§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 24 (Rooms to be hired wherever they can be obtained).177
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he had laid upon the table the clauses he had promised with respect to polling places in counties and boroughs; and he, therefore, moved the omission of the present clause, which those provisions would supersede.
§ Clause struck out.
§ Clause 25 (Vice Chancellor of the University of London to be the Returning Officer).
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he presumed that the University of London would receive the same power with respect to voting papers which had already been granted to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clauses 26, 27, and 28, agreed to.
§ Clause 29 (Electors may Vote by Voting Papers).
§ MR. KEKEWICH
said, he would with draw the Amendment which stood in his name on the Orders, to the effect that parties absent from the places where they were registered at the time of an election, or who desired in consequence of age or infirmity to be relieved from attending to vote in person, should be allowed to record their votes by means of voting papers. He thought it was desirable that the sense of the House should be taken first of all upon the general question; but if the House decided against the spirit of his Amendment, he reserved to himself the power of re-opening the question when the Report on the Bill was brought up.
§ MR. PIM
contended, in moving the Amendment of which he had given notice, that, as many persons held property in counties in which they did not reside, and were entitled to votes on account of their property, it would only be a fair thing to give these persons the right of voting by means of voting papers, so as to free them from the trouble and expense of having to make a long journey in order to record their vote. It was very undesirable, for instance, that a person living in London, but who was upon the register in Yorkshire, should be compelled to travel down there to give his support to a candidate. But while it was desirable that voters resident at a distance should be enabled to give their votes in the way proposed, he thought the privilege should not be ex- 178 tended to persons who could give their votes in person. He thought, indeed, that the general use of voting papers in the way proposed would leave the electors open to private influence, unchecked by public opinion, and thus would render bribery more easy; and, in the case of Ireland especially, the result would be that the contest between the landlords and the Roman Catholic clergy would be carried on in secret, instead of being carried on, as at present, in a way which subjected them to the control of public opinion, and this would, in his opinion, be productive of great evil. It appeared to him that the system of voting papers was liable, to some extent, to the objections that had been so frequently made to the ballot—namely, that it withdrew the voter from the legitimate influence of the opinion of the public. The franchise was a trust held for the benefit of the whole community, and ought therefore to be exercised openly and in the sight of those for whom the trust was held. It might be said that disorder and violence sometimes attended elections conducted under the system of open personal voting, but those evils should be met by other means than the employment of voting papers. The first Amendment which he had to propose in the clause was that in line 8, after "conditions," there should be inserted "save as hereinafter mentioned;" and the second Amendment which he should wish to be adopted was, that at the end of the clause these words be added:—Provided always that such Voting Paper shall only be valid when it shall appear on the face thereof, and the fact shall be, that at the time of signing the same the voter on whose behalf such Voting Paper is tendered was at least fifteen miles distant from the place where, if he voted in person, such voter would be required by law to tender his vote; provided also that if such voter shall come within the said distance of fifteen miles from his proper polling place between the time of his signing such Voting Paper and the close of the poll such Voting Paper shall thereby be cancelled, and such voter shall only be at liberty to vote at that election by attending at his proper polling place and recording his vote in person.In conclusion, he only wished to say that had the question to which his Amendment referred been a purely English one, he would, perhaps, not have troubled the House with it; but it was evident that if the principle was applied to England, it would also be applied in the cases of Scotland and Ireland. If, however, the opi- 179 nion of the Committee was against his Amendment, he would not press it.
§ Amendment proposed, line 8, after "conditions," to insert "save as hereinafter mentioned."—(Mr. Pim.)
The clause which we are now considering is one of the most important clauses in this Bill. It proposes to make a change of a very remarkable character; it is entirely new, and I have never heard that anybody outside of the House has asked for it. Now it has been laid upon the table of the House by the Minister without a single sentence of explanation. I consider that to be very unusual—and not only unusual, but I venture to say that it is very improper—because I think the House has a right to hear, and Gentlemen opposite who support the Government have a right to demand to hear, that there is some ground for this change. The clause, however, is thrown upon the table, and those Gentlemen who have Amendments to it are beginning to move them, and the Committee is getting into every description of confusion. An Irish Gentleman (Mr. Pim) gives us a dissertation upon what will be the effect of the clause in Ireland, although the Bill does not refer to Ireland at all. Now, I say, that it is the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make out a case why this clause should be adopted—that is, if he can make out a case at all; while if he does not care about it, I shall be glad if he will withdraw it, which perhaps he would not have much difficulty in doing if he were pressed. At present, however, the House has a right to hear the grounds why a proposal so novel in its character as this is should have been submitted to Parliament.
said, the question before the Committee was in line 8, after the word "conditions," to insert "save as hereinafter mentioned."
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I merely wish to correct the hon. Member for Birmingham in his conception of the duties of the Leader of the House when the House is in Committee. This clause is in the Bill, and has not been newly laid upon the table by me, and it is not my duty to rise and explain every clause as it is brought forward. The Bill is in the possession of the House, and it is the Chairman who introduces this clause to our notice. At the proper time I shall be perfectly ready to vindicate this or any 180 other clause contained in the Bill; but it is no part of my duty to rise and explain every clause as it is submitted, and the hon. Member for Birmingham is labouring under an entire misconception in the remarks which he made.
I say, if the Government had proposed to introduce the Ballot into this Bill—which is a very likely supposition, and not at all a thing not to be hoped for—if they had proposed the Ballot, it would undoubtedly have been the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to explain the clause by which he proposed to do it. This is not an ordinary clause, like proposing an additional Member for Birkenhead or Salford, but it is a clause which embraces a principle of the highest importance. The proposal is something quite new, and enough to be a Bill in itself. I maintain, therefore, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought, in justice to his own proposition, and also to the House, to explain the considerations which had induced him to bring it forward. But if the right hon. Gentleman has really nothing strong to say in favour of the clause, of course the discussion could go on.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, the hon. Gentleman seemed to labour under a misconception. The question before the Committee was not whether the clause should stand part of the Bill, but whether the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dublin should be agreed to. He agreed that when the clause came on for discussion, there would be much to say upon it, and then it would be the duty of the Government to offer some explanation respecting it.
MR. M'CULLAGH TORRENS
said, that in moving the omission of the clause he should best discharge the duty which he had undertaken by at once stating that he would not say one word which should offend the feelings or convictions of hon. Gentlemen on either side.
said, that the Question before the Committee was the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dublin, which would require to be disposed of before any other Amendment could be moved upon the question that the clause stand part of the Bill.
§ MR. PIM
said, he was entirely in the hands of the Committee. He had always looked upon the Reform Bill as too important a measure to be made the ground of party tactics, and if it was the wish of 181 the majority of the Committee he should press his Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ SIR JOHN WALSH
said, he must confess he had been somewhat, surprised by an observation which fell from the hon. Member for Birmingham. That hon. Gentleman was the last Member in the House who might be supposed determined to stand strictly super vias antiquas, and making so many appeals as he had lately done to the British Constitution; yet his chief objection to this clause appeared to be that it proposed something quite new. The spirit of hostility generally evinced opposite to this proposal was rather surprising; and it seemed to him (Sir John Walsh) that the clause had features which should recommend it to hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House. First of all, he must observe that it was essentially a great enfranchising clause. He did not mean to say it was literally, but certainly it was virtually so. It did not give the right of voting to those who had it not, but it gave the power and facility of voting to those who, having the right, would without this clause be entirely precluded from exercising it. At every contested election, notwithstanding the most strenuous efforts of the agents on both sides, a very large percentage of voters remained unpolled. Why should hon. Gentlemen who advocated an extension of the suffrage seek to preclude this large class from its exercise? Of whom did this large class consist? First of all there were the sick—those suffering from temporary illness or chronic disease. Then there were the aged, the infirm, and he might include the timid in the same category, who were more or less likely to be deterred by scenes such as too often occurred at elections. If, for instance, an election for Birmingham took place within the next few days, although the hon. Member (Mr. Bright) might himself be a great advocate for religious toleration, a good many might well be deterred from giving their votes by the scenes that had lately taken place there. There was also a considerable class of voters who, in the exercise of their calling and industry, were necessarily precluded, except at a great sacrifice of personal convenience, from being present at the time of election. And lastly there were the county voters who were not necessarily resident, and the nonresident voters were often the most independent of the whole constituency. Among 182 the population of 3,000,000 in this great metropolis, there could not be less than 10,000 persons, thriving tradesmen, many even artizans, and other persons, entitled to vote for counties in different parts of England; but these persons could not, without great expense, loss, and inconvenience, go and record their votes perhaps in Cumberland or Northumberland. Why should these classes not avail themselves of the facility afforded by this clause? There was another point also which was of very high importance, and on which this clause would have a most beneficial operation. He alluded to the expenses, which would be very much increased by the additional polling-places, which might be in a great measure dispensed with if this clause were adopted. Travelling expenses, too, were an evil, though perhaps a necessary evil, under the present system. These expenses, which were often in their nature bribes, might be prevented by the adoption of voting papers. If the House adopted this clause it could not have the slightest hesitation in declaring the payment of travelling expenses illegal; but it could not do so with justice unless it passed some provisions which would enable voters to vote without sacrifice of time and money. The points he now pressed had been repeatedly urged on both sides of the House, and more perhaps from the Opposition than from the Ministerial Benches. Perhaps the strongest and most important ground on which the use of voting papers could be advocated was that its tendencies would be to prevent and repress intimidation. That practice appeared to him undoubtedly to be the worst vice of our representative system, and also one of the greatest infringements on the liberty of the subject. One of the distinctions between bribery and intimidation was that the former was limited in its influence by the number of those bribed, while violence and outrage committed upon a few voters might intimidate a whole constituency. In a constituency of 1,000, 100 might be bribed directly; but if ten men were hurt, the other 990 men might all be intimidated. Election Committees had reported, where there had been intimidation, that it was not proved a sufficient number of voters had been intimidated to vitiate the election; but it was quite possible, although it might not be capable of proof, that the whole constituency might have been intimidated. He was afraid an impression was entertained 183 in some quarters that intimidation might be tolerated for some incidental or compensatory advantages, and the hon. Member for Dublin might be willing to set intimidation against the undue influence of landlords; but such a way of justifying one abuse by another was like a garotter justifying himself by saying he was not a pickpocket. [Mr. PIM: I never said anything of the sort.] He was glad to find he had misquoted an hon. Gentleman who never discussed great questions from a party point of view. Let hon. Members who thought that intimidation was useful, defend that position in the House. If there were sufficient reasons for adopting voting papers now and lessening intimidation, there would be still more when the constituencies were enlarged; and they should remember that intimidation might be exercised by 30,000 as well as by 3,000, and therefore they should look forward to periods when great populations might be excited in the manner in which they had been excited recently in Birmingham. Surely everything which could withdraw a man from the influence of dangerous excitement was to be welcomed, and doubly and trebly so in the state of things upon which we were entering. There was one more point, and that was the securities taken in the clause against personation and fraud. He contended that these securities were perfect, and that there could not be greater security with personal voting. A man's handwriting was as easily identified as his face, and the voting paper was to be presented by a voter who at the same time recorded his own vote. Surely under such circumstances, and with the liability to a year's penal servitude, there was as much security against personation as there was in other matters. Wills, powers of attorney, and deeds conveying hundreds of thousands of pounds, were not fenced in by more rigid precautions than was this simple act of voting. But it must be remembered that, in order to make this kind of forgery and fraud effectual, it must be done upon the greatest scale; hundreds and perhaps thousands of voting papers must be forged to produce any sensible effect on an election. On the whole, therefore, he contended that there was the greatest possible security against the abuses which some apprehended.
MR. M'CULLAGH TORRENS
rose to move that the clause be omitted from the 184 Bill. He regretted that Her Majesty's Government should have asked the House to adopt the principle which it embodied. At the time when the Bill was introduced he was under the impression that this clause was one of the inspirations that might be attributed to the constitution of the Government. He could not forget that the principle of voting papers had been advocated with great ability by the noble Lord the Member for Stamford. That noble Lord was distinguished by a persistent will, and a legitimate ambition and desire to impose that will upon others. He therefore took for granted that the noble Lord's presence as a Secretary of State in the Cabinet was the cause why this clause was first introduced into the House of Commons as part and parcel of the Reform Bill. After the events, however, of February and March, when the Ministry was released from any obligation of adherence to its first intentions, he had hoped that this clause would have been withdrawn. He trusted that the House would not be prepared to change the fundamental principles of the constitution, which had always been favourable to personal and responsible voting. It had always been laid down alike by the law and by Statesmen that the proper custodee of the suffrage was the person who was to exercise it; and if they required it to be exercised by way of voting papers, or in any form in which it might be filched and stolen by landlords, agents, or any other persons, they would release the voter from that responsibility which the possession of the vote in the first instance placed upon him, and which they were bound to hold him to, because there was no doubt that until the actual hour of voting every one who discharged the function of an elector had been time out of mind—and he trusted would be for all time to come—held responsible for the mode in which he exercised the privilege of voting. He should be able to satisfy the House that if they passed this clause there would be at least half a dozen contingencies which would relieve the voter from responsibility. In the first place, the voting paper might never be properly delivered at the house of the voter; in the next, while it was in the house, and before the signature was attached, it might be mislaid or tampered with; in the third place, it might never be properly collected; in the fourth, if properly collected, it might not be properly delivered; and in 185 the fifth, after being delivered to the returning officer, it might be made away with and never be employed in the election. The experiment whether voting papers were best fitted to ensure a proper exercise of the right of voting by a multitudinous constituency had been tried exhaustively in the case of the voting for the poor law guardians, and had led to a complete failure in the working of the system, as he would presently show by official documents; and he would ask the Committee whether, when that system had failed in minor matters, they were prepared to risk the liberties of the country by adopting it in reference to the election of Members of Parliament? The annual | Reports of the Poor Law Commissioners showed that not two or three only, but various elections had been set aside by the Board at Gwydyr House on the specific ground of the voting papers not being properly delivered. In two instances—those of Swansea and Banbury—the voting papers, though properly delivered, were proved not to have been properly collected. Successive Presidents of the Poor Law Board, whose only object was to have inquiry conducted impartially, had reported that in certain cases they were obliged to set aside the elections on account of the improper collection of votes. It was true that in these cases the irregularities complained of might be said to have arisen from defects purely mechanical, and it might be suggested that they could be overcome by the adoption of special provisions. ["Hear, hear!"] The noble Lord (Viscount Cranborne) cheered. But why had not the remedy, in a course of thirty years, been applied? He (Mr. Torrens) and the noble Lord had argued that question before; and in the year 1857, when he ventured to propose a negative to the Motion brought forward by him and supported by all his great abilities, he had succeeded in convincing the House that the proposition was not a safe one. [An hon. MEMBER: That only applied to counties.] He would be glad to hear what distinction the hon. Member would draw between counties and boroughs in this matter. How did the system work in cases in which strong personal or party motives led to the improper interference of other individuals in the exercise of the vote? How was it carried out under the Poor Law system? He held in his hand some very remarkable cases, occurring in different years and in various parts of the 186 country, where elections had been set aside, not because voting papers had not been properly delivered or collected, but because every variety of fraud had been used, and it was discovered that the voting papers had been tampered with both before and after they were signed by the voter. In 1855 a friend of his, Mr. Doyle (than whom a more justly valued public servant the public service did not contain), an inspector under the Poor Law, was commissioned to inquire into the proceedings of the election of guardians at West Bromwich. He found that the proceedings were wholly unsustainable, and that in a variety of ways 340 votes had been tampered with by altering the voting papers in the houses of the voters. They were now going to create large constituencies. The setting aside of elections was part of the prerogative of the House, and all who had sat on Committees knew that unless there was a very grievous deflection from justice a Parliamentary Committee was exceedingly loth and unwilling to set aside an election. In the case of West Bromwich, although 340 frauds were proved to have been committed, they were not considered sufficient to set aside the return, and the wrongful guardians were allowed to remain in office and disburse the funds of the parish. They might say that that was an exceptional case; but what occurred the following year in Lambeth, under the very eave of the House? It was proved that agents went about tampering with the papers in the dwellings of the electors, and the magistrates were obliged to visit some of the offenders with fourteen days' imprisonment for their violation of the law; but such was the sympathy excited, and so strong were the party feelings enlisted on their behalf, that the Home Office was besieged by the churchwardens, the officers of the parish, and others, praying for the release of the persons who had been found guilty. That was ten years ago, it was true; but what happened at Cheltenham last year? Here was a case in which the Liberals were said to have been the offending parties, and therefore it might be thought to be the more deserving of consideration by Gentlemen opposite. The names of several clergymen of the Established Church, the masters of the College, and above nil, that of Colonel Taylor, a man, they were told, of unquestionably orthodox Conservative politics, were actually forged by the so-called Radicals, and those who forged them 187 were found guilty of having deposited the false votes. In order to show the House that exposure afforded no cheek to the evil, he would read a letter from Mr. Doyle on the subject. That gentleman said, speaking as a Poor Law Inspector, that his experience was that "wherever a sufficiently strong motive existed, he did not see how fraudulent practices under the voting paper system could be controlled or even discovered." He (Mr. Torrens) had never yet found any one who had had practical cognizance of the working of the system who did not say that it was honeycombed with fraud and falsehood. It was no answer to say that, for anything that appeared to the contrary, the majority of the elections of guardians were pure. That might be so, and it might also be said with regard to the majority of returns to that House, because the majority were made without contests; but they always provided against abuses that might arise, though they did not every day occur; and experience had shown them that under this system, as applied to the elections of guardians, there was a temptation to yield to the practice of personation, bribery, falsehood, fraud, forgery, and, worst of all, to the grossest intimidation. It was no answer to say that they could not adduce the proofs of these practices in all cases. Twice within the last twenty years the town of Leeds had become notorious for its malpractices in this respect, and twice it had become apparent that forgery had been resorted to in numerous cases in order to obtain votes on one side or the other. He himself, some years ago, presented his lamented friend Mr. Talbot Baines, then President of the Poor Law Board, with a memorial from certain of the inhabitants of Great Yarmouth, where it was believed that illegal practices in the election of the guardians had prevailed. No man was more anxious to do his duty than his late right hon. Friend, who studied to the utmost every case of hardship and grievance that came before him; but he (Mr. Torrens) well recollected his explaining to him the difficulties that beset any attempt to repair the injustice done, or in getting primâ facie proof of neglect and fraud sufficient to justify a special inquiry. He (Mr. Torrens) tried to procure that proof in the case of Yarmouth, but failed to do so from the reluctance of persona to undertake the odious task of coming forward to give evidence, and he gave it up with a full conviction that all his 188 efforts to procure a successful inquiry would be unavailing. Impunity led to the recurrence of the same evils at Yarmouth year after year, and at length investigations were directed to be held. He had before him the report of Sir John Walsham, who had presided at both these special inquiries. He stated that although there was evidence that there had been every description of tampering and deceit, yet, after setting aside a great many votes, there remained a sufficient number still, unsifted, through lack of positive proof, to prevent the election from being set aside. The consequence of impunity was, that the malpractices went on, and became still worse than before, and in the end, although the next election was set aside, it was only after sitting again and again for weeks to obtain the necessary evidence. The election for Poor Law guardians generally took place in April, and he found, looking at the Reports of the Courts of Inquiry, that even where they had been set aside on the ground of fraud and malversation, they were not set aside till months after the return, and in one case as late as the month of November. Taking into account the fact that there was rarely sufficient motive to induce persona to incur all the expense and odium of prosecuting these inquiries, they might safely infer that for every ten cases in which the Commissioners set aside the election there were one hundred which escaped, and where the inquiry, if held, did not touch the marrow of the case. When they were conferring on the people of this country a great extension of the franchise, it was their bounden duty not to lead them into temptation at the moment they were offering them a privilege, and it would be a very sad thing if, without designing it, they gave over the people for a prey to all the arts of electioneering agents and to all the temptations of deception and corruption which might be brought to bear upon them. It would be far better to throw out the Bill altogether than to expose the people to such misery and mischief as would result from its adoption with this clause. The noble Lord the Member for Stamford could not have forgotten the memorable speech made in 1857 on this subject by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, who on that occasion expressed his opinion of the system of voting papers in the following terms:—I object to adopt this system because I believe it will greatly increase the practice of personation. 189 I object to it because it will infinitely aggravate the practice of intimidation. I object to it because it will still more increase bribery by milking it safe. Up to this time there has always been a doubt that either the briber or the bribed may play false. By the system of voting papers the thing will become safe. The poor man will receive his £5 note, and the bribing agent will receive not the promise, but the thing itself, the vote.Such was the language of the noble Lord the present Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and it was therefore on no light ground that he (Mr. Torrens) ventured to express his belief that all the Members of the Administration would not be found upon a division supporting this clause. He asked them to consider the case of the humbler classes of voters. He had no wish to treat the question ad misericordiam, but he thought they were bound not to place them in a situation in which temptation would be easy and detection difficult. Was it right that the agent should be able to find the voter at home with his voting paper, and be able to appeal to the wants of his children and perhaps the fears of his wife? Was it just to leave the voter exposed to all the baneful influences to which, if the voting paper system were adopted, he would undoubtedly be exposed to the very last hour of polling? It was neither fair nor in accordance with the theory and practice of the Constitution that the control of a man's vote should be given to him in such a form as to make it a marketable commodity, which he might sell like a bill of exchange or a pawn ticket. In such a case it would be wholly different to a promise made to an agent, because the voting paper, after being signed and the consideration given for it, would be doubled up and carried away in the pocket of the agent. It had been argued by some hon. Members that this was a step towards the Ballot. Never was there a greater mistake. So far from its being a step towards it, it was in reality a step away from it. The Ballot might be right or it might be wrong, but, at all events, it professed to be a neutralization of influences of a private and personal kind, which were often made oppressive, and which voting papers would make more oppressive still. He should never hesitate to reject the system of voting papers, because he was convinced that such would be the magnitude of the evils that it would give rise to, that within seven years of their adoption they would be condemned alike by the nation and the House, and the Legislature would be 190 obliged to retrace its steps. In conclusion, he would urge on both sides of the House that they ought, to discuss this question free from party feeling. He was sure that hon. Members who sat below the gangway upon that side of the House might appeal to the Ministers of the Crown whether they had not given proofs that they were willing to support the present measure at the cost of party feeling, and he implored the Government now, when they had approached so nearly to a conclusion, not to undo all that had been done by the adoption of a Clause so fatal to the efficacious working of a Reform Bill as this would be.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has made so pointed a reference to me, that, though it was not my intention to trespass upon the indulgence of the Committee, I can hardly allow his remarks to pass without some reply. I beg, in the first place, to remind him that this is not the first time a proposal for the use of voting papers has appeared in a Reform Bill. It was a feature of Lord Derby's Bill in 1859; and as I was not a Member of that Government, the hon. Gentleman is not warranted in attributing its presence in this Bill to my having been a Member of the present Government at the beginning the year. But there is another mistake of the hon. and learned Member, which is of a far more vital character; and I cannot but think that the hon. and learned Member, having heard the words "voting papers," has come to argue the matter without having ever inquired into what the provisions of the Bill are. He has made a most elaborate and able attack upon the system of voting papers under the Poor Law, and, without apparently having the faintest conception that there is the slightest difference between that system and the provisions of this Bill, he has applied bodily to the one all the objections applicable to the other. But what is the real state of the case? Under the Poor Law system the paper is left with the voter, he fills it up in private, and, without any precaution for its authenticity, it is afterwards collected by some subordinate official who calls for that purpose. Now, the provisions of this Bill are of as different a character as it is possible for them to be. All that this Bill does is to carry the poll into every magistrate's drawing-room. Well, that is a principle which I will justify presently; but let me 191 remind the Committee of this,—that the precautions which are taken are such as absolutely to prevent the practices to which the hon. Gentleman has referred as occurring under the system of the Poor Law. The papers must be signed in the presence of a magistrate, and in the presence of a magistrate who can personally speak to the identity of the voter. He must attest that identity by his own signature, and the papers so signed and so attested must be presented at the polling booth by another voter who can also testify on oath to the voter's identity. I cannot imagine any proceeding of ordinary life which would not be thought to be made sufficiently secure by such precautions. Will any hon. Gentleman who knows what the magistrates of this country are, tell me that it will be an ordinary practice for a magistrate to be an accomplice in bribery, and to allow a £5 note to be handed over to the voter in his presence? ["No, no!" from the Opposition.] Do you mean to cast such a slur on the magistrates of this country? ["No, no!"] Well, but if you do not do that your whole case breaks down. ["No, no!"] It is perfectly true that the agent may bribe the man before he goes to the magistrate or afterwards, but so he may before or after he goes to the polling booth. The cases are exactly the same; the only check under your present system is that the bribe cannot pass at the moment the vote is given, and under the plan proposed by this Bill that check retains precisely the same force. The bribe cannot pass at the moment the vote is given, unless you are prepared to believe that Justices of the Peace will be open accomplices of bribery. I am rather sorry that the term "voting paper" has been used, because it is associated with the system under the Poor Law, which has failed. Voting, let us remember, consists of two parts. There is the declaration of the vote, and there is the registration of the vote. But for the registration of the vote, which is an expensive operation, you would make polling places so numerous that everybody would be able to vote with the greatest ease; but on account of the expenses of registration, you are obliged to confine voting places to a comparatively limited number. Now, the proposal of this Bill is to separate the declaration of the vote from the registration of it, but it takes the precaution that the declaration shall be made before an equally responsible person; for, while 192 the registration must be made before the polling clerk, it insists that the declaration shall be made before a Justice of the Peace, and I cannot understand on what possible pretence it can be contended that the vote is less secure before the magistrate than before the polling clerk. I ventured to give a vote the other night against a proposal of Her Majesty's Government, because I believed it would expose us to two great dangers—one being the increase of illegitimate expense, and the other the practical disfranchisement of the more educated classes in the great towns. For precisely the same reasons I shall vote for this proposal. I believe those two evils to be the greatest with which we have to contend, and I believe this provision will be to some extent a safeguard against them. Everyone acquainted with county elections knows that the difficulty of getting the voter to the poll is the main burden of expense. If you insist on the voter going to the poll, you must allow expenses of some kind; for you could not sanction anything so outrageous as to say that a man, a poor man, shall travel twelve or fourteen miles at his own expense in order to enjoy the privilege of exercising the franchise. Such a measure, if enacted, would fall immediately before the common sense of the country. You must, then, allow expenses to be paid. Now, you are about to increase the county constituencies very largely by lowering the qualification from £50 to £12. I never contested a county myself, but I believe the average expense at present ranges between £3,000 and £10,000, and if that is the case it is a simple rule of three sum for anybody to ascertain what the expense will be under this Bill; for, if the main burden of election expenses arises from conveying voters to the poll, the expense of elections will be obviously increased in precisely the proportion that the number of voters to be conveyed will be increased. Here, however, is a proposal which will enable you to get rid of this enormous burden of expense, and will proportionately diminish one of the great hindrances to the entrance of poor talent into this House. It is a great evil that our election expenses should be so great. It is a great evil, not only in the interest of poor talent, but in the interest of the landed class to which I have the honour to belong, because at the present day wealth is not with them. The greatest wealth is with a very different class, and the increased 193 expense of county elections will operate to our disadvantage. But there is also a greater evil. Everybody knows that where money passes from the candidate to the voter it carries other money with it. If there are payments of any kind to be made, illegitimate payments will be made as well as legitimate, and the system of travelling expenses is, I believe, fruitful in illegitimate expenses which are hardly to be separated from bribery. On these grounds, and for the sake of purging our elections of illegitimate expenses, I earnestly recommend the proposal now before the House. There is likewise another consideration. There are the more educated classes in the great towns. Now, I remember in 1857 an hon. Gentleman opposite objected to my Motion, and taunted me with proposing the woman's plan of voting, because I had urged that it would enable timid persons, people who did not like to face the row and bustle and sometimes the danger of pushing their way to the polling-booth, to exercise the franchise, I hope the lapse of time has altered his opinion. One of the most remarkable things in large constituencies is the way in which the people who are fastidious or timid, or who are much engaged, habitually abstain from voting. We know it in this metropolis. There is the borough of which I am a voter, Marylebone, which, with 21,000 voters, has never polled more than 10,000. So with the City of London; everybody knows that a great number of the wealthiest and most important men in that the most important constituency of the Empire never approach the polling-booth at all. You may rail at those men, and say they ought to be bold enough not to mind righting their way to the poll and being bonneted and spat at, or having a brick heaved at their head here and an orange there, and that they ought to face these things for the sake of their country. But they will not. Say what you will to press these men to undertake this patriotic duty, yon will be met by the stern fact that they will not come. The truth is, that, except on very extraordinary occasions, the feeling of patriotism is not sufficiently strong to make a man care much for a fourteen-thousandth part in returning a metropolitan Member. But whether these men ought to come or not, it is your interest, now that you are trying to get at the mind of the whole nation, now that you are trying to make this House the representa- 194 tive of every class, neglecting none, to do all you can to encourage these men to express their opinions. Considering what the greatness of this country rests on, and what the class of merchants have done for it, I should be inclined to test the efficiency of any system of recording votes by asking whether the votes of those who are practically interested in commercial affairs, and other analagous classes who are well qualified to give an opinion upon the most important questions which agitate this community, are collected at the hustings. It does seem to me that the fact that in this great metropolis the more cultivated classes abstain from the polling-booth is the most fearful condemnation of the system you are trying to change. The hon. and learned Gentleman has talked of the present proposal being new. It is very strange, but the objection to anything being new comes now entirely from Gentlemen of his extreme opinions. I venture rather to say that when you choose to introduce anything that is new you must have a great deal that is new. It does not do to innovate a little. You must innovate a great deal, and this is one of the last things which I should have thought an advocate for progress would resist. Why did not people 500 years ago send their votes through the post? Why, because there was no post, and therefore they went to the poll. But this disability imposed upon them by the backwardness of the age is dear to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and he erects it into one of the institutions of the British Constitution. We ought to take advantage of every convenience of science and art, and to use every contrivance that can aid to gather together the opinions of all, whether feeble or strong, whether poor or rich, whether sick or healthy, whether distant from the polling-booth or near it. And the system that professes to do this is one which in the solitary instance in which it has been tried has exhausted the opinions of the constituency to which it has been applied. Such a system ought not to be lightly rejected by the House, and if the House obstinately adheres to the old system, which has been tried and a hundred times found wanting, it will be guilty of a conservatism from which I recoil—a conservatism of all that is barbarous and inconvenient—a conservatism of what I may be pardoned for saying is stupid and absurd.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
It appears 195 to me that this is eminently a practical subject, and it is not possible to deny that much may be said on both sides of the question. The noble Lord has presented, with his accustomed ability, the reasons in favour of this proposal. After the best consideration that I can give to the subject, it appears to me that the reasons against its adoption greatly preponderate. The Act for taking voting papers at elections for the Universities has been tried under circumstances most favourable to its success. They are constituencies which no one for a moment can suppose to be open to corruption or intimidation, and there is every guarantee for the sound judgment and integrity of every officer who is called upon to administer the Act. I can give the Committee some information as to the practical working of the Act, because I happen to be legal adviser to the University of Oxford, and I can assure the Committee that a multitude of questions of practical difficulty arose at the last contested election for the University of Oxford. Every post brought me questions from the Vice Chancellor and others concerned in the election, and sometimes I received them by telegram as well as by post. I believe that the questions which would arise under the system of voting papers in elections for boroughs and counties would be still more numerous, and more difficult of practical solution than those at the elections for the Universities. If there were no other objection to the present Motion, this would be worthy of attention, but there are many important considerations winch connect themselves with the practical working of the system. There must be a person to collect the voting papers; and, either by hook or by crook, he must be able to say that he is personally acquainted with the voter. Now, there are a great variety of ways in which a person may do this. He may have a real knowledge of the voter, or he may speak at second-hand—say that some one whom he trusts and knows enables him to authenticate the identity of the voter. The result is that the statement must too often degenerate into a mere matter of form. Even in the elections of the Universities, where the election agents are men of the utmost honour and integrity, they are obliged to speak of personal acquaintance with the voter in some such way as this—that they know that there is such a voter on the books of the College, and that they have some sort of knowledge that 196 satisfies them that he is the individual who signed the voting paper. But if there is this difficulty of attesting a vote in the case of the comparatively select constituencies of the Universities, it may safely be assumed that in other places you could never rely on getting a real, trustworthy, practical knowledge of the voter. Again, when all these voting papers are collected together in one man's hands, what security have you that they will be used? This Bill does not provide against the suppression of voting papers, and there is danger lest the election agents should make them the instruments of negotiation. They may be kept back; there may be a bargain for withholding them; and they may become mere instruments for managing difficult elections. They may be given in during the whole interval which elapses from the time when the returning officer declares the day of election and the day on which the election takes place; so that those who are interested in getting promises and bringing their influence to bear upon voters may take them at once before the nearest magistrate; or the magistrate may himself take part in the canvass, and may come to them. They will strike while the iron is hot. The voter must declare that he has signed no other paper, and the Act literally interpreted may be held to take away any power of retracting the voting paper when it is once given or giving another to nullify its effect. The only way in which this can safely be done is by the voter going and voting in person. That opens the widest door to every kind of undue influence, and you are by this proposal giving a machinery for putting the screw upon voters which will create the greatest public discontent. This proposal of voting papers is the exact antipodes of the ballot. That is intended to withdraw the voters from influence, but the effect of this system is to bring the voter under the pressure of the utmost possible influence, and then to take away the power of retracting his promise. If the voter wrote to the agent to say he was not to deliver the voting paper, and the agent set him at defiance and gave it in, the voter could not help himself except by going to the poll and giving his vote in person. Such a system will to a great extent aggravate all the evils of canvassing. Persons supposed to have influence over the voter will get hold of him privately, either in his own house or theirs, and will bring all their influence to bear. The man may 197 say, "I would rather not promise now." But all sorts of pressure will be used. The man may be urged to give his promise, and, if it be not a magistrate who urges him, and who can himself do the business, he will be taken at once before the nearest magistrate. With regard to personation, the evidence taken before the Committee of the House of Lords on the working of the Municipal Corporation Act shows that the use of voting papers at municipal elections leads to a very great amount of personation. These voting papers, under that Act, are given in by the voter himself, who swears that he is the person whose name appears on the voting paper; he is required to answer all proper questions put for the purpose of identification; and he is liable to the penalties of misdemeanour if he answers falsely. Yet all this does not prevent the evil of personation. What are the checks against personation provided under this Bill? As far as I can see, there are only two. The first is, that the magistrates before whom the paper is signed must state that the voter is personally known to him, and the person who delivers in the proxy must say the same I wonder it has not occurred to the authors of this Bill that a common form prescribed in an Act of this kind will be interpreted by those who carry it out in the most lax way, even without any intentional absence of conscientiousness. I do not impute it to them as anything blamable, but many magistrates would look upon the words referring to a personal knowledge of the voter as a mere matter of form, if there was no reason to suspect anything wrong in the case. If the voter was introduced by a person whom they knew, they would say to their friend, "Do you know this to be the person whose name is signed?" and if he said, "Yes," the paper would be signed without further inquiry. I do not say that nine out of ten of them; but, even amongst ourselves, a very large proportion of hon. Members would regard the personal introduction to them of a man by another who was known to them as a sufficient ground for saying that they personally knew him. There would, therefore, be no effectual check whatever against a large amount of personation, and the experience of the Municipal Corporation Acts proves that that evil is not sufficiently guarded against by making the persona guilty of it subject to the penalties of misdemeanour. But in 198 this Bill there are no effective penalties provided against personation. Its penalties are levelled merely at the parties who may actually fabricate or palm off a falsified voting paper. There is no penalty applicable to any man, other than the person actually making a declaration prescribed by the Act, who wrongfully says he has a personal knowledge of the voter; the penalty is confined simply to the forgery of the voting paper, and to wilfully false declarations by the justice or the proxy: and, of course, the person using it might not know that it was not genuine. Thus the various instruments in the transaction might escape the penalties altogether. This, therefore, is the very machinery you would use if you wanted to facilitate the intimidation of the poorer voters. There are one or two other points on which I wish briefly to touch. It has been said that we ought to make it easy for people at a distance to vote. Now, I am not sure of that. We have rejected the principle of plural voting at the same election. But at present a species of plural voting exists in favour of the wealthy classes which would be greatly increased if this provision is adopted. I hope I may be pardoned if I take my own case as an example; but on counting over the number of votes I am now entitled to give I find they amount to seventeen or eighteen in the whole, for seven different constituencies. Practically speaking, I cannot use them all, because I cannot be in so many different places; yet I am generally able to give my vote at more elections than one. But by the proposed system I should be able to give every one of those seventeen or eighteen votes. Now, I confess I think the influence of the wealthier classes is sufficient already, and I believe it will I continue to be sufficient under this Bill in whatever form it is passed, and it does not seem to me a recommendation of this proposal that it would tend directly to multiply that influence. At the same time, I can understand that different views may be taken by the noble Lord and others on that point. I agree with the noble Lord the Member for Stamford that it would be a desirable thing to bring about a diminution of the expenses of elections—but I think that may be done by less objectionable methods than the proposal now before the House — such, for instance, as multiplying the polling-places, so as to enable the electors to vote as near as possible to their own homes. On the 199 whole, I repeat that the balance of argument appears to me greatly to preponderate against the clause.
§ MR. BERKELEY
said, he had been all his life an advocate for the protection of the elector; he had therefore carefully looked into this measure, with a view to see whether it would afford any protection to the voter, and he had arrived at the conclusion that it would have decidedly the contrary effect. It would greatly facilitate bribery, because the voter would go to the agent for corrupt practices, make his bargain with him, and could obtain the money at the same time that he handed over the paper. Those whom it would really protect were the men who wished to intimidate the honest voter and to corrupt the needy or the venal one. On this subject he might quote the opinion of a right hon. Baronet now no more, whose memory was held in honour in that House—the late Sir James Graham, That right hon. Baronet, in the debate on the voting papers in the Bill of 1859, in a graphic sketch described how the landlord would issue his instructions to his agent to see that the tenants all signed their papers; that the forms were correctly observed; that they were correctly attested before a magistrate, and then all the votes on the estate might be obtained without the cost of a breakfast. The same high authority expressed his firm conviction that the adoption of voting papers would so increase both bribery and intimidation that after the first general election the demand for absolute secresy of voting and the ballot would become universal. When the University Act was passed, Sir James Graham said that the Tory Government, having ceded the right of voting by papers, must eventually yield the ballot. To that opinion, he thought, some importance ought to be attached, and if the present Bill were passed with the obnoxious clause under discussion, it would be found—the suffrage having been extended to the lower orders, who, though they might be honest, were more open to be influenced than those who occupied a more independent position—that at the next general election a state of things would prevail which all lovers of their country must greatly regret; intimidation would become stronger than ever, and bribery would be found in every corner of the country.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I, for one, am very anxious to see this clause adopted, and as reference has been made to a speech 200 which was in 1857 delivered by my noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs [Mr. BRIGHT: In 1859.] No, in 1857. I beg to remind the Committee that that speech was made before the clauses providing for security of voting were adopted in the Bill of 1859, and before that Act of Parliament was passed, of which we have this evening heard so much from the hon. and learned Member for Richmond, introducing this mode of voting into the University of Oxford. I will upon that point only add that my noble Friend is a party to the proposal which we now make. As to the debate generally, I may say that I have observed its tone with great satisfaction. It has been truly stated that this is not a party question. It is entirely one of a practical character. What we have to determine is whether or not we are likely, by the adoption of this system of voting papers, to improve the conduct of our elections. As one of those who were responsible for the Bill of 1859, I have always felt very strongly that such a system would be productive of the greatest advantage provided due precautions could be taken against its abuse. I admit that a great deal may be said on both sides. The first consideration that presents itself to the mind of every one is, whether or not there is danger in the introduction of the system. I admit that there is great weight in what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond. The hon. and learned Gentleman has given us the result of his experience with respect to the late election for the University of Oxford; but it appears to me that he overrated the practical difficulties which he says arose in that instance. I would beg his attention to the language of the declaration which is to be made by the person who represents a voter at the poll. It is this:—"I solemnly declare that I am personally acquainted with A. B."—the voter. Now, am I to understand the hon. and learned Gentleman as having stated in the face of such words as these that members of the University of Oxford, gentlemen of high standing, did not hesitate to make such a declaration with respect to persons of whom they knew nothing?
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
Certainly not. What I meant to convey was that there might be an introduction to which faith might be attached, though the person introduced might be unknown to him to whom the introduction, was given.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Well, I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman will at once admit that the case of the University of Oxford is very different from that of other constituencies. The long distances which many of the University voters have to come to tender their votes would in itself constitute a reason why greater laxity of practice should exist than would probably be the case with regard to voters in boroughs. But as in place of a single security the Bill provides a double security. I think this may fairly be held to be sufficient. I would, besides, appeal to the hon. and learned Gentleman to say whether he did not to a considerable extent meet the objections which he has urged against the proposed mode of voting when he stated that if it were admitted great care would be necessary in revising this Act of Parliament. Now we have no objection that that revision should take place, and there would, I think, be very little practical difficulty in adopting a machinery which would prevent personation or any of the other abuses which the hon. and learned Gentleman has pointed out. The hon. Member for Finsbury, too, dwelt at great length on the experience to be derived from the working of the Poor Law; but his observations have been so well answered by my noble Friend the Member for Stamford that I need not advert to them at any length. The experience derived from the Poor Law is really no experience at all, because the whole system of giving votes under its operation is entirely distinct from that which we propose in this Bill. In the first place, in the case of the Poor Law, there is no alternative, inasmuch as there is only one mode of voting, a man having no power to go up to a hustings and to give his vote; and, in the second, there is far greater opening for abuse. But if there be some difficulty in the way of adopting the proposal which we make, let me ask the Committee to consider its advantages. It will, as has been forcibly pointed out by my noble Friend the Member for Stamford, greatly tend to diminish expense, one of the admitted evils attendant on elections; and one which, unless some steps are taken to check it, will, I am afraid, be increased under the operation of this Bill. As to intimidation, I do not apprehend, notwithstanding the quotations from the speeches of Sir James Graham made by the hon. Member for Bristol, that the power of landlord to 202 coerce his tenants would be greater under the system of voting papers than under that of open voting. There is no doubt that if the landlords wish to exercise the power they possess they can do so to a large extent, but I cannot think that power will be in the least degree increased in consequence of the facilities which we propose to give, while, upon the other hand, that sort of intimidation which consists in personal violence and in the difficulty which many persons find in obtaining access to the hustings will be entirely done away with. I am not sanguine enough to think that it will have any great effect in the way of diminishing bribery; but I believe, so far as it goes, it will tend to diminish it. The case put by the hon. Member for Finsbury as to one party giving the money and the other signing the paper I consider a purely imaginary one. The hon. Member forgets that the transaction will not be between the candidate and the voter at all; the party must go before the magistrate, and there the voting paper must be signed. The real question seems to be, first of all—will not this give great facility in the exercise of the franchise; will it not avoid intimidation; will it not greatly diminish expense; and will it not extend the power of voting to many who, from one cause or another, are practically prevented from exercising their votes? These, in my opinion, are the advantages that will arise from the adoption of this clause. On the other hand, there is the question whether the machinery is or can be made such as to prevent the possible evils that may arise. I do not deny the existence of these evils; but if the law is as stated by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond, there can be very little difficulty in amending it to protect the voter from any of those evils which he anticipates. I cannot I therefore help thinking the balance of advantages is in favour of adopting the mode of voting proposed by the clause.
§ MR. OSBORNE
Sir, I am not one of those who would be deterred from giving my support to any measure because it was a new one; but I cannot help thinking that the question brought before us is rather in the nature of a tentative reform. I do not recollect any Bill in which such a clause has been introduced. It introduces a totally new principle in the taking of votes, both in counties and boroughs. The clause says that—Any elector may give his vote by a voting 203 paper in the same manner and subject to the same conditions in and subject to which an elector of any of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge or Dublin, may give his vote, and all the provisions of the Acts—quoting them—shall, with the requisite variations, apply accordinglyto counties and boroughs. "Requisite variations!" What can this House know about "requisite variations?" I say under these "requisite variations" the House is rushing into alterations of the whole system of taking votes which will give facility, not to the voters, but to fraud. The right hon. Baronet has talked of our inexperience in these matters. It is true, we are totally inexperienced. An University franchise is no fair parallel to establish. It is an educated constituency, where all can read and write; but you are going to apply the mode of voting at an University election to the great mass of the constituencies, a great portion of whom cannot write. Yet, even in the case of the Universities I believe the greatest difficulty has been found in connection with the voting papers; and if mistakes have been made there, what may we not expect in the case of unenlightened populations containing many who are unable to write at all, or who can only write with very great difficulty? We have heard something of transferring the poll to the magistrate's drawing-room, but that is one reason why I should oppose this clause. This transference to the magistrates' drawing-rooms — what does it mean? We know very well how magistrates are made in this country. Is it not notorious that batches of them are made at, a time? How is it? If a Conservative Lord Chancellor comes in he makes a batch of Conservative magistrates; and if a Liberal, or what is called a Liberal, Lord Chancellor comes in, he makes a batch of Liberal magistrates, not because they are wealthy or influential, but because they have been useful to their party. ["No, no!"] Oh, but it is so. We have had that subject canvassed in this House repeatedly, and only the other night a question of that sort was raised. Suppose a voter should go before a Dover magistrate. What would his scruples be, do you think? Whatever the House does, do not let it make the great mistake of transferring the whole of this business to the magistrate's drawing-room. We know what would take place in this country under such circumstances, and I would ask the House what would be likely to take place in the magistrate's drawing-room in the sister country. Party feeling runs 204 very high there. It is all very well for hon. Gentlemen to get up and quote great sentences from Acts of Parliament to show that gentlemen cannot do this and cannot do the other. They would not do it in cold blood; but in the excitement of a contested election, and under great pressure—with a Conservative party, it may be, to bring into power in order to pass a Reform Bill—what would be done then? Let us avoid as much as we can this transference to the magistrate's drawing-room. I do not say there may not be many conveniences in voting papers in certain cases, and with regard to absent voters, but the House should regard not merely the convenience of the people who lived at a distance from the polling-booth, but the probable effect of such a measure as this on the great masses of the people in promoting fraud, corruption, and intimidation. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War has quoted from a speech of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn who certainly made one of the strongest speeches on principle against a proposal of this nature; but the right hon. Gentleman pointed out that the noble Lord was now a member of the Government. The fact of being a member of the Government certainly did involve some monstrous changes. The right hon. Gentleman acknowledges that this is a leap in the dark when he talked of the inexperience of the House in regard to it. The Government had taken one of the greatest possible leaps in the dark in introducing this Bill at all. The noble Lord the First Commissioner of Works (Lord John Manners) had also been against a scheme of this kind, and he believed that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War himself, in one of his confidential meetings with his constituents at Droitwich, had deprecated this system of voting papers before he joined the Government in 1859. The question may not be discussed in a party sense, but how will it be used? For party purposes. They would be having every borough magistrate—selected not for his great respectability or wealth, but for his great exertions on behalf of one party or the other—continually straining a point or two when poor trembling John Thomas was taken into the drawing-room and asked how he meant to vote. Away with the fallacy of supposing that because you are bringing the poll into the magistrate's drawing-room you are advancing freedom of election to the people of England! This 205 may become a very serious question. I never heard so large a question brought forward in such a manner. The hon. Baronet the Member for Radnorshire was the mouthpiece of the Government. He made the only explanation the House has yet received of the clause. Nothing was said on the second reading about voting papers. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge have been appealed to, but the character of the constituency there is very different from that of the country at large. In the case of the Universities the constituency is to a great extent non-resident; the character of the other constituencies consists in the localism of the voters. But even the experience of Oxford is not in favour of the new system, because the resident voters by a considerable majority polled for the candidate who was turned out, while the non-residents brought in the sitting Member. I cannot believe that the right hon. Gentleman opposite is at all anxious for the adoption of this clause. It is only another instance of the bucolic pressure put on the Government, and the more enlightened minds on the Treasury Bench dislike it. Had it been otherwise the Chancellor of the Exchequer would himself have explained it. I have always noticed as a remarkable fact that those clauses which the right hon. Gentleman does not like he never says a word about and never attempts to explain; but he generally puts up either the Secretary of State for War (Sir John Pakington) or the Home Secretary (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) to do the work for him. Let us do our work, however, consistently, and for once give a vote which shall destroy in the bud this endeavour to debauch and defraud the constituencies of the country.
said, he did not think the hon. Member for Nottingham was justified in saying that the House were about to take a jump in the dark, for voting papers had already been tried at Oxford and Cambridge with great success. They had heard most important testimony as to the working of the new system from one of the best authorities—his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond—as he was not only a University man, but University Counsel. They had been led to expect that the hon. and learned Member for Richmond would say something new which would have an important bearing on the clause, and that he would give instances of personation and misconduct such as had been suggested, but all 206 he said was that the Vice Chancellor for the time being had stated to him, as Counsel for the University, a number of cases on a variety of minute points on which he (the Vice Chancellor) required assistance. If all the objection that could be adduced to the working of this system of voting papers in connection with the Universities was that from time to time he had been troubled with difficult cases, there was not much to fear from its adoption in other constituencies. It was not to be expected they could adopt any new system without encountering difficulties for which a solution must be found. He listened with surprise to the statement of the hon. Member for Birmingham, that there had been no request out of doors for the introduction of voting papers, The borough which he had the honour to represent (Colchester), long before it was known that the Government would propose this clause and long before it was known there would be an election in anticipation of the general election, had urged upon him that as regarded that borough and others similarly situated, there was hardly anything of more importance than the adoption of voting papers; and no such "bucolic pressure," as that referred to by the hon. Member for Nottingham, had been applied to produce that conviction. The advantage of the system was manifest. There really could be no difficulty in the matter. He did not see that there could be any distinction drawn between Oxford and Cambridge and other parts of the country. What possible good could there be in bringing a man, at an inclement season of the year, more than seven miles over hilly roads in order to record his vote? He had had to canvass a man over ninety years old, and stone blind, and finding that he was seven miles off the polling-booth, was inclined to say, "Although I have come to ask you for your vote, as I shall have plenty of votes without yours, I would rather lose it than put you to the trouble of coming." [An hon. MEMBER: But did you say it?] He did. [Mr. M'CULLAGH TORRENS: That blind man could not fill up a voting paper.] Most blind men, even those who had been blind from birth, could make a mark, and might be permitted to do so in the presence of respectable magistrates. If the country at large would benefit by the introduction of voting papers, the objections ought not to prevent the adoption of the 207 system. The effect of not adopting it was to put money in the pockets of the proprietors of vehicles which brought voters to the poll. The opinion was entertained on both sides of the House that election expenses ought to be curtailed. They must necessarily be large in a borough with a radius of seven miles, and the expenses in question ought to be got rid of unless it could be shown that proportionate advantages depended upon their continuance, The hon. and learned Member for Richmond was hardly as qualified as others to express an opinion on the subject, because for many years it had been his good fortune to escape a contested election; and therefore he did not regard the matter of expense as many other Members did. He was by no means prepared to admit it was an objection that a man might have seventeen votes, for the possessors of such a number would generally be men of education, and if the hon. and learned Member for Richmond had so many, and gave one in the borough of Colchester, he should expect, as a Conservative, to receive the support of the hon. and learned Gentleman, who was described in Dod as a Conservative, although he sat on the opposite side of the House. He believed this clause was a step in the right direction, and he believed that this clause, instead of increasing bribery, corruption, and intimidation, would, beyond all doubt, sensibly diminish those evils. His hon. and learned Friend seemed to consider it a grievance that a man should be compelled to make up his mind ten days before an election; but he (Mr. Karslake) suspected that the man who insisted on waiting until the last minute to make up his mind was very likely to have a sinister reason for doing so. The objections which had been urged against the clause did not go to the principle, they only applied to details; and if the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Osborne) could make the clause more stringent and more effective, he would be listened to with attention. It was hard to understand how intimidation could possibly be increased by enabling men to stay away if they chose, and only if they chose, to avoid the turmoil of an election. It seemed to him that you thereby saved men of weak physique from the chance of intimidation by mob violence, and that both corruption and intimidation must of necessity most materially decrease if this plan were adopted. There was no reason to 208 suppose that the provision would be carried into effect in any cases except those in which it would be almost impossible for people to appear at the polling-booths; for they might depend upon it that Englishmen would be Englishmen still, and would continue to present themselves wherever there was a chance—he would not say of a row, but of a crowd, and there was a duty to be performed. But there were persons whom it was desirable to protect from the excitement of a contested election; and let it be remembered that the public peace was frequently in danger of being disturbed upon those occasions. Such a danger had arisen in the case of the last election for the borough (Colchester) which he himself had the honour of representing; and he appealed in justification of that statement to his hon. Colleague (Mr. Rebow), from whom he differed in politics, but for whom he entertained the highest personal respect. If voting papers were used candidates would clearly be saved a heavy expenditure in the conveyance of voters to the poll. Moreover, this was no mere experiment, but a tried system, which might, he believed, with the necessary changes, be extended with advantage from the Universities to the constituencies at large, and he hoped the Committee would adopt the proposal as a remedy for admitted evils in our electoral system.
§ MR. NEATE
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had spoken on this question principally with reference to borough elections; but the chief aim of the clause was in another direction. The hon. and learned Gentleman could hardly have looked into the Act on the subject of the University voting papers, or he would have found that it could not be applied in the same way to borough elections. The Act required that the voting papers should be dated after the day fixed for the election. Now, in the case of University elections which lasted for eight days, there would be ample time for filling up the papers after the day of election was fixed; but in the case of boroughs where the return came so quickly after the day of election, the use of voting papers would be a very different thing. He did not, indeed, believe that there was any such practical difficulty in the use of voting papers as might not be overcome. But, nevertheless, it did happen that a great many educated gentlemen going before educated magistrates did not know 209 how to comply with the requisition, and that he could state from his own experience. If, then, many Masters of Arts were unable to fill up the voting papers properly, how much more reason was there to apprehend that ordinary electors would often fail to conform to the conditions of the clause? But it was in counties principally that it was supposed that these voting papers would make a large number of votes available. Under the law as it stood a 40s. rent-charge on the land would give a vote, although, under present circumstances, the landlords, who could create them, did not much abuse their privilege, If, however, this clause were to pass, there would be the greatest possible temptation to landholders, whether Conservative or Liberal, to coin their land into votes of this kind. Five or ten thousand gentlemen, living in London, who could be trusted, might thus be provided with votes in every county in England. Believing, then, that the clause was nothing more than an insidious proposal for the creation of paper voters, he would certainly vote against it.
§ MR. REBOW
said, that his hon. and learned Colleague (Mr. Karslake) appeared to think that a riot would have taken place at the last election for Colchester had it not been for the presence of the county police. But he (Mr. Rebow) believed that it was in consequence of the imprudent introduction of the police into the borough that any such danger had arisen, and the moment they were removed the proceedings were conducted as quietly as on former occasions. He believed that polling papers would open the way to great intimidation and corruption, and be should therefore vote againt the clause.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, that the practical way of looking at the question was to consider the time fixed by law for recording votes at elections, which was between the hours of eight and four. If regard were had to this fact no one could fail to see that the use of voting papers would enable large numbers of people to exercise the franchise who were at present virtually debarred from that privilege. The House by this Bill was about to make a greater extension of the franchise than ever had been made before; but unless voting papers were allowed, a very considerable proportion of those who were to be admitted would be shut out from exercising it. Let them take the case of the ordinary working man. He went to his work at six o'clock in the morn- 210 ing, and did not return till pretty late in the evening. If he happened to be employed in the neighbourhood where he was entitled to vote, he might record the vote during his dinner hour. But a large proportion of mechanics being obliged to work at some distance from the places where they resided, it was impossible for them to exercise their electoral privilege. Voting papers, on the other hand, would enable them to do this when taken away by their ordinary employment. Medical men were another class that had frequently to spend the greater part of the day at places distant from the districts in which they resided, and it would be a great boon to them as a body if some such means as was proposed in the clause were afforded them for recording their votes. One of the Members of the City of London had stated, on a recent occasion, that not fewer than 750,000 persons connected with the metropolis would be in effect disfranchised if they were not allowed the use of voting papers, because during the greater part of the day they were away from the place of their residence. How could persons like these, who were all engaged in business, be sure of an opportunity of going to a polling-booth? In the borough of Marylebone, for instance, on a recent occasion only 10,000 persons voted out of 20,000 electors, and the reason of this was that they had to follow their avocations in the City, and could not go to the polling-place between eight and four o'clock. The same remark applied to many of the middle classes of Brighton who came up to London during the day. The whole argument against the use of voting papers was that they would foster bribery and intimidation. He did not believe that; on the contrary, he thought they would rather tend to discourage such misdemeanours. They had an example in the case of the Municipal Corporation Act. All the objections now urged against voting papers except that of personation were equally applicable to that Act, and yet it had been found to work admirably. One of the clauses contemplated the case of a voter who had already signed a voting paper presenting himself in person to vote, and there were altogether five checks against the improper use of the papers. He was therefore of opinion that the advantages and facilities which would be conferred by the voting papers would be very great, and that the number of persons who would be practically enfranchised through the medium of 211 the voting papers would prove an advantage that would much more than counterbalance the anticipated evils of corruption, and he hoped the Committee would not reject the clause.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, he hoped that on this occasion hon. Members on the Government side of the House were open to reason and conviction, and that they would not by giving a party vote introduce into the English constitution a new and most mischievous element. A good deal had been said with reference to the Universities, but when, a few years ago, the Oxford and Cambridge University Bill was before the House, he voted for it upon the ground that it was an exceedingly exceptional case, and entirely different from that of all other constituencies in the Kingdom. Owing to the scantiness of means of some of the most worthy and highly educated members of those Universities, and to the great distances at which they resided from the polling-places, the normal state of things was that out of about 4,000 Masters of Arts whose names were upon the register, only some 1,500 or 1,600 came to the poll. When that Bill was before the Committee, one of the points most insisted on was that every conceivable safeguard should be devised, and he believed they did eventually arrive at a plan which, upon the whole, was not open to much abuse. If, however, he had had the slightest idea that the carrying of that Bill would have been made a precedent for such a proposition as was now before the Committee, he never would have been a party to it. He believed this clause was open to all the objections which were removed in the case of the Universities Bill, from the fact that the persons who had the vote there were persons whose education and position in society gave a guarantee that they would not be operated upon by sinister means. Let them observe how the clause would really operate. One thing was clear — namely, that immediately upon the nomination of the candidates an election agent would appear an active, busy, intelligent, unscrupulous man, who would hunt up doubtful voters in every part of the kingdom, offer them all sorts of inducements, provide them with voting papers already drawn up, and take them to some magistrate, who would only have to ascertain that the man was a voter on the register, and the agent would then be able to make what use he chose of the votes. That surely would greatly facili- 212 tate bribery, corruption, undue influence, and that intimidation which came from undue influence. With regard to the expense of bringing voters to the poll, he took it for granted that the Government really intended to have additional polling-places, and therefore that argument for the clause was entirely gone. There would be certain advantages, no doubt, in voting papers; but looking at the evil consequences certain to result the balance was entirely against the system. Every lawyer knew that when an Act of Parliament provided strict machinery for the exercise of a right, carefully as the law might be framed and well selected as the officers might be to carry it out, mistakes were sure to be made, and if they adopted such a plan in the case of poor and ignorant persons those mistakes which occurred even in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, would be immensely multiplied. Magistrates were not infallible, and if questions were to be raised before them upon these voting papers there would be quite as great a disfranchisement of honest voters as there would be an enfranchisement by the clause. It must also be remembered, in answer to the argument that it would lessen the cost of elections, that to lessen the cost of elections was likely to render contests more frequent. This was therefore an important but rash step, which might act practically as a measure of disfranchisement, and entirely change the aspect of election proceedings, and if the House regarded the subject on its merits, and not from a party point of view, he believed there would be a general agreement that the proposal should not be accepted.
said, that as the second county Member who had spoken on this clause, he wished to state his reasons for thinking it one of the most useful in the Bill, and one for which there was an absolute necessity. Elections, which were now limited to one day, were very different to those which lasted for fifteen. At present electors in counties frequently found that they had engagements at fairs and other places on the one day set apart for polling, whereas at the Universities the choice could be made of any one day in five. It had been said during the debate that a considerable portion of metropolitan constituencies did not vote at elections. At the election of Mr. Edwin James for Marylebone it was stated that 11,000 213 voters did not vote; and when the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) obtained his seat it appeared at the declaration of the poll that 10,000 voters did not vote. He claimed the vote of the hon. Member for Westminster in favour of the clause, because if women were to be admitted to the franchise they ought not to be under the necessity of facing a violent mob, say at Covent Garden, for the purpose of recording their votes. Feeling that every one entitled to vote ought to have the opportunity of voting, he most heartily supported the clause.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, he would not have taken any part in the discussion, but that the proposition before the Committee affected Ireland, With reference to a remark made by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, he hoped that the clause would never be passed until the proposition of the hon. Member for Westminster for the enfranchisement of women had become the law of the land. The ballot was resisted on the ground that the vote was a trust which ought to be exercised under a responsibility which could only be discharged in the open day and under the eyes of the public; but they cut away that constitutional principle when they enabled a man to vote privately, and transferred the polling from the public booths into the magistrate's office. If voting papers were posted there would be no means of knowing whether they were ever received and recorded, and the clause would place absolute power over the election in the hands of the returning officer. The proper remedy for the expense of elections was to make all expenses illegal, and not to change entirely the system of voting. It had been said in the course of the debate that out of 20,000 voters in the borough of Marylebone, only from 8,000 to 10,000 recorded their votes; but was there any Member of the Committee who believed that every elector in that borough could not have voted if he liked? Voting papers would increase the gangrene of intimidation, which, at all events, was now checked by public opinion to some extent. In country districts the peasant would be taken to the drawing-room of a magistrate, and be subjected to influences which it would be impossible for him to free himself from. What public opinion would then be there to protect him from the influence of wealth and power? None. At present the voter was protected by public opinion, although, no doubt, that public 214 opinion was sometimes exhibited in too strong a manner—but by increasing the polling-places, and by many other means, all that evil could be prevented. He was glad the experiment of voting papers was proposed to be tried first in England, where he believed it would be resisted successfully, instead of in Ireland, where it might be forced on the people.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that though he was a Liberal, he should not treat this as a party question, and should therefore vote with the Government. On every question there must be advantages and disadvantages, and it was only by balancing these that a reasonable conclusion could be arrived at; and it appeared to him that there were many and great advantages in favour of the system of voting papers. The payment for the carriage of voters would at once be done away with, and, as stated by the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, the carriage of voters involved many indirect methods of giving money to electors. Money could not be given to the electors themselves, therefore means of conveyance must be provided for the whole constituency, the practical effect of which was that to secure the votes of owners of carriages large sums were paid for the hire of vehicles, many of which were never used at all. It was certain that hon. Gentlemen opposite would not vote for doing away with the legality of paying the carriage of voters to the poll unless voting papers were allowed. In some districts, though not in the metropolis, there were such disturbances at the poll that people were prevented from coming to tender their votes, and it was obvious that if Parliament limited the number of people at the poll they would lessen the rioting at the booths. It was undeniable that a good many quiet people were afraid of going to the poll, and when it was found that, owing to the machinery of elections, these persons could not be induced to vote, it was the duty of that House to try a change in the machinery. He was at a loss to see how the use of voting papers could increase intimidation. One would suppose that there was no such thing as intimidation known at present. But did the opponents of this clause imagine that a man always voted now without thinking of his landlord or those who had influence over him? These persons knew very well how the man voted at present, and if they wished to intimidate him they could do it equally well without voting papers. The 215 arguments against voting papers were still weaker in boroughs than in counties, for in boroughs it was known how every man would vote. In small boroughs there was often a doubtful class to be found who were influenced by money, and when a candidate or his agent was not prevented by conscientious scruples he went into the market and bought them up. He thought it would be a great advantage if these persons could be induced earlier to state how they meant to vote, and that they should be unable to change their mind. The presumption was that when the small householder changed his mind at the last moment of an election he had very good reason for so doing. An hon. Member had contended that these voting papers were not good for Ireland. He had never been to Ireland; but he had read accounts of Irish elections, and he thought they might be better conducted. He could not help thinking it was better to even go before a magistrate in his drawing-room than to be escorted to the poll by the military and bombarded by bricks and other missiles. The salutary influence of public opinion may eventually mend matters; but the real remedy for all this was the ballot. If the House adopted the ballot they would do away with all sorts of intimidation. It was said that the clause would give vise to mistakes, and that some of the lower class of voters wrote so ill that the names of the candidates would be illegible. If so, it would act to a certain extent as an educational test. He was a Liberal; but, at the same time, he held that if a man could not write the name of the candidate he wished to vote for distinctly and legibly he was not a fit person to be intrusted with the suffrage. There was, he believed, a strong feeling on the Liberal side that many of these quiet persons who staid at home and did not now vote at elections, but who were likely to do so under the proposed system, were Conservatives. ["No, no!"] That feeling was, he believed, at the bottom of the opposition to this clause, and therefore every impediment was thrown in its way. From the arguments he had heard that night he should really be tempted to suppose that the opposite (the Ministerial) was the Liberal and his the Conservative side of the House. He should vote in favour of the clause, because he thought voting papers would afford greater facility for voting than at present existed.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that the hon. 216 Member who had just spoken might have contented himself with differing from Liberal Members on this question without imputing motives to them, which, however, it was easy to show had no existence. The Government by this clause asked the House to change the entire system of voting without laying any distinct proposal before them, but by attempting to carry out the provisions of a very special and exceptional Act passed for a particular case. This Act arose out of the proceedings of the Select Committee on Corrupt Practices at Elections. That Committee had very curious views on the subject of voting developed before them, and they were decided in opinion against the introduction of voting papers; but they arrived at the conclusion that a University stood upon different grounds from other constituencies, and that what might be very bad for other constituencies might be very good for a University. They made a recommendation to that effect, which was adopted by the House; but in order that it might not be drawn into a precedent, they passed a Resolution in which they based their recommendation upon the fact that the franchise of the University was essentially a non-resident franchise for the electors. The right hon. Gentleman who now filled the Chair took up the question and brought in a Bill, but it embodied the vicious principle of making a voter give his vote through the intervention of another voter. In a Committee of the Whole House a strong feeling declared itself against this vicious principle, and the right hon. Gentleman, now the Secretary of State for India, joined in the protest. All the anticipations of the evil consequences of the Act had been fulfilled by the result, for the voters had thus been brought under influences of the most prejudicial character. That system was adopted by the House entirely on the faith of the fact that it was to be confined to a body of educated gentlemen in very exceptional circumstances as electors, because they did not reside at the place of election, and their position in society rendered it possible to carry out the system. But if it had been proposed to apply it to the mass of the constituencies the House would never have entertained it. It was a remarkable instance of the sagacity of the late Sir George Lewis that in discussing that proposal he said he would not consent to its passing for the Universities, lest, perchance, it should become a 217 precedent for wider legislation. He hoped the House, by rejecting the present proposition, would prevent the fulfilment of Sir George Lewis's prediction. It was said the proposal would be useful to a certain limited class—namely, the sick, the aged, or the absent voters; but why were they, in order to meet the case of that limited class, not comprising 5 per cent of the whole constituency, to subvert the entire electoral system throughout the country? If the proposal were extended to the whole constituency, instead of being economical it would be a most costly arrangement. During the last twenty or thirty years they had been passing laws for curtailing various excesses for the expenditure of money at elections, where the most simple acts and things were made a fertile source of expense. Even so small a matter as a cockade became an affair of hundreds of pounds at elections, because it opened the door for a lavish outlay of money. If therefore every elector might vote by means of a voting paper, a trade would immediately spring up at every election. There would be recognised agents for collecting the voting papers, and every vote would be the subject of a traffic and barter—not by the voter, but by an agent who would make it his business to go about gathering up the voting papers, Talk of the expense of bringing the voter to the poll! Why, it would be trifling compared to the cost of sending an attorney after the voter to get his voting paper. Indeed, everybody would be employed at large expense in collecting voting papers; and every elector, instead of giving his own vote, would go and obtain somebody else's voting paper. Thus, instead of A and B each going to the poll and giving his vote, A would undertake to get B's vote if his expenses were paid, and B would repeat the process with regard to A. Outside the House payment was regulated by Act of Parliament; but under this Act expenses would have to be paid to attorneys travelling in a sumptuous electoral manner; and all those charges for loss of time and the like would have to be met upon the scale common at electioneering times. He remembered an agent for the small Devonshire boroughs coming to him and setting forth the advantages which they supplied. He (Mr. Ayrton) did not concur in those representations; but he was informed, in reply to his protestations, that these matters were consonant with the principle of supply and demand. Hon. Members were 218 acquainted with the class of people who hang about committee-rooms for the purpose of making a harvest at elections; and if this mode of voting were adopted, it would degenerate into such expense as to create the greatest evil of the electoral system. The plan might work very well for clergymen, barristers, and country gentlemen, whose identity might be easily established; but the case was very different when it was proposed to extend the system to householders in general. There still remained the grave objection to the system that it would be the means of introducing the practice of manufacturing votes, which would end in pulling down the whole of the existing electoral system. To avoid giving offence to hon. Gentlemen opposite he would give this illustration of how the principle could work. If the wealthy members of the Reform Club were to form themselves into an association, and were to qualify in a body to be counted by hundreds, as they could do, as electors for every county and division of a county in England, what would be the effect of their voting papers then upon the electoral system of the kingdom? Why, such a wide door would be open to wholesale abuse that the House would have soon to ratrace its steps. He should begin to think that hon. Gentlemen on his side had become the protectors of the British Constitution when he saw such fantastic schemes as that emanating from the Conservative Benches, and he thought the mode in which the proposition was made ought to receive indignant rejection on the part of the House. They were attempting to undermine that which had been practised with success for ages; and they had no guarantee for the safe working of the project embodied in that clause. They were called upon to vote en masse every clause in the Act referred to; he was convinced that if the clauses of that Act were offered seriatim for their consideration in connection with the Reform Bill they would not be passed, and inasmuch as the Committee was not properly treated in having such a wholesale proposal thrust before it, he recommended the rejection of the clause. The more he thought of the matter the more he was convinced that the plan was of an impracticable character. With respect to an observation personal to him which had fallen from an hon. Member opposite, asserting that he had not been elected by a proper majority, he replied that he never knew 219 of a case yet in which an unsuccessful candidate was content with the method of the election. His case, however, was easily explained. When it was found that he was 1,500 ahead of his opponent, those voters who would have favoured him saw that all was going on right and accordingly refrained from voting, as was customary under such circumstances. County voters, on the contrary, were in the dark as to how the voting was going and polled out. And inasmuch as voting papers were not needed in the boroughs because polling-booths were numerous, and were not needed in the counties because they already polled out, he saw no reason for subverting a practice which had hitherto worked well.
§ LORD ELCHO
I had originally no intention of speaking upon this question; but I think I can suggest a mode for arriving at a satisfactory solution of the difficulty. I agree with the hon. Member for Birmingham that this is a most important question, and concur with the hon. and learned Member for Tiverton in expressing a hope that the Committee will not regard it in the light of a party question. I do not think there is much difference of opinion with regard to the principle involved in the question. In giving a wide extension of the franchise we all desire that the newly-enfranchised persons should exercise the privilege conferred upon them; and I have no doubt we would all agree to the clause under discussion if we felt certain that it would largely facilitate the exercise of the franchise without bringing in its train abuses greater than the advantages it conferred. The question of abuse, however, turns entirely on the machinery employed, and the question arises as to whether the machinery provided by the University Act is such as to guard against abuse. The hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets has said that the Act establishing voting papers in the case of the Universities resulted from an inquiry before a Committee which dealt with the question exceptionally and provided exceptional means for meeting a special case; now it so happens that there is a Committee of this House at the present time considering the Bill for preventing corrupt practices at elections, and I would suggest, instead of our coming to a final decision upon this clause to night, to allow it to be negatived on the understanding that the clause and the Act providing the machinery should be referred to the Committee on the 220 Bill for preventing corrupt practices at elections. If the question is pressed to a division I shall give my vote with the Government. [Ironical cheers.] I can see nothing deserving of any ironical cheers in what I have said. Having listened candidly to the debate, I think, upon the whole, that the arguments are rather in favour of the Government proposal, and therefore, if pressed to give my vote, I shall give it with the Government; but, at the same time, I do not think the case strong enough to justify me in voting with the Government if I have an alternative, and the only alternative I can think of is that I have suggested. If my suggestion is accepted it will be for the House, when the Committee have reported, to decide finally on the bringing up of the Report whether a clause should be inserted in the Bill to give effect to the proposal now under consideration.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he considered that the franchise being a public trust ought to be exercised by the electors in the face of their countrymen, as the fact of electors abstaining from the vote virtually placed non-electors in a position of suffrage. A vote given in private was given as if it were the private property of the elector and not as the exercise of a function in the nature of a trust. He therefore objected to the proposition now under consideration. He remembered a warning given by the late Sir James Graham that if the principle of secret voting were adopted it would be followed by a claim for universal suffrage. He felt the temptation, which every county Member must feel, offered by a proposal which was likely to diminish the expenses of elections, but its adoption on the ground of mere personal convenience would, he thought, be a boon secured at the expense of vitiating our entire electoral system.
§ MR. WYLD
said, he would support the proposition of the Government, believing it would have the effect, to a great extent, of doing away with bribery and intimidation at elections. They were about to extend the franchise to a large body of working classes, and he thought this proposition, if carried, would confer upon them a great benefit.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I wish to make a few observations on this clause before the Committee comes to a decision upon it. I have listened to this discussion with great interest, but it seems to me that a very erroneous view 221 has been taken by some hon. Members of the proposition under our notice. The hon. Member for Finsbury, who addressed us in a very effective speech, has, I think, greatly misapprehended the circumstances with which we have to deal. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, too, has argued the case as if we were inviting the Committee to introduce some violent change into the constituencies of this country. I must, however, remind the Committee that the circumstances to which the hon. Member for Finsbury referred do not apply to the proposition of the Government. On the contrary, the conditions under which the franchise is to be exercised under the operation of this clause are quite the reverse of those to which the hon. Member for Finsbury referred as drawn from his experience of the Poor Law. Our conditions and safeguards have, in fact, been devised and adopted from our experience of the practice of voting papers under the Poor Law. I do not therefore believe in the occurrence of evils such as those to which he has called our attention. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, I may add, has treated this as if it were a compulsory clause, though I can scarcely suppose that a Gentleman so well informed could for a moment make a mistake as to its real nature. The whole of his argument tended to show that we were about to introduce some violent change into the constituencies. That, however, I would beg to remind him, is purely a permissive clause. Like all permissive legislation, it will, I have no doubt, exercise a moderate influence; but then, I think, the great mass of the constituencies will be prompted, as Englishmen always have been, to exercise a public trust of which they are proud in the eye of their neighbours. There are, at the same time, many persons upon whom the franchise devolves under the existing system, and upon whom it will devolve under this Bill, who may with advantage avail themselves of the privileges which this clause would confer. The hon. Member for Finsbury seems altogether to have misconceived the character of our proposal. He looks upon it as a retrograde proposition. He has been at the trouble to father it on my noble Friend whose services in the Cabinet we all regret to have lost some months ago. The hon. Gentleman has even expressed his surprise that after the unfortunate secession of my noble Friend from our ranks we should still adhere to such a scheme. The noble Lord, however, very 222 properly reminded the Committee that this proposition was first made in 1859, when he was not a Member of the Government, and had only for a very short time been a Member of the House. It was then introduced, not as a leading proposition, but as one of a tentative character, in deference to the opinion of many enlightened speculators—not Members of this House, though some of them have since become Members—but to whose opinion society very much deferred: their opinion being that this was a mode by which purer and more effective representation could be obtained. Under these circumstances, we were of opinion in 1859 that a clause of this nature should be inserted in our Bill. Has anything since occurred which should cause us to shrink from repeating the experiment? On the contrary, the House of Commons has in the interval adopted and applied this principle in a very memorable instance. A Bill was brought forward by a distinguished Member of the Liberal party—the Gentleman who sits in the Chair on this Committee—and was supported by very eminent Members of that party. The success of that measure has, I believe, been not only satisfactory, but complete. Under these circumstances, there is nothing remarkable, I think, in the fact that we have deemed it right to include a similar proposal in the present Bill. I admit with the hon. and learned Member for Richmond, that there is a great deal to be said on both sides of this question. The point, however, is on which side does the preponderance of advantage lie, and, in my opinion, the great preponderance rests with the permissive exercise of the right conceded by this clause. I confess, for my own part—I may, no doubt, be influenced by selfish considerations—that I have always thought a great benefit would accrue to the representatives of counties from the adoption of such a proposal. It would very effectually deal with an immense expenditure which cannot by any misrepresentation be placed under the head of corruption. It would, it appears to me, be a great advantage, seeing the grout cost of county elections, as proved by recent Returns, that they are in general as pure as popular elections can be expected to be, and bearing in mind also that the constituencies are about to be greatly increased, that we should sanction some proposition such as that under our consideration. I confess, for my own part, that if I had simply followed my indi- 223 vidual feeling in the matter, I should have been disposed to confine the operation of the clause to counties. If, however, the proposition had been introduced in that way, it would have been looked upon as but a partial application of our principle. It would be said that we had some sinister object in view for the purpose of benefiting the counties, and we should be asked why it was that we did not admit the boroughs to the advantages of this new scheme. We, under those circumstances, deemed it the wisest and best course to pursue to place the proposition absolutely before the Committee, and to let them deal with it as they thought fit. If, upon the whole, they were of opinion that the scheme should be only partially adopted, then it could be modified; or they might entirely reject, or the reverse, as appeared to them to be the wisest course to pursue. My own opinion is that the system of voting papers would be found to operate very beneficially in reducing the expenditure at county elections, and, though the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets gave us a very lively description of the disadvantages which would arise from its adoption, they are, I cannot help thinking, like many other descriptions for which practical men of the world know there is, in reality, no foundation. The county Member who finds that he has spent £4,000 or £5,000 in bringing voters up to the poll is well aware that if he employs a few attorneys, he may, with the aid of these voting papers, set down those thousands as represented by hundreds. I may say it would be the best security for purity of elections. That is my answer to the hon. Gentleman. I now come to the question of corruption, with respect to which the cases have been stated somewhat in extremes on both sides of the House; and certainly the Reform Club, whose riches have been announced to us to-night in an almost menacing tone, may be able to purchase all the county constituencies of the country. I have often heard those stories of the accumulated treasures of political societies, but my impression is this, that whatever club, be it the Reform, or any other lays out its funds in this way, will find in the end that it has wasted its money. The only persons benefited are the attorneys employed by both sides. One club would be sure to emulate another in the sanguinary and disastrous contest, and there can be no doubt that it would very soon cease. 224 But there are other reasons why it would be well that we should calmly consider whether some important benefits may not be derived from the adoption of this proposal. We have to a great extent reduced to the lowest point the time that is allowed for polling a large constituency, and by that I mean now a large county constituency. It is not very difficult with a capital organization, and with the population of a great town, consolidated as it were together, to poll many thousand voters in six or eight hours; but it is a very difficult thing to effect this in a county, and at the present day, far from supposing that the county constituencies are exhausted on the day of polling, as the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets has argued, if he looks into the statistics he will find it quite the reverse. There may be numbers unpolled in a metropolitan, constituency, but the cause he has explained, and as he has had considerable experience in heading the poll, I have no doubt he speaks with special knowledge of the subject. But in county contests, which are fought with more equal fortunes, there is an impossibility of fairly polling the constituency. It is almost impossible for any elector who has more than one or two qualifications to exercise his franchise under the present system. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond has seventeen votes, but I must say he is a remarkable man. I am sure that I never saw in the flesh before a man who really had seventeen votes, and I can easily understand that at a general election the hon. and learned Member would feel greatly embarrassed. But a great many of us who have not seventeen votes would wish to exercise the franchise; and even a person with seventeen votes ought, I maintain, to be secured by the law of his country in the right of bestowing them. These seventeen votes are the representatives of his property in seventeen localities, and it is right that his property should have its due influence. Now, it is well known that a great hardship is felt in the county constituencies, because it is utterly impossible for a gentleman to record his votes in more than one or two counties, and that is a state of affairs which should not be permitted to continue if a remedy can be provided. I cannot but believe the principle of this clause to be sound. That principle was first proclaimed and developed in the writings of political philosophers. It was adopted in this House for a practical pur- 225 pose and it has been applied with success. I think myself that its application on a much wider scale would be of great public benefit. If any Gentleman opposite proposed any modification of the clause which respected its principle, if he proposed to apply it in a limited manner, say to counties, I should be perfectly ready to adopt that modification. If it be proposed to confine the measure to counties and out-voters, I shall be satisfied to adopt such a suggestion. But I hold that the principle is founded upon truth and justice; I believe that by the public mind of this country it has been received with favour, and that, too, after due thought and reflection, and I trust, therefore, that the Committee will not by its vote to-night terminate at its commencement what I hope may be considered a very great improvement in the exercise of the electoral rights of the people.
I think the right hon. Gentleman has concluded his speech with perfect fairness, and left the decision to the House in a way worthy of the position he occupies. The debate has been one of considerable satisfaction to me, because, however evil I may think the proposition is as it now stands, I cannot conceal from myself the fact that the arguments both on this and on that side of the House lead us a great deal further than this proposition, and should end after this wide extension of the suffrage in a change which in almost every other country has long ago been made—namely, in establishing the vote by ballot. Now, Sir, there are two divisions of this question, and to one of them the right hon. Gentleman has applied himself; and other Members also touched upon the same—that is, with regard to out-voters. I believe if we were establishing a system of representation for the first time, we should do in counties what we do in boroughs—we should take care that all the electors of the counties should be resident in the counties. A different system prevails, and I do not recommend that it should be interfered with; but I suggest that you should not, for the purpose of extending the present system of non-resident voters, make a great change for which no substantial and sufficient reason has been given. The hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets has made a speech, which I think one of the most conclusive that I ever heard delivered in this House on any question. He referred to what might be done by certain 226 persons at certain clubs. The Reform, Club is very near the Carlton. If a man wants to go to one he is now driven, not invariably, but occasionally, to the other. What the hon. Gentleman says might be done at the Reform Club might also be done at the Carlton. But what has been done? Take the case of a small Scotch county in which there was a contest at the last election. Every Scotch Member will know to what I refer. The losing candidate had a decided majority of the resident voters in the county, and yet he did not take his seat in this House through the influence of non-resident voters—strangers whose votes might be called into question as contrary, if not to the letter, to the spirit of the law. These voters overruled the votes of the resident constituency, and the candidate who had the majority of the resident votes was de feated, and his opponent is, I presume, at this moment sitting somewhere in this House. ["Name!"] Let any Gentleman who wants to know the name ask the Scotch Member that sits nearest him. Now, this House is, I believe, in hopes that the discussions of this Session, and the passing of this Bill, will lead to a more satisfactory representation of the country. I therefore hope that there is no Member of the House who would wish to see the system I have just described indefinitely extended. And I am not speaking as against the in fluence of landed proprietors alone; there are other influences that can play this game. I recollect some years ago, during the agitation for the repeal of the Corn Laws, that the friends of the Anti-Corn Law League resolved to purchase freeholds in some counties, and threatened to change the representation of those counties. In a case like that it would be a great bar to such a movement, that every voter, at the time of an election, should travel to the county where his freehold was situate. It is not the true policy of the country—it is contrary to the interests of the country—it is opposed to the purity and reality of our electoral system, that you should give even to an eminent lawyer like the hon. and learned Gentleman on the front Bench, or to any landlord or club, any greater inducement than now exists, to obtain votes in counties where people do not reside, for the purpose of interfering with the real and honest representation of the residents of the county. There are many small counties—some in England, some in Wales, and several in Scotland, in 227 which there will be no difficulty, under this system, of placing as many persons on the register as would utterly defeat the honest rights of the electors of those counties. The right hon. Gentleman dwelt on the success of the system as tried in the Universities; and some Gentlemen smiled because they thought he meant—what I am sure he did not mean—that it had proved successful because it dislodged the recent Member for the University of Oxford. But that is a small matter; and if England were appealed to, England would say that it is of great advantage to the country that that dislodgment has taken place. But while the right hon. Gentleman defends the measure on account of its success at Oxford University, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich admitted, with the frankness I have often seen him exhibit in the House, that the cases were so entirely different that he would not base his argument in favour of the Bill on anything that had happened, or could happen, in connection with the learned Universities of the country. The Committee on which the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets sat, had the whole of the matter before it; and that Committee saw a wide difference between the circumstances of the Universities and of the great constituencies of the country; and they entirely—I know not if they were unanimous—rejected the proposition in regard to the country at large, and decided on special grounds that the plan might only be safely adopted in regard to the Universities. I now pass to the other branch of the subject, to the general effect of this measure. My own belief is that its general effect will be bad. It seems to me that it will not have the good effect—and I have never denied that there is some good in the system—of open voting. It escapes from that which you have always claimed as the great advantage of open voting, that is the general publicity and influence of public opinion, and what you call the salutary effect of a man performing a great public duty and object in the face of his fellow men. It is clear that the whole of that is got rid of by his system. It is clearly got rid of so far as this system will work. The right hon. Gentleman calls this a permissive clause. Of course, to individuals it is permissive, but with reference to the whole country it can hardly be so styled. Wherever, being permissive, it is employed, it will entirely secure the voter from that public opinion 228 under which every man in some degree acts when he goes to the poll and gives his vote in the face of his fellow electors and townsmen. On the other hand, I complain of it very much, on this ground — that altogether it shelters him from public opinion, yet it does not in the least give him the advantages of real and secret voting. ["Oh!"] The advantages of the really secret vote are these — you may estimate them at less than I do, but I think they are these—a man when he votes knows there is no power on earth to interfere with him but his own conviction as to what he ought to do, and he has a perfect freedom to carry out those convictions in his vote. Now, a proposition which is so great a change that it repudiates all that which you have said is good in the open voting, and does not accept a single particle of what we have said belongs to secret voting, at least is not a proposition which should be accepted hastily by the House. The right hon. Gentleman, following the example of many hon. Members, dwelt upon the expenses of county elections. I think those expenses are most deplorable, and in many cases are hardly a tolerable burden. I was speaking to a Gentleman, in this House the other day who said he was a candidate for ten days for a county which is neither very large nor very populous, and in these ten days his expenses were £4,000. I know another candidate—I think I am not mis-stating the facts—who polled 2,000 votes, and they cost him £8,000. But that expenditure is by no means all connected with the carriage of voters, a very large portion is connected with that hateful and intolerable system of legal agency, which is, I believe, all but universal in the counties, and which unfortunately prevails to a very large extent in a great number of boroughs. But there cannot be the smallest doubt that it is possible to cure that evil without adopting the remedy proposed in the clause. I do not say you will cure the expenses with regard to non-resident voters, who have a long way to come, but with regard to the resident voters of a county, you might establish—and establish cheaply—pollingbooths in so many districts that no man will have to go further than he has to go every week to market, and very often he would have to go no further than he goes on Sunday to Church. The noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Viscount Cranborne), who made as good a speech, to-night as 229 could be made in favour of this clause, spoke of persons who could not get to the poll—rich people and nervous people. I am not speaking of the sick, because we ought not to make special laws for a comparatively small portion of the people, and those who are sick are much better at their homes and in bed, than taking any part whatever in the excitement of a contested election at a time when they are suffering mental and bodily depression. The noble Lord said there are many electors who do not go to the poll at all. I think he is entirely mistaken. I have had several contests in the course of my political career. Two contests in the city of Durham, two or three in the city of Manchester, and one at least in the town of Birmingham. I do not believe that any appreciable number—I cannot say that I ever heard of ten, not even five, in the whole of these three constituencies, who could not go to the poll for any of the reasons stated by the noble Lord. There is not the slightest doubt his argument does not apply to the metropolitan boroughs, because if there are any boroughs which are free from confusion and riot at election times, it is those boroughs. Therefore, I hold that as regards that there is nothing in it. But there is this in it. The noble Lord appears to be wishful—I will not impute that, but I will say that it will be understood that he would establish a system which would very nearly give the security of the ballot to the rich people, and that it is for them that this system is mainly devised. I must leave hon. Gentlemen opposite to imagine that if once an idea established itself in the public mind that that was the object of the measure, how long would it be before the ballot itself was demanded and obtained for all other classes. Now as regards the poorer electors. My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Ayrton) described what would take place with agents. There is a wonderful fertility of invention at election times—and clever agents would busy themselves in the streets of our boroughs, and in some parts of the counties, with a view of obtaining these polling papers. And what happens when they have been signed and sent in? Why, you establish one of the most hateful and most unheard of things that can be imagined, which is the giving of votes by proxy. I understand that lately there has been a discussion in "another place" on the subject of voting by proxy—and there is a general impress- 230 sion that that system—which no man defends upon any principle—will not last long. Therefore, I hope the House of Commons will not now attempt to establish in any shape anything so unprincipled and hateful with regard to our Parliamentary elections as this would prove to be. If the proposal contained in this measure were to be adopted, when any person has received a number of voting papers from any borough or part of a county, it is quite clear that he can either poll them or not, as he thinks fit. He can hold them back, or make a traffic of them. They are not exactly bank notes; but as he holds them in his hand, he may traffic with them as if they were bank notes. Now, I think it—Better to bear the ills we haveThan fly to others that we know not of.I think the noble Lord, or, at all events, some hon. Members, have spoken of the character of magistrates. I am not a magistrate myself, and I should be sorry to depreciate or lower their character in this House or in the country; but there is nothing that stands, as I can see, between the present system of voting for Poor Law Guardians and the system proposed by this clause but the magistrates. The magistrates are not infallible. I have known many magistrates who were not at all too acute to be taken in—and I think the security is not sufficient to justify the House in making the great change proposed. The noble Lord made another observation, which was a very unfortunate one for him to make; and, indeed, I am greatly surprised that it should have escaped his lips. He went so far as to say that the drawing-room of the magistrate would be the place of the pollingbooth. If I am not very much mistaken in the opinion of my countrymen, I think that observation will sink very deep into their minds and hearts, and if they thought such a thing were possible—and we have the authority of the noble Lord that it is possible, and that he admires it—I say that is enough to condemn the Bill. The question is this—whether our whole system of polling should be changed to what is right, or whether it should be a general system of voting through the Post Office. My own impression is, that every man who gives a vote should appear before the recognised authority by whom that vote should be recorded—whether he give it openly, by saying, "I am So-and-so, and I have voted for A., B., C, or D.," 231 or whether he should vote as Englishmen do in the Australian colonies, by depositing a card or ticket in the ballot-box. ["Oh, oh!" and cheers.] I saw one hon. Member anticipating what I was going to say by the radiant smile which came over his countenance. But I am not now asking for the ballot. What I say is this. I prefer what now exists to what you propose. Either let us have the open voting which we have, and which we all understand, and which we have had from time immemorial, so that we understand the good and evil of it, or let us go to that more excellent way of polling by the ballot. At least, do not let us make a change, the results of which would, in my opinion, lead to very great danger to the free and uncorrupt exercise of the franchise throughout the country. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesex has to-night made a curious speech, and he treated very lightly the argument which had been used, that if a man had given his voting paper seven days before an election in the county, and three days before in the borough, that he should not be at liberty to change his mind. No doubt in the borough the elector might attempt to outwit his proxy, by being at the poll when it opened at eight o'clock in the morning, and then it would be a scuffle between him and his proxy as to the vote to be given; but, generally speaking, there are many persons who honestly change their minds between the time when the election is proclaimed and the time that it takes place. ["Oh!"] Hon. Members opposite do not appear to believe that there is any honest change of opinion. I differ from them very much, and if Members of the House of Commons in great numbers can change their opinions at once on a question, there can be no doubt whatever that electors are equally open to proper arguments. Take a case. Between the time when an election is proclaimed and the day fixed for the polling a new candidate very often comes into the field. Then there is often something found out about a candidate in the field which makes him unpopular with the constituency; or some person comes into the field, and by a speech of great power affects the votes of many electors. Yet by this system a man may have within seven days of the election in the county, and three days of the election in the borough, signed this fatal voting paper; he is committed to it, and he is not even open to the discussion for which 232 I understand your hustings are erected and maintained. I say hon. Gentlemen opposite by their ancient principles ought not to support this proposition; and I think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer concluded his speech in a tone which showed that the Government would receive with no great dissatisfaction the decision of an adverse majority. I hope the House will take him at his word, and relieve the Government of the responsibility of the clause altogether. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have often said that they do not like anything un-English. I shall not use that phrase, although if I were to reiterate it I might say with great force that hardly anything can be more un-English than a system of this kind, which is to be permissive. Some have argued in favour of the permissive ballot. I must say that I have always been opposed to the permissive ballot. Let a question of this kind work in the public and Parliamentary mind, and do not change until you are determined to do the thing honestly and well. Then let it be made legal and imperative, and do not let us have anything like permissive action on a great and solemn question like this, The noble Lord below me (Lord Elcho) made a suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman—and I should be very glad to see the clause negatived, and I should not be opposed at any future time to the appointment of a Committee to consider the whole question of our electoral system. There are many alterations which might be made in that system, and to which I think the House might agree with very great advantage. At present, however, it seems to me quite clear and beyond all doubt, that in this Bill we ought not, and I believe we shall not, insert a clause which will make this great change, with reference to which there has been no inquiry except that in 1860, which inquiry resulted in an emphatic condemnation of the system, I say that the country has not asked for this. The right hon. Gentleman says he thinks that it will be received with very great favour. He is so fond of his own children that he supposes everybody will admire the political offspring he introduces into this House. But I think I have met a good many persons during the past four or five months who know something about Reform, and I declare that I never met with a single person outside this House who did not speak of this proposal—I am afraid to use the term, because I do not wish to deny that 233 the clause has been very fairly introduced—but they have spoken of the proposition with contempt; and I believe if it were adopted, it would be received with amazement and consternation by the electoral body throughout the country. Now, Sir, I shall say no more. I said that the right hon. Gentleman has argued the question fairly from his point of view, and has put it before the Committee in a manner that became him. The matter is one of very grave importance; and hon. Members must bear in mind that if they reject this clause the only result will be, that the question will stand where it is, and it will be open to the Government, or to any Member of the House who differs from me, to propose, either this Session or next Session, a Select Committee to inquire into the whole question. In conclusion, therefore, I beg the Committee not to commit itself to a thing which nobody asks for, which is entirely novel with regard to the great constituencies of the country, and which I oppose from no party view whatsoever—[Cries of "Oh, oh!"]—for I do not think there has been a single argument or fact used to-night to show that it would be advantageous to hon. Gentlemen opposite more than it would be to this side of the House; therefore I declare solemnly I have no feeling of that kind; but I believe the clause would introduce a very evil system into what is now, in some respects, very good; and therefore I entreat the House to reject the clause which the right hon. Gentleman has submitted to them.
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT
said, he would not detain the Committee many minutes. He would not enter into the question which had been already amply debated; but he rose to call attention to a remark which had been made by the hon. Member for Birmingham. That hon. Gentleman had thought proper to make some observations relative to the Scotch county which he had the honour to represent, of which he felt bound to take some notice. On this occasion, and also last year, the hon. Gentleman had said that he was returned entirely by non-resident voters who had been created by a certain nobleman, whose name would be well understood. Now, that was not the case. It was perfectly true that a large number of non-resident voters had assisted in his return; but it was not the fact that they alone returned him or that they were created by the nobleman referred to, All who knew the 234 county knew that it was a very small constituency; it had become an arena for keen political contest; many gentlemen in the neighbouring counties had taken an interest in it, and had come forward and by bonâ fide votes supported him. He could therefore only suppose that that was owing to the interest they took in the cause rather than to any of a personal nature. He was quite sure the House would excuse him for offering these few remarks in answer to the hon. Member for Birmingham, and he hoped in future the hon. Gentleman would not think it incumbent upon him to take up the grievances of every rejected candidate.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 234; Noes 272: Majority 38.237
|Adderley, rt. hn. C. B.||Corry, rt hon. H. L.|
|Annesley, hn. Col. H.||Courtenay, Lord|
|Anson, hon. Major||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Archdall, Captain M.||Cubitt, G.|
|Arkwright, R.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Baggallay, R.||Dawson, R. P.|
|Bagge, Sir W.||Dick, F.|
|Bagnall, C.||Dickson, Major A. G.|
|Baillie, rt. hon. H. J.||Dimsdale, R.|
|Barnett, H.||Disraeli, rt. hon. B.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Doulton, F.|
|Barttelot, Colonel||Du Cane, C.|
|Bateson, Sir T.||Duncombe, hon. Col.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Dunne, General|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Dyke, W. H.|
|Bective, Earl of||Dyott, Colonel R.|
|Beecroft, G. S.||Earle, R.A.|
|Bentinck, G. C.||Eaton, H. W.|
|Benyon, R.||Eckersley, N.|
|Bernard, hn. Col. H. B.||Edwards, Sir H.|
|Bingham, Lord||Egerton, Sir P. G.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Egerton, E. C.|
|Bourne, Colonel||Egerton, hon. W.|
|Bowen, J. B.||Elcho, Lord|
|Brett, W. B.||Fane, Lt.-Col. H. H.|
|Bridges, Sir B. W.||Fane, Colonel J. W.|
|Brooks, R.||Feilden, J.|
|Browne, Lord J. T.||Fergusson, Sir J.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Floyer, J.|
|Bruce, Sir H. H.||Forde, Colonel|
|Bruen, H.||Forester, rt. hon. Gen.|
|Buckley, E.||Freshfield, C. K.|
|Campbell, A. H.||Gallwey, Sir W. P.|
|Capper, C.||Galway, Viscount|
|Cartwright, Colonel||Getty, S. G.|
|Cave, rt. hon. S.||Gilpin, Colonel|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.||Goddard, A. L.|
|Chatterton, rt. hn. H.E.||Goldney, G.|
|Clive, Capt. hon. G.W.||Gore, J. R. O.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Cochrane, A.D.R.W.B.||Gorst, J. E.|
|Cole, hon. H.||Graves, S. R.|
|Cole, hon. J. L.||Gray, Lieut.-Colonel|
|Cooper, E. H.||Greenall, G.|
|Corrance, F. S.||Greene, E.|
|Griffith, C. D.||North, Colonel|
|Grosvenor, Earl||Northcote, rt. hn. Sir S. H.|
|Gurney, rt. hon. R.||O'Neill, E.|
|Gwyn, H.||Packe, C. W.|
|Hamilton, rt. hn. Lord C.||Paget, R. H.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J.||Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Hamilton, I. T.||Palk, Sir L.|
|Hamilton, Viscount||Parker, Major W.|
|Hardy, rt. hon. G.||Peel, rt. hon. General|
|Hardy, J.||Percy, Majr.-Gn. Ld. H.|
|Hartley, J.||Powell, F. S.|
|Hay, Sir J. C. D.||Pugh, D.|
|Heathcote, hon. G. H.||Read, C. S.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Henniker-Major, hn. J. M.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Robertson, P. F.|
|Herbert, hon. Col. P.||Rolt, Sir J.|
|Hervey, Lord A. H. C.||Royston, Viscount|
|Hesketh, Sir C. G.||Russell, Sir C.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Sandford, G. M. W.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Schreiber, C.|
|Hogg, Lt.-Col. J. M.||Sclater-Booth, G.|
|Holford, R. S.||Scott, Lord H.|
|Holmesdale, Viscount||Scourfield, J. H.|
|Hope, A. J. B. B.||Selwyn, H. J.|
|Hornby, W. H.||Selwyn, C. J.|
|Horsfall, T. B.||Severne, J. E.|
|Hotham, Lord||Seymour, G. H.|
|Howes, E.||Simonds, W. B.|
|Hubbard, J. G.||Smith, A.|
|Huddleston, J. W.||Smith, S. G.|
|Hunt, G. W.||Smollett, P. B.|
|Jolliffe, hon. H. H.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|Jones, D.||Stanley, Lord|
|Karslake, Sir J. B.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir W.|
|Karslake, E. K.||Stopford, S. G.|
|Kavanagh, A.||Stronge, Sir J. M.|
|Kekewich, S. T.||Stuart, Lt.-Colonel W.|
|Kendall, N.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Knightley, Sir R.||Sturt, Lt.-Col. N.|
|Knox, Colonel||Surtees, C. F.|
|Labouchere, H.||Surtees, H. E.|
|Lacon, Sir E.||Sykes, C.|
|Laird, J.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Langton, W. G.||Thynne, Lord H. F.|
|Lanyon, C.||Torrens, R.|
|Lascelles, hon. E. W.||Tottenham, Lt-Col. C. G.|
|Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.||Treeby, J. W.|
|Lefroy, A.||Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-|
|Lennox, Lord G. G.||Turner, C.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Vance, J.|
|Liddell, hon. H. G.||Vandeleur, Colonel|
|Lindsay, hon. Col. C.||Verner, E. W.|
|Lindsay, Colonel R. L.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Lopes, Sir M.||Walcott, Admiral|
|Lowther, Captain||Walker, Major G. G.|
|Lowther, J.||Walpole, rt. hn. S. H.|
|M'Lagan, P.||Walrond, J. W.|
|Malcolm, J. W.||Walsh, A.|
|Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Manners, Lord G. J.||Waterhouse, S.|
|Meller, Colonel||Welby, W. E.|
|Montagu, rt. hn. Lord R.||Williams, F. M.|
|Montgomery, Sir G.||Wise, H. C.|
|Mordaunt, Sir C.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Morgan, O.||Wyld, J.|
|Morgan, hon. Major||Wyndham, hon. H.|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Naas, Lord||Wynn, C. W. W.|
|Neeld, Sir J.||Yorke, J. R.|
|Newport, Viscount||Taylor, Colonel T. E.|
|Noel, hon. G. J.||Whitmore, H.|
|Acland, T. D.||Duff, M. E. G.|
|Adam, W. P.||Duff, R. W.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Dundas, F.|
|Akroyd, E.||Dunkellin, Lord|
|Allen, W. S.||Dunlop, A. C. S. M.|
|Amberley, Viscount||Edwards, C.|
|Antrobus, E.||Edwards, H.|
|Ayrton, A. S.||Eliot, Lord|
|Aytoun, R. S.||Ellice, E.|
|Bagwell, J.||Enfield, Viscount|
|Baines, E.||Erskine, Vice-Adm. J. E.|
|Barclay, A. C.||Esmonde, J.|
|Barnes, T.||Evans, T. W.|
|Barron, Sir. H. W.||Ewart, W.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Ewing, H. E. Crum-|
|Barry, A. H. S.||Eykyn, R.|
|Bass, M. T.||Fawcett, H.|
|Baxter, W. E.||Fildes, J.|
|Bazley, T.||Finlay, A. S.|
|Beaumont, H. F.||FitzGerald, rt. hon. Lord O. A.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.|
|Biddulph Colonel R. M.||Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W.|
|Biddulph, M.||Foley, H. W.|
|Blake, J. A.||Foljambe, F. J. S.|
|Blennerhasset, Sir R.||Fordyce, W. D.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Forster, C.|
|Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.||Forster, W. E.|
|Brady, J.||Fortescue, rt. hon. C. S.|
|Bright, Sir C. T.||Fortescue, hon. D. F.|
|Bright, J.||Foster, W. O.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Gaselee, Serjeant S.|
|Bruce, Lord C.||Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|Bruce, rt. hon. H. A.||Gilpin, C.|
|Bryan, G. L.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Buller, Sir E. M.||Gladstone, W. H.|
|Butler, C. S.||Glyn, G. C.|
|Buxton, Sir T. F.||Goldsmid, Sir F. H.|
|Calcraft, J. H. M.||Goldsmid, J.|
|Candlish, J.||Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Gower, hon. F. L.|
|Carington, hon. C. R.||Gower, Lord R.|
|Carnegie, hon. C.||Graham, W.|
|Castlerosse, Viscount||Gray, Sir J.|
|Cavendish, Lord E.||Gregory, W. H.|
|Cavendish, Lord F. C.||Grenfell, H. R.|
|Cavendish, Lord G.||Greville-Nugent, A. W. F.|
|Chambers, M.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Chambers, T.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Cheetham, J.||Grosvenor, Capt. R. W.|
|Childers, H. C. E.||Grove, T. F.|
|Cholmeley, Sir M. J.||Hadfield, G.|
|Clay, J.||Hamilton, E. W. T.|
|Clive, G.||Hankey, T.|
|Cogan, rt. hn. W. H. F.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Hardcastle, J. A.|
|Collier, Sir R. P.||Harris, J. D.|
|Colthurst, Sir G. C.||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Colvile, C. R.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Cowen, J.||Hayter, Captain A. D.|
|Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.||Headlam, rt. hn. T. E.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Henderson, J.|
|Crawford, R. W.||Henley, rt. hon. J. W.|
|Cremorne, Lord||Henley, Lord|
|Crossley, Sir F.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Dalglish, R.||Hibbert, J. T.|
|Davey, R.||Hodgkinson, G.|
|Denman, hon. G.||Hodgson, K. D.|
|Dent, J. D.||Holden, I.|
|Devereux, R. J.||Holland, E.|
|Dilke, Sir W.||Horsman, rt. hon. E.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Hughes, T.||Pelham, Lord|
|Hurst, R. H.||Philips, R. N.|
|Hutt, rt. hn. Sir W.||Pim, J.|
|Ingham, R.||Platt, J.|
|James, E.||Portman, hon. W. H. B.|
|Jervoise, Sir J. C.||Potter, E.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Potter, T. B.|
|Kearsley, Captain R.||Price, R. G.|
|Kennedy, T.||Price, W. P.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||Pryse, E. L.|
|Kinglake, A. W.||Pritchard, J.|
|Kinglake, J. A.||Rawlinson, Sir H.|
|Kingscote, Colonel||Rearden, D. J.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Rebow, J. G.|
|Knatchbull-Hugessen, E.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Laing, S.||Robertson, D.|
|Layard, A. H.||Rothschild, Baron L. de|
|Lamont, J.||Rothschild, Baron M. de|
|Lawrence, W.||Rothschild, N. M. de|
|Lawson, rt. hon. J. A.||Russell, A.|
|Leatham, W. H.||St. Aubyn, J.|
|Lee, W.||Salomons, Alderman|
|Leeman, G.||Samuda, J. D'A.|
|Lefevre, G. J. S.||Samuelson, B.|
|Lewis, H.||Saunderson, E.|
|Lloyd, Sir T. D.||Scholefield, W.|
|Locke, J.||Scott, Sir W.|
|Lowe, rt. hon. R.||Seely, C.|
|Lusk, A.||Seymour, H. D.|
|MacEvoy, E.||Sherriff, A. C.|
|M'Kenna, J. N.||Simeon, Sir J.|
|Mackie, J.||Smith, J.|
|M'Laren, D.||Smith, J. A.|
|Maguire, J. F.||Smith, J. B.|
|Marjoribanks, Sir D. C.||Speirs, A. A.|
|Martin, C. W.||Stacpoole, W.|
|Martin, P. W.||Stansfeld, J.|
|Milbank, F. A.||Stock, O.|
|Mill, J. S.||Stone, W. H.|
|Miller, W.||Stuart, Col. Crichton-|
|Milton, Viscount||Sykes, Col. W. H.|
|Mitchell, A.||Synan, E. J.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Taylor, P. A.|
|Moffatt, G.||Tite, W.|
|Moncreiff, rt. hon. J.||Tomline, G.|
|Monk, C. J.||Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury-|
|Monsell, rt. hon. W.|
|Moore, C.||Trevelyan, G. O.|
|More, R. J.||Vanderbyl, P.|
|Morris, W.||Vernon, H. F.|
|Morrison, W.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Neate, C.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Waring, C.|
|Nicol, J. D.||Warner, E.|
|Norwood, C. M.||Western, Sir T. B.|
|O'Brien, Sir P.||Whalley, G. H.|
|O'Conor Don, The||Whatman, J.|
|Oliphant, L.||White, hon. Captain C.|
|Onslow, G.||White, J.|
|O'Reilly, M. W.||Whitworth, B.|
|Osborne, R. B.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Owen, Sir H. O.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Padmore, R.||Wyvill, M.|
|Palmer, Sir R.||Young, R.|
|Pease, J. W.||TELLERS.|
|Peel, A. W.||Torrens, W. T. M'C.|
|Peel, J.||Otway, J. A.|
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.