§ (Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir George Grey, Mr. Villiers).
§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Amendment again proposed, in page 2, line 40, at the end of the second paragraph, 383 to add the words "such clear yearly value being the rateable value of the premises as ascertained for the purposes of the Poor Rate."—(Mr. Hunt.)
COLONEL LOYD LINDSAY
said, that of all the many Amendments which had been proposed in the Government plan of Reform the one now under the consideration of the Committee was, in his opinion, the most desirable. It had been said that the Conservative party had never committed themselves to a distinct proposal, but the Amendment now under consideration involved a most important principle, and what the Committee had to consider was the interpretation of that particular clause which enacted that a person should be allowed to vote on the clear yearly value of £14. Those who had framed the Bill appeared to have been in some doubt, in framing that clause, as to whether it was not open to a great deal of conjecture and dispute. They had therefore added to it an interpretation clause, much longer than the original clause itself, and which unfortunately seemed to be open to quite as many doubts and disputes. If the clause was ambiguous, the interpretation seemed equally ambiguous. The interpretation clause declared that the clear yearly value of premises should mean the sum which a tenant might reasonably be expected to pay by the year for them if they were let to him, he undertaking to pay the usual rates and taxes, and the tithe commutation rentcharge, if any, but there being no deduction made for cost of repairs or for any purposes of that kind; and it further declared that the gross estimated rental of premises as ascertained for the purposes of the poor rate should, until the contrary was proved, be believed to be the clear yearly value of the premises. That interpretation seemed to him to require another clause to interpret it. Now, the clause which the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt) desired to substitute for that only contained a line and a half, and declared that such clear annual value should be the rateable value of the premises as ascertained for the purposes of the poor rate. That declaration was perfectly clear, and could not be mistaken. It should be borne in mind that the whole property of the country during the last few years had been re-valued, and it would be rather extraordinary if a fair valuation had not been reached. Assessment committees had been sitting in different parts 384 of the country, and it had devolved upon them to assess the proportion in which every person should bear the taxation of the country. It was most probable that such committees would be able to arrive at a fair and proper calculation. The rateable value of property, he maintained, was its real value. If that were not so, he would like to know why rent was not placed at the figure at which the rate was placed. In that case the result would be equal to everybody, because only a certain amount of taxation could be raised. But the reason why that was not adopted was obvious; rent was fixed capriciously, not by an assessment committee, but by the landlord of the property, who might for various reasons place his rent either higher or lower than the real value. The rates, however, were arrived at in a different way by a jury of persons who examined into the value of the property, and then fixed the amount. It was said to be unfair that in some cases the rate was placed at 20 per cent or, perhaps, in some cases at 30 per cent below the rent. But that circumstance was not so unfair as it appeared to be at first sight. Supposing a man lived in a £14 house, which might be a frail tenement in a town. Of course he paid his landlord £14 a year for it, but the landlord returned to him a portion, perhaps 20 or 30 per cent, for repairs, and in reality, perhaps, the rent amounted to no more than £12 a year. On the other hand, they might take the case of a person occupying a grass field in the country. He paid £14 a year rent for it, and the assessment was nearly coincident with the rent, there being no repairs, or anything of that nature required. The rent, again, was not continually readjusted, as the rate was. If any person had reason to complain of his assessment, he went to the assessment committee, and represented the case to them, and they were bound to look into it and to re-adjust the assessment; but rent, on the other hand, being a fixed amount, was not liable to this continual fluctuation. A great advantage in adopting the assessment as the real value, would be that the rate book would also form the register. Nothing could then be easier than to give instructions to those whose duty it was to make up the register, to transfer the names of the ratepayers from the rate book to the register, and by that means a great deal of needless trouble would be saved. If a man were to have the privilege of voting, it surely was 385 not necessary that he should be put to all the trouble and anxiety of placing his name upon the register. The House knew what insurmountable barriers were these forms to persons of limited acquirements and education, and they had had an instance of that given them the other day by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had told them of persons who had paid more income tax than they were legally bound to pay, and who had failed to recover the overplus to which they were entitled, because they did not know how to get at the necessary forms. In those cases people's pockets were attacked, and they were always much more alive to an attack there than anywhere else. In claiming a vote, however, they knew very well that there were few men who would give the value of half a day's labour to obtain it. At present the registration expenses were borne by the candidate, and every Member knew very well that one of the most unfailing calls upon him was for the payment of the registration fee. If he did not attend to it, he would find that some of his best friends would be knocked off the register and their places filled by persons whom he knew nothing about, and the candidate who failed to pay attention to the registration of voters would soon find that the candidate who did pay the attention would beat him out of the field. The late Sir Robert Peel once said that the political battles of this country were fought in the registration courts, and the House knew that to fight in any court required that a man should have a long purse, or he would be beaten. If the House really desired to diminish the expenses of elections, and reduce the legitimate costs, they would do much to secure that end by adopting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire. There were many questions which it would be extremely difficult to determine in the registration courts. Let them take the case, for instance, of a man who was part owner and part occupier of certain premises. How was the Revising Barrister to arrive at the clear yearly value in a case of that kind? Such cases would be difficult to determine, and would give rise to a great deal of litigation. He thought the plan of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire would be a proper and reasonable one to adopt. As it was they might have fictitious occupiers of premises placed upon the register, but if they adopted the hon. Member's Amendment that would be im- 386 possible, for the barrister would have instructions riot to place on the register any person who did not bear his fair proportion of the taxes of the country. It seemed to him to be only fair that the man who bore those taxes should be the man to acquire the privilege of the vote. He would not lay much stress on the question of the proposal of raising the franchise; but he could not help expressing his opinion that the estimate of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this subject was rather an exaggerated one. At all events, any raising of the franchise was merely incidental to the principle which they advocated. To his own constituency in Berkshire there would be added 1,200 persons, drawn in a great measure from the towns. He did not believe that those 1,200 persons would be amenable to the influences of bribery, as they were highly respectable persons of the middle classes; but, at the same time, they might require a good deal of attention of a different description. Perhaps they would require that their funds should be subscribed to; and they would want various other attentions paid to them which, although they might be quite legitimate, would add considerably to the expenses which Members of that House honestly wished to abridge. And furthermore the new voters so added would be in no way amenable to the influence of the landlords, which to a certain extent seemed to him to be by no means a desirable provision. Landlord influence, generally speaking, was not a bad one, because it could be acquired only by a man living in his county and endeavouring to discharge the duties which his position entailed upon him. Influence so obtained was legitimate influence, and it would be a pity to see it displaced. It was absurd to say that a landlord now could in any way force his tenants. They could not be forced; they could only be controlled and influenced, and that by legitimate means. The landlord supported his tenant, and the tenant supported his landlord, and he thought it was most important that that state of things should continue. Suppose a large urban element were introduced into the counties, the tenants would have comparatively less influence than they possessed now. It was a misfortune that in some cases landlords selfishly preserved an unreasonable amount of game; but in many instances the just influence of the tenants had been brought to bear upon the landlords, and had prevented extravagant 387 preservation; and it was just and beneficial that such an influence should be maintained and exercised. The hon. Member for Northamptonshire took a great deal of pains to ascertain the number of persons who would be added by this £14 clause to the county register, and he established the fact that, as nearly as possible, one-third of the newly-enfranchised class would be added from the urban element. If that were the case he thought the landed influence would be very much swamped. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not see the matter in that light, and he spoke of his endeavours to add proprietary votes, and these he seemed to join in some way with the votes of the landed interest. He rightly added that the Opposition regarded this as monstrous, and they did so because the proprietary voters were persons who lived in the towns, and had no sort of connection with the landed interest. The Chancellor of the Exchequer also said that the Constitution did not recognize distinctions between the town and country element. That might be so, but it seemed to him (Colonel Loyd Lindsay) that it was reasonable for the Constitution to take into consideration the two interests upon which the greatness of this country depended—he referred to our agricultural and to our commercial systems. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) said that the lines of the Constitution in no way recognized this; but nobody knew how and when the lines of the Constitution were formed. He believed, however, they were made to adapt themselves to the requirements of society as it then existed. It was possible that at that time there was not the element which now existed to such a great extent, and that matter, therefore, could not then be taken into consideration. He thought there was some amount of cant in this fine phrase of the "lines of the Constitution," for it seemed to him that the term was only used in order to annihilate the Constitutional party. The repetition of this phrase by hon. Gentlemen opposite suggested to him the case of a person quoting Scripture in order to fortify himself in doing wrong. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer replied to what had been said about the urban and the rural elements, he said—It is really difficult to deal with the hon. Gentleman, because he has propounded doctrines which are really new and are entirely without foundation in our constitutional history. You cannot lay hold of these distinctions between urban and rural districts and the conflicting classes of owners and occupiers. Whence does 388 the hon. Gentleman draw them? They do not come from the old Constitution of England; they are some manufacture of his own and of his ingenious friends.Whether the Constitution recognized these distinctions or not he would not say, but he might be allowed to quote the late Leader of this House upon the very question. The late Lord Palmerston took a different view of it, for, speaking upon the £10 Franchise Bill of the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King), he said—It appears to me that the object we ought to have in view is to form a legislative machine in which all interests in this 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 country element would, I think, injuriously disturb the balance which it is essential to the interests of the country we should maintain."—[3 Hansard, clxxiii. 953.]That was the opinion of Lord Palmerston, of whom the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his eloquent eulogy of him, said that he was peculiarly able to express his exact meaning; and there could be no doubt that the few words quoted did express Isis opinion exactly. Let hon. Members opposite ponder this opinion before they voted on this question, and remember how large an urban element it was proposed to introduce into the county constituency. He believed that it would to a great extent swamp the country influence that ought to be maintained as a counterbalance to the large number of borough voters that were to be enfranchised, for it was the country influence which through the counties returned the Conservative Members to Parliament. What was desiderated was a good constituency, not amenable to any improper influences, but returning the right Members, politically; and he believed that, to a great extent, the county constituencies answered this description. It was a notorious fact that so far as money went the tenant farmers were quite incorruptible, and it was a remarkable thing that since the passing of the Reform Act of 1832 there had been no case of an English county Member having been disqualified from sitting in Parliament for bribery. It was true that there had been twenty-three county Members disqualified from that cause in Ireland. It must not, however, be inferred from this that the Irish county voters were more corruptible than the English as the circumstance is to be accounted for by the fact 389 that the county franchise was lower in Ireland than it was in this country. BY going lower in the franchise they came to an element which was to be controlled by the power of money. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had been accused of consulting the hon. Member for Birmingham in the preparation of this Bill, but the right hon. Gentleman had denied the charge, though he said at the same time that the Government would have done nothing so very wrong if they had done so, as the hon. Member for Birmingham was the person who knew most about the wants of the people who were going to be enfranchised. If that were the case he (Colonel Loyd Lindsay) thought that when they were about to deal with the county constituencies the Government might, on the same principle, have consulted the county Members. That was a fair argument. An hon. Member opposite had said that 2,300 were to be added to his constituency, and he wished that the Bill could be carried without discussion; but while the hon. Member was nominally a county Member, he was really a Member for grouped boroughs just as much as many of the county Members for Scotland were. The large towns must influence to a great extent the return of Members for the counties. That was eminently the case in Scotland where as many persons asserted there was no representation for the agricultural classes. It was remarkable how few Members on the Conservative side of the House were returned from Scotland, although it was well known that the agricultural classes in Scotland were very Conservative. He could state from his own knowledge that in the county of Fife there was no more chance for the return of a Conservative Member than there was in one of the metropolitan boroughs. He had heard it stated that if on Thursday last the House had divided on the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, before the proposal of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn had been brought forward, many Members on the Ministerial side of the House would have voted for that Amendment. But such conduct as that would be wholly unjustifiable on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who ought not to allow themselves to be biassed by any little feeling of that sort in a matter which so vitally concerned the interests of this country. He frankly acknowledged that be liked the Amendment now before 390 the Committee less than that which had been moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge; but still he believed that it was an improvement on the proposal of the Government, and he earnestly hoped that it would receive the support of a majority of the House. It appeared to him to be most desirable that they should establish the principle embodied in that Amendment, and introduce it into both counties and boroughs. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General told them the other evening that they should one day come to household suffrage; and if they were ever to adopt that measure they would at least have some protection against the dangers which it would involve under an arrangement which would provide that the house which was to confer the right to the suffrage should not be a mere hovel on which no rates were paid. He had heard it stated on the preceding evening that a certain Whig nobleman was observed to be in a state of great anxiety and dismay, and had exclaimed to his friends, "Why the Tory party are going to carry this Reform Bill." He (Colonel Loyd Lindsay) believed the "Tory party" were endeavouring to do their duty; and he hoped that the whole of this important subject would be fully and fairly discussed by the Committee. He perceived that a notice of a Motion had been given by an hon. Member on the other side for reducing the county franchise below £14 in the event of the present Amendment being carried. He did not think that was a very material point. The object which he was then anxious to attain was the adoption of the principle of a rating and not a rental franchise, and he hoped that the proposal would receive the support of many Gentlemen sitting on the Ministerial side of the House.
§ MR. DU CANE
said, that as he represented a county constituency which would be very seriously affected by the clause now under consideration, he hoped he might be allowed to offer a few observations to the Committee before they proceeded to a division. It appeared to him that two distinct issues were raised by the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire, first, the abstract question whether rating or rental was henceforth to be the basis of the electoral franchise; secondly, whether in the special case of the county franchise, by the adoption of a rating instead of a rental test, this House 391 would take a step, though a very short step, in the right direction, towards reversing the decision to which it came somewhat hastily and unadvisedly last Thursday. As to the first of these points, it had been already so ably argued by his hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire and the hon. and gallant Member who had just resumed his seat, that he would not trespass at any length upon the time of the Committee in reference to the subject. He gave his preference to a rating as against a rental basis for the electoral franchise for four main reasons. In the first place, the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) and other Gentlemen below the gangway had specially invited the House to enter upon the question of Reform in the spirit and according to the principles of our old Constitution, and this rating basis was nothing more or less, under a modern guise, than an adaptation of the old Constitutional scot and lot test of admission to the franchise. In the next place, he supported a rating basis because he believed that the payment of rates by the individual occupier, instead of by the owner, afforded no slight guarantee for the position and respectability of the person who claimed the franchise. His third reason was because the payment of rates by the tenant was a guarantee that the tenant was the bonâ fide payer of rent to the amount at which he was assessed, and thus the principle of rating operated in no slight degree as a check against collusion and fraud in determining the question of value. His last reason for supporting rating instead of rental was that if you once succeeded in establishing an intimate connecting link between the rate book and the county register, you would make a considerable advance towards that which was a great requisite—namely, a self-acting registration, and would diminish the present somewhat unjust expenses of registration. The only ground upon which a rating basis might have been resisted a few years ago was on account of the inequality of rating which existed in different parishes and unions. But by recent legislation that inequality had, in a great measure, disappeared, and he was persuaded that under the operation of the Act of last Session, it would, in the course of a few years, disappear altogether. Upon these grounds he gave his cordial support to the Amendment so far as rating against rental was concerned. But, combined with the statistics only just placed in the hands of Members, the Amendment went much fur- 392 ther, and virtually re-opened the whole question of the £14 franchise as proposed by Her Majesty's Government. Now, what were the reasons which, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, influenced the Government in adopting £14 as the level of the county franchise? The right hon. Gentleman told the Committee on Thursday that they were to adopt the £14 level, because, he said, the House had repeatedly affirmed a £10 level at the hands of the hon. Member for East Surrey, and he urged the House to accept the proposal of the Government as a fair compromise between a £10 level and the existing franchise. Now, he had sat in the House during the last eight years, and had carefully watched this question of the county franchise, and he ventured to affirm that the House had never sanctioned the principle of a £10 county occupation franchise either at the hands of the hon. Member (Mr. Locke King) or of anyone else. The only occasion on which the hon. Member had ever carried the second reading of his County Franchise Bill was in 1858. But that measure contained no mention of a £10 county franchise. It was a Bill simply to amend the county franchise, and blanks were left in its clauses so that the House might fill up the limit; and more than that, Lord Palmerston, Mr. Sidney Herbert, and others who voted for the second reading, explained expressly that they did so solely to affirm the principle that the county franchise should be reduced, and they further specified £20 as the limit which in their opinion ought to be adopted. Lord Derby's Bill in 1859 certainly did contain a £10 county franchise; but that franchise was of a very different kind from the £14 county franchise proposed by this Bill. It was a £10 franchise based solely upon the occupation of land; it was unaccompanied by the £6 building restriction contained in the present measure, which he looked upon as framed exclusively in the interest of the towns; and it was accompanied and mitigated by other franchises and conditions of which the present measure was entirely destitute. Lord Derby's Bill, however, never got even to a second reading, and then, coming next to the year 1860, they all remembered that in that year Lord John Russell was only allowed to go into Committee on his Reform Bill on the express condition that every point of it£county franchise, borough franchise, re-distribution of seats, and all—should be thoroughly open to dis- 393 cussion and amendment. But, even supposing the House had in any way pledged itself by affirming the second reading of that Bill, he ventured to say that that pledge had been completely cancelled by the withdrawal of the measure a few weeks afterwards, and by the subsequent rejection by the same, Parliament of the proposal of the hon. Member for East Surrey in two different Sessions. To these facts he might add the statement made by the hon. Member for East Surrey himself on the hustings at the last election, that he would take a £20 franchise as a fair compromise upon the question. Under these circumstances, he maintained, then, that when on Thursday last the House arrived at the discussion of the county franchise, it was totally unpledged by anything which had passed in previous Parliaments, and there was no question of any compromise whatever between present and former opinions. But, suppose the House was compromised, what sort of a compromise would this £14 franchise really effect? It struck him it was a compromise very much of the character of those in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was so great an adept—a compromise very like his proposed compromise on the Church Rates question, which virtually gave to one side all that it asked, and took away from the other side everything it thought worth an effort to retain. It appeared to him that Her Majesty's Government, in casting about with all their ingenuity for a compromise, had hit upon a level which would compass all the bad effects of a £10 franchise without being a £10 franchise in name and in figure. By means of the electors of the unrepresented towns, a £14 franchise would swamp the rural constituencies quite as completely as a £10, and he did not hesitate to say that for all the difference it would make they might just as well have descended to a £10 franchise. But when they approached this question of swamping the counties by the towns, they were always met by the argument that they wanted to draw an arbitrary line between the interests of town and country. Now, he begged to say he wished to do nothing of the kind, unless he was literally compelled to do so by the exigencies of the case. On the contrary, he thought there was no better political school for a Member of Parliament than to be the representative of of a variety of interests; and although he was himself the representative of a very important agricultural constituency, he did 394 not on that account hold that he was the exclusive representative of tenant farmers and labourers. But, while he was of opinion that it was a good thing that there should be a variety of interests represented by individual Members of that House, he believed it was equally essential that the varied interests of the nation should be represented in proportion to their relative importance. Now, he would venture to affirm that if they insisted on going down to this £14 level, they must withdraw the electors of the unrepresented towns, or else all that fair and just representation of different interests would be destroyed, and the representation of mere numbers substituted in its place. But, says the Chancellor of the Exchequer—I cannot imagine where hon. Members on the other side of the House have got all those ideas about urban and rural constituencies. It is something quite new to me; I never heard of it before in my life; it must be the creation of the brain of the hon Member for Northamptonshire, and of those hon. Gentlemen around him.But the idea of a diversity of interests, and of withdrawing unrepresented towns, was not so very new, and could not be said to have emanated exclusively from that side of the House. There was, perhaps, no mention of towns against county in the old charters of the Constitution. The measure of the hon. Member for East Surrey was not discussed at Runnymede, or guarded against by Lord Somers in 1688. But the author of the idea of a diversity of interests, and of the separation of unre-presented towns from the county constituencies, was a statesman who, a few years ago was supposed out of doors to carry the Constitution in his pocket, and to have made the Constitutional history of his country more exclusively his study than any other man living. The author of this idea was no less a man than Lord John Russell, who, in 1852, brought in a scheme for the re-distribution of seats, and for withdrawing unrepresented towns from the county constituencies far more extensive than any Bill ever since laid upon the table of this House. He proposed, by the grouping system, to give the franchise to 120 unrepresented towns, of which fourteen were in Yorkshire, eleven in Wiltshire, eight in Dorsetshire, and so on. And in some of the agricultural counties and divisions of counties, such as Hampshire, Dorsetshire, and the county he had the honour to represent, North Essex, his proposals would have eliminated the town element altogether, 395 and would have virtually left the county representatives what they protested against being left, the representatives of the tenant farmers and farm labourers only. And what was the reason assigned for that process? Lord John Russell said—We propose with regard to a certain number of boroughs to diffuse the influence, as it were, and add some of the neighbouring towns in the same county… It is obvious if we had disfranchised those boroughs, and if we had given the right of voting to towns in the North of England, there would have been a disturbance of that balance, and that the agricultural interest would have been depressed and the manufacturing raised in its stead. That might be a right thing to do, that might be what many gentlemen would wish; but I will frankly say it is not what we are prepared to do. We are prepared to extend the franchise; but, while we make large additions to the boroughs, we propose to leave general interests as we find them, and not to disturb them, feeling, if we did so we should only raise a fierce struggle, which would inflame the minds of Members of this House, while it would cause our measure to be strongly opposed in the other House of Parliament."—[3 Hansard, cxix. 263.]But 1852 was a long time to go back to, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down had brought them nearer the present epoch by quoting the words of Lord Palmerston just two years since. As Lord Palmerston, however, might not be considered a very ardent enthusiast in the cause of Reform, he would take the language of one whom he considered the most advanced Reformer in that House— he did not mean the hon. Member for Birmingham, because he had been recently evincing a desire to go back to the old lines of the Constitution. The person to whom he referred was the hon. Member for Westminster, and in quoting his opinion he did not do so in any way from a desire to charge him with inconsistency in his views, but because ho wanted to strengthen his own argument by the authority of a man of the powers of thought and intellect of the hon. Gentleman. In his Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform, Mr. Stuart Mill said—If, indeed, every elector in the disfranchised boroughs, and every —10 householder in the unrepresented towns, obtains a vote for the county by the adoption in the new Reform Bill of Mr. Locke King, these objections will give place to a still more fatal one; for such a measure would be little less than the complete political extinction of the rural districts. Except in the few places where there is still a yeomanry, as in Cumberland, Westmoreland, and in some degree North Yorkshire and Kent, there exists in the agricultural population no class but the farmers intermediate between the landlords and the labourers. A —10 franchise will admit no agricultural labourer, and 396 the farmers and landlords would collectively be far outnumbered by the £10 householders of all the small towns in England. To enable the agricultural population to hold its fair share of the representation under any uniform and extensive suffrage short of universal it seems absolutely necessary that the town electors should as a rule be kept out of the county constituencies; and the sole alternative is to form them, or the great bulk of them, into constituencies by themselves.Now, it was perfectly true that the hon. Member wrote these words with regard to the £10 franchise, but they were equally applicable to the £14 franchise, because £14 would have exactly the same sweeping effect. He hoped after the extracts he had quoted, they would not have again thrown in their teeth by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there was a diversity of interest between town and country, or that the idea was the exclusive emanation of the brain of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire and his friends. But they were asked to accept this £14 level, because, as the right hon. Gentleman said, it would act as a barrier against any further immediate change. The £14 franchise was introduced on Thursday last by the right hon. Gentleman as a great measure of middle class enfranchisement, and as purposely framed to diminish the influence of the working men in the county constituencies. But did the right hon. Gentleman when he spoke those words remember a former very remarkable declaration of his on the same subject, that there were no working men in the county constituencies? The right hon. Gentleman shook his head. At all events, he could not deny that he told us he regarded the proportion of working men in the county constituencies as a fly in a pot of ointment. He should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman still adhered to that opinion, or if he was ready to admit that he had made it in ignorance of the real facts of the case? If he held to his first opinion, then he (Mr. Du Cane) maintained that to pass a measure completely revolutionizing the county constituencies in order to keep one or two working men at bay was like setting a house on fire to keep a rat or two out of the larder. If, on the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman admitted that he spoke without information as to the real state of the case, and if it were true that working men were introducing themselves in large masses into the county constituencies through the medium of freehold land and building societies, then he would 397 say that inasmuch as these working men wore among the most intelligent, industrious, and saving of their class, he, for one, did not wish to see the great middle class barrier raised against them. He must venture to dispute, however, the right hon. Gentleman's assertion that the lowering of the county franchise to £14 would act in any way as a barrier to the entrance of the working classes, or to a further direct lowering of the occupation franchise. On the contrary, it struck him that if the county franchise were lowered to £14 and the borough franchise to £7, and if they left a large mass of unrepresented towns without direct representation in county constituencies, they were only offering a premium to further agitation for change. In all these unrepresented towns they would have a large mass of unrepresented house occupiers between £14 and £7, and when the Reform Bill passed this large mass would most assuredly point to the £7 franchise in boroughs and to the working-class freeholders in counties, and would ask why the accident of living outside a borough boundary, or not choosing to invest their hard-earned savings in buying a 40s. freehold, ought to exclude them from having a direct voice in the representation. So far from erecting a barrier, they would find the £14 county franchise, once passed, would lead to a cry for a £7 franchise, and there would be no rest until the concession was made. The effects of such further downward progress he would not stop to dilate upon. Upon these grounds he should give his cordial support to the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Hunt). He supported the Amendment not merely because he entirely approved the abstract basis of rating instead of rental for the electoral franchise, but because it offered the House a golden opportunity, which, perhaps, they might not have again, of taking one step backwards towards undoing a great mischief and approaching once more the subject of the county franchise in a spirit of fairness and justice to the varied interests of the country. To pass this clause as it stood would be an act of mischief and injustice, because he earnestly believed it would be the deathblow to any fair representation of the landed interest in that House, and would imperil temporarily the very existence in that House of the Conservative party. He would not stop to consider the particular object which the Government had in view in framing this clause, but be certainly considered that the Amend- 398 ment of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire was worthy of the support of every man who in his heart was an honest and true friend to fair Reform. It was worthy, also, the support of all those who viewed in the great Constitutional question which they were now discussing not the mere restless desire for organic change and the fleeting triumph of party supremacy, but the strengthening and amending of that Constitution which, in the noble and expressive language of Mr. Fox—Combined the efficiency of a monarchy with the liberty of a democracy, avoiding alike the despotism of the one, and the licence of the other.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he had entertained the hope when he saw the Amendments of hon. Gentlemen opposite that they had arrived at an appreciation of the fact that this Bill, unlike other Reform Bills which had been introduced during the last twenty years, was really brought in by the Government in order that it might pass, and that they would settle down to the task of amending it in Committee in the manner which they might think necessary for the protection of their own interests, or of the public welfare. He was afraid, however, judging from the speech to which he had just listened, that they were relapsing into their old error of moving endless discussions upon every question except that which was really before the Committee, in the hope of being able to thrust the Bill out of the House. He trusted that hon. Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side of the House would not be tempted by the example thus set them to wander from the points really under debate, or that the Government would not succumb under any length of speech from the other side, whether it was critical, historical, or sarcastic; but would proceed seriously, according to the established usages of Parliament, with the consideration of the Bill. Now, the proposition they had under notice was about as simple as a proposition could possibly be, yet he had failed to discover throughout the whole of the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Du Cane) even what the proposition was to which the remarks of the hon. Gentleman were ostensibly directed. He had not heard a single remark bearing upon the proposition before the Committee, or a single sufficient reason advanced why the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire should be adopted. No doubt, as had been said by the hon. and gallant 399 Gentleman who had previously spoken, this question was one of very great importance; it was nothing more or less than the determination of the status of the persons claiming the electoral franchise. Now the franchise was not based, and never had been, upon the amount of taxation a person paid. In the consideration of the status to be required of any man claiming the franchise they had nothing whatever to do with the rates he paid ["Oh!"]—nothing whatever—and if hon. Gentlemen who cried out "Oh!" would give him their attention for a moment, he would explain the point. It had always been accepted as unquestionable that the best method of ascertaining the status of a person was by ascertaining the full annual value of the house or property that he occupied. This was not a proposition that had now been introduced for mere political purposes. It had been discussed over and over again in the House during the last 100 years, it was accepted as a correct and equitable basis of calculation before the passing of the Reform Bill, in 1832, and it was introduced into that Bill, not, as appeared to be supposed, as an arbitrary and capricious regulation, but as the definite conclusion that had been arrived at after repeated discussions in Parliament respecting the best mode of determining the status of the working man, who lived by the labour of his hands. He would add that this principle was originally arrived at in connection with questions applicable to the Poor Laws. In many other subsequent pieces of legislation the principle had been reaffirmed, and, indeed, this method of settling the status of a person by reference to the yearly value of the house or property he occupied, was, if they regarded it in a fair light, not only not unfavourable to the landed interest, but very much the contrary; if they were inclined to take up a hostile position towards the landed interest, there would be great cause of complaint, that in determining the position of a person, the land he rented was to be considered as well as the house he occupied. This was a great concession, and he could prove it. The man, for instance, who occupied a £14 house would have an average annual income at least of £100, but the man who rented £20 worth of land would not, as the rule, have an income of more than £20, according to the ordinary estimate; so that the occupier of land pure and simple would actually be entitled to vote upon the status of £20 a year, while 400 the occupier of a house must be the possessor of the annual income of £100. It was true that some modification had been introduced of what would otherwise have been an extraordinarily unjust arrangement, by making it necessary that upon the land there must be a house of the annual value of £6; but, after all, the occupier of this £6 house, and the owner of this £20 worth of land, might be said to have an income of from £30 to £40 per annum, and his position was little better than that of a peasant occupier. That person might occupy a very inferior position to the man who paid £14 per annum for his house in the country; one might be an ignorant workman, while the other was a man of education, and occupying a certain position. Thus, as he had said, so far from this definition being adverse to the landed interest, it was peculiarly in its favour; because it enabled every landed proprietor to raise every person on his estates to the condition of a voter if he chose to give three or four acres of land. There would be no such obstacle as presented itself in the qualification of a householder, where a fictitious rent could be objected to. Real value was undoubtedly the true test of the franchise, and it was the only known mode of defining the status of a person in this country. So much for this principle, to which so many objections had been taken by hon. Gentlemen opposite, though it was assented to with sufficient readiness at times when the House was not under the influence of strong political considerations. The opposite principle of a rating qualification was the most fallacious one that could be devised. It absolutely acted in an inverse ratio to that in which it properly ought to operate. The principle of rating was simply this—that all property must be rated as if it were pure and simple land, and if it did not happen to be land, deductions must be made, until it was reduced, for the purposes of rating, to the level of land. Those deductions ranged from 20 to 50 per cent according to the character of the premises erected. To give an illustration. If one man lived in a house built of wood, and another in one built of stone, it would be necessary to make a large reduction for rating purposes from the wooden house, because it would last for a short time and could only be kept in condition at considerable expense. But how did this affect the position of the tenant? Or how could calculations of this description be properly 401 introduced in determining the status of a voter? Now, he did not object to the original scheme involved in this clause, because he admitted that certain concessions might properly be made to the landed interest, but other hon. Gentlemen opposite were dissatisfied with the arrangement and condemned it. They showed an ignorance of the first principles on which it was right to proceed in the consideration of the question. The House was not now considering the proposition of the hon. Member for Cambridge, upon which it had already come to a decision, and lie must protest against hon. Gentlemen endeavouring to use the proposition before the Committee as an indirect means for reversing the deliberate decision of the House a few nights ago. It was not an honourable method of attack. If they desired to have the franchise even at £20 or £25, it would be infinitely better that it should rest upon the real annual value and not upon the rating value. He hoped the House would adhere to the principle which had been adopted for years, and would refuse its assent to the fanciful substitute that was now offered. He did not think Her Majesty's Government had precipitately adopted the principle of the Bill; on the contrary, they must have arrived at the conclusion almost against their prepossessions on the subject, for the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board had on the occasion of introducing the Union Assessment Act shadowed out an opinion in favour of a rating qualification in regard to the franchise. The more, however, this question was examined the more it became obvious that this principle was an erroneous one; and Her Majesty's Government had arrived at a conviction that the adoption of annual value as a test for the franchise was the true one, being demanded alike by justice and propriety.
§ SIR RAINALD KNIGHTLEY
said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had accused hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House of endeavouring to upset the decision of the Committee arrived at the other night on the Amendment of his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole). Now he, for one, confessed that he was anxious to upset that decision; for on that occasion the Committee took a leap in the dark. Since then most important Returns had been laid upon the table, which, had they been known before- 402 hand, would have greatly affected the decision on the Amendment of his right hon. Friend. He freely admitted that on abstract principles of justice, occupiers of premises of the value of £14 and upwards to £50 were fully qualified to have the franchise, but why did the Government stop at £14. No argument had been urged in favour of extending the franchise to £14 occupiers, which might not be applied with equal force to an extension of it to occupiers of £7 houses, and ultimately there would be no resting-place short of equal electoral districts. He had made the same objection in 1859 to the Bill of his right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, and, therefore, he could not be said to be inconsistent. The present Bill could not settle the question. If it were passed it would be possible for three men to live in adjacent houses, the occupier of the one at £7 rental, within a borough, would have a vote; the occupier of the third, at a £14 rental, beyond the borough, would also have a vote; but the occupier of the second, at a £10 rental, beyond the borough boundaries, would be without one. On what principle of consistency could this be justified? One of his strongest objections to the Bill was that it would practically disfranchise all the smaller freeholders. Great misapprehension existed as to the proportion of the working classes in the county constituencies. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself had compared them to flies in a pot of ointment; but if the right hon. Gentleman had taken care to inform himself with regard to the facts in his own constituency, he would have found that the flies made up a very large portion of the ointment. In the constituency for South Lancashire there were no fewer than 13,685 electors occupying houses of less than £8 yearly value, who might therefore be taken very fairly as belonging to the working classes. 13,685 flies in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's own pot of ointment was certainly a considerable number. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huntingdonshire that in some county constituencies the proportion of working men among the electors was even greater than in the boroughs. At the last general election he had been engaged in a very close contest, and canvassed the county nearly from one end to the other, calling at the residence of almost every elector. Becoming acquainted in this way with the position of every elector, he arrived at the conclusion that his own 403 constituency included a very large number of working men. Of course it was very hard to determine whether the small village tailor, carpenter, and blacksmith earned their daily bread by the sweat of their own brow, but, to all intents and purposes, they were working men; and, independently of these, there were many who worked in factories, in mines, at quarries, or elsewhere. He knew of one case where, in a single mine, 170 electors were earning their daily bread by pickaxe and shovel, and of a village in which a very large proportion of its 900 electors were journeymen shoemakers. These journeymen shoemakers, he was sorry to say, voted steadily against him, for it was a curious fact in natural history that journeymen shoemakers were almost always Radicals. This had been accounted for by the fact that the men were in the habit of leaning over their work very much, and so of pressing the shoes into the pit of the stomach, thereby producing dyspepsia. Whenever, therefore, hon. Gentlemen opposite or the Chancellor of the Exchequer felt more than usually disposed to Radicalism, he recommended them to send for a doctor. This Bill of the Government blew hot and cold. It proposed virtually to disfranchise all the working classes in the counties, at the same time augmenting the power they possessed in the boroughs. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman was quite in keeping with these proposals. In the towns he spoke of the working classes as "flesh and blood;" in the counties they sank into mere "flies in a pot of ointment."
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, and the hon. Baronet and others who supported it, had based their arguments on the supposition that the new statistics differed from the old, and that they showed that the number of £14 occupiers introduced to the franchise would be much larger than was originally contemplated. But the hon. Member for Northamptonshire and others who followed him committed a very grave and unaccountable error with regard to those statistics—an error to the extent of no less than 70,000 voters. Knowing what stress hon. Gentlemen opposite laid upon every additional 10,000 voters, he was anxious to relieve their minds from the grave apprehensions which must be caused by so serious a miscalculation. The fact was, the hon. Member had omitted to take out those occupiers who were also owners; that was to say, one-fourth of the entire number. From the 404 280,000 occupiers who would be introduced by the reduction from £50 to £14, it was thus necessary to deduct 70,000; and of the residue there would be many who would not register. The number of occupiers at present entitled to the franchise was 202,000, but of these only 116,000 were actually on the register, exclusive of those who were also owners; and, observing the same ratio of reduction in the case of the total of 488,000 occupiers who would be entitled to the franchise after the passing of the Bill under the new limits, that total would be reduced to 280,000, instead of 366,000, as stated by the hon. Gentleman. And these new statistics, worked upon the same principle as the old ones, showed that the new electors who would register, observing the same ratio as before, would be 165,000 or 170,000, the identical number stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when introducing his Bill. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: Rather less.] He believed, also, that hon. Gentlemen opposite were not justified in dwelling so strongly as they had done upon the distinction between urban and agricultural voters. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire himself admitted that the smaller boroughs represented a mixed element in the Constitution, being neither wholly manufacturing, agricultural, nor commercial. And many unrepresented towns, of 5,000, 10,000 or 15,000 inhabitants, were surely identified more closely with county sentiments and with the views of the surrounding squires, farmers, and occupiers than with the inhabitants of great commercial towns and purely town politics. At all events, there was no such great difference between the two as that the one should be all Liberals and the other all Conservatives. Therefore ho denied not merely that the number of voters to be introduced would be as large as hon. Members apprehended, but lie denied also that they would be of such a distinctive character as had been stated. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets had so well explained the objections to the adoption of the rateable value as the basis of the franchise, that he need not revert to that part of the subject. The hon. Baronet and several other Members, in their arguments, had wandered from the question as between rental and rating, avowing honestly that they wished to reverse the vote of a former evening. But now that hon. Members found the new statistics were identical with the old, they 405 would, of course, be fair enough to retract the grounds on which they had latterly argued, and confine themselves to the question of rating. He hoped the Committee would reject the Amendment, because the estimated rental, which was as plainly stated in the rate book as was the rateable value, was the best means of ascertaining the capacity of the occupier, and there had been no error in the statistics of the Government presented to the House.
said, that in his very strong speech, the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets seemed to lay down the principle that it would be something very unconstitutional to refer to a man's rating for the value of his house; but that was at present the basis of the Irish franchise. And what was the advantage of it? Why, that you got the value fixed without any political squabbles. You had it ascertained by an officer who was not discharging a political duty without expense and without visitation. He might be told that, after all, the Government Bill proposed to do much the same thing, with the exception of taking one column instead of another; the Bill proposing the "gross estimated rental" column, and the Amendment the "rateable value" column. Well, if this were so, what became of the objection of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets? He did not care so much about the question whether it would make a small difference of amount, but he preferred the rateable value for the reason which he had just stated to the Committee. It was a value very well understood. Persons were in the habit of referring to it when applying for beer licences; and if a man did not think his rating high enough, he could apply to have it increased. The principle of taking the rateable value had been acted on with the greatest benefit in Ireland, and much squabbling had in consequence been got rid of. More heart-burning and squabbling were exhibited in the registration courts than at a general election, and these disputes led not only to everlasting discord but to great expense.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 273; Noes 280: Majority 7.
|Adderley, rt. hon. C. B.||Baggallay, R.|
|Anson, hon. Major||Bagge, W.|
|Archdall, Captain M.||Bailey, C.|
|Arkwright, R.||Bailey, Sir J. R.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Egerton, hon. W.|
|Baring, hon. A.H.||Elcho, Lord|
|Barnett, H.||Fane, Lieut.-Col. H. H.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Fane, Colonel J. W.|
|Barttelot, Colonel||Feilden, J.|
|Bateson, Sir T.||Fellowes, E.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Fergusson, Sir J.|
|Beach, Sir M. H.||Finlay, A. S.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Fitzwilliam, hn.C.W.W.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Floyer, J.|
|Bective, Earl of||Forde, Colonel|
|Beecroft, G. S.||Forester, rt. hon. Gen;|
|Bentinek, G. C.||Gallwey, Sir W. P.|
|Benyon, R.||Galway, Viscount|
|Beresford,Capt.D.W.P.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Biddulph, Col. R. M.||George, J.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Gilpin, Colonel|
|Bourne, Colonel||Goddard, A. L.|
|Bovill, W.||Goldney, G.|
|Bridges, Sir B. W.||Goodson, J.|
|Brooks, R.||Gore, J. R. O.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Bruce, Major C.||Gorst, J. E.|
|Bruce, Sir H. H.||Grant, A.|
|Buckley, E.||Greenall, G.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R.||Greene, E.|
|Burghley, Lord||Gray, Lieut.-Colonel|
|Burrell, Sir P.||Griffith, C. D.|
|Butler-Johnstone, H. A.||Grosvenor, Earl|
|Cairns, Sir H. M'C.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Campbell, A. H.||Gurney, R.|
|Capper, C.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Cartwright, Colonel||Hamilton, Lord C. J;|
|Cave, S.||Hamilton, I. T.|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.||Hamilton, Viscount|
|Cholmeley, Sir M. J.||Hardy, G.|
|Clinton, Lord A. P.||Hardy, J.|
|Clinton, Lord E. P.||Hartley, J.|
|Clive, Capt. hon. G.W.||Hartopp, E. B.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Hervey, Lord A. H. C.|
|Cochrane, A. D. R.W.B.||Hay, Sir J. C. D.|
|Cole, hon. H.||Heathcote, hon. G. H.|
|Cole, hon. J. L.||Heathcote, Sir W.|
|Conolly, T.||Henley, rt. hon. J. W.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Henniker, Lord|
|Courtenay, Lord||Herbert, hon. P. E.|
|Cooper, E. H.||Hesketh, Sir T. G.|
|Cranbourne, Viscount||Heygate, Sir F. W.|
|Cubitt, G.||Hogg, Lt.-Col. J. M.|
|Cust, hon. C. H.||Holford, R. S.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Holmesdale, Viscount|
|Dawson, R. P.||Hood, Sir A. A.|
|Dering, Sir. E. C.||Hope, A. J. B. B.|
|Dick, F.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Dickson, Major A. G.||Horsfall, T. B.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Hotham, Lord|
|Dowdeswell, W. E.||Howes, E.|
|Du Cane, C.||Huddleston, J. W.|
|Duff, R. W.||Humphery, W. H.|
|Duncombe, hon. W. E.||Jervis, Captain|
|Dunne, General||Jolliffe, H. H.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Jones, D.|
|Dutton, hon. R. H.||Kekewich, S. T|
|Dyke, W. H.||Kelk, J.|
|Dyott, Colonel R.||Kelly, Sir F.|
|Earle, R. A.||Kendall, N.|
|Eaton, H. W.||Kennard, R. W.|
|Eckersley, N.||Ker, D. S.|
|Edwards, Colonel||King, J. G.|
|Egerton, Sir P. G.||Knight, F. W.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Knox, Colonel|
|Egerton, E. C.||Knox, hon. Major S.|
|Lacon, Sir E.||Schreiber, C.|
|Laird, J.||Sclater-Booth, G.|
|Langton, W. G.||Scott, Lord H.|
|Lascelles, hon. E. W.||Scourfield, J. H.|
|Leader, N. P.||Selwin, H. J.|
|Legh, Major C.||Selwyn, C. J.|
|Lefroy, A.||Severne, J. E.|
|Lennox, Lord G. G.||Seymour, G. H.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Leslie, C. P.||Simonds, W. B.|
|Lindsay, hon. Colonel C.||Smith, S. G.|
|Lindsay, Colonel R. L.||Smollett, P. B.|
|Long, R. P.||Somerset, Colonel|
|Lopes, Sir M.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|Lowe, rt. hon. R.||Stanley, Lord|
|Lowther, J.||Stanley, hon. F.|
|Lytton,rt.hn,SirE. L. B.||Stirling-Maxwell, SirW.|
|Mackie, J.||Stronge, Sir J. M.|
|M'Lagan, P.||Stuart, Lieut.-Col. W.|
|Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Manners, Lord G. J.||Sturt; Lieut.-Col. N.|
|Marsh, M. H.||Surtees, F.|
|Meller, Captain||Surtees, H. E.|
|Miller, S. B.||Sykes, C.|
|Miller, T. J.||Taylor, Colonel|
|Mitford, W. T.||Thorold, Sir J. H.|
|Montagu, Lord R.||Thynne, Lord H. F.|
|Montgomery, Sir G.||Tomline, G.|
|Mordaunt, Sir C.||Tottenham,Lt.-Col.C.G.|
|Morgan, O.||Tracey, hon. C. R.D.H.|
|Morgan, hon. Major||Treeby, J. W.|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.||Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-|
|Naas, Lord||Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Neeld, Sir J.||Turner, C.|
|Neville-Grenville, R.||Tyrone, Earl of|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Vandeleur, Colonel|
|North, Colonel||Verner, E. W.|
|Northcote, Sir S. H.||Verner, Sir W.|
|O'Neill, E.||Walcott, Admiral|
|Packe, C. W.||Waldegrave-Leslie,hn.G|
|Packe, Colonel||Walker, Major G. G.|
|Paget, R. H.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Pakington,rt. hon. Sir J.||Walrond, J. W.|
|Palk, Sir L.||Walsh, A.|
|Parker, Major W.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Patten, Colonel W.||Waterhouse, S.|
|Paull, H.||Welby, W. E.|
|Peel, rt. hon. General||Whiteside, rt. hon. J.|
|Pennant, hon. Colonel||Whitmore, H.|
|Percy,Mjr-Gen.Lord H.||Williams, Colonel|
|Philips, G. L.||Williams, F. M.|
|Powell, F. S.||Wise, H. C.|
|Pritchard, J.||Wyndham, hon. H.|
|Pugh, D.||Wyndham, hon. P.|
|Read, C. S.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Wynn, C. W. W.|
|Ridley, Sir M. W.||Yorke, J. R.|
|Robertson, P. F.|
|Royston, Viscount||Hunt, W.|
|Russell, Sir C.||Knightley, Sir R.|
|Sandford, G. M. W.|
|Acland, T. D.||Aytoun, R. S.|
|Adair, H. E.||Bagwell, J.|
|Akroyd, E.||Baines, E.|
|Allen, W. S;||Barclay, A. C.|
|Amberley, Viscount||Baring, hon. T. G.|
|Anstruther, Sir R.||Barnes, T.|
|Antrobus, E.||Barry, C. R.|
|Armstrong, R.||Barry, G. R.|
|Ayrton, A. S.||Bass, M, T.|
|Baxter, W. E.||FitzGerald, Lord O. A.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Foljambe, F. J. S.|
|Biddulph, M.||Fordyce, W. D.|
|Blake, J. A.||Forster, C.|
|Blennerhasset, Sir R.||Forster, W. E.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Foster, W. O.|
|Bowyer, Sir G.||Fort, R.|
|Brady, J.||Fortescue, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Brecknock, Earl of||Fortescue, hon. D. F.|
|Bright, Sir C. T.||Gaselee, Serjeant S.|
|Bright, J.||Gavin, Major|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Gilpin, C.|
|Bruce, Lord C.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Bruce, rt. hon. H. A.||Gladstone, W. H.|
|Buller, Sir E. M.||Glyn, G. C.|
|Butler, C. S.||Goldsmid, Sir F. H.|
|Buxton, C.||Goldsmid, J.|
|Calcraft, J. H. M.||Gower, hon. F. L.|
|Calthorpe, hon. F. H. W. G.||Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Campbell, R.||Greville, Colonel F.|
|Candlish, J.||Gray, Sir J.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Carington, hon. C. R.||Gridley, Captain H. G.|
|Carnegie, hon. C.||Grosvenor, Capt. R. W.|
|Castlerosse, Viscount||Grove, T. F.|
|Cavendish, Lord E.||Gurney, S.|
|Cavendish, Lord F. C.||Hadfield, G.|
|Cavendish, Lord G.||Hamilton, E. W. T.|
|Chambers, M.||Hanbury, R. C.|
|Chambers, T.||Hankey, T.|
|Cheetham, J.||Hardcastle, J. A.|
|Childers, H. C. E.||Harris, J. D.|
|Clay, J.||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Clement, W. J.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Clive, G.||Hay, Lord W. M.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Hayter, Captain A. D.|
|Coleridge, J. D.||Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.|
|Collier, Sir R. P.||Henderson, J.|
|Colthurst, Sir G. C.||Heneage, E.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Henley, Lord|
|Corbally, M. E.||Hodgkinson, G.|
|Cowen, J.||Hodgson, K. D.|
|Cowper, hon. H. F.||Holden, I.|
|Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.||Holland, E.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Crawford, R. W.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Crosland, Colonel T. P.||Hughes, T.|
|Crossley, Sir F.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Dalglish, R.||Hurst, R. H.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Hutt, rt. hon. Sir W.|
|Dawson, hon. Capt. V,||Ingham, R.|
|Denman, hon. G.||Jackson, W.|
|Dent, J. D.||Jardine, R.|
|Dilke, Sir W.||Jervoise, Sir J. C.|
|Duff, M. E. G.||Kearsley, Captain R.|
|Dundas, F.||Kennedy, T.|
|Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Dunlop, A. M.||Kinglake, A. W.|
|Edwards, C.||Kinglake, J. A.|
|Eliot, Lord||Kingscote, Colonel|
|Ellice, E.||Kinnaird, hon. A. F.|
|Esmondo, J.||Layard, A. H.|
|Evans, T. W.||Lamont, J.|
|Ewart, W.||Lawrence, W.|
|Ewing, H. E. Crum-||Lawson, rt. hon. J. A.|
|Eykyn, R.||Leatham, W. H.|
|Fawcett, H.||Lee, W.|
|Flides, J.||Leeman, G.|
|Lefevre, G. J. S.||Rebow, J. G.|
|Lewis, H.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Lloyd, Sir T. D.||Robertson, D.|
|Locke, J.||Rothschild, Baron L. de|
|Lusk, A.||Rothschild, Baron M. de|
|MacEvoy, E.||Rothschild, N. M. de|
|Mackinnon, Capt. L. B.||Russell, A.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Russell, F. W.|
|M'Laren, D.||Russell, Sir W.|
|Maguire, J. F.||St. Aubyn, J.|
|Marjoribanks, D. C.||Samuda, J. D'A.|
|Marshall, W.||Samuelson, B.|
|Martin, C. W.||Saunderson, E.|
|Matheson, Sir J.||Scholefield, W.|
|Milbank, F. A.||Scott, Sir W.|
|Mill, J. S.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Miller, W.||Seely, C.|
|Mills, J. R.||Seymour, H. D.|
|Milton, Viscount||Sheridan, H. B.|
|Mitchell, A.||Sherriff, A. C.|
|Moffatt, G.||Simeon, Sir J.|
|Moncrieff, rt. hon. J.||Smith, J. A.|
|Monk, C. J.||Smith, J. B.|
|Monsell, rt. hon. W.||Speirs, A. A.|
|Morris, M.||Stacpoole, W.|
|Morris, W.||Staniland, M.|
|Morrison, W.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Murphy, N. D.||Stansfeld, J.|
|Neate, C.||Steel, J.|
|Nicol, J. D.||Stone, W. H.|
|O'Beirne, J. L.||Sullivan, E.|
|O'Brien, Sir P.||Sykes, Colonel W. H.|
|O'Conor Don, The||Synan, E. J.|
|O'Donoghue, The||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Ogilvy, Sir J.||Taylor, P. A.|
|Oliphant, L.||Tite, W.|
|O'Loghlen, Sir C. M.||Torrens, W. T. M'C.|
|Onslow, G.||Trevelyan, G. O.|
|O'Reilly, M. W.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Osborne, R. B.||Vernon, H. F.|
|Otway, A. J.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Owen, Sir H. O.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Padmore, R.||Vivian, Capt.hn. J.C.W.|
|Palmer, Sir R.||Waring, C.|
|Pease, J. W.||Warner, E.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Weguelin, T. M.|
|Peel, A. W.||Western, Sir T. B.|
|Peel, J.||Whatman, J.|
|Pelham, Lord||Whitbread, S.|
|Peto, Sir S. M.||White, J.|
|Philips, R. N.||Whitworth, B.|
|Pim, J.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Platt, J.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Potter, E.||Woods, H.|
|Potter, T. B.||Wyvill, M.|
|Power, Sir J.||Young, R.|
|Price, R. G.|
|Price, W. P.||TELLERS.|
|Pryse, E. L.||Brand, hon. H. B. W.|
|Proby, Lord||Adam, W. P.|
|Rawlinson, Sir H.|
§ MR. BANKS STANHOPE
said, he rose to propose an Amendment—namely, the omission of the third section of the clause, which was as follows:—The qualifying premises must consist of a house or other building which, either alone or with land held by the occupier in the county, is of the value aforesaid, with this proviso, that where the premises consist partly of a house or other build- 410 ing and partly of land, the building must either be the dwelling-house of the occupier, or must itself be of a clear yearly value of £6 or upwards.By that section an entirely new principle was introduced into the county franchise. The latter part of the section laid down the condition that the building must in one alternative be a dwelling-house; but non-occupation had never before been a bar to the county franchise. The clause originally proposed by Lord Chandos on the 18th of August, 1831, ran—Any person occupying or farming on his own account land at a rent not less than £50 by the year, although without any specific tenure of his land, and not being less than one year bolâ fide occupation of such land, &c."—[3 Hansard, vi. 279.]On the following day Lord Althorpe said:—He was sure it was not intended to admit only farming tenants-at-will and reject the tenant-at-will of houses and garden land.Lord Althorpe proposed the clause as it now stands, giving a vote to occupiers of any land or tenements of the value of £50, and the object of his Amendment was to maintain this principle of the Chandos clause as amended by Lord Althorpe, and to allow either land or premises to give the vote. According to the clause a house without land was to give a vote, but the converse was not allowed, and land without a house was not to give a vote. Upon what principle was that proposed? Was it that bricks and mortar could in any way qualify a man to vote? He was at a loss to conceive why the change was proposed. If the object was to prevent the creation of county votes, the device was absurd, because, as was well known, freehold votes were constantly manufactured. He wondered whether hon. Members knew how the proposed section would operate. He was aware that another clause of the Bill provided that existing voters on the register for existing qualifications should be disfranchised, and he presumed that a man who had a vote for grass land, without a building upon it, for which he paid over £50 a year, would retain his vote. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER assented.] Very well, but if another man came into possession and paid the same rental, he would not be allowed to vote, because there was not on the land a building of the annual value of £6. Take the case of a farmer who rented thirteen acres at £4 per acre, and paid £52 a year. Suppose, on account of his losses from the rinderpest, the landlord reduced the rent 411 10s. an acre, the tenant would then pay £45 10s. and would lose his vote. The section would say that because the tenant did not live in a £6 house he was unfit to have the franchise. The next clause provided that the qualification must be in one holding; so that if a man had two holdings under different landlords, each of £40 a year, he would still be disqualified for a vote unless he had a house upon one of them. Why should not such a man have a vote as well as the occupier of a £14 house? Again, a man whose holding was on the boundary line between the two counties, and who had buildings on one side and the greater part of the land on the other, might on that account fail to acquire a vote. Again, a tradesman in an £8 house in a small town hired grass land valued at £20 from another landlord, but there being no building he also had no vote. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) said the other evening that he did not see what reason he (Mr. B. Stanhope) had to complain, because he could find in the Electoral Returns no large urban constituencies in North Lincolnshire to disturb his seat. This was no doubt so, and, as far as his own constituency was concerned, he did not care about a £14 or any other franchise. He depended for his seat upon his conduct in that House and upon the kindness of his constituents. But the question was a much wider one, affecting the whole agricultural interest of the country, and it was upon this ground that he opposed the measure. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) had said truly enough that the Conservatives did not question the fitness of the £14 voters. But if fitness were the question, why were not persons holding land only without buildings as fit as those who had land upon which stood bricks and mortar? He would remind the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in words that he had himself used, that those gentlemen who occupied land, though they might not be possessed of bricks and mortar, were still our flesh and blood. They were our fellow Christians; and he would ask why they were to be treated as an invading army who were to be refused admission to the franchise? Anyone who, like him, had been dabbling for the last twenty-five years in bricks and mortar, was not likely to undervalue their importance. But he was not aware that there was any peculiar social advantage in bricks. What would be thought of him if he were to go before 412 his constituents and say—I have for the last quarter of a century been surrounded by bricks, and up to my neck in mortar, and therefore I am the fittest man to be your Member? Was it to be laid down that, while numbers were to be the basis of representation in the towns, in the counties the franchise was to be based on bricks and mortar? A famous prophecy in Daniel, hitherto not very clear, had particularly struck him, and he was tempted to give his own version of it. The vision was this—The image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.Did this apply to the future of England, whose object was the acquisition of wealth, whose means were her mineral wealth, and whose Constitution now was to be founded on clay? But the book went on to say what happened to this image—Then was the iron, the silver and the brass, the clay, the gold broken to pieces together, and became like chaff, and the wind carried them away, so that no place was found for them.If the image was based upon the clay, that result might happen, and the remainder of Daniel's prophecy might be fulfilled—And as the toes of the feet were part of iron and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly broken.And so, if the Constitution of England were founded upon a wrong basis, this kingdom would be "partly strong and partly broken" also. He was glad that the Government had at last given these Returns, which he had moved for as far back as the 16th of March, and which he had asked for every week since. These Returns contained some curious figures, to which he wished to call the attention of the House. He had always been under the impression that property was to be taken into account in settling representation, but it seemed that property was to be subservient to numbers. The Returns showed that the number of occupiers between £14 and £50 was 101,000, whose rental represented £1,600,000 a year; while the occupiers at and above £50 numbered 202,000, representing a rental of £34,000,000 a year. The numbers, therefore, were only at two to one, but the rental was as twenty-one to one. Again, the number of occupiers and small owners under £14 was 155,000, representing about £1,000,000 a year. Adding to these 101,000 occupiers between £14 and £50, 413 you got a total of 256,000 persons, representing £2,700,000; while the occupiers above £50, numbering 387,000, represented a rental of £39,000,000. Again, the occupiers and owners under £14 numbered, as he had said, 155,000, with a rental of £1,000,000; occupiers of all sorts between £14 and £50 were 286,000, with a rental of £7,500,000; so that the total number under £50 was 441,000, representing £8,500,000 a year; while the occupiers of all sorts above £50 numbering 202,600, represented £34,000,000 of rental. Now, a question might arise hereafter which would make the line of demarcation to be drawn of great importance—he meant the question how far property was to be taxed in proportion to other interests. As far as he could see, the first result of this Bill would be a fierce endeavour on the part of the towns, assisted, perhaps, by the lower portion of the county constituency, to do away with indirect taxation as far as possible and to satisfy all the national burdens by direct taxation. Now, a system which gave the power of legislation and of deciding between peace and war to those who bore an inconsiderable share of public burdens, or who did not bear any at all, must in the long run become a legalized system of confiscation. The House should consider then, how far it would allow numbers to override property. The number of borough freeholders, according to the Returns which he had obtained, was 101,000, and the number of occupiers in places unrepresented, with populations above 5,000, was 135,000, making a total of urban voters amounting to 236,000. Now, if they deducted the 135,000 in towns above 5,000 from 490,000, the number of rural occupiers from £14 and upwards, the result would be 355,000 rural occupiers, as against 236,000 of the urban element. It should be borne in mind that these Returns were based upon the Census of 1861, and since then the population of towns above 5,000 had greatly increased. Again, the urban total of 236,000 was without any admixture of a county element, while the rural total of 355,000 was qualified by all the freeholders who lived outside large or in small towns. Now, while the Members for towns represented occupation, the Members for counties represented property, and yet they were going to destroy the property representation by the introduction of so large an element from the towns into the counties. This was not simply a question 414 of parties. If hon. Members on the other side obtained a temporary advantage was it to be supposed that the large towns in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and such places, would send country Gentlemen, when they could get manufacturers and merchants to represent them in that House? Or did they think that if Gentlemen on that side of the House were saddled with an excessive direct taxation, they on the other side would be exempted? He could not enter into the feelings of county representatives opposite, nor would he presume to give them advice; but if he sat among them his only consolation would be that of the oyster at the bottom of the barrel—he would be the last to be devoured. He would give some instances of the working of this measure in different counties from the Returns he held in his hand. In the county of Kent the total of occupiers was 26,000, of whom 12,000 belonged to large towns. But to this element 4,000 voters were to be added, and then there would be 16,000 town against 14,000 country electors—could that be called a county representation? And that was one of the counties which they proposed to insult with an additional Member. In Stafford there were 16,000 occupiers, of whom 6,000 were in towns. Now, an addition of 6,000 to the latter would make the town element in Stafford 12,000, as against 10,000 in the county. Taking Surrey, with a total of 25,000 occupiers, of whom 17,000 resided in towns—no return was made of the new borough voters; but, as things stood, there were 17,000 town against 8,000 country voters. The case of Warwick was not so strong. In that county there was a total of 9,000 occupiers, of whom 3.000 belonged to the towns, and when 2,000 were added to them, it would give 5,000 town against 6,000 country voters. Ho would give one more instance—that of the West Riding of York, in which there was a total of occupiers amounting to 32,000, of whom 9,500 lived in towns. As many more borough voters would be added, and then there would be 19,000 town against 12,500 country voters. Now, he wished to know clearly and definitely, if this Bill passed, upon what principle the legislation of this country would be carried on for the future? If they were determined to make the urban element predominant—if property was a mistake—if flesh and blood, that was to say numbers, were to add not only weight but dignity to their counsels, then let that be understood. But if that 415 rule were to be carried out—if property were to be subordinate to those who had the least amount of it—if they were to leave large towns unrepresented, as not fit for the franchise—and if the counties were to be legislated for in the way he had shown, be would venture to predict, to use an expression of the hon. Member for Birmingham, that they would not get "a settlement of the question even for the shortest possible time." Hon. Members opposite, who were perhaps looking for a little party triumph at the next elections, would unite with the Gentlemen on that side to endeavour to remedy the mischief when perhaps it would be too late; and another Bill would be introduced into a Parliament composed of men not so fit by education to entertain the question. He believed the result of the new Reform Bill would be an increase of taxation; and if in the towns we were to come to what the Attorney General regarded as the only standing point—namely, household suffrage, they might be obliged in self-defence to come to the same thing in the counties, and to endeavour to meet numbers by numbers. He should deprecate such a step, but it might become necessary. The Opposition side of the House might have to go farther than they would wish towards democracy. He, for one, warned the Government against introducing large bodies of the people, who would not regard anything but the variety and passions of the moment, and who might make hon. Members opposite bitterly rue the day when they preferred a temporary triumph to the permanent interests of the country.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 41, to leave out Section 3
§ (The qualifying promises must consist of a house or other building which, either alone or with land held by the occupier in the county, is of the value aforesaid, with this proviso, that where the premises consist partly of a house or other building and partly of land, the building must either be the dwelling-house of the occupier, or must itself be of a clear yearly value of six pounds or upwards.)—(Mr. Banks Stanhope.)
said, that his hon. Friend had made out a good case for his Amendment. Much had been heard of the working classes during the early arguments for this Bill, but they were seldom spoken of now that the clauses relating to counties were discussed. For himself, he regarded these brick-and-mortar clauses as a positive insult to the working classes. The first step of an 416 agricultural labourer towards becoming a farmer was to add a small field to his little holding. And who had a greater claim to share in the representation of the country than the man who, by his own honest industry, had thus raised himself? Many a man lived in a £3, £4, or £5 cottage, to which he had added one, two, or three fields. He could point to instances of such advancement in society in his own county. And to these men the country were deeply indebted, for they were the people who were at this moment engaged in rearing the calves which would otherwise have been ruthlessly destroyed in the national effort to stamp out the cattle plague. These were the men to whom the country would be deeply indebted for keeping up the breed of cattle. He hoped the Government would not stickle for the brick-and-mortar clause. He objected to the introduction by wholesale of the middle classes into the county constituencies, not, however, on account of the increase of the middle class element, but because of its swamping the working class. He would not go into the fly-and-the-ointment-pot argument, but he did regret to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer say that the 254 county Members were almost free from the contamination of the working classes. He was sorry to hear that expression. On looking to the Members supposed to be returned by the country farmers of the £50 class, he found that not more than 22 or 23 per cent of the constituencies were Chandos occupants. What, then, became of the other 77 per cent? The large and small landed proprietors and the clergy in any parish might almost be counted on the fingers, and it was clear that there was an enormous portion of the working classes who had votes for the counties. In one union in his own county the present number of voters was 2,653; the new voters would be 3,951, being an increase of 1,298. There were thirty-eight parishes in that union. In most of the rural parishes there would be no addition to the number of voters; in others the increase would be from 1, 2, 3, to 26. In the town parishes the increases were respectively 69, 134, 523. The voters in his own county, if the county remained as it was, but perhaps it would be better cut in two, would show an increase of from 4,000 to 6,000. He would not detain the House longer, but he could not help remarking on some of the observations which had been used, and as to the manner in which this Bill had been 417 debated. He was sorry to hear the Member for the Tower Hamlets rather seeming to wish to gag and muzzle hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House to prevent them from discussing a great—he would not say a fearful, for he had no fear of the result—but to prevent them from discussing a measure which was, in fact, a great revolution. He was sorry to see the Government assisting to carry every position at the point of the bayonet, although with diminished forces and discontented troops. He had hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would in Committee have acted with more conciliation. He expected that the right hon. Gentleman would have given the £20 franchise in counties. This he did not do. He might have exhibited a little of the spirit of conciliation to the Reformers on the Opposition side of the House. It had been said that a Reform Bill, to give satisfaction, must have the assent of both sides of the House. But the tone of the Government had been such as to excite the opposition of the warmest Reformers on that side of the House. He had expected that the right hon. Gentleman would have been somewhat conciliatory to the party with whom he had once acted, and who had through evil and through good report assisted in returning him at Oxford, and a large portion of whom had assisted in bringing the right hon. Gentleman in for South Lancashire.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
expressed a hope that the Government would retain this portion of the clause in its integrity. Apprehension had been expressed as to what was called the invasion of the counties by the middle classes. He thought such invasion would be much promoted by the operation of this Bill, and it was because he anticipated such an effect that he supported the measure. The clause would be without sense or meaning if it did not enfranchise those numerous occupiers of land scattered over the country, who were at present excluded from the county franchise. The agricultural interest was, in his opinion, too largely represented in that House. He believed that three-fourths of the Members were interested in agriculture, and he believed, further, that the agricultural element would always retain an ascendancy. But the introduction of an urban manufacturing and mining element into the county representation would be beneficial. He had always advocated the £10 County Franchise Bill of the hon. 418 Member for East Surrey. The Chandos clause of the Reform Act of 1832 gave a representation to a £50 occupier in counties, whether the occupation was of house or of land. The occupation element was introduced for the reason that a £50 occupier in the county was as fit for the franchise as a £10 householder in the borough; and if the occupation clause in the present Bill were carried, he thought the house qualification should be regarded. He thought that the Government had made an unfortunate distinction in providing that, if the occupation under this clause consisted partly of a dwelling-house, the latter need be of no value, but if it consisted partly of a building other than a house, then the building must be of the annual value of£6. A house afforded the best means of testing the occupier's means and respectability, and he trusted the Government would make the provision as to value apply as well to a house as to other buildings. He could not conceal his astonishment that those who began with horror at the proposed admission of the working classes now expressed still more horror at finding so large a portion of the middle classes in possession of the franchise.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he stood to-night in a somewhat peculiar position, as there was a general turning of the tables. There was a Motion from the Benches behind to make the restrictive operation of this clause more restrictive, while from the opposite side of the House there was a Motion to do away with the restriction altogether. The Government had endeavoured to the best of their ability, and they should continue to endeavour on all occasions to look at these questions without the smallest regard to the side of the House from which they came, or to their bearing upon particular interests. He had sat in silence night after night under many heavy charges preferred against him of hostility to the landed interest. These were the stock charges which for the last thirty or forty years had been made by Gentlemen opposite, whose policy would have ruined land, against those whose policy had highly increased the value of every estate in England. Therefore, let it not be supposed, because he heard these preposterous charges in silence, that lie agreed in their justice, or was not prepared to show, for instance, that a man like the President of the Poor Law Board, who was the first to be represented as the great enemy, destroyer, and oppressor of 419 land, was, in point of fact, a far better friend to it than those who directed those accusations against him. With regard to the question under discussion, the Government had approached it with the disposition which governed them in respect to the whole of the Bill, to impose no restraint whatever except on a strong and clear ground of public policy, and that principle they had endeavoured to apply without reference to its bearing on one interest or another. This portion of the 4th clause had grown by analogy out of a consideration of the case of boroughs, with respect to which it was provided that for the purpose of the franchise there must be a building. That provision had been evaded by knocking up worthless places, and he thought it beyond dispute that in the case of boroughs it was absolutely necessary, if a building was rendered necessary, for the franchise to stipulate that it should be of a certain value, and there was a provision in the 5th clause that the building should be of a clear annual value of £3 or upwards. This was entirely and exclusively done with a view to prevent the creation of fictitious votes. In proposing the £14 occupation franchise the Government thought that they were coining near to the borough franchise, and therefore, to prevent the creation of fictitious votes, this provision was inserted. It appeared to the Government that if they did not limit the operation of the clause by some such provision, it would be necessary to limit it by a provision in the nature of the 6th clause in the Bill of 1859, which restricted the number of persons who would be entitled to claim under the name of joint tenancy or joint occupation. He would like to know whether there was a general assent on the other side of the House that if they did not retain this restriction the power of enfranchising an indefinite number of persons from one undivided holding ought to be restrained by a clause similar to that in the Bill of 1859. That was a provision declaring that no greater number of persons should be entitled to votes than should be equal to two voters, except in certain cases of marriage settlements, partnerships, &c. That limitation was absolutely required in order to prevent attempts to create fictitious votes. The Government had given up one clause most valuable in principle, tending to increase the amount of votes in counties, and that had been given up in deference to hon. Gentlemen opposite, with the desire, if possible, of conciliating them—a desire 420 upon which the Government had hitherto acted, and would act, though he was afraid with very little hope of success; at all events, the fruits so far had been exceedingly small. With respect to the clause of the £14 occupation franchise, he thought there never was a clause framed in a spirit of greater liberality towards the interests of land as was indisputably shown by the fact that a lower class of voters, if they were only agricultural tenants, would come in under it. The holder of a £14 house would, as a general rule, be a man of larger income and of higher social status than the man who was the holder of a small farm of £14 a year; and consequently, this franchise was one eminently favourable to the representation of the land. But having admitted this principle, the Government disclaimed the notion of excluding or including any class of voters, either because they were urban or rural. As to the last member of the clause, which required that the qualifying premises should be held under the same landlord, the Government adopted in that the principle of the Chandos clause. He would, however, say that the Government would not feel it necessary to adhere to this member of their clause if they saw there was a real disposition to provide against the errors which might arise in joint tenancy in the way he had pointed out. Nothing would be easier than for a landlord havinga number of dependants about him, his gardener, gamekeeper, carpenter, and others, living in £6 houses, to eke out those sums and bring them up to the £14 if he pleased. At the same time, the Government had no wish to prevent landlords from cutting up their property if they so chose, in order to create votes. It might be impolitic, and might injure his estate, and perhaps his natural good sense would prevent him from doing it, but lie had a right to do it if he chose. The Government wished, however, to make the occupation in each case a bonâ fide occupation. His hon. Friend had shown that, with the object of having a voter of a certain status, it was necessary, especially in regard to Scotland, to provide that the house should be of a certain value, whether it was a dwelling-house or not, and that was the most important part of the whole case. It would not be just or fair to the landowner to say that a small farm of the value of £10 or £11, with a house of £3 or £4 value, should not serve for a qualification, and consequently, the Government were prepared to give up that part of the clause. He did 421 not see any object in the words sufficient to make them persevere in doing that which many hon. Gentlemen seemed to think was a positive pleasure to them, but which was really eminently disagreeable to them—namely, refusing demands for alterations of the measure. Therefore, if those hon. Gentlemen were willing to concur with the Government in endeavouring to obviate the abuses which arose from the system of joint tenancy, to which he had adverted, he should not deem it necessary to adhere to the third member of the clause, reserving to himself the right to bring up a proposal subsequently to meet the difficulty to which he had just alluded. Upon that understanding he would cheerfully accede to the wish which had been expressed by the hon. Member opposite.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
Sir, I cannot help expressing the regret which I feel that in the conciliatory proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer he should, in its concluding remarks, have thought it necessary for the first time to raise the old ghost tonight of the Corn Law agitation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer thought it worth while to say that the Gentlemen on this side of the House had made a charge against Her Majesty's Government and hon. Gentlemen acting with them, in which they assumed that the Government were animated by a feeling of hostility to the landed interest in producing this Bill. In that charge I agree. This Bill does operate against the landed interest enormously. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that that was the very last charge which he had expected to hear brought by hon. Gentlemen on that side against the President of the Poor Law Board and his Colleagues in the Government, and he went on to say that it was a very old charge, and for thirty or forty years Gentlemen on this side of the House had been keeping up the agitation. If they were to go back as far as that, I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of the time when he and myself were chaired through the streets of Newark by the farmers of the neighbourhood, twenty-five or thirty years ago, when certainly no Gentleman was more popular among the farmers than the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and more earnest in advocating their cause, and it is somewhat extraordinary that he should have this night raised the ghost of protection to native industry. The Chancellor of the Exchequer strenuously defended the third proviso in the clause, 422 while announcing its abandonment. He said the sole object of this proviso was to prevent fictitious votes, and he went on to show that in boroughs it was absolutely necessary to prevent the setting up of tumble-down buildings giving rights to vote; therefore, he assumed it was equally necessary to provide in counties against fictitious votes on £14 or £20 worth of land. There may be tumble-down places, such as described in boroughs, but the land in the counties cannot tumble down; it is a real thing, and the value is easily ascertained, even if they took rental instead of rating as their basis. Therefore the analogy drawn by the right hon. Gentleman is futile, and his argument untenable. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that if he conceded this point, which he expressed his willingness to do, he should expect hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House would not object to join in preventing fictitious votes out of land. The right hon. Gentleman read a clause from the Bill which was introduced in 1859 by Earl Derby, and I sincerely rejoice to find that as this debate goes on the Chancellor of the Exchequer is more and more disposed to pay consideration and attention to this Bill. Without pledging myself, or those who sit on this side of the House, to any formal words the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be pleased to introduce, I may safely say we have no more interest and no more wish to create fictitious votes than the Chancellor of the Exchequer or any hon. Gentleman opposite. We are actuated by a desire, if the Constitution is to be reformed, if an addition is to be made to the number of Her Majesty's subjects who are to be admitted to the franchise, we are desirous that that privilege of the franchise should be placed on a clearly defined and easily understood basis; and we have no wish or intention for fictitious votes to exist in the towns or counties that may be created by the operation of this Bill. Therefore, as far as the general principle of the clause is concerned, the right hon. Gentleman need fear no difficulty or opposition from these Benches. But as the Chancellor of the Exchequer—I think very wisely and very prudently—said he could not pledge himself to the particular words in which he would clothe his intentions, so we, on this side of the House, must reserve to ourselves the full right, when we are made acquainted with the form of words to say whether they fairly accomplished the object both have in view, and whether the proposal is sus- 423 ceptible of improvement. Under the circumstances, I do not feel it necessary to trespass on the time of the Committee on this point. I regard the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as tantamount to a declaration on the part of Her Majesty's Government that this provision to which we have taken such strong objection is withdrawn, and for that statement on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer I cannot do otherwise than be thankful and express my extreme satisfaction.
§ MR. M'LAREN
very much regretted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have given way on this question, because he had had experience of the working of a similar system in Scotland. It was a common practice there for a landowner to divide his estate into ten or twenty portions, each conferring a vote on persons who had no local habitation in the county, being the mere belongings of great towns and altogether illusory owners. This proviso regulating the qualification for occupiers would at least have raised a barrier against such a practice, for no landowner could have divided his estate into portions of £14 rental without building a house on each portion. Speaking of Scotland, if the two Bills were to be the same, he felt perfectly satisfied that if a man had a farm of £140 a year he would let it to ten different tenants at £14 each, and these ten would sublet it to other men who would carry on the cultivation. The original tenants would not have a shilling of interest in the land; the sub-tenant would pay the rent directly to the landlord, and the actual tenants would never trouble themselves about the matter. For himself he would much rather have accepted the last Amendment, which he voted against, than accept this Amendment, which, in his opinion, struck a fatal blow at the utility of the Bill. He thought the Amendment was objectionable on another ground, by favouring land to an enormous extent as against houses. Hon. Members knew from the arrangements made in connection with the income tax that land was believed to yield a profit equal to half the rent; so that if a man paid £500 rent he was held to have an income of £250 and was assessed accordingly. Thus a man baying a £4 tenancy of land might be assumed to have an income of barely £7—that was all he made out of it, even if it were a bonâ fide transaction. But a man who lived in a £10 house in the country must have an income of at least £100 a 424 year. Yet that man was to be denied a vote, whilst to favour the land the small occupier at £14 of rent was to have a vote. It was a most flagrant piece of injustice, and would do more throughout the Scotch counties to play into the hands of the landowners than even the Chandos clause had done in England. It was, in fact, tantamount to enacting that the £50 occupancy established by the Chandos clause should be reduced to £14; that was the effect of omitting this qualifying proviso. He thought it very deeply to be regretted that this part of the clause should have been given up, and he hoped that those hon. Members who were of the same opinion would record their votes against its being done.
§ MR. BEACH
expressed his satisfaction that the third paragraph of the clause was to be withdrawn. He however regretted the injurious remarks which had been made in the discussion as to the conflicting interests of the landed and other classes. The hon. Member for Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke) said that the land was rather over-represented in that House. That might be the opinion of some hon. Gentlemen, but it was doubtful whether it would be borne out by the statistics of the question. Increased representation had certainly been given to the counties, though not in the manner he would have recommended; and he denied the statement that the interest chiefly represented in that House was the landed interest. The landed interest could exercise a strong influence in that House only when that which it supported was consistent with the principles of right and justice. The representatives of that interest were never deaf to the reasonable and just complaints of those who represented other interests. At the time of the Lancashire distress there were no Members on the Opposition side of the House averse to doing all that was possible to ameliorate the condition of the suffering people. Now he did not think that the Committee did wrong in prolonging the discussion the other night, for important statistics had been presented to the House which showed a condition of things far different from what most hon. Members supposed to exist; and not even the greatest adept at figures had had sufficient time to make himself fully acquainted with those statistics. A fact which spoke for their importance was that a revised edition of those statistics had been issued that morning. He believed that there were 425 large numbers of people occupying premises in the country below the rent of £50, and he would be glad to see the franchise extended to them; but that should be done on some definite and distinct principle. Whereas he could see no reason for the proposal to reduce this franchise to £14, except that the amount happened to be twice £7. Although in counties where no great unrepresented towns existed the character of the existing constituencies would not be materially altered by this measure, it would produce one inconvenience by considerably increasing the expenses of candidates; for indeed it could not be otherwise when electors in great numbers, scattered over a large area, were admitted to the franchise. It had been said that these expenses might be reduced by opening more polling-places. This, however, was not true, because on the contrary each additional polling-place would only entail further expense upon the candidate. In every district there must be an organization to secure the attendance of voters, and it was well known that the agency at elections was the cause of the chief portion of the expenditure. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that hon. Members ought not to enter into the question of urban and rural interest, because they were foreign to the spirit of the Constitution; but what was the course dictated by the Constitution itself in former times? When towns grew into importance before the Revolution they were selected by Royal prerogative to return Members to that House. But the case was now altered; and since 1832 there had not been au opportunity of redressing the difference between large towns which had grown into importance and towns which had decayed, and become of little account in the country. Did not this fact show that when the franchise was to be reduced it was proper to inquire from what quarter those who were to be admitted within the pale of the Constitution would come? In the case of counties having great unrepresented towns the character of the constituencies would be greatly altered by this measure. According to the Returns recently presented to the House the population in unrepresented towns containing above 5,000 inhabitants was 3,167,000, and in some of the counties the proportion was very large. For instance, in the West Riding of Yorkshire the population of the unrepresented towns having more than 5,000 inhabitants was 393,000, and in Lancashire the num- 426 ber was 509,000. Of course, the return of Members for those counties must be more or less affected by the inhabitants of the unrepresented towns, and there the urban element predominated. The test of qualification, however, that had been selected was not calculated to effect this object, and there had evidently been some ingenuity at work in providing the £6 qualification for boroughs, because while it would include nearly all the householders in the large towns, it was just above the rental of those who resided in the agricultural districts. He should have preferred to see the county occupation franchise fixed at £20, or at a £14 rating; but if the majority of the House forced upon those who agreed with him the amount of franchise fixed in the Bill, they must needs submit to it. County Members were proud of representing the various sections of the community, but they were very properly averse to giving a predominance to towns so as to swamp the agricultural interest. Neither did they wish to see voters increased by any indirect means; but to give a full and fair representation to the various and complicated interests of the country.
§ MR. WHITE
would not go into a discussion of the general question, but begged to ask some Member of the Government whether, owing to the concession made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to hon. Gentlemen opposite, it would not be possible for the possessor of land bringing him in £1,400 a year, in perfect accordance with the terms of the Amendment, so to divide the property as to create, he would not say 100 faggot votes, but 100 votes perfectly under his control. If so, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had done exactly what was intended to be done by Lord Derby's Bill, unless the framers of that Bill were grossly libelled. He deeply deplored that any such concession should have been made by the right hon. Gentleman. No doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer hoped to conciliate hon. Gentlemen opposite, but that that anticipation would be realized he did not expect. The concession was one made without any reference to the feelings of hon. Members, who, like himself, thought it their duty to support and carry through this Bill, and who had therefore voted on all occasions for the Government measure. In this instance they meant to act exceptionally, and to take the sense of the House in a spirit of opposition to the Government, and he hoped that, reinforced by some Gen- 427 tlemen from the other side, they would succeed in getting rid of the Amendment to which the right hon. Gentleman had so unwisely consented.
§ SIR LAWRENCE PALK
said, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after having accepted the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Lincolnshire, suggested that they should all unite in an endeavour to provide some means for preventing the creation of faggot votes; and he (Sir Lawrence Palk) believed that the Members on the opposite side would gladly cooperate with the Government for the attainment of that object. The course taken by the hon. Member for Brighton, although to be regretted, was not surprising. His feelings towards county Members was one of perpetual hostility, and any favour shown to them was, therefore, regarded by him as a personal injury. If, however, the hon. Member really was, as he supposed himself to be, a sincere and ardent Reformer, he must remember that the only way in which a Reform Bill could pass this Session was by mutual conciliation and forbearance on both sides of the House. He should be thought ungrateful if he did not tender to hon. Members who sat below the gangway on the opposite side of the House his thanks for the advice they so constantly proffered to their oponents, and doubtless it gave those hon. Gentlemen great pain to see that that advice was not accepted. He recollected that on one occasion a party of Dissenters waited on a distinguished prelate and made a proposition to him which he very indignantly refused. The Dissenters retired, consulted, and returned, stating that they had agreed to accept the terms of the right rev. Prelate; but one of their number who felt aggrieved at this decision, said to his Lordship, "You must admit, my Lord, that you have got the lion's share;" upon which the Prelate replied, "Yes, sir, and if we had taken your advice, we should have had none at all." That would be the result of the advice so freely and often given to the opposition by the supporters of Government. No doubt it appeared to those hon. Members that because they on the Opposition side were pursuing an apparently obstructive policy they did not desire Reform, and the supporters of the Government were determined, no matter what proof was given to the contrary, that the Opposition should never gain any credit as Reformers with the country. That might or might not be the case, but 428 he begged to remind those hon. Gentlemen that Lord Derby and his party went to the country pledged to Reform, and he ventured to suggest in their defence that it was painful for them to find themselves so frequently in opposition to the Government, but they had a duty to perform to the great constituencies whom they represented. The other night the Chancellor of the Exchequer wound up with a terrible denunciation of the Conservative party, "which did nothing but waste time." But the decision which the right hon. Gentleman then sought to force on was deferred; and he appealed to the result of the recent division and to tile concession which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had since thought it right to make, whether the reproach of wasting time was well founded on fact. Upon statistics presented on Tuesday, but so fallacious that they had to be substituted that day by others, they were asked to go into the question upon which the whole representation of the counties mainly depended. In spite, however, of the threats that had been held out the Opposition would calmly hold on its course, and although they admitted the Government was in a majority, and if they insisted and persevered long enough they must swallow the leek which was so constantly held up before their mouths—they should, notwithstanding, continue to faithfully discharge their duties to their constituencies. Those who had listened with attention to the debate would not regret that it had been prolonged, because after the arguments that had been urged they would no longer venture to prophesy that the majority would have a lasting and beneficial effect. The hon. Baronet the Member for Lanarkshire on a former night candidly admitted that he was afraid of the agricultural interest, and other hon. Members had said that in their opinion the agricultural interest had too much power in that House. He (Sir Lawrence Palk) held a different opinion, and thought that on the contrary the urban population had already too much predominance in the Legislature. The principle of Lord Derby's Reform Bill had been much discussed. Lord Derby and his party had been tried, convicted, sentenced and executed; yet on every occasion Lord Derby's Reform Bill was resuscitated, knocked to pieces, and killed again. In fact, there was no Gentleman on the other side of the House who did not resuscitate that measure, and fit a 429 reference to it into some passage of his speech. Now, what was the principle of that Bill, and in what respects did it differ from the Bill of 1832, and the present measure? The difference between Lord Russell's Bill, Lord Derby's Bill, and the present measure was, that Lord Derby sought to extend the county franchise and also that of the urban or town franchise on the principle laid down in the Bill of 1832.
said, he was unwilling to interrupt the bon. Baronet, but he must remind him that the question before the Committee was the omission of paragraph 3 in Clause 4.
§ SIR LAWRENCE PALK
said, that with all due deference to the hon. Gentleman in the Chair, he thought he was approaching that question as closely as possible. ["Order!"] If that was a specimen of the way in which the debate was to be carried on, he could only say that hon. Gentlemen opposite were putting themselves in a very false position. ["Order, Order!"] No doubt he must succumb to any noise hon. Gentlemen opposite chose to make. He was not one who ever fought against the House of Commons, and if hon. Members did not wish him to proceed, he should desist ["Chair!"]; but be must be permitted to ask whether the debate must be considered as at an end because the Government had given up a part of the clause? He thought that would be an untenable position. He submitted that it was competent to him to show why this clause would be so objectionable by contrasting the difference between the principle of this Bill, and those that had gone before it. Now, he would shortly show what were the principles of those Bills.
reminded the hon. Baronet that the question before the Committee was not the principle of the Bill. It was not even Clause 4; but paragraph 3 in Clause 4.
said, that as the Chairman had raised the question of order, he wished to know whether it was not legitimate, in discussing this paragraph which so much affected the re-distribution of power between urban and agricultural districts, to point out the direction in which the balance of elective power would be found.
said, that the question referred to by the noble Lord so far as it legitimately arose out of paragraph 3 of Clause 4, had been discussed by several 430 hon. Members, and so long as it appeared to him that they confined themselves to that clause he did not interrupt them. He could assure the Committee that he was most unwilling to place a limit to debate.
§ SIR LAWRENCE PALK
said, the decision of the Chairman had placed him under the disadvantage of not being able to see how he was transgressing the rules of debate. The line was so extremely fine that the Chairman had failed to define the difference between what would be in order and what was out of order in the case. However, as his argument appeared to make hon. Gentlemen opposite very sore, he might presume it was a good one, and had had such an effect that he might advantageously confine himself to the clause. If this clause would have the effect of giving the dwellers in towns a predominance in the franchise which they did not before possess, it would be an injustice to the landed interest. Hon. Members opposite were prepared to support this franchise because they considered it would damage the landed interest. Now, he maintained that if they were bound to pass a measure of Reform, they were not bound to pass it for party purposes alone, and that they had no right to insist on a franchise which they could not defend, merely for the sake of inflicting a blow on the landed interest. The Government, in fact, thought the agricultural interest was too strong, and the object of their franchise was to diminish, control, and destroy it. He was not, however, allowed to enter into these matters, owing to the line which the Chairman had so arbitrarily drawn. ["Order!"] He did not mean to use the word in an offensive manner, and therefore he would withdraw it. He should be the last man in that House to do so, and if it had been received in that form he begged at once to withdraw it. As, however, he did not exactly understand the narrow boundary of discussion that had been laid down he would not address the House further on the subject.
§ SIR FRANCIS CROSSLEY
said, that if the proposed omission were adopted it would tend to greatly increase the number of voters in a manner he did not approve of, and when he found county Gentlemen on the Opposition side for the first time advocating an Amendment the effect of which would be to increase the number of voters, he naturally thought there was something behind. It appeared to him the Opposition wished to follow the principle he heard once laid down by a largo 431 landed proprietor who once had a seat in that House. He told him that he had never any difficulty with his tenants, because when they took their farms they were told they must vote in his interest, as it was the land and not the man who had the vote. The landowners now wanted to create a greater number of such voters than they could have done as the Bill stood originally, and as he thought this would be the effect of the omission of paragraph 3, he should support its retention.
§ SIR JOHN TROLLOPE
was surprised at the opposition to the withdrawal of this clause which was offered by the hon. Member for the North Riding and the hon. Member for Brighton, because it would effect the exact consequence about which they professed to be so anxious, that of greatly increasing the number of electors in the county. For this reason it certainly ought to have recommended itself to the favour of hon. Gentlemen below the gangway. This view, he thought, must have come over the mind of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But it had been objected that it would lead to the manufacture of votes. The idea seemed to him most absurd. It was not a very probable thing that any landlord would be willing to split up his £1,400 a year into 100 electors, who would certainly be a very poor class of tenants, upon whom he would be unable to depend for their rent, or even for their votes when he wanted them. He disapproved of the clause, because it would exclude many men from the franchise who were well worthy of it—men who laid out their money in stocking the land and operations of that sort. He did not personally object to increasing the number of voters. Some hon. Members already represented very large constituencies. He did so himself. But such constituencies were composed in a great measure of men who represented their own property, from the humble labourer with his own little freehold up to the wealthy proprietor of thousands of acres. It was a mistake entertained by hon. Gentlemen opposite—a mistake which sprang from their ignorance—that these small county voters were capable of being put under pressure. On the contrary, they were men of a very independent turn of mind, who had their own ideas about things, and seldom failed to act upon them. He must say he thought that those who professed a wish to extend the franchise were placing themselves in a paradoxical position by opposing the adoption of this proviso.
§ SIR FRANCIS GOLDSMID
said, that hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House had no objection to increase the number of voters, but they desired to extend the franchise to those only who would be likely to record their votes on their own convictions, and not at the mere will of their landlords.
§ COLONEL PERCY HERBERT
congratulated the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the conciliatory tone which he had taken on the present occasion, and expressed a wish that he had adopted a similar tone more frequently during the discussions on this Bill. His general objection to the clause was that the effect of it would be to concentrate the power of the country almost entirely in the hands of the towns. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made some flourishes, when speaking of this clause, about the fitness of the £14 occupiers, but nobody on either side of the House had raised any doubt on this point; indeed, it could hardly now be done, seeing that for the last thirty-five years the majority of the Members of the House of Commons had been returned by £10 householders. That, however, was not the question now at issue. The objection was that the £14 occupiers belonged to a class which was already over-represented in the boroughs; and furthermore that the small proportion of Members that the rural districts were able to send to the House, should be returned by the same class as the freeholders in the boroughs. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had objected very much to a sharp line of distinction being drawn between the urban and the rural districts, and said that such a distinction was unknown to the British Constitution. He (Colonel Percy Herbert) ventured, however, to differ from him with regard to that. 400 years ago there were a great many things which the British Constitution did not recognize, but which it took notice of now—such, for instance, as the existence of large towns, like Liverpool and Birmingham. It was not, therefore, altogether unreasonable for them to complain of the county franchise being entirely swamped by the householders in the towns. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets had said that the rent of a house was the best test for finding out the status of the tenant in society, but he would ask whether the rating was not a better test. Many persons paid a 433 very high rent for their houses, though in point of respectability they were not to be for a moment compared to their neighbours who paid far less. He thought the Government scheme was condemned even by the very statistics that had been published for the purpose of propping it up; and he would show the Committee by reference to these statistics that a £14 franchise would bring into the counties a larger proportion of town than of county voters. It appeared that the gross estimated rental of the boroughs was £39,000,000, that of the metropolitan boroughs alone being £1.5,000,000, leaving the gross estimated rental of the remaining boroughs at £24,000,000. The gross estimated rental of the English counties, excluding Parliamentary boroughs, amounted to £65,000,000, but the counties returned 147 Members only, while the 24,000,000 in the boroughs (excluding the metropolitan boroughs) returned 304 Members. Taking the population of the boroughs and the counties, the contrast was equally great. The population of all the boroughs was, in round numbers, 9,000,000, or about 6,500,000 after deducting the metropolitan boroughs. The population of the counties was about 11,000,000, yet the 11,000,000 returned 147 Members, while the 6,500,000 returned 304 Members. Now, he ventured to assert that by passing this Bill as it stood five-sixths of the whole political power of the country would be concentrated in the hands of persons dwelling in towns, and in proof of this he might refer to the cases of South Staffordshire and South Northumberland.
said, the question immediately before the Committee was whether paragraph 3 of Clause 4 should stand part of the Bill. A question arose upon that as to the nature of the qualifying proviso, and if lion. Members confined themselves to the effect which that might have upon the franchise they were perfectly in order. It did not appear to him that the remarks made by the hon. Member were out of order.
§ COLONEL PERCY HERBERT
proceeded to show that the voters of Middlesex outside of the Parliamentary boroughs were virtually unrepresented, and concluded by stating that hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House objected only 434 to the manufacture of votes in the towns when it was evidently for the purpose of swamping the county constituencies.
§ MR. OSBORNE
said, that they had had a very remarkable speech from the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down. It appeared that whilst the hon. Member for Shropshire was allowed to take the horse out of the stable, the hon. Member for Devonshire (Sir Lawrence Palk) was not even allowed to look over the hedge. The contrast between the speeches of the two hon. Members was very remarkable. The latter certainly did not proceed to discuss the statistical returns, however much he was disposed to wander; but the former seemed to be labouring under the delusion that he was speaking on the Motion for the third reading of the Bill, a point to which they had not arrived. But what the statistics read by the hon. and gallant Member had to do with the particular section of Clause 4, then under consideration, he and the House would be very much puzzled to ascertain. It appeared to him that the whole of this discussion might have been avoided, inasmuch as the Chancellor of the Exchequer (as he understood) had made a very proper and amiable concession. [Ironical Cheers.] Yes, he maintained that that concession of the right hon. Gentleman was made in a proper spirit; and that if it were really desired that the Bill should pass, and result in a good reform of the Constitution, a spirit of conciliation should dictate the course they pursued. Hon. Gentlemen opposite should give and take; and when met by concession they should not respond by flogging a dead horse.
§ MR. OSBORNE
thought he was speaking strictly on the clause. But they were all liable to error, and none more so than the hon. Member for Inverness. The hon. Gentleman opposite was probably not aware that this question had been conceded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He (Mr. Osborne) did not apprehend that under this clause, as amended, there would be any manufacture of votes on the part of the landholders, because be did not think that they would ruin their property by making faggot votes. They did not do so in Ireland, where the inducement was much greater to make such votes. The vote in Ireland was on a £12 rental of land, and there it was not necessary to have a house at all to 435 possess the qualification. Why, then, should there be any necessity for a house in order to have the vote in this country? He thought that the hon. Gentlemen below the gangway would be exceedingly wrong if they divided the House upon this question. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had promised to bring up a clause which he (Mr. Osborne) thought would satisfy the House. If hon. Members wished to carry the Bill this Session, they must not expect to carry all their crotchets; but they must be prepared to concede something to their opponents. Hon. Gentlemen opposite formed a very powerful party, and, judged by the last speaker, some were very eloquent. If the Committee should go to a division upon this question, he for one should support the concession made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he understood that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had qualified his concession by stating that he would bring up a new clause similar to Clause 6 of Lord Derby's Bill of 1859. He wished to know how many persons could be qualified out of the one occupation by the mere process of becoming tenants. He did not think the concession of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was so great as hon. Gentlemen seemed to assume. The concession would not be available for the division of land to the same extent that it would be available for the division of other property. He viewed the proposed extension with regret, as a further invasion of the rights of the freeholder.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
said, he thought the concession was, in fact, a very considerable extension of the franchise. He confessed he did not see why more than one person should vote out of one property. He did not think that hon. Members need be afraid of a division of votes under this clause. He was in favour of the rating clause, believing that every person who had the franchise ought to be required to pay the rates. He appealed to hon. Gentlemen below the gangway not to divide upon this question.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he merely wished to put a question to his right hon. Friend the President of the Poor Law Board. He impugned the accuracy of those statistics which formed the basis of the arguments used that night—at all events, as far as they regarded the districts with which he was best acquainted. It appeared that the first returns gave the total number of 436 electors on the register for South Northumberland as 5,511; but the last papers furnished gave the total number of electors qualified by property only, and situated within the limits of Parliamentary boroughs, as about 5,700. An error obviously existed there. The total number of electors appeared by the returns to be less than a part of them. This was a discrepancy so extraordinary that he wished to receive some explanation from his right hon. Friend. But this was not all. The blue book issued at the beginning of the Session stated that 1,304 electors would be added by the reduction of the franchise to £14, but by adding together the columns in the last return, he found that the increase would be 1,938. These discrepancies were glaring, and suggested doubts of the general accuracy of the return.
§ MR. C. P. VILLIERS
supposed the only explanation was that in this county some error had been made by the sheriff, but he believed that the returns were generally accurate so far as they depended upon the officers of unions, the order sent out to whom had reference to those persons who were qualified within the limits of Parliamentary boroughs. He had, however, made inquiries respecting the returns furnished by sheriffs, but had not met with any other instance of serious error besides that now pointed out.
§ MR. C. P. VILLIERS
said, that the electoral returns were delayed in order that they might be based upon the new register.
MR. J. B. SMITH
requested the Chancellor of the Exchequer to repeat the substance of the statement he had made for the benefit of Members who were absent from the House at the time.
THE CHANCELLOR of THE EXCHEQUER
It is not necessary I should go over all the remarks I made to the Committee, but I will state briefly what I consider to be the pith of the case. The object with which we introduced the words which the hon. Gentleman moves to omit was simply and solely to prevent the manufacture of fictitious votes. That "flesh and blood argument" we acknowledge as freely and readily when we propose to extend the representation of rural interests as when we seek to extend any other kind 437 of representation. The Government were led to adopt this section by the natural application of an analogy arising out of an undoubted necessity in the case of boroughs. Looking, however, more strictly into the matter, and by the aid of the discussion which has been raised, we do not see that there is any door open to the creation generally of what can be fairly called fictitious votes, except in one mode, and that is, by the creation of a large number of joint interests. Therefore I stated that if we withdraw this clause it will be necessary to introduce into the Bill a provision which should be bonâ fide and strictly addressed to preventing the creation of fictitious votes in that collective form. I then referred to the clause introduced into the Bill of 1859, and I read the words of that Bill, but by no means with the intention of tying the Government to them. They provide that no greater number of persons shall be entitled to be registered in respect of the same premises unless they have derived their right by descent or other operations, or unless they are bonâ fide engaged as partners. As at present advised, I do not quite understand why two persons should be entitled to be registered for the same premises unless they are in partnership as farmers. A father and two or three sons, or several brothers, may be enfranchised in this way if the value be sufficient for their several qualifications; but in the mass of cases I do not see why more than one should be entitled to be registered. All I wanted to obtain from hon. Gentlemen opposite was a frank declaration of their opinion that it was right to prevent the creation of fictitious votes; and satisfied with the indications given, we cheerfully concede the proposal of the hon. Gentleman to omit the section. An hon. Friend below the gangway says that as hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have been always opposing the extension of the franchise, are now demanding and supporting it, he thinks there must be something behind; but it is wrong of my hon. Friend to say that. We have been protesting all along against the spirit of suspicion in which our proposals have been received; and, consequently, it is our duty now to set an example by not receiving the proposals of others in a similar spirit of suspicion. I think we may be satisfied with the general and perfectly intelligible assurance hon. Gentlemen have given of their desire to prevent the creation of fictitious votes.
said, he thought it would require consideration before they determined to deal differently with joint tenants in occupation franchises in counties and in boroughs. As to what were called pocket votes, he did not believe that any man would be such a fool as to cut them from his estates, but perhaps some Gentlemen sitting below the gangway might entertain a different opinion, knowing how in towns the most was often made of a building. For himself, as far as he was concerned, he did not care a halfpenny whether this paragraph was in the Bill or not. To omit it might make a few votes, but it was uncertain to what side such votes would be given; but if the Government came to the conclusion to accept it he had not the least objection. The 6th clause of the Bill dealt with joint tenancies, and he thought it would require the attention of the legal Gentlemen in the House to see that two conflicting principles were not allowed to work.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he hoped that the Government would not hold themselves to be bound to the exact words of the proviso which had been suggested, end that the clause to be brought up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be simple in its character and divested of all complications. Referring to the Amendment which stood in his own name, he would say that if there were a provision to prevent the splitting up of votes, half his objection to the Bill, as it originally stood, would be obviated.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I think that there ought to be a clear understanding upon this matter. What I understand is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will withdraw the third section. ["No, no!"] I understand it is to be left out. A previous Reform Bill has been referred to, and though all its provisions are not so impressed upon the mind of every Member as Her Majesty's Government seem to contemplate, yet I have some faint recollection of the clause that has been mentioned, and I may say that I am far from objecting to legislation to prevent faggot votes as a general principle. But I would remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there are no checks—such as are now proposed—in the Irish Act, which the right hon. Gentleman adopts as his model on account of its satisfactory working; and unless there is some good reason, I do not see why he should unnecessarily introduce checks; but so far as any steps are necessary to prevent fag- 439 got votes, I may say that I should be anxious to co-operate with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in attaining that object. But if the Irish Act is to be our model we ought to recollect that the Irish Act contains no checks of that nature.
§ SIR FRANCIS CROSSLEY
said, he did not wish to discuss the matter at this stage, but what he and his friends complained of was that in boroughs electors were allowed to vote though they had no occupation, provided they were on the register for a certain piece of land and paid rates, even though they handed over the land to some one else. They did not want to have this system repeated in the counties, and if there were no provisions introduced by the Government to prevent it he should advise his friends not to support the proposition.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I understand that there must be a bonâ fide occupation, and unless the land is used for the profit and benefit of the person occupying no vote will be acquired. If the law is insufficient to attain this object it will be our duty to mend it. With reference to what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, he has not accurately stated the facts. I do not say the observations of the right hon. Gentleman have weakened, but they certainly have not strengthened the understanding which was established by the speeches of the noble Lord and others, as to the propriety of introducing into this Bill a provision to prevent the creation of faggot votes. The Irish Act has never been declared to be our model for this Bill at all; but the Irish Act, like the Bill of Lord Derby and other measures upon this subject, have been consulted for information, and have from time to time been referred to for purposes of illustration. I hope there will be no recession from what has been stated as regards the propriety of introducing provisions as to the creation of county votes in a collective form.
§ SIR HUGH CAIRNS
said, that he thought nothing could have been more distinct than the statement of his right hon. Friend, that in any measure for preventing the creation of faggot votes he should be glad to unite with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said as to preventing the creation of faggot votes and as to the Irish Act, which it was important to bear in mind, was this. They had a statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a 440 few days ago that the Irish Act had worked well, and every one connected with Ireland would say so. And he believed that he was right in saying that in the Bill for Ireland no alteration would be proposed in this respect. What the House had to bear in mind was that no doubt had arisen in Ireland as to qualifications of this sort. This, however, did not render it improper that they should guard against it on that occasion, and no doubt a proper clause would be accepted by the House.
I was not in the House when the Chancellor of the Exchequer made the statement on the subject, but I confess that I look upon his change of view in this matter with some suspicion, because I think it extremely difficult in a case of this nature to prevent the creation of fraudulent votes. I think I can go as far as Gentlemen opposite in extending the franchise, notwithstanding the revolutionary views they have expressed during these debates. But if there be one thing more odious than another in this matter, it is that the electoral lists should in any degree be formed of persons who, according to the spirit and honest meaning of the law, have no right to be there. Many Members of this House know that in Scotland the manufacture of faggot votes has been carried to a great extent in counties where the number of electors is not large. I remember receiving a letter from a gentleman who was an unsuccessful candidate for a Scotch county, in which he told me that he polled an absolute majority of all the electors of the county who resided within the county, and that notwithstanding this fact he was defeated by the faggot votes created by a nobleman having great property in the county. [Cries of "Name!"] I believe in the county of Selkirk the candidate who was not returned polled an absolute majority of all the electors residing within the county, and yet he was defeated by the votes of persons living in other parts, who had no real interest in the county, and who had no right to be upon the list according to the spirit of the law. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer finds he has no means of doing what he has undertaken to do, I should be greatly disappointed by the withdrawal of the clause, especially if they had regard to the character of the electors, for which hon. Gentlemen opposite always pretended to be more desirous than hon. Gentlemen sitting on this side of the House, As long as we do not 441 go to universal suffrage, there is something to be said in favour of knowing that every man who votes lives somewhere, and that you know where he lives, and therefore I believe that a suffrage fixed upon occupation is probably better than any other suffrage. I suppose there is to be no division on the matter, though I should like to know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to withdraw this part of the clause altogether, or whether he proposes merely to postpone it. [An hon. MEMBER: He cannot.] I must, then, wait until he brings up the new clause, which will embody the view which he has stated to the House.
§ MR. HUNT
said, he begged to remind the hon. Member for Birmingham that the county franchise had never been a residential franchise: it was for the most part a franchise representing the property of the county, while the borough franchise represented occupation. According to the ancient lines of the Constitution—the importance of standing on which the hon. Member had spoken so much of lately—whether a man had a residence or not, if he were otherwise qualified he had a vote. He was sorry the hon. Gentleman had given up his own principle. This was one "of the ancient lines of the Constitution" which the hon. Member for Birmingham on a former occasion advised the House to stick to.
I made no objection to persons residing out of Selkirkshire voting in that county; what I objected to was the faggot votes.
§ MR. SANDFORD
said, that as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had announced his intention to bring up clauses framed against fictitious votes, he wished to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to another kind of fictitious votes which had been extensively manufactured in counties, and which might possibly even have received the sanction of the hon. Member for Birmingham. He alluded to the creation of 40s. freeholders by means of building societies, for the purpose of swamping the votes of those who had a substantial interest in the county. The hon. Member for Birmingham had mentioned the county of Selkirk, but he (Mr. Sandford) could tell him that the election for East Surrey had been carried by means of voters so created.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, that some hon. Members appeared to have forgotten the distinction between an occupation and property qualification—namely, that in the latter case residence was not required. 442 But, practically, they all knew that the votes in counties under the Chandos clause were residentiary votes. As he understood the proposal emanating from the other side, and accepted by the Government, there was to be no restriction as to the occupying tenant having a residence on the property. They all knew what that meant. It meant an unlimited creation of votes by the nominal subdivision of property. Thus, farms would be divided between father and son, and a farm of the annual value of £140 would produce ten voters. He defied the Government, or anyone else, to draw up a clause upon the principle of non-residence, so as to prevent the unlimited creation of fictitious votes. To abandon the principle of residence was to abandon the whole principle of occupying franchises. He was altogether at a loss to understand the course that had been adopted by Government in this matter, and he was sure that the country would view it with great astonishment. He was satisfied that, on the whole, the greater portion of the Liberal party would rather see no reduction in the county franchise than one accompanied by such an alteration of principle as it was now proposed to make.
§ MR. HUNT
said, he did not know where the right hon. Gentleman found any residential qualification mentioned in the Chandos clause. As he understood that clause, it merely gave a vote to occupiers who paid £50 a year rent, but there was no condition that the occupiers should reside on the property they held. If there were any words to that effect in the Act, he would be obliged to the right hon. Gentleman if he would point them out.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he thought that hon. Gentlemen who sat near him were rather hasty in finding fault with the concession which had been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this subject. If the Government were to pass any Reform Bill some discretion must be allowed them with regard to the minor provisions of the measure, and he regarded the proposition that had been accepted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as involving one of those minor provisions, and therefore thought that the matter rightly came within the discretion of the Government. He believed the provision had been introduced for the purpose of preventing the creation of fictitious votes, and the real question before the House was whether that could not be done otherwise than by this clause. The county franchise 443 like the borough franchise ought to be one merely of occupation. He thought that the creation of faggot votes might be prevented by inserting a clause which would forbid the fictitious splitting up of property. Thus by one of the clauses of the Reform Act of 1832, relating to boroughs, no two persona could have votes in respect of the same house except they were joint occupiers of the property and were partners in the business carried on there. As people were not likely to take upon themselves the risk of partnership merely for the purpose of obtaining a vote, the clause operated admirably as a safeguard against the creation of fictitious votes. He proposed that a similar clause should be inserted with reference to land in counties. There was, however, another provision in the Reform Act which would prevent the creation of faggot votes, and that was that borough voters should reside within a certain distance of their qualification, and to complete the analogy they ought to provide that county voters should be required to reside within the county—or, at all events, within a reasonable distance of its borders—in which they obtained their qualification.
SIR JOHN HAY
said, he wished to make a remark with regard to the charge made by the hon. Member for Birmingham against the county of Selkirk, that its election was carried by means of faggot votes. He must say he thought that the accusation was made specially against that county because it happened to have returned a Conservative Member. He could not deny that in some instances the elections in Scotland had been influenced by that description of votes, but he did not believe that Selkirkshire was more open to the hon. Member's charge than were the other Scotch counties. The landlords and tenants in Selkirk were almost all Conservative in their political opinions, and it was only owing to the growing towns in that county that it had any Radicals within its borders. He thought he might retort upon the hon. Member by asking whether it was not the fact that many of the Liberal Members returned by the boroughs in Scotland, and who were now assisting the Government in carrying this Bill, were elected solely through the exertions and influence of Whig noblemen and of Radical bailies.
§ MR. WARNER
hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would see the necessity for postponing the question, and of bringing in another clause founded on a more simple principle than that on which the one before 444 the House was based. Perhaps the object sought for by hon. Members would be better obtained by a clause restricting the franchise to one vote for each occupier. However, if the matter went to a division, he should feel bound to vote for the clause as it stood.
§ SIR HUGH CAIRNS
wished to say one word in reference to a remark made by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets. He had understood the hon. and learned Gentleman to say that the Act of 1832 provided that no person should vote as a joint occupier in boroughs unless he was a partner in trade.
§ SIR HUGH CAIRNS
thought that the hon. Gentleman was mistaken on that point. By the words of the Act if the premises were jointly occupied by more persons than one as owners or tenants they each had votes. He also wished to point out that in the two qualifications for the county franchise at present required there was no reference to residence; in the one case a 40s. freehold and in the other the payment of £50 rent a year being the sole conditions of the vote. He wished to know on what principle they were going to introduce the element of residence in respect of the county franchise. If the paragraph were not withdrawn, it might happen that a man who paid £49 a year rent in one county, and had his house in another county, would have no vote, although the proposal was to give an occupancy franchise of £14.
§ MR. M. MORRIS
said, that he had seldom listened to less conclusive arguments than those advanced by the hon. Members below the gangway, among whom he was sitting at that moment. He thought there had been some confounding of occupation and residence. He could not understand why a person who occupied land as a farmer in one county and who resided in another, should not have a vote in the county in which he had his farm. As to the Irish Act, were hon. Gentlemen aware that a man might have a farm in the most northern county—Donegal for instance—and reside in a southern county—Cork for instance—and yet be on the register for Donegal? That was, however, the case, and it was consonant not only to law but to common sense. A man might have a grass farm in one county, and other farms in other counties, but he could not reside permanently on them all. The right hon. Gen- 445 tleman (Mr. Bouverie) said that the persons admitted to the franchise if the Amendment were carried would not belong to the Liberal party. But the question which the House had to decide was, whether the franchise should not be given to persons entitled to it, and not merely whether such a proceeding would be for the interest of the Liberal party, or whether it might be disagreeable to Gentlemen who sat "below the gangway." Though why that phrase should be used he did not know. He differed from Gentlemen who sat around him on this as on many other matters.
§ MR. BARROW
wished to declare that in voting for the Amendment he did not pledge himself to be bound by any terms of compromise that might be offered by the Government. He believed it was matter of very little consequence whether the words remained in the clause or not, but be would not pledge himself to any particular course.
then put the Question to omit the first words of the paragraph—" that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, he thought the hon. Member was under a misapprehension owing to his not being fully acquainted with the mode of voting in Committee.
said, that the question was put upon only the first words of the paragraph, because another hon. Member had given notice of an Amendment to the latter part of the paragraph; and if the Committee determined that the first words of the paragraph should stand part of the clause, the hon. Member would then have an opportunity of moving that other Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words 'The qualifying premises must consist of a house or other building which, either alone or with land held by the occupier in the county, is of the value aforesaid,' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:— Ayes 74; Noes 361: Majority 287.
§ MR. HUNT
said, he rose to call attention to the fourth paragraph of the clause, which stipulated that where the occupier was tenant of the qualifying premises the whole must be held under the same landlord. He could not understand the prin- 446 ciple of this paragraph, for they had heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the question was not as to what was the landlord's position, but what was the tenant's, and the division on his Amendment a few hours ago had affirmed the principle that an occupier should have a vote simply in consequence of his being in a position to pay a certain rent. Whether the holding was under one landlord or under more involved in his opinion no difference in the man's position in life, or in the obligations and burdens to which he was subject. This proviso, he could not help thinking, was the work of the draughtsman, and not of the Government. In the Reform Act of 1832 he found no provision with regard to the £50 occupation that that rent should be paid to the same landlord, though such a construction had been put upon it by the Judges. It often happened, that Parliament passed laws with a certain intention, and that the Courts of Law attributed to them a totally different intention, and lie did not think it was the purpose of the Legislature to confine the qualification under the Chandos clause to occupations under a single landlord. The Committee had decided that a person occupying premises of the clear yearly value of £14 should have a vote. Now, suppose a man held a house and land of that value under one landlord and obtained a vote; if the landlord took it in his head to sell half the land, was the tenant, though he remained in the occupation, to be deprived of his vote? He wanted to know on what principle this was; he could not see the least reason for it. He was told by some Gentlemen on that side that such a provision was favourable to Conservative views; but, for all that, lie did not think the principle one upon which they ought to legislate. He begged to move the omission of the words, "Where the occupier is tenant of the qualifying premises the whole must be held under the same landlord."
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that with regard to this point the Government were only adopting the existing law as decided by the Judges in relation to the Chandos clause of the Reform Act of 1832. It had always been the law in boroughs. The intention of the Chandos clause was that a man should pay £50 rent to the landlord—but if the new county franchise were permitted to be made up of holdings under different landlords, why should not the same principle be applied to boroughs? 447 [Mr. HUNT: Why not?] He thought fraud might arise, and he preferred adherence to the existing law.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
said, he would support the Amendment, because he could not admit that this new franchise was an extension of the Chandos qualification. The intention of the Chandos clause was to give more power to the owners of property in counties; and furthermore, the £50 voter was sure to be a man of some capital, and one who had some interest in the welfare of the country. The case of the small occupiers was totally different. He did not object to the enfranchisement of £14 occupiers on the score of their fitness. They were fit, and so were a great many more who had a less qualification, but the real question was whether the £14 occupiers should control the county representation. if the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer were agreed to, there would be one-third of the counties of the kingdom in which 50 per cent of the electors would be small holders added to the constituency. There were eighty counties or divisions of counties in England and Wales, and in twenty-three of them 30 per cent would be added to the constituency.
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT
said, he did not think the reasons adduced by the Home Secretary valid against the Amendment. With regard to the remarks made in his absence by the hon. Member for Birmingham, he could state that every vote given in the county of Selkirk had passed through the proper court of inquiry, and to say that those votes had been made by a nobleman was not to state a fact.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he should discuss the point without reference to the interests of either party in that House. The clause embraced every species of qualification whether in country or town; but looking at its principle, the balance of his mind was opposed to the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman. There was no doubt a certain presumption in favour of the proposition of the hon. Member when they looked at the case of two men, one of whom would have a vote because he paid a certain sum to one landlord, while the other would have no vote though he paid the same amount to several. But then the practical convenience connected with registration must be taken into account in all these cases. They must consider that a man might hold small strips 448 of land which might be so far separated that the cases could not be tried in the same registration court. It would be probably found that more evil than good would result from the proposition of the hon. Gentleman. The last Member but two who had spoken was under a misapprehension in supposing that the Government intended to correct the present state of the law with respect to the Chandos clause. The Chandos clause would be left precisely as it was. It was a matter for consideration how far the principle contended for by the hon. Gentleman should be carried, and whether it should apply to boroughs, if it were to be applied to counties. In his opinion it would add greatly to the labour and expense of investigation. Considerations of practical convenience were against the adoption of the Amendment; but even conceding that the proposition was a proper one, the object would not be attained by the proposed omission, but it would be necessary to introduce positive words to carry out his intention, and the Committee would, on the whole, do wisely to be content with the state of the law as it stood.
said, he entertained a great objection to disfranchising his own flesh and blood. The only objection of the Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared to be that the proposed alteration would give greater trouble to those who had to revise the register. There was one class whom the Chancellor of the Exchequer would disfranchise who were acknowledged on all sides to be a class who ought to be introduced, and that class comprised the village tradesmen. It often happened that the ground in a village belonged to small owners whilst the land all round belonged to a large owner. The question was not one of great magnitude, but he thought the Committee would act wisely in accepting the Amendment of his hon. Friend.
§ MR. HUNT
said, he thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer was right in saying that if he (Mr. Hunt) succeeded in striking out the paragraph substantive words would be required to carry out his object, and he had provided words to meet that objection. In the course of his canvass at elections he had frequently come across a man who was in as good a position as any man in the parish who could not vote because he happened to hold under two landlords. He considered that to be a great injustice, and did not see why that injustice should not be remedied. The Chancellor of the Exche- 449 quer said, that if that principle should be adopted with regard to counties it ought to be adopted with regard to boroughs. He perfectly agreed with that remark, If a man held two houses next to each other in a borough, and made a communication between them, he did not see why, although they belonged to two different persons, the tenant should not have a vote just as if both the houses belonged to the same landlord. But in boroughs there was this distinction, that the franchise was residential. The Amendment however, limiting the principle to counties, would tend to enfranchise a large number and he hoped the Committee would adopt it.
§ Amendment negatived.
SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he hoped the Government would not object to the following words which he proposed to introduce at the end of the clause:—In any case in which the occupier of any premises has sublet any portion thereof, he shall not be entitled to a vote in respect of such premises, unless the portion of them remaining in his own occupation be of the clear yearly value of £14, and in order in that case to ascertain the clear yearly value, the amount of the rent paid by any sub-tenant or sub-tenants shall be deducted from the gross estimated rental of the premises, and a proportionate deduction shall be made from the rateable value.The Committee had adopted as the standard for the county franchise the holding either of a house or land to the amount of £14. The difference between the holding of a house and the holding of land was this—that if a man occupied land of the value of £14, unless he occupied the whole of it, he would not be entitled to a vote; whereas if he took a house of the value of £14 and let off to the extent of £12 or ,£13, only retaining to the value of £1, he did not lose his vote. All he desired was to correct that anomaly, by introducing a provision that if a man let off a portion of his land or premises he should lose his vote, unless he retained to the minimum yearly value which had been decided upon. He thought this a very reasonable proposal and he hoped the Government would adopt it. It was applicable both to the county and the borough.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that the effect of the Amendment would be to alter the legal definition of occupation, and to disfranchise borough voters very extensively. If a man occupied in a borough to the value of £10, and let off a portion of his house it was still an occupation; but 450 it was now proposed that if he let off any portion of his house, the rent received by him should be deducted from that which he paid, and he would be struck off the register, because, although legally occupying the house, he made use of the occupation in such a manner as to enable him to pay his rent. Hon. Members would observe that the Amendment proposed a most important alteration in the existing franchise, and he trusted that the Committee would not accede to it.
SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, that after what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, which he confessed had greatly surprised him, he would withdraw his Amendment for the present; but, as he believed the principle to be a very important one, which required much greater discussion than they could give to it at that hour of the night, he should reserve the right to bring it forward again at a further stage, either as an Amendment to the borough franchise clause or as an independent clause dealing with both the counties and the boroughs.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. HUNT
said, he had placed on the paper the notice of a Proviso to the following effect:—Provided always that no such occupier shall be so registered in any year unless he shall have been rated in his own name in respect of the premises to all rates for the relief of the poor made during the time of such his occupation so required as aforesaid, nor unless he shall have paid, on or before the 20th day of July in each year, all the poor rates and assessed taxes which shall have become payable from him in respect of such premises previously to the 5th day of January then next preceding.He intended to take the sense of the Committee on this question, if no one else did. But it would be more convenient, as the principle applied both to borough and county votes, that the discussion should be raised at a time when it could be taken generally upon both franchises. The Government Bill contained a clause repealing the payment of taxes, and perhaps that would be the more convenient moment for raising the question.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, there were so many Motions anterior to the Government business for tomorrow (this day), that he did not think he should be dealing fairly with the House if he put the Reform Bill upon the Paper. He would therefore propose to fix the resump- 451 tion of the discussion in Committee for Monday.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report progress; to sit again upon Monday next.