MR. BANKS STANHOPE
, on rising to call attention to the "Electoral Statistics" presented to the House, and particularly to the absence of all information respecting copyholders and leaseholders whose property is situate within the limits of Parliamentary cities and boroughs, and to the defective character of the information respecting occupiers in counties whose "gross estimated rental is under £50," said, he made this Motion in the persuasion that if it was desirable that any measure on Parliamentary Reform the House might be called on to adopt should be founded on full and accurate information, the subject of electoral statistics must be regarded as one of considerable importance. The contents of the volume which has been placed in the hands of Members were divided in a somewhat unequal manner. The volume purported to contain the electoral statistics of the boroughs, and of the counties of England and Wales. It consisted of 298 pages, of which 274 were devoted to boroughs; 10 contained references to previous Returns, and only 13 pages were given to the counties. Now, the disproportion was so manifest, that when he first saw that 274 pages were occupied with the boroughs, he asked if there was not another volume for the counties. He did not think it possible that the Government could wish them to suppose that sufficiently full information could be given about all the counties in 857 13 pages. But beyond that he found the greatest possible difference in the in-formation respecting boroughs and respecting counties; and though his Motion referred more especially to the deficiency of the information respecting the counties, he hoped the House would forgive him for drawing their attention to the borough statistics, as that was in some degree necessary to show how deficient the information was with respect to the counties. The be-rough Returns gave the population in 1831 and in 1861, and the number of electors on the Parliamentary register, these being divided into £10 householders and other franchises, and distinguishing the number of working men as £10 householders and other franchises, as also the number of voters at the last general election. The total number of voters on the borough register was 514,026. Of these, 463,548 were householders, 41,641 were freemen, and 8,837 were scot and lot and other voters. Thus freemen scrip, it seemed, was at a discount, and potwallopers formed a very insignificant element. The information under this head was of a very valuable character, and was very nearly complete, Then they had some further Returns, for which he, for one, sincerely thanked the Government—namely, as to the working class proportion of the constituencies. The £10 artizan occupiers, it appeared, numbered 108,298, the freemen 20,018, and other voters 2,348, making a total of 130,664. One point, however, was left obscure, for it was not shown whether the 22,366 freemen and other electors, not being £10 occupiers, lived in £5 or £9 houses. This was the only unknown quantity which prevented their calculating the present state of things with exactness; but with that exception the borough Returns were as clear and precise as a banker's balance sheet, giving, as they did, the total number of voters, the different qualifications, the number who belonged to the working class, and a statement of all male occupiers above £4, these being described on one page according to the gross estimated rental, and on another according to the rateable value. Now, let them turn to the county Returns, which they would naturally have expected to find equally minute and intelligible. Such Returns, to be worth anything, should show the total number of voters, and these should be classified as owners, occupiers, and other franchises, and should also distinguish the urban from the rural element, by giving 858 the number of voters living in boroughs, the number living in large parishes not being boroughs, and the number residing in the rural districts. They ought also to furnish the number of male owners and occupiers above £2, both at a gross estimated rental and at rateable value, and these, for reasons which hon. Gentlemen could easily understand, might advantageously be divided into occupiers under £14, those under £20, those under £50, and those above £50, They should likewise show the number of freeholders, leaseholders, and copyholders, whose qualification, though situate in boroughs, did not give them a vote for such boroughs. County representatives had the same right to expect complete Returns that borough Members had, and had the information respecting counties been worth the paper on which it was printed—which it was not—it would have complied with all the provisions which he had just stated, and would thus have particularized the population in counties, as a preliminary to legislative action respecting them. What, however, was the fact? He found by Return G, page 286, that the total number of voters on the county register was 542,633, and of these 116,860 were specified as occupying tenants above £50. Not a scrap of further information was afforded on this point, so that 425,773 persons out of 542,633 were entirely unaccounted for. A classification of these would have been extremely valuable, for occupiers below £14 might have been taken as cottagers, those below £20 as very small farmers, those below £50 as medium fanners, and those above £50 as large farmers; and a similar distinction might have been made with the resident owners. Another defect was that while there was a Return of male persons assessed on the valuation list as having tenements with or without land between £10 and £50 in value, the Return of those above £50 included occupiers either of laud or tenements, so that the two columns could not be properly compared. Moreover, while the occupiers under £50 were taken according to rateable value, those under £50 were taken at gross estimated rental; and how, again, could these be accurately compared? It reminded him of the problem that used to puzzle him as a schoolboy many years ago—namely, that of telling the affinity between a goose and a gooseberry. He could harmonize the two Returns only by mental arithmetic or by the rule of three, for the gross estimated rental of the counties 859 being £70,000,000, and the rateable value £60,000,000, a £12 rateable value might be taken as equivalent to £14 gross rental. If, however, they wanted to ascertain the number of occupiers at £20 gross rental there was no column of rateable value which would give the information. A £15 rateable value answered to an £18 rental, but in no way was a £20 rental to be arrived at. He also desired information upon another important point—namely, as to the number of owners of land occupying their own land of the value of between £14 and £20, between £20 and £50, and above £50. The information given upon this point was of such a character as to mislead, as the number of owners occupying their own land under £10 value was not stated. He was sure hon. Members representing counties would corroborate his statement, that there were an enormous number of this class in counties. It appeared from the statistics which had been given that the Northern Division of Lincolnshire contained 3,848 owners and occupiers above £10; whereas he knew that of the 12,000 voters on the register, 6,000 or 7,000 were owners and occupiers of land. Why should such slender information be supplied as to the counties, and such ample information as to the boroughs? What would be said by borough Members if they were told to find out the number of people under a £6 estimated rental by the rule of three, and if they were told to look at the estimated rental of £10 to find out how many were rated at £8? They would refuse to enter into such a calculation, and he was not prepared to enter into it either. There was another large class as to whom they had received no information whatever—namely, those owners of property in boroughs whose qualification did not entitle them to vote for the borough but gave a vote for the county. Another large class not referred to in any way consisted of the leaseholders and copyholders in boroughs, but whose qualification did not enable them to vote for boroughs, although it might, under certain circumstances, enable them to vote for counties. He should wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give him some information upon this point. It would be found upon inquiry that there was a great difference between the tenure of property in towns and that in the rural districts. In the country districts nearly all the property was freehold, but in the large towns it was almost entirely leasehold. For instance, the whole town of Huddersfield 860 was, with the exception of one house, the property of a former Member for the West Riding, who, ho regretted, had at present no seat in that House (Sir John Ramsden). Again, in Birmingham there were 3,000 leaseholders; in that portion of the metropolis where they were then sitting every house was occupied by a leaseholder; and the same was the case in the large district between Vauxhall and Chelsea, in Tyburnia, in Belgravia, Russell Square and Covent Garden, and in the east of London. The Government had not treated hon. Members and their constituents fairly in depriving them of such an enormous amount of information as he had shown had been withheld. What would be the result if a metropolitan railway company were to come before a Private Bill Committee with statistics of this character—if they were to put down all their receipts in English money and their expenses in foreign money, and were to tell the Committee to calculate the difference by the rule of three? Would the Bill be passed under such circumstances? He thought not. Again, if the railway company further informed the Committee that they had borough a lot of freehold houses in the borough, but gave no account of the number of the freeholds or of their value; or told them that they intended to purchase a lot of leaseholds, but that they could not and would not give any information respecting their number and value—would the chances in favour of the Bill passing be improved? Were a Bill brought before a Committee of which he was a member with statistics of this kind, he should not be prepared to pass it. He did not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer had acted wisely in withholding all information on this point. Omne ignotum pro magnifico. He must acknowledge that there was no danger so great as an unknown one. He would give an illustration of the alarm created by an undefined threat. Fifty or seventy years ago a former Speaker had to deal with a very disturbed House of Commons, and it was with great difficulty he could preserve order; but at the last moment he always put a stop to the disturbances by saying, "If this disorder continues I shall have to put on my cocked hat." Some few years after, when he became a Peer, he was asked by a noble Lord what he would have done after he had put on his cocked hat, whereupon he replied, "That is exactly what I have always wished to know myself." Still, 861 the undefined threat kept the House in order. Now, the unknown householders were the Chancellor of the Exchequer's "cocked hat." He did not think it wise in the right hon. Gentleman always to threaten the House with his cocked hat. He was aware that a great number of the leaseholders who had property in boroughs would be entitled to vote for boroughs, but there was an enormous number of owners who did not live in their Houses, lie had no authentic information on this subject, but he was told that in Birmingham alone there were £3,000 leaseholders who would be entitled to vote for Warwickshire. From all the information he could obtain be saw no reason why the number of leaseholders on the county registers should not amount to 100,000. Looking to the importance of the subject, he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to lay his own estimate on the table, and to tell the House on what basis it was formed. He felt he was speaking the sentiments of the representatives of counties and of their constituencies when he appealed to the Government to give the House fuller and more accurate information, without unknown quantities, and on their behalf he protested against the Legislature being called upon to decide this question upon what were miscalled the county statistics of the volume, and which as a guide to the future were most dangerous and delusive.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he wished to direct attention to some remarkable facts upon another branch of the question—the statistics relating to the boroughs of England and Wales. He did not wish to anticipate in any way the discussion upon the second reading of the Franchise Bill; but his object was that the country should have all the information necessary for considering the subject in all its bearings. These statistics bad been placed before the House immediately previous to the introduction of the Franchise Bill, when there was little time to consider them, and every day was bringing new surprises to those who searched into the particulars. He held in his hand a table he had prepared from the blue book, and which might be verified by reference to it. He had only gone so far as thirty-nine of the largest boroughs for England, but the results gave serious ground for reflection to all who really desired to inquire into the real bearing of the subject. By taking in each of those thirty- 862 nine boroughs the number of persons registered in respect of £10 houses, and the male occupiers at £10 and over, the difference was approximately obtained of those who would be added by the extinction of the rating qualification—that was to say, supposing there was no lowering of the franchise there would be the addition to the existing constituencies, the difference between these two numbers. If to these were added the number of voters in respect to houses between £7 and £10, the increase in the constituency would be pretty clearly seen, He found that in the case of nearly every one of these thirty-nine towns the number of voters would be actually doubled, without counting the freemen or the number of voters claiming under the savings bank franchise. Not to weary the House, he would only give the figures relating to three or four boroughs. In Birmingham, the actual number of electors registered as £10 householders was 14,997; the number of male occupiers at £10 and over was 19,062; making a difference of 4,065. The number of new voters added by reducing the qualification down to £7 was 14,959, making an increase of 19,024 to ho added to the present £10 constituency. The case of Bradford was not quite so strong. The present £10 electors were 5,189; the male occupiers at £10 and upwards were 6,170; and the difference 981. The number of now voters down to £7 was 3,113, and there would be a new additional constituency of 4,094 as against the present constituency of 5,189. In Gateshead the present constituency was 1,165, and the increase would be 1,377. In Leicester the constituency now numbered 3,348, and the new constituency would amount to 3,963. In Manchester the present constituency was 21,542, and the additional new constituency would be 21,494. A similar result appeared in every one of these boroughs, and it was clear that the abolition of the ratepaying clauses, and the number of new voters to be added under the Bill, would double the constituency. He should take care that the result in each case should be published, but he offered these few figures to the House as a bumble contribution to the information it required, and as statistics of which no one could impugn the accuracy.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, that, before the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. P. Villiers) replied to the Question, he wished to say a few words, lie thought that the House 863 was very much indebted to his hon. Friend for the careful analysis of the Government Returns which he had just offered, as to the number of new voters for houses above;610. An hon. Member had placed in his hands a letter from a leading manufacturer, which touched upon the probable effect of a £7 Bill on houses now below £7 value. The writer said—I trust you will excuse the liberty I take in writing to you upon the Reform question. My only reason for troubling you is that no speaker or writer upon the Government Bill has yet dealt sufficiently with the statistics below the £7 rental. If this standard becomes law it is morally certain that no £5 or £6 houses will be built in the future, as a £7 rental will pay better interest of money, being in so much greater request. Every present £6 house will be burnished into a seven-pounder without delay. Even those at £5 will either decline into hovels, or be restored into better than new at £7. I know an owner of cottage property in this borough who has already decided to convert all his into £7 rental if this Bill passes. It is a very simple question; in round figures £7 a year is 2s. 8d. per week, and £6 a year is 2s. 4d. per week, and £5 is 2s.; so that, in point of fact, every £5 householder will, by increasing his rent only 8d. per week, be able to place his name on the list of voters, and by taking a lodger at 1s. a week he would even profit by the exchange. It would certainly be cheap at that price, if only to please their employers by voting as they directed. Thus you see that a £7 franchise should be examined in relation to the statistics at £6 and £5 rentals; and if this is done you will find that it gives the working classes an absolute majority of votes in most of the boroughs in England.Now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that it was not the object of the Government to give a preponderance of one class over another, and what he (Lord Elcho) complained of was that information was refused as to the probable effect of these changes on the future distribution of power. He thought that the House ought to look a little beyond the present moment, and when he asked them to look at the effect of this Bill twenty or thirty years ahead he thought he was asking for nothing absurd, since they were dealing with a Constitution of 600 years' standing. But every question put to the Government—and he might refer, for instance, to the Question put by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) with respect to the increase of borough leaseholders giving votes for counties—was met by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with the reply that he was not aware of any estimate on the subject. That very night he (Lord Elcho) had endeavoured to ascertain certain important facts relative to voters of the ar- 864 tizan class; but no data had the Government got. So it was throughout. Nothing had been calculated by the Government prospectively. It was, however, only the more incumbent upon the House to look to those who were to come after them, and to the institutions and interests which they were bound to transmit.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, that the noble Lord who had just sat down had given them an additional reason for adopting a £7 Franchise Bill. There were two Bills before the House which aimed at providing comfortable dwellings for the working classes, and if a £7 Franchise Bill would have the effect of converting all bad houses into good houses—of making them comfortable, improving them in a sanitary point of view, and rendering them profitable to their owners—then, in a social point of view, the noble Lord had furnished them with one of the best arguments yet brought forward in favour of the Government Bill. He would next refer to the statement that had been made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayrshire (Sir James Fergusson); and before doing so he must say it was rather a curious fact that all the Members from Scotland who had yet spoken in respect to this Bill had spoken more or less against it. It was said by the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayrshire that in all the large towns to which he had referred the proposed franchise would more than double the number of voters; but he (Mr. M'Laren) took leave to say that the hon. Baronet had made a great mistake in his calculations. He (Mr. M'Laren) represented a city (Edinburgh) with a population of 170,000; and having heard such statements made before, he had moved for a Return to show the effect that this franchise would have in the city of Edinburgh. He had got a copy of that Return, and it showed that while the present number of voters on the electoral roll was 10,350, there would under a £7 franchise be apparently added—only apparently, for there were deductions to be made—3,600 to the roll. Surely the hon. Baronet would not say that 3,600 were equal to 10,350? It appeared from the proceedings at the last registration for the city of Edinburgh that more than 1,200 persons occupying houses of the value of £10 and upwards were not admitted because they had not resided for the statutory period within the city. That was a deduction of about one-eighth for insufficient residence. None of these were excluded because of the ratepay- 865 ing clauses, for Scotland fortunately never had ratepaying clauses; but the one-eighth were excluded because they were not for twelve months resident in the city. He thought no person would be more ready to admit than the hon. Member for Ayrshire that the poorer the people the more migratory they were in their habits; and if one-eighth of the occupiers at a £10 rental were now excluded for insufficient residence there would probably be double that proportion excluded in respect of houses under £10. These facts were quite subversive of the argument used by the hon. Member for Ayrshire, who counted up the whole number at the £7 limit, assuming they would all be admitted at once without inquiry of any kind. In towns like those mentioned by the hon. Baronet a very large deduction must be made; and in some of the large manufacturing towns even 20 per cent would be too small a deduction to make from the gross number shown in the Returns, for the reason he (Mr. M'Laren) had stated. There was another source of deduction peculiar to those towns that had a large number of freemen, one-fourth of whom occupy houses above £10. They were told that the other three-fourths of the freemen were a poor and wretched class, speaking generally. He did not know whether they were or not; but if so, the other three-fourths must occupy houses under £10. Now, suppose the apparent increase of the number of electors in a borough, after making proper allowance for insufficient residence amounted to 1,000, was it not quite plain that 1,000 would not be added to the roll of voters, because this number would absorb a large proportion of the freemen, and they could not count the same men twice over on the electoral roll. There must, therefore, be a deduction on that account of a very large number. From all the inquiries he (Mr. M'Laren) had made—though this proposed franchise did not come up to the expectation of many true friends of Reform, nor up to the expectations of the majority of the inhabitants of the city of Edinburgh, who would prefer a £6 franchise in be roughs and a £10 franchise in counties—he had reason to think that the measure would give great and general satisfaction throughout all the towns in Scotland.
§ MR. PLATT
desired, as a large employer of labour, to say that he thought the measure of the Government would be-rather too restricted than otherwise as regarded the artizans and the working classes. In his own neighbourhood he em- 866 ployed about 5,000 adult males in one of the most important branches of mechanical enterprize, and one in which the best class of artizans in England were engaged. Among those 5,000 adults there were only sixty-nine who had votes; and out of that sixty-nine there were only thirty-five who could be properly described as being of the artizan class. With thirty-five voters out of 5,000 adult males, who were among the most intelligent and best paid workmen in this country, it could hardly be said that the artizan class was over-represented in my own statistics. Taking the borough with which he was connected (Oldham), the results would be found very much the same. The population was 107,000, and the voters upon the register were 2,229. Of the latter, only 150 belonged, properly speaking, to the working or artizan class. That he took to be a fair sample of the modern manufacturing towns in the North of England. Having had an experience of upwards of thirty years of the working class, he could say that, although it was quite true they bad their failings, as well as any other class, ho had no fear whatever of them. He was aware that there was one thing that frightened many employers and manufacturers—namely, the trades unions; hut in regard to that point he took a different view from some persons. They would place more responsibility on the workmen by giving them votes and teaching them political economy in a practical sense and by that means they would reduce the numbers who joined trades' unions. Moreover, during the last fifteen or twenty years an advance had been made by those bodies. Formerly many of them had very restricted laws; but since then some of the most important and most intelligent of them, and among others the Amalgamated Society of; Engineers, had abolished all their restrictive laws, and converted themselves into j simple benefit societies; after which their employers had had no further trouble.
§ MR. C. P. VILLIERS
said, he rose in consequence of the forms of the House; precluding his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer from answering the Questions more directly put to him by the hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Banks Stanhope). In replying to that hon. Gentleman, he would confine himself strictly to the purpose of his Motion, for he thought the present was not the most convenient occasion for entering into a discussion upon the Reform Bill or into speculations as to its results. He did not think it would be 867 difficult to show the hon. Member that he had not so much reason to complain as he seemed to imagine with respect to a portion of the electoral statistics which had been furnished to the House. The hon. Member had been pleased to express his satisfaction with regard to the completeness of the statistics so far as they affected boroughs and cities; of this the credit was entirely due to the gentleman who had had the labour of preparing them, seeing that he deserved all the honour for the admirable manner in which they had been presented to the House. He understood the hon. Member to say that the Returns respecting the number and the value of the occupations which were to confer the qualification for future voters in boroughs and cities to be complete; but that he complained that there were not the same means provided for ascertaining the number of voters in the counties as in the boroughs and cities. It was, then, necessary to look at the Returns that had been presented in respect of the boroughs and cities. Two Returns had been given showing in parallel columns the estimated rental of the occupation which the voters would have, and also the rateable value; but for the counties no rateable value had been given. The reason why both the estimated rental and the rateable value were given for the boroughs and cities was that the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) had moved for a Return on those points, and the House was in possession of it, and therefore it was added to the present statistics. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire, who attended to rural affairs during the recess and officiated as a magistrate, must have been aware of recent legislation affecting assessments of property, and therefore he was surprised that the hon. Member should have expressed any doubt as to the sufficiency of the means afforded for obtaining the estimated rental and the rateable value in counties. Possessing the estimated rental the hon. Member had at once the rateable value, or, having the rateable value, he had, at the same time, the estimated rental; for between the two there was an established proportion. If the hon. Member would only look to the Returns which he already possessed and those moved for by the hon. Member for Bedfordshire last year, he would see the rule regulating the deduction to be made from the estimated rental in order to get at the rateable value. That was, however, enforced only throughout the counties and not in the cities 868 and boroughs. The deduction was invariably 15 per cent, or about 3s. in the pound; and, having the rateable value, all the hon. Member had to do was to take off 15 per cent, and he would immediately ascertain what he required without the laborious arithmetical process to which he had referred. Now, these Returns were ordered, in the first place, for the information of the Government for the preparation of the Bill, and they wished to give as little trouble as possible to those persons charged with the collection of them, They were made out by the clerks of unions, in conjunction with other persons. One clerk, indeed, said that he was unable to give the time and the trouble requisite for this purpose; and the Poor Law Board thought it right to summon him before the Court for refusing to comply with its request. The Court, however, sympathized with the clerk of the union, stating that he was appointed for one purpose, and now the Poor Law Board called upon him to make a Return for another. The House was bound to spare as much as possible the people engaged in the collection of statistics, and the delay which would be requisite to obtain the further information desired by the hon. Member would be very considerable. There was, indeed, no necessity for obtaining any further Returns in reference to the increase that would be made in the number of county voters by the Bill which had been introduced to the House, for ample means for obtaining this knowledge was already provided. Some extraordinary conclusions had been drawn from the statistics. The hon. Member for Ayrshire (Sir James Fergusson) had discovered that in thirty-nine boroughs the constituencies would be doubled; he hoped the hon. Member would publish those statistics, and explain the process by which he had arrived at the conclusion. He was quite sure that the hon. Member was aware that the number of occupiers was no proof of the number of voters. Looking at the present registers, the present occupiers, and the present qualifications, a deduction must be made of at least 28 per cent between the number of occupiers of £10 houses and the persons upon the register. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Banks Stanhope), towards the end of his address, dwelt upon the fact that no Returns had been made of the number of copyholders and leaseholders, but did not indicate to the House the way by which they could be obtained. There was no record of 869 copyholders and no register of leaseholders qualified at present to vote for the counties, and there was no means that he knew of, except going from house to house, and making inquiries at each house, by which information on these points could be obtained. If the hon. Member, however, were to examine the Returns he already possessed he would, without any great effort, be able to draw a tolerably good inference. There was no register of freeholders in the counties. There was a difference between the city voters and the county voters to be noted; in the counties the electors were obliged to send in their claims, whereas the parochial officers in towns and boroughs were compelled to make out a register of the persons entitled to vote in cities and boroughs. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Platt) had made an objection to the Returns on the ground that the working classes had been entered in too large numbers. He did not doubt that the statement of the hon. Member was correct as respected Oldham. According to the Returns, which were made by a gentleman well known to the hon. Member, the number of working men on the register was 315; and he had intimated his readiness to prove his statement. The hon. Member, however, stated the number at 150 only. The discrepancy probably arose from the Government Returns having taken too comprehensive a view of the term "working men," and so including many whom the hon. Member did not regard as coming under that category. He was not aware of any further objections to the statistics, and the arguments that had been brought against the Bill would be better met on a future occasion. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) had shown that one of the tendencies of the Bill would be to improve the character of the dwellings of the working classes. If so, that would be a very beneficial result, and the miserable hovels which now existed would be swept away. Stimulated by a desire to obtain the franchise, they would become more frugal and acquire the means that would enable them to dwell in better houses.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he wished to make one or two remarks in reference to the county voters and the form in which the information respecting them had been presented to the House, What his hon. Friend the Member for North Lin colnshire (Mr. Banks Stanhope) had complained of was, that the county Returns 870 were defective, and were not given in so convenient a form as the borough Returns. Instead of giving the number of voters who would come within the Government proposal by a £14 rental, the Returns gave only the rateable value Although it might be easy for persons conversant with the mode of estimating the gross estimated rental to make the deductions necessary to arrive at the rateable value, it was by no means so easy for those who did not happen to be familiar with the matter to make the calculation The Government might, without much difficulty, in his; opinion, have supplied information which; individual Members would have some ! trouble in obtaining as the result of their own inquiries. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, for instance, had pointed out certain mistakes winch had been made by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ayrshire (Sir Jame Fergusson) in his calculations; but if it was true that he had fallen into those errors, was it not extremely probable, he would ask, that other Members would be led into similar mistakes, and did not that very fact show that the Government ought to have submitted the statistics on the subject to the House in such a form as to have obviated the difficulty? The whole gist of the case of the Government was that the House was to proceed in the matter of Reform deliberately, and step by step on the information laid before it; and they were informed in the Queen's Speech that Returns were being prepared which were to serve them as a guide. The information thus indicated had been collected, and he admitted that the officers employed in collecting it had done their work extremely well. On that information the Government formed their conclusions, and proposed a particular franchise; but surely it was only natural to suppose that they would, under the circumstances, have placed the House of Commons in possession of the information which was necessary to enable them to form a sound judgment on that question also. The Government must all along have had in their eye the grounds on which they intended to base their proposal. It was an easy matter, therefore, to have set Borne person to make the necessary calculations, instead of leaving I every individual to make it for himself; thus involving the expenditure of a vast amount of time, which the labours of a single skilled person might have saved.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board, who now finds it suits his purpose to pretend to be the friend of the working man, should have repeated the argument which had on a former occasion fallen from the hon. Member for Birmingham, and should state that one good thing in the Government Bill was that it would oblige landlords to improve their houses, so that the labouring class would in future have a £10 instead of a £6 house. [Mr. C. P. VILLIERS: I did not say that.] Well, at all events, he seemed to argue that in boroughs there would, after the passing of the Bill, be £7 instead of £6 houses. But that was, he (Lord Robert Montagu) thought, a matter in which the supply would be governed by the demand. But, be that as it might, he wished to put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had stated that there were certain ulterior schemes which he proposed to lay, in the shape of dummies, on the table of the House—as to what checks he proposed to place on the increased franchise. By lowering, for instance, the franchise in counties, the present agricultural constituencies would be swamped, but if the various towns were taken out of those counties and grouped with the boroughs by means of a re-distribution of seats, something might be done to mitigate the evils which would thereby be created. The House, therefore, ought, he contended, to be made aware before the second reading of the Franchise Bill in what the whole scheme of the Government really consisted. Because those questions with which they intended to deal will afterwards become really part and parcel of the principle upon which they meant to proceed.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
contended that there was another Bill which it was expedient should be laid on the table before the House went into Committee on the Franchise Bill, and that was a Boundary Bill, without having which before them it would be impossible to deal with the question of the re-distribution of seats. It was evident that a Boundary Bill might alter the whole question of the re-distribution of seats. Because those places which without a change of boundary might be disfranchised might not be disfranchised, if addition to their boundaries were made. He hoped, therefore, that a complete Boundary Bill as well as a Re- 872 distribution of Seats Bill would be laid on the table for the information of the House.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
If my hon. and learned Friend who has just spoken (Sir George Bowyer) will refer back to the only successful specimen of legislation in regard to Reform to which I need call his attention—the Reform Act of 1832—he will find that no such preliminary Bill was introduced as that which he has mentioned, and that the House then voted on the general question of the re-distribution of seats without having a Boundary Bill before it. I am of opinion that some examination of boundaries would be necessary before the final adjustment of the whole of the details of that question; but the influence of such an investigation would, after all, I think, be a matter of only secondary importance. If, indeed, the observations of the hon. and learned Baronet have any meaning, their practical result would be that nothing should be said on the subject of the re-distribution of seats in the present year.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I close with my hon. and learned Friend on these terms. And now I may be allowed to refer to what has fallen from the noble Lord the Member for Huntingdonshire (Lord Robert Montagu), who rose in his place, and made some remarks as to my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Villiers) thinking it worth his while to pretend to be the friend of the working man. Would he like, I would ask him, to have such a phrase applied to himself?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Then the noble Lord adheres to the expression, and I am very much disposed to appeal to the Chairman as to whether he is justified in speaking of another Member in those terms. In my opinion those working men to whom he alludes would, if admitted within these walls, set the noble Lord an example of courtesy, would set him an example of good breeding, would set him an example of high breeding, which he might do well to follow. I confess I am astonished that the noble Lord should, on reflection, adopt those words, and if I did not appeal to you, Sir, when he uttered them it is because I thought that he would, when reminded 873 that he used them, at once say that they had escaped from him by accident. But the noble Lord went on, not conscious that he was all the time replying not to the speech of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Villiers), but to that of the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho), upon whom in reality he poured forth the vials of his wrath. The hon. Member for Stamford (Sir Stafford Northcote), however, who preceded the noble Lord, spoke, as he always does, to the purpose, but, notwithstanding what he has said, I confess I do not at all feel that I owe a debt of gratitude to the hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Banks Stanhope) for the course which he has to-night taken The hon. Member for Stamford has entirely misapprehended the matter. He said that certain elaborate calculations are easy to experts, but very difficult to the mass of mankind, and the Members of this House ought not to be called on to go through them. But there are no elaborate calculations involved in the matter—all that is necessary to bear in mind is that a £12 rating is equivalent or very nearly so to a £14 rental. But I object to the whole mode of dealing with this question of statistics, as adopted by hon. Members. That is the reason why I feel no gratitude to them. They seem as if they were engaged in ascertaining the numbers of an invading army; but the persons to whom their remarks apply are our fellow-subjects, our fellow-Christians, our own flesh and blood, who have been lauded to the skies for their good conduct—men who have borne destitution and privation in a manner which might be a lesson to all of us. I cannot accede to the demand for information founded on a principle which I consider mischievous and untrue. [An hon. MEMBER: Untrue!] I speak of the principle as untrue, which means unsound. I deny that mathematical precision is necessary in giving information on this question. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire has recently passed some few days of his life in a state of alarm at the prospects of the country. The noble Lord at the head of his Volunteers would not in the least tremble to meet a French invasion, but the idea of an invasion of his own fellow citizens desirous of obtaining the franchise has entirely frightened him from his propriety. These voters between £14 and £50 will not belong to the labouring class. [Mr. BANKS STANHOPE: That is what I want to know,] There are certain 874 facts, at, any rate, which do not require to be made the subject of a statistical Return, and in producing the statistical information already placed before the House, we consider we have complied with the terms used in the Queen's Speech. Occupiers between £14 and £50 in counties do not as a rule belong to the labouring class. They I are substantially of the middle class; though! there may be some exceptions in the case: of holders of small parcels of land, who; may be properly described as belonging to; the labouring class, and who are under the influence—I do not mean the compulsory but the friendly influence—of their landlords. Therefore, it did not enter into our minds that this question of the county franchise would be viewed in the spirit of jealousy and alarm with which it appears; to be regarded by the hon. Gentleman opposite, [Mr. BANKS STANHOPE: In the absence of statistics,] With regard to another class of persons—namely, copyholders and leaseholders—we would have been glad to produce statistics, but it is not possible to do so. It is a matter most proper to be considered and discussed in Committee whether collateral information can be had. If it can, by all means let it be had. We cannot pretend to get the information, though I fully admit that it would be desirable to have it if possible. With respect to the gross estimated rental, I ask what was done in 1859? The House then passed a Bill which established a £10 occupation franchise for the counties, and I am not aware that the information then placed before us was better than, or so good as, the information now placed before the House. I think we have gone to the fullest length of our tether in furnishing information, and I am not prepared to accept the censure of the hon. Gentleman opposite.
The right hon. Gentleman seems to wish to strengthen our moral nature by saying that we ought first to have confidence in the Government passing their Bill, in the hope that after that they will listen to our wishes, I submit to the right hon. Gentleman that there is no use in producing statistics at all if they are not perfect and complete, and such as would really form some reliable ground for estimating the effect of the Government Bill. The right hon. Gentle-| man talked about the class of persons referred to as being our own countrymen and our own flesh and blood, and that, therefore, any measure to enfranchise them must be adopted; but the right hon. Gentleman 875 should bear in mind that in producing the blue book he made a pratical admission that investigation of this kind is a necessary foundation for a satisfactory measure of Reform, and therefore he is bound to collect the Returns so that the House may be able to the utmost extent to judge of the effect of the proposed Bill on the various constituencies. The information supplied to the House is defective in two particulars. In the first place, the House is not told by the Statistics how far the agricultural population would be swamped by the urban; and, secondly, how far, in boroughs and counties, the middle and upper classes will be swamped by the working class. I am inclined to adhere to the estimate previously formed—namely, that some 130 Members would be placed in the hands of the working classes, and when the re-distribution of seats comes they will probably have the majority of boroughs. The whole matter is surrounded with uncertainty, in consequence of the defective information with respect to lodgers, compound householders, the effect of the repeal of the ratepaying clauses, of the establishment of the £14 occupation francise in counties, and of the grant of a county vote to copyholders and leaseholders in boroughs. And what reply is given when this defective state of the Returns is noticed? The Chancellor of the Exchequer tells the House that he has gone to the very utmost limit in supplying information with respect to the preponderance of working men in the constituencies; and he now declares that, as a matter of principle, he will refuse to supply any further information in reference to the working men. Putting all the sentimental rant aside about "our own flesh and blood," it is important to inquire whether this Reform Bill is to transfer the tax imposing and the tax expending power from one portion of the community to another. I ask the right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) whether, in drawing this Bill of Reform, he would not, as a matter of business, have been influenced by the particular considerations which the Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to disregard? Recalling to mind the calmer and more prosaic atmosphere of the Bank Parlour, the right hon. Member for the City of London will acknowledge that the Bank itself would have been brought into difficulties if matters of business affecting large amounts of money had been treated on the principle of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This is a question, not of phrases and sentiment, but 876 of facts and figures. The right hon. Gentleman has yielded something—if he should yield a little more, we may find the expression of the Government standing or falling by the Bill will have to be taken in a non-natural sense. If it be that the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer should frame a Reform Bill, I would entreat him to re-consider his doctrines about the necessity of full information, and before he again asks the House of Commons to transfer the power over the legislation, the taxation, and the finances of this country from the section of the community which holds it now to another section of the community, I entreat him to let us know who our new masters are to be. In a constitutional country it is at least as important to know who the new governing classes are to be as it is in other countries to know what change will take place in the dynasty. Whether it were great or small, for the better or for the worse, there would, at all events, be an absolute change of the governing power over all the best interests of the country. When such a change is about to take place, surely it is not unreasonable that we should come to the right hon. Gentleman and inquire what manner of men these new rulers of ours are to be—whether they are split up into different sections or united together; whether they are likely to support agricultural interests or not; whether they are in favour of direct or indirect taxation; and, in particular, whethey they were impartially spread over all those interests, or would give an overwhelming preponderance to one end of the balance. I will not discuss the policy to be founded on the information which might be obtained; but I say that if we require information relating to the small matters on which the Legislature has already been engaged, we ought, above all things, to have information on that which, as it were, contains and includes them all. I cannot accept as an excuse what has been urged by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Villiers) as to the expense and difficulty of collecting Returns of this kind. Why, in a matter of this kind, we ought to recoil from no trouble and no expense. If the requisite machinery does not exist, it ought to be created. We ought to know, with reference to every constituency in the country, the extent of the change proposed, the number of new electors to be introduced, what class of the community they belong to, and, as far as 877 it is possible to ascertain it, how far they would represent the wealth and the numbers of the people. This is information for which we have a right to ask, and I am quite sure that no Government can succeed in carrying a satisfactory Reform Bill till it makes up its mind, in spite of any trouble or expense, to satisfy this legitimate demand. Before I sit down, I wish to correct one error which the right hon. Gentleman fell into with respect to the remarks of the noble Lord (Lord Elcho). The argument of the noble Lord was simple and obvious, He said that the probable tendency of any measure of Reform would be to induce per sons who wished for political influence to raise the character and rental of their houses, and that the consequence would be that the number of £7 voters would be greater than could be ascertained at present from the number of £7 houses. Now, that seems to be a very legitimate argument; for it is obvious that in any future purchase you must add a margin, however slight it might be, for the right of claiming the franchise. The argument of the noble Lord, therefore, appeared to be a very legitimate one, and I think he hardly deserved the attack which was made upon him by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I quite concur with the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Sir George Bowyer) that the question of boundaries must necessarily precede the question of re-distribution of seats; and 1 think the right hon. Gentleman will find, if he looks to the precedent of 1832, that at that time the boroughs which were to be disfranchised were of a notorious character, and there could be no very great contest, after it was admitted that some disfranchisement should take place, as to the nature and extent of the disfranchisement. At all events, the Reformers of 1832 were not infallible, but that circumstance does not diminish the effect of my hon. Friend's argument, that if you adjust the system of representation you are bound to entertain the question of boundaries.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The noble Lord opposite (Viscount Cranbourne) has asked me very pointedly what the custom is in dealing with large financial transactions in the City. I will tell him one rule which we always follow, and that is never to haggle—never, when large financial matters are in question, to think of the shillings and the halfpence. But I need not refer simply to the practice in the City, but to the maxim of which we were recently reminded by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 878 Calne (Mr. Lowe), De minimis non curat lex. In this matter it is impossible to go so minutely into detail as the noble Lord seems to demand. This discussion is brought on by a Question relating to the, alleged insufficient nature of the statistics in the hands of the House. The whole matter, I suppose, turns on the difference between £15 or £14 or something of that kind. It turns on £1, or 10s. at the most, for it must turn on this—whether a £12 rating is equivalent to £14 rental, and if not, where the error lies, and how many new voters it would be the means of introducing into the constituencies. If we were to assume that it might admit 20,000, that would be a very large estimate indeed, but probably the calculation is nearly accurate, and a £l2 rating is about equivalent to a £14 rental. If, however, there is a difference, do the hon. Members opposite know the number within a few hundreds? ["Hear, hear!"'] Well, perhaps they would like to know within a few units. Hon. Gentlemen opposite desire to calculate precisely the social standing and power to pay rent of every single constituent in the boroughs. There is a doctrine, which has been applauded by hon. Members opposite, that under our present Constitution it was easy enough to acquire the franchise. Well, we find in the constituencies at the present moment, a large number of working men whom hon. Members opposite did not suspect to be there, and these working men I have so conducted themselves that it is; impossible to tell the difference between a working man and any other. Apart from that, however, hon. Members opposite admit that if the working men pay a little more for their houses, they are able to obtain the franchise, and therefore a system of calculating precisely the number of working men in any borough must break down, because the number changes from day to day and from hour to hour. I have heard it stated that the discovery of gold in Australia raised wages throughout the country, and any such circumstance might affect the number to some extent; but it is only when you are dealing with tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands that these statistics can be used at all. However, if I am not much mistaken, the noble Lord will find all the calculations he wishes for in the possession of some of his friends, because, no doubt, when Lord Derby introduced his Bill all these precautions were taken. Those statistics must have been in the possession of many hon. Gentlemen 879 opposite, because when they proposed a diminution of the county franchise they must have calculated the additions that would be made in each county. I am sorry that they kept the statistics to themselves, but no doubt the noble Lord will be able to find them. I confess, however, that I do not concur with him in thinking that it is so necessary to make such minute calculations for every county or borough. Indeed, it is impossible as well as undesirable to make such minute calculations. If we are to inquire minutely into the numbers of the working classes, why should we not ascertain how strong the landed interest is, and the military interest, and the commercial interest, and the manufacturing interest? I think it would be a great disadvantage if we should come to discuss among ourselves precisely how many there are belonging to one class or to another. The whole question must rest upon a broader basis than simply how many there are in inhabited houses of £10 and £7. I am sure the statistics go as much into detail as it is possible or desirable that they should. Questions of this kind, if they are right by tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands, ought not to be pursued down to the lowest figures, tens and units. The increase which is taking place in the general prosperity of the country must change the aspect of affairs in any particular locality in the course of a very few months.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had given an admirable argument against those weekly Returns which the Bank of England was so fond of publishing. To be sure those Returns related only to money and to the solvency of the Bank of England. But when the question was who were to be the people to make the House of Commons, who should constitute the hundreds of thousands of additional constituencies, then demanding Returns, forsooth, was haggling. What were all the Supply nights but haggling? What were the Budget nights but haggling? What was the legitimate jealousy which scrutinized Bills, both public and private—what was that, in the language of the Treasury Bench, but haggling? He made the right hon. Gentleman a present of this "haggling." But it sent hon. Members to the country and to their constituents with unpleasant feelings when they found the Government trying to make use of a mighty force by putting on the bonnet rouge, and 880 when they found the Chancellor of the Exchequer making sentimental appeals to "flesh and blood," which, if it meant anything, was a direct appeal on behalf of universal suffrage—the second chapter, in fact, of the treatise on the subject of which the right hon. Gentleman had published the first series one Wednesday during the last Parliament. This talk about "flesh and blood," "fellow-Christians," and so on, was either a direct and palpable appeal to the passions of the multitude, and an argument in favour of universal suffrage, or it was mere rubbish and rhapsody; for every adult male, just as much as of the seven-pounders, it stood true that they were "of the same flesh and blood" and "fellow-Christians." Then came the other Chancellor—the Chancellor of the Duchy—who said that the Opposition were inciting the working classes to analyze, to their disadvantage of course, the classes of which that House was composed. He would tell that right hon. Gentleman that if he felt disposed to publish another edition of the Black Book of thirty-five years ago, which came out in the turmoil of the Reform Bill to stir popular passion against the governing classes, it would not be very saleable now-a-days. They had by this time got beyond all that sort of thing—the Reform Bill had done them much good in that respect. They who agreed with him stood upon the Reform Act. They simply wished to preserve the handy-work of Lord Russell in his youthful time, as yet untouched by profane hands. They wished to preserve it against the feeble tampering of its own author, who came forward to meddle with it after so many of those septennial periods had elapsed which as men of science say change the identity of the human body. There was one point on which he differed from his friends. They complained that the statistics were imperfect. In a measure only was that true; for in many cases they were no statistics at all. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made an eloquent appeal to the House not to be alarmed at the admission of the 400,000 of "our flesh and blood" into the suffrage. This meant, or it meant nothing, that there would be no re-distribution of seats, no disenfranchisement, no further enfranchisement, for otherwise that 400,000 must be changed to some other and much higher figure. It might be 500,000, or 600,000 or 700,000. If the £7 was to be accepted in the dark as the first sine quâ non, how were they to know the names and 881 boundaries, the number and population of the towns which were to be admitted into the representation under that new franchise? What were the islands in this sea of Utopia which would have to be discovered if they passed the Bill? The Chancellor of the Exchequer told them that if they were good children, and believed what their political pastors and masters told them, if they swallowed the dose, cried Amen, and said it was all right, the Government would then in its condescension give them data which might prove that all which had been alleged or done was wrong. That was the simple, plain English of the Government policy. But they wanted to know what the Reform Bill was before they passed it in sections. He wished to know whether the re-distribution of seats was to bear a penal character, and hinge upon the way the second reading was treated; whether the right hon. Gentleman was to come down like a school inspector with smiles on his face or anger on his brow, according as they behaved; whether the enfranchisement here and the disfranchisement there was to be a whole or a half proceeding, according to the division list; whether Schedules A and B were fluctuating quantities; whether the cutting off a Member was to beat a line drawn at 5,000, 10,000, or 15,000 of population, according as they were or were not deaf to the sweet syren the noble Member for Chester: Was the balance to be struck between the counties and the boroughs to depend on the subserviency of their Members? These were all questions they were entitled to ask. When so preposterous a system was pursued—a system winch revolted against all ideas of justice and common sense—they had a right to suspect the worst of political dodges—something beyond the honest desire to reform the representation of the people—and that was some device to repair the tottering props of a falling Cabinet Let the right hon. Gentleman rise in his place on Monday fortnight, and state what was the measure that he intended to bring forward, what the re-distribution of seats, and let him lay on the table the statistics they had not yet seen; and then the House could say whether, in their judgment, the measure was good or bad, whether it was to be the salvation of England or the destruction of our old and stable Constitution—at least, that the Government had taken an honest and straightforward course. He wished with all his heart he were able to say so much to 882 their credit now, but that was what he could not say.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he was glad to have from the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Beresford Hope) such a manifestation of loyal attachment to the Reform Bill of 1832. The great complaint which had been made with regard to these statistics was that they did not give exact information about all who were at present excluded, but only of those whom the Government hoped to include. Now, he agreed with his right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) that if they were to give such exact information about those who were excluded they might expect that class to require similar information about the included. He thought the Government had gone quite as far as they ought, to have gone in this matter; and some measure of injustice had rather been done to the artizan class by representing them to be less entirely excluded than they really were. He could conceive nothing more impolitic, not with reference to the interests of the Government and the Liberal party, but of the country, than an attempt to characterize and distinguish between the included and excluded from the franchise. Did hon. Gentlemen opposite desire to know the individual character of these men? Did they want to know what they would do under any circumstances? Did they want to know not only how much money they earned, but how they spent it? They had no right to go into these questions with regard to any class of their fellow-subjects. Would not the excluded be tempted to make similar inquiries with regard to those who had the elective franchise? Would they not ask how many voters there might be who were under the influence of their landlords? Would it be advantageous to go into questions of that kind: Hon. Members opposite sometimes talked of the impropriety of setting class against class. He could conceive nothing more likely to have the effect than the course which was now being pursued by hon. Gentlemen on the other side—treating the working class as enemies to the Constitution, and prying into the mode in which they would use the franchise if given to them—in fact, forcing them to do what he believed they never would otherwise do—to bind themselves into a class, and as a class act for class purposes. As a class, he believed they were least of all likely to act together for any special purpose; but hon. Gentlemen 883 opposite were by their suspicions doing what would, if possible, produce that result. The noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Viscount Cranbourne) made use of a remark which, for Conservative interests, might be considered dangerous; he said they wanted this exact information because the Bill proposed a change in the taxing power of the country. Did not this suggest an irresistible inference that the taxing power had hitherto been used with an immediate view to the interests of the represented? If ever there should be any disposition to attack the present possessors of power it could only arise from such remarks and such unfounded suspicions. The hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Beresford Hope) stated that they were going to the country during the recess with unpleasant feelings. No doubt hon. Gentlemen opposite regretted much to find that the debate on the second reading of the Bill would now be put on its true issue—whether or no the time had come when they ought to admit a large number of British citizens to the elective franchise. No doubt they would have preferred if the issue could have been shifted. The hon. Gentleman said he wanted definitely to know what boroughs would be disfranchised; but he would know that in sufficient time to guide his vote before the Bill became law. If he was in favour of lowering the franchise it would be quite within his power to vote for the second reading of the Bill; and if he found that power was likely to be made use of for purposes he could not approve, when the question of re-distribution came up he might reverse his vote without reproach.
§ MR. P. A. TAYLOR
congratulated the House and the country upon the altered and more frank tone which had characterized the discussion. The atmosphere around the great Reform question had been singularly cleared during this discussion, and the country would fully appreciate the change that had taken place. Hitherto hon. Members opposite, not content with calling themselves the friends of the working man had even professed themselves to be his sole friends; and they had gone so far as to charge the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Villiers), who had done so much to procure the repeal of the Corn Laws they had themselves so long upheld, with pretending to take an interest in the labouring classes. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had been blamed for talking 884 of those classes as flesh and blood, and as having a common interest with hon. Members in a common country; but he supposed the right hon. Gentleman had lately been reading his Bible. The issue would now go forth with sufficient distinctness to the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said, "Here are large numbers of the working classes, intelligent, educated, taxpaying, law-obeying Englishmen. I recognize them as brother Englishmen, who have a right to be brought within the pale of the Constitution. The principles which the right hon. Gentleman had put forward were no new ones; they were the principles of Charles James Fox, of Edmund Burke, and of Sir William Blackstone. But hon. Gentlemen opposite declared that all the doctrines about human rights were mere sentimentalism, and said, "We have ruled over the country for many years—we, the aristocracy, have taxed the people, and made laws for our advantage, and we will not admit the people unless we retain sufficient power in our own hands to answer our own purposes." The noble Lord (Lord Elcho) cheered, but he (Mr. Taylor) was glad that the issue had at last been so clearly raised, for it would be now discussed at meetings too numerous to be put into a cigar-case, however large. The noble Lord (Lord Elcho) had made a speech which, like moat of the noble Lord's, was fuller of dogmatism and personal assertion than of argument. It reminded him a great deal of the Irishman's account of the weather—"There was very little wind, but what little there was was tremendously high!" He regarded the doctrine which had been propounded that night—namely, that the working classes formed a separate class—as altogether novel, unsafe, unfounded, and dangerous. The people would understand the issue that had gone forth, and the discussion which had taken place would do more to show who were their real friends and those who had no care for their interest than anything that had before occurred. He rejoiced to think that the issue between the people and the aristocracy had been placed on so clear a basis.
said, he wished to make a few observations on the subject that had occupied the attention of the House during the greater part of the evening. Her Majesty's Government had brought in a Bill for the reduction of the franchise, but had withheld certain inform- 885 ation which it was absolutely necessary the House should obtain before they could properly come to a decision upon the important constitutional change which it was proposed to make. Her Majesty's Government, in proposing to overthrow the balance of the political power and to place the larger share in the hands of the working classes, were bound to furnish the House and the country with such information as would justify the acceptance of that proposal. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North Lincolnshire (Mr. Banks Stanhope) had asked for a Return of the number of leaseholders and copyholders in boroughs who have votes for the counties, and this information the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had declined to give. It almost appeared that Her Majesty's Government, in refusing to give these Returns, were afraid that they would not tell in their favour—as if they were afraid of the House knowing the full extent of the proposed change. The House should not accept the Government proposal unless, at the same time, a Bill for the redistribution of seats was introduced. Her Majesty's Government had not pursued a straightforward, frank, and statesmanlike course with reference to this matter. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the leader of the House, in answering the observations of the hon. Member for Huntingdonshire, had shown a considerable amount of reluctance, and he must confess that ho was rather surprised at the general tone of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks. He trusted that the House would decline to proceed with the Government Bill until the information asked for had been furnished