HC Deb 25 February 1861 vol 161 cc907-30

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving the second reading of this Bill, said the only principle involved in this Bill being the filling up the four vacant seats, no Member, in giving his vote in favour of the second reading, would, he conceived, be expressing any opinion as to the particular destination of any one seat, or be in any way bound to vote in favour of the particular arrangement proposed in the Bill, or against any Amendment which might be proposed in Committee. Therefore, unless there were Gentlemen who thought that it would be advisable to keep these four seats open, or wished to negative the Bill proposed by Government, and allow other Bills which it was known were to be proposed by Members to have a priority of consideration, they would be prepared, he should suppose, to give their vote in favour of the second reading of this Bill. If that were the case, he thought very little advantage would arise from discussion at that stage. If Gentlemen were prepared to assent to the principle of filling up these seats, it would be more convenient, would save time, and be better for the valuable arguments Gentlemen might be ready to employ, to reserve them until the Bill was in Committee, or at all events until the Motion that the Speaker do leave the chair. He trusted, therefore, that hon. Gentlemen, if prepared to give their votes in favour simply of the principle of the Bill to fill up the four seats, would postpone discussion till they arrived at the next stage.


said, there could be no objection to the principle of transferring the seats of Sudbury and St. Alban's to larger and purer constituencies; but, at the same time, he could not concur with the right hon. Gentleman that this Bill should be permitted to pass sub silentio. He had understood the right hon. Gentleman to state that the Government were not particularly wedded to the plan of allocating the seats as proposed in the Bill, and that, no doubt, would facilitate the passing of the second reading. His (Mr. Baxter's) purpose in rising was merely to state that in his humble judgment the claims of Scotland to at least one of the Members were altogether paramount, and to express a hope that the Scotch Members would unite on an Amendment to be proposed in Committee for substituting the Universities of Scotland for the borough of Chelsea and Kensington. His hon. Friend the Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling) had given notice of a Motion to that effect, and the question could not possibly be in better hands; and he (Mr. Baxter) hoped that the Scotch Members, altogether apart from political or party considerations, would give the hon. Member for Perthshire their support. The Universities of Scotland were utterly unrepresented, and yet they had a constituency very nearly as numerous as the University of Oxford, and nearly double that of Trinity College, Dublin; and every one would admit that the Scottish Universities were celebrated in all branches of literature, science, and art. He hoped, therefore, that the House would have little hesitation in assenting to the reasonable demand of his hon. Friend. The House, however, must not be under the impression that if this demand were granted the people of Scotland would be satisfied. He stated that freely and fairly, because he wished it to be understood that great injustice had been done to Scotland. The people of Scotland looked forward to a large increase in their representation by a gradual disfranchisement of boroughs that were every now and then convicted of bribery, and declared unworthy of electing Members to Parliament. He hoped the House of Commons would not be slow to deal with Berwick-upon-Tweed in precisely the same manner as they had dealt with Sudbury and St. Alban's. [An hon. MEMBER: Gloucester.] Yes, and with Gloucester, too. No doubt the House would see the justice of transferring from such a miserable constituency as that of Berwick-upon-Tweed the seats to such large constituencies as Dundee and Aberdeen, each containing more than 100,000 inhabitants, and yet only returning at the present moment one Member. Look, again, at the Scotch counties. He believed that not one-half the Members of the House of Commons were aware of the fact that not one Scotch county, however populous or rich, at this moment returned two Members to the House of Commons. He saw the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) in his place, and he had given notice of an Amendment to transfer two of the vacant seats to Ireland. Well, Ireland had just claims, and he (Mr. Baxter) would be the last man to refuse them; but he thought in this matter they had to look to the interest of the United Kingdom, and not to the people of Scotland or Ireland separately. But he rather thought that the hon. Gentleman could not have seen the Return which was presented to the House in March, 1859, scarcely two years ago. That Return contained a calculation of the number of Members returned by the three kingdoms, based upon population and taxation, which he thought was a fair basis. According to that Return Scotland should return 73 Members; but she only, at the present moment, returned 53. Ireland returned 105; but, according to this statement, she should only return 101: so that at the present moment, calculating on the just basis of population and taxation, Ireland was returning 4 more Members than she ought to do; while in Scotland the return was 20 less than she ought to return. But Scotchmen were not unreasonable men. They were not going to ask for 20 additional Members. Their reasonable claim at present was to have one of the four vacant seats for their University, and they highly approved of the plan of gradually disfranchising rotten boroughs. He hoped the House of Commons and Her Majesty's Government would go on in that policy, and in proportion as those boroughs fell in they should be appropriated to independent and incorruptible constituencies on the other side of the Tweed. He trusted that his hon. Friend would, in Committee, per- sist with his Motion, and that all the Scotch Members would support him.


said, he thought it was tolerably clear from the number of hon. Members who rose to address the House, that the pacific proposal of the Home Secretary was not likely to lead to a settlement of the question of Parliamentary Reform, and that there was every probability of a list of grievances on a large scale being laid before the House, similar to the last one submitted by the hon. Member for Montrose. He (Mr. Bentinck) did not, therefore, see why, amongst all those grievances, the only real grievance existing should not be considered. The hon. Member for Montrose, in urging forward his own grievance, had, it appeared, found out that Scotland had too few Members and Ireland too many. He (Mr. Bentinck) was much mistaken if raising that question would not tend considerably to protract their debates. But leaving that question aside he should like to say a few words in regard to the chief grievance, as it appeared to him, which was contained in the new Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. He viewed the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman as entirely unjust, for this reason—namely, he did not propose to bestow the whole of those seats upon the places that had the strongest claims to them. But, without wishing to find fault with the right hon. Baronet's motives, he was willing to admit that, like almost all the other zealous Reformers, the right hon. Gentleman was labouring under a great difficulty; and that difficulty was occasioned by a total misapprehension as to the real position of the question of Reform, and as to where the real grievance lay. They had heard many speeches from below the gangway as to what was called the rights of the Six Millions of unrepresented people. Those claims had been put forward in such a stentorian voice that for a time they appeared to be wholly irresistible. But nothing was said of the claims of a much larger class of the people, the millions who had not their fair share in the representation. There was an invisible stumbling-block in its way—and, somehow or other, invisible as the block was. Reform stumbled over it, and never was able to recover its fall—the real grievance had never as yet been dealt with, and, until it was properly dealt with, no Reform Bill would get over it. That grievance was the rural grievance. He contended that the real existing grievance in this country was the very inadequate share in the representation now enjoyed by the inhabitants of the rural districts. The fact was simply this: the rural districts had not within one-third of the representation to which they were entitled. The disinclination of hon. Gentleman opposite, who wanted to make great and magniloquent speeches on Reform, to admit the fact which he had just stated, compelled him now to submit the proofs of his assertion, and he dared them, if they could, to disprove them. The question was one simply of figures. ["Oh, oh!"] He did not wish to bore the House with figures, and should only read a short extract from the book he held in his hand. The facts connected with those figures were so important that they could not be too often repeated. Those facts had been stated before by an hon. Member who was not now in his place. He (Mr. Bentinck) should take the liberty of repeating them in order to impress them the more on the attention of the House, and to invite hon. Members on the other side to refute them if they could. The case was simply this. He was now assuming that which he ventured to state on a former occasion—a sentiment that was much cheered by the Gentlemen below the gangway—namely, that taxation and representation were convertible terms. He contended on that ground that taxation and representation were convertible terms; that the figures he was about to submit to the consideration of the House were conclusive as to the fact that the rural districts I of this country were denied their fair share of representation. The annual value of the property in counties of England at the last census was considerably above £60,000,000; the number of inhabited houses was nearly 3,000,000, and the population was upwards of 10,000,000. Let them now go the boroughs. The annual value of the property in boroughs was £42,000,000, as against £60,000,000; the number of inhabited houses was 1,200,000, as opposed to 3,000,000; and the population was 6,400,000, as opposed to 10,000,000. Now, those figures were easy of recollection; the calculations were simple enough, and unless hon. Gentlemen were prepared to upset Cocker himself, they must admit that the figures led to the conclusion he had stated. The simple fact was this, that, according to the numbers he had stated, the rural districts of this country ought to have nearly 140 more Members than they had at present. But that was not the only test. There was another grievance—namely, that in ad- dition to the inadequate number of Members for the rural districts returned to that House, there was a large proportion of the electors of those districts which he would term, by way of distinction, urban voters. There could be no doubt that the result of recent legislation had been to create an antagonism of feeling between the rural and the urban population, arising from an antagonism of interests which had been created by that legislation. They made the rural population feel every day that they required a distinct representation, and yet every proposal for Reform tended to make a still larger increase of the existing injustice, and to add to the disproportionate representation which the urban population had at present. Now, if that were not admitted to be as good a grievance as any that could be put forward in favour of Scotland he should confess he had not made out his case. He would appeal to hon. Members from the rural districts to recollect that this was not a party question—that it was simply a question whether those whom they represented were to be over-ridden by an overwhelming amount of unjust taxation. Every county Member who should vote for giving another seat to any borough in England, no matter how important, until the just demand of the counties had been satisfied, would go in the teeth of the interests he was supposed to represent in that House. But there was yet another point to which he claimed the attention of the House. It was proposed to increase the number of metropolitan Members. Now that appeared to him to involve a very serious principle; one which he thought the House should deliberate much upon before it gave its assent to it. He trusted that nothing should fall from him that could be considered disrespectful to those hon. Members. He could assure them that nothing was further from his intention than to say anything personally disrespectful to any one of those distinguished men who represented the Metropolis. He admitted them to be men of great ability and distinction—men who generally took an active part in many of the questions which were discussed in that House. Nor was he going to blame those hon. Members for what he was about to complain. But, taking them in the aggregate, he must say that they were so great an inconvenience in that House—not to employ a stronger term—that he thought it was high time that that inconvenience should be abated. He did not think he had expressed himself too strongly respecting the metropolitan Members. The grounds on which he held this opinion he would shortly state. As he had before said, he did not blame them for the course they often took. They no doubt firmly believed that they were doing that which was required of them in furtherance of the rights and interests of those whom they represented. But he thought that the House of Commons and the country at large were bound to take a more general and enlarged view of the question. What did they always find to be the case? He would appeal to all the other hon. Members whether it was not a fact that they were constantly met in the lobby by an urgent demand on them to come into the House to put down a metropolitan job, and prevent another inroad being made on the pockets of the people for the carrying out of some measure which interested exclusively the Metropolis. There was probably no Gentleman present who did not recollect having read in early life the exploits of that charming person Morgiana, who undertook to save the life and property of her master by destroying a great number of troublesome and dishonest men who had intruded themselves into the said master's premises. Now, let hon. Members but picture to themselves the dismay of that worthy spinster if, at the moment she was about to put her resolution into force, she found that the number of the forty thieves had been largely increased. What must that good woman have felt under such circumstances? In the same way, could they understand the feelings of hon. Members who, coming down to the House to do their best for their constituencies, and to save their pockets from spoliation, were suddenly horrified at hearing that there was to be a large increase of metropolitan Members? Those hon. Members saw at once it was utterly hopeless to contend against the representatives of the Metropolis, who had all the advantages of constantly meeting together and of concocting their plans. Why, the whole of the House of Commons were scarcely able to maintain a fair struggle against them, inasmuch as the metropolitan Members were a packed body, united together by what they conceived to be their vested interests. Now, he protested against such a system. The right hon. Baronet very fairly said, that the details of this measure ought to be discussed in Committee. He (Mr. Ben- tinck) was not disposed to contest the suggestion so properly put forward. But as other hon. Members had put forward their own respective grievances, he (Mr. Bentinck) thought it was only right and just that he should submit the grievance of the rural districts to the consideration of the House. He hoped that before they assented to the provisions of the Bill they would insist upon having some better reasons than had as yet been offered for giving any of those seats to a borough; and he trusted that they would hear more forcible arguments than had as yet been laid down before they would assent to the proposition of increasing the number of that very dangerous body of men the metropolitan Members.


thought the Bill did not go far enough, and that it ought to dispose of the seats now filled by Gloucester, Wakefield, and Berwick. The country would never believe that the House was in; earnest in its desire to put down political corruption until the principle was adopted that wherever a borough or county was: found to be corrupt it should be disfranchised, and the seats given to whatever constituency in the United Kingdom could show the best claim to it. If that were done it would enable the House to satisfy the just demands of large constituencies which were at present inadequately represented or wholly unrepresented. He did not deny the claims of any of the places mentioned in the Bill, but neither could he deny the claims of other places, such as Salford, Lanarkshire, Cork county, Staley-bridge, Dundee, and Aberdeen. It had been said that the numbers of Scotch Members had been fixed by the Reform Act of 1832; but so also had the number of representatives of the West Riding and the Metropolis been fixed. If a Member was taken from the centre of England and given to the West Riding, why should not one be given to any place which could show a just claim to it? He certainly thought that the Scottish Universities had put forth a very modest and very just claim when they asked for one Member. With a constituency nearly equal to that of Oxford, and exceeding that of Dublin University, they were entitled to have their claim considered.


said, he did not rise to oppose the second reading of the Bill, but he agreed with the hon. Member for Forfarshire, who had just sat down, that those seats should be given to those electors who could show the best claim to them: and on that ground he regretted that the Government had allowed the opportunity to pass which this Bill afforded them of conferring direct representation on the working classes. He certainly would not reproach this House with being indifferent to the welfare of the working classes, for every one who had watched the tendency of modern legislation must allow that its aim and object was to elevate their condition and to promote their welfare; but he felt it was a practical grievance, of which they had a right to complain, that they had no direct representation in this House by which they might make known their wishes and bring forward their grievances. On the occasion of the second reading of the Bill of last year he threw out a suggestion that a fair way of settling the question would be to concede to some of the large towns, which might be regarded as the chief hives of industry, a more extended suffrage than that which was conceded to the other constituencies of the kingdom. He was then met by the objection, that if an extended suffrage was to be given to the working classes, what would become of the representation of the middle classes already existing? He thought the House had now an opportunity of dealing with the question by leaving intact the representation of the middle classes, while they granted additional representation to the working classes. He would take the two largest towns—Liverpool and Manchester—and he asked the House what objection would there be to give additional Members to those towns to be returned by persons living in tenements of a rental below £10, leaving the present Members for those towns to be returned by those occupying tenements above that value? He understood that the great object of the Constitution was to obtain as great a variety of opinion and of class interests as possible. It was the great fault of the Reform Act of 1832 that it destroyed the traditional variety of franchises which previously existed, and that it reduced the representation of the country to the dead level of a £10 uniformity by which too great a preponderating power was given to one particular class. He did not ask the House to subvert the political class, nor to submerge the existing constituencies beneath a flood of new electors; but he did ask them to allow the representatives of the working classes to sit in this House side by side with the representatives of the middle class. He for one considered that no political system could he safe or secure which excluded from all share of political power a large, and, as they were now, an influential and intelligent class, such as the working men of this kingdom. If they could not make their wishes known or their grievances heard, except by monster meetings and by platform agitation, then they might depend upon it that in times of distress the country would witness monster meetings and platform agitation. He could not see why, on the other hand, if the working classes had their special representatives within this House, they should not bring their grievances to be calmly discussed within its walls, instead of resorting to violent agitation without them. He was confident that if such a plan were adopted the working classes would return Members to this House as valuable as any that were likely to be returned by Chelsea and Kensington. He believed there was a deep-rooted feeling, not in this House only but in the country, that the number of metropolitan Members ought not to be increased. He did not speak with the least degree of discourteous feeling towards any of the metropolitan Members; but every one must have felt that their influence was not adequately measured by the mere numerical strength of those Members. If any metropolitan grievance arose the House was sure to have it brought before them within the space of twenty-four hours, and if it had a semblance of reality for its foundation it was immediately redressed. If they gave a Member to Chelsea and Kensington, that would be for all practical purposes to add one to the Members for Lambeth and Southwark; the new Member would represent no new class, no new feeling, no new interest. But Members directly representing the working classes would represent in this House a new class, a new feeling, a new interest. He had a strong feeling on this subject, and if any hon. Gentleman would bring forward a clause embodying such a plan it should have his hearty support.


said, he would not have risen but for the attacks on the metropolitan Members. The hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Peacocke) was very generous to the working classes. He proposed to give new Members to Liverpool and Manchester, but how would that benefit the working classes if he kept up the present franchise?


I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon—I said just the contrary.


Well, but if the hon. Gentleman thought the working classe8, who, according to the hon. Member for Norfolk, amounted to 6,000,000, would be satisfied with such a flimsy boon as four Members to themselves, he could asssure him he was very much mistaken. The hon. Gentleman, and also the hon. Member for Norfolk, had opposed the giving any more Members to the Metropolis on the ground that they not only made any metropolitan grievance heard, but it was immediately redressed. That fact had certainly not been brought home to his apprehension. For his own part, he thought that the Government paid less attention to metropolitan grievances than to any others. Of this he was quite sure, that metropolitan grievances did not receive so much attention as Irish grievances, and that the metropolitan Members did not combine together so well as the Scotch Members. To these latter gentlemen it did not matter who was in and who was out. Whether the Lord Advocate was a Whig or a Tory he dined down at Greenwich with the other Members for Scotland; they were all banded together as one man, they acted as one man, and they got at least as much as they were entitled to. The hon. Member for Norfolk had talked of the greater population of the counties; but of what did that population consist? Of the working classes whom the hon. Gentleman would not enfranchise. The hon. Gentleman had also referred to taxation. Now, on the ground of population, or taxation—both or either—the Metropolis was entitled to a greater number of Members. The Metropolis contained 3,000,000 of inhabitants, and the taxation amounted to a far higher proportion than that of any other district. On this question the hon. Member had not done justice to his own principles; for, if he drew the correct inference from his own figures, he would find that on the ground of its population, on the' ground of taxation, and on the ground of the multiplicity and variety of interests which were included, the Metropolis, instead of twenty Members; eighteen for the boroughs and two for the county—ought to have at least forty.


said, that if the Government had taken the same course on the first reading which they had taken on the second, there would have been no occasion to make any observations. The Home Secretary and the noble Lord at the head of the Government had then compared the po- pulation of Scotland with that of England, and had argued on that ground that as the seats to be disposed of were English seats they ought to be given to England. But it was evident that if the number of Members was to be kept up always to 658, and the English seats were to be given up to England, the Scotch to Scotland, and the Irish to Ireland, there could never be any fair redistribution of seats. He (Mr. Blackburn) wished to treat this question as an imperial one, and he should, therefore, prefer to talk of the seats north and south of the Tweed, instead of talking of them as English and Scotch seats; and he accused the right hon. Home Secretary of unfairness, inasmuch as when he spoke of Scotland, he took the census of 1851 as his guide; but, when speaking of seats south of the Tweed, he relied upon the estimated population in the forthcoming census. The district south of the Thames, including Middlesex, had one Member for every 34,751 inhabitants; while that north of the Tweed had only one Member for every 84,000 of the population; so that if they took the population of Scotland into account, it was entitled to all the four seats, though it asked but for one. He admitted that when they looked into the proposition of the Government to give additional Members to West Yorkshire, South Lancashire, or Birkenhead, the proposition was not objectionable on account of the great manufacturing and agricultural or commercial interests of those places; but when they proposed to give an additional seat to the Metropolis it was quite a retrograde step. Hitherto the custom had been to give the disfranchised seats of the south, formerly the seat of wealth, to the new and populous constituencies of the north. Why, then, should they go back and give an additional seat to the Metropolis. The county of Lanark, with its population of 237,000 inhabitants, and but one Member, had a far better claim to an additional representative than Middlesex, because if they took away the Metropolis from Middlesex they would find that the population did not exceed 287,000. As far as material interests went, he believed it would be found that Chelsea and Kensington grew nothing but asparagus and cauliflowers. Would anybody say that six Members returned by the English and Irish Universities were not worth a dozen representatives of such mushroom constituencies? At all events, he cousi- dered that if one seat were given to a Member for the Scotch Universities he would be a worthy colleague of the four representatives of the English Universities. He claimed one of the seats for Scotland, and if the hon. Member for Perthshire persevered in his Motion he should certainly support him, and he thought he would be supported unanimously by the Scotch Members.


said, that there was one point remarkable in the debate, and it was this—that, although there had been an exchange of personalities in the course of the discussion, no exception had been taken to the proposal of the Government for the allocation of these seats by any Member on either side, although they objected to the particular constituencies which had been mentioned. It was always a difficult matter to deal with when one had to compare the rival claims either of counties or of boroughs. He could assure the hon. Member for Norfolk that he fully concurred with him in feeling that the rural districts had a full right to fair representation; but when he talked of the great amount of taxation on the counties, he would ask the hon. Gentleman if he included Schedules A and D in his calculation? He confessed that he had been struck by his figures; but he could not help thinking that the hon. Gentleman had only included Schedule B in his calculation, and not the other two. Recalling the opinion which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire expressed in 1852, that the duty of filling up the numbers of the House devolved on the Government, and not on any private Member, he must express his satisfaction that the occupants of the Treasury Bench had thought fit to deal with the question themselves, and had undertaken the difficult and invidious task of deciding on conflicting claims. The claims of the Scotch Universities had been urged to some of the seats. He would frankly confess that were not his sympathies engaged elsewhere there was no claim which be would more gladly advocate than the claim of the Scotch Universities to representation—he should rejoice to see an increase of the unostentatious business-like element in that House from that part of the United Kingdom—but when they had four English borough seats to fill up, he could not help thinking that there were important boroughs in England which had a prior claim. With regard to the metropolitan Members as a body, it was true that they were not always very popular with the House, but he knew from experience that whenever they had a fair case to bring forward, they received the same courtesy and indulgence which other Members experienced; and he therefore hoped that for the future hon. Members would not begin with a compliment to the Metropolitan Members, and then end with assuring the Mouse that there was no class, the addition to whose Members they looked forward to with greater horror. But the claims of Chelsea and Kensington could not be overlooked, and though under this Bill it was only proposed to allocate to them jointly one seat, he flattered himself that in Committee he should be able to make out a case for giving them two Members, as was proposed both in the Bills of 1854 and 1859, as he believed that from population, rateable value, rental, and contributions to direct taxation, no other unrepresented borough in the United Kingdom could fairly compete with them.


said, that the reason for taking away the four seats from these boroughs having been on account of corruption, the proper course for the Government to adopt in selecting the new constituencies would be to give them to places in which they could expect to find the greatest amount of independence; and with all due respect to Kensington or Marylebone, and the other boroughs and places which it had been proposed to enfranchise, he thought the claim advanced by the hon. Member for Perthshire in favour of the University of Scotland ought to be considered paramount. Even in the larger boroughs of England there were mostly rumours of bribery and corruption having taken place, although no Parliamentary investigation was asked for. No such charges had ever been brought against the Universities of England or Ireland with respect to their choice of representatives, and he did not think that it was at all likely that such a charge would be brought against any Member elected for the University of Scotland. The constituency in that case would be highly intellectual, and altogether above the imputation of being actuated by unworthy motives in their choice, while they would probably send a Member who would do great credit to the constituency and the House. The Government and the House ought to take into consideration the great prestige which would be given to the cause of education in Scotland if the University of Scotland were recognised through returning a Member to Parliament. They ought to abolish all rival distinctions, and consider that they were a united empire on both sides of the Tweed, having only one desire, that of promoting the interests of the whole country.


said, he was anxious to address a few words to the House, to show why he should oppose this Bill at the present stage. He agreed with the hon. Member for West Norfolk, who had said that the agricultural and landed interests were not adequately represented in that House; they never had been. The agricultural interests of England, Ireland, and Scotland were not represented—indeed, the population of Ireland might be almost said to be entirely agricultural—and all the legislation at present was addressed to commercial and manufacturing interests. Two grounds of representation, valuation and population had last year been taken; and whether they made the calculation on the one basis or the other they would find the boroughs had an undue share of representation. In point of valuation the boroughs had three times the representation of the counties, for whilst one Member represented a valuation of £127,274 in the boroughs, a county Member represented a valuation of £380,906 in the counties. Again, as to population, a borough Member represented 1,292 electors, while a county Member represented 3,186 electors and pursuing this calculation it would be found that a borough Member represented 22,088 persons, and a county Member 64,800 persons. Thus, it was obvious the number of borough Members 337, was too large a proportion to the county Members who were only 159, in England and Wales. He would not enter into the question of taxation, as the hon. Member had fully entered into it, and he need not assure them that on that ground also they would find the counties were worse represented than the towns; and what made the matter still stronger was that the county Members did not only represent the counties which sent them, but were frequently more intimately connected with, and anxious for the interests of the working population residing in the towns. Much was at times said by hon. Members on the Opposition benches as to representing the working classes; but it was not those hon. Gentlemen who had passed the measures most for the benefit of the working-man. Who was it passed the Ten Hours Bill, the Fencing Machinery Bill, the Factories and the Bleaching Bill? Why, it had undoubtedly been the hon. Gentlemen who sat on his (the Opposition) side of the House. Truly, there was one or two brilliant exceptions, the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), who had from time to time raised his voice in the interest of those people; so did the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oldham, and so had Mr. Fielden; but taking the mass of the measures that had been passed for the amelioration of the inhabitants of the large towns it would be found that they were not carried by those who represented the towns, but by the county Members. The fact was that master manufacturers and the operatives were considered by the former antagonistic, and they preferred their own while the representatives of agricultural constituencies knew their own interest and those of the working classes to be identical. They had heard a great deal said by hon. Gentlemen opposite on the subject of extended franchises, and of liberties they would give to those operatives engaged in manufacturing districts; and this reminded him of the present doings and objects of the seceding States in America. There the Southern States seceded to get liberty, and that liberty they desired only to perpetuate slavery. Their cry was not at all unlike that of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, He protested against the arrangement not to give additional Members to Ireland. Two were promised to it when the Reform Bill was last under consideration; and what difference was there in its circumstances now? Surely if it were just to give Ireland two more Members last year it was not less just now, and that it was just then must have been the deliberate opinion of the framers of that Reform Bill, or they would not have asked the House then to consent to give Ireland additional Members, and he scarcely thought it could be asserted that since that period there had been any changes in the proportionate population. How those who proposed to give Ireland two additional Members could now oppose the same proposition, and he (Colonel Dunne) intended to make it in Committee, he could not possibly conceive. As to valuation, he did not think it could be regarded as a test between two countries; it might be all very well to apply it where the comparison was between different parts of one country; but there could be no justice in applying the test of valuation when they were com- paring Ireland, a poor country, and England, a rich one. No doubt Scotland was entitled to increased representation—whether by means of giving Members to her Universities or not he could not say; that was a matter for Scotland itself; but he must say that he almost doubted the advisability of giving Members to Universities to any greater extent than was done now, and he would prefer giving a seat to some Scotch county. But the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) had said Ireland was over represented. Had the hon. Gentleman paid any attention to the population he would have seen this could not be the case, for, although in England there were one Member to every 36,612 persons, and in Scotland only one to every 54,014, yet Ireland had but one Member to every 65,034. How, then, could the hon. Member state that Ireland was over represented? They had a right to demand for Ireland, he thought, at least one of these seats, they having already been promised two, and for this reason he should vote against the details of this Bill. He could show at greater length the propriety of this course, but at so late an hour would not trouble the House further. There would be sufficient opportunity when the Bill came into Committee of doing so, and he would give notice before it did so. That this would prove the omissions of the proposed additions to the metropolitan Members of whom there were already sixteen, a number which he felt sure the House would consider more than sufficient.


said, that having a deep interest in what he hoped would be the future borough of Birkenhead, he trusted he would be excused in saying a few words in its favour. He believed that the claims of Birkenhead to have a representative were much stronger than those stated by the Home Secretary when he introduced this Bill. He had carefully examined the rate-books of the various places comprised within the intended borough of Birkenhead, and he found that the number of persons who would be entitled to vote in the event of the Bill becoming law to-morrow, was 5,319, of whom 2,500 occupied tenements above £20. The population of Birkenhead was between 50,000 and 60,000 persons, and it was progressing at a rate not equalled by any other part of the kingdom. Under those circumstances, so far from not being entitled to have a representative, he thought that Birkenhead might very fairly claim two Members.


said, that he desired, in consequence of the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke), to draw the attention of the House to one point which had not been adverted to in the debate. He wished, however, at the outset to say, that he could not join in the disparaging opinion which had been expressed with reference to the metropolitan Members. On the contrary, he thought such opinions not only invidious but unjust, and he was ready to bear his testimony to the high character and efficiency of the metropolitan Members. A paper, however, had been put into his hand, which led him to think that the conclusions which his hon. and learned Friend had arrived at upon his statistics would lead the House to au erroneous result. The hon. and learned Member stated that there were twenty metropolitan representatives, and that, taking wealth and population into account, there ought to be forty. He (Mr. Horsman) doubted whether they ought to take the number of representatives by those who theoretically sat for these constituencies in that House. He held in his hand a list of no less than seven very eminent London bankers, all of them representing other constituencies, but whose business, residences, and interests were all in the City of London, and whenever the political or the commercial interests of the Metropolis were affected, those Gentlemen were as much available as the champions or advocates of those interests as were those Members who happened theoretically to represent it. Then, again, there were no less than eight Bank Directors, who also had seats in that House as the representatives of other constituencies. There were four Aldermen of the City of London, who represented rural constituencies, and there were in addition to those five eminent merchants and capitalists representing other places; but no man in that House would say that where the interests of the Metropolis were concerned, they would not be representatives as accessible and as efficient as any of those who had been returned for metropolitan boroughs. There were likewise six very eminent shipowners, whose commercial and local interests were in the City of London; and without going more minutely through the list, he might say that there were no less than forty Members in that House, in addition to the twenty Gentlemen who represented the metropolitan constituencies, all of them eminent men in different classes of com- mercial life, and all as available and efficient for the representation of metropolitan interests as its own proper representatives. That was putting out of the question a great many others who, like himself, were electors for the metropolitan districts, having property in those districts, who were entitled to assist in all matters of local interest, and who were more or less representatives of metropolitan constituencies. Therefore, be far from there being only twenty metropolitan representatives in that House, there were more than the number of forty, which was the number demanded for the Metropolis by his hon. and learned Friend. He ventured to say that there sat in that House at least from forty to fifty Members unconnected with the representation of metropolitan districts, who still were as directly and as intimately connected with all metropolitan interests as any of those who had been elected by those constituencies to the House. There was another point also, which was very much lost sight of, which was that in the claim of any constituency to representation, the question of locality and vicinity should be considered. He held that any borough within the vicinity of the Metropolis, having two Members residing within the Metropolis, and who are at all times accessible, did not require so many representatives as a district in Ireland or Scotland of the same population. The Members from those kingdoms were far removed from those whom they represented, and had frequent occasion to be absent from London, and though, perhaps, representing equal wealth and numbers, could not exert in their behalf the same influence as a metropolitan Member, or one representing a place in the vicinity of the Metropolis could exert on behalf of his constituents. For these reasons he thought it was a question of very grave doubt whether the Metropolis was not represented far more in proportion to its wealth and population than more distant constituencies who might possess greater claims.


said, he was not disposed to follow the right hon. Gentleman in his discussion as to the merits of the metropolitan Members. The question before them was whether they should fill up the vacant seats:—as to that there was no question;—but, beyond that, there was the further question, on what principle the vacant seats should he distributed. He presumed the proposal of the Government was to distribute a part of them to coun- ties, and a part to boroughs; but he did not think the Government had effected that proposal in a satisfactory manner. He could not understand why the great West Riding of York should be put in the invidious category of some of the smaller counties, and that it should only be thought deserving of a third seat. He thought the experience of "unicorn" counties had not been very satisfactory; and if, instead of giving one additional Member to the West Riding, and another to South Lancashire, they had divided the West Riding into two, and so distributed the seats, they would have acted on a sounder principle. When the Government had made up their minds as to which of the non-represented boroughs should have the feats, they would, probably, be assented to, unless, indeed, the Scotch Universities found favour in their sight and got them. But at this stage of the Bill he would not enter further upon that argument, but he was now anxious at this moment to guard himself against being supposed to be in favour of that part of the scheme which simply gave a third Member to the West Riding of Yorkshire.


said, that many of the objections which had been raised by hon. Gentlemen to the Bill, might be far more fitly made in Committee. He desired to express his entire dissent from the opinions which had been expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman). It did appear to him (Mr. Roupell) a most extraordinary notion that the Metropolis should be considered as possessed of forty or fifty representatives, who were returned by other constituencies, simply because they were more or less interested in the Metropolis. Surely the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord Fermoy) could not be considered as representing an Irish borough or an Irish county, nor could a Scotch Member be supposed to represent any other portion of the Kingdom than that for which he was returned. Nothing could be more absurd than to say that the Metropolis was re-presented by forty or fifty Gentlemen, who were supposed at the same time to represent the special interests of those constituencies by whom they were elected. Did they represent the Metropolis, or did they represent their own proper constituencies? They might represent the general interests of the country—but it was idle to say that those seven or eight bankers, those six Bank Directors, and those Gentlemen connected with the ship- ping interest, were sent to that House as representatives of the metropolitan constituencies, rather than of the general interests of those constituencies by whom they were elected.


begged to remind the House that the Bill of last year was withdrawn on a Resolution which proposed to postpone legislative measures with regard to the representation of the people until the results of the census of the present year should be known. If the Government agreed with that Resolution, it would be unwise to proceed at present with this Bill, because the result of the Census might show a great alteration in the proportion of population. The hon. Member for Finsbury, also, bad given notice of a Motion with respect to the seats for Wakefield and Gloucester. The Government must have made up their minds whether they intended to oppose that proposition or no; and it was desirable that the House should be put in possession of their views.


said, that as hon. Members seemed all agreed as to the principle of the measure they ought to read it a second time at once, and leave details to the Committee. He must say, however, that he did not think the West Riding had had justice dealt out to it. Considering the large amount of its population and the importance of the district, it was entitled to a larger share of the representation. The West Riding, irrespective of the boroughs, contained a population of 800,000 persons; and the boroughs 400,000 more. It was sixty miles long and seventy broad, and, what was material, it could not be contested at a less cost than £15,000 aside. In the present state of political apathy he believed it would be utterly impossible to procure candidates. Considering the present state of the county the seat was virtually confined to a few leading families. At the last election every shilling of the Conservative candidates' expenses was subscribed by the gentry of the district; but they could not always rely upon that. There was a great desire that the county should he further divided, and he thought that two additional Members should be allotted to it. He hoped the Home Secretary would spare them the annoyance of having a contest hanging over them for the next nine months. He saw no reason why the writs for these seats should not be issued immediately the measure was passed.


said, he was not going to raise a discussion as to the respective claims of England, Ireland, and Scotland at that hour. He only wished it to be understood on the part of Irish Members that silence did not give consent. He did not think this was the proper time to re-distribute these seats. They had four seats to dispose of and some forty or fifty applicants. It was convenient to have a few vacant seats to distribute when they had a Reform Bill; and it would also he well to wait till they were in possession of the forthcoming census. He objected altogether to this system of bit-by-bit Reform and to this miserable Bill—this ridiculus mus—a sorry substitute for the comprehensive measure they had so long expected.


proposed to read to the House a letter he had just received from the Mayor of the ancient Borough of Sudbury. The mayor stated that at the time the borough was disfranchised it possessed the right of returning Members to Parliament—a right which it had exercised for three centuries. The charter was originally given for special services rendered to the Crown; that the borough was situated in the Western Division of Suffolk, which returned only nine Members to Parliament; while Sussex, with the same population and the same area, returned eighteen. Wiltshire, with a much smaller population and area, returned eighteen; while Buckinghamshire, with less than half its population and area, returned eleven Members. The hundred in which Sudbury stood contained 40,000 inhabitants. The mayor added that since the disfranchisement of Sudbury, numerous other constituencies had been convicted of the grossest practices of bribery and corruption, and yet had been allowed to return Members to Parliament. Even at the present time the writs for Gloucester and Wakefield were suspended, although apparently without any ultimate intention of their being disfranchised. The Report of the Berwick Election, just issued, contained more astounding facts than had ever been alleged against Sudbury. On these grounds the Mayor of Sudbury claimed that one of the seats should, at all events be restored to it. He (Major Parker) should be much influenced in his vote by the Government declaring that the smaller delinquents should not be treated with a greater measure of punishment than the larger ones. If the House in its wisdom should not think it prudent to restore to Sudbury her two seats, perhaps it might give it one. But at any rate he thought he had made out a claim for two more Members on the part of Suffolk.

Bill read 2°, and committed for Thursday, 7th March.

House adjourned at a Quarter before Twelve o'clock.