HC Deb 12 April 1867 vol 186 cc1599-703

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 3 (Occupation Franchise for Voters in Boroughs).

Amendment proposed, In page 2, lines 3 and 4, after the words "and 2," to insert the words "whether he in person or his landlord be rated to the relief of the poor."—(Mr. Gladstone.)

Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


Sir, in prefacing what I am going to say I may be permitted to enter my protest against the language used in this House, but more especially on this side of the House, and by persons out of doors, with respect to the difference of opinion which prevails on this Bill. Every person who is supposed to differ from the majority on this side of the House is at once branded as a sham Reformer, as a traitor to the cause, as a fool or a knave, or both. Against this I enter my protest. I have heard many things said in this House, many strange things have occurred, and not among the least strange is this of to-night. But, Sir, I am bound to say that, as far as I myself am concerned, I claim the right to have an opinion, and also the right to express that opinion. In making that statement I do not mean to dictate to anybody. And though I may be called a "mushroom" ["Oh, oh!"]—yes, that was the phrase—and though I am obliged to put up with that elegant phraseology, I have a duty that lies before me straight in my path—a duty that I will perform to the best of my ability—and that duty is to state the reasons why, in my opinion, of the two propositions before the House at the present moment, one is better than the other. Of these two propositions one is made by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the other by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer wishes to add to the constituencies of this country; with what occurred in 1832 he says that he does not meddle; but there are persons now existing whom he wishes to add to the constituencies, and as a means to that end he proposes to extend what in 1832 stopped at the £10 householder, to the other end of the scale, so as to take in all householders. The proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire—and we are obliged to look at the whole matter and not at the small piecemeal fashion in which it is put before the House—his proposition, as a whole, is that we should stop at a £5 rating. He does not express himself plainly as to what he intends to do with this £5 rating; he frames his proposal so as to catch votes on both sides of the House, and all the rest he leaves in darkness. Now, Sir, I have to ask myself which of these two plans is the better one. The thing that recommends itself to me in the plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is this—that it draws no invidious line of distinction between one class and another of voters. He gets over that difficulty, which is the difficulty of the £10 household franchise. You stop at £10; but there is no principle in stopping at a particular sum, £9 or £10. The £9 householder may be as good as a £10 householder. The £10 franchise therefore is based on no principle, and the consequence has been that all persons below the £10 householder have been angry and wrath at it. Now, what does the Chancellor of the Exchequer say? "I will take away that distinction; I will make applicable to the lowest class of householder the law that stops at the £10 householder, but that which has been required of the latter I will require of every man." But the Bill introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire and the hon. Member for Birmingham—[Mr. GLADSTONE: Nothing of the kind]—I assure the right hon. Gentleman that he need not be so very angry with me as he appears to be. I mean no offence. I merely mean to speak of him with the same freedom as he speaks of other people. I was saying, Sir, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to extend to all classes of householders the same privilege as that which is now enjoyed by the £10 householder. But "No," says the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire and those who act with him; "there is the Small Tenements Act in the way, and there is that irrepressible person called the compound-householder." Now, let us see what all this means. I will just make a simple statement, and I will ask any one to give me an answer to it. Suppose town A, with a proprietor of certain tenements. We will suppose that these tenements are £6 tenements, and we will suppose that the proprietor compounds for them. Then, taking a hypothetical figure, suppose that each of the £6 houses would pay 20s. poor rate, but that, by compounding for them all, the proprietor has to pay only 15s. for each—the difference being 5s. It is proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, by a provision in this Bill, the compound-householder may send to the overseer and say, "I wish to be rated in future; make me responsible for the rate." If he, the tenant, does this, the result will be that, instead of paying 15s. to the landlord, he will pay 20s. to the State, deducting 15s. from the landlord. But then comes the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, who calls that a fine. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] Oh, yes—a fine; there is nothing like a catch word. But, let me ask the right hon. Gentleman, what is the difference between the position in which that process will place the man who goes through it, and the position of the uncompounded-householder, who lives in a £6 tenement, and pays the 20s.? Why, because a man is a compound householder is he to be favoured to the extent of 5s.? Now, I want an answer to that. I do not want minute arithmetical calculations; I do not want mellifluous language; I do not want verbose statements; but I want a plain answer, and I say that it cannot be given. The right hon. Gentleman says, "No; I won't accept it. This is holding out a boon with one hand and taking it back again with the other." When the Chancellor of the Exchequer talks of personal rating, he does not mean it to be essential that the man must with his own hand pay the 20s. He means that the man himself must be answerable for the 20s., and get a receipt for it. But that is the case of the £10 householder; and yet it is only now we find out the hardships of such a condition. I do not believe the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire was in the House at the time of the passing of the Reform Bill; but I never heard anyone object to the £10 householder being placed in that condition except the Radicals, of whom I was one. I have, however, seen the error of my ways. Now, Sir, I do not know that there would be danger in taking away the ratepaying clauses from the £10 householder; but I am sure, and I think the people of this country, people of property, wealth, and virtue, will feel that they have security in the payment of rates, without which you would let in that beautiful residuum which the hon. Member for Birmingham has so artistically described, and you will have all Sorts and descriptions of people voting for Members of Parliament. I want to prevent this. I do not want the rabble to vote, but I do want those of the labouring classes who have honour, feeling, and virtue to vote. But then it may be asked, how can you point out those who are the virtuous men? I do not intend to point them out; but I say that in all human affairs you must be guided by general principles, and if you find that a man has a settled home, in which he has lived with his family for a number of years, you have a man that has given hostages to the State, and you have in these circumstances a guarantee for that man's virtue. I say then that there is good reason for making the distinction. There is one thing in which almost all persons agree. The Chancellor of the Exchequer does not want to admit every one. There is a large party whom he wants to keep out—that portion of the population whom, for want of a better phrase, I have called the rabble. On this point the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire says the same thing as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the hon. Member for Birmingham says the same thing as the two right hon. Gentlemen. But there is another view of the proposition of the Member for South Lancashire. It is a Conservative proposition. It is far less popular, to use an expression of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, than the Bill of the Government. Then it has the effect of lessening and cutting down the constituencies; and a very significant thing happened last night, which I beg hon. Gentlemen on this side to recollect:—Last night the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire was supported by the noble Lord the Member for Stamford. Why? Because it is a Conservative proposition. Well, the very thing which makes the noble Lord support it makes me oppose it. I want a measure more liberal and more popular, and I want an answer to what I have said. I do not want exclamations, in the form of running comments, by hon. Gentlemen behind me, which are very easy for any one to make, and impossible for any one to answer. It appears to me that the matter is a very simple one. I will not go any further into detail; but before I close, Sir, I will say that observations are made very often on conduct like mine by Gentlemen who have suddenly started up in the character of Reformers. Now, what possible interest have I in the matter? Why, this—the interest of my country. ["Oh!"] That comes from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne. [Mr. LOWE: No!] Then I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I have no earthly object in view except the one I have mentioned. I never have been in office, and I know not the sweets thereof; I never have been turned out of office and kept out of office, and therefore I know not the bitterness thereof. It is strange the lengths that these circumstances lead men to go. They become rampant Reformers, and play Jack Pudding before this House; they do anything to please; and by their noisy advocacy they seek to regain power. I am not one of those. I never have been in power, and I cannot hope to attain to that position now. My object is to get for the people of England a Bill during the present Session. Can those who propose this Amendment say the same thing? They mean decidedly the opposite, and it appears to me some of them are so anxious for office, that they are ready to jump over the table on any pretence whatever. It is all very well when anything in their favour comes from the other side to give shouts of exultation; but when the recoil comes it is not so pleasant. I have made my observations, short and simple as they are. I want an answer to them. I believe that answer can only with difficulty be given, and I shall vote for the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


If I wanted a further reason for voting for the Amendment of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire, I should find it in the speech which we have just heard. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield has proved, by his own confession, that the Bill is an appeal to the ambitious passions of the working classes, with its lure of virtual household suffrage; at the same time it is, with its sham restrictions, an appeal to the timidity of hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, who are afraid of anything they may fancy a large extension of the suffrage. It is recommended to us because we are told that the question of Reform must be settled; but how can any one in his senses expect that Reform can be settled by a policy which professes to provide a sliding scale franchise—a franchise which cannot be defined within the four corners of the Bill, but which is to be left to the discretion of every vestry, acting under all conceivable impulses of narrow and corrupt feeling, to give or to withhold according to its fancy? Some boroughs, we know, have adopted the Small Tenements Act, and some have not; so that, let us pass this Bill, then there will be, in every borough which has come under the operation of the Small Tenements Act, a perpetual wrangling contest on the part of those who wish to get the franchise which will redound to the sole advantage of the election agent, who will, we may be sure, be always urging them to pay the fine and finding the means for them to do so. Hon. Gentlemen have been told that if they do not pass this Bill a dissolution will follow. But I ask what are we to be dissolved for, and what is to be the cry? On what principle does the Chancellor of the Exchequer propose to go to the country? Is it to be household suffrage or personal rating? Conservative restriction, or Liberal progress? I do not believe that the occupants of the Treasury Bench could have the effrontery to go to a dissolution. A great question like the first Reform Bill, or Catholic Emancipation, was a fit subject for a dissolution; but the fight over the compound-householder is a struggle of quite another class. Although Parliament has occasionally been dissolved on some comparatively trivial defeat, as was the dissolution of 1857, on the alleged insult to the Lorcha Arrow, which indirectly proved fatal to the first Government of Lord Palmerston, still, in the history of the world, no dissolution will ever have taken place on so miserable a cry as the pretended principle of the rights of the compound-householders in the hands of a Conservative Ministry. Hon. Members may not yet have forgotten some amusing story books which came out several years since, in which two gentlemen, named Taper and Tadpole—subordi- nate Members of the Government, or of the Opposition, it is immaterial which—are introduced, laying their heads together to devise some cry on which to go to the country at a General Election shortly after the Reform Bill. These worthies at length settled on some alliterative and jingling clap-trap which I will not quote, because allusion is made in it to an illustrious person whose name ought never to have been introduced in such a connection. This story gives us some idea of the system of administrative trickery which passes for statesmanship with some who are now in power; but I believe it would not succeed if put into practice at the present moment; and sure I am that if the Government goes to the country it will find it difficult to frame any cry which will serve its purpose. I do not think "our new institutions and our old compound-householder" would be successful. Those on this side of the House have been informed by the hon. Member for Westminster that we are the stupid party; but it is to be hoped that we are at least an honourable party of Gentlemen, and that we shall not, for the sake of a longer tenure of the Benches on the Ministerial side of the House, sacrifice those principles on which alone we can exist as a party. These principles may be summed up in this formula—that the best test and rule of Government is its results; and that, in the organization of the Constitution, we ought not to inquire so much regarding the comparative numbers of those who possess votes and those who do not, as we should respecting the qualifications likely to produce a class of persons who will return Members to Parliament capable of governing the nation upon enlightened principles. These may not be the old Tory notions on the subject; but the old Tory notions, like the old Whig notions, have been buried long ago. These are, however, the principles of the enlightened Liberal-Conservatism of the present free trade generation, cradled in the days of the great Reform Bill. This generation ought to have learned, during the last thirty-five years, the importance of relying on the middle classes. It ought to appreciate the education and competence of that class, and to understand the elements which are needed to create a good, stable, and enlightened Government. This is the Conservatism of the Reform Bill, the Conservatism on which Peel built up his great party. The old Toryism of the ante-reforming days was a great tradition, but it is past and gone never to return. What are we then to say of those who, in the face of this fact, and for their own self-interest, pretend to raise up a pale and marrowless ghost of that old Toryism of Bolingbroke and his "Patriot King"—and wish to set the middle and the upper class against each other to their mutual destruction, until nothing will be left but the Crown on one side and the mob on the other. Although this object is not specifically recited in the clauses of the present Bill, yet it is one which stands within the overt aim of its author; for, as I will prove, the history of the last twenty-five years shows that an influence has all along been at work—steadily and stealthily, quietly and smoothly working up to that end; until now at last the consummation has come. A dissolution is threatened in which it is clear that the mob—the "residuum"—will be brought out, and this dissolution will, if it succeeds, for ever crush the great middle class of England, and put our country at the mercy of dreaming romanners, and democratic theorists. I am no friend to bringing up the rash utterances made in the early youth of budding politicians; it is an ungenerous system of warfare; but the Committee will own that a Member who had for several years commanded the attention of the House could no longer be termed a budding politician two years before he became the Leader of a great party and overthrew a famous Minister. The utterances of such a man, at such a period of his career, must be symptomatic of his formed opinions. Well, then, an hon. Member who, in 1846, compassed the overthrow of the most powerful statesman of this century, speaking on the condition of Ireland, upon the 16th of February, 1844, said of his own opinions "they were Tory principles, the natural principles of the democracy of England." He went on to say that "Whig principles were the natural principles of the aristocracy of the country," and he added, "he was content to tread in the old path, the natural way," he repeated, of the "democracy of England;" while the hon. Member wound up with a sentence, the truth of which I will not deny, "If the Government did not lead the people, the people would drive the Government." These were the sentiments of the then hon. Member for Shrewsbury, now the right hon. Mem- ber for Buckinghamshire, and Leader of this House. It is to be noted that in those days the hon. Member was a vehement freetrader, as I could show from other passages of his speeches, and that no small amount of the staple of his invective against Sir Robert Peel was founded upon that statesman's still lingering advocacy of protection; but that as soon as Peel honestly yielded to conviction, and accepted full free trade, the Member for Shrewsbury turned right round and made use of the protectionists, at whose head he then placed himself, as his instruments to overthrow Sir Robert Peel. These are the principles on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has organized the party by whose aid he has three times driven his rivals out of office; while on every one of these three occasions he has led up to—and twice consummated—a theatrical dissolution of Parliament, in each case hitherto—and I think that that analogy will still hold good—followed by a speedy and ignominious downfall. Such is the Leader of our once great party, who has now brought forward this double-faced Reform Bill—on one side fenced with those restrictions which the first breath of open air will tear down—which any parish vestry, led by any local Beales or Odger, will laugh to scorn—and on the other side bedizened by appeals to the truculent democracy of which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is of old so fond, as essentially a measure of household suffrage. The £5 line is intelligible whether one likes it or not. It lays down the tangible and sensible principle that solvency is the best test of respectability, and therefore of the franchise; and that the most available criterion of the voter's solvency is to be found in the value of the house which he is able to inhabit with his landlord's approbation. On the other hand, the question of whether this value is to be calculated in rental or on rating is, after all, a mere matter of detail. Last year, in the ardour of party conflict, the democratic Leader of the Tory party, and his right hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire, reciprocally goaded their followers into elevating up to questions of principle things which really were only matters of detail. Taking the rental or the rating as the franchise figure is merely coming, by one way or the other, to the certainty of appreciating that a man pays his way and lives in a house of tolerable comfort. This principle of solvency involved in the payment of his own way on the voter's part, and of the tolerable comfort of the house in which he lives, seems to be the best test to apply in the choice of those who are to obtain the suffrage. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer abandons that principle as illusory, and takes up that which truly is household suffrage; while, for reasons of his own, he hems it in with provisions only available for the benefit of the Tapers and Tadpoles, who, as he hopes, will pull the strings, and of the country attorneys who will, by his calculations, manage the elections. These are my reasons for supporting the Amendment of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire. I know that for saying what I have done I shall subject myself to pointed gibes from one Member of this House; but I am old fashioned enough to think that pointed gibes from some quarters may be a real compliment to an honest man. I am prepared for anything which I may hear. I have, since the great Conservative break-up of 1846, been longer out of Parliament than in it; because, although I have ever been a Conservative or Tory, I never would fall down and worship the golden image set up in the deserts of Arabia. I have been a free lance long enough, not much to mind whatever may happen to me; and I can say that, sink or swim, dissolution or no dissolution, in or out of the next Parliament, for one, with my whole heart and conscience, will vote against the Asian mystery.


said, that he trusted that the Committee would allow him to explain as a Radical Reformer, whose Radicalism dated back to the training of his childhood, the reasons why he should support the Amendment of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone). It was true that there was much in the Bill of the Government which tended to attract, or he might say delude, Radical Reformers, because it appeared—but he thought it only appeared—to be based on the principle of household suffrage, which was dear to all Radical Reformers. He himself had always been, as he still was, in favour of this principle. He had supported it when it was far less popular than now; and if the present Bill really embodied this principle, no one would support it more cheerfully, more warmly, or more gratefully than he. But they had been particularly informed by more than one Member of the Treasury Bench that it was not a household suffrage Bill. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the India Office had declared that he would not have supported it for a moment if it had been such a Bill. He advocated household suffrage because there was no other so deep, just, and impartial, and so likely to furnish a basis for the borough franchise stable enough to secure it for the future. It gave a man a share in the Government, not on the ground that he possessed any particular property, but because he was the head of a family; household suffrage had been well called "hearthstone suffrage." There was not so much difference between a ratepaying and a household suffrage as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer supposed. The Bill, he verily believed, was better than the right hon. Gentleman supposed, better than the Secretary for India supposed. What was the meaning of a ratepaying franchise? A householder had to pay several bills—butcher's, baker's, landlord's, and that of the parish; and to give a rate-paying franchise was to say to the householder, "If you pay the parish bill, you shall vote; if you do not, you shall not vote." He was not able to understand why the payment of this particular bill should be considered a practical test of a man's solvency more than or even equally with the payment of other bills, because the parish generally took care to be paid. Nevertheless, if the ratepaying franchise was given fairly and honestly to all the constituencies, it would come very nearly to household suffrage. But this Bill did not give it honestly and fairly to all the constituencies. If it did he should have no hesitation in supporting it, even at the cost of leaving his right hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire, who had made sacrifices in the cause of Reform, which were well known to the people, and he would have voted with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose sacrifices in the cause of Reform were unknown. But the Bill conceded nothing of the sort. The proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was a good Bill for twenty-nine boroughs, for it would give them household suffrage, and he could not see how the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India could reconcile it to his conscience to inflict household suffrage upon these boroughs. He (Mr. Forster) did not wonder at the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield supporting the Bill, for it would increase the number of his constituents 11½ per cent. It was emi- nently a Bill for Sheffield. Nay, it was a Bill framed especially for his hon. and learned Friend, who, in supporting it, was enabled to appear before his warm-hearted constituents the Radical Reformer he was in days of yore, while in this House he appeared in the character of a Conservative. If the Bill had been as good for 171 boroughs, the greater proportion of the inhabitants of which were compound-householders, as it was for the twenty-nine to which he had referred, he would have supported it. The Bill had been described in two words, in a paper which might be called the literary organ of the Government—The Standard—as "an optional household suffrage." Now, on what condition was the "option" given? It was given on condition that the proposed voter should have a vote, if he paid his rate bill in a different way from that in which he had hitherto paid it—not in the way which he and his landlord and the parish had found most convenient, but by personal payment in a special manner. He was no longer to pay it through the landlord, but by a difficult and cumbrous machinery which they were to invent. He was to pay more money, and to pay it in a more inconvenient way. Now, if you had a man fit for the franchise, why impose upon him this condition? Why insist on this optional household suffrage in 171 boroughs? Not surely because these were looked upon as worse than the twenty-nine favoured boroughs? He could not for a moment suppose that the Government thought there was any special virtue in Ashburton, Arundel, Totnes, Dartmouth, or even in Oldham and Sheffield. Then why was this "optional" suffrage insisted upon? it was said that they ought to be sure that a man paid his rates. Well, if he was a compound-householder he most certainly paid his rates through his landlord; more certainly than in any other way. If any bill was taken as a test of voting, he had no objection to the rate bill, which would bring in a large number of voters. But there was another bill, which was most surely paid, and that was the landlord's bill, and in that bill the payment of rates was included. If there was any hon. Member living in country districts who was unacquainted with the ways and doings of compound-householders, let him go amongst his (Mr. Forster's) constituents, and he would soon find that they knew right well that the rates were included in their rents. His chief reason for voting with his right hon. Friend was that he objected to the proposed test—the proposed safeguard. It a diminution of the number of voters was wanted, let it be brought about in some other way. He did not see why, because a man was poor, he was to be treated differently from those who were richer than he was. It was not right to inflict on him a fine, not only in money, but in loss of time, in making his claim. The Secretary of the Treasury seemed to think there was no fine; but the hon. Gentleman could not have attended to the remarks of his Colleague, the Secretary for India, who spoke of the new voter as "mulcted." Indeed, one could not but believe that this fine afforded consolation to the right hon. Gentleman because it held out the prospect of deliverance from the spectre of household suffrage. Now he (Mr. Forster) objected to the Bill strongly because it did thus fine the compound-householder. In Bradford the general average rent paid by a hardworking artizan was 3s. 6d. a week, out of which the landlord paid 6d. a week to the parish in the shape of rate. If the artizan were obliged to pay the rate himself, he would have to pay 8d. a week to the parish instead of 6d. Would he not regard this as a fine, and feel that he was treated worse than his richer neighbours? He objected to the Bill because it would fine the new voter, and make him pay more money than he did at present. The general average rent of artizans, including rates, was 3s. 6d. a week. Out of that sum the landlord paid about 6d. to the parish. If a compound-householder was called upon to pay the rate himself he would have to pay 3s. to the landlord, and 8d. to the parish. Now, could any one imagine that he would not look on the extra payment as a fine? He objected also to the new compounders being treated in a worse way than the old compounders. The hon. Member for Oldham appeared to have taken under his protection the new compounders. He was not surprised that the hon. Gentleman was doing his best to save the Bill, because for Oldham it was as good a Bill as it was for Sheffield. It would give to Oldham 10,000 voters. The population of Oldham was about 107,000—nearly the same as that of Bradford. The occupations of the people were somewhat similar, perhaps they could not imagine two boroughs more exactly alike. But whilst the Bill gave to Oldham 10,000 voters, it would give to Bradford only 3,500, about half as many as a £5 rental would give. He hoped the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hibbert), who had taken the new compounders under his protection, would see that they really were put on the same footing as the old compounders; and would not, when his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) proposed an Amendment for their protection, be deluded by promises now made, now disavowed, of something which the Government might or might not do after a critical division. He objected to the Bill because it would place the new compounders in a worse position than the old, and could not see any ground for a personal payment of rates. If they chose to interpret personal payment into payment by the tenant himself to the rate collector, and would not allow him to pay through his landlord, why was it that they made the person who happened to live in a house of less value than £10 a year pay more in proportion than that other compound-householder who lived in a house worth more than £10 a year? He also objected to the Bill because it treated one borough different to and worse than another. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that was a great advantage, he thought there was too much dreary monotony at present; but that was a sentimental and artistic view of the question, and would hardly find favour with the 171 boroughs which would think themselves worse treated. Whatever concession they were now making should not be made in the most capricious and fitful manner they could devise. He had compared Bradford and Oldham, and if he went on he might weary the House with comparisons; but there was the borough of Leeds, not far off from the borough of Sheffield, also in the West Riding of Yorkshire, which had a population of about 10,000 mere than Sheffield; while Sheffield would have 11½ per cent of the new voters—28,000 out of 245,000 being given to it—and there would be 25,000 in Leeds who would be unable to come in. Not only was one borough left in a different position from another, but one part of a borough was left in a different position from another part. Again, he could not for a moment think that this House would consent to give up its legislative powers to a number of vestries, and oblige them to mix up with their economical arrangements, for the best mode of paying the rates, political considerations, By this Bill they would give power to the vestries and at the same time occupation to the election agents. Doubtless, among the compound-householders there would be some good men who would put themselves on the register at any cost of time, trouble, or money; but hon. Gentlemen knew what human nature was, and they must judge of those men as they would of men in their own rank of life, and they knew that a large proportion of them would not take the trouble to get themselves put on the register. But would they be let alone? Would the election agents let them alone? The election agents would not, and committees, candidates, and members would not be able to let them alone. They would have, as the bon. Member for Stoke had told them, a constant electioneering contest going on from the day this Bill became law until these restrictions were all swept away in the 171 boroughs. They would have candidates, committees, members, and agents, all declaring, "You must take care our friends are discovered, put upon the register, and kept there." He knew there were provisions in the Bill by which they thought they could prevent these rates from being paid by the candidate; but he did not believe they would prevent it. The real result, he believed, would be that an electioneering contest would be constantly going on, and that the candidates would find it a very costly one for them, and would have to spend a great deal more money in order to get into Parliament. He could not understand how the House could, with its eyes open, pass a provision which they knew would induce and tempt men to spend more money in electioneering contests, and it seemed to him that that would be giving a premium for bribery and corruption. This Bill would give great and undue power to the man of wealth, and that was one of his objections to it. He now came to his last objection to the Bill, and that was that the checks contained in it would not last. He saw the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Bass) in his place, and he knew very well what was passing in his (Mr. Forster's) mind. He felt that as a Radical Reformer he was in a difficult position. He knew that these absurd and obnoxious restrictions could not last, and that within four or five years they would all be swept away. And why then, it might be asked, should he not, as a Radical Reformer, vote for the Bill? He, indeed, knew that these restrictions would be swept away, but how? By constant agitation. By an agitation the more fierce and the more bitter, because, in addition to the great general question upon which it rested, it would be mixed up with local and personal squabbles which Her Majesty's Government chose to bring into the matter by mixing up political with parochial arrangements. Although, then, as a Radical Reformer, he desired to further a Radical Reform, he could not forget that he was a Member of the Legislature, and he could not help thinking that of all the Acts he had assisted in passing there was none less statesmanlike or less patriotic than that introduced at this juncture, and after all the agitation that had taken place, under the pretence of settling this question. Would the House, with its eyes open, pass a Bill which, in common with the Member for Derby, he knew, instead of staying the agitation, would only provoke it? He did not for a moment believe that the House would consent to it. He felt that he was under a grave responsibility, not only as a Member of the House, but because he had had something to do with the agitation out of doors. [Ironical cheers.] He was not ashamed of the part he had taken. He had felt it his duty to attend large meetings of his fellow-countrymen; and, thinking that they were right in what they demanded, he had felt it his duty to tell them that he agreed with them, and that he would do his best in aiding them. Yet the House must not suppose that he was not aware that he was, in his humble way, incurring grave responsibility by thus acting, and he would ask them not to impose upon him and others the duty—for they should think it a duty—of continuing this agitation until these restrictions were removed. He did not believe that the House intended to incur that responsibility, and if not, they must vote for the Amendment of his right hon. Friend. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) in the few words which came from him that evening, with an honesty and clearness of purpose which were quite refreshing in their change from what they had hitherto heard—in those few words the noble Lord clearly gave them to understand that the question was to be decided upon its merits. He (Mr. Forster) trusted that the House would vote for it upon its merits. The merits were, whether they would insist upon the personal payment of rates in this particular manner, as the basis of the franchise. He must frankly say that he did not altogether agree with all the details of the Amendments of his right hon. Friend; but because he did not agree with them was he going to stultify himself by voting for the continuance of these restrictions; and, by voting for that which he was constantly told was the principle of the Bill, was he virtually to say that it should remain the principle of the Bill? There had been much talk about a £5 rating, but a £5 rating was not the question this evening at all. He believed the majority of the House were in favour of a £5 rating. But he thought the time had gone by when a £5 rating would be accepted as a good settlement of the question. That which would have been welcomed as a boon last year, and which would have been admitted, though reluctantly, at the beginning of this, would not be received with much favour now. Probably the right hon. Gentleman had effected that by the baits he had thrown out. But let them decide that question when they came to it. What they had to decide to-night was upon what principle they should base the franchise, to whatever limit they might choose to extend it. One word more before he sat down. There had been a threat of dissolution. He looked upon that threat with great equanimity. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was a courageous man—he played the game of politics very skilfully. He was not only a skilful but a bold gamester, and a dissolution was one of his cards. It was very likely that the right hon. Gentleman would play his last card if he could before he would lose the game. But when the time came the right hon. Gentleman would have his Colleagues to consult. He would also have his leader to consult. He would have another gentleman to consult, too—one to whom he might, perhaps, look with as much deference as to either his Colleagues or his Leader—he would have Mr. Spofforth to consult. Upon Mr. Spofforth's advice would very likely depend the right hon. Gentleman's action. He did not pretend to say what might be passing in the brain of that gentleman; but he thought it very possible he might say that to go to the country upon this great question of inflicting upon the compound-householders this trouble and loss of time would not be a very successful proceeding in large boroughs, and that perhaps in some of the other boroughs where the compound-householders were not so strong the new version of Conservative policy would not be altogether popular or respected. Nevertheless, it was not because he utterly disbelieved in a dissolution that he looked upon the threat with equanimity, but it was for this reason—that, though they none of them knew whether they would return to that House or not, he knew that his principles would return. He knew that Radical Reformers did not look upon a dissolution on the question of Reform with fear. So far as Reform was concerned, there was much to be said for a dissolution; and although there were grounds upon which it might be deprecated, on account of the state of affairs abroad and financial depression at home—it certainly was not to be deprecated on account of Reform. If this Parliament did not settle the question, another Parliament would, and he could not forget, indeed, that this House was not elected to pass a Reform Bill, but rather to support Lord Palmerston in deferring Reform; and he felt no doubt that if a dissolution took place in consequence of to-night's division the answer which the country would send back would be clear and unmistakable. That answer, he was convinced, would be that, whatever the extent to which the franchise should be reduced, whatever the basis which Parliament might in its wisdom lay down, it should not be on a principle which inflicted upon the poor voter loss of money, trouble, and annoyance in proportion as he was poor, and which gave to the rich powers of corruption proportioned to the unscrupulousness with which they might employ their wealth.


said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had concluded his observations by alluding to the consequences of a possible dissolution. Now, he had no desire to discuss that question in connection with Reform. They ought to argue the question of Reform by itself, and without reference to what might be the effect of their vote that night, for hon. Members were bound to do their duty irrespective of any consequences that might befall them individually or collectively. The hon. Gentleman had told them that he was sure that if a dissolution took place the result would be in favour of the principles he advocated. He wanted to know what the hon. Gentleman's principles were. He knew what the principles of the hon. Member were when he sat on that side of the House below the gangway. They were principles that were not asserted one day and repudiated the next, but were, as he had just said, those of a Radical Reformer, which he had consistently advocated in that House. He was puzzled to know what the principles of the hon. Member now were. The hon. Gentleman told them that in his earlier days, before he sat in that House, he took part in an agitation for the extension of the franchise; that he felt a responsibility for the part he took; but that he was not ashamed of the course he had pursued, as indeed he had no reason to be; but would he be able a few months or years hence to affirm, on calm reflection, that he was not ashamed of the course which he was now pursuing? The hon. Member also told them that he was a sincere supporter of household suffrage. He should have thought that a sincere supporter of household suffrage would have asked himself the question with regard to the present how he could best effect the object he had at heart. When a Bill had been introduced which would give the ratepaying and residential householders in boroughs the suffrage, an unsophisticated mind would have expected the hon. Member to further the progress of the measure and endeavour in Committee to lop off the restrictions on which the Government insists in order to make it a household suffrage Bill pure and simple. That would have been a straightforward, simple course, and the course which the hon. Gentleman himself would have followed had he occupied a distinguished seat below the gangway—for the hon. Member had made it distinguished. Last year the hon. and learned Member for Richmond had declared his opinion in flavour of household suffrage; but he had not heard what course the hon. and learned Gentleman was going to take to-night with reference to the Amendment. But if the hon. and learned Gentleman and the hon. Member who last spoke were sincere in wishing for household suffrage, he could tell them they were taking the most direct way of rendering the accomplishment of their desire impossible if they supported the Amendment. If a majority should declare itself in favour of household suffrage then the Bill could be proceeded with, and the hon. Gentleman might endeavour to get rid of the restrictions which the Government had determined to maintain in the qualification for the borough franchise. Every one who had spoken in favour of the Amendment—save one or two on that side below the gangway—seemed puzzled as to the grounds on which they supported the Amendment. Some said that the Bill was too democratic, while others maintained that it was too exclusive. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke had set his heart on household suffrage, but he could assure him that if he supported the Amendment he would be farther from his desire than he ever was before. The hon. Gentleman confessed that he found himself in some difficulty, because the right hon. Member for South Lancashire had given notice of other Amendments, one of which, fixing the franchise at £5 in boroughs, he could not approve of. Was the hon. Gentleman so blind as not to see that the Amendments of the right hon. Gentleman had one end, and that they were all parts of one scheme? The right hon. Gentleman, with the assistance of his Friends, had concocted an Instruction, which, as they knew, had been placed in the hands of the hon. and learned Member for Exeter, but which had so frightened the Liberal party that they were obliged to give it up. The mutineers in the camp of the right hon. Gentleman having objected to the Instruction—which was concocted, probably with the assistance of his friends, because they saw that its success would defeat the Bill and postpone a settlement of Reform for at least another year—the right hon. Gentleman, who was very pertinacious, and sometimes showed considerable acuteness, finding that he could not carry his Instruction as a whole, resolved to split it up into sections, and the Amendment before them was the first section. The right hon. Gentleman will get the hon. and learned Member for Richmond and the hon. Member for Bradford to vote for that section, and then he would get other hon. Members to vote for the other sections, and thus he would do in detail what he could not do in the gross. There was a well-known custom in the country, when certain characters were bent on an illegal expedition in which the carrying of a gun would excite suspicion. They took the gun to pieces, and sometimes the stock and barrel were carried by different persons. But at some agreed on place they met and put the pieces together, and thus obtained a complete weapon ready for use. That was the very cunning and adroit course taken by right hon. Gentlemen in their attack on the Government; but he doubted whether it would take in those hon. Members who had refused to accept the Instruction. He did not understand the ground upon which hon. Gentlemen were going to vote against the proposal of the Government. The hon. Gentleman had just told them that the Bill was an excellent Bill as regarded twenty-nine boroughs, because in these the Small Tenements Act was not in operation, and that household suffrage would be the result. But hon. Members opposite were not unanimous in taking that view. At a suspicious time a pamphlet was put forth, which stated what the duty of the Opposition was in regard to this Bill. The whole tenor of the pamphlet was to show that the duty of the Opposition was to oppose the Bill of the Government, to support the Instruction which was to have been moved by the hon. and learned Member for Exeter, and it pointed out, as one of the great evils of the Government Bill, the fact that it would establish in the twenty-nine boroughs referred to household suffrage. Hon. Gentlemen opposite did not seem quite agreed in their reasons for supporting the Amendment, for one hon. Gentleman declared that it was good only in part, and another alluded to the case of the boroughs in question as a reason for disapproving of the Bill. In fact, those who supported the Amendment did not seem to be at all united as to its merits and effect, and it appeared to be a crafty contrivance for uniting those who could only unite in defeating the Bill, and who could not agree among themselves as to what kind of measure ought to be carried. The hon. Gentleman then used an argument which they had heard before in the course of this debate, of the evils that would be inflicted upon the compound-householders, and talked of a fine being exacted from them. Now, whatever might be the merit of that expression of a fine, he believed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire had the credit of it. They had heard it so often that he would like to examine it a little. The proposition of the Government was this, that any compound-householder who wished to obtain the franchise might give notice to the overseer that he wished to have his name placed on the rate book and to pay his rates, might pay the full amount of the rates of the borough, and would thus get upon the register. They were told that this was a fine. But had hon. Members opposite considered the effect of the Amend- ment on this subject which had been placed upon the paper by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Subsection 5 provided— The overseers on the receipt of the claim and on the payment of the rate, if any then due, shall make an entry in the rate book declaring the liability of the occupier to be rated and pay rates in respect of such house, and such occupier shall be liable accordingly, and the overseers shall give notice to the owner that the occupier has so claimed as aforesaid, and thenceforth the owner shall be discharged from his liability to be rated or pay any rate in respect of such house until the occupier makes default in payment of such rate, as hereinafter mentioned, Now, he asked any plain, practical man to say what would be the result of that arrangement. The compound-householder intimated that he wished to pay his rates, and the owner was discharged from his liability. From that moment the occupier ceased to be a compound-householder. The rent would be re-adjusted to meet the altered circumstances of the case, and as to the fine, it only existed in the imagination of the right hon. Gentleman, and those who thought him infallible in matters of rating. Practical men would tell hon. Gentlemen opposite that as soon as the occupier was rated and was liable to pay rates in respect of his house he would go to his landlord, would arrange upon new terms as to rent, and would pay a rate for the future like any other person. [A laugh.] He observed that a right hon. Gentleman from Ireland was exceedingly amused at this proposition; but he believed he was as well acquainted with the transactions between landlord and tenant in England as the right hon. Gentleman, and he must remember that this was an English Bill. When they came to the discussion of the Irish Bill no doubt the right hon. Gentleman would give them the benefit of his information. It was said that the compound-householder did not now pay the full rate. He (Mr. Hunt) thought he did—he paid it in his rent. ["Hear, hear!"] Well, he was glad that hon. Members opposite agreed with him in that respect. He believed that under the Small Tenements Act the landlord was allowed 25 per cent off the amount of the rates. But he invariably took care to charge in his rent the full amount of the rates, the deductions being allowed him partly for the expenses of the collection, and partly to meet bad debts. But the compound-householder really paid the full rate, and if he were allowed to deduct the full amount of the rate from his rent the right hon. Gentleman's fanciful supposition that there was a fine in the case could not be entertained for an instant. And if there were any inconvenience, he maintained that, after the first quarter's payment of rates, the question of reduction would wholly cease, because the old arrangement that the landlord should pay the rates would be substituted by a new one that these should be paid by the tenant. So that the question of a fine in the case was, for practical purposes, not worth considering. When hon. Members opposite complained that the Government proposal placed the compound-householder in an unfair position, they had not considered the difference between that proposal and the existing Act relating to compound-householders. That Act said that they might claim to be rated, and might vote accordingly; but there was no provision, as in Sub-section 5 of this Bill, to discharge the landlord from his liability. The hon. Gentleman had also alluded to the difference which this Bill enacted as to residence between the £10 householder and those who came in under the new franchise. It was, however, a mistake to suppose that the proposition of the Government was one of the same sort as the Act of 1832. The Act of 1832 established a rental franchise, with conditions as to the payment of rates and residence. But the new franchise given under this Bill was not a rental franchise, but a ratepaying residential household suffrage, with a longer term of residence. Was there anything unreasonable in that? It was well known that the population below £10 rental was of a more migratory character than those above. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said that artizans must follow their work, and that it was oppressive to them to exact a long term of residence when the necessities of their position obliged them frequently to move. He admitted there was some force in that. But then it was always understood that a borough constituency had a character, a position, and interests of its own; and, he asked, would they allow the permanent inhabitants of a town, who were knit together by a common bond and united by traditions that had been preserved in the town from time immemorial, to be swamped or overborne by a migratory class who had been brought into the town by some accidental circumstance, and might leave it as suddenly. Notwithstanding what the hon. Gentleman had said, he was still of opinion that the provision of a two years' residence was good in itself, and highly valued by the existing borough constituencies. It was to be remembered that there was a great migration going on from town to town in consequence of strikes and other causes. Some towns had grown more rapidly in one year than they used to grow in half a century, and the old and permanent inhabitants would naturally dislike to be swamped by the new arrivals. Then it was said that the constituencies ought not to be left at the mercy of vestries. If the hon. Gentleman opposite thought there was any risk of voters being excluded by the caprice or the political feeling of vestries, it was open to him to introduce a clause that would prevent the evil, but that was no reason for his voting with the right hon. Member for South Lancashire. He was puzzled by the conduct of those who professed to be sincere Reformers and to wish to see the question settled during the existing Session—and yet who opposed the Government Bill. But he must now turn to another class of speakers, to some Gentlemen who—he could hardly say that they advocated the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, but who expressed their intention of voting forit. Their course he could easily understand. Foremost among them was his noble Friend the Member for Cranbourne. [Laughter.] The name of his noble Friend was so much more illustrious than that of his constituency, that he was often tempted to express the one when he was thinking of the other. But what was the object of the noble Lord the Member for Stamford in voting for the Amendment, as the noble Lord left the Government, of which he was so bright an ornament, because he thought their Bill too democratic? He was, however, going to vote for the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman, which took off one of the restrictions. The Amendment was to the effect that persons might have a vote, whether rated personally or not. In the view of the hon. Members on the other side of the House who had spoken on the Amendment, personal rating was a restriction upon the voter obtaining the franchise, and yet his noble Friend the Member for Stamford was going to support the Amendment for taking away the restriction; and that, too, although the Bill was too democratic for him with the restriction. They had not been told how the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne was going to vote; but he ventured to predict that, clear-sighted as the right hon. Gentleman was, he would be found in the same lobby as the noble Member for Stamford. He believed that upon this point both these Gentlemen were thoroughly in accord. They had a distinct object in view, and if the Amendment were successful they would gain that object. Who, let him ask, were the most powerful assailants of the Bill of last year? After the right hon. Member for Calne it would be admitted that the noble Member for Stamford had been the most vigorous. His noble Friend was one of those who objected to all Reform. He saw in this Amendment an opportunity of defeating the Bill, and of getting rid of the question of Reform at all events for this year. He said, in effect, "We shall gain a year, and we do not know what may come next. A European war may break out, and we shall at least gain a year's reprieve from the question of Reform." That was the intention and object of the noble Lord in voting for the Amendment. His noble Friend, with all his acuteness and great power of mind, had never understood the people of this country. The notion of his noble Friend, as well as of the right hon. Member for Calne, was, that Parliament should govern for the people, and both those hon. Members objected to the doctrine that Parliament should govern by and with the people. His noble Friend's experience had not at all served to dispel this idea. He (Mr. Hunt) had often wished that his noble Friend, instead of taking refuge in the limited sphere which was so justly proud of returning him as its representative, should, if only for one election, cast himself upon some large constituency, either county or borough. He would then find that an immense number of those whom he wished to exclude from the franchise had thoughts working in their brains little dreamed of by those who in the pride of their intellect looked down upon the struggling sons of toil. He (Mr. Hunt) believed that the people of this country, as soon as they got beyond the difficult point of earning bread for themselves and their families—as soon as they began to rise to a higher position and were able to earn more than was necessary to satisfy the mere wants which we shared in common with the brute creation, their first idea was to give their children a better education than they themselves had received. Their next desire was to take part in the management of local affairs. They then rose further; and as their reading extended and means improved, the more intelligent became sincerely desirous of having a share, through representatives, in the government of the country. This was a consideration which had not yet penetrated the brain of his noble Friend; nor had the Member for Calne ever realized it. He (Mr. Hunt) believed, on the other hand, that Her Majesty's Government had realized it. The Bill was an honest attempt to give an opportunity of admitting to the franchise all those who showed by their acts and conduct that they were in the position of being independent, and who showed, moreover, that they were desirous of obtaining political power. The House was told that the Government measure was a monstrous proposal. They were told that it would be much better to have a certain limit of rental, by means of which a certain number would be admitted to the franchise, and what the hon. Member for Birmingham called the "residuum" would be kept out. The Government had, however, gone upon a better and a wiser principle. They said, "We wish to recognise the claim of many who are now excluded, and to allow them to take part in our political affairs. We do not ask what is the rent they pay for their houses. Rent varies in different places, according to the circumstances of the place. A man who lives in a £10 house in one town may be no better in point of position and intelligence, or may be no more likely to use the franchise well, than a man who lives in a £4 or £5 house in another place. In the metropolis, for instance, a £5 franchise would hardly add a man to the electoral roll. We do not therefore ask you what rent you pay; but we ask, are you willing to take upon yourself the ordinary burdens of citizenship? Are you a man to be trusted for fulfilling the obligations which you have accepted? or are you one of the thriftless class who are so uncertain and so unpunctual that you cannot be trusted, and who are obliged to fall back upon the landlord to pay your rates when they are demanded? If you give security by having resided a sufficient time in the town where you claim to be a voter; if you have an interest in that place, and are not there to-day and away to-morrow; if, in fact, you have a settled residence, then we shall give you the franchise." He thought that was a better and more popular principle to proceed upon than to fix a £5 or any other limit. The great mistake of the Reform Act of 1832 was that it drew a hard and sharp line at £10 which excluded all below it; and the right hon. Member for South Lancashire now proposed to commit a similar mistake by drawing another sharp line at £5. Would the agitation that now existed not be renewed in that case? Most undoubtedly it would; and they would not arrive at any settlement of the question. Some might say, "Very true; but we have postponed the question for at least the term of our natural lives." But were they merely to think of getting rid of the trouble and annoyance for themselves, and care nothing for posterity? No one could deny that the agitation which had taken place had been a great calamity to the country. Beneficial measures had been postponed, and friendships had been severed inconsequence of that agitation. Years had been wasted in struggling about this question. He maintained, therefore, that they should make an attempt to settle it upon an enduring basis. The proposal of the Government was of such a character. It drew no hard, sharp line. It said that whatever was the amount of rent paid by a man, if he showed that he was sincerely desirous of obtaining the franchise and undertaking the duties of citizenship, he would receive a vote. That was a measure which ought to commend itself to the House and to the country; and he trusted that the Government would be supported in resisting the Amendment which, though it might catch a few votes that would not be given to the right hon. Gentleman's othr Amendments, was utterly inconsistent with the whole principle of the Bill. Those who voted for the Amendment ought in consistency to have voted against the second reading of the Bill.


said, he would not plunge into the difficult question of the compound-householders, as he thought that subject had been pretty nearly exhausted. He would rather address himself to a matter which very nearly concerned himself, and it was with regard to the course he took when he attended the meeting at the house of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. The meeting was very large, and the right hon. Gentleman made a statement concerning the course he was about to pursue, and read an Instruction which he (Mr. Locke) thought a very injudicious one. He thought those meetings ought to be private. They were held, it was supposed, to enable hon. Members by quiet discussion to arrive at some course which the party should pursue; and if they were not considered private, they must be productive of inconvenience, and it would be better to arrange matters by letter from the right hon. Gentleman who was at the head of the party. What he said on that occasion he said most conscientiously—that he believed the course suggested was not the right one, inasmuch as it would place the Liberal party in a false position. The Instruction was extremely objectionable, because it prescribed a given line which nobody could understand, but which, whatever it meant, was clearly an indication that the suffrage should not be extended so fur as the Bill of the Government proposed to extend it. Now, he thought it was not good tactics for the Liberal party to declare that they could not go so far in enfranchising the people as a Conservative Government. Therefore, he objected to the Instruction. They had heard a great deal from the hon. Member for Nottingham and others about Members not following their Leaders; that was a charge which the hon. Member for Nottingham at least had no right to make. [Mr. OSBORNE: I never said a word about it.] He (Mr. Locke) knew pretty well what the hon. Member thought, and what he meant. He complained of the forty-eight Members who met in the tea-room. What right had the hon. Member for Nottingham to complain of that? They met in an open and straight forward manner. They did not do, as the hon. Gentleman had done to-night, charging hon. Gentle-men with making communications one to another which they clearly had a perfect right to do if they chose. The hon. Member for Nottingham had no business to charge those who met in the tea-room. They met openly; any one who chose might enter for the purpose of taking into consideration whether or not the Instruction which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire intended to submit to the House was a judicious one. That was the sole question which those Gentlemen met to consider, and they did consider it. There were fifty-two Members present, and he believed, with the exception of four, they all agreed that the course suggested was not a judicious one. Several Gentlemen who were pre- sent, and he among the number, were deputed to wait on the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. They expressed to him their views; they said they thought it an injudicious course, and the right hon. Gentleman finally coincided in the opinion they expressed. [Mr. GLADSTONE here made some indication of dissent.] If the right hon. Gentleman did not he was clearly wrong. He was quite satisfied of this—the right hon. Gentleman could not, in moving that Instruction, have presented to the House so taking a proposition as he had done last night when limiting his proposition to what, he presumed, most Liberal Members must agree to—namely, the principle that personal payment of rates should not be compulsory, and that it should be sufficient that either the landlord or tenant should be rated. In suggesting the withdrawal of the Instruction he thought, therefore, that he had done the right hon. Gentleman a great service; and he intended to do him service still, if he were allowed. But he must say he objected very much to be taunted for the course he thought it his duty to pursue. He defied the hon. Member to say that any one had ever pursued a more straightforward course as a party man than he had. He defied any one to say that upon any question he had ever played fast and loose; and he believed the forty-eight men who acted with him were equally honest and above-board. He took great credit to himself for what he had done. The result was that this Bill had been brought into Committee; and the most dangerous course that could be taken was to have excluded the Bill from going into Committee. He recollected the course taken in 1859, when a Resolution was moved by Lord John Russell on the second reading of the Bill brought in by the Conservative Government. Although that Resolution was perfectly plain, stating that no measure of Reform could be satisfactory which did not lower the borough franchise, still, what had been the charge against the Liberal party ever since? It had been reiterated by the Conservatives over and over again that had their Bill been allowed to go into Committee they would have been prepared to make any amendments that might be required. Now, he was anxious to test them on the present occasion, and see what they would do. Like his hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, he was in favour of household suffrage pure and simple. He preferred it to a £5 rating, although he thought the right hon. Member for South Lancashire was right in his Amendment at present under discussion, and he intended to vote with him; and if this Amendment were carried, he did not see why it should not be applied to household suffrage. Why should it not be applied to the Bill of the Government as well as to the subsequent propositions of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone)? The proposition with respect to personal rating had been very much misunderstood. He did not understand that it was absolutely necessary that the occupier of a house should himself pay the rate, but that he should be the person liable to pay the rate—he must be on the rate book, and liable to pay the rate. Various Acts, including the Small Tenements Act and local Acts, interfered very much with the putting of the occupier's name on the rate book. What, therefore, he would suggest to the Government was this—if the Amendment was carried they should consider it sufficient to have either the owner or tenant rated. He saw no reason why the Amendment, if carried, should be fatal to the Bill. It was perfectly immaterial whether the tenant, being a compounder, paid his rate actually in money to the overseer or through his landlord—in either case he was a substantial person. He therefore thought the right hon. Gentleman's proposal was perfectly right, and he should give it his support. At the same time, he did not bind himself to support any other Amendment of which notice had been given by the right hon. Gentleman. He did not see why the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, if carried, should be fatal to the Bill; and he earnestly called upon the right hon. Gentlemen who sat upon the Treasury Bench, if they happened to be in a minority that night, to re-consider their determination to make this question a vital one, and to recollect that there was a very strong party who sat on the Opposition side of the House who advocated household suffrage. But did hon. Gentlemen think that the mere fact of the landlord paying the rate made the occupier a less substantial person, and therefore less fitted to exercise the franchise? Turning to the question of household suffrage, he must say that the phrase sounded pleasantly to his ears, and on every possible occasion since he had sat in that House he had endeavoured, as harmoniously as he could, to instil that principle into the ears of his constituents. He had found great difficulty in doing so, and his struggles against manhood suffrage had been both continuous and severe. Not having the talent or the power possessed by the hon. Member for Birmingham of going about the country and mixing himself up with manhood suffrage, and of then, by some extraordinary process of reasoning, detaching himself from it, he had merely been able to tell his constituents in a vulgar common-place way that he preferred household suffrage to manhood suffrage. The Government had brought in a Bill for household suffrage, and the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), who professed to be in favour of household suffrage pure and simple, and told the House that he should vote in favour of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment, had said nothing about what course he should take with regard to the £5 rating proposition.


said, he should vote against that proposition.


said, that under those circumstances they should find themselves in delightful company, and he could only hope that the hon. Gentleman would be no backslider. Taking into consideration the number of hon. Members, especially from the North of England, who had spent their lives in advocating household suffrage, he might say to the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench that if they would only be firm, staunch, and true to their colours, they might have household suffrage yet. The evening had been commenced in a rather unpleasant sort of way, crimination and re-crimination having been bandied about on every side; but he trusted that when the Liberal party came to do their duty at the end of the evening they would be found to be a happy and united family; but whatever might be the result of that division, he hoped that both sides of the House would keep the Bill in view, and would do their best to make it the law of the land during the present Session.


said, he was anxious to state the reasons which would induce him to vote against the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire; and he was the more anxious to do so, because sounds and observations from his own side had reached his ears during the course of the debate which had almost convinced him that he was sitting on the Opposition side of the House. It was, no doubt, a very convenient line for the friends of the right hon. Gentleman to pursue to take these Amendments separately, but he must regard them as one. He thought that the one they had now to deal with was a very inconsistent Amendment. The beginning differed from the end, and the Amendment contained two things very widely distinct; it meant indiscriminate admission, and arbitrary tyrannical exclusion. He wanted to adopt a winnowing system, provided that the process were simple, easy, and straightforward. He did not think that it would be complimentary to say to any class, however deserving of the vote, "We will shovel you into the electoral body in a mass;" and he was taking that line as much in the interest of those excluded as those admitted. He wished to admit the working classes, and to admit them in a complimentary manner. It was not complimentary to admit them all by one door. His hon. Friend the Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue) said he wanted to make the road to the polling-booth wide and smooth. But he (Mr. Liddell) objected to the hon. Member's way of doing this. It was not complimentary and not just to say that the suffrage should be conferred whether or not any sacrifice were made to obtain it. He now came to the other part of the Amendment, that which related to tyrannical exclusion. He would be no party to excluding any man, however poor and humble, from the vote, who proved himself worthy of it, by making sacrifices to obtain it. For these reasons he should vote against the Amendment—because he thought it was inconsistent with itself, and because he thought the principles involved were highly objectionable. A great deal had been said about the inconsistency of hon. Gentlemen; but to his mind they had shown a wonderful consistency in their conduct. For instance, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire had been very consistent in courting defeat upon the same point on which he had sustained it last year. The right hon. Gentleman was then defeated when he stood in a much more favourable position than he did at the present moment. The House of Commons then decided by a majority—a small majority, perhaps, but still a majority—in the fullest House that had ever been known, in favour of a rating franchise. The Government, therefore, were perfectly justified in adopting that franchise as the basis of their Bill. They had another example of consistency in the speech of his noble Friend the Member for Stamford (Viscount Cranbourne); he was consistent in his distrust of his fellow-men, and he did not confine that distrust to the lower classes; but he had manifested it towards his late, his very recent Colleagues. That was a species of consistency for which he (Mr. Liddell) had very little admiration. He heard a speech last night which well deserved the palm that should be awarded to consistency, that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley). His right hon. Friend was consistent, and in the course he should pursue upon this question he should take that right hon. Gentleman as his leader. That right hon. Gentleman had said eight years ago that, if the franchise was to be altered at all, the only resting-place would be household suffrage. He had been consistent also on another point. He had always been kind and considerate in speaking of the working classes, and he had been so because he knew something about them. People who know the working classes could appreciate and trust them, and it was by distrust of the working classes that many persons had earned the title of psuedo Reformers. He had himself never been eager to see a measure of Reform introduced; but he had always felt that when such a measure was undertaken it must be undertaken generously, and that there must be a large extension of the suffrage. He had no fear whatever of the result, provided the extension of the suffrage was given by means of a discriminatory process. In the proposition of the Government there was neither insult, nor falseness, nor humbug. It was said plainly to the working classes, "If you will undertake the duties of citizenship; if you will take pains to have a vote, you shall have it." He approved of this system in preference to the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), which was more complicated and less distinct. But it was said that one injurious effect of the passing of the Bill would be that the electioneering agent would be called into play in times of excitement, and that, through his agency, a large mass of new voters would be placed on the register. He should, however, like to ask whether the registration agent was not now employed. He knew of one great Liberal agent who had been instrumental in putting on the register 17,000 voters as things at present stood; and one reason why he should vote for the Bill of the Government was because he should like to see the voter place himself on the register, instead of waiting for the interference of such a person. Besides, a little political excitement was a very good thing. The same Liberal electioneering agent had stated that one of the worst features of the present state of things was that there was so much apathy and indifference among the wealthy classes in reference to politics; but he (Mr. Liddell) thought that if the working classes were induced to claim the franchise under this Bill a little wholesome pressure would be put upon the upper classes, who would, however, he believed, find their legitimate influence in no degree diminished by this Bill. He believed that intelligence, and education, and even wealth, when properly expended, would always command respect in this country, among the working classes. He derived this confidence from living among, seeing, and knowing what the working classes were, and also knowing the progress they had made. He did not do them the injustice to suppose that they were all Radicals; and, indeed, there never was a more preposterous idea. The question, however, was frequently argued as if the working men would swamp the existing constituencies, which meant that they would override them and take a different line of action in all public questions. There were, however, a variety of views among the working class, and, he believed, that there was among them a strong Conservative feeling, and an attachment to the institutions and the Church of the country. Such, as he stated, were among others the reasons which induced him to give his hearty support to the Bill. But before he sat down he would congratulate hon. Members opposite upon the accession to their ranks from the Ministerial side of the House; though he must say that he thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite who sat below the gangway would be acute and sagacious enough to estimate at its true value the allegiance of these last new converts to the policy of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone).


said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had expressed a hope that Members at the Opposition side of the House would estimate at their true value the converts from his side of the House; and he (Mr. Gilpin) hoped that the hon. Gentleman would estimate at their true value the converts which they would themselves have among their ranks. The hon. Gentleman spoke as if he had just ascertained that the working classes had among them men of various opinions, but did the wildest Radical ever suppose that in extending the franchise all the new voters would be of their own side in politics? The hon. Member said he objected to the Amendment because it was either a plan for an indiscriminate admission to the franchise or for arbitrary exclusion; and he (Mr. Gilpin) supported the Amendment because he believed it was neither one nor the other. He wished to call attention to the fact that they were not then upon the £5 rental, nor on the question of two years' residence, but upon the question whether personal rating should be a necessity for a man having a vote. On that ground, and that ground only, the division would be taken, and in joining his friends around him in going into the lobby with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) he pledged himself to that, and to nothing more. When they talked of the working man making a sacrifice to obtain the vote, why should they ask the working man to do that which they did not do themselves? The working man was to take the trouble to put himself upon the rate book, whilst members of other classes were put upon the rate book without taking any trouble. Working men's houses were under a compound-rating, not for his own convenience, not even for the convenience of his landlord always, but for the convenience of the tax-gatherer; and why should such people not be enfranchised, when they, in fact, paid rates, but paid them through their landlords? Nothing short of such a suffrage as was proposed by the Amendment would give satisfaction to the country. The hon. Gentleman said, "We have trust in the working classes." If, in saying that, the hon. Member spoke for his party, he (Mr. Gilpin) congratulated that party on having at last confidence in the working classes. The hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had made that evening one of the ablest speeches he had ever heard pronounced upon this question. The Secretary for the Treasury (Mr. Hunt), in endeavouring to reply to it, said he was puzzled to know the principles of the hon. Gentleman. It appeared to him (Mr. Gilpin), that the hon. Secretary for the Treasury must have felt himself very much puzzled to understand what the principles were which translated him to the Ministerial Bench. If the principles of the hon. Gentleman in any way resembled his present description of them, they were very different from those which the hon. Gentleman held in times past. He (Mr. Gilpin) opposed this Bill because it was not one for household suffrage. It pretended to be such, but it surrounded its household suffrage with such guards and difficulties that it could not be properly considered as a household suffrage Bill. He was in favour of household suffrage, and had been so when hon. Gentlemen on the opposite Benches were opposed to the extension of the suffrage at all. Now, there was no man in that House he would be more disposed to follow upon general questions than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley). When that right hon. Gentleman was a Member of a former Government, the question of Reform was debated, and the result of the decision of the Cabinet was that he was jerked from his position on the Treasury Bench to one of the back Benches. In supporting the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, he must express a hope that in the event of its being carried the Government would not be induced to drop the Bill. He was quite certain that the Government would find many bon. Members on his side of the House who though going into the lobby with the late Chancellor of the Exchequer upon this particular question would not be inclined to support those other Amendments of the right hon. Gentleman, which, judging from the arguments of hon. Gentlemen opposite, were viewed by them as raising the great objection to the Amendments as a whole. If necessary he was prepared to go to the country upon the principle of personal payment of rates. He should be prepared to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. P. Scrope) at the proper time, because it went to establish the principle that taxation and representation should be co-extensive. The Committee would recollect how emphatic the Chancellor of the Exchequer was in his replies to what had been said from the opposite side of the House. The answers of the right hon. Gentleman were almost invariably to the effect that all such questions were, properly, questions for the Committee, so that the right hon. Gentleman had led the House to believe that when the House got into Committee upon this Bill he should be prepared practically to assent to the decisions of such Committee. The Chancellor of the Exchequer further told them that Reform was not a question to decide the fate of the Government, or that should be taken up in reference to the distinctions of party. He (Mr. Gilpin) should be glad to believe that the right bon. Gentleman would take the division to-night, then, as the opinion of the House upon the principle of Reform, and that he would adapt the principle of his Bill to that endorsed by the opinion of the majority of that House. He (Mr. Gilpin) had taken his part in public meetings out of the House. He reckoned himself as a working man amongst working men, but he should be glad to see, for the term of his natural life, this question settled—he should wish to see it settled in the present Session; nay, more, he should wish to see it settled by the present Government. If they were sent back to their constituents without a real, practical, workable extension of the franchise, they would bring upon themselves what they should well deserve—the condemnation of their constituents and of the whole country.


It is with a feeling of some reluctance that I rise to address the House. I cannot but be aware of the fact that there are many whose opinions upon a subject such as this must command greater weight than my own. I shall beg to offer a few observations, within such limits as may deserve the indulgence of the House. It may be deemed by some no mean advantage that I am able to do so, free from the inconveniences which cannot fail to accompany those who have in public life, and for a longer period, followed the veering currents of Reform. I will use no reserve, but frankly avow the sentiments I have for some time past consistently held. It is as a Reformer that I speak, not of to-day alone, nor from present circumstances only, but from conviction; of what? Well, at this early date after my entrance into this House, I am not anxious to enter into questions antagonistic to the opinions which are held by Members on the opposite side; but this much I must frankly state, that I am not led to such a conclusion by my satisfaction at the policy of past years, either domestic or foreign, or my acquiescence in the doctrine of laissez faire or its results. It is my opinion that we have but little cause for satisfaction, and hence many evils which have arisen at this time—and hence discontent. It seems to me that out of this has grown this demand for Reform, and the situation which exists. In this situation I see many features of a well-known type, and some actors not unknown. It recals to me the year 1848. During that year I was a witness to those scenes of trouble and confusion in Paris, Vienna, and Berlin, where European civilization became a laughing-stock to itself. And why do I recal these inauspicious memories of the past? It is because I believe that if we are to escape such evils here, it must be through the wisdom, the prudence, and the moderation of Parliament itself. When we entered into this question, at the commencement of this year, it was under the happiest auspices, and as men fully impressed with the gravity of their task. To a great necessity personal ambition was, for a time, to give place, and party feeling to sage counsels and disinterested advice. Opportunities occurred, mistakes were made, no doubt, but the Whig party refused to take advantage of them. The pledge was a tacit one; but let me say this—that by that great party opposite never was a pledge better kept. There were not wanting those who would have urged them on. It was not Achilles, but his myrmidons who rested in their tents. If there were murmurs, they arose on the other side: perhaps, not altogether without reason, for one after another reservations to which, rightly or wrongly, they attached much importance, were given up. In such self-sacrifice they were not wanting on their side—sacrifices made to the wills and wishes of this House, and in deference to the opinion expressed does that party deserve no consideration in this respect? What is the issue now raised to which all this must give place? Let us inquire into this. It will not fail to have struck this House that the main feature in this franchise is its entire dependence upon rates. In fact, the rate book is to be the register of the future, and its settlement becomes the principal point—into that present condition let us now inquire. Now, in almost all the arguments I have heard hitherto, it seems to be assumed that the conditions of the future are to be those which at present exist. Anomalies are pointed out, and difficulties arising from this source. But why so in this case? Why the very Instructions with which we enter Committee gives us at least the power to deal with this. What was that part of the Motion made by the hon. and learned Member for Exeter the other night, but to this very effect—that we might produce uniformity in this respect? And if we wish to proceed upon any consequential plan, is it not clearly the first task this Committee must undertake? Now, there are two ways in which we might effect this as regard the compound franchise. We might abolish composition, or equalize it throughout. To the former plan I do not assent; I do not agree in this respect with the opinion expressed last night. I think that this composition is, in many places, a great advantage to a township; and it is justly esteemed a boon to the labouring class, as giving encouragement to building houses of a certain class. We are told that formerly more were exempt, and that it prevents exemption; but the fact is that at present there is less necessity for this. It is far more important that it should encourage building better houses, and thus, by increasing the supply, to equalize and lower rents without injury or loss to landlords. Well, practically, this is well known, and the benefits esteemed at their full worth; and I do not think a more unpopular measure could be devised than to abolish the compound rate. The other alternative is to make it compulsory within Parliamentary boroughs, at a certain rate. Supposing this arrangement carried out we shall then have but two classes of voters to deal with at uniform rates—those who are compounded for, and those who are not. Now, as regards the former, let me frankly admit that I do not think that for the purpose of enfranchisement, you can demand from such a one more than the compound rate. For whose benefit is the composition made? For the landlord, and the municipality with which he treats. He undertakes to make a fixed payment at a certain rate, and this rate should cover certain losses and risks. If the percentage is too high, then the landlord benefits, of course; if set too low, he will not accept, and hence, what the right hon. Member for South Lancashire has told us concerning the rejection of the Act there are many of my opinion as to this on this side of the House, and I did hope, and still do hope, that we should have received satisfactory assurance that the Government would not consider this question of the excess of compound rate a vital point. I trust that we may do so before the end of this debate—it will relieve many of a difficulty in this case. But the right hon. Member for South Lancashire has gone beyond this. He tells us that the compound-householder, as occupier, desires no benefit, even indirect. I must join issue on this point. He says that the law of political economy justifies this view. This I cannot admit, when, by a landlord, certain immunities are enjoyed—from loss or risk—the law of competition will oblige him to let his house for less. Take certain houses subject to such risk and loss, and certain houses which are not, and the remission will tell upon the rent so also with the rate. The advantage is then indirect, and may not justify a tax, but it is real and substantial nevertheless. I press this point because when we come to the question of residence its importance will be seen. And now what is the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman in this Amendment. It is this—he disqualifies all below a certain class. Why does he do this? Is wealth the base upon which a settlement is to be obtained, or is it that we here touch the venal point? It would seem so in his opinion at least. But what a falling off is here. Does this come consistently from his lips? How reconcile it with the metaphysical politics of the past with the doctrine which embraced mankind. And now, observe this, he excludes flesh and blood, but he includes bricks and mortar of any class. All tenements above a certain value can give the franchise inhabited or not. Warehouses, and other hereditaments of that class, but the £4 man is not so good as the £5 house. The right hon. Member is also afraid of corruption. He sees the hand of the electioneering agent in this case, and in this fear the hon. Member for Bradford partakes. Is 20s. the test of purity in this case? Are hon. Members then converted to the opinion that if you seek ignorance, if you seek venality, you will find it among this class? At least let me say this, that you will find no trace of such a test in the Government Bill. It assumes no such disqualification as the unvarying characteristics of a class. If this House seeks self-purification sincerely, and in earnest, it can get it at a cheaper rate, and by means more just than by the disqualification of a class. I do not hesitate to say that, as an alternative, I should even prefer that tremendous adjuration suggested to us by an hon. and learned Member. But we are told that other hardships exist, and great fears are almost uniformly entertained of the conduct of parish officers in this case. To go to the parish overseer is a hardship of the gravest class. When I heard the description given of these functionaries upon a recent occasion, I thought so my-self. Painted, I might say illuminated, by the genius of the right hon. Gentleman, I was deeply impressed, and I thought of Charles Dickens, I thought of Mr. Bumble, and I recollected Oliver Twist. But this was the work of a great artist, not the simple subject, and, as its effect passed off, I could not but remember that such parish officers are not the tools of Toryism, but the intelligent, the humble administrators of recent Whig Acts. And now, finally, it is between these two measures we must choose. It does not leave me one instant in doubt, and let the House remember that upon its decision depends more than this. It is not the fate of a clause, not of a Bill, nor even of a Ministry, which is at stake. It may well be that of the nation itself. If the progress of this Bill is stopped, so is the progress of Reform. To night we shall better judge who are the sincere Reformers and who are not. I accept this measure as a great and necessary act, with-out which you can have neither stability nor strength. Reverting to former times, and quoting the words of a great English-man, I say of this system, as he said of that— That in such a system, and under circumstances which exist, you will have neither the security of a free Government, nor the energy of an absolute monarchy: neither that political force which is drawn from the concentrated vigour of a single and indomitable Bill; nor the tidal influence of a great and united people.


said, that if the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down and those who sat beside him were to advertise themselves before the country as Reformers for sale, they might depend upon it they would realize a very low price. He had himself been a household franchise man all his life, and became a Radical Reformer nearly fifty years ago, and nothing in his experience of the movement surprised him more than to find the hon. Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell) advocating household franchise, which he (Mr. Cowen) advocated before the hon. Gentleman was born. He cordially agreed with the speech of the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), which would be read with interest throughout the country. He had had considerable practical experi- ence of questions connected with local taxation, and was especially conversant with the working of the Small Tenements Act. The hon. and learned Gentleman challenged anybody to contradict his figures, and did as much to mystify the matter as any one who had gone before him. The point they were there to decide on that occasion was that of personal rating, and the Small Tenements Act seemed to him the bugbear in the way of the settlement of that point. Under the Small Tenements Act all houses up to £6 were charged at three-fourths of the full rate; but on the landlord intimating his willingness to pay the rates, whether the houses were occupied or not, he could be rated at one half. Suppose a rateable value of £6. The average amount of rates was 4s. in the pound. Then the rates amounted to 24s. a year; but the tenant paid rent covering the rate, and if he made himself a voter by claiming to be rated and paying the 24s. there would be a loss of 12s. a year, which was a fine on the tenant for obtaining his vote of the difference between the full and the compound rate. He had always advocated household suffrage, and he would support the Government Bill, if it would establish household suffrage; but it would not do so. The Bill was a deception, a Bill to mislead, a Bill to create mischief, and which, if passed in its present shape, would afford the best basis possible for future agitation. For these reasons he should support the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, though by no means approving all the Amendments he had put upon the paper. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield asked how the Small Tenements Act could produce mischief. He was guilty of no exaggeration when he said that he had known more than one instance in which, under a system analogous to that which the present Bill proposed to render general, a single man would have had it in his power to enfranchise or to disfranchise the inhabitants of two or three parishes all at once. He had no fear of the working men; on the contrary, he hoped to see them admitted to the franchise with no grudging hand. He believed, however, that the Government Bill would disfranchise to a large extent; and that no one knew this better than the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the noble Lord the late Secretary of State for India.


said, he felt himself placed in rather a false position. Last week notice had been given of a certain Instruction, which was no sooner seen by Members of the House than a certain number of them assembled at what had been called the "tea-room meeting," and determined that it could not be supported. From that meeting a deputation was sent to the Leader of the Liberal party, it being considered only courtesy to inform him of the resolve of a portion of his followers. The result was that on Monday evening, at the instance of the hon. Member for Southwark, a portion of the Instruction was left out, and the House went into Committee. But on Monday evening notice was given of an Amendment which embraced all the points that had been embodied in the Instruction. A fresh difficulty then arose. A great portion of those who had attended the tea-room meeting agreed that they could not support that Amendment. It was, accordingly, withdrawn; and now a further Amendment had been submitted to them.


The Amendment was not withdrawn.


begged the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. Notice had certainly been given of the Amendment in his name.


repeated that no Amendments had been withdrawn.


At all events, notice had been given of the Amendment, and there was no such Amendment standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman now. No alteration was made in the facts by this dispute about words. A third Amendment had now been submitted in the name of the right hon. Gentleman, and it was the Amendment which the Committee were now discussing. He cordially agreed with this last Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman. He was an advocate for household suffrage, and should like to carry the principle as far as he possibly could. But, at the same time, he was interested in knowing whether this Amendment was brought forward to further the principle of household suffrage, or whether it was put forward for the purpose of obstructing the Bill. He had had the honour of a seat in that House for the last ten years. He was but a young Member when the Liberal party threw out the Bill of Lord Derby's Government in 1859; but since then he had often regretted that they had done so. He had believed on that occasion that when the great Liberal party said they could carry a better measure they really would have been able to do so. He regretted that the Bill introduced by Earl Russell in 1860 was not passed; and when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire introduced his measure last year he gave it every support in his power. No man was a more ardent supporter or a warmer admirer of the right hon. Gentleman than he was; but this was a question beyond the interests of party. It Was a question in which the whole country was interested. The country wished that a Reform Bill should be passed. The right hon. Member for South Lancashire had said he wished that a Reform Bill should be passed—that it should be passed this Session, and, above all, that it should be passed by the present Government. He concurred with the right hon. Gentleman in all those wishes, though he should have preferred to see a Reform Bill carried by the Leader of the Liberal party. He could not go into the question of rating; but he knew that if Scotland was to be treated as it was proposed to treat England not fewer than 40,000 would be added to the constituency of Glasgow which he had the honour to represent. He therefore felt it to be his duty to assist in the endeavour to enfranchise those 40,000.


said, that he also found himself in a position of extreme difficulty. The first Bill of the Government, imposing a £6 ratal franchise, was received with general acquiescence by the Conservative party; and he could not but regret that it had been withdrawn, and that they were asked to substitute for it the present measure. Last year he had voted for a rating franchise as the best qualification, but not in the sense now contended for by the Government as the basis of their Bill—namely, that the voter himself must be the payer of the rate. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had felt himself compelled, on account of the division that took place on the question of rating last year, to withdraw his Bill. That Bill was founded upon an intelligible principle—that a £6 rental franchise would admit so many of the working classes as to destroy the due influence of those already upon the register—and therefore the right hon. Gentleman proposed a £7 franchise. He had never opposed that principle, and would be quite prepared to adopt it now. The Government were then reproached with having introduced too democratic a measure; but now the present Government, stopping neither at a £6 nor at £5 limit, proposed to admit to the franchise every one who lived in a house and could by any possibility be rated. Under the late Bill it was calculated that 300,000 would be enfranchised; but the present proposition, in its naked form, would enfranchise 700,000. Well, but to prevent the full extent of this enfranchisement, a variety of safeguards had been introduced. The dual vote would, no doubt, have been highly effective; but it was so utterly obnoxious that it had been abamdoned, the double period of residence was proposed but would be abandoned, and nothing would then be left to check the operation of the household suffrage, pure and simple, except certain obstructions to the possession of a vote by imposing the condition of personal payment of rates. Now, he could not agree in the opinion that there was anything in itself to recommend the scheme of personal rating, or that it had any particular merit apart from its avowed purpose of being a safeguard and restriction—and if the able argument of the Solicitor General was to be accepted, that personal rating is already embodied in the whole of our electoral system, it was difficult to understand what especial virtue it could possess when introduced as a corrective against the unlimited enfranchisement of the working classes. Now, either the proposition was one which presented difficulties to the intending voter—and, if it did, those difficulties would not be long endured—or it was one which gave a vote to every householder without imposing difficulties, in which latter case it became household suffrage. But to household suffrage he bore an invincible repugnance, and he was consequently in this peculiar position, that he was going to vote against the Government proposition, because he believed it led to household suffrage, while several hon. Gentlemen opposite were going to vote against it because they thought it did not lead to household suffrage. If they were sincere in their desire to extend the franchise, let them not interpose difficulties in the way of its exercise. If they were not sincere in their desire to extend the franchise, let them not pretend to do it. He regretted that the Bill had been prepared with such haste that in consequence of the urgency that existed for the consideration of the Bill itself, no opportunity could be given for the due consideration of the law of rating. He felt himself quite unable on this question to support the Government; but he differed from them with great regret. He had always given them his independent, though most willing support; but he could not hide from himself that the measure which they now propounded was one of the character which last year and in the early part of this year they had most strongly deprecated. He was therefore not prepared to become in a moment a convert from the views which he had always held, and which the Conservative party had maintained throughout the Reform debates of last year.


I only wish to intrude myself on the attention of the House for a few moments—without entering into the general question or prolonging the debate—in order to state the grounds of the vote which I am about to give. The Amendment of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire now in your hands, Sir, may be read in two senses. It may either be regarded in a narrow and limited sense, as dealing only with the question of personal payment of rates, or it may be considered as part of a complete scheme of Reform, set forth in a series of Amendments of which this is but the first. Now, in the first of these views, as regards compound-householders, the facts have been so universally admitted and the arguments have been so exhaustive that at this stage of the debate we can do no more than state the general conclusion to which we have been brought by the speeches of others instead of endeavouring to contribute any new materials to form a judgment of our own. It is admitted that the compound-householder is in no way inferior in status to the man who pays his own rates—not inferior, I mean, in intelligence and trust-worthiness. His condition is a mere accident. It is not a matter of his own free will or choice; but he is a compound-householder under the operation of a law for which he himself is not responsible. Now, if the class to which he belongs ought to be enfranchised, enfranchise it generously and fully. If not, refuse it the franchise. But to say that you are about to give the franchise to a whole class, and to add a limitation which takes it away from two-thirds, is an inconsistency and a mockery so transparent that instead of being a set- tlement of the question it must lead to disappointment, anger, and increased agitation. When we regard the question from the other point of view, as a new scheme of Reform set forth in a series of Amendments, it comes into competition with the Bill of the Government. Now, the Government Bill is founded on household suffrage with two years' residence and personal payment of rates. The alternative scheme of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire is founded on a £5 rating franchise, with one year's residence, and the enfranchisement of compound-householders. The Government scheme in addition makes a distinction between those who are above and those who are below the £10 line. For the latter two years' residence is required; for the former only one. The scheme of my right hon. Friend makes the condition of one year's residence apply to all voters alike. I have listened with a good deal of attention—I may almost say impartial attention—to the speeches which have been made on both sides of the House as regards the alternative proposals; and I say sincerely that the conclusion to which I have been brought is that, if this question were regarded entirely apart from all party feeling and considerations, five-sixths of the House would prefer the scheme propounded in the Amendments of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire. More than that, I sincerely believe that that would be the feeling of the occupants of the Treasury Bench. Such being the case, what does it behove the House to do? The question is one of difficulty and of great responsibility. Every one wishes to arrive at an honest and a speedy settlement of this question of Reform; but, at the same time, we all feel that the Bill of the Government has not presented to us any satisfactory or acceptable basis for such a settlement. The only excuse for a Government, at a time when it was supported by a party numerically so weak, and with such questionable antecedents, dealing with the question at all was the hope that it might be able to propound a measure which would be acceptable to the country. Now, in that hope I am quite sure not one even of their most ardent supporters will say that we have not been generally disappointed. The Bill which the Government have propounded has been acceptable to no party and to no class, and the speeches made on the other side of the House have certainly not been palatable to the Treasury Bench. Then the measure has been generally condemned by the Liberal party; and out of the House the masses and the unenfranchised, for whom it was specially devised, have at all their meetings denounced it. They have sent deputation to the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, and besought him to reject the Bill, even at the risk of postponing Reform for another year. It is a fact that never was a great measure propounded by a Government on a great subject which was met with so universal a chorus of condemnation. Everything goes to show that the great Conservative body have abandoned their principles without acquiring popularity; and that it is much easier to discredit a party than to beguile a nation. In these circumstances, it certainly would appear to have been the duty of the House to have dealt differently with the Bill in its earlier stages; but as the opportunities for that were allowed, from one cause or another, to pass away, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire has embodied in a series of Amendments what has been termed an alternative scheme to be dealt with as a whole. Now, dealing with it as a whole, it is my opinion that the Bill of the Government is democratic in its principle, with a narrow and restrictive enfranchisement, whereas the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman is more Conservative in principle, with a more generous enfranchisement. The scheme of the Government is complicated, delusive, vexatious, and disappointing to those whom it most concerns; while the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman is simple and perfectly intelligible. It is admitted on both sides of the House that it presents a basis for a just, safe, and satisfactory measure. In these circumstances, believing, as I do, that to pass a delusive measure would be discreditable to the House and dangerous, as a mockery, to the country, I feel myself bound by every obligation of public duty and of public policy to condemn the Bill of the Government, and cordially support the alternative scheme of the right hon. Gentleman.


I congratulate the right hon. Member for South Lancashire as I congratulate the right hon. Member for Stroud—the one that he has found an additional follower and the other that he has at last found a leader. The right hon. Member for Stroud in supporting the Amendment, which exactly re- sembles the Bill of last year, has acknowledged that he was mistaken in the course which he adopted in 1866, when he repudiated the leadership of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire, and he has now found that submission is the better policy. The House is asked by the right hon. Member for South Lancashire to take a step that has never been taken in this House before, and I am surprised, I am astonished, I will not say how much I am pained, by the speeches made by some of my hon. Friends below the gangway, who in order to defeat the Bill of the Government have adopted an Amendment which is contrary to every principle they have ever expressed—which is contrary to the whole current of our legislation, and which I believe to be destructive of all the elements of national representation. Before the passing of the Reform Act the suffrage, so far as great constituencies were concerned, depended upon scot and lot and the payment of rates. When the Reform Bill was introduced the same system was retained, and personal rating and payment of rates were indissolubly connected with the right to vote. Last year, in the Bill of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire, the principle of payment of rates was omitted, and I and several other Gentlemen who sat on the same side of the House considered that as the most objectionable feature of the measure, and that which we ought strongly to resist. But now, when this Amendment is proposed as part of a scheme—without knowing what they will be called upon to vote afterwards, and without knowing whether they are voting with persons who wish to carry it out in its entirety—the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent and others have to my astonishment adopted that portion of the Amendment which is absolutely ruinous to the suffrage proposed by the Government. The Government have been much abused, and much attacked, for having dealt with the question at all, and I quite admit that we stand on our defence for what we have done in this respect. When the present Government accepted office Lord Derby declared that he did not consider himself bound to deal with the question of Reform. But when the Government had to consider the question they unanimously came to the conclusion that it was necessary to deal with it in some shape or other. They did not do so with any desire to rush into a vortex such as that in which we now find ourselves in- volved—nor to quote the words which the hon. Member for Stoke has thought fit to impute to his personal friends "with the effrontery of the Treasury Bench"—but with a deep sense of the responsibility of public men who are acting for the interests of their country. [Mr. BERESFORD HOPE: Assuredly I did not tax you with effrontery.] We thought it was our duty to deal with this question of Reform. And having come to that determination, we had to decide on what principle we should deal with the question. That line which the right hon. Member for South Lancashire is attempting to draw, has been attempted over and over again, and has been over and over again rejected. We examined the question with care. We did not wish to enter upon a scheme which should not have some definite and lasting basis, and if hon. Members have come to the conclusion that these checks, if we may so call them, or these conditions, as others may call them, are insufficient protections, it is for them to devise what other protections may be given. I address those who think those checks are not sufficient. I am aware that many on that (the Opposition) side think there are too many; but whichever way it be it is for those hon. Members, on whichever side they sit, to endeavour to carry out their views with honesty and with determination of purpose. But we have undertaken to deal with this question, determined to adopt a basis which should be permanent, and I believe that the principle on which it stands is one that may be permanently adopted in this country. It is a question of drawing the line such as the right hon. Member for South Lancashire proposes to draw, I do not care where, and we have adopted what I may call the power of self-selection on the part of the constituency. The right hon. Member for South Lancashire has spoken as if we were going to introduce in some places a great flood of voters and in other places none at all. He has spoken of some cases in which he says, "Here you will add one vote, or I do not know whether you will add even one. I admit that you must make the proper deductions in all these cases;" but though the right hon. Gentleman had been telling us we ought to make all these deductions, when he wanted to alarm my right hon. Friends on this side of the House, he took the whole numbers to be poured into the constituency, and did not deduct from them the 30 or 50 per cent necessary to arrive at a proper conclusion; while on the other hand, when he wanted to show that we wished to restrict them, he turned to the compounding householders, and would not admit that a single man would come in. When the right hon. Gentleman is complaining of our admitting a flood, what is he doing? He is introducing the same kind of occupation franchise, which now exists under the £10 clear annual value? What is the consequence of that? Why, according to the right hon. Gentleman's plan—and he talks of the power and influence which men of wealth are to exercise—according to his plan, any man may set out a number of allotment gardens with a pig-stye on each of them, and there would be a building and land together, with the power and influence of the landlord who chose so to set out his property. In the evidence with respect to Totnes and other places, we find that buildings have been erected on such lands—at least, what are called buildings. Notwithstanding that, the right hon. Gentleman deliberately introduces them without a clause to limit the value of the buildings, and says that with any kind of building and land together of the annual value of 5 a man shall have a vote. Such is the course which the right hon. Gentleman has taken; he admits people without residence—people who may be living in the smallest and meanest lodgings, but who have this small building and bit of land rated together at £5. Every man below that he shuts out altogether, without giving him the power to claim a vote, even if ready to pay the rates. He says the compounders pay as truly as other persons, and he challenges us to contradict it. I contradict it flatly, and I will take an instance existing in this metropolis, and I wish to know whether the compounders in the district of Poplar are paying the same rates or anything like it as those who are not compounding. I wish to know whether, as the rates are rising in the district where they are mainly compounded for by the landlords, and are growing up from 8d. to 2s. or 3s. in the quarter—I wish to know whether in that case the person compounded for is paying at the same rate as the person not compounded for? Is the compounders' rent raised? It could not be raised, for he is too poor. Is it raised in consequence of rising rates? It certainly is not. Who are the persons who suffer from the raising of the rates? It is the persons who are not compounded for, and who are many of them helping to support these very compound-householders, who, without the payment of rates at all, the right hon. Gentleman wishes to admit to the franchise. Why, Sir, is there no difference between direct and indirect payment? I do not want to go back too far. As was shown last night by the Solicitor General, although last year the right hon. Gentleman opposite left out of his Bill qualification by direct taxation, previously he had been a party—twice, at least—to bringing in measures under which parties who paid direct taxation were to be enfranchised. Do not the indirect taxpayers pay just as truly as the direct payers? If that is true, why were they not placed upon the franchise in the same way? The reason is, not whether they pay or do not pay, but that one man takes an interest in the matter towards which he pays his money—he takes an interest in the local concerns of the place which he inhabits—while the moment that direct payment is taken away he becomes wholly uninterested in those concerns. We are accused of not allowing those persons who do not pay their rates directly to come on the franchise. But what is the case with respect to those franchises in which they are immediately interested? Do they vote in vestries? No. Do they vote for the guardians of the poor under whom they so frequently come? No. Do they vote for local boards of health, which concern them so materially in all their transactions? No. And why? Because this House has thought them unfit to be intrusted with those franchises. Are we, then, acting in the spirit of the law as it exists, or are we acting contrary to the law and raising up something new? I say we are acting in accordance with that which has been the feeling of Parliament hitherto, which has been consecrated in all your Reform Bills and in your law; and it is that which the right hon. Gentleman, by this Amendment—whether it applies to his own £5 franchise or to our franchise—is attempting at once to do away with. Another thing surprised me much. The right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) I think made a Motion that the Report of the Committee on Municipal matters which was presented to the House of Lords some years ago should be communicated to this House—with an object I presume. But what was that object? The right hon. Gentleman had read that Report before he moved that it should be printed. It was a Report to show that where you had done away with the payment of rates directly under the Small Tenements Act you had injured the municipalities; that instead of the municipalities being governed by the property of the place, the result was that the smallest portion of the property and the greatest portion of the numbers secured the elections for those municipalities; and I am sorry to say that bribery and corruption prevailed, in small sums certainly, but to a very great extent. [Mr. HORSMAN: At a lower franchise?] Yes, a lower franchise to some extent, but a higher franchise to a certain extent than that which the right hon. Gentleman has condemned, because that was practically a three years' residence, instead of a two years' residence, as proposed by this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the other night asked why the Small Tenements Act was passed. I was very anxious to know what he would say to that, and he said very much what I think was the correct thing, and a justification of the Government for not introducing every compound-householder upon the register at once. He said that the compounding Acts might properly be called Acts for obtaining the payment of rates from persons from whom they could not previously have been obtained. Now, what is the meaning of that? That there is a certain class of people to whom you may look in vain to pay the rates through the regular collectors. Any one who will inquire in our large towns, and in our small towns also, will find that where the Small Tenements Act does not prevail, and where persons are called upon for direct payment of rates, there are vast numbers of excusals. I was noticing the other day one of these cases—the case of Cheltenham—and I was struck with a remarkable fact. There was no distinction made between the male and female occupiers, and therefore it was impossible to tell how the voting would be affected, but there were more excusals from the rates—in some in stances even as high as between a £9 and £10 rating, and increasing lower down—there were more excusals from the rates between the lowest point and £10 than there were male occupiers. Now, I would ask the Committee to look at this question fairly and honestly. Do they wish these persons, who are so excused their rates in consequence of their inability to pay, to be placed upon the register? The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield has put that point with perfect clearness. He says, "I wish to exclude persons of that description." I also wish to exclude them. They are not bearing their due share of taxation—and so far from doing so, they are throwing an additional burden on those who do take their due share. I do not want to find fault with these people because they are poor. The right hon. Member for South Lancashire stated—and I know not whence he derived his information—that somebody or other had said that the compounders are inferior in character, and that they are given to cheating their creditors and to getting drunk. Will any one tell me who made this extraordinary statement? Certainly it was not made by any one on this side of the House; but it has evidently been thought of by the right hon. Member for South Lancashire, and ought to be hung up in the workman's shops along side the well-known passage from the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne. I deny the assertion made by the right hon. Gentleman that this Act is to be used for disfranchising purposes. The right hon. Gentleman says there is no moral test in our proposal. I ask, where is the moral test in £5? Is the sweeping net that caches every fish in the stream up to a certain size—is that much better than the net which takes in only fish that are worth catching? As to the figures of the right hon. Gentleman, I do not dispute them at all. I have always considered that this Bill is a Bill of self-selection. It is a Bill which begins by enfranchising a certain number of ratepayers, but not the enormous number which has so alarmed the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent. The hon. Member has drawn into his calculation the name of every person on the rate book. That is a great mistake. Instead of 750,000, as supposed, probably not more than 50 per cent of that number will come in under this measure. I suppose he must allow that a number will not be admitted to the franchise. We have been told that there are a number of persons knocking at the door for admission to the franchise. We say to them, "Be so good as to take hold of the handle of the doors and come in." "No," says the right hon. Gentleman, "You must go out and force them to come in. It is quite a mistake to suppose that they will take any trouble in getting the franchise. True, they talk about it a good deal; but it is too much trouble to them to do anything. You must relieve them from all embarrassment." Then we have been told about fines and penalties, and I know not what. It is true we differ in some respect from Sir William Clay's Act. Now, when Sir William Clay brought in that Act, I be, lieve Earl Russell objected specially to that part of it which relieved persons from the full payment of rates. This was the case the first year the Bill was brought in, but in the second year the Bill passed with comparatively little alteration. I am not going to dispute the policy of that Act. It is the law, and there is an end of it. But when hon. Gentlemen contend that there is so great a difference between Sir William Clay's Act and this Bill, let them remember that under the Act there must be a claim and payment or tender of rates. Suppose the tenant pays the rates. He is not recouped by the landlord; and if therefore under Sir William Clay's Act the tenant pays his rates in order to get upon the register, is he fined or not? The landlord is not bound to repay him, and yet you say we are dealing with the tenants in a more unfair way than they are dealt with under Sir William Clay's Act? Now, what is the real state of the case with respect to these compounding-tenants? As far as the Small Tenements Act is concerned, almost every man—I may say every man—is either a weekly or a monthly tenant. If he is a weekly or monthly tenant, why need we trouble ourselves to treat him as though he entered into a contract extending over several years, when he has only to say to the landlord, "I shall put myself on the rate book; we must settle our rent on a different footing;" and at the end of the week or the month the new arrangement may be entered into. That is my answer to all the arguments about fines and penalties. There is not one of these persons in 100 who holds a lease, except in cases where the greatest injustice is certainly worked by the local rating Acts. It is said that there will be inequalities under the plan proposed by the Government. I will not go into the case of the fifty-eight boroughs where every compound-householder is under £6; but I will take the case of the ninety-eight boroughs. Suppose the compound-householder claims to have his name immediately put on the rate book, he will have to pay the occupiers' rate in that borough. As to inequalities, are there no inequalities connected with £5 rating? Is such a rating the same thing in London as it is in Grantham? I know that there must be discrepancies under a £5 and under a £10 rating however you may legislate. You say that people will never quietly and contentedly pay their rates. No, not if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire gets up and tells them that they have a grievance, which, however, they do not feel. But have compounding-householders above £10 rating under a local Act been violent agitators against it? Has Brighton been moved to its centre because a certain number of the compound-householders there have never got upon the rate book. Brighton has a local Act that extends their power to £20—a most unjust thing. There are other places where, for the convenience of the parish officers, the richer classes have been mulcted to a great extent and a burden laid upon their shoulders which they ought not to bear. Do we, then, propose anything new? At Brighton at this moment compound-householders are required to claim in order to come on the register. And in proposing a lower franchise we say, "You also must claim in order to get votes; but so long as you pay the rates there is no need to claim." I am quite sure there must be discrepancies, however you may legislate; and I defy any man to frame a measure in which ingenious people like the hon. and learned Member for Richmond and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire will not be able to pick a hole and show how difficulties will arise, especially if people are instructed how to make them. The vestries, it is said, may change all this; but I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that though he did not carry all his Instruction part of it was adopted by the House. Let him, then, in Committee, show some mode by which vestries shall be prevented from making the constant changes which are deprecated. Remember vestries cannot make such a change under a year, so they cannot act with any view to an immediate election; and, again, the tenant must have paid rates for two years before he can vote. Now, are you to expect that vestries will look forward for two years, and introduce changes when all the political objects which they may have contemplated will have passed away? If, however, you fear the exercise of this power by the vestries, put the thing right by legislation. The right hon. Gentleman says that one franchise is all-important; working men cannot get into this House in adequate numbers unless you have a lodger franchise. Now, according to his own statement a lodger franchise involves a claim from year to year, and last year he did not treat this as a workman's franchise at all, but almost entirely as a middle-class franchise. The right hon. Gentleman said in 1866— If they can show that the rooms they inhabit are of the clear annual value of £10—of course without including either rates, taxes, or cost of furniture—they will be entitled upon claiming year by year to be placed upon the list of voters. And, again, the right hon. Gentleman says— I can give no information as to the number of persons who would, perhaps, be enfranchised under the title of lodgers; but this I may say, that my firm belief is that it will be a small one; and, in the second place, my firm belief likewise is this—what I now speak of will prove to be a middle-class rather than lower-class enfranchisement. I should be misleading the House were I to pretend to entertain the opinion that any large number of the working class or any very large number even of the middle class will come upon the register by virtue of that which we term a lodger franchise. Consequently, I do not venture to add any figures on this head."—[3 Hansard, clxxxii. 46, 47.] Now, Sir, this is the object of the right hon. Gentleman's impassioned affection this year. Working men are now told that without this franchise they will be left in a deplorable condition, whilst last year they were told that so small a number would be enfranchised by the lodger franchise that the right hon. Gentleman could not really give a single figure to show how many they would be. Now, if the lodger franchise be what it is said to be this year—the all-important point of the Reform Bill—and that franchise require that the claim to be put upon the register should be made year by year, how can that be reconciled with the objection the compound-householders who only require to make one claim in order to be put upon the register? But the right hon. Gentleman says it is quite a different thing in the country from what it is in the town. I admit that in the country the Government plan of the personal payment of rates is a test of a man's character; but I want to know why on earth such a payment of rates should be a test of a man's character in the country and not in the town? I want to know the size of a town when a man begins to lose his character, or, at all events, not to set it up by paying his rates. But another objection has been made (it appears to me to be a most comical one) by the noble Lord the Member for Stamford. He says you are going to introduce a system of corruption; and I may here remark that, if that be my noble Friend's opinion, I am astonished that he went with us as far as he did. He charges us with introducing corruption; but let us see how the case really stands. The Government proposal is that a man is to pay his rates for two years before being entitled to the franchise. The supposition of the noble Lord is that somebody wanting to carry a great political point will begin two years before, and pay those people's rates over and over again, because a man cannot be put upon the register by a single payment. This corruption, then, is to go on for two years, in order that some time, say when a dissolution may come, some important political advantage may be gained. Can any one really suppose that any man will set himself seriously down to such a business as that? The noble Lord, however, presses that; but we are not to suppose that any man will be so corrupt as to let a man have a piece of land upon which to erect a pigsty, become his own tenant, fix his own rent, and thus become a voter. So much for the question of corruption. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, in his attempts to throw dirt, talked about the fantastic erection which we are building up. Household suffrage! What a deplorable state of things! Whenever the right hon. Gentleman even hears of it, he is dreadfully afraid, as if the Bill proposed a household suffrage such as he declares. Why, even the hon. Member for Birmingham does not wish to introduce what he calls the whole "residuum" into the franchise. I say, then, that a more dependent, a more corrupt, a more weak, or a more yielding person than the man who has put up some small pigsty under the influence of his landlord cannot be conceived. And yet that is what the right hon. Gentleman sets up against the Bill. The noble Lord the Member for Stamford and my hon. Friend and Colleague the Member for the University of Oxford have said that they are obliged to take this Resolution as part of a great scheme. Now, I must say, with great respect for my friends, that a more extraordinary proposition has never been submitted to the House. They propose to take the whole of the scheme of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire, and unamended they adopt the principle with which it begins, which is contrary to every profession and principle upon which they have ever acted—namely, the principle of the non-payment of rates. They will take none of ours, but the whole of that of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I know no man of whom I can speak with more regard than my hon. Friend and Colleague. There is no man to whom I would refer a question concerning my own honour with greater frankness, freedom, or unreserve than him; but when my hon. Friend gets up and tells us that, without sacrificing our personal honour, we can accept the whole of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire's Amendment, I must tell him that in such a case I myself must be the judge of what concerns my own honour. I say that anything more inconsistent with what I profess, and what I have put forward for my guidance as a Member of this Government, cannot possibly be conceived. I should consider myself degraded, and worthy of those reproaches which have been somewhat too harshly insinuated by the hon. Member for Stoke, if I were to submit myself to such humiliation. Sir, the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, and my hon. Colleague the Member for the University of Oxford, misinterpret this Bill. They attribute to it an effect which it neither would, nor was it meant to have. Their object is to get rid of the Bill altogether; and they see through a distorted medium the motives and actions of those who support it. For that reason, without imputing to them any unfairness towards me or my Colleagues in wishing us to take the step they recommend, I must say that I cannot accept advice on this point from those who are opposed to the Bill, and who have a misconception of its objects. I think it would have been much better if, instead of accepting a principle contrary to those which they have all along professed and acted upon, they had manfully acknowledged that their object was to get rid of the measure without being particular about the manner. If they had said, we wish to destroy the Bill, and are not scrupulous as to the weapon employed for the purpose, I could have understood them and would have said nothing about it. But if they support as they are doing the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, then I say that their acting is as contrary to their principles, as they say we are acting contrary to ours. Sir, it is no ordinary thing to see—and I hope we may never see it again—to see the noble Lord the Member for Stamford and the hon. Member for Birmingham rising at the same moment in the House, and with mutual courtesy each giving way to the other, because each was bent upon the same object. Where now are those unenfranchised millions of whom for so many years we have heard so much from the hon. Member for Birmingham; where the clients for whom he spoke, those five or six toiling millions of his countrymen, who were neglected, who were in a state of serfdom, who were never to be admitted to the franchise? And now the hon. Member for Birmingham is ready to support a £5 rating, because he does not believe that those persons whom we are ready to admit upon their claiming to be admitted will be enfranchised under our Bill. But he takes that wide sweep with the £5 franchise, as if possibly his life of agitation might be ended when that point was gained. But I am sorry to say that there are worse agitators than the hon. Member for Birmingham, and I fear that when one agitator has stepped out of the way there will be others to step into his place. What does the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford say? That he has attended public meetings because he sympathized with their objects. But was there one of these public meetings at which the hon. Member attended where the object has not been residential manhood suffrage? I know—and let me say it to his honour and credit—that the hon. Member for Birmingham, when he did attend those meetings, distinctly stated that he was for stopping at household suffrage. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER: I said I was not for residential manhood suffrage.] I understood my hon. Friend to say that he attended those meetings because he sympathized with their objects, and one of those objects was residential manhood suffrage. But if my hon. Friend says he only sympathized, then I presume it was a platform sympathy with Parliamentary limitations. Well, Sir, the Committee has before it two Amendments of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire, and they are both of a peculiar character. There is one which has an absolute bar drawn across at a particular point, and it has tire most extraordinary addition that I have ever seen put upon the Amendment paper of this House. Let me here remark that I should like to repeat the question I asked last year—how many days before the right hon. Gentleman introduced his Bill into this House last year was it based on a rateable franchise? There were certain figures in the Returns which convinced me that it was not originally drawn as a rental franchise, and I should like much to know when the alteration was made. That, however, will probably remain a secret for a long time to come Probably some thirty or some sixty years hence, when the memoirs of the right hon. Gentleman come to be written, the secret will come out. What is the Amendment to be tacked on to all the other Amendments of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire? He proposes, in the event of the adoption of the Amendment fixing a limit of rateable value in Parliamentary boroughs, a clause to provide that— Whenever the rateable value of any tenement falls below £5, by reason of a deduction of more than 20 per cent from the gross estimated rental, the occupier thereof may claim to vote, and thereupon shall, if otherwise qualified, be registered. So that, although the making a claim is represented as such a frightful business, such a terrible obstruction, he draws a hard and fast line at £5, and then says that if any occupier below that sum thinks more than 20 per cent is deducted from the gross rental, he is to have the opportunity of going before the assessment committee, and asking to look at the valuation list, and may then go to the overseer and say, "I am assessed at a lower sum than I ought to be; I ought to be assessed at £5 instead of £4 10s." He is to do all these things in order to get himself rated at the higher figure, and is to fine himself in order to obtain the franchise. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] If I do not understand it I am afraid I am only in the same position as other hon. Members; but I believe that is what it means, that any man in the situation I have described is to have the privilege of being rated higher, in order to obtain the vote. But it is said that there is an enormous trouble and expense connected with obtaining the franchise under our Bill, and we are threatened with a tremendous agitation on this subject. I do not suppose the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire will go "stumping" in the provinces as he has done on previous occasions. Neither do I suppose the hon. Member for Birmingham, who must be somewhat wearied of excessive agitation, will go into the country. But we hear there are to be "Reform meetings," at which it will be stigmatized as a monstrous iniquity that the compound-householder should have to make a claim and pay his rates. Now, I will undertake to say that a procession to Beaufort House on a rainy day would involve a greater waste of shoe leather and waste of time, and fifty or a hundred times the trouble, than if the same persons were bent on getting their names placed upon the register. I do not hesitate to say that if they adopt that plan of agitating to get the franchise instead of going to the overseers to obtain the same object, that the trouble and expense will be fifty times as great. Mr. Dodson, I have troubled the Committee at some length. I believe the Bill to contain within it the materials for a permanent arrangement of this question. The right hon. Gentleman opposite from the very beginning has wished to get rid of that which we wish to retain. We say that the rate book should be the register. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman has certainly not provided for this in his Amendments. He maintains that though the landlord pays the rates, the tenant shall have a vote. We say, on the other hand, that as the payment of rates induces an interest in local affairs, the man who so pays is more likely to be educated and take an interest. in the concerns of his country. We say, moreover, that a measure based upon a £5 franchise is just as likely to be followed by renewed agitation as a rating franchise, because the one is as much opposed to residential manhood suffrage as the other. Do not suppose that you can by any means silence agitation. As an hon. Member has remarked, there will always be men whose only way of obtaining notoriety is to thrust themselves before the public as agitators. These men still continue to exist. It is not on those who seek to lead the poor and ignorant astray that we must look; but we must rely upon the firmness and good sense of those who go to the constituencies. We must not look to those who go to constituencies outbidding each other as to what they will do on these questions. [Cheers.] I can only say that I hope that cheer does not allude to anything I have said in former years. I have never since I entered Parliament been one of the "ardent" Reformers to be found in this country. As far as I am concerned I have taken up this question in order to remove an ob- stacle to all the other business of the House. We have been taunted very much for having done so, and the right hon. Gentleman has come to our assistance in what he calls a "friendly" spirit. The right hon. Gentleman has, however, adopted a tone of contempt towards those opposed to him which is not calculated to facilitate any progress on this subject. He has expatiated on the absurdity, the ridiculousness, and the folly of what we have proposed, consistent though that proposal is, with previous legislation, and with existing enactments. It does not seem to me that such a tone is calculated to bring about any cordial action between both sides of the House for the purpose of settling this question. The question between us is whether you will have this line hard and fast, as my right hon. Friend has described it, or whether you will adopt the self-selected system which we have proposed, and which we believe contains sufficient checks to prevent those who ought not to have the franchise from exercising it. Sir, in taking a position as one of Her Majesty's servants, I am thankful to say I did not become the servant of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I confess I do not think he was an easy taskmaster to his own side last year, and he is not an easy taskmaster now, and he certainly is not a very conciliatory opponent of those who sit on this side of the House this year. It is not merely the mellifluous tone of the speaker, but the language, and the meaning, and the bearing of the Gentleman who uses that language that should be borne in mind. The right hon. Gentleman had better state at once, clearly, distinctly, and emphatically, that which his Amendment means. It means the destruction of the present Bill. It means emphatically that the Bill is to be removed from the consideration of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman refers to threats which have never come from these Benches. Sir, the subject before us is a matter for the fair and dispassionate consideration of the Committee. It is for them to decide, and as for the sordid motives which hon. Members have not thought it unbecoming to impute to those who sit upon this Bench, I repudiate them with all the scorn which Parliamentary language is capable of expressing.


Mr. Dodson—I shall not say much to prolong this discussion to a very late hour; but I should like to make a few observations before the debate closes. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down made himself merry with the fact that last night the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Viscount Cranbourne) and I rose at the same time to address the House, and that I was willing to give way to him, and, as he says, the noble Lord was willing to give way to me, because we were engaged in the same cause. Well, if the noble Lord has made any advance towards my opinions—and I suspect since last year honestly and honourably he has made some—I can only say that I shall welcome him not only in this but in every good cause, as one of the most powerful advocates that it could be possible to receive. The noble Lord and I have never exchanged a word in private; but I take this opportunity of saying, that I listened to a speech made by him when he was in office, upon a subject very far removed from this we are now discussing, a discussion upon a subject connected with his own office. I mean the annexation of the territory of Mysore—and I have never heard a speech in this House which contained nobler sentiments, delivered in better language, and given in a manner more calculated to impress the House. I much regretted, therefore, that the noble Lord felt it his duty to leave the Treasury Bench. But if I may derive pleasure from the noble Lord having made some small approach to my views, surely I may be as much gratified by the not small steps, but the large progress, which the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has made since last year. I believe if the pages of Hansard were referred to it would be possible to show that there was scarcely a Member in this House on that occasion who felt or pretended to feel a greater terror of the admission of £7 householders than was felt by the right hon. Gentleman himself. I will not reproach him. I do not reproach his Colleague and Chief in this House, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am only too happy to find that they are willing to proceed even to the length of the measure which they have introduced, and I shall not break my heart if the measure as it comes out of this House should not take precisely the shape that I would like to see it take. But I shall console myself with the belief that the past barriers against a just representation of the people are broken down—and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Colleagues have utterly repudiated the whole of the past with which they have been connected. Now, Sir, I shall endeavour in a few minutes to ask the attention of the Committee to the precise point which is before it, because I am now about to discuss this question as a matter of party. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a bargain with us at the beginning of the Session that it was not to be a party question, and that it was not to be used for the overthrow of Ministers. I shall treat it in that sense. Last night I was surprised at the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire. I always listen to him with great pleasure; but last night I listened to him with great surprise, because, if my memory does not fail me, it is only three or four weeks ago—we have had so many Bills and so many discussions that I am puzzled as to dates—since the Member for South Lancashire threw out a hint to the House that it would be desirable to alter the law of rating, and draw a line excluding some and admitting great numbers; and the right hon. Gentleman in his place seized upon that hint, and gave a cordial approval of it; and I am not at all certain whether the Member for South Lancashire has not been in some degree induced to take the step he has taken in consequence of the powerful support of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. [Mr. HENLEY intimated dissent.] Well, the right hon. Gentleman is too modest to assume that he has that influence upon the Member for South Lancashire; but I really believe I am not overstating the case. Now, Sir, what is this Amendment which is before the Committee? It affects the borough franchise only, and it proposes what I think in our common sense we should all say is a very reasonable proposition—that every person to whom you offer the borough franchise, who is considered entitled to it, who may justly claim it, should be placed upon exactly the same terms, should have the same facilities for obtaining and enjoying it that every other person shall have; that is the object of the Amendment, so far as I understand it. It means that the present householder of £10 and upwards, and the householder from £10, and as much lower as the House may go, shall be exactly en the same footing, and that the compound-householder above £10 shall have no advantage over the compound-householder below £10. It means, in point of fact, that you shall not select from amongst your constituents a special class for special privileges; but that, having determined who are the per- sons on whom you will confer the franchise, you will deal honestly, and generously, and fairly, and equally with them all. Well, at this moment that is the state of the law with scarcely any exception. The Reform Act deals in a certain way with a £10 occupier. There has been a difficulty which has been already perhaps sufficiently explained with regard to the compound-householder; but still at this moment that difficulty I believe is not from the existing law, but it exists by the practice of the overseers of the poor. I was asking today a gentleman who is very profoundly versed in these matters, and he told me it is the law at present that all occupiers' names should be placed upon the rate book. And if that be so, of course the Instruction which I believe some time ago went out from the Poor Law Board that the rate books should be so formed, is in accordance with the law, and henceforth all occupiers will find their names upon the rate book, whether they be payers of rates directly or payers of a composition rate. Well, what will happen. I believe the Reform Act intended that all these persons' names should be upon the rate book and should be upon the register; that it is not Parliamentary law which has kept them off so many years, but lawyers' law, the decisions of revising barristers, and for a time the decisions of the Courts. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board, in the very able speech which he has made to-night, has never pointed out, and did not attempt to point out, any real ground why the compound-householder below £10 should be treated differently from his brother above £10. I want that to be explained to the House. I see no reason shown for any such exclusion, and I venture to say, in opposition to what the right hon. Gentleman has said, that that exclusion and that difference must be held to be a direct violation of the principle of the law as it now stands. Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that at the present moment the landlord's payment is, for the purpose of the franchise, the tenant's payment? If there were any doubt upon the matter I think it should be removed by my reading to the House an extract from a letter, in which is quoted the opinion of two very eminent Judges upon this matter, and who were especially eminent on all questions connected with appeals on registration law. The writer of this letter, who is himself a registration agent in the North of England, asks me— Whether it is intended that no person shall have the vote who does not pay the rates out of his 'proper hand?' If so, we shall have two modes of payment of rates between the £10 voter and the householder proposed to be enfranchised. We have now many £10 voters who never pay a farthing of poor's rate directly out of their own hands, but pay it in the amount of rent calculated to cover all charges by the landlord. It has been ruled in the Court of Common Pleas, by Chief Justice Tindal: That the tenant was rated. That he held his premises under an express agreement with his landlord that the latter should pay all rates and taxes, and further, that these had all been paid.' Chief Justice Tindal goes on to say: It appears to me, that the tenant being rated under these circumstances, the calling upon the landlord to pay, and the payment by him, are equivalent to a bonâ fide calling upon the tenant to pay, and a bonâ fide payment of the rates by him.' Mr. Justice Maule, a great authority, said in the same case: 'It was at first contended that the payment must be by the party's own hand. Generally speaking, the payment of money is a thing that is, of all others, the least necessary to be done by the hand of the party himself. There cannot be the smallest doubt that, where one gets another person to pay the rate for him, and allows it in account, that is a good payment by the party rated..… The Legislature, by bonâ fide payment, probably meant to exclude the gratuitous payment by a candidate. Well, I think that these quotations from these eminent Judges clearly settles what is the law with regard to this matter; and I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he proposes to change it. Has the law been found to be a bad law? It was passed through both Houses of Parliament without any division, and has remained uncomplained of and uncontested in both Houses of Parliament for the last sixteen years. I wish to know why, then, merely for the purpose of a large disfranchisement and exclusion, the present absolutely satisfactory condition of the law is to be objected to and interfered with. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board tells us now this measure will allow people to come in. I will tell him how it keeps them out. He blames the right hon. Member for South Lancashire for a proposal which has a line and which makes no moral selection whatever. What will the Bill of the Government do? It will give a vote to a man who lives in a hovel worth not more than £3 a year, if that man by any means pays his own rate in his own name, and it will exclude every man whose rental may be £8 or £9 value if he pays his rates through his landlord. I think there is a capriciousness in that which will be found most unsatisfactory. But let us leave for a moment the capriciousness with regard to the individual and see how it affects the town. The hon. and learned Member who sits just below me has made a speech to-night in favour of this Bill, He represents the town of Sheffield. Now it will be found that in that borough—I am not making allowances for the 30 or 50 per cent reductions—I am taking the gross numbers—it will be found that in the town of Sheffield this Bill would immediately give the chance of getting upon the register to not less that 28,334 persons—which, I believe, is 11 or 12 per cent of the whole number that immediately under this mean in the first year of its operation—would have a chance of coming upon the register. But what does it do now in this respect with reference to the unfortunate town which I am permitted, in conjunction with my hon. Colleague, to represent in this House. Birmingham, as the House knows, is a town considerably larger than Sheffield. Like Sheffield, it is concerned chiefly in the manufacture of metals. I would say no more for Birmingham now than I have said for it before I represented it; but I say there is not in this kingdom a town whose population is more industrious, and has connected with their industry more intelligence than that of Birmingham. But what does this Bill do for the town of Birmingham? Why, it gives the chance of admission to the registry to 2,384 persons, and it excludes under the Small Tenements Act—["No, no!"]—wait till I have finished my sentence—I say that it excludes, under the Small Tenements Act and under the various local Acts, not fewer than 36,177 persons. No! I know very well what hon. Gentlemen mean. They mean, of course, that to accommodate the capricious measure of the Government—and the caprice of that measure is in no degree essential to a sound measure of Reform—in order to accommodate themselves to the caprice of that Bill they must do something. But what are the people of Birmingham to do? They are to get rid of the Small Tenements Act in their various parishes, if they can make up their minds to that, and they are to come here in order to get Parliament to consent to a Bill to repeal their local rating Acts. Well now, I am not surprised that the Member for Sheffield or the Member for Oldham should think that as regards those particular spots with which they are principally connected there is something useful in this Bill. But I have a higher opinion of the people of Sheffield and of the people of Oldham than to believe that for the sake of a special advantage to them in this respect they would prefer that a Bill should be passed which would do such grievous injustice to Birmingham and to the great majority of the boroughs of the kingdom. Now, last night only, when this matter was under discussion, I had an opportunity of speaking to three gentlemen from Birmingham who came up to London on no matter connected with this debate; one of them being an eminent officer of the Chamber of Commerce, and another equally eminent in connection with the administration of the Poor Law affairs. I said to them: "Would it not be possible for you in Birmingham to so alter your position with regard to the question of compounding for rates that you could put yourselves in a short period in as satisfactory a position as the town of Sheffield?" They said that they believed it to be absolutely impossible. In that town the great majority of these 36,000, to whom I have just referred, have never paid poor rate—I am speaking of paying it directly—for it has not been the custom of the town to do so, and to ask them, for the sake of putting some of them upon the register, in accordance with the requirements of this capricious Bill—to ask them to destroy the whole fabric of the economic system connected with their poor rate is, I say, to ask them what this House has no right to ask them, and which we have no reason to expect would be complied with if we did ask. And I complain, and I think the House has a right to complain, and I think the Members for all the boroughs which are thus adversely affected have a right to complain, that a Bill has been introduced having this essential quality, that it must cause confusion in every borough, though it has not been shown, and it never can be shown, that the cause of that confusion is in the smallest degree necessary to the satisfactory settlement of the question of Reform. Now, the House in many cases proceeds very much upon precedent. It likes what is old, and when things are thirty years old they assume a certain aspect of respectability. I have a great regard for the Reform Act of 1832, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer sometimes speaks of it as if he had a great respect for it; and I am not sure now that he is not actuated in his present course by a sort of envy of Earl Russell. That noble Lord has a great historic name in connection with the Reform Act of 1832. The right hon. Gentleman hopes, perhaps, to become the great historic name connected with the Reform of 1867. But now the principle of the Reform Act is extremely simple—household suffrage, a building occupation in towns, limiting it by a value of £10. That defines exactly what is intended to be done. Well, nearly all the Bills which have been introduced since that time have been based upon almost the same principle. The Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire last year was based upon the principle of a £7 rental. Nothing could be more simple; and, as far as it went, it was felt in all parts of the country to be entirely clear and honest. But whilst that Bill, as the Reform Act did, defined clearly what it was intended to do, and could by no possibility deceive anybody, the present Bill, while capriciously proposing greatly to extend the franchise, does actually exclude multitudes of those who, if you touch this question at all, have a right that their demands shall be conceded. Well, the remedy which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire proposes is a remedy very much in accordance with the principles of the Bill of 1832 and of the Bill of last year. The right hon. Gentleman wants to establish a definite ground and a definite line, and to include the multitudes, or a considerable portion of them, that the Bill of the Government must necessarily exclude. Now, suppose I put this to the Members of the Government who are really anxious, as I am anxious, that this matter should be settled within the framework of this Bill. Suppose that this point that we are now discussing were settled—that the personal rating were abandoned—that its great exclusion was felt to be unjust, and was given up—that it was thought better to offer something distinct and definite to the approbation and acceptance of the people. Well, then, in that case we should have to determine what the franchise should be, and it must be one of two things. If the personal rating were given up, it must either be household suffrage pure and simple, or it must be some line—it does not follow it should be the line fixed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire—but it must be some line above which at present the franchise should be given to everybody, and below which at present, and it may be for another thirty years for anything that I know, the franchise should not be extended. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire has proposed in this clause a £5 rating franchise, and the President of the Poor Law Board has made very merry, and expressed the utmost astonishment that there should be an addition to that clause, by which it is proposed that, as a rule, wherever the variation in the rating is so great as to be manifest in defeating the object of the House and the Bill—that where the real clear annual value was £6 or £6 5s.—that in that case the suffrage should also be given. And the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman really comes to this: that it would have, as near as I can judge, exactly the same effect in extending the franchise as if the House were to adopt the proposition of the Bill of 1860, and give to the country a £6 rental franchise. I am not going to chaffer about this matter. I believe honestly that whether the line of rating was drawn at £4 with the rental at £5, or the line of rating at £5 with the rental at £6, that either of these measures would be a better measure for the country, far more satisfactory, and would form a far surer settlement of this question than the Bill as it is now before the House. I believe that, because it would be honest and equal. This Bill is not equal, and if it is not equal it cannot be called honest. I believe more—that the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire would include within the electoral lists more completely and fully all those that the House proposes to take in, which is the best paid and the most intelligent of the working classes of the kingdom. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was making a speech in favour of his Bill, on the second reading, in 1859, made use of an observation or two, which, I think, he has been just now putting into practice. He said— I am perfectly aware of all the tricks of management by which you can deal with the borough franchise. He said further— How you can manage to appear to be doing a very liberal act, and yet keep out of the franchise the very class for which so many persons express so much sympathy? He says, and I dare say it is true, "I have all these plans in my pigeon-holes, and could have availed myself of them with perpect impunity." I dare say the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, if he were at liberty to explain his explanation, might probably tell us how many of those curiosities from the pigeon-holes of the right hon. Gentleman have been laid before the Cabinet; but I suppose, after fingering them all over, and seeing which would be the likeliest to suit his purpose, the right hon. Gentleman saw that this after all was the cleverest dodge, and he had the not altogether absurd notion that there were Gentlemen on this side of the House, enthusiastic Reformers, who might be caught by a proposition of this kind. Now, Sir, there are Gentlemen here who think that through this Bill they will get household suffrage. I understand the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Dalglish) and some of his friends are of that opinion, and they think they will get it—not now; but that this Bill is so unpleasant, so unjust, so insulting to those whom it excludes, that it will establish what is called a raw on the public feeling, and the public conscience, and that from the very hour when the first register is made up under this Bill, there will be an incessant and irritating agitation in every one of the boroughs on which it does not now confer household suffrage. That such must be the result is the opinion of some of my Friends at this end of the House. Well, Sir, these Gentlemen have not been remarkable for their activity in the Reform agitation. I know not whether the hon. Member for Glasgow and some others may have any intention to take to what in America is called the "stump," and fight this question at great public meetings throughout the country. If they have, all I can say is I hope they may find progress on this question to demand very much less labour than I have found it to demand from me during the last ten years. But now let us consider the question of household suffrage. I have always during the ten years for which I have discussed the question been in favour of household suffrage as the basis of the borough franchise; but I am bound to admit that three-fourths of those near me are not in favour of household suffrage. I doubt extremely if all the Members on the other side were to leave the House, and leave the determination to Gentlemen on this side, I greatly doubt whether it would be carried by a vote among Gentlemen on this side of the House. That being so, I am of the opinion that it is not a wise or statesmanlike policy to take a measure partly because it is bad, and because you hope its badness will be so unpleasant to the public that you hope they will rise against it and in the very next Parliament will batter at these doors and ask this House again to obstruct all its business and all its legislation in order to deal with the question you now leave unsettled. And let me tell those hon. Gentlemen this, that when the time does come that these restrictions can no longer be maintained—and that it will come I shall take no pains to deny or even to question—but when that time does come, the House of Commons will take the very step then which the right hon. Member for South Lancashire asks it to take now. It will not grant household suffrage pure and simple. It will say, as I have said before, and with reason—because, do not suppose I have no sense of what is good, and honest, and independent, and pure, in a constituency—the House will say then, as I have said before and repeat now, that it is not for the advantage of the constituencies and not for the advantage of the poorest and most dependent amongst them, but greatly to their disadvantage, that they should be placed in a condition of constant temptation by being added to the electoral roll. And therefore though I have been, and am now, in favour of household suffrage as the basis of the franchise, still I believe it would be wise—and I am afraid our population will not have so much improved by that time as to make it then unwise—to draw the line a little above the pure and simple household suffrage. ["No, no!"] I do not know who the Gentleman is who calls out "No!" I have discussed this question as much as any man in England; I have thought as much as any man about it; I have as large an interest in its being settled now, and settled well, as any other man to whom I am speaking. If you except the interest of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire in being historically connected with the question, I might put my historical connection with it above that of most hon. Gentlemen in this House. Though the hon. Gentleman calls out "No, no," I believe you might have settled this question by a low line, and I would recommend now a line somewhat lower than that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. In my own Bill of 1858, I proposed that the line should be drawn at the £3 rate or £4 rental. In speaking on that subject three weeks ago I said it was not necessary, if the House came to any unanimous or general conclusion, that we should make a fight for the sake of a pound in this matter; but I believe we might settle it on the principle of removing all this irritation on which hon. Gentlemen near me are calculating for going down to pure and simple household suffrage, by giving a very large and generous suffrage to the inhabitants of every town, so that in the lifetime of the very youngest man in this House any larger extension of the franchise in boroughs would never be demanded. I believe that this evening some Gentleman said he thought if it were not for the party spirit which perhaps necessarily but often unfortunately comes to mix in our debates—the Chancellor of the Exchequer I believe approves of it, except when it interferes with his own projects—if it were not for this party feeling we might easily settle this matter. The Government has brought in a certain measure. Gentlemen behind them, of course, support them—they would have supported it if it had been anything else—and some are enthusiastic, if that be not too strong a figure of speech as applied to such a measure. It is a strange figure of speech to say that any man could be enthusiastic about such a measure. But at least the President of the Poor Law Board is enthusiastic, for he made to-night the most stirring and energetic speech yet delivered in its favour. Yet not long since we all know his Colleagues, Lord Carnarvon and the right hon. Member for Huntingdon and the rest of them, unanimously agreed upon a £6 rating suffrage. What, then, can be more preposterous than that the President of the Poor Law Board should speak for nearly an hour—I am speaking of only a portion of his speech—in utter condemnation of that proposition. The right hon. Member for South Lancashire has expressed a lingering regret on his side that that Bill disappeared, and some persons not very fair in their interpretation of what he said, have spoken as if he wished for a £6 rating suffrage; but everyone who recollects what took place last year must know that that is quite impossible. The right hon. Gentleman, however, expressed a lingering regret that it had not come on for fair discussion in the House, because it was plain and intelligible; there were no dodges about it. No doubt he thought it was a question of a single figure, and as it was not one of those ingenious measures which emerged from the pigeon-holes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he thought the figure might be altered from 6 to 5 or 4, so that we might agree on a measure which might have given some hopes of settling the borough franchise on a reasonable basis. I take it that the President of the Poor Law Board imposes on the House when he tells us that he has a great horror of the absurd and mischievous line which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire proposes to draw. May I tell the Committee what is my opinion of them at this moment? I believe a majority of the House have come to the opinion, so frankly expressed by the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University, and other Members on that side, that whatever may be our likings or dis-likings, we must bow to the great public opinion of the nation, and that of 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 of our fellow-countrymen. The right hon. Gentleman taunts me with what I have said, but there are 4,000,000 or 5,000,000, and if you did not know that and believe it I think you would not he where you are now with respect to this measure. The great majority of this House are in favour of what last year and for some years past would have been considered a very liberal extension of the franchise. I think you are all sensible that the House would be more respected, and the country would be stronger and more energetic, if 300,000 or 400,000 more voters were added to the electoral roll. If that be so, why should it not be be done? Give something generously and distinctly. I do not think there is anything in the world that so offends the common sense and right feeling of a people—I am not speaking of society—as the attempt to play them any trick, the attempt to offer them as a great concession that which really, as it is presented to them, is hardly any concession at all; and I am satisfied it is a great misfortune to this question, to the House, and to the country, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his anxiety to settle this matter, has tried to avoid every step of his predecessors, and in his attempt to do something original has been by no means wise. Now, I have said that I am for household suffrage, and if the right hon. Gentleman would accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Oldham, I would not divide the House against him; and I think that on this particular point the Government ought to yield. With respect to this particular plan of the Government, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer asked our advice, and the very first moment that we propose to give it, he says we are treating him unkindly. He says we are acting in a party spirit if we respond to his invitation and tell him we believe a certain mode of extending the franchise is better than his. I say with most perfect honesty that if I had been sitting on that side of the House, and if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire had been Leader of the House and had prepared a measure like this, I believe that I have not uttered a single syllable against this measure that I should not have uttered against that of my right hon. Friend. In fact, I have gone far beyond the question of party in this matter; and I should congratulate the Chancellor of the Exchequer with all my heart if it should be his lot to settle this question for the next fifty years upon a broad and generous foundation. If he should succeed in doing so it will make amends for the many mistakes of his political career, especially of the last twenty years. I am satisfied that many Members on this side of the House, I believe the majority of them, now honestly, without any drawback or reservation whatever, wish the right hon. Gentleman to accommodate his Bill to what I believe to be the real opinion not only of those on this side of the House, but also of the majority on the other side of the House. Because, bear in mind, that when on a great question like this opinions have so changed and have so advanced that the barriers of party have been thrown down, and we come with minds unclouded and unfettered to the consideration of this subject, I hold it to be absolutely impossible that there can be on this side of the House a majority of men who believe that the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the wisest that can be made; a proposition which gives 28,000 new electors to Sheffield and excludes 36,000 in the borough of Birmingham. Now, Sir, I have no more to say than this: I know nothing at all of the figures of the coming division; I have not a dream nor an idea of what is to be the result of the division of to-night. I wish we could have no division, and that the Government could put their Bill into a shape that would meet the wishes of the vast majority; but whatever that division may lead to, I state this with the utmost frankness and conscientiousness, that I have not taken a step in regard to this Bill, or said a single word in connection with it, but what has been prompted by an honest and most earnest wish that now at this moment, at this supreme hour of this question, it should be grappled with with the wisdom of statesmanship, and that the measure should be offered the great body of the people with that generosity which I hope belongs, at bottom, to all the great statesmen of this country.


Mr. Dodson—Sir, although we are in Committee upon the Bill of the Representation of the People there are really two policies before the House to-night on the most important portion of that measure. Although we may be formally called upon to amend the Bill which I have had the honour to introduce, we are really considering upon the borough franchise a contrary policy and a counter proposition. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire proposed to draw what has been literally and truly described as a hard and fast line, beneath which no person is to possess the privilege of a vote or to aim at the franchise. On the other hand, we have proposed a measure in which every inhabitant of a house, subject to conditions which are in harmony with the habits and manners of the country, which I think are approved by the rational discrimination of the people, should possess that franchise, and, at the same time, instead of drawing this hard and fast line, we have said to all those who are not now in a position to avail themselves of the privilege thus offered them by the proposed law, "We will take care that you shall have an opportunity, if you deserve it, of acquiring the right and enjoying it." Now, these are the two schemes for the settlement of the borough franchise for the consideration of the Committee to-night, for it would have been worse than idle to limit our discussion to the few and scanty words that will be formally put by Mr. Dodson for the decision of the Committee, We must take the bundle of Amendments suddenly put upon the paper by the right hon. Gentleman opposite as descriptive of the whole scheme, and that is the same scheme which was indicated by the Instruction relinquished by the hon. and learned Member for Exeter. Now, Sir, to the proposition we have made for establishing the borough franchise upon a rated household franchise, to be enjoyed by the occupier on personally paying the rate, the right hon. Gentleman has offered two main objections. He tells us, in the first place, that the principle of rating as thus applied is newfangled and alien. That surprises me, for I thought that the principle of rating was one which was consecrated by the manners and customs of this country, that it was a very ancient custom, and even in a great degree that it was one to be traced to a remote period in connection with the enjoyment of civil and political rights. It is recognised by the common law; it is recognised by the statute law of past generations, and in the age in which we live it has formed a part and portion of one of the most famous laws connected with our political history—the Reform Act of 1832. In many subsequent Acts and in many other public documents of great authority and authenticity which have been brought forward by able statesmen, this principle now described as alien and newfangled, has been adopted as the basis and chief guarantee of the arrangements proposed, and Parliament has always welcomed and sanctioned these propositions and these arrangements. Therefore, I have been somewhat astonished that the law of rating, or rather the principle of rating, should be described by the right hon. Gentleman as alien and newfangled. The second objection to the proposition of the Government made by the right hon. Gentleman is that it is of too exclusive a character. That objection is scarcely consistent with many observations subsequently made by him, and with many inferences which he afterwards drew, and with many conclusions which his friends approved and cheered, all of which seemed to express and intimate to the House that the Government measure was of a very revolutionary and dangerous character. But, according to the right hon. Gentleman, the principal objection to that measure is that its character is too exclusive. Now, I humbly think that in settling the basis of our borough franchise, the House is not to consider what the operation of the principle that we propose may immediately be, whether it is of too exclusive or too expansive a character, but whether the principle is a just principle, and whether it is one which, if adopted, will in practice generally and ultimately bring about a satisfactory state of things. Now, Sir, if this be the objection made to our scheme of establishing the franchise upon the principle of the personal payment of rates, there are also objections which are offered to the scheme f the right hon. Gentleman, which is founded upon a hard limitation—and the treat objection to that is, I think, that the hard line he has proposed is one that really offers no settlement of the question. A though I listened with great attention the speech of the right hon. Gentleman—and, indeed, I have listened with deepest interest to all the speeches that have been made upon this subject this evening, and especially to that which has just closed—I have never heard a single argument offered to show that by adopting the principle of a certain figure, which we will assume, from the other Amendments the right hon. Gentleman, to be £5, we shall have any security for a settlement nor has any reason been offered us why, adopted, it should not immediately be disturbed, and why agitation should not be immediately fomented in order to again alter the settlement come to. This is point that has been evaded throughout this discussion. And yet, allow me to remind the Committee, this is the most material point we have to consider. It may be convenient that, in explaining to the Committee the reasons that have induced us to make our present proposal, I should recall the attention of the Committee to what occurred in the year 1859. In that year we had to consider the question of Parliamentary Reform, and, of course, the borough franchise, which was one of the most important portions of the scheme engaged our immediate attention, and the result of our consideration of the subject was that it was impossible, with any prospect of satisfaction, to disturb the £10 franchise established in 1832, and which now prevails; for that if we came to rental of £8 or a rating of £7 or of £6, there was no standpoint upon which we could rely, and that useless agitation for a further change must be the only consequence. We then arrived at the conclusion that it was absolutely necessary—I am now speaking of 1859—to leave it untouched or to proceed to a point at which we should probably deal with it, something after the fashion of our present proposition. We took every adequate means of ascertaining the opinion of the country on the subject, and we were convinced from the information which reached us from all quarters that any attempt to diminish considerably the £10 franchise in boroughs was perfectly impossible. So great was the influence, and so determined was the spirit at that time of the borough constituencies of England, that any effort of the kind must have entirely failed. We therefore in the discharge of our duty, felt that the only course which was left to us to pursue was to recommend Parliament not to deal with the borough franchise, and we, accordingly, attempted to attain the end of introducing some portion of the working classes into the constituencies—which we desired to do—by other means. But what happened under these circumstances? We met with very great opposition to the policy which we recommended, and which subsequent years proved to be accurate and sound. Hon. Gentlemen opposite called for a reduction of the borough franchise and no person was more active in the matter than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne. That right hon. Gentleman was at the time one of the most busy managers in organizing the opposition which was to force the Government to reduce the borough franchise. Well, Sir, the opposition was successful. A Resolution was passed which destroyed our Government, but which inflicted, I believe more damage on the Liberal party the almost any step which they have taken. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne—who was not at the time right hon. Gentleman, but who immediately became one—was promoted to a high post the Government.


I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon, I was a right honourable then.


The right hon. Gentleman will, I believe, not contradict me when I say that he was at the time of which I am speaking at once preferred to a high post the Government.


I was Vice President of the Board of Trade in the former Liberal government, and Vice President of the committee of Council on Education in the next.


I may be permitted to explain to the Committee why it is I have made the observations which have just fallen from me. No one has ever imputed to the right hon. Gentleman that he was actuated by any improper motives in the course which he pursued in 1859. It never entered our minds that because the right hon. Gentleman opposed our Bill and supported a policy then which he has since denounced, and he afterwards attained a high post, that he was in any way influenced by improper motives. Yet, the other evening, when my right hon. Friend the Secretary for India expressed, in a manner worthy the integrity of his character, and with a sincerity which no one could have doubted, the motives by which his conduct on this question had been dictated, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne did not hesitate to rise in his place and to impute to him an outrageous change of opinion, connecting that change with his preferment to high office. Under these circumstances, I am, I think, justified in reminding the right hon. Gentleman, who is very ready to criticize, but not very well disposed to bear criticism, that he should sometimes reflect a little before he makes such observations as these, and indulge in some reminiscence of his own past career. But to return to the subject more immediately under discussion. It is sometimes said that in the proposal which we make with a view to the settlement of the borough franchise, that we are interfering with, or, rather, that we are not doing justice to the compound-householders, who, according to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, are the creation of the civilization of the age. Now, I will not enter into any controversy on that subject, It was not only the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire but the hon. Member for Birmingham who thus described the Rating Acts which have produced such anomalous results. There are, however, other views entertained of those Acts than that they are the result of the civilization of the age. There are some who think that jobbing vestries, rapacious landlords, and indigent tenants may have given rise to the necessity for such legislation. We all know very well that those Acts were passed at a period which was not particularly distinguished for public spirit. Even the Small Tenements Act, which is the most recent of them, would, in the opinion of many, probably not have passed in the age in which we live. And I cannot believe, when we are laying down, on principles which I hope will prove permanent, the foundation of so high a privilege as that of electoral right, that we are to be scared from the constitutional course before us, or from taking a part that we approve of by the shadow and phantom of those Rating Acts. I cannot help thinking that if we legislate in the spirit which Her Majesty's Government recommend, and if this Bill is allowed to pass into law, many of the inconveniences which you now foresee will, as a necessary consequence, disappear. The men to whom this measure will open the franchise will, it seems to me, be actuated by higher motives than those for which you give them credit, will adapt themselves to the altered circumstances with which they will have to deal, and will not allow their rights to depend on any mere accidental arrangement. If our principles be sound those men will assert their sway, and will overcome those difficulties in their path on which you now so much dwell. What we have attempted in the new clause which we have laid on the table will very much soften and mitigate, even by the confession of the right hon. Gentleman opposite himself, those difficulties; and if our proposals be inconvenient in their character, and would tend to unjust consequences, would not similar inconveniences, I would ask, be experienced by that multitude which would be admitted under the fixed, hard line which the right hon. Gentleman himself proposes? Surely, under that £5 line there would be many more thousands of compound-householders or quasi-compound-householders by whom great inconvenience would have been endured than could be by possibility inconvenienced by our arrangement. Throughout this discussion that view of the case has been entirely omitted. Two things are always assumed—that under the £5 line no one who might fairly aspire to the franchise would be excluded from its exercise, and that with all the openings which we offer to the compound-householders not one of them will avail himself of the privilege placed within his reach. Can any one really believe that that would be the case? Under our Bill you will get all those men whom you say you wish to get on the register. If there be men who take no interest in the acquisition of political privileges, of course, they will not exert themselves to obtain them, and it is not desirable that they should, because persons without any decided character, or entirely engrossed in the lowest pursuits of life, with no wish to improve their condition, are not those who would reflect credit on the electoral body. That, however, is not, in my opinion, a just description of the majority of our countrymen, and if you do keep out ninny men who may not qualify themselves for the franchise under the constitutional conditions which we propose, who may be indigent, of a wandering character, or wanting in all those civil virtues of industry and order which you are anxious to promote, what harm will be done? Your object is to obtain the worthy, and if the unworthy are alone excluded we can do no harm. Then it is said, what are these securities—you cannot for a moment hope that they will continue to exist. There will be a great agitation against them. What, then, will be your position? It really is a mistake to call those checks and securities; and if you want to know what is to preserve and guard these securities, I will tell you why they will not be impugned. If you want to keep those securities, as you call them, in vigorous existence, you will be able best to do so by means of the people who by submitting to the conditions which we impose, in order to acquire the privileges which we throw open to them, will constitute their most effectual safeguard. When they find that by the personal payment of rates and by residence in a town for a certain time they can secure for themselves the franchise they will be disposed to look with extreme jealousy on those who do not conform to those conditions, and who do not lead those regular lives being placed in the same position. What has happened since the rate paying clauses of the Reform Bill of 1832 received the sanction of Parliament? Agitation against them has prevailed. Demagogues have made use of those clauses as a subject on which to excite the country. There have been organized operations certain towns against those clauses. They have, nevertheless, not been abolished, because the common sense of the great majority of the people who pay rates under those conditions has resolved to maintain them, inasmuch as they are barriers against those who may otherwise without pains attempt to share their privileges. Therefore, Sir, I think that that charge against what are called the securities is perfectly fallacious, that it is formed in ignorance of our countrymen, and that there is no foundation for any apprehension that if the franchise is granted on these conditions, these conditions will not be observed and guarded, and will not be observed and guarded by the very persons who, by submitting to those conditions, obtain the privileges which they prize. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Exeter made some remarkable observations with regard to this particular topic. He told us that no one could be a stronger advocate than he was for household suffrage; but the misfortune was that the country was not yet prepared for it, and having thus favoured us with the moral of his political creed he indulged in a criticism upon this measure and said, "These restrictions which you are proposing will ultimately break down, and then you will have household suffrage." But how inconsistent is the criticism with the creed. The hon. and learned Gentleman looks upon household suffrage as the perfection of policy, and regrets that the country is not yet prepared for such a measure; and surely, therefore, when a scheme is brought forward which for a certain time prevents household suffrage coming into operation in consequence of restrictions which in time will cease and break down, the hon. and learned Gentleman ought to congratulate us upon our wise and consummate policy in framing a temporary arrangement which will allow the country to enjoy to a certain degree household suffrage till it is prepared for it to the full extent. Well, Sir, there was one observation made by my noble Friend the Member for Stamford (Viscount Cranbourne) which certainly was severe upon the measure which we propose; but it appeared to me that my noble Friend proved too much. The arguments employed by my noble Friend were certainly very good arguments against the Bill; but they were no less arguments against all constitutional government. My noble Friend said, "You are increasing the suffrage, you are lowering the franchise, you are conferring power on the multitude. We know what will happen. You will have electioneering agents and a variety of political combinations who will avail themselves of the materials you have supplied them with, and the consequences to society will be most dangerous. You will have agitating leaders and all kinds of confederacies." It is all very true. Demagogues and agitators are very unpleasant, and leagues and registers may be very inconvenient, but they are incident to a free and constitutional country, and you must put up with these inconveniences or do without many important advantages. The arguments of my noble Friend, therefore, are not, I think, so much directed against this Bill as against any scheme which would extend political privileges to any portion of the nation. Now, Sir, I shall not notice some remarks made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent, because he evidently expected that I was going to make a very elaborate reply to what he said. I assure him that I listened with the greatest pleasure to the invectives which he delivered against myself. His style is greatly ornamental to discussion, but it requires practice. And so far as my hon. Friend displayed his talents to-night, I listened with the greatest satisfaction. All his exhibitions in this House are distinguished by a prudery which charms me, and when he talks of Asian mysteries I may, perhaps, by way of reply, remark that there is a Batavian grace about his exhibition which takes the sting cut of what he has said. Now, Sir, perhaps I may be allowed to put before the House what I believe to be an impartial account of the relation of the Government to the House with respect to their Reform Bill. First of all, then, I would notice our relations with the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone). Now the right hon. Gentleman opposite is a candidate for power, and no man has a greater right to be a candidate for power. The right hon. Gentleman is an opponent with whom any man may be proud to have to contend. I know nothing more legitimate than the ambition of such a man, and I am sure I bear the right hon. Gentleman no ill-will, or as little as a man can bear, for the efforts which he may make to change his position and to cross from one side of the House to the other. But I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will not be offended if I, without passion, but I am sure clearly express to the House, what I believe to be his position with regard to the Government and this question. I can quite understand how the right hon. Gentleman should be so very emulous to deal with this important question with which Her Majesty's Government have felt it their duty to grapple; but the right hon. Gentleman seems to forget, what he ought to remember. The right hon. Gentleman has had his innings. He has dealt with the subject of Parliamentary Reform very recently, and in this House—in this House elected under the auspices of a Government of which he was a Member—and he introduced a measure with the advantage which we have never had, of being supported by a large majority. I do not begrudge the right hon. Gentleman those advantages; but I may still remind him of them, and I say under these circumstances we have a right to expect from the right hon. Gentleman that there should be no great eagerness to make party attacks. I cannot but view the Amendments proposed by the right hon. Gentleman in this light. They are not Amendments to our Bill. They are counter propositions. Now, some remarks were made with reference to a letter—the character of which was evidently entirely misunderstood by the hon. Gentleman who made those remarks. The letter was not addressed to the House of Commons, but to those with whom I am accustomed to act in public life. It was exactly such a letter as hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House are constantly in the habit of receiving. It may be described as a monosyllabic word, the instrument with which the races of Nemea have been won. The right hon. Gentleman suddenly placed upon the paper a declaration of war to the knife, and it was thought desirable that our Friends should be addressed, not in the usual hand but by my own, because it was thought that that fact would, perhaps, induce them to read the letter they received. I acknowledge the right hon. Gentleman's position and talents—that he is perfectly justified in attacking the Government; but do not let us misunderstand the motive or the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman. Nothing can be more legitimate. It is a party attack, and the endeavour to parry it as a party attack is in accordance with the tactics which were understood to be adopted in the House on this subject. But as regards the House of Commons, generally speaking, I wish, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, whatever may be the decision to-night, whatever may be the consequences of this division, to say that in dealing with this question Her Majesty's Government have never for a moment swerved from those sentiments which, with the full concurrence and desire of my Colleagues, I have often expressed in this House—namely, that we are most anxious to co-operate with the House in bringing this question of Parliamentary Reform to a satisfactory settlement, and although we could not swerve with respect to the borough franchise from those principles which we regarded as vital—namely, personal payment of rates and residence—still, with regard to almost every other point which has been mentioned in our discussion, we are most anxious, in Committee, after a fair deliberation, and after an interchange of opinion, to adopt that course which the House in its wisdom may think most expedient and desirable. The right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) have expressed some astonishment at the course which the Government were pursuing, after the concessions they had made. Now, Sir, I and my Colleagues are conscious of the heavy task we have undertaken, and how much we must depend upon the assistance of the House in order to bring it to a happy conclusion; but I confess, that I really am at a loss to understand what are the concessions which the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends have made us. I have been accused one night of giving up everything, and on the next of never having given up anything at all. I know very well that there was an important point—not a fundamental principle, but still an important point—in our original plan which I relinquished at the general desire of both sides of the House, and particularly at the desire of my own Friends, there is no doubt about that; but that was a concession from the Government. However, I am sure we shall be most grateful for any concessions which we may receive; but, at the present time, we are not conscious that such gifts have been bestowed on us. Now, whatever the course of this division, I wish the House thoroughly to understand what have been from the first and are now the feelings of the Government with reference to this Bill. As far as the borough franchise is concerned, I must repeat, at the risk of wearying the House, what I have said from the first, that the franchise in our plan is founded upon principles from which we cannot swerve. And the House has always in its discussions accepted that; nor is it a novelty when we say that personal payment of rates and residence are the only conditions upon which we consent to this arrangement of the borough franchise. But I have in my mind no other point of this description at present. It would require a considerable amount of time to form an opinion on the immense number and great variety of Amendments, suggestions, and propositions upon the paper at the present moment; but if I and my Colleagues had an opportunity, we would consider all those Amendments and propositions which hon. Gentlemen have placed upon the paper during the holydays with a most anxious desire to change and modify and adapt them to any practical course which may be consistent with the general principle of our measure, and we are perfectly prepared to meet the House in that spirit. We have been told that the lodger franchise has been conceded. The right hon. Gentleman says, "I have pledged myself to introduce a lodger franchise," but really I an obliged to correct him, because I have not pledged myself, and for a very good reason. I believe that to introduce such a lodger franchise as would satisfy the House and the country is one of the most difficult things in the world. All I did say was, and I was careful in saying it, that if a sensible and well-considered proposition were brought forward we would candidly meet it, and I am sure that if it were established in argument it would be adopted by the House. But I have had a great many communications upon the question of the lodger franchise, and every day I find more difficulty in the subject. I find it a very difficult subject. The right hon. Gentleman who makes so much of the lodger franchise, must himself be conscious, after being reminded of his language last year, when he was so very strong in his expressions, and informed the House that it was a small matter which chiefly concerned the middle classes—the right hon. Gentleman must himself feel, on reflection, that the matter is not so easy as he has stated. I have received many deputations of late, and among them has been one from a society which is very much under the patronage of the hon. Member for Birmingham—the Reform League. The members of that deputation spoke to me upon the subject of the lodger franchise, and so far as I can recollect, though my noble Friend (Lord Stanley), who was with me, will correct me if I am in error, I distinctly understood from them that they wanted a lodger franchise. But when I asked what residence and value should be the qualification, they looked upon the observation as an insult; so that was not at all encouraging. Many hon. Gentlemen are as well informed as I am on this matter; but I say this is very valuable information to the Minister or Member who is projecting a lodger franchise, which is peculiarly for the working classes, and especially for the working classes in London. If value and rating are not to be admitted as qualifications to a lodger franchise such as would meet with the views of all. But let the proposition be made; let it be brought forward by any Gentleman who is thoroughly master of the subject and can bring it fairly before the House, and he will find from me a kind reception for the lodger franchise, and I shall be very glad if he can succeed in bringing forward a proposition satisfactory to the country and the House. Then with regard to the county franchise and other points upon which questions have been put to me across the House—I object to settling matters of that kind by question and answer across the House, without the advantage of discussion. Take the question of the compounders; gentlemen rise and ask, do you intend to do this or that? I must answer that the question of the compound-householder is one of great difficulty which requires much debating; and the speeches which have been delivered tonight must have convinced the House that it is a question which demanded complete discussion in Committee. Again, I have been asked what we mean to do with the proposition of voting-papers; I reply that we wish to consult the feeling of the House of Commons upon that matter; and if the House thinks fairly of this and other points, I shall, with the consent of my Colleagues, redeem the pledge which I gave, and give those points the consideration they deserve. But, above all, let us have fair discussion and deliberation; that is the spirit in which Her Majesty's Government wish to treat this question with regard to the House. It is a disagreeable thing to distinguish between the House generally and the right hon. Gentleman opposite, to whom I always wish, as the head of a party, to pay every honour; but this is a subject of a peculiar character; it has gone through peculiar phases already during the course of this year, and it is my duty to distinguish between the House generally and the right hon. Gentleman, though he is the Leader of the party, because between the House and the Government upon this question of Parliamentary Reform there was an understanding that we were mutually to co-operate, and by mutual confidence and co-operation to bring about if we could a fair measure of Reform. That is the undertaking which I on the part of my Colleagues am perfectly ready to fulfil, and to none of the suggestions which hon. Gentlemen opposite have put upon the paper will we refuse the most ample consideration. We will give then all the consideration they deserve, with the anxious desire to adapt and so modify them as to chime in with the principles of our Bill. But when the right hon. Gentle man comes forward suddenly with a counter proposition to the main proposals of the Government it is impossible for me to close my eyes to the nature of that movement; I must say to the right hon. Gen- tleman that I cannot in any way agree to the propositions he has made; they would entirely alter and would completely supersede the policy which we recommend the House to adopt; and therefore I trust the right hon. Gentleman will clearly understand that in the distinction which I have made that I have not done it merely in the heat of debate, for I feel in no heat at this moment. I think, on the eve of an important division, that there should be a clear and honest understanding between the Government and the House of Commons upon this matter of the Reform Bill. We have acted entirely in conformity with our representations to the House; we believe we have experienced from hon. Gentlemen true candour and generous consideration, and we are anxious at this moment cordially to co-operate with the House of Commons in the settlement of this question.


I have no complaint whatever to make of the latter part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, in which he has referred so largely to myself, either in point of courtesy or of candour; and with regard, in particular, to one especial assurance which he conveyed that it was from no personal ill-will that he entered upon the subject, I venture in return to assure him that I listened to the declaration with feelings of most implicit belief The right hon. Gentleman and I have often been in sharp conflict; it is possible that we may be in sharp conflict again but at no period, as is well known to my friends, have I ever charged him or suspected him of being actuated by feelings of personal animosity. Having thus, I hope satisfactorily, disposed of the explanation as regards me personally, I hope I may be permitted to comment upon the singular declarations that have proceeded from the right hon. Gentleman. He says he has had a clear understanding with the House, and that he has given explicit assurances to the House, and that by those assurances he is bound to entertain fairly and to consider candidly any suggestions that he may receive from Members of the House provided they do not proceed from the head of the party of Opposition. Now, Sir, I do not for a moment question the title of the right hon. Gentleman to decline to entertain any suggestion proceeding from myself. But the right hon. Gentleman, if he chooses to dignify me with the title, of which I am very unworthy, of Leader of the Opposition in this House, must know that I do not hold that post by my own choice, and that if there be one post in this country which more than another is only to be held by the free voice of those who are concerned it is that. Therefore, I confess that after the candid statement of the right hon. Gentleman I am at a loss to perceive in what sense it is that, addressing himself to those who sit upon these Benches, and who are supposed by the public outside of these walls to be a party composed of the majority of the House—to be a party capable of directing its proceedings—I do not, I say, well understand in what sense it is that the right hon. Gentleman proposes to fulfil his pledges to that portion of the Members of this House by declaring that he is ready to entertain their suggestions, provided none of these suggestions are offered through the person whom they may honour with their choice. ["No!"] Well, Sir, if I have misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, I own I am entirely at a loss to divine the meaning of those remarkable sentences—not to be mistaken or easily forgotten—in which he drew his broad and clear distinction between myself and the Members on this side of the House. However, Sir, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that, as for every candid declaration. Perhaps I feel with him that what is now going on may throw great light upon the subject which he has opened, and may serve to show me at least how far it is in my power to contribute anything or nothing at all to the settlement of Parliamentary Reform in the position which I hold. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman says this is a party attack; and it is not unnatural that his friends should cheer that declaration on his part. But I want to know what we are to do in a case in which we approach the discussion of an important portion of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill, and we find ourselves separated, by all the precedents of our conduct, and by our deep conviction, from the principle on which he proposes to proceed. In what manner, I want to know, are we to give effect to our convictions other than that which he calls laying before the House a counter-proposition, and why, if we so lay before the House a counter-proposition, is it to be assumed by the right hon. Gentleman that conviction on our part has nothing to do with the matter, and that that which we really aim at is to give effect to our eager anxiety to drive him from office? Sir, I must say this, that charges of this kind ought at all times to be lightly borne by public men. But I think that we who quitted office in the month of last June, at a time when we well knew that a majority of this House were desirous that we should retain it, we, of all other men, may receive that imputation, not, indeed, with the scorn with which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board abounds. ["No!"] Are Gentlemen aware that I am quoting the expression of the right hon. Gentleman himself? Not, indeed, I say with the scorn with which the President of the Poor Law Board abounds. [An hon. MEMBER: He does not abound with it!] I thank the hon. Member for his interruption and contradiction; but I had the advantage of hearing the President of the Poor Law Board in a very able speech, and as I hope the time of the House will not be wasted in idle altercation of this kind about scorn abounding or not abounding, I shall merely say we may receive such imputations as those to which I was referring with a modest yet very firm denial. Well, the right hon. Gentleman challenges what he cads my plan, which he says I have laid before the House. And I would say a few words on the assumption that it is before the House. He holds that it is impossible by drawing a hard line to settle this question; and in his historical review he wishes to deprive me of any advantage which I could obtain from his own authority. He tells us that in 1859 the Government of Lord Derby advisedly came to the conclusion that they could not venture to recommend such a line, and, consequently, they did not propose a lowering of the borough franchise; but has the right hon. Gentleman forgotten that, in 1859, after the General Election, while he was yet in office, and when the question of retaining office depended, as he thought, upon his words, he came forward in the place which he now occupies and declared his readiness to lower the borough franchise? Or, if the right hon. Gentleman's memory extends only to that portion of 1859 that went before the election, and not to that which followed it, has he forgotten what happened only six weeks ago, when, proposing from that Bench a Bill for the settlement of the question of Parliamentary Reform, he did lower the franchise to a certain figure, and he did tell us also this, that although our plan of last year had been founded only on an expedient, the plan which he then proposed differed from ours, inasmuch as his plan for lowering the borough franchise was founded on a principle? Surely, the right hon. Gentleman must count upon the shortness of our memories with extraordinary confidence if he thinks that arguments and statements of that kind can weigh with the House? The right hon. Gentleman has, however, set before us pretty clearly the position in which we stand with reference to the important portion of the Bill which concerns the borough franchise. And, so far, I do not understand him to draw distinctions between other Members of the House and myself. I do assure him that if I could believe that he does not object to anything in this proposal but the name of the man who proposes it I would willingly part with my responsibility for it to any man whom the right hon. Gentleman might prefer. But I think the right hon. Gentleman has told us distinctly that this principle of personal rating and that of what he calls adequate residence—that is, a residence for two years, as expressed in his recent letter—are vital proposals of the Bill from which he is not prepared to depart. Now, if that be so, it is as such that we must treat them. Now, a question was put to-day by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield with so much confidence as regards the House, and so much comfort and satisfaction evidently dwelling in his own mind, and the challenge accompanying that question was so bold that it would be unpardonable in me not to notice it. First, let me say, in passing, that I do not admit to my hon. and learned Friend that there is any circumstance connected with this Motion which ought to lead to the conclusion that it would delay the settlement of the question of Reform. My hon. and learned Friend may have his own opinion on that point; but do not let him treat it as an admission on my part or on that of those who sit near me. "But," says the hon. and learned Member, "why, because a man is the tenant of a compounding owner, should he be allowed to pay only 15s. instead of the 20s. which would be paid by him if he were a ratepaying householder?" And that I must say was the sole argument which he advanced. Does he want an answer? I will try to give him two. And the first I take from the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Treasury, who entered in the hearing of my hon. and learned Friend upon this portion of the subject, unfortunately, at a time when the House was very thin, and who clearly explained that the difference of 25 per cent which is granted to the landlord under the Small Tenements Act is due to the commission which he receives for the collection and for the risk which he runs of non-recovery, and consequently that the compound-householder pays to the landlord not 15s. but 20s. I believe that the Secretary to the Treasury is very near the truth. But suppose he were not at all near the truth; suppose it were the fact that there was a state of the law in this country under which some portion of the ratepayers of the kingdom were unduly favoured at the cost of the other ratepayers, what, in the world, has that to do with the question of the franchise? Is it a good law, or is it a bad law? If it is right that men should be allowed to compound, let them not on account of paying this compounded rate be debarred from the franchise. If it is wrong that they should be allowed to compound, alter your law, repeal your compounding Acts, and redress and remove that which is a great economic injustice, whether you connect it with the franchise or not. My second answer, therefore, to the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, is that his objection is totally irrelevant to the question of the franchise, and ought to be dealt with upon grounds entirely apart from any political discussion. Well, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board and the right hon. Gentleman who last sat down have referred to the question of the lodger franchise; and the latter states that certain gentlemen have informed him that it would be an insult to the working man if the lodger franchise were to be connected either with residence or with value. Now I, Sir, had the advantage of seeing, I believe, those same persons, and I must say that, so far from making any such representations to me, their representations appeared to be in a directly opposite sense; and, as the right hon. Gentleman suspects me, whether with reason or without, of being more in their confidence than himself, I must demur to his statement. Father of the lodger franchise the right hon. Gentleman may be; but there was a great personage of antiquity, the great head of the Roman mythology, who was for nothing so famous as this, that he devoured and made away with his own children. I very much fear that something of this kind may be, or may have been, the case with regard to the right hon. Gentle- man and the lodger franchise. But the right hon. Gentleman says that I made light of the lodger franchise. Where does he find those words? In the first place let me say to the right hon. Gentleman tin President of the Poor Law Board, the when we brought forward our Bill of last year, we had not all the information as to the circumstances or the feelings of the working classes which we now possess But the right hon. Gentleman and those who act with him are the true fathers of the agitation which now prevails—the who, as I think, by unwise and unfortunate resistance produced the feeling that now spreads through the country from one end to the other—they at least have been able to secure us this advantage, that we know more of the desires and dispositions of the working classes at this time than we did twelve months ago. But at what time did I state that the lodger franchise—which, it must be recollected, was in our Bill—was one of the provisions of that measure with which we could consent to part? It is true that I never was so sanguine as others were as to the number who would be enfranchised under that provision. At this moment I do not believe that the number to be enfranchised in that mode will be nearly as great as many of the working classes imagine. But a lodger franchise now, as then, is vital to the settlement of this question. And the right hon. Gentleman will not be able to throw on the House and the Members of this House the responsibility of dealing with this essential portion of the subject. He must produce it the Bill his own plan for a lodger franchise, and without that he cannot have the smallest hope that this measure will afford satisfaction to the working classes. I wish the House—especially the Benches behind the Government—had been full at the time when the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury was addressing the House and when he made his pathetic and earliest appeal to the advocates and friends of household suffrage to support this Bill, when he deprecated the conduct of my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, casting on him this reproach—"What! you an advocate of household suffrage, and come forward as an opponent of this Bill? Do you not see that if you support this Amendment you drive household suffrage to a greater distance than ever?" I wish the House generally, and my noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire especially, had had the benefit of hearing one of the most animated, one of the most impassioned, and evidently one of the most sincere appeals that has proceeded from any person upon the Treasury Benches during any part of this discussion. The right hon. Gentleman says that the plan I proposed aims at drawing a line downwards below which persons should not be permitted to have the franchise, and also at drawing a line upwards with a view to equal enfranchisement. But a great distinction is to be drawn between the two propositions. I am in favour of drawing a line downwards; and I think my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham and other Gentlemen have given good reasons why, in the present state of this country, it is still desirable to draw such a line. But the drawing of this line is matter of time and circumstance. The extension of the franchise according to the capacity of the people is not an evil, but a good. The enlargement of time pale of the Parliamentary constitution which multiplies the numbers of those whose will, whose thought, whose intelligence, whose education is directly to be interested in the political action of the State—all this is an advantage of the State. All that is requisite is that you should not proceed so fast as to outrun the competence and to disregard the condition of the people. And if the condition of the people were such in point of education and independence as would lead of their free and intelligent exercise of the suffrage with a full independence of character, I should not be the man to say—draw any line at all. The line stands in the circumstances of the time; and the other portions of the plan which I venture to propose stand upon a principle. The principle which I ask the House to recognise is one of permanent application; it is one that never can be wrong. It is this—that those persons whom Parliament recognises as of a class and condition of life fit to be invested with a title to the franchise shall, so far as depends on Parliament, have equal access to the equal enjoyment of those rights. The right hon. Gentleman tells us it is impossible to think of a settlement if you draw a line—admitting the classes more independent and more educated, and excluding the classes less independent and less educated. But he thinks he can bring about a settlement by drawing the line among persons of the same class, by giving one man the franchise and refusing it to another, though the social position of the two may be exactly the same, and the only difference between them that arising from the fact that one lives at the side of a street in which the Small Tenements Act is in operation, and the other on a side where it is not in operation. ["Oh, oh!"] That is no exaggeration. Are there not ninety-eight boroughs of this country in which such a state of things exists? But we are told that those compound-householders can enfranchise themselves. Sir, it appears to me, on examining the clauses of the right hon. Gentleman, that you may have those compound-householders enfranchised by shoals through the agency of others. That I do not deny. But it will not be by the parish officer. He cannot change the status of the compound-householder. It will be by the interference of political agents. Nothing can be easier in all the small boroughs of the country where there are 300, or 400, or 500 compound-householders than at a cost very moderate—when the scale on which many of our election contests unfortunately are conducted is taken into consideration—to make arrangements for putting a large number of those compound-householders on the register under circumstances which will not render the ratepaying very burdensome to them. I do not deny that this might be done; but that is not the enfranchisement we want; and if this is the remedy proposed, it is worse than the inconvenience it is intended to remove, because it would spread the reign of corruption through those boroughs in a way and to an extent which it would be impossible to detect. I object to this system. I have received no answer to the objection I made that the franchise would be extended by political agency; I have received no answer to my objection that you would establish inequality between one town and another; I have received no answer to my objection that you would establish an inequality between one portion of a town and another portion of the same town; I have received no answer to my assertion that, above all, you would establish an inequality between men in the same social position by setting up a fictitious and artificial distinction. With that view of personal rating, the right hon. Gentleman will hardly be surprised if I say that no Bill founded on the principle of this Bill can settle this question, nor deserve the acceptance of this House. It may be that under pressure the right hon. Gen- tleman may be able to lead his Colleagues one step after another, removing one restraint after another in order to meet objections from various quarters, and that in this way he may mitigate the evils of the Bill. How far that may go I cannot say; but I must decline all responsibility in respect of a measure which, aiming at a settlement of Parliamentary Reform, introduces into that settlement the poison of a principle so pervading the whole measure that it is hopeless to expect that the Bill will receive the acquiescence of the public mind. We have heard a great deal of the evils which would arise from fixing a limit; but I beg to tell the right hon. Gentleman that, limit or no limit, my objection to personal rating remains the same. If we are to travel to household suffrage—and the right hon. Gentleman has done much, I admit, to make it possible that we will soon arrive there—let us look at the matter in the face, and ask ourselves whether it is desirable we should travel to it through the medium of legislation which, for the short time it can possibly endure, will be nothing more nor less than a political blister on the country. Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the consequences which must result from keeping alive such feelings as this Bill will give rise to? Have hon. Members considered that they may rouse the popular mind with reference to a particular question, while they may have no means of securing that the excitement should be confined to the settlement of that question? Now, I desire to be free from the responsibility involved in that question; and, with the permission of the House, I Will read a few words, the production of a man of great ability, Mr. Harrison, written in one of the periodicals not very long ago. He says— A vote may be everything or nothing. Its value wholly depends upon the state of the political atmosphere. Universal suffrage in an easy time would produce far less positive results than a narrow franchise in an excited time. It is the heaving of mind and strain of purpose which produce the end, and not the machinery of its expression. The effort necessary to carry out a legal change produces far more results than the change itself. The excitement of the public mind connected with the passing of an injudicious law is an evil for which I do not wish to be responsible. If we are to travel to household suffrage, it may be that the present Government may be its immediate authors. I am perfectly convinced that the evils, whatever they might be of that state of things, will be neutralized and checked by the good sense of the country; but I will not consent to travel to it by a road which would be a way of strife and of disturbance, and which would take away from the nation at large the sense of gratitude for the boon received, and would lead us, after a long period of anxiety and agitation, and through a long course of bitter controversy, to a goal which it is vital to the public interest that we should reach by a peaceful and by a liberal course of procedure.


Before the Motion is put perhaps I may be allowed to ask a question touching the honour of Member of this House. I am very sorry to have to do so; but I feel in honour bound to take this step after what passed in the early part of the evening. It will be in the recollection of the House that in the early part of the evening I put a question to the hon. Member for Nottingham and an answer was given which was no satisfactory to myself. It reflected upon the honour of an absent Friend of mine who is not here to answer for himself. Therefore, not wishing that the hon. Member for Nottingham should be misrepresented, or that the conduct of my hon. Friend should go forth to the world as proper, I will put this question to the hon. Member, and I trust he will give me a straightforward and candid answer. The hon. Member for Nottingham stated the he had in common courtesy given the hon. and gallant Member for the county of Dublin notice that he was about to bring forward his case before the House. I beg to know how and when the hon. Member did give such notice, for no notice had been received at the office of the hon. and gallant Member for the county Dublin or at his private residence when the hon. Member for Nottingham brought the matter forward?


Perhaps I may throw some light upon this matter. My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham asked me to inform my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the county of Dublin that he was about to bring forward the matter to which the hon. and gallant Member for Beverley referred. I told my hon. Friend I should be happy to inform my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the county of Dublin. I endeavoured to find him; but I am very sorry to say I failed in doing so. I was not aware until my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham sat down that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the county of Dublin had met with the accident that I am very sorry to have heard of. I sincerely regret the circumstance that the matter has been brought under the notice of the House in the absence of my hon. and gallant Friend, and I am sure sure that the hon. Member for Nottingham, if he had known of the accident, would not have brought the matter forward.


I wish to put another question. Had the hon. Member for Nottingham, before he rose to answer my question, earlier in the evening, ascertained whether the hon. Member for Lewes had communicated with the hon. and gallant Member for the county of Dublin?


I am very much obliged to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I do not know by the by whether he is gallant. I am obliged to him for the mild, gentlemanlike, and courteous way in which he put the question. I shall endeavour not to imitate his manner exactly, but to give a straightforward answer to his question. On entering this House about five minutes past four o'clock, this statement was put into my hand. [Colonel STUART KNOX: Whom by?] Really, the hon. Gentleman is inquisitive; but I will satisfy him privately. I had not time to see the hon. and gallant Member for the county of Dublin. I am not in the habit of doing these things. The hon. Gentleman will find, if he chooses to prosecute the matter, that I did not find the hon. and gallant Member; but I sent to the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Brand), begging that he would communicate with the hon. and gallant Member for the county of Dublin. I thought they would necessarily meet in the Lobby, and I was not then aware of the accident that happened to him. Had I known it had happened I should never have put the question or brought the matter forward. Had I known it I should have dropped the matter altogether.


I stated it.


I never heard you. I am sorry for what occurred under the circumstances.


rose to speak, but was met with cries of Order!"


When the hon. and gallant Member for Beverley rose to put a question I thought he was about to put a question which had some connection with the business immediately before us. This, however, is not a subject which the Committee can now proceed to discuss.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 289; Noes 310: Majority 21.

Acland, T. D. Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.
Adair, H. E. Cranbourne, Viscount
Agar-Ellis, hn. L. G. F. Craufurd, E. H. J.
Agnew, Sir A. Crawford, R. W.
Allen, W. S. Cremorne, Lord
Amberley, Viscount Crossley, Sir F.
Anstruther, Sir R. Davie, Sir H. R. F.
Antrobus, E. De La Poer, E.
Armstrong, R. Denman, hon. G.
Ayrton, A. S. Dent, J. D.
Aytoun, R. S. Dering, Sir E. C.
Bagwell, J. Devereux, R. J.
Baines, E. Dilke, Sir W.
Barclay, A. C. Duff, M. E. G.
Baring, hon. A. H. Duff, R. W.
Barnes, T. Dundas, F.
Barron, Sir H. W. Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.
Barry, C. R. Dunlop, A. C. S. M.
Baxter, W. E. Earle, R. A.
Bazley, T. Edwards, C.
Beaumont, W. B. Eliot, Lord
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Ellice, E.
Biddulph, Colonel R. M. Enfield, Viscount
Biddulph, M. Erskine, Vice-Ad. J. E.
Blake, J. A. Esmonde, J.
Bonham-Carter, J. Evans, T. W.
Bouverie, rt. hn. E. P. Ewart, W.
Bright, Sir C. T. Eykyn, R.
Bright, J. Fawcett, H.
Bruce, Lord C. Fildes, J.
Bruce, rt. hon. H. A. Finlay, A. S.
Buller, Sir A. W. FitzGerald, Lord O. A.
Buller, Sir E. M. FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W.
Butler, C. S. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Buxton, Sir T. F. Fordyce, W. D.
Calcraft, J. H. M. Forster, C.
Calthorpe, hn. F. H. W. G. Forster, W. E.
Candlish, J. Foster, W. O.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Fort, R.
Carington, hon. C. R. Fortescue, rt. hon. C. S.
Carnegie, hon. C. Fortescue, hon. D. F.
Castlerosse, Viscount Gaselee, Serjeant S.
Cave, T. Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.
Cavendish, Lord E. Gilpin, C.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Cavendish, Lord G. Gladstone, W. H.
Chambers, M. Glyn, G. G.
Cheetham, J. Goldsmid, Sir F. H.
Childers, H. C. E. Goldsmid, J.
Cholmeley, Sir M. J. Gower, hon. F. L.
Clay, J. Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Clement, W. J. Graham, W.
Clinton, Lord E. P. Gregory, W. H.
Clive, G. Grenfell, H. R.
Cogan, rt. hn. W. H. F. Greville-Nugent, A. W. F.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Greville-Nugent, Col.
Coleridge, J. D. Gray, Sir J.
Collier, Sir R. P. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Colthurst, Sir G. C. Gridley, Captain H. G.
Colvile, C. R. Grosvenor, Capt. R. W.
Cowen, J. Grove, T. F.
Cowper, hon. H. F. Gurney, S.
Hadfield, G. O'Beirne, J. L.
Hamilton, E. W. T. O'Brien, Sir P.
Hankey, T. O'Conor Don, The
Hanmer, Sir J. O'Donoghue, The
Hardcastle, J. A Ogilvy, Sir J.
Harris, J. D. Oliphant, L.
Hartington, Marquess of O'Loghlen, Sir C. M.
Hay, Lord J. Onslow, G.
Hay, Lord W. M. O'Reilly, M. W.
Hayter, Captain A. D. Osborne, R. B.
Headlam, rt. hn. T. E. Otway, A. J.
Heathcote, Sir W. Owen, Sir H. O.
Henderson, J. Packe, Colonel
Heneage, E. Padmore, R.
Henley, Lord Palmer, Sir R.
Herbert, H. A. Pease, J. W.
Hodgson, K. D. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Holden, I. Peel, A. W.
Holland, E. Peel, J.
Hope, A. J. B. B. Pelham, Lord
Horsman, rt. hon. E. Peto, Sir S. M.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Philips, R. N.
Hubbard, J. G. Portman, hn. W. H. B.
Hughes, T. Potter, E.
Hughes, W. B. Potter, T. B.
Hurst, R. H. Power, Sir J.
Hutt, rt. hon. Sir W. Price, R. G.
Jackson, W. Price, W. P.
Jervoise, Sir J. C. Proby, Lord
Johnstone, Sir J. Rawlinson, Sir H.
Kearsley, Captain R. Rebow, J. G.
Kennedy, T. Robartes, T. J. A.
Kinglake, A. W. Robertson, D.
Kinglake, J. A. Rothschild, Baron L. de
Kingscote, Colonel Rothschild, Baron M. de
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. Rothschild, N. M. de
Knatchbull-Hugessen, E Russell, A.
Laing, S. Russell, F. W.
Lawrence, W. Russell, Sir W.
Lawson, rt. hon. J. A. St. Aubyn, J.
Layard, A. H. Samuda, J. D'A.
Leatham, W. H. Samuelson, B.
Lee, W. Scholefield, W.
Leeman, G. Scott, Sir W.
Lefevre, G. J. S. Scrope, G. P.
Locke, J. Seely, C.
Lowe, rt. hon. R. Seymour, A.
Lusk, A. Seymour, H. D.
M'Laren, D. Shafto, R. D.
Maguire, J. F. Sheridan, H. B.
Marjoribanks, Sir D. C. Sherriff, A. C.
Martin, C. W. Simcon, Sir J.
Martin, P. W. Smith, J.
Matheson, A. Smith, J. A.
Merry, J. Smith, J. B.
Milbank, F. A. Speirs, A. A.
Mill, J. S. Stacpoole, W.
Miller, W. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Mills, J. R. Stansfeld, J.
Milton, Viscount Stone, W. H.
Mitchell, A. Stuart, Col. Crichton-
Moffatt, G. Sullivan, E.
Moncreiff, rt. hon. J. Sykes, Col. W. H.
Monk, C. J. Synan, E. J.
Monsell, rt. hon. W. Taylor, P. A.
Moore, C. Tite, W.
More, R. J. Tomline, G.
Morris, W. Torrens, W. T. M'C.
Morrison, W. Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury-
Murphy, N. D.
Neate, C. Trevelyan, G. O.
Nicol, J. D. Vanderbyl, P.
Norwood, C. M. Verney, Sir H.
Villiers, rt. hon. C. P. Wickham, H. W.
Vivian, Capt. hn. J. C. W. Williamson, Sir H.
Waring, C. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Warner, E. Woods, H
Watkin, E. W. Wyld, J.
Weguelin, T. M. Wyvill, M.
Western, Sir T. B. Young, G.
Whatman, J. Young, R.
Whitbread, S.
White, hon. Capt. C. TELLERS.
White, J. Brand, rt. hon. H. B. W.
Whitworth, B. Adam, W P.
Adderley, rt. hon. C. B. Cole, hon. H.
Akroyd, E. Cole, hon. J. L.
Andover, Viscount Cooper, E. H.
Annesley, hon. Col. H Corbally, M. E.
Anson, hon. Major Corrance, F. S.
Archdall, Capt. M. Corry, rt. hon. H. L.
Arkwright, R. Courtenay, Lord
Baggallay, R. Cox, W. T.
Bagge, Sir W. Cubitt, G.
Bagnall, C. Curzon, Viscount
Bailey, Sir J. R. Dalglish, R.
Baillie, rt. hon. H. J. Dalkeith, Earl of
Baring, T. Dawson, R. P.
Barnett, H. Dick, F.
Barrington, Viscount Dickson, Major A. G.
Barrow, W. H. Dillwyn, L. L.
Barttelot, Colonel Dimsdale, R.
Bass, A. Disraeli, rt. hon. B.
Bass, M. T. Doulton, F.
Bateson, Sir T. Dowdeswell, W. E.
Bathurst, A. A. Du Cane, C.
Beach, Sir M. H. Duncombe, hon. A.
Beach, W. W. B. Duncombe, hon. Colonel
Bective, Earl of Dunne, General
Beecroft, G. S. Dutton, hon. R. H.
Bentinck, G. C. Dyke, W. H.
Benyon, R. Dyott, Colonel R.
Beresford, Capt. D. W. Pack- Eaton, H. W.
Eckersley, N.
Bingham, Lord Edwards, Sir H.
Booth, Sir R. G Egerton, Sir P. G.
Bourne, Colonel Egerton, hon. A. F.
Bowen, J. B. Egerton, E. C.
Bowyer, Sir G. Egerton. hon. W.
Brady, J. Elcho, Lord
Brett, W. B. Ewing, H. E. Crum-
Bridges, Sir B. W. Fane, Lt.-Col. H. H.
Briscoe, J. I. Fane, Colonel J. W.
Bromley, W. D. Feilden, J.
Brooks, R. Followes, E.
Browne, Lord J. T. Fergusson, Sir J.
Bruce, Lord E. Fitzwilliam, hn. C.W.W.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Floyer, J.
Bruen, H. Foley, H. W.
Buckley, E. Forde, Colonel
Bulkeley, Sir R. Forester, rt. hon. Gen.
Burrell, Sir P. Freshfield, C. K.
Butler-Johnstone, H. A Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Campbell, A. H. Galway, Viscount
Capper, C. Garth, R.
Cartwright, Colonel Gaskell, J. M.
Cave, rt. hon. S. Getty, S. G.
Chambers, T. Goddard, A. L.
Chatterton, rt. hn. H.E. Goldney, G.
Clinton, Lord A. P. Gooch, Sir D.
Clive, Capt. hon. G. W. Goodson, J.
Cobbold, J. C. Gore, J. R. O.
Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B. Gore, W. R. O.
Gorst, J. E. Lennox, Lord G. G.
Grant, A. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Graves, S. R. Leslie, C. P.
Greenall, G. Lewis, H.
Greene, E. Liddell, hon. H. G.
Gray, Lieut.-Colonel Lindsay, hon. Col. C.
Grey, hon. T. de Lindsay, Col, R. L.
Griffith, C. D. Long, R. P.
Grosvenor, Earl Lopes, Sir M.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Lowther, Captain
Guinness, Sir B. L. Lowther, J.
Gurney, rt. hon. R. MacEvoy, E.
Gwyn, H. M'Kenna, J. N.
Hamilton, rt. hon. Lord C. Mackie, J.
Hamilton, Lord C. J. Mackinnon, Capt. L. B.
Hamilton, I. T. Mackinnon, W. A.
Hamilton, Viscount M'Lagan, P.
Hardy, rt. hon. G. Mainwaring, T.
Hardy, J. Malcolm, J. W.
Hartley, J. Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.
Hartopp, E. B. Manners, Lord G. J.
Harvey, R. B. Marsh, M. H.
Harvey, R. J. H. Meller, Colonel
Harvey, Lord A. H. C. Mitchell, T. A.
Hay, Sir J. C. D. Mitford, W. T.
Heathcote, hon. G. H. Montagu, Lord R.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Montgomery, Sir G.
Henniker-Major, hon. J. M. Mordaunt, Sir C.
Morgan, O.
Herbert, hn. Colonel P. Morgan, hon. Major
Heygate, Sir F. W. Morris, G.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Hodgkinson, G. Naas, Lord
Hodgson, W. N. Neeld, Sir J.
Hogg, Lieut.-Col. J. M. Neville-Grenville, R.
Holford, R. S. Newdegate, C. N.
Holmesdale, Viscount Newport, Viscount
Hood, Sir A. A. North, Colonel
Hornby, W. H. Northcote, rt. hn. Sir S. H.
Horsfall, T. B. O'Neill, E.
Hotham, Lord Packe, C. W.
Howes, E. Paget, R. H.
Huddleston, J. W. Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.
Hunt, G. W. Palk, Sir L.
Innes, A. C. Parker, Major W.
James, E. Parry, T.
Jervis, Major Patten, Colonel W.
Jolliffe, hon. H. H. Paull, H.
Jones, D. Peel, rt. hon. General
Karslake, Sir J. B. Pennant, hon. G. D.
Karslake, E. K. Pim, J.
Kavanagh, A. Powell, F. S.
Kekewich, S. T. Pritchard, J.
Kelk, J. Pugh, D.
Kendall, N. Read, C. S.
Kennard, R. W. Rearden, D. J.
Ker, D. S. Repton, G. W. J.
King, J. K. Ridley, Sir M. W.
King, J. G. Robertson, P. F.
Knight, F. W. Roebuck, J. A.
Knightley, Sir R. Rolt, Sir J.
Knox, Colonel Royston, Viscount
Knox, hn. Major S. Russell, Sir C.
Lacon, Sir E. Sandford, G. M. W.
Laird, J. Schreiber, C.
Lamont, J. Sclater-Booth, G.
Langton, W. G. Scott, Lord H.
Lanyon, C. Scourfield, J. H.
Lascelles, hon. E. W. Selwin, H. J.
Leader, N. P. Selwyn, C. J.
Lechmere, Sir E. A. H. Severne, J. E.
Legh, Major C. Seymour, G. H.
Lefroy, A. Simonds, W. B.
Smith, A. Turner, C.
Smith, S. G. Vance, J.
Smollett, P. B Vandeleur, Colonel
Somerset, Colonel Verner, E. W.
Stanhope, J. B. Verner, Sir W.
Stanley, Lord Vernon, H. F.
Stanley, hon. F. Vivian, H. H.
Steel, J. Walcott, Admiral
Stock, O. Walker, Major G. G.
Stopford, S. G. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Stronge, Sir J. M. Walrond, J. W.
Stuart, Lieut.-Col. W. Walsh, A.
Stucley, Sir G. S. Walsh, Sir J.
Sturt, H. G. Waterhouse, S.
Sturt, Lt.-Colonel N. Welby, W. E.
Surtees, F. Whalley, G. H.
Surtees, H. E. Williams, F. M.
Sykes, C. Wise, H. C.
Taylor, Colonel Woodd, B. T.
Thorold, Sir J. H. Wyndham, hon. H.
Thynne, Lord H. F. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Tollemache, J. Wynn, C. W. W.
Torrens, R. Wynne, W. R. M.
Tottenham, Lt-Col. C.G.
Treeby, J. W. TELLERS.
Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill- Whitmore, H.
Trollope, rt. hn. Sir J. Noel, hon. G. J.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday 2nd May.