§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 3 (Occupation Franchise for Voters in Boroughs.)
§ * Amendment in p. 2, line 5, to leave out the words "two years," and insert the words "twelve calendar months."—(Mr. Ayrton.)
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 197; Noes 278: Majority 81.
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'twelve calendar months' be there inserted."—(Mr. Ayrton.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words 'twelve calendar months' be there inserted."
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I wish to make a statement regarding 16 this Bill, and especially regarding the 3rd clause, which may facilitate our arrival at a conclusion on some most important points. I believe I am strictly in order; but if I am not, perhaps the Committee will be so indulgent as to allow me to make my observations. First, as to the question of the hon. Member (Mr. W. E. Forster), with respect to the new clause of which I gave notice. I regret the clause is not already in the hands of hon. Members; but the hon. Gentleman knows the difficulties which arise in these matters. The clause has been prepared, but it was not in the form exactly I wished, so as to enable us to produce it. I expect that it will be in the hands of Members to-morrow morning. I will explain in a moment the exact character of the clause. I wish to refer to a subject which has given rise to a rather irregular conversation. I allude to the Amendment of which notice had been given by a Gentleman much respected (Mr. Hibbert). That hon. Member is perfectly accurate in the statement he has made to the House, that there was no communication between him and me. No communication, directly or indirectly, ever took place between us. When the hon. Member asked his Question, he told me that I need not answer it that day, but I said I should prefer to do so at once. I then assured the hon. Member that the subject should receive a candid consideration from the Government. Perhaps I may have added—I do not know that I did so, but, if I did, I only stated what I felt—that we should consider it in the hope of arriving at a satisfactory solution. I have fulfilled that promise. I brought the matter under the consideration of my Colleagues, and it received their very anxious consideration. I regret to say that it is not in our power to agree to the Amendment of the hon. Member in the form in which it stands. It is not in our power to relieve the compound-householder in the manner suggested. I have placed on the table Amendments, the object of which is to give facilities to compound-householders to claim and possess the franchise, which Amendments I think every one will admit are a substantial means of facilitating that object. Every occupier of a house will be entitled to have his name inserted on the rate book, in which will be inserted the names of the occupiers and the amount of the rate. Any compound-householder whose name is not on it may on application obtain a form, which, when it is filled up, 17 he may send through the Post Office, free of charge, to the proper official persons, and they are bound, on receipt of this claim, to insert the name of the claimant in the rate book, and to apprise him of the amount of the rate. As thus providing a means for the compound-householder to get on the rate book and obtain a vote, these facilities cannot be questioned. But what we propose further is that the compound-householder, having thus obtained the recognition of his claim and paid his rate, notice must be given to the owner. The occupier will be rated, and pay his full rates, and have the power of deducting from the rent the full amount of the rate paid by him. So far no fine can be levied on the occupier. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Not in the new clause.] It is in the amended clause. The right hon. Gentleman will see in a moment the reasons why these details should be known. All these details refer to the borough franchise. I think therefore, so far as the compound-householder is concerned, that it cannot be for a moment maintained that he pays a fine, because when he pays his full rate he is empowered to deduct it from the rent. There has been a great misapprehension upon the nature of the rent paid by compound-householders under the existing system. I have the advantage of not speaking without accurate information on the subject, and I shall be expressing the opinion of persons of the highest authority in what I am about to say on this point. The elements which enter into the relations between the compound-householder and his landlord may be thus described. There are three—first, the rent charged; second, the amount of the composition; and third, the bonus allowed to the landlord in consideration of the trouble and risk he incurs in making himself responsible to the parish. Generally speaking, it will be found—I do not say that it is a rule without an exception, but the general conclusion amounts to a rule which should influence legislation—that if you add the second and third items together, the amount of the composition and the bonus, you will arrive at the full amount of the rate. Therefore, I may fairly conclude that, as a general rule—so general that, as I say, it amounts to a conclusion which should regulate legislation — the compounder does pay the full rate now. It would be disingenuous in me not to acknowledge that this point, at an earlier period of the Session, was placed before 18 the House by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), and other hon. Members, with great powers of argument and illustration. I had entertained some doubts about it, but I am bound to say that subsequent researches and the more enlarged information we now possess justify the conclusion. Therefore, as I think it has been proved that the compound-householder pays the full amount of the rate, he has a right to deduct that amount from the rent he pays his landlord. It will be said that, though unquestionably the compound-householder no longer could be said to pay a fine, the landlord is fined, that the fine is only shifted from the tenant to the landlord. But we propose, the moment the compound-householder claims the right of exercising the franchise, and of paying the full rates and deducting the full rate from the amount of his rent, to exonerate the landlord from the guarantee which he has given. It is impossible, therefore, to say that the landlord will be fined. We thus make a proposal which will entirely divest the question of the invidious character which has been so much enlarged upon, and neither the tenant nor the landlord will thus incur the fine which has been mentioned. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. Hibbert), I can assure him again that it has been most carefully and anxiously considered. We cannot arrive at the conclusion that it is expedient, just, or politic, that we should create and establish among a considerable class of people invidious distinctions, which would produce heart-burnings among neighbours who, though living in the same town, leading the same life, and fulfilling the same duties, are not liable for the same amount of rates. It is of the utmost importance that the same amount of rates should be paid. The new clause I shall bring in, and place upon the table of the House to-night. The Amendment which I wish to make in Clause 34 will leave in it all the facilities which I originally proposed, as well as the new suggestions with regard to the compound-householder. With regard to the 14 & 15 Vict. c. 14, s. 3, we propose to repeal that clause, of course saving all existing rights, and of course extending to compounders under the old Act the same privileges which compounders are to enjoy under the Bill. The compounders under the old Act could not claim to be recouped from the landlord for the rates which they paid, and now they have the power of claiming to be paid the full amount. [Mr. 19 BRIGHT: Will the right hon. Gentleman explain what he means by "existing rights?"] I mean that as to every person whose name is on the register now, the rights that he enjoys under existing laws will not be interfered with. That is what I call existing rights. These are the Amendments which I wish to bring before the consideration of the Committee. The practical course I wish to suggest as the best is this—when we have concluded the 3rd clause, to move that all the other clauses should be postponed in order that we may take the 34th clause, which includes all these arrangements about the compound-householder. Then we shall work at one subject, and not deviate from the important question of the borough franchise until it is settled. In the meantime, I place in the hands of the clerk the Amendment which I propose. I think I have explained to the House the general view we take with regard to the conduct of the Bill. Of course, the adoption of it depends entirely upon the feelings of the House and upon the assent of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) and other Gentlemen who have taken a great interest in the matter.
There is one important point with respect to which I shall be glad if the right hon. Gentleman will let us know the intentions of the Government. I do not know whether I am to gather from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the position of the old compounder and that of the new compounder will, under the new law, according to the proposals of the Government, be exactly alike in all particulars. Is it so? I will state to the right hon. Gentleman the point I have in view. As I understand the clause of which he has given notice, and which is in the Votes of to-day, headed "Regulations as to rating, clause to follow Clause 35," the new compounder, upon claiming to be registered, ceases to be a compounder, and becomes a direct rate-paying-householder. I do not see any words in the clause which would have the effect of extending the provision to the old compounder. I shall be glad to know whether these provisions are to be extended to the old compounder, or whether the old compounder, liable to pay the full rate, is still to be allowed to continue a compound-householder?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
It is rather an abstruse point to enter into; but, as I am advised, it is not 20 necessary to interfere with the 1st and 2nd clauses of the Act.
; I wish to suggest that as there are two important Amendments to be dealt with to-night — I allude to the Amendments of which the hon. and learned Member (Sir Roundell Palmer) and the hon. Member (Mr. M'Cullagh Torrens) have given notice—it would be convenient to the House if the Chancellor of the Exchequer's new clause were printed and the whole of the matter placed in proper shape before the House goes into Committee again upon the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman is evidently making a little progress, and perhaps if we postpone the Bill for a day or two we shall come to some agreement upon the subject. I am anxious about this because the constituency which I represent — one of the largest in the country—is one of the most unfortunately treated by this Bill, and in all probability it will be so still even if the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman are carried. I want to suggest that we should not go into these points to-night, for, after all, they are the great points of the Bill, and the Committee should go into them thoroughly comprehending the changes the Government now propose, so that we might, if possible, come to some, it might be even unanimous, vote. I do not despair at all. It is quite clear that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is more disposed to take the House into his counsel than he was a few weeks ago, and it is clear, as his Friends perceive, that they might as well swim over the river as swim back again. One is at least as safe as the other if we are really coming to an agreement. I do not despair that we may get over this difficulty of the compound-householder altogether and treat him, as he is, as good as his neighbour. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Why should we have a man differently treated from his next door neighbour?" using the language of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) and others uttered in this debate. I have a sort of feeling that if hon. Gentlemen opposite would be a little more bold—the least in the world—after what they have done they need make but one more effort—I will undertake to say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, though I know nothing but what I have gathered from sitting opposite to him this Session, will be more pleased if you give him power to act freely—and he knows as well as I know what is right—than he will be by any effort you may make to 21 keep him from making this Bill a great Bill, memorable for this Session, and for all time a great advantage to the Country.
§ SIR RAINALD KNIGHTLEY
said, he objected to delay. If they gave the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer more time, he might be more inclined to advance towards the views of the hon. Member (Mr. Bright), and he had gone a great deal too far in that direction already.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he wished to ask a further question with regard to the deduction which the occupier was to make as against the landlord. Was that deduction to be limited to the payment any occupier had to make in the first instance to get on the register, or would he from year to year continue to be entitled to deduct as against his landlord, who was a compounder, all which he might afterwards pay?
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not answered his question as to whether the deduction which it was proposed to allow the occupier who claimed to be rated to make against his landlord was a deduction only of the payment he must make in the first instance, or whether the same principle would be applied every year as long as he was rated under that claim.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he moved the omission in line 5, page 2, of the word "inhabitant." There was another Amendment which stood on the paper in his name, to the effect that in a subsequent part of the clause the word "dwelling-house" should be omitted, in order to insert the words "house, warehouse, counting - house, or shop," thus making the qualification accord with that of the Reform Act of 1832. By that Act all borough occupiers of £10 or upwards were entitled to be placed on the register by virtue of an occupation of a house, warehouse, counting-house, or shop, and need not be tenants of the tenements they occupied. It was provided, however, that they must reside in or within seven miles of the borough in which the property was situate. His present object was to introduce a similar provision in this Bill. As by the present measure a departure was made from all pecuniary standards of value he did not propose to add the words "or other building," which were to be 22 found in the Act of 1832, as it would lead to the manufacture of faggot votes.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, he thought it would be very unwise at the present time to omit the word "inhabitant." because if that word were taken out there would be no clause of residence whatever in the Bill. The proposed alteration would bring about the evil the hon. and learned Gentleman deprecated, that of creating faggot votes. The words referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman were not used in the Reform Act, but in the Municipal Corporations Act. It had been decided that under those words attorneys' offices, stables, factories, mills, and a variety of other very large buildings used for the purposes of trade did not form a qualification for a vote. Therefore, if there was to be an extension beyond the inhabited houses the words ought to be enlarged, as was done in the Reform Act, by the addition of the words "or other building." If, however, that course were adopted the result would be that persons might, by getting up a set of stables and calling them warehouses, create thirty or forty voters in a borough. It would, in his opinion, open the door to all sorts of faggot votes, and therefore he thought it would be much better to allow the clause to remain as it at present stood. The effect of the clause as it stood would be to enable all persons who wished to obtain the right of voting to be properly placed upon the register, while it would exclude itinerant persons, such, for example, as the men who went about the country attending large markets. If the proposed extension were made, a person who lived forty or fifty miles from a borough might rent a standing in the corn market, call it a shop, and so qualify himself to be place on the register, as he would say that he had a residence, because he slept in an hotel in the town once a week or once a month. He hoped, therefore, the Committee would agree with him that the word "inhabitant" ought to be retained in the clause.
§ SIR ROBERT COLLIER
said, the object of the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend was to carry out the principle which had been affirmed by a large majority of the House in the late division—namely, that the voters below £10 should be placed substantially on the same footing in regard to residence as the voters above £10. If the Committee were satisfied with an occupation of one year, and a residence of six months in the case 23 of the £10 householder, why not also in the case of those under that line? It was saying to the latter, in fact, "We consider you. primâ facie, less respectable than the voters above that line." He protested against this division of the constituencies into two classes of superior and inferior, more and less respectable voters. The Earl of Derby had said that the object was to get rid of the migratory classes. His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Roebuck) had put it more tersely, and more clearly—to get rid of the vagabonds—but why draw the hard and fast line between £9 and £10? The object of the Amendment was to place those below the £10 in the some position as the £10.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that he did not clearly understand the object of the Amendment, but he could not accept the interpretation of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken. He disclaimed the interpretation which had been put upon the late division, and denied that the House meant to affirm all the propositions which had been attributed to the majority. The Committee had affirmed merely the question put before them, on its own merits. They would make more progress by dealing with the question on its own merits than by involving themselves in considerations foreign to the subject before them. Before deciding on the Amendment it was necessary to have some more clear idea on the subject than they had derived from the speeches that had been delivered. It meant that one enjoyed the suffrage because he was the inhabitant of a certain place. It meant nothing more. They might add an occupation suffrage, which was quite a different thing, as one occupied a house, shop, or warehouse, if he kept a portmanteau there and had command over the key. The suffrage they were dealing with was a household suffrage. He confessed that when he first saw the Bill he doubted whether this was sufficiently strongly expressed, but no doubt the hon. and learned Gentleman when he used the word "inhabitant" and "dwelling-house," thought that was made sufficiently clear. If so, it was not for him to be hypercritical. He wanted, however, to know what was the precise view of this Amendment, and until he did he could not consistently vote for it. He desired to have it presented to his mind in such a clear way as would enable him to see whether or not they were departing from the essential basis of household suffrage 24 that was necessary when they were not legislating on the basis of value. He was utterly opposed to all occupation suffrages beyond those allowed by the present law.
said, he understood that the Amendment proposed to give a vote to persons who were not inhabitants, but nevertheless were occupiers of warehouses, counting-houses, or shops. But if persons who were not inhabitants were to be enfranchised, what would be done respecting the expenses of conveying non-resident voters to the poll? In the borough which he represented (Newcastle-on-Tyne) there were 2,000 freemen who possessed votes when they lived within seven miles of the borough. He therefore knew the difficulties of conveying voters to the poll, and thought that until you made such expenses illegal at an election, the less you did in the direction of creating more out-voters the better.
said, he hoped his right hon. Friend who had just sat down would, when the proper time came, raise the important question to which he had referred, with respect to the conveyance of voters. This was one of the very sore and disagreeable chapters of our electoral system. He (Mr. Gladstone) desired to point out that they were at the present moment in danger of considering and deciding at once two Amendments that were totally distinct. The hon. Member (Mr. Goldney) had said he could not vote on the present Amendment without looking forward to the Amendment which was to follow. But why was it impossible to vote for any Amendment in Committee on a Bill without at the same time voting on an Amendment which was to follow? He should say if there was any impossibility in the case, the impossibility was to vote an the two at once, and not to vote on the first without voting on the second. He could understand any one saying that on a particular Amendment, because in doing so he might virtually be binding himself to vote for other Amendments that stood later, and of which he did not approve. If it were true that the questions raised by the present Amendment were the same as that raised by the subsequent Amendment the argument would be legitimate, and hon. Gentlemen would be justified in saying they refused to vote for the one because of that which was to follow. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Headlam), and the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Ayrton), had 25 referred to topics which he admitted to be of considerable importance and difficulty. Whether they were to have an occupation franchise other than a residential franchise for any persons living in houses below £10 he granted was a very important question, and one which would well deserve consideration when they came to the proposal of his hon. and learned Friend on that subject. He conceived it would be open to any one to argue that if an occupation franchise was to be allowed a limit of value must be fixed for the purpose of regulating it. His hon. and learned Friend (Sir Roundell Palmer's) Amendment might be considered either in a broader or a narrower view. He accepted it in both views. In the broad view it was that which had been stated by his hon. and learned Friend (Sir Robert Collier), when he said it was proposed to resist making distinctions between voters above and below £10. He (Mr. Gladstone) accepted the Amendment cordially in that sense. They intended at every stage of the Bill to take every opportunity of asserting the principle of equal treatment at the hands of Parliament towards those who were thought to be entitled to the suffrage. But that was the broader view. He did not ask hon. Gentlemen to accept the Amendment on that ground alone. He should vote for it on the principle that for the first time, and without any reason given, it fixed the period of residence to be the same as that of occupation. That was not the present law. The present law required an occupation of twelve months and a residence of six months. It had been said that if they struck out the word "inhabitant" they would have no provision for residence. He concurred in that, and was prepared to vote for words being inserted insisting on the term of residence being the same as was required by the present law. The House had reduced the term of occupation from two years, as proposed by the Government, to one year, the term required by the existing law. He thought he might say that the main and ruling consideration with many Members of the House in the vote they would give was an indisposition to create two rules, one for voters below £10, and another for those above that sum. The House would remember the sympathy elicited by the observation of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Ayrton), in moving the Amendment reducing the term of occupation to twelve months, when he said 26 if they created that distinction of a term of occupation of two years for voters below £10 and one year for those above £10, they would be re-introducing that hard and fast line they were so desirous of getting rid of. Well, here was the hard and fast line again. The House had settled it as to occupation, why not do so in the same way as to residence? They desired to get rid of these distinctions, on the best of all grounds—namely, that needless and invidious as they were, if left in the Bill they would have the effect of creating perpetual uneasiness and restlessness until they were by further alteration disposed of. Therefore he was anxious that they should not be understood as in any manner committing themselves to any question relating to shops, buildings, or warehouses, with respect to the qualifying tenement. He maintained that no case had been shown for not fixing the same term for residence and occupation. On that question he should give his vote. He could not help hoping that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Ayrton) would not add to it a comparatively narrow though important point.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he could not vote for an Amendment which proposed, as he conceived the present Amendment did, to undermine the security of residence. He entertained a strong feeling on the question of residence, and remembered when in America travelling round several States with a bevy of Irish platelayers, who voted during the election for President in State after State. He was sure that they could introduce no more dangerous element in this country than to create any uncertainty as to the residence of the voter, because the House had already abandoned every other test except the payment of rates. They desired to give the vote to the citizen who had a local interest, and it was necessary the voters should be resident in order that the opinions of their neighbours might act upon them. He should vote against the Amendment.
§ MR. CLAY
said, that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) and the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Robert Collier) had laid great stress on the propriety of doing away with any difference between the voters to be enfranchised under the Bill and those that already existed. He concurred in the desire of getting rid of every possible difference; but he could not think that every other consideration was to be overridden in pursuit of an equality 27 which never could by any possibility exist. One difference must always remain — namely, the old voters would hold their privilege by one title and the new ones by another. The Reform Act laid it down that a £10 house was a good test of respectability and fitness for a vote. They were now about to establish a newer and better title—namely, that a man should be a householder and pay poor rates. Household suffrage was what they wished to arrive at, and they would arrive at it. In his view household suffrage presumed an inhabitant. A man was to have a vote because he had a house, because he had the responsibilities of a householder, and was in most cases the head of a family. For these reasons he should oppose the Amendment.
§ MR. SERJEANT GASELEE
said, he could not understand what was meant by striking out the word "inhabitant," or what difference it could make, because a man could occupy a house only by being an inhabitant. ["No, no!"] That was the law. To occupy a house a man must have an opportunity of living and sleeping in it. He had always been an advocate for household suffrage, and he was content to take household suffrage to imply an "inhabitant." He would therefore vote against the Amendment.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, he had listened with no little astonishment to the assertion of the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down, when he said that occupation and residence were the same thing. The word "inhabitant," as the clause stood, was overridden by the words "twelve months." All "inhabitant" meant the same thing as a "resident." He objected to making the borough franchise dependent, as far as regarded small houses, on a twelve months' residence, when for £10 houses a residence of six months was sufficient. It was unwise to introduce unnecessary distinctions. The present distinction was arbitrary, unwise, and unnecessary, and would lead to future agitation on the subject. He had given notice of an Amendment to strike out Clause 33, repealing so much of the 6 Vict. c. 18, as related to the residence of voters at the time of giving their votes. He objected to the striking out of that requirement, for it would throw upon the candidate a great deal of unnecessary expense in bringing up the most unsatisfactory of all voters, those who had ceased to reside in the borough. He would 28 support any proposal requiring of the new voters the same six months' residence as that required by the Reform Act.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, there had been a misunderstanding of what he had stated the other day. He then said he was in favour of six months' residence rather than a residence of twelve months, and for the reasons stated by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone.) The Committee adopted the twelve months, and they were now in a difficulty. But this was no ground for altering the character of a household suffrage, giving the franchise to inhabitant, as distinguished from the nominal occupier.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, it was not his wish to trouble the House with a division. He could not think of pressing his Amendment against the general sense of the House, especially against the opinions of so many hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side. If the noble Lord (Earl Grosvenor) had not anticipated him he should have proposed twelve months' occupation and six months' residence, adopting the provisions of the Municipal Corporation Act—namely, a residence of six months within the borough or living within seven miles of it, which appeared to him to fulfil all the substantial idea of a householder. He thought it was hardly expedient to make the distinction established by the Government Bill between two classes of voters.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. M'CULLAGH TORRENS
said, he rose to propose the introduction of words, which were intended to raise the question whether separate occupation for twelve months of a portion of a house of a certain value should confer the franchise. He did not think that any one could say that this was introducing a new principle. He hoped to be able to satisfy the House that the question had received the sanction implied by its having been embodied in previous efforts at legislation by different Governments, and to a certain extent by the principle having been recognised in Courts of Law. Finally, he thought he could show that there was already done partially that which he now proposed to sanction as a general proceeding. He claimed the support of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because in the Reform Bill which he had introduced in 1859 there was a clause providing that every occupier of a 29 portion of a house, whether furnished or unfurnished, of the value of £20 a year should have the franchise. He (Mr. Torrens) ventured to think himself justified in now proposing a franchise for lodgings which would let unfurnished for the sum of £10 yearly. He did not ask the House to go lower in amount than the Chancellor of the Exchequer went when he proposed a £20 furnished franchise, as, on an average, furnished lodgings were worth about twice as much as lodgings not furnished. He also claimed the support of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire who in his Bill of last year adopted a lodger franchise, and, discarding the element of furniture, proposed to give the franchise to every separate occupier of a portion of a dwelling-house who paid £10 a year. Were these innovations on the spirit of the Act of 1832, or were they only intended consistently to enlarge its operations? He held in his hand a dictum of one of the most eminent Judges of common law, Sir William Erle. In a well-considered judgment, he said—The borough franchise is not dependent, as some have supposed, upon the occupation. The qualification is not the occupation, but the thing occupied. A man has a right to claim to be a borough voter though he has not the whole of a house, though he has not the key of the outer door, though he has not the separate right of entry into the house, and though rights of entry had been reserved by the landlord.He (Mr. Torrens) might be asked whether he proposed the lodger franchise as an extension of household suffrage, or as a distinct proposal to carry into effect the generous principle of an extension of the suffrage? He was not going to lay down any nice distinction. He asked the House to look at the necessities of the case. This Bill was a Bill for England. But if they left out one-seventh of the whole population of the country, which dwelt in London, and overlooked the condition of other large towns, such as Bath, Liverpool, and Brighton, where great numbers of the population lived all their lives in separate portions of houses, the Bill ought to be entitled one to amend the representation of the provinces, not of the kingdom at large. He asked Parliament, then, to adopt the principle of the lodger franchise and thus meet the exigency of circumstances. In the two cities of the metropolis and the five metropolitan boroughs by which they were surrounded there was a population of 2,657,000. On an average 30 every house contained two families. The inhabitants of London could not be all householders, because there were not houses sufficient for their separate occupation. He asked the House to meet this case, and to extend the franchise to a loyal, intelligent, and independent class of the community. Some of the best educated, well-to-do, orderly, industrious persons in the community were in London and other great towns habitual lodgers. In London there were now 233,000 male occupiers qualified to claim the franchise. Of these only 154,245 were on the register, or, deducting for duplicate entries and deaths, a considerably smaller number. In other words, only three-fifths of those qualified to claim the franchise were on the register. The Bill, as it then stood, would only further render eligible in the metropolis 27,000 persons, and if they applied the rule of the two-fifths to them, and deducted that proportion, it would be seen that only 16,800 persons would be rendered eligible by this Bill. But in reality that number would be further reduced; and if the Bill passed in its present form, the addition to the franchise would not be greater than 13,000. This would not be a realization of the generous policy which the Government had professed in bringing in the measure. Then the Bill would operate most unequally, and in some places in an inverse ratio to wealth and intelligence. The City of London was perhaps the richest city in the world, and it might be expected that of the number of electors to be added under the Bill there would be a considerable addition to the City of London. But would the Committee believe that the addition for the City would be only 133? In Marylebone the total additional number eligible would be 550. In Westminster, 1,100. In Finsbury, 1,700. In the Tower Hamlets, the poorest part of the metropolis, there would be an addition of 15,000. If, then, the House wished to redress a great inequality in the measure as it stood, let it do so by the adoption of the lodger franchise. He was not himself prepared to state, and did not believe that any one could state, the exact number of lodgers who would be enfranchised in the metropolitan constituencies by the Amendment he proposed. Whatever the numbers, however—whether 20,000 or 30,000—he would ask the Committee to look this uncertainty in the face, and do what they considered right and equitable notwithstanding. He would go at once to the "principle" of the case. 31 Many hon. Members had said to him—"We do not object to the principle of the lodger franchise; but how is the admission to take place? How will you prove identity? How will you guard against fraud?" His answer to this was very simple. He denied that it was the duty of those who advocated lodger enfranchisement to provide against what was called fraud, when a large and respectable class of the community were to be benefited. It was not the duty of the House to provide remedies against what might never occur. Lodgers were as little likely to come forward and perjure themselves for the sake of the franchise as hon. Gentlemen around him. It was not the duty of that House to treat any class, otherwise worthy of the franchise, as if required to be watched and baffled, and upon the presumption that they would practise fraud to obtain the franchise. Difficulties regarding the nature of proof could be dealt with in the registration court. When a householder under the Act of 1832 found his name omitted from the list of voters he had to send in a claim, and substantiate his right before the revising barrister. Every one who had attended the registration courts was aware that the claimant or one of his family generally attended and proved the qualification. And the same course might be adopted with regard to the lodger franchise. The lodger might be required to produce his receipts for rent. Lodgers of the humbler class usually kept a book in which these payments were acknowledged by the landlord. If it were not convenient for the lodger himself to come before the revising barrister, he saw no reason why this book should not be produced by his son, brother, or neighbour; and the production of that book ought to be sufficient evidence that the man had paid his rent for the twelve months preceding. He would not incumber the details of the Bill with any special provisions with regard to what ought to be sufficient evidence and proof in the case of the lodger claiming to be put upon the register. He thought it would be better to leave that to be settled first by the revising barrister, and then upon appeal by the Court of Common Pleas. If the Committee assented to the Amendment which he had now the honour to propose, he should be prepared to move the addition of words at the end of the clause, providing that the occupation of premises worth £10 a year should qualify a man living in unfurnished 32 lodgings to be placed on the register. He knew not what course the Government intended to take in regard to his proposal. If it were said that his Amendment ought not to be introduced into the portion of the Bill where he proposed to introduce it, he would answer that that clause was the gist of the Bill, and upon that clause, as a whole, the fate of the measure would certainly turn. They had no means, by the clause as it now stood, of enfranchising the honest and intelligent working men of London, and surely London had a fair right to be considered in limine in their legislation on that great subject. The Members for the metropolis thought they ought to obtain an assurance, before proceeding further with the details of the measure, that London would not be wholly excluded from its benefits. It could not be expected that the metropolis would be content to be shut out from the advantages which the measure was intended to confer on the rest of the country. That question was a vital one with the metropolis, and he therefore begged to move the first of the Amendments which stood in his name.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "In line 6 after 'or' to insert 'has during the whole of the preceding twelve months been a lodger in.'" — (Mr. M'Cullagh Torrens.)
§ MR. HARVEY LEWIS
said, that without a lodger franchise the Bill could not be made satisfactory to the metropolis. The population of London comprised an enormous number of lodgers, not consisting of working men alone, but of persons of every class and social condition, including men of education and wealth. Among them were a vast body of respectable men, employed as commercial men and as clerks in Government and in public and private establishments. These persons paid considerable sums for the hire of apartments, and they were every way fitted to exercise the constitutional privilege of the franchise. In the borough which he represented (Marylebone) the houses were generally let at high rents, and parts of them were occupied by lodgers in a position of life which entitled them to the favourable consideration of the Government and the House. He could not believe it was the deliberate intention of the Government to refuse to do justice to the metropolis, which ought to have the same advantage extended to it as would have been conferred 33 by the Bill of the late Ministry. He was certain that if such a lodger franchise was conceded, it would, as far as the metropolis was concerned, be received with great satisfaction and gratitude, and would introduce a class of voters into the constituency second to none which that Bill would enfranchise.
§ MR. LOCKE
said, he wished to second the appeal made by the hon. Member (Mr. Torrens) to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he should carry out the principle which he avowed on that subject in 1859. The question of the lodger franchise became every day more important. In the borough of Southwark there were numbers of most intelligent and respectable working men, many of them earning from £3 to £5 and even much higher wages per week; and these persons lived in lodgings. It would be extremely inconvenient for them to rent houses, nor did they wish to do so, though the rent would not be more. Were they on that account alone to be denied the elective franchise? The introduction of a lodger franchise into the Bill was a subject in which his constituents took a very deep interest, inasmuch as if that were not done very little would be effected for the metropolis, in which there were but very few houses under the value of £10. There were no greater difficulties in the way of identifying a lodger than now existed in the case of the £10 occupier. Having lived in a particular house for the period of twelve months he would be known in the same way to his neighbours and companions, and might have the justice of his claim to the franchise ascertained through the medium of the evidence which would be required by the revising barrister to prove the different facts constituting the qualification, without the necessity of having any rule laid down by Parliament for the purpose, in the same way as the qualification of a £10 occupier is now proved before the revising barrister. His identification would be as easy as the identification of the £10 occupier, and would offer no greater facilities for the concoction of fraudulent claims. The proposed limit of rent was almost equivalent to the £20 limit contained in the Bill of 1859, which applied both to furnished and unfurnished lodgings, whereas the present limit had respect only to unfurnished apartments. He agreed with his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Torrens) in thinking that the establishment of the claimant's right to be placed on the register might be safely left 34 to the revising barrister and the Court of Common Pleas.
§ MR. SMOLLETT
said, he was not one of those Members who had been converted by the Reform League into an advocate of household suffrage pure and simple. Indeed, he disliked the Bill before the House very much—fully as much, he believed, as it appeared to be disliked by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone); nor had he any hope that it could be so amended in Committee as to be made a satisfactory measure. He thought it his duty to offer a few remarks on the proposal now under discussion to graft upon household suffrage a lodger franchise. The first time it was proposed to confer such a franchise was in the Bill of Lord Derby in 1859, and that proposal had never been discussed, for the Bill never went to a second reading. In the measure of last year again it was proposed that every adult male occupying lodgings for twelve months of the annual value of £10 should be entitled to a vote, and that proposal was as he understood, identical with that which had just been submitted to the notice of the Committee by the hon. Member (Mr. Torrens), who contended that unless it were acceded to, the Bill would, so far as the metropolis was concerned, be a perfect nullity. The right hon. Member (Mr. Gladstone) last year treated the matter of lodgers as a mere trifle, and said that the proposal would enfranchise very few people indeed, that he did not offer it as a franchise to the working class or artizans; but that it was a franchise that might be taken advantage of by some respectable middleclass people. In all the other proposals the right hon. Gentleman calculated the number to be enfranchised by thousands and tens of thousands; but with respect to lodgers he did not compute the number, because it would be so infinitesimally small. He (Mr. Smollett) believed that statement to be perfectly correct. It seemed to be assumed that the people of the metropolis were claiming the franchise as an inestimable jewel which would elevate them and ennoble them. The very reverse was the fact. It had been stated that there were tens of thousands of men qualified to be registered in Shoreditch, Poplar, and the Tower Hamlets; but that they would not take the trouble of claiming to be rated. Why? Because they did not value the franchise a straw. There were now 32,000 voters in the Tower Hamlets, and if the £10 compound-householders would not take 35 the trouble of claiming to be put on the register, how could the lodgers be expected to do so? An attempt had been made to account for the tens of thousands of qualified householders in the Tower Hamlets not claiming by stating that they were well satisfied with their present Members, and did not think it worth while to be on the register. Another reason stated was, that there were no contests in the Tower Hamlets. The reason assigned by The Telegraph, Star, and the other organs of the League, was mere twaddle. The same disinclination to be placed on the register was manifested in many large towns. A remarkable instance of this was to be found in Scotland. He held in his hand a pamphlet on the Extension of the Franchise—an address by a sincere Reformer, Mr. J. Moncreiff, M.P. for the city of Edinburgh, the late Lord Advocate. In addressing his constituents on the 10th December, 1866, the right hon. and learned Gentleman stated some curious facts in connection with the supposed desire of the working classes to possess the franchise. He stated from the year 1832 up to 1856 it was necessary for every £10 householder in Scotland to appear before the revising barrister and claim the franchise, and that he had also to pay a small fee to the barrister's clerk. These fees were for the most part paid by the electioneering agent, as he (Mr. Smollett) knew to his cost. But what was the effect of Lord Grey's Reform Bill of 1832? The fact of the necessity of appearing before the revising barrister was to disfranchise or keep off the books one-third of the whole constituency. Scotchmen were supposed to be keen politicians. There had been many contests in the city of Edinburgh; but according to the statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, one-third of the £10 occupiers were kept off because they would not take the trouble of claiming the franchise. In the year 1856 the late Lord Advocate brought in a Bill called the Borough Registration Bill. Its effect was to place on the roll all qualified voters without the necessity of their appearing before the sheriff who acted as revising barrister, or paying the fee. Under that Bill between 2,000 and 3,000 persons—or a third of the constituency—were added to the list of electors for Edinburgh, and most of them belonged to what people called the working classes. In Edinburgh, as in other towns, there had been a great disinclination to claim the franchise, because 36 it was of no value to them, and they would not take the trouble of obtaining the franchise. He did not believe that the lodgers in London would take the trouble to fight any battle in order to be put on the roll of electors. It would appear that the householders did not care very much, and he believed the lodgers in London as in Scotland, who were mostly clerks and persons in Government and legal or commercial offices, would not care a straw about the franchise. In point of fact, there was no difficulty now for lodgers in borough towns in Scotland to put themselves on the register, because the sheriffs and the Law Courts in that country had held that the occupation of a single unfurnished room, the rent of which was £10 per annum, entitled the occupant to a vote. When he was in Glasgow in the Easter recess he made some inquiries with reference to the effect on the electoral rolls of registering lodgers, and the sheriff told him that it worked remarkably well, and had added something like 300 voters to the constituency. That number had been added in the course of years in a city of 400,000 inhabitants, where there must be thousands of lodgers, men who it was plain would not take the trouble of claiming, simply because in order to do so they would have to go before the revising barrister. It was therefore plain that in Glasgow they did not consider a vote worth a rush. Was it, then, worth while talking all this rubbish about the lodger franchise as a means of enfranchising thousands of artisans in the metropolis? He believed that if the vote were given to lodgers it would not add more than a few thousand voters to the whole borough constituency of England.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, he thought that the statements of the hon. Member who had just sat down were founded in fiction rather than in fact. The circumstance that there was a lodger franchise in Scotland and not in England was owing not to any special enactment but to the different view taken by the Courts of Law in the two countries. In Scotland, it was held that any separate room was a dwelling-house within the meaning of the Reform Act. In England it was held that no place should be regarded as a dwelling-house of which the occupier had not the key of the outside door. The Scotch Courts had held that a man occupying a portion of a house of the value of £10, in an unfurnished state, came within the Act. For example, if a house worth £50 contained 37 ten rooms, a man occupying two of those rooms was a £10 householder. But the law required a continued occupancy of twelve months. In Edinburgh, there were many young men living in lodgings, holding appointments which admitted of a month or six weeks' holidays yearly, and, with a view to economy, during their absence these young men gave up their apartments, and then came the difficulty in proving a continued twelve months' residence. That was one reason, if not the chief, why so few lodgers—probably not more than one in ten—found their way on to the roll. In Edinburgh, with a population of 168,000, there were 10,500 electors. The hon. Gentleman wished the House to believe that the majority of these were placed on the roll by a particular Act.
§ MR. SMOLLETT
said, he made the assertion, not upon his own authority, but on that of the late Lord Advocate.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, that the late Lord Advocate must have been misunderstood, and he should never think otherwise till the passage from his speech was read.
§ MR. SMOLLETT
said, he would read a passage from Mr. Moncreiff's address to the electors of Edinburgh—We (the late Government) passed, in 1856, a Bill for the purpose of enabling voters to get upon the roll without putting in a claim before the sheriff, and paying the sheriff-clerk 2s. 6d. of a fee, and that was the whole of the organic change which I effected. But the result was, I believe, to add one-third to the numbers of the effective voters in this country, and most of them belonged to the class which people are pleased to call the working class. I believe a great number of those who are upon the roll in this town found themselves upon the roll by the magic of that Burgh Registration Bill.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, he believed it would be found on reading further that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken of himself as belonging to the working class. The Return he had moved for last Session showed that in Edinburgh, with a population of only 168,000, there were 8,250 houses paying house duty at the rent of £20 or upwards, a number proportionally larger than was to be found in any other great city except London. It would be difficult to convince him that any large proportion of the persons living in such houses belonged to the working classes. If the numbers of voters to be admitted to the franchise as lodgers would be comparatively small, that was an excellent reason why the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have no difficulty in acceding to the proposal. He believed there 38 was no class more intelligent than the young men employed in offices and commercial establishments, or better qualified to exercise the right of voting, and the only regret he had heard expressed was that the break in the continuity of their occupancy prevented large numbers of them from getting on the roll.
I am glad to observe that we have nearly reached a point in the discussion at which we may have the satisfaction of hearing the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer say on the part of the Government that he is disposed to accept the moderate and judicious proposal of the hon. Member (Mr. Torrens). The hon. Member (Mr. Smollett) referred to a declaration of mine last year, with respect to which I will offer an observation. He is right in stating that at the time I proposed a lodger franchise I did not venture to estimate in figures the number of persons which the franchise would add to the constituency. Moreover, I did express an opinion that it would probably bring in a larger number of persons connected with the middle class than of the lower class. But I never spoke of the lodgers' principle as any but a matter of grave and serious importance. I consider the proposal of the hon. Member better than that which we proposed last year. The great flaw in our proposal was that we did not see our way to letting in the lodger by a single claim, and by a single registration come into permanent possession of the franchise—I mean permanent, like the householder, so long as he continues in occupation. Our proposal last year contemplated an annual claim. That was the great difficulty. The hon. Member gets rid of that difficulty, and it makes a very important difference with regard to the number of lodgers of the working class likely to come on the register. Although I do not think they are likely to come in overwhelming numbers, and although I think this is of grave importance to the middle class, yet I confess when I brought in the Bill of last year I was not in possession of the same amount of information with regard to the feeling of the working classes that I am now. I was not aware of the relative importance of the lodger franchise, nor of the immense anxiety of the working men in London to obtain it. There appear to be circumstances connected with the social condition of London which are not obvious at first sight to the casual observer, but which, when the matter is 39 inquired into, become perfectly intelligible. I was rather startled when the assertion was made to me by persons connected with the working classes, that—not as an absolute but—as a general rule the most highly educated and skilled and efficient of the working classes in London are lodgers. There has been in this House at times a disposition to draw a distinction between the class of householders and the class of lodgers, to the disadvantage of the latter. The opinion prevails among the class of working men that if a distinction is to be drawn at all, it should assert that the lodger, rather than the householder, represents the intelligent and highly-educated workman. When we consider the circumstance of the metropolis that is very capable of explanation. In London the choice that offers itself to the working man is not between being a lodger and a householder simply, but between being a lodger and a lodging-housekeeper. The number of the kind of houses that a working man can afford to occupy is extremely small. Most of them must take houses at a rent which they cannot afford to pay alone, and must lighten the burden by letting a portion of their houses to lodgers. The matter of taking in lodgers is not an accident, but rather in the nature of a trade or business. It is intelligible, therefore, that many of the best workmen are slow to incumber themselves, even if they have the means, with the responsibilities and risks attaching to the trade or business of keeping lodgings. Permanence of residence also was not in this case a test of respectability, as it is absolutely necessary for the working man to be able to follow his work to whatever part of the metropolis it may call him. The principle of the Amendment has received, partly tacitly and partly by expression, almost universal assent. I am quite sure that the Government themselves must perceive that if their Bill were in other respects the best Bill possible, it would yet be most desirable to supply enlargements and developments in those particulars which are necessary to make it applicable to the metropolis. Nothing could be more preposterous in a Bill having reference to the condition of the working classes in this country and to their enfranchisement, than so to adjust the provisions of the Bill that they shall practically be almost null in their application to the metropolis. In the first place, it contains in itself almost one-third of the entire town constituencies of the country. 40 So far as regards the working classes, it may be said to contain a large portion of the very flower of the working men. The London working men are not so much the growth of the metropolis alone as a select body of individuals who have found themselves in different parts of the country, capable of getting forward in their occupation, and therefore have come up to London as to the best market for their labour, and offering them the greatest opportunities of advancement. My hon. Friend has exercised a sound judgment in proposing to introduce this subject of the lodger franchise into the 3rd clause of the Bill. The lodger franchise is for London—perhaps, in some degree for other towns also; at any rate in future times, but it is already for London a vital, perhaps a most vital, part of the occupation franchise. Therefore it is that I think he was most reasonable in seeking to obtain a decision of the House at this stage upon the lodger franchise. If Her Majesty's Government were in a position to say that they did not object to the substance of the proposal of my hon. Friend, who desires to assert the principle of the lodger franchise, and to establish a money standard of £10 value, if they were in a condition to express their approval of that principle and of that basis for the lodger franchise, it may be that my hon. Friend might be willing to take counsel with them with regard to the form in which it should be introduced into the Bill. It is a vital portion of the question of the occupation franchise. We should not be fully discharging our duty—that most critical and important part of our duty, which has reference to the metropolis—were we not to endeavour to obtain, either by a vote of the Committee, or without a vote of the Committee, by the willing concurrence of Her Majesty's Government, a clear declaration of their intentions with regard to the lodger franchise. I do not think my hon. Friend ought to concur in any proposal for raising the standard of £10 which he has laid down. He has proposed that amount in a spirit of conciliation with a desire to avoid raising unnecessary difficulties. It must be remembered that this £10 is not to be paid on rating. It is £10 of clear yearly value, free of all tenant's rates and taxes, which must be taken into view, in order to make up the sum that a man must be prepared to pay in order to qualify for the lodger franchise. When one takes into view the profit to the 41 lodging-house keeper, the addition to be made on account of rates and taxes, and the value of furniture, I apprehend that few men would possess the lodger franchise whose furnished rooms did not cost them something like from £16 to £18 a year. If that is so I think it is plain that the £10 value is quite as high as my hon. Friend ought to make himself responsible for proposing, or as would be calculated to give satisfaction to the just claims of this class. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be disposed to welcome, and even to hail the proposal of my hon. Friend as having been conceived in a spirit of earnest anxiety to narrow any possibly remaining differences of opinion upon the subject, and I am somewhat sanguine in the expectation that he will be able to assure us of his concurrence in the principle. If that agreement be clearly expressed I feel confident that there will be no unwilling disposition on the part of the hon. Gentleman, or on the part of this side of the House generally, to meet the right hon. Gentleman in the consideration of this question.
§ MR. BRADY
said, he looked upon the proposal as thoroughly Conservative. It would not alter the political character of the representatives returned for the larger towns and the metropolitan boroughs. They would still return advanced Liberal Members. But a change would necessarily take place in the smaller constituencies. In such small boroughs as Cambridge and Oxford a large middle-class Conservative clement would be added to the register by the lodger franchise. He could, therefore, understand that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not object for a moment to the proposal. If the House came to a division, which he hoped it would not do, he should support the Motion.
§ SIR MORTON PETO
said, he could bear testimony to the necessity for the lodger franchise. He wished to call the attention of the Government to an important fact. There had been a great increase in the value of land in London and all large towns during the last few years. That increase had necessitated an alteration in the character of the buildings, in London particularly. Houses were now constructed in flats or lodgings. It must be the anxious desire of the Government to embrace in this Bill every opportunity of giving the franchise to a really respectable class of the inhabitants of large cities. There was 42 another point in which an amendment of the law might be made with regard to the date at which rates were paid. In his connection with the North of London he had found that numbers of the more respectable portions of the inhabitants of the large boroughs were disqualified from the fact of their not having been called upon by the tax collector. In the district of Gray's Inn, out of 156 houses in one street not more than one had a vote from this cause. In Holborn, from the Inns of Court Hotel, to St. Andrew's Church, he found that there were only eleven possessing votes. On making inquiries of the tax collectors as to the cause of this he found that they did not trouble themselves to call on those persons who were sure to pay their rates. All the poorer classes in the smaller streets were universally enfranchised from the fact that the tax collector took especial care to collect the rates, while those that he was sure of he refrained from applying for until the last moment. It was unnecessary to put any Amendment on the Paper. He left the matter to be dealt with by the Government.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
said, the metropolitan constituencies were seriously concerned in this question. The metropolis was an exceptional portion of the country, containing half as many people as the whole of Ireland, and as many people as the whole of Scotland. Houses in London necessarily became difficult to get, and dear. An immense number of people were obliged to go into lodgings, including first-class artizans, clerks, and even professional men. These were the men who would make exceedingly good electors. A large proportion of them were Conservatives, so that Her Majesty's Government need have no fear in admitting them to the franchise. Sometimes as many as twenty of these lodged in one house, and they would make better electors, and had far more knowledge and intelligence, than the real occupier of the house — the lodging-house keeper. It was said the lodger class were so indifferent to the franchise that they would not give themselves the trouble of making a claim in order to acquire it. But let the House give them the opportunity of being placed on the roll. If they did not choose to possess themselves of it that was their own concern. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would fairly look at this subject, because he felt convinced if he did so, whatever might be its difficulties, he would know how to overcome them.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I have been somewhat surprised by the variety of inconsistent arguments which have been brought forward on this subject. An hon. Member (Sir Morton Peto) enlarged on the hardship of persons, very respectable no doubt, who live in flats, not being enfranchised and having the privilege of voting. I am under a misapprehension if, under the present law, every person who occupies a flat, with a separate outer door, has not a vote. My hon. Friend (Mr. Smollett) has addressed us in a speech characterized by that rich humour which is hereditary. He descended into the region of facts. But he has a right also to range in the region of fiction, and what he addresses to us appears always tinged by that rich and fertile humour peculiar to his ancestry. I can understand the argument and illustration of my hon. Friend. It may be this:—That the Government have brought forward a revolutionary measure—revolutionary from the large enfranchisement of the people proposed. But, in his opinion, it will not increase the constituencies. Under these circumstances, I think we shall not, whatever may be our decision, apprehend any great difficulty from my hon. Friend, who indeed, on all occasions, though he speaks sometimes against us, gives us in the moment of exigency a devoted and generous support. I cannot, however, exactly understand the argument offered by the worthy Alderman (Mr. Alderman Lusk). He tells us that the great argument in favour of the lodger franchise is the want of houses in London, and the impossibility of qualifying in consequence of the scarcity of habitations. But in one distinguished by his knowledge of political economy, and in an assembly well acquainted with the principles of that science, I should have thought that the relation of demand and supply would have disposed of that argument. I cannot believe if there was such a demand for houses as he describes they would not be forthcoming. I should imagine there must be some deeper cause for claimants for the franchise arising among a class of people who do not choose to live in houses, but at the same time possess those claims which give weight to their appeal to the House for enfranchisement. I have long been of opinion, and those who act with me have been of the opinion, that the claim of lodgers to the franchise is a sound claim founded on reason. That it is a good claim, from a class of society who have developed 44 themselves from the progress of civilization around us. But the franchise is at present mainly confined to those occupying buildings for residence or business. Therefore the class of lodgers, if we followed the general rules that regulate us in deciding who should exercise the franchise, would be deprived of a privilege which they might legitimately possess, and use to the advantage of their country. Therefore I have no prejudice on the subject of the lodger franchise; but I wish to consider it in a mode and spirit very different from that which I heard from some hon. Gentlemen, and from the worthy Alderman who has addressed us. They have endeavoured to show me in the most elaborate manner, that the lodgers admitted to the suffrage would be of Conservative opinions, and that I need not be afraid of enfranchising them. I suppose this is a tradition of the Reform Bill of 1832, when everything was considered with reference to party; but I have a most profound contempt for all these considerations. If we are to consider the interests of party I am perfectly convinced that however wise we may think ourselves in these conclusions we shall find the experience of a few years will baffle all the conclusions we may make. I shall confine myself, then, to the consideration whether we are extending the franchise to a body of men who will exercise it with a due sense of duty and for the honour of the country to which they belong. I believe a lodger franchise, if established on sound principles, is a very good franchise, and I at one time thought it would be a very important element in aid of the Constitutional system. But I was much depressed last year by the character of the lodger franchise given by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone). His opinion, to which I have always attached great importance, depressed me; but I am happy to find that he speaks of the lodger franchise now as something which meets with his fullest approbation. With respect to the proposal immediately before us I cannot say that I entirely approve the manner in which the hon. Gentleman has introduced it to our notice. I wish the hon. Gentleman to consider, that so far as the Government are concerned they have no objection to the principle of a lodger franchise. They are perfectly willing to admit it. But the hon. Gentleman introduces it to our notice in a most inconvenient manner, and in a manner I cannot assent to. On a clause which, if anything, is a rating clause, 45 he has foisted this provision which does not blend at all with the language of the clause or its provisions, and which, if introduced, would call on the House to agree to absolute contradictions in language. The provisions of the clause with reference to rating and the payment of rates, are not to be required in the case of the lodger franchise. We could not touch in any way this 3rd clause without reviving contests we had hoped were settled. We are not opposed — on the contrary, we are friendly to the principle of a lodger franchise, and if the hon. Gentleman will bring it forward in a definite and distinct shape, and in a convenient manner, without pledging ourselves, of course, to matters of detail, which are not before the House at the present moment, it shall receive a candid and friendly consideration, with an anxious desire to adopt the proposal. I hope he does not wish to precipitate a decision. I see no difficulty which can arise after having agreed to the principle of a lodger franchise. If he will bring forward his proposal in a distinct manner, I have no doubt we shall be able to put it in a part of the Bill where it may be legitimately engrafted. With a view to this I shall be happy to communicate with the hon. Gentleman in private; and shall be very glad, indeed, if the lodger franchise be added to the Bill, which on the whole satisfies both sides of the House.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that he thought his hon. Friend was perfectly justified in placing his Amendments upon the Paper in the first instance. But he could not deny that his proposal had been met in on extremely reasonable manner by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Still, the assent given to the principle of the lodger franchise was scarcely sufficient. The right hon. Gentleman ought to explain more fully in order that it might be seen whether what was meant in the one case—a lodger franchise based upon a £10 occupation for twelve months—was what was meant in the other. No doubt, if that were the case, his hon. Eriend would willingly leave the responsibility of amending the clause to the Government.
§ MR. MARSH
said, he had never been a sincere Reformer, but he believed that lodgers generally formed a very respectable class of persons, and he would extend to them the franchise if he could discover any practical mode of attaining that object. He did not see how the thing was to be done. There could be no self-registration. 46 Every man would make a special claim, on the precise merits of which it would often be impossible to decide. Every claim would be sifted; every case argued before the; revising barrister as to occupation, value, and time. In fact, the matter would be left pretty much in the hands of electioneering agents. According to this proposal a man who took a bed-room at the Hen and Chickens in Birmingham would have a vote; and if he (Mr. Marsh) could vote there probably he would not vote for the hon. Member (Mr. Bright). Any proposal of that description would be found on examination to be involved in inextricable difficulty.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that it was not fair to the Government or to the Committee to give such a pledge as had been demanded by the hon. Member (Mr. Ayrton), inasmuch as the proposal for a £10 lodger franchise was not before the Committee. It would be quite improper, indeed preposterous, for him to fix the amount under the present circumstances. It would be well if the hon. Gentleman would adopt the course which he had recommended, and would not seek to introduce clauses in a part of the Bill to which they did not belong. All he could at that moment state was that the Government were desirous of giving the question in due time their best consideration for the purpose of establishing a lodger franchise. But they had not then to determine whether or not a £10 occupancy should form the basis of that franchise, and it would be presumptuous upon his part to come at once to any arrangement upon that matter.
said, he thought it desirable that there should be no misunderstanding. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had at the second reading of the Bill expressed himself in favour of a lodger franchise, and he did not think that his hon. Friend (Mr. Torrens), after the general approval which a proposal for that object had met with, ought to withdraw his Amendment, simply to find himself in the same position as at the second reading. No doubt, to a certain extent the question of adopting £10 as a basis was a matter of detail; but, at all events, he thought the House ought to be assured that the lodger franchise, of which the right hon. Gentleman opposite approved, was one calculated not to admit the middle to the exclusion of the lower class, but of such a character as to freely 47 admit the artizan class. Such a matter as that was not one of detail, and if the right hon. Gentleman expressed his assent to that proposition clearly, no doubt his hon. Friend would consent to withdraw his Amendment.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The language of the right hon. Gentleman becomes his ardent genius, but not the Committee. What words will define what shall admit the "artizan class" as against the "middle?" It is too vague a description. I am not particularly anxious to admit the middle class in preference to the artizan class. I gave up the lodger franchise last year in consequence of the dreary description given of the lodger franchise by the right hon. Gentleman. His assertion that it would admit only a small number, and those only of the middle class, struck upon my spirit. We accept the proposition of the hon. Member that there should be a lodger franchise, but before the Committee we have not a £10 proposition, except in conversation.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he must remind the right hon. Gentleman that the proposal for £10 lodger franchise, to which the one now under discussion was only introductory, was to be found a little lower down on the Notice Paper. It was well known that furnished lodgings were on the average worth twice as much to the landlord as those which were unfurnished. It was most probably on that principle that the right hon. Gentleman in his Bill of 1859 had fixed the lodger franchise at £20, double the £10 standard of the Reform Bill. He did not see why the Government should not then undertake to accept what would substantially amount to such a settlement of the question.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Let us proceed regularly according to the strict rules of Committee. Since this proposition has been before us several Gentlemen have left the House, not unfavourable to a lodger franchise, but they take different views as to the amount from those of the hon. Member (Mr. Torrens). They left the House on the representation that the Government was favourable to a lodger franchise, but considering that it was open to them to express their opinions on the subject when the other Amendment of the hon. Gentleman was brought forward. One Gentleman said £10 would be dangerous, another said he thought if it were £12 the country would be safe—and another thought that £14 would be a just 48 proposal. After the promise I have made that Gentlemen should not be called upon to decide upon the figure of the lodger franchise at this time, I cannot agree to what is required. At the same time I may suggest that, as there are two Amendments of my own upon the Paper, at some little distance from the one now under consideration, a settlement might at once be arrived at by hon. Gentlemen opposite giving their assent to my proposals in all candour and fairness.
§ MR. OSBORNE
said, after the express promise of the Chancellor of the Exchequer he hoped his hon. Friend would not press his Amendment. At the same time, he trusted that his hon. Friend would either bring up a substantive clause or induce the right hon. Gentleman to do so. The principle was admitted. The only question was as to the figure, which could be discussed hereafter in detail.
§ MR. SMOLLETT
said, that in the present Session the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) advocated a lodger franchise on the ground that it would enfranchise large numbers of the working classes, but what did the right hon. Gentleman state on the subject last year? These were his words as recorded in Hansard—Now, I can give no information, and I believe the right hon. Gentleman was unable to give any in 1859, as to the number of persons who would, perhaps, be enfranchised under the title of lodgers; but this I may say, that, in the first place, my firm belief is that it will be a small one; and in the second place, my firm belief likewise is this, what I now speak of is a middle-class rather than a lower-class enfranchisement. The operation of claiming, and of claiming, too, year by year, is one that must be very burdensome to working men; whereas young men, such as clerks and men of business, familiar with the use of pen and ink, if educated and intelligent persons, and desirous of obtaining the franchise, will estimate the trouble far more lightly. We calculate, therefore, on a certain amount of middle-claps enfranchisement by the provision I have described; but I should be misleading the House were I to pretend to entertain the opinion that any large number of the working class, or any very large number even of the middle class, will come upon the register by virtue of that which we term a lodger franchise. A great number of persons now inhabit tenements, being almost all of them working men, and all of them theoretically entitled, out of whom scarcely any find their way to the register; and this is, in my opinion, a demonstration that no very large or considerable additions to the constituency are to be expected from this source. Consequently, I do not venture to add any figures under this head, but I take the 60,000 persons whom I have already named as the amount of additional enfranchisement granted by provisions of the Bill which I have the honour of asking leave to introduce."—[3 Hansard clxxxii. 47.]49 The right hon. Gentleman now came forward and asked the House to agree to some lodger franchise, on the ground that it would give votes to a large number of the lower classes — the working classes. Why had the right hon. Gentleman changed his tune since last year? The circumstance that he had done so was a remarkable one. A deputation from the Reform League had gone to No. 11, Carlton House Terrace, and the right hon. Gentleman now announced to the House that the lodger franchise, which, last year, he stated would only enfranchise a small number of the middle classes, would place on the electoral roll a vast number of our own flesh and blood.
MR. M'CULLAGH TORRENS
I appeal to those who heard the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is possible clearly to infer from it what we are to expect if I withdraw my Amendment, and leave to the chapter of chances the bringing up a clause at the end of the Bill. I must either bring up an addendum at the end of this clause, or wait until we come to the end of the Bill to bring up a separate clause. If I bring up an addendum to this clause, the objection of the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be repeated, because he says it is inconsistent with the general scope of the 3rd clause. If he will look to the second Amendment, he will see that pains have been taken to distinguish between the two classes that would be enfranchised under this Amendment. Therefore there can be no confusion. Suppose this Amendment withdrawn, and that we have discussed the other proposals in the Bill; what assurance can he give us that at the end of the month of June we shall not be exactly where we are now? Looking to the amount of rateable property in the metropolis, to its population, and to the number of persons representing it in this House, is it fair that we should not know our position until this Bill is disposed of in other particulars? Cannot he tell us what we have to expect? Why should there be an adjournment of this question sine die?
§ MR. POWELL
said, he would make a few observations in order to appeal to his hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment. His hon. Friend would do well to consider, as a practical Member of the House of Commons, whether he would advance the cause which he had at heart—and in the advocacy of which he (Mr. Powell) was a Colleague—by pressing his Amendment. It appeared 50 to him that that Amendment contained a mere abstract principle, and that it was in effect but another of that series of Resolutions which the House had already rejected in an emphatic manner as an undesirable mode of procedure in striving to effect a settlement of the Reform question. He asked his hon. Friend to consider how the matter stood. The words he proposed to insert in the Bill contained a proposition which was very complex. The opinion of the House might be tested in respect to the lodger franchise when the full clause came on for discussion. Should that clause embody a safe lodger franchise the House would agree to enact it, in which case the words of the hon. Member's Amendment would be unnecessary. The words entirely hung by the lodger clause. If the clause were accepted by the House the words now proposed would be unnecessary. If the clause were rejected the Amendment also must be rejected at a subsequent stage, when the measure, as amended, came under the consideration of the House to be considered as reported. He had no wish to enter into the merits of the question. He was in favour of the principle. It was said that Cambridge would be affected by such a measure. He did not care to inquire whether the Conservative or Liberal interest would be promoted by the adoption of a lodger franchise. If they invited to exercise that franchise sound, safe, honest, and true men, who were competent to exercise it, he cared not to which party they belonged. He looked for good results from the future constituency. He was certain that the introduction to the franchise of men such as he had described would strengthen the constituencies, and give greater vigour to the representative institutions of England.
§ SIR ROBERT COLLIER
said, he did not concur with the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there would be any difficulty in point of form in inserting the words of the Amendment. He (Sir Robert Collier) thought it would be a great improvement and advantage if they were added to the clause. It would then contain the whole borough franchise. This would be very convenient. The words of the second Amendment might be appended at the end of the section of the clause.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he believed that the hon. Member (Mr. Torrens) 51 did not intend to express any distrust of the Government, although the opinions he entertained naturally led him to ask the Government what they proposed to do with respect to this matter before going into the details of the Bill. He (the Attorney General) agreed that it would be convenient to embody the lodger franchise in the same clause as the borough franchise. The object might be gained by introducing the second Amendment of the hon. Member in the form of a fifth sub-section to Clause 3. The franchise for lodgers stood upon an entirely different footing to that of the householder, and recognising the advantage of dealing with the whole borough franchise in one clause, he thought this question would best be dealt with by a sub-section.
I think the learned Attorney General has simplified the question a good deal, and that there can be no difficulty in inserting the provision with reference to the lodger franchise after the fourth sub-section of the 3rd clause. Still I am sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not been able to be a little more explicit on this point. On the whole question he has been very doubtful, even before this Bill was introduced. He was in favour of it many years ago. When this Bill was introduced it did not contain it. Afterwards he said that he did not omit it because he did not like it—that, in fact, he was the father of it. Afterwards, again, when he was told that he had conceded it, he sprang to his feet and said he had not conceded it. Tonight he does not object to it, but he doubts whether it is important. In fact, he seems to know no more about it than did the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) last year. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer leaves the hon. Member and the House in doubt as to what he is going to do. Yet it seems a pity to spend another evening in the discussion. The lodger franchise must be somewhere about £10. Something as high as £12 or as low as £8 may be proposed. But every one of us is perfectly conscious that £10 is a very fair arrangement. That sum has already been proposed to the House. It is generally accepted out of doors, and it is the sum which persons in favour of lodger franchise generally expect will be put in the Bill. I suspect that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has rather an unworthy conceit in this matter. He does not like to take anything in the Bill of 52 last year before, or to appear to follow in the footsteps of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone). That is not a very worthy feeling if he entertains it. Perhaps, if he does, he is scarcely conscious of it. There is scarcely a Gentleman opposite who has a word to say against a lodger franchise, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is surely not about to tell us that he has to go back to the Cabinet—to consult the President of the Poor Law Board on the subject. That is rather too much. I would hardly believe it if any one else said it, and I would have great doubts on the matter if it were hinted at by the right hon. Gentleman. Why does not the right hon. Gentleman say that he accepts the principle of the lodger franchise, and that he has little doubt that £10 will be the figure adopted? I think that I am speaking the sense of the House when I say that the matter ought to be decided to-night, and that we ought not to be compelled to renew the debate some other evening.
§ MR. SCHREIBER
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had confessed that he was the father of the lodger franchise, and he thought that the right hon. Gentleman was bound in duty to see that his lively offspring did not make him the grandfather of manhood suffrage. The right hon. Gentleman was perfectly entitled to say to the hon. Member (Mr. Bright) that he should more perfectly appreciate the responsibilities of his paternal position.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the suggestion of the Attorney General had been made by himself about two hours ago. The Committee was not now in a position to decide on the amount of the franchise. On the part of the Government he had said that they accepted the principle of a lodger franchise. He had not said, as the hon. Member (Mr. Bright) had suggested with the rich humour with which he sometimes varied his invective, that he should have to consult anybody about the amount at which it should be fixed. What he had said was that a great many Members had left the House on the assurance that they would not be called upon to decide that question 53 to-night. The hon. Gentleman had obtained an admission of his principle frankly and fairly from the Government. A position had also been offered to him; and he could have it decided at the next meeting of the Committee. Who could expect, under the ordinary circumstances of Parliamentary life, to find himself in a more fortunate position than the hon. Gentleman? The Committee could not now formally decide upon the matter. They could only express their opinion upon it, after having allowed a considerable number of Gentlemen to leave the Committee on an assurance that the amount of the lodger franchise would not be determined to-night.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he would remind the hon. Member that the Government had given him a pledge as to the principle of his proposal, and that he would have a future opportunity of testing the opinion of the Committee as to the amount to be filled in.
MR. M'CULLAGH TORRENS
said, that after what had fallen from the Attorney General and the Chancellor of the Exchequer he would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
moved to insert in page 2, line 8, after the word "rated," the words "as an ordinary occupier."
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he had understood that the Government did not intend to proceed with any of their Amendments on the clause that evening. The words "ordinary occupier" could not be agreed to without a great deal of discussion, and unless all the Amendments were taken together they could not know what they meant.
§ MR. CANDLISH
said, that he also understood that it was the intention of the Government to report Progress after the discussion on the Amendment had concluded. If that was not the intention, he had an Amendment on the Paper which he should wish to propose before the right hon. Gentleman moved his Amendment. He moved at page 2, line 6, after "dwelling-house," to insert "or part of a dwelling-house." He hoped this Amendment would receive a fair and candid consideration at the hands of the right hon. Gentleman, as it was called for by the social-economic arrangements of the borough which he represented, and by many other boroughs in the North of England, where many 54 houses were built for the use of two tenants, one tenant occupying the under storey, and the other the upper storey. These houses had a common street door, the key of which the tenants used in common; and, if he was rightly advised, these persons would not be householders within the meaning of the words of the 3rd clause. According to the present state of the law, the persons who rented these dwellings were neither occupiers nor lodgers; and, although qualified in every other respect, would not be enfranchised by this Bill, although they belonged to the very class that Government intended to enfranchise. They paid higher rents for these parts of houses than were paid by the lowest class of householders in the same towns. It had been decided by Lord Chief Justice Erle in "Cooke v. Humber," five years ago, that part of a house was not a house in law, because there was no actual severance of the two occupations, and that, while a staircase without a street door, or with one left open, was regarded as a street, one that was closed by a locked door, of which each tenant had a key, did not constitute the same severance. In Sunderland there was a larger proportion of these tenancies between £10 and £7. There were also many below £7, although the proportion of these divided tenancies below that figure was not so great as above it. No question of principle was involved, and there was no executive difficulty in enfranchising occupiers of parts of houses. Much had been said about the importance of the lodger franchise in London; and what he now proposed was really a lodger franchise in another form for many boroughs. These persons were only disqualified by the technical definition of the word "house," and he was sure the right hon. Gentleman did not wish to introduce such a disqualification. All the securities for good citizenship contained in this clause were complied with by these occupants of parts of houses; they must have been rated for twelve months and have paid the rates.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he did not think the hon. Gentleman had made out a case for his Amendment. If he understood the hon. Gentleman rightly, he maintained that these persons, though they had separate rates, yet because they did not live ill separate houses, were not entitled to a vote. If the decisions of the Courts had settled that the occupancy of part of a house not severed from the rest 55 was not an occupancy which gave a title to a vote, he apprehended that such an occupier would still be a lodger. He would surely be included in one of the three classes, lodger, joint occupier, or householder. If he were entitled to vote in one of these categories the Amendment would not be needed.
said, he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman had not apprehended the point of his hon. Friend (Mr. Candlish's) illustration. The houses in his part of the country were in many cases so constructed as to accommodate two tenants, of which the one occupied the upper and the other the lower part of the tenement. But they paid separate rents and separate rates. They were not at all in the position of lodgers, and yet while the one had a vote the other had not.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, the hon. Member (Mr. Candlish) had argued a general principle for the purpose of a local object. His Amendment would apply to the merest hovel as well as to the class of houses he referred to, and would admit a very undesirable class of voters. It might be that in some parts of the country two tenants might in that sense be joint occupants of one house. But there were other parts where single rooms were let out to lodgers. Under this Amendment they would be admitted to the franchise. The proper way to remedy the evil complained of would be to introduce a new clause. To adopt the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman would be fatal to the main objects of the Bill.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he thought there was a good deal of force in the objection of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goldney), but the case put by the hon. Member (Mr. Candlish) required to be provided for. He would suggest to the Government that the best way to provide for this class of cases was to introduce an interpretation into the Bill of the word "dwelling-house," which should meet that class of cases. There were similar cases near that House. In Victoria Street, for instance, the houses were divided into flats, having a common outer door, and yet, according to the decision quoted, each would be held to be only one house. These people were not lodgers certainly, but were frequently freeholders of particular flats, or, at all events, leaseholders. The chambers in the Inns of Court having a common staircase only differed from these flats by not having a common outer door. Yet the occupants had votes. The objection 56 ought to be removed. He would suggest the interpretation clause as the best mode of remedying the evil.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, the hon. Member (Mr. Candlish) had correctly stated the law. As to Victoria Street the inhabitants of the flats were in much the same position for they had no votes, though the occupants of chambers in the Inns of Court were admitted to the franchise.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, his impression was that the inhabitants of Victoria Street had votes. If there was anywhere a class of houses with two occupants, both of whom paid the rates while only one or neither enjoyed the vote, undoubtedly that was a case to be provided for. But he could not admit that the remedy was to be found in this Amendment, which admitted the owner of every part of a house to a vote. He would be happy to see the hon. Member (Mr. Candlish) and discuss with him the best way to provide a remedy for the evil.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
moved the Amendment he had before proposed, to insert the words "as an ordinary occupier." He said that as this raised the question which had so often been discussed, he did not propose to go farther that night, and having proposed it, he would move that the Chairman report Progress.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.