§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ EARL JERMYN
said, he rose to move as an Amendment that the House will upon that day six months resolve itself into the said Committee. Nothing could be further from his desire or more foreign to his purpose than to implicate himself in the countenance of bribery and corruption, and the remarks which he should address to the House would completely refute any such imputation. He appeared principally to advocate the claims of the borough of Sudbury to preserve its representation, and he was ready to discharge the same office for St. Albans, though he had no direct authority to make any statement on her part. It might he taken, however, that Sudbury acknowledged the abstract justice of her punishment, but through him, as her representative, took exception to the scheme of the Government, which created a double condition of the law, and which, allowed two different classes of punishment to be meted out to one and the self same offence. Such a state of things ought not to command either the approbation or acquiescence of the House of Commons. Since the last election for Sudbury had there been no election petitions, no Committees to try charges of bribery, and no Royal Commissioners to inquire into cases of corruption of a still more extensive and systematic nature? Had there been any decrease of electoral offences, or any relaxation of electoral immorality since Parliament, penetrated with serious anxiety, had once and for ever by the exercise of 843 the full weight of its displeasure swept' away a body which, to his mind, could not be spoken of or thought of except as a national disgrace? He would not weary them with details, but he entreated them to recollect the enormous mass of petitions complaining of corrupt practices which were presented immediately following the last general election. He admitted that many of those petitions were withdrawn, but enough still remained, after making all due allowance for the excited feelings of disappointed candidates and partisans, to show how inveterate was the evil, and how widespread its operation. He had no hesitation in averring that the borough of Sudbury had been made the scapegoat to bear the burden of electoral sins. He maintained that the measure of disfranchisement was intended to be no less remedial than penal. He appealed, however, to the candour of the House to say whether that intention had been fulfilled? Bribery and corruption still existed, flourished, and permeated our constituencies with an obstinate energy and perseverance which completely falsified all expectation of amendment from the terror of the example which Parliament had made. It might be worth while, then, to inquire why their legislation had been attended with such ill, or rather such little effect. He thought he could tell the House one reason, and could show them at least one cause of the inutility of their Act. It was this—that Parliament had ignored one of the first and most important principles of penal legislation. He submitted that the efficacy of punishment as an agent to deter from the the commission of any offence materially depended upon the impartiality and certainty of its infliction. Unless they showed constituencies that they were prepared to act on a broad and comprehensive principle on a well-considered and statesmanlike system, an act of isolated severity would become, as he feared it had already, merely the laughing-stock of those to whom it was meant as a warning. Had he seen the slightest trace of a disposition on the part of the Government to recommend Parliament to legislate on a statesmanlike and impartial basis, or on the part of the House to take the matter into their own hands, and endeavoured earnestly to cure the evils which now disgraced our electoral system, he would not have troubled the House with his Motion. He could, however, perceive no such intention on the part of the Government; and, what- 844 ever might be the feeling of the House at large, his Motion would at least afford an opportunity to those hon. Gentlemen on both sides who took a genuine interest in the matter to express their views. As a reason for the assumption that the Government were not prepared to deal with the question on its merits, he would remind the House of the manner in which the right hon. Gentlemen the Home Secretary had met the distinct question which he put to him in the beginning of the Session, as to whether it was the intention of Government to visit any constituency that might have been already or should be hereafter convicted of gross bribery and corruption with the same punishment which had been inflicted on Sudbury and St. Albans. The right hon. Gentleman in reply favoured the House with the rather stale news that it would be competent for any hon. Member to move the reissue of writs to Gloucester and "Wakefield. He also informed them that the Law Officers of the Crown had been consulted as to whether there was a ground for prosecution in the Berwick case. That surely pointed to a prosecution of individuals, whereas his question applied entirely and exclusively to constituencies. He submitted, then, that when it would have been so easy for the right hon. Gentleman either to have met his question with a direct affirmative or negative, he was right in his assumption that the Government had not yet determined on the way in which they should deal with this position, as the right hon. Gentleman rather avoided the real point at issue. Therefore, it was not unreasonable to ask the House to pause before it took the final step of destroying the political entity of these boroughs. They ought first to consider, not the mere abstract, but the comparative and relative justice of the proceeding—they ought, in fact, to consider what ought to be their future procedure with respect to constituencies that were found to be corrupt and rotten at the core—constituencies not a whit less worthy of extinction than those the appropriation of whose seats they were now discussing—nay, those constituencies were far more deserving of punishment, because their offence had been committed in a generation which it was the fashion to believe was of a pure spirit and a higher political morality than that which had gone by. It would have saved the Legislature of the present day much time, trouble, and inconvenience 845 if the Parliament which undertook the immolation of these unfortunate boroughs had made some proper and satisfactory disposition of their bodies. Unfortunately, they did nothing of the sort. They left their victims hanging, and trusted everything else to chance; and it had, therefore, fallen to his right hon. Friend to undertake—there was something significant in that word—the task which ought to have been performed long ago. Accordingly, all the necessary arrangements and preparations for the dismal event were made, the mournful occasion at length arrived, the right hon. Gentleman was ready to perform the sad duties of his self-appointed office, when he was startled, dismayed, and thunderstruck by hearing, mirabile et horribile dictu, a noise in the coffins. He should be the last person in the world to attribute to the right hon. Gentleman anything approaching to superstitious terrors; but he must confess that it did appear to him that from that time the right hon. Gentleman had been, for he did not know how many weeks, scampering away as fast as his legs would carry him from that most supernatural and portentous cry. The hon. Member for Knares-borough halloed to him to stop, but he might as well have halloed to the moon. He perfectly sympathized with the feelings of the right hon. Gentleman. It must have been a severe shock to his system, that just when he was about to consign to their eternal house what he fondly believed were the mortal remains of defunct constituencies they should emit sounds which gave unmistakeable evidence of the presence of at least some remnants of vitality. It was because he believed that it would require no very superhuman effort to resuscitate the semi-animate bodies of these unfortunate constituencies that he was making this Motion. It was not the Act of Parliament that stood in their way. Of course if the House, after passing that Act, had proceeded to appropriate the seats there would have been an end to the whole question; but they might, if they pleased, repeal the statute by which the boroughs were disfranchised. He owed the House an apology for interrupting the harmony of the evening—if, indeed, that word were appropriate to what was likely to be a deadly conflict. He sought to play rather the part of some noble or royal personage, who, at a joyous passage of arms, thought fit, from whatever motive—were it of humanity or caprice—to fling down 846 his "gauntlet" into the arena of the tilting ground, and so prevent the impending méléee. He knew very well that many hon. Members had come down to the House somewhat prejudiced against the Amendment. It was no wonder that, after a Session of more than ordinary dulness, hon. Members should be disappointed at the idea of losing the spectacle of a great tournament. Already, no doubt, many hon. Gentlemen in their mind's eye beheld the shock of the heroes as they closed in fight, heard the cries of the spectators, the lamentations at the overthrow of some favoured champion, and the shouts of the victors. He confessed that it was hard to make a sacrifice of such a spectacle; but he had consolation to bestow. He did not seek to oppose the progress of the Bill longer than the period when the House had settled what course it would pursue with regard to constituencies convicted of gross and systematic corruption. He believed that philosophers had decided that pleasure consisted rather in anticipation than in enjoyment, and the hon. Gentlemen to whom he was referring might next year, perhaps, be permitted to enjoy the fruition of their hopes; let them this year, however, be content with, the philosophic delights of expectation. There were some Gentlemen out of the House to whom his apologies were also due, amongst whom were a very respectable body of men who were anxious to become the constituents of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He felt confident that the House would discuss this question gravely and temperately; he hoped that they would construe favourably the attempt to prevent inequality and unfairness of punishment, and he felt sure that, with the strong feeling which existed in the country against inflicting capital punishment upon offending electoral bodies, and, in the absence of any comprehensive scheme of reform for abolishing small boroughs, they would not sanction the Bill which was now under their consideration.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day six months, resolve itself into the said Committee,"—instead thereof.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
The noble Lord in the very temperate remarks which he 847 has addressed to the House stated that it was not his wish to arrest the progress of the measure further than for the purpose of discussing the question what should be done with the boroughs convicted of bribery? It appears to me that the most fitting opportunity of discussing that question will be when the Bill regulating the conduct of elections comes under discussion. In that Bill there is a clause providing that the suspension of the writ for a certain number of years shall take place in cases where a commission has reported the prevalence of bribery. That provision is intended to meet the cases where bribery is not universal and long-continued; but in flagrant cases, no doubt, it would be proposed to disfranchise the boroughs altogether, as was done in the case of Sudbury. The speech of the noble Lord is, in point of fact, an appeal to the House for a rehearing on the subject of the disfranchisement of Sudbury; and an attempt to resuscitate that defunct borough—The times have beenThat when the brains were out the man would die, And there an end: but now they rise again, With twenty mortal murders on their crowns, And push us from our seats.I confess I was not all prepared to hear any attempt to induce the House to reconsider the question of the disfranchisement of Sudbury. If it were restored to its lost franchise I do not see that Grampound might not put in a claim to revival, and the county of York might be asked to give up the two Members which it received from that borough. Nothing could be more notorious than the character of Sudbury for a long-continued and flagrant corruption. Even a century ago its fame was well established. A recent Constitutional History, for which we are indebted to Mr. Erskine May, who sits at the table of this House, and with which I have no doubt many Members of this House are acquainted—[Cheers]—referring to the electoral abuses which prevailed at the commencement of the reign of George III., contains this passage—Sudbury, infamous for its corruption until its ultimate disfranchisement, publicly advertised itself for sale.[Laughter.] And the Act which was passed by this House, after a full inquiry in the year 1844 recites that "systematic and extensive bribery prevailed in the borough of Sudbury at the last election," and it was, therefore, enacted that the said borough should cease to return any Mem- 848 ber or Members to serve in Parliament. That measure was fully considered during its passage through both Houses; counsel were heard at the bar on the second reading both in this and the other House of Parliament, and the Bill passed without any serious difference of opinion. The Bill was introduced by the Solicitor General of the day, and to show the House that persons of all opinions concurred in the disfranchisement, I will read merely a few lines from the speech of Mr. Charles Wynn, well known as an authority on constitutional questions, but who at that time had quite retired from public life, except to the extent of sitting, when he was able, in this House. Owing to infirmity he spoke from his seat, and saidHe thought the House ought to be consistent with itself and should proceed at once to pass the Bill. The evidence adduced was amply sufficient for the House to act upon in legislating, and he regarded the Bill not merely as penal but as a remedial measure. He believed no borough had exhibited more systematic bribery and corruption than had been shown to exist in the borough of Sudbury.After this statement of the circumstances under which the Bill was passed I scarcely think it will be necessary for me to dwell at any length on that part of the subject. I will only mention that both sides have concurred in regarding the disfranchisement of Sudbury as a final act. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) in the Bill which he proposed in 1853, for assigning the same four seats which are under consideration to-day, treated that Act as final, and in his general Bill for the reform of this House he likewise included them. Therefore, the disfranchisement of Sudbury must be treated as a matter which is beyond the reach of discussion. The noble Lord says we have been inconsistent, and that we have dealt to other boroughs a measure less severe than what we have dealt to Sudbury. I can only say that it is quite competent for any Member of this House, who is of opinion that Gloucester and "Wakefield ought to be disfranchised, to bring a Bill under the consideration of the House. It is not peculiarly the office of the executive Government to propose a measure on that subject. The borough of Grampound was not disfranchised on any proposal of the Government for the time being. Those, therefore, who think that the evidence is sufficient to justify a stronger step than we have taken in suspending the writs of those two boroughs during the present 849 Parliament may make any proposition they think fit to the House. My own opinion unquestionably is that, where a borough is not of first rate importance in point of magnitude, and where the bribery has been extensive, the House ought not to be too tender in regarding the interests of the innocent minority, but might with propriety proceed to final disfranchisement. I am aware, however, that on that matter great difference of opinion prevails. I can only say that the House, no doubt, will be ready at any time to consider whatever proposition any hon. Member may think it his duty to bring forward. Under these circumstances the noble Lord, I hope, will not think it necessary to press this Motion to a division, but will allow us to proceed to the discussion of the clauses of the Bill before us.
§ MAJOR WINDSOR PARKER
said, he did not desire to raise any discussion with respect to the disfranchisement of Sudbury, but lie must say that it was contrary to all principles of justice to punish the innocent many for the offences of the guilty few. Was that course adopted in our courts of law? Did hon. Gentlemen recognize it in the discharge of their magisterial duty? The right hon. Baronet had given them the opinion of an hon. Member entitled to respect on the point; he (Major Parker) could refer the right hon. Baronet to the opinion of a man equally respected. Sir Robert Peel had said, speaking of bribery, "he wished to punish the individuals who might be proved to be guilty of bribery'; but he thought it would be unjust to punish the whole constituents of a borough for the crime of a portion." He (Major Parker) hoped the time would never come when the House would depart from that wholesome Christian method of never condemning and punishing any one who was not proved to be guilty, and, therefore, that the House would not concur in the views of the right hon. Baronet.
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, he hoped the noble Lord would press his Motion to a division. Had he not found the notice of the noble Lord upon the paper, he should himself have given notice of a Motion to a similar effect. The House was not in a position to dispose of the four seats at all. The present Government had been put into office to carry out a great and real measure of Reform, and their predecessors had been defeated because they had proposed a mere pitiful instalment.
850 But, paltry as those proposals had been molehills as they were thought at the time, they were mountains to this miserable abortion. Members at that side of the House were expected to vote on all occasions that black was white for the purpose of keeping the Government in office, and yet that very same Government not only violated its pledges, but did not scruple to vilify and slander its supporters, both in the House itself and in the lobbies outside, for the purpose of gaining votes to strengthen its position. He should certainly not allow such a miserable Bill to be proposed without dividing against it, even if he were to walk out into the lobby alone. He could not regard such a measure as in any way a settlement of the question upon which the Government took office. As honourable men the members of that Administration were bound, he thought, to place their posts at the disposal of Her Majesty, now that they had failed to fulfil the pledge upon which they took them. Apart from all angry feeling, however, he would ask was the measure before the House the sort of Reform the country expected? He maintained that so far from furthering the cause of Reform, it would impede it, and that in any general measure it was important to have a few seats for disposal among important constituencies, upon some recognized principle of distribution. So far as the measure went it would stand in the way of the consideration of new ideas which might be broached upon the theory of representation. For instance, it was the opinion of some persons that no constituency ought to have more than one representative. Then, again, the metropolitan boroughs were already over-represented. He did not complain nationally upon that subject, as he thought that Chelsea, if formed into a borough, would be very likely to return a countryman of his own, but he objected altogether to proceeding with a fragmentary scheme whilst the great question of Reform was still unsettled.
§ MR. STIRLING
said, that if the noble Lord who moved the Amendment went into the lobby he should not follow him, though he thought they were indebted to the noble Lord for having brought his Motion forward. The Bill required more consideration with Mr. Speaker in the chair than had yet been given to it; but be believed that, though imperfect in many respects, it was a step in the right direction.
851 Ever since he had bad the honour of a seat, in that House it had been engaged in devising schemes to put down bribery and corruption; but it appeared to Mm that the remedy most likely to be successful had been on all occasions neglected. Public opinion in this country would not permit, and ought not to permit, any very severe punishment to be inflicted on the poor and ignorant man for taking the bribe which the rich and intelligent man gave; but our Legislators had never yet thought of the mild and simple remedy of depriving the voter of his vote whenever he was found guilty of selling it. That punishment would be simple, equitable, suitable to the offence, and not over severe, while it would have the additional advantage of increasing in severity according to the position in life of the offender. Applying the same rule to the person who gave the bribe, he would deprive him of the privilege of voting, not only in the place where the bribe was given, but also in any other part of the kingdom. Let the punishment follow on the finding of a Committee of that House, subject, of course, to any appeal which justice might seem to require. He thought that seats forfeited for offences like that committed at Sudbury and St. Albans ought to be given to other constituencies without unnecessary delay; and it was because this Bill proposed to do tardy justice to those corrupt places that it should receive his support. He thought, however, that Sudbury and St. Albans had a right to complain that other offenders escaped while they were punished. Why had "Wakefield and Gloucester been left out of the Bill? Why was Berwick left to pursue its evil courses without a check? Why should the Government—who so frequently warned private Members off this and that field of legislation—leave the important question of bribery to independent Members? As to the disposal of the seats, it was argued that, being English, they ought to be kept for England, and must not be given to Ireland and Scotland. Speaking in the presence of a hostile majority he ventured to think that that argument was unsound. If the geographical argument was to prevail at all, why should it not prevail in favour of the counties in which the punished boroughs were situate? If it were good for England as against the rest of the Empire, why was it not good for Suffolk and Hertfordshire as against the rest el England? He thought the Bill would 852 have been much much more equitable if it had been proposed that one of the seats should be given to Scotland and another to Ireland. The argument that those seats were English had no weight with the political leaders on the front benches when they were preparing their Reform Bills. In the last two Reform Bills, and, indeed, he believed he might say in three, all these four seats were to have been given to the sister kingdoms, and he could not see how what was equitable when those Bills were introduced could be unjust now, He should greatly deprecate the introduction of national jealousies into the consideration and disposal of those seats. He had put an Amendment on the paper in favour of the Scotch Universities, not because those institutions were in Scotland, but because they were the only institutions of that character, and of the same venerable antiquity and national importance which were now unrepresented. He would venture to notice some remarks on the subject which appeared that morning in the great English journal. They were told that in the selection of representatives for seats in Parliament, Scotch and Irish constituencies chiefly considered whether the candidates were Scotchmen and Irishmen. He must say that that statement so far as it concerned Scotland was untrue. His countrymen had not forgotten the generosity of England in adding eight to the Scotch representatives at the time of the Reform Bill, and raising their number from, forty-five to fifty-three. Of those eight additional Members no less than seven were Englishmen, which was about the number of Scotchmen returned by all England. There was another statement to which he should not have alluded but for the importance of the journal in which it appeared. The Times said that the House of Commons was asked to admit "some deputy from the young gentlemen who elect Lord Sectors and similar Abbots of Misrule at their Annual Saturnalia." On a former occasion the same journal called those young gentlemen "raw boys." The constituents of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and those of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Cambridge, might as fairly be accused of holding Saturnalia as that Scotch University constituency which he hoped to see enfranchised. The body for which he asked a representative was the General Councils of the Scotch Universities, a body corresponding with the Convocation of Oxford and the Senate 853 of Cambridge. The General Council of the University of Edinburgh, included, or might include, Lord Brougham, the Marquess of Lansdowne, the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, the noble Lord the Prime Minister, and all the Judges of Scotland, besides many other distinguished persons who might be cited as specimens of the "raw boys" for whom it was thought so impertinent to ask for a share in the representation of their country. He hoped he should have the support of the great body of the Scottish Members when he brought forward his Motion; and he would venture to suggest to the Irish Members that they ought on that occasion to restrict their claim to one seat only, and to make up their minds among themselves as to where that seat should be.
said, he had given notice of a Motion for assigning two of the vacant seats to Ireland, and his hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) had also given notice of a Motion for assigning two of the vacant seats to Dublin city and Cork county respectively. His hon. Friend the Member for Perthshire had urged them to be satisfied with one Member for Ireland, and as the Irish were always moderate, he should be content if they could get one seat from the Government. He did not see why the West Hiding of Yorkshire or South Lancashire required additional Members; he had gone through the statistics of the Southern division of Lancashire and the county of Cork, and he should at a future stage state the grounds on which, he considered that the latter had the stronger claim for one of these seats. Ireland was not properly represented in that House. He should not move the Amendment that stood in his name, that two of the seats be transferred to Ireland, but he should move, with the assent of his hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan, that the county of Cork be substituted instead of the Southern division of Lancashire in this Bill.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he had had some experience in Reform discussions, for he had taken an active part when the measure of 1832 was under consideration, and he certainly could not congratulate the House on the prospect before them of entering into a controversy as to the merits of different constituencies. He thought that a course full of danger, and it was one which had always been systematically avoided. The composition of that House 854 from its beginning had been of Members sent up by counties, cities, and boroughs, and the rule had always been that a borough should have a species of municipal government before it was made a Parliamentary constituency. It never could be the interest of that House to run one great community against another, and to compare the respective merits of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The wiser course would have been for the Constitutional advisers of the Crown, on their own responsibility, to say what places they thought should have the vacant seats; and submit their decision to the consideration of the House.
§ MR. WARNER
said, there were two very important but distinct questions involved in the discussion. First, whether it was right at that time to fill up the vacant seats; and, secondly, if so, by what constituencies the seats were so to be filled up? He thought the noble Lord opposite (Earl Jermyn) had injured his case by overstating it. He had recommended the House not merely to abstain from filling up the seats but to restore them to Sudbury and St. Albans. They could not listen to the noble Lord's proposal to negative this Bill. Some more substantial grounds must be given for adopting such a course than any they had already heard. He (Mr. Warner) thought that the Government would act wisely by leaving the question of filling up the vacant seats in the hands of the House. Nothing could be more unfortunate than to treat it as a party question. The Government, dealing with it as a party question, had chosen the new seats very well; but what was more important was that each seat should have a character, an importance, and an individuality which should do honour to the representation. As an English Member, in no way whatever connected with Scotland, he would not resist the claims of the Scotch Universities, which he thought stronger than those of any of the important constituences which had yet been proposed. No one could regret more than he did the failure of the efforts of the Liberal party in the way of Reform, but he saw no early prospect of a better state of things. The Liberal party, once so strong, was now thoroughly disorganized. How far the noble Lord who was their recognized leader was responsible for such a result he would leave it to history to say. Seeing no hope of any substantial or useful Reform Bill, he should advise the House to 855 avail itself of the present opportunity of obtaining the small increase to the representation that was offered it; and with that view he should support the Bill.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question,"
§ The House divided:—Ayes 338; Noes 44: Majority 294.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ House in Committee.
§ Clause 1 (Additional Member for West Riding of Yorkshire and Southern Division of Lancashire),
§ MR. COLLINS
said, he hoped to satisfy the Committee that three, at all events out of the four, Members should be given to the county constituencies and two of these to the West Hiding of Yorkshire. It seemed to be agreed that South Lancashire should have one, and, therefore, the addition to the West Riding must be at the expense of Birkenhead or Chelsea. He had his own opinion upon the subject, but he would not enter upon the question whether the Reform Bill of 1832 did or did not do justice to the counties as compared with the boroughs. The settlement then made had been accepted for the last thirty years, and it seemed very difficult to disturb it. He pledged himself to show that his proposals wore in accordance with the spirit of that settlement, and that they founded on justice. To understand this matter thoroughly they must go back to the time of the Reform Bill, and they must look at the character of the constituencies of Sudbury and St. Albans, which had been disfranchised. The noble Lord introduced at that stormy period to which he had referred three larger measures of Reform. In many particulars they were the same. They had all a Schedule A, of boroughs wholly disfranchised; a Schedule B, of places partially disfranchised; a Schedule C, of places to return two Members; and a Schedule D, of towns to return one Member and of counties to return three and four Members. Disregarding prescriptive right, which was stronger than law and reason, the noble Lord attempted to diminish the number of Members in the House. His first Bill was lost on the Motion of General Gascoigne "that it was not expedient to diminish the number of Members for England and Wales;" and he could not help thinking that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle had the Motion; of General Gascoigne in his 856 eye when he gave notice of a Motion hostile to the representation of the Universities of Scotland. The second Bill of the noble Lord, which was lost in "another place," contained 23 fewer Members than those who under the old and under the present system had the honour of seats in this House. In the third Reform Bill the noble Lord proposed to fill up 23 vacancies by adding one to the counties and 22 to the boroughs. The noble Lord said he would not disturb the balance between town and country, and, therefore, would add 11 of the 22 seats to the larger boroughs, and 11 to the smaller boroughs which partook of the nature of county constituencies. The noble Lord called from the grave 11 boroughs which had been scheduled in the second Bill to return only one Member, and the Members who sat for those places might thank God that in those days there was a House of Lords. Thrice within twice thrice years he had heard proposals to disfranchise the town which he had the honour to represent (Knaresborough); but he hoped that his eyes would have become dim, his hair gray, and his voice began to fail before he had the pain again to listen to such a proposal. Sudbury was not one of the 11 larger boroughs, and was called back as a counterpoise to Brighton and Macclesfield, which received a double representation. Therefore if they gave the seats of Sudbury to Birkenhead or Chelsea they would upset the settlement of 1832, and re-open a question which, for the sake of the boroughs, had better be left alone. It might be said that, although Sudbury partook of the character of a county representation, that was not the case with St. Albans. But if hon. Members looked back to the debates of those days they would find that St. Albans was among the next half-dozen on the list for semi-disfranchisement; and, therefore, if they were to consider St. Albans as neither belonging to town or county. They would be dealing liberally by the large boroughs, if one of the seats of St. Albans was allotted to them, he hoped he had satisfied the Committee that three of these seats ought to fall to small boroughs like Sudbury and St. Albans, or, failing such places, to the counties. He had listened with attention to the speech of Mr. Sidney Herbert in 1859, when he pointed out that Members for small boroughs represented much larger bodies than the constituencies of the particular boroughs for which they sat; and be 857 had also heard with satisfaction the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer on that occasion—that the distribution of seats was full one-half of a Reform Bill, and that they ought to look to the quality of the persons likely to be elected as well as to the quality of the electors. He was sure that no one could look at the front rows on both sides of the House without being convinced that these small boroughs formed a material element in a fair representation, and that complexity and diversity, not uniformity, should be the rule in any sound representative system, but he felt that it was hopeless to attempt to induce the House to allot these four seats to boroughs of an analogous character, but that being out of the question, it was manifest that if they took as the basis of legislation the Act of 1832, they must give them to the counties. The next question was what counties were best entitled to the seats. The bases of the Act of 1832 were taxation, population, number of electors, and geographical area, and taking those points as guides, the West Riding was dearly entitled in future to send four Knights of the Shire to Parliament. The number of counties to which four Members were assigned by the Act of 1832 was 26; and the choice was said to have been made according to taxation, population, voters, and geographical area. On the question of taxation, he drew a broad line of demarcation between the annual value in connection with counties and the annual value in connection with boroughs, because the county representation was essentially one of property, and the borough representation was essentially one of occupation. The county Member in a rough way represented the property of his county—not so the borough Member. If the rate-book were really made the register, and votes given in accordance with the amount of rates paid, then taxation and representation might justly be said to go together. But the real fact was that in too many boroughs the power to pay and the power to impose taxation bore no relation whatever the one to the other. The net annual value of rental in the West Riding was greater than in any of other 26 counties which by the Act of 1832 returned four Members, with the single exception of Lancashire. North and South Lancashire gave a return of £4,500,000, the West Riding £3,126,000, and Kent, the next on the list, only £2,310,000. On 858 the ground of population the West Riding was also entitled to increased representation. Exclusive of the represented boroughs, Lancashire contained a population of 817,000, the West Riding 794,000, and Kent, which returned four Members, had a population of only 485,000. The West Riding contained more than twice the population of the other counties with four Members. In geographical area the West Riding as compared with the other counties stood second on the list. Lincolnshire contained 1,779,000 acres, the West Riding 1,750,000, and Devonshire 1,600,000. The West Riding contained double the number of acres of more than half the counties with four Members. While second, therefore, in respect of area population, and taxation, the West Riding stood first in respect of the number of electors, for although returning only two Members it contained more than any single county constituency with four Members. By the return of 1859, the West Riding had a constituency of 36,645 electors, and the number had since risen to about 40,000. In Lancashire which returned four Members the number of electors was only 31,000. Out of the 26 counties he had mentioned, 16 had not a half, and most of them had not a quarter, of the number of electors in the West Riding. On what ground, then, could the West Riding be refused an equal representation with those 26 counties? It might be said that the West Riding ought to be content because there were so many represented boroughs within its borders. The fact was, that with a total population by the census of 1851 of 1,300,000, the West Riding returned only 18 county and borough Members altogether. That was a body of population which was more inadequately represented than that of any other part of England, or even of Scotland or Ireland. The reason why the West Riding did not receive a larger share in the representation in 1832 might perhaps have been that the claims of the district were not sufficiently brought before Parliament. In the vernacular of Yorkshire, the Bill was brought in by a south countryman a "foreigner." Sheffield, Leeds, Halifax, Wakefield, and other towns were then for the first time enfranchised; and Knares-borough, Ripon, and Pontefract were under the control of family influence, and the Members for those places no more represented the people of the West Riding than they did the palace at Chatsworth. The 859 borough he had now the honour to represent was then the appanage of the ducal house of Devonshire, to whose credit, however, it ought to be mentioned that they did not put it up to auction or reserve it for members of their own family. The last three Members returned for that borough while it was in the hands of that House were Sir James Mackintosh, Mr. Tierney, and Lord Brougham; and, while he had a high appreciation of the wisdom with which that constituency had of late years chosen a representative, he doubted whether they would be able for many years to come to find three such eminent men to represent them. Still in no peculiar sense could such men be said to represent the West Riding. There was not a more industrious, thriving, intelligent, or loyal population than that of the West Riding, and on every ground they were entitled to the increase of members which he claimed for them. The fact that it was in name only a division of a county ought not to interfere with its claims, for, to all intents and purposes, it was a separate unity. The West Riding was not like the divisions of counties, such as Cork in Ireland, a geographical expression. Yorkshire had its three Lord Lieutenants, estimable Whig noblemen—with three benches of magistrates and three commissions of deputy lieutenants. In the matter of taxation, the Worth, East, and West Ridings, had each their three separate county rates, and, except for the accident of having one sheriff, the West Riding was as distinct from the North or East Ridings as from Lancashire or Durham, and being a separate unity ought to have been so treated in the Act of 1832. Having made this point that the West Riding of Yorkshire ought to return four Knights of the Shire, there remains the question whether it should return four as a unity, or should be divided like all other counties into two divisions, each divisions returning two Members; and whether the unity of the West Riding should be preserved was a question which should be decided on Imperial rather than local considerations. It was true that there existed among the town freeholders of the West Riding a wish that the Unity of the riding should be preserved; but there were 800,000 unrepresented persons living outside the towns who were equally anxious that it should be divided, This rural population, numbering 800,000. even giving them the benefit of Knaresborough and Ripon, returned only six 860 Members to Parliament, while the populations of the boroughs—Leeds, Sheffield, Huddersfield, Halifax, Wakefield, Bradford, and Pontefract—amounting to only about half a million, returned 12. Among the rural population there were 40,000 electors, while in the towns there were only 21,000; thus, while the borough population had a Member for every 1,800 electors, the rural population had only one for every 6,000 or 7,000 electors. Under these circumstances it was hardly fair that the town populations should not only insist upon retaining the preponderance of representation which they at present enjoyed, but should also demand to be allowed to manage the affairs of the rural population. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London in his first Reform Bill had proposed to disfranchise the town freeholders in new boroughs on the ground that when he gave them specific representation of their own they ought not to interfere with the wishes of the rural population; their conduct, therefore, on this head could but meet with reprobation from the noble Lord. That this was the feeling outside the town populations did not admit of doubt. Last year the magistrates held a meeting which was convened by a circular issued by the deputy clerk of the peace, to consider whether it was desirable that the West Riding should be separated into two divisions, and a resolution was proposed that it was the opinion of the meeting that the riding should be separated into two divisions, to be called the north and south divisions, to which an amendment was proposed to the effect that it was inexpedient for the magistrates as magistrates to express an opinion on the subject. This amendment was lost by 17 to 46; the dissentient magistrates then left the room, and the original resolution was thereupon carried by the magistrates who remained. He thought he had shown that, as to the local question, the majority were in favour of the riding being divided. The question which it was more important to consider, however, was the bearing of this matter upon the interests of the empire at large. The general desirability of dividing large counties was one of the few subjects upon which the late Sir Robert Peel and the noble Lord the Member for the City of London were agreed at the time of the Reform Bill. Why, then, should not the West Riding of Yorkshire be divided in accordance with the wish of the rural inhabitants? Mr. Mill, in his 861 Essay on Representative Government, said that it was important that minorities should be heard in that House. Now, but for the accident that they had found a representative in the hon Baronet who sat for the county (Sir John Ramsden), who was not elected by them, the Conservatives of the West Riding would be entirely unrepresented. There were, however, among the Conservatives 13,500 electors, or more than the whole number of Liberal electors, who in the boroughs returned 12 Members. It was not right that so large a number of persons should be without a Member to represent them. The legal expenses on each side of contesting the West Riding were not under £15,000, and there were other expenses, not defrayed in the ordinary course, which left the actual amount little short of £20,000. What might be done on the Liberal side he could not say, but the expenses of the Conservative candidate at the last election were defrayed by public subscription. But it was too much to suppose that even the patriotism or the love of fighting which prevailed among Yorkshiremen would induce them to subscribe as liberally every time it pleased the noble Lord at the head of the Government to dissolve Parliament; and, therefore, practically the representation of the West Riding would be left in the hands of a few wealthy men—an arrangement which did not seem to him desirable on public grounds. Having made out a strong case for the four Members and for the division of the country, he next came to the question as to how it should be divided. Two proposals had been made for dividing the West Riding, the one by Lord Derby's Government in 1852; the other by Lord Aberdeen in 1854, both of them fair enough, but he preferred not from any fear of the supposition of being influenced by party motives, but because it was more in accordance with old local boundaries, to adopt the line of demarcation marked out in the Bill proposed by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London in 1854. It was a painful thing that the change which he desired could not be made without damaging somebody else, and he wished there were more seats to be disposed of. It would be unjust totally to disfranchise boroughs like Wakefield and Gloucester, because the balance between counties and boroughs as settled in 1832 would thereby be destroyed; but if only one Member were left to each of those boroughs they would still be in as 862 good a position as Birkenhead. Taking a lesson from the course pursued by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer it might be desirable to embody in the same Bill proposals for the disfranchisement of one place and the enfranchisement of another. Coming then to Chelsea and Kensington they were not entitled either by population or wealth to the increased representation which it was proposed to confer on them. They had already no less than 1,500 votes in the county of Middlesex, which was as large a proportion as Yorkshire would have if divided as he proposed. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London objected to the disfranchisement of voters contemplated by the Bill of the Earl of Derby, and stated, and truly stated, how electors were in the habit of placing a higher value on a county than a borough vote; and, surely, if this was the case anywhere it was so in Middlesex. But if Chelsea and Kensington were created into a borough, 726 occupiers of mansions in Belgravia, with a £50 qualification, would be disfranchised in the county of Middlesex, while they would be swamped in the borough representation by the number of small houses. To support his Motion he had no party such as the Irish or Scotch Members; but "Thrice armed is he who hath his quarrel just," and he trusted entirely to the fair-ness and justice of the House, which in the end would never fail. He had no wish, in moving the postponement of the clause, to do anything hostile to the Government. He only asked them, having done the best they could for Chelsea and Kensington, and having failed, and fail they would, to fall back on their own proposition, made in 1854, which gave two Members to the West Biding. He had no personal antipathy to metropolitan Members, who were often spoken of in that House as if they were a distinct species, though, in point of fact, he saw before him several of them who had previously represented other constituencies. But he objected to the scheme for giving a separate representation to Chelsea and Kensington, because he believed he had made out a stronger case. He thanked the House for the hearing which they had granted him, and he thanked them the more because he was not always tolerant of other people's speeches; for, not being in the habit of making speeches in order that his constituents or his wife might 863 read them the next morning in the newspapers, he had little sympathy with hon. Members who did so. He begged to move that the clause be postponed.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
did not think the hon. Member for Knaresborough had shown grounds for his Amendment. If the hon. Gentleman wished to propose that a second Member should be given to the West Riding, he might have made a Motion to that effect, and if the House had decided on giving the West Riding two Members, the propositions contained in the Bill might have been modified in such a manner as would give effect to that decision. He did not think, therefore, that the hon. and learned Member had shown any reason for a deparature from the ordinary course, which was to take this clause in its order. Coming to the question raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman, he must remind hon. Members that they had to deal with a limited number of seats. There was no proposal for a further disfranchisement. The one they had to consider was for the distribution, of four seats, which, in consequence of former disfranchisement, were now at the disposal of the House. If the Government had not brought forward a proposal for disposing of those seats it was certain the question would have been raised by independent Members. Two had given notices on the subject—his hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means with respect to the borough of Salford, and his noble Friend the Member for Middlesex with respect to Chelsea and Kensington. It, therefore, appeared to the Government that it was better for them to propose a scheme dealing with the four seats in one Bill. The seats which had been forfeited were four borough seats, and some hon. Members thought they ought to be redistributed to boroughs; but the Government considered the fairest arrangement to be that by which two of them should be given to counties and two to boroughs. The hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to disturb that proposal and to give three seats to counties and only one to a borough. The Government objected to such an alteration. He was aware that on a subject of this kind all professions of impartiality and absence from political feeling were received with great incredulity; but, notwithstanding that, he must assert with sincerity that in making this proposal Her Majesty's Government were not actuated by party feeling. He thought the House might be disposed to 864 give more credit than was usually accorded to such assertions when he alluded to the four places seriatim. With respect to the West Riding it was a matter of notoriety that Members of different political opinions had represented it within a limited time, which showed that the political interests of the West Riding were not far from being evenly balanced. The same division of interests prevaled also in South Lancashire. As to Birkenhead, they could only judge of what would be the position of parties there from their position in Liverpool, of which it might be considered a suburb; and it was well known that in Liverpool the two great parties into which this country was divided had in recent times alternately triumphed, and in Liverpool political opinions were balanced. With respect to the proposed metropolitan borough, they knew that the metropolitan boroughs occasionally returned Members who were not very strong in their adhesion to political party; and, therefore, there was no ground for supposing that the Government made these proposals with any party feeling. The hon. and learned Gentleman had stated that the claims of the West Riding would be disregarded, and a gross injustice done to it, if his proposal for giving it two additional Members were not agreed to it. He did not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman was entitled to hold that language. The Government had but a small balance in bank to draw on; and if one-fourth of all in their possession was given to the West Riding, he did not think that the constituency of that portion of the empire would have any cause of complaint. If two Members were given to the West Riding, South Lancashire might consider itself entitled to two additional Members; for, while according to the census of 1851 the total population of the West Riding was 1,315,000, that of South Lancashire was 1,570,000. He hoped, therefore, that the House would concur with him in thinking that the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member was one to which they ought not to give their assent.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had spent some little time in defending what certainly he (Lord John Manners) did not mean to impugn, and what he did not understand his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Knaresborough, in his singularly able statement, to impugn—namely, the impartiality of the motives of the Government in their pro- 865 posed disposal of these four seats; but the right hon. Gentleman had not said one single word in regard to the principle on which the proposal to add to what was called "the Unicorn" representation was founded. In 1832 an arrangement was adopted by which a certain number of counties—seven in number—which were considered so small as to make such a plan desirable, were to have three Members. It was now proposed to give three Members to the West Riding and South Lancashire because they were so large. He could not think that a good reason for the extension of that anomalous system of representation. A temporary inconvenience in the case of the West riding, or of any other part of the empire, was as nothing compared with the enormous mischief that would arise from the establishment of the system of giving three Members to a vast constituency. The great mischief now felt was the enormous expense and the frightful tear and wear which those were subjected to who wished to represent large masses of electors. The same evil was very strongly felt on the other side of the Atlantic, and the consequence was that the best men of America were driven into private life. The evil was year after year growing in this country, and he contended that it was the height of madness in any of their measures of Reform to take a course that would rather aggravate than diminish it. His hon. Friend had pointed out the enormous population of the West riding, and the expense incurred in contesting it, which placed the representation beyond the reach of those possessed of ordinary means. The practical remedy would be to diminish the area by dividing the riding, and so bring the population within the reach of country gentlemen of ordinary means who wished to represent the two divisions. Was it a movement in a Liberal direction to place the West riding in such a position that no one but a millionaire, or a person supplied by his friends with the wealth of a millionaire for the time being, could pretend to represent it? Was it for the interest of the Liberal party that none but men of immense wealth should represent certain constituencies? The right hon. Gentleman said that if the West riding of Yorkshire were divided a similar claim would be put in for South Lancashire, but the fact was that the population of South Lancashire in 1851, excluding those who were represented in the boroughs, was 866 only 500,000 while the population of the West Riding was then 794,000. At this moment the rural population of the West riding was 894,000, so that in respect of population the West riding had a decided claim of precedence over South Lancashire. But there ought, he admitted, to be no difference in dealing with the claims of the two counties. The Committee ought to deal at present with the constituency that was admitted to have the strongest claim—namely, the West riding; and, if the prospects held out of a speedy reconstruction of our representative system were to be realized, South Lancashire would only have to wait a short time to be dealt with in the same intelligible and satisfactory manner. He, therefore, called on the Committee not to settle the question with a regard to mere temporary convenience, but to take a wider and more comprehensive view of the subject, and to give it an intelligent and principled decision.
§ MR. THOMPSON
said, he would not dispute the statistics of the hon. Member for Knaresborough, but would observe that, admitting them to be correct, and assuming that there ought to be two additional Members given to the West riding, it was not necessary to divide the riding into two. There was a strong feeling in the West riding itself against such a division. The feeling was even against two additional seats if accompanied by a division. A very large portion of the population of the West riding was contained in the villages and small towns, and it was that portion which distinguished the constituency so much from that of other places. To divide the West riding would be to take away one of those leading features of the representation of the country which it was desirable to preserve. If the West riding were divided it would no longer be a leading constituency; and one consequence of that would be that it would not have that weight with the country which the decisions of an enormous undivided constituency were known to possess. The decision of such a constituency at a general election gave an impetus to a cause that the decisions of half a dozen small boroughs could never exert. If they divided the West riding they would lose altogether the massive character of that great constituency; and he could not help thinking it most desirable to have the opportunity of consulting large masses of the people when some great question of civil or religious liberty was at stake, 867 which would, as on previous occasions, go' far to decide it at once and for ever. The hon. Member for Knaresborough stated that at a meeting of magistrates of the West riding, called to consider this question, two-thirds of those present were in favour of dividing the constituency. He did not question that it was so. At the same time, it must be recollected that those who attended that meeting formed a very small minority of the magistrates of the West riding. The great argument in favour of division was the expenses necessarily attending elections in all large constituencies. He was quite aware of that expense. At the last election for the West riding the strictly legal expenses of both sides amounted to not less than £30,000. That was a great evil, undoubtedly, though perhaps, under the existing code of election law, it was unavoidable; but when an evil reached a certain magnitude it often found a cure. Many ways suggested themselves by which the two parties might come to some agreement, and whereby a portion of the legal expenses could be saved. The great advantages, however, arising from the declaration of public opinion on matters of wide political interest by a large constituency more than counterbalanced the evils; and especially as there was a strong feeling in the West riding that the constituency should not be divided, he should vote against the Motion of the hon. Member for Knaresborough.
§ COLONEL SMYTH
said, he did not rise to prolong the discussion further than to state that he believed that there was a very general opinion amongst all classes of electors in favour of the division of the West riding, which had become almost unmanageable for election purposes. The hon. Member for Whitby (Mr. Thompson), he believed, was Chairman of the Liberal Association of the West riding. At the same time, he did not impute to him any political motive in opposing the division, for he did not think that would change the representation in any way. But, no doubt, he spoke as the organ of Leeds on this occasion. The hon. Member for Knaresborough had gone into the whole question so fully that he did not think it necessary to follow him; but he honestly believed that there was a feeling on the part of the West riding that it should be divided into two parts. It was not for him to say what that division should be, but if the Committee thought it desirable to di- 868 vide the constituency he was quite sure they would not be acting contrary to their wishes.
§ MR. BAINES
said, he felt bound to confirm the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for Whitby (Mr. Thompson), and the fact which had been alluded to of his hon. Friend being Chairman of the Liberal Association of the West riding gave great weight to that opinion. The Liberal party generally were in favour of the maintenance of the West riding as a distinct unity. They did not wish for a division. It was not a Leeds question. It was felt to be as important in the remote parts of Saddleworth as in Leeds. He admitted that the Conservatives were much more in favour of division than the Liberal party; but, so far as he ever heard, a very large majority of the Liberal electors of the West riding were in favour of maintaining that great constituency, of which they were proud, in its undivided state. The hon. Member for Knaresborough appeared to consider that the West riding was entitled to have two Members added to its representation, and that the Metropolis should have none. If the question were to be argued upon the principle of equal electoral districts, a great deal, undoubtedly, might be said in favour of the proposition, but he apprehended that the hon. Member was about the last man in the House who would argue the question upon that principle, as it would have the effect of entirely and immediately annihilating the borough he represented. The hon. Member in arguing upon arithmetical grounds was distinctly condemned by his own figures. The population of the West riding was 1,500,000, whilst that of the Metropolis was 2,800,000. But they had eighteen Members each, including county and borough representatives. And yet his hon. Friend came forward on the arithmetical principle and claimed two out of the four seats for the West riding, alleging that the Metropolis should have none. He (Mr. Baines) had not the least objection to the West riding having two additional Members in any comprehensive measure involving a general redistribution of seats, but if it claimed two out of the four seats now in question, South Lancashire certainly had an equal claim to the other two, and then the boroughs which the Government proposed to enfranchise would be entirely excluded, and the four borough seats would be apportioned to counties. When two boroughs were to be disfran- 869 chised, the hon. Member for Knaresborough claimed the representatives for the counties. Such a proposal he thought distinctly opposed to constitutional principles. The proposal of the Government was a very fair and equitable one. He should be inclined strictly and literally to claim the whole four Members for boroughs, but on the principle adopted generally by our leading statesmen of late he was disposed to consider that in cases of this sort something like an equal distribution should take place between the county and borough constituencies. It was said that the division of the West riding would diminish the expense of elections. It must be remembered that the railways, telegraphs, and additional polling places had much increased the facilities of giving votes at county elections. So that whether they looked at the candidates or the voters, the labour and trouble were infinitely less than they used to be. The proposal of the hon. Member for Knaresborough seemed to him altogether unreasonable, and he should vote against it.
§ MR. W. E. DUNCOMBE
said, he thought that his hon. Friend (Mr. Collins) had abundantly proved that alike in respect to property, area, and population, the West riding was entitled to two additional Members; and neither the hon. Member for Whitby nor the hon. Member for Leeds would object to giving additional Members, but they objected to its division. From the representations made to him from various quarters he believed that a strong feeling existed in the West riding on the subject. Although the polling places were numerous, the expense of bringing up voters and paying the large number of polling clerks, &c, was so great that it became almost impossible to find gentlemen who would face such an expenditure. After the various measures adopted by Parliament for diminishing the expenses of elections, it would be inconsistent if they did not avail themselves of the present opportunity of remedying so large an expenditure. The expenses of the elections for the county of York had been perfectly fabulous in past times before it was divided; the contested election for 1806 having cost the representatives and candidates £100,000 a piece. A much more moderate expenditure now prevailed, but, considering the number of boroughs represented in the West riding and the number of freeholders resident in the boroughs 870 who had votes for the West riding, it was no exaggeration to say that the rural population were not at present adequately represented. This was not a matter of party, but of justice, and he would appeal to hon. Members on the Ministerial benches whether they wished that the agricultural interest should not have a fair representation? He should give his cordial assent to the motion of his hon. Friend.
§ MR. DENT
said, there could be no question that it was the desire of the town population that the West riding should be united in the representation. On the other hand, the feeling in the rural districts of the West riding was that the influence of the town population unduly predominated. As every interest ought to be represented in that House, and as it was desirable to diminish the expense of elections, he should support the Motion of the hon. Member for Knaresborough.
§ MR. BEECROFT
said, that after the long and able speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough, he would not attempt to enter at any length into the question, but there was one point the hon. and learned Member had accidentally omitted. He had not stated where was to be the place for holding the election, either for the northern or southern division. He (Mr. Beecroft), therefore, begged to give notice that in the event of the Motion being adopted he would move to insert in the schedule that Leeds be the place for holding the election for the northern division, and he did this the more readily as he should not like to steal a march upon Wakefield, in her present widowed condition, but Wakefield could still be left the place for holding the election for the southern division. He was surprised that his hon. Friend, who was so so well and so prominently known at Leeds should have neglected to put this in the schedule, and so have thrown upon him (Mr. Beecroft) the necessity of making up his deficiency. There was no town which could set up a claim equal to that of Leeds to be the place for holding the election. The claim of Leeds could on this occasion have no rival. The West riding ought to return four Members and be divided as proposed. On behalf of his constituents, the people of Leeds, he begged to tender his thanks to the hon. Member for Knaresborough for the Motion he had made. He believed it would give them great satisfaction, as well as the electors in the northern division so pro- 871 posed by him to be constituted. He had no hesitation in saying that in his opinion there was a general feeling that the West riding ought to be divided into two divisions, and his opinion was supported not only on the ground of the lessening of the expense and inconvenience in elections, but on the still higher ground that the West riding was entitled to this distinction by reason of its occupying the first rank among the English counties for territorial extent, wealth, and population.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that so many great West riding authorities were divided in their opinions that the question seemed to be one of some doubt and difficulty. The Government last Session in their Reform Bill proposed to give four Members to the West riding without dividing it. The consequence was that many representations, some by deputation and others by memorial, were addressed to the Government on the subject of the division of the West riding. He had, therefore, had an opportunity of hearing the subject fully discussed last year by those who were interested in it. The impression made upon his mind was that there was a great division of opinion on the subject, and that that division was not conterminous with party feeling. Persons belonging to both political parties were in favour, some of maintaining the West riding in its integrity, and others of dividing it. His right hon Friend the Secretary of State for India, who was intimately connected with Yorkshire, did not urge the Government not to divide the West riding. So far, indeed, as political objects were concerned, it might be thought that the Government would be inclined to a division of the county; but they decided in favour of what seemed to them to be the predominent feeling of the riding itself, without looking to political interests. If, therefore, any hon. Gentleman shall give his vote under the impression that the division of the riding would be acceptable to a majority of the people he certainly would give it under a mistake.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, it was well known that he had paid considerable attention to the question of county representation, and in what he was about to say he was not, of course, in any way influenced by the peculiarities of the case of the West riding. The object ought to be to secure the return to the House of as large a number of independent Members as possible. Now, he had the honour of 872 representing a very large county constituency, ramified among a population of about 400,000, and he must, therefore, be well aware of some of the inconveniences which must attend the representation of districts comprising such an exaggerated amount of population as the West riding. An hon. Member had said that the people of that division prided themselves on being represented by two Members; but, according to that argument, the constituency ought to be offended at the offer of a third Member. What was the fact as to these large constituencies? Why, that they were really governed by very small bodies of organized politicians. It was impossible for these leviathan constituencies to act without organization, and, it was impossible for a candidate to start without very large funds. On that ground he objected to very large constituencies. What he said did not apply solely to the West riding, but to all similar constituencies. The Committee ought not to lose sight of the fact that the county Members for England and Wales numbered only 159, though they represented the majority of the people, and by far the larger number of householders, as well as the freeholders in boroughs; besides which they represented the greater part of the real property of the country. Bearing in mind these facts he should be wanting to the convictions he entertained if he did not cordially support the Amendment of the Member for Knaresborough.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, that Yorkshire already returned six county Members, while Lancashire only returned four, and to give two additional Members to Yorkshire would increase the inequality.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That Clause 1 be postponed."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 81; Noes 118: Majority 37.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, he would then move to leave out the words "first of November," and to insert "from and after the passing of this Act." The object of his Amendment was this—the new register of votes would not come into operation till the 1st of December for the counties, and for the proposed boroughs no register would practically exist until that time. If it was desirable that the seats in question should be conferred on Yorkshire and Lancashire, he could see no good reason why the issue of the writs to fill up these seats should be suspended until November.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
replied, that if the Bill were not passed until the close of the Session, as would probably be the case, the consequence of acceding to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman would be that the new county elections in Yorkshire and Lancashire would take place during harvest time—a period which experience proved to be inconvenient for such purposes.
§ Amendment, by leave of the House, withdrawn.
said, that he proposed to leave out in Clause 1 the words "South Division of Lancashire," for the purpose of substituting other words which would have the effect of transferring one of the seats to a constituency in Ireland. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that, whether the element of numbers or valuation were taken into consideration, the counties in England were inadequately represented as compared with the boroughs, there being only one Member for every 64,000 of the population in counties, while there was one for every 22,088 in boroughs. Every county Member, he might add, represented an average valuation of £380,906, as contrasted with £127,274, which was the sum represented by each Member for a borough. Again, in counties, there was but one Member to every 3,187 electors, while in boroughs there was one Member to every 127,274 electors. As these seats had been lost by corruption, he should propose the transference of one to a county in Ireland where there was less danger of corruption, and in which the manifest disproportion between the representation of counties and boroughs would be a little diminished, for the interests of Ireland were essentially agreed to. But it had been admitted both by the present Government and the preceding Government that Ireland was entitled to four additional seats. Since the Union, Ireland had obtained an increase of only five Members, though her population had increased by upwards of 2,000,000, while the increase of population in Scotland for the same time was only 1,000,000. Including the two divisions of Lancashire there were fifteen constituencies, and if they looked at these constituencies of those boroughs and of the county, they would find that Lancashire was represented in a way that no Irish county was represented, not even the enormous county of Cork, which was not 874 much inferior in extent to Yorkshire. Lancashire had four Members to 31,000 electors, that was one Member to something like 8,000 electors—not to speak of the representatives of the fifteen boroughs, in which there was on an average about one Member to every 2,542 electors. In England, taking counties and boroughs, there was one Member to every 36,612 persons; but, in all Ireland the proportion was one Member to 65,034 inhabitants, and in Cork county it was only one to 275,926. As to valuation, no doubt Ireland could not be compared to England; but, admitting valuation to be a fair element in the consideration of the equalization of seats in the same country where the standard of wealth was the same, it was by no means a fair one between two countries such as Ireland and England, where the one was rich and the other poor. But the fact was that much as these elements were talked of in debate, even within England, they received very little practical attention. If they did, how was it to be explained that "Wales had twenty-seven Members, while the population of that country was but 1,005,721, the electors 48,908, and the valuation but £3,988,378? Could anyone argue that Cork was equally represented with Lancashire, and that it ought not obtain one of those seats? It might be said that those seats were English seats; but that argument, if good for anything, was good for repeal of the Union. Under existing circumstances, whenever the Irish Members directed their energies to advance the interests of their country they were accused of jobbing and corruption; and every aspersion was thrown upon them, although, they only acted as they were bound to do, for the advantage of the country they represented. But he asked whether Irish Members had done anything which other Members would not do under similar circumstances, and whether some hon. Members opposite, if they had not got their subsidy in the shape of the paper duty, would not have been found to oppose the Government? In like manner the Irish Members were justified in opposing every measure of the Government until they got what they considered was due to their country. For these reasons he was anxious that the case of Ireland should be fairly considered. The Irish people had a right to a larger representation. They paid taxes far beyond what they got value for; 875 and at the present moment £11,000,000 were collected in Ireland, and not above £4,000,000 of that sum was spent there. Money had been voted for fortifications, but not one shilling was to be expended on fortifications in Ireland. The defence as well as the other interests of that country seemed totally neglected by the present Ministry, but he hoped Irish Members would insist on them. All that he proposed at present was that the words "the Southern Division of Lancashire" should be omitted from the clause, in order that subsequently some place in Ireland or in Scotland should be inserted in the Bill instead; for, after Ireland, he thought Scotland was the worst represented part of the kingdom.
§ Amendment proposed, in Clause 1, line 4, to leave out the words "and the Southern Division of Lancashire."
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that as the Motion before the Committee was to expunge the southern division of Lancashire from the Bill, and to substitute for it an additional Member for the county of Cork. The duty he had to perform in reference to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman was a disagreeable one, because comparisons were proverbially odious; but it was necessary that he should compare the claims of Ireland and Scotland with those of England. As these four seats were derived from English boroughs the Government, in considering the subject, were of opinion that in their redistribution they ought to be given to English counties and boroughs; but in coming to this conclusion they were not at all acted on by any narrow national feelings or prejudices. If they had been proposing to Parliament any extensive redistribution of seats they might have considered the claims of Scotland and Ireland to an increase in the number of their representatives, but as they were merely dealing with these four English seats they did not think it right to disturb the relative proportion of the representation of the three kingdoms as settled at the time of the Reform Bill. On reflection the Committee, he thought, would come to the conclusion that that was a fair and equitable view to take, and it would, therefore, be his duty to oppose the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member. With regard to the particular county for which the hon. Gentleman wished to substitute the county of Cork, it appeared from the last census that its population 876 was now 2,428,000, and South Lancashire was known to be the most populous division, having an increase of 397,000 since the last census. The Metropolitan County, including the Metropolis, was only 2,200,000.
§ MR. POLLARD-URQUHART
said, that after having heard so often that an Irish county was just as much a part of the United Kingdom as an English county he certainly was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should see any more objection to transferring a seat from a Suffolk or Hertfordshire borough to an Irish county than to an English county. He thought that the Government had adopted a wise and equitable course in endeavouring to effect Parliamentary Reform piecemeal, because the experience of last Session had shown that the feeling in the country upon the subject was not such as would enable the Government to carry a comprehensive measure. The inhabitants of the Metropolis and of South Lancashire would have very little difficulty in making their wants and their grievances known at head quarters even without any increase in their representatives, but the outlying and distant portions of the kingdom did not possess the same qualities, and in a Bill professing to remove the anomalies in our present system that ought to be remedied. It was admitted by impartial judges that Ireland had a claim to an increase in the number of her representatives, on the ground of her population, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne, in a speech to his former constituents at Kidderminster, urged against a sweeping Reform Bill that Ireland, on the argument of numbers, would be entitled to 150 Members or more. The representatives of Ireland were charged with acting generally rather as provincial delegates than as Imperial Members. If that were true, the arguments used that evening by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary would certainly justify such a course. The Committee should recollect that the religion of the great majority of the people of Ireland was Roman Catholic, and there was no chance of that religion being represented in that House except through Ireland. Moreover, when it was remembered that Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Ricardo, Sir Henry Parnell, and Mr. Joseph Hume, had had seats in that House for Ireland, it was not fair that any taunts of provincialism should be cast in their teeth when 877 they asked for a fair representation of the country. He had been very much struck by seeing the same argument repeated in an article in The Times. It was said that the moment an Irish Member entered the House he ought to consider himself an Imperial Member, and in pursuance of that principle, he asked the Government to do justice to Ireland by treating the representatives of Ireland as part and parcel of the United Kingdom.
§ COLONEL WILSON PATTEN
would not enter into the very large question of the merits of Ireland as contrasted with the merits of England, as he only wished to deal with the Amendment. His hon. and gallant Friend had attempted to support the Amendment by most extraordinary arguments. His principal reason for taking away the additional Member from South Lancashire and giving it to an Irish constituency was that five seats only had been given to the sister kingdom since the Union. But the Committee should remember that the population of England had increased threefold in proportion to the increase of population in Ireland, and that the five seats given to Ireland had been taken from English constituencies. The hon. and gallant Member was too prudent to risk his Amendment by accompanying it with a specific proposition; but he said, suppose another Member were given to the county of Cork, there were 15,000 voters in that county, and they had only two representatives. The south division of Lancashire had 20,000 voters, and whether they took population, rating, property, or any other test, the claim of Lancashire was undeniable. He did not know that he was quite representing the feelings of his constituents in not asking for more seats for the county. The claim of Burnley had been admitted in every Be-form Bill, and Salford had also a very strong claim for an additional Member. He hoped, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government would not yield to the Amendment and disappoint the just expectations of the county of Lancaster.
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, he could not undertake to controvert the proposition of his hon. and gallant Friend that Cork was the least represented of all the counties in Ireland. He wished it to be understood that if it were decided to retain the word Lancashire, Ireland would not be precluded from claiming the other seats. They had already de- 878 cided in favour of the West Riding of Yorkshire—a county which he had before complimented by calling it the Corkshire of England. If they decided in favour of South Lancashire they would be giving additional Members to the two largest English counties, and there would be two precedents for giving an additional Member to the largest Irish county. He concurred in thinking it extremely impolitic in the right hon. Gentleman the Homo Secretary to draw such a strong line of demarcation between England and Ireland. They were constantly told that they were one and the same nation and one and the same kingdom. They had the same interests and the same taxation. Ireland was now subject to the income tax, and he voted for that measure mainly with the object of recognizing their unity. But this Bill was framed upon the principle of there being three separate kingdoms, and the proposed distribution of seats was only defended upon that ground. He had never attacked the Act of Union. Whether right or wrong, he had treated it as an accomplished fact. But still they could not forget how the bargain was made—how the owners of seats were bribed by £5,000, £10,000, or £15,000 to sell their country, and how some of them had said they were very glad that they had a country to sell. In his opinion an additional colleague was only an additional source of trouble and annoyance. It was difficult to take care of one's own seat, but it was infinitely more so to look after a colleague and see that he behaved properly. He was, therefore, disinterested in demanding another Member for Cork. To show the way in which the question was treated out of doors, he quoted the following passage from an article in the leading organ of the Government and of public opinion—The Times—When Mr. Vincent Scully reserves his protestation on behalf of Ireland it is only to prevent a bad precedent of allowing an opportunity for asking to escape. As to decreasing the representation of England for the purpose of adding to that of Ireland or Scotland the proposition is an impertinence. The matter was solemnly settled by the Acts of Union with both countries, and were it not for those Acts of Union it would have been long since agitated in England that the representation of both those parts of the kingdom is excessive.Of course the English Members were in the majority, and could decide, if they pleased, that Ireland was to be treated 879 in the same way as England as regarded taxation, and in a different way in regard to representation. He protested against the Irish being made the hewers of wood and drawers of water, and being then denied all share In the good things which Government had to dispense. None of his countrymen were admitted to the Cabinet who would not consent to be by turns an occasional Englishman and an occasional Irishman, as it suited his purpose. He hoped that the present opportunity would not be lost of doing what had been acknowledged to be an act of justice both by the present and late Government in their respective Reform Bills.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he certainly objected to the line of defence adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in the present discussion. If his language were to stand, it appeared to him that neither Ireland nor Scotland could ever establish a claim to any additional representatives, however many might be the seats to be distributed. To such language he should enter his protest. If he thought such a principle influenced the Government he would certainly oppose this Bill at every stage. No doubt, Lancashire had very strong claims; but Lanarkshire, whether as regarded numbers, property, or rating, stood higher than any other part of the country. The population of Lanarkshire, including Glasgow, was 630,000, and it had only three Members and part of a fourth.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he was astonished at the extreme jealousy of discussion manifested by the other side of the House, considered that the measure before them was, after all, the great Reform Bill of the great Reform party. He had always thought it most unfortunate that such a measure should have been introduced to bring out all those differences of opinion between the various quarters of the United Kingdom which had been displayed that evening. He was not disposed to vote in favour of giving a Member to Ireland, to Scotland, or any other particular part of the kingdom; but he should act upon the consideration that he had referred to in an early part of the evening. He did not think it would be any boon to the people of Lancashire to give them an additional Member; for his part he thought that they did not desire it.> He should not, did he belong to that constituency; and for that reason and that alone, he Should vote for 880 the Amendment of the hon. Member for Queen's County, which was simply to strike out Lancashire. In voting for that he did not desire to express himself in favour of any place, but simply to save Lancashire from what he thought was an insult.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 228; Noes 67: Majority 161.
said, he wished to call the Chairman's attention to the fact that the division bell had not been rung as usual, and that, in consequence, some hon. Gentlemen in other parts of the House were unaware that any division was about to take place.
said, he was not aware that the usual practice had been departed from, but he would cause inquiry to be made on the subject.
§ MR. BAZLEY
said, that as the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Massey) occupied the chair it devolved upon him to move that an additional Member be granted to that borough. Salford now contained 105,000 inhabitants, and within its boundaries there was, perhaps, a greater variety of industry than even in Manchester. Six hundred years ago the town had received a charter from Henry III., and it, therefore, had the claim of antiquity as well as of modern progress. If there were an equitable representation of Lancashire, that county, instead of having twenty-six Members, would have fifty-four, and, therefore, in asking for only one additional representative, he thought he was showing great moderation. He moved at the end of Clause 1 to add "and the borough of Salford, in the County Palatine of Lancaster, shall be entitled to return two Members instead of one Member to serve in Parliament."
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, he hoped to be able to satify the Committee in a few words that the Motion of his hon. Friend ought not to be preferred to the proposal of the Government. He would admit that Salford was in population larger than any other borough which returned only one Member. But then Salford was virtually a part of Manchester, being continuous with that city, and forming really more a part of Manchester than Southwark did of London. Manchester, therefore, might be said to return three Members, and if the 881 proposal were adopted it would return four, while Liverpool, a more populous town, returned but two. The Bill proposed to give a Member to South Lancashire, and the hon. Gentleman desired to give another to a borough in that division, in which case two out of the four seats would fall to the share of South Lancashire alone. Birkenhead might be said to stand in the same relation to Liverpool as Salford to Manchester, and if one of the vacant seats were conferred on Birkenhead, the slight inequality which now existed between Liverpool and Manchester would then be redressed. He could not accede to the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 2 (Provision for Election of additional Member),
§ MR. COLLINS
said, that after the decision upon the first clause he would not divide the House upon a proposal to omit the second; but it was his intention to move, at the proper opportunity, that the West riding be divided into two electoral districts.
§ Clause 2 agreed to.
§ Clause 3 (Chelsea and Kensington to form a Borough to return One Member),
§ MR. KNIGHTLEY
said, the proposed clause would practically disfranchise 1,200 persons who were voters for the county of Middlesex. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London, when the Earl of Derby's Reform Bill was under discussion, held that it was most unjustifiable to deprive freeholders of the right of voting in the counties where their property was situate, and that outcry rang far and wide upon the hustings. If it were unjust to disfranchise one class, it must be equally so to deprive another of its present rights, which the measure not only did, but introduced an invidious distinction between the owners of freehold, leasehold, and copyhold property, disfranchising one and not the other. On the general question of giving a Member to Chelsea and Kensington, he did not see why persons living in the purlieus of a great town should enjoy peculiar facilities beyond others scattered over the country. Dealing, as they were, not with vested rights, but with new constituencies, they were bound to proceed on some more equitable principle than was laid down in the Bill. There was no reason that he could see why a licensed 882 victualler residing at Kensington, in a house worth £12 a year, should have two votes, while his next door neighbour at Hammersmith had only one. He, therefore, proposed to omit the words "Chelsea and Kensington," leaving the question of the appropriation of seats to be afterwards determined.
§ Amendment proposed, in Clause 3, line 29, to leave out the words "parishes of Chelsea and Kensington, in the,"
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
—The hon. Gentleman has adopted rather an unusual course with regard to this Amendment. He has not made any counter proposal, so as to enable the Committee to decide between it and that emanating from the Government. He has simply moved the omission of the words; and, therefore, anybody who, for any reason whatever, has any preference locally, or from some other cause, for any other borough than that of Chelsea or Kensington, would be disposed to vote for his Motion. That is hardly a fair way of putting the question to the Committee. If he said either that he was in favour of giving a Member to the Scotch Universities, to South Lancashire, to Salford, or to any of the other places which have been mentioned, the Committee would have a distinct issue before them; but now all that they are called on to say is whether, for any reason whatever, they prefer any seat whatever to the proposal of the Government? I do not mean to say there is anything irregular in such a course, but that is not the usual way of raising an issue. If, however, the Motion in that shape be persevered in, all that remains for me to do is to state affirmatively the reasons which induce the Government to think it a fair proposal that one of these vacant seats shall be given to the metropolis. This proposal was contained in the last two Reform Bills which were suggested to the House. [Mr. DISRAELI: Not in the last two.] Well, the proposal to create a new metropolitan seat was certainly included in the Bill proposed last Session. However, I do not appeal to that as any conclusive precedent. [Ironical cheering.] Will hon. Gentlemen hear the rest of the sentence? I do not think that any conclusive precedent, because I can readily conceive that there might be persons who would be inclined to support the proposal for giving a Member to Chelsea and Kensington, in combination with other portions of a large scheme, who would not support that as an isolated mea- 883 sure. On account of the great increase of the Metropolis, the Government have certainly considered that it is entitled to an additional Member. The population of the Metropolis within the limits of the Local Government Act in 1851 was 2,362,000. According to the census just taken it is 2,803,000, showing an increase within the last ten years of no less than 440,000. The Committee cannot overlook the importance of this great increase. The entire population of Liverpool is only 269,000; of Manchester, 243,000; and of Birmingham, 112,000. So enormous, therefore, has been the increase of the Metropolis during the last ten years that that increase actually exceeds the populations of Manchester and Birmingham added together.
§ MR. DISRAELI
There must be some mistake about the populations of Manchester and Liverpool. They are clearly wrong. That of Birmingham is 212,000.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
The population of Manchester is 243,000, and of Birmingham 212,300. These added together would not be less, but would rather exceed the increase made by London during the last ten years. That increase is nearly equal to the population of some foreign cities, the capitals of Powers of first-rate magnitude. The population of Vienna, according to the Census of 1857, was 476,000; that of Berlin was 438,000, and of Madrid 475,000. [An hon. MEMBER: "We have nothing to do with Madrid.] An hon. Gentleman says we have nothing to do with Madrid, or any foreign capital. In the strict sense I am quite aware that is so; but I think it a striking fact that the increase in the population of London in the period to which I have referred is actually greater than the entire population of some foreign capitals. With regard to the proposed new borough, the parish of Chelsea, according to the Census of 1851, had a population of 56,000, and according to the last census of 63,000, showing an increase of 7,000. The inhabitants of the parish of Kensington increased in the same period from 44,000 to 71,000, thus making in the combined parishes an increase of the population from 100,000 to 134,000. That property has increased in an even greater degree than population is a fact which must be patent to any one who observes the new streets which have been built. I do not think it would be possible to; show any borough in the kingdom which has increased in so great a ratio, 884 or which can show so large a population, as the proposed metropolitan borough. Looking at its connection with the Metropolis, and the great increase which that metropolis has undergone of late years, I certainly must say that I think the proposed borough has a strong claim.
§ MB. BENTINCK
said, the right hon. Baronet had charged his hon. Friend with not making any counter proposal, but if he read the clause and the Amendments he would see that he had made such a proposal. His hon. Friend hit the right nail on the head when he asked on what ground congregated masses were to be entitled to the franchise, because that was the only point in the case. In defending the clause as it now stood, the right hon. Baronet brought forward no argument except the large increase in the population of Chelsea and Kensington. Therefore, they had a right to assume that he considered the question entirely as one of numbers. But the real difficulty of all Governments in dealing with the question of Reform was the injustice shown in the distribution of the representative power of the country, and until they grappled fairly and honestly with that difficulty they might in vain attempt to obtain any solution of the question. The rural districts were entitled to a larger share in the representation, and if they gave additional Members to the urban districts, they would only increase the glaring injustice which now existed. The metropolitan Members possessed at present, from their being generally in London, and from other circumstances, treble the amount of influence and weight of Members representing other constituencies, and they had, therefore, to be watched very closely. Openly or covertly they frequently sought to avail themselves of the imperial purse for the benefit of their own constituents, and it was difficult to resist those attempts. What would be the position of the House if the present dangerous number of these Members was increased? If the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary was prepared to adhere to the principle of numbers the rural districts of the country were entitled to any seats which might have to be distributed. He hoped the Committee would reject, by a large majority, the principle in the Bill.
§ VISCOUNT ENFIELD
said, that he claimed the seat for Chelsea and Kensington on the ground of wealth and property as well as population. The estimated rental of 885 the two parishes of Chelsea and Kensington was £657,820. The county assessment of the two localities amounted to £554,172. For property and income tax the two localities were assessed under Schedule A at £693,860, under Schedule B at £3,501, and under Schedule D at £342,413, making a total assessment for property and income tax of £1,039,774. He believed there were only fifteen of the represented boroughs that were rated at a higher value for the property and income tax on professions and trades, while there were 240 less, and there was not one of the unenfranchised boroughs that amounted to more than one half of what Chelsea and Kensington represented.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Before the Committee come to a division they ought to be satisfied as to the data on which the Government have founded their computations, and that they have given this subject all the consideration it so eminently deserves. Now, the ground on which this proposition is recommended to the Committee by the right hon. Gentleman is twofold. In the first place, he assured us that the principle has already received the assent of both sides of the House, since, he says, it was contained not only in the late Parliamentary Reform Bill, but in the Reform Bill introduced by the Government of the Earl of Derby. I took the liberty of correcting the right hon. Gentleman on the latter point; but still the fact remains that having been recommended as part of one measure of Reform is made a reason for the renewal of the proposition. But I now come to a much more important ground, on which the more mature opinion of the Cabinet appears to be founded; this is the great increase in the population of Kensington and Chelsea, compared with the increase of the population of the principal towns and cities of the kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman gave, not from memory—and, therefore, he cannot claim any indulgence on the score of the failure of a memory that, we know, very seldom errs—but, bringing down the papers on which the mature judgment of the Government is founded, he admitted us to a part of its confidence and stated the important facts on which the Government has arrived at its conclusion. He gave the numbers of the population of Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham, communities whose opinions have exercised great influence on modern legislation and on the fate of Ministries, and I was perfectly astonished 886 while I listened to his statements on a subject on which I should think no Minister, and least of all Ministers the Secretary for the Home Department, could be in error. I endeavour to picture to my mind what will be the result of the last census should the returns of the population be similar to those cited by the right hon. Gentleman. He stated the population of Birmingham to be 112,000. I corrected him, and said it was more than 212,000. I was not trusting to memory, for, after the example of the right hon. Gentleman, I would not presume to speak from my own memory. I have referred to the official Return, and I find the population of Birmingham is little less than 300,000. The right hon. Gentleman stated the population of Liverpool to be 270,000. I was rather astonished to hear that. There must have been a great change in Liverpool if that be the case; and if that change should continue the results would be startling. Referring to the authentic record of the Returns made to Parliament, I find that the Parliamentary population of Liverpool is what I imagined—443,000.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
I beg to explain. I find that there are two series of Returns. I only examined one to-day. There are the Parliamentary Boroughs Returns and the Returns of the Superintendent Registrars of Districts. I have copied the latter.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I have no doubt that the figures which the right hon. Gentleman has read to us are very accurately copied from the Returns which he consulted, but then the Returns have nothing to do with the subject. The names he has stated are certainly the same as those in the Parliamentary Returns, but the numbers are not the same numbers. I cannot understand from the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman that he has thrown much light on the point before us. The point before us is this:—We have an important proposition regarding the representation of the people, and we are told that it is founded on a calculation as to the relative proportion of the population in different parts of the United Kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman, in support of that calculation, refers us to a totally inaccurate statement; and it is really no excuse or explanation that the right hon. Gentleman, misled by names which [are the same as those in some other document, which document, however, does not refer to the point in question, should have offered to 887 the House a totally inaccurate statement, and announced at the same time that the opinion of the Government upon the question was founded upon that statement. I must conclude this part by reminding the Committee that we are told, to the astonishment, I am sure, of both sides of the Committee, that the population of Manchester was 220,000 only, when I find it authentically recorded to be that which all of us must have recollected it to be, 357,000—i. e., taking Parliamentary population. It appears to me, therefore, that so far as the right hon. Gentleman has answered the Amendment of my hon. Friend, the Member for Northamptonshire, his answer is of a highly unsatisfactory character. The right hon. Gentleman has answered the Amendment in what he has described as an affirmative manner—that is to say, no counter proposition, as he complains, having been made to that of the Government, he has laid before the Committee the grounds on which the Government arrived at the conclusion which they recommend us to ratify. Then, Sir, I assert that both those grounds are futile and unsatisfactory. It is not a fact that the late Government proposed that the population of Chelsea and Kensington should be formed into a Parliamentary borough. And the inference which the right hon. Gentleman draws from that is quite erroneous, and ought not in any way to be sanctioned by the Committee, and especially by hon. Gentlemen on this side. The conclusion which the right hon. Gentleman has drawn from the positive increase in the population of Chelsea and Kensington, as compared with the relative increase in Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester, I have shown to the House to be utterly erroneous. Then 'on what ground does the Government recommend this proposition? The right hon. Gentleman has chosen his own ground; he has made an affirmative statement; he has founded that statement on two points, both of which, as I have shown to the House, possess no foundation. At present, therefore, the Committee is in this position—we have a proposition of considerable importance and of novel character brought forward by the Government, and they have not up to this moment adduced a single argument or reason in favour of its adoption by the Committee.
§ ME. LOCKE
said, that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) had misrepresented the arguments of the right hon.
888 Gentleman the Home Secretary. The right hon. Baronet's (Sir George Lewis) argument was that the population of the Metropolis, and of these two localities in particular, had increased so much that they had a pre-eminent claim to increased representation. It was said that the Metropolis was too much represented. That the Members for the Metropolis were all-powerful. Why so? Because they attended in their places. But that was a strange argument that a particular class of men was not to be increased simply because they did their duty. He was at a loss to know why the seat should not be given to Chelsea and Kensington. Was it because the metropolitan Members represented thousands where other Members represented twenties? Having population, having wealth, and having immense interests to represent, on all these grounds the Metropolis was entitled to additional Members. He would not say that a conspiracy had been formed, but there was no doubt that by moving the Amendment in the way in which it had been moved, an opportunity was afforded to every section in the House that wanted a Member to combine together to deprive the Metropolis of its just rights. The fair way would be to pit the rival places one against another instead of taking the vote against the advocates of all the rival places combined, and thus giving the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle an opportunity of slipping in between them with his proposition in favour of the London University, without the merits of that constituency being tried fairly with those of Chelsea and Kensington.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
As some allusions have been made to me in the course of this discussion, I think I should be wanting in candour if I did not state the course which I intend to take. I by no means intend to run the London University against Chelsea and Kensington. On the contrary, I told those Gentlemen who asked me to bring forward the claims of the London University that it was my intention to support the proposition of the Government to give representation to Kensington and Chelsea, and that only in the event of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire carrying his Motion I would submit the claims of the London University, as contrasted with those of other places. I am not blindly partial to the metropolitan representation, nor do I by any means approve of resting the right of representation upon population only. I have heard 889 my noble Friend the Member for Middlesex (Viscount Enfield) state that the population of Kensington and Chelsea is 130,000, and that that population contributed to the imperial and local taxation no less an amount than £1,000,000 annually. That is a combination of population, of wealth, and of respectability which, I think, cannot be rivalled in any other part of England, and, upon the whole, I am of opinion that the Government has judged rightly in submitting this proposition to the Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) is constantly calling to our recollection the different proportions of rural and urban populations in respect of represention. The returns which have just been made under the recent census mark distinctly the great increase of the urban population, as contrasted with the rural population. I cannot say that I regard that circumstance with anything like satisfaction—there may be contingent danger in it—but it is still a fact that cannot be lost sight of, and I am opinion that the Government and the Legislature act prudently in not entering upon any extensive scheme of enlarged representation, upon the basis of population, only whether rural or urban. But still, bearing in mind from time to time the increase in these concentrated masses of population, I do not think that any favourable opportunity should be lost of somewhat enlarging the representation in accordance with the increase of population. I think that this is a favourable opportunity for taking this wise precaution in time. I hope I shall never live to see the day when, from dissatisfaction at lost opportunities with regard to these masses of population, larger changes shall be pressed upon the Legislature based on population alone, without reference to wealth, education, or other circumstances. This is a case combining population, wealth, and respectability; and I shall not hesitate to give my support to the proposition of the Government to give one Member to Kensington and Chelsea, even in preference to the London University, though by so doing I may damage the claims of the latter body.
§ MR. WALPOLE
I think the observations of my right hon. Friend afford a complete justification for the course taken by my hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire, and which has been impugned by the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke). My right hon. Friend the Member 890 for Carlisle is going to vote for the Government, because he prefers to transfer one of the seats to Kensington and Chelsea, although if the Government should fail to carry their proposition he then intends to propose the transfer of one seat to the London University. Now, I am not aware of any other mode in which my hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire could have brought this question before the Committee, in order to enable us to consider whether the constituency selected by the Government is that which is most entitled to receive it. That is a vindication of my hon. Friend, nor do I think any other vindication necessary. I will now pass for a moment to the merits of the question. Supposing that the opinions of a majority of the Committee should be in favour of transferring a seat to Kensington and Chelsea, can a fairer issue be raised than by submitting this Motion to the Committee in the first instance? Her Majesty's Ministers, through the right hon. Baronet, have recommended this transfer solely upon the ground of increased population. The erroneous and inaccurate data upon which they have proceeded have been pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bucks, but if the only ground for the recommendation is the increase of population, then, I think, when the inaccuracy is pointed out, the recommendation does not come to us with the same force which it would otherwise have possessed. I must say that, for once, I think there is a fallacy in the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. He represents to the Committee the great increase of population in the Metropolis, whereas the point he had to show was that as contrasted with other places there had been such an increase in the population of Kensington and Chelsea as to entitle those places to be represented in Parliament. Then my right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle, adverting to the forcible statement of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Viscount Enfield), says that those places have a population, of 130,000, and an enormous assessment, imperial and local; and, therefore, they are entitled to the right of returning a Member to Parliament. I am not going to say that Chelsea and Kensington may not legitimately be brought into a new constituency, but there is much force in what was said by the hon. Member for Northamptonshire, that if you transfer that population to a new borough you take 891 away the votes they now have for the county, which they might prefer to retain. My opinion is that if we are to give representation to Kensington and Chelsea the best mode of doing it would be to divide the metropolitan county into two parts, and have a metropolitan and a rural constituency. That proposition is not now before us, and I only mention the subject that it might not be supposed I have any objection to see Chelsea and Kensington more represented than they are at present. The question before us is whether, in the appropriation of four seats, Chelsea and Kensington are the places to which we ought to give one? My right hon. Friend says we must have regard to the increase of urban population. Very true. But what are we doing now? Birkenhead has an urban population. The West riding contains a vast urban population, and so also does South Lancashire. It is to these populations that we are giving three seats, and it becomes a grave question whether you cannot give the fourth seat to a better place than Kensington and Chelsea. I give no opinion as to what place should be chosen, but as to the three propositions Which have been made every one of them deserves most anxious consideration. We have to consider the propriety of giving a Member to the London University, or to the Scottish Universities, or whether the West riding should not have four Members instead of three, which I think is an objectionable mode of extending the representation. I have pointed out the questions before the Committee, and I must say I think the reasons preponderate against giving the seat as is now proposed, and I shall support the Motion of my hon. Friend.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
I cannot re-main silent after the remarks which have been made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He says that I ought to have satisfied the Committee of the increased population of the particular district to which we propose to give the seat. I did say that the entire borough of Kensington and Chelsea has increased since 1851 from 100,000 to 134,000. Compare that with the population of the largest unrepresented boroughs. Birkenhead at the last census contained 24,000; Staleybridge, 20,000; Burnley, 20,800; and Gravesend, 16,600. Therefore, as far as the statistical ground of population is concerned, the Committee will see that I made a sufficient statement. As to the error which the right hon. Gen- 892 tleman says invalidates my argument, because I quoted from the Superintendent Registrar's districts instead of the Parliamentary boroughs, I say that makes no difference as to the argument I used, which was simply a comparison with the great increase of population in the Metropolis within the last ten years. That increase was 440,000. The Parliamentary borough of Liverpool contains 443,000 persons, so that the addition which London has received within the last ten years, is as nearly as possible equal to the population of the great town of Liverpool. The Parliamentary borough population of Manchester is 338,000, considerably less than the increment to London in the last ten years.
§ MR. BARROW
said, the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Carlisle, had stated that while the population of the towns had very greatly increased, that of the country districts had not increased by any means in the same ratio. Might that not have arisen from the great preponderance of borough Members, and the consequently better manner in which the House had taken care of the interests of towns? The proposed borough of Chelsea and Kensington had no character but an urban one, as was shown by the fact that its contribution to the income-tax under Schedule B was almost a nonentity. It resulted, therefore, that the House was taking away the Members from four rural towns, and giving them to mere urban constituencies.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 172; Noes 275: Majority 103.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he hoped that if hon. Gentlemen opposite were resolved to go on they would do so in that spirit of fairness which ought to characterize all the proceedings of that House. The hon. Member for Northamptonshire had made a distinct proposition, not only that Chelsea and Kensington should not receive an additional Member, but that a third Member should be given to the county of Middlesex; and it was due to the House, if the discussion was to be continued, that the hon. Gentleman should now submit the rest of his Amendment.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, the next 893 proposition to be made was not that for giving an extra Member to Middlesex, but that for giving a Member to the University of London. There was also a proposal to assign one of the vacant seats to the Scotch Universities. It would be inconvenient to discuss the Motion of his right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle at that late hour, and it would be better that the Committee should now report Progress.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I must say that I think the proposition of the Government a reasonable one. This is a Bill of great importance, and one of the main propositions of the Government has been rejected by the House, and I think the Government may require time to consider what course they will adopt with regard to the measure. It appears to me very natural that they should require delay, and I do not think the Committee, on reflection, can refuse the course proposed. I should, however, like to know from the Government what day they intend to proceed with the Bill?
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
appealed to the Government to select some other day, as he had a Motion which stood for Monday.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again on Monday next.