HC Deb 23 April 1866 vol 182 cc1874-974

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [12th April], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was— To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, while ready to consider, with a view to its settlement, the question of Parliamentary Reform, is of opinion that it is inexpedient to discuss a Bill for the reduction of the Franchise in England and Wales, until the House has before it the entire scheme contemplated by the Government, for the amendment of the Representation of the People,"—(Earl Grosvenor,) —instead thereof.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.


Mr. Speaker—Before I address myself to the question which is before the House there are two matters of a personal character which I wish to dispose of. The right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), on the first night of this debate, made a complaint that, in a speech out of this House, I had imputed to him, or quoted as from him, words which he had not uttered. The right hon. Gentleman was quite right to make that complaint if he thought it worth while to make it, because there is no doubt—and I am sorry it so happened—that some three or four words which he had not spoken in that connection were added to the passage which he had spoken. I regret the inaccuracy very much. I have the satisfaction, however, of knowing or believing that I did not do the right hon. Gentleman any substantial injustice. The other point refers to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley). He retorted on me a charge of conspiracy with reference to two divisions which took place some years ago in this House—one with regard to the division on the China War, and the other with regard to the division on the Conspiracy Bill. In neither of these cases did the mover of the resolution obtain a seconder from the opposite side of the House. But with regard to the first case, that of the China War, I was not in Parliament during that session. I was in bad health, out of the country; and the first thing I heard of it was from reading an account of what had taken place in this House in a public newsroom in the city of Rome. With regard to the other case, that of the Conspiracy Bill, Members who were then in the House will recollect that on the first division^ on the first reading of the Bill, nearly one hundred Members—I think the exact number was ninety-nine—voted in the division against the introduction or first reading of the Bill, including Lord John Russell, the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Gibson), myself, and many others. The noble Lord's friends warmly welcomed and supported that Bill. Before the second reading came on, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade gave notice of a resolution, which was afterwards carried by the House; the noble Lord with his friends, departing altogether from their votes on the first reading, turned completely round upon their own policy, supported my right hon. Friend, went into the same lobby with him, and made a majority against the Government of Lord Palmerston. If there was any conspiracy then it was owing to the other side of the House; and if it was a dirty conspiracy, the dirt was imported into it by the noble Lord and his friends. Now, these are inaccuracies which may occur in debate, but I think it was necessary to make an apology to the right hon. Gentleman, and to explain the charge which the noble Lord had inadvertently brought against me. I come now to the question before the House, and the resolution which has been moved by the Member for Chester (Earl Grosvenor). Whatever are the words in which a resolution or design is wrapped up in this House, the true meaning of it generally comes out during the debate; but the noble Lord the Member for Chester did not in the slightest degree leave us in difficulty with respect to his view; and there can be nothing more clear than this—I do not in the slightest degree blame him for it—he has a perfect right to his opinion—that he stands as the principal opponent of this measure, on the ground either that he is opposed to all Reform, or to carrying the extension of the franchise to the degree to which the Government propose to carry it by this Bill; and I suppose, if the truth were known, and judging from his speech, that if the Government would lay on the table of the House the Seats Bill, which may be as extensive with respect to that part of the subject as this measure of the franchise is on another part, it would meet with the strenuous opposition of the noble Lord. Thus the Bill that is not before us is made an excuse and weapon for destroying the Bill that is before us. That, I think, as far as I can judge, is a fair statement of the position of the noble Lord; but when the Seats Bill is laid on the table of the House we shall have an opportunity of knowing what is the course which the noble Lord will take upon it. I come now to the speech made by the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), in seconding the Amendment. His speech was much more ingenious, and it was much less candid; it was much less straightforward, but it lands us in the same position: and the noble Lord during his speech, twice at least if not oftener, used the words the "balance of power" in reference to the representation of the people in the House. We have done now pretty much with the balance of power on the Continent of Europe. I hope the time will come when we shall have no such phrase as the balance of power in this House. Sir, I think that this House should be a fair representation of the people of this country; and though it may not be desirable, and even if desirable it may not be attainable, that all persons should vote, yet, far short of that, I am persuaded that the representation may be so arranged that every person of every class will feel that his interests are fairly represented, and will be fairly consulted by the House. But the noble Lord is afflicted with a species of terror, or perhaps I should rather call it a feeling of no confidence, such as I have hardly ever seen before in this House. He has no confidence in the Government. That I have very often seen, and I have seen him in a Government in which the majority of the House had no confidence; but he has no confidence in the House. First of all the Government, through the Prime Minister and through the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have given the most distinct promises with regard to the Bill for the rearrangement of seats; but the noble Lord has no confidence in those promises. The noble Lord has no confidence in the House, because, if this Franchise Bill should pass, he thinks the House would do something very unwise in the matter of the Seats Bill. He has no confidence in the people, because the object of this Bill is to admit them to the franchise; and he has a special terror of what might happen if the Franchise Bill should pass and the Seats Bill fail, and we should all be sent back to enlarged constituencies to be returned to a future Parliament. The noble Lord must know that whatever be the rearrangement of seats, it must lead to greater popular authority in the House—and whatever be the extension of the franchise, it must lead to greater power of the people in the House; and we all know that henceforth the Parliament which shall be elected on an extended franchise, or after a redistribution of seats, will be a Parliament of full authority in the country—that it will have power still further to extend the franchise, and still further to alter the distribution of seats—and to conduct all matters connected with the legislation of the empire. And therefore the noble Lord, who was in such extraordinary tremor and anxiety with regard to what may happen if this Bill pass or if the other fail, appears to me to present the most singular exhibition of political anxiety I have ever seen. I thought that when the noble Lord concluded his speech, everything in it that was true was unimportant, and everything that seemed to be in the least important was not true. But there is one thing important, and that is the opposition of tin noble Lord to this Bill; and I hope that he and his colleague in proposing this resolution will forgive me if I say, that I think it is a painful, nay, more, that it is a perilous thing, when the heirs of two of the most ancient and the most wealthy and powerful of the houses of the English nobility oppose themselves to this moderate and just Bill; and have set themselves by a coalition in this House to drive Lord Russell from power—for this and this only offence, that he wields the authority of his great office to extend in what I believe to be a moderate and conservative degree the franchises of his countrymen. The noble Lord the Member for Chester blames the Government because it took advice from this end of this side of the House, and did not confine themselves to the advice of powerful persons of the Whig party. Well, I should think that a measure which was supported by the House of Bedford, by the House of Devonshire, that had among its supporters the Howards, the Sutherlands, the Duke of Somerset, the Duke of Argyll, Lord Clarendon, Lord Granville—and Lord Stanley, the Postmaster-General—and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department—I think a measure that is supported by the names of the peers I have mentioned cannot be said to be introduced to this House without some consultation with the Whig party. Now, if the noble Lord will allow me, in a perfectly friendly manner, to give him a little advice, I will do it in one sentence. The course that he is taking is a course which tends to drive away important persons of the Whig party from connexion with the Liberal and popular party in this House and in the country; and if he should succeed in dissevering the most intelligent of the Whig nobility from the great popular party in the country; and if he should transfer them to the other side and put all the Dukes and the Nobles on one side of Parliament, and the popular party on the other—if the noble Lord knows anything whatever of history, he will know this, that when the great popular party of a country are fighting by themselves against the nobles of a country, whatever their virtues and whatever their power—speaking of many of them—he may rely upon it that the popular party will win, and the nobles will go down. The noble Lord and many hon. Members of the House during this debate have referred to the influence I have had as to the mode in which this question has been brought before Parliament. Seven years ago, just about the time when the Govern- ment of Lord Derby was thrown out, in an accidental or incidental conversation with Lord Russell, I suggested to him, that whenever this question was brought again before Parliament, the proper course to take was to introduce the Franchise Bill by itself. From 1860 until this hour, I have only had one interview—a very short interview—and only one conversation of a political character, with Lord Russell; and until he mentioned the matter at the meeting of his supporters the other day in Downing Street, I must confess to the House that I was totally in ignorance of the fact, that the course of the Government in this matter had been in any degree influenced by anything I have said. Now it was at a meeting at Rochdale, in January, that I advised not only the Government to take this course, but that I advised all persons in favour of Reform, in the country, to consider the question and to support this course if it should be taken by the Government. I will tell the House with the most complete candour and fairness what were the reasons which led me to give this advice. I will assume that the House is in favour of Reform. I know what a stretch of imagination is necessary in order to come to that conclusion. But as I am speaking not only to Gentlemen in this House, but to some persons who are outside this House, I shall treat the question just as if we were all in favour of some measure of Reform, but differed a little as to the mode and extent. When I suggested to Earl Russell, six years ago, that he should bring in a Franchise Bill first, he replied that if he did so, the opponents of Reform would make use of that plan of action to oppose the Government altogether. They would submit a resolution to the House, in all probability, to the effect that they will not proceed with any measure to extend the franchise till they see before them everything that the Government has to propose on the subject of Reform. The noble Lord knows perfectly well the tactics of hon. Gentlemen opposite; and, notwithstanding that knowledge, he has thought it his duty to introduce the Franchise Bill first, and ask the House to take the question of the redistribution of seats at a later period. Now, let us consider why he should do that. If you will carry back your recollection to the year 1848, when a resolution was proposed by Mr. Hume, and come down step by step from that period until the occasion of the introduction of the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds last year, you will see that the great question, so far as it is to be regarded as a great popular question, and as it was discussed at public meetings, has all along been much more a question of the franchise than of the seats. The pledges of Government and of Parliament have been not so much pledges to the middle classes, that their share of political power should be rendered more equal by a redistribution of seats, but more distinctly and fully they have been pledged to the working classes, which are now an excluded class, that they should at some early day be admitted in some fair numbers to the franchise. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster (Mr. J. Stuart Mill), and I think all within the House will agree, that apart from any effect in respect to the choice of Members which you may hope to produce by any kind of measure for the extension of the franchise, it is a thing desirable in the highest degree that there should be an extension of the franchise so far that the working people might feel that they were not purposely excluded. What I want is to give the sense of justice to a great class now labouring under a sense of long-continued injustice. And that is essential to be done, although that might not change the seat of any Member in this House—and although the distribution of seats were as equal as it can be made, and there were no other reform necessary but on this single question of the franchise. The House will see that there is an essential difference between the two questions. The extension of the franchise affects a peculiar portion of the population; the redistribution of seats does not: it affects all—the higher, the middle, and the lower classes (as to a portion of them) alike. It is not a class question, and therefore is not pressed with the same force and resolution, as a great measure of justice, with which the question of the franchise has been urged. An hon. Gentleman who sits opposite to me is of opinion, that when you come to consider the redistribution of seats, you will find that a larger amount of power ought to be given to the counties. Well, no doubt the counties ought to receive more members—and so ought some of the largest boroughs, and some new boroughs ought to be created. All that is necessary for the fair representa- tion of all classes, but not as a matter of justice to any special and peculiar class. The other matter comes before us with a claim far more pressing,—I will not say far more righteous, but certainly far more urgent. And then another reason why this course should be adopted is one which any Member of the Government would see at once; and, as a supporter of the Government, in this view I will take the liberty of stating it. It is very much more simple than if this measure were mixed up with another great question. We all know perfectly well whether, in our view, it is desirable to reduce the franchise or not, from £10 to £8 or to £7. We can form an opinion on that point; and it does not matter for that purpose whether there is any redistribution of seats or not. I could frame a measure, and so could the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), which would give a vote to every man in the kingdom, and yet the redistribution of seats could be so made that the representation should be infinitely worse than it is at present. When you have argued the question of the suffrage and settled it, you stand and will stand free to deal with the question of the redistribution of seats. And if you think to juggle the public by giving the suffrage with the one hand, and with the other preventing the fair representation of the people by an unjust redistribution of seats, you will not be reforming the constitution of this House, but you will be making the people more dissatisfied with Parliament than they have been in past times. Another reason why I think the Government were justified in the course which they have taken was, that they did not wish to combine the various classes of opponents to the different branches of Reform into an opposition to the extension of the franchise. They thought that a Bill which would get rid of ten, twenty, thirty, or forty seats would be a matter of great difficulty to those Members who represented seats that would be disfranchised by such a Bill. But yet they felt they might fairly ask the aid of the Members for the small boroughs to do justice to the excluded class, and open the franchise fully and fairly to the people. I have heard rumours that amongst those who are likely to vote for the Amendment of the Member for Chester (Earl Grosvenor), with only one exception, there may probably not be a single representative of any small borough which is likely to be disfranchised by the Bill which the Government have promised to lay upon the table. Therefore, the Members for the small boroughs, wherever they sit and whosoever they are, on this side of the House, have not, shown any hostility to an extension of the franchise, whatever may be their course when the Distribution of Seats Bill makes its appearance on the table. Now, I shall have to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman opposite on a point to which I am going to address myself. I think that a Franchise Bill which does not adjust this question, for a period at least as long as the Bill of 1832 settled the question of Reform, is a Franchise Bill which it is not desirable for this House to consent to. I think, further, that a Distribution of Seats Bill which will not settle that question as long as the Franchise Bill will settle the question of franchise is not a desirable Bill for this House to pass. It seems to me, that after you have settled the franchise and come to discuss the question of seats, Parliament and the public directing their view to that one question, it would be much more likely that the question of seats could be settled so far that for thirty, and it may be for fifty, years no further change would be required. I believe that if Parliament were honestly disposed to amend the representation they could do it infinitely better, more solidly, more satisfactorily to the people, and with greater duration to our legislation, by taking the course proposed by the Government than by taking that proposed by the Amendment of the Member for Chester, or the course proposed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, which, I suppose, is to get rid of this Bill and the Government by the same vote. I believe that the argument which I have laid before the House—not so clearly as I could have wished—had the effect of inducing a great number of Reformers in the country to approve of the course which the Government has taken; and I believe now, that if I were addressing hon. Gentlemen opposite as friends of Reform, and if they were its friends, that argument would be conclusive. But if they are not friends of Reform, of course I must content myself with saving what I have to say, and leaving it to make a very small impression upon understandings not prepared. I fear, to receive the truth in this matter. Now, I said I must, quote a right hon. Gentleman that I see opposite me. My own honest opinion is, that the course which has been pursued by the Government is one of true Conservatism. I think nothing can be more unconservative, if I may use such a term, than that Parliament should have these questions of representation, questions affecting the basis of power, discussed in this House during every Session—and discussed throughout the country during every Parliamentary recess. There were some striking things said in this House on the 1st of March in the year 1859, when two right hon. Gentlemen (Mr. Henley and Mr. Walpole), who sit opposite in the serene calm of the third bench, withdrew from the Government of Lord Derby and explained to the House the grounds of that withdrawal. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) made use of these observations:— If one thing can be more destructive to our Constitution than another it will be to have a Reform Bill every few years; and that will be the case if you cannot settle your system upon such grounds that you can reasonably hope that it will stand, I do not say for a long time—finality is out of the question—but for a decent number of years. If you cannot do that, you will lay the foundation for revolution. Well, the foundation for revolution in almost every country—unless history lies dreadfully—has been laid by those who pretended to be specially Conservative. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I say there never was a passage uttered in this House of more undoubted wisdom than that which the right hon. Gentleman spoke on that occasion. Now I should like to ask the House, why is it that we are now involved in this question of Reform? Yes, I will answer hon. Gentlemen immediately. The reason is this—because there is a feeling universal throughout the country, that the whole number of electors is much too small to afford a satisfactory representation of the people, and that the largest class in the country, that class which, most of all, makes the nation, is specially excluded. I shall show hon. Gentlemen opposite, that that is so by referring to a Bill of their own leaders and of their own Ministry. It was on the 28th of February, 1859, that the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) stood up at this table to propose a Reform Bill on behalf of the Conservative party, of which he is the leader in this House. He quoted on that occasion no less than three QUEEN'S Speeches, and he told us that three Prime Ministers had stated distinctly it was necessary to do something on this question. And that there may be no mistake, for there is a peculiarity in the way that the right hon. Gentleman has put it, I will read to you the question he asked of the House. After describing the previous attempts, which every Minister thinks it necessary to do—after quoting three QUEEN'S Speeches—he says:— Were you to allow this question, which the Sovereign had three times announced, was one that ought to be dealt with, which three Prime Ministers, among the most skilful and authoritative of our statesmen, had declared it was their intention to deal with, to remain in abeyance. The answer he would give, of course, is—No; we could not let it remain in abeyance. But since then there have been three other Royal Speeches in which the same thing has been said with increased emphasis, and three other Prime Ministers have declared their intention to deal with it. What is the subject to which the right hon. Gentleman refers when he puts in this form the inquiry, "Are you to allow this question to remain in abeyance?" I maintain that it is the question of the suffrage—the question of the franchise. What did the right hon. Gentleman deal with? He gave, according to his own statement, a Franchise Bill of the largest proportions—so largely proportioned that it dwarfs the measure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What did the right hon. Gentleman do with regard to the seats? He altered fifteen seats. It was no redistribution at all. It was a ludicrous attempt to touch the question of the redistribution of seats. Gentlemen opposite have forgotten these words of the right hon. Gentleman. They would be a great deal wiser if they remembered some other of the things which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) tells them. The right hon. Gentleman proposed that the county franchise should be reduced to £10, and he said it would extend the franchise in counties by not fewer than 200,000 electors. Well, 200,000 is the exact number which the Chancellor of the Exchequer expects to be added to the county electors by the Bill now before the House. What did the right hon. Gentlemen do with regard to the borough franchise? He proposed that everybody who had an income of £10 a year from the funds, from bank stock, or from East India stock, or bonds, should be enfranchised. It would be easy to show what a very foolish idea of enfranchisement that was; because it is capable of distinct proof that any man who chose to invest £5,000 or £6,000, for which he would receive a steady interest, might enfranchise all his family, from his grandfather to his youngest son, and even include all his uncles, nephews and first cousins. And those persons would be enfranchised by a fraud it would be impossible to detect. He proposed that every person who had invested £60 in a savings bank even for one year should have a vote. Thirdly, he proposed that pensioners in receipt of £20 should have a vote. Fourthly, he proposed that persons occupying part of a house—that is, lodgers paying a sum of £20—should have a vote. The right hon. Gentleman also proposed that graduates of universities, ministers of religion, members of the various branches of the legal profession, medical men, and schoolmasters having certificates should have votes. I will not discuss whether that was a proper extension of the suffrage. If you like I will admit that every poison included there—barring cases of fraud—would be suitable persons; I am almost afraid of using the word suitable; the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns) objects altogether to that; but I will admit; that, according to my notion, and according to the notion of the majority of the House, all such persons, with the exception I have mentioned, would be proper persons to have votes. At what did the right hon. Gentleman estimate the number that would be added to the borough electors? At no less than 300,000. That is 50 per cent more than are proposed to be added to the borough electors by the Bill now on the table. Perhaps not exactly of the same class of persons, But whether you give the franchise to A. or to B., it is equally an extension of the franchise. And when the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire wit asked, towards the close of the discussion on the first night, what he thought would be the total addition to the number of electors in England and Wales, he said the increase, no doubt, Would be very considerable—exceeding half a million, he had no hesitation in saying. In answer to the Royal Speeches, in deference to what three Prime Minsters had said, and in answer to the inquiry. "Can the question any longer be left in abeyance," what did the Government of Lord Derby do? They introduced a Franchise Bill, which I do not undertake to approve or to condemn—that is not necessary for my argument—they introduced a Franchise Bill that would, as they maintained, increase the electoral body by not less than half a million—100,000 more, than the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to admit by the Bill which he has laid on the table. Am I not, therefore, justified in saying that the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) was in fact a Franchise Bill? What did the right hon. Gentleman do with regard to the seats? He was very chary in telling the House what he was about to do with regard to the seats. Perhaps he did not wish to shock the Members who represented boroughs be was going to disfranchise. Or he knew it would be thought that what he proposed was trivial, and he was afraid the House would laugh at what he was going to propose; he did not disfranchise the borough of Calne. He did not even disfranchise the borough of Portarlington, for which, after a very exhaustive poll, of forty-six voters, my right hon. Friend the Attorney-General for Ireland has been returned to this House. Nay, the right hon. Gentleman defended the borough of Arundel in several paragraphs of his speech. He said that the noble Lord who represents the borough of Arundel (Lord E. Howard) sits here as the representative of 900,000 Catholics in England and Wales. But the borough of Arundel is as much a nomination borough as any borough in Schedule A of the Reform Bill. The right hon. Gentleman touched the question of seats so gently, that he took only fifteen seats from small boroughs Laving now two seals each; and he distributed them in a way which I am willing to admit was a very fair and satisfactory distribution of them, because he gave four seats to the West Riding of Yorkshire, two seats to South Lancashire, two seats to Middlesex, and he propose to create seven new boroughs from towns that have a population entitling them to representatives. Therefore I do not complain at ail of the way in which he distributed the scats; but my argument goes to show that the Government of Lord Derby felt that the real question involved in their Reform measure was the question of the franchise; and accordingly Lord Derby's Government proposed by their Bill to admit 500,000 new electors, and to distribute fifteen seats. Well, I think that nothing could be more absurd than to say that that was not a great Franchise Bill—or that it was a Bill for the settlement of the distribution of seats. Now, if I were to ask the right hon. Gentleman why he touched the seats with so delicate a hand, and if he were to give me a candid and an honest answer, he would say that the difficulties attending the question of the distribution are very much greater than the difficulties attending the question of the franchise; and he would say, I am quite sure, that a Government having to deal with the question, than which none can be more important, and perhaps none can be more difficult, would be justified in taking that course which avoided difficulties as much as possible, and enabled Parliament to deal fairly and simply at once with one important branch of it. Now, I will ask hon. Gentlemen opposite and the House—I will ask those Gentlemen on this side of the House who are supposed, I hope untruly, to be about to vote for the Member for Chester—do they believe that if the right hon. Gentleman had passed his Bill admitting 500,000 electors, new voters, and distributing only fifteen seats, the question of the arrangement of seats would have been settled for twenty, or ten, or for five years? Is not every man in the House convinced, and is not the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) convinced, that in the very next Parliament elected after the passing of that Bill there would have been propositions submitted to the House, declaring that those small boroughs, which the right hon. Gentleman had not touched, were not proper boroughs to return Members to that House, and that a certain number of them should be extinguished, and their Members turned over to the populous counties and to the populous and great cities? We should have had exactly what the Member for Oxfordshire wants to avoid. We should have had every year a debate on a new Reform Bill, and a debate on the basis of power; and there would have been contentions between the landowners and the rest of the population who are represented, and probably the hon. Gentleman who sits on that bench and I, both wishing to do fairly to all parts of the country in this matter, might not have agreed whether Members should be given more to counties or more to boroughs. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to add to this Bill those fifteen seats of the Member for Buckinghamshire—that little clause of his and that very short schedule—do you think the House would agree to pass it? Will the noble Lord the Member for Chester (Earl Grosvenor) and his colleague who seconded theAmendment(Lord Stanley)frankly tell the House that if the distribution clauses of Lord Derby's Bill were added to the Bill of Lord Russell, they would give that Bill their support? If they will undertake to do that, although it might ruin the Government if I said it, still I would give them a little advice, and I would counsel them to take it. You know perfectly well that all this clamour you have been making for the distribution of seats—I am afraid, Sir, there is not a Parliamentary term that will enable me i to express what I mean with sufficient delicacy—but, at least, one thing you know, you do not impose upon us with that cry. I do not think I felt the slightest satisfaction when the Government proposed to lay upon the table of the House their Bill for the Distribution of Seats. If I had been a Minister, I think I should have recommended that the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) for example, and the Member for Stamford (Viscount Cranbourne)—both of whom must know a good deal about the small boroughs—should have been requested to prepare clauses of disfranchisement for the fair consideration of the Government. Now, it is obvious that if the arguments on which you have opposed this Bill are your honest arguments, you would not support the Bill, though the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to propose to add to it the distribution clauses of the Bill of Lord Derby. And I think you would be wise in refusing it; because, although that distribution is, I believe, perfectly satisfactory and fair as far as it goes, yet it would not in any degree settle that question; and I am convinced that the greatest error the House can commit is to agree to something on the question of the franchise, and something on the question of the distribution of seats, by which neither the one question nor the other shall be settled. But, Sir, at this moment, the Government is assailed by a united party on the other side of the House, with a few recruits from this side. I tell hon. Gentlemen opposite that they are not in very good hands. The Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) and the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) are not, in my opinion, counsellors to be followed implicitly on this question of Reform; and, if anybody doubts it, I should call as witnesses the two right hon. Gentlemen to whom I have already referred. You have before you the Bill of Lord Russell's Government, and you know exactly what it is. You may think quite honestly that the reduction of the franchise is something more than is necessary, and you may even think it is something more than is safe, but you know exactly what it is. Well, you have listened with very small attention to the speakers on both sides of the House, if you do not, at least, know the worst of it. What was the Bill brought in by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire? and it had upon every clause of it the impress of his subtle understanding. I will tell you what was said of it by the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole) on that night when he explained to us why he had withdrawn from the Government. He said that their scheme of suffrage was A most dangerous innovation, by giving to temporary and fluctuating occupations a preponderating influence over property and intelligence, while it throws large masses into the constituencies who are almost exempt from direct taxation. That is exactly what your friends have been saying of the Bill of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And, again, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University said, and this, I think, was in a letter which he wrote to Lord Derby, and which he read to the House:— The measure which the Cabinet are prepared to recommend (and in which he did not, as you know, concur) is one which we should all of us have strongly opposed if either Lord Palmerston or Lord Russell had ventured to bring it forward. The right hon. Gentleman knew exactly the character of his colleagues. It was prophetic of the course which they would take, and which they have taken now, in opposition to a Bill which only proposes to admit 400,000 electors, while their own Bill proposed to admit 500,000. Now, the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) on the same evening, with regard to the same question, used these remarkable words:— I believe that identity of suffrage, which is the principle of the Government Bill, is fatal to the constitution of this country. I do not think that anybody in the House during this discussion has gone so far as to say that the reduction of £3 in the borough franchise would be absolutely fatal to the Constitution of this country, seeing that five hundred years ago, and less, every freeman, being a householder, in every borough had a vote for Members to sit in this House. Well, but the two right hon. Gentlemen expressed these opinions of the Bill introduced by the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli); and I say, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, especially the noble lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), are condemned out of the mouths of their own colleagues, and ought to be put out of court as advisers on this question. I shall now ask the attention of the House for a little time to the Bill itself. Hitherto I have been speaking as to the mode in which the Government have proposed to deal with this question. As to the Bill itself, almost everything that has been said has been said in connexion with the Borough Franchise. I omit altogether the sort of frenzy into which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) worked himself the other night when discussing the question of the County Franchise. For aught that I know, a £14 rental franchise in counties; may have a very fatal effect in North Staffordshire. I like to take the advice and the opinion of men of great experience and great moderation, and it is for this reason that I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) to step for one moment into the witness-box on this matter. He said in the speech to which I have referred:— Ever since the Reform Act of 832 the working people have been having a less and less share in the representation. They had considerable representation before 1832 through the scot and lot voters and the free men. They are gradually dying out. And turning to those about him he said— I ask my hon. Friends near me to consider if they draw a hard line, and leave the working people behind it, how long they think it will stand? That was a wise saying, a pertinent question in the year 1859, and it is not less wise and worth considering in the year 1866. But then the most part of it is exactly what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said. The right hon. Gentleman has told the House that the proportionate power of the working classes in the constituencies has been diminishing since 1832. I believe there can be no manner of doubt about it; and here I must tell the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that my opinion is—and I think every Member of the House who represents a borough, excepting the borough of Coventry and perhaps one or two others, must know—that the figures which have been laid before the House, by which the per centage of working men electors is put down at 25 or 26 per cent, are not in any degree to be relied upon, nor are they in any degree accurate.

Hon. Gentlemen have a perfect right, of course, in assailing the Government to fight them upon the figures which the Government have laid before them; and Government will find it very difficult, of course, to retreat from the position they have taken on those figures. But I am not one of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I am not one of the Government responsible for these figures; I am here, as an advocate, an honest advocate, of a moderate and just measure of Reform; and, therefore, I must deal with this question from my own point of view, and speak of it in language based on the convictions I hold. I will give the House only two cases. I have not sought for them in the Blue-book, nor have I written about the country for them. The first is to be found in a petition presented to this House by the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent. That is a borough which consists of three or four neighbouring towns—one of them the town of Burslem. The Blue-book says that Burslem has a constituency of 680 electors; of these 197 are represented to be working men, so that they form 29 per cent of the whole number. But what does the petition say? It has been accurately prepared, and it gives an analysis for Burslem. It says that of the 197 which the Chancellor of {he Exchequer's figures represent as working men one is a publican, and that there are 40 beersellers; that is, 40 to begin with. I would rather have 40 real hardworking, industrious artizans in any borough than 40 beersellers. But there are grocers and other shopkeepers to the number of 48; and there are persons who are put down as cart owners, cowkeepers, and tradesmen with assistants, earning profits from the capital in their trade, to the number of 33. Adding these together and deducting them from the 197, there remain in the town of Burslem but 75 working men on the register. You may bring, if you like, the whole staff of the Poor-law Board, but they cannot alter these figures. It shall not, however, be my fault, if the House discusses this question and decides it upon figures which are deceptive and delusive. I will take only one other town, the borough of Wakefield. The Blue-book says that there are 122 working men in the borough, or rather over 11 per cent on the register; but letting the terms of the Blue-book decide who is a working man, the number really is not more than 77. If you will deduct the various classes to which I have referred with regard to Burslem, you will bring the number 122 in Wakefield down to 35; so that, instead of 11 per cent of the constituency being working men, there are not more than 3 per cent. I was talking the other day to a Member on this side of the House, the hon. Member for Newark, who mentioned some figures to me in reference to that borough. I have not them in my recollection, but I hope he will take some opportunity of stating them to the House. The return for Newark was sent back twice, if not three times for correction. I think at least one county magistrate was put down among the working men. Now, I shall trouble the House with a very few figures. We have had the figures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and quite as many more from Gentlemen opposite; I shall therefore make mine as brief as possible. The Blue-book says that there are 126,000 working men on the register. I have given you cases which are but samples of the rest, and my exceptions bring the number down to one-third of it; but for the sake of being within the mark, I will call it one-half—that brings the 126,000 down to 63,000. The Chancellor of the Exchequer calculated that by the repeal of the ratepaying clauses and of the system of compounding, 60,000 persons would be admitted; but he put the whole of that 60,000 down as working men. Surely there is not a man in England who will say that he believes that an accurate calculation. I have put them down at 20,000. Then the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that the number of persons who would be admitted by a reduction of the franchise from £10 to £7 is 144,000, and he estimates all these as working men. But we all know perfectly well, that all these persons paying between £7 and £10 are not, and cannot be, and never have been, working men. I take it that if two-thirds of them are estimated as working men, it will be as fair a calculation as can be made. Now, look at the result. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says, that when this Bill is passed there will be 330,000 working men upon the register. I say there will be 179,000, or, say, 180,000, of whom 116,000 will be admitted by this Bill. What, then, will be the gross effect? The whole number of borough electors in England and Wales, if this Bill should pass, upon the calculation of the Blue-book, will be 691,000, of whom 180,000, or just about one-fourth, will be working men. Therefore, that portion of the people which forms at least three-fourths of the whole population would only have one-fourth of the electoral power in the boroughs, and have, of course, a power so small, as to be not worth reckoning in the whole constituency of the counties. I shall say no more about the statistics; but, having made my calculations, I thought they were as proper to place before the House as those of the Chancellor of the Exchequer or of any Gentleman opposite. But, after all, there will be more than four I millions of men left out; and I think so much political cowardice, if I may use the word, has never been exhibited as was shown by the mover and seconder of the Amendment before the House. Sir, I am astonished at these alarmist speeches. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir Bulwer Lytton), too, deals in alarmist speeches. He comes down once or twice in a session and makes a speech on this question, which gives great satisfaction to the House, if not the least attention is paid to what there is in it. I mean that the tone and the manner, the language and the imagery, all please us; but I grieve beyond measure when I think of the side to which he gives his great influence. Now, in 1860, he said the Bill which was introduced by Lord John Russell as a Member of Lord Palmerston's Government was a Bill to admit poverty and passion to the franchise. This is one of the passages which fell from his lips:— Though we are willing to admit poverty and passion into the franchise, we are not willing to give poverty and passion the lion's share of political power over capital and knowledge. That is very similar to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University said of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire. He did not use the words "poverty and passion," but said that elements fatal to the Constitution were likely to be introduced by that Bill. Now, the right Hon. Gentleman once held very different opinions. Many years ago he published a book called "England and the English"—a book which was not profound, but very amusing; and I should like to read to the House a sentence which the right hon. Gentleman put as a motto at the beginning of his book, and putting it so I presume he adopted it. He took it, I believe, from Ben Johnson, and it ran— I am he Have measured all the shires of England over, For to these savages I was addicted To search their nature and make odd discoveries. And the discovery which he made in 1860 was this, that if you introduce artizans and working men of between £10 and £6 rental, you will give the lion's share of the representation to the poverty and the passion of the country. But the right hon. Gentleman now assumes a different tone, for in his speech last week he did not treat the working people as though they were made up mostly of poverty and passion; but he said many generous things of them; and he told us how there was a tie, not of interest only, but of the strongest respect and affection between the rich and the employing class and the poor and the labourers. But what of these compliments? They may be perfectly sincere. Probably the right hon Gentleman never believed that the working men between £10 and £6 were represented by poverty and passion; and the language he used the other night far more accurately stated his real opinion of the great body of his countrymen. Still he would give them compliments and not votes; and it seems to me, that if the men have all these good qualities which he described, flattery of that kind would go down very ill with the great body of the people who are asking, that at least some of them should be given representation in this House: It reminded me very much of that couplet from Shenstone,— He kicked them downstairs with such a sweet grace, They may think he was handing them up. No one would have thought that, after a speech full of such noble and generous sympathy towards the working classes, the right hon. Gentleman would have concluded by throwing all the weight of his character and all the influence of his oratory into the side of the party which not only says little that is kind and generous—but which—well, then, of a party which does sometimes say something generous of the working class, but never shows the slightest disposition to confer upon them a particle of political rights. But I only ask the right hon. Gentleman's attention to one point upon which he touched. With great force and great beauty of language he spoke of some friends and neighbours of mine—the members of cooperative societies of Rochdale. I thought when I heard him that he was going back unconsciously to the year 1832, when he was a most enthusiastic supporter of the Reform Bill of that day—when he was a Member of the Parliamentary Candidate Society, with the learned Member for Sheffield and Jeremy Bentham, with Joseph Hume and Daniel O'Connell, with Francis Place, with Charles Buller, and many others. I thought he was going back to that time; but if not so far back as that, then to 1837 and 1848, in both of which years, if I am not mistaken, the right hon. Gentleman was in favour of a wide extension of the franchise. He said, and most of you must have heard him:— The operatives of Rochdale having been left thus free to mature uncorrupted their self-guiding power, would now, I grant, be strong enough to resist such temptation. To artizans of that kind, whatever their political creed, I am willing to grant the franchise. Willing, do I say? That word is much too cold. I wish that, like some old commonwealth of Greece, we might admit them to the franchise by acclamation, too proud of such fellow-citizens to ask what rent they pay for their houses. Well, Sir, I happen to live among those persons of whom the right hon. Gentleman has spoken in such enthusiastic language; and if the House will permit me I will state a little of their case, and I have no objection to rest my case upon theirs. In 1860, upon the discussion of the Bill of the Government, I read some facts connected with these co-operative societies. Those which I purpose now to bring before the House will be very brief, but they are very suggestive, and, I think, very gratifying. There are, in Rochdale, three bodies or companies, managed by three committees; one is called the Equitable Pioneers' Society, and chiefly concerns itself with the various shops and retail businesses. Lately, when I was at home, about a fortnight ago, some facts were sent to me by the secretary of the society. He says:— The society now comprises 5,500 members, chiefly heads of families. It has a capital of £85,000, and is selling goods and receiving money at the rate of £230,000 per annum. Now, let the House bear in mind that there is not one of these 5,500 ever gets one farthing of credit in dealing with these shops. The business is managed by a committee of 11, of whom two only have a borough vote; one of them is a bookkeeper and treasurer of the society, and therefore, in a certain sense, is not what we understand as a working man. He and another have borough votes, but the president and secretary of this great establishment have no votes. I come to the Rochdale District Corn Mill Society, which owns a very fine establishment. It has a capital of £60,000, and its turnover every year—the amount of goods sold and money received—is £164,000. This is also managed by a committee of 11. And let the House hear this. Neither the treasurer, president, nor secretary, nor any member of this committee, has a borough vote. One of the committee has a county vote, being, I dare say, the owner of a cottage in the neighbourhood. Then there is the Rochdale Co-operative Manufacturing Society. This has more than 1,500 members, a capital of £109,000, and has built two of the largest and handsomest mills in the neighbourhood. Among these eleven there are three borough voters and two county voters; but of these five voters only one is a working man in the usual sense. The votes are thus distributed; one manager, one manufacturer, one draper, one out of business, and only one a workman or mechanic. This is the summary: "Total capital of these societies, £227,246." The whole of that has been contributed, or nearly so, by the working men of Rochdale, of whom the right hon. Gentleman spoke the other night in such glowing language. The secretary goes on to say: The writer has seen members of the Pioneer Society who had scarcely any work or income for their families during the cotton famine come for 5s. or 10s. from their investments of previous savings just to help them on with their small earnings. They did not ask or receive relief. This does not show improvidence or want of forethought. Now that the cotton famine is nearly over they are again saving money. In June 1865, their investments were, in the Pioneer Society, £59,000; in September 1865, £63,000; in December 1865, 69,000; and in March 1866, they reached £76,600. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) will forgive me for reading the next line. He says:— This does not agree with the Lowe theory. What is taking place in the Rochdale societies is occurring in a greater or less degree in all the societies, of which there are five hundred or six hundred throughout the country. Now, what is the answer that anybody is to give to these men? Will you give them the same answer as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hertfordshire, Sir Bulwer Lytton? Will you receive them with open arms, and not inquire whether they pay £6 or £7 for their rental? To every Gentleman in favour of the reduction of the borough franchise—excluding the Member for Belfast altogether—I put this question: If you accept all these as worthy the description given by one of your own eminent leaders, will you allow these 5,500 to have the franchise in the borough of Rochdale? And I tell the right hon. Gentleman that it is a great mistake to suppose the men of Rochdale are better than the men of the various manufacturing towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire. They would altogether scout the idea; and I, who know them as well as most men know them, and who also know a good deal both of the working men of Lancashire and Yorkshire—I would say, these men of Rochdale are a fair sample of the general run of the industrious, intelligent, and independent population among whom we live. The hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Laing) is terrified at the idea of the votes of these men. Northern breezes and long experience have done nothing for him. He described all the good things that have taken place in Parliament during the last twenty years, but he did not seem to be aware that there was not one of those good things that I know of that the working men of Lancashire and Yorkshire did not heartily support. But he might have known, that not half a dozen Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House gave any continuous support to those good things. The hon. Gentleman puts it to the credit of Parliament that it repealed the corn laws. Why, if he had asked my right hon. Friend the President of the Poor-law Board he would have told him that, until Sir R. Peel abandoned Protection, there never were 100 Members who gave a vote in favour of the repeal of the corn laws. The result was brought about, as everybody knows now, by agitation, at an enormous cost of money and labour, and by the occurrence of a famine which was disgraceful to our Government—not because potatoes decayed, but that when they did decay a whole population ran the risk of being destroyed. The same men who out of doors and in Parliament asked for those good measures are the very men who now ask for this Bill; and I venture to tell the House, that if they do not get this Bill they will get one very much like it. I shall not ask the attention of the House to more figures, nor shall I endeavour to expose the inconsistency of any Members on either side of the House; but I will ask them as calmly as I can do to consider the present position of this question. Look all over the country, and you will see that in one fortnight there were, I believe I am below the mark in saying there were, 100 meetings. Yes, there were many more than 100 public meetings held which were unanimously in favour of this Bill. Well, hon. Gentlemen opposite do not pursue the policy which enables them to hold public meetings. You have had many hundred petitions, with something over half a million of signatures, laid on the table of this House. If this Bill were so destructive, if it struck the same terror in the heart of the people that it has struck into the heart of the Member for King's Lynn, surely you would have had some visible result. I believe there was a petition from King's Lynn. I think I saw a paragraph in a newspaper saying that 100 of the noble Lord's constituents were sending up a petition in support of his Amendment. But if the people believed the Bill to be injurious, if they thought the Government had pursued a wrong course, if they imagined the middle classes were going to be swamped, and that all kinds of evil— some of which one hardly dare look at—were to follow from the passing of this Bill, is it conceivable that public meetings would not have been held to protest and to petition the House against it. Look at the moderate and reasonable character of the meetings that have been held. And I appeal particularly to the two right hon. Gentlemen opposite, for I think they are not steeped in that unteachable opinion which seems general among their party,—the course which they took in 1859 shows that they have a real conviction, and are conscientiously desirous of acting on that conviction,—and I ask them to look at the moderate and reasonable character of all the resolutions that have been passed, at the whole conduct and attitude of the people at these public meetings. When Lord John Russell, previous to 1830, year after year, was bringing forward his measures for the Reform of Parliament, suppose some of these propositions had been adopted, that some of the old boroughs had been abolished, and Parliament to a certain extent reformed, do you not think the result would have been at least as favourable for those who were then so timid that they could not venture to take a step till they came to that terrible abyss which they dared not look into in the years 1831–2? You may always pass a measure with more honour to Parliament, with more good to the country, in a time of tranquillity, than you can in a time of force and compulsion. And yet a time of tranquillity is invariably, though not immediately, followed in matters of this kind by a time of force and compulsion. What is it that you propose to do? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) told you what must happen if you draw a hard I line and put the working men behind it, and say, "That separates us from you." You have a million of electors now, and you have close on eight millions of grown men in the United Kingdom. Can the one million say to the six or seven millions, "Hither shall you come and no further." Is the thing possible? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) is looking this way—does he think that it is possible? No; he does not; he knows it to be impossible. He has the experience of a very eminent member of his own family, who thought it possible to maintain the principle of Protection; and finally, after doing everything that he could, after violating his own convictions, after fighting the battle of hon. Gentlemen opposite for years, he was compelled at last to surrender, and admit to the humblest man in the country—to the poorest weaver—that he, the great minister of state, had not comprehended this great question as the working men had comprehended it. I want to ask you whether you are resolved—for this question is put to us in discussing this Bill—whether you are resolved that a bolt shall be put on the door of the House of Commons, and that the people shall be kept for ever on the other side of it? The hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns) told us the House of Commons was not to be a representation of persons, but a representation of classes. If the hon. and learned Gentleman gave in a court of law such opinions on law as he gives here on the Constitution, depend upon it he never would have occupied the eminent position which he does occupy in his profession. He knows perfectly well that there never was in the Constitution of this country such a thing as representation of classes in the Commons' House of Parliament. We should have been called the House of Classes, or something equally absurd, if anything so absurd as such a representation had taken place. He knows that in times previous to the usurpation of the Tudors and the Stuarts, every free man who had a house in a borough was represented here in this House; and he knows that the first parliament of Charles I. declared the franchise to be the right of every householder in every borough. And though the hon. and learned Gentleman attempted to show that the quotation I made from Lord Somers did not bear the interpretation I had put on it, if we come down to a much later period, and to the men who lived sixty, seventy, and eighty years ago, you will find that every leading man of the Liberal party at that time was in favour of extending the franchise far beyond that which is proposed by this Bill. If hon. Gentlemen opposite ever read anything of what is going on in the United States, they will see that there is a question there which is causing great difficulty, just as this question of Reform is here. It is proposed that to 4,000,000 of liberated negroes shall be given these rights:—That they shall no longer be bought and sold; that they may change their employment and their masters; that they may work for wages and save money; that they may be sued or sue in a court of law; and that they may give evidence in a court of justice. Beyond that, at present, their rights are not to go. They who were their masters not two years ago, and who bought and sold them, are not willing to grant these negroes the suffrage which hitherto, to all free men, has been almost universal in that country. The franchise never was universal in this country, and it is not necessary that it ever should be. But we have a representative Constitution here; and if the Crown be secured in its dignity, and the House of Lords in the enjoyment of its privileges, the House of Commons sits here, or ought as a matter of right to sit here, by the free election of the commonalty of the kingdom. I ask Gentlemen opposite whether they mean to stop the working men of this country exactly where the 4,000,000 of negroes in the United States are stopped. Well, that is a fair question. In England all those rights which the Bill just passed by the American Congress gives the negro are rights which are conferred for ever to the great body of our people; but the negroes ask for further rights—and though it has been resolved not to give them the right of voting, I don't think in the United States that position can be long sustained. I am quite sure in this country it cannot be sustained. If you are resisting millions of people behind those embankments which you have built up, how long will it be before the surging sea from the other side will wash over and destroy the embankments which you have raised? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire asked the question with which I commenced my speech—"Can this question be kept in abeyance?" That was the question he asked in 1859. I ask, can it be kept in abeyance in 1866? You may defeat this Bill. I am not learned in parliamentary computations. There are Gentlemen on both sides who, I dare say, profess to tell what majority there may be for the Bill, or what majority against it; but of these things I know nothing. I will admit, if you like, that you can reject this Bill—you can defeat the Government, you can drive Lord Russell from office. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, no doubt, has a parlia- mentary Bradshaw, and all his lines converge to Downing Street. I myself have contributed to bring him there before now, but we had shortly to expel him from his high position in official life. If the right hon. Gentleman goes to Downing Street again, is he prepared to say that we shall have no Reform Bill; or is he prepared to say that we shall have one, and to propose such a measure as he proposed in 1859, one which his own colleagues, two of the most experienced of his colleagues, declared to be fatal to the Constitution? Gentlemen opposite may find that the question will break up their party. If they come to deal with the question of Reform they will find a difficulty; and if they do not deal with it, their difficulty will not be less. There still remains the nation outside this House; and there will still remain the great question of Parliamentary Reform. I believe there never was a Bill submitted to this House by a Government connected with the Liberal party which it was more clearly the duty and interest of what is called the Conservative party to support. In 1832 the Tory party, who had opposed the Bill, went to their constituencies, and were almost destroyed for the time. If this Bill should pass, the enlarged constituencies will not probably look very favourably on the men who tried to prevent it from passing. When you see a man like Lord Russell, who was the chief spirit of the Bill of 1832, who promoted it years before it made its appearance, and who proposed it on the part of the Government—when you see him, knowing, as he does, as much of this question as, probably, any man in this House, so convinced of the necessity of doing something, and offering a Bill so reasonable as this—I cannot help saying that either hon. Gentlemen opposite are misled by their leaders, or have driven their leaders into a course which, I think, is pernicious to the true interests of their party. Perhaps there never was a Bill which more commended itself to the advancing intelligence of the people. There is not a whisper of dissatisfaction with it throughout the country. I speak of those persons who are in favour of any improvement in the representation of the people; and, so far as I am able to gather information on the subject, even many of those who are called Conservatives throughout the country are weary of the perpetual discussion of this question, and would be glad if it could be settled on the terms which the Government propose. Well, Sir, I did not rise with the expectation that I could convince hon. Gentlemen that they are wrong and that I am right. The most I can hope for is, that some fact or argument may find a lodgment in some mind, and may mitigate its hostility to a measure which, I think, the country requires, and which the country is anxious to receive. I have not spoken in favour of the Government. I have said that I think their figures are wrong, and that the case which they laid before the House is unnecessarily and untruly injurious to their own Bill and their own cause. Will the House believe for once that I am speaking to them from no party spirit—from no wish to do anything with the country but what they must wish themselves? In my view I am at least as honest as they can be in theirs. I have been misrepresented, condemned, and denounced by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and by not a few writers in their press; but my conscience tells me I have laboured honestly only to destroy what is evil and build up what is good. The political gains of the last twenty-five years, which were summed up the other night by the Member for Wick (Mr. Laing) are my political gains, if they can be called the gains in any degree of any living Englishman. If now, in all the great centres of our population—in Birmingham with its busy district, in Manchester with its belt of towns, in the populous West Riding of Yorkshire, in Glasgow and amid the industries of the West of Scotland, and in this great Babylon where we are assembled, and which our people have built—if, I say, at this moment, we do not find ourselves surrounded by hungry and exasperated multitudes—if now, more than at any time during the last hundred years, it may be said, to quote the beautiful words of Mr. Sheridan, that "Content sits basking on the cheek of toil"—and if this House and if its statesmen glory in the change, have not I, as much as any living man, some claim to partake of that glory? I know, every thoughtful man among you knows, and the Gentlemen who sit upon that bench, and who are leading you to this enterprise, know that the policy which I have urged upon the House and upon the country, as far as it has hitherto been accepted by Parliament, is a policy conservative of the public welfare, strengthening the just authority of Parliament, and adding from day to day fresh luster and dignity to the Crown. And now, when I speak to you and ask you to pass this Bill; when I plead on behalf of those who are not allowed to speak for themselves in this House, if you could raise yourselves for this night, for this hour, above the region of party strife—if you could free yourselves from the pestilent atmosphere of passion and prejudice which so often surrounds us here, I feel confident that, at this moment, I should not plead in vain with the Imperial Parliament on behalf of the English Constitution and the English People.


The hon. Gentleman has made an explanation to the House of a certain matter which affected him personally. Now, I think, Sir, there was another subject with which he might have graciously dealt. He might have explained, if indeed he could explain, the language which he has used towards this House, of which he has the honour of being a Member. I could have expected from one of his nice and critical taste, and of his sensitive feelings, that if inadvertently he had made use of language which his calm judgment might disapprove, affecting the character and dignity of this House, he would have seized the first opportunity which presented itself to explain and apologize to the House for that language. But he has not thought fit so to do, and there I let the matter rest. If I agreed with him that this Parliament was unfavourable to every good measure, and was composed of men who were deadly enemies of the cause of freedom, I would pursue the same course as the hon. Gentleman, and would endeavour to overturn the authority of an odious Assembly. But I believe that Assembly to be the very reverse of what the hon. Gentleman has represented it to be. I believe that it is an ancient, a noble, and a popular Assembly, which rarely passes a bad measure, and generally advocates good ones. For many years what measure had been passed that was deserving of the language of the hon. Member for Birmingham? I wonder, indeed, that the sentiment he expressed should have gained even the temporary approval of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. Gentleman has indulged to-night in a peculiar style of oratory. Some orators speak to persuade, some to delight, and some to convince; others speak in order to abuse, terrify, and denounce. The hon. Gentleman commenced his oration this evening by calling the attention of the noble lord (Earl Grosvenor), who moved this Motion, to the painful and perilous position in which he stands. He addressed my noble Friend who sits near me (Lord Stanley) in the same language. Sir, that language is the language of the platform. It is the language of men who meet, not to argue or debate, but to vituperate and denounce. It is the language of men each of whom can only excel the other by the violence of his abuse levelled against better men than themselves. The hon. Gentleman seemed to imagine that he has provoked a great conflict in this country. Now, I believe that there is no conflict whatever existing between the nobles and the people, because I have too high an opinion of the good sense of the nation to believe the representations of the hon. Gentleman; and I think I may safely say—meaning him no discourtesy whatever—that those to whom he has addressed his threats despise those threats and defy his power. The hon. Gentleman then proceeded to inform us that he suggested to Lord Russell, in the year 1860, how this Bill should be drawn. He advised the noble Lord to confine the Bill to the enlargement of the franchise, and the fact that the noble Lord retained that advice in his memory is recorded in the Bill now upon the table. I think it is to be regretted that, instead of being adviser to Her Majesty's advisers, the hon. Gentleman has not formed a Cabinet himself, or been a Member of a Cabinet, because the responsibilities of office would teach him a moderation in his opinions and a caution in the conduct of discussions which we cannot expect from the irresponsible adviser of the advisers of the QUEEN. Well, the hon. Gentleman went on to inform us that Reform had always been held to consist more in the enlargement of the franchise than in the redistribution of seats. Now, I controvert and deny that; and when I deal with that part of the hon. Gentleman's speech, I will prove that no one has asserted the contrary more boldly and more frequently than the hon. Gentleman himself. The hon. Gentleman has said that, under the mask of redistributing the seats, matters might be made much worse than they are at present. Well, that only proves the necessity of settling the whole question at once. The observation of the hon. Gentleman answers itself. He informed us next that it was inconvenient to have a Reform Bill introduced every Session. There I agree with him; but he proceeded to ask the question, "Why are we engaged with Reform?" Well, no man can answer that question better than the hon. Gentleman himself. However, I myself will endeavour to give a reply when I touch upon the history of this great question. The hon. Gentleman proceeded to make some remarks upon the Bill of Lord Derby; and, as it appeared to me, the hon. Gentleman's faculties almost forsook him when he criticized that Bill, for he approved that Bill, which he said was excellent, and would have enlarged the franchise somewhat more than the measure proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. He expatiated upon the judgment and the policy which Lord Derby's Bill displayed; but he forgot to tell the House that the excellence of the Bill made no impression on his understanding and his conscience at the time it was introduced; and that, of that Bill, from the beginning to the end of the discussions which it caused in this House, he was the constant and formidable antagonist. At that time he saw no advantages in the Bill. He then found in it nothing that was beneficial to the public; but now, for the purpose of his present argument, he has discovered that the Bill was a good one. And then the hon. Gentleman said, not in the heat of his argument, perceiving the contradiction—"You Tories never make the smallest concession to the people; you never yield anything to popular rights." The hon. Gentleman actually said this after he had laboriously proved by the figures which he quoted, that the Bill which he had praised would have extended the franchise to half a million of people; while the Bill of the Government only extends it to some 300,000 or 400,000. After that the hon. Gentleman turned round and made a vigorous attack upon the Government measure. He said that the figures were all wrong. He proved the inaccuracy of the statistics in order to establish a case for the Bill. The hon. Gentleman forgot that HER MAJESTY said in her Speech from the Throne, that the Bill would be recommended on the faith of the statistics collected by the Government. Therefore, if their statistics are all wrong, the Bill rests upon an erroneous and flimsy foundation. The argument of the hon. Gentleman would be a good argument for an inquiry into the inaccuracy of the statistics; but it was an unfortunate argument to use for the purpose he had in view. The hon. Member referred to his favourite subject, the co-operative societies of Rochdale; and he described what the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer mentioned on a former occasion as a grievance to be redressed—namely, that a number of respectable persons live outside the borough boundary, and, not being included within the borough, they cannot vote. [Mr. BRIGHT: "No, no!"] If this be so, the hon. Gentleman has missed his point. If a number of persons, deserving of the franchise, live outside the borough boundary, you ought to have that boundary enlarged, and therefore this fragmentary measure of Reform is not one worthy of the attention of the House. If the figures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer are wrong to the extent of the difference between 180,000 and 235,000, the hon. Gentleman, in attempting to support the Government, has given good reason why we ought not to act on the faith of these statistics. I think these were the points made by the hon. Member in the course of his somewhat discursive speech. He forgot the Amendment, he forgot the Bill, he forgot the question. He will forgive me for saying that, while I listened to him with pleasure, I failed to discover what his views were; I failed to discover the advantages of the Bill; I failed to discover what was his answer to the argument of my noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley). In the language of the platform the hon. Gentleman stated that the noble Lord said nothing of importance that was not untrue. I beg to say that such language is not quite Parliamentary. [Mr. BRIGHT: I did not say that.] I apprehend that the hon. Gentleman is in the habit of using such language elsewhere, but that he forgot for the moment where he was speaking. I dare say he did not intend to say what he said. If, instead of charging the noble Lord, the Member for King's Lynn, with a want of candour and a want of honesty, he had demolished some of his arguments, he would have done something more to the point; but, notwithstanding the hon. Member's oration, the arguments of the noble Lord remain untouched, and the Amendment is as strongly supported as it was before the hon. Member spoke. But the hon. Gentleman got upon his usual topic before he sat down—namely, America; I never heard him speak without introducing it. Whether his object be to warn or instruct us I do not know; but if there could be conceived an unhappy reference at present, it would be one to the constitution of America. For what purpose did he refer to it? He said that he wanted to ask a fair question—and I admit it was a fair question—and it was whether the House would treat the people of this country as in America they treated the negroes? I answer this fair question by saying, I think we shall not; and he may carry the answer to the town of Rochdale and make the most of it in addressing the respectable artizans of that place. The hon. Gentleman informed us that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir E. Bulwer-Lytton) delivered an indifferent speech. I know not whether he heard it—indeed, I doubt the fact—if he did, he has so much taste for true eloquence that he would have felt the argument, admired the eloquence, and relished the wit. Now that I have heard the hon. Gentleman and my right hon. Friend, I can assure him I am quite alive to the contrast. The hon. Gentleman, in the usual fashion of a man searching about for an argument, or for something to say, went back to I know not what particular period of his life to show that my right hon. Friend had concurred in what were termed liberal opinions, with certain eminent persons. But what does that prove? If even he had altered an opinion which was erroneously embraced, what does that prove but that he profits by age and experience. He does not resemble those obstinate, wrongheaded men, who blunder through their existence, becoming worse the longer they live. I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman included in his censure all those political men who have ever changed their opinions. If so, I wish he would take into consideration the political misconduct and inconsistencies of the right hon. Gentleman the CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER. The hon. Gentleman has left the question of Parliamentary Reform much where he found it. Will he allow me to ask him,—What is Parliamentary Reform? I say it means the reconstitution of this House, the recasting of the political power of the country, and its transference to different places from those in which it is now deposited. If we were asked to punish Totnes and disfranchise it, I would do it on reasonable evidence with pleasure, just as I voted for the disfranchisement of St. Alban's. I thought we were always over scrupulous about proceeding by judicial conviction. If I were asked upon fair evidence to disfranchise a rotten borough and give the right of election to a more deserving place, I would do it instantly; and that would be the correction of an abuse. The enfranchisement of large numbers of persons may be an organic change in the Constitution. What led to the introduction of the first Reform Bill? Want of confidence on the part of the people, as I understood the argument, in the constitution and composition of this House, How did Earl Russell bring the subject before the House? Not merely by extending the franchise, but by redistributing seats. What was his analogy in explaining the necessity of the greater Reform? The well-known story that if a stranger visited England and asked how the guardians of our liberties were chosen, you would take the stranger to a rural district, point out three niches in a wall and say that they returned two Members to Parliament; you would take him to a broken mound and say it returned two Members; you would take him to a park where there were neither people nor dwellings, and you would say that that returned two Members; then you would take him to the great towns of England where there were magazines full of merchandise, and a busy population, and you would say that these great towns had no voice in the representation. Earl Russell, in the introductory speech, pointed out the small boroughs that ought to be disfranchised, and named the great towns to be enfranchised; and when he proposed to fix the franchise at £10 in cities and boroughs, he said he thought it was a reasonable figure, which would enable industrious artizans to obtain the franchise whenever they desired to do so. What was it Birmingham determined to do at that time? It formed a political union, and threatened to march upon London. I was present when Sir William Napier, the gallant Peninsular officer, appeared as a witness upon the trial of Mr. Smith O'Brien, and swore that a person, whom I will not name, asked him to march at the head of 100,000 men upon London to terrify the House of Lords into submission. He answered that he was not a traitor but a British soldier; and he added that he would repeat what had been said to him whenever the Government prosecuted any one for attempting to do that which was proposed, and would appear as a witness against the prosecution. When the hon. Gentleman talks of menace and intimidation, is he serving his own cause? Does he believe he is advancing the cause of Reform when he appeals to the people in the way in which he does? He describes them as a reasoning, thoughtful, and intelligent people. Are they so dull as to misunderstand the question before the House? What is it? The Government have produced what they call a Franchise Bill, and they announce that they have in contemplation other parts of a Reform scheme. What is the Amendment? It states simply that it is not expedient to proceed with this fragmentary scheme until the whole is before Parliament. That is the question, and the only question on which we have to vote. I entirely deny that we vote on the franchise question. I deny that I am asked to vote against Parliamentary Reform, because I supported the Bill of Lord Derby, which you yourselves (addressing those on the Ministerial Benches) admit was a much better measure than this. You gave a blind unreasoning opposition to that Bill, and yet you endeavour to fasten upon the party that sits here a determination to consider nothing, because they propose to consider everything. They ask for an entire Bill, which the leader of the House says is prepared: if it be so, why should we not, I would ask, be allowed to see it? If it be not prepared, why should we be called upon to legislate? The argument upon this point of my noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn has not been answered. A great many speakers on the other side of the House told us they would answer it, but they have never done so: the hon. Gentleman for Birmingham said something uncivil of the noble Lord, but then he left his argument untouched. Let me again put that argument before you. It is this: "You ask us to legislate on one part of a great subject. You admit you have by you a Bill for the Redistribution of Seats, which constitutes a main portion of that same subject, and that that measure is to be followed by a third Bill for the regulation of boundaries, also an important feature in the case. That being so, you call upon us to vote blindly on the first Bill before you show us the second and third, with which it is indissolubly connected; but to that request we decline to accede." Now, the history of this question furnishes very interesting ground for inquiry. Why is it, I should like to know, that the present measure assumes a shape unlike that shown by any other Reform Bill which has ever been laid on the table? Is not the course which in this instance the Government have adopted opposed to all the precedents on the question? Is it not opposed to the example set us on previous occasions by Lord Palmerston, Lord Russell, and Lord Aberdeen? My theory in the matter is that the author of the Bill before us is the hon. Member for Birmingham, and that that is a just theory I think I shall be able satisfactorily to prove. The Bill has, I contend, been adopted by the Government on his advice, is framed in accordance with his speeches and professed opinions, and is so shaped as to lead to the accomplishment of the ulterior objects on this question which he has in view, and which we on this side of the House shall do all in our power to prevent or avert. The noble Lord the Member for Galway (Lord Dunkellin) made a short and sensible speech in which he alluded to the position in which Ireland is placed with respect to this question of the franchise, and the point is one which has a curious bearing on the general subject of Reform. On all former occasions on which a measure on the subject has been proposed, a Bill for Scotland, and one for Ireland, as well as for England, have been laid upon the table; and it is the fact that the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter), who has favoured us with a speech in support of the present Bill—and whom I am sorry not to see in his place that I might ask him why it is that he does not advocate on this occasion the course which he formerly recommended—in 1859 was most indignant that the Reform Bill then laid upon the table, though a complete measure for England, did not include Scotland and Ireland also within its scope. But let the hon. Gentleman speak for himself. He said upon the occasion to which I refer:— Another point to which he wished to call attention was that, up to the present time, the House had not had the slightest indication of the intention of the Government, and the inference he drew was, that no Reform Bill for those countries had been prepared. He then called, after the manner of a gallant Scot, on every true Scotchman to join him in opposing a Bill which did not include Scotland, and concluded with a motion to the effect, that it was inexpedient to proceed with a partial Reform Bill. The argument of the hon. Member remains, though we have lost his support; he was at the time of which I am speaking a reasonable man. How so great a change has since come over him it is not for me to conjecture. But, be that as it may, there was great force in the question which was asked by the noble Lord the Member for Galway (Lord Dunkellin) with respect to the franchise in Ireland. The representation of that country must produce an effect on all your deliberations, but that is not the point on which I now desire to dwell. In Ireland four Reform Bills have been introduced; one at the time of the Union, and a second in the days of Catholic Emancipation, which proposed to abolish 40s. freeholders. In making that proposal Sir Robert Peel said:— The comparative number of voters in counties in Ireland was much greater than in England. Comparing the amount of property, of education, and of intelligence in the counties of England and Ireland respectively with the number of voters which they contain, the disproportion is very striking. He then goes on to quote Lord Bacon, and I am sorry the hon. Member for Birmingham is not in his place to listen to the quotation, for I am sure he never heard it before. It is as follows:— When the multitude prevail the meaner sort are upon the upper hand, and those (generally ignorant) cannot judge of persons nor times, but being for the most part led by faction or affection, rather than by right understanding, and their elections, and thereby the general council of the nation, less generous and noble. Sir R. Peel, on the occasion to which I am referring, recommended Parliament to abolish 200,000 40s. freeholders: Parliament took his advice, and created instead a £10 franchise. In 1832, that inveterate anti-Reformer, Lord Stanley—now the Earl of Derby—who was at the time Chief Secretary for Ireland, introduced a third Reform Bill for that country similar in substance to that which was passed for England. Again, in 1848, a Bill was introduced by Sir W. Somerville, which became law in 1850, and provided for the creation of an occupation franchise in counties; that was the measure in which the proposals of the hon. Member for East Surrey had their origin—the franchise established for Ireland having been a £12 rating franchise in counties, and a £10 rental or an £8 rating franchise in towns. That is the franchise at the present day in Ireland; and we have, I contend, a right to know from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether it is to be altered. It is no answer to me to say that a Bill on the subject will be laid on the table on a future day. The franchise is a sound franchise, and I am, in accordance with the argument of the hon. Member for Montrose to which I have adverted, entitled to see your proposals with respect, to it before I give my support to the present Bill. That inveterate Reformer the President of the Board of Trade, it is true, with great presence of mind, bluntly told us the other night that we should hear all that the Government meant to do in this matter when it was convenient to them; but although that answer may suit a Minister, it will, I think, be regarded as hardly satisfactory by the House of Commons. Now I would, before I proceed further, call the attention of the House to the fact, that both the Members for the city of Dublin, who are large employers of labour, and both the Members for Liverpool, also great employers of labour, oppose this Bill, and oppose it upon a ground which neither the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), nor the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. J. Stuart Mill), although it goes to the root of his ingenious argument, has touched. I have a statement made to me by a gentleman who understands more about elections for the city of Dublin than any other I could name, and he informs me that no man could contest that city for a less sum than £10,000 if this Bill were to pass. The distinction between a £7 householder in such large towns and in a small borough were very clearly pointed out by the hon. Gentleman whom I have mentioned as being opposed to the Bill, and yet it is intended that its provisions should blindly and indiscriminately apply to all parts of the country. Allow me now to draw the attention of the House to the more modern history of this question of Parliamentary Reform, with which the name of the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King) is so intimately connected. In 1851 the hon. Gentleman made an ingenious speech in asking for leave to introduce a Bill to establish an occupation franchise in England. What was his argument on that occasion? He said to Ministers, "Do you mean to tell us that we in England are not as worthy of being trusted with this occupation franchise as the electors of Ireland? What was Lord Russell's answer? [The right hon. and learned Gentleman here quoted a passage from a speech delivered by Lord Russell, to the effect, that in Ireland it was true that the 40s. freehold franchise was abolished and an occupation franchise substituted; yet that if the 40s. freehold franchise were retained in England, the introduction of an occupation franchise as well would have the effect of swamping the former, and thus he could not recommend the 40s. freeholders and the £10 occupiers to be thrown together upon the counties.] Now, what should be said of a Reform Bill which, as regards the counties, not only preserves the 40s. freeholders, but gives the county franchise to £14 occupiers, and also to leaseholders in boroughs, by which incalculable effects will be produced in every county? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was mistaken in the history he gave of that transaction, and I wish to set him right. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to imagine the doctrine of Parliamentary pledges, and to state that we are engaged with Reform in consequence of the movement of the hon. Member for East Surrey. He said that the introduction of the Bill of the hon. Member for East Surrey was a great Parliamentary pledge at all times binding on the House. Why, the pledge is dead and forgotten, though now dug up by the right hon. Gentleman and revived; but when we refer to the origin of this transaction, we find it to be one of the most simple character that can well be imagined, and very different from the description given of it by the right hon. Gentleman. I understand that he meant to say that the Government of the day resigned in consequence of the defeat which Lord Russell unexpectedly received at the hands of Mr. Locke King on the introduction of that hon. Member's Bill. The point is that the Minister, finding Parliamentary Reform an uncomfortable thing on his shoulders, wishes to shift on Parliament the responsibility of dealing with it. This is the way in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer described the matter:— It may be said with respect to the origin of this question, that it is emphatically the work of Parliament. Let me remind the House of what happened in the beginning of the year 1851; and I must say that the event which then occurred was of a nature to saddle the responsibility connected with the introduction of this question, in a high and peculiar sense, not on one or another Government, but upon the body of the House of Commons. It was an independent Member (my hon. Friend, the Member for East Surrey, Mr. L. King), who on the 20th of February, 1851, moved for leave to bring in a Bill to grant £10 occupation franchise to counties. The sole opponent of the motion was my noble Friend now at the head of the Government. There was no discussion, and every other authority in the House either approved or was silent on the occasion. The Government were beaten by a majority of 21. The minority consisted of 52 Members, and among those 52 there were not, I think, more than 12 or 15 who sat on the benches of the party opposite. So that it cannot, I think, be denied, that the first initiation of this subject in the form in which it now comes before us—having begun as a question of the county franchise only—but it being perfectly well known that a change in that must draw a change in the borough franchise along with it; the initiation of this subject, I say, was, in a peculiar sense, the work of the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman was contradicted on this subject partially by the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), and I have since looked into the Chancellor of the Exchequer's subsequent speech, in which he spoke more inaccurately than in the first. Twitted by the right hon. Member for Stroud he said:— What I omitted to state, which, at any rate, greatly strengthens the case, was this—that the House gave that vote and expressed that determination in favour of the introduction of the Bill even after my noble Friend then, as now, at the head of the Government, had stated that the Government would give their attention to the subject, and in the ensuing Session submit a measure to its consideration. And yet, in the very face and teeth of that pledge given by my noble Friend, the House of Commons took on itself the responsibility of forcing a vote in favour of the introduction of the Bill. But I am told that the Bill was subsequently thrown out. No doubt; and under what circumstances was it thrown out? The introduction of the Bill was followed by the resignation of the Ministers. I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that the Ministry resigned in consequence of the acceptance by the House of Commons of Mr. Locke King's Bill, but how did Lord Russell explain the transaction at the time of its occurrence? Did the Ministry resign on account of the £10 occupation Bill? By no means. Lord Russell stated:— But, on the 20th of February, a motion was made in reference to a certain question of Parliamentary Reform, and on that question, and in a thin House of little more than 150 Members, the Government was beaten by a majority of nearly two to one. Now, observe, that if that had occurred in ordinary circumstances, I might have thought it owing to the hour and to the thinness of the House, that those in favour of the motion should have attended, and that those who were not in favour of it were not present; but that, on the second reading of the Bill, which the House then gave leave to introduce, the latter would attend and make a majority, in accordance with the view taken by Government on this subject. But, in the actual circumstances in which we were placed, I did consider that, although hon. Members might have voted entirely with reference to that particular question which was before them, and not at all upon any general views of policy, I did not think, that although that might have been their intention, yet that, in effect, having the whole of the financial and other measures of the Government before us, and having a probability, which I was inclined to believe in, that on other measures and on other incidental questions, we might meet with similar defeats, I came to the conclusion that the Government was not in a position to conduct satisfactorily the business of the country in this House during the forthcoming Session. I thought it was for the public interest that, if this were the case, the House should not enter into discussions on financial measures, and be led to form opinions on those questions when it was not so probable that the Government should be able successfully to go through the Session. I thought, likewise, that it was a very dangerous, and that it was a very disadvantageous, thing for the country that the Government should continue liable to defeats from time to time, and, therefore, carrying on a kind of lingering existence during a great part of the Session. That being Lord Russell's statement, what became of the Parliamentary pledge mentioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or of the statement that the House of Commons is responsible for the introduction of this question of Parliamentary Reform? Here is an account of the unhappy transaction I have just referred to from the Annual Register:— The resignation of the Whig Government was not attributed to any single or definite cause, though the recent defeat of the Government on the motion of Mr. Locke King, and, still more, the very unfavourable reception of the Budget, were surmised to have had much to do with it. But the chief cause was declared to be, in general terms, the loss of Parliamentary confidence, the exhibition in many quarters of a resolute hostility to the Government, and, on the part of its usual auxiliaries, an irresolute and distrustful support. With many delicate questions pressing on the attention of Parliament, and with a Cabinet which had been gradually becoming more feeble, and resting more and more on a narrow basis, it was felt on all hands that the strength of the Executive was inadequate to the exigencies of the times. Under these circumstances, the Premier, doubtless, judged wisely that it was neither for the honour of the Administration, nor for the well-being of the nation, that the existence of the Whig Cabinet should be prolonged. Nothing can be more evident than that the right hon. Gentleman allowed himself to be carried away into making a statement to which the facts of the case are entirely opposed. Then there is Earl Derby's explanation of what passed between Her Majesty and himself. The noble Earl stated:— Mr. Locke King's motion for an extensive alteration of the Parliamentary franchise was earned by above 100 votes to 54. Of these 54 votes, 17 were votes of what I will call, for shortness sake, the Protectionist party, and 27 more were votes of official men; and exclusively of those bound by official ties, the Ministry brought to their support 10 independent Members, and no more. I ventured to state these facts to Her Majesty; and I stated that, small as was the number of my Friends who voted on that measure, I believed their numbers would have been much greater but for an impression that prevailed, 'that your Majesty's Ministers were not honestly exercising their influence to defeat the measure.' I believe that; and my Friends and the House of Commons believed it; and although, if they had believed in the earnest determination of the Government to act upon their own principles, they would have given them a generous and disinterested support, they did not feel themselves bound to attend in large numbers for the purpose of enabling the Government to defeat the measure, while it permitted so many of its own supporters to be absent. That affects the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and demolishes his imaginary case of a pledge binding Parliament to take up the subject of Parliamentary Reform whenever an unfortunate Minister happens to be in a difficulty, and can do nothing better than bring in a measure of Parliamentary Reform. It is true that we had a Reform Bill in 1852, which has been acutely criticized by the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. J. S. Mill). Here is an opinion given by the hon. Member for Westminster of that Bill, and it shows the great advantage of having an abstract philosopher among busy politicians. He said, "It created greater anomalies than it proposed to remove." That is generally the case with Reform Bills unless when they are honestly brought in. Then the critic went on to say:— The Bill would have had the effect of spotting the country with little boroughs to be tied together—a system which, if it had been adopted, would have been so capricious that the very idea of district boroughs would have been brought into contempt, without mitigating and rather increasing the existing causes of complaint. But, Sir, when we look at that Bill we find some information bearing on the matter now before us. Lord Russell explained what his views were about Reform. He said: "He was revolving, planning, and maturing a measure, for the extension of the suffrage." Now, if he had been revolving, planning, and maturing such a measure, then it ought certainly to be forthcoming by this time. I think it fair to ask for that measure. He then declared that for years of his life he had been pondering over Reform Bills. He say—and I draw the attention of every Reformer in this House to the advice given by what has been called the father of Reform Bills:— I think, however, the greatest caution should be used by Parliament with regard to any measure to be adopted upon the subject. I think the genuine distribution of the Reform Bill has produced a fair representation of the intelligence, wishes, and interests of the people, and I should regret any change in the representation which deprived the House of Commons of those Conservative elements which ought to belong to it. I cannot conceive that a House of Commons merely representing numbers would act in harmony with monarchy, the hereditary House of Lords, and an Established Church. How can a Parliamentary Reform Bill resting on numbers be reconciled with those three institutions? The grand blunder the hon. Member for Birmingham makes on Parliamentary Reform is this—he thinks the only question is, whether a Bill will add numbers to the electoral body, forgetful that this is a mixed constitution, and that we have to consider the effect of a measure on the other House of Parliament, and also on the Monarchy; and that if it should disturb the balance, according to the excellent advice of the noble Lord, it would be our duty to oppose and resist it. I heard it said the other night by the hon. Member for Glasgow, that you ought to give your confidence to a Ministry on the question of Reform; but not so says Lord Russell. He says:— Every Member of this House is bound to watch carefully, and to judge cautiously with respect to any measure that may be produced. That Bill failed. In fact, we never had the opportunity of discussing it, because Lord Palmerston shot Lord Russell between wind and water. Lord Russell fell ingloriously on a clause of a Militia Bill. He went out of the Government, and what was called the Parliamentary pledge was never discussed at all. Parliament did not care a fig about that Bill of 1852, and the people cared less. And when it is said that it is an unwarrantable thing for a portion of the Whig party to exercise their judgment on this occasion, I find, on looking over the debates, that they have done so resolutely before. The late Earl Fitzwilliam gave this parting advice to his noble Friend:— He thought these further reforms in Parliament most dangerous. He believed that if this question were to be agitated every ten or twenty years, the quiet and sensible part of the people would imbibe a great indifference to the popular franchise. He believed that if these changes were to be introduced, a very large section of the community would be of opinion that it would be much better to live under a mild and tranquil despotism. Well, he did not say all of the people, but a very considerable portion of them, would prefer living under a mild and tranquil despotism, than to have these incessant discussions upon constitutional rights and the constant change of those rights. So ends the Bill of 1852; and what became of the pledge with regard to the introduction of that Bill? I find Lord John Russell admonishing those who were to succeed him how they meddled with the subject in future. I also find that Sir James Graham, who was a party to the original Reform Bill, when he heard that Lord Russell had been planning a Reform Bill, took alarm, as he naturally would, and expressed himself in these words:— I agree with the noble Lord that so much having been conceded, and so large an extension of popular privilege and democratic influence introduced into the Constitution, it is necessary, in order that the balance of the Constitution may be preserved and the existing form of Government upheld, that there should be a great caution in the next advance. "To the principle of the extension of the franchise he said he had no insuperable objection, but he had not seen Lord John's outline and was not bound to it." So ends the second stage of the history of the question of Parliamentary Reform. The next period we come to is the year 1854, and I venture to say that of all the assertions that could be made by a public man to a body of gentlemen acquainted with political affairs, none could be offered more directly contrary to truth than the assertion that Parliament ever approved or sanctioned the Bill in 1854. It is scarcely credible, but such is the fact, that we had a Reform Bill just as we drifted into a war with Russia—a war which the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs declared was owing to the imbecility of Lord Aberdeen's Government. Having got us into war, the next thing, one would have supposed, would have been to get us out of it as respectably as possible; but, instead of that, Lord Russell proposed to reform Parliament; and brought in the Bill of 1854. We all recollect the dreadful sufferings we endured, not merely as regards our troops, but in our own heart and feelings. Lord Russell, however, began with an historical dissertation to prove that, when on the brink of war, we should prepare to reform Parliament. He said, quite coolly, as if he was a Miltiades or a Scipio:— But, Sir, much as I abhor war, much as I deprecate the evils given, I confess I do not view a war with Russia with that apprehension with which some Gentlemen seem to regard it. He spoke like Chatham, who in one hand "wielded the fierce, democracy of England, and with the other smote the Bourbon." He cited Lord Somers. I always tremble when Lord Russell quotes Lord Somers. He introduced Reform when there was war on the Continent. Then he told us what Lord Godolphin did when Marlborough was gaining Blenheim, and, therefore, he should be allowed to have his little Bill, though we should be at war with Russia. But the noble Lord himself—I am shattering to atoms this case of the Parliamentary pledge—the noble Lord himself withdrew that Bill. The party here did not compel him to do so. He was glad to get out of it. The Parliamentary pledge never was discussed at all. He said he was obliged to withdraw it, and for two reasons, either of which was quite sufficient: he withdrew it first on account of the cold and languid support it received in the House; and, secondly, owing to the apathy of the public out of doors. So much for the time and circumstances in which the noble Lord introduced that Bill. But don't let it be said I unfairly criticize his speech. It was a very able and instructive speech, and I shall refer to it with the view of refuting the rash observations of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright). The noble Lord, as on the great occasion of 1832, commenced with the distribution of seats. The first thing to be done, he said, was to ascertain the depositaries of political power. Then he did that which, I venture to say, it is the object of this Bill not to do—he provided that forty-six additional Members should be given to the counties of England, and a very few additional Members to the boroughs. There were certain other arrangements proposed. Of course there was a considerable disfranchisement of small boroughs, and I confess I agree with the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. J. S. Mill) in his criticism as to tying together a number of small places instead of giving the franchise to places worthy of receiving it. Well, in the hon. Member for Birmingham's opinions, as expressed on that Bill in 1854, I think we shall find the key to the measure now on the table. That hon. Member, for certain reasons of his own, ridiculed Lord J. Russell's Bill, characterizing it as full of "mystifications and conundrums," because it provided for the representation of minorities. The hon. Member asked the noble Lord what was to be done if a minority man died, and whether his successor was to be elected by a majority or a minority. I would refer that or any other equally abstruse problem to the solution of the hon. Member for Westminster. The hon. Member for Birmingham opposed that Bill on those small grounds; but his real and main reason for doing so was discovered on the night on which Lord J. Russell withdrew the measure. On that occasion the hon. Gentleman said:— Such a Bill, intended to touch many seats, could not be carried unless there existed such a feeling out of doors as would act like steam upon a locomotive, and force the House to do something it would not otherwise do. The hon. Member added:— It was a conundrum and mystification, and the people of this country did not like conundrums and mystifications. Thus the hon. Member disapproved the Bill that was brought in and withdrawn during the Russian war, because it provided for the counties an honest system of representation. He said, "Give me a Bill enfranchising a large mass of the people, and then I will tell you what I desire to have done in the matter of distributing the seats." He further said—and this is the key to his policy—that the parts of the Bill dealing with the franchise and the provision repealing the ratepaying clauses of the Act of 1832 might have been passed, while the other clauses extinguishing sixty-two seats and redistributing them among other consti- tuencies might have been left over to some other Session, when there would be a better opportunity of entertaining and discussing them, and that "too little was given to the boroughs and too much to the counties, which were already over-represented." Therefore the hon. Member then suggested that nothing but a Franchise Bill should be brought in; and such a Bill we have now before us, and I suppose we are to be asked to leave it to him to determine hereafter what places are to be disfranchised, and how the seats should be redistributed. As far, then, as I have gone, I do not see any proof that Parliament is implicated in any pledge whatever on the subject of Reform. And here I would remark that Lord Russell himself gave us a description of the working classes which, if it had emanated from the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), or the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), would probably have led to indignation meetings on the part of their constituents, calling them to account for censuring or almost calumniating those classes. Lord Russell said that he was quite willing under conditions to see the working classes enfranchised, but that they were liable to delusions, that they would be ready to persecute other persons for their opinions, and that they were liable to take up very erroneous notions on the subject of trades unions. We next come to the Reform Bill introduced by the Government of Lord Derby; and in what happened then there is a great deal which merits our attention. Sir, I charge it upon Lord Russell—and I do so with a perfect belief that I am now only slating what is strictly true—I charge it upon Lord Russell that he resolved to defeat that measure by an abstract resolution which trenched on the very verge of Parliamentary precedent, and which I hold to have been as unconstitutional as it was unfair. That abstract resolution asserted, that unless a certain figure—which he did not even name, but which was something lower than the particular franchise fixed by the Bill—was introduced into the measure, the House would not tolerate the further prosecution of that Bill. I say that the hon. Member for Birmingham and the noble Lord, then the Member for London, planned and concocted that resolution for the very purpose of destroying the prospects of a settlement of this question. One eminent authority after another stated, that if the measure brought in by Lord Derby's Government passed, the subject of Reform would have been set at rest for a very considerable period; that the question raised by that abstract resolution might have been entertained and disposed of in committee; and that in committee it might have been conveniently decided whether the borough franchise should be fixed at £10 or at £8. The noble Lord who has written a book on the Constitution, drew up a resolution which was intended not to promote but to stifle discussion—not to advance but to retard the cause of Reform. Some distinguished Members warned the House of the consequences of such a proceeding, and among those Gentlemen who spoke the language of reason and truth were the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) and the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman). Whoever reads the statesmanlike speech of the latter right hon. Gentleman will perceive how unjust it is to charge him with being an anti-Reformer, for he not only spoke and voted against that abstract resolution, but he pointed out the mischievous results that would ensue from the future agitation on the subject of Reform, which might have been avoided by a satisfactory and judicious settlement of the question then. But these arguments and warnings were of no avail at the time. A fixed determination had been come to to destroy the Ministry then in existence; and the noble Marquis now the Secretary of State for War, in making his first speech in this House, moved a resolution amounting to a vote of want of confidence in the Government after the dissolution, observing that he could not understand why the carrying of that resolution should overthrow the Ministry. I wonder whether he has addressed similar language on this occasion to his right hon. colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer? The resolution was carried, and its authors accomplished their object; but, before that result took place, Lord Grey addressed a letter to the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) in which he said:— I think Lord John's resolution highly objectionable. If a settlement of the question is the object they have in view, I cannot understand how the party opposed to the Government can doubt that they ought to agree to the second eading of the Bill that has been introduced. After stating that there were some parts of the Bill which he disapproved, Lord Grey continued:— But it contains provisions for creating new rights of voting, for partially disfranchising some places that now return Members to Parliament, and for enfranchising others. These principles, applied more or less extensively, are those on which any possible Reform Bill must be founded. Therefore as no Reform Bill could be founded on any other principles, Lord Grey objects strongly to Lord J. Russell's proceedings, and asks:— Suppose that a majority in favour of this resolution led to Lord John being himself raised to the office of Prime Minister, either before or after a new Parliamentary election, is there the slightest chance that he would be more fortunate than his predecessors in finding a concurrence of opinion in favour of his own views? He says there are few instances of such a thing succeeding, and he anticipated exactly what occurred, for his remarks produced no impression whatever up on the minds of those to whom they were addressed. I now come to the observations of Lord Russell upon the policy of admitting the working classes to the suffrage. They were made on the 21st of March, 1859, and are as follows:— I contend, with respect to a great portion of the working people, though many are well fitted to take part in the political questions of the day, they are liable to be misled by delusions; and if they should be totally indifferent, that circumstance would give rise to a great venality in our elections; not that these men have any bad intentions; but there are men among them who would consider it not of much importance to themselves whether there existed protection or free trade, religious liberty or persecution, and they would give their votes according to their own immediate interests."—[3 Hansard, clviii. 397. An observation of that kind shows the necessity of considering well what we are doing before we admit a vast number of persons indiscriminately to the franchise. Next, we have the hon. Member for Birmingham explaining his views on the 19th of March, 1860:— I am one of those who for many years have held the opinion that it would be much better to have this question of Reform approached by successive steps. … I took the liberty of recommending the noble Lord, I suppose, one year and a half ago, and have done it since repeatedly and publicly, that the Reform Bill that should be introduced should be a Bill that should only settle the question of the suffrage, and that it should do it simply and generously. … I regard the Bill simply as it is—a Bill for the extension of the suffrage in boroughs and counties. It does not touch more than just the outside of the question of disfranchisement. … I have considered the question of a transfer of Members or of seats from the little boroughs to large constituencies of counties and boroughs; I consider that to be the very pith and marrow of the question of Parliamentary Reform."—[3 Hansard, clvii. 895–6.] The hon. Member's opinion at that time was in direct contradiction with what he said to-night, for he then regarded the transference of seats as the very pith and marrow of the question of Parliamentary Reform. Well, Lord Derby was turned out and Lord Palmerston came in, and another Reform Bill was introduced, but the result was that it was talked to death. But by whom was that done? The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary spoke the other night with such unusual warmth, that a person unacquainted with the facts would have supposed that he had always been an ardent Reformer, whereas he had been for years tranquilly filling his present office and dealing with cemeteries and corporations. The right hon. Gentleman said the Bill was talked to death by us, but was it not condemned by Mr. Massey, by Mr. Black; and did not every second speaker rise on that side of the House? Lord Palmerston then showed a composure which was a mode of the manner in which a Prime Minister should conduct the affairs of this House, for he slept as much as he could, he listened as little as he could, and he tranquilly saw Parliamentary Reform dying the death which it deserved. Many hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, candidly expressed their regret that Lord Derby's Bill was set aside, and was followed by a very indifferent measure, among them being Viscount Enfield, who, with creditable frankness, admitted that the former scheme contained, in his judgment, the elements of a solution that would have been more practical, and perhaps more satisfactory, than the measure proposed by the Government of Lord Palmerston, which, he said, found as little favour and courtesy from its professed adherents as from its declared enemies. The noble Lord added that the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Massey) had exposed all its hollowness in one of the most powerful speeches he had ever heard; and that, after the delivery of that speech, the fate of the Bill was sealed. Lord Palmerston's Bill being disposed of, what happened? I was, of course, not present; but it was understood that the noble Lord, addressing his colleagues, advised the Chancellor of the Exchequer to read his Homer, and frame his Budgets, and Lord Russell to attend to his foreign affairs, for that, as to Parliamentary Reform, he would have no more to do with it; and, looking round upon the fiery spirits of the Liberal party, the noble Lord found how Southwark might speedily be soothed, Halifax made happy, although Bradford was not yet comforted. The President of the Board of Trade, the chosen friend and companion of those champions of Reform, the hon. Member for Birmingham and the then Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden), acted in a manner becoming the colleague of a wise Minister. Calm and courteous, prudent and philosophical, he remained in office for a series of years, never renewing the subject of Reform, but placid, leaving England to peace, tranquillity, and Palmerston. I must say that the hon. and learned Member for Exeter, (Mr. Coleridge), in his graceful but sentimental speech the other night, reflected with his usual suavity of manner, but with rather too much severity, upon Lord Palmerston. Why did he bestow his censures upon the dead while he spared the living? If Lord Palmerston was wrong in abandoning the subject for the last five years of his life, what is to be said of the Reformers who joined with him, preferring their places to their convictions, but who now declare it necessary to revive the subject? If, after the fashion of the hon. and learned Member, you are to distinguish between the noble Lord, who never was a zealous Reformer, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade, I say that, in the light of morality and political consistency, they are infinitely more censurable than the noble Lord, whose opinions they right well knew and assented to during the whole period of his administration. The observations of those right hon. Gentlemen on this question are not entitled to the least attention; they were silent then because they saw the people happy, prosperous, and contented, and therefore they said nothing about Parliamentary Reform. But we now come to a date of great consequence. The hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King) appears upon the field with his £10 county franchise, and I venture to say that, in Parliamentary history, more extraordinary transactions than those which occurred in April and May, 1864, are not on record. The nation had forgiven Lord Palmerston if he had committed any offence. They said, "You are an excellent Minister and you are not going to reform Parliament; then we will rest and be thankful." So it was happily arranged in a manner most agreeable to all parties. But at the period I have just mentioned the hon. Member for East Surrey reintroduced his Bill, and a speech was then delivered by Lord Palmerston, from which I will presently quote. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was sitting beside him at the time, and, as I contend, was bound by it; for if a gentleman chooses to belong to a Ministry the head of which utters certain sentiments, he is not at liberty afterwards to say that he had a private notion of his own, and intended, when it suited his purpose, to start his theory, with high-sounding words of political morality. The noble Lord then said:— I am anxious before the House comes to a division to state, in a very few words, the reasons for the vote which I intend to give. I cannot vote against the Bill of my hon. Friend, because that might warrant the supposition that I am indisposed to any change in the county franchise. Undoubtedly, I am of opinion that there might be some change effected. At the same time it is but fair and candid to my hon. Friend and to the House to say, that I cannot vote for the £10 franchise proposed by the Bill. It appears to me that the object we ought all to have in view is to form a legislative machine in which all interests in the country shall be fairly represented. The two leading interests of this country are, on the one hand, the trading and the commercial interests, and, on the other, the agricultural interest; and any alteration of our system which tends to introduce too largely the trading and commercial, or the town, element into the agricultural, or county element, would, I think, injuriously disturb the balance which it is essential for the interests of the country that we should maintain. That is the view which I take of the measure of my hon. Friend, and therefore, if it should go into committee, I shall not be prepared to vote for the particular franchise which he proposes to introduce."—[3 Hansard, clxxiv. 952.] Now, I may remark here, that we might pass a safe and moderate Reform Bill, but we are not prepared to say that the middle class is to be dethroned from political power. We believe that the middle class are the safest and best class to hold the balance of power; and we say, that before we take this irreversible step, we must be satisfied that it is in the right direction. The noble Lord went on to say:— I venture to differ from my hon. Friend as to the expediency of the course which he has determined to pursue. It is quite natural that, having fixed his mind upon his particular measure, he should take every fair opportunity of bringing it under the consideration of the House. But I think it would have been better if he had abstained from mooting the question. It is plain to every man, I think, who attends at all to the indications of public opinion in this House and in the country, that there does not exist at the present moment in this House, or out of it, the same interest in such changes as existed some time since. The fact is, that organic changes have been looked to not as a mere end so much as a means to an end. They were looked to as a means of effecting great alterations and improvements in our internal system, our commercial system, our laws, procedure, and other matters. Many of those improvements have been made. Commerce has been, freed from its shackles, the industry of the country has been encouraged by liberty, and many of those alterations and improvements which were to be the result of organic changes have been accomplished by the Legislature as it stands; and therefore there is a less ardent desire for change than existed before those improvements were made."—[Ibid.] And then the noble Lord touched upon foreign affairs. He said:— There are also other considerations connected with external affairs which have tended to allay the desire for organic changes; I mean considerations arising from the events which have occurred in other countries, and which are attributable, in a great measure, to the influence of organic arrangements in those countries. Those examples seem to indicate danger from interfering with the organic system of the country, and have rendered us less anxious for changes that might possibly approximate to such a state of things as now exists abroad."—[Ibid.] The House then divided, and the numbers were, for Mr. Locke King's motion 227; against it 254. Now, that was the state of opinion of Lord Palmerston and of the Ministry as they were represented to the public on that day, and the same opinion was affirmed by a vote of that House. How can any man say with truth, that the Parliament which gave that vote bound or pledged itself to any question of Parliamentary Reform. The Members of the House of Commons were, no doubt, bound to consider every question of importance that was submitted to them, but that speech of Lord Palmerston showed that Parliament was absolved and released from any promise contained in the speeches of individual Members, and was free to act as its wisdom might suggest. That debate was on the 12th of April. Three weeks afterwards another hon. Gentleman, who has taken a considerable part in this business of setting up Parliamentary Reform—the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines)— brought forward his proposal for reducing the borough franchise from £10 to £6. The second reading was fixed for Wednesday, a day on which Her Majesty had commanded the attendance of her Ministers elsewhere. I came down to the House to see what would happen. That was on the 10th or 12th of May. I saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer looking oratorical and excited. After the hon. Gentleman had moved the second reading, the right hon. Gentleman rose, and, to my indescribable surprise, we had an explosion on the subject of Parliamentary Reform of an exactly opposite description to that of Lord Palmerston. It was on that occasion the right hon. Gentleman broached his extraordinary theories of Parliamentary Reform. If he had taken me into his confidence, and informed me of what he was about to do, I should have buckled on my armour; but, as it was, I was obliged to say what I could on the moment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer then declared that the onus probandi lay upon us to show why every man should not have a vote. The right hon. Gentleman gave his friends around him unmistakable hints that his inclinations were with them, but that he was a Member of a Government that would not take up this question. Still he wished to lodge this secret in their hearts, that when he was free to act as he pleased he would do something for them in regard to their £6 crotchet. And those are what are called Parliamentary pledges. Parliament having on both these occasions shown these Gentlemen that organic changes were not such slight matters as they supposed, and that there was more common sense in Parliament than Ministers or Members imagine. What followed that political escapade of the right hon. Gentleman? His speech became the subject of general comment, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer published it with a Palmerstonian preface, in order to mitigate the character of the speech, and to gloss over opinions which were not, I suspect, satisfactory to the noble Lord at the head of the Government. And so ends the history of Parliamentary Reform and Parliamentary pledges. The hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) the other night made a temperate, conciliatory, and judicious speech, of which I have a faithful recollection. If the working classes of Bradford are not already well represented, how can they be so apprehensive I should be unwilling to change the constituency? I might change the representative. While I admit that, upon ordinary occasions, Government are not called upon to express their opinions upon inconvenient questions, yet upon the approach of a dissolution they are bound to speak out in order that the public may understand on what policy and upon what principle they elect their representatives. Well, what was said by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) upon the near approach of a dissolution which was to take place under the name and ægis of Lord Palmerston, with a view of electing a Parliament which was not to be bound by Reform? The Secretary for the Home Department made a speech, which has been already referred to, in which he stated the views upon which Ministers would go to the country on the question of Parliamentary Reform. The right hon. Gentleman said:—"With regard to the question of Parliamentary Reform generally we do not go to the country pledged to any particular measure." Nothing could be more distinct than that statement by Sir George Grey. The hon. Gentleman now the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. W. E. Forster) was not then in office. One can imagine the indignation of a patriotic Reformer on hearing the statement of the Home Secretary. He started up instantly and said:— 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? Several appeals were made to the consciences of hon. Members, but there was no response. Dean Swift said:—"Conscience is no manner of use to its possessor, unless it stretches for the occasion." Lord Palmerston dies, and let me say, in answer to the hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge), who made a graceful, although not very profound, speech on the Reform Bill, that I think the name and memory of the noble Lord will live. He was the last of an illustrious race. They were scholars and statesmen; the companions of kings; and they governed or influenced the country with ability and wisdom. Well, the Chancellor of the Exchequer afterwards ap- peared in different parts of the country, and thought it his duty there to raise the question of Parliamentary Reform, which had been disposed of in the manner I have described. An agitation was got up, and the result was that petitions were no doubt presented in favour of the Bill. My hon. and learned Friend (Sir Hugh Cairns) proved on the admission of the hon. Member for Leeds, that the abolition of the ratepaying clauses was worth 10s. a year on the rent, and that the additional numbers enfranchised under the Government Bill would make the working classes preponderate in all the boroughs in the country. I wish hon. Members would 16ok to the summary given by Mr. Baxter in his pamphlet. The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke of the income of the working classes, and Mr. Baxter says:— For instance, Oldham will have an estimated number of working class electors of 3,091, so that their total rental is £30,910, while the total rental of the borough is £450,407, so that one-fifteenth part of the total rental will govern the remaining fourteen-fifteenths. Coventry gives £36,660 rental to the working class electors out of £139,134, so that in that borough one-fourth of the rental will govern the remaining three-fourths. The total of the 57 boroughs in which the working classes have a majority is as follows:—Working-class electors' rental, £1,446,642,—total borough rental, £11,958,125; so that one-eighth of the rental will govern the remaining seven-eighths. We may carry the inquiry one step further. When they reach 400,000 votes, the working classes will have a considerable majority of the whole borough constituency. The rental of these voters will be represented by £4,000,000, while the gross estimated rental of all the boroughs of England and Wales is £41,000,000. So that rental paying poor-rate on an assessment of £41,000,000 will be governed and taxed by rental paying only on 4,000,000, or less than one-tenth of its amount. According to the figures laid upon the table of the House, it must happen that in a very short time the working classes must be the predominating power in the boroughs of the country. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) smiles, and I daresay he has an answer ready for me. I can assure him I shall listen to it with a pleasure equal to that I felt in reading this pamphlet. It was said by an hon. Gentleman opposite, that the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns) said, that in considering the question of the reduction of the franchise no regard should be paid to the fitness of a person to receive a vote. But that was not the statement of my hon. and learned friend. The argument he made use of, and which has not been answered, was this: Did you find fitness when you brought in a £5 limit? Did you find fitness when you brought in a £6 limit? And have you found fitness in the £7 limit; and what test do you apply to find it? I should like to know from those lawyers where it is shown in the books that, according to our Constitution, the suffrage is given to fitness. Supposing a working man were to stop me on the bridge outside, and were to say, "I am intelligent and industrious. I wrote three articles for a newspaper last week; will you give me a right to vote?" I should reply, I will not, because the right to vote is based upon property, and not upon fitness. Have we forgotten that the right to vote was always based upon property? that the 40s. freehold was originally worth, when created, what would now be equivalent to £30 per annum? It is with alarm that I find the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. J. S. Mill) saying, that upon all the grounds upon which to rest the franchise, property seemed to him to be about the worst. [Mr. MILL: Hear, hear!] Well, we have, at all events, found out what the hon. Member for Westminster means. I have a sincere respect and admiration for him; and I trust that, from the serene heights of his philosophy, he will look down with pity upon us who are groping amid the mists and shadows of the valley, and enlighten us upon points upon which we are ignorant; but I must venture to tell the hon. Member, that the principle enunciated in the sentence I have referred to is simply revolutionary. This is the principle that is avowed by one of the most intelligent men of the Liberal party, and if acted upon it must lead either to political or to social revolution. I am of opinion that if you are going to set about improving the country you should take I care to do so in accordance with its laws, its Constitution, and its history. The mere fact that a speculative philosopher, I sitting in his study, has drawn up a Constitution different from anything ever known in the country before, does not in the least recommend his theories to a practical man, but rather suggests to him that it would be very dangerous to allow it to be supposed for a moment that those visionary theories were about to be carried out. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster, in grappling with the Amendment moved by the noble Lord the Member for Chester (Earl Grosvenor), said all who would be admitted to the franchise would be admitted beneficially and advantageously, no matter where or how they were admitted. That, however, was not a question of political economy, or of political principle; it was simply an assertion of the hon. Member, By the terms of his proposition he is bound to make out that the addition to the franchise to be made in the Tower Hamlets and at Totnes by the present Bill are equally advantageous; but I scarcely think, that adding slightly to the venal few at Totnes will do much towards purifying Parliament. The assertion of the hon. Gentleman is practically contradicted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who admits that we ought to be informed as to what we are going to do. We are next told by the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. J. S. Mill), that those who want information ought to seek it from those who can give it. Well, I admit that there is something in that. And I suppose, because we don't exactly know the opinions of the working classes we ought to admit them to instruct and inform us upon questions of great difficulty and importance. I should like to know what those subjects are. I implore the hon. Member to explain the secrets of trades unions and strikes; he has a golden opportunity, and will thereby make a reputation for himself which will never die. Does the hon. Member mean to tell us, that the working men are to come into the House and instruct us upon these subjects? Why, there would be a strike for wages immediately. Does the hon. Member mean to say, that no man in the middle class could give us such a clear insight into the nature of strikes as a working carpenter could? The employment of a working man might be respectable and useful, but all employments could not be said to be equally honourable. It was said in a very old book and a very good book,— The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure, and he that hath little business shall become wise. How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough, and is occupied in their labours, and whose talk is of bullocks? He giveth his mind to make furrows, and is diligent to give the kine fodder. So every carpenter and workmaster that laboureth night and day, and they that cut and grave seals and are diligent to make great variety, and give themselves to counterfeit imagery, and watch to finish a work. The smith, also, sitting by the anvil, and considering the iron-work, the vapour, and the fire, wasteth his flesh, and he fighteth with the heat of the furnace, the noise of the hammer, and the anvil is ever in his ears, and his eyes look still upon the pattern of the thing that he maketh. He setteth his mind to finish his work, and watcheth to polish it perfectly. So doth a potter sitting at his work and turning the wheel about with his feet, who is alway carefully set at his work and maketh all his work by machine. He fasteneth the clay with his arm, and boweth down his strength before his feet. He applieth himself to lead it over, and he is diligent to make clean the furnace. All these trust to their hands, and every one is wise in his work. Without these cannot a city be inhabited, and they shall not dwell where they will, nor go up and down. They shall not be sought for in public counsel, nor sit high in the congregation. They shall not sit on the judges' seat, nor understand, the sentence of judgment. They cannot declare justice and judgment, and they shall not be found where parables are spoken. Now, in some sense, I believe that that passage points to the respective duties that all persons have to perform in life, and I am of opinion that nothing can be more absurd than to say, that the constitution of the Parliament of this country must be changed in order—not to do the thing which is best or reasonable or moderate towards the working classes, but to bring them into this House to discuss questions of finance, policy, the causes of poverty, of ignorance, and, perchance, the hon. Gentleman stopped short of the causes of death. One thing in favour of these opinions was, that they never could be carried into effect. Turning to the speeches of the two Members for Lambeth (Mr. Doulton and Mr. Hughes), I was as much pleased with the eloquence and manliness of the one as I was pained with the other. The latter hon. Gentleman denied that Mr. Smiles in his excellent publications represented the ordinary working man, and entirely forgot that the 400,000 or 500,000 persons to be enfranchised by the Bill before us were 200,000 more than had been enfranchised in 1832. In order to show what is intended by the system proposed to be adopted, and what persons are to have power over us in future, I have looked into that repository of wisdom—the speeches of the hon. Member for Birmingham. The House has heard his speech to-night, and has listened to his views, and in reply I will read one or two passages from his former speeches. He said, to-night that the true question of Parliamentary Reform was the enfranchisement of numbers of the people. But the hon. Gentleman in one of his published speeches says:— Whenever a Reform Bill is brought into the House of Commons by any Government, be as watchful as you like on the subject of the franchise, but never take your eyes for one moment from the distribution of the Members; for, if you do, you will have to fight your battle over again the day after it passes. But the hon. Gentleman told us to-night to avert our eyes from the distribution of seats. Now, I have pursued this subject through every speech made by the hon. Gentleman, and reprinted in this book, and I find the same idea repeated over and over again in the most remarkable manner, both with respect to the redistribution of seats and to the ballot. He distinctly says three or four times, that if he were offered a Bill for the enfranchisement of the working classes without the ballot he would refuse it. He says distinctly they would be injured without the protection of the Ballot. And then it might be gratifying to the House to hear his description of the Foreign Office—the analogy which he draws is very clever but painful to read. He says: "I have often compared in my own mind the people of England with the people of Egypt." Now I object to all such comparisons. I think there is nothing more unworthy of an Englishman than to make comparisons of this kind:— And the Foreign Office of this country to the temples of the Egyptians. We are told by those who pass up and down the Nile, that you perceive on its banks temples, with stately statues and massive and lofty columns, statues each one of which would appear to have exhausted a quarry in its production. You have further vast chambers and gloomy passages; and some innermost recess, some holy of holies, in which, when you arrive at it, you find some loathsome reptile which a nation reverenced and revered and bowed itself down to worship. That is the way in which the hon. Member speaks of what he calls "the mystery" which presides at the Foreign Office. I need not give his description of the county Members. Lord Macaulay called them "ponderous fox-hunters." Well, there are, I am happy to say, many "ponderous fox-hunters" on the other side as well as on this of the House; but my opinion of the "ponderous fox-hunters" is, that they are the balance of the Constitution; that they can hunt down a fallacy with as much courage and skill as they can a fox; and now I tell them, that their heads will be as heavy as their horses if they permit the hon. Member for Birmingham to get what he has called "the great lever," to obtain such a redis- tribution of seats as he desires. The hon. Gentleman has made his calculation seat by seat, and he says there are 90 seats which should be given to the great boroughs, 6 more to Lambeth—that is enough to take one's breath away. I don't know how many he gives to Manchester, but out of the 120 seats he would bestow 15 upon the counties; and in doing so he shows frankly and candidly the affectionate regard which he has for the landed interest; for he says he would give these 15 seats to particular counties, because the people of those counties have the least to do with the land. Fifteen seats for the county members! Why, 46 were offered by Lord John Russell in 1854. That is the Bill that the hon. Member for Birmingham means to carry as soon as the Franchise Bill simpliciter has been passed through a credulous House of Commons. As for the House of Peers, the hon. Gentleman thinks it a very silly institution. On the question of the distribution of seats he says:— Well, then, you observe that there is not very much discussion at this moment on the question of the franchise; the discussion now turns upon the mode in which I have endeavoured to arrange the distribution of Members after having disfranchised a certain number of boroughs, and obtained a certain number of seats. Well, that was written, revised, and published by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. S. Mill), who stated to-night that the true question was the enfranchisement of voters; whereas here he says that the real question is the redistribution of seats, which he has arranged in the manner which I have described. If you look through the speeches published by the hon. Gentleman you will arrive at the conclusion, which is as clear as daylight, that this Bill is framed to carry out those opinions which I fear I have stated at too great length with the view of establishing my theory that this Bill is the Bill not of Her Majesty's Government but of the hon. Member for Birmingham. The hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge) complained of the manner in which the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) commented on the conduct of those Gentlemen on the other side of the House, who were supposed to have changed their opinions on this subject. I have only to say for the noble Lord that he spoke and acted according to his nature—that is, he made abashing and brilliant charge on the enemies of the Constitution, just as he would at the head of his patriotic forces on the enemies of his country. He spread confusion into the camp of the adversary, and he is now waiting for the trumpet of victory. But, with regard to the story of Diogenes, I would remind the hon. and learned Member for Exeter, that we heard it here before; it has obtained Parliamentary sanction, and, therefore, might have been spared on a late occasion. But if Diogenes came here he would have found in the noble Lord a very genial and kindly gentleman, who might have had an opportunity of converting to his opinion Diogenes, who was perhaps an unsentimental Radical. Now, the arguments advanced by the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Forster) do not require an answer. He appeared to me, like the Solicitor-General for Scotland (Mr. Young), to be willing to take anything he might get Both those hon. Gentlemen had said in committee we might deal with the Bill as we thought fit—they would be satisfied with £8, £7, or perhaps £9. Well, that showed me they had very little settled convictions as to their own measure, and very little strength of purpose to carry it through the House. I intended, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were here, to put a question as to a passage which occurs in his speech at Liverpool. He is reported to have spoken words to this effect, and as I quote from The Times I have no doubt they are correct:— I stated in the House of Commons, as a kind of challenge, what I hoped would be repelled with eagerness and indignation. I said to some Gentlemen who were discussing this subject, 'You seem to treat the working men who are to be admitted to the Constitution as an invading army.' To my great astonishment, to my great pain, that imputation, which I had hoped would be indignantly repelled, was warmly accepted as a perfectly true description of the view taken by them. I have spoken a little to-night of the letter of the hon. Member for Birmingham, but in my opinion that part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if spoken by him, requires still more than the letter of the hon. Member for Birmingham to be justified, to be withdrawn, or to be apologized for in this House. For in referring to the report of the matter, as it appeared in the columns of The Times, I find that the words are his words, the idea is his idea. A question was asked the right hon. Gentleman, and in answering it he made these observations. Nobody assented, nobody made any remark, and I must say that I do not believe that there is any hon. Gentleman on this side of the House who would regard the working classes as an invading army. Was it worthy, then, of the leader of the House, or of his high position in the councils of Her Majesty, when he found himself at Liverpool, to have made these observations, which reflected almost as severely on the character of the House of Commons as the letter of the hon. Member for Birmingham himself I should have thought he would have been the very first man to have stood up in defence of the character of this House, and that he would have thought it his duty proudly to repel any imputations which might have been cast upon Gentlemen who sit here as representatives of the people. I am very sorry the right hon. Gentleman is not here, and, therefore, I shall not say at present what I intended. Now, the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. J. S. Mill) stated that the aristocracy of this country ought to be thankful, because they were not treated like privileged classes in other countries. I listened to that sentiment with very great pain, because I did not believe that the aristocracy of England, including in it the great body of the gentry, deserved that character. If we refer to the past history of England, we shall find that on all occasions the gentry and aristocracy have identified themselves with the people, and that this patrician senate has not been the worse for their presence, their abilities, their eloquence, and their fortunes. I cannot help thinking that it will be an unhappy time when those opinions take root, and when the great body of the people of this country cease to honour those who are worthy of honour, and to respect those who merit respect. [Mr. STUART MILL was understood to say that the right hon. Gentleman had misquoted his words.] He would quote the words used by the hon. Gentleman, who in his speech said: Their reward was that, by doing no harm, they were not hated as other privileged classes sometimes bad been. But was that all the Legislature of this country could offer to the people? Were they to be content, with only undoing the mischief which they and their predecessors had done in former times? This, I venture to think, coming from a man of intellect—a man from whose writings I, in common with others, have derived instruction—is an opinion which I cannot help regarding as painful, and as one which is contradicted by the whole history of the country; one too which, in my opinion, is not consistent with that generosity, with those feelings of benevolence, which should always characterise a man of high mark and intellect such as the hon. Gentleman. But the truth is that, throughout the whole of the debate, and throughout the whole of the speeches of the hon. Member for Birmingham, it is quite plain that this measure of Parliamentary Reform is levelled against the just influence or power of the aristocracy defined by the laws and apportioned by the very nature of our Constitution. It will be an unfortunate day for the country when this policy prevails; and because I entertain that opinion, and because I believe that our Constitution, not easily erected, may be speedily destroyed; because I believe the Constitution is not the hasty product of a day, but the well-ripened fruit of wise delay, I ask the House not to read the Bill a second time, but to support the Amendment, logically drawn out and logically argued, and supported by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), and by the noble Lord the Member for Chester (Earl Grosvenor).


said, he could assure the House that, warned by example, he would endeavour to be brief; and that if he had occasion to make any citations out of "Hansard," or any other authority, he should take care to do it with more accuracy than his hon. and learned Friend who had just sat down. He did not think that, in that stage of this long debate, shreds and scraps of old discussions ought to govern their judgment, or influence their conclusions. He believed in the perfect capacity of the House to decide for itself, though "Hansard" were committed to the flames. But he thought that, before the debate closed, some of them who had the honour of sitting for large constituencies, composed mainly of the middle classes, but in some degree also of the working classes, were called upon to repudiate the objections which had been insinuated, rather than alleged, against the latter; and to repudiate also, as he did as a middle class man, that worst and gravest of all insinuations, that the middle classes were opposed to the enfranchisement of their working fellow-countrymen. He would put that question to a test, which every thoughtful man believed to be the most infallible of all tests, the test of the coming division. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Whiteside) laid great stress on the fact, that the representatives of two large towns were going to vote against the Bill; but arrayed on the other side would be found the representatives of all the other great towns of the United Kingdom. Of two things one: either all the men who represented large boroughs were, as the hon. and learned Gentleman had described them, men without opinions of their own—men obeying abjectly the bidding of their constituents—or they were independent men with convictions of their own. If they were only delegates, did hon. Gentlemen opposite think they would go into the lobby against the Amendment if they thought that, by doing so, their seats would be in danger? If Gentlemen who sat below the gangway on that side were independent and high-minded men, who throughout their lives had advocated the enfranchisement of those who lived by labour, it was hard to be told that they were insincere on this question, and that they shaped their course for fear they should be discarded by their constituencies. He had listened with anxiety to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) when he supported the special demurrer of the noble Lord the Member for Chester, with an ability about which there could be no second opinion. He remembered the first speech made in that House by the noble Lord sixteen years ago, when, regardless of the traditions of his party upon the great question of popular education, and taking a course of his own, he gave reason to hope that he would influence the House by eloquent argument and profound thought—a hope that had since been so well realized. When he contrasted that first speech with the one the noble Lord delivered the other night, for the first time he found the noble Lord to lack that characteristic quality which had hitherto distinguished him—that was, candour towards the House and frankness in the disclosure of his opinions. The noble Lord was very ingenious in evading the question before the House—very ingenious in giving reasons why they should not entertain the Bill, the main reason being that the Bill did not provide for the redistribution of seats. But the noble Lord was one of those who voted again and again with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks, and other leaders of his party for the Bill introduced in 1850—to do what? to change in a vertical direction the elective franchise for the counties and boroughs in England. From beginning to end of that much-contested Bill the objection was never raised that it was not coupled with a redistribution of seats. The Bill went up to the House of Lords, where a £12 franchise was adopted, which this House accepted as a compromise; but neither in the one House nor the other was the question of the redistribution of seats raised as a necessary adjunct to the measure. Now, constitutional principles were not political vegetables—sometimes out of season and sometimes in—what was right then was right now, and what was wrong then was wrong now. During the progress of that Bill it was hoped, on a critical division, to raise the county franchise from £8 to £15. The late Sir Robert Peel was not at the moment in the House; but on a subsequent stage he took the unusual course of saying, that if he had been in the House, and from the peculiar knowledge he had of Ireland and of the wants of that country, that if he had been present he would have voted for the £8 franchise. Now, this Bill, which his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin denounced as revolutionary, proposed to go down only so far as £14 with regard to the counties. What did the argument of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn amount to? To this, stripped of the careful verbiage in which it was so well put. to the House—If you pass this Bill, what guarantee can you give that another Parliament may not have to deal with the question of redistribution? He humbly submitted that that was an unconstitutional question to put to the House. It was based on the supposition of a solution of the continuity of Parliamentary authority; and it took it for granted that Parliament, in any Session, was not at perfect liberty to deal, as it might think fit, with the legislation adopted in a preceding Session. The noble Lord asked, what security could they have that this Parliament would deal with the other part of the Reform question, or that the same Ministers would deal with it, or that circumstances might not occur which would change the character and temper of the House, and prevent the question being discussed in the same spirit as now? The noble Lord further argued that there would be a disadvantage in again appealing to the people before the whole question of Parliamentary Reform should be settled. But, even if that should be so, it would furnish no sufficient argument against the present Bill; for although they were told on the highest authority that they should not do evil in order that good might come of it, they were nowhere told that they should not do so because it might be accompanied with some evil. The Leader of the Opposition had stated, that if this measure were to pass, the character of the House would be lowered, because it would infuse a greater portion of the working classes into the constituencies, and that would inevitably cut off the close boroughs, and thus the Crown would be crippled in the choice of the Executive. The right hon. gentleman, with that felicity of illustration of which he was so great a master, told the House to refresh their memories with a recollection of the eminent men who, within the last hundred years, had sat for close boroughs. But he (Mr. Torrens) could not help thinking that a very erroneous impression prevailed extensively upon that point; and he would cite a few facts which led him to an opposite conclusion. Mr. Fox, it was true, got into that House before he was of age, and it was true that he held place while he sat for a rotten borough; but Mr. Fox was never thought of for the Cabinet until he had fought and won the city of Westminster, Though a most indolent man, he never shrank from the drudgery of contests for twenty-seven years. He stood the racket of Covent Garden and the ribaldry of Palace Yard, and continued to represent the great constituency of Westminster, in office and out of office, without interruption, to the end of his life. Again, Sir Charles Grey entered that House, not for a rotten borough, but for the county of Northumberland. No man was more inclined to resist dictation from any quarter, and yet Mr. Grey, afterwards Prime Minister of this country, so long as he sat in that House, sat for the county of Northumberland. Mr. Windham, the third of that great galaxy of talent, never sat for a rotten borough, but through his whole Parliamentary life he represented either the city of Norwich or the county of Norfolk. So much for the Whigs; now for the Tories. They were told that Mr. Pitt was a man made by borough-mongering. It was true that in his impatience to enter Parliament he took the borough of Appleby; but in three years he left it to become the representative of the great constituency of the University of Cambridge, and whether in office or in opposition he continued to sit for that University. Lord Castlereagh sat for the county of Down for thirty years; never for a close borough. Mr. Canning, it was true, had been the representative of Newport, but he had also been the representative of Liverpool. He would not weary the House with other illustrations. We found that men who had held office with the greatest power and with the greatest credit since the beginning of the century were representatives of great constituencies; for instance, Mr. Spring-Rice, Mr. Poulett Thomson, and, above all, Lord Russell, who for twenty-three years thought it worth while to contest the representation of the city of London. And Lord Derby, as we all knew, entered the House for Preston, and afterwards sat for South Lancashire. It was said that great constituencies would not gratefully accept the suffrage now proposed—that if the House looked to such constituencies as Marylebone and Lambeth, they would find that a great portion of those who enjoyed the franchise did not think it worth while to record their votes at the hustings. Now, he believed that no small amount of misapprehension prevailed on that point also. A statement had been published to the effect, that only one-half of the electors on the register had voted at the last election in the borough of Finsbury, which he represented; but he found that two-thirds of those electors had voted upon that occasion. And, further, he should observe that the mere fact of abstaining from voting did not prove the existence of a feeling of indifference with respect to questions of public policy. What had happened in the case of the divisions in that House, and how had hon. Members used their right of voting? Consider what had happened in the last five years. In the year 1861 there were 187 divisions, and out of that number there were only fifteen, in which one-half of the House voted, and only six in which two-thirds of the House voted. In the year 1862 there were 222 divisions, and out of that number there were only six, in which one-half of the House voted, and only two in which two-thirds of the House voted. In the year 1863 there were 188 divisions, in eight of which only one-half of the House voted, and in one of which only two-thirds of the House voted. The proportions had been much the same during the last two years; but those facts did not prove that they were indifferent about questions of freedom of trade, or of freedom of conscience, or of taxation, or of foreign policy. Many members of that House appeared to have been scared by the threat of the evils which would follow from admitting any considerable portion of the working classes to the franchise; and it had been stated that the trades unions would in that case be used for purposes of political combination. He did not share that apprehension. He regarded the trades unions themselves as a striking proof of the growing intelligence of the working classes, and of their readiness to depend upon moral and social influences rather than upon violence and crime; and he did not believe that they would ever be employed for mere political purposes. Hon. Gentlemen who had talked so rashly on that subject knew nothing of the character and temper of those classes. He believed that the great employers of labour throughout the country would, like the hon. Member for the West Riding (Sir Francis Crossley) bear testimony that the working classes were animated by a feeling of loyalty to our institutions; and he deeply regretted that there had been used by the Members of that House language depreciatory of the character of the great mass of their fellow-countrymen. ["No, no!"] He was glad to hear that cry of "No;" but it could not efface the memory of such language as that which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne. The right hon. Member for Hertfordshire, as well as other Gentlemen opposite, did not deny that the working classes were fit for the exercise of the franchise; why, he would ask, should they refuse to extend to them that privilege? He contended that the present House was bound to fulfil the pledges given by its predecessors on the subject of Parliamentary Reform. Making every allowance for exaggeration, he maintained that this was a middle class Bill, but more a working class Bill. It completed the comple- ment of the middle class enfranchisement, but he should be perfectly dumb before any assembly of working classes, if it were to be intended that this was a sufficient payment of the debt due to the working classes. If equals were added to unequals the disproportion remained. The present Bill would add about equally to the number of the middle and of the working classes enjoying the franchise, leaving the former the same preponderance as they now had; and he could not understand how hon. Gentlemen could get up and say that it would swamp the middle classes. The Government statistics were in many respects very inaccurate, and in no respect were they more so than in the conjectural figures given to denote the proportion of working men who now possessed the franchise. No one who was practically acquainted with the elements of which the large constituencies consisted would, he believed, endorse statements contained in these returns. There was nothing like 20 per cent of waged men in the existing constituencies. He believed the calculations of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) were nearest the mark; but let them put it as they liked, no calculation could be attempted with the statistics on the table for groundwork which could at all support the assertion that the effect would be to swamp the middle classes. At present the working men had about one-fourth of the borough constituency. It was proposed to increase the borough constituency by one-half and the county constituency by about as much—the whole addition being about 400,000. He did not see how they would convince either the borough or county constituencies that the effect would be to swamp the middle classes. He was not there to defend the Government, nor to be the apologist of the working classes, who, he believed, would not thank any man to defend them against vague imputations. They had, for a long while, thought it useless to petition the House, believing that Parliament had made up its mind not to do anything in the matter of Reform; but since this Bill had been brought in, no less than 778 petitions had been sent in, signed by fully half a million of people. If in all the cases where petitions were adopted by large public meetings and signed by the chairmen on their behalf, as, for instance, was the case at a meeting of more than 3,000, at which he was present, the numbers were added, the total would be, he would not say double, but certainly very largely increased. There were hardly any petitions worth naming in comparison against the Bill. But they were asked to let the question go off on the technical and temporary question raised by the resolution of the noble Lord the Member for Chester, and supported by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, in order that their overdue promises might not be paid till next year. His opinion was that they ought not to do so, but to pass this Bill, by which they would restore the good fueling of the people and give them confidence in the justice and wisdom of the House.


Sir, in rising, as I do, under a sense of deep anxiety, to address the House, the calm and serene spirit which the hon. Member for Birmingham says that my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) and myself have exhibited in connexion with this very question of Parliamentary Reform will, at all events, be some guarantee of sincerity in the statement I am about to offer. The question which has been discussed now for six nights has ranged over such a variety of topics that I will endeavour, if I can, to bring myself, at least, if not the House, back to the short though prominent and important issue raised in this debate. That issue, raised by the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Chester to the second reading of the Bill moved by the Government, is, whether, admitting the necessity of Parliamentary Reform, you ought to settle that question on a full review of the whole subject, or according to the proposition contained in the Bill, you are to look at a part of the subject in the first instance, and decide that part before you are in possession of the other portion. Now, Sir, notwithstanding the observations made by the hon. Member for Birmingham to-night, notwithstanding the efforts which both he and the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Torrens M'Cullagh) have made to refute and confute the calm, and I must add the candid and honest, observations of my noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn, that argument of my noble Friend was so cogent, so clear, so complete, and so concise, that, if the debate had not been continued for six consecutive nights. I should have thought there would have been absolutely an end of the question on the first evening that the issue was raised. But since the matter has been argued I have endeavoured to gather from all the speeches that have been made, and to condense shortly, the reasons urged against the Amendment. These reasons may all, I believe, be summed up as follows:—The Parliamentary pledge of which we have heard so much down to the very last speech that has been spoken; the importance of giving or securing to the working classes—or what are called the working classes—a substantial voice in our representative system; the intrinsic merits of the Bill, which the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs tells us ought, irrespective of other considerations, to commend the measure to the House; lastly, and what I think the most important question of all, the question which was raised last night with a suavity of manner and with an agreeable address, both in style and language, which could not fail to win the attention of the House, as it has always won the affection of all the friends of the hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge). Now, with regard to the Parliamentary pledge: if there be any pledge of the nature that is alleged, there is an end of the discussion. I agree that such a pledge ought to be kept, and I am sure that the House would not flinch from doing so. But how does the matter of this pledge stand? Can anybody contend that, because Parliament pledged itself upon the recommendation of the Ministers of the Crown to consider the question of Parliamentary Reform, Parliament is therefore bound to accept any measure of Reform however imperfect, merely because it happens to be so recommended? Or can you think that this House would be guilty—I was going to say of the absurdity—of admitting that upon a question of this great importance, involving not only the reconstruction of this House, but the redistribution of political power, the House could be bound to a determination of that question until the Government have furnished us with all the materials and with all the propositions which we are entitled to have before us? Nor is that all. There are circumstances connected with this pledge that ought not to be forgotten. When first it was made, it was made by the noble Lord the present head of the Government—not so much, I must say, for the purpose of satisfying a just demand made by the people, as of satisfying the exigencies of a tottering Administration. And when Government after Government have followed in the same wake, and endeavoured to submit to this House measures which this House might approve, they have been so varied, so contradictory, that Parliament cannot be pledged to anyone of them until it exercises a judgment as to which it shall choose. Why, Sir, we can none of us forget what took place in the year 1860. We have virtually the same Government now that we had then, save that it has lost its distinguished leader. In that year a Bill was brought forward and withdrawn, not so much through opposition on this side of the House as on the other. But if Parliament was pledged to go on with that Bill, I ask the Government, why did they allow five Sessions to succeed each other—they, the same Ministers of the Sovereign whose recommendations were communicated to us in 1860, occupying their places all the while—why did they not, in any of those intervening Sessions, bring forward a measure of Parliamentary Reform? If I the pledge was good, it was as good in 1861, in 1862, in 1863, in 1864, in 1865, as it is in the year 1866. And the matter does not even end there; for last year, when the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) brought forward his Bill, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, then the organ of the Government during the temporary absence of Lord Palmerston, said, from his place on that bench, that they, the Ministers, considered their pledge had been redeemed; that they did not intend to recommend the Crown to dissolve Parliament and go to the country on any question except that of confidence in Lord Palmerston. Under those circumstances, if the Government postponed the fulfilment of their pledge for their own convenience, I ask whether the House is not entitled to ask for a postponement of the pledge on their part till they have before them full means of dealing with the question?

I now come to the question of the desirability of securing to the working classes a substantial voice in our representative system. And here let me remind the House, that when the question of Reform was first re-opened, it was re-opened under the impression that the number of voters in the boroughs and counties had not kept pace with the wealth and intelligence of the people; and, se- condly, it was intimated by my right hon. Friend the. Chancellor of the Exchequer two years ago, that the working classes were only represented in an infinitesimal proportion on the roll of electors. He believed that the working men were not one-twentieth—certainly not one-tenth of the electors. But when the House saw the returns—that statistical information which is of immense value to bring fuller information on the subject than ever we had before—it appeared that the number of voters had kept pace with the wealth and intelligence of the people in the same ratio, at all events with the numbers of the people who represented that wealth and intelligence. It also appears that the working classes, instead of being one-twentieth or one-tenth, are one-fourth of the constituencies. The hon. Member for Birmingham denies the accuracy of those returns. But I ask him, and those Gentlemen who agree with him in that view, what has this House to depend on but the returns furnished by the Government? Even if those returns are inaccurate—as grossly inaccurate as the hon. Member supposes—what is the proper inference to draw from that fact? Why, that legislation ought to be postponed till we obtain accurate information. That is the legitimate inference. But supposing it appears from those returns that the number of electors of tin-working class on the register is not sufficient and that you ought to add to them, the problem to be solved is, not only the additional number you ought to provide, but how they will be placed—and how can you determine that until you know what these constituencies are to be? I cannot leave this part of the question without referring to some observations made by the hon. Member for Birmingham, and to an argument used by the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) in one of those philosophic speeches which always delight the House. The Member for Birmingham alluded to meetings and petitions on the subject of this Bill. He knows more of those meetings than I can pretend to do, as I only acquire my information with reference to them from what appears in the papers; but, from what I have gathered in this way, it seems to me that those meetings are always attended largely by political partizans and agitators, and not so largely by working men. The question is, how far these demonstrations represent the opinions of the working men? It appears to me that they were attended more by political partizans than by those who may be considered as the fair representatives of the working men And when I look to the petitions presented to this House—I did look through all those which had been presented on the subject up to Saturday—I find that they represent the opinions of mayors, corporations, and influential persons, inhabitants of towns; but almost all are drawn in a form which stamps them as not coming from working men, though they state that the working men are fully determined to have the franchise extended. As far as I could make out, up to this evening, when the hon. Member for Hull {Mr. Clay) presented petitions, there was only one which came from a working man. And did this petition ask for a second reading of this Bill? No; it was a petition presented, not in favour of this Bill, but in favour of the Bill of the hon. Member for Hull; and it stated a very good reason on the part of the petitioners—namely, that the hon. Member's Bill would encourage men to raise themselves higher in the scale of intelligence. Will the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. J. Stuart Mill) now permit me to venture to question his argument? In his very philosophic speech on this Bill, he started with an assumption that begged the greater part of the question; and he arrived at a conclusion which I think was diametrically opposed to his own written opinions, and which, as it seems to me, is based on constitutional error. His argument began in this way: This Bill is a good one in itself, and being a good one in itself I think we ought to vote for it, and against the Amendment. But the hon. Gentleman will at once see, that though the hon. Member for Birmingham and others who agree with him in thinking the Bill a good one in itself, his concluding observation was a good recommendation for those who think the Bill a bad one; that observation was one which ought to have very little weight. The hon. Member addressed another argument to the House which he thought ought to have weight with those who hold Conservative opinions. He said all classes ought to be represented; but the working classes were either nor, represented or represented inefficiently, and that it would be for the interest of the House themselves—in which opinion I very much agree—if they could hear some intelligent artizans express their opinions and discuss questions in which they are interested, though these might be such as persons in other states of life did not agree in. Now, the argument of the hon. Member with respect to class representation was based on the constitutional error, that in England the principle of representation is not by communities, but by classes. But the principle of representation in England is representation by communities, not by classes; and if you once tried to get a representation by classes, you would involve yourself in this dilemma:—The working class is not a single class standing by itself, but an aggregate of many classes, and either they must all be represented by separate representatives, or they must be represented by one man. In the former case you must reform your Constitution; in the latter you would give no satisfaction to the men whom you want to have represented. But the hon. Member concluded in a manner which, I think, was at variance with his own recorded opinions. This Bill is not one for a lateral extension of the franchise, but a measure for the reduction of the franchise in counties and boroughs. Well, in the hon. Member's work on Parliamentary Reform, he demolishes the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that every man has a right to a vote unless specially disqualified. The hon. Member lays down that, if the representative were returned merely to govern the elector himself, that proposition would be true; but if he is elected to govern other persons, you must measure the value of the man's vote. And with regard to county constituencies, no one has pointed out so ably, so forcibly, and so well as the hon. Member, that which once or twice I endeavoured to suggest to this House, which is, that you ought not to throw on the counties all the urban constituencies, inasmuch as, naturally, they would destroy the representation of the agricultural or rural interests; but that you ought to collect them into constituencies by themselves. If that is the opinion of the hon. Member for Westminster, I ask him to vote for the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Chester. Again, in his Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform, the hon. Member for Westminster supposes not only the possibility, but almost the certainty, that the two ques- tions of the extension of the franchise and the redistribution of seats, or, as he calls it, "the grouping of boroughs," could be treated together; bat in such case he says we ought to treat that which is the more crying of the two evils, or, as he calls it, the more "peccant part of the Constitution;" and he says that this is not the franchise, but the state of the boroughs: he says, if you are to treat I the franchise first, you leave the other question to chance; you may drive it here or there, or leave it nowhere. Yet the hon. Member is now prepared to vote for this Bill for the extension of the franchise, and to leave the Bill for the redistribution of seats to chance. I think the hon. Member's speech is not in accordance with his writings; but I beg leave to subscribe to his printed opinions, as preferable to words which he has spoken in this House.

Now, let us turn to the next point. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said that this was a good Bill in itself, and that, therefore, we ought to press it forward. He gave five reasons why we should do so, but I am not going into them. I wish the House, however, to consider this. We have had several Bills on Parliamentary Reform recommended in different Parliaments, but of all the Bills we have yet had, I will venture to say, that if we get into Committee upon it the present Bill will be found to be the least defensible and the most defective. All the other Bills avowedly endeavoured to deal with the whole subject, this, as avowedly, deals I only with a part. The authors of all the other Bills professed themselves to be governed by the principles of the Constitution. I look into this Bill, and I assure you I can see no principle in it, except the principle that it unsettles everything; and settles nothing. All the other Bills kept up the connexion between representation and taxation; this Bill destroys that connexion altogether. And if you go on reducing the franchise merely, instead of extending it to other persons besides those to whom you intend to give it by a reduction, depend upon it you will arrive at a point where the famous antithesis will be realized—that those who govern will not be those who pay, and that those who pay will not be allowed to govern. All the other Bills proceeded upon the notion that you ought to have a variety of franchises; for the noble Lord at the head of the Government, the great author of the first Reform Bill, has said that a great mistake was made in confining the franchise to one species of voters only—namely, the £10 householders, and that you ought to have a variety of franchises in order to make the constituencies sufficiently comprehensive. That was the opinion which the noble Lord expressed in this House not many years ago. Now, with the exception of the lodger franchise and the savings bank franchise, you have literally no species of franchise here except a franchise which proceeds in a downward direction, and necessarily therefore—I say this without any reproach to those who might get the franchise under the Bill—it goes to people of less independence and less intelligence, as a body, than those who are living in £10 houses. I, therefore, think that, if you look at all the other Bills and compare them with this, you will find that the present Bill has really more defects than any which has been presented to the House.

I am afraid that I am forced here to allude very briefly, and I must add, with very deep regret, to a matter which is personal to myself. The hon. Member for Birmingham said that I left Her Majesty's Government on the ground that I was in favour of a reduction of the borough franchise to £8; and he went on to remark that the difference between that franchise and the one at present proposed was only £1. And to-night the hon. Gentleman made some further remarks with regard to my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) and myself. I assure him and I assure the House, that if it were not that I believe the explanation I am going to make is material to the present Bill, T would maintain silence. The matter, however, has been mentioned and my opinion quoted; and if my opinion is worth anything at all, it ought to be quoted correctly. Now, Sir, it is perfectly true that my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire and myself had to undergo the most painful trial which any public man can have to go through—a temporary separation from his political friends. But I can assure the hon. Member for Birmingham and the House, both in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire and in my own, that we thought we were at least proceeding on plain intelligible constitutional principles. Let me explain. We did not resign our places in Her Majesty's Government on the ground of the reduction of the franchise. What we did say was, that we thought we saw in the Constitution, that the county and borough franchises were distinctly placed upon different bases—the county franchise resting on property and tenure, and the borough franchise on occupation and residence, both, however, being connected with taxation. We were afraid that any proposition to reduce the county franchise to a common level with the borough franchise would do away with that distinction. We thought there was danger in any reduction of the franchise either in the boroughs or the counties; that if you took an arbitrary line, from whatever point you might take it, you would always be in danger of being dragged down to some lower level, until at last it would end in universal suffrage. We thought—and we may perhaps have been wrong—that we could find a resting-place on which to set the suffrage, by fixing the county occupation franchise at £20, and the borough occupation franchise at £8. Our reasons were, that a county franchise of £20 would bring it into immediate connexion with the direct taxation of the country in the shape of the house-tax, and that £20 householders had the requisite qualification for serving upon juries. Then we thought that if the borough franchise were reduced to £8—or rather to something above a £6 rating, which would be equivalent to an £8 rental—we could keep up the connexion between representation and taxation; because at that figure the landlord could not ordinarily compound for the tenant's rates at a lower sum than the other householders of the town had to pay; but below that sum the landlord might compound for one-third, and in some cases for one-half of the value, and the consequence would be, first of all, that you would have a class of voters paying less in the shape of rates; secondly, what I think will be found absolutely fatal to this Bill if it passes, the landlord who compounds with his tenants would have those occupiers under his control and corrupting influence—and there is nothing which I know of so dangerous as to have that going on from year to year and through every year. That is the truth of the case. I repeat that I should not have made this explanation if I had not deemed it material to the present discussion. Now, what are the Government doing? They have created two new arbitrary lines, fixing the county franchise at £14, and the borough franchise at £7. There is no taxation whatever, on which either of these lines is based. I do not know why we are to take a £14 franchise for counties except that it is twice £7; and, in like manner, I do not know why the borough franchise should be fixed at £7, except that that sum is the half of £14. For my part I can see no principle whatever in this; and unless you intend to maintain the connexion between representation and taxation, I distinctly and deliberately say that, if we get into Committee on the Bill, I shall never consent to those two portions of it.

I turn now to the next point—the point which the hon. Member for Birmingham said was the most important of all—and I entirely agree with him. This is the point which the hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge), and the hon. Member for Birmingham addressed you so wisely and so forcibly—the importance, the immense importance, of our endeavouring to settle this question. Nothing can be more mischievous than leaving a great question like this unsettled, and allowing it to be the subject of political agitation out of doors, and the shuttlecock of parties within. If you are to settle it you are bound to settle it finally, and I think you can do that much more easily by voting for the Amendment of the noble Earl than by voting in favour of the Bill. The hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge) put it in the fairest way possible. He said, "I vote against the Amendment of the noble Earl the Member for Chester, because in the first place it is ill-timed, in the second place it is ill-constructed, and in the third place it will not settle the question, but will tend to postpone the settlement of it." Ill-timed! That will be best decided by the approaching division. Ill-constructed! People may have their own opinions about this; but when I read it I thought it much resembled the character of the noble Lord. I thought it was clear, intelligent, straightforward, single-minded, honest, and honourable. I thought at the same time of the pang the noble Lord must have in being forced by circumstances to go against his own party, and it is for this reason that I look upon it as honest, honourable, and single minded. There are only two ways, ordinarily speaking, in which a question of this kind can be settled within these walls—namely, either by comprehending the whole subject in one Bill, or by comprehending it in two or more distinct Bills, taking care that you proceed pari passu with them all. Now, the Government have rendered it impracticable for us to take the first of these courses, because they do not give us a single comprehensive Bill. The second course is much more difficult, and you will find that the introduction of two or more Bills in such a manner that the entire subject cannot be discussed according to the rules of the House must tend to delay and end in disappointment. You must at least have two second readings, two Committees, and two third readings, with discussions at each of those stages. Do you think that will not cause delay? You will hardly be able to settle the question by having your Bill so divided, for the consequence will be that this House will insist, and in my opinion rightly insist, that the Government should take no step with regard to either Bill, unless the other Bills should keep up exactly with it, taking care that one Bill shall not go on unless it be accompanied by the other. The noble Earl the Member for Chester threw out a suggestion to the Government, and my noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) threw out another. No observation has yet been made upon the last of these suggestions, but I think it may yet be found worthy of consideration. The noble Member for Chester suggested the adoption of the recommendation of Lord Grey, that you should refer the matter to the Privy Council; but the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary showed at once the fatal objection to that course, that it would only be handing over the difficulty to certain Privy Councillors, from whom it would have to come back again to this House. I own I have another objection, and a rather stronger one, to the adoption of that course. I object, in the strongest possible manner, to this House ever delegating to any other body whatever any matter connected with its own rights or privileges, and still more with its reconstruction. The suggestion of my noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn was to postpone the matter to another Session. Well, I think you will be forced to do that. But, if I may, I will add a suggestion of my own, which I offer to the Chancellor of the Exchequer—Whether you carry the second reading of the Bill or not, whether you go on with this Bill during the present year, or whether you are forced to postpone it to another, I think we have got into such an entanglement upon this question, that you cannot have recourse to the ordinary mode of procedure if you want to succeed. The House will remember that, when you got into a similar difficulty with regard to the Government of India, a suggestion was made by the noble Earl now at the head of the Ministry, that you should go into Committee of the Whole House, and consider the question, laying down certain propositions and principles, taking the assent of the House to those principles, and then embodying them in a Bill, I am solely responsible for this suggestion now, and I believe if it were followed it would be the best mode of ascertaining the deliberate opinions of the House. If you adopt it, I think you will have a chance of success. In offering this suggestion to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I do it in the most perfect good faith.

Now, Sir, if all these reasons against the Amendment fail, let me ask the House just for a few moments to consider, whether the argument of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn has really been answered. I will not weaken the argument by adverting to it further; but if the noble Lord were now present in the House I would borrow from it one illustration which I think would come home to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said, and said truly, that in questions of finance the Chancellor of the Exchequer rightly tells the Members of this House that they ought not to come to any Resolution before the whole Budget is before them. But what he rightly urges upon the House as the right course to pursue in that case, the House may rightly urge upon the Government as the right course to pursue in this. Consider for a moment, what took place when the Succession Duty was proposed thirteen years ago. It was accompanied by two conditions, one recommending that the tax should be applied to individuals only, and that the question of taxing the property of corporations in a similar manner to that in which you taxed the property of individuals should be postponed for another year. This recommendation was followed, and the consequence was, that you never heard of the question again. That came of settling the question imperfectly. But when the duty was imposed there was another condition, that the income tax should cease in a certain year: but when the year arrived, the income tax was doubled. Is not this a proof how unsatisfactory such a mode of settling a question is? The Chancellor of the Exchequer may, perhaps, tell me truly with regard to that matter, that circumstances occurred over which he had no control, and that he could not foresee everything which would happen. But may not circumstances happen with regard to the reconstruction of this House over which he will have no control? What guarantee have we that the other Bill will over be forthcoming—that it will ever be proposed? This is a most serious and important question; and if on a question of finance you properly require to have the whole subject before you, important as that question may be, it sinks into insignificance as compared with the great question of the reconstruction of the House of Commons. The House of Commons is a most important body in our midst; it is not only the controlling power of the State, but it is almost the motive power of the State. In matters of finance it is nearly supreme; in all matters of legislation, Bills which are passed into law originate here; in the supervision of our public officers and the servants of the Crown, it is the only body which can interfere; even our foreign policy naturally tinctured with the tone matters lake in this House and the character they assume. But really this is not sill. The House of Commons, important as it is, forms only one part of our form of Government, and before you can properly reconstruct this House you are bound to ascertain in that reconstruction how it will harmonise with the rest of the Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has had two great political leaders and exemplars in William Pitt and Sir Robert Peel, and I will tell the House what these two men said upon this branch of the subject. Lord Stanhope records, that when Pitt was asked by an abbé in France with respect to the English Constitution, "Since, all human things are perishable, what would be the first part to decay? "Mr. Pitt paused awhile to consider, and then said, "The first parts which will perish are the prerogatives of the Crown and the authority of the Houses of Parliament. "Sir Robert Peel said, as we all remember, after the Reform Bill had passed, and he had become the Minister of the Crown, that the "greatest difficulty he had to experience in carrying on the Government of the country was to reconcile an ancient monarchy and a proud aristocracy with a reformed House of Commons." I do not say that the evils apprehended by Mr. Pitt, or the difficulties experienced by Sir Robert Peel, will be aggravated by any Reform Bill if you wisely and effectually settle the question; but in order that you may avoid those evils, in order that you may not increase those difficulties, I say you ought to have perfect and complete legislation on the subject.

These are the reasons which induce me to vote for the Amendment. I vote for it, not because I am opposed to Reform, but because I think that Reform ought to be complete and entire. I vote for the Amendment, not because I would not willingly secure for the working classes a substantial voice in the electoral system, but because I think it is as important they should not have a preponderating influence. Lastly, I vote for the Amendment, not because I am unwilling to redeem the Parliamentary pledge which has been given—I recognnize that pledge—but because I think there is no other way in which that pledge can be redeemed except by taking care that no part of the question is left untouched, unexplained, undetermined for any number of years. A pledge so given is given by the Government as well as by this House: if the Government redeem their part of the pledge by submitting to Parliament, without reserve, a full, complete, and wise measure, be assured of this, the House of Commons will not be slow to redeem as fully its part of the pledge; and, in doing so, it will not merely act according to the dictates or expectations of a Ministry, but according to that which it believes to be best and most conducive to the permanent interests of the whole community.


Sir, after the many interesting and able speeches which have been made, I must ask for myself the kind indulgence of the House. It might be thought that, in so lengthy a debate, every possible argument had been advanced, and that the subject had been put in every possible light; but so long as hon. Members opposite rise to attack the Bill, the House will, in the spirit of fair play, bear with us in defending it. We are entitled to all the more indulgence on this occasion, because the Government has to fight front and rear. Hon. Members attack the Bill and support the Amendment on such different grounds, that it is difficult to maintain the relevance of one's argument to one hon. Member, while one is replying to the arguments of another. If I understand the argument of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Walpole), he attaches the greatest importance to the redistribution of seats, and he mainly objects to the Bill before the House, because it does not deal with that branch of the subject. If other hon. Members had confined themselves as much to the Amendment we might have had easier work; but hon. Members, as much, perhaps, on our side as on the other, have not confined themselves to the issues raised by the noble Earl the Member for Chester, and, more especially, by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn. Hon. Members who have spoken in favour of the Amendment have tried to confine themselves to it; but then, so far from doing so, they have been unable to get to the end of their speeches without having a tilt at Reform. The reason why we find it so difficult to argue this question is, because we feel that while dealing with the arguments on one side, we have got to consider those which are made use of on another. What I mean is this—that it is exceedingly difficult, when hon. Members tell us that they are opposed to a reduction of the franchise, and at the same time that they only object to the mode of its introduction, to argue against persons who take up those two positions. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), I may add, made a curious declaration the other evening, which filled me with surprise. He said, "If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had adhered to the Suffrage Bill, he would have heard no objection from us on the ground that he did not also deal with the redistribution of seats." But was the right hon. Gentleman, I would ask, speaking in the name of the hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Laing), whose able and elaborate argument dealt almost exclusively with the proposition, that there ought to be a redistribution of seats? Was he speaking in the name of the noble Lord the Member for Chester, who says that if this Bill be passed by itself it will give a preponderance to the working classes? In whose name, then, was he speaking? But the right hon. Gentleman went on to say, that if we had only introduced the Franchise Bill alone, he would have discussed the Bill on its merits; certainly, that was a great deal for him to say, for in the speeches which lie has hitherto made, he seems to me to have been disposed rather to discuss the merits of the Gentlemen who sit on the Treasury Bench. I have no doubt, then, we should have this Bill discussed on its merits by the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends in much the same way as the Bill of the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) was discussed last year; so that the Government have probably not lost much by the part that he has deemed it to be his duty to take. The proposal of the hon. Member for Leeds was opposed because the right hon. Gentleman, and those who supported him, complained of it as being a mere fragmentary measure—indeed they denounced it as a "miserable Bill;" and yet the right hon. Gentleman now informs us, that if the Franchise Bill had been introduced alone, we should not have heard one word of the objections which he has advanced. That statement, however, is quite at variance with most of the speeches which we have heard on the subject. It is at variance with what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed us (Mr. Walpole), as well as with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Whiteside). And what, let me ask, has been the line of argument taken by most of those who support the Amendment? Some, I regret to say, entirely misinterpreted the course honestly adopted by the Government in order to carry a measure of Reform. Some complain that information has been withheld; and, upon that point, I should like to say a word. Hut the Amendment covers other objections. It covers the objections raised by those who have an aversion to Reform, and of those who think that a Redistribution of Seats Bill ought to be laid simultaneously with a Franchise Bill on the table, in order that: the House may, I suppose, undo with one that which it has done with the other. ["No, no!"] I know the House is sensitive on the question of its sincerity in favour of Reform, and that some hon. Members cannot be expected to listen without marks of dissent to the suggestion that they may not be over anxious on the point. I will, however, with the permission of the House, call their attention to several expressions which have fallen from various speakers in the course of this debate. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) said:— The question of Reform was revived on Lord Palmerston's death, and, as I believe, against the wishes and feelings of the country. These words were received with enthusiastic cheers by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who are "ready and anxious to consider Reform as a whole." Another hon. Member said:— What would have been our position if Lord Palmerston had lived—would we now be discussing a Reform Bill? I do not believe it. That statement also was received with enthusiastic cheering, as was also the statement of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir E. Bulwer-Lytton), who said that, under the calm and judicious leadership of Lord Palmerston, there was no chance of Reform at all. Was not there a remarkable unanimity on the point among those three speakers? and are we still to be told by those hon. Gentlemen to whom these remark- appear to have given so much satisfaction, that the House is "ready and anxious to consider Reform as a whole?" Now when, I ask, Is the House prepared to do so? Is it ready to do so now? The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) has supplied us with an answer to this question, for he has told us, It is evident the whole scheme cannot be passed this year; and the best way, in my opinion, is to suspend the whole question until 1867. I ask, do those who are so ready to discuss the question now mean, to adopt the plan of postponing it to 1867? And what says the second part of too Amendment? "That it is inexpedient to discuss a Bill for the reduction of the franchise in England and Wales "—the very thing which we have been discussing for the last fortnight. But then we are told that the speech of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn has not been answered. I would, however, remind the House, that there is another speech which has not been answered, and that is, the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General for Scotland, who dealt seriatim with every argument which the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn adduced. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are, of course, quite entitled to say that the arguments of the noble Lord have not been answered; but they can scarcely, with any show of justice, say that they have not been dealt with, because my hon. and learned Friend took them argument for argument, and disposed of them, in my opinion, in the most able manner. Fortunately for the House we have had a very clear analysis of the noble Lord's argument placed before us by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho), who began his analysis by saying:— My noble Friend supports the Amendment because the Government bring in a Bill in halves, knowing that the whole cannot be carried. Schedules are elastic. A guarantee," he adds, "is wanted, that the same body shall decide both questions. Anomalies of inequality are increasing. Government will have more influence with new constituencies. To judge of future balance of power, it is necessary to know the effect of Government Bills. Now, in the first place, the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn says, "that the Government have introduced this Bill in halves, knowing that it could not be carried otherwise." My answer to that argument is, that that is precisely the reason why we have introduced the Bill in halves. This is the first occasion on which this course has been adopted. Why? Because all other Reform Bills have failed. This is the first instance in which a Reform has been introduced unaccompanied by a measure for the redistribution of seats; and it will, I think, very likely, be the first instance in which one will have been carried. We sought to keep the two proposals distinct, in order that hon. Members who might be in favour of the reduction of the franchise might not feel themselves compelled to vote against a measure with that object, because they happened to be opposed to, it may be, a single detail in a Bill for the redistribution of seats. The argument upon this point was exceedingly well put by my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General for Scotland; and I, for my own part, can very well conceive how an hon. Gentleman who may be perfectly satisfied with a Redistribution of Seats Bill might not be so with respect to a Bill for the reduction of the franchise. As the matter now stands, an opportunity is afforded to hon. Members to vote as they please on each of the two Bills. It is quite possible that, under other circumstances, a combination of minorities might become a majority. There might be a majority in favour of a Reduction of Franchise Bill and in favour of a Redistribution of Seats Bill, taken separately; and yet it is possible that, if the two measures were united together, they might be rejected. Two majorities would thus be thwarted, and that because hon. Members might not have an opportunity of voting as they wished on either of the two measures. But then the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn says that, even though we should pass a Franchise Bill this year, circumstances might arise leading to a dissolution of Parliament, which would prevent us from dealing with the second half of our scheme of Reform next year, and upon that, among other grounds, he supports the Amendment. That is an argument in favour of doing nothing; but it appears to me a reason for doing as much as we possibly can this year. The Government say I they would, if possible, pass the whole of the Bill this year; but, if not, they would try to pass one-half of it this year and one-half the next; but hon. Gentlemen opposite say, that if they cannot pass the whole this year they will not take one-half and the other half next year. Another argument is, that if the Government carry the Franchise Bill they will make use of it as a lever to modify the Bill for the redistribution of seats, which is to be introduced. Is this statement made on the supposition that the same Parliament would deal with the redistribution or seats as had dealt with the suffrage of a new Parliament? If it is the present Parliament, the Government leave that Parliament master of the situation. But suppose that another Parliament has to deal with the subject—a supposition has been started that the Government (to use an offensive expression which he had heard in the lobby and not in the House) might "shuffle the cards under the table." He hoped that hon. Members, although they cheered, did not mean to say that they thought the Government capable of doing such a thing. If they did, such a charge could only be met by the most emphatic denial. An hon. Gentleman laughed; but could he get up and say that the Government, in dealing with a great and important political measure—one that would in all probability settle the Reform question for years to come—would, for the purpose of catching a vote, modify the redistribution of seats. ["Yes."] Hon. Members seemed to think that the Government would do so, but the charge could only be met by an emphatic denial. The other night the noble Lord the. Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) said, that he had the greatest confidence in the personal honour of Government, but that he doubted their political honour. I am so inexperienced in this House that I am unable, after the distinct and emphatic declarations made by the Government, to recognize the distinction mentioned by the noble Lord. But supposing a dissolution were forced on the Government, what leverage would the Government be able to get out of this Bill? It is supposed that the constituencies would be grateful to the Government for the extended franchise, and would give them more power to deal with the distribution of seats. But if hon. Gentlemen opposite vote in favour of the Bill, the constituencies will be as grateful to them as to the Government. The Redistribution of Seats Bill being on the table, all the constituencies that may lose a Member will know their fate, and will not vote in favour of the Government Bill, but against it. On the other hand, those boroughs that are expecting to gain Members would have no power to support the Government, because many of them are not at present Parliamentary boroughs. The Government, therefore, must necessarily lose by a dissolution; and the House, besides having the distinct declaration that no dissolution is intended between the passing of the Franchise Bill and the passing of the Redistribution Bill, would also have the guarantee that it was against the interest of the Government to bring about such a dissolution.

I will now speak a few words upon the Bill of the Government. It appears to me that half the arguments of hon. Members are based on the supposition that the Bill is not safe or expedient. Notwithstanding the repeated denials of hon. Members, given more by their cheers than by their speeches, it is evident that the fear of the preponderance of power in the working classes is the key-note of the whole debate. The speech of the right hon. Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), of the hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Laing), and of the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), show that the supremacy of numbers is what they most fear. But I do not see how, by any Redistribution of Seats Bill, they will be satisfied. The right hon. Member for Calne says, that if we wish to see the effect of lowering the suffrage we ought to look to America and Australia. But that does not strike me (Mr. Goschen) as the true argument by induction. On the contrary, it is an argument based upon the theory, that similar constitutions, under dissimilar circumstances, will produce the same result. To support that argument it must be proved, that the circumstances in Australia are the same as in England, and that the character of the people is also the same. One difference, and one difference alone, is sufficient to show the unsoundness of the argument, and that consists in the relative position of labour and capital in the two countries. In England, labour is dependent on capital; but, in Australia and America, capital is dependent on labour. Then, again, are we to suppose that tin. history and institutions of this country have no influence on the character of the men of the working class? It is a mistake to talk of the levelling tendency of the working classes, and to suppose that our institutions have no influence except on the upper Ten Thousand and the rich classes. Many people appear to think that the monarchy is the only thing we have that is hereditary. But is not the character of the working classes also hereditary? Is if not sometimes too hereditary? There are many prejudices among them: they are as difficult to east off as to cut off an entail. If the working classes are anti- democratic, as I believe then) to be, giving them the franchise would not turn them into democrats in a country like this, where the circumstances were entirely different from those in Australia. Therefore, this argument of deduction is of no value. It is said if you go down to £7, those between £6 and £7 will insist on coming in. That appears to me to be a most extraordinary argument. It appears to me to be an extraordinary argument to say, that if you assented to a £7 franchise you must reduce it to a £6 or a £5 franchise.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) said, that the unenfranchised did not wish to be enfranchised; but that is not, as I believe, a correct representation of the fact. I believe the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge as to the number of petitions is not quite correct. There are a number of petitions from working men in favour of the Bill. If we were now acting under pressure it might be said, I admit, if you give way now you will have to give way again by-and-by; but we are not acting under pressure, but on grounds which seem to us to be those of expediency and justice. I am very reluctant, at this time of night, to pursue the argument; but, on the question of the preponderance of the working classes, I should wish to state that it has been assumed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the Bill of the Government, by itself, would give a preponderance to the working classes. The calculation is this. It is supposed that 330,000 of the working classes will come in under the Bill, as against 360,000 belonging to the other classes of the community; and it is argued that, if there is a mistake of 30,000 or 40,000, the working classes will have a preponderance of power in the country. That is not so; because the question is, not how many electors there are of the working classes, but how many Members they will be able to return. Even the pamphlet quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Dublin (Mr. Pim) estimated the number of Members to be sent to that House under the Bill would be only 97 Members out of the entire number of the House; but, even admitting that estimate to be correct, they would be largely outnumbered by the county Members. These authorities leave out of their calculation the counties altogether. The borough representation is treated by itself, and it is supposed that, if the working classes have a majority in the boroughs, they will have a majority in Parliament. Is 97 too much? At present the working classes have 25 per cent of the whole representation, and how many boroughs have they? Do you mean to say they have 25 per cent of the political power in the country? You know by your own calculations that, although the working classes do give 25 per cent of the votes at the polling booths, they have not 25 per cent of the representation. If they had 25 per cent of the representation, they would now be able to return eighty members; whereas it appears by the statistics that there are only eight boroughs, returning fourteen Members, supposed to represent the working classes. The statistics presented only show what we might have known by studying the division lists, how many represent the working classes in this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin has picked out a few Members this evening who, he said, represented the working classes, and he enumerated amongst them the hon. Member for Birmingham. I was surprised at this argument, because, on all former occasions, when the hon. Member for Birmingham was referred to as the representative of the working classes, hon. Gentlemen opposite have invariably denied that he is so. Does he, or does he not, represent the working classes? We have in this House Gentlemen connected with various interests, who are understood to speak for them with authority. We have authorities connected with the land, with railways, with manufactures; but where is the hon. Member who, by the consent of this House, is an authority as regards the working classes? The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. Hughes), and two or three others, are well acquainted with the wants and opinions of the working classes; but even they cannot say that they really represent those classes. It is true that we all represent the interests of the working classes as well as we can. We represented them paternally; but we really cannot be called, in the strict sense of the word, a representation of the working classes. I maintain that the share which they will have in the representation under this Bill is not too great.

There is only one point more on which I wish to say a few words, and that is what is called the expansive process of the present franchise. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) last year insisted that, if the working classes would only make a very little effort, they would be able to attain the franchise; if they would but live in j£10 houses they would be able to attain the franchise without our lowering it to the mire. If this be so, if the working classes only behaved themselves, we should practically have household suffrage already. Suppose the working classes answer the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman, spending more money on their houses and less on their beer, we should be swamped. Where is the doctrine of the balance of classes? If that argument is correct, hon. Gentlemen opposite must be sorry to see the improvement of the working classes. ["No, no!"] I say the argument is a proof that you are afraid of admitting the working classes to the franchise. ["No, no!"] Is it so, or is it not? Here is a passage from a speech delivered in 1859:— You cannot encounter arguments against the reduction of the franchise by sentimental assertions of the good qualities of the working classes. The greater their good qualities the greater the danger. That was the language of an authority no less than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks. And what is meant by it is clear enough: they are more likely to combine if they are sober, than if they spent all their money on beer. Hon. Members opposite are more afraid of the working classes when they think than when they drink. I ask them, then, whether they would be glad to see them living in £10 houses? Would the working classes in such case be less likely to combine together and to strike? The question as to their fitness for the franchise has been abandoned, and we are now told that the expansive power given to the working classes will destroy the balance of power in this House. Is that so? It is a fallacy to suppose, that the working classes have so much power in the country. They were accumulated in the great centres. Of 108,000 of the working classes possessing the franchise, 44,000 are in the metropolitan districts, and there are only 67,000 left for the whole of England. Next to the metropolitan districts come the seaport towns, and not those of Lancashire, Yorkshire, including Rochdale, of which we have heard so much. Seventeen seaport towns absorb 21,000, leaving only 46,000 for the whole of England, viz. 6,000 for Manchester, which leaves only 40,000 for 175 seats. Of these there are twelve towns in Lancashire, which absorb 4,000 of the working classes, whilst Bristol has 3,500. What a place that must be for self-control amongst the working classes, so as to have within 500 working class voters as many as there were in the 12 towns in Lancashire In the West Hiding there are 3,800, and that is only double as much as the single town of Brighton. With such figures as these it is impossible to contend that the expansion process which has been spoken of secures an adequate share of the representation for the working classes. I do not say that the men of Dover, Southampton, and Birkenhead may not, perhaps, on account of the sea air they inhale, be as virtuous as the operatives of Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire, but I doubt whether they are more so. I believe that this expansion goes on where it exists from local circumstances and geographical causes, and has nothing whatever to do with the self-control of the working classes.

The Government have brought in a Bill which is simple, and that is one of the great reproaches which hon. Members cast upon the measure. Many hon. Members who have spoken in this House, and a certain section of Liberals out of the House, would have preferred what is called a more comprehensive measure: they desire one with infinitely more details. But the Government wish their Bill to pass. They have kept to the principle of the Reform Act of 1832. They have not gone upon the principle of classes, to which the right lion. Member for Cambridge University so strongly objects, but have adhered faithfully to the old principle of communities, and of the reduction of the franchise all over the country. Hon. Gentlemen opposite object to that. The right hon. Member for the University of Dublin spoke of the reduction of the franchise in Dublin and in Liverpool as an evil; but while that right hon. Gentleman condemns its reduction in the large towns, other lion. Gentlemen condemn it in the small towns. The fact is, as many hon. Members have candidly avowed, there is a general disposition on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite against any reduction of the franchise at all. The noble lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho)told us the other night, that he and his party had been met by two arguments—the fear of the constituencies and the defamation of opponents; and he quoted a violent speech by a working man, or perhaps an Oxford man, addressing working men. But how have they met this Bill? By a fear of the people and the defamation of its friends. The right hon. Member for Stroud thinks to damage the measure by his historical and biographical anecdotes; and hon. Gentlemen opposite misrepresent its character, and hope to secure its defeat, by ascribing its origin to the hon. Member for Birmingham. They show a remarkable confidence in the people as long as the people have no votes. I trust the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite will never be such that they will be afraid of any prosperity which may increase the number of £10 householders. I know they have repudiated with indignation the idea that they regard the admission of the working classes to the franchise as though it were the admission of an invading army. But the way in which they carry their arithmetical calculations from county to county, and borough to borough, shows that they think the safety of our Constitution depends more upon such calculations than upon its own inherent strength and character.

MR. LOWE moved that the debate be now adjourned.


said, that before the Motion was put, he desired to offer one word in explanation. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Goschen) had put expressions in his mouth to the effect that he had a respect for the personal honour, but none for the political honour, of the Government. He begged to state that, to the best of his knowledge and belief, no such words had fallen from him.


said, the noble Lord was under a mistake. He had ascribed the expression in question, not to the noble Lord, but to the right hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel).


rose to second the Motion, and was proceeding to make some remarks favourable to the conduct of the Government, when he was met by cries of "Order!"

An hon. MEMBER said, that, as a young Member of the House, he hoped that hon. Members of more age and experience would not insist on occupying the time of the evening usually devoted to dinner by their speeches, so that young Members might not be driven into following the example set by the last speaker, who had attempted to speak on the main Question upon a mere Motion for adjournment.


also rose to complain of the length of the speeches, and the difficulty new Members had of obtaining a hearing. During the two last nights of the debate, twenty-two hours had been occupied by thirteen Members, and four Members had exhausted eight hours. He hoped that some arrangement might be come to to enable himself and other hon. Members to express their opinions on the Bill.


wished to address a respectful appeal to the Speaker. He should be the last man in the House to impute to that right hon. Gentleman any political or party bias; but he thought Mr. Speaker would more conform to the wishes of the independent Members generally, and more also to the spirit as well as to the letter of the Standing Orders, if he would not so exclusively concentrate his eyes upon the front Benches, and if he would not give his right ear to the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Brand), and his left ear to the hon, and gallant Member for the county of Dublin (Colonel Taylor). About 130 Members had taken their seats for the first time this Session, and as there might be a considerable amount of latent talent in them, it would be only fair to give that undeveloped talent an opportunity of showing itself. A flood of eloquence, unparalleled in his Parliamentary experience, had been poured forth by past, present, and future placemen. It would be invidious to ascribe their speeches to their foreseeing at no distant day a disorganization and re-construction of political parties, and their consequent anxiety to put forward their various claims, and he was therefore willing to assume that they were all influenced by the purest and most patriotic motives. He certainly was not actuated by any personal feelings, as he had not attempted to address the House, nor did he intend to do so. He merely spoke on behalf of a large class of new Members, who no doubt desired to address the House.


said, that at the pace at which the debate bad proceeded it would not conclude before this time ten years, and feeling certain that the Reform question would not be settled by that time, he was himself in no hurry. He made this calculation because thirty or forty Gentlemen, it was understood, had signified their wish to address the House; only four, five or six rose every night, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given twelve nights as the limit of time this Session. It was evident, therefore, that no Member under fifty years of age, not being a Cabinet Minister, could expect to have the opportunity of speaking, and though he was a young Member, and could wait, it was rather hard on middle- aged Gentlemen to deprive them of all chance, He hoped, however, that the interesting conversation which took place the other night between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks would be continued, and that hon. Members would be informed whether there was a probability of their dividing this year.


asked "the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether it was not possible that the debate could be adjourned from day to day, so as to give Members below the gangway, representing large constituencies, the advantage of addressing the House.


I am afraid that as regards the adjournment of the debate to to-morrow we have no choice, in consequence of the decision of the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. H. B. Sheridan), who is unwilling to give way to-morrow, as other Members are. He compels the adjournment of the debate till Thursday. I confess I think that is very inconvenient. Then: is very great advantage in continuing debates of this kind from evening to evening without any intermission at all; but still am not aware that any one has the remedy against, the hon. Gentleman, who is completely master of the situation. The course this evening has been rather peculiar, It is not for me to notice the moment of a Member rising or sitting down, particularly as I myself am obliged sometimes to be a great offender in that respect-but undoubtedly I do hope that on Thursday, if we adjourn till then, it may be found practicable, from the course of the discussion that evening, for a number of Members, who are now waiting the opportunity of addressing the House, to do their duty. As far as the Government are concerned, I am sure they have shown no indications of impatience—and whatever takes place it is not for us to interpose, especially as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) has somewhat pathetically stated that the six-speeches I have delivered created some difficulties in the way of his friends—and that it required several nights of additional debate to counteract their effect.


So far as I can form an opinion there seems a fair prospect, with some forbearance and management, of bringing this debate to a conclusion this week. I should have been very glad if to-morrow had been devoted to the discussion, So far as I am concerned, I own I am principally anxious for the debate being prolonged, to give hon. Members who have taken their seats for the first time this Session an opportunity of addressing the House. As far as I can control the debate, I am anxious to assist new Members. I should have very great pleasure in endeavouring to facilitate the object of any new Member who wishes to address the House; at the same time, we must all feel that it is almost impossible that by any arrangement we can make this a matter of certainty. I should be glad if we could come to some distinct understanding tonight as to the termination of the debate E thought originally that it would end on Thursday, No doubt if the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. H. B, Sheridan) would give way this might still be possible; but, under any circumstances, we may come to a definite understanding that the debate shall end on Friday. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer will use his influence to that end I will do all I can to effect that object, and at the same time to give opportunities for now Members to express their opinions.

On Motion of Mr. LOWE, Debate further adjourned till Thursday.