MR. LOCKE KING,
in moving for leave to introduce a Bill to extend the franchise in counties in England and Wales, said he hoped the House would not think that he was either too presumptuous or too persevering for again calling its attention to this question. From what had occurred during the last few, and more especially during the last two years, he had anticipated that it would never have been necessary—for him, at all events—to bring it again under their consideration: but, as we had now no Reform Bill in prospect, and no promise of a Reform Bill, and as no allusion had been made to such a measure in Her Majesty's Speech, he felt that this was a very seasonable opportunity at which to bring the subject of the 587 county franchise again before the House. Further, there had always been a great number of persons who felt very strongly that the surest and perhaps the safest method of obtaining any Reform was by instalments—by what was popularly called "bit-by-bit Reform;" and, under these circumstances, he ventured to propose to the House, as by no means an insignificant instalment, the extension of the county franchise to occupiers of premises of the annual value of £10. It was now a great number of years since he first brought this question before the house, and those who supported his original Bill had to contend with a great many obstacles which did not now exist. The Liberal party was then by no means united upon this question. It had been gravely argued by great authorities in that House that the Bill was unsound in principle; that the ancient distinction between counties and boroughs ought to be maintained in all its integrity; that in counties representation ought to be in respect of tenure, while in boroughs it ought to be in respect of occupation. These arguments he was not now called upon to answer, because the great authorities had themselves answered them in the most effectual manner by speaking and voting in favour of Bills similar to that which he was now asking leave to bring in. The noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs—the bold and enterprising Reformer of 1832—the promoter of that measure which was in itself a revolution, and, in all probability, prevented the occurrence of revolutions in this country, was, every one would admit, a great authority upon all matters relating to the constitution; and, although he was bound to admit that, for the first year or two after its introduction, the noble Lord opposed this measure, yet as early as the year 1852 he admitted that the principle upon which it was founded was a sound one, because in the Reform Bill which he introduced that year he proposed to reduce the county qualification to £20. In the year 1854 he went further, and fixed it at £10, the very sum which he (Mr. L. King) had originally proposed. In the year 1857 the noble Lord supported this Bill as an isolated measure, apart from any Reform Bill, and argued most forcibly in its favour. His words then were so forcible, and so applicable to the present time, that he (Mr. L. King) should like to quote them. The noble Lord said:—Whatever might have been the impropriety 588 of introducing driblets when large measures were required, I think that if we sincerely desire reform the only course now to be pursued is to adopt any measure which is in itself a safe improvement whenever it may be proposed; and I cannot but admit this measure is in itself such an improvement.If that argument was applicable in 1857, it applied, he contended, with still greater force in the present year. The noble Lord then argued in favour of the class whom this Bill proposes to enfranchise. He said:—I think that no one who is disposed to entrust the elective franchise to the occupiers of £10 houses in towns can object to its enjoyment by those who occupy such houses in the country; because the occupant of a £10 house in the country is generally a person of greater intelligence and more property than is the tenant of a similar house in a borough. … I therefore think this change is a safe one; and, seeing that no one is likely to propose a large measure of reform, I am, moreover, of opinion that it will tend to satisfy a large body of persons who have some reason to complain of the existing state of things." [3 Hansard, cxliv. 849.]In the year 1858 again the noble Lord sanctioned this Bill as an isolated measure, when he made use of the very descriptive words, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." In 1860 this very proposal was included in the Reform Bill which he then brought forward. There were in that House only two persons besides the noble Lord who were Members of that distinguished Cabinet which effected the great revolution of 1832. The noble Lord at the head of the Government must forgive him when he said that he could not look upon him as quite so great an authority upon matters relating to Reform as the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Perhaps in his early years he was not quite so much mixed up with Reformers as was the other noble Lord; and he was bound to say that in the year 1857 he opposed this Bill. He warned the noble Lord at that time that if he divided he would lead the opposite side of the House into the lobby against it, and would be deserted by his own party. The noble Lord persevered in his opposition, but though, by the means of what he might be excused for calling that "Unholy Alliance," the Bill was rejected—it was rejected only by the small majority of 13. In the following year the noble Lord profited by his experience, admitted the principle to be just, and voted in favour of the second reading of the measure. The only other authority to whom he should refer, 589 was the right hon. Gentleman who sat below him (Sir James Graham). That right hon. Gentleman was a Member of the distinguished Cabinet of 1832; and he (Mr. Locke King) was happy to say, that so satisfied had the right hon. Baronet—by no means a reckless or radical Reformer—all along been of the justice of this cause, that even in the worst of times, when the Bill was in bad repute among the great authorities in that House, he supported the measure. As early as 1854 he found the name of that right hon. Gentleman on the back of a Reform Bill which contained this very proposition; in 1857 he supported it energetically as an isolated measure; and in 1858 he did the same thing. It was very satisfactory to observe the great progress which the measure had made on the Liberal side of the House. He believed there was scarcely a Member sitting on those benches who would now oppose this Bill in any one of its stages. But that was not all, for he was proud to say that support had come from a quarter whence he least expected it. In 1852 the great chief of the party opposite (the Earl of Derby) denounced his Bill as a very dangerous measure. Little, therefore, did he think that, when the noble Earl came to deal practically with the question of Reform, he would find it necessary to adopt, as the leading feature of his Bill, the very principle which he (Mr. Locke King) had been seeking for years to advance. The Reform Bill of 1859 contained a little disfranchisement of small boroughs, enfranchisement to a limited extent of some towns, and of a county or two; but its most important feature was that of his (Mr. Locke King's) old Bill—marred and mutilated he did not deny—but still the original Bill which he had introduced. To counterbalance this concession it proposed the disfranchisement of the freeholders whose qualifications lay in represented towns; but these were a most independent and ancient class of voters, and on account of that clause he had been unable to give his support to the Bill, much as he approved of other portions of it. He believed it was his over-manœuvring, if he might so call it, which had lost the noble Earl the confidence of the country—if he ever possessed it—and which had hurled him from power. During the last eight years there had been no less than four Reform Bills, and all the four admitted the principle of extending the franchise to 590 occupiers in counties to be sound and just; while three of those measures, including that of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli), lowered the franchise to the very amount for which he had always contended. It was needless, therefore, to argue as to the soundness or justice of the principle of the Bill, or as to the respectability of the class which would be enfranchised; these were admitted facts, and he might almost as well try to prove the correctness of the multiplication table. But he would ask what reason could there be for refusing any longer to pass this measure? What excuse could be invented? They had got rid of the old pretext that they ought to wait for a comprehensive Reform Bill. The House was tired of that excuse. Moreover, there was not even a prospect of such a proposal looming in the distance. If any opposition should be found in the fact, that the Bill proceeded from an independent and humble Member of the House, let that difficulty be removed—by all means let it be taken up by some influential Member—independent of party, if that were considered preferable—and he should be very happy to get rid of the charge of the measure, and to see it passed into law. He hoped that any hon. Gentleman, if there were any, who might be inclined to oppose the Bill, would profit by the experience of the past, for it was a noticeable fact, that nearly all the great authorities who had opposed the Bill, no matter on which side of the House they sat, sooner or later had been obliged to eat their own words, and to make some excuse for the past, and support the measure. For years it had been a stumbling-block to almost every Government. Every kind of promise had been made for the purpose of getting rid of it. It had become a habit to introduce into Her Majesty's Speech a paragraph promising that the question of Reform should be dealt with—how many paragraphs had thus been inserted he was unable to say, but it was certain that till now they had been attended with no effect whatever. Such conduct, he thought, was neither respectful to Her Majesty nor satisfactory to the country. He was one of those who had not voted for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White); and, considering what had happened for so many years, he had almost felt rejoiced that there was no allusion to Reform in the Speech from the Throne this year. He hailed it as a happy omen, and he thought 591 it possible that there might be a better chance of obtaining Reform, now that the matter was no longer in the hands of the Government; who would be unable to carry any measure on the subject unless they were prepared to stand or fall by it. Their chance now lay in gaining instalments; and independent Members would, indeed, be in a forlorn position, unless they were able to carry measures bit by bit, which, in course of time, might form in the aggregate a great and satisfactory Reform Bill. He ought to mention that one part of the Bill which he proposed sought to adopt the suggestion which was made to him some years ago by the right hon. Gentleman below him (Sir James Graham), with regard to occupiers, to the effect that a portion of their holding, say to the extent of £5 or £6, should consist of a House. The absence of this provision was one of the objections made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India, when explaining to his constituents in 1857 how he had managed to vote against the Bill; and he was now happy to obviate it by consenting to this alteration. It might, perhaps, have been better if the right hon. Gentleman on that occasion had consented to the introduction of the Bill, and had, afterwards introduced the improvements, which he felt desirous to introduce, in Committee; but he was willing to let bygones be bygones, and to introduce a clause with the object he had stated. He hoped the House would support the Bill in the shape in which he now proposed it. Many of them were very apt—he was afraid himself as much as any one—to condemn the acts of despotic rulers on the Continent because they refused to give political rights to their people. But he really thought those rulers acted a comparatively bold and noble part. They told their people boldly and frankly, that they were not fit to enjoy those rights. He thought, however, that the House, with regard to the political rights of the people of England, were acting a somewhat mean and timid part. They nattered the people who sought to be enfranchised, and told them that they were perfectly fit for it—that it was part of their constitutional right—nothing was more settled than that political fitness ought to be followed by political rights—that where electoral capacity existed their electoral rights ought to follow. They told the people this—told them they were fit, and then invented every kind of excuse 592 and delay before complying with their just demands. Thus, in a free country, a greater act of despotism was absolutely committed than in countries which were professedly despotic. He hoped the House would consent to the introduction of the Bill; and he was persuaded the words would be verified which were used by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, when he fought so ably for this very measure in 1857—that it would tend not only to improve, but also to consolidate our institutions, and to give stability to our electoral system. The hon. Member concluded by moving for leave to bring in a Bill to extend the Franchise in Counties in England and Wales.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed.
§ MR. WARNER
asked the indulgence of the House while he endeavoured in as few words as possible to state the reasons which had led him, and he believed might lead others, to prefer the Amendment standing in his name, [That a Select Committee be appointed to consider what changes it may be desirable to introduce with a view to amend the Representation of the People] to the Motion at present before the House. Towards the end of last Session, when it became evident that Ministers were not prepared to make a declaration of their policy in reference to Reform, he had thought it his duty to give notice that, early in the present Session, he would move the appointment of a Select Committee to enquire into the whole question. As this notice must necessarily compete in some respects with those given by other Members, he had thought it would be more convenient to place it in the form of an Amendment to the first of those which stood upon the paper; and this happened to be the Motion of the hon. Member for East Surrey. As there had been a great deal of misrepresentation out of doors, he wished to state, in the most explicit manner possible, that he entertained no objection to the Motion of the hon. Member He had not one word to say either against his arguments or his facts; he had voted for his Motion on a former occasion, and saw no reason why he should not vote for it again. With a great deal of what had fallen from the hon. Member be perfectly agreed, though, perhaps, in some respects, he had come to different conclusions. There was no reason why a £10 householder in the country should not be equally capable of giving an intelligent and satisfactory vote with a £10 householder in the 593 town; and he should be glad to extend to them the privilege of the franchise. But he could not think it desirable that the energies of Reformers should be wasted, now that they were thrown on their individual responsibility, by bringing forward Motions which did not contain the germ of a possibility of success. Let them decide some one point of paramount importance to the country and they would then have a better chance of carrying it. For his own part he infinitely preferred the Motion of which notice had been given by his hon. Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines), and he should very cordially give his vote in its favour. The proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey had one great fault, perhaps the greatest of all faults, the fault of misfortune. The hon. Member himself had taken some pains to explain to the House the disappointments he had suffered in connection with it. It had already acquired a conspicuous place in Parliamentary history; it had done everything a Bill could do, except pass. It had disturbed the country; it had impeded legislation; it had led to one or two dissolutions and some half-a-dozen changes of Ministry; and, further than that, it had been the parent of a large family of Reform Bills, which had all died young. It was ten years since his hon. Friend achieved a great and unexpected success,—but, as far as the people of England were concerned, nothing came of it. Then in due succession there followed no less than four Reform Bills—grand, comprehensive, Government Bills, but nothing came of them. And what was remarkable was this, that most of those Bills, if not all, embodied the principle of his hon. Friend's measure. The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary introduced it into two or three of his Bills; and then the great Reformers, Messrs. Baxter, Rose, and Company, very respectable solicitors, appropriated it in theirs. And, he said it in all seriousness, the reason why those measures failed was, he believed, chiefly because they adopted the principle of his hon. Friend. For, if there was one truth more than another which the discussions of past years had brought prominently to light, it was this, that the chief obstacle to an extension of the franchise was the dead uniform level of our qualification. The work of Reformers should be to break up that level, rather than to extend and unite those hard lines which at present existed, one for the towns and the other for the counties. He considered 594 it an honour to be classed as one of the remnant of that great party who still maintained its unshaken faith in the possibility and the need of Reform; but he could not disguise from himself that they were placed in great difficulty, and that they ought to act discreetly as well as energetically. He agreed with much that had been said by his hon. Friend (Mr. Locke King) in favour of his Motion, and in much of the blame which he rather implied than charged against the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He did not think that the course which the noble Lord indicated on the first night of the Session, or, still more, the language in which he expressed his intentions, would be satisfactory to the country or advantageous to the Government. In one thing, however, he believed the noble Lord was unjustly blamed; for he was of opinion that he had exercised a wise discretion in not attempting to introduce in the present Session anything resembling the unfortunate measure which came last year to an untimely and unhonoured end. When that Bill was dropped its fall did not seem to affect the country; but the noble Lord himself clung to it long after it had been abandoned by the people and their representatives. Hon. Members would recollect what he might call, for convenience of reference, "Northampton Manifesto." The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Gilpin) having occasion to visit his constituents, was permitted to state to them that the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) was conditionally prepared to bring in a Bill which, in the main, would be similar to the Bill of last Session; but, added the hon. Member for Northampton, "You must agitate the question; the country must support the Government by public meetings and numerous petitions," What had been the result? There had not been one public meeting held in favour of a Bill which should be similar in the main to the last. They all knew how easy it was to get up petitions; yet not one petition had been presented—not one man of the six unenfranchised millions had thought the noble Lord's Bill worth asking for. He must do the noble Lord justice, and could not. blame him for not renewing the experiment of last Session; but there were other courses open to him. He might have proceeded by Resolution; he might have moved for a Select Committee, or he might have framed a measure more in accordance with the wants of the year 1861 than in strict 595 conformity with the principles of the Bill of 1832. The noble Lord might have taken one of those courses; but, instead, he threw up the whole subject into the hands of independent Members. But the question for independent Members now was, not what the noble Lord ought to have done, but what they ought to do themselves. He thought there might be a little more consultation and arrangement among the Liberal Members before they introduced isolated measures to the House. They ought to measure their own strength before they brought in Bills. They must remember that they were but the remnant of a great party. Two years ago there was a great Liberal party in that House—a great exulting party—which spurned Lord Derby's Reform Bill, and which followed the noble Lord the Member for the City of London into the lobby on that memorable night when, it would now appear, he saved his country in vain. When they measured their own strength, knew what they were able to accomplish, and saw what particular sort of Reform the country demanded, and what were the objections that would be taken to it, then they would be able to effect something. He could not agree with his hon. Friend that what he proposed was the measure most desired by the country. Within the last week he himself had presented thirteen petitions, all from Norwich, and all from working men, claiming the franchise for their class; but be had yet to learn that the Bill of his hon. Friend (Mr. L. King) would introduce any large number of working men into the constituencies. He should prefer the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines), which would do something in that direction. Whatever difference of opinion might prevail on the subject of Reform, the country seemed to be agreed in this—that an electoral body comprising only about one in seven of the adult male population was a wholly inadequate foundation for popular institutions; and that the class which most wanted to be included was the working class; because it was in no sense properly represented in that House at present, while every other class was. At the same time the country was equally determined not to submit to any revolutionary scheme. He was not opposed to a wide extension of the suffrage, but was against any system of franchise which would rest on a uniform rating level, and he believed that it would be impossible to carry any Reform Bill so long as such a 596 level remained. Another difficulty way of extending the franchise arose from the great, wise, and beneficent changes which of late years we had made in our financial policy. It was perfectly clear that with free trade we must have a system of direct taxation. Our direct taxation, which was now only in its infancy, rested on a broad basis of exemptions, embracing a large part of the population; and it had been argued with some appearance of fairness that if the franchise, on its present system, was extended in any considerable degree, the exemptions from taxation remaining as now, we should soon arrive at the point where the right of making the laws would be practically severed from the obligation of paying the taxes. But supposing that Parliament should dispense with the rate book as a test altogether, and go back to the more ancient and complete principle of household suffrage, accompanied with that most reasonable and constitutional condition that exemption from taxation should disqualify to vote, could any one imagine that the character of the constituencies would be injured. He believed their quality would be greatly improved. Those who were most afraid of the extension of popular rights might be reassured from the knowledge that all who voted shared a proportionate responsibility. They would establish a better qualification on a self acting basis, and its future extension might be left to the ingenuity and the necessities of Chancellors of the Exchequer. From various reasons he had been induced to think that some of the difficulties of this question were not to be dealt with summarily in that House, but that inquiry before a Select Committee was necessary, in order to see how these difficulties could be best smoothed over, and a Reform Bill introduced that would be satisfactory to the country. The hon. and learned Member for Marylebone (Mr. Edwin James), he understood, took occasion the other night, after comparing independent Members in that House to the successors of Alexander, to raise a laugh at the idea of referring the Constitution of England, as he said, to a Select Committee. He would like to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman, who was so well acquainted with ancient history, whether he had never heard of Constitutions of free States that were submitted with eminent success to the consideration, not of Select Committees, but of individual Legislators? The hon. and learned Gen- 597 tleman, he understood, ridiculed all Motions by independent Members on the subject of Reform, and contended that the introduction of such measures should be left to the Government; hut he (Mr. Warner) hoped the hon. and learned Member would enlighten the House as to how he proposed to awaken the dormant sense of responsibility in the Ministers of the Crown. Before concluding, he wished to give expression to one word of earnest but respectful remonstrance to the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The noble Lord had said that one of his reasons for doing nothing this Session was, that there was no popular cry in the country for Reform—no strong gale of popular favour to carry a Bill over the bar of the House of Lords. In his opinion, that was the strongest possible reason why he should set earnestly to work immediately to arrange for the earliest possible passing of a satisfactory Reform Bill. If the subject was to have a calm, temperate, and dispassionate consideration, it would receive it in present circumstances, and not when the strong wind of which the noble Lord spoke would be blowing over the land. He gave the noble Lord all honour for the skill and the boldness with which he steered through the surf in the great storm of thirty years ago; but let him recollect how narrow was the escape then made from a disastrous shipwreck, not of his party only, but of constitutional Government and of the Monarchy itself. He still believed that the question of reform would be best dealt with by a Select Committee, but he had consulted with those whose opinion he valued, and he understood there was a general feeling in the House that the Bill of his hon. Friend (Mr. L. King) should be judged upon its own merits. He would postpone his Amendment for the present, and bring it forward as a substantive Motion on a future day. He would vote for the Motion of his hon. Friend, not believing that it would have any practical result, but because he thought that discussion on Reform was of all things needed, and that, whatever tended to discussion might indirectly load to good.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH,
in rising to move an Amendment to the effect that it is inexpedient to equalize the country or borough franchise, or to reduce the county franchise below £20, said, that unlike the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, it was his fixed intention to proceed to a division. He did not think it at all necessary 598 that questions of Reform should be left exclusively in the hands of the Government, and he thought it safer, if they were so particularly anxious for Reform, to adopt "bit by bit Reform," rather than wait for a great measure like that of 1832, which was no longer practical. The hon. Gentleman who brought forward this Motion was in precisely the same position as he was ten years ago. Practically, his Bill was the same as the one he then introduced. He admitted that he had long been of opinion that the £50 franchise in counties was susceptible of modification, but not to the extent proposed by the hon. Member. To the statement that the House had ever sanctioned the £10 franchise for counties he felt it his duty to give a fiat denial, for at the time the hon. Member succeeded in getting his Bill read a second time—-it was by a mere juggle—there were only about 150 Members present, and those who sat on the Conservative side were nearly all absent; whereas on the next stage the House rejected the Bill by a majority of 200. The sudden passing of the second reading, therefore, could not be called an expression of the opinion of the House. In 1852 a Reform Bill was brought in by the Government; but that Bill did not in any way sanction uniformity of franchise, and, indeed, no Bill introduced by the noble Lord had ever recognized the principle of uniformity of the county and borough franchise. In 1857 the hon. Gentleman brought forward a Motion for the equalization of the franchise in counties and boroughs; but that Bill was negatived by a large majority, and on that occasion the noble Lord at the head of the Government spoke very strongly against it—it was impossible that any man could speak in a spirit of more determined opposition than did the noble Lord. After the Derby Government came into power the Member for East Surrey introduced a Bill for a large extension of the franchise, having very much the same effect as the present. In the year 1859, while sitting on the opposite benches, and presumably a supporter of Lord Derby's Government, he (Mr. Griffith) dissented from an equalization of the franchise, and he thought it his duty to put a trying question to the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. On the 28th March he asked the then Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the principle of uniformity of franchise in boroughs and counties was one on which the fate of their Bill hung? What 599 was the answer of the right hon. Gentleman? After some humorous allusions as to the wholesale and retail manner in which the question had been debated, the right hon. Gentleman said, in most reasonable language, that if the Bill went into Committee he should, on the part of the Government, listen to any proposition that might be made with respect to any of the clauses, from whatever quarter it might come, in that spirit of candour that became a Government. It could not, therefore, be alleged that that Government was obstinately wedded to any particular view. He (Mr. Griffith) had given notice of a Motion in Committee to fix the county franchise at £20; but owing to the Bill not reaching the Committee he had not been able to state his reasons in favour of that proposition. The truth was, that the country did not support the Liberal party in their endeavours after Reform; and hon. Gentlemen opposite were perfectly aware of that, and the fact was hinted at in the letter which the right hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir Francis Baring) had addressed to his constituents, in which he recommended them to take what they could get, and fall back upon "bit by bit" Reform. It was for the interest of the Conservative Members to close this matter, and not to give the noble Lord the Member for London the opportunity of jerking the matter forward at any time he might think expedient. The House knew that many Members of the Liberal party were disappointed at not obtaining office, as they expected, when the present Government came into power. He said to one of them, "Why, you do not expect Lord John Russell to be Prime Minister, do you?" "Yes, to be sure," was the reply, "and if we had known what the result would be we would never have put you out." The noble Lord had maintained such close relations with so many of the advanced Members of the Liberal party when he sat below the gangway, that there was no Liberal who sat behind the noble Lord who would deny that his party expected to come into office on the shoulders of Reform. Why, look at the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Horsman. [Laughter.] He (Mr. Griffith) was sure the right hon. Gentleman would agree with him in that view. Every one must admire the pluck and gallantry with which—whether right or wrong—the right hon. Gentleman had faced his constituents the other day. The right hon. Gentleman deserved great credit 600 for it; and it was a noble characteristic of independent Members of that House, that, whether right or wrong, they were ready to do that. The right hon. Gentleman told his constituents they would have got a better Bill from the Derby Government than from the present Ministry. From the Derby Government they got a Bill which might have been amended in Committee; but from the present Government they got no Bill at all. He would tell the Conservative party that this was the time to finish a matter of this kind. Do not let them wait for another revolution like that of 1832; but let them make reasonable concessions while they could, before the waves rose and the wind howled. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Amendment.
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, 'considering that the object of the proposed Bill involves the practical adoption of a principle which has generally been considered as opposed to the spirit of our Parliamentary constitution—namely, the uniformity of the county and borough franchise—it is not expedient to reduce the county franchise below £20.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
I must say that I have heard with regret that the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Warner) intends to withdraw his Amendment, for it happens that the propriety of the proposal made by the hon. Member for East Surrey, namely the reduction of the franchise in counties to £10, is one of those propositions which have, for a length of time, been taken for granted with no sufficient ground for that assumption—it has been assumed that this House has consented to it, and very diverse conclusions have been drawn from that supposed fact. I have been looking this day at the evidence taken before the House of Lords' Committee on this subject. Their inquiry went fully into the effect of the reduction proposed by the noble Lord the Member for London in his Bill of last year upon the borough franchise, but scarcely any inquiry was instituted into the effect of the proposed reduction of the county franchise to £10. There was some evidence, however, to which I may refer, and most important evidence it was; it was the evi- 601 dence giyen by Mr. Baxter, a gentleman very well known, of high reputation in these matters, whose experience of the constituency of the West Riding, the largest county constituency in England and Wales, is of such a nature as to enable him to test satisfactorily the effect of the lowering of the county franchise to £10 in other counties. Now the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, had stated to the House that his estimate of the effect of the reduction of the county franchise to £10 would he an addition of 157,000 working electors to the county constituencies in England and Wales—but Mr-Baxter, after having gone through a number of documents, arrived at the conclusion, which he stated before the House of Lords, that that estimate was short of the actual number of electors likely to be admitted by 200,000. I have the greatest respect fur the powers of investigation and research possessed by the Home Secretary, and generally for the right hon. Baronet's knowledge of these subjects; but what conclusion are we to draw when we find such an enormous discrepancy—a discrepancy between 157,000 and 357,000—in the calculations of those two persons, each of whom is competent to judge of the character of such a measure? Last year I was led into calculations on this subject, and I felt bound to state that some of these were erroneous, because I was misled by the imperfect information before the House. The general result of my enquiries led me to believe that the probable increase would be more than double of the estimate of the Home Secretary; this was also the opinion of the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge, and I find this opinion entirely supported by the evidence of Mr. Baxter, in whose judgment I have the greatest possible confidence. It would be little satisfactory to the country if an isolated measure like the present were adopted; and of all electoral changes which this House could make this is the change upon which the House is least informed; if, therefore, any isolated measure is to be adopted by the House this is the last which should receive its assent. I am not one of those opposed to all Reform. On the contrary, I think that at a proper time, when the Legislature has duly informed itself, and when public opinion shall have ripened on the subject, it may be advisable to adopt a measure of Reform. I am by no means the advocate of absolute 602 finality; but I hope the House will not lend itself to the encouragement of agitation, and will not reduce its own dignity and waste its own time, by adopting, or seeming to adopt proposals of this kind, when the public are perfectly aware that we are not furnished with sufficient information as to the probable effects of the measure we are called upon to approve. But if the information upon which I rely is correct, by adopting this proposal you will aggravate the acknowledged anomalies of our present electoral system. What is the complaint that we constantly hear? That the working classes are not sufficiently represented in this House. In the constituency which I have the honour to represent the number of freeholders is greater in proportion than in almost any constituency that can be named; and when their interests have been threatened by such measures as were adopted last Session, I did not remain silent, and I hope the House will do me the justice to believe that when, in the course of those discussions, I set forth the probability of great distress ensuing among my constituents, I did not mislead them; for it is now a notorious fact that 20,000 persons in that district having been living upon alms contributed in mitigation of their suffering. While representing these men I object distinctly to a reduction of the county franchise to £10, because this will be the effect of it—In the boroughs generally the working classes are not represented, nor is property fairly represented. In the larger boroughs the operative classes have votes, but in small boroughs the working classes do not possess the franchise unless they happen to be freemen. Where, then, are they represented? They are represented in the counties. I am one of their representatives, and I endeavour to defend their interests when assailed. But what is it proposed that the House should now do? Why, I believe that if the proposition of the hon. Member for East Surrey be adopted you will completely neutralize the votes of the 40s. freeholders in counties, great part of whom are of the operative classes. The whole present county constituency includes 512,988 registered electors, of whom about 100,000, or one-fifth, are qualified by occupation of £50 or upwards, leaving about 412,900 qualified by property of 40s. per annum and upwards under the various tenures of property. The whole county constituency of England and Wales amounts to 512,000 active electors. If the calculation on which I rely more 603 than upon any other be correct, 350,000 electors, qualified by occupation, will be added to those 512,000 by the present proposition; so that the county constituency would be, in round numbers, 860,000 electors. At present the occupation franchise of £50 gives about 100,000 electors, or one-fifth of the whole county constituency; but if 350,000 electors be added to the 100,000, there will then be in the county constituency 450,000 electors qualified by occupation; a number equal to more than one-half, instead of one-fifth, of what will then be the county constituency. The effect will be, that whereas property and labour are directly represented by the electors of counties to the extent of four-fifths of that electoral body as it exists at present, the change now proposed will make half the county constituencies consist of electors qualified by occupation; and in that proportion will diminish the influence of the operative classes and of property in the return of county Members to this House. The effect in another direction should also be considered. The boroughs of England and Wales have 337 representatives in this House, and the counties only 159; and yet the population of the latter is in round numbers, according to the last census, 10,500,000, while the population of the boroughs is only 7,400,000. The effect of the change now proposed will thus be that labour in the counties, now represented only by one Member or two, will be represented by no more than one Member to three in this House. In large boroughs the operative classes are represented, but not in the middle-sized or small boroughs; but the greater portion of the 337 borough Members are returned by the middle-sized and small boroughs. I have shown, therefore, that by adopting the proposal of the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King), instead of removing anomalies which hon. Members opposite complain of, and instead of increasing the representation of the operative classes, you will relatively diminish their representation by increasing the preponderance of those who already send the largest number of Members to this House. This proposition will be clear to any one who will study the subject—that real property and labour are not adequately represented already, and that this change would still further diminish relatively their present influence. What is the great social difficulty with which we have at present to deal? The growing alienation between the middle and the operative classes. We hear constantly 604 of strikes and trades unions, upon which every man who values the welfare of his countryman must look with regret. Is it then either just or prudent to go on increasing the influence of the mercantile and manufacturing classes in this House, while you are relatively decreasing the representation of property and labour? I have had the honour of being a Member of this House for eighteen years and I am prepared to say, that if ten years ago the House of Lords had taken the step which they did last Session, in refusing their assent to a Bill touching taxation, there would have been an outcry from end to end of the country. But it is beginning to be felt that the influence of the manufacturing and commercial classes in this House has gained too great a predominance, and, consequently, the people of this country supported a step taken by the House of Lords which would have been dangerous under other circumstances. I applaud the courage of that Assembly, though I lament the necessity for their intervention. No man values the privileges of this House more than I do; but I cannot help feeling that if it is to command confidence in its absolute control of taxation, the anomalous proportions in which the interests of different classes are represented should not be increased by such a measure as this. If the hon. Member who proposed the last Amendment divides the House, I shall divide with him, and shall take every opportunity of protesting against this piecemeal legislation on so important a subject. [Cries of "Divide! Divide!"]
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he was extremely sorry to continue a discussion in which hon. Members on the other side of the House appeared disinclined to take part. It struck him as a remarkable circumstance, when they had heard so much said within the last few days on the subject of Reform, and of the necessity of bringing forward promptly some measure on the subject, that when a Motion connected with Reform was actually made, no hon. Member on the Ministerial side of the House appeared to think it necessary to rise in his place for the purpose of saying one word on the question. He would not go at any length into the subject at this stage of the business; but he could not refrain from taking this opportunity of asking the attention of the House to one view of the subject which had not been adverted to in the excellent speech of his hon. Friend the Member for North War- 605 wickshire (Mr. Newdegate)—but it was a view which appeared to him to he one which ought to claim a principal share of their attention. He must say he fully concurred in what seemed to be the general feeling of the House, that the hon. Gentleman who introduced this measure had to deal with a difficult subject, and had treated it, as he had always done every such subject which he handled, in a spirit of courtesy and fair play, demanding the fullest attention and forbearance from his opponents. He (Mr. Bentinck) could not, however, concur in the somewhat remarkable arguments which the hon. Gentleman had brought forward in support of his views; and it appeared to him (Mr. Bentinck) that the hon. Gentleman had attempted to do justice to his views on this question in the same way as the hon. Member for Norwich had done justice to the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs—by attacking everything that he did. The hon. Gentleman told the House that the principal reason of his bringing forward this question was because the Government had declined to introduce any measure this Session on the subject of Reform. Now it appeared to him (Mr. Bentinck) that that reason was the strongest argument that could be urged even from the other side of the House against such a proposal as that under consideration. He should have thought, after the opinions so strongly expressed on the part of the Government as to the inexpediency this year of dealing with the question of Reform, that it was most unwise to inundate the House with little Reform Bills dealing only with details of the question, which could only be properly treated in one great comprehensive measure which proposed to balance fairly all existing interests. He was of opinion that any attempt of the kind was only calculated to lead to the perpetuation of injustice. The measure proposed by the hon. Gentleman appeared to him to be one—he meant no discourtesy to the hon. Member—which, under the pretence of extending the county franchise, would have a somewhat contrary effect—that, however ostensibly such might be its object, it would not be the practical effect of it. The practical effect of the Bill would be this—and it was to this particular point he wished to call the attention of hon. Members—the practical effect of it, to express it in two words, would be this—not to extend the rural constituencies, but to nundate the rural districts with urban 606 voters, and to render the whole country one great borough from beginning to end. Now, in order to prove his statement, he would ask the hon. Gentleman who moved for leave to bring in this Bill, whether he fairly sat in that House as the representative of a rural district. He had no doubt that the well-earned popularity of the hon. Gentleman was deserving of the great constituency which he represented; but, having looked carefully over the list of voters, he should maintain that the hon. Gentleman was virtually a metropolitan, and not a rural Member. ["Hear!"] Some hon. Members appeared disposed to treat that observation with laughter; but he had the facts before him upon which he founded his assertion, and, if necessary, he was prepared to produce them. There was only one other point to which he wished to advert, which was, perhaps, of still more consequence than that which he had just submitted to the House. As he had said, the effect of this measure would be to inundate the rural districts with an urban constituency. The consequence of that inundation would be to engraft upon the rural districts those habits of bribery and corruption which for some years past, happily for the character of the counties, has been confined to the towns. Hon. Members might not be aware of those remarkable facts respecting bribery and corruption which had been disclosed before the Committees of that House. It appeared that the last fifty-seven cases of bribery established before Committees were all confined to boroughs. Not one of them had occurred in a county. Well, now, what would be the effect of this Bill? The effect would be to flood the rural districts with an enormous mass of the borough voters, many of whom were in the habit of indulging in those corrupt practices, and to change the character of the rural districts, by making them as susceptible to the temptation of money in the cases of elections as many of the borough voters had been proved to be. He would not detain the House further, but would only say that if this measure ever reached the stage of Committee, it was his intention to move an instruction to the Committee to deal with the question of bribery so as, as far as possible by legislation, to prevent the introduction of that system into the counties from the practice of which they had hitherto been exempt.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, there are two things which I do not mean to do 607 —The first is, to oppose this Motion of my hon. Friend for leave to bring in his Bill; and the next is, to argue the subject of which the Bill treats. I say I do not mean to oppose the introduction of the Bill, because, in the first place, such a step would be discourteous; and in the next place, because it might expose me to the imputation of a change of opinion on the general subject, which I cannot admit. I will not enter into a discussion of the subject to which the Bill relates, for the same reason as that which led her Majesty's Government to decline in the present Session to propose any measure of Reform to the House. That is to say, if I were to discuss the question, I should only be renewing those debates which occupied so much the time of the House last year, and which we did not think it expedient to re-enter upon in the present Session. Now for these reasons I shall not be able to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Devizes, because the immediate effect of the success of that Amendment would be to negative the Motion of my hon. Friend; and further, because the adoption of the Amendment would be only to anticipate a discussion which properly belongs to a Committee on this Bill, and which ought to be reserved for the expression of the opinion of the House, when the Bill reaches that stage. The hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Warner) lamented that he belonged to a small remnant of the Liberal party, and much grief, it appeared to me, that feeling had inspired in the mind of my hon. Friend. Now I shall endeavour to console my hon. Friend upon that point by telling him what I think further reflection will lead him to see—that so far from his being a deserted friend of the Liberal party, he and those who agree with him in his views upon this question ought rather to congratulate themselves upon being the centre of a large Liberal party. On all sides of the House we see hon. Members coming round, more or less, to the support of Liberal opinions. Now no one could expect to see such a general unanimity of opinion at former periods. When we see both of the great parties in the country alternately bringing in a Bill, the main principle of which is to enlarge the constituencies of the kingdom, and compare such a state of things with that period when, as all must recollect, the leaders of the Government declared that there should be no Reform—surely, when my hon. Friend reflects upon that fact, and that liberal measures meet with the com- 608 mon concurrence of all parties, the hon. Gentleman and his Friends must feel that, instead of being deserted, they have every reason to congratulate themselves upon the progress they have made in bringing round to their opinions all those persons and parties who have hitherto been opposed to them. I must, however, regret that my hon. Friend who has made this Motion, and the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines), who has given notice of another Motion of the same kind, should have thought it their duty to propose such measures in the present Session of Parliament. I regret it for the same reasons as those expressed by Her Majesty's Government. If my hon. Friends thought it necessary to make those Motions for the purpose of showing the House that they have not altered their opinions upon this subject, that they still preserve those opinions and sentiments which they formerly expressed, that might be a natural motive for their action on the present occasion. But surely such evidence as to their opinions and sincerity was wholly unnecessary, because nobody could suspect them, or any other of those hon. Members who are likely to vote with them, of having altered or changed their opinions. But if they expected that those questions should be fully discussed in this House, and that they should come to a final and successful issue upon them now, I think that the experience of the last Session has in some degree been thrown away upon them. They are proposing to introduce by piecemeal the very measure which was discussed in its entirety last Session, minus, indeed, the proposal for the transfer of seats—but I have no doubt that a Motion will be made to supply that little omission, at no distant period, thus completing the third portion of the Government Bill of last year. Now, the Government Bill of last year failed, as it appears to me, from two causes—first, from a cause connected with time; secondly, from a cause connected with substance. The Government felt it their duty, in accordance with former opinions and pledges given, to propose at the earliest moment possible a considerable enlargement of the suffrage. They redeemed the pledge they had given, and it remained with the House to determine whether their measure should or should not be accepted. But hon. Members must remember that the House at that period had been recently elected, and it was imposible but that their recollection must have been fresh as to the 609 inconveniences attending a general election. It was not likely that their respective constituencies should not have had also in their recollection all the disturbance of mercantile and other transactions which necessarily accompanies a general election. Therefore, it was not to be supposed that either the House or the constituencies should for their own sakes wish for a recurrence of a general election. And yet it was obvious that a measure of such a comprehensive character as was then proposed must at a short period from its passing have rendered necessary an appeal to the country. Now, I do not mean to say that that reason would be paramount, and would have prevented the House accepting a measure which was in itself agreeable to their political opinions. It was, however, manifest, from the lengthened discussions which took place on the subject, that that particular measure was not altogether to the taste of the majority of the House. Some hon. Members thought that it went too far. Others contended that it did not go far enough. But, whether the measure was too great or too little, still it is quite clear that it was not destined to receive the acceptance of the House in the course of that Session. Well, has time much altered those opinions? But a few months have passed by since that Bill was withdrawn; and I do not think it is reasonable to believe that the objections in point of time could have altered very much in the interval. Well, then, does the objection in point of substance vary very much? My hon. Friends take care that it shall not, because they bring in identically in detail the measure which was last year proposed, and which the House was not prepared to accept. We see in a public document, which we have doubtless all read this morning, remarks not wholly inapplicable to those views. Sir, there is a time for action and a time for waiting. Now, with all deference to my hon. Friend, I would venture to say that in regard to a question involving an organic change in the representation, I think that the present Session is a time rather for waiting than for action. That is the opinion which the Government entertain on the subject, and it is one which I think is also entertained by my hon. Friends themselves, notwithstanding that they think it right to move for the introduction of the measures. As I have already said, I am not going to oppose the introduction of either of them. At the 610 same time, as Her Majesty's Government have not thought it their duty to ask the House to entertain the question of Reform in the present Session—differing most strongly from the views of the hon. Member for Norwich, inasmuch as I do not think this plan for altering the practical working of the constitution of this House is one which ought to be referred to a Select Committee, believing that those measures which are, no doubt, of great importance—an importance admitted as much by those who generally oppose the Government as by those who support them, believing that measures of such importance as a change in the representation of this House ought to originate with a responsible Government, and not to be left in the hands of a private Member to take their chance—I must say I regret to find that my hon. Friends have taken on themselves in the present Session the duty which properly belongs to the responsible Ministers of the Crown. But that being the case, although I will not certainly be guilty of the discourtesy of asking the House, even if I believed I should succeed in doing so, to refuse permission to my hon. Friend to introduce his Bill, I am, nevertheless, bound to say that my hon. Friends must not expect from Her Majesty's Government those facilities which Government is often asked to afford to Members who have charge of Bills. "Give us," they often say, "a day; time is passing by, and difficulties arise to prevent us proceeding with our Bills. You have only a Bankruptcy Bill, and some few other measures of public importance. Give us a day for the discussion of our measures." I am constrained to say I shall object to make such concessions to these Bills; and, therefore, when my hon. Friends have brought in their Bills—which I trust they will be allowed to do—I must candidly intimate to them that they must take all the responsibility of the future progress of their measures, and they must allow Her Majesty's Government full leave to deal with these Bills as they may think it their duty to do—to deal with them as we may from time to time think fitting. The only thing as to which I can pronounce a decided intention is, that we cannot afford any assistance to my hon. Friends in furthering the progress of their measures by giving up Government days.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, under the circumstances under which this Bill is introduced to our notice, and after the temperate and sensible remarks a the noble 611 Lord, especially with respect to the future conduct of the Government, considering that the leader of the House does not feel himself justified in opposing the Motion for leave to bring it in, I am not prepared to oppose its introduction, more especially as leave is asked by one who is so well entitled to our courtesy a3 the hon. Member for East Surrey. Nor should I have risen had not that hon. Gentleman fallen into a great error as to the nature of the measure which I introduced into this House, when he claimed me as a supporter of the principle of his Bill. The hon. Gentleman is under a mistake. He himself was one of the Liberal party who would not allow the Reform Bill of Lord Derby's Government to be read a second time, and I have no doubt that it is in consequence of his precipitate action upon that occasion that he is so ill-acquainted with the details of that measure. The Bill which I introduced did not adopt the principle for which he contends in the present measure. It certainly proposed a £10 occupation as a qualification for the suffrage in counties; but the primary qualification was an occupation of land of that annual value—a suffrage very different from that proposed by the hon. Gentleman, and one which, had I been permitted to go into Committee upon that Bill, I should have been able to show would have produced consequences quite different from those which my hon. Friend the Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) anticipates will flow from the Bill of the hon. Gentleman. That Bill also embraced, as a secondary suffrage, a £10 occupation of houses, but the primary suffrage was derived from a £10 occupation of land. But was that all? Besides these occupation franchises there were, I think, ten other very important county franchises created by that Bill, of all of which the tendency would have been—I do not use the epithet in a party, but in a political and social sense—of a highly Conservative nature. There was introduced into the counties that lodger franchise to which I attributed very great importance; there was also a franchise arising from the possession of funded and personal property; and a variety of county franchises founded upon intelligence and education; there were also other important regulations with respect to artificial votes, and the boundaries of boroughs. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman is not at all justified in his statement that Gentlemen on this side of the House have adopted the principle which he has 612 so long and consistently advocated, the discussion of which has, however, occupied much valuable public time, and the adoption of which would be prejudicial to the public weal. After all the criticism which we have at various times heard in this House, I am myself every day more strongly of opinion that measures for the reconstruction of Parliament ought to be large and comprehensive measures. If you cannot pass large and comprehensive measures, the only conclusion which I can draw is that there is no necessity for them; but, when you are dealing with a subject so vast as the reconstruction of Parliament, you require all the responsibility of a Ministry, and all the information and all the regard to various interests which can be secured by it, but which cannot be expected from Gentlemen who arrogate to themselves the title of "independent Members"—a title to which I trust that we all, even when in office, have a fair claim. A Gentleman takes up a fragment of a great subject; he becomes enamoured with the results of his own meditations; he thinks that the conclusions at which he has arrived from the force of his own thought are the only ones which can save the State; and he is too eager to force those conclusions upon the acceptance of Parliament, without reference to the interests which their adoption may injure, but which ought to be duly considered in any scheme which attempts to do justice to the whole country. I have a strong objection to the measure which is introduced to-night by the hon. Gentleman. I think that it would have a very injurious effect upon the country. I think that it would in many counties give power to those who are not fairly connected with the predominant property and the predominant industry of the county; and I also entertain the objections which have been urged with remarkable ability by my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), which are well deserving the attention of the House, and which I am sure will command the attention of the public. But this is not the occasion on which to debate the merits of the measure, because, even with the rigid programme for the conduct of the Government business which has been announced by the noble leader of the House, we shall probably have another opportunity of discussing them; nor should I have touched upon any portion of the scheme had it not been for the misapprehension of the hon. Gentleman with reference to the conduct 613 of the late Government upon this subject. Totally irrespective of my objection to an isolated measure—totally irrespective of my conviction that you ought not to deal with the subject unless you are prepared to deal with it in a comprehensive manner—totally independent of the objection that it is impossible, in the present temper of the country, to deal with the subject in a comprehensive manner, and giving credit to the Government for being actuated in the course they are taking—not by the mean motives which have been imputed to them by their particular friends, but by that sense of duty which I trust will always influence Gentlemen in their position—I should oppose the measure of the hon. Gentleman. I deeply regret that there appears to be a prospect of the waste of valuable time—of that limited portion of the Session which is accorded to private Members not connected with the Government for their attempts at legislation. I cannot myself conceive at this moment—I am unable to form any clear idea—as to what can be the object of hon. Gentlemen opposite and their supporters in attempting this Reform of the House of Commons by measures of retail. The great wholesale firm have announced that it is a transaction beyond their powers of capital and enterprise. What probability of success, then, can attend these hucksterers, who come forward to satisfy the wants of the nation when the great association has announced that it is impossible for them to accomplish the feat? Their object cannot be to obtain popularity in the country. I believe, myself, that, on the whole, there is no subject so unpopular in England at present as Parliamentary Reform. Is it to obtain popularity in this House? I will say nothing of my Friends around me, who, I think, during the campaign of Reform last year, behaved with great temper and forbearance, and gave every fair opportunity to the Government to carry their Bill if they could. But I can say something of the feelings of hon. Gentlemen opposite, because, month after month, I watched their countenances, and saw men representing capital cities and large constituencies whose teeth were chattering in their heads when the Order of the Day was read. Their pallid visages could not be, concealed from the commonest observers; you found them in the lobbies shaking in their shoes at the threatening invasion of a £6 constituency. Why, Sir, these are traits which convince me that the hon. 614 Gentleman and his friends will obtain no popularity among their co-mates and colleagues in this House by the course they propose to pursue. Well, then, what can be their motive? Is it the honourable ob-object of proving that, though they are taking an unpopular course as far as the country is concerned—though they are taking an odious course as far as their intimate friends are concerned—that they are still consistent, they have not changed their minds, and that, though changes may have occurred in other quarters, they are the same as when they presented themselves upon the hustings? If that be the result which they desire, then I say it is one which they can obtain without wasting the time of Parliament, and without still further injuring that cause of Parliamentary Reform to which they are devoted. They can have a public meeting; Willis's rooms maybe once more engaged; and, though no compact may be entered into, still they may make a demonstration which will prove to the country that their opinions are perfectly unchanged, and that whenever an opportunity offers itself they will carry them into effect. I really wish they would consider the feasibility of such a scheme, because it is only on Wednesdays the noble Lord intends that they shall have an opportunity of bringing forward these measures, and on Wednesdays we have a prospect of some important and interesting legislation. I confess I look forward with dread to a repetition of the scenes of last year. In the House of Commons, especially when you have sat here a good many years, there is a genial feeling, on both sides, of reciprocal respect and regard. Gentlemen on this side are, therefore, averse from a repetition of the sufferings of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Why this unnecessary torture? Why is this alarming prospect—such, for example, as that which agitated the Member for the capital of Scotland—again to be held out, to the annoyance of hon. Members and to the waste of public time? I wish, after having performed an act of courtesy to both these Gentlemen, in allowing them to bring in their Bills, some private arrangement could be entered into by which we should hear nothing more of the subject. We ought always, they say, to act in the spirit of the age, and, as the spirit of the age is to offer testimonials to Gentlemen who perform public services, I shall be most ready, if they will adopt this course—and in this I am sure I speak the feeling of my friends 615 —to join with the majority opposite in offering to those Gentlemen some mark of our respect and gratitude.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he would withdraw his Amendment with the intention of proposing it in Committee.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. LOCKE KING and Mr. HASTINGS RUSSELL.
§ Bill presented and read 1°.