§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Previous Question [proposed 3rd May], "That the Question, 'That the Bill be now read a second time,' be now put."—(Lord Elcho.)
§ Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he thought it must have struck every one who had either heard or read the debate of last Wednesday that accusations of insincerity were scattered with most remarkable profusion by almost every Liberal speaker upon almost every Liberal Member of the House. First, his noble Friend below him (Lord Elcho) accused the hon. Member who introduced the Bill (Mr. Baines) of being insincere, because on an occasion for testing the Liberal opinion of the House selected by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White) he bolted from the House, and that with so much precipitation as to prevent the hon. Member with whom he came in contact from continuing the performance of his Parliamentary duties for that evening. Then the hon. Member for Hud-dersfield (Mr. Leatham) turned his at- 1614 tention to the Government, who, he said, were "deceitful above all things," and that the President of the Board of Trade was the "most desperately wicked" of them all. Not to be outdone, his hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Bernal Osborne) got up and said that the Government no doubt was insincere, but that all the so called Liberals in that House were just as insincere as the Government; and he (Mr. Gregory) was convinced that if there had been time for another Reformer to have addressed the House on that occasion, he would have declared that the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland were just as rotten and insincere upon this question of Reform as the hon. Member for Leeds, the Government, and the Liberal Members who sat around him. He read a book the other day written by an American which was full of pleasant conceits, and in which it was said that the horse was a most respectable animal, but somehow or other he was always managed and looked after by a set of rogues. Now he (Mr. Gregory) could not help thinking that that observation would apply to Reform. Reform was a very respectable thing in itself, but somehow or other it appeared to him always to be managed and looked after by a set of insincere Gentlemen. The hon. Member for Leeds and the Liberal Members could protect themselves; but it appeared to him that the Government was unable to do so, and, therefore, although the other night the Chancellor of the Exchequer accused him of a disposition to pelt the Administration, he was about to stand up in their defence. In his opinion the Government had acted with regard to this question of Reform both with wisdom and with sincerity. They gave a pledge to bring in a Bill, and they brought a Bill in. They said that they would endeavour to carry a Bill, and he believed that they intended to carry it; but when they found that they had to contend not only with the formidable opposition of hon. Gentlemen opposite, which they were prepared to meet, but also with every obstacle which could be thrown in the way of the measure by their habitual supporters on that side of the House; when they found that the opinion of Members on that side, as expressed to them in conversation, was hostile to the Bill; and when they saw that the feeling throughout the country was one of perfect indifference, he thought that they were wise not to endeavour to force the measure 1615 down the throats of an unwilling House of Commons and an indifferent public. Now, upon the question of insincerity of which hon. Members had heard so much, he must say he firmly believed that the feeling on his own side of the House was not, as a general rule, in favour of such a Bill as that under discussion. He was no advocate of the Ballot, but he must admit that he should be glad to see that process, were such a thing possible, put into operation in the House of Commons on the present question. If that were done, and if the question put were whether the Reform Bill of the hon. Member for Leeds should be staved off for ten years, he believed that the revolution of opinion which would be observable on the Liberal side of the House would be something perfectly astounding, and not only that, but he felt assured that the verdict which would be pronounced would be received with the greatest complacency by the country. The reason why that would be so was sufficiently clear. The various constituencies, like the House of Commons, were pretty evenly divided, and very little was required in order to throw the balance into one scale or the other. In every constituency there was a small, active, noisy body of politicians who had considerable weight in the elections; and those gentlemen persuaded themselves—and, what was worse, persuaded others—that they were the sole high priests and depositories of Liberal traditions and opinions. When, therefore, any candidate happened not to come up to their standard, they declared that he was below the regulation height of Liberalism, and the result was that many candidates were induced to give pledges which they did not like when given, and which they devoutly hoped they might never be called upon to fulfil. On the other hand, in those constituencies, there were men who had fought the battle of Reform from their youth upwards, who had advocated the great changes which had been introduced into the Constitution of the country, not for the sake of change, but because the state of things was so utterly intolerable before the passing of the Reform Bill that they preferred almost the risk of a revolution than that they should remain as they were. It would have been impossible for them to have effected those remedies which were so sorely needed in every joint of our social and political system, without the most extensive alteration in the composition of the House of Commons. 1616 These men, who were the fiercest and the foremost in the cause of Reform, are now looking at the effects of their work, and if they rest it was not because of any repentance of their past course, or from any unwillingness to move forward hereafter in the path of progress, should they deem further reforms to be necessary. They but act as Englishmen were wont to act in matters of the kind—with instinctive prudence and moderation. They turn their eyes aside from mere theories and abstract argument, and when they look at the great edifice of liberty and prosperity reared up in the country they were content, and did not, like Frenchmen, seek to pull such a fabric to the ground in order that each man might build it up again in accordance with some theory of his own. Such was the secret, in his opinion, of what was called Conservative re-action, and the election of so many so-called Pal-merstonian Conservatives, that is, men quite prepared to move on with the times, but not prepared without rhyme or reason to run violently down steep places and be choked in the sea of democracy and universal suffrage. Now, his right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) in the speech which he had made on Wednesday last had shown he thought as clearly as reasoning could accomplish, that the present Bill must, if adopted, be a step in that direction. Nay, more, not only would the Bill be the first step in the direction of universal suffrage, but universal suffrage must be the inevitable consequence of its passing into a law. That proposition he would not attempt to prove by any abstract argument. It was sufficient for him to say that the transfer of power from one stratum of society to another—which he would prove the Bill would effect—must have the result for the proof of which he was contending. In the first place, there was not one single logical argument, if they descend to the £6 franchise, on which any one could rely to escape going on to manhood, or even to womanhood suffrage; in the second place, once power was transferred from one class to another no one had any interest in limiting the number of that new class. In Finsbury and the Tower Hamlets, for instance, the whole electoral power lay in the £10 voters, and it made no earthly difference whether there were 23,000 or 45,000 in the former, or-50,000 instead of 25,000 in the latter. It should also be borne in mind that the working classes through their 1617 representatives most distinctly announced that even if they accepted the present Bill they would do so looking upon it only as an instalment—that it was utterly unsatisfactory, and that the moment it passed there would be a renewal of their agitation. Witness the Bradford petition and the words of Mr. Potter to the hon. Member for Birmingham, informing him that the working classes would not go with him for anything short of manhood suffrage. He had had a pamphlet presented to him a few days ago written by a gentleman who was well known for his extremely liberal opinions, who, he believed, possessed the confidence of the working classes, who wrote with great vigour on their behalf, and who, in speaking of half measures, and the Bill of the hon. Member for Leeds, said—The speakers at the late Bradford meeting, Mr. Stansfeld, Sir F. Crossley, Mr. Baines, and Mr. Forster, pleaded for no more (Mr. Stansfeld alone gave advice which would secure more) than the partial enfranchisement plan—a policy which palters with the popular hope, which fears to look the light in the face, which offers the least measure that can be called an improvement, settles nothing, and perpetuates the old disappointment.…No partial enfranchisement can produce direct political improvement unless large enough to effect a substantial transfer of power.…There may be no reason to refuse partial enfranchisement; but it would be as indecent in the working classes to exult in it as it would be in ten men who were taken from a wreck by a choice of the captain, and who should throw up their caps in the face of all those left to their fate.These were the words of Mr. Holyoake. Now, that was, he thought, the best answer which could be given to the statement of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) that the present was a mensufe liberal and broad enough to meet the requirements of the time. Those, then, he maintained, who advocated such a change as the Bill proposed ought to be prepared to show, first of all, in what the Reform Bill had failed; they must show that the House of Commons had neither the power nor the desire to take the necessary steps in the path of progress; that the country under the present system does not advance as it ought to do in wealth and power; that the wants and wishes of the masses are neglected; that ability and intelligence are crushed down by the depressing influence of rank and social distinctions, and that it was, therefore, expedient that political power should he transferred from the classes now possessing it—the upper and middle—to the lower classes. That being done, it rested 1618 with the advocates of the Bill to show that the proposed transfer would result in an equal or a greater amount of liberty than that at present enjoyed, in the production of more correct notions with regard to commerce and the imposition of taxation, and in as good a guarantee for peace and general security. When he was convinced that such would be the operation of the Bill he should have the greatest pleasure in voting for the second reading; but until then he should continue to be as obstinate and impenitent as he was at that moment. He had stated that the Bill would have the effect of transferring the power in boroughs from the upper and middle to the lower classes. It was admitted that the number of borough voters was at present 440,000; but if from that number the metropolitan and University constituencies, which would be scarcely at all increased under the Bill, were deducted, there would remain only 275,000; to which would be added by the Bill, according to calculations which have been made, about 240,000. Of that number it had been proved by the papers which had been laid before the House of Lords that two-thirds occupied houses of a rental between £6 and £8. How, then, he should like to know, could it be contended that the Bill would not effect in boroughs a transfer of power from those who now possessed it to a different class? In thirty of the larger constituencies the addition would be from 100 to 400 per cent, all of whom would consist of the lowest classes. The difficulty would then be to prevent the matter from going further. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer were correct in saying that on those who exclude from the franchise rests the onus of proving unfitness, how could any one except a ticket-of-leave man be excluded? If they extended the franchise to £6, a man renting a house at £5 10s.4 might oftentimes with reason urge that he was better educated, that he contributed equally to the revenue of the State, or drank more pots of beer, than his neighbour who possessed the franchise because he rented a £6 house. The whole question was, in reality, one of expediency, and it was from their overlooking this fact that the Gentlemen who argued the matter upon abstract grounds involved themselves in such difficulties. Looking at the question in an abstract point of view he felt disposed to agree with Mr. Mill in his advocacy not only of a manhood but 1619 also a womanhood suffrage—he could see I no reason why Miss Martineau or Miss Cobbe should not be as competent to elect Members of Parliament as any in dividual of the present constituencies. Mr. Mill could conceive nothing more abhorrent to his mind than the domination of one class over another, and in order to prevent that domination arising from his proposed extension of the suffrage he had proposed a system of make-weights, balances, complexities, and perplexities, which the country never would tolerate for one moment. He (Mr. Gregory) believed that if they accepted the measure before them they accepted at the same time an almost immediate advance to, an enormous and unrestricted suffrage, and they ought to be prepared to look the result steadily in the face. He was perfectly aware that those who did not approve the Bill were charged with being unwilling to admit the working classes to a share in the representation. That charge, however, was unfounded. He himself could have accepted the pledge of 1859 without the slightest hesitation or misgiving. He was prepared for the extension of the franchise both in boroughs and counties, be cause he believed that the admission of a considerable number of the working classes would be of the greatest advantage. He believed that they would find among the working classes a greater amount of honesty of purpose, a greater independence of thought, and a greater probability of their being guided in their selection of representatives less by motives of petty self-interest than influenced many among those holding the £10 franchise. He would be quite prepared himself to advocate any measure which after due inquiry would extend the suffrage to the most respected and most trustworthy of the working classes. This was exactly the point, however, for which this Bill did not satisfactorily provide. To call those illiberal in their view who opposed the Bill simply because of that opposition was to do nothing more than to confuse Liberal ism with Democracy. Liberalism was a process of the mind, Democracy a form of Government. There might he Liberalism without Democracy, and unquestionably there might be Democracy without Liberalism. He believed if the most en lightened of the working men were consulted as to the manner in which the deserving of their class should be admitted to a participation in the electoral 1620 franchise, they would declare themselves in favour of some kind of fancy franchise, though no one appeared yet to have decided what that franchise should he. He was emboldened to make this statement from what had been written by Mr. Holyoake. ["Oh!"] An hon. Member exclaimed "Oh," but it should be remembered that Mr. Holyoake was an out-and-out, root-and-branch, Radical. The pamphlet before him contained numerous allusions to the "serfs" and the "slaves," who at present had no share in the election of our representatives, and the admission which he would quote was therefore all the more valuable. Mr. Holyoake said—The National Reform Union of Manchester does propose an extension of the suffrage 'to every householder or lodger rated or liable to be rated for the relief of the poor.' A Bill which included all this would do and would end the agitation. But there is no such Bill drawn. There is no Member who would introduce it. Nor is there any probability of carrying it. The Union gives no sign of preparation or persistency for carrying it. It would require a revolution to carry it. The Union does not mean this. It does not even confront, nor even discuss the grounds of opposition to such a Bill. Its programme runs in the old, tiresome, tame, wearying, struggling, discouraging Radical rut. It proposes a suffrage without guarantees for its qualified action. It gives to the working class the numerical majority. I am not one who believe that the working class would ever vote down the men of property and education. But they might do so. No absolute guarantee can be given that they never would do so, and the men of property and intelligence would have, if this Bill passed, to trust to this event not occurring. They would hold their liberty and interests on sufferance. They would be in the same position in which the unenfranchised now are. Objecting myself to hold my liberty on sufferance, I should be most reluctant to put this risk on the educated and wealthy class. No class ought to be put in this position. No class ought to submit to it. Now, this is the real dilemma which exists. This dilemma the National Reform Union neither recognizes nor provides for. This formidable difficulty no Radical orator meets. This is why the Reform question stagnates and remains where it is. Everybody at times feels this difficulty, yet no one on the side of Radical Reform dares look it in the face, or has the courage to state it, or attempt to meet it. How can it be met except by adopting Mr. Mill's proposal of giving the wealthy and educated classes the protection of cumulative votes? or by acting on Earl Grey's suggestion of giving to the unenfranchised classes a special number of Members who should share in the representation without swamping it? Liberal M.P.' s and the Liberal press appear to have set their faces against such indispensable plans, caricaturing them as' fancy franchises' as though a vast and protective suffrage, which obviated an overwhelming difficulty, could be so described.1621 And now for Mr. Holyoake's opinions upon the Bill before the House. The writer continued—I know towns where ardent Reformers are themselves afraid of an unqualified suffrage. Good Radicals, the most thorough of their class, have said to me, 'There is a mob in our town (there is in every town), ignorant, selfish, venal, and reckless of principle; had they all votes, our present Liberal Members would be unseated at the next election. They would vote against those who seek to raise them.' This is a general feeling in Liberal boroughs. Now there is no plan of a £6 suffrage which selects the worthy and excludes the base. All £6 suffrage is blind; and hence we have Radicals arguing feebly and fearing much the result of the very measure they plead for. Surely this is political imbecility. This is the real dilemma which ought to be put an end to by adopting a plan of protective suffrage, of which the only opponents are Radicals whose policy has long undergone petrefaction.In a question of such vital importance as the one before the House he believed it to be necessary to make various inquiries among the working classes themselves, with a view to discover in what manner their wishes would be most satisfactorily met. He believed this could be effected He believed that a plan might be devised for admitting the best of the working classes to the franchise—he should be glad to see them admitted into that House in the ordinary course of representation. He never did entertain the sentiment so prominent in the mouths of Whig politicians, "Everything for the people, but nothing by the people." For his own part, he would wish to see the representatives of labour confronted with the representatives of capital, and he felt quite sure they would always receive at the hands of the House of Commons that attention to which they were entitled. But he maintained that if this could only be accomplished by the disenfranchisement of proprietors, merchants, bankers, manufacturers, professional men, and the more intelligent shopkeepers of England, the non-admission of some of the working classes was of the two the preferable evil. If the former classes were disfranchised they would be disfranchised for good, whereas the working classes, owing to their prosperity, the enormous rise in wages—the opening of foreign commerce, the opportunities presented to every man of character and intelligence—might, at least in a great number of cases, qualify themselves to become members of the electoral body. He remembered a conversation he once had with one of the most clear-headed men he ever knew—the late Sir Benjamin Brodie—who 1622 was what was called an advanced Liberal; but upon this question of the suffrage he was inexorable. Adopting the views of his noble Friend (Lord Elcho) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne, Sir Benjamin Brodie called this a "pot of beer" question, that half the workmen now excluded from the franchise could obtain it by the sacrifice of a few pots of beer during the year, and he maintained that it was for those who sought to gain admission to the franchise to show that they were qualified, and the best test of qualification would be a power of self-restraint. Sir Benjamin Brodie was not of the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the onus of proof rested with those who wanted to withhold the franchise, but that it lay with those who asked for it; and no better proof could be given than that frugality and care which enabled a man to raise himself in the social scale.
There were certain matters upon which all Liberals were agreed, certain great objects which all sought to attain and maintain—among the chief of these were liberty, peace, enlightened views with regard to commerce and the distribution of taxation, and the purity of election. He would invite the House to consider, before they passed this Bill, how these matters stood in countries where democratic institutions existed, First, as to the question of liberty—liberty to think, liberty to write, liberty to speak whatever the mind might suggest. Let them look at the great Republic of the West, and he would ask, without in the least intending to say anything at all disrespectful, whether thought itself there was not paralyzed and utterance checked unless such thought and utterance happened to run on the groove of what was called popular opinion. Take one illustration—during the last few years in America even, imputation which malice could suggest had been unsparingly lavished upon England, and yet the friends of the North in that House had always said that we did not know the real American feeling, and that there was a strong under-current in favour of England. He believed that to be true; but what a comment was afforded upon the want of liberty that existed in that country as regarded the free expression of opinion when it was found that, throughout the United States, not a single man had ventured to raise up his voice and say, "You are traducing and maligning a country 1623 which, under the most unparalleled pressure from at home and abroad, has striven to maintain a perfect neutrality." How different was our ease during the Russian war. There was no attempt to stifle the expression of opinions on the part of Mr. Cobden and others who opposed that war; but the statement of their views, though utterly opposed to popular opinion, was received with respectful attention. Then, as to the question of peace. His hon. Friend near him (Mr. Baines) said, if the Bill passed the chances of peace would be increased and the dangers of intervention would be lessened. He knew it had been said that wars were entered into for the purpose of providing dignities and advantages for the sons of the upper classes; but he would ask whether as much blood had been poured out and treasure wasted in the whole course of Wellington's campaigns as had been lavished during the last four years of war in America—and yet, according to the dictum of Earl Russell, the war in America was waged for purposes of Empire, and certainly that could not be in any degree imputed to the Duke of Wellington's wars. Let him, however, not seek illustrations from American doings, but from what had occurred very recently at home. When the Polish insurrection broke out meetings were held all over England by the trades' unions, and resolutions in favour of going to war with Russia were passed. He remembered being present when a number of trade delegates met the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) at the head of the Government in the lobby of the House. They came to express the wishes of the bodies with which they were connected, that war should be waged against Russia. The noble Lord asked them had they well weighed the scope of their demands, whether they were aware that war meant increased taxation, diminished employment, disturbance of capital and other serious evils; and they replied that they were quite aware of these things, but that still they desired that we should go to war. He did not mean to deny that if the Government of this country had been exclusively in the hands of the upper classes we might not last year have engaged in a war for Denmark against Germany; but that showed the danger to be in either extreme, and he rejoiced that the Government was neither in the hands of an aristocracy nor of a democracy, but on the broad basis on which it at present rests. Then as to 1624 commerce. He would ask those who supported this Bill whether they believed that by extending the suffrage or by transferring power to the working classes more enlightened views would prevail upon the subjects of commerce and the distribution of the national burdens. Why, when in America the Free Trade South broke loose from the Protectionist North, the first proceeding of the latter was to establish a prohibitive tariff of the severest character. The Western States—producing States—agreed to sacrifice their interests to those of the iron manufacturers of Pennsylvania, and all America clothed itself in shoddy for the benefit of the cotton-spinners of New England. He was aware that the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) said that that was the doing of the middle classes in the United States, and that "the commercial classes of America, like the same classes in other countries, from the uncertainty of their possessions and the fluctuations of their interests, are always timid and almost always corrupt." They seemed to have conquered their timidity, but they might have remained timid and corrupt to all eternity, and the prohibitive tariff would not have passed, but for the innate proneness of the multitude to protection in every ramification of the commercial system. What were they to think of the political wisdom of a country in which Mr. Sumner, one of the burning and shining lights of New England, in advocating the repeal of the Reciprocity Treaty, gravely announced that the American producer annually paid as a gift to Canada 17,000,000 dollars, because the Customs' duties on American manufactures came to that amount. But they need not draw examples of the tendency of the multitude towards this short-sighted and selfish policy from America alone. If we looked to our great Australian colonies, where the Government was in the hands of the masses, what did we find? There we have no small boroughs, no restricted franchise, no open voting; it was what the Americans called clear grit, and no mistake. They are the example so continually held up to us. We are told we are in our dotage, and should be guided by our children—and what were they doing? Why, they were making "ducks and drakes" of all those principles which free traders had been urging for so many years. It was no wonder that the Associated Chambers of Commerce were scandalized and 1625 astonished, and that the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. B. Forster), to whom they appealed, was equally astonished and grieved. Ho was informed that a successful endeavour had been made to impose a protective duty upon every article of consumption that was manufactured in Victoria, and so determined were they to maintain a protective system that they would not allow a Bill to pass which was intended to remedy the inequality of the sexes in that colony. Here was an extract from an Australian local paper—An effort was made by Mr. O'Shanassy, in the Assembly, to obtain a grant of £50,000 this year in aid of assisted female immigration. We regret to say the proposition was defeated, partly through the opposition of the Government, but chiefly through the selfishness of the ultra-democratic section of the House. It is a fact that the males in our population outnumber the females by no less than 150,000. Of course, good female servants are scarce, and in demand at rates of wages varying from £30 to £40 a year. The want of a continuous flow of immigration into our territory is one of the main causes of those occasional perils of stagnation in trade and commerce of which the mercantile community, both here and at home, have reason to complain. It really seems at present to be hopeless to expect anything like generous, public-spirited, and far-sighted legislation from our Assembly. This is one of the penalties which must everywhere be sometimes set against the enjoyment of perfect popular freedom.No doubt some one would say—It is unfair to reason from the acts of people born and bred in a new wild country, a country so backward in its physical conformation that it may reflect some of its own backwardness on its inhabitants. It must be remembered that the men who do these things were born in England, that they have in Australia the same instincts and prejudices they had in England; and the same class in England would exercise their power in the same way as they were doing in Australia. One argument had been used, that though the mass of working men might make bad representatives the}' would be sure to choose good men. He had a letter from Australia, in which there was the following passage, describing the class of persons chosen in Australia:—We have all been aghast, like England, I suppose, at Gladstone's Reform speech. What does he mean by talking of lowering the franchise? If ho had seen it work, as we have in these colonies, to our bitter cost, he would not have talked such" Here was a complimentary epithet he would not repeat. "We have had our Parliament dishonoured and degraded by the wretched place-hunters and demagogues that a low suffrage has forced into power, and Victoria is trying to retrace her steps and to raise the suffrage again as 1626 the only path to legislative respectability and efficiency. We have seen here the best men among us, of position, education, public spirit, stainless integrity, beaten hollow by publicans, railway porters, ex-ploughmen, stump orators, and adventurers of every grade. People in England who do not know the colonies often say or think, 'Oh, but things are so different in the colonies!' and picture our 'best men' successful diggers, or vulgar rich people but little above what Radicals call 'the people.' You know it is not so. You know what sort of men Haines, Sladen, Farie, Sturt, Slawell, Macknight, and others of the same stamp are. Well, under vote by ballot and universal suffrage there is not one of these, except Haines (and some men always get in), that would have the ghost of a chance with the lowest ruffian who had money enough to pay for nobblers, or words enough to tell lies to an ignorant and selfish mob.He appealed to the hon. Member for Salisbury whether that was a correct representation of the facts. [Mr. MARSH: Hear, hears!] The Chancellor of the Exchequer said it would be centuries before the English people would act in the spirit of democracy, or would forget the old traditional reverential feelings; but he forgot that, of all the States, Virginia, the first founded, and in which there were some old ties and a local aristocracy, went fastest down the steep when democratic institutions were introduced into America. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) had argued that the radical differences of opinion were so great among working men that they would perpetually differ among themselves, and that there would be every chance of a Tory slipping in. Certainly, if they looked at what had occurred in the late strike, they would find the working men did differ, but it was the wisest and most moderate of them who were overruled; and when any great class question arose could there be a doubt but that there would be the most complete union among them? On one point they had been distinctly warned—that on one point there would be a complete union among them, and that was the re-adjustment of taxation which had been sketched out by the hon. Member for Birmingham in very clear terms. Here was an extract from a speech of that hon. Gentleman, which foreshadowed that union—Every man who goes to your colonies repudiates your policy, repudiates your debts, and thanks Heaven that he has at last found a country where industry can have its reward, and where men calling themselves statesmen are not using every engine of Government to deprive him of the produce of his industry and to diminish the comforts and independence of his family. And you, landed proprietors of England, rember that, however many of your countrymen may emigrate, 1627 your acres remain, and you will have by-and-by a different tone in this House after another reform in Parliament. Your succession duties will be overhauled, and will not be got rid of so easily as at present. Your property tax, which you are assisting the Chancellor of the Exchequer to throw over, will come back in an increased proportion. When they have the power, as they shortly will, to lay takes on those who have spent the money, you may depend on it the poor will not always go to the wall, and the rich will not always escape.The last point on which he would touch was one on which all Liberals were united—purity of election. Mr. Holyoake said that bribery was the rich man's convenience, and would never be put down by a rich man's Parliament; but here was a spirited description of what happened at an American election which he had cut out of the New York Times—Providence, Wednesday, April 4, 1860. Beyond a doubt the continued Democratic and Conservative Republican Ticket is successful in this State. The greatest excitement has attended the election, and every device which party tactics could suggest has been employed by both parties to secure their success. The open purchase of votes has been a remarkable feature of the day. The voters when led up to the ballot box would with one hand drop the ticket, and with the other receive the bribe. The negro vote rated high, some coloured brethren receiving fifty dollars each. Individuals of comparative wealth declined to vote unless paid to do so. Voters publicly put themselves up for purchase. Bids would commence at ten dollars and run up to fifty dollars. Great goodhumour and merriment prevailed all day. The excitement was intense. Bands of music, banners, decorated waggons, and hired conveyances of every description paraded the streets from early morning till now. The announcement of Padelford's unsuccessful attempt to bribe the town clerk of Cranstone undoubtedly lost him a large vote. In other towns wholesale bribery was even more open and outrageous. Bonfires, cannon, liquor, cash, and excitement abound. The Demoorats are rejoicing that, with their registry taxes all paid by the Union party, they will go into the Presidential fight stronger than ever. Good order has been maintained throughout. Everybody drinks, but everybody appears to be used to it.All these things had been well considered during the last few years and had sunk deep into the heart of every reflecting man. That was the reason why the cry for Reform had fallen cold and dead upon the country. A few honest, well-meaning enthusiasts had been for the last few years flogging the dead horse, but not a stir could they get out of him. Every honest and intelligent member of the working classes knows that he can and will obtain the suffrage, and though he may be anxious to extend it, yet he cares not to lower it to the level of the ignorant and 1628 debased. The real danger to the Constitution did not arise from the discontent of those who had not the franchise, but from the apathy of those who had it. They would give up resistance because there was clamour; but it was fear which magnified that clamour. He asked them to call to mind some of the questions on which there really had been clamour in this country. Let them take the Ballot. They remembered when it was the test and stamp of the true Liberal, and that it was actually carried by a majority of the House. What was it now? The subject of one speech each year. The question was always disposed of before dinner time, and even the most advanced Liberals in the House cracked their joke upon it. Then let them look at the Church. Thirty years ago many Churchmen were ready to give the struggle up as lost; pamphlets were written which declared that the Church was at an end, and a large party in the Church were ready for a dismemberment which seemed inevitable. But in what position was the anti-Church agitation now? Why had it failed? Because the Church had struck its roots deep into the hearts and affections of the people. Hon. Gentlemen warned them not to be deceived by the ominous and suspicious quiet which now prevailed, and reminded them of former days—of what happened before the passing of the Bill of 1832. But the House knew perfectly well what was the state of things at that time. Intolerable abuses existed; there were sinecures and pensions; the narrow, jobbing, municipal system which prevailed came home to the feelings of every single individual, and the country was aroused and was thoroughly in earnest. But what was the condition of the country now? There was tranquillity everywhere, and upon every subject, and that tranquillity was due to the conviction that there was a House of Commons able and willing to deal with every abuse and grievance. To talk of the great agitation of 1832, when Birmingham threatened to march on London with "the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill," and to compare that with the cackling of Leeds at the appearance of this young David of Reform who with a few little round pebbles from the brook, offered to give battle to the anti-Reform Philistines, which it was to be presumed the Leeds people felt unable to do themselves. And now when Mr. Mill offered himself for Westminster, even with a certificate from Mr. Beales, he has found 1629 it necessary, as it appears, to have it countersigned by Lord Amberley. It is not by duodecimo politicians such as this that organic changes in England's Constitution were to be made. The stern, earnest Reformers of 1832 were different from this. They were something more than catalogues of complaints, encyclopaedias of unimportant facts, common-place books of crochets and devices to settle the most momentous questions. Such men as England had in 1832 England always would have when she was aroused; but such men England had not now because she was not aroused; and it was because he believed England would not be roused to the support of such propositions as those contained in the measure now before the House—that she would not endanger the great edifice of social liberty and prosperity which she had reared—that, without faltering, misgiving, or hesitation, he would say "No" to the Motion to read this Bill a second time; but equally without faltering, misgiving, or hesitation, lie would say "Aye" to any Bill which would provide for the enfranchisement of those of the working classes who were entitled to the confidence of the country.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
Towards the close of the debate on Wednesday last an appeal was made to the Government to state explicitly the course which they proposed to take in reference to the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds for the second reading of this Bill; and also to state their general intentions and opinions with regard to the question of Parliamentary Reform. Sir, the Government are not prepared to dispute the reasonableness of that demand; and they are prepared to give an explicit answer to the appeal which has thus been made to them. A great many hon. Members on the opposite Benches who were here at the close of the debate on Wednesday were not in attendance at the commencement. Had they been here before they would have known that the Motion for the second reading and the Amendment for the Previous Question had not been put from the Chair till an advanced hour of the day; and that after they had been put only three speeches were addressed to the House. It was clear to me through the whole debate that it was impossible but there must be an adjournment. By desire of my Colleagues I had come here, in the absence of my noble Friend at the head of the Government, to take part in the debate; 1630 but I did not think it would be becoming in me to stand in the way of the two or three Gentlemen who were anxious to state their opinions. We are here now, Sir, to answer the appeal which has been made to us, and also to answer the charges which have been brought against the Government for their conduct on the question of Parliamentary Reform. I am afraid that what I have to say will not meet with the entire approval either of the warm supporters of the Bill on the one hand, or of its determined and strenuous opponents on the other. And here let me say, as to those opponents, I think the course which they have taken in reference to this Bill has been not quite as fair and straightforward as might have been desired. Well, what is the question which we have now to decide? On the one hand, a Motion is made for the second reading of this Bill; on the other hand, there is no Motion for the rejection of the Bill, but only an Amendment for the Previous Question, although the spirit of the argument of the noble Lord who moved that Amendment (Lord Elcho), and of my right hon. Friend who supported him (Mr. Lowe), is this—that under no circumstances and at no time are they prepared to extend the franchise by lowering it. But what is the principle of this Bill? The principle of lowering the franchise; and therefore I say that the noble Lord and my right hon. Friend have not taken the opinion of the House in the straightforward manner they might have done. My hon. Friend who has just addressed the House (Mr. Gregory) goes further; for, forgetting that the Amendment was "the Previous Question," at the close of his speech he said he was prepared to say, "No," to the Motion for the second reading. I must observe likewise that my hon. Friend and those who preceded him in opposition to this Bill have not stated the case fairly. They assume, without any proof whatever, that the necessary or, at all events, the probable tendency of any Bill to extend the suffrage by lowering the value of the house which gives a right to vote, would be to endanger the Constitution, to imperil the monarchy, and to substitute in the place of that mode and form of Government for which every day we have more reason to be grateful, a system of pure democracy. My hon. Friend who spoke last has assumed that the necessary tendency of this Bill would be to Americanize our institutions, and he referred to the Australian colonies, where universal 1631 suffrage prevails, in support of his views. I can only say that if Her Majesty's Government thought that was the necessary or even the probable tendency of the principle contained in the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, they would at once have asked the House to reject it, and I am sure that in taking that course they would have had the hearty approbation and concurrence of a majority of the House and of the people of this country. Let me now say a few words in reply to the charges made against Her Majesty's Government for their conduct in respect to the question of Reform. Let me go back a little further than my hon. Friend went, and let me call the attention of the House to what took place in March, 1859, when the Government of Lord Derby proposed a Reform Bill, and the second reading was moved in this House. On that occasion an Amendment was moved by Lord Russell, who pointed to two alleged defects in the Bill proposed by Lord Derby's Government, Lord Russell's Resolution distinctly asked the opinion of the House on a particular proposition. The first part of his Amendment pointed to the alleged unsatisfactory manner in which the Bill dealt with the freehold franchise as exercised in the counties. With that question we are not now immediately concerned. But the latter part of his Resolution pointed directly to the absence in the Bill of any provision by which the working classes or any portion of them could be admitted to the franchise by a reduction of the amount necessary to confer it. I do not now allude to the county franchise; but the debate on the borough franchise was in substance this:—Shall we attempt to introduce some of these classes by means of fancy franchises—franchises now unknown to the Constitution?—(I do not mean to say anything as to the merits of those franchises now, as that may form the subject of debate at another time)—shall we endeavour to let in a portion of the working classes hi this way, or shall we effect our object and admit a considerable number of them by lowering the franchise? On that question, after a protracted debate, the House came to a division, and pronounced a deliberate decision; and that decision was adverse to the Government of Lord Derby. What course did the Government of Lord Derby take? They advised Her Majesty to take the opinion of the country upon the subject. Accordingly Parliament was dissolved, and a new one 1632 met in June, 1859. A Speech was delivered from the Throne which held out the expectation of another Parliamentary Reform Bill being proposed by that Government on a future occasion, but stated that such a Bill could not be then introduced on account of the advanced period of the year. The Address in answer to the Speech was moved by the hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Egerton), and no person more fitted for the purpose could have been chosen by the Government to represent them, regard being had to his position and to the fact that he represented a mixed constituency comprising large agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing interests; and coming fresh, as he did, from his election, he may be taken to have fully represented those interests and to have spoken in their name. What did he say with regard to these questions which had been the subject of contention in Parliament before the dissolution—questions upon which this House had entertained and had distinctly expressed its opinion? Why, the hon. Gentleman, who we well know had received information from Government with respect to their intended measures, said, with reference to the promised Bill for Parliamentary Reform—I shall not discuss the character of that measure till it is brought forward; but I have reason to believe that there certainly will be in it a diminution of the borough franchise. I do not know what it is intended to do with regard to the counties; but as far as my opinion goes I should wish to have, to a certain extent, a diminution of the franchise for both counties and boroughs. I think the objects of such measures should be as they have been proclaimed before the country, to give the working classes a share of the electoral franchise.—[3Hansard, cliv. 102.]The hon. Gentleman made that statement in moving the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne on behalf of a Government which, before the dissolution, had distinctly refused to accept the principle that there should be a lowering of the franchise. But what did the right hon. Member for Bucks say on that occasion? The right hon. Gentleman, the organ of the Government and leader of the House, said—The question of the borough franchise must be dealt with; and it must be dealt with, too, with reference to the introduction of the working classes. We admit that that has been the opinion of Parliament, and that it has been the opinion of the country as shown by the hon. Gentlemen who have been returned to this House. We cannot be blind to that result. We 1633 do rot wish to be blind to it. We have no prejudice against the proposition. All that we want is to assure ourselves that any measure that we bring forward is one required by the public necessities and will he sanctioned by public approbation and support, and therefore we are perfectly prepared to deal with that question of the borough franchise and the introduction of the working classes, by lowering the franchise in boroughs, and by acting in that direction with sincerity, because, as I ventured to observe in the debate upon our measure—if you intend to admit the working classes to the franchise by lowering the suffrage in boroughs you must not keep the promise to the ear and break it to the hope."—[3 Hansard, cliv. 139.]I ask, could there be a more explicit admission that the opinion of the country had been against the then Government as to the question upon which the issue had been taken? Could there have been a more frank or a more unqualified acceptance of that verdict, and avowal to act upon it sincerely? Well, then, if not only this House but the Government of Lord Derby absolutely pledged themselves to the principle of lowering the franchise, is it fair to say that this Government alone is pledged to it, and has abandoned and broken its pledges? The right hon. Gentlemen was dealing with the question of Want of Confidence in the Government, which was moved as an Amendment to the Address. He distinctly admitted that the country had shown its wish that the suffrage should be lowered, and he said he would yield to the desire of the country and give effect to its views if the House would give the Government its support. The House refused to give them its support; it refused to pass a Vote of Confidence in Lord Derby's Government, A change of Government took place, and the present Government came in—and I here admit that they did so on distinct terms. They were pledged, to the same extent that Lord Derby's Government would have been had it obtained a majority, to lay a Reform Bill including the principle of a reduction of the franchise before the Legislature. Well, we did propose a Reform Bill, which was, I contend, a complete redemption of the pledge we had given. We proposed that Bill, without loss of time, on the 1st of March, and the second reading was moved by Lord Russell after giving ample time for its consideration. What took place on that second reading? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) rose immediately after the Question for the second reading had been put and said, that though objecting to many parts 1634 of the Bill—implying that he did not object to its principle—he was not prepared either as an individual or as the organ of his party to offer any opposition to the second rending of the Bill: and after it had been in the right hon. Gentleman's hands for three weeks he was not prepared to move one single Amendment. We had reason, under these circumstances, to expect that the House, accepting the principle of the Bill, would have allowed us to carry it through. But at the next stage, adjournment after adjournment took place in opposition to the repeated protests and entreaties of the Government [Laughter]—I do not disguise the fact—showing that the Government at least were sincere in their endeavours to carry the Bill through the House. Such were the tactics by which the passing of the Bill was delayed; and in saying so I do not refer merely to the course pursued by the Gentlemen opposite, but also by those sitting on this side of the House. After many nights' debate the second reading was at last agreed to without a division. Whitsuntide was approaching—it was necessary to take some Votes in Supply, and the earliest day that could be fixed for going into Committee was the 4th June. On the 4th of June the Motion was made for going into Committee on the Bill for its details to be considered; when those who allowed the second reading to take place without opposition met us with Motion after Motion of a dilatory character, no man venturing positively to oppose it in ignorance of what might be the feelings of the country upon the question. It then being the middle of June, the Government, after several nights' debate, finding that they had not the slightest chance of carrying the Bill, were reluctantly compelled to withdraw it. The hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines), with an innocence for which I should not have given him credit, expressed his astonishment that the Government should have allowed the Bill to drop, and hoped that the Government would not allow this opportunity to pass without explaining their reasons for dropping it. My answer is that the Government used its utmost endeavours to carry that Bill, hut that they felt that they should be merely wasting the time of the House in endeavouring to maintain a supposed consistency by carrying on the Bill in the face of those protracted debates and of the manifest determination of the House, while offering it no direct opposition, not to pass it. Now, 1635 I ask whether Government was not fully justified in the course they took in withdrawing the Bill when they did? I ask whether the country expressed any disapprobation of the conduct of the Government on that account? On the contrary, the Government was supported by the House in the course they had adopted, and the House by the public opinion of the country. I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds will be fully satisfied with my reply to his question. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) singled out the President of the Board of Trade for his severest censure, not only for taking the course he did as a Member of the Government, but also for the reasons he gave in justification of his conduct at a public meeting of his constituents. I think those reasons are amply sufficient to justify our acts, and I balieve they have recommended themselves to the country. Believing that the feeling of the country and of this House is not that which my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax considers essential to the passing of an efficient Reform Bill, there not being that persistent and overwhelming expression of the opinion of the country by which alone such a measure could be sustained, we did not, merely for the purpose of maintaining an appearance of consistency, go on Session after Session submitting a Bill of this kind to Parliament with the certainty before us that the only practical result would be that public business would be obstructed, and that the Government would be prevented from discharging the duties they owe to this House and to the country. Sir, I believe that the Government would not have been justified in pursuing that course, and, therefore, I am prepared to defend their conduct, believing, as I do, that it has met with the approbation of the country. Has the country expressed any want of confidence in the Government? Has the House withdrawn its confidence from them? They amply redeemed the pledge which they gave, by proposing a Bill framed in accordance with the opinions which they had expressed, and they only withdrew that Bill when they saw that neither the House nor the country wished that it should be pressed. The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), whose sincerity as a Reformer no man can doubt, has taken office in the Government. He is a highminded and honourable man, and no one will venture to say that he would have identified himself with the Government if he had be- 1636 lieved that they had upon this question broken their pledges and abandoned their principles. But since that period other measures for the extension of both borough and county franchise have been proposed by independent Members. My hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King) has proposed the extension of the county, and my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) has several times proposed the extension of the borough franchise. Government have offered no opposition to the introduction of those Bills, They have thought that, although they did not feel justified in themselves submitting measures to Parliament for those purposes, they had no right to stand in the way of hon. Gentlemen who differed from them in opinion as to the feeling of the country. Nor have we offered any opposition to the second reading of those Bills. We have at all times been ready to affirm the principle that there should be an extension of the suffrage by lowering the franchise to a certain extent both in counties and boroughs. But the House has not accepted those measures, and I think their fate has afforded sufficient justification for the course which the Government has taken in not asking Parliament to consider a general measure of Reform. We are again asked by my hon. Friend to agree to the second reading of this Bill; and how is it met? I put aside altogether the Previous Question, because that is not the real question that we have to decide. We are asked by the recent arguments of those who oppose this Bill to reject the principle involved in it. We are asked, in fact, to say that at no time, and under no circumstances, shall the borough franchise be lowered and the working classes admitted to it. ["No, no!"] Does my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) say No? The "Noes" proceed from Gentlemen who most vociferously cheered the able and forcible arguments of my right hon. Friend; but I think that no man who cheered those arguments can say that he is now or, without a great change of opinion, can become an advocate of any reduction of the borough franchise. I agree with my right hon. Friend in much that he said in that very able speech. I agree with what he said about abstract rights to the franchise, and universal suffrage; but those questions are not in debate now. I agree with him that it is desirable that the working men should look upon the attainment of the suffrage as an object of some ambition, and should be induced to 1637 deny themselves some indulgences in order to acquire it; but I cannot agree with him in thinking that the amount of £10 which was fixed more than thirty years ago at the time of the Reform Act is an immutable figure. I cannot agree with him that any departure from a £10 franchise in boroughs must necessarily lead to democracy, to the subversion of our institutions, and to all those evils which he so forcibly depicted. His speech was very similar to some of those which were heard in opposition to the Reform Bill of 1832. There are now very few Members of this House who had seats in it at that time, but some of us are unfortunately old enough to remember the debates which took place then, and which, if we did not hear them, we all read with the deepest interest. The very same arguments were then used against Reform as are now urged against the lowering of the franchise. It was then said, "If you place power in the hands of the £10 householders, you have begun a downward course which must land you in pure democracy." No doubt those who expressed such opinions sincerely entertained the belief that the only safety of the country lay in the rejection of that Bill, and that it was a dangerous and revolutionary measure, which would entirely subvert our institutions. But what has been the result? The part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne which I liked best was that in which he enlarged upon the immense advantages which have been conferred upon the country by the Reform Act of 1862—being a falsification of every prediction which was hazarded by those who opposed it. What proof has my right hon. Friend given us, not that universal suffrage would lead to democracy, but that some reduction of the Franchise would? We are not dealing with universal suffrage, and when my hon. Friend who last addressed the House spoke of Mr. Holyoake he should have said that he was an advocate of universal suffrage, and that the Bill prepared by some Manchester Association, and which, he said, would endanger other classes and deprive them of their share of power, was not the measure now under discussion, but a Bill for the establishment of universal suffrage. What we think, and what we thought when we introduced the Bill of 1860, is that, looking at the intelligence of the upper class of the working classes, and at the improvement which has taken place in their habits and character from the education 1638 which has been so widely diffused among them during the last thirty years, the time has come when it is right to consider whether a portion of those classes should not be admitted to the suffrage by means of lowering the qualification which now very much confines it to the middle classes. In one breath we are told that a large number of the working classes are admitted under the existing franchise, and in the next that it is unsafe to admit any portion of them. I ask whether in those cases to which the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) has referred, in which a large number' of the working classes are incloded in the constituencies, the result of the elections has been such as to justify the apprehensions which he entertains as to the consequences which would follow if the same proportion were admitted in others? I believe that the idea of a reasonable extension of the franchise in boroughs leading to democracy and endangering our institutions is perfectly fallacious. I believe that it will be safer and wiser to widen the basis of representation as far as we possibly can within reasonable limits, by admitting those who have proved themselves qualified to exercise the franchise. We, therefore, cannot agree with those who propose to reject the Bill because they object to the principle contained in it; and it is a principle which we have always accepted. We have seen no reason to doubt that the course which we took in 1860 was in itself a right course. We have seen no reason to suppose that the number of electors which we calculated would under that Bill be added to the constituencies was an unreasonable or a dangerous number. We believe that that number might have been admitted, scattered as the electors would have been over all the boroughs in the kingdom, with safety to the Constitution, with satisfaction to large numbers of the working classes, and, therefore, with additional security to our institutions. In that view the Government will, as they have before done, with a view to affirm the principle that there may safely be, and that there ought to be, a reduction of the borough franchise, vote for the second reading of the Bill of the hon. Member for Leeds. I wish, however, that that should not go for more than it is worth. If it is intended that the Bill of my hon. Friend—that the £6 franchise in boroughs—should be applied as a political test at the elections which are now not far distant, that is a test which Her Majesty's Government will not accept. We feel 1639 that we are not bound, without further consideration, to the adoption of a £6 franchise, although in connection with other alterations in our electoral system we proposed it in 1860. We now only affirm the principle that there may be beneficially and usefully made a reduction of the borough franchise; but to what extent that reduction should go, and with what other alterations in the electoral system it should be combined, are questions which any Government dealing with the subject are bound to take into consideration. I do not reject the £6 franchise. I only say that I, for one, and that Her Majesty's Government, will not go to the hustings at the general election pledged to support a £6 franchise. They are of opinion, with the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that there ought to be such a reduction of the borough franchise as will in all sincerity admit a considerable portion of the working classes; but they reserve to themselves the discretion, which they would be unworthy of their position as a Government if they did not reserve, of considering when the question comes practically before the House after the second reading of the Bill what the reduction should be, and with what guards it should be accompanied. With regard to the question of Parliamentary Reform generally, I need hardly state after what I have said that we do not go to the country pledged to any particular measure. We must upon this subject reserve to ourselves the fullest liberty to act upon our principles according to the circumstances of the time and the opinion of the country. We are not pledged to, and we do not intend to ask the support of the country as the advocates of, a great measure of Parliamentary Reform. I wish to be explicit. It would be idle to say that we would introduce a certain measure when we do not know what may be the opinion of the next House of Commons upon the subject, or to commit ourselves irrespective of the opinion of the House and of the opinion of the country to propose a large measure of Parliamentary Reform, which the House may be as disinclined to pass as it was before, and which the country may not desire. We should gladly avail ourselves of any such persistent and overwhelming expression of opinion upon the subject as the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) says is essential to the passing of a Bill, but we are not prepared to go to the country as the advocates of a measure of Parliamen 1640 tary Reform without reserving to ourselves a discretion to act upon that matter, as upon all others, as the interests of the country may require. That appeal is not far distant. We shall appeal with confidence to the general opinion of the country. The country will have an opportunity of expressing its opinion as to how the Government has been conducted by the present Administration. We shall not shrink from that appeal, and by its result we shall willingly abide.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman began his speech by saying be would tell the House what he would do with reference to this subject, and what would be the future policy of the Government in regard to it. Now, I ask is there any Gentleman on either side of the House who, having heard that speech, has any idea what that policy is to be—except a policy which I never expected to hear from any Treasury Bench, and still less from the present one—namely, that the policy would be regulated by their interest in the Government. I am glad that this question has been brought forward. I have always felt that there was little chance of this Bill being carried in the present temper of the House; but I did think it would be the means of raising the whole Reform question before the House. We have the Reform question now before the House, and the chief point we want to know is, not what the Ministers will do in the support of this particular Bill, but to know whether, at the election speedily coming, they are or are not a Reform Ministry? We who are called upon to support them want to know whether we shall be supporting a Reform Ministry. We who sit on this side of the House have a right to know who we are supporting; and the hon. Gentlemen on the other side, who have only recently ceased to be Reformers, have a right to know who they are opposing. What has the right hon. Gentleman told us about that? He repeated the pledge made when the present Ministry came into power in I860. Are they released from that pledge? I will not attempt to measure the amount of sincerity shown by them or their supporters; but does the fact that they brought forward a Bill and withdrew it release them from the pledge given on this Reform question? Who has the power of releasing them from that pledge? Has my right hon. Friend who sits near me (Mr. Horsman), who was no party to the contract, the right of releasing 1641 them from that pledge? Still less the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), for he was one who made it. Can the hon. Members who sit behind the Treasury Bench, and whom my noble Friend (Lord Elcho) was pleased to call the orthodox Liberals—though I am disposed to think that the great majority of the Liberals would not be inclined to accept his definition of orthodox Liberals—can they release the Government from the pledge? No, unless their constituents do. Well, what we want to know when we come before our constituents, and what the constituents wish to know when the Members come before them, is whether, in returning what is called the Liberal party to support what is called a Liberal Ministry, they are or are not supporting a Reform party determined to carry a Reform Bill? I may be told that we need not ask this question; that the country has already decided; that we will hear nothing of Reform at the next general election, and that there will be no attempt to pledge Members to it. Now, is there any hon. Gentleman on this side—are there many hon. Gentlemen on the other side—who do not suppose that the great majority of Members on the Liberal side of the House at any rate will come back after the next election as much pledged as they are at this moment to carry a Reform Bill? My noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) talked about getting rid of what he called the noisy section of his constituents, and he was followed in that by the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory). I do not suppose that there is much noise made in Haddingtonshire on this matter, or in Galway on any subject, except on the Galway contract; and it is therefore safe and very easy for hon. Gentlemen representing distant places in Ireland and Scotland—small constituencies—to make those remarks. But is there any Member for a large and popular constituency, whether of town or country, who does not know that when he comes before them he will be asked why it is a Reform Bill has not been carried in this Parliament, and that he will not be allowed to return to represent the Liberal party until he says that he will go back determined not to be trifled with any longer, and that he will do his best to have this question settled. Of course we cannot tell until the election how far there is or is not a Conservative reaction. I believe it to be immensely exaggerated; but I do 1642 not deny the possibility of that position. But if the majority of the country be anti-Reformers, and if we on this side of the House are in a minority—as we have often been before, but only to be in a majority in the end, let it be acknowledged, and let the responsibility rest on the majority—anything is better than allowing the question to be trifled with as it has been. The noble Lord talked in the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham of his efforts to set class against class; but of all the efforts made to set class against class I know of no effort more insidiously made than that made of late in regard to this Reform question of setting the middle class against the working class and telling them that it is unsafe to admit the working classes to power. But I believe, except to a very slight extent, that effort has been unsuccessful. I will not say that it has been altogether unsuccessful, but I am prepared to accept the consequences, and if we should find ourselves in the minority we shall acknowledge it, and we shall let the real majority in the constituencies be governed by leaders who represent their feelings and their views, and not by leaders professing to belong to us. But supposing that the election has taken place, and that, as I say, the large majority of the Liberal party remain pledged upon this question, what is to be done then? Are these pledges to be trifled with again in another Parliament as they have been in this? I think there will be a general feeling on both sides of the House, whatever is to be the decision on this Reform question—whether the admission of a large portion of the working classes to a share in the representation of the country is to be decided in the affirmative or the negative—that the way in which the Government have met it to-night, by saying that they will wait for the popular applause or popular mind to indicate how the country goes, will not be the way in which it will be thought satisfactory to meet it. There will be a feeling, I believe, among all men who wish well to their country that it is necessary seriously, earnestly, and sincerely to debate the question and to bring it to an end in the next Parliament, instead of treating it as we have done in this. I will just give that House one or two reasons why I believe it is not wise to trifle with the working men any longer on this question. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire said he knew the feeling of working men very 1643 well. I do not dispute his knowledge, but I think it would be very much my own fault if my knowledge was not greater. I have known the working classes all my life; I have known them as a Captain of Volunteers, if there is anything in that; I have been in the habit of conferring with them in deputations; I have been asked to settle labour disputes between them and their employers; for the last twenty years I have sympathized with them in their political movements. I have constantly attended their meetings, sometimes agreeing with them, and sometimes differing—very often the latter—so that I think no person ought to know better than myself what is the feeling of working men upon the Reform question in the district from which I come, and in which there is a good deal of feeling. Comparing their present with their past feelings on this question, I cannot but regard the change with regret. I remember the Chartist time, when there was a very violent disorderly feeling amongst them, and in some respects the present state of feeling is still more to be regretted than it was then. I remember the time when I had the greatest possible difficulty in an open air meeting in Bradford to get the working men to accept a resolution not to use physical force, but I did get them to accept it. But that old Chartist agitation was founded upon that which was perfectly unreasonable, and the workmen found it out. They thought that they would be able by some alteration in the machinery of the Government to increase their own material prosperity. They got rid of that idea. But what is their present feeling based upon? It is a feeling the House cannot afford to look upon with indifference. It is a feeling amongst the best of them that they are excluded from the rights and duties of citizenship; that they are alienated from the Constitution, and by your treatment of them you are making them look to another country as though it was their native country. I have taken a decided view in favour of the North throughout the late struggle, but I regret as much as any man can do to hear the working men looking to America as their future home. I regret as much as any hon. Member can this state of feeling on the part of the working men; but I say that while we continue this policy—above all, if we accept the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne, which seemed to proceed upon the principle that on no conditions can they be 1644 admitted, you will have, as it were, two nations in this country—the one consisting of the upper and the middle class, and the other the large body of the working classes—the one proud of its connection with the Constitution, and the other looking forward to how soon they could get away and become citizens of a foreign country. We have been taunted with the indifference of the working classes towards thi3 Bill; but if you force the working men to a working men's agitation it will not be for this Bill—it will probably be for manhood suffrage. If they are excluded as a class and feared as a class, they will agitate as a class and demand admission as a class. Assuredly the wise plan would be to admit the élite among them, the leaders of their movements; for, though they would be generous enough to say that they would not accept such a Reform as the full measure of working men's rights, yet in that way any demand for a greater extension of the suffrage must be put off for a long period—so long indeed as to do away with any arguments for further delay. In his speech last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer said—It may be fearlessly asserted that the fixed traditional sentiment of the working man has begun to be confidence in the law, in Parliament, and even in the executive Government."—[3 Hansard, clxxv. 322.]Could that be said now? Nothing had happened to shake their confidence in the law; but confidence in Parliament on the Reform question they had not, and that was the reason why they had never taken the trouble to present any petitions in favour of this Bill. As to the executive Government—in the right hon. Gentleman as yet they had confidence—but in the executive Government they had not, and certainly the speech of the Home Secretary would not remove any feeling they might have on that point. What could be more calculated to increase their distrust than the speech of the right hon. Member for Calne? The right hon. Gentleman, at the conclusion of his speech, said—I venture, however, to make this prediction—that if they do unite their fortunes with the fortunes of Democracy, as it is proposed they should do in the case of this measure, they will not miss one of two things. If they fail in carrying this measure, they will ruin their party; and if they succeed in carrying this measure they will ruin their country."—[3 Hansard, clxxviii. 1439.]Close upon four or five years the right hon. Gentleman joined in this conspiracy 1645 against his country—what has occurred to induce him to change his mind? I do not believe that he has changed his mind, for I acquit him of such a want of sincerity and patriotism as to retain office under a Ministry which he believed to be bent on taking a course which would prove ruinous to his country. I believe the right hon. Gentleman held the same opinions then that he holds now—I believe the real explanation of the right hon. Gentlenian'3 conduct to he that lie had confidence in the Government of which he was a Member, and he knew that they were not in earnest in seeking to carry a Reform Bill. I am persuaded that if the right hon. Gentleman had had reason to think otherwise he would not have continued in office to be instrumental in bringing about what he conceived to be the ruin of his country. "You must either ruin your party or ruin your country." Better let the party be ruined rather than have measures brought in in such a manner and so treated by the Government. Better let the party be disbanded and re-organized with fewer Members than that it should be false to its own principles. Let the right hon. Gentleman go over to the other side of the House, and take the position of leader of hon. Gentlemen opposite—a position which he is evidently so worthy to fill. Let all those follow him who concur with him in opinion, and let those who remain behind, conscious of the justice of their cause, fight their way, should they be in a minority, until they had placed themselves in the position of a majority. Better far to take that course than to go on under leaders whose action leads to the impression that the Liberal party in this House no longer represents the feelings and wishes of their constituents. It may be said that I am losing sight of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am not forgetting it, nor will the country forget it, but I cannot lose sight of this—that my right hon. Friend, though the most eminent man in the Ministry, is not the leader of the Ministry, and does not appear in the absence of the noble Lord as the captain of the ship. He is not the first lieutenant, but an eminent officer in the vessel. My right hon. Friend cannot help replying to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne—which he must feel was chiefly directed against himself; and I hope he will answer the question—to which no reply has yet been given, and to which, if no reply be given, will be re- 1646 peated again and again until the Government will regret that they have passed it over in silence—to what port is the ship going—whether is it the harbour of Reform or not? Putting party considerations aside, the real point at issue is that with which my right hon. Friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) so ably dealt last year, when he said—The present franchise, I may add, on the whole—subject of course to some exceptions—draws the line between the lower middle class and the upper order of the working class. As a general rule, the lower stratum of the middle class is admitted to the exercise of the franchise, while the upper stratum of the working class is excluded. That I believe to be a fair general description of the present formation of the constituencies in boroughs and towns. Is it a state of things, I would ask, recommended by clear principles of reason? Is the upper portion of the working classes inferior to the lowest portion of the middle? That is a question I should wish to be considered on both sides of the House."—[3 Hansard, clxxv. 324.]The question now is, and will be at the approaching election, whether this state of things is to be allowed to continue? And how has it been dealt with in the present debate? The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) has told the House that in many boroughs the effect of the proposed change would be to swamp the present constituencies. That statement will, however, I believe, be found not to be correct. Although some three or four boroughs may be converted more or less into working-class boroughs, generally speaking the constituencies will be very little affected by the operation of the measure. I know we are met by the assertion that it is not so much anything in this measure that would do any great harm; but, say our opponents, we fear the precedent you make for future action; we fear the tendency in which you are going. Now I think it is well that all who support the extension of the franchise should speak out with candour, and I, for one, must honestly acknowledge that I do not fear the tendency of this measure, and that I do look forward to a much greater eventual concession of the suffrage. Why do I look forward to it? I do not wish to argue the question on any ground of á priori right which The Times seems to think that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne has disposed of for ever, but which has long been the subject of discussion, and which is, after all, based upon a feeling in the heart of men of which no speech of the right hon. Gentleman, however eloquent it may be, can get rid. But be that as it may, I would sim- 1647 ply, for the purposes of my argument, maintain the policy of the proposed concession on the ground that I look upon it as a just and natural development of that Constitution of which we are all so proud. I hardly like to quote so old fashioned an authority as Blackstone, but it is a fact worthy of the consideration of the House that the opinion of that learned person was that in a free State every man was a free agent, and ought to be in some measure his own governor. Have the supporters of the present Bill, I will ask, advanced any opinion so democratic as that in its tendency? But, be that as it may, what ought to be the tendency of our legislation upon the question of the franchise? In my opinion it ought to be that as education advances so must the suffrage be extended. Let the working classes, in addition to their power of organization and their numbers, but once possess the advantages of education, and no influence in the country will be able—or eventually will, I think, desire to exclude them from the right to exercise the franchise. Not fearing, then, as I certainly do not, the tendency of the Bill, I am under no apprehension of those difficulties which it is said it will bring about between employers and employed in reference to the question of wages. At present we, the employers of labour, have the power of legislation, and what assistance does it give us? Every man who is practically acquainted with the employment of labour knows that the interests of the labouring classes, even though they should be admitted to the franchise, would be so diverse that it is not probable—that it is not even possible—that there could be a great combined movement among the great wage receiving classes of the community to obtain from Parliament some legislative measure for their own interests. In conclusion, I will say that, although my name is on the back of this Bill, I am not a bigoted supporter of its provisions. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary says the Government will not go to the hustings pledged to a £6 franchise. No one wishes to pledge them to the test of a small measure like this. If we could have reason to believe that they were intending to grapple with the whole question of Reform in a fair, candid, sincere, and determined spirit, that is all we want. By voting for this Bill the House will support the only proposition which seems likely to include that portion of the working classes within its scope which every one professes 1648 a desire to include. If there was any other mode by which that object could be effected, let a proposal be made to accomplish it; but any measure of this kind must be a fair and sincere attempt to settle the question, and must not appear to give the working men votes without really attempting to do so. You cannot attempt to extend the franchise without lowering the suffrage, and if it he a sincere and candid measure I believe the working men will be willing fairly to consider it. You call this Reform the progress of democracy. I call it the development of that true principle of liberty which is the basis of our constitution. But take your own word, "democracy." You may take three ways of dealing with it. You may concede to this democracy by degrees, taking in one section after another as they become educated, this would be the wise plan. Or you may resist it altogether, which I believe would be suicidal policy. But the third course you must entirely avoid, because it will fail in every respect. Do not attempt to cheat it. I must say that many plans which are proposed do look like attempts to cheat it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne(Mr. Lowe) sees through these attempts, and acknowledges them to be ineffectual. You may say to the working men that you consider them as children and not fit to exercise the rights of manhood; but if you admit that they are men you must treat them as men. You cannot thrust half-a-dozen of them together and call them a man. If they are fit for the franchise, the fact that there is a great many of them does not make them unfit. I say if they are qualified the more the better. You have, therefore, to consider whether you will yield to this progress or resist it. To resist, I believe would be suicidal. I was reading lately an article in, what I believe is regarded as the great organ of the Conservative Party, The Quarterly Review, which looked like the first edition of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne. Only the right hon. Gentleman stopped short and said, concession rather than civil war; but the article said No; civil war rather than concession. I do not look forward to anything so terrible, because I know the result will be as it has been. We may be again in a minority—it may be some time before we are able to secure a majority of the constituencies but we shall eventually, and you who now oppose will be glad when we do. I have sufficient confidence 1649 in your patriotism, and you cannot help learning from what is going on around you. You must know that the working men cannot be banished from self-government here, and the same men obtain it everywhere else. Whatever assistance you may get from letters from Tories in Australia, or from parties who it may be have suffered privations from the American war, the fact comes home to you that the man who obtains no share in the franchise here, when he finds himself away from these shores finds himself enjoying the full prerogative of citizenship. Whatever sympathy hon. Members may feel for the one part or the other in the United States, one lesson must be drawn on both sides from the American war, and that is the enormous strength that a country obtains by the united feeling of its inhabitants and by patriotic feelings influencing all the people. If England is to maintain her position as the first Power among nations, she must be first in the freedom of her people. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne may sneer at that freedom as a mere sentiment, but upon that freedom depends the power of the country. If England is to be the first of the great English-speaking countries, which seem more and more spreading over the earth, if she is to be the leader of the Anglo-Saxon race, she must endeavour above all to take care that no commonwealth springing from us shall attain more than ourselves that strength to which none other is comparable—the strength which arises from the nurture and development of the patriotism of her inhabitants through their possession of their rights, their feeling of their responsibilities, and their fulfilment of their duties as citizens.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, that this debate had presented some rather remarkable features, and one of the most remarkable was that lately presented by a Member of the Government, whose object in rising appeared to be to defend himself and his Colleagues against the attacks of his own party. Of that speech, however, the right hon. Gentleman's own supporters were better judges than himself. All that he could gather from the right hon. Gentleman was that he supported a £6 franchise Bill; but, although he supported the second reading, he said the Government did not go to the hustings pledged to a £6 franchise. It had been said that there was a civil war raging on the other side of the House. Now he did not consider it a civil war, but simply a struggle of prudence 1650 against imprudence—a stand honourably taken by sagacious and patriotic men against the laying of a stepping-stone which had been forcibly and expressively described as leading towards democracy. He wished to state the objections which he entertained to the measure. He had heard from the other side of the House truths propounded which he should like to see promulgated in letters of gold and nailed to every hustings, because they exposed the fallacy surrounding the question of lowering the franchise. He should support the objections which he entertained against this measure by quoting from the evidence of those who differed from him in their political views. His first objection was one which had not yet been taken—that to place the possession of the franchise upon value as ascertained for the purposes of local taxation was to place it upon an uncertain, ill-defined, and variable basis; because, in fact, there existed no uniform rule or fixed system for ascertaining the value of property for these purposes. Not only did the mode of assessment vary in different parts of the country, but even in parishes contiguous to each other continual discrepancies would be found to prevail. They had been told before the Committee of the House of Lords in 1860 by eminent authorities that the rate book was no criterion of value whatever; and when hon. Gentlemen had informed the House that their calculation of the number who would be admitted to the exercise of the franchise through the passing of this measure was founded upon the Government Returns, they entirely forgot that the fallacies and inaccuracies of those Returns had been exposed in the Committee to which he had alluded. Before the Committee Mr. David Chad-wick, who had been the treasurer of the borough of Salford for sixteen years, and possessed twenty years' experience in the system of rating every description of property for parochial and corporation purposes, gave the following evidence:—To show the anomalies which exist in a few of the principal towns in the mode of rating—a house of 2s. a week in Liverpool would be considered of the gross estimated rental, or the annual value of £5, the landlord paying all rates and taxes and water rate, 'the very same house in Manchester, and subject to the same amount of taxes, or nearly so, would be considered of £4 gross estimated value; in Salford, £3 10s.; in Leeds, £4 5s.; in Bolton, £4 10s.; in Bradford, £3 12s.; in Halifax, £3 18s.; varying in seven different towns between 10 and 30 percent. The same anomaly exists in regard to all the other 1651 weekly amounts, and it shows that there is nothing like uniformity and that nobody can understand it. We, the very officials who have to communicate with each other, are in a constant state of confusion.Not only did this mode of assessing property for the purposes of local taxation vary in different parts of the country, but in different parishes of the same large town like discrepancies were visible. A case was within his knowledge where, in one particular parish, upon a £6 house, the scale being Is. in the pound per quarter, a man would pay £1 4s. for his vote, in another parish he would pay 16s., and in a third 12s. Could that be called an equal measure of justice? They would find it very difficult to persuade the artisan or working man that he was fairly dealt with under a system which caused him to pay 100 per cent more for his vote in a poor parish than the resident in a contiguous and wealthy parish. Perhaps he might be told that this basis of local taxation, which he called unreal and ill-defined, was the same that was selected in 1832. He expected that answer. But the basis then adopted was a rough and ready mode of ascertaining the social status of the voter. But were there no differences in the circumstances of the times? In 1832 there were great and acknowledged grievances to remedy rotten boroughs existed by the side of large unrepresented cities; and the lowest classes of society in some towns enjoyed political privileges which were denied to the middle class. All these grievances were remedied by the Reform Act; but there were other informalities and inconveniences that were not remedied by that Act, and any measure now introduced ought to be directed to supply the deficiencies then left; there were, for instance, the inequalities of the basis of the franchise—but this the present Bill did not attempt to remedy. This Bill, calling itself a Reform Bill, did not even pretend to deal with another great evil of the present system by defective registration. So far from it carrying down the franchise to a lower stratum of society and leaving the machinery the same, it must perpetuate and enormously aggravate the difficulties of registration; but no attempt was made in the Bill to meet so obvious an objection. Yet this was called a Reform Bill. The only thing the Bill did, under the specious name of Reform, was to admit to power an uncertain number of the working classes, of whom 1652 he would endeavour to show that a much larger proportion already possessed the franchise than persons generally were aware of. Of the working man individually he entertained no apprehension whatever; there were a considerable number of them whom he believed to be better qualified for the exercise of the franchise than many who now enjoyed it. What he objected to was the indiscriminate admission of the working classes contemplated by the Bill. Hon. Gentlemen when they talked of the fitness of the working man to share in controlling the destinies of the country ought to address themselves to a task more difficult than any they had yet attempted, that of showing the working man to be more fitted for this privilege than the present constituencies. ["No, no!"] He replied "yes," because the indiscriminate admission of the working classes would have the effect of superseding the existing classes altogether. The present was considered a small measure of Reform; it was spoken of, in fact, as an instalment; and on this subject he had often observed that the language used by advocates of Reform in and out of the House was widely different. In the course of the remarkable speech made during last autumn by the hon. Member for Birmingham (who would be admitted to hold a high place among "advanced Reformers") he asked this question—Why are you afraid of the unenfranchised millions, who marry, keep house, rear children, and pay taxes? And why do you Tories, and those very wise gentlemen the Whigs, who think like Tories "—(the gentlemen, by the way, whom the hon. Member for Birmingham supports)—"vote for the exclusion of these millions?He did not know whether hon. Gentlemen had read the Report of the Employment of Children Commission, especially that part of it relating to Birmingham, where this speech was delivered, but it certainly was a document strictly in point, and it gave a striking and alarming picture of the condition of the very classes proposed to be enfranchised. To quote single cases was always an unpleasant, sometimes an insulting course, but he might state generally that there appeared to be 20,000 young persons between the ages of seven and twenty employed in the most noxious trades that were carried on in Birmingham. These 20,000 young persons—or rather, those who might survive the hard apprenticeship of their youth—the fathers and mothers of future generations of work- 1653 ing men, were described as brought up in close, ill-ventilated, unwholesome rooms, where the common decencies of life were neglected, and as labouring at unhealthy trades sometimes fourteen hours a day. The manufacturers did what lay in their power to modify such disadvantages—he meant the master manufacturers who were generally careful of the health and welfare of those whom they employed; the chief evils occurred under the small employers, persons removed, as it were, from human ken—hut the inevitable results of the system must be that these young people became physically debilitated and mentally degraded. It could not he otherwise, owing to the parents' anxiety to obtain remuneration for the services of their children at the earliest period. He did not grudge them the amount of wages thus obtained, but practically the children were precluded from obtaining that amount of education which would fit them for becoming valuable citizens hereafter. And it was this low stratum of society with which they were about suddenly to overlap the higher class of mechanics, for there were few of these people who did not live in houses of 2s. 6d. per week, or more than £6 per year. There were 30,000 houses in Birmingham of that annual value, and thus the Bill of the hon. Member for Leeds would treble the constituency of that great town, and that by persons whose condition entirely prevented them from obtaining that education which all sides admitted should accompany political power. What had the present constituency of Birmingham done that it should be so superseded? That was a reason why lie was afraid of the upen-franchised classes, and in his opinion it furnished a just ground for alarm. He did not object to the admission of the working man to the franchise; but he did object to the masses being thus indiscriminately admitted. They had heard of a great deal of apathy existing in the House, and out of doors, on the question of Reform. It was, no doubt, great; but it was as nothing compared with the indifference of those who, having the qualification for the franchise did not take the trouble to avail themselves of it. And here, again, a lesson might be learned from Birmingham. The clerk to the Guardians, when examined before the Lords' Committees, stated the number of occupiers in the parish of Birmingham assessed at £10 and over in respect of property within the 1654 parish of Birmingham to be 18,574. All these persons were entitled to the franchise; but what was the actual number of voters on the register in that town? Why, short of 6,000! That was to say, not a third of the persons actually qualified to vote took measures to enable themselves to do so. Did not that show great indifference as to votes already? Here they were proposing to extend the circle by giving votes to working men, but those very men would not take the trouble to register themselves—they told them that the working classes were thundering at the doors of Parliament when many of those who were already entitled would not take the trouble to walk in. This was partly accounted for, no doubt, by many of these houses having their rates compounded for by the owners. But in 1851 an Act was passed to protect compounders. That was passed in 1851; but it was not until 1859 that any claims to the vote were made under that Act, when by the exertions of two individuals 1,365 compounders were put on the register. Here, then, was a constituency of 18,000, large enough to satisfy anybody, which would not take the truble to place themselves on the register by claiming to pay their rates directly. That was a proof of the apathy that existed upon this subject. There were also great objections to unnecessarily increasing large constituencies. The more diluted the power became the less anxiety there was to possess it. There was one point he was very anxious to impress upon the House—namely, that a much larger number of the working men were enfranchised than was generally supposed or believed. The authorities he should quote were worthy of indisputable credence. He found a proof in the evidence of Mr. Henry Ashworth, a gentleman who had done as much as any man to elevate the working man, and who told a Committee of the House of Lords—Owing to the superior class of houses now built and building, and the desire of the working classes to occupy them, large numbers are annually growing into the franchise.He was alluding to the building and freehold land societies by which the working men had been enabled greatly to elevate themselves. Mr. Danger, who came from Bristol, said—A very large proportion of the working classes of St. Philip and Jacob Without and of Bedminster are upon the register. I take those as two large parishes in Bristol where the artisans preponderate. There is a very large number on 1655 the register, upwards, I think, of 1,500 in St. Philip and Jacob alone, and about 1,200 for Bedminster.That was a considerable proportion out of the electors of Bristol. Mr. Chadwick, from Salford, said that one-half of that constituency consisted of the superior classes of artisans. These men were the very elite of the working classes, who by their industry, economy, and perseverance had raised themselves to a better position, and were bringing up their children in comfort and intelligence. These men would do honour to any constituency, as they had, by the noblest of all processes—the process of self-elevation—secured the franchise for themselves. Why, then, disturb this, which was one of the most pleasing features of our constituencies? Why, by the indiscriminate admission of a lower grade, cast a stigma upon those who have thus raised themselves? Why destroy this self-acting principle on which, in fact, our Constitution itself is based? He had said this was not a Reform Bill, inasmuch as it did not address itself to any of the great defects which were admitted to exist in our present representative system. The law relating to registration was most uncertain, and the way in which it was administered was equally so. They had not yet even defined what was a tenant or what a lodger, and some absurd notion as to the possession of the key of the front door, or some trifling technicality of that kind, had disfranchised hundreds. These were defects which the Bill did not touch at all; and there were others which, instead of remedying, it only aggravated. To show what was required in a measure of Reform, he would quote an opinion which would be heard with respect by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Mr. John Stuart Mill said—In a good half measure of Reform there are at least two essential requisites. 1. It should be aimed at the really worst features of the existing system, since it does not profess to do everything it should do what is most required, it should apply a corrective where one is most urgently required. 2. It should be conceived with an eye to the further changes which may be expected hereafter, whatever change it introduces should be a step in the direction in which a further advance is, or will hereafter be desirable.One point which had been much argued was the existence of small nomination boroughs. He would express no opinion in respect of them, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer not long ago had expressed an opinion favourable to the retention of 1656 those boroughs, and as long as they re turned such men as the right hon. Member for Calne, he thought much might be said in their favour. But the hon. Member for Birmingham had often told them that no measure of Reform would be complete without a redistribution of seats. But this Bill did not do that. It would remedy nothing, although it was styled a Reform Bill. It merely proposed to lower the franchise to people who were now acquiring it for themselves. It was based upon an unsound foundation, it only tended to aggravate and perpetuate existing evils, and, therefore, be hoped the House would agree with him that it ought to be rejected.
§ SIR FRANCIS GOLDSMID
said, he had felt no desire to take part in the debate until he heard the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe); but that ever since he had heard that speech he had much wished to say a few words, not because he had the vanity to suppose himself a fit antagonist of his right hon. Friend, but because he was convinced that, although his right hon. Friend's arguments derived an appearance of strength from the force of his expressions, and the fertility and ingenuity of his illustrations, yet their intrinsic hollowness would become evident if they were briefly examined even by a speaker of far inferior power. His right hon. Friend claimed to speak with peculiar authority on the ground of his extraordinary consistency. But however much he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) might be disposed to admit the great ability of the right hon. Gentleman, it could not be understood why he imagined himself to be consistent. Shortly after his right hon. Friend's speech, he was reminded by the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Bernal Osborne) that he had supported in 1859 Lord John Russell's Resolution, which pointed directly to some such extension of the franchise as was proposed by this Bill. Again, was not his right hon. Friend a Member of the Administration which introduced the Reform Bill of 1860—a measure which, to adopt the phraseology of the right hon. Gentleman, must be called a "revolver," of which the present Bill was a "single barrel," but the contents of every barrel of which were, according to his present views, fraught with elements destructive of the best interests of humanity? He could understand how on minor matters his right hon. Friend was at liberty to sacrifice his own opinions to those of his 1657 party or of his Colleagues. But this was not a minor matter, and therefore he felt bound, by his regard for his right hon. Friend's honour, to believe that when he supported that measure he did not hold the views which lie now entertained. It was clear, then, that if his right hon. Friend had reflected a little more on his past career, he would not have ventured to say that he never found occasion to depart from a conviction which he had once deliberately formed. But if we cannot bow to his authority, ought we to yield to his arguments? He (Sir Francis Goldsmid) maintained that we ought not. His right hon. Friend correctly quoted the Chancellor of the Exchequer as having last year said, that every man who was not presumably incapacitated by some consideration of personal unfitness, or political danger, was morally entitled to come within the pale of the Constitution. But, although quoting the Chancellor of the Exchequer with perfect fairness, the right hon. Member for Calne exhibited, in attempting to disprove his position, an unfairness which could not be surpassed. After disputing the existence of a priori rights, he proceeded to remark that if such rights do in reality exist, they are as much the property of the Australian savage and the Hottentot of the Cape, as of the educated and refined Englishman. But these remarks had no real application to anything propounded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because the Hottentot or Australian savage is presumably incapacitated by personal unfitness, and for every man so incapacitated the Chancellor of the Exchequer had carefully guarded himself against being supposed to claim the franchise. Thus, then, the argument of the right hon. Member for Calne, though it was a triumphant refutation, was a refutation of something that was never intended to be upheld by the reasoner whom he was attempting to refute. His right hon. Friend next put forward a most extraordinary proposition, for he went on to say that the theory which armed the hand of the assassin was the same as that upon which this doctrine of a priori right was founded. Now he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) thought this was a most unworthy attempt to cast odium upon principles which the right hon. Gentleman disliked. It was true that assassination had sometimes, though fortunately but seldom, been the result of extreme political opinions working on an ill-governed mind; but there was no 1658 pretence for coupling that crime with one class of extreme opinions more than with another, for imputing it to those who raved about the a priori right of every man to the franchise, rather than to those who raved about the Divine rights of kings, or about the just and natural claim of the white man to control the thews and sinews of the black. He (Sir Francis Goldsmid) ventured to remind the House that there was not the slightest reason for supposing that the assassin of William the Silent in the 16th century, or the assassin of Abraham Lincoln in the 19th, was a fanatical believer in the abstract right of all men to political equality. Then his right hon. Friend disputed the propriety of lowering the franchise, because he said that all men who wished to exercise the franchise could get it under the present law. He assumed that those who did not obtain it did not deserve it; and he added that the question was whether the House should drag down the franchise to the level of those who had no sense of decency and morality? When he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) heard this, he almost thought his right hon. Friend had rather perpetrated a bitter joke than made a serious declaration. It reminded him of an anecdote which had been told of a man of exalted rank and great wealth, who, whenever he heard that any of his friends wanted money, exclaimed, "Want money! Why does anybody ever want money? Why do they not sell out of the Three per Cents? I sell out of the Three per Cents whenever I want money." His right hon. Friend in a similar spirit might say, "Want the franchise! Why does not a man take a £10 house if he wants the franchise?" In one respect the person of rank to whom he had referred had the advantage of his right hon. Friend, for ho (Sir Francis Goldsmid) had never heard that that personage, when his friends told him they could not sell out their Con-sols because they had none, turned round and charged them with being devoid of all sense of decency and morality. But was this reply, which it must be admitted was not very conciliatory, founded on truth? He contended that it was not. The right hon. Gentleman was under a misapprehension as to the class of tenements which were wanting in the accommodation requisite for the observance of decency and morality. He (Sir Francis Goldsmid) knew something of the value of cottages, and he believed that the result of 1659 further inquiry would show that the houses which did not afford decent sleeping accommodation were not £8 houses, on which the tenants paid the rates, but those tenements for which the poor paid at the rate of 1s. 6d. or 2s. a week, or about £5 a year, and the rates upon which were paid by the landlord. He therefore thought the taunt of his right hon. Friend was as little founded in truth as it was otherwise injurious. He would next pass to the argument of his right hon. Friend and others about swamping the constituencies. On this point his right hon. Friend had not only not proved, he had even disproved his own case. He said that in five towns the constituency would be nearly trebled, and that in twenty-eight it would be more than doubled; that made only thirty-three towns or, allowing two Members for each town, sixty-six Members, making about one-fifth of all the borough Members for England and Wales. The House was therefore driven to conclude that in the remaining four-fifths of the boroughs the constituency would not be doubled, and in many of them they knew it would not be nearly doubled. Then it was suggested that the question was not merely one of numbers; that the class indicated by the rents of from £8 to £10 would attract to them those immediately above them, and the two combined would become masters of the situation, and thus the influence of property and intelligence would be destroyed. Now, that argument was opposed to all experience. Was it meant to be said that at present the result of elections in this country depended simply and exclusively upon the class who had the majority of votes? The very contrary was the fact. There was hardly an heir to a peerage, being a man of energy and talent, who sought a seat in that House without being able to obtain it; and the landowners and large manufacturers had great influence over the elections. If they had such an influence now, although a minority, why should they not have that influence under the proposed state of the law? Of late years especially, our upper classes had exerted themselves successfully to improve the condition of their humbler fellow-subjects and gain their confidence; and he believed they would still continue to do so, with the like happy results, if the franchise were lowered. The right hon. Gentleman had also referred to an argument used by the hon. Member for Huddersfield as being 1660 ignava ratio—a cowardly reason. He (Sir Francis Goldsmid) did not know that the House would be much assisted in arriving at a sound conclusion by bandying accusations of political cowardice; but if such accusations could be fitly made, it would rather be against those who desired to intrench themselves behind existing regulations and feared to commit themselves to the good sense of the constituencies when enlarged by the comparatively moderate addition which would be made by that Bill. For himself, he did not share the fears that property and rank were in danger. He believed in the improvement of the people, and he would point to the contrast between their conduct half a century ago in breaking machinery and burning stacks, during periods of distress, and their endurance during the late failure of the supply of cotton. He believed that the proposed change could not belong delayed, and he viewed that change without apprehension founded, as he was convinced it would be, upon the improved regard of our countrymen for authority well exercised and property well used, founded as it would be upon the increased education and intelligence of the working classes, and upon that which was the inevitable result of increased education and intelligence, enlarged respect for the rights of others as well as for their own. He should therefore cordially support the measure.
§ MR. BUXTON
said, it was not his business to defend the Government from the attacks that had been made upon it; but he did not think that any man of plain common sense would have taken the course which the Government had pursued on this subject. They had fulfilled their pledge by bringing in a Reform Bill; but, through the conduct of Gentlemen on both sides, they found it impossible to carry it, and they were ultimately obliged to withdraw it. Although they had not deemed it advisable to bring forward their own measure again, they had voted for similar measures when proposed by others. His hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) qualified his speech in various ways, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne gave them a very distinct answer to the question by saying, "Do nothing, but stay where you are." Now, that answer had the merit of being simple and straightforward, but it had the demerit of being entirely impracticable. He (Mr. Buxton) wished to deal with the practical question, what 1661 course those ought to take who on the one hand were heartily on the side of progress and reform, who looked with utter aversion on the obstructive policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who put a sincere trust in the common sense and patriotism of the working classes, and heartily desired to see them endowed with a fair share of political power; hut who, on the other hand, were resolved not to allow the present electoral body to be swamped in a flood of new voters, and who were also resolved not to be made the tools of that democratic party represented by the hon. Member for Birmingham, who wanted, by fair means or foul, to convert the time-honoured institutions of this country into a Republic. Why, the Liberal party would be committing high treason to the principles it had invariably laid down and the professions it had invariably made if now suddenly, at the instigation of his right hon. Friend, it leaped to the conclusion not to admit any part of the working class to the franchise. They had invariably asserted the truth that the most perfect form of government was that in which, not, indeed, every individual, but every class! in the commonwealth, should have its spokesman in the Great Council of the nation; in which those who had to obey the laws shared in making them; in which those who paid taxes had some voice in imposing them—in which those who must partake in the glory or dishonour of their country could speak through their representatives on matters bearing on the defence of the country and on questions of war and peace. The Liberal party had always held that the direct exclusion of one class, and that the largest, from the pale of citizenship was an insult to its members, and weakened the nation by dividing it; and that a people could only rise to the greatest height of unity, concord, and power when every class could feel that it shared in determining the, policy of the realm. Further, that it was essential to the moral and intellectual elevation of the working class that it should bear upon its shoulders the responsibility of political duties. But, even if they could suffer these first principles of Liberalism to fade from their minds, surely any reasonable man must feel that it would be utterly in vain to resist the demand made by some millions of Englishmen to be no longer stamped as pariahs, unworthy of citizenship, unworthy to take any part whatever in guiding the destiny 1662 of their country? He was astonished that any one who came at all into contact with the mass of the people should doubt their resolute purpose to raise themselves out of this degrading position. He was astonished that any one should doubt that it was a mere question of time. Besides all that, surely no man who sat on that side of the House, and earnestly desired to see the triumph of those measures that would still further promote the well-being and unity of the people, could wish the Liberal party voluntarily to commit suicide, as it unquestionably would, were it now to convert its creed on this point into a kind of guasi-Toryism? Nor was it worth while in a practical Assembly like that to call upon hon. Members to break with their political friends, ruin their political prospects, and fly in the face of their principles in order to refuse to the working class that fair proportion of political power to which they had always maintained them to be entitled. Much, therefore, as he had admired the powerful eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Lowe's) speech, he regretted that it had dealt, perhaps, too much with abstract reasoning, instead of grappling with the practical conditions of the case. There was another side of the question to which they could not shut their eyes. He admitted that it would be a dangerous—a disastrous'—thing to transfer the franchise from those who at present possessed it to a vast untried multitude, especially since there was no ground of necessity for doing so. Well, but then, if all this were so, why should they shrink at all from supporting the Bill before them? He, for one, should give the Bill a cordial welcome, and he believed that almost every Liberal would do so, were there any solid ground for hoping that it would satiate the demand for Reform. But in that consideration lay the fatal difficulty. In it was to be found the reason why all reasonable Liberals, including the Government, had become somewhat chilled in their affection for this measure. During the last two or three years the hon. Member for Birmingham and his small but determined band of supporters, while professing to be the champions of this Bill, had not been able to refrain from displaying the hearty contempt in which they held it. They had shown more and more that they looked upon it as a mere paltry instalment, or rather, he should say, as an instrument for obtaining that manhood suffrage on which 1663 they were bent. It was plain that they did not care for the Bill, but only for the Bills it might produce. Some philosopher or other had said that the reason why men pay respect to women was not because any particular woman was of any particular consequence, but they revered her as the possible mother of heroes. That seemed to be the democratic feeling with regard to this proposal. What he feared was a geometrical progression in measures of that kind, and it was but too plain to anybody who would not shut his eyes to it, that the more you lowered the franchise, the more inevitable was a wider and still wider extension. Moreover, there was something degrading, something almost revolting, in the feelings that a small body of men, whose principles they hated—men, who like the hon. Member for Birmingham, had no love for their institutions, and who seemed rather to feel shame than glory in the name of Englishmen, should skilfully play them with this measure, in itself so reasonable, with the full intention of landing them in due time far lower down the stream. Now, he cordially agreed with the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) and with the right hon. Gentleman—nay, he might say, with four-fifths of the Liberal party—that it would, indeed, be dangerous and disastrous virtually to annihilate the political sway of the existing electors. Those who now possessed the suffrage had so used it as to have done honour to themselves, and to have raised this country to a pitch of well-being unparalleled elsewhere. No plea whatever for taking their power from them and giving it to an untried class could be found in the allegation that they had misused the trust which during the last thirty years had been committed to them. The actual result of their political sway had been to give this country the wisest and most wholesome legislation, and, upon the whole, the most efficient administration of public affairs of which history presented an example. Those who looked with satisfaction and pride on the legislation of the last thirty years, and who loved the institutions of this country, must surely feel that it would be madness itself to rob this class, in whom the choice of our rulers had been vested, of that high function, and make it over to some millions of new men, who might, no doubt, be equally patriotic and equally prudent, but who had not been trained by any experience to a knowledge of public affairs, who all belonged to nearly 1664 the same level, and whose education perforce was of a lower kind than that received by those who enjoyed more leisure and more ample means. Could it be denied that there was grave weight in this argument? How had the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) met it in his able and amusing speech? He had only met it by a second-hand joke from Sidney Smith. But in spite of all jokes, fresh or stale, would it be plain sense—would it comport with that sound judgment which happily was the main trait of the English character, that when a governmental machine had worked admirably well, and had produced in unparalleled quantities the greatest happiness of the greatest number, they should radically change its character upon some vague theory about the rights of man? That theory had been tried seventy years ago, and had turned the fairest realm of Christendom into a hell. It had been tried in the United States, and, to say the least, it had disappointed those who held it. It had been tried in our colonies, and every one who returned from them gave the same account of it as one which he had received only a few hours ago from an Australian gentleman, whose words were:—"The working of universal suffrage is as bad as bad can be; no decent man will have anything to do with politics; the corruption is awful." Upon the whole, then, there undoubtedly were two sides to this question, to neither of which was it possible to shut their eyes. Then, the question was, what ought they to do? He had no claim, and he certainly had no wish to obtrude advice upon others; but those who felt the force of these conflicting necessities would, perhaps, come to the same conclusion as himself—namely, that on the one hand, both for the sake of keeping faith towards those who had elected them, and because no other opportunity was afforded them of affirming the principle they sincerely held, that the working class must be raised to a fair share of power, they should support the second reading of this Bill, but that in doing so they should call upon the Government no longer to leave this great question to be dealt with by private hands. They should call on the Government to take it into their own, and bring forward a well-weighed, well-adjusted, and comprehensive scheme, by which that principle should bond fide be carried out, but in such a way and under such conditions as should effec- 1665 tually secure the upper and middle classes from being deposed from their rightful political position by those below them. But, then, could that be done? How could the best part of the working class be thus introduced to power without overwhelming the rest by their mere mass? He should reply, assuredly this could be done. That would not be the place or time to do more than throw out one or two bare suggestions; but undoubtedly that object would be effected if, in the first place, those restrictions were abolished which deprived so many artisans and others paying £10 a year rental from enjoying the franchise, whether because they were merely lodgers, or did not pay their own rates, or in various other ways. By the abolition of those restrictions the highest portion of the working class would be at once admitted. Beyond that he could not discover the practical objection to giving the franchise to those workmen who, by the acquisition of property in the savings' banks or elsewhere, had shown frugality and forethought. His belief was that by such means an excellent and ample portion of the working class could be admitted with perfect safety. But if this were not thought to be enough—if it were thought essential to reduce the qualification from £10 to £6, still the dangers of that course might be vastly diminished if, instead of standing alone, as in the Bill before the House, that measure were accompanied by others tending to preserve a due balance of power between property and numbers. He was not now talking of visionary plans, such as that of Mr. Hare, nor was he even advocating that which at the same time had every merit of justice, simplicity, and reason, but which had the fatal demerit of looking, though it would not really be, invidious—namely, the plan of a plurality of votes—but he referred to other arrangements, such as that of combining all the country towns with the boroughs, so that the constituencies should not consist too much of one class, living all together under the same influences; and, again, to such an arrangement as that boroughs should be divided so that each division should have its one Member, instead of the election of both or all the Members being in the hands of the very same persons. That would not be the place or time to enter upon any discussion of these or of several other precautions that might at the same time be perfectly well taken. One objection, however, had been made to every scheme of this kind, and had been renewed 1666 in the course of this debate—the objection that if they adopted this course it would be to give the suffrage to the working classes with one hand, and to take it away again with the other. He emphatically denied that this would be so. Those who took the same view that be did expressly desired to give the working classes political power; they had no wish whatever to make a pretence of giving it to them while really snatching its substance away by a dexterous machinery. The precautions that they wished to take simply tended to prevent that share from becoming an extravagant and excessive one, and to prevent this one class from swamping the others by its mere mass. It appeared to him that it was to the providing of such safeguards that the moderate Liberals ought to devote their energies. It would be neither right nor practicable for them to reject the demand of the working class for citizenship; but it would be, not fully, but criminal lunacy, if they paved the way to republicanizing our institutions and overwhelming the just influence of property by sheer numbers. There was, then, no alternative whatever, except to face the difficulties that lay in the way, and accompany that gift, by such arrangements as would secure to the existing electors, representing the invested property of the country, that ample share of political authority to which no man could deny their claim.
§ MR. STANSFELD
Sir, I am not desirous to enter into party or personal questions raised on former occasions; I have no letters from America or from the colonies with which to amuse the House; I have no conversations in the lobby to report. I rise for the simple, and I hope legitimate if not very interesting, purpose of supporting the second reading of this Bill. We have heard from many Members who have spoken in this debate exhortations to speak as candidly as we are supposed to do behind the Chair or in the lobby, without having the fear of the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire before our eyes. I entirely give my assent to this exhortation, and I think the speech of the noble Lord and those who followed him on the same side, are entitled to the merit of frankness. But it is a totally different question whether their speeches represent the fair and average opinion of the majority of this House—and that is a matter upon which I would beg leave to take issue with them. We have had Reform before this House and the country some thirteen or 1667 fourteen years. It has been the subject of several speeches from the Throne, it has been the subject of four Ministerial proposals; and when the Government of the right hon. Member for Buckingham shire fell, it was not because he and his party opposed themselves to Reform, but because the measure they proposed was felt to be not sufficiently liberal; above everything, with reference to the borough franchise, to meet the views of the majority of this House. ["No, no!"] I am speaking of facts. The theory of some hon. Members on this point is very simple, it is this, that during all this period we have been in an atmosphere of illusions, of hypocrisies, and of shams. The right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) put it in the most distinct way when he said that Reform had been the mere plaything and shuttlecock of parties. That assertion of the right hon. Gentleman was more cheered than any other by Gentlemen at the other side of the House; and yet they, too, had their Reform Bill. I am not capable of supposing that their pleasurable excitement at the statement was caused by the contemplation of their own unworthiness; and I think that what they found agreeable on that occasion was the spectacle, by no means without a precedent in this Parliament, and not without its natural attraction for some persons, of Members rising at this side of the House and recanting one by one every tenet that should go to form the faith and justify the title of a Liberal party. Some people are said to be worse than they appear but I must say that if the House of Commons appears to the right hon. Member for Calne in that light, I do not think it so bad as it seemed in the right hon. Gentleman's eyes. I join issue with the right hon. Gentleman upon his statement in reference to that part of the question, and believe it possible throughout all the period referred to, to trace a common ground of general opinion and current of thought, on which, though party may from time to time have driven some of them on the path of Reform further than their own volition would have led, it ought now to be possible to legislate with respect to the question of Reform. I will endeavour to define what I believe to be that kind of average opinion. But before I do so I wish to say a word in passing on another kind of opinion. Two classes of opinion are to be dealt with, which I may call the inside class and outside class. I must refer to the view 1668 which the noble Lord who moved the Amendment took of what he called the apathy out of doors. It is perfectly true that there is no enthusiasm out of doors on this question. There never was enthusiasm on the subject of any of the Reform measures brought before the House since 1852. It was not in their nature to create popular enthusiasm, but that is no objection if they could be shown to be safe measures. If the advocates of Reform were fanatics on this question, there is nothing they would hail more gladly than the contemptuous rejection of proposals like that of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds; and nothing would delight them so much as speeches like that of the right hon. Member for Calne, because such acts and such indications of policy and feeling are just the elements which go to form broad and bold lines of demarcation between classes of opinion in the country, and tend to a condition of mind favourable for great and revolutionary changes. I distinctly say that to such a policy, which belongs to the past, and which, I trust, none will do anything to revive, I prefer a moderate measure willingly conceded, and therefore I support the present Bill. Now let me refer to the inside opinion—the opinion of this House, and, in fact, of the ruling classes of the country. The general opinion is to the effect that it is advisable that there should be some extension of the franchise. I will go further, and say that the object of that extension is generally agreed upon. It is the admission under conditions of a class that has been hitherto almost entirely excluded—the working class. ["No, no!"] There may be many Members who do not accord with that opinion, but the very great majority—["No, no!"] Many Members even on the other side of the House voted for a measure that professed to have that object. There is an agreement in general terms upon the question as to the extent, but as to the mode and means of admitting the working class there are different opinions, and the matter would, no doubt, be discussed with reference to the fears that the existing constituencies might be swamped by mere numbers, and that the first step would be only one in a facilis descensus averni, leading down to pure democracy and the domination of mere numbers. If that be anything like a fail-description of the inside opinion, I ask the House to test by it the Bill which my hon. Friend has introduced? What is the prin- 1669 ciple of that Bill? The principle of the Bill of my hon. Friend is neither more nor less than this—that you should by lowering the rental qualification in boroughs admit into your ordinary constituencies some portion of the working class of this country. I know that the noble Lord who moved the Previous Question will not object to that definition. That being the principle of the Bill, to what extent would that principle be carried? There is no question about what the figures would be under the Bill of my hon. Friend. I have gone through them, and I think the House will give me credit for some accuracy when I say that the result of those figures is that the whole of the borough constituencies, excluding the metropolitan constituencies, would constitute a new electoral body of which not more than one-third would belong to the working classes. That is the principle and that is the extent to which this Bill would carry it. And here arises the dilemma of which we have heard so much, and it is this—It is said by this uniform lowering of the franchise that you grant too little or too much. I will deal with that difficulty and dilemma. At present you have an obnoxiously uniform franchise—a franchise carried down to the bottom of the middle class stratum in the country; as if on purpose, you have stopped at a point which, with few exceptions, excludes the whole of the working classes. We have heard of a few exceptional cases—there were exceptional cases brought before the Committee of the House of Lords in 1860. Perhaps only in a dozen constituencies are Members returned principally by the votes of the working classes; and is anyone, on looking to these, prepared to say that the Members they return are not fit to take their places in this House? Two amongst those constituencies return Cabinet Ministers. That may certainly be an objection to some persons. I, for one, should not object to them on that account. So much for the uniform lowering of the franchise. Now for the question as to the too little or too much of the franchise. In a limited number of large boroughs the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne told us what the effect would be. I say that would be a good effect. What everybody who desires any extension of the franchise wishes is that there should be some working class representation in this country. It is said that in some of those large boroughs we should have a large influx of working-class voters, who 1670 would swamp the present constituencies. Now, I admit that that would he a fair objection, whether in a number of boroughs or in a single borough. To meet this objection, the notion of the representation of minorities has been introduced. I cannot say I like that notion, either as a philosophy or as a system; but I think there may be circumstances and purposes under which the acceptance of that principle as embodied in the Bill of 1854 may be admissible. It is undoubtedly a growing and evil tendency in constituencies which are simply numerous and bulky, that those who are wealthy, educated, and refined should withdraw themselves into a kind of Faubourg St. Germain and not take any part in the elections. That is one great complaint against the metropolitan constituencies. I say that it is an evil, and I would remedy and prevent that evil if I could; and therefore I say that if in the larger towns you find there is a danger of swamping that class, and of keeping them out of their due part of political life, I would accept in those cases the principle and the notion of a representation of a minority. But in the bulk of our towns that is not the condition of things. In the bulk of our towns you would evidently have a subordinate fraction of the constituency capable of being worked up into the ordinary material of your electoral bodies in the country. And I put this question to the House—Is it, or is it not an advantage? because that is the crucial test of the Bill of my hon. Friend. Not only from a Liberal but from a Conservative point of view is it or is it not an advantage that you should admit and work up into the ordinary material of your constituencies some portion of a class which no one desires to see supreme, but which by its moral, social, and educational progress is entitled to its share in the representation. The objections raised to the Bill of my hon. Friend have been, not to the measure itself, but mainly to the self-created fear of an advance towards a pure democracy. We have had one very specific argument against the reduction of the borough franchise from £10 to £6, and that was contained in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne. In that speech he quoted some statements of Mr. Barker, one of the Factory Commissioners, who, speaking of the Freehold Land Societies, said—The simple fact of these savings being effected, and of these houses being erected, by the 1671 will of working men is an immensely significant one. All these owners of houses are freeholders, and every man has earned his own freehold from a desire to possess it. While in the same locality, employed at the same work and the same wages, and without any extraordinary drawback, a vast number of those who possess no such properties live on from day to day, regardless of every enjoyment which is not sensual, exhibiting no desire for an elevation of character among their fellow-men, wasting their money in profitless pursuits, or in degrading pastimes, and being for ever unprepared for the commonest vicissitudes which bring such misery in their train.The right hon. Gentleman continued—I ask the House upon which of the classes here described will the Bill of the hon. Member for Leeds operate? Not upon the provident, but mainly upon the improvident class. For the provident are not only in possession of the franchise—they have soared far above it, and have got into the region of freeholders. It will, therefore, apply to the men who waste their time in these profitless and degrading pursuits, in order, I suppose, that they may be elevated and fished out of the mire in which they delight to grovel, introduced to power, and intrusted with control over the Constitution of the country. …The question for you now to determine is whether you ought to bring down the franchise to the level of those persons who have no such sense of decency or morality, and of what is due to themselves and their children—whether you will, so to speak, degrade the franchise into the dirt, imperil your institutions, and put yourselves in danger of their overthrow, or whether you will make this franchise a vast instrument of good, a lever by which you may hope to elevate the working classes—not in the manner in which a mawkish sentimentality contemplates, hut really to raise the working classes in the social scale by fixing the franchise at a reasonable level, requiring a little, and only a little, effort on their part to attain.I ask the House is it true, or is it not true, that to the bulk of the working classes these remarks are fairly applied? Is it true that their lives are spent in drunkenness and in sensual enjoyments, and that decency does not reign in their homes? I quote this statement of the right hon. Gentleman's mainly for the purpose of asking the House to agree in this view—that it is not a sound notion to say you have a right to expect people to shape their expenditure, and to give to this and take from that, and to live in houses more highly rented than those which suffice for their wants, for the sake of obtaining admission to the franchise? I shall pass over the philosophical commonplaces which we have heard against doctrines of the rights of man, and I shall pass over also the objections to what are called the sentimental grievances of exclusion from the franchise, with this simple remark that the greatest questions are not only practical 1672 but also sentimental, and that the same objection might be brought to bear against those who defend representative Government against despotic government, against those who claim religious freedom or even national existence. But at last we come to a positive theory of philosophy of his own, as the right hon. Gentleman told us, and that was that what he called good government was the sole test and the sole object of any constitutional arrangement. Now, that is a very distinct proposition, but it is as unsound—because it is as incomplete—as it appears to be distinct and definite. It is not good government only, but it is security for good and stable government, which is the object of constitutional arrangements. In this country we have always been accustomed to believe that that could only be found in free representative institutions, in which all classes should have their fair share. There is another object of constitutional government which I will mention, though it may expose me to the charge of sentimentalism, and it is this—it is to train up and elevate the population of your country to self-governing powers and habits, to a sense of dignity and self-dependence. That I believe can be best secured by an extension to them—moderately and safely—of political rights. What is it that those who oppose Reform fear in a moderate measure like this? Why should you persist in treating the working classes entirely as a class apart? We know that neither in those boroughs in which they happen to be a considerable proportion, nor in those in which they had even a greater share of influence before the Reform Act of 1832, do they act as a class entirely apart. Why should you doubt the influence which wealth and education and leisure must exercise over the masses of the political community? This is not a Bill calculated to effect any transfer of power from one class to another. There is no intention or notion of transfer of power. ["Oh!"] That was the effect of the Act of 1832; but that Act has done its work. Immense has been the progress of the country since then; and it is because of that progress that my hon. Friend asks you to have faith in your own work and to have some confidence in yourselves and to extend the franchise to those whom it ought to have been the object of all your reforms to fit for its exercise. We have been warned to beware of the bad political economy of the working classes. Bad political economy has been driven out 1673 of the country since the Conservative party and the landowners of England were converted to the doctrines of free trade. You have been told to fear the trades unions. Well, if you desire to render them less absolute in their authority give them the suffrage, and you will help to drive out that sectarianism which characterizes the working as it does other classes—you will do something to render less distinct if not to obliterate the broad and offensive line which now separates them from the rest of the political community. I have but a few more words to say and they will be in protest against two theories which have been propounded with the applause of the House. The first is the down-hill theory of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne—the notion that if you take any step it must inevitably lead you down to the evils of the supremacy of mere numbers. Well, I retort his ignava ratio, and say that the argument is a cowardly argument. You ought to have more confidence in yourselves and your country than to accept such a view as that. If you could accept it it would be the doom and the admission of the incompetence of the ruling classes of this country. It would be your doom because you have said that the first step would be fatal; it would be the confession of your incompetence, because you have said that after that first step you were incapable of controlling the destinies or guiding the policy of their country. But if you were to adopt that proposition you would be doing gross injustice not only to the working classes, but to yourselves; because you must recollect that politics are, after all, only part of the life of a nation, that social conditions govern their possibilities, and you know that in this country you could not, if you would, Americanise or colonialise our institutions. The other theory to which I object is the "perfect machine" theory. That is an equally doctrinaire and superficial theory. I should object to it if it came from men who were asking the House to divide out the country by rule and measure into equal electoral districts; I should object to it if it came from those who would construct a system of representing every minority, every opinion, and every crotchet which could find supporters enough to entitle it to one Member in that House; I object to it it it comes from a man who, like Lord Grey, proposes fantastic schemes to make the Constitution work; but, above all, I object 1674 to it if it comes from the mouth of those who put it forward as a non possumus against any possible extension of the suffrage. There is, fortunately, in this country something upon which we can depend which is higher and safer than any mere Constitutional machinery. It is public opinion—enlightened and progressive public opinion—which guides and controls that machinery, and which is capable of amending it without danger to the State; a public opinion upon which all of us ought to rely, because it has led us upon paths upon which we have never desired to return, and it has made converts one by one of almost all those who had opposed themselves to the improvements which by its influence have been brought about. Relying upon that public opinion, I believe, despite all these hopeless political speculations, that the time is not far distant when this House will pass a measure of Reform with the simple fearless object of admitting within the pale of the franchise, and to some share of public right and the exercise of public duty, the class which no one asks you ever to allow to be supreme, but which by its progress is entitled to some share of political power and to some consideration at the hands of that House.
§ MR. HORSMAN
I assure the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli, who had risen at the same time) that I make him every apology for interposing between him and the House; but he can command its attention at an hour when Members less eminent cannot hope to do so; and therefore I hope that he will forgive me if, for a few moments, I venture to trespass upon your patience. Sir, those who have listened to the very able, argumentative, and ingenious speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax, who has just sat down, cannot fail to have been struck by the very marked distinction which is discernible between the small and insignificant and harmless character of this Bill, as described in his speech, and its larger character, and more important and inevitable tendencies as illustrated by his arguments. Ostensibly, it is a Bill to introduce a £6 franchise in boroughs; but, logically and practically, it is a Bill to abolish the £10 franchise established by the Reform Act, and to substitute a new franchise under which the great bulk of the operative population shall be admitted to vote. I am sure that my hon. Friend who introduced the Bill will not object to 1675 that construction of it. [Mr. BAINES: I do!] If my hon. Friend repudiates that construction of his Bill he must repudiate the speeches he has himself made in its support.
§ MR. BAINES
amid cries of "Order, order!" was understood to say, that he had said that only a portion of the operative classes would, under this Bill, be admitted to the franchise.
§ MR. HORSMAN
The explanation of my hon. Friend drives me for a moment to an entirely new line of argument. I should be extremely sorry to misrepresent him, but I think that by reminding him of his own arguments I need not despair of making him a convert to my construction of them. What has been the burden of his speeches? They have gone to prove that the operative class are, as a class, so virtuous and intelligent that they ought to be admitted to the franchise. [Mr. BAINES: Not universally] [Order!] If my hon. Friend will be patient, I will remind him of his argument step by step. He gave us, as I am sure he will remember, a great quantity of industrial statistics to prove the fitness of that class; he told us of their material and mental and moral elevation, and enlarged upon the thousands of newspapers they read and the millions of letters they write. He dwelt upon their cooperative societies, their savings' bank deposits, their schools, and institutes; and, on one occasion, he told us that there were no fewer than 3,000,000 teetotallers, principally of the operative class. Now I want to know what could be the meaning of this vast amount of statistical information all about the operative class, and introduced into a speech on the lowering of the borough franchise, except to show that as a class they were fit for the franchise?
And having established that fitness, my hon. Friend then proceeded to develope his great fact, his gigantic grievance, which lie brings in this Bill to remedy. "Of all this vast, virtuous, and intelligent class," said my hon. Friend, "so small, so infinitesimal a proportion possesses the franchise, that practically the whole class may be said to be excluded. That exclusion is unjust, it is unwise, nay," he said, in grave and solemn tones, "it is very dangerous; be-1 cause, although at this moment the excluded masses are peaceable and loyal, they may not always remain so; for sooner or later the blood of Englishmen boils under injustice, and, therefore, as a measure 1676 of justice, of policy, and even of safety, I offer you my Bill, and entreat you to accept it as a means of removing discontent and insuring peace." ["No!"] I am sure my hon. Friend will admit that I am not misrepresenting or in any way exaggerating his statements. [Mr. BAINES intimated assent.] I am very happy, that so far, my hon. Friend accepts my description of his language and his arguments. Well, Sir, but when we come to examine the Bill, the mighty instrument by which all these blessed results are to be brought about, what do we find? Is it calculated to effect its purpose? Is the Bill in harmony with the speeches made in its support? Does it materially diminish the injustice complained of, or remove the causes of agitation and disturbance? Nothing of the kind. The great bulk of the operative class are entirely unaffected by this Bill. My hon. Friend has just told me that he only wishes to enfranchise a small and select few. But they are so few and so select that, after the Bill has passed, no less than 95 per cent of this virtuous and intelligent class—we have the fact on the authority of the most reliable Returns—will still be excluded from the franchise. But how do you reconcile that exclusion with your own speeches? Is it right that 95 per cent of the operative class should remain excluded? Can you justify that exclusion? Do you intend to repudiate it? I challenge you to say, in the face of this House and of the public, whether the injustice you have denounced, and the dangers you have foreshadowed, can he materially diminished by this Bill? Well, then, what do you intend to do? Do you intend this Bill to be final? Dare you proclaim its finality on the hustings at Leeds? And, mind you, by finality I do not point to a vague and uncertain future, but I speak of current events, and of the circumstances and changes of the present year. And I ask you this question—"Suppose we pass this Bill in the course of the present Session, how long do you intend it to last?" Remember, you have warned the House that it must satisfy the demands of the non-electors. What are those demands? How far do they go? If they exist at all—and of their existence you have not given us a shadow of proof, nor has a shadow of proof been supplied to you, for when we entered on the discussion last week the most advanced Reformers could not muster a petition a-piece in favour of the Bill—I say, if these de- 1677 mands exist at all, they go a great deal further than this Bill. You tell us you are the mouthpiece of the non-electors; but where did you get your commission? The non-electors do not ask for this Bill. They will not accept it at your hands; confessedly, it is only offered as an instalment; and I must remind my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary of that fact. When my noble Friend (Lord Elcho) mentioned the word "instalment," he was responded to with loud cheers from this part of the House. Well, then, this Bill is admitted to be only an instalment. That is a great admission. Suppose that we now pass it, can you doubt—do you not know—that another Bill, with a further instalment, will be introduced next year? And when you are asked on the hustings to support it, what will be your answer? Can you refuse? If you do, will not your own speeches be cast in your teeth? Will not you be pelted with your own statistics? Will not you be asked whether all the virtues you have ascribed to the operative class are confined to £6 tenements? My hon. Friend says he only wishes to admit a select few; and the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) improved on this by saying, "We only wish to introduce the elite of the working class." But will not you be asked what business you have to make any selection at all, and especially a selection that leaves 95 per cent excluded? I must confess that on this point I have been a good deal disappointed by the speeches of the supporters of the Bill. If there is one virtue more than another which we ascribe to advanced Reformers, and upon which they pride themselves, it is their courage and their candour. My hon. Friend (Mr. Baines) said that one great advantage of the Motion and Amendment was that they divested the question of all ambiguity; and my hon. Friend (Mr. Leatham) in a speech of singular ability, told us that the question was now arrived at a point when candour was of more value than statistics. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster) said he would state the real case fairly and plainly to the House; and yet all these Gentlemen, with their profuse assurances of candour and non-ambiguity, affect to be surprised and grieved because the House will not fall into the manifest and palpable blunder of discussing and accepting this Bill as a sincere and satisfactory settlement of the question, though there is not one of them who does not know a great deal better 1678 than I can tell him, that there has not been for months past a meeting of Reformers—certainly none that has ventured to publish its proceedings—at which this proposal of a settlement by means of a £6 franchise has not been contemptuously set aside as an antiquated and exploded Whig delusion.
No, Sir, the modern school of Reform, well and ably represented by some of my Friends near me, and which is the only school of Reform now in which there is any vitality or logic, glories in a creed more in accordance with an ago of enter-prize and discovery. They have discovered, or, if they are not the discoverers, they are the first to enunciate on anything like authority the principle that the franchise is the birthright of every Englishman, provided he is a man of sound mind and untainted with crime; though I must confess that I think even that limitation somewhat detracts from the comprehensive liberality of their creed. That is their measure of justice. They will be content with nothing less; and although they are not indisposed to vote for the unsubstantial measure of my hon. Friend, they do so only in the conviction that it carries them so far in the direction in which they wish to go, and is a first, convenient, and irrevocable step towards universal suffrage.
Here, then, is the principle, hardly concealed, of the Bill before us. There is not one of its supporters who will (affect to believe that the £6 franchise contains in itself the solid basis of a settlement. The Home Secretary has told us this evening that there is no magic in the figure "10." No, Sir; but is there any magic in the figure "6?" The promoters of this Bill know, and are acting upon the knowledge, that if there is a reduction from £10 to £6, the same facts, the same arguments, the same motives will operate with increased force to compel a further reduction from £6 to £3, from £3 to 3s.; and this first downward movement is but the commencement of a series of descents, with no sound footing or solid resting-place until we touch the bottom of the abyss. Thanks to the statistics of my hon. Friend illustrated by the speeches of his supporters, we are now arriving at an understanding of the real character of the Bill, and of the changes that are likely to follow its adoption. Now, let me ask the House to consider the arguments by which these changes are justified. The franchise, we are told, is the birthright of every 1679 Englishman—it is his badge of citizenship—his charter of freedom. The unenfranchised Englishman, we are told, is a degraded being. The Constitution shuts its door upon him. The Legislature owns no allegiance to him. I even heard an hon. Friend of mine say something in this de-debate about the unenfranchised being hewers of wood, and drawers of water; the non-elector is in fact, a chattel, rather than a free man.
Now, these are the phrases current on the platform—coined and circulated among the masses to instruct them as to their condition and their duty. But is it possible to conceive a string of fallacies more transparent, or a mis-reading of the Constitution more deplorable or flagrant? I join issue with my hon. Friends on their very first point—the basis of their whole creed—the principle of the franchise. I entirely deny that the franchise is, or ever has been in any sense whatever, the right of any man or of any class of men in England. The franchise is conferred by law, not as matter of private right or individual advantage, but as a public trust. It is for the reason that it is a public trust that the Legislature has guarded its exercise with stringent pains and penalties. You punish the elector who sells his vote. Why? Because the vote is not his to sell. You punish the candidate who buys a vote. Why? Because he corruptly contrives to procure the violation of a public trust. That public trust is conferred on individuals and constituencies or withheld from them solely upon considerations of public interest. An individual, therefore, has no more natural or constitutional right to be an elector than he has to be a magistrate, or a Member of Parliament, or a Judge. If public policy requires—and public policy in this country must always be founded on public opinion—that the electoral body should be extremely limited, that it should consist only of the great landowners and the rich mill-owners, with a qualification of many hundreds or thousands a year, that ought to be the law. If, again, public policy, sanctioned by public opinion, requires that the electoral body should be very numerous and very poor—that all the employers of labour should be excluded, as Peers are now excluded, and that ploughmen and artisans should be elected to Parliament, that ought to be the law. There is no rule of law or claim of right as to the franchise, except the security of public 1680 liberty and the promotion of the public welfare.
And even admitting for a moment that the franchise can be a private or personal right, even then, the enlargement or abridgment of that right is within the competence of Parliament, to be decided exclusively on grounds of public policy. If that be granted, and I do not think any hon. Member will dispute it—if the franchise be a trust for public purposes, it is manifestly the duty of the Legislature to keep that purpose steadily in view, and to make it the sole aim and end of our electoral system to secure such a House of Commons as shall most effectually promote the national interests, and faithfully reflect the national character. In fact, Sir, the best distribution of the franchise is that which will secure us the best House of Commons; and by the best House of Commons I mean something very different from that which seems to be floating in the minds of some of my Friends around me, whose ideal of a House of Commons is that it should be so accurate a representation of the character and feelings of all classes in the country, that it should represent their weaknesses and vices, as well as their virtues, their ignorance as well as their intelligence. Now, my idea of the best House of Commons is that it should be the best selection and combination which the nation can furnish of those qualities of sound knowledge, high intelligence, morality, and of political experience, and administrative capacity, that are the attributes of a great deliberative and representative Assembly, traditionally honoured and revered as the Grand Council of the nation, the centre of the wisdom and the power which govern not England but an Empire. If, then, it be admitted that it ought to be the sole aim and purpose of a Reform Bill not to admit or exclude any particular class, but to improve the composition and character of the House of Commons, let us try your Bill by that test.
Now, it appears to me that the first and most obvious effect of your proposed legislation will be to introduce a new class of voters, more numerous than all the other classes combined. ["No, no!"] I must confess I was not prepared for these expressions of dissent from my hon. Friends behind me who prefer candour to statistics. The phrase that I used was "proposed legislation," because this Bill is confessedly only an instalment. ["No, no!"] That is now denied; but from the very same 1681 quarter from which cheers proceeded before, when the word "instalment" was mentioned. The Bill is but the commencement of a series. It is Bill No. 1; it is what my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) calls a single-barrel Reform Bill, and we know that there is a double-barrel ready charged. Suppose, then, that this Bill No. 1 does not swamp the existing constituencies, we know that No. 2 is ready to accomplish that which No. 1 may fail to execute. Therefore, I say, the first effect of this Bill will be to introduce a new class of voters more numerous than all those now existing combined; and this new class will have not only a share but a preponderance of political power. The old constituency will be swamped and a new one enthroned. The first question we have to ask is this, will the new constituency be an improvement on the old? Tried by the standard of intelligence it will not. The existing constituency is composed of a variety of classes with divers degrees of intelligence, but generally of a high order; but your new constituency will be all of one class, and with a standard of intelligence very far below that of the body they are supplanting.
Strange to say, however, this change is justified on the plea of intelligence. The working classes are so intelligent! But are the middle classes not intelligent? What unfitness have they shown, what offence have they committed, that they should be so contemptuously set aside? You tell us that new classes have become qualified for the franchise; we do not deny that; but do you say that the old classes have become disqualified? You dare not say that, but you do disqualify them, for you swamp them, and swamping is disqualifying, disfranchising, politically extinguishing.
My hon. Friends profess immense respect for intelligence—it is an idol of their worship; but, mind you, only when it is allied with poverty. They have unbounded respect for the intelligence of the artisan, but they pass by with an indifference almost savouring of contempt the intelligence of the middle-class shopkeeper and employer. But surely you have no right to enfranchise one class because it is intelligent, while, by so doing, you disfranchise another which is more intelligent. I know no stronger condemnation that can be pronounced against your Bill than this glaring injustice on the face of it, that it would deprive a higher class of voters of political 1682 power in order to give a monopoly to a lower.
I am aware I may be told, as others have been told before me, that I am disparaging the working classes, that I am not prepared to trust them. Sir, I will trust the working classes exactly as far as I will trust any other class, and no further. I would not give a monopoly of political power to an aristocratic class; I would not give it to the middle class; and I would not give it to the working class for precisely the same reasons, I acknowledge—as every observant and reflecting man must gratefully acknowledge—the advancing intelligence and morality of the working class; but I cannot descend to the hypocrisy of complimenting them at the expense of other classes. I tell them—what they know full well—that intelligence is the result of education; and in every country the class which has least leisure must have least education, and that is of necessity the working class. Still, I say, we have reason to be proud of our English working class; and never to my mind has their intelligence been more marked or their character more worthy of respect than when they turn a cold shoulder to those amiable but weak and enthusiastic admirers of democratic institutions who appear to flatter their intelligence only to miscalculate their credulity, while they enlarge upon fancied wrongs and imaginary grievances, the detail of which would have inflamed the ignorant multitude of twenty-five years ago, but are only listened to as matter of indifference, and frequently of entertainment, by the well-informed and well-contented masses in the present day.
But, although I do not approve the provisions of this Bill, I frankly avow that I never wish to see the day when the operative class in this country shall be indifferent to political affairs, and I am as alive as any of my friends can be to the desirability of admitting them to a larger shave of political power. But unfortunately the problem has never yet been solved, how to give the masses a large share of political power without giving them a monopoly. I agree entirely with what has been so truly said by the hon. Member for Leeds, that the uniform £10 franchise, substituted in 1832 for the variety of franchises it swept away, was the great defect of the Reform Act; but that which was an accident in the hurry of revolution would become under this Bill 1683 an established rule, determining all future changes in the franchise; every successive change diminishing the influence of wealth and education and establishing the principle of numbers. But the principle of numbers involves the principle of equality; leading to the conclusion that every man is equally fit to choose a Member of Parliament—the ploughman as fit as a Prime Minister, the spinner as fit as the master manufacturer. Is that what you now mean to say? Do you really think that 100 artisans ought to have more political power than ninety-nine employers? Ought 100 labourers and ploughmen to have more political power than ninety-nine squires? You dare not say so in words, yet you propose to establish it by your legislation. These arguments, which might be multiplied and extended indefinitely are, to any man who prefers a Monarchy to a Democracy, condemnatory of this Bill on its merits.
But then another pressure is put upon us to induce us to accept this Bill. The faith of this Parliament is pledged to Reform—the question is one of public character and honour. For six years, my hon. Friend says behind me, has this perfidious Parliament gone on disregarding its pledges and cheating the country; but the hour of retribution is at hand, the sinner is about to die, and so his last moments are disturbed by the spectre of Reform stalking in, personified by my hon. Friends the Members for Liskeard and Leeds and standing by the bedside of the expiring criminal, urging him to repent and confess before it is too late.
Now, Sir, it must be admitted that the occasion, on the eve of a dissolution, is peculiarly fitting for the task of self-examination and confession; and it cannot be denied that the present position of the House of Commons in regard to Reform is so peculiar, so anomalous, and so perfectly unexampled, that before we are dispersed the country has a right to some explanation of these remarkable circumstances of our career either in the way of apology or justification. For, as was ably and powerfully urged by my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), the one question which this House of Commons was elected to deal with was so well understood, the circumstances under which the last Government was ejected from office were so notorious, the pledges under which the present Government took office were so positive and 1684 precise, and their undisputed retention of office, after the abandonment of their Reform Bill, was at first sight so incomprehensible, that I do think we are bound to attempt some answer to the question of the hon. Member for Huddersfield how it is that a state of things so strange and apparently so little creditable to the House of Commons should have been so long tolerated by the country.
Sir, to those who have watched and studied the Reform question long, and anxiously, and deeply, the explanation is not so difficult nor is it, on the whole, so unsatisfactory as it appeared to my hon. Friend. It is well known that all the abortive Reform Bills previous to 1859 were the work of one man. As long as he was a Member of the House of Commons, Lord Russell appeared to have, on the question of Parliamentary Reform, positively a monomania. He had such an agreeable recollection of the plaudits of 1832 that he seemed to think that, whenever the popularity of his party was at a discount, he had nothing to do but to pull a new Reform Bill out of his red box to insure a new lease of popularity and power. Of all the prominent persons with whom he was associated, Ministers and statesmen, he was the only man who wanted these Reform Bills, and he was compelled to abandon them because the country did not want them. Well, when the present Prime Minister was called to the head of affairs he showed himself of a more tranquil and sagacious temperament. He would not move on Reform—he could not be got to move—but when a Conservative* Government thought it right to produce a large measure of Reform, and their opponents thought it right to turn them out upon it, then the noble Lord had no alternative. He bent to the storm; and so his Cabinet in 1860 undertook to settle the Reform question, and as their opponents have facetiously reminded them, settle it they did most effectually. But let me ask the House, was that settlement the work of the Government, of Parliament, or of the country? Well, let us be fair and speak out the truth—it,was the joint work of all three. The Ministry were not more responsible than the Parliament, nor Parliament more responsible than the public out of doors.
The fact is, the question of the suffrage had never been seriously studied or considered until that Session of 1860. It was then only its gravity was understood. Before that hon. Gentlemen— 1685 especially on this side of the House—had been accustomed to deal in platitudes about Reform, without thinking what it really meant, how it was to be accomplished, or to what it was to lead. Extension of the suffrage had been a popular cry, a hustings plaything, a vague fiction rather than a reality. But when the Bill of 1860 was read a second time unopposed, and popular Members were cheered with the glad tidings that their prayers for a large increase of their constituencies had at last been heard, then, for the first time, extension of the suffrage presented itself to their minds as a real business question, and viewed in that new aspect the more they looked at it the less they liked it. And then they began to inquire of one another what extension of the suffrage really meant, on what principle it proceeded, what further changes and consequences it must necessitate; and then they were startled by the discovery that the great problem it involved—how to give the masses a large share of political power without giving them a monopoly—had never been thought out; and then uneasiness grew into alarm, and alarm expanded into panic, as they found how carelessly they had been advancing to the very brink of a volcano; and then the newly awakened conscience of honourable men pricked them in many places; and then arose that strong and general determination, on these Benches as well as those, to postpone, by any and every means, this first, irrevocable, downward step, and gain, if possible, only one year of breathing time for a more statesmanlike and scientific investigation than had yet been brought to bear on this momentous change.
And this feeling in the House was only a reflection of the feeling out of doors. The thought and intelligence of the country condemned the Bill. Among educated men, not avowed Democrats, it had not a sincere friend; and the nation became seriously alarmed as it gathered from the debates in Parliament how little real light was guiding the Government proposal, and that a rash and ill-considered measure was threatening to subjugate the whole State to the dominion of the masses. I appeal to any candid man who hears me for the truth of what I am now saying. And so it was, Sir, that only after the last general election the education of Parliament and the country on the entire bearing of the suffrage question may be said fairly to have commenced. All thoughtful men saw that the nation had had a great escape; there was no in- 1686 clination to rush into fresh danger; and the Government, wisely observant of this changed state of feeling, and perhaps having themselves acquired some new perception of the great principles and consequences involved, opened the Session of 1861 without a Reform Bill, and boldly challenged the judgment of Parliament on their conduct.
And the challenge was accepted. My hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. White) promptly responded to that challenge. He at least was determined that the Reform question should not he laid aside without some of its loud professing friends making a stand and a protest in its behalf. He adopted the manly course, he moved an Amendment to the Address affirming the necessity for Reform, and by implication censuring the Government for its abandonment.
Now, here was the issue which the Government had invited fairly raised, and if that Amendment had been carried the Government must have gone out. My hon. Friend the Member for Brighton applied a test far better than this which is now being applied on the eve of a dissolution—to the sincerity and consistency of professing Reformers. Would they sacrifice Reform to the Government, or would they sacrifice the Government to Reform? "And what," said my hon. Friend, "what signifies the existence of a Government compared with the fulfilment of the great Reform mission? Do not we all know that great questions have been always advanced by the sacrifice of Governments, and that nothing assists a popular question so much as the sacrifice of an obstructive Government which stands in the way of its advancement." My hon. Friend, therefore, left to the House, individually and collectively, no escape. Those who believed that the Government had done well to abandon a scheme which the apathy and distrust of the country made it impossible for them to carry, voted honourably with the Government. Those, on the other hand, who thought their hustings' pledges the first consideration, who were determined to stand by those pledges, and at all hazards to force Reform on the Government, voted manfully with the Member for Brighton. Now, my noble Friend (Lord Elcho), who moved this Amendment, addressed an important, and as it turned out, rather an embarrassing question to the Member for Leeds on this point. He asked him which of the two contending parties 1687 had the advantage of his countenance on that memorable occasion? And I must say that the answer, coming from this great champion of the unenfranchised, was perfectly astounding. He voted with neither party—he was not a supporter of the Government, he was not a friend of Reform. To be sure the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Osborne) rushed to the rescue, and carrying his memory back five years, he told us that the hon. Member for Leeds was very much indisposed on that particular evening. But the indisposition must have been very sudden, because there was no doubt that my hon. Friend was in the House when the question was about to be put. Sir, the hon. Member for Leeds may return the compliment; he may repay the service of the hon. Member for Liskeard, because I am told by those who have looked to the division list that the hon. Member for Liskeard was also absent on that occasion. Now, I may ask, was the hon. Member for Liskeard also suddenly indisposed? The fact was, Sir, that when, with all the dignity of the Chair, you enunciated in authoritative tones "Strangers must withdraw," a sudden epidemic seized these Benches, and then the Members for Liskeard and Leeds executed a strategic movement, which deprived the hon. Member for Brighton of the flower of his army. And so, being abandoned and betrayed by his trusty allies, he fell an easy prey to the myrmidons of the Government.
Sir, I would not assume to canvass or criticize the tactics of my hon. Members. We know that great heroes have run away from great battles from the time of Homer downwards; but there was one novelty in this proceeding of my friends, for which I can find no precedent in history either ancient ormodern—namely, that as soon as the battle was over, the fugitives and deserters should re-appear on the field brandishing their weapons, and exclaiming, "You have had a real fight; now let us have a second, a sham fight, and you shall see how valiant we will be, and how mercilessly we will cut up the enemy." And then it appears more audacious still, that those who have stood by their colours in the hour of need, should be denounced as traitors and renegades, because they will not parade themselves under the counterfeit banner of these resuscitated heroes, who took good care not to be among the killed and wounded, but were returned next day as "suspiciously missing." I have said that Mr. Sbrsman 1688 the Parliament on that occasion absolved the Ministry. One thing, however, remained—to absolve those who had absconded from the division. That, as the hon. Member for Brighton knows, was no easy task, but it was cleverly accomplished. As legislation was confessedly impossible, there could be no harm in introducing a Bill of their own, and certainly never was there a more ingenious device for saving time, trouble, and appearances. Here is the Bill before us, and what is it? Nothing more nor less than word for word the franchise clause of the condemned and abandoned Government Bill, which the Member for Leeds transcribed and handed in with as little thought and trouble as he would write an order for the Gallery. But if the Bill proposed by the Government was objectionable, surely this one naked and unbalanced franchise clause artfully improvised into an enactment was infinitely more objectionable. For a Government Bill can grapple with the Reform question as a whole, and the House can add modifications and qualifications to a measure originally crude, so that any one might very consistently vote for the second reading of a Government Bill with the intention of moving or supporting Amendments in Committee. But this Bill consists of one single naked provision—that the franchise must move downwards, and, affirming practically that the question is one which requires neither thought nor deliberation, nor design, nor statesmanship; it sets the franchise rolling down the hill with as much indifference where it may roll to as a schoolboy chucks a stone over a precipice. You may call this a Bill by courtesy, but it appears to me that it resembles nothing so much as one of Hodge's razors, that were made not to shave but to sell.
I have said that the Ministry were absolved by the House of Commons, but were not both the House of Commons and the Ministry absolved by the country? What happened? We have seen that the Government abandoned their Reform Rill, and retained their places. They not only did that, but they retained the confidence of Parliament, and the undiminished support of the advanced Reformers, who now shower upon them those reproaches which they have suppressed through six long years, during which they have always been ready to give them their good word, and, what was more valuable, their good votes, to keep this faithless 1689 Ministry in their places. But what about the unenfranchised? How did the Government stand with them? We are told that they disappointed and deceived the unenfranchised; but the noble Lord who was the chief of this faithless Government was so little ashamed or afraid of what he had done, that immediately after the abandonment of his Bill he took the earliest occasion publicly and ostentatiously to visit the very constituency that has now become the focus of the Reform agitation, and at the very time when they must have been smarting under a sense of their ill-usage, the noble Lord invited an expression of opinion from the non-electors of Leeds. Now, Sir, do not let us be told that it was within the compass of possibility, that on a question so vital to the masses, on which the country had been excited, the Parliament dissolved, and a Government turned out, an English Minister would dare to challenge a demonstration in the provinces if he had really disappointed and deceived the country. That was manifestly impossible, and I do not expect to hear from advanced Reformers any such imputation on the spirit and character of the masses. Well, then, when the noble Lord was invitcd and received with enthusiasm at Leeds, when he was subsequently again invited and received with rapturous applause at Bradford—[Mr. W. E. FORSTER: No!] I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon—I say rapturously received by all classes at Bradford—again, when he crossed the Border and received the same enthusiastic welcome from three or four of the most populous and advanced constituencies in Scotland—what did it all mean? It could only mean one thing, that in these great constituencies, the agitators for Reform, those who were disappointed and displeased by the abandonment of the Bill were a small and helpless minority, and that the great majority of these enlightened constituencies—a majority so great as to carry their reluctant representatives with them in doing honour to this faithless Minister—not only took no exception to the abandonment of Reform, but heartily approved of and endorsed it. They knew that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had never affected to consider the Reform cry as anything but artificial and unreal; and that he had rather tolerated than heartily endorsed the large Reform projects of his Colleague; they recognized in that the noble Lord's practical sagacity and intuitive perception of English feelings and requirements, and so 1690 they hailed him as a public benefactor who bad saved Parliament from an enormous folly, and the country from a very serious danger.
And this is our answer to the promoters of this Bill. We tell you, Reason is not with you, Justice is not with you, Policy is not with you; and, above all, the nation is not with you. Even the unenfranchised stand aloof from you, and disown you—for they, too, have been educated on Reform, educated by discussions at home and by events abroad, and they know that, as a class, they have more to lose than gain by democratic change, inasmuch as, under our present system, theoretically imperfect as it may be, they know that their feelings, wants, and interests are more considered and better cared for, and that they possess a greater amount of liberty and comfort than is enjoyed by their class in any other country in the world, and without one practical grievance to complain of. It must, however, be admitted that this House of Commons has not redeemed its pledges on Reform, and the hon. Member for Leeds affixes that stigma on the Liberal party, before whose eyes he dangles this Bill as a hustings test, but which, I think, is used by some of its promoters less to test others than to whitewash themselves.
Still, it must be admitted, the Liberal party have not redeemed their hustings' pledges on Reform—very much the reverse; but have they really lost character by that? Only, Sir, if they now relapse into their old fallacies and delusions; only if they allow the hon. Member for Leeds to drag them through the mire of used-up pledges, and shifted devices, and exploded electioneering claptraps, then, indeed, there must be discredit and humiliation in the acknowledgment of unfaithfulness in the past, and the renewal of half hearted utterances as to the future.
But there is another, a far better, a wiser, aye, and a safer course, which redeems the past while it disembarrasses the future. It is to proclaim the truth; that the mind of Parliament and of the nation has changed—that successive Queen's Speeches which, promising large measures of Reform in a downward direction, were a mistake—that the Ministers who insisted on those Speeches have been discredited—that the Liberal party has been damaged by its blindness and inconsiderateness on Reform—and that its recent silence has not been an evasion of duty, but a de- 1691 liberate policy caused by sincere conviction resulting from improved experience, and enforced by its respect for the unmistakable feeling of the country. That, Sir, I humbly venture to suggest, would be a course more dignified, and I am sure it would be more popular, than for Liberal Members to suffer themselves now to be apparently coerced into the support of a measure which their judgment has notoriously condemned. Aye, and let me say it would strengthen the Liberal party for their true mission of sincere and practical Reformers, ever ready and anxious to extend the true rights and enlarge the real liberties of the country. And it is in that character, in which you yourselves wish to be regarded as the protectors of the rights and liberties of all classes of your countrymen, that I appeal to you now, and tell you that it is your duty as Reformers to reject this, which is not an enfranchising, but a disfranchising measure; which is not an extension, but a diversion of the suffrage; which is less a bestowal than a transfer of political power; which degrades and disqualifies education to give paramount power to numbers, and under the disguise of Reform, blindly, rashly, and senselessly enacts a revolution.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I could have wished, and once I almost believed, that it was not necessary for me to take part in this debate. I look on this discussion as the natural Epilogue to the Parliament of 1859. We remember the Prologue. I consider this to be a controversy between the "educated section of the Liberal party," and that section of the Liberal party, not entitled, according to their companions and Colleagues, to an epithet so euphuistic and complimentary. But after the speech of the Minister, I hardly think it would become me—representing the opinions of the Gentlemen with whom I am acting on this side of the House—entirely to be silent.
Sir, we have a measure before us tonight which is to increase the franchise in boroughs. I object to that measure. I object to it because an increase of the franchise in boroughs is a proposal to redistribute political power in the country. I do not think that the distribution of political power in the country ought to be treated partially—from the very nature of things it is impossible, if there is to be a re-distribution of political power, that you can only regard the suffrage as it affects one section of the constituent body. Whatever the proposition of the hon. Gentle- 1692 man—whether abstractedly it may be expedient or not—this is quite clear, that it must be considered not only in relation to the particular persons with whom it will deal, but in relation to other persons with whom it does not deal, though it would affect them. And, therefore, it has always been clear that if you deal with the subject, popularly called Parliamentary Reform, you must deal with it comprehensively. The arrangements you may make with reference to one part of the constituency may not be objectionable in themselves, but may be extremely objectionable if you consider them with relation to other parts. Consequently, it has been held—and the more we consider the subject the more true and just appears to be the conclusion—that if you deal with the matter you must deal with it as a whole. You must not only consider borough constituencies, you must consider county constituencies; and when persons rise up and urge their claims to be introduced into the constituent body, even if you think there is a plausible case substantiated on their part, you are bound in policy and justice to consider also the claim of other bodies not in possession of the franchise, but whose right to consideration may be equally valid. And so clear is it, when you come to the distribution of power, that you must consider the subject in all its bearings, that even hon. Gentlemen who have taken part in this debate, which is one merely on the borough franchise, have not been able to avoid the question of what they call the re-distribution of seats—a very important part of the question to which I have referred, the distribution of power. It is easy for the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Bernal Osborne), for example, to rise and say, in supporting this measure for the increase of the borough franchise, that it is impossible any longer to conceal the anomalies of our system in regard to the distribution of seats. "Is it not monstrous," he asks, "that Calne, with 173 voters, should return a Member, while Glasgow returns only two, with a constituency of 20,000?" Well, it may be equally monstrous that Liskeard should return one Member, and that Birkenhead should only make a similar return. Sir, the distribution of seats—as any one must know who has ever considered the subject deeply and with a sense of responsibility towards the country—is one of the most profound and difficult questions that can be brought before the House. It is all very well to treat 1693 it in an easy off-hand manner; but how are you to reconcile the case of North Cheshire, of North Durham, of West Kent, and many other counties, where you find a few towns, with an aggregate population, perhaps, of 100,000, returning six Members to this House, while the rest of the population of the county, though equal in amount, returns only two Members? How are you to meet the case of the West Riding in reference to its boroughs, or the case of the representation of South Lancashire in reference to its boroughs? Why, those are more anomalous than the case of Calne. Then there is the question of Scotland. With a population hardly equal to that of the metropolis, and with wealth greatly inferior—probably not more than two-thirds of the amount—Scotland yet possesses forty-eight Members, while the metropolis has only twenty. Do you Reformers mean to say that you are prepared to disfranchise Scotland in proportion to the population; or that you are going to develope the representation of the metropolis in proportion to its population and property; and so allow a country like England, so devoted to local government and so influenced by local feeling, to be governed by London? And, therefore, when those speeches are made which gain a cheer for the moment, and are supposed to be so unanswerable as arguments in favour of Parliamentary change, I would recommend the House to recollect that this as a question is one of the most difficult and one of the deepest that can possibly engage the attention of the country. The fact is this—in the representation of this country you do not depend on population or on property merely, or on both conjoined; you have to see that there is something besides population and property—you have to take care that the country itself is represented. That is one reason why I am opposed to the second reading of the Bill—because it deals partially with the subject, and not completely and comprehensively.
Sir, there is another objection which I have to this Bill brought forward by the hon. Member for Leeds, and that is that it is brought forward by theMember for Leeds. I do not consider this a subject which ought to be intrusted to the care and guidance of any individual Member in this House. If there be one subject more than another that deserves the consideration and demands the responsibility of the Government, it certainly is there-construction of 1694 our Parliamentary system; and it is the Government or a political party candidates for power, who recommend a policy, and who will not shrink from the responsibility of carrying that policy into effect if the opportunity be afforded to them, who alone are qualified to deal with such a question. But, Sir, I shall be told—as we have been told in a previous portion pf the adjourned debate—that the two great parties of the State cannot be trusted to deal with this question, because they have both trifled with it. That is a charge which has been made repeatedly during this discussion and on previous occasions, and certainly a graver one could not be made in this House. I am not prepared to admit that even our opponents have trifled with this question. We have had a very animated account by the right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed us as to what may be called the Story of the Reform Measures. It was animated, but it was not accurate. Mine will be accurate, though perhapa not animated. I am not prepared to believe that English statesmen, though they be opposed to me in politics and may sit on opposite Benches, could ever have intended to trifle with this question. I think that possibly they may have made great mistakes in the course which they took; they may have miscalculated, they may have been misled; but I do not believe that any men in this country, occupying the posts—the eminent posts—of those who have recommended any re-construction of our Parliamentary system in modern days, could have advised a course which they disapproved. They may have thought it perilous—they may have thought it difficult—but though they may have been misled I am convinced they must have felt that it was necessary. Let me say a word on behalf of one with whom I have had no political connection and to whom I have been placed in constant opposition in this House when he was an honoured Member of it—I mean Lord Russell. I cannot at all agree with the lively narrative of the right hon. Gentleman, according to which Parliamentary Reform was but the creature of Lord John Russell, whose Cabinet, controlled by him with the vigour of a Richelieu, at all times disapproved his course; still less can I acknowledge that merely to amuse himself, or in a moment of difficulty to excite some popular sympathy, Lord John Russell was a statesman always with a Reform Bill in his pocket, 1695 ready to produce it and make a display. How different, 9ays the right hon. Gentleman, from that astute and sagacious statesman now at the head of Her Majesty's Government, whom I almost hoped to have seen in his place this evening. I am sure it would have given the House great pleasure to have seen him here, and I certainly did hope that the noble Lord would have been enabled to be in his place and prepared to support his policy. According to the animated but not quite accurate account of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, all that Lord Derby did was to sanction and humour the caprices of Lord John Russell. Now, I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that he has forgotten the history of the subject, recent though it be. It is true that Lord John Russell, when Prime Minister, recommended that Her Majesty in the Speech from the Throne should call the attention of Parliament to the condition of our representative system. There is no doubt about that. But Lord John Russell unfortunately shortly afterwards retired from his eminent position. He was soon after succeeded by one of the most considerable statesmen of our days—a statesman not connected with the political school of Lord John Russell, who was supported by a whole staff of eminent statesmen who had been educated in the same school and under the same distinguished master. This eminent statesman, however, is entirely forgotten by the right hon. Gentleman, although he took office with every advantage. The right hon. Gentleman overlooks the fact that Lord Aberdeen, when Prime Minister, and when all the principal places in his Cabinet were filled with the disciples of Sir Robert Peel, did think it his duty to recommend the same counsel to Her Majesty. But this is an important, though not the only important, item in the history of the Reform Bill which has been ignored by the right hon. Gentleman. But is this all? The time came when Lord Aberdeen gave place to another statesman, one who has been complimented to-night on his sagacity in evading the subject—as if such a course would be a subject for congratulation. Let me vindicate the policy of Lord Palmerston in his absence. He did not evade the question. Lord Palmerston followed the example of Lord John Russell. He followed the example, also, of Lord Aberdeen, and recommended Her Majesty to notice the subject of Parliamentary Reform in the 1696 Speech from the Throne. What becomes, then, of the lively narrative of the right hon. Gentleman, and the inference, and conclusions which he drew from it? Not only is his account inaccurate, but it is injurious, as I take it, to the honour of public men. Well, now you have three Prime Ministers—not one merely from caprice or personal littleness—bringing forward the question of Parliamentary Reform; you have Lord John Russell, Lord Aberdeen, and you have even that statesman who, according to the account of the right hon. Gentleman, was so eminent for his sagacity in evading the subject altogether. Now, let me ask the House to consider the positon of Lord Derby when he was called to power—a position which you cannot rightly understand if you accept as correct the fallacious statements of the right hon. Gentleman. I will give the House an account of this subject the accuracy of which I believe neither side will impugn. It may not possibly be without interest, and will not, I am sure, be without significance. Lord Derby was sent for by Her Majesty, an unwilling candidate for office—for let me remind the House that at that moment he had an adverse majority of 140 in the House of Commons, and I therefore do not think that Lord Derby was open to any imputation in hesitating to accept political responsibility under such circumstances. Lord Derby laid these considerations before Her Majesty. I speak, of course, with reserve, yet really say nothing now which I have not said before in the discussion of these matters in this House. But when a Government comes in on Reform and remains in power six years without passing any measure of the kind, it is possible that these circumstances, too, may be lost sight of. Lord Derby advised Her Majesty not to form a Government under his influence, because there existed so large a majority against him in the House of Commons, and because this question of Reform was placed in such a position that it was impossible not to deal with it, and he did not wish to deal with it. For it should be remembered that Lord Derby was a Member of the famous Cabinet which carried the Reform Bill in 1832. Lord Derby, as Lord Stanley, was in the House of Commons one of the most efficient promoters of the measure. Lord Derby believed that the Bill had tended to effect the purpose for which it was designed; and although no man superior, 1697 as lie is, to prejudice could fail to see that some who were qualified for the exercise of the franchise were still debarred from the privilege, yet he could not also fail to perceive the danger which would arise in a country like England from constantly tampering with the franchise, and that therefore it was inexpedient to deal with the question. On these grounds Lord Derby declined the honour which Her Majesty desired to confer upon him. Her Majesty was then left without advisers, and the appeal to Lord Derby was repeated. Under such circumstances it was impossible for any English statesman to hesitate. But I am bound to say that although there was no contract or understanding further than that which prevails among men, however different their politics, who love their country and wish to maintain its greatness, still there was an understanding at the time among men of weight on both sides of the House that the position in which the Reform question was placed was one embarrassing to the Crown and not creditable to the House, and that any Minister trying his best to deal with it under these circumstances would receive not a pledge of support to his measure—that would be impossible and preposterous—but would be insured the candid consideration of the House. It was thought, moreover, that the time had possibly arrived when both parties might unite in endeavouring to bring about a solution to the advantage and benefit of the country. Under these circumstances Lord Derby gave his mind to the measure. And yet, says the right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed you, it was only in 1860 that the portentous truth flashed across the mind of the country that the question of Parliamentary Reform was this—was it possible to admit a portion of the working classes to the enjoyment of the franchise, without impairing the constitution of the country—it was only in 1860, after so many Ministers had been dealing with the question for so many years that this real state of the question flashed upon the conscience of the country. All I can say is that this was the question, and the only question, which engaged the attention of Lord Derby's Cabinet in 1858. The question was, whether they could secure the franchise for a certain portion of the working classes who, by their industry, their intelligence, and their integrity showed that they were worthy of such a possession, without at the same time overwhelming the rest of the constituency by 1698 the numbers of those whom they admitted That, Sir, was the only question which occupied the attention of the Government of Lord Derby; and yet the right hon. Gentleman says that it was only in 1860 that the attention of the public was first called to the subject, when, in fact, the question of Parliamentary Reform had been before them for more than ten years, and on a greater scale than that embraced by the measure under consideration this evening. I need not remind the House of the reception which Lord Derby's Bill encountered. It is neither my disposition nor, I am sure, that of any of my Colleagues, to complain of the votes of this House on that occasion, nor to indulge in reproaches against any of its Members. Political life must be taken as you find it, and so far as I am concerned not a word shall escape me on the subject. But from the speeches made the first night of this debate, and from the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman this evening, I deem it my duty to vindicate the conduct pursued by the party with which I act. I say we were perfectly well aware of the great question which it was our business to solve, and I say this now which I would not have said under other circumstances, that I believe that the measure which we brought forward was the only one which has attempted to meet its difficulties. Totally irrespective of other modes of dealing with the question, there were two franchises especially proposed on that occasion which, in my mind, would have done much towards solving them. The first was the franchise founded upon personal property, and the second the franchise founded upon partial occupation. Those two franchises, irrespective of other modes by which we attempted to meet the want and the difficulty—those two franchises, had they been brought into Committee of this House, would, in my opinion, have been so shaped and adapted that they would have effected those objects which the majority of the House desire. We endeavoured in that Bill to make proposals which were in the genius of the English Constitution. It is easy to speak of the English Constitution as a mere phrase. We did not consider the Constitution a mere phrase. We knew that the Constitution of this country is a monarchy tempered by the authority of co-ordinate estates of the realm. We knew that the House of Commons is an estate of the realm. We knew that an estate of the realm is a political body, invested with political power for the Go- 1699 vernment of the country and for the public good; therefore a body founded upon privilege and not upon right. It is therefore in the noblest and properest sense of the word an aristocratic body, and from the first the estate of the Commons has had that character. From that characteristic the Reform Bill of 1832 did not derogate; and if at this moment we could contrive, as we proposed to do in 1859, to add considerably to the number of the constituent body, we should not change that characteristic, but it would still remain founded upon an aristocratic principle.
Well, now the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of Stale has addressed us to-night in a remarkable speech. He also takes up the history of Reform; but before I touch upon some of the features of that speech it is my duty to refer to the statements which he made with regard to the policy which the Government of Lord Derby was prepared to assume after the general election of 1859. By a total misrepresentation of the character of the Amendment proposed by Lord John Russell, which threw the Government in 1858 into a minority, and by quoting a passage from a very long speech of mine in 1859, the right hon. Gentleman most dexterously conveyed these two propositions to the House—first, that Lord John Russell had proposed an Amendment to our Reform Bill, by which the House declared that no Bill could be satisfactory by which the working classes were not admitted to the franchise—one of our main objects being that the working classes should in a great measure be admitted to the franchise; and secondly, that after the election I was prepared, as the organ of the Government, to give up all the schemes of those franchises founded upon personal property, partial occupation, and other grounds, and to substitute a Bill lowering the borough qualification. That, in the first place, conveyed to the House a totally inaccurate idea of the Amendment of Lord John Russell. There was not a single word in that Amendment about the working classes. There was not a single phrase upon which that issue was raised; nor could it have been raised, because our Bill, whether it could have effected the object or not, was a Bill which proposed greatly to enfranchise the working classes. And, in the second place, as regards the statement I made it simply was this. The election was over—we were still Ministers; and still acting according to 1700 our sense of duty, recommended in the Royal Speech that the question of Parliamentary Reform should be dealt with; because I must be allowed to remind the House that whatever may have been our errors, we never paltered with the Reform question—we proposed a Bill which we intended to carry. And having once taken up the question as a matter of duty, no doubt greatly influenced by what we considered the unhappy mistakes of our predecessors, and the difficult position in which they had placed the Crown, Parliament, and the country, we determined not to leave the question until it had been settled. As Ministers of the Crown we felt it to be our duty to recommend to Her Majesty to introduce the question of Reform in the Speech from the Throne which opened the Parliament of 1859. And how were we, except in that spirit of compromise which is the principal characteristic of our political system—how could we introduce a Reform Bill after that election, without in some degree considering the possibility of lowering the borough franchise? But it was not a franchise of £6, hut an arrangement that was to be taken with the rest of the Bill, and if it had been met in the same spirit a measure might have been passed. But, says the right hon. Baronet, pursuing his history of the Reform question "when the Government of Lord Derby retired from office, we came in and we were perfectly sincere in our intentions to carry that Reform Bill to which we had pledged ourselves and by means of which we had driven the Government from office—but look at the opposition we received—there never was such opposition. There was the right hon. Gentleman," meaning myself—"he absolutely allowed our Bill to be read a second time." That tremendous reckless opposition of mine which allowed the Bill to he read a second time, seems to have laid the Government prostrate. If I had succeeded in throwing out the Bill, we should have relieved the new Government from great embarrassment; but, their Bill having been read a second time, the Government were quite overcome, and it appears have never recovered the paralysis up to this time. The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to say that the proposition of his Government was rather coldly received upon his side of the House, but he said "nobody spoke against it." Certainly, nobody spoke against the Bill on this side; but I think I remem- 1701 ber some remarkable speeches from the right hon. Gentleman's friends against their measure. There was the great city of Edinburgh represented by an acute eloquence of which we never weary, and which again upon the present occasion we have heard; there was the great city of Bristol, represented also by a devoted supporter of the Government, and many other constituencies of equal importance. But the most remarkable speech—the speech which "killed Cock Robin,"—was absolutely delivered by one who might be described as a Member of the Government—the Chairman of Ways and Means, and who, I believe, spoke from immediately behind the Prime Minister. Did the Government express any disapprobation of such conduct? They promoted him to a great post, and sent him to India with an income of fabulous amount. And now they are astonished they cannot carry a Reform Bill. If they remove all those among their supporters who oppose such Bills by preferring them to posts of great confidence and great lucre, how can they suppose that they will ever carry one? Looking at the policy of the Government, I am not at all astonished at the speech which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State has made this evening. Of which speech I may observe, that although it was remarkable for many things, yet there were two salient conclusions at which the right hon. Gentleman arrived. First, the repudiation of the rights of man, and next, the repudiation of the £6 franchise. The first is a great relief; and, remembering what the feeling of the House was only a year ago, when, by the dangerous eloquence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we were led to believe that the days of Tom Paine had returned, and that Rousseau was to be rivalled in a new social contract, it must be a vast relief to every respectable man here to find that not only are we not to have the rights of man, but we are not even to have the £6 franchise. It is a matter, I think, of much congratulation, and I am ready to give credit to the Secretary of State for the honesty with which he has expressed himself; I only wish we had had the same frankness, the same honesty of expression, arising from a clear view of his subject, in the first year of the Parliament as we have had in the last. I will follow the example of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends and be frank. I have not changed my opinion upon the 1702 subject of what is called Parliamentary Reform. All that has occurred—all that I have observed—all the results of my reflections, lead me to this more and more—that the principle upon which the constituencies of this country should be increased is one not of radical, but I would say of lateral, reform—the extension of the franchise, not its degradation. Although—I do not wish in any way to deny it—we were in the most difficult position when the Parliament of 1859 met, being anxious to assist the Crown and the Parliament, by proposing some moderate measure which men on both sides might support, we did, to a certain extent, agree to some modification of the £10 franchise—yet I confess that my present opinion is opposed, as it originally was, to any course of the kind. I think that it would fail in its object; that it would not secure the introduction of that particular class which we all desire to introduce, but that it would introduce many others who are unworthy of the suffrage. But, Sir, I retain these opinions—I think it is possible to increase the electoral body of the country, if the opportunity were favourable, and the necessity urgent, by the introduction of voters upon principles in unison with the principles of the Constitution, so that the suffrage should remain a privilege, and not a right—a privilege to be gained by virtue, by intelligence, by industry, by integrity, and to be exercised for the common good. And I I think if you quit that ground—if you once admit that every man has a right to vote whom you cannot prove to be disqualified for it, you would change the character of the Constitution, and you would change it in a manner which will tend to lower the importance of this country. Between the scheme we brought forward and the measure brought forward by the hon. Member for Leeds, and the inevitable conclusion which its principal supporters acknowledge it must lead to, it is a question between an aristocratic Government in the proper sense of the term—that is, a Government by the best men of all classes—and a democracy. I doubt very much whether a democracy is a Government that would suit this country; and it is just as well that the House when coming to a vote on this question should really consider if that be the issue—and it is the real issue—between retaining the present Constitution—not the present constituent body, but between the present Constitution and a democracy—
1703 it is just as well for the House to recollect that die stake is not mean—that what is at issue is of some price. You must remember, not to use the word profanely, that we are dealing really with a peculiar people. There is no country at the present moment that exists under the circumstances and under the same conditions as the people of this realm. You have, for example, an ancient, powerful, richly-endowed Church and perfect religious liberty. You have unbroken order and complete freedom. You have landed estates as large as the Romans, combined with commercial enterprize such as Carthage and Venice united never equalled. And you must remember that this peculiar country, with these strong contrasts, is not governed by force; it is not governed by standing armies; it is governed by a most singular series of traditionary influences, which generation after generation cherishes and preserves because they know that they embalm customs and represent law. And, with this, what have you done? You have created the greatest Empire of modern time. You have amassed a capital of fabulous amount. You have devised and sustained a system of credit still more marvellous. And, above all, you have established and maintained a scheme so vast and complicated, of labour and industry, that the history of the world offers no parallel to it. And all these mighty creations are out of all proportion to the essential and indigenous elements and resources of the country. If you destroy that state of society, remember this—England cannot begin again. There are countries which have been in great danger and gone through great suffering; the United States, for example, whose fortunes are now so perilous, and who in our own immediate day have had great trials; you have had—perhaps even now in the United States of America you have—a protracted and fratricidal civil war which has lasted for four years; but if it lasted for four years more, vast as would be the disaster and desolation, when ended the United States might begin again, because the United States then would only be in the same condition that England was at the end of the War of the Roses, when probably she had not even 3,000,000 of population, with vast tracts of virgin soil and I mineral treasures, not only undeveloped | but undreamt of. Then you have France, France had a real revolution in this century—a real revolution, not merely a political 1704 but a social revolution. The institutions of the country were uprooted, the orders of society abolished—even the landmarks and local names removed and erased. But France could begin again. France had the greatest spread of the most exuberant soil in Europe, and a climate not less genial; she had, and always had, comparatively, a limited population, living in a most simple manner. France, therefore, could begin again. But England—the England we know, the England we live in, the England of which we are proud—could not begin again. I do not mean to say that after great troubles England would become a bowling wilderness, or doubt that the good sense of the people would, to some degree, prevail, and some fragments of the national character survive; but it would not be old England—the England of power and tradition, of credit and capital, that now exists. It is not in the nature of things; and, Sir, under these circumstances, I hope the House, when the question before us is one impeaching the character of our Constitution will hesitate—that it will sanction no step that has a tendency to democracy, but that they will maintain the ordered state of free England in which we live. I do not think that in this country generally there is a desire at this moment for any further change in this matter. I think the general opinion of the country on the subject of Parliamentary Reform is that our views are not sufficiently matured on either side. Certainly, so far as I can judge, I cannot refuse the conclusion that such is the condition of hon. Gentlemen opposite. We all know the paper circulated among us before Parliament met, on which the speech of its author, the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Buxton), this evening is a comment. I quite sympathize with his "Liberal Dilemma;" it was one of the most interesting contributions to our elegiac literature I have heard for some time. But is it in this House only that we find these indications of the want of maturity in views upon this subject? Our tables are covered at this moment with propositions of eminent Members of the Liberal party—men eminent for character or talent, and for both—and what are these propositions? All devices to counteract the consequences of their own Liberal Reform Bill, to which they are opposed; therefore, it is quite clear, when we read these propositions and speculations, that the mind and intellect of the party have arrived 1705 at no conclusions on the subject. I would not speak of these projects with disrespect. I am prepared to give them grave consideration; but I ask whether these publications are not proofs that the active intelligence of the Liberal party is itself entirely at sea on the subject? I may say, there has been more consistency, more calmness of consideration on this subject on the part of Gentlemen on this side than on the part of those who seem to arrogate to themselves the monopoly of treating this subject. I can, at least, in answer to those who charge us with trifling with the subject, appealing to the recollection of every candid man, say that we treated it with sincerity—prepared our measure with care, and submitted it to the House, trusting to its candid consideration. We spared no pains in its preparation, and at this time I am bound to say, speaking for my Colleagues, in the main principles on which that Bill was founded—namely, the extension of the franchise not its degradation, will be found, we believe, the only solution that will ultimately be accepted by the country. Therefore, I cannot say that I look to this question, or that those with whom I act look to it, with any embarrassment. We feel we have done our duty; and it is not without gratification that I have listened to the candid admissions of many hon. Gentlemen who voted against it, that they feel the defeat of that measure by the Liberal party was a great mistake. So far as we are concerned, I repeat, we, as a party, can look to Parliamentary Reform not as an embarrassing subject; but that is no reason why we should agree to the measure of the hon. Member for Leeds. It would reflect no credit on the House of Commons. It is a mean device, and I think the House will best do its duty to the country if they reject the measure by a decided majority.
§ Previous Question put, "That that Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 214; Noes 288: Majority 74.1709
|Acland, T. D.||Ayrton, A. S.|
|Acton, Sir J. D.||Bagwell, J.|
|Adair, H. E.||Baring, T. G.|
|Adam, W. P.||Barnes, T.|
|Agar-Ellis, hn. L. G. F.||Baxter, W. E.|
|Andover, Viscount||Beale, S.|
|Angerstein, W.||Beamish, F. B.|
|Anstruther, Sir R.||Berkeley. hon. Col. F. WF.|
|Antrobus, E.||Berkeley, hon. C. P. F.|
|Biddulph, Colonel M.||Hadfield, G.|
|Blake, J. A.||Hanbury, R.|
|Blencowe, J. G.||Handley, J.|
|Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.||Hankey, T.|
|Bouverie, hon. P. P.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Bowyer, Sir G.||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Brand, hon. H.||Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.|
|Bruce, rt. hon. H. A.||Henderson, J.|
|Buller, Sir A. W.||Henley, Lord|
|Bury, Viscount||Hibbert, J. T.|
|Butler, C. S.||Hodgkinson, G.|
|Buxton, C.||Holland, E.|
|Caird, J.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Calthorpe, hon. F. H W. G.||Ingham, R.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Jackson, W.|
|Carnegie, hon. C.||Jervoise, Sir J. C.|
|Cheetham, J.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Childers, H. C. E.||Kennedy, T.|
|Clay, J.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Kinglake, A. W.|
|Clifford, Colonel||Kinglake, J. A.|
|Clifton, Sir R. J.||Kingscote, Colonel|
|Clive, G.||Kinnaird, hon. A. F.|
|Cobbett, J. M.||Layard, A. H.|
|Collier, Sir R. P.||Langton. W. H. G.|
|Colthurst, Sir G. C.||Lawson, W.|
|Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.||Leatham, E. A.|
|Cox, W.||Lefevre, G. J. S.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Lee, W.|
|Crawford, R. W.||Lewis, H.|
|Crossley, Sir F.||Locke, J.|
|Dalglish, R.||Lysley, W. J.|
|Davey, R.||M'Mahon, P.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Maguire, J. F.|
|Denman, hon. G.||Marjoribanks, D. C.|
|Dent, J.D.||Martin, P. W.|
|Dering, Sir E. C.||Martin, J.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Merry, J.|
|Dodson, J. G.||Miller, W.|
|Douglas, Sir C.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Doulton, F.||Moffatt, G.|
|Duff, M. E. G.||Moncreiff, rt. hon. J.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Monsell, rt. hon. W.|
|Dundas, F.||Morris, W.|
|Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.||Morrison, W.|
|Dunlop, A. M.||Neate, C.|
|Ellice, E.||North, F.|
|Enfield, Viscount||O'Donoghue, The|
|Ewart, W.||Ogilvy, Sir J.|
|Ewart, J. C.||Onslow, G.|
|Ewing, H. E. Crnm.||Osborne, R. B.|
|Fenwick, E. M.||Owen, Sir H. O.|
|Fenwick, H.||Padmore, R.|
|Fitzroy, Lord F. J.||Paget, C.|
|Foljambe, F. J. S.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Forster, C.||Pease, H.|
|Forster, W. E.||Peel, rt. hon. F.|
|Fortescue, hon. F. D.||Peto, Sir S. M.|
|Fortescue, rt. hon. C.||Pilkington, J.|
|Gavin, Major||Pinney, Colonel|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Pollard-Urquhart, W.|
|Gilpin, C.||Ponsonby, hon.A.|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W.||Portman, hon. W.H.B.|
|Glyn, G.G.||Potter, E.|
|Goldsmid, Sir F. H.||Potter, T. B.|
|Goschen, G. J.||Powell, J. J.|
|Gower, hon. F. L.||Price, R. G.|
|Gower, G. W. G. L.||Pryse, E. L.|
|Greene, J.||Redmond, J. E.|
|Greenwood, J.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Grenfell, H. R.||Robertson, D.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Gurney, S.||Rothschild, Baron M. de|
|Russell, A.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Russell, Sir W.||Tracy, hon. C.R. D. H.|
|St. Aubyn, J.||Turner, J. A.|
|Salomons, Mr. Ald.||Tynte, Colonel K.|
|Schneider, H. W.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Scholefield, W.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Scott, Sir W.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Vyner, R. A.|
|Seely, C.||Waldegrave-Leslie, hon.|
|Seymour. W. D.||Warner, E.|
|Shelley, Sir J. V.||Watkin, E. W.|
|Sheridan, R. B.||Weguelin, T. M.|
|Sheridan, H. B.||Western, S.|
|Smith, J. A.||Westhead, J. P. Brown|
|Smith, J. B.||Whalley, G. H,|
|Smith, M. T.||Whitbread, S.|
|Stacpoole, W.||White, J.|
|Staniland, M.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Stanley, hon.W. O.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Stansfeld, J.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Steel, J.||Wyld, J.|
|Stuart, Colonel C.||Wyvill, M.|
|Sykes, Colonel W. H.||Young, G.|
|Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Taylor, P. A.||TELLERS.|
|Thompson, H. S.||Baines, E.|
|Tite, W.||Bazley, T.|
|Adderley, rt. hon. C. B.||Cartwright, Colonel|
|Adeane, H. J.||Cave, S.|
|Annesley, hon. Col. H.||Cecil, Lord R.|
|Anson, hon. Major||Chapman, J.|
|Archdall, Captain M.||Cholmeley, Sir M. J.|
|Astell, J. H.||Clive, Capt. hon. G. W.|
|Baring, hon. A.||Cobbold, J. C.|
|Baring, H. B.||Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.|
|Baring, T.||Coke, hon. Colonel|
|Barttelot, Colonel||Cole, hon. H.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Cole, hon. J. L.|
|Bathurst, Colonel H.||Collins, T.|
|Beach. Sir M.||Corry, rt. hon. H. L.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Courtenay, Lord|
|Bective, Earl of||Curzon, Viscount|
|Beecroft, G. S.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Bentinck, G. W. P.||Damer, S. D.|
|Bentinck, G. C.||Dawson, R. P.|
|Benyon, R.||Dick, F.|
|Beresford, rt. hon. W.||Dickson, Colonel|
|Beresford, D. W. Pack||Disraeli, rt. hon. B.|
|Bernard, T. T.||Du Cane, C.|
|Blackburn, P.||Duff, R. W.|
|Bond, J. W. M'G.||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Duncombe, hon. W. E.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Dunkellin, Lord|
|Bourne, Colonel||Dunne, Colonel|
|Bovill, W.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Boyle, hon. G. F.||Dutton, hon. R. H.|
|Bramley-Moore, J.||Edwards, Colonel|
|Bremridge, R.||Egerton, Sir P. G.|
|Bridges, Sir B. W.||Egerton, hon. A. F.|
|Brooks, R.||Egerton, E. C.|
|Bromley, W. D.||Egerton, hon. W.|
|Browne, Lord J. T.||Elphinstone, Sir J. D.|
|Bruce, Major C.||Fane, Colonel J. W.|
|Bruce, Sir H. H.||Farquhar, Sir M.|
|Bruen, H.||Farrer, J.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R.||Fellowes, E.|
|Burghley, Lord||Fergusson, Sir J.|
|Burrell, Sir P.||Ferrand, W.|
|Butler-Johnstone, H. A.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Cairns, Sir H. M'C.||Finlay, A. S.|
|Cargill, W. W.||Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W.|
|Fleming, T. W.||Laird, J.|
|Floyer, J.||Langton, W. G.|
|Foley, H. W.||Leader, N. P.|
|Forde, Colonel||Leeke, Sir H.|
|Forester, rt. hon. Gen.||Lefroy, A.|
|Foster, W. O.||Legh, Major C.|
|Franklyn, G. W.||Legh, W. J.|
|Fraser, Sir W. A.||Leighton, Sir B.|
|Gallwey, Sir W. P.||Lennox, Lord G. G.|
|Galway, Viscount||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Gard, R. S.||Leslie, W.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Lever, J. O.|
|George, J.||Liddell, hon. H. G.|
|Getty, S. G.||Long, R. P.|
|Gilpin, Colonel||Lopes, Sir M.|
|Gore, W, R. O.||Lowe, rt. hon. R.|
|Graham, Lord W.||Lowther, Captain|
|Greaves, E.||Lyall, G.|
|Greenall, G.||Lygon, hon. F.|
|Gregory, W. H.||Macaulay, K.|
|Grenfell, C. P.||M'Cormick, W.|
|Gray, Lt.-Colonel||Mackie, J.|
|Grey de Wilton, Visct.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Griffith, C. D.||Malins, R.|
|Grosvenor, Earl||Manners, rt. hon. Lord J.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Manners, Lord G. J.|
|Gurdon, B.||Marsh, M. H.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Matheson, Sir J.|
|Hamilton, Major||Miles, Sir W.|
|Hamilton, Viscount||Miller, T. J.|
|Hardy, G.||Mills, A.|
|Hardy, J.||Mitford, W. T.|
|Hartopp, E. B.||Montagu, Lord R.|
|Harvey, R. B.||Montgomery, Sir G.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Moor, H.|
|Hervey, Lord A. H. C.||Mordaunt, Sir C.|
|Hassard, M.||Morgan, O.|
|Hay, Sir J. C. D.||Morgan, hon. Major|
|Heathcote, hon. G. H.||Morritt, W. J. S.|
|Hennessy, J. P.||Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.|
|Herbert, hon. P. E.||Mundy, W.|
|Hesketh, Sir T. G.||Murray, W.|
|Heygate, Sir F. W.||Naas, Lord|
|Heygate, W. U.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Hill, hon. R. C.||Nicol, W.|
|Holford, R. S.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Holmesdale, Viscount||North, Colonel|
|Hood, Sir A. A.||Northcote, Sir S. H.|
|Hopwood, J. T.||O'Neill, E.|
|Hornby, W. H.||Packe, C. W.|
|Horsfall, T. B.||Packe, Colonel|
|Horsman, rt. hon. E.||Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Hotham, Lord||Palk, Sir L.|
|Howes, E.||Papillon, P. O.|
|Hubbard, J. G.||Parker, Major W.|
|Humphery, W. H.||Patten, Colonel W.|
|Hunt, G. W.||Paull, H.|
|Ingestre, Viscount||Peacocke, G. M. W.|
|Jervis, Captain||Peel, rt. hon. General|
|Jolliffe, rt. hn. Sir W. G. H.||Pennant, hon. Colonel|
|Jolliffe, H. H.||Percy, Earl|
|Jones, D.||Pevensey, Viscount|
|Kekewich, S. T.||Phillips, G. L.|
|Kelly, Sir F.||Powell, F. S.|
|Kendall, N.||Powys-Lybbe, P. L.|
|Kerrison, Sir E. C.||Pugh, D.|
|King, J. K.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Knatchbull, W. F.||Ricardo, O.|
|Knight, F. W.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Knightley, Sir R.||Rogers, J. J.|
|Knox, Colonel||Rolt, J.|
|Knox, hon. Major S.||Rose, W. A.|
|Lacon, Sir E.||Rowley, hon. R. T.|
|Salt, T.||Turner, C.|
|Sclater-Booth, G.||Vansittart, W.|
|Scott, Lord H.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Scourfield, J. H.||Verner, E. W.|
|Selwyn, C. J.||Vernon, H. F.|
|Shirley, E. P.||Vyse, Colonel Howard|
|Smith, A. (Herts)||Walcott, Admiral|
|Smith, A. (Truro)||Walker, J. R.|
|Smith, S. G.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Smollett, P. B.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Somerset, Colonel||Walter, J.|
|Somes, J.||Waterhouse, S.|
|Stanhope, J. B.||Watlington, J. W. P.|
|Stanley, Lord||Welby, W. E.|
|Stracey, Sir H.||Whitmore, H.|
|Stronge, Sir J. M.||Williams, Colonel|
|Stewart, Sir M. R. S.||Williams, F. M.|
|Stuart, Lt.-Colonel W.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Sturt, H.G.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Sturt, Lt.-Colonel N.||Wyndham, hon. H.|
|Surtees, H. E.||Wyndham, hon. P.|
|Taylor, Colonel||Wynn, C. W. W.|
|Tollemache, J.||Wynne, W. W. E.|
|Torrens, R.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Tottenham, Lt-Col. C. G.||Yorke, J. R.|
|Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.|
|Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill||Elcho, Lord|
|Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.||Black, A.|