HC Deb 23 May 1867 vol 187 cc991-1011

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 4 (Occupation Franchise for Voters in Counties).


said, that he moved after the word "same," in the hon. Member (Mr. Colvile's) Amendment, to insert the following words:— Or who shall be entitled, either as lessee or assignee, to any lands or tenements of freeholds, or of any other tenure whatever, for the unexpired residue, whatever it may be, of any term originally created for a period of not less than sixty-years (whether determinable on a life or lives or not), of the clear yearly value of not less than £5 over and above all rents and charges payable out of or in respect of the same. He could hardly think that, after the decision come to in reference to copyholders, the same reduction of the franchise would not be made in the case of the leaseholders. These men included some of the very best of the working classes—those who had by honest industry accumulated sufficient money to acquire a stake in the country. If the Committee desired to enfranchise such persons they could not do so in a better manner than by adopting this proposal. For the most part these men had saved the money which enabled them to take long leases and build cottages, and he thought they would constitute a much more valuable class of voters than the possessors of £50 in a savings bank or in Consols. The holders of such leases could not have spent less than £200 on building one or two cottages. He had so little doubt that this proposal would be accepted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he would not trouble the Committee further than to move his Amendment.


said, he thought it would be very unwise to disturb the arrangement come to by the Reform Act of 1832 upon this point. The proposal of the hon. Gentleman with respect to leaseholders differed much from the reduction made in the case of copyholders, because under the Enfranchisement Acts copyholds could be turned into freeholds. It seemed to be the object of some hon. Members to tinker all the old franchises. At the time of the Reform Act the right of voting in counties was limited to the 40s. freeholder, and it was then considered a great grievance that parties holding long leases, which were almost equal to freeholds, should be shut out altogether from the exercise of the franchise. Previous to the Reform Act any person holding a 40s. freehold was entitled to vote; but the Act: limited that right to a person who had an estate of 40s. value in inheritance, and fixed the qualification for those who had a life interest in the freehold at £10 annual value. One objection to this proposal was that, in the neighbourhood of London and other large towns, it might lead to the undue multiplication of votes. A ground-landlord might lease the land, the lessor might assign his interest, and in that way, if only £5 clear annual value were reserved in each case, four or five and sometimes six votes might be created in respect of one and the same tenement. Again, under settlements a term of ninety-nine years was generally vested in trustees for the purpose of raising money. If this amount were adopted, it would be competent for the trustees on the eve of an election to grant a number of leases determinable upon the oldest life they could find, and then to put upon the register any number of votes they liked, provided only that the original lease was sixty years. Instead, therefore, of giving the franchise to the élite of the people by this Amendment, they would establish a power for the creation of fictitious votes. Again, there was nothing which had caused so much trouble to revising barristers under the Reform Act as this question of leasehold interest. Various points with respect to it had been raised and battled over in the Registration Courts. They had been settled only within the last few years, and if the Amendment were accepted by the Committee they would all be re-opened anew, as no occupation was required, nor residence, nor any interest whatever beyond such a lease as that to which he had referred.


I suppose, Sir, that on a question like the present the Committee will be able to decide more wisely by knowing how it will affect a particular district of the country. I heard the observations of the hon. Gentleman who introduced this Amendment, and I can speak in confirmation of what he said. In South Lancashire, and in that district of it particularly where I live—Rochdale—it is a matter of every-day occurrence that land is let for building upon a lease for 999 years, which, for all practical purposes, must, I think, be considered to be as good as a freehold. The person who takes that land, who is liable for the rent, and who lays his money out upon it, is, in all points Parliament can require for a constituent elector, just as good as if the freehold were vested in him. That, I think, no Member of the House will deny. In my neighbourhood a very large proportion of the cottages which are built are built out of the savings—I will not say of the most industrious, for all our people are industrious—but of the most saving portion of the workmen. I live about three-quarters of a mile from the centre of the town of Rochdale, and on both sides of the road leading from my house to the town there are cottages, and these have nearly all been built by persons with whom I am well acquainted, and not a few of whom are employed in the business with which I am connected. Overlookers, engineers, head mechanics, clever weavers and spin- ners, and so forth, have saved money and built cottages. They have invested their money in that way upon leases of 999 years. I venture to say, without fear of contradiction, that it is not possible to discover throughout the whole population a class of persons to whom it would be more becoming in the House of Commons to give a vote than to men who, out of their own continuous industry and prudent savings, have been able to secure for themselves an income from property in vested in this way. As far as that goes, I do not think anybody will deny that the position I am endeavouring to establish is one which the House may fairly accept. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down endeavours to draw a distinction between what the House did the other night on the question of copyhold and what it is now asked to do. I do not know how the hon. Gentleman voted on that question. [Mr. GOLDNEY: I did not vote all.] Oh, the hon. Member did not vote all. But a great number of those to whom he addressed his observations, and I rather think the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Friends generally, voted against us on that question. However, the House having passed that Resolution, the hon. Gentleman feels that the Committee did on that occasion what was very wise, and I think on the whole he accepts it as a judicious decision. But he wishes to draw a distinction between what was done then, and what the Committee are asked to do now. What is the distinction in the Reform Act? Parliament determined that the two cases were exactly alike; that the copyholder of £10 should have a vote, and that the leaseholder, over sixty years, of £10, also should have a vote. If Parliament was right in 1832, it seems to me that the Committee, having agreed to reduce the sum in the case of the copy holder, would be doing wisely, and in accordance with the view of the Parliament of 1832, in reducing also the value as regards the leaseholder of sixty years and upwards. The hon. Gentleman started a sort of spectre, which, like other spectres, has nothing substantial in it, and he said that there would be a great many votes upon the same property. But I undertake to say that there is no more reason to suppose that anything wrong would arise if the sum were reduced to £5 than has arisen with the sum at £10. The one figure is just as convenient as the other for any person who wishes to do anything which Parliament does not intend should be done under the present or future law. The hon. Gentleman said that the trustees could make faggot votes. They can make them now. Yet I will undertake to say that there has been no general and even no local complaint of the fabrication of fictitious votes under the clause as it now exists in the Reform Act. Therefore I think it is unfair to raise an argument which is not a substantial and just one, and say there will be attempts at fraud under the £5 which have not prevailed at all under the £10. Then he said another thing which, I think, tells very much against him. He said that there were great difficulties before the revising barristers' courts with regard to persons who should have votes under this clause. But he added—what was quite fair for him to add, because it is true—that all these points have long ago been settled by decisions perfectly well recognised amongst revising barristers. The difficulties as to the interpretation clause in 1832 have been long ago got rid of, and having been got rid of, it is quite clear that these difficulties could not meet with resurrection if you reduce the value from £10 to £5. I submit to the Committee, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to hon. Gentlemen opposite, that I have given a fair answer to the observations of the honourable Gentlemen. I base my argument upon this mainly. You are reducing the occupation franchise from £50 to something which the Committee has not yet determined. It may be somewhere between £10 and £20. You are doing that with your eyes open. You know what you are about. You are extending the franchise in counties to occupiers who have no permanent interest in the soil or that which they occupy. You have reduced the value of copyholders from £10 to £5. You are reducing the franchise in boroughs from £10 occupancy to, it may be, £2 or £3 occupancy. We ask you to agree to this Amendment in the interest of persons whose very position is the proof—the clear and undoubted proof, of their fair claim to the franchise. As I have stated, in South Lancashire, and I have no doubt it is the same in Yorkshire and many other counties, these leaseholds are held, to a large extent, by persons who have thus invested the savings which they have accumulated by the most meritorious industry and equally meritorious prudence Unless you say that you will completely shut out good men, even where you can find them, you cannot object to the Amendment. If these arguments are not sufficient for the Committee, I cannot hope to offer any that will be. With the general disposition to be generous and liberal on this matter, I submit to the Committee and to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this is a case in which, acting in accordance with the spirit of the Reform Act, he may very wisely make the reduction now proposed. I hope, therefore, the Government will consent to this Amendment; but if they do not, I shall have great pleasure in dividing in its favour.


said, it was right the Committee should know what they were called upon to do. Had it not been that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bright) had appealed to hon. Members to speak for their own localities he should not have addressed the Committee. Amongst the miners in the West of England, it was a very common practice for a man who had saved £40 or £50 to borrow on mortgage £100 from an attorney, with which to build one or two cottages. Since no man talked more about the pressure that was put upon the voter than the hon. Member, he should like to know from whence the pressure was likely to come? When an election, came, who would have the power, the lender or the borrower? He wished to show the hon. Gentleman from what quarter oppression might come.


said, that the fact of the existence of these long leaseholds, referred to by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bright), was a strong reason why the Committee should reject the Amendment. Every one connected with the law knew that a 999 years' tenure was the most inconvenient tenure in the kingdom, because the reversion, which was nominally worthless, had the effect of deteriorating the property when it had to be sold. In duration it was for all practical purposes equivalent to a freehold, but its effect was to materially deteriorate the value of the property. If industrious men could not lay out their money in any other holding, then he could understand why this tenure should be supported and encouraged. But industrious persons could invest their savings in other ways, and the plan of a rent-charge in chief upon the property was more commonly resorted to. [Mr. BRIGHT: They cannot in every district.] Anything which tended to increase these long hold- ings ought to be avoided, and he asked the Committee to extinguish them as much as they possibly could.


said, the observation of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had nothing to do with the question before the Committee. This particular tenure was in existence to a large extent in the country, and the question was how were they to deal with it with reference to the franchise. Many persons preferred this tenure to a freehold, because it could be dealt with in a manner different from a freehold. But that was not material to the present question. A great amount of property was held on lease from 999 years down to sixty years. The Reform Bill of 1832 established sixty years, because, generally speaking, it was a term for which land was let for building and other purposes. Therefore it was assumed that it ought to be taken as the basis of the franchise that was then created. It was obvious that the ground upon which the supporters of the Reform Act proceeded with regard to sixty years was that it could not be used for the purpose of faggot voters. He saw no reason why they should depart from the principles of the Reform Act of 1832, which laid down that sixty years were sufficient to insure a real interest in land, and that it was equivalent to the other tenures in the Reform Act. The annual value of £5 should be applied to leaseholds of the duration of sixty years. If a person mortgaged his lease so as not to preserve the value, he would not be entitled to a vote. They had already decided the question then before the Committee, and had only to apply the decision of the other night.


said, he opposed the Motion the other night with regard to copyholds, not that he thought it unreasonable, but because he wished to interfere as little as possible with the old franchises, because every alteration in them increased the difficulty of passing a measure like the present. He considered the decision with regard to copyholders to be conclusive as to the Motion now before the Committee. He agreed to it, subject to this—that the £5 qualification was to be enjoyed under similar conditions as the £10 qualification in the Reform Bill of 1832. The clause had been so much altered—and would probably be more so—that it was necessary there should be a clear understanding upon it. It would be necessary to introduce some short proviso to the effect he had stated, and with that understanding he agreed to the Amendment.


said, he wished to ask what the understanding was supposed to be?


That the £5 qualification will be enjoyed the same as the £10 qualification under the 24th and 25th sections of the Reform Act.


said, that if the proviso was to be the same as that contained in the 24th and 25th sections of the Reform Act it would be of a serious character. He considered those sections ought to be modified. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgwater had given notice of an Amendment affecting those sections. They must be satisfied that the alteration was not simply limited to the alteration of a figure as provided in the 20th section without reference to the 24th and 25th sections. Without that understanding he could not allow the discussion to end without taking the sense of the Committee upon it.


said, the hon. Gentleman had made a proposal which the Government well understood, and they had given a clear answer to it. He then turned round and said another hon. Member had a proposal on the Paper which was not before the Committee, and that having regard to that he could not agree to the interpretation which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had put upon his proposal. At present the Committee had only the hon. Member's Amendment before them, and he agreed to the introduction of this qualification, subject to the conditions imposed by the Reform Act of 1832. If those conditions were objected to, they might be challenged hereafter.


said, his hon. Friend (Mr. H. Vivian) was only anxious that no misapprehension should exist upon this question. It was to be open to the hon. Gentleman to raise any question in connection with these leaseholders. The understanding on both sides was that the value should be reduced from £10 to £5.


said, he was satisfied with the observations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. His remarks applied to the observation of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. G. Hardy).


said, the Bill would be open to the objection that the freeholder of £10 a year was placed in a worse position than the copyholder and leaseholder.

Amendment agreed to.


said, the copyholder was not a voter till the Reform Act of 1832 was passed. The first Amendment of which he had given notice was to create a 40s. copyhold franchise, subject to the same provisions as the 40s. freeholder. But he would not press that Amendment. He agreed with the hon. Member (Mr. Goldney) as to the position of the question. The Committee stood in a position of considerable inconsistency by the division of Monday. By that division the £5 copyholder was placed in a better position than the £9 freeholder. Now the leaseholder was placed in a better position than the £9 freeholder, inasmuch as residence was required of the freeholder, but not of the copyholder or leaseholder. This was so absurd an anomaly that the clause must be re-considered on the Report. His second Amendment, restricting the rent-charge for life franchise to £10, was of considerable importance. He should, on the Report, move the clause fixing the franchise at £5. At present he withdrew the Amendment.


said, he moved to leave out the words "premises of any tenure," and insert the words "a dwelling-house or other building." His Amendment was designed to check the practice of splitting votes, and a proviso similar in character had been introduced into three out of the five Reform Bills lately introduced into Parliament. Such a proviso was in the Bills of 1853, 1860, and 1866. In the Bill of 1859 of Lord Derby's Government a proviso was also inserted for the purpose of meeting the case. His object was to prevent the creation of faggot votes, for which there were greater temptations in the counties than in the boroughs. He hoped for the support of Gentlemen on both sides of the House. This was a subject of common interest, as no one could wish to see the natural and resident constituency of a county overborne by strangers.

Amendment proposed, In page 2, line 22, to leave out the words "premises of any tenure," in order to insert the words "a dwelling house or other building."—(Sir Edward Colebrooke.)


said, that he objected to the subdivision of land unless there was a building on each portion. He thought, however, that the Amendment would not effect the object of the Mover, unless it were provided that the house should be of the value of £5. He objected to the words "or other building," which might include a cow-house or shed. Unless his hon. Friend would so far modify his Amendment, he (Mr. Ellice) would move the omission of the words "or other building," which omission would render residence necessary. He hoped, as the object sought to be obtained by means of the Amendment was a perfectly legitimate one, the Government would accept that Amendment.

Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, to leave out the words "or other building."—(Mr. Ellice.)


said, that many counties were divided from adjoining counties by a brook, or hedge, or other small line of division. It might well happen that a man occupying a farm of 200 acres might have fifty acres, with the farmhouse, in one county, and 150 in another. The proposed Amendment would deprive him of a vote in respect of the 150 acres, which would be a very unfair thing to do.


said, that from the way in which this matter had been brought forward he could not help thinking that there was some real or imaginary Scotch grievance at the bottom of it. He must remind the Committee that they were then discussing the county franchise of the English Bill. A full and able debate took place on the very point now before the Committee not longer ago than last year, when the proposal of the hon. Member (Sir Edward Colebrooke) formed part of the Reform Bill of the late Government, and the result of that debate was that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) announced himself so satisfied with the arguments which had been brought forward against the proposal that he withdrew it. He was not aware that anything had occurred since then to induce them to reverse that decision. This was an attempt to subvert that which had hitherto been regarded as the basis of the county franchise. It was not at present necessary that there should be a house in occupation upon the land to confer a county franchise, and if it were now rendered necessary some curious results would follow. It had been pressed very strongly that they should not place the new borough voters in a worse position than were those who enjoyed the franchise under the existing law. If this were to be so with regard to the boroughs why should it not be so with regard to the counties? He wanted to know how they could justify the necessity of this condition with regard to the new county voters, when it did not exist in reference to the present £50 occupiers? To adopt the proposal made would be to set up an invidious distinction between the new and the old voters. He hoped, therefore, that it would be rejected.


said, that whatever arguments might be urged for or against this proposal, those used by the noble Lord who had just spoken were certainly not conclusive. When the borough franchise was under discussion he had him-himself proposed—wishing to see the line between the new and the old voters obliterated—that the same rule should, as far as possible, be adopted in regard to the occupying tenant, whether the value of his tenement was above £10 or below it—that was to say, that a shop, warehouse, or counting - house should in either case give a qualification for the suffrage. But the Committee thought that circumstances might be applicable to the lower value, which would not be applicable to the higher value, and they deliberately declined to adopt his proposal, and adhere to the proposal of the Government, departing from the simple rule of uniformity in that respect in reference to the borough franchise. The Government themselves, by that very clause, proposed to adopt a different rule as to the new county voter from that now applicable to the £50 occupier, because they proposed, in conformity with what they had done in regard to the borough franchise, that the £12 occupier should be rated to and should have paid all rates payable upon his occupation up to a certain date, a provision not applicable to the existing £50 occupier. It was clear therefore that the two sets of voters were to be placed in different positions. He thought that there was great reason for the Amendment, because there might be very good reason that care should be taken against the multiplication of £12 qualifications, when there was not the same danger of £50 qualifications being multiplied. To carry the clause as it stood would give an excellent opportunity to landlords whose land was situated on the borders of counties to create votes by a convenient arrangement of farms. He hoped that the Amendment would be adopted.


said, he thought that the proposal of the Government was a liberal one, and that the Amendment would operate in restriction of the franchise. Under these circumstances he should support the Government.


said, that in the two or three last Bills which he had introduced in reference to the county franchise there was a clause like the Amendment now before them. It was inserted upon the suggestion of Sir James Graham, who thought that if it were not necessary that there should be a dwelling-house upon the land, votes would be improperly multiplied.


said, that the wording of the Amendment was objectionable. If there was to be a house at all, it should be joined to the land, and should not be separate from it.


said, he acceded to the suggestion that the words "or other building" should be struck out of his Amendment.

Question, "That the words 'or other building,' stand part of the said proposed Amendment," put, and negatived.

Amendment again proposed, to leave out the words "premises of any tenure," in order to insert the words "a dwelling house."

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 193; Noes 196: Majority 3.

Question put, "That the words 'a dwelling house,' be there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 209; Noes 212: Majority 3.

Acland, T. D. Baxter, W. E.
Adair, H. E. Bazley, T.
Adam, W. P. Beaumont, H. F.
Agar-Ellis, hn. L. G. F. Berkeley, hon. H. F.
Akroyd, E. Biddulph, M.
Amberley, Viscount Blake, J. A.
*Andover, Viscount *Blennerhasset, Sir R.
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Ayrton, A. S. *Brady, J.
Aytoun, R. S. Brand, rt. hon. H.
Baines, E. Bright, J.
Barclay, A. C. Briscoe, J. I.
Barry, A. H. S. Bruce, Lord C.
Bass, A. Bruce, rt. hon. H. A.
Buller, Sir E. M. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
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Buxton, Sir T. F. Hurst, R. H.
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Jervis, Major Ridley, Sir M. W.
Jolliffe, hon. H. H. Robertson, P. F.
Jones, D. Rolt, Sir J.
Karslake, Sir J. B. *Russell, Sir C.
Karslake, E. K. Samuda, J. D'A.
Kavanagh, A. Schreiber, C.
Kekewich, S. T. Sclater-Booth, G.
Kelk, J. Scourfield, J. H.
Kendall, N. Selwin, H. J.
King, J. K. Selwyn, C. J.
King, J. G. Severne, J. E.
Knight, F. W. Seymour, G. H.
Lacon, Sir E. Simonds, W. B.
Laird, J. Smollett, P. B.
Langton, W. G. Stanhope, J. B.
Lanyon, C. Stanley, Lord
Lascelles, hon. E. W. Stanley, hon. F.
Leader, N. P. Stopford, S. G.
Lechmere, Sir E. A. H. Stronge, Sir J. M.
Legh, Major C. Stuart, Lieut.-Col. W.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Stucley, Sir G. S.
Liddell, hon. H. G. Surtees, C. F.
Lindsay, hon. Col. C. Surtees, H. E.
Lindsay, Colonel R. L. Sykes, C.
Lopes, Sir M. Talbot, C. R. M.
Lowther, J. Thynne, Lord H. F.
M'Kenna, J. N. Tollemache, J.
Mackinnon, Capt. L. B. Torrens, R.
Manners, rt. hn. Lord J. Tottenham, Lt.-Col. C. G.
Manners, Lord G. J. Treeby, J. W.
Meller, Colonel *Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-
Montagu, rt. hn. Lord R. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Montgomery, Sir G. Turner, C.
Mordaunt, Sir C. Verner, Sir W.
Morgan, O. Walcott, Admiral
Morgan, hon. Major Walker, Major G. G.
Mowbray, rt. hn. J. R. Walrond, J. W.
Naas, Lord Walsh, A.
Neeld, Sir J. Walsh, Sir J.
Neville-Grenville, R. Waterhouse, S.
Newdegate, C. N. Welby, W. E.
Newport, Viscount Whitmore, H.
North, Colonel Williams, F. M.
Northcote, rt. hn. Sir S. H. Wise, H. C.
O'Neill, E. Woodd, B. T.
Packe, C. W. Wyndham, hon. P.
Paget, R. H. *Wynn, C. W. W.
Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.
Palk, Sir L. TELLERS.
Parker, Major W. Taylor, Colonel T. E.
Patten, Colonel W. Noel, hon. G. J.
Members marked* did not vote in the previous division.
Bulkeley, Sir R., Sandford, G. M. W., voted for the Ayes in the previous division; and did not vote in this.

As the clause is now in an absolutely hopeless condition, I think we had better ask the Chairman to report Progress.


said, he moved that the words "lands or tenements" be inserted in place of the words left out.


said, he moved to substitute for the words "or tenements" in this Amendment these words, "with a tenement erected thereon," so that the clause would give a county vote to "the occupier as owner or tenant of lands with a tenement erected thereon" of certain rateable value.


I wish to point out that the proposals on the part of the Government and the Amendments from this side of the House show that the clause under discussion is in such a condition that we cannot do better than adopt the suggestion made by the noble Lord (Viscount Cranbourne) and report Progress. It is not proper for us to divide on the propriety of inserting these important words without notice.


We have already divided on the insertion of words moved from the other side of the House without notice, and really I have not the face to ask hon. Members to come to morning sittings, and at the same time agree to a Motion to report Progress at eleven o'clock only. There is no instance known of legislation of considerable scope, certainly no instance of a Bill of this character, in which Amendments of importance are not moved without notice. If you were to insist that notice be given of every Amendment, even of verbal Amendments to a Bill of this description, it would take years to pass it. Let us be candid with each other, state plainly what we desire, and then, I am sure, there will be no need of reporting Progress at eleven o'clock. I appeal to both sides of the House to support me in proceeding with the Bill.


The question at issue is a most important one. If the county franchise is reduced as it is proposed to reduce it, should we allow occupiers of lands without tenements to exercise the franchise? This is no verbal Amendment. The Committee has come to two contradictory decisions, and I think we ought to deliberate on the question as to how we are to fill up the blank in the clause.


The course the Government proposes to take with respect to this question is precisely the course with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire agreed after full discussion to adopt last year.


I was very unwilling. Sir, to trouble the Committee; but when I heard the bold assertion of the noble Lord, founded no doubt upon an erroneous recollection, that the Government of last year had acceded to the proposals of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Banks Stanhope), in consequence of the force of his reasoning, I felt bound to reply to a statement made with so much confidence. The noble Lord stated that with so much courage and confidence that I would not trust to my own strong recollection without sending for Hansard and reading the whole of what I then said. On reading the whole of my remarks upon that occasion, I find that the sum of them is contained in this passage, which the Committee will see amounts simply to this, that, for the sake of conciliation, and not upon the grounds of argument we acceded to the proposal. ["Oh!"] The noble Lord throws up his hands; but let the noble Lord listen to the words used and then judge whether he has accurately stated the case— He did not see any object in the words— That is the words as they originally stood in our Bill. ["Who?"] I am reading from my own speech in answer to the assertion that the noble Lord said I adopted the views advanced from the opposite side— He did not see any object in the words sufficient to make them (the Government) persevere in doing that which many hon. Gentlemen seemed to think was a positive pleasure to them, but which was really eminently disagreeable to them—namely, refusing demands for alterations of the measure."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiv. 420.] Therefore, it was from our unwillingness to refuse those demands, in the absence of some great and capital motive of policy, that we acceded to the proposal made, and not because we desired to adopt this particular suggestion from the opposite side of the House. I have not the smallest doubt that the proposal made by my hon. Friend is a reasonable proposal, which will secure an expression of the real sentiments of the voters in elections, and will tend to purify the register in the counties.


said, he had not the advantage of being able to refer to Hansard; but he clearly recollected that the right hon. Gentleman last year in his argument in favour of "flesh and blood," admitted that it was equally applicable to the boroughs as to counties. He also said that if Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House were prepared to assent to any clause having for its object to prevent the creation of faggot votes, he, for his part, had no objection to insert the words suggested. Therefore, he could not at all understand the ground on which the right hon. Gentleman felt himself justified in pursuing a different course now. If a man paid a rental of £100 a year for land in a county, was it reasonable to propose that he should not have a vote in respect of that, unless he also paid a rent of £5 a year for bricks on that land? He was quite unable to see why a person holding land worth £100 should be disfranchised because it had not upon it buildings worth £5.


said, the question now to be decided was whether the Chairman should report Progress. He wished to point out the position in which they now stood. The word "premises" had been struck out, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had proposed to insert the words "lands or tenements," which amounted to exactly the same thing. They were now re-considering what had already been done. Every one admitted that land was to be a part of the qualification, and the question was what was to be added to it. It had been decided that the words "dwelling house" should not be added; but it was probably meant that something more than mere land should be the qualification. The words to be inserted required some consideration. If the word building was used it would probably involve a building of some value, because a building without value was an absurdity. The question was how the connection between the building and the land was to be defined. He begged to move that the Chairman report Progress.


said, that he wished to point out to the majority, which had declared for the residential principle in counties, that the effect would be to disfranchise persons holding large tracts of land upon which buildings worth £15 were not erected. They were, in point of fact, voting to restrict the extension of the suffrage. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had got into a difficulty by striking out the words which they had objected to, and they did not like an equivalent to those words to be inserted. Words of some kind must be put into the clause, and he did not see how they would get over the difficulty merely by postponing it.


said, the speeches of the hon. Members for Lincolnshire and North Warwickshire (Mr. B. Stanhope and Mr. Newdegate) showed how completely they misunderstood the question. One had spoken of holdings worth £100 a year, the other of large tracts of laud. But they both seemed to forget that the franchises now proposed were additional to those contained in the Reform Act, and would leave untouched the existing £50 qualification. The £15 and £50 qualifications in counties were very different. As regarded the former amount there ought to be a dwelling upon the land.


said, the hon. and learned Gentleman was under a great mistake if he thought there were no holdings of less than 100 acres without houses upon them. He happened to reside on the borders of three or four counties, and nothing was more common than for a man to own a field worth £15 on the side of the river opposite to that at which his house was situate. In respect of that field he would be liable to rates and taxes, and yet the proposal of Gentlemen opposite was that he should not have a vote. If they were to proceed on the principle of giving a vote for the payment of rates, why should they exclude that man any more than a householder of one year's residence? This was a question not of fabricating votes, but of justice, and as such he put it to the House.


said, that the hon. Member (Mr. Bright) had stated that the words of the Reform Act of 1832 need not be departed from. The very words which it was now proposed to insert were in that Act.


said, the country Gentlemen were beginning to grow excited, and he therefore supported the Motion for reporting Progress. It was necessary that the House should resume its usual judicial calmness in deciding this important question, which might have a most important effect hereafter. Hon. Members should bear in mind that they were legislating for the country's good and not for party or for party views.


said, that after the dead heat which had been run, he had thought that the deciding race might have taken place at once. But from the discussion which had taken place during the last half hour, it seemed highly probable that nothing would now be gained by going on. He should not therefore trouble the Committee by dividing; but he hoped that the reporting Progress at that early hour (twenty minutes past eleven) was not a proceeding which the Committee would adopt as a precedent. He thought it would be a very unsatisfactory habit to fall into. As to the excitement which had just been alluded to, he could not see anything in the way of excitement on his side of the House beyond what the speeches—not distinguished for their ingenuousness—of hon. Gentlemen opposite fully justified.


said, he thought it rather unfortunate that they should get excited, because they had agreed that they were not to have any party fights on this question, but honestly to do their best to get it settled. He was quite at liberty to say that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had shown a very fair disposition to accept the general view of the House with regard to this question. Therefore he (Mr. Bright) should be very sorry to support the Motion to report Progress if he thought there were any possibility of doing anything good under the circumstances the Committee were then placed in. But hon. Gentlemen opposite must feel that they on that (the Opposition) side were not wishing to limit the franchise, or to raise it, or do anything contrary to extending the franchise widely. They only wished to do what every honest man would desire to do—to take every security against the creation of faggot votes, which might be used against hon. Members opposite as well as against them on that side; a system which was disgusting. They had had two divisions which might be considered a tie. He thought if between that and the time when the House again went into Committee the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer took this question into consideration, he might be able to propose words which would meet the general views of both sides of the House. If the right hon. Gentleman would give this security in any reasonable shape, they on that side had no wish to go to party divisions. If the right hon. Gentleman should accept this suggestion in the spirit in which it was offered, they would have no contest on a question of this kind.


said, he thought with respect to this Amendment that hon. Gentlemen opposite were not keeping faith with the Members of the late Government.


said, he wished to ask if the Reform Bill, by some arrangement, could not be proceeded with to-morrow? [" No!"]


said, he wished to ask when the Bill would be proceeded with?


On Monday next.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.