as regarded its advance on the Conservative Bill of last year it was a moderate measure. The recollection of the Conservative Bill was as painful to him as the presence of this Liberal Bill; but his consolation was that, as that was strangled on the second reading, so this would perish in Committee.


said, he was induced to trespass for a few moments on the attention of the House, because some hon. Gentlemen in the course of the debate appeared to question the sincerity of Members sitting on the benches behind the Ministers, and had asked how they could justify themselves for allowing their desire to support the Government to outweigh objections which, it was said, they must feel to the measure under discussion. In answer to that appeal, he would say that, had any opposition been offered to the second rending, he should have voted in favour of the Bill, because he desired a settlement of the question, and because he thought postponement was to be deprecated. Still he did not feel bound to support the Bill in its present shape, nor did he think himself precluded from taking, in its future stages, the course best calculated to secure the object which he, in common with the great majority of the House, desired to accomplish. Nevertheless, he must confess to some disappointment as to the prospect before them. From the time during which the question had been before the country, and the promises of successive Governments with regard to it, there was good reason to hope that a measure might have been framed on which all parties might have come to something like a general agreement. But the tone of the present debate had gone far to dispel any such illusion. The speeches made on both sides of the House prevented the unanimous assent accorded to the second reading from being regarded in any other light than as a mere general affirmation of the abstract principle of Reform. He was afraid that the Government must have felt some disappointment when listening to the speeches of many of their supporters, and might even have thought that some of those who intended to speak most strongly in favour of the Bill had done least to recommend it to the approval of the House and of the country. In the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite the House had been warned of the danger of the transfer of power, and of admitting to a preponderating share in the franchise classes whom they thought unfitted to be entrusted with such authority. These arguments, though logical and consistent from a Conservative point of view, were not quite conclusive to the minds of those whose principles were of a more popular character. But when he turned to the speeches of those who spoke most strongly in favour of the Bill, he found that their approval of it rested on very dif- ferent grounds from those by which it was recommended by the Government. The Government, feeling the impolicy of delay, and conscious of the possible dangers of agitation, had proposed it as their mode of obtaining a settlement of the question; but did those who were its strong supporters regard the Bill as satisfactory and accept it as a settlement of the question? He feared that, after the speeches which had been delivered, no one could reply to that question in the affirmative. He was afraid they must all admit that while the opponents of the Bill denounced it as dangerous, its warmest admirers had qualified their approval by complaints of its short comings, and justified their support by avowing their expectation that it was only a first step in a course of much greater change. For his own part, he confessed that he had listened with deep regret to such an avowal, because it went far to diminish the probability of that agreement which alone could enable them to carry a measure of Reform. He feared that the objection urged against the Bill on the one side as inadequate would give colour to the opposite argument of those who warned the House against it as dangerous. He thought that many on his side of the House who were anxious for Reform, who were fully convinced of the necessity, the justice, and the wisdom of an extension of the suffrage, and who would vote for a £6 franchise as part of a large and comprehensive scheme, really effecting a permanent settlement, would hesitate to support it as a single provision in a very naked Bill, which must thus inevitably become merely the first step to a still further advance in a downward direction. Many friends of the Government, when they found the measure recommended to their approval on that ground, as a first step and an instalment, might he disposed to attach greater importance to the arguments of the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge (Mr. Macaulay) and other Gentlemen, who had pointed out that £6 had in itself no special merit as a franchise, that it was only a mere arbitrary line, and that the very same arguments which were now urged to justify the reduction from £10 to £6 might be urged with equal effect next year to recommend or to enforce a still further descent. He ventured to think that much of the strength of their position as legislators on Reform rested on their ability to show that they could produce a measure alike sufficient and permanent, and which would avert the necessity of constantly recurring legislation: for he had observed that most of the objections which they had to meet were directed, not against the immediate results, but rather against the ultimate tendency of the Bill; and the fate of the Bill seemed to depend very much on whether it could be so amended as to obviate these objections, and impart to it a character of safety and of permanence. In its present shape he feared that both sides of the House had concurred in regarding the Bill with dissatisfaction rather than with hope. On the one hand it had been denounced as dangerous; on the other it was complained of as inadequate; but both parties assented to the second reading, and by so doing both acquiesced in the hope that it might be susceptible of Amendment. He should regard with great satisfaction any such prospect, for all parties were pledged to deal with this question. The character of the House and of the Government must alike suffer by any unnecessary postponement. Promises had been made, which it would be discreditable to them to break; hopes had been excited, which it would be most unwise to disappoint; and the interests of all concerned united in urging upon Parliament the wisdom of legislating, if possible, in the present year. If, however, they found it impossible to do so satisfactorily—if they found that the Bill could not be made acceptable to the House and the country, except by such changes as the Government could not assent to, or which there may not be time sufficiently to discuss—then, earnestly as he desired reform, strongly as he deprecated delay, there was one thing which he deprecated still more—there was a course to which he would never be a party—and that was, to pass an imperfect and unsatisfactory measure, by which they would pretend to preserve their consistency and redeem a pledge, when in reality they were evading a duty and deceiving the country by the delusive postponement of a difficulty which was sure to come back to them in an exaggerated form another year. To say that they must pass something was only to say in other words that they must cheat the country. In his opinion they ought to pass a measure creditable alike to the House and to the Government—a measure which would really strengthen the institutions of the country—or no measure at all. Far better would it be for them to postpone the question than to deal with it in a super- ficial and mischievous manner by passing a measure which, while it unsettled much, would settle nothing. And, therefore, while he was ready to sit there as long as the Government might call upon them to do so for the proper performance of the duty to which they were pledged, he trusted that the House would not entertain the idea of purchasing relief from present embarrassments by passing any temporary Bill, which being delusive in its character, must be discreditable to Parliament, irritating to the public, and to the last degree dangerous to the national interest.


Sir, there is so much force and be much justice in the observations of the hon. Baronet that I would willingly abstain from making any comments on the present Bill, relying upon the reasons which he has urged for the course which he thinks advisable; hut, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire most properly reminded us, it is desirable to have a discussion on the second reading, even though we are all agreed that the second reading should pass, in order that when we get into Committee —if we ever do get into Committee—we may be prepared to consider all the provisions and details of this Bill with our way more or Jess cleared by the result of that discussion. My right hon. Friend said, at the commencement of this debate, which dates back, I am sorry to say, a period of nearly two months, that there were three objects contemplated by the Government in the present measure, and to those objects, with the permission of the House, I will now endeavour strictly to confine myself. The first is the large reduction of the borough franchise; the second I will not call a reduction, for I believe it may be more properly defined to be an extensive alteration in the county constituencies; and the third is a partial redistribution of seats.

Now, first as to the borough franchise. The noble Lord the Member for London, who maybe described as the parent of this Bill, told us the principles on which he is ready to proceed. He said that the principles on which the measure is based are all principles known to the Constitution, and that it may be regarded as a supplement or continuation of the Reform Act of 1832. Now, I take the principles of the Constitution for my guide, and I will join issue with the noble Lord as to whether they are or are not the principles contained in this Bill. Look, for instance, at the borough franchise. I say that the noble Lord has there departed from the policy which he advocated not ten years ago within these walls. In a debate on the late Mr. Hume's Motion he told us that the policy which ought to be pursued in extending the borough franchise was the introduction of variety into that franchise. But where is the variety here? The noble Lord said that by the Reform Act of 1832, the old franchises being abolished, one uniform franchise, a £10 standard, was introduced; that Lord Grey's Government, by limiting the franchise to that one uniform standard, did not make it sufficiently various; and that, therefore, it was not sufficiently comprehensive. Well, judging from the debate, I think we are all agreed that variety of the franchise is the only way by which you can qualify the extension of the franchise in a downward direction. And what has Government after Government done on this question? The noble Lord's Bill of 1852, his subsequent Bill of 1854, the Bill of 1859, every one of those measures professed and intended to introduce variety of franchises. Some of them made deposits in the savings hanks a means of rewarding, and of very properly rewarding, those who by their frugality and industry showed that they deserved to enjoy electoral privileges. Other Bills put personal property more or less upon a footing with real property, by extending the franchise to those who had invested their property in the Funds as well as in land. Others, again, most properly—and I hope no measure will pass without such a provision—insisted on taxation being coupled with the franchise, and gave votes to those who contributed either to the assessed taxes or to the property or income-tax. Then, again, we had University graduates possessing a species of educational franchise. And last year there was a provision which, with proper safeguards, would introduce large numbers within the electoral pale — I mean the lodger franchise. But the noble Lord is now departing from the very policy which he himself recommended. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli) remarked that you are extending the franchise to largo numbers, but are taking no guarantees for the fitness of the elector to exercise that franchise. The noble Lord says that the principles which he has adopted in his Bill are all known to the Constitution. I will presently show that he is acting on principles diametrically opposed to the Constitution. Meanwhile, however, let me say one word on the extension of the borough franchise. We have had much controversy as to the extent to which the franchise would be conferred by this Bill. We know that now the number of electors upon the borough rolls is 410,000; but from the returns which have been given to us, it is idle to suppose that we can calculate the number that will be placed upon those rolls. We are bound not only to look at the number which will be placed, but which may be placed upon them. If you include those who may, according to those returns, be placed upon the electoral register, the number will be raised from 410,000 to 838,000; in other words, you double the number. But in what direction are you doubling it? As you descend in the scale you not only increase the number, but you lower the quality of the electors. By your own returns we find that a £9 franchise would add at once 41,000 electors; an £8 franchise would again add 53,000, a £7 franchise would add 78,000, and if you go to £6 you will add immediately 98,000 more. As you descend the scale you increase in number and deteriorate in quality, for the moment you reach the lower number you got to a class, as I will presently show you, whose circumstances prevent them from being a safe depository of political power. The noble Lord in doing this has acted contrary to the known principle of the Constitution. Let us consider this matter in two points of view. Let us consider the principle according to the original plan and framework of the Constitution, and let us also take the principle as announced in the noble Lord's own Reform Act. Who were entitled to the borough franchise according to the old Constitution? Every one who was connected with the locality where the franchise was exercised either by property or by taxation. The franchise was possessed by all who were free of the town, by the holders of burgage tenures, and by the payers of scot-and-lot; in other words, it was possessed by all who contributed to the local burdens equally with the rest of that community in which they lived, and who wore liable to take their turn in municipal offices. No doubt that franchise had become limited, because the close corporations had monopolized to themselves the greater part of the power of returning Members to Parliament. We know by the Return laid on the table by the Under Secretary of the Home Department to what an enormous extent that encroach- ment was carried. But how did the noble Lord propose to remedy that evil? He talks now as if he had simply introduced a £10 household qualification. The Reform Act did nothing of the kind. It gave a £10 household qualification, coupled with a contribution to the Imperial taxation and a contribution to the local assessments. At the time that Act was passed every one who was placed upon the register must have been assessed to the house tax and to the window duty. You repealed the house tax in 1834 and you repealed the window duty in 1851, and thus you dissevered taxation from representation, and conferred upon a great part of the constituency which did not contribute to direct taxation the power of returning Members who are to keep the taxation at a point above themselves. The noble Lord in his Reform Act did couple taxation with representation. But what will this Bill do? The noble Lord says he does not intend to alter the law; but I ill show that this Bill would alter the law in a very material point. I say that after you repealed the window duty and the house tax there was but one connecting link between taxation and representation, and that was the poor rate. To be upon the electoral list you required a man to be rated and to pay his rates. The hon. Member for Birmingham—I watched his speech with great care, for I look upon him as the most able exponent of what I may call the real Reformers in this House or in the country—I am not going to make an attack upon that hon. Gentleman—I admire his honesty and his great abilities, but I will meet him in fair argument, when we are discussing measures of this kind—I think I gathered from his speech that he considers rating as a convenient means of registration, but he does not insist on the necessity of paying the rates.


Do you refer to my speech in this House?


I gathered that from your speech here.


I acknowledge it.


Then my impression was correct. That is the most important admission we have had in this debate. Rating is intended to be adopted as a system of registration, but the payment of rates, the connection between taxation and representation, is to be given up. The noble Lord says he does not intend to alter the law, and I sec that the third clause of this Bill provides that all the provisions with respect to rating and the payment of rates shall he applicable to the new £6 franchise. Primâ facie, therefore, it appears the noble Lord means, and no doubt thinks, he has accomplished that object. But I say you cannot do that if you go down to £6, and I will tell the House why. By the 13th and 14th of the Queen a landlord may be rated instead of the occupier, and by the 14th and 15th of Her Majesty the landlord may compound for the rates at two-thirds of the value, or, if he pays them at the beginning of the year, for one-half, and the tenant may yet claim to vote. Take the Reform Bill together with these two Acts, and what is the consequence? Every man who is rated in the name of his landlord who pays upon two-thirds or one-half of the value, may yet have a right to vote, although he docs not contribute a shilling directly to local taxation. The noble Lord then most materially alters the law, and is doing that which I undertake to say will be absolute ruin to our representative system if it is permitted to go further— namely, extending the franchise to those who are to be entirely exempt from those burdens which the rest of their fellow-citizens are required to bear. But, supposing that you do introduce this large body to the borough franchise, the next question is the character of the new constituency. Hon. Gentlemen are, no doubt, acquainted with Mr. Newmarch's statistics. He takes four counties as average specimens of the whole. He gives the number of houses rated at £10 and upwards, and he states that the percentage of those who are excused from payment of rates on the ground of poverty is between 5and 6 percent. Among the persons rated at from £6 to £10 the percentage of those excused on the score of poverty is no less than 56 per cent. Mr. Newmarch says we may take that as a broad line of demarcation between the point where independence begins and that where independence ceases to exist. What are you proposing to do? As my right hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir E. B. Lytton) truly said, you are about to throw on the wealth and intelligence of the country an undue preponderance, to be exercised over them by those who are so poor that they must be dependent; and consequently you are placing in the hands of the lowest class the franchise which ought only to be exercised by persons whose condition and state of life are such as will enable them to exercise it wisely and well. The noble Lord has given a kind of answer to that observation. He says, "If we take the towns mentioned at the end of the Returns we shall find that, whereas there are 566,000 persons who might be on the register, yet, in fact, only 410,000 appear there;" and he draws the inference that the same proportion will not claim the franchise under this Bill. But when you lower the franchise to a £6 occupier, whose rates are compounded for by his landlord, do you think the £10 householder who is excused from payment of rates on the ground of poverty will not demand to be placed on the same footing, and that you should repeal that portion of the Reform Act which requires payment of rates to qualify him him for a vote. You will have to give up that distinction either by making the qualification higher or by adopting the proposition of the hon. Member for Birmingham. As connected with this point, I should like, with the permission of the House, to read one or two extracts from the Report of the Lords' Committee which sat last year on the municipal franchise. The municipal franchise was one given to a lower class of occupiers, but with three years' residence. The same Act which enables a landlord to compound for the tenant's rates applies to municipal corporations as well as to Parliamentary boroughs. Lord Grey moved for a Committee to inquire into the operation of the municipal franchise; and the result of that inquiry has proved to demonstration that in all large towns like Newcastle-upon-Tyne, for instance—the moment you extend the franchise in that direction you give it to those who will overpower the property of the borough in the first instance, who do not possess the proper qualification for the exercise of the franchise in the second, and who from their circumstances are more liable to corruption than others in the third. In consequence of this the Committee distinctly recommend that you should insist on the direct and continuous payment of rates by the occupier. The first extract I will read is this: The character and condition of the new class of voters is the first point that demands attention. It appears from the evidence that in general, and more especially in large towns like Now castle-on-Tyne, the bulk of this class are far less qualified by education, independence, and sobriety to exercise electoral privileges than the direct ratepayers, &c. A large proportion belong to the lowest grade of the operative class … They take no interest, unless one merely temporary, in municipal elections. They are so uneducated that few of them can read or write. By the necessity of their ignorance and poverty they are usually under some external influence, &c. Such influence is exercised in some cases by the owners of tenement property, who thus acquire, if they choose, a power in municipal affairs out of proportion to their share of the municipal burdens. Once dispense with the direct and continuous payment of rates by the occupier as part of the qualification for voting, and see what the consequence will be. Not only will the elector himself be unfitted to exercise this franchise well and wisely, but the landlord will have an enormous influence in instigating the electors to go to the poll under a coercion which they cannot resist. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) has shown how, in America, electors were coerced and sent to the poll by landlords who could exercise this kind of authority over them; and do you imagine you can give this franchise here without the same consequences flowing from it? I have another extract from the Report of the Committee, but that was so well commented upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster that I will not advert to it. It goes to show that the occupiers of small tenements so completely override property and intelligence in the different boards of a municipal borough that property and intelligence have no chance with them. The Report goes on to say: The witnesses concur almost unanimously in stating that too many of the occupiers of this class of tenements are open to the highest bidder; the bidding being in the form of drink and breakfasts given in public-houses, or of payment in the name of compensation for loss of work, amounting very often to more than a day's wages. Without such consideration it seems that this class of electors would rarely exercise their right, for which they appear to care extremely little, except as affording them an opportunity of eating and feasting at the expense of the candidates. And in another part the Report says: Taking different wards of the same town, the evidence before them justifies the Committee in believing that those in which the small tenement voters are most numerous are the most noted for the prevalence of malpractices. Now we have heard a good deal about the desirability of extending the franchise to other classes of persons than those who have it now, on the ground of intelligence. I agree in that remark. Where you find an intelligent and educated population give them the franchise; but you will not reach that educated and intelligent population by simply reducing the amount of the qualification to so low a level that you can expect to find neither education nor intelligence. Well, Sir, the House of Lords' Committee then recommended as a remedy for the existing evils, that, before you give the franchise to any class whatever, you ought to insist that they should be connected with the borough by contributing to the local burdens of that borough equally with the rest of the inhabitants. If you do not you put a better class of the community on a level with an inferior class, and you hand over that better class to the domination, as my right hon. Friend (Sir Bulwer Lytton) expressed it, of poverty and passion.

So much with respect to the borough franchise; and now a word or two as to the county franchise. I said at the commencement that the proposal of the Government is not so much a reduction of the county occupation franchise as it is the introduction of an entirely new system of franchise. I am surprised that the noble Lord, above all other statesmen, should, after what he has done and said with respect to this subject, have proposed a franchise which militates against the known principles of the Constitution; and I am convinced, if it is introduced, that it will end in the establishment throughout the country of that homogeneous qualification to which my right hon. Friend the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire referred, and the result of which will necessarily be to bring into this House one class of Members only instead of that variety of classes which we now see around us. The noble Lord contended at the time of the Reform Act that the distinction between the borough and county franchise ought to be retained—that distinction consisting in this—that the one rests on occupation and residence, and the other on property and tenure. It i3 not a distinction in amount, it is a distinction in things. The noble Lord in 1852 acted on that principle, and last year again he would not allow that the county and borough constituencies ought to be put on the same footing. Now, he will probably tell me that since he has put the county qualification at a £10 rental and the borough qualification at £6, they are not on the same footing. But that is a fallacy. The occupier of a farm in a county is a totally different person from the occupier of a £10 house in a borough. The occupier at a £50 rental in a county must be a man of capital, and must have property beyond the value of his farm, or he cannot carry on his business. He is constantly resident upon his farm, he is a person mixed up with the county affairs, he contributes to the county burdens, and he is interested in all that concerns the county. But none of these things can be predicated of the £10 I householder. He has no value beyond his tenement, and he has not necessarily a permanent residence in the county. He does not contribute to the county rates, he is not connected with the county interests and has no sympathy with them or with the county constituency. The two are essentially different. You have in the rural districts a population much less stirring and much more fixed, and devoted principally to the cultivation of the soil. In the towns, on the other hand, you have a population much more migratory, much more active, and who are not engaged in the cultivation of the soil, or in duties incident to property, but in trades and professions. The two classes of men are distinct, and if you bring into the county an urban class, so as to make it at all equal with the rural class, from that moment you alter the whole character of the county constituency. It may be asked, what would the harm be? My answer is, that the harm would depend on three things—first, upon the nature of the old element in the constituency; secondly, on the proportion which the new element would bear to the old; and, thirdly, upon the effect it would have on the constituency and upon the Members whom that constituency returns. I have already shown you that the urban will be entirely different from the rural element. The only reason why by the practice of the Constitution the county vote was formerly confined to a man who had a freehold was, that a freehold was at that time the only known property in a county. You made a change in 1832. You extended the franchise to the copyholder and to the leaseholder for a long term of years—to two persons who, in the course of time, had acquired a right of property which they did not possess before. Property, therefore, was still maintained in your Reform Act as the basis of the franchise. Even the £50 occupier must necessarily be a person of considerable property, and a resident in the county. But introduce £10 householders, and what will follow? You are putting a £10 householder in a town, with no value belonging to the house in many cases over and above the rent he pays, upon a level with the £10 freeholder who has a life-long interest in the land, with a £10 copyholder who has a life-long interest in the land, with a £10 leaseholder for a long term of years, every one of whom by the condition of your law must have that value over and above all rents and charges. Can anybody say that the nature of the new constituency will not be totally different from that of the present? But what will be the extent of the change? The noble Lord himself admits that he cannot give us the figures upon which he bases his measure. In that respect, perhaps, I can give him a little help. Your present county constituency contains 500,000 voters. Of these 100,000 are the occupiers of lands or tenements; 400,000 are the owners of property, freeholders, copyholders, or leaseholders. One-fifth, therefore, is an occupation franchise; four-fifths a property franchise. What is the change now proposed? There are 415,000 persons in the possession of tenements which are rated between £10 and £50. You must deduct from these 415,000 such as are already on the register, and you must make an addition for the difference between rental and rateable value. Putting the number after your deduction at 200,000, and adding about 100,000 for the difference between rateable value and rental, your new constituency with an occupation franchise derived from houses will be something like 300,000. The existing constituency is 500,000; if this Bill passes it will be 800,000; but the proportions will be entirely changed. In your present constituency four-fifths are property, and one-fifth occupation; in your new constituency one-half will be property and one-half occupation. It is impossible to say, after this, that the whole nature and character of the county constituency will not be altered by the present measure.

A few words now as to the effect which it will have upon the constituency at large, or rather upon the composition of this House. I am confident that no exaggeration can be proved in the conclusions which I have stated; and to show that there is not, I can, in addition to the facts I have given, produce the testimony of one of the severest and profoundest political thinkers of the day, no friend to a restricted suffrage, but an advocate for universal suffrage if it can only be connected with education and intelligence. The writer I allude to is Mr. Mill. I beg the House will attend to a passage in Mr. Mill's pamphlet on Parliamentary Reform, published about a year and a half ago. Mr. Mill says: — Except in the few places where there is still a yeomanry, as in Cumberland, Westmoreland, and in some degree North Yorkshire and Kent, there exists in the agricultural population no class but the farmers intermediate between the landlords and the labourers. A £10 franchise will admit no agricultural labourer, and the farmers and landlords would collectively be far outnumbered by the £10 householders of all the small towns in England. To enable the agricultural population to hold its fair share of the representation under any uniform and extensive suffrage short of universal, it seems absolutely necessary that the town electors should, as a rule, be held as of the county constituencies, and the sole alternative is to form them, or the great bulk of them, into communities by themselves. You have them now in such communities; and upon what plea, for what reason, upon what grounds of policy and expediency, with what chance of improving the character of this House, are you by a stroke of the pen going to alter the whole relative value of your constituencies in counties and boroughs? What will be the effect produced upon the composition of this House? We have heard much of a variety of franchises. I agree in the importance of maintaining that variety. A variety of franchise is the only means by which you can obtain a fair representation of all the different interests in this country. But I hold that variety of constituencies is as important as variety of franchises. If you have it not, you will have the Members of this House representing one kind of qualification and one class of the population only. That would be the inevitable result. I think the character of this House is best maintained by having men of all classes the representatives of all interests in it; and I, for one, always regret when any man who is distinguished for his ability, for his industry, or for his attendance in his place, when any man of mark or eminence in any calling is excluded from us, in whatever part of the House he may happen to sit. The character of the House is raised by having different classes of Members in it, and I do not object to see—on the contrary, I am glad to see—that, the merchants, the manufacturers, the engineers, the lawyers, the men of business, and the men of leisure, the representatives of the capital, industry, and peculiar mental activity of the different towns of this country are enabled to make their voice heard in this the Great Council of the nation. But believing that this forms an essential part of the character of this House, yet with the greatest respect for the Members who represent towns and boroughs, I must take leave to doubt whether the tone of this House would be raised, whether its deliberations would be better conducted or its decisions be more sound, if we were to exclude all Members, or a great portion of them, who come from the counties. I believe, on the contrary, that by reason of their sterling qualities, by their steady application to business, by the excellence of their judgment, by their sound good common sense; even though they may not take so active a part in our debates as some other classes of Members, they are what the late Sir Robert Peel in a beautiful speech once called "the ballast of the vessel of the State," and when you are under press of canvas and dangers thicken around you, they are the men who steady your course and secure for your navigation a happy issue. For these reasons I am strongly, clearly, and decidedly of opinion that, for the purpose of preserving the character of this House, we ought to maintain that distinction between the county and borough franchise which unfortunately led to a temporary difference between myself and some of my friends near me last year. That my opinion, strong then, is as strong now, and I for one can never surrender the principle, wishing, as I do, to see the House represent, as it ought to represent, all classes and' all interests in the kingdom. If I am right, let me beg you to put yourselves forward for two years, and suppose this Bill passed. What will be the effect of it? You call it a simple measure, and you say that is its recommendation. Simple it is, but that is its fault. You merely make a reduction of franchise both in counties and boroughs. That simple reduction is a lowering of the quality while it increases the quantity of the constituency. You enlarge its number, but at the same time you deteriorate its character. I have shown that in boroughs you are going to dissever representation from taxation, and that in counties you will separate representation from property. I ask the House whether property and taxation have not always been the basis upon which the franchise has rested, and whether, if you introduce a new state of things, you will not find—to use the beautiful language addressed to you the other night—wealth and intelligence placed at the mercy of poverty and passion?

I will now advert to my third point—the redistribution of seats. The other night the hon. and learned Member for Marylebone pointed out various objections to that part of the measure, which showed its utter untenableness. He says that you 'propose a disfranchising measure on the ground of population—that you are taking away a second Member from those boroughs that have less than 7,000, though in some instances where you do this the electors are more numerous than in the boroughs you leave untouched. This shows how indefensible your measure in this respect is. You take away the second seat from different boroughs whether you want the seats for other places or not. The consequence is that you have introduced into your measure the objectionable scheme of giving a third Member to several large constituencies; and the consequence will be, that instead of giving a representative to the minority, which I suppose is what is intended, you will give the additional Member to the majority alone, whenever there is any excitement at a general election. If I may throw out a suggestion, with regard to this point, I would say that you should give a Member to those places that are not represented now—that you should divide those counties that are too large and that are not adequately represented, and that the Universities in England and Scotland, and, where the graduates are sufficiently numerous, the Universities in Ireland also not now represented, should have the right of returning Members of their own. To this or to something like I would limit the re-distribution of seats.

Sir, I have now gone through my objections to the different portions of the Bill, and have expressed myself earnestly with regard to some of its provisions; I have done so in no captious spirit, or from any desire unnecessarily to find fault:—my object in taking part in this discussion is to clear the way in Committee. I have endeavoured to show that you are going simply in a downward course towards unchecked democracy; that you are reducing the franchise to so low a level as to include ignorance and incapacity, to the practical exclusion of the wealth and intelligence of the country; that you are assimilating the county and borough franchise, not in actual amount, but in its character and quality; and that you are taking the untenable course of disfranchising or partially disfranchising on improper if not impracticable grounds. I have shown you, what also has been shown you by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge (Mr. Macaulay) that you are doing this to an extent and in a manner that will leave you no chance of settling this question on a permanent and satisfactory basis; because if you pass this measure in its present form this consequence will follow:—The same justification which you say you have for lowering the borough franchise to £6 must carry you down to a lower figure, to £5, or £4, or even £3. The same policy which leads you to abolish the actual distinction between the county and borough franchise will lead to place them on identically the same level as soon as the principle on which that distinction rests is taken away. The same argument, drawn from numbers, that induces you partially to disfranchise the borough that has a population under 7,000 will aid irresistibly the hon. Member for Birmingham in taking a higher figure for disfranchisement—say 10,000, 20,000, or even 50,000 inhabitants. The same advantages which you expect to derive from adding a third Member to certain towns and counties, or divisions of counties, will also aid the hon. Gentleman in his views, and he alone will get the benefit of this measure, for it will enable him to contend that you ought to give to some places four, five, or even six Members. This will entirely alter the character of your representative system. But if this be the measure, what is to be done? We have all of us agreed not to oppose the second reading of this Bill; and we on this side of the House have done so for a reason somewhat different perhaps from that which guides other Members in their concurrence. The reason why we support the second reading of the Bill is that a pledge has been given—given repeatedly and solemnly, not merely by different parties in the House, but given by the Crown—given by this House—and given by the whole Parliament—that we would reopen and reconsider the question of Parliamentary Reform. So solemnly and repeatedly, I say, has this pledge been given, and nothing could be more unwise, in my opinion—nothing could be more unjustifiable than to dally with the question, to hang it up or keep it dangling above our heads, until it becomes a mischievous theme for political agitators, or to palter, as it were, in a double sense with the great expectations that we have raised regarding it. That is the reason why I support the second reading of the Bill—or rather, I ought to say, that is the reason why I should have supported it before the Easter recess. But I own since then that circumstances have occurred which seem to me of so startling a character, that I hardly know what to think or what we ought to do. [Laughter.] Do the hon. Gentlemen below the gangway who laugh at that observation see the point of it? What are the circumstances to which I have referred? We have been told on undoubted authority that the announced intention of reopening this subject of Parliamentary Reform was made by the then First Minister of the Crown without the knowledge or consent of his colleagues.


It is not true.


;—The matter is so important that I am exceedingly glad to hear the noble Lord deny the statement; and if the noble Lord would have the kindness to offer to the House an explanation of the transaction to which I have alluded, I shall be very glad to pause to listen to him. The noble Lord says the statement is not true, and when he says so I implicitly believe him, But at any rate a noble Earl, a colleague of the noble Lord at the time I refer to (Earl Grey), has said that when the proposal for re-opening the question of Parliamentary Reform was made, he, being a Member of the Government, disagreed with the proposal, and that he only consented to it because he knew that attacks were going to be brought against the Department of which he held the seals; and the noble Earl went on to state that he confessed to his having committed a great mistake in so doing, and he then added the remarkable statement to which I have just alluded. This statement was made by the noble Earl in "another place," and down to this moment it has never been contradicted. After the denial of the noble Lord I am not disposed to pursue the subject; but I am reminded that since that statement was made the noble Lord has addressed this House on the Bill before us, and that he gave no explanation to the House on the subject. Any Member, therefore, was justified, until that statement was explained, or contradicted, in accepting and believing it as a fact. But, as it has now been denied by the noble Lord, I shall pass on to another circumstance connected with the conduct of the Government in dealing with this question—I mean their dealing with it in a different way in the two Houses of Parliament. Here, in this House, we are to have no inquiry. In the other House inquiry is going on. The measure before us is a measure which particularly concerns our functions here and our duty to our constituents. I wish to know in what position this House will be placed if we proceed with the measure before us and send it to the other House of Parliament. That House will then deal with it as it thinks fit. Either the inquiry will be completed, or it will not be completed. If it is not completed, then this measure will be laid on the shelf, and we shall hear little more about it. If the inquiry is completed, and it turns out that the information upon which we have legislated is not full and not accurate, in what a humiliating position will this House be placed! We shall have the measure sent back to us with an intimation that we proceeded upon imperfect data, and we shall then, I am sorry to say, cut a figure which will be no credit to us either here or elsewhere. Under these circumstances I say again it is difficult to know what it is best to do. On the one hand I am anxious to redeem the pledge which this House and Parliament have given, because I think that the expectations which we have raised among the people ought not to be disappointed. On the other hand, I am equally confident that you ought to proceed with this measure in such a manner and on such information that the settlement you make will be something like a permanent one. How it can be so under present circumstances I own I do not see. And if it is not a permanent settlement nothing can be more mischievous than to leave this subject a theme for agitation throughout all the constituencies. I remember that the noble Lord once told us an anecdote with reference to the first Reform Bill. He said that on the eve of proposing that measure he had a conversation with the American Minister then in this country. He expressed anxiety as to what he was about to do, and said that that anxiety arose from the fact that he was about to deal with a Constitution which had lasted so long. The observation of the American Minister in reply was—"so long and so strong." Remember those words—"so long and so strong." The length and strength of our original Constitution is matter for history. It benefited this country for many a century. Your second Constitution, made by the Reform Act of 1832, is not much older than the youngest man among us; and the very parent who gave it birth is now sacrificing it and following it to its grave. The length and the strength of your new system, if you are to have one, must depend, I am perfectly confident, upon the accuracy of the information and of the data upon which you proceed, upon the soundness of the principles upon which you act, and upon the wisdom of the policy by which you are guided. Whether you have accurate information now I cannot pretend to say; but this I do say, that the only principles upon which you can proceed with a chance of settling this question satisfactorily will not be those principles which base the representative system upon the lowest, the poorest, and the most uneducated class—but those principles which will give to intelligence and education their proper weight in the Constitution; which will keep all your institutions in harmony with each other, and which will connect representation with property, with taxation, with virtue, and with intelligence. If you act upon those principles, then I say you may proceed with this Bill with some degree of confidence; for I should then feel that you might settle the question wisely and settle it well. But if you do not, yours may be the triumph of passing a measure which no one approves and which cannot last: ours must be the satisfaction of knowing that by this discussion, and by the enforcement of the principles which we have endeavoured to advocate, we have sought but one end, we have had but one object, and that is to improve and to amend, and, while we improve and amend, to uphold and maintain that Constitution which, say what you will, has been more conducive to real freedom than any other which was ever devised by the wit of man for the happiness, the well-being, and the good government of a people.


Whatever may be the difficulties, Sir, which beset the course of the House upon the present occasion, I confess I do not think that serious weight is to be attached to those two circumstances to which my right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) has adverted in terms so grave, and which he has described as so seriously perplexing his own judgment as to leave him entirely unable to determine what he should think or what he should do. ["Oh, oh!"] I am quoting the words of my right hon. Friend. The first of those circumstances was that, as he believed, my noble Friend the Member for the City of London had originally announced his intention to propose a Reform Bill without prior consultation with his Colleagues. That circumstance has at any rate been disposed of by the declaration of my noble Friend, who has stated that it has no existence whatever. But permit me to say, Sir, that even if it had not been so disposed of it would have borne but very slightly upon the present position of this great constitutional question; because what we have to consider is, not the secret communings of my noble Friend with the Members of the Government over which he presided, but it is the public pledges by which that Government consented to become bound, it is the vote of this House which preceded that first public pledge, it is the course of subsequent proceedings, to which my right hon. Friend has himself adverted as being so full of meaning and significance. Then, with respect to the second of those circumstances, my right hon. Friend finds great difficulty in the fact that another branch of the Legislature has thought fit, with the assent of Her Majesty's Government, to institute an examination into the probable numerical effect of the proposed franchises upon, I think, the borough constituencies, or upon the constituencies at large. Her Majesty's Government in consenting to that measure, upon the express understanding that it should on no account be used to postpone the progress of this Bill, have done what I believe is not without precedent, although I grant that it may be open to argument. That is to say, that they have admitted the anxiety of other persons for inquiry as a sufficient reason for permitting a particular kind of investigation even where their own minds were satisfied and made up as to the course that they should take. As I have said, there may be arguments this way or that as to that particular step; but all those who are conversant with Parliamentary proceedings know that it is by no means an uncommon measure of deference for the Government to show to a prevailing sentiment in either House of Parliament, and that when the Government assents to the appointment of a Committee upon a particular question it by no means implies the slightest hesitation or the slightest admission on their part of the want of materials necessary to the formation of a conclusive judgment. Therefore, I must confess that I am perplexed by the perplexities of my right hon. Friend. I am the more perplexed at them because I felt the immense importance of what he had before urged. He said that apart from these disturbing causes he thought that it was a matter of clear and imperative duty to go forward with this Bill to the Committee, not on the ground that he approved the Bill, or all its provisions—because on that subject he explained himself so that none could mistake him—but upon the ground of the general position which the question had assumed, upon the ground of the pledges that had been given by all persons, all parties, all leaders, from the Throne, from the mouth of the Sovereign, echoed back in the Addresses of this House, and further established by our proceedings. My right hon. Friend said that, under these circumstances, he thought it had become a matter of paramount importance and of public duty that we should proceed to the practical consideration of this question. That seemed to him a satisfactory reason; but the question is, are we proceeding to a practical consideration of the question? The right hon. Gentleman said, "Do not dally with this subject; do not play with it;" but there are more ways than one of dallying with a subject, of playing with a subject. I speak on the sixth—on the sixth and I hope on the last—night of this debate. We have arrived at that term of days which sufficed for the Creation, and it is upon other grounds, besides that, a most auspicious time for the conclusion of this debate. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire says that he does not wish for delay, but he wishes for discussion. The love of discussion is a powerful and legitimate motive in this House; but the love of discussion, like other good things, may be carried to excess, and one begins to believe that there is some danger of its being carried to excess when the discussion is steadily and carefully disconnected from any practical proposition, and when it proceeds to a length which is, I believe, unknown within the Parliamentary experience of any person who hears me. I believe there is no example within the recollection of any Gentleman who sits in this House of a debate being continued for six nights without there being a Motion upon which the House was to divide. Well, but this is a very serious question. Far be it from me to dispute that upon such a question as the alteration of our Parliamentary constitution you may go on for six, or for six times six, nights without exhausting the power or the limit of delivering speeches which shall in themselves be full of matter of interest and importance; but surely that consideration is crossed by another not less important, and that is whether it is the main duty of this House to speak, or whether it is not necessary to consider the opportunities for action. A debate of six nights, continued without any Motion on which the House is to divide, exhausts something like one-eighth part of the whole time at the disposal of Government during a Session of Parliament; and that time is occupied without ascertaining the opinion of the House upon any one definite sentiment or principle by which it is to be governed, guided, or judged. You ascertain the opinion of individual Members, but of the House you do not ascertain the opinion; and I put it to the House with great respect that it is not convenient beyond certain limits that even what is called free discussion should be pursued without the enunciation of some principle or form to which majorities and minorities of this House are bound to assent or dissent. I entirely concur with my right hon. Friend that apart from the views we may take of the particular questions involved in the provisions of the present Bill, it becomes a matter of prime public interest that this House should seriously and practically express its sentiments on this subject. I think I may claim some credit for sincerity in my desire to see this question disposed of [Ironical cheers], because when hon. Gentlemen who think fit to sneer at that declaration were themselves the supporters of a Government that introduced a Reform Bill, I, disapproving of the principle of that Reform Bill, declined to vote with my noble Friend in expressing that disapprobation for the very purpose of carrying that Reform Bill into a Committee of this House. And, for the same reason I am entitled to urge the paramount expediency and prudence, not to say the duty, of rescuing this question from the condition in which it is suspended, baffling and bewildering the public mind, and raising doubts as to what is the real value of the pledges of public men when the public perceive debates continued not only from night to night, but from week to week, and from month to month, and those debates not attempted to be led to any intelligible issue. With respect to the Bill before us I wish to draw a distinction for the purpose of keeping within bounds such observations I may address to the House between the different classes of objections. I will not follow my right hon. Friend in his observations about the county franchises, further than to say that I think the estimate of 300,000 voters to be added under the provisions of the Bill is much more than double what we believe, and can show to be, the probable increase. I will not follow him either into the disfranchisement of seats, because, important as it is, it occupies a secondary place in this Bill, and it had much better be dealt with in Committee. I will only venture to say with respect to what fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Mem- ber for Hertfordshire, who stated that the disfranchisement of seats ought to have been carried to a much greater length than the Government have thought expedient. [Sir BULWER LYTTON intimated dissent.] I thought the right hon. Gentleman said so; well, then, I transfer the observation to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford (Mr. Massey) and will reply that it is only another way of saying that the present Government ought to have introduced into the House of Commons a Bill which they had no chance of carrying. I freely admit, in passing, that many of the observations made with respect to the novel franchises, such as graduates and savings banks, are perhaps very good; only these franchises being novel are very difficult to deal with, and, being embodied in a legislative form, would only produce minute and insignificant results. I admit that you may give a greater elaboration and a greater perfection to your work by studying to find every description of intelligence and social power that can be invested with the franchise. But I ask my right hon. Friend to make me this admission—that when a question like that of the representation of the people, from a series of unfortunate circumstances, has appeared to the country to be played with and bandied backwards and forwards between Governments and parties for years, instead of having been made a subject of serious handling, the Government is bound to consider not only the most complete and most finished details, but also whether by the simplicity of those details, they may not hope for a better reception for their measure, and a greater likelihood of its being passed? Now, Sir, it seems to be supposed by many that there is a kind of treason to the Constitution in introducing a Reform Bill; or, if it be not treason, and if that is too harsh a word, my hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) appeared to take it for granted that to introduce a Bill for the amendment of the representation was to be construed into a condemnation of the existing Parliamentary constitution. I think that was the sense in which my right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) spoke when he said at the close of his speech that my noble Friend (Lord John Russell), having been the parent of the Parliamentary constitution of 1831, and after having applied the knife to its throat, was now engaged in following it to its grave. For my own part, I may confess that it was in a different spirit and with entirely different views that the Government approached the consideration of this question. It is not because I the present system has failed—it is not I because its defects are intolerable or grievous—but because the Government believe that the present system, good and excellent as it is, and admirably as it has served the country during the generation it has existed, is susceptible of improvement, and because it has been made the subject of positive pledges and promises to the British nation, that this improvement will be attempted—pledges and promises which they think it the duty of the Government to carry out. It was the practice of the old Parliamentary constitution of England to carry forward enfranchisement from time to time. Unfortunately—very unfortunately—that practice ceased in 1688. What was the consequence? The consequence was that, whereas you never had any difficulty before, the cessation of this practice caused the most serious difficulties, and led to the introduction of a sweeping and in some respects a violent measure which had become a necessity of the time, but which in no other country would have been carried without a popular revolution. That was the effect of too long delay, of obstinate resistance, of exciting causes which, occurring at a particular moment, made the measure more necessary, and at the same time more dangerous. It is no just matter of imputation upon the Government if, finding these legacies bequeathed to them, they deem it of the highest importance to avoid again placing the Government in a similar position; and if they endeavour to make such a proposition as may give satisfaction to the people, and may dismiss us from these six night's debates upon what is to be the constitution of this House of Parliament, in order that we may address ourselves to the overwhelming mass of public business which has every year to be brought forward in such increasing degree, and of which they find a perpetual fountain head in the vast and almost over-extended Empire of Great Britain. Let us put aside a number of questions which I admit are important, fair, and just in themselves, but which are really questions for Committee. It is a question for the Committee on the Bill whether amendments shall be made in the law in various respects. I will give an instance or two. The right hon. Gentleman suggested whether the law might not be amended with advantage in the case of compound householders, and whether the principle of the direct and personal payment of local as well as Imperial taxes is or is not a fit condition to couple with the franchise. The right hon. Gentleman is, however, mistaken if he supposes the Bill introduces any new principle in that respect; because, although it is true that the general Act for composition does not touch the existing franchise, yet there are some local Acts which extend to houses of upwards of £10 value, and a multitude of these compound householders are in existence to whom every observation made by the right hon. Gentleman is as applicable as to the compound householders in the present Bill. [Mr. WALPOLE: Not where they pay the lower rate.] But their position in regard to the franchise and their liability are precisely the same. With respect to those novel franchises which have been called "fancy franchises," the Government cannot be supposed to entertain any objection to them upon principle, inasmuch as my noble Friend and a large proportion of the present members of the Cabinet were themselves the men who, six years ago, first proposed those franchises to Parliament. Then, whether the franchise shall be dependent upon simple rental or rating is a question which cannot be closed by the second reading. We shall make much more practical progress upon these questions in Committee than by prolonging discussions in which opinion are expressed this way and that way, but wherein nothing is affirmed or denied on the part of the House of Commons. These questions I put aside, and deal with the one question of principle, which causes the real opposition to this Bill. The real objection taken to the Bill is the £6 franchise—that is the gist of the complaint against the Bill. Every other offence is pardonable, but this offence is unpardonable. My hon. Friend the Member for Galway says that four out of five Gentlemen are full of alarm and horror at this measure, and the ground of that alarm and horror is that a £6 franchise, as we are told, will swamp the constituency by the addition of an overwhelming mass of votes of the lower class—immense in quantity, bad in quality, and able to outweigh and overdo the other classes of the constituency. Is that true, or is it not? And, in the first place, is it altogether just to hold the language that has been held even by my right hon. Friend, although in a less definite form than by others, with re- spect to the inferior qualities of the working classes? Sir, I do not admit that the working man, regarded as an individual, is less worthy of the suffrage than any other class. I do not admit the charges of corruption which my right hon. Friend, amid cheers from many of those who sit around him, read from the Report of a Committee of the House of Lords. I do not believe that the working men of this country are possessed of a disposition to tax their neighbours and exempt themselves: nor do I acknowledge for a moment that schemes of socialism, of communism, of republicanism, or any other ideas at variance with the law and constitution of the realm are prevalent and popular among them. I grant you that you might corrupt the working class of this country if you gave it a monopoly of power; but it is not now corrupt, and the question is—would this Bill give it that monopoly of power? I wish to reduce this matter fairly to an issue, because I entirely object to the doctrine that you are deteriorating the constituency simply by bringing within it a portion of the working men. I say, if you give the working classes the complete command over the constituency, you may corrupt them and make them deserve those invectives which have been so freely and, I think, unjustly lavished upon them. But I repeat and deny that you deteriorate your constituency merely because you say that henceforward £6, in place of £10, shall be the limit—that whereas heretofore scarcely any of the working men have enjoyed the franchise under the Reform Act, henceforth a considerable number shall be permitted to enjoy it. And my right hon. Friend, reiterating what was well said by the hon. Member for the West Riding (Sir John Ramsden), in which I heartily agree, told us that we shall not perform our duty to the country by merely passing something that we call a Reform Act. Let us rather pass something that will give satisfaction, and promise permanence, and promise permanence in that qualified sense in which alone any sensible man, on either side of the House, would venture to apply the epithet to such a subject. But will my right hon. Friend allow me to observe that I think it is material, if you really admit that it is desirable to get rid of agitation on this question, to bear in mind that the way to get rid of it is not by reducing your measure to the smallest possible modicum, but, on the contrary, that may be the very means of keeping alive and increasing that agitation, or even of creating it where it did not exist. The best course, in point of policy and prudence, is—avoiding excess and extreme change—at the time when you think it your duty to consider the admission of a portion of the labouring class to take care that the portion you do admit is not too small, but such as will increase the confidence of the working men in general in the laws by which they are governed. Therefore the mere reduction of the boon you are about to confer is not the way to insure permanence—is not the way to promote the application of true Conservative principles to the Constitution of this country. Is it, then, a reasonable or an unreasonable admission that is proposed by this Bill? You will tell me that in speaking of amount, I am speaking of quantity only, not of quality. I take leave to demur to that imputation. I say, if we are justified in stating that we deal only with the more instructed, intelligent, and independent portion of the working classes of England, that we are speaking of, and dealing with, quality as well as with quantity. We assert that the quality of that body of our working men is good enough to entitle them to a share in the privileges of Parliamentary representation. You want no selection from them. [An hon. MEMBER here make a remark.] I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I said nothing of universal suffrage. I said no selection is wanted among that portion of the labouring classes. And I confess, if you are to lay down the doctrine of selection, and to be so very eclectic in the formation of your Parliamentary system, I really do not know where your principle would stop in its movement upwards. I am by no means disposed to admit that the shopkeeper between £10 and £20 is always a very wise man, or always a very contented, very intelligent, and very independent man. Nay, further, and I should not like to say what would be painful to any one, but I think that at the very much higher annual values than £20, by the principle of individual selection, you might find indifferent elements which it would not be desirable to embrace in your electoral system. Will the House bear with me, as this seems to be the vital point at issue, while I endeavour to state the views at which the Government have arrived with respect to the amount of change that we are about to make? I restrict myself entirely to the question of the borough franchise, because I think, if we can dispose of that, there is no other matter as to which there need be any great difficulty. ["Oh, oh!"] I am afraid, Sir, my love of peace has made me too sanguine; but at any rate I hoped that if we could settle the borough franchise there would be some likelihood of our getting rid of our other difficulties. Well, what is the number of persons who will be admitted to the borough franchise under this Bill, if it passes as it stands? We are by no means without very good instruments for arriving at the truth in this case. Very much care was taken by the Government during the preparation of the measure, and before the Session of Parliament, to provide itself with information; and of course the further scrutiny which the question has undergone in this debate has enabled us to enlarge our means of obtaining that information. And I do not hesitate to say that it amounts to what one may fairly call, if not demonstration, yet reasonable certainty that the admission to take place under the £6 franchise in the town constituencies of this kingdom cannot possibly be more than 200,000, and is much more likely to fall short of 150,000 persons. Let us look at the elements of the calculation by which we come to this conclusion. You find, in the first place, that you have in the boroughs and cities of this country 566,000 persons who are male occupiers of tenements, each separately rated for the relief of the poor, and at a value of £10 and upwards. You then turn to your register, where you find that the number of £10 voters is at the outside 410,000, but is in reality somewhat less than that, because undoubtedly that includes some portion of the freemen and scot-and-lot voters. You have, therefore, a gross £10 constituency, so to call it, of 566,000 persons, but actually consisting of 410,000. I am stating everything against myself in these figures. Then the number of male occupiers, according to the gross estimate, at a rental between £6 and £10 is 272,000. We have thus obtained the three terms of a proportion or rule of three sum. And if you take the same proportion of the gross constituency, so to call it, below £10 as you have proved to exist above £10, the total increment of the constituency under the present Bill would be primâ facie 197,000 persons. That is the first proposition I have to make. I do not say that that is not subject to a great deal of discussion and debate, or to some correction and modification. ["Oh!"] I am sorry my hon. Friend thinks it neces- sary to cheer me scoffingly, because we shall go by and by into the modifications and see what they are. My only object is to make the matter intelligible and bring it to a definite issue. I assume, making the same deduction from the gross estimate below £10 as above that limit, that there will be a primâ facie addition of 197,000 to the present registry of electors. The question is whether that will be the probable number? Lot me beg the House to consider briefly what are the arguments for increasing that amount and anticipating a larger increment, and what are the arguments for reducing it. The arguments for increasing it are, I believe, these:—In the first place, it is said that many occupiers of separate tenements being compound householders—that is, holders of tenements separately rated, but for which the rates are paid by the landlord—may claim to be placed on the electoral list. That is perfectly true. I do not at all deny that on general grounds, quite apart from any question of the relation between class and class, the condition of the law with regard to compound householders may deserve attention, because it presents to us this state of things—that besides your actual constituency you have an immense, what I may term potential constituency in a great many towns, consisting of persons who are kept off the register simply by the fact that they do not pay the rate which the landlord pays for them, but who might claim to be placed upon it at any period. I confess I think it undesirable to have a very large number of persons who might at any moment, under the influence of some local motive, or from passion or temporary excitement, be brought upon the register, and thereby suddenly alter the character of the electoral body. Whatever may be the character of the constituency, be it large or small, it is desirable that that character should be marked and permanent and not subject to sudden and violent changes. But that is a matter wholly independent of the present Bill; because when we speak of the probable addition to the constituency, we must look at the facts as they are. We find, then, that there are a number of these compound householders at rents above £10—namely, where there exist local Acts carrying the composition up to rentals of £20. And, in point of fact, these compound householders do not claim to come upon the register. We all know that the value of the franchise to a man diminishes as you go downwards. A poor municipal voter must go and perform his day's labour, unless paid for abstaining from it; therefore, the proper answer to that argument as to these compound house holders is, that as they do not when above £10 put in any claim, except in cases so few that we may dismiss them from view, much les; will they claim when below £10. The next allegation was made by the hon. and learned Member for Marylebone (Mr. James), and was that there are a great many holders of separate tenements not separately rated, but who may claim to come on the rate-book and appear as voters. But the answer to that is, that as these tenements are not separately rated they cannot appear. Unless in the limited case of what are called joint tenancies, it is only in the case of a separate rating and not of a separate tenement that any claim whatever could exist. But the grand subject of debate and alarm is the allegation that the gross estimated rental is very much less than the real amount paid, and that therefore many who do not appear in the columns of £6 voters and upwards, founded on the gross estimated rental, would nevertheless become voters by the Bill. Let us examine this allegation—because, as I understand the feeling of the House, it is agreed that in discussing the probable numbers of the persons to be admitted under the £6 franchise we are really dealing with the pith and marrow of the Bill. In the first place, I ask, is this statement that the gross estimated rental is less than the clear annual value of importance if true; and, in the second place, is it true? I say it is not important if true, and I say also, and will undertake to show, that it is not true. First, I say it is not important, even if true, because almost as many as you add to the £6 constituency from persons appearing to pay less than £6 rent you have already added to the £10 constituency, for the very same reason, from persons paying rent between £6 and £10. The number is not exactly the same, because the class increases somewhat in number as you go down. I am glad this is a matter of figures, and that I am able to exhibit the exact amount of difference. I make an assumption—to be sure, I make an assumption for argument's sake, and you can judge of it for yourselves—I make the assumption that the gross estimated rental is 20 per cent below the real rental. In that case all persons who appear to pay £5 of gross estimated rental will really be £6 voters. And the consequence will be that you will bring in a gross number of 108,000 persons to swell the new constituency. But how many have you to take out at the other end? Because, if a gross estimated rental of £5 really qualifies a man to appear as a £6 voter, then it follows that a gross estimated rental of about £8 6s., establishes a man as a £10 voter. I find that the number of persons between £8 6s. and £10 is no less than 78,000; and therefore, even upon an assumption so extravagantly favourable to the other side as that, there is a deficiency in the gross estimated rental, as compared with the clear annual value of 20 per cent, over all. The whole difference in the constituency would be a matter of only 30,000 persons; a difference not inconsiderable, but certainly by no means such as to justify the alarming representations which have been sounded through the country to terrify us all out of our propriety. It has been said by a right hon. Gentleman, that there is an increasing tendency to undervalue, as you go down, from the higher to a lower class of houses. But I venture to say that, as far as towns are concerned, there is not a shred of evidence in support of that proposition. I do not speak of the country, or enter into questions of cottages. Why should there be a tendency to estimate a cottage in a town further short of its real value, than a house of £50 or £100 a year, than which it must be much easier to value? The valuation of a house or shop of £50 or £100 a year is affected by fifty considerations, which are open to argument and debate, while the value of cottage property in towns is perfectly well known, and therefore the fair presumption is, that it will be rated closer to its real value, and not further from it, than house property of a higher class. As far as there is any positive evidence supplied by the tables, it is entirely in support of this doctrine; because the difference between the rateable value and the gross estimated rental, is not only not greater, but very much less, in the case of £5 and £6 houses, than is the case of houses above £10. There is a difference in the case of property between £9 and £10 of no less than 21 per cent; whereas, in the case of property of £5 and £6, the difference is reduced to between 3 and 4 per cent. I think we have been able to obtain conclusive evidence, which will soon be in possession of the House, to show there is no truth whatever in the allegation I am now dealing with. Very recently my right hon. Friend, the President of the Poor Law Board, has addressed to all the 1,600 parishes, which constitute the Parliamentary cities and boroughs of the country, inquiries to the following effect:—Does the gross estimated rental in the paper laid before Parliament correspond with the real rental, or does it not? If it docs not, does it exceed or fall short? And, if it exceeds or falls short, what is the percentage of excess or deficiency? These questions have been sent to the overseers of the parishes, who are conversant with the actual rating and the local circumstances, and will therefore supply the best information to be had. I bog the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the result, as far as it has been ascertained. The number of parishes from which returns have as yet been received, is 1,300. Some of the returns are not quite clear; but 900 of them have been examined and regularly tabulated. These 900 returns embrace 377,000 male occupiers out of the 566,000 that form the total; and represent, therefore, two thirds of the whole cities and boroughs returning Members to Parliament. Out of those 900 parishes, 708 have returned as answer, that the gross estimated rental is equal to the real rental, or clear annual value; and these 708 represent about 89½ per cent of the whole male occupiers represented by the 900 parishes. The answers from the remaining 192 parishes, show that the rating is closer in the larger than the smaller parishes; for they reply that the gross estimated rental falls short of the real annual value. The percentage of male occupiers is 10½, or a little more than a tenth; and the percentage by which the gross estimated rental falls short of the real amount, is, I think, 18 per cent. If you make allowance for that 18 per cent of deficiency upon the whole of these 900 parishes, the primâ facie result is, that you have to add to the constituency, in respect of the whole of this supposed deficiency of the gross estimated rental, 8,600 persons. But 8,600 is the number added from householders below £6 actual rental; you must, therefore, deduct the number subtracted from above. ["Oh, oh!"] This is a matter of arithmetic and not of argument. By that simple rule, and making the proper proportionate deductions from above—namely, of those who appear on the £10 list already, which is 6,200—the whole addition to be made, if we may take these 900 parishes as a specimen of the whole—and I believe they are, for they have been taken alphabetically—the whole addition to be made to the constituency by this Bill, which has so agitated this House during so many nights, which has bewildered the minds of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, which has thrown the country almost into a state of excitement, which has led to the doctrine that the Constitution is in danger, and going to be sacrificed; the whole addition that is to be made on the score of the deficiency of gross estimated rental, is the moderate and not very dangerous amount of 2,400 persons. I am quite sure that it is my fault, in not having clearly explained myself, if any hon. Member thinks it necessary to follow that statement with expressions of derisive unbelief; but I am speaking strictly from official figures. [A laugh.] Yes, official figures of local, not of Government officers, persons entirely independent of us, and whose statements I believe are the best the case admits of. Well, now, these are the reasons for my argument, that the increase of the borough voters which has been made the subject of such frightful alarm will not be greater than I have stated. Now, let us look at the argument for diminishing the proportion. Let me again take the question, which is this—ought we, as between the gross constituency and the net constituency, to take a greater difference, the same difference, or a less difference below £10 than above £10? I have disposed of the reasons for taking a greater difference; I will now show the reasons which appear very strong for taking a less difference. What are the reasons, then, why with our estimated gross constituency you have only 410,000 £10 voters? The reasons are three. First, the compound householders, who, though they have a title to come on the register, yet practically do not come in nineteen cases out of twenty; second, the default in payment of rates; and, third, the constant tendency to migration. I think it may be curious to the House to have a Return—I do not give it as conclusive, for it is only single; but it is a Return for the large parish of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch. Under the present Reform Act it requires an average period of possession of twenty-two months in a borough before a man acquires the right to vote on the ground of occupancy. Well, in the parish of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, there are 17,000 houses rated to the poor; out of these 17,000, 2,400 houses change their inhabitants every year; and in every twenty two months 4,400 change their inhabitants. So that in point of fact more than 25 per cent of the population migrate during the average period for which a man must reside in a borough before he can get a vote. I know that a deduction must be made, because a man changing one tenement for another in the same borough does not lose his vote. I have not estimated the deduction that ought to be made in this respect, but the House will see from the figures I have quoted the immense amount of migration which exists in the possessors of houses in such a parish as the one I have selected, and the large deduction that must be made on that account. Well, every one knows that all these three causes, which reduce the gross constituency so much above £10, operate with enhanced force below. The compound householders are less likely to claim their votes below than above; the tendency to emigrate increases as you go downward; and the numbers of those making default in the payment of rates must necessarily and inevitably increase as you descend in value. Therefore, in point of fact, the rational conclusion is that the number of 197,000, the primâ facie number to be introduced by this Bill, ought to undergo very considerable reduction before we recognize the real addition to be made to the constituency under the Bill now before the House. Well, then, I really ask the House and Gentlemen I see before me, whether such a measure justifies the lively descriptions that have been given of it, and the high colouring that has been given to those descriptions? I see before me the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hertfordshire, and I cannot do better than take his speech as a specimen. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman was everything that could be desired, except one thing only—that is to say, there was not only eloquence in it, not only high feeling, there was likewise argument; but there was one thing deficient—permit me, with no feeling of disrespect, to say that there wanted the basis of fact on which he reared the whole fabric. We have had many appalling phrases used in this debate, and they are fresh enough in the recollection of most of us. We were told the constituency was going to be swamped—that the present constituency would be reduced to impotence—borne down by the force of numbers. Is it reducing a constituency of 410,000 to impotence by the addition of 150,000 not exclusively composed of the labouring classes? What said the right hon. Gen- tleman? He said, you are going to give "the lion's share to the labouring classes." Is that the lion's share? Take the case according to this statement—I venture to say the very best, most comprehensive and accurate evidence that can be laid before the House, or is attainable on this subject I do not require to detain the House by pointing out how infinitely preferable these comprehensive results are to partial and isolated cases got up for the purpose of suggesting rather than supporting an argument, which represent extremes, and tell us rather what does not exist than what does. Are the working classes to have the lion's share? What is the position of the working classes in regard to the constituency of the country? You have already got a borough constituency of 410,000; you are going to add 150,000, or at the most extravagant estimate 200,000. That is 660,000. You have got a county constituency of 530,000. We expect to add about 150,000, making in all 686,000. Adding the Universities, the total constituency of England is 1,345,000. That number will be very largely diminished, on account, of course, of plurality of votes. I cannot estimate the diminution, but I imagine it would diminish the total number by not less than one-sixth; and the general result would be that after popularizing your representation in a country with a population of 20,000,000, and with 5,000,000 adult males, you would have a constituency of about 1,100,000 or 1,200,000. Surely, a system which enfranchises one-fourth part of your adult males, and selects that one-fourth part, upon the whole, with great judgment and discretion, is not a very un-unreasonable system. And how will that leave the labouring classes? In the counties they came in only here and there as being in the casual possession of the 40s. freehold; but these cases are extremely rare, so that we may put them aside. But have the working classes the lion's share in the borough constituency? You will have a total borough and town constituency on what I think the most liberal, the most extravagant estimate in virtue of the present Bill, of 650,000. It is estimated that of 450,000 which now constitutes the entire borough constituency, about one-ninth belongs to the labouring classes, either as freemen or scot-and-lot voters, or here and there £10 occupiers. Perhaps they are about 50,000, and perhaps they would be about three-fourths of the 200,000 which, on an extravagant supposition, may be added to the constituency. The labouring classes might be 200,000 in a borough constituency of 650,000—that is, they would be less than one-third of the whole borough constituency, and that only in about one-half of the boroughs or about one-third part of the seats returning Members for England and Wales would amount to such numbers as to act with any sensible or appreciable force. Now, Sir, is that "the lion's share," and does that justify the appeals which have been made, and the lecture we have received to-night on American institutions? I will say a word or two in comment on the speech of my hon. Friend. I would remark that if we lived in a state of things in which there was a latent unavowed Americanism among the people of this country, if a wise observer had remarked that there was a contagion spreading from rank to rank, and that John Bull was growing more and more desirous to ape the manners and adopt the institutions of his Brother Jonathan, I think my hon. Friend would have done good service in detailing for an hour and a half the vices and follies and weaknesses which no doubt may be detected in the social condition of America. But do we live in that state of things? Have the people of England been infected by that disease? Are we likely to hear America held up to us as a pattern? [Opposition cheers.] I think I understand that cheer. It is not difficult to construe. The meaning of it may be that perhaps the solitary voice of some Gentleman who goes far in his opinions and maintains them with great courage may express strong sympathy with American institutions. But I do not speak of solitary individuals; I speak of the prevailing tone and temper of the British nation, and I say that to describe to us the state of things which exists in America as an argument bearing on the discussion of this Bill is a matter fetched from far, and wholly irrelevant. [Cheers.] I must tell those hon. Gentlemen who cheer, with great respect, that in my opinion by their cheers they do injustice to this country. Differing from Gentlemen, if there be those who would hold cut America as a pattern, I frankly own that it will be a miserable day for England when she thinks fit to adopt America as her example, and that it is England who has much to teach to America and little to learn from her. Those are not only my opinions, but they are the opinions of at least ninety-nine men out of every hundred throughout the country. Then, Sir, is it really necessary to alarm us with deprecating and detailing in an infinity of details, the consequence of what is termed universal suffrage in America. I have shown, forsooth, how near this Bill is to universal suffrage. It proposes to invest with the franchise one in every twenty, or one in every twenty-five, of the working population of the country. If it invests one and leaves nineteen unenfranchised, I humbly submit that it is removed by a considerable distance from universal suffrage. And permit me to say even that it is not a measure of the difference between this country and America. If we were to adopt universal suffrage to-morrow—aye, if we were to adopt American institutions entirely to-morrow—it would still take generations to make the people of England like the people of America. It is—and do not let us blind our eyes to the fact—it is not merely on laws that these matters depend. It is on the social condition of the country. It is on the manner in which society is organized in its orders and degrees. Why is it that the eminent men of America are not returned—and a great misfortune it is to the country—why is it that they do not take part in public affairs? It is due not merely to the political institutions of America—it is due to its social state. If the people have not their natural leaders it is because they do not feel those old traditional ties which subsist—and I hope will long subsist—in this country. It is not only unworthy and unjust in reference to the present Bill, but in reference to the people of England to travel across to America, and in no charitable spirit—I think I may rather say in a peevish spirit—to describe the many weaknesses, the many defects—perhaps I may say even the many scandals of American institutions. Critics coming to England might, perhaps, find something on which to remark. My hon. Friend did not profess to give an impartial and complete representation. He gave one avowedly ex parte. It may be a weakness, but I own I never hear without considerable regret, detailed and rather ostentatious descriptions before a British audience of the defects and shortcomings of other nations. I think it is a licence which we should do well, as far as we are able, to curb ourselves from indulging. Well, Sir, is it, or is it not, the case, that so far as vague assertions can be brought to any test of numbers or evidence, the whole doctrine that the working classes are going to have "the lion's share" of the representation has utterly broken down? ["No, no!"] If there be a Gentleman who thinks that a fourth part, or at the outside, much less than a third part of the borough representation, is the lion's share of the whole representation, to his assent I am not entitled: but I simply submit that I do not think that is the general opinion. I am quite certain it was not the meaning of the right hon. Member for Hertfordshire when he described the swamping of the constituencies, which he thought was going to take place under the Bill now before the House. Having spoken of America, I need not deprecate in the same way reference to institutions in our colonies. We are not going to adopt the laws of our colonies; and, if we did, my own belief is that, such is the attachment of the working classes not only to our laws, not only to our institutions, but to their social superiors, even among the trading community, and still more in the rural districts, that even with a very extended popular suffrage you would probably still continue to see the monarchy and aristocracy flourish as they do now under the free assent and affectionate support of the people. For what is it, after all, which in the main supports them now? Do not suppose that it is any conventional arrangement. Do not think that it is anything which may be written on the statute-hook. It is the heart, the inclination, the habits, the sense, the conviction of the mass of the people. That very same feeling, that same tone, character, and sentiment which has made the working classes repose contentedly in your arms and accept your legislation without a murmur, that same feeling which has made them content without the suffrage, will, I am satisfied, make them still more content and still more trustworthy as the main support of the institutions of the country, after you have made such additions to the representative portion of them as is contemplated by this Bill. Of course, I speak without authority; but I believe those are the general views and general feelings with which we have been actuated in the endeavour to frame this Bill. And again, while I agree we ought to look for permanence in a measure of this kind, I venture to warn right hon. Gentlemen against the supposition that we are more likely to get permanence in a measure of this kind by making a stinted and inappreciable admission of the working classes while professing to give them a boon than by giving them a more liberal and sensible admission. I cannot help recollecting—and I refer to it now certainly for no other purpose except recognizing the wisdom of it—I cannot help recollecting the early declaration of the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire on the subject of Parliamentary Reform, since the question was revived in 1851. I think when that subject was mentioned in this House, before it had taken its present advanced position, the right hon. Gentleman, declining to commit himself to the assertion that the time was come for a further reform of the representation, said he felt convinced that when the time did come they would have to deal with the question of the admission of the working classes. That was a wise and statesmanlike declaration, and acting in that spirit with truthfulness, and at the same time with moderation, Her Majesty's Government have been guided in all their endeavours. Under these circumstances, I confess—although it may be my bias—I supposed that we might have contrived to open the door for the settlement of these matters in Committee with less than six nights of previous debate. To those who think that the essential character of this Bill is to swamp the constituencies I am far from addressing any invitation to go into Committee at all. I am perfectly at a loss to understand how any Gentleman who is ready to endorse that declaration can reconcile it to himself to refrain from expressing his opinion in a legitimate manner. No doubt, there are very good reasons, but to me they are entirely inscrutable. I could not listen without a smile to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Radnorshire (Sir J. Walsh), well known not only in this House, but as an able writer on the politics of the country, who, in the same speech, told us he was the man who moved the rejection of the Reform Bill in 1831, and he gloried in that act as the brightest act of his life, and then said he gloried that on this Bill he should not have to vote at all. I confess that I do not think that is a course of conduct which will be quite understood out of doors. I think the idea of the nation is that this House is not a "Discussion Forum," but a deliberative assembly, and that the appropriate mode of expressing opinions is by votes. Of course there may be exceptions, but this is a singular exception, unsupported by experience. It has been said that the same course has been pursued on both sides of the House. Permit me to say that is not exactly the case. The noble Lord has been taunted with having only one supporter. I think if he were to count on his fingers he could make a considerable addition. At the same time I frankly allow that the Bill has been freely criticised on this side of the House. But I have heard it criticised on this side in a manner different from the manner in which it has been criticised in general on the opposite side; because the criticisms here have been frank indications of what are deemed the faults of the Bill—declarations like that of the hon. Member for the West Riding (Sir John Rams-den) to-night, accompanied with a strong opinion that the Bill ought to go forward to Committee, and be discussed and considered with the hope of a practical solution. But that is not the doctrine which comes recommended from the other side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire recommended that the noble Lord should withdraw the Bill. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire, whose good faith in giving us the advice no one can doubt, also recommended us to withdraw the Bill. The course which those right hon. Gentlemen ask us to take, however, is one which it is impossible for the Government to adopt. I may at all events venture to say for myself, that in my opinion any Ministry which should have introduced a measure such as this with so little caution, and in a shape so unfitted to undergo discussion as to render it expedient that it should be withdrawn without the decision of the House being taken upon it, would, in so acting, have covered itself with irretrievable disgrace. I may add that no such idea, or intention, or dream, as the adoption of such a course presupposes has even entered our heads. If, however, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks are anxious that the Bill should be put out of the way, the remedy rests with themselves, for the House of Commons is not, I feel assured, so much the servant of the Government as not to take the matter into its own hands, and to reject the Bill if it deems it expedient to do so. I do not, however, think the House of Commons is prepared to pursue that course—a course which I should not presume to censure—and I ask you then with confidence whether it is creditable to act upon a policy the object of which is to make legislation impossible by delay? Such a policy is one which must operate badly for all parties. The time has come when the settlement of this question may involve the character of the House of Commons. For a considerable period, indeed, it did not stand in that position. Its discussion commenced with a casual, and, as I think, unfortunate vote of this House, upon which was founded the declaration of my noble Friend near me, when at the head of the Government. For ten years it has continued to be the question rather of public men and the leaders of party than the question of this House. Last year, however, a change in its position took place; for then the Government of Lord Derby seriously submitted to the consideration of Parliament a Bill for the purpose of amending the representation of the people; and, if I were disposed to revert to the taunts which have been thrown out in the course of the present discussion with respect to the criticisms which have been made on this Bill by supporters of the Government, I think I might easily find abundant means of retorting the sarcastic remarks of hon. Gentlemen opposite on the subject by a reference to the course pursued by the occupants of the opposite benches, with respect to the measure introduced by the late Government. I cannot help adding that my hon. Friend the Member for Radnorshire (Sir J. Walsh) when the other night he observed that ray noble Friend near me ought to consider himself happy in having at length got a supporter for his measure, ought to have recollected that the late Government was not so fortunate, inasmuch as during the whole debate which took place upon the Bill which they submitted to the House, they did not receive the support of a single independent Member. All this, however, is a thing of the past. What I now desire to impress upon hon. Gentlemen is that last year this question of Reform passed out of the sphere of Government, and became the question of the House of Commons. The House of Commons upon that occasion met it not by having recourse to a debate of indefinite length, not having apparently been then animated by that great love of protracted discussion for which the right hon. Gentlemen the Member for Bucks now so strenuously contends; no, Sir, the proposition of the late Government was met by a distinct and definite Motion, which bound hon. Members to a particular course, which may have been wise or unwise, but which, at all events, led to an issue which was intelligible and direct. I will not now enter into any further discussion of that point beyond simply saying that the majority of the House of Commons on the occasion to which I am referring, adopted a course which was in accordance with Parliamentary precedent, and having declared themselves to be in favour of a particular line of policy, upon that declaration resolved to submit, and actually did submit, their conduct to the judgment of their constituents. Now that, it appears, was a line of conduct which, so far as the public interests are concerned, was much preferable to that upon which some hon. Gentlemen in the present instance seem disposed to act. My hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding (Sir J. Ramsden) has well said that it would be better to postpone the settlement of this question to a more distant day than to pass a bad measure. If that be a sound opinion, then by all means let those who think the present Bill a bad one give effect to that opinion by their votes. If those who entertain that view are in the majority, they will thus be able at once to dispose of a measure to which they object; while if they happen to be in a minority their consciences will be relieved by taking the course which I have suggested for their adoption. It, however, scarcely becomes me to point out to hon. Gentlemen what it is right that they should do in this respect. They ought to be able to discover for themselves the line of conduct which they ought to pursue. I, for one, should be sorry that our choice lay between a bad measure and no measure at all. There is one portion of the House which is of opinion that further reform in the representation of the people would be likely to prove dangerous; while there is another which thinks that an onward step in that direction may be taken with safety. The former class must, at all events, it seems to me, admit that the danger of which they are apprehensive will, in all probability, be increased by delay, I, for one, while deeming that a measure of Reform may at the present moment be safely passed, freely admit and deeply feel that from delay danger may arise. Beyond all calculation may delay prove unsafe, if, unfortunately, the notion should get abroad that we sought to preclude the passing of a measure of Reform by indirect means, and that those who found it inconvenient to place their opinions on the subject on record in the shape of a definite proposition, yet, being aware that the time at the disposal of the House was limited, took advantage of that circumstance for the purpose of evading that which they did not like manfully to reject. I hope, therefore, that whatever course may be taken such a policy as this will not be adopted. By all means, then, let us go into Committee on the Bill, and endeavour to make such progress in passing it as is proportionate to the value of the time at our disposal, which I fear we have not hitherto done. I make this appeal to you trusting that the House will bear in mind that of all the difficulties and risks which we may have to encounter in dealing with this great and vital question there is none so great as that which would arise from our appearing to dally with it; thereby rendering ourselves liable to have an interpretation put upon our conduct which may prove dangerous to the permanent institutions of the country, destroy our own capacity for effecting good, and impair that confidence and attachment which during many generations the House of Commons has by its labours and services earned at the hands of the English people.


said, he must protest against the language used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer charging those on the Opposition side of the House with obstructing the progress of business. The right hon. Gentleman surely could not have been in his place when his Friend the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Mills) remarked that a much larger number of Gentlemen had risen from the Ministerial side than the other, to speak upon this question. He could not help adding, in reply to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman, that in discussing a proposal which sought to extend the suffrage without any counterpoise to the working classes he thought it was quite germane to the question to consider what effect the extension of the suffrage had produced in the case of a kindred race. He denied the accuracy of the right hon. Gentleman's statistics. He would not quote from anonymous correspondents. It would be found in the Report that had been laid on the table, that there were 185 English boroughs, and out of those there were 91 in which there were more voters than £10 houses. From that list he deducted 33 boroughs in which the increase was caused by freemen, and others in which the increase was occasioned by the scot-and-lot voters. There remained 52 boroughs where the proportion of electors was greater than the number of £10 houses. He should quote a few of them. Oldham had 2,050 voters and only 1,900 houses; Ashton, 1,081 electors and 838 houses; Boston, 838 electors and 697 houses; Lancaster, deducting the freemen, had 887 electors and 700 houses. It would he seen from these figures, that in a considerable number of boroughs there was a larger proportion of electors than of £10 houses. He thought, therefore, that when the matter came to be tested by the evidence which was being obtained by the House of Lords there would be a much larger extension of the franchise than was supposed. He himself was quite prepared to go a long way in extending the suffrage, and he believed that the gross injustice of this Bill was much more in the way in which it treated the county representation than the manner in which it widened the borough franchise. He would mention an instance of the mode in which the county representation was dealt with. The West Hiding of Yorkshire returned 16 Members to this House—two for the county and 14 for the boroughs. Throwing aside the small boroughs of Ripon and Knaresborough, which returned two Conservatives, and two Liberals; Leeds, which was equally divided; and Wakefield, the seat for which was vacant; and there were nine Liberal Members returned by Halifax, Bradford, Huddersfield, Sheffield, and Pontefract, the whole of whose constituencies, even if each member of those constituent bodies was on the same side of polities, the reverse of which was notoriously the fact, amounted to but 14,000, whilst the Conservative minority in the West Riding, consisting of 13,000 electors, had no representative at all. He held, therefore, that the Bill did not amend the representation, but rather aggravated considerably the inequality already existing, which it should have been the first duty of Ministers to endeavour to correct. There was another way in which it was proposed to deal with the county representation most unfairly. It was this; this Bill, for the first time, makes occupation a main ingredient in the county suffrage. You enfranchise 400,000 occupiers, but half of them vote already in right of ownership, and therefore, under your scheme, would be doubly qualified. An occupier in a borough having also a 40s. franchise would have four votes—two for the county and two for the borough; whereas those who were similarly qualified beyond the limits of a borough, would only have the right of voting for two Members for the county. Rut the Bill was objectionable not less from what it did not do, as for what it did. They were told that it was simply a measure of enfranchisement, and not of registration. Well, if that were the case, he should like to know how the 30th clause found its way into it. He alluded to the clause which provided that Members should not vacate their seats upon accepting office under the Crown. Was that a question affecting the extension of the franchise? He was really surprised how a Liberal Government could have proposed a clause of the kind. It was said that all the improvements which had taken place in legislation since 1832 were the result of the Reform Act. But if he went back only four years from that date, he found an unreformed Parliament passing two of the greatest and wisest measures of modern times, the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts and the Emancipation of the Roman Catholics. If the noble Lord had brought in the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act, in 1851, when he was writing his letter to the Bishop of Durham and rousing the anti-Catholic feeling of the country, he doubted whether that measure could have been carried. They had no right, therefore, to say of the unreformed House of Commons that no great measures were passed by it. He was quite aware that the great blot in the Reform Act was the exclusion of the working classes from any share in the representation; but the question was, how were they to be admitted, and at the same time provide the necessary safeguards for the representation of property in this House; for if the working classes were introduced he should like to see some plan devised by which there should be some counterpoise to them. All classes of the population ought to be represented in this House. He believed the Chandos clause was a mistake and ought to be repealed. He begged with diffidence to suggest that there ought to be three classes of Members. Town Members returned by householders in right of occupation; District Members, returned by householders, outside represented towns, in right of occupation; and County Members returned by the owners of property whether in town or district. By these means the dwellers in towns, the dwellers in the country, and the owners of property, would be represented, and both the suffrages of ownership and occupation would be made co-extensive with the whole length and breadth of the land. Much had been said about the corruption existing in small boroughs; he believed these allega- tions were in the main unfounded—at least, according to his own experience, for two contested elections which he had fought since the passing of the Corrupt Practices Prevention Act had only necessitated an outlay on his part of £150. Though the present Bill had failed, still with a lower class of voters he doubted whether this state of purity could exist, and whether it would be possible to maintain this class of constituencies with a £6 suffrage to command the approval of a single Member who did not sit on the Treasury bench. He hoped it might get into Committee, and there, with the aid of Liberal statesmen, who wore skilled in refraining the Constitution, be improved so as to afford a reasonable hope that the question would not again be agitated for fifteen years to come. If this were not done some means must he devised of getting rid of a Bill which in its present shape, was unworthy of the sanction of the House. [The hon. Member's speech was delivered amid such marked expressions of impatience, and cries of "Divide," as to be scarcely intelligible.]

Question put, and agreed to. Bill read 2°.


A good deal of difficulty has been felt with regard to business of an important character which has been postponed in consequence of the protracted Debate on this Bill, and on that account it might be inconvenient to the House if we were to propose to go into Committee upon it immediately. Besides, we should have that Committee interrupted almost immediately by the Whitsuntide holydays. For these reasons I propose that the Bill be committed on Monday, the 4th of June.

Bill committed for Monday 4th June.