§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 40 (General Saving Clause).
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I am aware that I am taking a somewhat irregular course, but I think it is convenient occasionally, in the course of the progress of a Bill of this kind, and when there arises a point of general interest, an explanation upon which would probably facilitate the course of the measure, to make a communication to the Committee. With their permission, therefore, I wish to state the course which Her Majesty's Government think it expedient for the public interest we should take with respect to the appointment of the Boundary Commissioners. In the year 1831, when the question first engaged the attention of Parliament, Lord Althorp, who was at the time conducting the Bill, proposed that the names of the Boundary Commissioners should be included in its provisions, and he even gave the names. But there was considerable demur and criticism to the proposal in consequence of the names he mentioned. The Bill, in consequence, did not make progress; but affairs were urgent, the business was not only extensive but novel, and Lord Althorp addressed instructions to the persons whose names were included in the Bill, anticipating that the House would sanction their appointment, and at any rate that time would be gained, and that they would be able to 431 prepare themselves for the work they would have to perform. It so happened, however, I believe, that the House of Commons never sanctioned the names; but whether they did so or not, the Bill was thrown out in the House of Lords. The consequence was that the three persona mentioned in the Bill acted upon instructions given by Lord Althorp and Lord Melbourne in the anticipation that they would be the Commissioners appointed by the Statute. That was the origin of the misconception upon my part to which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) called—and very properly called—my attention. But there is no doubt that if the Commissioners are appointed by the Statute it is for the Minister to give them their instructions. I will now proceed to explain the cause of the course which was taken by Lord Althorp upon that occasion. The Commissioners went on with their labours, and in the course of three or four months had made very considerable progress, and they had in fact, almost concluded their labours before the Act of 1832 was passed. The result was that the counties were divided, and the boundaries of the new boroughs settled by the Commissioners, who were not Statutory or even Royal Commissioners, but who acted under the instructions of the Treasury and the Secretary of State, who was then Lord Melbourne, and I have heard that Lord Althorp always deeply regretted these circumstances. There is no doubt that although much may be ascribed to party passions, which were then no doubt much more inflamed in this country than they are in the very different and happier circumstances in which we are now placed, still there was a deep impression on the public mind that these boundaries had not been regulated with impartiality, and that, in many instances, many gross cases of what are called jobs were accomplished. My own impression is not very strong in that direction, because the experience of a long political life has taught me that nothing is more exaggerated than those mutual imputations which we make against each other to the effect that we take advantage of whatever circumstances may be under our control in our party arrangements. It is, however, highly probable that at a time of strong party passion, and with great powers in the hands of the Commissioners, some regulations were brought about which were not altogether satisfactory. But whether this was so or not, such an impression was deep and 432 durable, and a quarter of a century afterwards, when we had to consider this question of Parliamentary Reform, and when in 1859, in deference to public opinion and the House of Commons, we proposed a very moderate measure of disfranchisement and enfranchisement, we were convinced that it was most desirable that some course should be taken that would obviate the recurrence of such a state of public feeling, and would prevent such imputations being made against the conduct of our public men. At that time, therefore, we proposed that assistant or sub-Commissioners, whichever they may be called, should be appointed by the Enclosure Commissioners, who had been very actively employed on business of great public interest, and whose character and conduct the country was well acquainted with. That was thought to be by no means an infelicitous suggestion, and the late Mr. Ellice spoke very warmly in its favour, on the ground that it would relieve Parliament and the Government from those unfounded aspersions which prevailed in 1832, and with the history of which Mr. Ellice was very familiar. On the present occasion we had to consider the same Question, and though a longer lapse of time than a quarter of a century has occurred, it cannot be denied that the impression still prevails in the public mind. The moment new boundaries were mentioned and Commissioners were talked of, there were these traditions of unjust behaviour on the part of official men and persons in authority and public employment which was certainly a state of matters much to be deprecated. Now, upon the present occasion the duties which will fall upon the Boundary Commissioners, will be much more important than in 1859, or than were contemplated in the interval between 1859 and the present time. In the year 1859 I think there were not more than fifteen boroughs to be disfranchised, and there were only a few divisions of counties to take place; but under the Bill now before the Committee the disfranchisement is double in amount, and there will be a much greater increase of duty in dividing counties. In addition to that the Boundary Commissioners will be called upon to consider another portion of the subject which did not exist in 1831–32, or 1859, namely, the revision of the boundaries of the present Parliamentary Boroughs, as to which, however, some may have differed, the vast majority of the House have resolved that some new arrangement shall take place. 433 It became then very important that these Boundary Commissioners should be men not only possessing the confidence of the country, but that they should be appointed in a manner which would prevent the least doubt being cast upon the impartiality of their conduct. The House is aware that we proposed that the names of the Boundary Commissioners should be inserted in the Bill. It was quite open to us to have appointed a Royal or a Ministerial Commission, with written instructions as to the particular duties they were expected to fulfil and the course they should generally pursue. But Her Majesty's Government were strongly and unanimously of opinion that it was most important in the present instance that they should be Statutory Commissioners, and, under these circumstances, after taking a great deal of trouble with the matter, I presented to the House the names of certain gentlemen for its consideration. I am bound to say that in every instance we were at first met by these Gentlemen with a refusal or something equivalent. The duties, as hon. Gentlemen are aware, will be most laborious and responsible, and they are gratuitously given to the country, and nothing but that high sense of public duty which influences English gentlemen and is characteristic of their conduct and their lives, and which as long as it exists will be the best security for the good government of this country, would have prevailed upon these gentlemen to accede to our request. They all without exception mentioned that, if the slightest question were raised as to the propriety of bringing forward their names, they must be permitted to retire from a position which they had only consented to hold in order to fulfil their duty to the country. Everybody must feel the very great pain which a person in my place must experience who is called upon under these circumstances to withdraw the names of gentlemen who had voluntarily offered to serve the public, and I am convinced that must be the general feeling of the Committee. I observe that the hon. Member for Birmingham, who principally questioned the propriety of the recommendations I offered to the House with a feeling which did him honour, proposed that we should add to the number of the Commissioners instead of withdrawing any of the names. If we added to the Commission we should make the number eight or nine. But even seven exceeded the number 434 we originally intended; I think five are perfectly sufficient, and I am persuaded that number would best meet the wishes and interests of the House and the country. We had, however, no difficulty in this matter because, our friends, with almost extraordinary unanimity, though they were in different and remote places of the country, withdrew their names and left us to take that course which should be of most advantage to the country and greatest service to the Government. I wish to impress upon the Committee the great importance of the course which we recommend. It is one which I hope will show the confidence of the Government in the House of Commons, and I hope it will meet with a reciprocal return from the House in the shape of confidence in our conduct on this occasion. There is no difficulty whatever in selecting a body of gentlemen who could fulfil these duties in the most satisfactory manner. I venture to say that, from the Benches opposite, I could select half a dozen gentlemen or more in whose judgment and integrity I would place as much confidence as in that of any of the Gentlemen with whom I am more particularly connected in public life, and I have no doubt they would perform these duties in a most complete and satisfactory manner There is also, doubtless, a reciprocal feeling on the other side of the House. But unfortunately these things cannot be arranged by relying upon the intimate knowledge of each other which subsists in this House, and acting accordingly; they must be arranged with reference to the world out of doors—with reference to the people of the country generally, who are not personally and intimately acquainted with the characters of Members of this House, and who insist that they shall be settled in some degree according to the traditions of Party and other circumstances which ought to have influence in such matters. In deference to this opinion of the public, which is not without good foundation, we have endeavoured as far as possible to select men from both sides of the House who are not only capable of performing the duties that will be required of them, but whose careers show that they are men of moderate principles and temperate views. We were most anxious that we should not be placed in the unfortunate position in which Lord Althorp, through no fault of his own, found himself; but that we should appoint the Commission 435 by Statute. We therefore wished that there should be a thorough understanding between the House and the Government on this subject, and we hope to come to an arrangement which should expedite and facilitate the progress of this Bill, and at the same time give full satisfaction to the public mind. Under these circumstances we have thought it wise to reduce the number of the Commission to five, which was the number we originally contemplated, and which we think is sufficient adequately to discharge the duties that will be required. We thought it necessary, however, to ask Lord Eversley to re-consider his decision of withdrawing from the Commission. After the remarks made in the House the other evening Lord Eversley felt unwilling to undertake the task we proposed to him, shrinking naturally from the fear that his name in this House, where he presided so long and with so much ability and impartiality, should become the subject of anything like party contest. I ventured, however, to assure him that he quite misunderstood what had occured here. Nothing took place but free and fair criticism of opinions, which was offered with the best intention, and which was perfectly consistent with the desire on the part of the House to arrive at a just conclusion, without being influenced by party feeling. I am glad to say my arguments prevailed, and that Lord Eversley has consented to preside over the Commission. This point settled, we next came to the conclusion that there should be two Members of this House upon the Commission, because, without anticipating that the decisions of the Commissioners will be liable to be impugned, there will still be many details which will naturally require illustration and explanation, and many points for decision on which it would not be satisfactory that the Commissioners should be represented at second-hand. Therefore, we propose that there should be two Members of this House on the Commission—namely, my right hon. Friend the Recorder of London, and when the proper time comes I shall ask leave to insert the name of Sir Francis Crossley. We would add to these the names of Sir John Duckworth and Mr. Walter. That apparently gives, as has been mentioned to me, a majority of three Liberals to two Conservatives; but I have not proposed on the part of Her Majesty's Government, to constitute the Commission on any principle of that kind. These gentlemen will, I believe, form a Commission 436 that will both perform its duties with ability and inspire the most perfect confidence in the country. I now come to the question which was asked by the noble Lord opposite regarding the appointment of Assistant Commissioners. Of course, if there is a Statutory Commission, the Assistant Commissioners must be appointed by the Parliamentary Commission. Indeed, a communication to that effect was made a considerable time ago to Lord Eversley; but I found a general reluctance to undertake the responsibility of such appointments, which shows that patronage in this case is not considered by them so desirable an object as many persons think. But in the opinion of the Government it would be a clear consequence of having a Statutory Commission that the Commission should make those appointments; and it is only by an arrangement of that kind that complete public confidence which we wish to secure can be obtained. Lord Althorp's opinion was that, if Statutory Commissioners were appointed, the instructions in the Act should be of a very large and general character, and I entirely concur with him in that I think the language in the clause which we shall have to consider is perfectly adequate to the occasion, and that if Parliament appoints these five Commissioners they will have to consider the whole subject generally—they will have to consider what are the duties which have to be fulfilled, what is the information that is required; and it will be for them to draw up general instructions to the Assistant Commissioners. Then, again, in every Commission, Royal, Parliamentary, or Ministerial, where there is necessarily an expenditure of the public money, there must be some means whereby the Treasury shall have its due control over its conduct, and our opinion is that that end will best be gained by the Secretary of the Commission being selected by the Government from among the officers of the permanent civil service connected with the Treasury. These are the arrangements we propose to the House, and we hope they will be accepted. For ourselves we are clearly of opinion that they will conduce greatly to the public advantage and the general satisfaction of the country.
said, the clause before the Committee was Clause 40, and that in order to make his statement with reference to the postponed Clause (31) the right 437 hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer who had charge of the Bill had appealed to the indulgence of the Committee If there was a general intention to discuss Clause 31, the only regular manner of doing so was by postponing the clause now before them.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he wished to ask why, if Mr. Dodson's statement was correct, the Amendments on Clause 31 stood first on the Paper, and before those on Clause 40.
Clause 31 is before Clause 40 simply because in arithmetical order, the number 31 is before the number 40.
I did not intend to say anything to prolong the discussion, but simply, if the House will permit me, to express my satisfaction at the alteration made by the Government since Friday last with respect to the names and also the number of the Commissioners. I think that the amended Commission will be much better, and I am convinced that, as it stood before, it would not have given that satisfaction which it is the more necessary to give, seeing so much doubt existed in regard to the Commission of 1832. As to the Secretary I think it is contrary to custom that he should be appointed by the Government, and I would suggest that this is one of the matters that should be left in the hands of the Commissioners. This, however, is a point which may be discussed when we come to the clause, and therefore I do not wish to offer any obstacle to the course proposed.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he wished to move, that after the word "franchise" in the clause, there should be added the words "that no person shall be entitled to vote for the same place in respect to more than one qualification." He thought that the insertion of these words would make the intention of the Legislature quite clear.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he thought that the object of the hon. and learned Gentleman would be more completely accomplished by words at the end of the clause.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, the clause guarded against the evils pointed out, and the Amendment would be mere surplusage.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, that freemen might be occupiers, and entitled under this Bill to a vote, and this Amendment would prevent there having two votes; therefore he thought the Amendment was necessary.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. HARDCASTLE
said, that in moving the present Amendment his object would be explained by another Amendment of which he had given notice, and which, while not interfering with the franchises of the present freemen, provided that no person hereafter admitted as burgess or freeman should be thereby entitled to vote in any election for any county, city, or borough. He had no intention of troubling the House with any long statement of facts on the subject; and would only say that he did not wish to interfere with the present race of freemen, but to take care that when they died out they should have no successors, his belief being that there was not in theory a more corruptible, and in practice a more corrupt body of voters. Since the last Reform Bill there were only three cases which Parliament had dealt with judicially—namely, those of Sudbury, St. Albans, and Great Yarmouth, and in all three cases the freemen were almost entirely to blame. Great Yarmouth was remarkable for this reason—in 1848 the freemen were disfranchised, leaving only the £10 householders. However, so deep was the taint of corruption left by the freemen that during the present Session it had been found necessary to disfranchise the entire borough. The question had never, he believed, being discussed since 1832, and the reasons that were urged for the retention of the freemen in 1832 were either valueless then, or became valueless since that date. It was said in 1832 that if the freemen were disfranchised, some constituencies would become too small for practical purposes, but that reason would be valueless now when every ratepaying householder was to sbtain the franchise. Another reason was that a new class of voters, the ten pounders, being then admitted to the franchise, the existence of the freemen was necessary to neutralize the influence of the great house proprietors. It was thought that the fine old British freeman was the man to be put in the gap, to neutralize the influence of the great house proprietors. As a matter of fact, however, the freemen had never exerted themselves in that direction. They 439 remained, as they always had been, the most dependent class of voters and the most accessible to corrupt influence. One argument, known as "the small end of the wedge" argument, was used by Sir Charles Wetherall, who said that the freemen were an hereditary body, and that if you touched their privileges, you would thereby insert the small end of the wedge, which was in the end to destroy your hereditary aristocracy, and perhaps your monarchy. [Laughter.] They were not afraid now to laugh at that argument, but all the other arguments were equally valueless. In discussing the present Bill the House had strenuously repudiated all personal claims—he only wished he could imitate the manner in which they had been disposed of by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond; and it should be remembered that they had refused the franchise to the clergy as clergy, to the learned professions, and to the provident who had deposits in the savings banks. He trusted that after excluding such classes as these, they would not perpetuate the claims of a body of men who had only to say for themselves that they claimed to vote because their fathers or their wives' fathers voted before them. The freeman franchise was formerly an educational franchise as being acquired by apprenticeship to a trade, and as handicraft trades were often hereditary, the franchise by degrees became hereditary also. But granting that there might be strong reasons for this class retaining the the franchise, there were still stronger reasons for their not retaining it. Under the present Bill, if his Amendment were agreed to, every freeman who should have the right to vote would have the right to vote as a householder or lodger, and he could not therefore see any necessity for retaining the freemen franchise as a distinct part of the electoral body. He begged therefore to move the omission of the words "laws, customs, and," with the intention of subsequently proposing the addition of a provision that no person hereafter elected a freeman should be entitled to vote at elections.
§ Amendment proposed, line 17, leave out "laws, customs, and."—Mr. Hardcastle.
§ MR. LEEMAN
said, he had not been fortunate enough to hear many of the observations of the hon. Member who last spoke, and he therefore felt some difficulty in replying to him. He had understood that the bill was to be one of enfranchisement, not of disfranchisement, and he was 440 therefore, surprised, that the proposed Amendment should have emanated from the Opposition side of the House. The House had already admitted to the franchise the whole body of householders. There was not an occupier of the most miserable hovel, if he was only enabled to get on the rates, whom the present Bill would not enfranchise; and it also enfranchised men who had no kind of interest in the particular towns in which they lived further than that which resulted from a twelvemonths' residence — namely, the lodgers. The Parliament in 1832 came to the conclusion that to all future freemen by birth or servitude the franchise should be continued. Such men had associations and interests connected with the several places in which they were born and had grown up, and if they left those places for more than two years, they ceased to have the franchise in respect to them. He asked were they to give the franchise to persons inhabiting the humblest hovels, and to deny it to freemen by birth or servitude? The number of voters now on the registers as freemen was very large — in Bristol, 1,707; Coventry, 3,911; Chester, 1,102; Dover, 839; Hull, 1,358; Leicester, 1,839; London, 5,511; Newcastle, 1,842; Norwich, 1,971; York, 2,507; Nottingham, 1,565; Liverpool, 1,285; Carlisle, 783; Oxford, 950; Newcastle-under-Lyne, 718; and several others, making, in all, upwards of 40,000 voters. Though there had been occasions on which it had been attempted to withdraw the franchise from the freemen, the House had always taken into consideration the fact that there were properties connected with the various towns in which these persons had a great interest, and those attempts had failed. At all events, the freeman was as good a man as a great many of those who would be introduced to the franchise by virtue of the household and lodger franchises of the present Bill. When the Reform Bill of 1852 was introduced, no attempt whatever was made to disfranchise the freemen, and he believed that that was simply in consequence of the discussions upon the subject which took place in 1832. The Bill introduced by the Government of Lord Aberdeen in 1854 did contain such a proposal, but it was repudiated in most indignant terms by a Member of that House, the late Mr. Edward Ellice, who for thirty-five years represented Coventry, and the clause was obliged to be given up. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) would remember 441 that they were obliged to give up the clauses for disfranchising freemen; and in neither the Bills of 1859 nor 1860 was this attempt renewed. The right hon. Gentleman smiled, but if he was going to support the Motion perhaps he would explain why he did not seek to disfranchise the freemen in the Bill of last year. It had been said that the freemen were both peculiarly corruptible and corrupt. Upon both of these charges he took issue with the hon. Member, and if he had made himself acquainted with the election petitions since 1832, he would have found that the contrary was the fact. In the case of the four boroughs proposed to be disfranchised by the present Bill, it was not the freemen alone who were corrupted, but the £10 householders and persons whose rents were as high even as £300, or £400 a year. In Great Yarmouth there were no freemen, they had been disfranchised in that borough many years ago. In Lancaster the £10 householders — the out-voters, some of whom were substantial farmers—were the chief persons who took bribes. In Reigate there were no freemen, in Totnes hardly any, and in Wakefield, again, none at all. On the authority of these facts, therefore, he denied that freemen were peculiarly corruptible. In the case of the sons of freemen now living, and apprentices, he hoped that the Committee would preserve their inchoate rights. These young men had entered upon their period of apprenticeship, having the prospect of the franchise before them, and as the House of Commons had always respected existing rights, and great numbers of these freemen would neither get the franchise as householders nor lodgers in the sense of the Bill before the Committee, while on the other hand they had done nothing which peculiarly called for their exclusion from the privilege of voting, he trusted the Amendment would be rejected.
said, that he must also object to the argument that corruption existed principally in those constituencies which included a large number of freemen. In 1848 it was considered that the best means of purifying Yarmouth was to disfranchise the freemen; but corruption, so far from being extinguished, increased tenfold, and eventually, nineteen years afterwards, brought upon that borough the fate which was only averted in 1848 by making a scapegoat of the freeman. In the case of Totnes, also, it was well known that the borough only contained six freemen, 442 and he supposed it would hardly be contended that they were the persons who exposed the borough to disfranchisement. He trusted the Committee would not lose sight of the fact that the privilege of freemen was one which it had not been proved had been largely abused, though it was a franchise which had long been watched with great jealousy. Members on the Conservative side had been taunted with inconsistency in supporting a measure which it was said carried out the wildest schemes ever promulgated from the Liberal Benches. But if that inconsistency existed on the one side, it was shared by hon. Gentlemen on the other side also, for this attempt to take away the right of freemen to vote came from a zealous advocate of the rights of man.
said, that when the freeman franchise was originated by our ancestors it was a most wise and judicious measure, as it gave the right of voting to the poor as well as the rich, and to persons closely connected with towns, and having a strong personal interest in their prosperity. It was true that the facilities of locomotion now spread labour so much over the country that the labourers in any particular town were not so closely connected with it as they were formerly; but when they were endeavouring to extend the franchise generally, a proposal so contrary to the whole spirit of the measure as that now before the Committee was a gratuitous insult to a class of men against whom no case whatever could be established. In former times outlying freemen scattered all over the country exercised the right of voting which they only derived from hereditary descent; but now that the right was confined to those who lived within the borough, the great source of objection to the freeman franchise had ceased to exist. Nearly 2,000 freemen voted in the town which he had the honour to represent, and he could say, without the slightest hesitation, that since he had been connected with it bribery had not prevailed either on one side or the other. If this Bill were to pass, the number of persons entitled to vote solely on account of freedom would not be very large, because most of them would be entitled under other qualifications. He would repeat his opinion therefore that it would be a gratuitous insult if the Committee were to insert such a proposition as that which had been made by his hon. Friend, He would certainly vote against it, and he trusted the Committee would throw it out.
said, he had a very strong objection to speaking of any class of men as good or bad as a class. Men were good or bad individually, and not in classes. They were now making a great experiment of enfranchisement, and he did not think it was a fitting time for the introduction of disfranchising clauses. There was one franchise under the Bill which was of the most precarious nature, and that was the lodger franchise, and the House had better wait for a few years to see, if there was to be a race of corruption which would run the fastest. He protested, however, against disfranchising any body of men against whom no specific charge had been proved.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, that as he was the first Member, after the Mover, who rose to speak that did not represent a freeman borough, he could speak with impartiality on the question. Nearly all the reasons which had been urged against the proposal of the hon. Member for Bury rather led him to support it. He appealed to the candour of the Committee if the list of the freeman boroughs read by the hon. Member for York (Mr. Leeman) did not include the names of all the boroughs which had most frequently been before Election Committees. They had passed household suffrage and the lodger franchise, and if they allowed freemen also to vote, they would be nine-tenths of the way to universal suffrage, a point at which he should object to find himself. The Amendment before the Committee was the logical sequence of the rejection of the fancy franchises, for who would venture to say that the freeman was a better man than the graduate, doctor, clergyman, or lawyer, or the former very popular, but now discarded, ideal of the Liberal party, the gentleman with a balance in the savings bank? Allusion had been made to the hereditary character of this franchise, but its operation in these days, when the labour market ought to be free and class interests ought not to be encouraged, was to hold out a direct premium to young men to drag on, living in poverty in the town in which they were born, waiting for election time, in the hope of getting some of the good things of this world in the shape of five-pound notes, rather than go out in the world to prosper where the labour market was at the highest. In these days, and with increased locomotion, if they considered the real position of the class they were concerned about, 444 the sentimental plea of local association was worth very little. The hon. Member for York (Mr. Lowther) had well described the future borough franchise as a hovel franchise; but freedom by servitude would be lower even than that, for the inhabitant of that hovel might have six or seven sons, and then the hovel would send up seven or eight votes, while the freeman by servitude, who slept under his employer's counter, could hardly be called a lodger. They would have plenty of fresh corruption under the new system, but was this a reason for retaining the old sore? If they were to have a great race of corruption, the sooner they put out of the way the tutors and leaders of the old corruption, and prevent them from infecting the new mass, the better. If they did not do this, the country would never believe that they were in earnest in their professed desire to put down electioneering corruption.
Until the hon. Gentleman, who has just sat down, rose, it appeared as if the discussion on this interesting question was to remain in the hands of those who undoubtedly are entitled to take part in it, but to whom the public interest in connection with the subject ought not to be exclusively committed. I must really do what in me lies to defend my hon. Friend from the sharp censures which have been passed upon him for bringing forward this motion. I cannot think that this is a proposal which ought to be treated as an insult to any class whatever; nor am I to be deterred from giving a favourable consideration to it because of the charge that this is a disfranchising motion. It is said that it is most inconsistent of my hon. Friend to make a disfranchising motion when we are proposing a very wide and extensive enfranchisement. But, surely, if ever there is a period when a question of this kind should be entertained, it is a period like the present, because when we are making a very wide enfranchisement, we can afford to look with discrimination to the character of those who are enfranchised under any particular title, and therefore hon. Members must feel, in arriving at the conclusion that certain classes had better not continue permanently to exercise the franchise—that there is no occasion to fear that the popular influence in the election of Members of the House of Commons will be destroyed. And with regard to the 40,000 freemen alluded to, there is no doubt that 445 by far the larger portion, probably not less than 30,000 of these, even if they were absolutely disfranchised as freemen, would be entitled to re-register as householders. The question, however, is not about the present freemen, and it is not proposed to treat them as guilty parties. My hon. Friend does not pretend to say that they had been guilty of corruption, but raises, very fairly, the question whether, when ample provision is about to be made for popular influence in elections, it is desirable to maintain this comparatively narrow and exceptional franchise. I hold that the motion is not in the slightest degree opposed to the spirit and intention of the proceedings of 1832. The Parliament of that year appears to have been by no means friendly to the permanent maintenance of the freeman's franchise as such; but when that Parliament was conscious, as it could not but be conscious, that the effect of establishing a £10 franchise, with the disfranchising of the scot and lot and pot-walloping electors, would be, as it proved to be, to greatly restrict the franchise, and narrow the share of the working classes in the franchise, they deemed that it was wise to keep alive the freeman's franchise as a working class franchise. We are going to have a working class franchise, which all of us will admit is sufficiently wide and extensive, and an auxiliary franchise of this nature is not required in order to convey a just amount of popular influence at elections. Is it desirable that we should maintain a franchise totally distinct from the occupation franchise? That, I think, is the question which the Committee will have to decide. I say "from the occupation franchise," because I think that the lodgers' franchise, although it may be inconsistent with the principle of the Bill with respect to personal rating, is yet, undoubtedly, in substance, an occupation franchise; nor could you refuse the lodgers' franchise without giving so unequal and one-sided an application of your Bill to the great case of the metropolis as to make it an absolute necessity to admit it. But is it desirable to go beyond household suffrage, so understood, together with the lodger franchise? My hon. Friend who last spoke pointed out that there lies something beyond household suffrage—namely, universal suffrage; that is to say, there are classes and members of families not yet planted out into the world, and migratory persons, who do not fall within the household suffrage; and I am not sure 446 that there is not some force in the observation of my hon. Friend that the maintenance of this exceptional class of voters may have some tendency to disturb at an early period the basis of your measure of franchise, large as it is, and to raise the question with regard to the general enfranchisement of those who are not embraced by the household suffrage, but who would be embraced by what is called manhood suffrage. That, however, is not the question which immediately stands for discussion. I frankly own that I do not think that this franchise is one well devised with respect to the pure and independent exercise of the suffrage. The principle upon which freemen are enfranchised has no relation whatever to fitness for the exercise of the suffrage. A householder is presumed to be fit for the exercise of the suffrage, because he is the head of a family and participates in public burdens; but the freeman has no participation in public burdens at all as such. An hon. Member has been bold enough to challenge the Committee as to the actual working of this franchise, and has stated that many householders paying considerable rents received bribes. No doubt in the great election of 1830 that practice prevailed at Liverpool to a considerable extent, and affected persona occupying a respectable position. As a general rule, however, I think there is no denying, if you divide your borough constituencies into two classes, placing on the one side those constituencies where there are freemen, and on the other those where there are none, that of the corruption which has become such a disgrace to this country an immense proportion is to be found in the constituencies which have freemen. While I cannot in the least degree wonder that Gentlemen who represent freemen should be disposed to take an unfavourable view of the amendment, I hope the independent portion of the House will look at the public interest involved—that paramount interest which we all have in purifying the constituencies of the country. A suffrage arbitrarily given has the effect of at once destroying in the mind of the voter that very idea which we have all professed we want to create and maintain there, namely, the idea that he is called, not to the exercise of absolute right, but of a power in the nature of a trust which it is his business to exercise on behalf of the community. By conferring a suffrage in consequence of the accident of a man's having been apprenticed, 447 or the even greater accident of his having been born in a particular town, we in a great measure encourage in the mind of the elector the idea that the vote is a property of which he may dispose for his own benefit. What has been the experience in the towns that have lately been disfranchised? In Yarmouth the freemen were already disfranchised; in Reigate there were none, and in Totnes only a few; but in Lancaster, out of a constituency of 1,408, there were 980 freemen; and is it not remarkable, according to the statement of my hon. Friend (Mr. Leeman), that this borough presented a much greater proportion of corrupt voters than any of the other three towns which have been disfranchised? The per centage of freemen who were guilty of giving and receiving bribes were far greater than the per centage of householders. I do not think a single fact can be elicited from the electoral history of the last five-and-thirty years which does not tend to show that occupation is a far better and a far purer basis for the suffrage than arbitrary privileges of this kind received by inheritance, or by the accident of apprenticeship in one place rather than in another. I believe no greater mistake was made by the Parliament of 1832 than when they kept alive the freemen and disfranchised the householders. If they had kept alive the scot and lot voting upon the basis of the old household franchise, and provided for the gradual cessation of voting by freemen, it appears to me they would have done much more wisely. There can be no party division on this question; the only thing at issue being the public interest; and whatever division takes place will be between those Gentlemen who have freemen constituents, and those who have none. I do not, however, suppose that my hon. Friend will divide the Committee unless he is encouraged by the support which his proposal receives in debate; but I believe that the adoption of the Amendment of my hon. Friend will be a result honourable to the House and useful to the country.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that he was not the representative of any freemen constituents, but of a large number of freeholders. He had, however, had an opportunity of observing the conduct of the freemen of Coventry, who were more numerous than those of any other constituency in the kingdom, except London, and he believed that that electoral body fully deserved the high character which Mr. 448 Ellice, their late representative, had given them. There were in the country no class of men who were more independent than they were. They had returned Mr. Ellice himself, Sir George Turner (conservative), Sir J. Paxton, and the present senior Member (Mr. Eaton), who had stood at every contested election for thirty years, and, who, although he had never spent a shilling, had always polled a thousand votes. The freeman vote was an aristocratic suffrage held by the working classes, and it was no mere sentiment to wish to preserve it. Parliament, in 1832, disfranchised the scot and lot voters, and potwallopers, but the freemen were saved. If they collected the working classes in small knots, they would expose them to terrible temptation. This was the case when there was a small knot of freemen, of scot and lot voters, or of potwallopers, whether they were by themselves or were among a more wealthy constituency. But in Coventry there was a sufficient body to resist the temptation, and there was scope for the generation of a public opinion amongst them, and he spoke with full knowledge when he said that at Coventry the freemen were not corrupt. He thought it would be an exceeding hard thing to disfranchise the freemen when they were reviving the scot and lot voters, and the potwallopers under the title of household suffrage. They hoped that the new constituencies would exist in sufficient numbers to preserve their purity, and he thought that it would be inconsistent to take that opportunity of destroying the only franchise among the labouring classes that the act of 1832 preserved. They valued this property, and were proud of it, and he was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that a franchise derived from property generated corruption. If so, what were they to say of the freehold suffrage? It had been said that it was a misfortune for a man to remain labouring in the same town where he was brought up, but such a doctrine was the American practice, run mad in principle. The object to be held in view was that permanent connection with a borough should be the principle of the franchise in boroughs. He should regret if this ancient franchise of the working classes was not preserved.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
We have heard something in the course of this debate about the taint of 449 bribery. But what we wish is to protect the measure before us from the taint of disfranchisement. That we have throughout our proceedings endeavoured to accomplish, and I should be very sorry if the Committee now were tempted, by an appeal to facts the accuracy of which, I think, we have some cause to question, and by arguments which appear to me to lead to a very different conclusion, to arrive at a result which I believe would be most unpopular in this country, and would outrage the feelings of those who have a right to be considered and heard upon this occasion. Since I have been in Parliament I have heard this question agitated as to the peculiar corruption of the freemen of our boroughs. But it never has been proved, Has it been proved to-night by an appeal to those boroughs which the House of Commons had very properly agreed to disfranchise? There is the borough of Totnes, where there were no freemen, and yet in Totnes the system of political bribery was carried to its zenith. There were no free men in Reigate, and as for Yarmouth, you disfranchised the freemen long ago, on the plea that there was great corruption in the constituency; and from what has since occurred at Yarmouth the inference is, the freemen there were, perhaps, unjustly disfranchised. Of the four boroughs disfranchised, there is only one in which you can make a colourable case against this class of electors, and that is Lancaster. This is a franchise which is prescriptive, which is old, and which is hereditary. I do not understand why you should grudge the working classes of this country the possession of a franchise which is prescriptive, old, and hereditary, and why you should turn round and say, "We are going to introduce a new system, and these qualities are no longer wanted or esteemed." Apply that principle to other classes of society in this country, and the conclusion you arrive at would be an awkward one. There never has been a satisfactory case made out against this class of voters. That they may have committed excesses at times is possibly true; but such a charge may be urged against almost every class of the constituencies. There is, in my mind, no reason whatever under present circumstances that the House should take a course of so tyrannical and oppressive a character, and should force such a provision into a Bill which, while more largely extending, than ever has been proposed, the political privileges of the great body of the people, 450 has studiously avoided the odious quality of disfranchising any one.
said, that the freemen of Newcastle were as independent as any other part of the constituency.
SIR HENRY EDWARDS
said, he had risen six times but was unfortunate in not catching the eye of the Chairman of the Committee, and he could now only express his regret that he could not go fully into the question, the House being wearied with the subject, and determined to divide before dinner. The principle the House was then adopting was that of enfranchisement, not of disfranchisement, and he trusted the hereditary rights of the freemen might not be disturbed. He could bear testimony to the integrity of that body, from which he had so frequently received independent support, and really, under all circumstances, he could not understand why the existing law should be altered as regards them. He (Sir Henry Edwards) represented a large constituency, the majority of whom were freemen, and he must say that, when wholesale charges like those they had heard were brought forward, it was highly necessary for those Members who represented freemen to defend them from the imputations which had been made. It was all very well for the late Chancellor of the Exchequer to bring forward two or three cases of corruption amongst freemen; but it was most unjust for those isolated cases to seek to attaint the freemen of other boroughs. All he (Sir Henry Edwards) could say was that the honour, independence, and moral character of his constituents were unimpeachable, and he protested against the attempt to place them all in the same category as the freemen who were unfortunate enough to fall under the opprobrium of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire.
§ MR. HARDCASTLE
said, he was satisfied with the discussion that had taken place, and in the present temper of the Committee he would not press his Amendment to a division.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, he would not detain the Committee except to say that he entirely dissented from the Amendment which had been moved.
§ MR. SANDFORD
said, he hoped that the Amendment would be at once negatived by the House, and not simply withdrawn.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, that the words proposed to be left out ought to form a portion of the clause, even if the Committee disagreed to the principle of 451 the Amendment, although the principle of the Amendment were agreed to.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. DENMAN
moved an Amendment to add, after the word "admit," inline 20, the words "to any person hereby authorized to vote, and shall also apply."
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he had no objection to the Amendment, with the addition at the end of the clause of the words, "and to the franchise hereby conferred."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. HOLDEN
said, that Knaresborough was one of the smallest boroughs in the kingdom in point of area; but his hon. Colleague proposed to add twenty square miles to it. It was generally found that tenants holding land thought themselves obliged to vote in accordance with the opinions of their landlords, and nine voters had been deprived of their holdings for giving him (Mr. Holden) a free and independent vote. He did not fear the extension of the borough if the defect of the old law were amended, but he wished to prevent any voter from voting in respect of land alone with a sham building erected upon it to evade the law. He had felt that he could not conscientiously allow the opportunity to pass without taking the sense of the House upon it, and hoped he should have the support of Gentlemen on both sides of the House. He should conclude by moving the insertion of the Amendment of which he had given notice.
At the end of the Clause, to add the words "save and except that in all registrations and Elections after the passing of this Act, the person entitled to be registered and to vote in the Election of a Member or Members to serve in any future Parliament for any Borough by reason of the occupation of any House, warehouse, counting house, shop, or other building (not being a dwelling-house) jointly with any land, of the clear yearly value of not less than ten pounds, shall be a person occupying as owner or tenant a house, warehouse, counting house, shop, or other building, being of the clear yearly value of five pounds independently of such land held under the same landlord in such Borough."—(Mr. Holden.)
said, he should like much to know the view taken by the Government as to these words. He thought the proposal a reasonable one, inasmuch as it was desirable that the qualification 452 of the voter should be derived from buildings which were of a substantial, and not of what he might term a, merely colourable character. His hon. Friend proposed as a check that the building should be of the clear annual value of £5. If it were opposed by the Government he thought the reasons for opposing it should be stated.
§ MR. STEPHEN CAVE
said, that the Amendment went far beyond the creation of faggot votes. Its operation would be to deprive in many instances of the franchise, persons who had a large stake in a borough, but who happened to have no building on their land of the value of £5. The hon. Member for Midhurst, for example, occupied 500 acres inside that borough; but there was upon it, he believed, no building which would meet the requirements of the Amendment.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, he thought that this was an exceptional case. He wanted to know why the law should not be made to apply to all persons equally who resided in the borough—namely, by declaring that all persons having a right to vote in a borough should have the right to vote on account of a dwelling-house, no matter what its value was so that it was rated, and that the owner or occupier had paid the rates? By that means the creation of faggot votes would at once be prevented.
§ SIR ROBERT COLLIER
said, that his hon. and learned Friend's suggestion would, if adopted, go to the extent of disfranchising those existing voters who were the occupiers of shops, warehouses, and other buildings in a borough, but who did not happen to have a dwelling-house on the property which they possessed. The Amendment was, in his opinion, one which would have the effect of obviating an evil, the existence of which hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House must admit. The proceedings of the Totnes Commission showed that, in the case of that borough, there had been, on both sides, a systematic creation of faggot votes by the subdivision of land and the erection of what were called "buildings," but which were of merely nominal value. He thought the Amendment would be a beneficial one, as it was intended to prevent the creation of faggot votes.
§ MR. MITFORD
said, as his case had been adverted to, he would state to the Committee how it stood. He occupied land of about 500 or 600 acres within the borough. He lived just outside the borough. The quality of his land was 453 meadow, with a proportion of woodland. There were certain buildings upon the wood—he would not say that these were worth £5 or £3. They were buildings proper for the carrying on of the business connected with the occupation of the land; and he could not see why the banker, who lived beyond the borough, but had a building necessary for carrying on his business within the borough, should have a vote while he was to be, under exactly the same circumstances, refused one. Passing from his own case he believed the effect of this Amendment would be to disfranchise a great number of innocent persons merely on account of the misconduct of Totnes.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that what had been said by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield came too late, for they had already passed a clause declaring that the franchises about to be conferred were in addition to, and not in substitution of, the existing franchises. It was true that the Court of Common Pleas had decided that the "other building" which was classed with shop, counting-house, and warehouse, in the clause of the Reform Bill, should be ejusdem generis with the buildings there referred to, by which he understood that it was not to be moveable—that it was a substantial building. Beyond this consideration, they must also remember, that, in the counties, they had already agreed to give a vote to land worth £12 without a building at all. This particular franchise, though it might have been in some respects abused, had been in existence ever since the Reform Act, and a great many persons had been enfranchised under it, and it would be objectionable to disfranchise those against whom no charge had been made.
§ MR. MONTAGU CHAMBERS
said, he did not think that a country gentleman had any ground for saying that it was a hard case that he could not annex an insignificant building such as a cow-shed to land, and get a vote thereby. On the contrary, he thought that it was a step in the right direction to provide that such buildings annexed to land should not give the right of voting in boroughs. He thought the clause as it stood was liable to great abuse, and therefore, he should support the Amendment.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, that, in his opinion, it was intended that property should give a vote for counties, not for boroughs. No one would believe that it was ever intended by the Reform Act to 454 give a vote for land in boroughs, whatever was the character of the building upon it, or that a cow-shed should give a vote. It was an abuse which had grown up under the Reform Act, and experience proved that it had become a systematized abuse. He did not think that the words proposed as an Amendment would do any harm, and in many cases he believed that they would do good.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he wished to remind the Committee that this land was as much occupied in the borough as a house was occupied, and they ought not to be quarrelling about whether the buildings on it were worth £3 or £5. The law had made the land a portion of the borough, and therefore the question was not whether the building or the land was a cow-shed or not, but whether the person who occupied it within the borough ought to have a vote. Last year a clause of the same nature was placed in the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman opposite.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, it was very seldom the right hon. Gentleman failed to comprehend an intelligible proposition, and still more seldom that he fell into a gross error. But he must remind the right hon. Gentleman that it was not true that land in a borough gave a vote. It must be a building, and it was never contemplated that the building should be other than a dwelling-house, shop, or warehouse. The right hon. Gentleman was also in error when he said that this proposition was contained in the Bill of last year. What was proposed was the same as had been this year proposed with regard to the counties, but to which the House did not agree—that the house upon the land should be of a certain value. It had nothing to do with the present matter.
SIR HENRY EDWARDS
said, he would be the last man in the House to impute motives, but he must say that if the Amendment of the hon. Member for Knaresborough were agreed to, it would leave him and any future Liberal candidate in possession of the borough. He (Sir Henry Edwards) knew the town of Knaresborough well, and at the present moment the late Member, as well as the present Colleague of the hon. Gentleman, had a good deal of land within the borough which gave votes, as there were several buildings upon it of stone or brick having doors, and he dared to say windows also, that were occupied by cows and horses. 455 [A laugh from Mr. Gladstone.] The right hon. Gentleman appeared much amused at the remark, and he therefore would not take the case of Knaresborough alone; he would instance also the town of Halifax which he (Sir Henry Edwards) had represented five years. Both parties there erected buildings upon the land within the precincts of the borough for the purpose of obtaining votes. The supporters of the noble Lord who sat more than a quarter of a century for Halifax (Sir Charles Wood, now Lord Halifax) took advantage of the clause in the Act of Parliament—erected sheds and created a great number of votes—faggot votes if the Committee so liked to call them—in that way. He (Sir Henry Edwards) could not deny that the Conservatives also had been parties to the parcelling out of land and building sheds upon it. The sheds were not as it had been stated by hon. Members, of the value of £3 or £5, for he believed they had found great difficulty in erecting any under £20, and now that the Liberal party were masters of the situation, they of necessity reaped the advantage of the outlay of their opponents.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, he did not want to introduce any personal matter. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond had clearly and correctly stated the law, that in boroughs not the land but houses should have a vote. What he would like to see was that the building which was to give a vote within a borough should be a dwelling-house—nothing else. There were a great many people who objected to faggot votes, but yet would do nothing to obviate them. The only real way of preventing them was to require that every man who had a vote should have a dwelling-house for which he was rated, and paid rates; anything else would open the door to the abuse, of which they had already heard, of parcelling out the land. It was said that if this plan were adopted many voters would be excluded. But it would exclude no real voters, and you would then have as good a constituency as could be got for England.
MR. M. T. BASS
said, he would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether he meant that because he (Mr. Bass) had within a borough a brew-house worth £3,000 or £4,000 a year, and resided beyond the boundary, he was not to have a vote.
§ MR. BAXTER
said, that after the speech of the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry 456 Edwards) the Committee could have no hesitation in adopting the Amendment. This mode of parcelling out the land had been carried on systematically, and was altogether opposed to the principles of the Constitution, and he agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman that they ought to insist on a dwelling-house as the basis of the borough franchise.
said, it was not competent for them to raise the question of a dwelling-house at this stage of the Bill; but these words did raise the question of real and bonâ fide value for a qualification, and they struck at the root of the practice so graphically described by the hon. Baronet. The hon. Baronet declared that this practice was resorted to by both parties. He had not the least doubt of it, and he would suggest to both parties that they ought now to join in putting an end to the practice.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, this Amendment came with an extraordinary grace from hon. Gentlemen on the other side, when not long since they recommended a proposition that land and building together of the value of £5 should confer a vote. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] Yes; if the right hon. Gentleman looked back he would find that it was so. As to the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, that the franchise should be confined to a dwelling-house, it would disfranchise nearly the whole constituency of the City of London. His objection to the Amendment was that the Committee were called upon to pass a disfranchising clause without reference to any harm that was now done by the law as it stood.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he was not responsible for the Amendment to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.
§ MR. D. ROBERTSON
said, he should support the Amendment, as he was anxious to put down the system of faggot voting, which prevailed to a great extent in his country, and which he believed had also gone to a great extent in England. He remembered once seeing a piece of land divided into two portions, and half a shed standing on one portion and the other half on the other. He asked his friend, the proprietor, what was the meaning of it. "Oh," he said, "that is to give a vote for each portion." He considered that the chief safeguard in conferring the franchise, was to require residence as a qualification. He was, therefore, in favour of the proposition 457 of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield that only a dwelling house should give a vote, and he would extend that provision to counties as well as boroughs.
§ COLONEL PERCY HERBERT
said, he thought it would be hard to disfranchise persons who were liable to pay rates within a borough, because they happened to live outside the borough boundaries, which were often arbitrarily fixed.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, the Amendment ought to be supported because it intended to destroy a great abuse which they all agreed in denouncing. They were now all agreed in supporting household suffrage, which was the lowest suffrage to which they could go except manhood suffrage. But the franchise which hon. Gentlemen opposite were struggling to obtain was simply a cow-house franchise; and he thought the cow-house suffrage was a great deal worse than manhood suffrage. To show the absurdity of the franchise, he might mention that there was a decision by a Scotch judge that a rabbit-house erected by some boys, was a house under the meaning of the Act, and gave a vote along with land. Hon. Gentlemen talked of preserving the existing law, but they ought to remember that this was an abuse which had grown out of the existing law, and that if it were allowed to go on it would make the suffrage lower than the present Bill proposed.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The Committee divided: — Ayes 98; Noes 106: Majority 8.
§ MR. COLVILE
then rose to propose to add at the end of the clause—Provided, That so much of the Act of the Second William the Fourth, chapter forty-five, as disqualifies the owner of any copyhold tenement situated within a City or Borough (who would be otherwise qualified) from voting in the election of a Member or Members for the County during the time that the same tenement confers a right of voting for such City or Borough on any other person, shall be and the same is hereby repealed.He said that this Motion followed as a natural sequence to the proposition which he had previously made for approximating, as far as possible the copyhold to the freehold franchise — a proposition which the Committee had thought fit to adopt. The proposal which he had now to make was to place the owner of a copyhold property, whose land was within the limits of a Parliamentary 458 borough on the same footing as the owner of a freehold property similarly situated. By the Act of 1832 the owner of a freehold in a borough had a vote for the county, even though the occupier was entitled to vote for the borough. He wished that the same right should be extended to the owner of a copyhold. As a great many copyholders would be disfranchised by the proposed extension of the boundaries of boroughs, and as the Committee had been so often told that this was an enfranchising, not a disfranchising, Bill, there was an additional reason why his proposal should be accepted.
At the end of the Clause to add the words "Provided, That so much of the Act of the Second William the Fourth, chapter forty-five, as disqualifies the owner of any copyhold, tenement situated within a City or Borough (who would be otherwise qualified), from voting in the Election of a Member or Members for the County during the time that the same tenement confers a right of voting for such City or Borough on any other person, shall be and the same is hereby repealed."—(Mr. Colvile.)
§ MR. PEASE
said, that there was an argument in favour of the Motion which his hon. Friend had not mentioned. The; Reform Bill of 1832, when giving the freeholder a qualification at 40s. and the copyholder one at £10, took an exaggerated view of the distinction between the two, while the copyholder was also debarred from exercising the same privileges as the freeholder with regard to county elections. In his part of the kingdom only copyholds by inheritance were known, and they were substantially as good as freeholds. If any difference was to be kept up between them, that already adopted by the Committee in fixing the copyhold franchise at £5 was surely sufficient, and they ought in other respects to be placed on an equality. In the county which he represented (South Durham) the present Bill was about to make three new boroughs, in which there were at present 320 copyholders of above £10 value. These men had for thirty-five years voted for the county, and from 120 to 180 did not reside on their copyholds. The clause therefore without the Amendment of his hon. Friend, would disfranchise nearly 200 voters who had exercised their franchise for the last five and thirty years. Two freeholders, by living in each other's houses, would enjoy a vote both for the borough and the county, while two copyholders, whose houses might be better, but were subject to a payment of 459 1d. or 2d. a year, would only have a borough vote.
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will put the Committee to the trouble of a division on this proposition. It appears to be exactly in accordance with all the ancient principles of Gentlemen opposite in which we also coincide. Where we can find anybody who possesses anything that is likely to have influence we should be glad to give him the franchise. No person can say there is any ground for excluding the copyholder that does not equally apply to the freeholder. In the case referred to by my hon. Friend, it would be a grievous wrong to the copyholder to make a distinction between them. We should not allow this measure to disfranchise a considerable number of persons holding property, and in every relation of life just as respectable, influential, intelligent, and solid citizens of the country as the freeholders who have votes. The question does not affect this or that side of the House in particular. In removing the accidental and unwise anomalies of the Act of 1832 the Committee should deal generously and equally with persons whose position in respect to claiming the franchise must be held to be exactly the same as the freeholders. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consent to the proposed change. As we are making a Bill which we hope need not be brought before the House for some time, it is not worth while to leave little errors and unjust provisions, and thus excite feelings which will cause men outside to call into question the justice of Parliament.
said, it would seem from the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that he had misapprehended the question somewhat. This was not a question of justice or of injustice, but the Committee had he thought utterly rejected the Motion of dual voting, and this was a proposal to establish dual voting completely. He had always maintained that a person having a freehold in a borough not occupied by him, and out of which he did not vote for the borough, should have a county franchise. But the present proposal would give a man a vote for a borough in respect of the house in which he lived, and another for the county in respect of the same house. ["No, no!"] That was how he read the proviso, and if he were wrong in putting upon it that interpretation he should be glad to be corrected. The principle on which he had always upheld 460 freehold franchises in towns was, that it was an old one, but he did not see why this copyhold franchise, which was an entirely new one, should be made into a county vote, seeing that the property giving the vote was entirely within the borough. He should vote against the clause, because it was giving a privilege to a person who never had it before.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he believed the right hon. Gentleman misunderstood the Amendment. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that they ought not to give a man a vote for the county as well as for the borough in respect of the same qualification. The Amendment, however, would not interfere with the 24th clause of the Reform Act, which precluded persons from having two votes for one qualification, but would simply provide that a copyholder or leaseholder letting his property to a person who thereby gained a borough vote should not be deprived of his vote for the county. Such an Amendment of the Reform Act was obviously just, for the distinction between freeholds and copyholds was purely arbitrary, and there was no reason why there should be any difference in the electoral privileges of the two. He wished the Committee to understand that this Amendment, although seeming to be merely a revision of something that was anomalous in the Act of 1832, was much more, because the Reform Act of 1832 did not disfranchise any one. It proposed not to give the copyholders a vote for the borough; but now that they were giving votes to all householders in boroughs, the effect of the clause without his hon. Friend's Amendment would be to take away thousands of county votes, not because the owners had votes for the boroughs, but because the tenants had. Such an anomaly could not be defended.
said, he saw that he had misread the clause, but at the same time he was adverse to its being adopted; as the copyhold franchise was an entirely new franchise, and he did not see why it was now to be turned into a county vote, the property being wholly within the borough, and having nothing at all to do with the county.
§ SIR ROBERT COLLIER
said, that the House had already decided against the distinction which had prevailed between the copyholder and freeholder, and the sole object of the Amendment was to put copyholds, quoad the county representation, in the same position as freeholds; and as the 461 proposal was one of enfranchisement, he hoped it would not be resisted by the Government.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, the question before the Committee was whether the property which gave the vote should be within the place for which the representative was elected; or whether they would give the right to vote for the county upon a qualification within the borough. If it was desired that there should be symmetry in their legislation as respected free holds and copyholds, let freeholds be put on the same footing as copyholds in that matter, and thus carry out the principle that every locality should return its own representative to that House. In the Reform Bill of last year it was proposed to enable leaseholders in boroughs to vote for counties; but when it was shown to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire that that would have the effect of completely swamping the county voters in many parts of England, he very fairly consented to drop that clause of his Bill. The reason why borough freeholders originally obtained votes for counties was, because it was supposed there was something in a freehold which should confer a county vote, and something in an occupation which should confer a borough vote; but that distinction had long been abandoned, and he protested against extending to another class of voters that which was not only an anomaly but a violation of the principle of representation. A man should, in his opinion, only be allowed to vote for the town or county in which the qualification existed. If they adopted this proposal, they might as well say that in future Birmingham should have the right of saying who was the best representative for the county of Warwickshire. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. W. E. Baxter) had said that a person ought only to vote in the place where the qualification was situate, and he therefore called upon him to vote against this Amendment.
My hon. Friend the Member for Montrose comes from Scotland, and I presume that in Scotland different principles prevail from those we have in England. Therefore that argument ought not to be taken into much consideration in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman is totally in error in saying that the late Chancellor of the Exchequer withdrew his clause last year because it was indefensible. He withdrew it simply because he did not want to jeopardize the 462 passing of his Bill by having points of dispute of no great importance. But he never admitted that he was wrong, and that the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends were right. The question is simply this—the Reform Bill did not give votes to the owners of copyhold property in boroughs where the property in those boroughs gave a vote to somebody else. In that particular it treated copyhold property differently to the treatment given to freehold. But then it left all the copyhold property, which in boroughs had no occupation of £10, to give a vote to the occupier in the county. If a man living anywhere outside of a borough had copyhold property in the borough of the value of £10, it gave him a vote for the county; but in the borough there might be nobody upon it who occupied it at £10, and, therefore, nobody got a vote inside the borough. There are many thousands who, from 1832 to this hour, have voted as copyholders in virtue of copyholds within the boroughs. Are you then prepared to disfranchise these persons against whom there has been no charge of incompetency of any kind? The right hon. Member for Oxfordshire is in favour of anything that is old; well, thirty-five years is a good while. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, too, says he would not disfranchise anybody; but it is perfectly clear that by this proposal he will disfranchise many thousands, a great majority of whom may be supporters of the party opposite. These men have exercised the franchise with perfect purity and without harm for thirty-five years, and it is now proposed that they shall be disfranchised because somebody else is going to vote in respect to the occupation of their copyhold property within the limits of a borough. I say that it is contrary to the spirit of our legislation not to adopt the proposal made to us, and I therefore trust that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way to accepting it.
§ MR. BANKS STANHOPE
said, he could not see how the reduction of the copyholder's qualification in counties could be a reason for creating an entirely new qualification. Lord Althorp had said that the great difficulty of the Government of 1832 was what to do with the freeholder. The Government of that day did not know whether he ought to vote for the county or for the borough, or both. Lord Althorp introduced the existing anomaly in the settlement of this question by the Reform Bill of 1832; and now by this Amendment 463 the anomaly would be increased and the evil enlarged. Last year he was astonished at the proposal of the late Government for admitting the leaseholder and the copyholder to a county vote, without any information being supplied as to what the number of these voters would be likely to be. This year they were invited in plain English to swamp two-thirds of all the counties by voters who resided within the boroughs, for the sake of some sort of uniformity which, he confessed, he could not recognize. That was the clear, broad, and plain issue. Was it or was it not desirable that the county representation should reflect the agricultural interest? If the uniformity contended for must be had, the door was opened for the consideration of the question how far they were right in allowing a freeholder who lived in a town to have that double qualification by which the tenant voted for the county as well as the borough. He did not know where such an argument would end or what would come of it. It had been maintained that the progress of the Reform Bill had hitherto been conducted with fairness; but the readiness in some quarters to adopt this proposal might seem to some to indicate that the period of fair adjustment had passed, and that the majority of the House were determined to curb the agricultural interests by means of the towns.
§ MR. MONTAGU CHAMBERS
said, he thought the proper course for the Committee to adopt was to do that which was in itself right, coute qui coute, not by their decision to give colour to the remark of the hon. Member for Birmingham, which was taken up out of doors, that what the House of Commons gave with one hand they took away with the other; because, as the Bill stood, while it enfranchised the occupiers of small copyholds in boroughs it would disfranchise their owners. Copyholders were in as good a position as freeholders—in some respects, indeed, they were in a better position, because they had registered titles—and therefore they ought to have the same rights. The right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies desired to disqualify the freeholders in boroughs from voting in counties; but he need hardly remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer how great was the opposition which was excited by a similar suggestion made in 1859.
said, that, considering the great power which the towns possessed in the constituencies, the question was whether 464 it ought to be increased by additions from the town voters in counties. He feared that the tendency of this Motion, and of a similar one for the benefit of leaseholders in boroughs, was to increase the urban element in counties, the representatives of which were already greatly in a minority in that House, and to swamp the county constituencies by Motions of this sort.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he could not agree with the Under Secretary for the Colonies that this was not a question of disfranchisement, as under the provisions of the present Bill there were many copyholders in boroughs holding copyholds separately under the value of £10, but collectively about £10, now possessing votes for the counties, but who would lose their franchise as soon as their tenants obtained borough votes. He therefore could not suppose that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would oppose an Amendment intended to prevent the Bill having (to use the expression of the Chancellor of the Exchequer) any taint of disfranchisement. Almost every Gentleman who had spoken on the other side had argued nominally against the possession by copyholders and leaseholders in boroughs of county votes, but really against freeholders in boroughs being allowed to enjoy the county franchise, for, in truth, there was no distinction between the cases. He trusted the House would not agree to draw so sharp a line of distinction between the borough and county constituencies, and that they would be inclined rather to diminish the sharpness of the line by which they were now divided. Under the Bill as it is a considerable number of voters for counties would lose their votes. It was true that they would acquire votes for boroughs; but it was not desirable further to extend the system of transfer.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that the Amendment would in effect repeal a clause of the Act of 1832. The Bill was framed with a view to preserve the provisions of that Act. The Government stood by the Act of 1832 loyally, and notwithstanding that they disapproved of the privilege which it conferred upon freeholders, and the introduction to that extent of the urban element in counties, they accepted that provision and did not propose to alter it. They could not, however, agree to an extension of it to leaseholders and copyholders. The question was this, was it or was it not desirable to have a 465 distinct representation of counties and boroughs, he did not mean of class and class—for all classes were represented in counties as well as in boroughs—but a distinct representation of counties and boroughs. If they did, they would reject the Amendment. The interests of the two, although in the long run they were one, were yet popularly distinct and separate, and so also should be their representation. Persons who held these interests in boroughs did not represent the rural but the urban interest, and if it were right to maintain the representation of the country distinct from that of the towns, the Committee would break in upon that principle in determining that the holders of leases and copyholds should have a vote in the counties. If the Amendment were agreed to, the Bill would have to be re-cast, and then it would be a question whether the Bill could be passed this Session.
MR. M. T. BASS
said, he doubted whether it was either expedient or wise to maintain these distinctions between borough and county constituencies, of which they had heard so much that night. They had recently heard from a very high authority how intimately connected the borough and county interests were. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them the number of boroughs which represented county interests, and he (Mr. Bass) asked, why not allow the voters in boroughs also to represent county interests? It appeared to him they were attempting to make a distinction without a difference; for, in point of fact, copyholders were freeholders if they deducted only some 3 per cent of the value. If they tried the question by the tables of valuation, they would find that copyholds were worth in the market within 3 per cent of the value of freeholds, and in some cases they were even worth more, because they gave a title which could not be disputed. To be consistent, if they withheld from copyholders the right of voting in counties, they ought to take away from freeholders the privilege which the Act of 1832 conferred on them.
said, that he had always entertained a strong sense of the injustice of those who were really town voters being introduced into the county constituency. The 40s. freeholder was a complete anomaly, and was retained in the Constitution as a venerable piece of antiquity, and nothing else. In the borough he represented, the freeholders voted for the borough and not for the county, 466 provided they lived at a moderate distance, and that was the case at Bristol, Nottingham, Norwich, Exeter, and Lichfield. If this system prevailed in these boroughs, there could be no injustice in extending it, so that copyholders also in boroughs should have votes in those boroughs, but it would be an injustice to extend their right to do so in the counties. Let there be fair play, and if holders of property in boroughs were allowed to vote for counties, do not exclude the counties so studiously from any share in the borough representation.
§ MR. NEATE
said, that the Amendment would give to copyholders the right of two votes—one in a borough and one in a county. There was, however, a great deal of difference between the copyhold and leasehold clauses, notwithstanding what had been stated by the Attorney General, because the copyhold clause could give only two votes to the same property, while the leasehold clause might give three. There might be objections therefore to the latter, which could not apply to the former, and if he voted for the Amendment it would be on different grounds.
§ MR. READ
said, that there was no reason why, because the Reform Act of 1832 sanctioned a great anomaly, and, in his opinion, a great injustice, by allowing freeholders in boroughs to have votes in counties, they should now wish to increase the injustice by extending the same privilege to copyholders. The tendency of the last few years was to reduce the number of copyholds by converting them into freeholds, for which every facility was given. In his opinion they ought to assimilate the law of England to that of Ireland and Scotland, where the owners of property had votes for boroughs, and that was the case in a few places in England also. But for the accident of the freeholders in Norwich having to vote in that borough, the freeholders in that borough and in the borough of Great Yarmouth would together be half the constituency of East Norfolk. Property in the counties conveyed two votes, one for the owner and one for the occupier; he had not the least objection that property in boroughs should do the same, provided that both votes were given for the borough.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
We shall never make the constitution of England a strictly logical one, and I do not think it desirable that we should try. But I am not at all ashamed of the principle to which I have often given 467 expression in this House, and which is, I believe, a very sound one, that it is just that a person should vote where his qualification is found. The question with regard to freeholds is settled, and I have no wish in any way to disturb it. It rests on ancient prescription, and it is unwise at all times to disturb such prescription. But it does not at all follow that because copyholds are or may be equivalent to freeholds—anomalies which you respect because they are ancient, that they should be adopted and converted into precedents for carrying a thing further which cannot be reconciled to any principle of propriety or justice. It is all very well to say that we should not be encouraged to draw hard lines between counties and towns. Whether we are encouraged to do so or not is of very little importance, because very hard lines between the two do not and can never exist. Sensible distinctions, however, are recognized not only by our habits, manners, and customs, but by the laws of the country. You recognize a rural community, and you recognize an urban community. With respect to those Gentlemen who are perpetually counselling that there should be little or no difference between the population of counties and the population of towns, and who are really so exuberant in the expression of their sentiments in that respect, I have never observed that there is the slightest intention on their part to reciprocate the feeling which they strive to inculcate. If it be true that a freehold in a town should entitle a man to a county vote, why should not an occupation in a county entitle a man to vote for a borough? But nothing of that kind is ever admitted. We are told that there should as little distinction as possible between the inhabitants of counties and those of boroughs with respect to their representation in this House. But suppose the peculiar Parliamentary circumstances that exist with respect to these two great portions of the nation were reversed, and that the boroughs for example, with less than half the population, were represented by 162 Members, and the counties, with more than half the population—or, at all events, with at least a moiety—were represented by 334, would hon. Gentleman opposite, who are perpetually reading these lectures to the inhabitants of the counties, be content with such a state of affairs? Now it is not of the slightest importance whether we are represented by 334 or 162 Members. There is no sharp line, there is a perfect identity of interest, and we are 468 reconciled to our share of the representation. Hon. Gentlemen opposite know very well that they in such circumstances would not be satisfied. Nothing of the kind; they would have a League; they would soon have an organized agitation, and a very successful one, for I am quite satisfied that the inhabitants of the towns would never submit to the monstrous injustice as regards representation which the inhabitants of the the counties have so long submitted to. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. M. T. Bass) says that I have shown that a great many boroughs represent county interests, and that therefore there is an identity of interest between them. I hope there is an identity of interests between all portions of the nation. But I have shown that the change now impending with regard to the county interest is very small, and that no arrangement of that kind can give an adeqnate representation to the counties. Now under those circumstances, even if there were a tolerably fair division of the representative faculty in this House between counties and boroughs, so long as you recognize the existence of an urban and a rural community, nothing is more natural and constitutional on both sides than a certain jealousy as to the portion of representation which each is entitled to enjoy. I should not at all question the propriety of the representative of a borough resisting any invasion of his rights; but let the natural feelings of those who represent the rights of counties be also respected. All the arguments that we have heard from hon. Gentlemen on this subject lead us, we have often been told, to electoral districts. But there is nothing to my mind more difficult of formation than electoral districts. You cannot come to a state of that kind by passing Acts of Parliament. You must change the associations of the nation; you must change the habits and customs of generations, which in such a country as England are so surpassingly and singularly interesting. Whatever we do, there will still be for many generations boroughs and counties in this country, and though it may be impossible, with any severity of precision, to mark out the lines which separate them, still there should be an approximation to justice in their representation. I maintain that principle for which I have always contended, that on the whole a man should vote where his qualification exists. I am not seeking to cancel or disturb the right which a freeholder in boroughs possesses. 469 It is a prescriptive right, but being a prescriptive right does not prevent its being an anomalous right. Why should we extend it? Why increase this anomaly by extending to copyholds the same privilege which freeholds possess? It is no answer whatever to say that now in the progress of circumstances and by the change of law copyholds are very much the same as freeholds. If you can prove upon any principle of justice that a freeholder in a borough ought to vote in a community in which he does not live, that might be a reason for extending the same privilege to the copyholder. But no one has done that. You can urge the claims of the freeholder only on the ground of antiquity, prescriptive right, and ancient usage, which it would be unwise to disturb. But if the copyholder be equivalent to a freeholder, the next thing will be to make the leaseholder also equivalent. When the long leaseholder is admitted you will be asked to admit the short leaseholder. Now, if you want to maintain, generally speaking, the distinctive character of county and urban constituencies, it is wise, I think, to disturb as little as possible the settlement of these matters which were effected in 1832. We have scrupulously shrunk from unnecessarily disturbing that settlement, and all our legislation has been, generally speaking, supplementary. We have tried to enlarge and confirm, but not to alter it. I hope, therefore, the Committee will hesitate before they accept the proposition, and that they will adhere, as far as this question of the copyholders is concerned, to the settlement of 1832.
I pass by the well-worn fallacy of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the comparison of the population of counties and the population of boroughs with the old protest, which must be renewed as often as that fallacy is repeated, that when you represent the population in counties as you represent the population in boroughs, then, and not till then, are you entitled to found the comparison of the respective amounts of representation upon the respective amounts of population. The right hon. Gentleman says, "Do not let us extend an anomaly," and, according to him, it is an anomaly that the town freeholder has a vote for the county. But why is this called an anomaly? It is the old principle of the Constitution—one of those principles which, whenever they come across the right hon. Gentleman's views and purposes, are treated by 470 him with small respect, but which, when they suit those views and purposes, are sacred things, which no man is to question. The anomaly, if anybody wants to find it, will be found in the speech delivered by the Attorney General, and the astonishing results of the hon. and learned Gentleman's historical studies really ought to be embodied in a separate treatise, with notes and comments for the instruction of posterity. The Attorney General has positively discovered that this plan of allowing freeholders in towns to vote for counties was an innovation introduced in 1832, and he has actually persuaded the hon. Member for Norfolk, who likewise complained of the injustice inflicted in 1832. Why, it is the old principle of the Constitution, and what the Act of 1832 did was not to introduce the practice of freeholders in towns voting for counties, but to restrict that practice by disabling the voter from voting for the county where he occupied his freehold in the town. I will not anticipate the debate that is by-and-by coming on, when I shall have occasion to correct the entire misrepresentation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Staffordshire on the subject of the proposal of last year. My noble Friend (the Marquess of Hartington) reminded the right hon. Gentleman that at an early period of the evening, when something had been said about the taint of bribery in the Bill, he replied that there was another taint from which he was anxious to purge the Bill—namely, the taint of disfranchisement. I do not wonder that the right hon. Gentleman passed by that challenge in silence. It is all very well for the Attorney General to say that this part of the Bill lets alone the Act of 1832, for it does no such thing. It disfranchises a multitude of persons who have votes under that Act. Undoubtedly my hon. Friend (Mr. Colvile) proposes to give votes to some who would not have them under the Act of 1832. This, therefore, is an enfranchising Motion; it is an introduction of proprietary interests upon the register, and the Committee has to make its choice between that enfranchising Motion, and the alternative, not of leaving things as as they are, but of disfranchising a multitude of copyholders who, under the Act of 1832, are at this moment in the possession of the franchise, but whom this Bill as it stands will disfranchise, although it is a Bill which, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer says, is, above all things, to be kept free from the taint of disfranchisement.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 151; Noes 171: Majority 20.
§ MR. HUSSEY VIVIAN
said, that the Reform Act of 1832 conferred upon the owner of long leases a county qualification, provided these leases returned to their owner a clear yearly value of more than £10. There was, however, a qualification attached to that enfranchisement. The 45th section of the Reform Act, however, provided that if the leasehold tenement were situate within a borough, and if the tenement conferred a vote not alone upon the owner, but on any other person whatever, the owner within the borough, if it conferred a borough vote, lost his county qualification in respect of that long lease. Why that proviso was introduced he was unable to understand; but from that time to the present the owner of long leases under these circumstances had been disqualified from voting for counties. A large number of persons, however, had under that qualification obtained votes for counties in respect of premises within boroughs. In many cases it happened that the owners of long leases had upon their tenements houses under £10, which singly conferred no vote for the the borough, but, being in the aggregate of greater value than £10, they conferred a county vote upon the owner of the lease. Under the present Bill the owner of these houses became a borough voter, and therefore it disfranchised a large number of county voters. The Attorney General had stated that no disfranchisement would take place, but under this clause a very large number of voters would be disfranchised. In his county (Glamorganshire) no less than one-sixth of the whole number of county voters would be disfranchised. It must be remembered that this was not an exchange of county for borough votes, but would amount to an absolute and entire disfranchisement. These long leases were the rule in many parts of England, where the properties were so large that hardly anything but leasehold interests existed. In some districts leases for 999 years were the rule; and there was no palpable distinction between such leases, or even leases for 99 years, and a freehold. It was true that if the proviso he proposed was carried, not only would the great injustice of disfranchising a large number of voters be prevented, but those who up to this time, from the 472 working of a very extraordinary proviso in the original Reform Act, were denied the right of voting would acquire that right. But then they would be people possessing a very high kind of qualification, for the premises in respect to which they would have the vote must yield them at least more than £10 a year. His proposal would remove a great anomaly, and place those who would otherwise have been county voters in that position. He denied that it would enable those who were interested in boroughs to swamp the counties. Under the sweeping provisions of that Bill every ratepaying householder within a borough would be enfranchised, and consequently no owner of leasehold property within boroughs could continue to be a county voter. It was said that he proposed to confer a double vote—that was a vote for the county and a vote for the borough—on the same person; but that was not so. If carried, his proposal would simply confer a vote on the owner of a long lease within a borough. True, the owner and the occupier would each have a vote; but at present the owner of a farm had a vote in respect of his freehold, and the tenant of that farm also had a vote in respect of his occupation, if it amounted to £50—a state of things perfectly analagous to that which would exist under his amendment. The injustice to the owners of long leases which he sought to remedy would be aggravated under that Bill if the boundaries of territories were extended into the counties by the projected Boundary Commission. The persons whom that measure as it stood would disfranchise by thousands and tens of thousands were just those whom it was most desirable to enfranchise—namely, steady, saving, industrious men, who had, by their own exertions and virtues, acquired a substantial stake in the country. They comprised the very elité of the working classes; and he appealed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to disfranchise such a class. If the Government desired to remove from the Bill the taint of disfranchisement they ought not to hesitate to give their assent to his amendment.
At the end of the Clause, to add the words "Provided, That so much of the Act of the second William the Fourth, chapter forty-five, as disqualifies any lessee or assignee of any lands or tenements situated within a City or Borough, who would be otherwise qualified, from voting in the Election of a Member or Members for the County
during the time that the same lands or tenements confer a vote for such City or Borough on any other person, shall be and the same is hereby repealed."—(Mr. Hussey Vivian.)
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that it was clear that if the House would not repeal the provisions of the Reform Act in favour of copyholders, à multo fortiori they would not repeal them for the benefit of leaseholders. The proposal of the Government was in accordance with the principle of the Reform Act, while that of the hon. Gentleman was a departure from it. There would under the Bill be no disfranchisement, because votes for boroughs would be created in the cases in which the county votes were abolished. He had never argued, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire supposed, that the Reform Bill for the first time gave borough freeholders a right to vote in counties. He knew that that was an old right, and that it was because it was prescriptive that it was preserved. The question was, were they to maintain the distinction between counties and boroughs? In an article, written by Mr. Hare, which appeared in Fraser's Magazine in 1860, that Gentleman quoted the following extract from a work of the hon. Member for Westminster:—Let the idea take hold of the more generous and cultivated minds of the country that the most serious danger to the future prospects of mankind is in the unbalanced influence of the commercial spirit. Let the wise and better hearted politicians and public teachers look down upon it as their most pressing duty to protect whatever in the heart of man or in his outward life may form the best cheek to that exclusive spirit.
I rise to express my astonishment at the argument of the Attorney General. I cannot believe that this kind of argument would do for him in other places where he is accustomed to speak. He never could have risen to the position he occupies in the Courts of Law if he treated the Judges as he treats the House of Commons. The hon. and learned Gentleman answers the objection as to disfranchisement by the statement that this is a transfer from a county to a borough Member. We are not, however, looking to county Members or borough Members, we are looking to the electors, and my hon. Friend proposes a remedy to prevent many thousands of them from being disfranchised. I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman's attention to this fact: I will take a single borough with which I am acquainted, and mention the figures, to show 474 the error and folly of the idea that, in this matter, there is anything involved that affects the constitution of parties in this House. I take the borough of Rochdale—a very Liberal borough, in which the Tory party have no chance of success. There are 152 leaseholders disfranchised there under this Bill; seventy-three of them are Conservatives; seventy-nine of them are Liberals. There is, therefore, only a difference of six, and that six may be changed very easily. Three may go contrary to the general estimate of their views, and out of the 152 thus disturbed in their enjoyment of the franchise, there is not more than a difference of six between the two parties. In the Salford Hundred there are 13,355 electors, of whom 1,248 will be affected by what we are now discussing. It is thought that a person having property within a borough must be necessarily an unsatisfactory elector for a Tory candidate. That is a mistake; if you exclude from voting in counties the electors whose qualification is derived from boroughs, the difference they would make would be so little as to be of no consequence in this House. If that be so, is it worth while for the House to split straws in this way, and to maintain a distinction which, if we all take a generous view of our countrymen, we ought not to wish to maintain? The hon. and learned Gentleman quoted a paragraph from the works of the hon. Member for Westminster, to which he appeared to attach great importance. Surely, the country is not going to perdition, because you are going to secure the franchise to persons of property—yet the hon. and learned Gentleman quoted that passage as if something terrible would happen if the Amendment were carried into effect. I merely rose, however, to mention an argument which I think conclusive, and that is that in the borough of Rochdale as nearly as possible half of those who are affected are Conservatives and half are Liberals—and, therefore, as a mere matter of party tactics and party supremacy, it is not worth while to make any objection to the Amendment. I shall say no more after the late division, because this Motion may not be carried; but whether it is, or is not, I believe that it would be to the interest of this House to agree to it.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, that the hon. Member for Birmingham had misstated the case. The Government did not wish to disfranchise any one, but merely desired 475 to continue the state of circumstances established in 1832 in respect to leaseholders. The argument against the admission of copyholders to the county constituencies, which had been decided by the last division, applied, in his opinion, with tenfold force to the proposition now under consideration.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, that a similar Motion to that now before the Committee had been proposed last year. He proved on that occasion that the proposition would, if carried, have the effect of adding 5,000 votes to the county constituency in the case of Birmingham alone, and that fact the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire considered a sufficient reason for dropping the clause.
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman says that the proposition made last year was the same as that made now. In the letter it may have been so, but the circumstances under which it was made are totally different. The disfranchisement of freeholders, copyholders, and lessees affected by the Bill of last year was a small one, while the disfranchisement affected by this Bill will be a very large one. At the time we made our proposition we were all labouring under a gross delusion—we really believed that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were opposed to all lowering of the franchise. We were positively under that belief, and under those circumstances the Government were very desirous of narrowing the issues, and, as far as we could, to get rid of all propositions of secondary importance. Consequently, we receded from a proposition which I believe to be one of the soundest in principle, and I would even say one of the most Conservative propositions that it is possible to make. I speak that seriously, and should be glad to hear the reply of any Gentleman who may think it absurd. The Attorney General has laid down a doctrine which is entirely opposed to the principles of the constitution. The hon. and learned Gentleman has stated that the great object to be held in view should be the total separation of the representation of counties and boroughs. But the old basis of the borough franchise is occupation, while that of the country is property; and it was under the Reform Act that you introduced for the first time the right to vote by occupation in the counties. Then it was that you introduced for the first time a morsel of the 476 principle upon which your borough franchise was founded. You are now going down to a £12 occupancy, and before long you may have to go down further. You are multiplying occupation votes in counties, and as you go downwards it is quite plain that you detach the occupation vote from the possession of property. Now, what can be more natural—more legitimate, and, if I am allowed to say so, more Conservative than to seek for the means of multiplying the proprietary interests of the old basis of county occupation? I am very much disappointed at the late judgment of the House; but I hope they will accede to this proposition, because I believe it is one of the soundest in principle which could be offered to the approval of Parliament, and because it is one which will certainly obtain the approval of the country.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 230; Noes 256: Majority 26.479
|Acland, T. D.||Collier, Sir R. P.|
|Adam, W. P.||Colthurst, Sir G. C.|
|Allen, W. S.||Colvile, C. R.|
|Amberley, Viscount||Cowen, J.|
|Andover, Viscount||Cowper, hon. H. F.|
|Antrobus, E.||Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.|
|Bagwell, J.||Craufurd, E. H. J.|
|Baines, E.||Crawford, R. W.|
|Barclay, A. C.||Cremorne, Lord|
|Barnes, T.||Crossley, Sir F.|
|Bass, A.||Davey, R.|
|Bass, M. T.||Denman, hon. G.|
|Bazley, T.||Dent, J. D.|
|Beaumont, H. F.||Dering, Sir E. C.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Devereux, R. J.|
|Biddulph, M.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Blake, J. A.||Duff, M. E. G.|
|Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.||Edwards, C.|
|Bright, Sir C. T.||Edwards, H.|
|Bright, J.||Eliot, Lord|
|Bruce, Lord C.||Enfield, Viscount|
|Bryan, G. L.||Erskine, Vice-Ad. J. E.|
|Buller, Sir A. W.||Esmonde, J.|
|Buller, Sir E. M.||Evans, T. W.|
|Butler, C. S.||Ewart, W.|
|Calcraft, J. H. M.||Ewing, H. E. Crum-|
|Candlish, J.||Eykyn, R.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Fawcett, H,|
|Castlerosse, Viscount||Fildes, J.|
|Cavendish, Lord E.||FitzGerald, rt. hon. Lord O. A.|
|Cavendish, Lord F. C.|
|Cavendish, Lord G.||Foley, H. W.|
|Cheetham, J.||Foljambe, F. J. S.|
|Childers, H. C. E.||Fordyce, W. D.|
|Cholmeley, Sir M. J.||Forster, C.|
|Clay, J.||Forster, W. E.|
|Clement, W. J.||Fortescue, hon. D. F.|
|Clinton, Lord E. P.||Foster, W. O.|
|Clive, G.||Gavin, Major|
|Cogan, rt. hn. W. H. F.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Gladstone, W. H.||Morris, W.|
|Glyn, G. G.||Morrison, W.|
|Goldsmid, Sir F. H.||Murphy, N. D.|
|Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.||Neate, C.|
|Gower, hon. F. L.||Nicholson, W.|
|Gower, Lord R.||Nicol, J. D.|
|Graham, W.||Norwood, C. M.|
|Gray, Sir J.||O'Brien, Sir P.|
|Grenfell, H. R.||Ogilvy, Sir J.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Oliphant, L.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||O'Loghlen, Sir C. M.|
|Grosvenor, Capt, R. W.||O'Reilly, M. W.|
|Grove, T. F.||Osborne, R. B.|
|Gurney, S.||Otway, A. J.|
|Hadfield, G.||Owen, Sir H. O.|
|Hamilton, E. W. T.||Packe, Colonel|
|Hankey, T.||Padmore, R.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Palmer, Sir R.|
|Harris, J. D.||Pease, J. W.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Peel, A. W.|
|Hay, Lord J.||Peel, J.|
|Hay, Lord W. M.||Pelham, Lord|
|Hayter, A. D.||Peto, Sir S. M.|
|Headlam, rt. hn. T. E.||Philips, R. N.|
|Henderson, J.||Pollard-Urquhart, W.|
|Henley, Lord||Portman, hn. W. H. B.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Potter, E.|
|Hibbert, J. T.||Price, R. G.|
|Hodgkinson, G.||Price, W. P.|
|Holden, I.||Pryse, E. L.|
|Holland, E.||Pritchard, J.|
|Horsman, rt. hon. E.||Pugh, D.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Rawlinson, Sir H.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Rebow, J. G.|
|Hurst, R. H.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Hutt, rt. hon. Sir W.||Robertson, D.|
|Ingham, R.||Rothschild, Baron M. de|
|James, E.||Rothschild, N. M. de|
|Jardine, R.||Russell, A.|
|Jervoise, Sir J. C.||St. Aubyn, J.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Salomons, Alderman|
|Kennedy, T.||Samuda, J. D'A.|
|Kinglake, A. W.||Samuelson, B.|
|Kinglake, J. A.||Saunderson, E.|
|Kingscote, Colonel||Scholefield, W.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Scott, Sir W.|
|Knatchbull-Hugessen, E.||Seely, C.|
|Labouchere, H.||Seymour, H. D.|
|Layard, A. H.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Lamont, J.||Simeon, Sir J.|
|Lawrence, W.||Smith, J.|
|Leatham, W. H.||Smith, J. A.|
|Lee, W.||Smith, J. B.|
|Leeman, G.||Speirs, A. A.|
|Lefevre, G. J. S.||Stacpoole, W.|
|Locke, J.||Stansfeld, J.|
|Lowe, rt. hon. R.||Stock, O.|
|Lusk, A.||Stone, W. H.|
|M'Laren, D.||Stuart, Col. Crichton-|
|Marjoribanks, Sir D. C.||Sykes, Colonel W. H.|
|Martin, C. W.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Merry, J.||Taylor, P. A.|
|Milbank, F. A.||Torrens, W. T. M'C.|
|Mill, J. S.||Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury-|
|Mills, J. R.|
|Milton, Viscount||Trevelyan, G. O.|
|Mitchell, A.||Vanderbyl, P.|
|Moffatt, G.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Monk, C. J.||Vivian, Capt. hn. J. C. W.|
|Monsell, rt. hon. W.||Watkin, E. W.|
|Moore, C.||Western, Sir T. B.|
|More, R. J.||Whatman, J.|
|White, hon. Capt. C.||Wyvil, M.|
|White, J.||Young, R.|
|Williamson, Sir H.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Winnington, Sir T. E.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Adderley, rt. hon. C. B.||Dyott, Colonel R.|
|Akroyd, E.||Earle, R. A.|
|Annesley, hon. Col. H.||Eaton, H. W.|
|Arkwright, R.||Eckersley, N.|
|Aytoun, R. S.||Edwards, Sir H.|
|Bagge, Sir W.||Egerton, E. C.|
|Bagnall, C.||Egerton, Sir P. G.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Egerton, hon. W.|
|Baillie, rt. hon. H. J.||Elcho, Lord|
|Baring, hon. A. H.||Fane, Lt.-Col. H. H.|
|Barnett, H.||Fane, Colonel J. W.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Feilden, J.|
|Barttelot, Colonel||Fellowes, E.|
|Bateson, Sir T.||Fergusson, Sir J.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Finlay, A. S.|
|Baxter, W. E.||Floyer, J.|
|Beach, Sir M. H.||Forde, Colonel|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Forester, rt. hon. Gen.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Freshfield, C. K.|
|Beecroft, G. S.||Gallwey, Sir W. P.|
|Benyon, R.||Galway, Viscount|
|Beresford, Capt. D. W. Pack-||Gilpin, Colonel|
|Goddard, A. L.|
|Bernard, hn. Col. H. B.||Goldney, G.|
|Bingham, Lord||Gooch, Sir D.|
|Bourne, Colonel||Goodson, J.|
|Bowen, J. B.||Gore, J. R. O.|
|Bowyer, Sir G.||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Brett, W. B.||Grant, A.|
|Brooks, R.||Graves, S. R.|
|Browne, Lord J. T.||Gray, Lt.-Colonel|
|Bruce, C.||Greenall, G.|
|Bruen, H.||Greene, E.|
|Buckley, E.||Gregory, W. H.|
|Campbell, A. H.||Grey, hon. T. de|
|Capper, C.||Griffith, C. D.|
|Cartwright, Colonel||Grosvenor, Earl|
|Cave, rt. hon. S.||Gurney, rt. hon. R.|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.||Gwyn, H.|
|Chambers, T.||Hamilton, rt. hn. Lord C.|
|Chatterton, rt. hn. H. E.||Hamilton, Lord C. J.|
|Clive, Capt. hon. G. W.||Hamilton, I. T.|
|Cole, hon. H.||Hamilton, Viscount|
|Cole, hon. J. L.||Hardy, rt. hon. G.|
|Cooper, E. H.||Hardy, J.|
|Corrance, F. S.||Hartley, J.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Hartopp, E. B.|
|Courtenay, Lord||Harvey, R. B.|
|Cox, W. T.||Hay, Sir J. C. D.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Heathcote, hon. G. H.|
|Cubitt, G.||Heathcote, Sir W.|
|Curzon, Viscount||Henley, rt. hon. J. W.|
|Dalglish, R.||Henniker-Major, hon. J. M.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Dawson, R. P.||Herbert, hon. Col. P.|
|Dick, F.||Hervey, Lord A. H. C.|
|Dickson, Major A. G.||Hesketh, Sir T. G.|
|Dimsdale, R.||Heygate, Sir F. W.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Hildyard, T. B. T.|
|Du Cane, C.||Hogg, Lieut.-Col. J. M.|
|Duncombe, hon. Adm.||Holford, R. S.|
|Duncombe, hn. Colonel||Holmesdale, Viscount|
|Dunkellin, Lord||Hood, Sir A. A.|
|Dunne, General||Hope, A. J. B. B.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Dyke, W. H.||Horsfall, T. B.|
|Hotham, Lord||Paull, H.|
|Howes, E.||Peel, rt. hon. Gen.|
|Huddleston, J. W.||Percy, Mjr.-Gen. Ld. H.|
|Hunt, G. W.||Pim, J.|
|Jolliffe, hon. H. H.||Powell, F. S.|
|Jones, D.||Read, C. S.|
|Karslake, Sir J. B.||Rearden, D. J.|
|Kavanagh, A.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Kekewich, S. T.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Kendall, N.||Robertson, P. F.|
|Kennard, R. W.||Rolt, Sir J.|
|King, J. K.||Royston, Viscount|
|King, J. G.||Russell, Sir C.|
|Knightley, Sir R.||Sandford, G. M. W.|
|Lacon, Sir E.||Schreiber, C.|
|Laird, J.||Sclater-Booth, G.|
|Langton, W. G.||Scourfield, J. H.|
|Lanyon, C.||Selwin, H. J.|
|Lascelles, hon. E. W.||Selwyn, C. J.|
|Leader, N. P.||Severne, J. E.|
|Legh, Major C.||Seymour, G. H.|
|Lefroy, A.||Simonds, W. B.|
|Lennox, Lord G. G.||Smith, A.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Smith, S. G.|
|Leslie, C. P.||Smollett, P. B.|
|Lewis, H.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|Liddell, hon. H. G.||Stanley, Lord|
|Lindsay, hon. Col. C.||Stanley, hon. F.|
|Lindsay, Colonel R. L.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir W.|
|Long, R. P.||Stopford, S. G.|
|Lopes, Sir M.||Stronge, Sir J. M.|
|Lowther, Captain||Stuart, Lieut.-Col. W.|
|Lowther, J.||Sturt, H. G.|
|MacEvoy, E.||Sturt, Lt.-Col. N.|
|M'Kenna, J. N.||Surtees, C. F.|
|Mackie, J.||Surtees, H. E.|
|Mackinnon, Capt. L. B.||Sykes, C.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Thorold, Sir J. H.|
|M'Lagan, P.||Torrens, R.|
|Mainwaring, T.||Tottenham, Lt.-Col. C. G.|
|Malcolm, J. W.||Treeby, J. W.|
|Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.||Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-|
|Manners, Lord G. J.||Trollope, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Meller, Colonel||Turner, C.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Vance, J.|
|Mitford, W. T.||Vandeleur, Colonel|
|Montagu, rt. hn. Lord R.||Verner, E. W.|
|Montgomery, Sir G.||Walcott, Admiral|
|Mordaunt, Sir C.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Morgan, O.||Walrond, J. W.|
|Morris, G.||Walsh, A.|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Naas, Lord||Waterhouse, S.|
|Neeld, Sir J.||Welby, W. E.|
|Neville-Grenville, R.||Whitmore, H.|
|Newport, Viscount||Williams, F. M.|
|North, Colonel||Wise, H. C.|
|Northcote, rt. hn. Sir S. H.||Woodd, B. T.|
|O'Neill, E.||Wyld, J.|
|Packe, C. W.||Wyndham, hon. P.|
|Paget, R. H.||Wynn, C. W. W.|
|Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Palk, Sir L.||TELLERS.|
|Parker, Major W.||Taylor, Colonel T. E.|
|Parry, T.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he rose to propose the insertion of a proviso similar to that contained in the Reform Act of 1832, in reference to the city of Oxford and borough of Cambridge.
At the end of the Clause, to add the words "and nothing in this Act contained shall entitle any person to vote in the Election of Members to serve in Parliament for the City of Oxford or Town of Cambridge, in respect of the occupation of any chambers or premises in any of the Colleges or Halls of the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge."—(Mr. Cardwell.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
said, that if the Amendment were carried a very large number of the educated classes would be deprived of the suffrage. The Reform Act of 1832 was hardly a precedent, because it merely conferred the franchise on the occupiers of dwelling-houses of the clear annual value of £10, whereas the present Measure enfranchised every householder and a great number of lodgers. With regard to the town of Cambridge, it was certain that the Boundary Commissioners would add the suburbs of Chesterton and Barnwell to the Parliamentary borough, and in that event, if this proposal were adopted, all the better quarters of the town would be totally unrepresented. Perhaps he should be told that members of the University were represented by the members for the University who sat in that House; but if that argument was good, it would also debar members of the Universities from voting at a county election, or at the election for any city or borough in which they resided. A college tutor or bursar who happened to fix his residence in the town of Cambridge ought no more to be deprived of his vote for that borough than any other member of the University ought to be deprived of any vote he might have for the City of Westminster or some distant county. Under the Cambridge Award Act of 1850 the rates of every college were compounded for and were paid by the heads of colleges, instead of being collected from each occupier, and why was this more of a compromise than the Small Tenements Act? The Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was glad to say, had gladly abandoned the compounding Acts, and with what justice could that House abolish the compound-householder in all the boroughs in the kingdom except Oxford and Cambridge? He had always contended that if you proposed to enfranchise, you should admit all classes unreservedly and without distinction. No local vestry Act should be permitted for an instant to stand as a barrier 481 between any portion of our fellow-countrymen and their political rights. The right hon. Gentleman opposite would not, he thought, refuse, on reconsideration of the matter, to place the city of Oxford and the borough of Cambridge on precisely the same footing as every other borough. He trusted therefore that the right hon. Gentleman would not press his Amendment.
§ MR. CARDWELL
could not at all acknowledge the justice of the argument which the hon. Gentleman had addressed to the House. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge were represented by the members for those Universities; and the hon. Gentleman would find that, by the Reform Act, it was enacted that the men residing in academical buildings should not, by virtue of that residence, acquire votes for the city of Oxford or the town of Cambridge. It appeared, indeed, from the argument of the hon. Gentleman that the mode in which the rates were collected from the colleges would, according to the arangements of the present Bill, present another difficulty in the way of these gentlemen obtaining votes, because they would not pay their rates personally. This was not the objection upon which the Amendment was founded. By the Saving Clause of the Bill it was provided that in regard to all the franchises the same general regulation should apply in this Bill as applied in the Act of 1832, and the Amendment simply contained the identical words contained in the Reform Act.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, he felt it to be his duty to warn the House against the disfranchising proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. He denied that the persons who lived in Cambridge or Oxford were represented by the Members for those Universities; or, at all events, they were represented by the University Members, not as being residents in the town, but as being graduates of the Universities. For instance, if he resided in the extreme parts of Scotland or Cornwall, he should still have a vote for his University. If, however, as was actually the case, he resided, as a fellow of a college, within the borough of Cambridge, paying rent for his rooms, and contributing towards all the rates of the town, and if he were to be disfranchised, as far as the borough of Cambridge was concerned, he was placed in comparison with other voters in a very unfortunate position, because it would be impossible for him to get a borough vote. Because he happened to reside in the University, 482 and took a part in its education, he had been told by a prominent member of the Liberal party that he must not vote except for the University. It was no argument and no consolation to him to be informed that this arrangement was carried out by the Reform Act of 1832. To be candid, he thought that this proposal was favoured in certain quarters, because it was felt that the probable result of its omission from the Bill would be to give more votes to the Conservatives than to the Liberals. But if he thought the effect of this franchise would be to give votes to ten Conservatives for every vote given to a Liberal, he should still be just as much in favour of a college or lodging franchise. Having always been an advocate for the extreme extension of the suffrage, he could not understand why undergraduates above twenty-one, and complying with the conditions on which others had the franchise, should not possess it also. The object of the Bill was to enfranchise as many as possible, and it appeared to him that if the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman should be agreed to, the Committee would sanction a very unfortunate and singularly unjust disfranchisement. He hoped that the Government would not give way on the point; but, if they did, he should divide the House against the Amendment.
§ MR. SCHREIBER
said, that the right hon. Member for Oxford founded his Motion on the state of things which existed at the time of the Reform Bill of 1832. But things had greatly changed since that time. Then the colleges paid no rates, now they did; then they were extra-parochial, now they were not; then there were no lodgers, now they existed. Coming from a Gentleman who advocated the lodger franchise, this was one of the strangest proposals he had ever listened to, and he hoped that it would not be affirmed.
§ MR. NEATE
said, that the Members of the Universities were desirous of keeping the two franchises separate. It was, no doubt true that there were some changes; but he reminded the House that there was no individual rating in the colleges, and all that this Amendment proposed was that undergraduates should not acquire a vote by the mere occupation of college rooms. He should give his support to the Amendment.
said, the ground on which the right hon. Gentleman had moved 483 the Amendment was completely cut from under him. The fact of the college paying rates made a great alteration. Rather more than twenty years ago the question of, whether the University was in the city was much debated on the occasion of the erection of a new lunatic asylum, for the cost of which the colleges were assessed. They refused, on the ground that they were not in the city, and on being assessed to the county rate for the same object, they then contended that they were not in the county. Eventually they compromised the matter by paying a lump sum, without prejudice. Since then they had been rated to the poor rate in the city, and had paid it. He did not see why, if any party bore all the burdens incident to the payment of rates, they should not possess the same privilege of voting which other ratepayers possessed. The Amendment would disfranchise Nonconformists and Bachelors of Arts. He should vote against the Amendment.
§ SIR JOHN SIMEON
said, he thought the University and city ought to be kept as distinct as possible. Nor did he think that it would be an advantage to undergraduates studying at the college to have their minds distracted by being thrown into the vortex of political excitement while pursuing their studies. He should therefore support the Amendment.
§ SIR WILLIAM HEATHCOTE
said, he thought that there was not a word to be said in answer to the hon. Member for Brighton, as to the justice and policy of giving to members of the University a vote for the borough in which they resided, entirely irrespective of their University vote. At present the Universities rated themselves, and paid a quota to the city, and the occupiers of rooms individually were not rated. There was no analogy between the city and the University in their being local constituencies. The latter was only local so far as the place was concerned for taking the poll. But if persons living in colleges came under the category of lodgers, he did not see any reason why they should be excluded on the ground of their being members of the University. He was not disposed to act in such a manner as would necessitate the rating of the occupier of chambers in a college; but he did not wish to exclude any member of the University who could sustain a claim as a lodger.
§ MR. NEATE
said, that if the Committee rejected this Amendment very large deputations representing both the Universities, as well as the City of Oxford and town of Cambridge, would wait upon the Government in the course of next week. He protested against the decision at which the Committee seemed about to arrive, and would move that the Chairman do report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Neate.)
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he hoped his hon. Friend would not persevere with his Motion. [Mr. NEATE: I shall.] He was anxious to impress upon the Committee that they could not do a thing more contrary to sound principles in every point of view, more mischievous to the Universities, or more destructive of the good feeling which ought to prevail between each University and the town, than to adopt this proposition. The Bill of 1832 left the two corporations as it found them, perfectly distinct. The law gave the Universities special privileges for special purposes; and the towns, if their ancient franchises were interfered with, would naturally say, "If members of the Universities seek the rights of citizens, let them become citizens to all intents and purposes." He could not conceive anything more likely to throw the Universities into confusion than this proposal to make them parties to the town elections—anything more likely to revive animosities and conflicts, and even breaches of the peace, which of late years had so happily diminished. If the object were to destroy the harmony that ought to exist, let them accede to the Amendment; if it were to preserve the normal state of feeling that ought to exist, let them adhere to the settlement of 1832 on this point. He hoped the Committee would be favoured with the views of Her Majesty's Government, especially of those Members connected with University representation.
§ MR. SELWYN
said, he could see no good reason why members of the University should not have votes for the borough as lodgers—nor how the question of rating could possibly affect the new class of voters under the lodger franchise. He did not wish to alter the existing relations between the Universities and the towns, but on what 485 principle could the Committee grant a vote to one lodger in Cambridge, and refuse it to another, living in the same house, and paying an equal amount of rent, merely because he happened to be a member of the University, and the same lodger, if he removed to Portsmouth, would there have a vote, which was denied to him in Cambridge?
§ MR. CARDWELL
said he must express his disappointment at not hearing the sentiments of Her Majesty's Government. To prevent surprise, he took the opportunity of stating before they separated on Friday night that this subject would be considered when they came to the 40th clause, and he had also put down a notice upon the paper. It was easy to allege, as the hon. Member for Brighton had done, that the majority of those who would be kept out by the Amendment would be voters hostile in politics to himself and his hon. Friend; but he begged to declare that he had always received the greatest kindness from residents in the University as well as in the city, and therefore he protested against the supposition that he was actuated by any such narrow consideration. The policy of the State had always been to keep the Universities, representing learning, entirely distinct and separate from the towns, representing trade and professions, and therefore his hon. Friend and himself were bound to raise the question, and to take the opinion of the Committee upon the point.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, there was no intention on the part of the Government to alter the arrangement made by the Reform Bill of 1832 in this respect. For himself, he should feel precluded from raising the Question, having been a party to an understanding come to with the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that the Amendment was to be agreed to if the latter part of the clause were left out.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. CARDWELL
I feel myself placed in a position in which I ought not to be placed. I understood distinctly that this arrangement had the sanction of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I will not enter into what passed on Friday night upon this point; but I am perfectly ready to say that, having been informed that members of the University 486 to whom this question has been submitted were of opinion that they should accept the former part of the clause to which my right hon. Friend has referred, I said I should be happy to support the right hon. Gentleman if he withdrew the part to which they objected, and I certainly should support him.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he must protest against so important a question being made the subject of private arrangement between Ministers and ex-Ministers; it was a matter for the House.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 200; Noes 179: Majority 21.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 41 (Writs, &c., to be made conformable to this Act) agreed to.
§ Clause 42 (Construction of Act.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
proposed a technical Amendment for the purpose of making the provisions of the Registration Act extend to the clause.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, he thought the Amendment ought to have been submitted to the consideration of the Committee; he therefore moved that progress he reported.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he would not at that hour (twenty minutes to one) resist the Motion.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress, to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.